[This post was first prepared before Dr. Mohler announced his health problems and pulled his name. I have updated it to reflect this change]
With the announcement that Dr. Mohler is not running for President due to his health, this SBC President election in Indianapolis may or may not be as interesting as 2 years ago. On February 7th, Baptist Press reported that Dr. Frank Cox from GA was going to be nominated for SBC President by Junior Hill. I am a bit surprised that this nomination really didn’t catch much press compared to that of when Dr. Mohler’s nomination was announced. I thought that someone such as Junior Hill nominating someone to ‘oppose’ a seminary president would be a big deal. Early on Thursday, I searched on Google Blogs and only found 10 blog links to this topic even though Baptist Press published their report a week ago. Even a search of our own unofficial Southern news source Said at Southernrevealed only one hit for the story about Dr. Cox’s nomination for SBC President.
First, I need to say that I am a student here at Southern and have much admiration for Dr. Mohler. When we first got married, Beth and I would listen to his radio show which would lead to some great discussions about our faith an walk with the Lord; this was so great for our marriage during this first year together. (But she is still a bit ‘bitter’ about not getting to ask her question on Ask Anything Wednesday. . . I love you Bethie!) Being a student here at Southern, I have been able to learn in an environment that was not possible 20 years ago. For this also, I am thankful for the battle that Dr. Mohler led to reclaim this great Seminary. So, my vote would have been for Dr. Mohler had he still been running.
While I must say that I do not know anything about Dr. Cox other than what I read both on the blogs, his website, and from the BP article, he seems like a man who is committed to the Lord, his church, and the SBC. He has served in numerous positions within the convention, has been a pastor at the same church for over 27 years, and leads his church to give 13.4% of undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program. This is great. Having served on the mission field, I am also thankful for the almost $60,000 the church gave to Lottie Moon in 2006! So all this to say that this rest of this article is not a hit on Dr. Cox, but more of a general question that came to my mind when I was reading about his church.
From the BP article, here are two quotes about Dr. Cox’s church:
“Under his leadership, the church has grown from 700 members to more than 4,600, with 3,600-plus individuals added to the church fellowship as baptized believers”
“The most recent information available, Southern Baptists’ 2006 Annual Church Profile Survey, lists 110 baptisms and primary worship service attendance of 1,737 for North Metro.”
Now, I have read through most of the blog comments on his nomination and I have not seen any of them address this point. Many of them were steering this as Calvinism vs Non-Calvinism, pastor vs entity head, etc. or bringing up the fact that Junior Hill is going to nominate him (Junior did speak at SBTS’s chapel in the Fall of 2007). But are we not missing another issue here? This church has a membership of more than 4,600 people but in 2006 only had a primary worship service attendance of 1,737. That is only 38%! Now, I know that North Metro First Baptist Church is not the only church with this problem so this is not necessarily directed at Dr. Cox’s leadership, but it does bring up the issue of church membership integrity, again (see here, here, here, etc). I have heard that another blogger is working on a project looking at just this very issue so I look forward to the day it comes out, but until then, is this issue not as important at the percentage of CP giving? I have to think it is vitally important to our integrity as Southern Baptists!
There are many different ways to run from here: should the SBC President’s church not only give at least 10% to CP but also have a minimum % of membership actually attend the church, does this even matter in voting for a convention office, when are we going to address the bigger issue that Tom Ascol has been trying to bring before the convention, is this a Calvinist or non-Calvinist issue, or is the SBC always going to be a convention where half of it’s members are no where to be found? While all of these need to be addressed, I am not sure how right at this moment especially in light of a young man at our church who is in the hospital with meningitis or the senseless killings at NIU. The need for the Gospel is so evident as we look around us or watch the news or sit at work. While I know that these (and others) are issues that will come up the closer we get to the convention, but my prayer is that all is done in light of the cross.