October 4, 2007 Publishing Good News since 1884 Volume 124 Number 235

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Side by Side comparison to SBC Officer Questionnaire

First Vice President Candidates


Florida Baptist Witness Questionnaire

Southern Baptist Convention Officer Candidates

First Vice President



Jim Richards

David Rogers

1.  Why did you agree to allow yourself to be nominated?

Several people asked me to allow my name to go before the convention. They felt I could make a contribution. Through a series of circumstances and with a confirmation in my heart, I sensed God leading me to allow my name to be placed in nomination.

I have a priority concern for the furtherance of the gospel and advance of the Kingdom of God around the world. I believe that Southern Baptists have been entrusted with a huge responsibility in fulfilling our strategic role in obedience to Christ's Great Commission. I am concerned that disagreements over minor points of doctrine have a tremendous potential for limiting our effectiveness and undermining our stewardship in the task God has given us.

Moreover, I believe that President Frank Page has set us on a course that, without compromising one iota on the essentials of the gospel, seeks to bring us back together in brokenness and humility before God and the fellowship of the gospel. I believe my perspective as an IMB missionary could be helpful to Dr. Page as he continues to lead us forward in this direction.




2. What’s right with the Southern Baptist Convention and how will your election contribute to what’s right?

The SBC has the resources of people and money to impact a lost world. We have a ministry structure that has served us well. We have staked out a position on the nature of scripture for our ministries. Should I be given the opportunity to serve, I will support the direction of the SBC for over the last 25 years known as the Conservative Resurgence. I would seek to help mobilize our resources to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


As Southern Baptists, we have, for the most part, worked through the dangers of theological liberalism that threatened to derail us, and water down the truth of the gospel that we join together to proclaim. Through the IMB and the NAMB, we are making a strategic impact on the lostness of the world, and making bold new advances toward the completion of the Great Commission. In our seminaries, we are training godly men and women to be faithful stewards of the gifts and talents the Lord has given them. Our other agencies, each one in its own special way, play vital support roles in helping us to be faithful in the unique callings and ministries God gives to individual congregations and church members.

If elected, I would do everything possible to help lead Southern Baptists to affirm and support our confessional heritage, to actively promote our values and vision for righteousness, and to sacrificially commit more resources, prayer, and personnel for missions and ministry. I also believe that the Cooperative Program was designed for the primary purpose of funding our shared missionary vision as Baptists. I hope, if I am elected, to continue the challenge issued by our convention president for our churches to renew a commitment to sacrifice for the cause of Christ.




3. What’s wrong with the Southern Baptist Convention and how will your election contribute to correcting what’s wrong?

We have recently been distracted by the clamoring for attention by special interest groups. Various groups wanting their positions affirmed as normative in Southern Baptist life. If elected, I would seek to help us stay focused on the mission at hand which is reaching a lost world for Jesus Christ.

In certain areas of concern, we have allowed ourselves to get side-tracked on theological tangents that are not essential to the gospel. I believe that something must be done about the majority of our churches that are plateaued or declining. Fewer baptisms are reported by fewer churches who contribute fewer dollars to evangelistic ministries and missionary causes.

If elected, I hope to hold before us the fundamental reasons for which we cooperate together, and encourage us to fix our sights on our personal relationship with the Lord, submission to His inerrant Word, and partnership in the proclamation of the gospel to foster the revitalization of our existing churches and the planting of new ones.

I also believe that my election could serve as a boost for greater participation of Southern Baptist churches in our world mission effort. Every year, Southern Baptists give generously to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. Nothing is able to get Southern Baptists to give sacrificially, pray strategically, and go obediently like our missionary mandate. I hope that having a missionary serve as convention first vice president will reignite our passion for missions.




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?

I support the trustee system of the Southern Baptist Convention. With that said, I think a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on private prayer language might have averted some of the controversy. What someone does in private devotions is between them and the Lord. When a person becomes an advocate for their individual experience to become normative in Southern Baptist life is when it becomes distractive.


Personally, I believe baptism is a church ordinance. If I understand the IMB guideline it fits my ecclesiology.

