Monday, March 24, 2008

The BF&M: The Consensus Document?

Recently our blogging brother Les Puryear offered a piece of analysis at his blog entitled BFM2K: Not Minimal or Maximal but Consensus. In his post, Puryear strove to discard the language of "minimal" or "maximal" with regard to the application of The Baptist Faith and Message, preferring instead to refer to it as the "consensus" of the Southern Baptist Convention. The ultimate implication of Puryear's post was, contrary to the wording of the title, to make the BF&M both a maximal and a minimal document. Here's that conclusion expressed pretty plainly in the article:

For those who wish to reduce the doctrinal standards of the SBC, which are addressed by BFM2K, I submit that you are in violation of the consensus position of the SBC.

For those who wish to stipulate additional doctrinal standards which are not addressed by BFM2K, I also submit that you are in violation of the consensus position of the SBC.

Puryear buttresses his argument with language from the infamous Executive Committee statement proffered to the convention through the Garner Motion:

The Baptist Faith and Message is not a creed, or a complete statement of our faith, nor final or infallible; nevertheless we further acknowledge that it is the only consensus statement of doctrinal beliefs approved by the Southern Baptist Convention and as such is sufficient in its current form to guide trustees in their establishment of policies and practices of entities of the Convention. (emphasis mine)

Puryear includes in his article a two-point definition of "consensus" that is helpful and from which I will draw in my counter-analysis. I think that much of Puryear's analysis is thoughtful, sincere, and potentially helpful. Certainly these are the most important questions of our time in the SBC, and we do well to clarify them. I am thankful for Les Puryear's efforts in that direction.

I agree with this article and with the EC statement (which I endorsed) that the BF&M represents a consensus of SBC doctrinal opinion. However, I think that it is important to note that, by the definition of "consensus" given in Puryear's article (and it is a good and accurate definition), every decision of the SBC is a consensus decision. Thus, I can accurately say that the current trustees of the International Mission Board, approved by the messengers to the SBC, are the only consensus decision makers regarding doctrinal policies at the IMB. The rest of us can all hold our own opinions about what ought to occur there or at any other entity, but our opinions do not enjoy the gravity that trustee opinions hold by consensus action of the convention.

The BF&M is a consensus document; it is not the only, total doctrinal consensus of Southern Baptists. As "statement[s] of doctrinal beliefs" go—formal documents containing a partial listing of articles of the faith for a group of people—The Baptist Faith and Message is indeed the only one of those endorsed by the consensus opinion of the convention. However, the convention has expressed consensus upon a large number of doctrinal issues not contained in any formal "statement of doctrinal beliefs." As I stated long ago (see here), the SBC now has a consensus opinion upon global warming. Of course, some folks have taken issue with the global warming resolution, but certainly no more than have objected to the latest revision of The Baptist Faith and Message (not even as many!).

So, the Southern Baptist Convention has put its consensus behind a great number of propositions. Puryear's article mentions (even if I would give the idea more attention) what does effectively differentiate The Baptist Faith and Message from other consensus actions of the convention: certainty and importance. Southern Baptists have nowhere hinted that we enjoy no more consensus than the boundaries of the BF&M, but we have stated that we have made an effort to identify critically important items by their inclusion in the BF&M. These thoughts we identify as "those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us," that is, the things about which have achieved a high level of certainty. Further in the preamble we read about the importance of these doctrines in verbiage that Puryear has quoted: "We are not embarrassed to state before the world that these are doctrines we hold precious and as essential to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice."

Nevertheless, the convention itself has demonstrated by its own actions that it is entirely capable and willing to find consensus on other items of either lesser certainty or lesser importance than the doctrines enshrined in the BF&M. Indeed, should the people of the SBC make any plain statement about the desired role for The Baptist Faith and Message, that action in and of itself would be a consensus statement outside of our statement of faith.

In conclusion, those who lead our entities find themselves discharging their duties within a number of common-sense constraints. They dare not contradict The Baptist Faith and Message where it speaks, because Southern Baptists have demonstrated their consensus behind it as an "instrument of doctrinal accountability." As such an instrument, it is a minimal statement of doctrine (to reject any portion of it is to be in disagreement with the document and to be subject to convention accountability). They dare not ignore other consensus statements of the Southern Baptist Convention, although these lack the full force of the BF&M, since Southern Baptists have not generally declared these as thoughts "most surely held" or "essential." Nevertheless, to contradict the consensus opinion of the SBC as expressed in a resolution or motion is a serious thing indeed. Finally, they dare not oppose the trustees of the institution, because they are the only consensus group of people to make decisions for the institutions which they govern.

84 comments:

Jonathon said...

Amazing...I read and realize that I don't really understand anything about SBC life...

Looking forward to learning though.

Les Puryear said...

Bart,

I am extremely humbled that you would choose my humble post as worthy of your response with an entire post. I have long admired your love for Christ and your great service to him, both as a professor in one of our fine SBC seminaries and as a pastor.

Allow me to point out that not only is the word "consensus" in the EC statement, but it is also in the Preamble of BFM2K as well.

I follow your argument about a BoT being a consensus, however, as I'm certain you have anticipated, I disagree with your premise. The convention has stated what they agree are our essential beliefs in BFM2K. The convention has come to a consenus. We have no argument among the vast majority of our people on these doctrines. However, there is no convention consensus on doctrines other than those as stated in BFM2K. I personally believe that for any agency or institution to "add to" or "take away from" as doctrinal requirements for employees of said entity, that entity has exceeded its authority.

Are the BoT's microcosms of the convention with the power to enact policy that does not agree with the stated doctrinal essentials of the convention as a whole? I do not think so. I do think they have authority to oversee the entity with which they have been empowered to oversee on practical matters of policy. However, I do not believe that the convention has assigned them authority to establish doctrinal parameters which are a reduction of or additions to the consensus of convention.

I know we disagree on this point and I can live with that. I will continue to love you as a brother in Christ whether or not we ever come to a "consensus" on this matter.

I applaud you for the kind and gentle spirit in which you have engaged this topic.

May God's riches blessings be upon you and your family.

Les

R. L. Vaughn said...

Very interesting.

R. L. Vaughn said...

As far as I am able to follow this discussion, it seems to me that the BF&M could be a consensus (majority of opinion, general agreement) and still be either minimal or maximal. IOW, SBC messengers/churches could come to a general agreement on the doctrines held in the BF&M and still desire them to be either minimal or maximal. As far as I can see, consensus does not distinguish that (or what their intent was).

But that they are held to be essential -- "...these are doctrines we hold precious and as essential to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice" -- sounds like a minimal is intended. If something is essential, you couldn't believe less than that, could you?

Dave Miller said...

I understand and accept that Board, Agencies and schools may have to, at times, make policy that is not specificially spelled out in the BF&M.

And I have no problems with have different seminaries with different doctrinal emphases. Having a seminary or two that are calvinist bastions is alright, as is having one that comes from a more premillennial perspective. As long as each of them works within the parameters of the BF&M, I am well satisfied.

No student should be denied access to Southern because he is not a five-pointer, and no student should be ostracized a SWBTS for being amillennial (after all, they will get straightened out at the rapture).

What I object to about the IMB BoT actions is that they are excluding from service those who are in FULL and COMPLETE agreement with every aspect of the BF&M.

The issue to me is EXCLUSION from service. Nobody should be excluded from fellowship or service at any of our boards, agencies or schools, because of doctrinal viewpoints that go beyond the BF&M.

