Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Baptist Convention in Texas?

BGCT blogger Rick Davis reported yesterday of rumors that some within the BGCT are contemplating a departure to form yet another Baptist state convention in Texas. (HT: Aaron Weaver, aka Big Daddy Weave)

Having not kept up with goings-on in the BGCT, I don't know what to make of this. Are we talking about three or four people or three or four hundred people? Was this talk prior to or subsequent to the most recent annual meeting of the BGCT? In Davis's comment stream, Ken Coffee (recent unsuccessful candidate for the BGCT vice-presidency) suggested that the sore spots for these folks were the plans to morph the BGCT into a national convention and the BGCT's hostility toward the SBC.

To any such folks, if they exist: If you are comfortable with the BGCT's budget priorities (80% for us, 20% for the rest of the world) and with the liberal doctrinal positions and low view of the Bible manifest at the Texas CLC, some of the BGCT universities, etc., then you ought to wait things out and not do anything drastic right now. If your sole objection is to BGCT expansion beyond Texas, I'm not sure to what degree such plans are really on the table any more. The name change to "Texas Baptist Convention" (if adopted) seems to imply a return to a Texas-only philosophy at BGCT. If your only objection is to the tension between the BGCT and the SBC, then you need a reality-check—the BGCT's budget priorities and liberal doctrinal positions, juxtaposed against the SBC's financial plans and conservative doctrinal positions, guarantee ongoing tension between these two bodies in their current relationship. Don't let some of the folks on blogs fool you—attempts to bring the SBC to liberal positions on women preachers and the like are failing.

On the other hand, if you are uncomfortable with the BGCT's doctrinal positions and budget priorities, then you ought to try a dual affiliation with the SBTC before you go and start a third state convention. None of the blogs that I've read have given any explicit shortcomings that these allegedly discontented BGCTers have with SBTC that would convince them to start a third state convention rather than joining the other one already in existence for a decade now. I could speculate as to a few possible items in that category.

It may be that you've heard horrible things about the SBTC that have eliminated any interest in joining. I would ask you, why not find out for yourself? Isn't it possible that the BGCT is not the most objective place to learn about the SBTC? If your church is comfortable with the SBC's statement of faith, then you meet the criteria to belong to the SBTC (and if not, then I've already suggested that you might just ride things out over at BGCT for a while). If, after adding an affiliation with SBTC, you find that the SBTC is every horrible thing that its detractors have alleged, then you can quite easily end your SBTC affiliation, and you will still be aligned with BGCT. If, on the other hand, you find that SBTC has been misrepresented, then you'll have saved yourself the work of establishing a third convention.

It may be that you've met a person or two connected with SBTC whom you haven't liked that much. Such an experience frankly slowed the rate at which I dipped my toes into the SBTC pool. But quite obviously, since you're considering breaking away from BGCT to start something else, you have had some sort of a bad experience with some people at BGCT. Yet you're still a member of that convention. Every convention, church, Sunday School class, fellowship group, you-name-it, is a mixed bag. I've found the SBTC to be a warm, wonderful, Christ-honoring, gospel-spreading, mission-affirming fellowship of Baptist believers. You might find it differently, but don't you owe it to yourself to find out for yourself?

It may be that you're tired of all of the fighting—not interested in being a part of some sort of government-in-exile. Guess what: Neither was I. I was pleasantly surprised at first and continue to be pleased to find that BGCT is never mentioned at SBTC events. We've moved on. In fact, if you haven't moved on, and are looking for a place to join in BGCT gripes, then please don't come to the SBTC. Souls are too precious and time is too short for such things. The place to gripe about the BGCT is the BGCT annual meeting.

It is your privilege as believers to choose your own affiliations, and it is your duty as believers and stewards to pursue vigorously what you believe to be the best strategy for proclaiming the gospel to the world. But before you start something new, you owe it to yourself and to your progeny to have considered and tried every option for affiliation with present groups. Perhaps that process will lead you to a newfound sense of belonging within the BGCT. Perhaps it will lead you to join your brethren in the SBTC. Perhaps it will lead you to launch something new. Whatever should come of it all, my prayer is that you might honor the Lord, remain true to His Word, and diligently pursue His work to His glory.


Anonymous said...

Interesting comments on the BGCT and SBTC. For anyone interested in more information about the SBTC, I would highly recommend two resources.

A brand new history of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, “The Day of Small Things” by Gary Ledbetter. Its 191 pages cover the history of Baptists in Texas from the 1820s into and including the now ten year history of the SBTC. I might add it also includes a very good Foreword! The book sold at the annual meeting for $5. With some additional postage, I’m sure you could convince them to mail you a copy.

The “Southern Baptist Texan,” newspaper for the SBTC. Bi-monthly sent free to interested individuals in Texas. They will, however, accept donations. And for a $10 a year donation they will send a subscription of the “Texan” out of state. It’s a great way to keep up with the SBTC and the SBC.

