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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Interview w/ BGCT Presidential Candidate David Lowrie

Rick Davis, a Texas Baptist pastor and blogger, has posted online a short interview with BGCT Presidential Candidate David Lowrie. I have mentioned Mr. Lowrie in a previous post.

This interview seems to be a result of a quote by Lowrie several weeks ago in which he promised to "stop the drift away from the SBC toward the CBF" as President of the BGCT. Continuing, Lowrie asserted that such a drift has "undermined our effectiveness" and Texas Baptists need to "get back to a more centrist position."

According to Rick Davis, Lowrie was quoted correctly and stands firmly behind his words.

Rick's questions are in bold, Lowrie's answers are in block quotes, and my response is after the interview.....

David, did you say you would try to stop the drift from the SBC to the CBF in BGCT life? If so, how would you do this? With personal influence, or through committee appointments, or through influencing hires at the staff level? Or how?
I would seek to stop the drift at the beginning by my personal influence. I would seek to build good working relationships with all our partners in global ministry. I would not seek to burn any bridges, but rather to restore them. I would also encourage that our committee appointment process would reflect the face of the BGCT. Since the majority of our churches give to the SBC, I think our committees should reflect this reality. I believe we need to affirm the SBC causes that we can support in good faith. On the staff level, I would encourage them to look for points of connection and cooperation with the SBC and its ministries. Where we can work together (i.e. Disaster Relief) let's work together. Where we cannot work together, then let's part ways but continue to work for Kingdom purposes on separate fronts. I love the BGCT and I love the SBC, and have since childhood. I realize I live in a new world, but I also know I am still part of the same Kingdom I have always served. The Kingdom of God is much bigger and broader than any of could ever imagine. I believe in a Big House and a Big Tent.
Will you speak forcefully about the ultra neo-fundamentalist drift in the SBC, which has left many of functionally without a home, as to national conventions?
I have attended as many SBC conventions as I could over the past twenty five years. Therefore I speak out of my own personal experiences and not what I have read. I will admit that I have had great difficulty with much of what has happened over the past twenty-five years. I did not always vote with the majority. I lost many votes, but my heart fo the Kingdom and the nations kept me involved. The face of Lottie Moon is much different today. I see her face in the young mssionaries around the world who are giving their lives for the sake of the gospel. I have heard that I am a closet fundamentalist, but I doubt the fundamentalists would claim based on my actions and my actions and my strong support of the BGCT and its openness. I have seen the ugly face of fundamentalism up close when my father was blackballed from a position with a SBC seminary. I fought it then and will fight it in the future if necessary. The important thing to remember is that we are still on the same team even when we don't agree. I believe that our strongest movements are built around relationships, not rules and regulations, so I would seek to build strong, healthy relationships with those in power and would seek to find ways we could work together on Kingdom terms.
In the first question, it appears that David Lowrie supports a Big Tent BGCT. However, Lowrie fails to affirm BGCT-CBF cooperation. From all I've read, Lowrie has not once affirmed such cooperation or spoken positively of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Why? On which SBC ministry can Lowrie NOT cooperate? And on which CBF endeavor will he cooperate? Are there in fact any?

At first glance, Lowrie's second answer sounds a wee-bit better. But honestly, it astounds me even more. Speaking from personal experience, if your pops was blackballed, why haven't you seen the LIGHT? My gosh. His trite ditty about supporting the missionaries is weak. Lottie Moon is not the only missions offering taken up by Baptists. The SBC isn't the only Baptist organization that sends out missionaries. Lowrie sees the face of Lottie Moon today in the faces of young missionaries around the world. Yet in the current SBC, Lottie likely would be turned down by the International Mission Board. Lottie liked to preach ya know. The Apostle Paul wouldn't qualify either - so I'm told. But anyways....

Back to Lowrie's first response.

All his talk about PARITY is UTTER NONSENSE. Pull a Baptist history text out of your bookcase. Look up PARITY in the index and you'll find a picture of PAIGE PATTERSON. 25 years ago on November 24, 1982, Patterson presented a paper in which he expressed his desire for "parity" or equal representation of inerrantists in denominational structures. Today, we know Paige Patterson & Company wanted CONTROL not PARITY. Now, Lowrie is singing the parity tune...

Same song. Different verse?

UPDATE: In the comment section of the aforementioned post of Rick Davis, Lowrie writes that "there is no question that the extremes of fundamentalism moved the SBC away from the center of who we are as Texas Baptists....Most of the challenges we face in this state have little to do with national convention politics (SBC or CBF)."