Exclusion from ministry on theological grounds should be the sole prerogative of the SBC. If the IMB wants to exclude those with a PPL, all they have to do is take it to the SBC and put it before the body.

QUESTION: if a Sunday School class in your church put out guidelines that said, "We only accept people with ________ viewpoint (something beyond your agreed upon guidelines) in this class, would you let that stand?

Shouldn't the church make those decisions?

Ben Macklin said...

Bart and Les -

Would I exceed my authority if I were president of SWBTS and fired all professors who taught dispensationalism (which would be a fine day) since the BFM does not explicitly exclude dispensational theology (though it should)?

Or, should I consider that my rise to the presidency was a tacit endorsement of any changes I felt needed to be made? Would my purge of those I considered heretics be accepted?

IMHO, I agree with you, Les, that agency or institution personnel who "add to" or "take away from" the BFM2K exceed their authority. For me to march in and make SWBTS after my own theological image would assume that I am right by virtue of my office and power, and would needlessly exacerbate theological differences that may only be nuances of very similar positions.

Ben Macklin

Bart Barber said...

To all,

I believe that the convention has every right to express its opinion on any individual issue. It can...

1. Incorporate an article in the BF&M addressing any topic.

2. Adopt a resolution or motion at the annual convention meeting touching upon virtually any issue or topic.

Furthermore, it can do so...

1. Preemptively, before the topic becomes an issue at any entity.

2. Reactively, in response to any issue that has arisen at any entity.

The SBC has the right, at this very meeting upcoming in Indiana, to adopt a resolution in favor of Pentecostal ecstatic utterances in private prayer, or at least against making such a question a criterion for appointment. How it could rationalize doing that without also throwing open the door to the entire spectrum of charismania, I know not, but it could take the action nonetheless.

What the convention has not even the authority to do, as I understand our organization, is to deny our trustees the authority to govern the entities. It is not only the consensus action of our convention, but a pattern embedded into the very legal structure of our convention, that trustees govern our entities in all areas, doctrinal and otherwise.

Bart Barber said...

Les,

You fail to acknowledge a couple of critical points:

1. The SBC has, through resolutions and other means, come to consensus on many issues outside the BF&M.

2. The SBC has, in those areas where the SBC has arrived at no propositional consensus, arrived at a consensus as to who should be empowered to make those decisions for each entity.

Also, I think that you understate the level of opposition to the BF&M. Surely you know that there are a great many Southern Baptists who differ sharply with our statement of faith. There is indeed an "argument." Our brethren in the BGCT here in Texas seem to feel a need to cleanse their collective palate upon uttering the phrase "BF&M 2000." Wade Burleson is, at this very moment, posting multiple times each week in opposition to one article of the BF&M, and he has posted in the past to erode other portions of the document as well.

If the "consensus" terminology is meant to indicate widespread agreement among Southern Baptists, then both the vast majority of our resolutions and the selection of our boards of trustees enjoy much more consensus (i.e., much less public disagreement) than does our statement of faith.

Bart Barber said...

R. L.,

"Essential" does necessarily involve that implication, doesn't it? Good observation.

Ron P. said...

Dave,

If we were to be consistent, the same would have to be said about doctrines such as: Slain in the Spirit, Holy Laughter, etc. If a person who holds to the BFM and holds to the above false doctrines, since the BFM does not speak to these, then all entities would be prohibited from discriminating against anyone who teaches such foolishness.

Ron P.

Bart Barber said...

Dave,

You asked, "Shouldn't the church make those decisions?"

Perhaps the best analogy of all would be this one: Shouldn't your church be able to make such decisions about the Sunday School classes of a mission church that you are sponsoring? On the one hand, we affirm the autonomy of each congregation, so we would want to reserve the right for the mission congregation to make its own decisions about its own Sunday School. On the other hand, the mission congregation is dependent upon your congregation for funding.

So, what would you do if you differed with a mission church as to some action it was taking? Especially what would you do if your own church was divided on the issue, with a substantial faction favoring the mission church's action and a substantial faction disapproving? I can identify some governing principles that I would follow:

1. I would respect that mission church's authority to govern itself. I would make sure that they know that they can do whatever they believe to be God's will.,

2. I would require that they also respect our church's authority to fund them or not to fund them.

3. Before castigating them, I would seek to persuade them from the scriptures of the superiority of my viewpoint.

4. If we were unable to persuade one another, and if the matter were so important as to outweigh our positive ministry potential together, I would want the church to consider whether to continue in funding them.

5. If my church were significantly divided on the matter, or if my church voted to sustain the mission church's viewpoint, I make peace with the decision, unless it were a matter of heresy to do so.

Bart Barber said...

Ben,

You would indeed have overstepped your bounds if you unilaterally did so.

On the other hand, if the board of trustees of your institution, authorized by the consensus of the convention to govern the entity, determined to do so, then that would be another matter altogether.

You speak of Paige Patterson as though he were Howard Hughes. Can you not acknowledge that Dr. Patterson is able to accomplish what he has accomplished in his life for one very simple reason: More people vote with him than vote against him. Your beef isn't with Paige Patterson; it is with the teeming scores of Southern Baptists who agree with him.

Bart Barber said...

Ron P,

Good point.



Dave,

I recall that, while I was away doing pastoral things, another thread expired in which you had posed a question to me that I had failed to answer. It is along the lines of what Ron has pointed out here. The post dealt with Broadway Baptist Church and professors who are members there. You pointed out that Southern Baptists have spoken to the issue of homosexuality. True, yet Southern Baptists have not spoken to the issue of membership in a church that affirms homosexuality.

In other words, although the SBC has clearly settled whether a seminary professor can, himself, affirm homosexuality (he cannot), the SBC has made no statement as to whether a seminary professor can claim to object personally to homosexuality while remaining a member in good standing of a church that affirms homosexuality.

Both Ron P's point and the point of my reply here are the same: The universe of doctrinal questions not covered by the BF&M is vast.

Bart Barber said...

BTW, Ben...I'm glad to see that you're back. I've been holding on to part 2 of my hermeneutics post until your return.

Les Puryear said...

Bart,

My answers are to your redirect to me.

You make a valid point on number one. Where the convention as a whole has spoken specifically on doctrine, I agree that where there is no conflict with BFM2K, then resolutions regarding doctrine which were passed with an overwhelming majority (two-thirds would be my definition of overwhelming majority), should be viewed as a convention consensus on such doctrine. Perhaps this a departure from original point about BFM2K as the only valid document of consensus, but I am teachable enough to concede the point. My sole concern is BoTs deciding doctrinal policy where the convention has not come to a consensus. It seems to me that this might be a workable compromise for both sides of this issue.

I disagree with your point number two. I've made my case as best I know how, thus I won't repeat it here.

I agree with you that BFM2K has its detractors. However, the convention as a whole voted overwhelmingly in the majority to adopt BFM2K. In that context, we, as a convention, have a consensus.

If I have overlooked anything else, please bring it to my attention.

Anonymous said...

Someone has posited an idea from time to time that makes sense to me. If trustees of an institution desire to go beyond the BFM, they should bring the motion to the convention for a vote. I would think that a 2/3 majority should be required to pass.

This would accomplish two things. 1. it would provide a check and balance to the trustees (and protect them) and 2. as Dave points out would assure that entities such as the IMB would have the full force of the convention behind them if they were limiting service to an individual.

