Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, called for unity within the convention during chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Sept 14.
“Certainly, we know (Satan) has taken away our unity,” Page said. “He has removed from our convention, I am afraid, a unity that is at the very heart of what we need to be. There are factions across our convention now … that are so distinct, so despairing, that there is literally no fellowship within some of the groups. That burdens my heart deeply.”
Page said that too many Southern Baptists “underestimate the enemy” as Satan gains victories in people’s lives, in families, within churches and within the convention. The “moral climate” of the United States and the disarray within Southern Baptist churches point to attacks from Satan, he said. Too many Southern Baptist churches in the United States are on a plateau or “declining” in growth, Page said.
“No matter how good looking the garb of Satan can be, he always intends to steal, kill and destroy,” Page said.
“(Satan) has taken effectiveness; he has taken power; he has taken sweet attractiveness from us and our churches so that no longer do lost people yearn to be a part of what God is doing in the churches, but they are repulsed by it,” he said.
In the face of this spiritual battle, Page urged members of the convention to take hold of Jesus’ promise in John 10:10 to “have life, and have it abundantly.” Page also called for Southern Baptists to be unified in Christ and to trust the Holy Spirit to guide them as they sort through their differences.
“It’s time that we come together, realizing that we are Jesus people, and that we believe in the word of God,” Page said. “And while we may not always agree with various interpretations, we stand as one people in Jesus Christ in commitment to His word.”
During the latter half of the 20th century, the convention fought and won a battle to affirm Scripture as the inerrant word of God, Page noted. While Baptists should continue to be vigilant in this battle, they must also turn their attention toward many issues that the denomination is now facing.
“If we do not start asking the question about … relevancy, then we are going to lose it all,” Page said. “And it is all going to be a moot point, for our churches will die.”
Page questioned the relevancy of the denomination within the pluralistic and changing environment of the 21st century. Southern Baptists must seek new ways to reach out in this culture while remaining “biblically sound” in doctrine and action, he said.
“The early church had very little influence but great power; the church today has great influence but no power. And we’re losing our relevancy,” Page said. “The early church was met with persecution; the modern day church is met with a yawn.”
The Southern Baptist Convention elected Page, a native of Robbins, N.C., as president of the convention on June 13, 2006. Page has been pastor of the First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C. since 2001. He received his master of divinity and his doctor of philosophy from Southwestern Seminary.
Archived Flash Media and MP3 recordings of Page’s sermon can be viewed, listened or downloaded through the seminary’s Web site, www.swbts.edu.