Keeping God’s covenant requires doing more than just preaching the gospel, but also helping the needy and challenging injustice, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Moderator Emmanuel McCall said in a Thursday address.
McCall, founding pastor of The Fellowship Group in East Point, Ga., and a former longtime black-church relations leader with the Southern Baptist Convention, said the Atlanta-based CBF keeps covenant with God with holistic evangelism.
“We are evangelizing by loving people into a relationship with God,” McCall said. “We are evangelizing by dealing with the needs that people have which if not addressed will obscure the message. We are evangelizing by challenging unjust situations, the disparities and inequities of life.”
“Some may say, ‘That’s just social action,'” McCall said. “I beg to differ with you. No, it is not just social action. It is far more than that. Have you not read the New Testament, especially the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? In reading them did you not discover that is just what Jesus did? Can we dare do less?”
Among “covenants” entered by the CBF during the last year, McCall said, is next year’s New Baptist Covenant Celebration in Atlanta. McCall said he shares an “awesome excitement” about the gathering.
“The theme scripture for the New Baptist Covenant is what has motivated many of us for most of our ministries,” McCall said. “Hear our Lord Jesus say, as it is recorded in Luke 4:18-19, ‘The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim this is the year of the Lord’s favor.'”
On Wednesday the CBF Coordinating Council passed a statement to “enthusiastically affirm” the New Baptist Covenant, a pact pledging cooperation by leaders of organizations representing 20 million North American Baptists to create “an authentic and genuine prophetic Baptist voice.” The agenda includes promoting peace with justice, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, caring for the sick and marginalized, promoting religious liberty and respecting religious diversity.
The Coordinating Council statement said “it is hard to imagine any development among Baptists” more in line with CBF core values and ideals.
The president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Baptist group, has said he would not be taking part in the New Baptist Covenant Celebration, because of what he viewed as political overtones.
“I will not be a part of any smokescreen leftwing liberal agenda that seeks to deny the greatest need in our world, that being that the lost be shown the way to eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord,” SBC President Frank Page said last month.
CBF leader McCall said people will come to know the Lord “not by gimmicks, not by rules and regulations, not by manipulations, schemes, crafty advertisements, not by sleight of hand or trickery of spirit,” but by the presence of God’s people.
“People are more than just souls to become the objects of evangelistic head counting,” McCall said. “Every person is a person made in God’s image and likeness. We must ourselves strive to be the presence of Christ, and to help others also become like Christ.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.