It seems to me that one of the goals of the convention would be to remove the trustess from the politics of the SBC as much as possible to concentrate on the actual oversight of the entities that have been entrusted to them.

Anonymous said...

The last comment was made by Jim Champion - sorry forgot to sign

Bart Barber said...

Anonymous,

Respectfully, that is like having a committee or team in your church but telling them that every committee decision must be approved by the congregation in business meeting. Why have the committee at all?

Likewise, any entity's employed administration is capable of reading the BF&M and bringing other questions to the convention each year. Why have trustees at all?

Bart Barber said...

Les,

Thanks for the dialogue. I know that you have stated that you disagree with my second point, but I have missed your rationale for why. I acknowledge your inner sense that this is the way things ought to be (trustees not empowered to take any action on "doctrinal" issues, whatever those are), but can you demonstrate any hint from the governing documents or decisions of our convention or elsewhere that the SBC has ever advanced such a system or view?


Jim Champion,

Thanks for signing your name, brother. As you might observe in my "to all" post above, I believe that the SBC has the right both preemptively and retroactively to take such actions.

Bart Barber said...

Les,

I've got to go work on something else. Let me conclude by offering this observation.

I think there's a wing of our current conversations—folks like Bro. Burleson who have multiple significant objections to the BF&M in its present form—who are ultimately going to go their own way, whether it be into the Antioch Network of Churches or the CBF or wherever. But I think that, among Southern Baptists who actually do agree with the BF&M—not just lipservice, but actual agreement—there is still some disagreement over this fine point of how to coordinate potential disagreement over questions to which the BF&M either hasn't spoken yet or should not, for one reason or another, make a general statement binding to the whole convention of entities.

I'm hopeful that, over such a point that is basically more procedural than ideological, we can reach our own consensus for the coming years and work together in harmony.

Anonymous said...

Bart

As a commitee member, and not a pastor of a church. When a commitee that I am on desires to spend above a certain amount of money - even if it is in our budget, we are required to take the matter to the church for a vote - and have the approval of our stewardship committee. I liken this to trustees going beyond the BFM. 99.9% of what trustees do has little or nothing to do with the BFM, but when they do, it stirs up a hornets nest of controversy.

I think that were I on a BOT, having a procedure in place that requires the vote of the convention would actually be a relief.

Jim Champion

Ron P. said...

Jim,

I think this is where your analogy breaks down. The BOT's, based on the bylaws of our convention, is the final, legal authority of each entity. In the example you give, the BOT's is not analogous to the committee, but of the Church.

Ron P.

Les Puryear said...

Bart,

I agree that our disagreement is more procedural than ideological.

Blessings.

Les

Ron P. said...

Bart,

AMEN! to your comment to Les.

Ron P.

Les Puryear said...

Bart,

One more thing. In your example of how committees work in the church, at least in our church, the committee is not the final authority. The church is the final authority. No committee can set policy without the church's approval. They bring recommendations for policy before the whole church and the church decides. Once the policy is in place, the committee works within the framework of church approved policies and procedures.

I just thought you might want to know how one baptist church does it. :)

Les

Anonymous said...

Ron

I thought the final legal authority was the EC of the SBC - as they are the sole member of our entities - much to the chagrin of NOBTS.

Actually I was responding to Barts comment to me likening to BOTs to committes in our churches.

If we were to use the PPL issue as an example - had the issue gone to the convention, and passed, Wade and Dwight might still complain - but they would have no ground to stand on as the entire convention would have spoken (or at least some majority of the small % present), but once again, probably not far off from what happens in a normal church business meeting :)

Dave Miller said...

Ron, There is a slight difference. While it can be a dangerous guide, history is clear on this one. We have not had missionaries who were active and PUBLIC supporters of the charismatic movement. The phenomena you mention are all outside the norm for Southern Baptists.

But the IMB President HAS a PPL. It was public when he was hired by conservatives. They said it was not an issue.

While I wish all issues of consensus were spelle dout in the BF&M, I think common sense says that we can continue doing what we have done.

But the IMB policies were a demonstrable CHANGE to the way we do things. They would eliminate the President from missionary service.

Such a change to exclude Southern Baptists from service should not be made because John Floyd thinks so.

Dave Miller said...

Bart, the BoT's have the right to govern within the boundaries established by the SBC.

They are not autonomous, like SBC churches. They are under the authority of the SBC and must abide by the policies and doctrines of the SBC.

I would hate to see the SBC (the convention in session) interfere to micromanage.

But this is a broad policy issue that needs to be debated and decided by the SBC, not by one BoT.

They are changing established practices and they are excluding Southern Baptists without basis.

Dave Miller said...

One more thing - a triple post - Bart, you should suspend my privileges.

But THIS is the kind of debate we need to be having - factual and cordial.

Thank you, Bart and Les.

Alan Cross said...

Bart, considering that you focus so much on church polity (and we often agree on that issue), I am surprised by your committee analogy. Would you say that committees in churches should be autonomous? Any committee that decided to create doctrinal qualifications for its work that exceeded the mandate of the church would be in very hot water. You would have a disaster on your hands. That exactly describes what the IMB BoT has done.

Are you saying that unless the BoT can add doctrinal requirements to the BFM, we might as well not even have trustees at all? Do you think that the only role of trustees is to keep creating new doctrinal requirements beyond the BFM? Wow. In U.S. government, we have separation of powers so that no branch is a power unto itself. That happens through a system of checks and balances. A pastor of a church does not have absolute power unto himself. Neither should deacons or committees. This is not micromanagement - it is wisdom. Using the BFM as a safeguard against rogue trustee boards developing their own doctrinal requirements for admission to seminaries or appointments to the mission field should not be something that we are afraid of. It would help us all. Now, if the SBC decides that we don't want any missionaries who have a ppl to serve, then I'll abide by that. But, the SBC hasn't had a say in it. Those trustees were not nominated or elected by anyone in the SBC who had any idea about their position on the issue. We never knew it would come up. It did not come up because of any problem on the field. It was just a fear in the minds of some regarding something that MIGHT happen in the future. We still do not know which trustee voted which way. The only recourse is to vacate the whole board or win presidential elections for 10 years. Both options are terrible. In the mean time, if an SBC church is open to a continualist viewpoint and is in accordance with the BFM, yet it has members who discreetly practice a ppl that feel called to missions, the IMB is closed to them. The was just decided in a closed door meeting a little over two years ago.

I also want to remind you that both Les and I submitted very clear resolutions on the role of the BFM last year. Neither made it out of the resolutions committee. What are the chances that any type of resolution on ppl would make it out of their either? Robin Foster submitted on last year and it did not make it out. So, saying that the Convention can speak to this issue easily is not quite accurate. Many of us here have tried to enable us to do just that and have been rebuffed.

Ben Macklin said...

Bart -

I'm giddy with anticipation.

Actually my beef isn't with Patterson (in this stream of thought) but any agency head that acted to enforce a theological position as THE position of the seminary, board, etc., if that position were not explicitly spelled out in the BFM.

Could an entire trustee board AND agency head act out of bounds of the BFM, or do they write details of the BFM when they enact policy? Bart, your position seems to say that if the president and the trustees agree to enforce a position (a continualist position, for instance) then it is the policy of that institution even though the SBC has not stated its official position through the BF&M.

Ben

Ben

Dave Miller said...

