True gospel, character issue addressed in SBC resolutions

by Dwayne Hastings , posted Wednesday, June 10, 1998 (21 years ago)

SALT LAKE CITY (BP)--In a resolution on "the true Christian gospel," messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 10 in Salt Lake City drew doctrinal distinctions between their faith and that of many of their hosts, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Messengers affirmed the "finality, sufficiency and exclusivity of the Christian Gospel" in one of two resolutions adopted Wednesday morning, the other addressing the character issue involving the nation's leaders.

Of the doctrine-oriented resolution, Michael Whitehead, SBC Committee on Resolutions chairman, said its purpose is "to clearly state what the Bible says is the true gospel of the true Christ." "This is the most important thing Southern Baptists wanted to say at this convention and at any convention," said Whitehead, a vice president at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo., and attorney.

The dialogue between Southern Baptist and Mormon leaders prior to the Salt Lake City convention has been "gracious and cordial, but very honest," Whitehead said. He cited major differences between Southern Baptist and Mormon beliefs about the nature of God and the nature of Christ.

The resolution also underscored "biblical revelation as the sole source of saving truth," in contrast to beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that the Book of Mormon is similarly divinely inspired.

Noting "there have been and will be many false and counterfeit Christs," the resolution insists Jesus Christ is the unique and eternal Son of God, "supernaturally conceived of the Holy Spirit, without sexual relations."

"It is clear and theologically correct that there is the true gospel that describes the true Christ," Whitehead said, adding "there are counterfeit gospels in the world that describe a counterfeit Christ."

The resolution on personal integrity and morality of public officials states they should "live by the highest standards of morality, both in their private actions and in their public duties."

While not citing fellow Southern Baptist and U.S. President Bill Clinton by name, the resolution insists no Americans, including politicians, are above the law. It states, "We urge all Americans, including those who serve in public office, to submit themselves to governing authorities and to the rule of law."

Saying the resolution wasn't "very salty," an amendment was proposed from the floor to include a reference to Clinton in the resolution.

Whitehead agreed the world needs "salt," but said the committee didn't want to call names in any resolution. "The only personal name we would like this convention to mention is the name of Jesus," Whitehead said. The amendment by Wiley Drake of California was defeated.

In the face of opinion polls that suggest Americans are willing to excuse allegations of immoral behavior by elected officials, the resolution urges citizens "to embrace and act on the conviction that character does count in public office."

"God says character counts and so do we," Whitehead concluded.

The committee is expected to introduce five more resolutions Thursday, June 11, for action by the convention.

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