Given the SBC's diversity, Luter said he would like to "get us all on the same page as far as making the main thing the main thing -- and that is evangelism and discipleship and winning lost folk to Christ and doing all we can as a convention."
Luter compared dealing with the diversity in the SBC to the diversity in the local church.
"I tell people, 'Listen, the church is not here to help you with your agenda. You're here to help the church to carry out God's agenda.' And it's the same thing in the convention," he said.
"If we would let go of our egos, if we would let go of our own agendas and let's come together -- despite all of the diversity -- let's come together and do what's best for the Kingdom of heaven, I really think that this convention can really continue to make an impact," he said.
Asked about the debate about Calvinism that has become prominent in the Southern Baptist Convention in recent months, Luter said he is "still trying to wrap my mind around this thing," noting that he is frequently asked about it.
Although he is studying the issue, admitting, "I don't have a handle on it yet," Luter expressed concern about the debate.
"One of the things I can say with surety, I have no doubt the enemy is behind it all. … I just believe that this may be an issue as … in the past that the enemy has tried to divide brothers, divide churches, divide friends to keep our mind off the main thing," he said.
Luter said he was grateful for the many expressions of support he received following his mother's death -- just one week after his election.
"I was riding this high, then my mom died. Of course, that was a low," Luter said. "But to see the response from people across the country … it's been overwhelming."
He was especially thankful that Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, came to New Orleans for his mother's memorial service. It was a "great, great testimony that Frank would come down to be a part of that," he said.
Although Luter's mother, Viola Blayton Brooks, 82, had been ill for about 10 months, her death was unexpected, he said.
"The greatest thing of all was that she was able to see her son make history," Luter said, noting that she was very proud of him, both because of his pastoral successes and his SBC honor.
The day after he was elected SBC president, Luter said he visited her at her New Orleans home. Upon his arrival, she would typically greet him with the declaration, "Look at my pastor!"
"This time when I walked in her door … she said, 'Look at my president! Look at my president!' And she gave me a big old hug."
James A. Smith Sr. is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness (www.gofbw.com), newsjournal fo the Florida Baptist State Convention.
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