Live-Blogging the EFCA National Conference – Installment 5
UPDATE: 11:39 AM – By a vote of 630 to (I think) 105, the proposed revised Statement of Faith became the Statement of Faith. Blessed be the name of the Lord. I then offered a resolution, unanimously (I hope!) adopted, calling us to unity, recognizing the efforts and dedication of our leadership, etc.
UPDATE: 10:51 AM – We’re now in the midst of debating the actual proposed revision itself. There have been some folks who’ve spoken on both sides of the issue. My buddy Matt thinks the revised SOF will pass, but I don’t know that he’s betting the house on it…
UPDATE: 10:06 AM – An amendment is offered regarding the inclusion of a statement regarding congregational church government. It is voted down as well.
UPDATE: 10:02 AM – The amendment failed by a significant margin. I voted against the amendment. I believe that the day will come–and I hope that it is soon–when the plank is removed. But Ernie Manges is right: now is not the time.
UPDATE: 9:50 AM – Missionary Ernie Manges, a supporter of the removal of the premil plank, spoke against the amendment, arguing that for the sake of unity, this is not the time, and this is not the place. Now, my buddy Jack Brooks, lacing his comments with his wonderful wit, is speaking against the amendment as well. Jack’s a guy who changed his mind on the whole thing, originally against removing premillennialism, then looking at things from a polity perspective, decided he wasn’t comfortable being in a position where we wouldn’t ordain some of the great British Puritans. The next speaker spoke against the amendment as well, but because he doesn’t believe it ought ever be changed. He included a needless, negative remark against our Spiritual Heritage Committee. Bad show.
UPDATE: 9:39 AM – Bobby File presented a cogent argument for the removal of the premil plank, and Bill Kynes spoke his strong agreement with the substance of it, yet urged rejection for the sake of unity. At this moment, that’s my position. I do retain an element of persuadability (if that’s a word)…
I’ve not said much about the worship sessions, and won’t yet; they have been good, uplifting, challenging as we’ve been led by a tremendous worship team, Sarah Renner and Elements from Minneapolis. Our speakers have focused on I Peter 2, on our identity as “living stones” built up into a spiritual household. Good stuff.
We only got to two amendments yesterday, and this morning, we’ll deliberate the other two. If neither passes, we’ll vote on the revised Statement of Faith, it needing a 2/3 majority for passage. One friend, who’ll remain nameless, is planning to abstain from voting on the premil amendment. Here’s his reasoning: he is technically in favor, and pretty strongly, of the amendment, which would remove the word “premillennial” from our Statement of Faith–even though he’s premil himself. My own position is the same as to the issues. The problem is that he and I would both like to see the Revised SOF pass, and removing the premil plank might well make that more difficult (almost certainly). Would we be willing to settle for half a loaf, and then eventually bring back up the removal of the premil plank, once we have a better/stronger SOF? I sure would. But his reasoning in abstaining is this: to vote against the removal of the premil plank would be to send a message, perhaps, that he would like to see the premil plank retained, which is not his intent. To vote for the removal of the plank would be to not only push back the final vote a year, but increase the likelihood that we’ll not get a new SOF at all. And so he’s employing this strategery.
I’m not sure I like it much, though I understand his reasoning. The Board of Directors, which removed the premil plank in revisions 1 and 2, put it back in out of a concern for unity, and possibly as well out of concern that we get a refreshed Statement of Faith in place. I’m inclined to support their rationale, vote against the premil plank, take what we can get now, and deal with that plank in several years.