Isn't the issue, boiled down:

Do SBC Boards of Trustees have the authority to set doctrinal parameters for service beyond that of our confessional document?

Wayne Smith said...

Bart,
Your telling us that your church is run by a committee!!!

In His Name
Wayne

Bart Barber said...

Folks,

Glad I stopped by between gigs to defend myself. I direct you all to the actual, carefully-selected text of my "committee" analogy:

"Respectfully, that is like having a committee or team in your church but telling them that every committee decision must be approved by the congregation in business meeting."

The purpose of a committee / team / insert-name-of-the-week-here is for the congregation to be able to divest itself of some body of work and decision-making. The congregation DELEGATES. We have a fellowship committee. When we decide to get together for a fun event, we don't need five hundred opinions as to what brand of mustard to buy. Some things the congregation has already voted to authorize the committee to JUST DO without coming back for a vote.

If a committee can't DO anything, why have it?

Likewise, if a board of trustees can't DO anything, why have it. Thus, my summary question at the end: "Why have the committee at all?"

Contrary to Dave's misunderstanding, our entities are quite similar to my "mission church" analogy (which everyone seems to have determined to skip in favor of the committee statement). They are autonomous, legally and institutionally speaking.

Q: When did The Baptist Faith and Message become the statement of faith for the International Mission Board? When the convention adopted it?

A: No. It became the statement of faith for the IMB when the IMB's board of trustees adopted it as such. The authority of the BF&M at the IMB derives from the authority of her trustees who enacted it. Likewise, the authority of the trustees derives from the authority of the messengers who, in their consensus opinion, elected them and authorized them to govern the entities without bringing every little decision back to the SBC for consideration.

To do otherwise would require that we set aside the entire month of June for our convention meeting. Unless anyone here can give me a good, straightforward, legal definition of what is and is not a "doctrinal" issue. And it would need to be something other than "I know it when I see it." Someone else will probably see it differently.

Alan Cross said...

Bart,

You seem to be saying that unless the committee(to follow your analogy) or BoT can make whatever decision they want on anything as long as it does not contradict the BFM, then they can't do ANYTHING at all. That is a false assumption. It is akin to the teenager who is upset that her parents won't let her stay out past midnight and she responds by saying, "You never let me do anything!" Putting a limit on the doctrinal autonomy of our trustee boards hardly means that they have no authority whatsoever. The ppl and baptism policies were CLEARLY doctrinal. They also clearly created a prohibition that has been nowhere agreed upon in Baptist life. All that we are asking for is that there be some system of review or checks and balances for such an action, like, bring it before the Convention with a one year warning and require a 2/3 majority to enact it. Back up your case as to why this is needed (why can't IMB administrators deal with abuses on the field without turning away EVERY person who practices this, even if they are completely silent about it?).

How did the previous arrangement not work? I don't want charismania on the field either. I also don't want the IMB couples that I know, am very good friends with, and who are doing great work in Asia, to have not been put on the field because of a very quiet theological view that they hold that is not in contrast with the BFM. In short, the BFM is our consensus statement of faith. If it can be required that missionaries sign it to state that they believe at least this, then it seems that it should also be used to at least slow trustee boards down before they willy nilly bring in more requirements without bringing them before the SBC first.

But, I've said all this a time or two before, haven't I? :)

Ron P. said...

Dave,

I would respectfully disagree. If it is not in the BFM, it does not matter what the known public practice of the SBC is. There are many charismatic Southern Baptist (TBN has numbers of them trying to convert us). Based on what you propose, if a doctrine is not in the BFM, to be consistent, we must allow it, or vote to change the BFM on EVERY secondary, tertiary, and heretical doctrine not covered by the BFM.

Ron P.


Bart,

I do like your analogy better. :)

Even votes to disperse funds could become a "doctrinal issue". For example, funding or choosing not to fund Acts 29 is a doctrinally influenced decision. Debate on any issue that in any way is influenced by one's view of Scripture, would require a convention vote if we changed the way our bylaws and BOT's function today, especially if it is not in the BFM.

Also, if it is not in the BFM, would that not require the convention, when voting to "uphold or disavow" a BOT action, that it would necessitate a change in the BFM? If not, a similar (but distinctly different) issue at another entity would require another vote of the convention. We might as well elect a congress to serve year round.

Ron P.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Dave Miller

Anonymous (I think it was Brother Jim Champion) forgot something when he takes us back to the NOBTS situation over Sole Membership. You kind of allude to it in your statement; the BoT's have the right to govern within the boundaries established by the SBC. We have one problem and that is in how the SBC selects the boundaries.

Here is what I am saying. When the convention voted for NOBTS to change their documents allowing for Sole Membership Dr. Kelly responded by bringing it to his BoT and they brought back an alternative suggestion. The convention voted that down and then Dr. Kelly said; 'because the convention voted to do this we will honor the will of the convention'. While, I am in full agreement that the move NOBTS made was what she was supposed to do, legally NOBTS could have said they were not going to do that. What would have happened? Probably, at the next convention there would have been a motion to replace every one of the BoT. However, the only way the convention has control over an entity is through the Trustee system.

The boundaries the SBC sets for each entity is the Board of Trustees that adhere to the BF&M.

Blessings,
Tim

Dave Miller said...

Tim,

I am not sure that I accept your version of SBC polity. As I understand it, all entities of the SBC are governed by BoT's, but they are under the authority of the SBC. The BoT's authority is limited by the authority of the SBC.

I am, perhaps, not an expert parliamentariam, but I do not think that what you said is constitutionally correct.

On this I will agree. We would replace any SBC BoT that flaunted the SBC in the way you described.

Dave Miller said...

I feel like some of you are willfully refusing to understand and using ad absurdum arguments.

Bart, no one is saying that the BoT's would have to go to the SBC on every issue - just if they wanted to exceed the consensus confession.

The committees you mentioned - they have been granted certain authority to act. If they go beyond that authority, they will have to answer to the church.

That is all we are asking of the IMB power-brokers. Go to the convention if you want to exclude Southern Baptists.

Someone has to tell me this: What is the harm in going to the SBC if you want to exclude Southern Baptists from ministry?

It seems to me that IT SHOULD BE hard to exclude SB's in good standing who are in agreement with the BF&M from service.

This IMB action was an abuse of authority that has started a lot of problems in the SBC.

Had they just gone to the SBC and said, "We have a problem, we ask you to give us this permission," we wouldn't have the problem today. (The motion would have failed miserably, which is probably why they didn't bring it forward.)

Ron P. said...

Dave,

I am not trying to use absurd arguments. Quite the contrary, I am trying to show you what the logical outcome of your argument will bring. I agree most Southern Baptists today would not have any trouble with the examples I gave. But I could have said that about Woman Pastors 20 years ago. I could have said that about a host of issues in the past. PPL would not have been an issue 20 years ago. It is something that is relatively new on the scene in the SBC politic. However, in a few years, those examples I gave could be in play in several SBC churches. Then those supporting such issues, would rightfully claim that the BFM was being exceeded by an entity BOT if they were not allowed to serve based on their belief in such things. It brings up the old axiom: Be careful what you wish for. Then we would most definitely have some unintended and undesirable consequences.