I support the prerogative of individual congregations to teach and practice their own convictions related to these matters. However, since there is no immediate consensus among Bible-believing conservative Southern Baptists on these particular issues, I believe it would be wisest to revert back to the old policies at the IMB, which I believe served us well, and dealt adequately with our biblically-based convictions as Baptists on believers baptism by immersion, and abuses related to the teaching and practice of charismatic gifts.

More specifically, with respect to the policy on private prayer language, I can only say that I am grateful for the leadership of Dr. Jerry Rankin. Without his godly commitments and careful administration, our convention would not have seen the tremendous growth in missionary appointments, baptisms and church plants on the foreign mission field that we have seen in recent years. If a private prayer language should disqualify a missionary candidate, then Southern Baptists would have been denied the excellent leadership, bold vision, and model character of our mission board president.




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?

To say the BFM provides exhaustive guidelines for our SBC ministries is total nonsense. NAMB has a policy on divorced persons and ordained women (not just senior pastors). IMB has requirements on the age of children and current debt for career missionaries. As far as I know IMB still uses the Body Mass Index. The BFM 2000 does not directly address alcohol or tobacco use. Are we willing to allow missionaries and seminary professors to partake?


Our trustee system is set up in a way to be representative of Southern Baptists. There are things I disagree with, but I support the trustees.

I believe there is a degree of truth in this assertion. However, we must at the same time use great discernment in rightly dividing between those issues thattruly are “hills worth dying on” and other non-essential minor points that only serve to distract us from our main calling.





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?

My personal belief is that the supernatural sign gifts ceased when the Word of God became complete. While I do not believe in the so-called “prayer tongues”, I do believe a Southern Baptist should have the right to practice in private his or her own belief.


I do not practice speaking in tongues.


I do believe there is room in the Southern Baptist Convention for those who believe in the active practice of the sign gifts. The most popular interpretation is that God could enable a person to speak in a language they had not learned in order to present the gospel. This would correspond with Acts 2, 10 and possibly 19. If the restrictions on the use of tongues found in 1 Corinthians 12-14 were enforced almost all of the modern practice of so-called tongue speaking would disappear.


Southern Baptists will have to decide whether they are willing to affirm some “gibberish” non-language as a valid position within Baptist life. Since the Charismatic movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s (which split many SBC churches at the time), there have been Charismatic Southern Baptists. Up to this point their practice has not been viewed as normative.

I do not personally practice the gift of tongues, either privately or publicly. As I study Scripture, however, I see no reason why the biblical gift of tongues, as depicted especially in 1 Corinthians 12-14, has ceased. This passage also gives clear guidelines for the practice of this gift, which instruct the gifted person, whenever there is no interpreter present, to “keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God” (14:28). While there is undoubtedly much manipulation and spiritual abuse that goes on today in the name of “charismatic theology,” which we do well to avoid, I believe we need to be careful to not limit God, who sovereignly distributes spiritual gifts to each member of the Body, just as He determines (1 Cor. 12:11).





7. Should the Baptist Faith and Message be amended to address charismatic theological issues and, if so, in what way should it be amended?

Every controversial issue cannot be addressed in the BF&M. Hopefully this issue can be settled without an amendment.

I believe the BFM in its current version is sufficient in its treatment of these issues, and I appreciate the care exercised by the SBC Executive Committee to reinforce this commitment. To seek to codify one particular interpretation on this issue, on which there are many different nuanced views among Southern Baptists, would only serve to needlessly divide us and get us off-track from our main task of proclaiming the simple gospel message, and obedience to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.




8. When considering SBC officer candidates, how should Southern Baptists consider the Cooperative Program giving of the candidate’s home church?

Cooperative Program giving should be a factor in electing leadership. It is not so important that a certain percentage is given as it is that the church is progressing.


For example, a church maybe giving 4% but only a couple of years ago the church was giving 2%. They are making an effort to do more in the way of giving. This is to be commended.


