Resolutions from the SBC and Jonathan Edwards
For the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2018, our family of churches has faced and is facing many crises. Over the preceding months, leaders have resigned or been terminated due to moral failures. The supporters of two presidential candidates have been contentiously blogging and tweeting at one another. Plus, as with each Annual Meeting, we will vote on various resolutions.
The resolutions are non-binding to any church or any person. But they give a statement of conviction regarding the voting messengers. Of course, the voting messengers are supposedly representative of the whole SBC. It is a hopeful supposition since about 5,000 messengers are representing 15,000,000 church members. As I’ve thought about the nature of these resolutions, my mind returned to the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards.
He recorded most of the 70 Resolutions in 1722-1723. He wrote them at the ages of 19 and 20. It was before Edwards became a great theologian. It preceded his leadership of The First Great Awakening.
Perhaps – just perhaps – it was a life that lived according to such resolutions that led Edwards to such devotion to the study of God’s glory and leadership in God’s ways.
In his recording of the Resolutions, Edwards directed himself in this way:
Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.
The first two Resolutions read as follows:
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the forementioned things.
The final two Resolutions read:
69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it.
70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.
The hour we face as the Southern Baptist Convention would do well to heed the wise bookends of the young Edwards. With such resolution we would focus on God’s glory and walk away from the allure of denominational power-mongering. We will look for every way to encourage one another toward our duties in the mission of God. Such a spirit of resolution will result in kindness and unity. May we resolve individually and collectively to seek God’s goodness for one another and how our witness to the world may bespeak of His glory.
Citation of the entire list of Resolutions located at the website for The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University.
The Resolutions are included in Jonathan Edwards , Letters and Personal Writings (WJE Online Vol. 16) , Ed. George S. Claghorn.