Florida Baptist Witness Questionnaire for Southern Baptist Convention Officer Candidates
Eric Redmond, Second Vice President
Published June 7, 2007
Editor’s note: Florida Baptist Witness sent questionnaires to all of the candidates for Southern Baptist Convention offices that are being contested at the annual meeting in San Antonio, June 12-13. Eric Redmond is pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Temple Hills, Md. For more information about him, please click here.
1. Why did you agree to allow yourself to be nominated?
A handful of men in the National African American Fellowship of the SBC (NAAF) who have longstanding ties to the SBC and the Conservative Resurgence impressed upon me the importance of having, as a national representative for the NAAF and the greater SBC, a pastor who strongly supports CP, who holds to the BF&M 2000, and who agrees with the spirit of the Resurgence. In their collective wisdom, they also expressed very strongly that such a nomination would be consistent with the inclusive attitude of the Convention expressed overtly since 1995, and that it could display to outsiders that “conservatives” is not a term identifying only one ethnic segment of the SBC but rather all ethnic populations of the SBC. Carrying on these ideals and having the Convention represented by those in agreement with the current direction of the SBC are very important to me. After much prayer, I sensed it was the Lord’s will since I was told to “come up here,” (cf. Prov. 25:6-7).
2. What’s right with the Southern Baptist Convention and how will your election contribute to what’s right?
I think that Southern Baptists are placing a needed emphasis on regenerate church membership, and a call for more people to pray toward going to places where Christ’s name has yet to be proclaimed. As I have opportunity, I hope to encourage a generation of younger SBC pastors and ethnic pastors to strive for regenerate membership with patience and grace. I would hope that I, if appointed by the Lord to this office, could in some way encourage many younger African Americans to give their lives to take the Gospel to unreached peoples all over the world.
3. What’s wrong with the Southern Baptist Convention and how will your election contribute to correcting what’s wrong?
We are not so much “wrong” as we are lacking zeal—zeal in our churches for corporate prayer. The story of all the Book of Acts – chapters 1-28 – is of God’s grace toward the believers that they might pray together and so experience the power of the Holy Spirit – the power of the resurrection of Christ – to do what seems impossible to do. If there will be an “Acts 29”-kingdom movement among us, we must correct corporate prayerlessness among our churches. We are attempting to correct this problem at Hillcrest. If elected to office, I would hope to be used in a movement to recapture consistent, increasing, corporate prayer participation wrought by the Spirit of God.
4. Do you support or disagree with the recently revised doctrinal guidelines for prospective missionaries of the International Mission Board regarding baptism and tongues and private prayer language?
Believer’s baptism by immersion is a hallmark of Baptist belief derived from the New Testament teaching on baptism. For the SBC to waver on this would be to question our very identity as Baptists. Concerning the phenomena of “ecstatic speech” that is being termed “tongues” and/or “private prayer language,” a boundary marker is needed. I feel that great discernment was exercised by the IMB, for their actions demonstrate that they are concerned about the future fidelity of the Convention, heading off the erosion of Baptist identity and witness as charismatic beliefs spread around the world. In both matters I agree with the wisdom of the IMB trustees.
5. Some have argued in the last year that the IMB doctrinal guidelines, among other things, are examples of narrowing the parameters of doctrinal cooperation and that such narrowing should stop in Southern Baptist life. What is your view of that claim?
In the example of the IMB doctrinal guidelines, “narrowing” is being used pejoratively by some people. I would rather say that we are clarifying the sense of our expressed and cherished beliefs. As a result, those who have enjoyed cooperation under a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy are crying “foul!” But if our witness in the last days rests on watching our lives and doctrine closely (cf. I Tim. 4:1-16), then we would be remiss before the Lord to ignore challenges to what we believe is the truth and who it is we think we are as ambassadors of the Gospel. “Big-tent” Christianity may be acceptable within a postmodern framework, but it is not acceptable to those who are called to contend for the faith.
6. Do you believe that prayer tongues is a spiritual gift given by the Holy Spirit to Christians? If you believe it is a spiritual gift, do you practice that gift? What are your views about other doctrinal positions commonly associated with charismatic theology?
I see no basis for “prayer tongues” as the correct interpretation of I Corinthians 14. Lexically speaking, the tongues speaking in I Corinthians 14 cannot be distinguished from that of Acts 2 in which believers are given ability by the Holy Spirit to speak in languages previously unknown to the speakers, such that people of many nations hear of the wondrous works of God. I believe the gift was normative and necessary in the Early Church in order to corroborate the eyewitness testimony of Christ’s resurrection as the message of the Gospel initially spread from Jerusalem to the nations.