Let me further add, that I must disagree that the IMB policies were an abuse of power. It is well within the BOT's authority and right, under our SBC bylaws as they exist today. The bylaws give that authority and right solely to the BOT's. Bart correctly states, that the Messengers can weigh in on issues, but it is not binding. The Convention could only change it by removing the Trustees and replacing them with new ones, if my understanding of our bylaws is correct. Therefore, they did not need to ask permission for something that they already have been given permission to do.

I will grant you that if you want to change the way the SBC currently conducts it's affairs, that is a legitimate point to discuss and debate. I look forward to that. But to impugn the reputation of the IMB BOT's for doing something that is within their responsibilities as Trustees, is wrong.

Ron P.

Alan Cross said...

Ron,

With all due respect, what the IMB BoT did was not within their responsibility. They overreacted to an imaginary problem. There was never any evidence that there was a "charismatic" problem on the field or that the previous policies or administration was not adequate to handle any problems that might have come up. They created a policy that eliminated their own president from serving on the mission field. They created a policy that stood against the practice of many missionaries on the field, but they said it was not retroactive - in other words, there are IMB missionaries on the field TODAY who have a PPL!!! If it is so heretical, then why not remove them? According to the trustees and Dr. Patterson, we have missionaries who are engaging in practices that are "harmful to the churches." How does that make sense? They refused to provide proper rationale for their new policies on ppl and baptism. Their new policies went beyond the BF&M doctrinally. No, what they did was not their responsibility. IRRESPONSIBILITY is a much better word to describe what happened.

Ron P. said...

Alan,

I respectfully disagree with your characterization of the issues and members of the IMB. I have spoken in person or via email with several of our IMB Trustees over the past year. They have quite a different view of the issues than what has been blogged about by a former Trustee. I find the descriptions of them used by you quite contrary to what I have heard from them. They have been most gracious, yet concerned with real, not imaginary problems. You, have impugned the character and integrity of every single member of the IMB BOT's that voted to affirm the policies because you do not agree with a decision they made. You should apologize for that.

I will be the first to admit that I do not know what all the issues are or were that caused them to act as they did. None of the Trustees have shared that with me. But, the SBC Messengers elected them to direct the IMB and it is they that ARE responsible for carrying out the duties as Trustees. The only recourse for those who disagree with what they did, is to bring it to the Convention. The Convention can then vote to affirm PPL, change our historic view on Baptism, and vote to remove the IMB BOT. But I don't think that will happen. I think the majority of Southern Baptists would support the IMB BOT.

Blessings,

Ron P.

Alan Cross said...

Ron,

I am not going to argue with you for very long on this, but I will respond to your statement. You said,

"You, have impugned the character and integrity of every single member of the IMB BOT's that voted to affirm the policies because you do not agree with a decision they made. You should apologize for that."

That is simply overreaction. I have done no such thing. I have followed every scintila of information to come out about these policy changes since November 2005. I do not base all of my statement upon what Wade Burleson says. If you will show me one thing that I said that was wrong in any way, I will retract it gladly. My pride is not on the line here. I would love to be wrong. But, after spending over two years pushing for some type of change or disclosure regarding why these policies were necessary and getting no answer, one can only assume that there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Plus, we have had admission that there was no evidence of wrongdoing, but only the possibility that something could go wrong in the future. Even in private conversations with you, trustees defending their position could not tell you anything that has happened. I have spoken with people in the know as well and they have confirmed that there was no abuse taking place.

I have not questioned anyone's character or integrity, nor have I assigned motive to them or judged their hearts. I am just saying that they are horribly wrong. I listed the facts about what they did. You are welcome to dispute my statement, and I would love to see your argument against what I have said. You better believe I disagree with them. But, to disagree is not to impugne someone's character or integrity. That is up to God to decide. I don't play that game. I can only report the results of their decisions and I did so in my last comment.

Dave Miller said...

I guess I need to read the SBC Constitution and Bylaws. I have never understood the entities the way some of you do - as if they are autonomous and not under the authority of the SBC. Ron and Tim have both asserted the (near total) independence and authority of the boards.

My understanding is that they are entities governed by their boards of Trustees, UNDER the authority of the SBC.

The SBC is not supposed to micromanage their workings, but the entities are to abide by the guidelines set down by the SBC.

This autonomous boards and entities idea is new to me, and I am not sure it is accurate to our constitution.

I can't believe you guys are forcing me to read those blasted things!

Dave Miller said...

Alan has nothing to apologize for. If we Southern Baptists do not hold our BoT's accountable when they overstep their authority, we are complicit in their actions.

Wade Burleson may or may not have had the right of principled dissent as a trustee, but I am not a trustee. I am a Southern Baptist pastor who is concerned that the IMB BoT has grossly overstepped their authority and damaged the kingdom in their actions.

I do not think people like you, Ron, who disagree are evil or sinful. It is a disagreement.

But we as Southern Baptists have the right and responsibility to hold our leaders accountable.

Holding leaders accountable and stating our disagreements with their actions is not wrong, it is a fundamental duty of Southern Baptists.

Alan owes no one an apology, in my opinion.

Ron P. said...

Alan,

I do not want to argue with you either. I just think that the broad brush you painted those Trustees that agree with the policies was dead wrong. I still believe that. For you to claim that these are imaginary problems, does interject motive and questions their integrity. I'll leave it at that.

But something just interesting happened to me. I just finished a conversation with someone who was on an overseas mission trip last year. This person and the entire group that went, interacted with IMB missionaries as part of their trip. At a church service where both a local pastor and an IMB missionary preached, the IMB missionary spoke in tongues! This was NOT the local language. This was NOT any known language to anyone there. This was like what you would expect to see on TBN: gibberish. There was no interpreter of the tongues. The IMB missionary also led in a healing service. I did not realize that we Southern Baptists were sending missionaries who spoke gibberish in Church services. But, based on what some of the Trustees have said to me this past year, the problems are quite real. The conversation I just had, cements that belief to me.

Ron P.

Alan Cross said...

Ron,

The problems can only be imaginary when no evidence is ever put forward to back them up. You just provided evidence. Why haven't the trustees done so, or at least assured us that there was evidence and referred to it in general terms so that we would have some type of idea about the problems going on that required the new policies. We didn't even get that. The fact is, the previous policy would have taken care of the problem that you described. I can name you several IMB missionaries who also have a ppl that have never done such a thing, nor would they. Should they be kept off the field as well because of the mistake of someone else? I've heard of people with the gift of leadership abuse it because they became domineering and egotistical. It was all about them. I was told of some missionaries in Africa who just about ruined the spiritual life of Journeyman that I knew through their legalistic self righteousness. What policy can we pass that keeps people like that off the field? We must need a new one because they made it to the field, right? Wrong. In every situation, humanity finds ways to abuse things and to create problems. If people are engaging in charismatic excess, then I support disciplining them and taking them off the field. That is not the way of Baptist churches. But, why don't we do that when missionaries have a great deal of pride or territorialism? Sometimes we do, but we do it through relationships and shepherding. That missionary that you mentioned who spoke in tongues would have been withdrawn before under the old guidelines. Why were new ones needed that regulated a person's devotional life?

The problem is, the new policies/guidelines do not solve the old problems. They just create new ones by keeping people off the field that would not have been a problem in the first place. The old guidelines took care of the types of situations that you just described.

Ron P. said...

Hey Dave,

I guess I am at a loss here, because I do not understand your point. How would a BOT "answer" to the SBC?

I think it is analogous to elected representatives. They are answerable to we the people, but only when voting them into (or out of) office. :)

Ron P.