Mega-mega churches with large budgets may not give as large of a percentage but their dollar amounts through the Cooperative Program make them a vital contributor to Southern Baptist causes.

Whenever a candidate has a personal part in determining the CP giving of his/her church, I believe it is a factor that should be taken into consideration, together with other factors. It would appear to be somewhat of an indication of the commitment level of that individual towards promoting cooperation in missions, which is a central focus of the convention at large, and a very important element in the work of all SBC officers.





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 was an act of God that brought the largest non-Catholic denomination from the brink of theological liberalism back to biblical fidelity. Today all six SBC seminaries have faculty and administration who affirm the inerrancy of scripture. International and North American missionaries affirm the high view of scripture.


Some messengers will not be aware of my personal involvement in the Resurgence nor the reason for the founding of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Those who do will see me as a Resurgence candidate.


I see the Conservative Resurgence as a positive and necessary development in Southern Baptist life. While cooperation in missions is the lifeblood that drives us as Southern Baptists, mission efforts that don’t flow from a clear commitment to the authority of our Lord Jesus as expressed to us through His inerrant Word have no place among Southern Baptists. I would see my election both as an extension of the efforts begun by people such as my own father to continue to maintain a commitment to the absolute necessity of clear biblical convictions, as well as a statement regarding the desire on the part of many to keep the Resurgence on focus, and not allow it to digress into unfruitful disputes over non-essentials.




10. How should Southern Baptists relate to the culture with regard to matters of biblical morality?

Southern Baptists are called as followers of Jesus Christ to adhere to 1 Peter 1:16, “be holy, for I am holy”. This means practicing biblical sexuality, keeping ourselves from habit forming substances and participating in only wholesome amusements.

Cultural relevance is not something that the gospel lacks. Nor does the sovereign Lord need Southern Baptists to make an impact on cultures. The role of Southern Baptists should continue to be prophetic against cultural excess and evil, but we must not fall into the trap of thinking that "culture" is an evil in itself.

In our everyday practice, I believe we should do our best to be radical in our efforts to “hate the sin and love the sinner.” We must be crystal clear on the key matters of repentance and personal holiness, but always accompanied by an even greater emphasis on God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness.




11. What is your view of the resolution on alcohol adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention last year in Greensboro?

I wholeheartedly support it.

I personally abide by, and strongly recommend, the practice of total abstinence. I also believe we as Southern Baptists do well in recommending this practice, and pointing out the dangers of alcohol use, even in moderation.




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?

Aside from questions about political motives, there are enough theological reasons for Southern Baptists to find other alliances. The SBC voted to end a long-standing relationship with the Baptist World Alliance due to their liberal bent. Jimmy Carter does not believe in the inerrancy of scripture or in the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus Christ. Bill Clinton who vetoed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban when he was president is also a co-sponsor of the event. Southern Baptists should avoid cooperation with groups that have a low view of scripture or a low view of life.

If individual churches and church members feel led of the Lord to participate in this, or any other event, with a clean conscience before the Lord, I do not believe the Convention should try to override their decision. I personally, however, would prefer to devote my energies to activities in which the fundamentals of the gospel are more clearly delineated.





13. What else would you like to say to Southern Baptists?

My prayer is that we can get before the Lord in San Antonio and see an unprecedented move of God. If we will humble ourselves before our Lord, perhaps he will pour out His fire upon us that we might become flaming witnesses for Jesus. To my knowledge there has never been a powerful move of the Holy Spirit at an annual meeting where there was a spiritual awakening. If it happens to us, maybe it can happen across our land.

The task before us is enormous. The need for proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of all peoples of the earth is urgent. We will need a special touch of God upon us if we are to be faithful stewards of the gifts, talents and resources with which we have been entrusted. Let’s move forward together to proclaim with boldness the message of love, reconciliation, and forgiveness to a lost and dying world that is waiting to not only hear the gospel, but also see it lived out among us in sincerity and integrity.


Jim Richards is executive director-treasurer of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

David Rogers is a church planter and mobilization coordinator for the International Mission Board serving in Madrid, Spain.