Also, SBC President Fred Luter told a newspaper that Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, where he is pastor, will be "pulling out of Boy Scouts," and Ernest Easley, pastor of the Atlanta-area Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, appeared on CNN to explain his church's decision to stop sponsoring a Boy Scout troop.
A.J. Smith, in a statement released to Baptist Press June 14, said "on the whole" he agrees with Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, who had tweeted that "Southern Baptists affirmed a wise, balanced, and gospel-focused Boy Scouts resolution. It's not frantic or angry." (Baptist Press' story on the SBC resolution can be accessed here.)
Smith, noting that he was expressing personal thoughts and reflections that do not necessarily represent the executive board of the Association of Baptists for Scouting, emphasized that the resolution, passed at the SBC annual meeting in Houston June 12, does not specifically call on churches to sever ties with the Boy Scouts.
Instead, the resolution asks sponsoring churches to assess prayerfully their relationship with the Boy Scouts. "This is very wise, for not all churches are called to the same kind of ministry," Smith said.
The part of the resolution that encourages Southern Baptist churches who remain involved with the Boy Scouts to do so with the express purpose of sharing the Gospel with boys "aligns well with the mission" of the Association of Baptists for Scouting, Smith said.
Smith, in his statement, encouraged all Southern Baptist churches "to do all they can to strengthen their Royal Ambassador program, whether they continue working with the Boy Scouts or not." The RA program (www.wmu.com/ra) is an essential component of missions education, he said, that deserves "the full and complete support of the churches."
Where he parted with the resolution, Smith said, is that he would like to have seen the resolution "highlight the fact that the BSA insists that 'sexual activity among Scout-aged youth is contrary to Scouting virtues.'"
Smith wants Southern Baptist churches to "build on that by continuing to make available to all youth to whom they minister the True Love Waits discipleship program, whether they maintain a Scouting ministry or not."
Luter, in an interview with AL.com in Alabama, said the Boy Scouts were trying to be politically correct by altering their membership policy to embrace homosexuality.
"There's nothing that can be politically right if it's biblically wrong," Luter said in an article June 15.
The SBC president said he was a Boy Scout and Franklin Avenue Baptist Church hosts a Boy Scout troop.
"We'll be pulling out of Boy Scouts," Luter said, adding that the church may use the Royal Ambassadors program to offer biblically-based guidance to young boys.
Easley, who serves as chairman of the SBC's Executive Committee and whose congregation no longer will host a Boy Scout troop once the new membership policy goes into effect, appeared live on CNN June 15.
As a Bible-believing congregation, Easley said, Roswell Street Baptist is not going to align "in any formal capacity with any outside group that openly accepts and affirms moral practices that violate God's Word."
While the CNN host appeared not to grasp the nature of Easley's stance, the pastor reiterated that love does not condone sin; it confronts it.
"Over and over in Scripture you find sin not condoned but confronted and even Jesus on many occasions when He confronted sinners they experienced forgiveness and grace, and then He says, 'Go and sin no more,'" Easley explained.
Homosexuals, as well as any kind of sinner, are welcome at Roswell Street Baptist "in order to hear the liberating Gospel's message that sets a person free from sin, forgives them and restores them like God intended them to be," Easley said.
Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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