If the “other doctrinal positions commonly associated” denotes the necessity of a “second blessing” by the Holy Spirit, the continuation of the gift of prophecy, and/or the gift of healing, then I would be in disagreement with each of these beliefs.
7. Should the Baptist Faith and Message be amended to address charismatic theological issues and, if so, in what way should it be amended?
As demonstrated in the actions of the IMB, amendments to the BF&M 2000 are not necessary. The BF&M 2000 is a foundational document expressing what we believe is true about what the Scriptures teach, such as belief that the Scriptures reveal the Trinity rather than an Arian concept of God. Each church, SBC entity, and individual within the SBC must continue to search the Scriptures and seek guidance from Godly leaders in order to apply our statement of faith to various issues. This is the nature of such a document. If we amend the document too often, the document will have no meaning.
8. When considering SBC officer candidates, how should Southern Baptists consider the Cooperative Program giving of the candidate’s home church?
Giving to CP expresses a church’s agreement with and passion toward the work of the SBC. When pastors of SBC churches are nominated for an office, their passion toward the work of the SBC, or at least their ability to lead their churches to share their passion for the work of the SBC, is on display for all to see. An individual pastor may have a long road to walk in order to lead his church to share his passion. When such a passion is evident in CP giving, a pastor should then be considered to be one who is able to represent the heart of the engine of the SBC. However, in the case of candidates who are not pastors, such a passion might exist, but it is difficult for others to measure.
9. What is your view of the Conservative Resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention? Do you see your election as an extension of the Conservative Resurgence?
The Conservative Resurgence, more than anything else, means that Southern Baptists believe the Word of God to be true and authoritative. The witness of the Gospel depends upon belief that God has spoken about Christ‘s person and works without error in the Scriptures. It would seem to me that the Conservative Resurgence is evidence of God’s mercy upon us as a convention. As one who holds to the Word of God as true and authoritative, who preaches the same, and who preaches the message of the Gospel from this same Word, if the Lord is pleased to place me in office, I will continue to support the Conservative Resurgence by his grace.
10. How should Southern Baptists relate to the culture with regard to matters of biblical morality?
Southern Baptist churches should relate to the culture by preaching the Gospel and centering our ministries around the Gospel. We must preach the Gospel boldly, courageously, zealously, and indefatigably, for the Gospel changes the hearts and minds of people, which are where morality is birthed.
We also must minister in line with the Gospel. The Gospel saves us from legalistic separatism, for we are to be submissive to authorities, ready for every good work, speak evil of no one, and show perfect courtesy toward all people as recipients of salvation (cf. Tit. 3:1-7). But the Gospel also saves us from being licentiously assimilated by the culture, for we are not to be conformed to the evil practices of culture—practices from which we have been redeemed. Instead, we are to live holy as the Lord is holy (cf. I Pet. 1:14-16). By being obedient to the Gospel and its cultural ramifications, we demonstrate ourselves to be ideal citizens of the State while also being citizens of the kingdom of heaven. The moral demands expressed by our preaching of the Gospel will be backed by our example of such morality. If the culture then responds with hatred, the Gospel demands that we lovingly endure persecution as a continuing witness of the morality we proclaim.
As a convention, in our country of religious freedom, we are privileged to be able to challenge the rulers of the State to practice righteous laws reflective of the righteousness of God. We can use this privilege in our culture. But proclaiming the Gospel to all must remain our priority.
11. What is your view of the resolution on alcohol adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention last year in Greensboro?
I have mixed feelings about the resolution on alcohol. I understand the seriousness of alcohol addiction in contemporary societies. So I agree with the intention of the resolution. However, I also believe that Scripture condemns the excessive use of alcohol, not its use altogether, and it cautions leaders against alcohol consumption. So the resolution seemed to go beyond the bounds of Scripture.
12. Should Southern Baptists participate in the “New Baptist Covenant Celebration” led by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and sponsored by the North American Baptist Fellowship, an entity of the Baptist World Alliance?
Southern Baptists would do well to stay clear of the NBCC. We do not want to make partnerships with those who are diluting the message of the Gospel.
13. What else would you like to say to Southern Baptists?
I am thankful to be part of the SBC. I would be pleased to be used by God to help us to continue to prioritize the Gospel. Yet, I will have the Lord’s joy if he orders my steps in a path other than this nomination. The decision is the Lord’s (cf. Prov. 16:33). I only hope to be found faithful to whatever he calls me to do.
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