Alan Cross said...

Ron,

I went back and read my statement to you and it came across a little harsh. I do apologize for that. I get pretty passionate about this issue because I believe that the speediest possible spread of the gospel and expansion of the Kingdom is being unnecessarily hindered by restricting otherwise qualified Southern Baptists from service. I have been fired up over this issue for some time now, as our host will most assuredly confirm. So, please know that I welcome debate and disagreement on this and do not take or intend anything to be taken personally. I try to deal with issues and not run people down and surely did not intend that toward the trustees or you in any way. I just tend to focus on this like a laser and sometimes the blogging medium fails to convey my whole demeanor toward those I debate on this subject. In other words, I have nothing personal against you or the trustees on this. I just disagree with their actions. I'll go to bed now and take it down a few notches. :)

God bless you brother.

Ron P. said...

Alan,

I can agree with much of what you say regarding legalism. It is a danger we always must guard against. However, the Trustees had the right to act as they did. That is my main point and I stand by it. Was it correct, is a valid question for anyone to ask. I do not begrudge you or others for asking it. From what little I know, I think that it was correct. But I freely admit that is because of the personal respect that I have for some of the trustees that I know (or know by reputation). It is also based on the fact that my theology agrees with theirs. But it is a belief that is also based on the current structure of our bylaws. I believe it was well within their purview. If they, or another BOT, enacts doctrinal policies that I would not agree with, I would still believe it is within their right to do so. I, like you, would question if it was the right thing to do though. I believe I would be consistent in that, no matter which side of the issue I was on.

Ron P.

Bart Barber said...

Dear friends,

I go to sleep. In doing so, I point you to the initial points of the post: (1) The BF&M is one of many SBC decisions that embody the consensus of the convention. (2) Among those is the selection of our trustees to govern our otherwise institutionally autonomous entities.

Dave, you might want to check out the by-law that specifically forbids the Executive Committee to direct the operations of the boards of trustees of the entities in their governance duties.

Ron P. said...

Alan,

I hope you too know that I love you as my brother and do want us to reach as many for Christ as possible! I hope I have not offended you, and I took no offense by what you have written. With all the attacks in the blog world, I am predisposed to want to defend the honor and integrity of those that serve us.

God Bless you,

Ron P.

Bart Barber said...

Y'all go to bed too, before fatigue causes any of us to get too harsh with one another and say things we would not have said after a good night's sleep.

Bart Barber said...

And yes, I know whereof I speak.

Ron P. said...

Bart,

Yes sir! I will submit to your authority. :)

(My son is now home, so I "can" finally go to bed.)

Ron P.

Wayne Smith said...

Bart,

I find it rather odd that anyone commenting here would not agree that any Committee or Board of Trusties Operates within Limits and or Boundaries. It is just like a Budget. In everything, They Members of Committee’s are Accountable for the Stewardship given to them.


In His Name
Wayne

Dave Miller said...

I'm a night owl, but I am going to bed soon myself. However, I would make one point, Bart.

There is a difference between the Executive Committee interfering and the SBC giving direction.

Those are two different things, aren't they?

It seems like the heart of this problem is our understanding of Baptist polity.

Are the entities of the SBC independent and autonomous except for the election of trustees, as Ron would have it, or are they under the authority of the SBC?

I guess that only the SBC bylaws can settle that issue.

Bart Barber said...

Wayne,

The boards of trustees operate within significant limitations— (1) nobody but the SBC can populate the boards, and (2) each entity would be financially insolvent within a year but for the financial support or patronage of Southern Baptists.

Bart Barber said...

Dave,

Go to this year's convention meeting and try to make any motion actually doing that—directing one of the entities to do anything at all. The Parliamentarian will answer your question for you.

Dave Miller said...

Why did they then have to get SBC permission to get rid of Wade?

Ron P. said...

Dave,

Why do you think the CR happened? If Messengers could have "told" the BOT's what to do, the CR would have been unnecessary. Instead, we had to elect conservative Presidents, who then made conservative appointments to bring about change. This is done as follows:

Generally, the process described in the SBC Bylaws is as follows: 1) The president of the Southern Baptist Convention appoints the Committee on Committees, 2) The Committee on Committees nominates the Committee on Nominations [two members from each qualified state or region] to the messengers attending the next annual meeting of the Convention, 3) During the following year the Committee on Nominations reviews the qualification of potential nominees to fill SBC trustee and committee vacancies whose names are brought to their attention by interested Southern Baptists, 4) The Committee on Nominations nominates to the messengers attending the next annual meeting of the Convention those nominees they believe to be most worthy of election, and 5) The Convention then elects its trustees and committee members for terms stipulated by the bylaws of the Convention and other appropriate governing documents... Quoted from SBC.net/forms

Ron P.

Dave Miller said...

Ron, I have been a Southern Baptist all my life. I was a state convention president and have been involved in every level of SBC government except holding a national office.

I understand how the appointment process works.

I am just not convinced of your view of SBC political dynamics. You may be right, but I am not convinced.

I am going to research this myself. I have found Bart's information to be reliable on most things, but I just want to do research on my own into the bylaws.

It is a fundamental question on SBC life and I want an authoritative answer.

Bart, I am not talking about micromanaging the entities. But does the SBC not have the authority to set parameters and policies for all its boards and agencies?

Ron P. said...

Dave,

No problem. A number of people never fully grasped that in order for the CR to succeed (and to make changes at our SBC entities), it required us winning the Presidency for so many consecutive years specifically because of the appointment process. Messengers could vote their hearts out, but it did not make one bit of difference in the entities, until we changed the BOT's, which took many years to accomplish.

Have a great day.

Ron P.

Dave Miller said...

Yes, i was there year after year with ballot in hand for just that reason.

volfan007 said...

the more i hear from ron p. the more impressed i get. ron, you are one sharp knife, bro. i like the way you think, and the way you're able to spell it out so clear and precise.

david

Dave Miller said...

That's what I was thinking about Alan.

Isn't it amazing how we assume the intelligence of those who agree with us?

That is actually my definition of intelligent:

Intelligent: One who agrees with Dave Miller.

My wife does not always agree with my definition.

Ron P. said...

Dave,

I agree. :)



David. You are way to kind.

Ron P.

Alan Cross said...

Dave, Ron and Bart are basically right. I had a long conversation with Augie Boto about this as well about 9 months ago (he's the counsel for Ex-Comm). This is basically our polity. We have fairly democratic processes throughout SBC life until you get to our entities and trustee boards. Then, you have a situation where the autonomy of our trustee boards over our entities kicks in. Most Southern Baptists don't understand this and I think that they would be shocked if they did. The situation works pretty well if a small group does not seize power and try to run the entities as they see fit. That happened in the past and the CR was a result because inerrancy was a galvaninzing force for the masses. But, the powers that be know that once you gain power, you can do pretty much whatever you want, short of an action that would create a massive rebellion. It doesn't mean that the trustees are right or are dealing faithfully with the Convention. In my opinion, they are not. But, truth has no protector in the SBC - even by the BFM - unless I can galvanize a majority to wage a ten year political battle to win the presidency. The IMB BoT knows that won't happen, so why respond to the outrage of the peasants? We don't matter. Just keep sending those checks, though.

