The resolution, which survived two amendment efforts, affirmed the concept of a "sinner's prayer" while reiterating the belief that "repentance from sin and personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation." It said such a "crying out for mercy and a calling on the Lord," which constitute what is often described as a "sinner's prayer," are a "biblical expression of repentance and faith."
The resolution also said "a 'sinner's prayer' is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel." It also urged Southern Baptists to continue to take the Gospel to sinners of "every tribe, tongue, and language."
Two African-American pastors -- Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, and Eric Redmond of Reformation Alive Baptist Church in Temple Hills, Md. -- submitted the resolution objecting to misappropriating civil rights language in the cause of legalizing same-sex marriage.
The resolution provides encouragement to black pastors, said Kevin Smith, an African American who was a member of the committee. Smith is pastor of Watson Memorial Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., and assistant professor of Christian preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
"During this season, black pastors will have to speak about this issue in a way that white pastors won't," Smith said at the news conference. Referring to President Obama's recently announced support for gay marriage, Smith said, "They'll speak against the first black president and his personal views on marriage while affirming biblical authority."
Black pastors already are taking a clear stand on the issue, but "it's just good to have the affirmation of your brothers and sisters" in the denomination, Smith said.
The resolution on the use of civil rights rhetoric on the same-sex marriage issue was "beautifully crafted," Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land told reporters. "I think it's important that the largest Protestant denomination in the country made it clear where they stand on this issue."
Part of the resolution on religious freedom urged Obama to tell his administration to back down from its requirement that health plans cover contraceptives, including ones that can cause abortions, and sterilizations. It also called for a sufficient exemption for all people and organizations with a religious objection.
It "is so important that our people understand and that the country understand that this debate is not about reproductive freedom. This is about religious freedom," said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "It's about all people of faith and whether or not the government can coerce them to pay for that which they find unconscionable."
Seventeen resolutions were submitted to the committee for consideration.
In addition to Scroggins and Smith, other members of the Resolutions Committee were: Stephen Farish, senior pastor of Crossroads Church, Grayslake, Ill.; Cheri Jimenez, pastor's wife and member of Taylors First Baptist Church, Greer, S.C.; Manpoong Dennis Kim, pastor of Global Mission Church, Silver Spring, Md.; Gary Lowe, member of Alta Canyon Baptist Church, Sandy, Utah; Tim Ohls, senior pastor of Believers Southern Baptist Church, Wichita, Kan.; Kevin Ueckert, senior pastor of South Side Baptist Church, Abilene, Texas; Stephen Douglas Wilson, member of First Baptist Church, Lone Oak, Ky., and dean emeritus and chair of the social studies/history department at Mid-Continent University, Mayfield, Ky., and Joe Wright, director of missions for Dyer Baptist Association, Dyersburg, Tenn.
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.
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