Email Teri Edwards at and I expect she will take care of your request.
David R. Brumbelow

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that's
I hate typos.
David R. Brumbelow said...


It is probably an error to call me a BGCT blogger. Certainly, the BGCT would not claim me any more.

Bart Barber said...

Rick Davis, I presume.

I meant by the phrase nothing more than that you are affiliated with the BGCT. From the perspective of someone who is not, that qualifies you to be a "BGCT blogger." I don't know that it has been put to the test that the SBTC would claim me! ;-)

But I have claimed them by affiliating with them.

I confess that I performed absolutely no research whatsoever as to whether you remain a part of a BGCT-affiliated church. I only know that the BGCT is a recurring topic on your blog and that you have historically been affiliated with the BGCT. If you are no longer so affiliated, then I have indeed err, and I will truly regret it.

Bart Barber said...

"have indeed erred"

Anonymous said...

This is the first I had heard of this, but apart from being part of a conservative BGCT church we have no connection to the BGCT. I am supportive of the ministries of the BGCT and think they do much good, too much for me to support our church's move to the SBTC.

I am glad that the SBTC has ceased running the BGCT into the ground, they did quite a bit of it through their newpaper in years past.

I cheered the election of Lowerie, I think he will try to bring the BGCT to be more closly aligned with the SBC. I also applauded Dr Patterson for having Randel Everett speak in SWBTS's chapel (as another first, Dr Everett was the first person to speak in chapel who was not Dr Patterson's best friend :) ) I recommend highly that everyone listen to Dr Everett's chapel message on the SWBTS website.

Dr Everett is one of my former pastor's, he is a fine conservative gentleman with a great sense of humor and strongly evangelical. When he was our pastor he lead our church to be much more involved in missions and personal wintessing. Dr Everett always recommended the book Concentric Circles of Concern, if you have not read it do so.

I would be opposed to a new convention, my analysis is that the new convention would be liberal theologically and politically, the BGCT would remain conservative theologically (as it has been historically) and moderate politically (in the context of SBC politics) and the SBTC would continue to be conservative theologically and politcally

JIm Champion

Anonymous said...


I found this to be an interesting topic/rumor, but am surprised that not many people are commenting about it one way or the other.

I have said before that Texas is a strange place when it comes to Baptist politics.

I support the right of any person or church to dissent and to refrain from giving to a national or state denomination that the person or church believes is doing things that are contrary to or inconsistent with the Gospel and Christian teaching. If a person or church wants to keep giving and remain a good soldier despite misgivings, I support that, too.

I object to people or churches being pressured to give anyway when they have objections to major policies or practices because doing so is "loyal" etc. I heard alot of that from 1975 to 1990 or so, but then didn't hear too much of it afterwards. I am glad for church autonomy!

I object to a "tail wagging the dog" syndrome that is often found in so many religious denominations. This happens when a small but well-placed minority controls the destiny and direction of the denomination. My wife worked for a while in a denomination where most of the people in the pew saw the Bible as true and believed basic Christian doctrines, but many of the denominational employees did not see the Bible as true and did not believe the basic Christian doctrines. The emphases at the denominational headquarters did not reflect the emphasis of the people in the Church, but reflected cultural or political agenda of the denominational executives. That denomination did not have a structure like the SBC's, one that allows for heavy lay participation. That denomination and the voting at their meetings is controlled much more by the professional clergy and professional denominational staff. Nothing like 10 people from any church that crosses a minimum giving threshold that the SBC has.

I am also sad when I see people and churches deluded into supporting things, not by the recipient's acts, but by their own wilfull blindness or other illogical thinking.

That brings me back to Texas.

I don't pretend to know too much about the BGCT. I don't live in Texas. But the things that I have read over the years have caused me concern about the direction of the BGCT. It seems, however, that emotion, personal connections and a kind of "rose colored glasses" mentality controls a lot of Texas churches when it comes to the BGCT. But, it's not my money. It may be simply too tough for many of these people to look honestly at the facts and trajectory of that organization. I am sure that there are many good things that the BGCT does that outweigh in these people's minds whatever concerns they have. Many people vote that way - by party loyalty, despite what the candidate may say or do. You have the right opinion, however. Each person has to make up their own mind, and you can't rush these things.

Also, I can understand how leaving the BGCT would be hard enough, but joining the SBTC would be tougher.

Finally, I do not understand at all a mentality that believes the future of denominational work is going to evolve out of one state - out of an ever decreasing population of churches in an ever decreasing geographic location. I understand being part of a large body - that wants to get bigger. I understand being totally independent.

But for the life of me I don't understand joining a split of a split of a split and somehow believing that will increase one's impact on the world.

Still, I am glad for the freedom we wall have. To each his own.


Andrew said...

Time for the non-Texan and lifelong Southern Baptist to insert foot into mouth:

Isn't fighting what Texans AND Southern Baptists do best? So should we really be surprised (looking at the past 30 years) that churches are trying to take their ball and go home when they don't like the game being played? (BTW, that goes for both conservatives and liberals!)