This is not how the SBC began, though. This perspective developed over time. Originally, entities were to be "amenable" to the desires of the Convention.Entity autonomy developed later as a legal protection for the Convention against being held liable by wrong actions of the entity. It was meant to protect the churches. As late as the 1920's, there was real debate as to the role of the entities and if they were even needed. Most SBC churches gave little. Then, ExComm was formed to better organize all of this, the 1925 BFM was written as a response to liberal infringement, and the CP was developed. The SBC as we know it was born.

But, there is still that bothersome idea of amenability out there. I do not think that our SBC fathers anticipated a situation where cooperating SBC churches would be shur off from the mission field because of the theological whims of a few acting on no consensus of Southern Baptists. Consider the circunstances under which we split from Northern Baptists. Autonomy SHOULD rest with the churches, not the entities. They should serve us. Instead, things have been turned around and an even more centralized system has emerged since the CR, highlighted by the actions of the IMB BoT that effectively cut off continualists from service on the mission field. Because a legal protection for the Convention of a form of autonomy was granted to the entities, certain people have turned that autonomy around to benefit their views. We have no recourse except to launch a ten year crusade which everyone knows will not happen over a tertiary issue.

So, the trustees can do what they want. To clear things up, Augie Boto confirmed the facts of how things actually run and I drew out the implications. He was completely neutral in his presentation. Basically, it is what it is.

If that is all the case, most of the annual meeting, aside from the passage of some rwesolutions that have NO teeth but make for interesting conversation, and the election of a president, the Annual Meeting is a waste of time. Nothing of significance happens there because the messengers have been largely stripped of any real power (see the raction to the Garner Motion). The Annual Meeting has become a stage upon which personalities and agendas can be presented to the SBC for future enactment. Whether we go or not has no real meaning. This is why, out of 16 million Southern Baptists, we never had any more than around 4,000 present for any vote in San Antonio, even though we had over 8,000 messengers in attendance. Huge swaths of the convention hall were empty. Even the people who went to the trouble to go to San Antonio didn't want to sit through it. They'd rather see the Alamo.

Bart, please correct me where Ikve erred. You're the Baptist history expert.

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

Of course, I have a much more positive conception of the current status, but I'll not belabor that point, other than to direct Dave and any other relative newcomers to my white paper on why we need the trustee system. There I've really said all that I have to say, and more perhaps. :-)

I would also dispute your characterization of how our system developed. The autonomy of the entities, even if it brings the advantage of a corporate shield for liability, did not develop for that reason. Basically, it developed for different, more fundamental reasons.

The Southern Baptist Convention is a bureaucracy. It is good at promoting and managing—it stinks at innovating and creating. Yet, among the people of the Southern Baptist Convention are a great many "entrepreneurs," if you will. Most of our entities were started outside of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The SBC had not the courage or vision to start Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Four men did that on their own. It had not the courage or vision to start Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; B. H. Carroll did that. The SBC awakened to the need for a Baptist Sunday School Board only after numerous independent ventures to provide the same or similar services to Southern Baptists. The missions offerings were birthed by individuals with vision. The mission boards were a part of the SBC from the beginning, but the concept of a missionary organization of this type was birthed by Andrew Fuller and William Carey—and even they had to step outside the Northamptonshire Baptist Association and form a separate "start-up" to get the ball rolling.

The SBC is Microsoft, not Apple. Our strength has been in taking over what other people have created. The sole exception is the Cooperative Program.

So you see, historically, the reason that our entities are autonomous is because many of them originated autonomously and all of them operated autonomously from the very beginning. In 1845 the Southern Baptist Convention was merely a once-every-two-years gathering. The boards were the only permanent and continuously operating entities.

Anonymous said...

Bart,

It’s good to read that you're taking a step in the right direction. All you need to do is understand and recognize that as a convention the BF&M is the "only doctrinal" consensus. Hope you get there soon.

Rick

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Dave,

You said; "Isn't it amazing how we assume the intelligence of those who agree with us?" I do not agree with you but I believe you are very intelligent. However, just how the SBC operates I believe your are ill-informed. No one can direct any convention entity from the floor of the convention. That is the purpose of disposing of the motions. For example, I made a motion last year to change the Bylaws informing the messengers of those those nominated for trustess exactly what portion of the BF&M there was disagreement, if any. That motion was referred to the EC for consideration. I have not heard as to the outcome of that motion, but I could not get the messengers to entertain it last year because it feel under the decision of the EC. If I had made my motion to direct the EC to change the Bylaws, it would have been ruled out of order and the EC would have never seen the motion.

The only way for the SBC to be run as you believe they should be--messengers directing them from the floor--would be for a motion to come from the floor overhauling the entire trustee system.

Blessings,
Tim

Alan Cross said...

Bart,

I do not disagree with your historical account. That is a matter of fact. But, the idea of amenability means that when those entities came into the SBC, they were expected to travel in conjunction with the doctrinal consensus of the SBC. This is why the CR had a leg to stand on: the entities were travelling against the doctrinal consensus of the SBC. The CR leaders appealled to the amenability of the entities and the Convention heard and responded. So, while the entities were technically autonomous, the CR happened because the entities moved against the doctrinal consensus of the SBC as expressed through the will of the churches. The BFM was amended as the theolgocial capstone of the CR to reflect that consensus. Now, just 5 years after that event, an entity board moves beyond the consensus of the SBC as expressed in the BFM. They know that another revolution like the CR is impossible at this point, so they basically have the ability to do as they please, even if they are not expressing the will of the Convention. They will let the Convention know what is best for them.

According to your perspective, we have only two options if we are men of courage and vision and want to walk in the steps of our Baptist forefathers: either start our own entities apart from the official SBC organizations, ala Mid America before the CR, or foster a rebellion. Since there will not be a rebellion over issues like ppl and the IMB interpretation of baptism, there is not another option available except to do our own thing. Thank you for providing the historical support that tells us that if we travel that road, we are just as Southern Baptist as B.H. Carroll. I do believe that being Southern Baptist is much bigger than your CP involvement or whether or not you use official SBC missions sending organizations. I just liked what we were doing so much that I was a big advocate for it. That passion is dwindling rapidly.

According to your perspective, the moderate leaders of the SBC before the CR had every right to do what they were doing because they were in power. Apparently, in the SBC, if you get into power, you can pretty much do what you want short of rank heresy. It should not be so. There should be some protection for our fragile conensus so that we can consistently be focused on the Great Commission instead of constantly have to be making sure that one group or another has not wrapped their hands around the power apparatus of the SBC, human nature being what it is and all. It seems that there are many who do not want that protection offered, however. I guess that when you get into power, you care much less about protecting the consensus that enables cooperation and a whole lot more about getting your way.

I'm wondering where those men of courage and vision are?

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

Now who's sounding like the disgruntled teen—unless the entities are responsive to every whim of every group within the convention, whether they have actually won a vote on the question or not, then they are "renegade," focused solely on "power" and entirely unresponsive to the convention?

Perhaps they do not believe that Alan Cross speaks for the Southern Baptist Convention?

Bart Barber said...

Rick,

My original post demonstrates your assertion to be patently false.

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

Also, I agree that the entities continue in amenability to the doctrinal consensus of the convention—both then and now. I think that very fact proves some of the point of my original post. These entities did so long before we had The Baptist Faith and Message. Before we had a BF&M, we had the consensus opinion of the SBC. All of the mechanisms for expressing that consensus that existed before 1925 still exist today alongside the BF&M.

Alan Cross said...