So, Lowrie acknowledges that the current fundamentalist-led SBC is not representative of "who we are as Texas Baptists." Yet, he wants to "stop the drift away from the SBC toward the CBF." And Lowrie wants "parity" and a return to a more "centrist position."

Does any of that make sense? If the BGCT's challenges have little or nothing to do with the SBC or CBF, why is Lowrie concerned about the so-called CBF drift? Seriously, is "centrist" West Texan for "ultra-conservative" ???

Lowrie concludes his comment with these words:
We have an elephant in the living room, but there may be more than one. The only way to release this herd and send them on their way is for us to start a conversation that leads to concert of effort for the sake of the Kingdom.
Folks that other elephant alluded to is a moderate Baptist......

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7 Comments:

Blogger joerstewart said...

BDW:
It seems the Baylor group is practicing a fundamentalism of the left with their censoring of ID.
Blessings,
Joe

1:08 PM

 
Blogger Alexis said...

I would be curious to hear Lowrie's take on the NBC- since the whole theme of the celebration is partnerships to further the Kingdom of God...

1:47 PM

 
Anonymous David Lowrie said...

BDW:

Thank you for your insights and feedback. Concerning my views of the CBF, I would be open to continued cooperation with them.

The BGCT needs to have a vision board and bold enough for all of us which includes SBC and CBF.

I have seen the light about extreme fundamentalism, but I cannot paint the whole mission and purpose of the SBC with the same brush.

As you can tell I am new at this, and I may at times struggle with communicating well my convictions. I believe I represent a large segment of our convention who continue to financial support the SBC, and want to plan a significant role in the future of the BGCT.

I am still learning at this. As I have shared before. I did not come to this place because I had all the answers. I simply want to help move us together into the future.

As I tried to identify how I fit in the big picture I have chosen to use a term coined by Russell Dilday. I see myself as a "Constructive Conservative", which simply means to me that I am more about building up than tearing down. I am about building bridges not walls.

Thank you for your contribution to the conversation.

David Lowrie
Canyon

7:27 PM

 
Anonymous David Lowrie said...

BDW:

I would like to respond to a couple of your thoughts related to me.

First you wrote:
Patterson presented a paper in which he expressed his desire for "parity" or equal representation of inerrantists in denominational structures. Today, we know Paige Patterson & Company wanted CONTROL not PARITY. Now, Lowrie is singing the parity tune...

Same song. Different verse?

I would suspect Paige Patterson would be offended to be compared to me. If you will check the giving record of my church you will discover we give to the approved budget of the BGCT which means a large portion of our CP money has supported and financed our work together. I am serious about building bridges.

I am a "constructive conservative" as I mentioned before, but I am not closed minded. I am friends with a number of CBF supporters like Steve Vernon and Rick Davis. I have had person conversations with David Currie. David and I do not see eye to eye in a number of areas, but I believe we could find a way to cooperate for the sake of the Kingdom.

Concerning being a "centrist" from West Texas. Let me share with you a bit of my background. I was born in Fort Worth and attended Haltom High. I graduated high school from Texas High in Texarkana. I graduated from Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. My doctor's degree is from Bethel Seminary in St. Paul.

I have served churches in Waco, Temple, Roanoke, Flower Mound, Mabank, Milwaukee, WI, and Canyon.

I help plant a church in Flower Mound.

FBC Canyon currently has 12 IMB missionaries, and 4 independent missionaries. We are the sponsor of the Palo Duro Cowboy Church in cooperation with the BGCT. We are the sole sponsor of an African American church on the campus of WTAMU.

I have a daughter on staff at Howard Payne, and a daughter who is a junior at Howard Payne. I am currently on the board of trustees of Howard Payne.

My wife Robyn is to be nominated as trustee for Worldconnex. I suspect Bill Tinsley,a long time personal friend and mentor, recommended her to serve. Robyn is an ESL instructor at WTAMU and works closely with students from Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. If you want to know more about my heart you might give Bill a call.

I can understand your fears and suspicions. We have lived in a climate of mistrust for too long. It is time for us to come together.

I would encourage you to come to Amarillo and vote for Joy if that is how you feel the Lord is leading you. The important thing is for us to come together to express our visions of the future and to leave Amarillo with a renewed commitment to our common task.

I suspect this blog may sound a bit defensive and I apologize for that. Thank you again for the role you are playing in helping us to keep our eye on the ball.

Sincerely,
David Lowrie
Canyon

5:40 AM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Like Alexis, I would like to hear Dr. Lowrie's view of the NewBapCov, since it purports to offer a new "authentic Baptist witness," "new prophetic voice", an uphold "traditional Baptist values."

