RESPONSE TO THE SBC STUDY REPORT
Ian M. Chapman
Chair, BWA Doctrine and Interchurch Cooperation Commission
I am deeply saddened by the decision of the SBC Study Commission to recommend that the SBC leave the Baptist World Alliance. I am saddened because this action is totally unwarranted and will irretrievably damage the witness of Christ throughout the world. I am further saddened because this division and the formation of another international body will promote dissension and competition within the worldwide Baptist family.
I am also saddened by the untrue statements that the Study Commission has leveled against the BWA to justify the SBC leaving. Over the past ten years I have served as the Chair of the Theological Education Work Group and the Doctrine and Interchurch Cooperation Commission. Not once during these years have I heard a central doctrine of the Christian faith challenged. Never have I heard anyone deny the deity of Christ, the authority and inspiration of Scripture, personal salvation through Christ, or Christ’s atoning work on the Cross. The charge of “liberalism” leveled against the BWA is totally without foundation.
The Study Commission has accused Dr. Erich Gelbach of denying the Great Commission at a meeting of the Theological Education Work Group in 1997. I was the Chair of the Work Group at that meeting and I know, first hand, that the accusation by the Study Committee is totally false. Dr. Gelbach did not deny or denigrate the Great Commission in his response to Dr. Hemphill’s paper.
The Baptist World Alliance champions a vibrant commitment to the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. It advocates the evangelical core of our Baptist faith and promotes with undimmed passion religious liberty and relief of human suffering. This task requires the enthusiastic support of all Baptists. I pray the SBC will not tear the fabric of our common witness but will remain within the BWA. We need each other to meet the deep spiritual and physical needs of the peoples of our world.
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