Bart, you said,

"Now who's sounding like the disgruntled teen—unless the entities are responsive to every whim of every group within the convention, whether they have actually won a vote on the question or not, then they are "renegade," focused solely on "power" and entirely unresponsive to the convention?

"Perhaps they do not believe that Alan Cross speaks for the Southern Baptist Convention?"


Wow. That wasn't very becoming of you, Bart. When did I say any of that? All I've ever asked for is a return to the status quo before November 2005. If a change was needed, I have asked for the BoT to bring it before the ENTIRE convention. How is that me trying to get my way, or expecting the entities to "be responsive to every whim of every group within the convention?" I am just looking for the ability to create consensus on these things where none exists. The BFM has been rejected as a standard that would limit the boards. So, fine. Let's use the Annual Meeting as a review. No, that won't work because then, why have trustee boards at all if they have to bring major doctrinal decisions before the SBC? It appears that ANY attempt to call for accountability short of waging another Resurgence is rejected as the petulant rantings of an adolescent.

Didn't mean to aggravate you, Bart. Nor did I desire to make any of this personal. I thought that we were still discussing the issues. I guess you got tired of that and were finished. I'll leave you alone now.

Bart Barber said...

So, precisely the same wording was acceptable when you employed it toward me, but offensive when I employed it toward you?

Ron P. said...

Alan,

I'll let Bart respond about the tone of his answer, though I thought he deftly used hyperbole to make his point about the trustee system in the SBC that he wrote about in his white paper listed above.

However, I disagree that it would take 10 years. All it would take to undo the IMB policies is to unseat the existing board. One vote, is all it would take. If the Messengers did unseat the IMB BOTs, it would immediately make the change you and others desire (assuming the new BOTs followed through with rescinding the policies).

Bart is correct that the BOT's is a consensus of the Messengers, as it is the Messengers that elected them and only they that can unseat them. If, a majority of Messengers were to agree that praying in tongues, baptism etc. are areas that the BOTs wrongly acted on behalf of the convention, then it is very simply solved. But, you have already alluded to the fact that you know the outcome of that vote. Hence, they (BOTs) do not necessarily believe that you speak for most Southern Baptists, rather, I think they correctly believe that most Southern Baptists would agree with them. I hope this has not offended you, my brother.

Blessings,

Ron P.

Dave Miller said...

Tim, that is the kind of ad absurdum argument that there is so much of. There is a middle ground between the absolute power of BoT's and the chaos you described.

if the convention got to set the parameters and policies and then let the BoT's deal with details, that would not be a problem.

I am guessing you might be singing a different tune if Golden Gate's trustees enacted a "Women in Ministry" pastoral-training track.

Dave Miller said...

If I was going to be able to attend this year, I would seriously consider a motion calling for the ouster of Jerry Corbaley and John Floyd as trustees of the SBC.

But, if I understand Bart right, that would be out of order.

Would it, Bart? (Even though I have to disagree with you on this one, your info and grasp on issues of polity has been accurate).

Alan Cross said...

Ron,

No brother, you did not offend me. Nor did Bart, although I fear that he has become perturbed with me for some reason.

Question: When did the messengers to the SBC vote for trustees that would overturn the pre-2005 policies of the IMB regarding ppl and baptism? When were we made aware that this was an issue that would be addressed? To say that the trustees reflect the will of the Convention on this issue is just not accurate. No one knew that this was coming. The trustees overturned an ESTABLISHED practice that no one had a problem with. We are not talking about a group wanting to bring in tongues or anything like that. We are talking about what was already the case.

It appears that I am the conservative here, because I am pining away for the way things used to be back in the good old days of 2004. I don't want things to be my way. How do you create a policy that eliminates the PRESIDENT of the IMB from missionary service and say that it reflects the will of the Convention? Has the Convention removed the president? Have they NOT followed his leadership? Have they questioned his leadership? Have they considered him disqualified for service because he has claimed to have a ppl? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding, NO. So, how could the IMB BoT believe that they are reflecting the will of the SBC? The ignorance and apathy of the average member of the SBC regarding this issue has allowed them to do their work without the kind of opposition that you speak of. A sitting board would never be vacated in the SBC unless they embraced an absolute heresy and were unrepentant, and even then I have my doubts.

Les Puryear said...

Bart,

In regard to the autonomy of the agencies you said, "Dave, you might want to check out the by-law that specifically forbids the Executive Committee to direct the operations of the boards of trustees of the entities in their governance duties."

I agree with you that EC cannot dictate to the boards but how does that transfer to notion that the convention cannot dictate to the boards?

I know the parlimentarians will throw out any motions from the floor that tells the boards what to do, but where is that stated in the legal documents of the SBC?

I understand your history argument but that doesn't cut a lot of mustard with me. Where is the legal statement that the boards do not have to answer to convention messengers?

Les

Bart Barber said...

BART'S TIMELINE OF BEING PERTURBED
=======================

At 6:32 pm on March 24, Alan Cross accused Bart of making the same argument that a petulant teenager might make (viz, that not getting everything you want is the same as not getting anything you want). Bart was not perturbed.

At 2:01 pm on March 25, Alan Cross argued that, since the IMB board perceived what the convention might want them to do in a certain situation differently than the way that Alan perceives it, they actually don't care at all about what the convention wants and are basically totalitarians. Bart disagreed, but was not perturbed.

At 2:25 pm, Bart replied by turning Alan's own words back upon him. Bart was not perturbed; Bart was simply engaging in argument.

At 3:21 pm, Alan responded to Bart's statement (which was identical to Alan's earlier statement) by stating that it wasn't very becoming of Bart, that Bart was aggravated, tired of discussing the issues, and getting personal. Mind you, Bart was mirroring precisely what Alan had done a day before, and was chuckling inside at his opportunity to do so, when Alan went all high-and-mighty. At that moment, Bart was perturbed.

Later in the day, Bart learned that the Honda dealership was recommending that Bart sell his firstborn to keep his Accord running well. Bart then really got perturbed and forgot all about Alan.

Bart's going to have to stop studying Bob Dole for rhetorical style.

Alan Cross said...

Bart,

Thanks for clearing that up. I hope you got to keep your firstborn. :)

One thing that I do not like about blogs is that communication breaks down. I see what you are saying now, and I apologize about how things came across. The first breakdown came in the teenager comment. I was not intending to say that YOU were acting like a spoiled teen. I was trying to say that if the scenario that you described came to pass (trustees having to clear doctrinal moves beyond the BFM) and the trustees would complain by saying they now had no power, that would be akin to the spoiled teen. In my mind I seperated that from you and considered my response to be hypothetical, but I see where misunderstanding resulted. That is why when you turned it back on me personally, I was surprised - I did not intend it personally toward you, but take responsibility for it coming across that way. I missed your joke. Sorry.

As for the trustees, I just think that they have a set agenda and they think (apparently rightly so) that they have the power to carry out that agenda. I think that they are most likely good men and women who just have a particular view on things. It is not my intention to personally vilify them. I just believe them to be wrong. I do not want things to go my way - I am appealing to the precedent set pre-November 2005 that was the accepted state of affairs throughout the IMB.

Sorry for the confusion and for the problem with your car. From my perspective, things turned in our conversation because I did not intend to convey what my words did to you. As for being high and mighty, well, that was not intentional either, but is likely not the first time I have been perceived that way.

We disagree on issues. I don't see it through a personal lense, though. God bless.