Yet, President Carter, convener and keynoter, has been reported to have recently said that a Mormon is a Christian and Judaism is an equally legitimate path to God--entirely non-Baptistic views.

Dr. Lowrie, should the BGCT look into these reports of an incompatible gospel message and, if the reports and reporters remain unrefuted, reconsider or recant its heavy promotion of the movement?

5:07 PM

 
Anonymous David Lowrie said...

BDW, Alexis, and Chuck,

Concerning the NBC I have to admit I am trying to get my mind around this celebration.

The Covenant reads:
We Baptists of North America covenant together to:

* Create an authentic and prophetic Baptist voice for these complex times,
* Emphasize traditional Baptist values, including sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications for public and private morality, and
* Promote peace with justice, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick and marginalized, welcome the strangers among us, and promote religious liberty and respect for religious diversity.

If the question is about the covenant, what follower of Jesus could not affirm the stated mission and values of this covenant?

We do need to speak into the hearts and lives of people during these complex times we face. We should not be afraid to speak out and speak for those who do not have a voice, or an opportunity to be heard. Like the OT prophets of old we cannot remain silent.

What Baptist or follower of Jesus could oppose "sharing the gospel of Jesus"? Let face it in many ways we have not been as evangelistic as Baptist in the past. If we are going to preach the gospel, we must be willing to live out the gospel as Jesus outlined in the Sermon on the Mount.

In the Great Commission, it is clear we are mandated to "make disciples of all nations...baptizing them...and teaching them to obey everything". Too often we have settled for converts rather than disciples. At our church we speak of "discovering, developing, and deploying fully devoted followers of Jesus". The bottom line is not how many are in the building but how many are building the Kingdom.

The last section of the covenant reads:
* Promote peace with justice, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick and marginalized, welcome the strangers among us, and promote religious liberty and respect for religious diversity.

Do I support peace with justice...Yes. Do I believe we should feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick and marginalized, and welcome strangers among us...YES. Is this not the marks of the ministry of Jesus, and the genius behind the BGCT and the CP?

Do I believe we need religious liberty and respect for religious diversity? Yes, but this is where it gets very complicated.

As a firm believer in the priesthood of the believer I understand each of us stands under God and is accountable for his/her faith and actions. When it comes to large conventions and organizations I struggle with how to apply this principle.

I personally believe President Carter to be a good God seeking man. If as Chuck has reported Carter holds the views as stated:

Yet, President Carter, convener and keynoter, has been reported to have recently said that a Mormon is a Christian and Judaism is an equally legitimate path to God--entirely non-Baptistic views.

I would respectful disagree with his views, not based on my own personal views, but what I believe Jesus taught on the matter. Here is the rub, can I work with Carter on these worthy causes and disagree with him on these vital theological issues?

To be honest I don't know right now.

On the other hand, this movement is much bigger than one man or one woman.

In addition, many are concerned about the political implications of the gathering. If part of the agenda of the NBC were to promote the influence of a national political party I would have grave concerns about it. I believe the church cannot be seen as a mouth piece for either political party. Our mission is to work for the sake of the Kingdom. If we are too closely aligned with a political party I believe we lose a vital part of our ability to speak into our culture. I have always admired how Billy Graham was a mentor and counselor to Presidents from both parties, yet he did not lower himself to leave his calling as a minister of the gospel for the sake of political power and influence.

I guess the crux of the question is what would I do if I were elected president of the BGCT?

To be as open and honest, I suspect I would gather around me a cross section of leaders from our convention and we would prayerful discuss the issues. I would seek their counsel and advice. I would seek to understand the challenges and the opportunities of NBC. I would seek to lead us to respond in a way that would advance the work of the Kingdom in the greatest way. I realize that a choice either way has consequences so it would be impossible to please everyone.

At this point I don't have enough information to make a good informed decision, but I am seeking to learn more.

I would be open to your insights and warnings.

I guess to make a long story short:
I support the stated objectives of the NBC. I have respect for many who have already signed the covenant. I am not sure what the best course of action we should take as a convention. I would respect and support the freedom of all believers who choose to become actively involved in this movement.

As I have shared before I don’t have all the answers, but I am willing to work with our whole Baptist family to find the synergy of the Spirit, and win/win solutions for the sake of the Kingdom.

I trust these comments have been helpful to understand my heart on this matter.

David Lowrie

6:25 PM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Dr. Lowrie,

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

I simply believe that a clear gospel witness--exclusivity of Christ to save included--is central to all our cooperative efforts under the banner of "Baptist."

President Carter's prominent role in the NBC distorts the witness, based on his unrefuted reported comments.

4:09 PM

 

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