Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
In a press release dated June 1, Ronnie Floyd clarified that the GCR Task Force will bring its report and offer its recommendations as a unified whole. Floyd clarified, however, that the question of whether to consider the seven recommendations as a whole or separately "will ultimately be determined by the messengers of the convention" and that the Task Force "will wholeheartedly support their decision."
A few observations about this:
This meek deference to the will of the messengers has been laudably characteristic of the Task Force's operation throughout its existence, in my estimation. I do believe Ronnie Floyd when he promises his wholehearted support of the messengers' decision, and I applaud him for his attitude. As I have said before, I'm truly thankful for the attitude that the Task Force has employed while performing its work.
I predict that parliamentary efforts will be made to sever the seven recommendations into separate votes. I do not know what the outcome of those efforts will be, and I do not plan to offer any predictions.
The Task Force has a good point, in some respects, regarding the inseparability of some of the recommendations. In particular, I would say that the ideas of transferring CP promotion to the states, increasing the scope of IMB responsibility, and transferring 1% of the CP allocation budget from the EC to the IMB are recommendations that depend mutually upon one another. Whatever outcome may dawn upon one of these motions, it must logically come upon them all, or else we will have a chaotic result.
It seems, therefore, that severance of the motion must at most be into clusters of recommendations, and not into seven standalone items.
Whatever decision that we make about the recommendations, I believe that it is important for Southern Baptists to come to consensus before we move forward. We don't need a 60/40 vote; we need an 80/20 vote or better, I believe. One of our key objectives here must be to bring greater unity to our convention. Although as a student of history I would say that we're no more divided today than in previous epochs of our history, I still believe that greater unity among Southern Baptists is an important ingredient for our progress from this point.
In consideration of the previous sentiment, I can see some potential benefit from allowing separate votes on the individual recommendations.
It is no secret that the third recommendation, the proposed alteration of the ACP to change the name from "Total Missions Expenditures" to "Great Commission Giving," is the least popular of the seven recommendations. I know many good friends who would gladly support the entire recommendation but for this one component. Several of them are prepared to vote against the entire proposal solely in opposition to this one plank.
In the light of our need to find greater unity in the convention, the great danger here may not be that the omnibus recommendation will fail, but that it will pass by a narrow margin. If the entire recommendation passes by a 57/43 vote, then the pall of that cliffhanger vote will be cast across the entire report, even though I believe that there are important recommendations in this report that could earn the overwhelming preponderance of ballots cast.
The Task Force members, above all other Southern Baptists, ought to recognize the benefits of an overwhelmingly decisive vote. How many times have we heard about the overwhelming endorsement in Louisville for the creation of the Task Force? A vote in the high 90s carries weight that a simple majority does not bring, and these proposals need all the weight behind them that they can accumulate.
A decision looms before those of us who support the GCRTF recommendations: How important is the third recommendation to us? Is it worth it to us to let Great Commission Giving lay down a bunt, allowing the other six recommendations to score, but running the risk that it itself will be thrown out at first base in the process? Would it be worth losing Great Commission Giving in order to obtain 80%-plus endorsements of the other components of the plan?
For my part, I think that's a good trade. In the defenses of Great Commission Giving, "It doesn't really change anything substantial" makes for a great reason not to oppose it, but it makes for not much of a reason to defend it. Indeed, of all of the excellent articles that I have read endorsing the Task Force's report, I have yet to read one that gives a good reason as to why we need to adopt Great Commission Giving. I've been persuaded by the many good reasons why we shouldn't be afraid of the Great Commission Giving proposal, but I still don't know why we should be enthusiastically in support of it.
As a result of these factors, I think that I will vote in support of severing the Task Force recommendations from one another, not so that I might oppose any of them, but in the strategic hope that the more important recommendations—the ones that actually will accomplish some things that I believe will be substantively important for the future of the SBC—might pass by overwhelmingly decisive numbers that will not be possible otherwise.