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Friday, May 12, 2006

Definition of Dissent???

My intention is not to rag on Ben Cole. He was always nice to me during my stint at Baylor. Indeed, Ben is a very colorful, pleasant, and articulate person. However, Ben has become very visible in recent weeks especially on the subject of "dissent."

On April 17th, Robert Marus of the Associated Baptist Press reported that Ben Cole plans to introduce a resolution on "Baptist dissent" during this summer's annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. Click HERE to read the whole story...

Lets check out some quotes by Mr. Cole...

"It is unconscionable that Baptists would move away from our cherished distinctives” of individual freedom and the right of dissent"

"We regard all attempts to silence principled dissent by fellow Baptists within our denomination, or of any religious minority, as a compromise of our cherished Baptist witness and an egregious disservice to the Kingdom of God."

"We affirm dissenters both within our denomination and without who raise objection to articles of our confession, policies of our institutions, and governance of our agencies when that dissent has been voiced in a manner consistent with the teaching of Jesus Christ."

Southern Baptists “recognize majorities are not always right, and it is necessary for the voice of dissent -- the minority voice -- to be welcomed and heard if we are not to become authoritarian in our doctrinal confession or tyrannical in our denominational governance.”

WHAT IS SOUTHERN BAPTIST DISSENT? Where does this Dissent begin? Where does this Dissent end?

Dissent on What?

Alcohol but not Inerrancy?
Calvinism but not the Role of Women (within the Church and Home)?
Capital Punishment but not Abortion and Homosexuality?
Private Prayer Language but not Tongues in Church?

Is dissent permissible when it comes to topics within the BFM 2000?

What struck me about the above quotes was that Ben Cole’s remarks could have been said by any Moderate in the 80’s or any Moderate TODAY! Moderate remarks indeed!

Apply your remarks consistently to all of your Baptist sisters and brothers and some real progress might yet be had from this Memphis get-together.

If not, my original assertion is proved true once again……….


Blogger Dorcas said...

Aaron -

I couldn't tell if you'd read the text of the resolution or just the news articles. Here is the link to the resolution off Wade Burleson's site: Resolution On Dissent.

3:41 AM

Anonymous Steven Gregg said...

What I find interesting is that during the process of "meeting in Memphis", only one representative of the media was invited to attend. The ABP credits the Rev. Cole as having explained that that media representative was invited as a "participant" in the meeting.

Following is an excerpt from the ABP article:

Benjamin Cole, pastor of Parkview Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas, acknowledged that he and a few others called the invitation-only meeting. Only one media representative, Don Hinkle, editor of the Missouri Baptist Convention’s conservative Pathway newspaper, was invited “as a participant,” according to Cole. He said a media presence other than Hinkle would “limit our discussion.”

A word about Mr. Hinkle:
In 2002, I was a member of a Baptist church in the stste of Missouri. The state was embroiled in the same battle that had filtered down from the national politics of the SBC, a battle that I characterize as fundamentalists vs. traditional-historic Baptists. On the local level, our church had tried to avoid the controversy for the most part and attempted to focus on "kingdom work" instead. Our church was a strong supporter of the Cooperative Program giving nearly 20% of our GROSS offerings to the CP rather than based on our annual budget of around $650,000. Needless to say, our church outgave many of the churches that had provided SBC Presidents in recent years.

In 2002, when the Baptist General Convention of Missouri held its first meeting in St. Louis, our church sent persons as independent observers, not participants, to the meeting. Among those observers were our pastor, my wife and I. Also in attendance was Mr. Hinkle. In an informal conversation with our pastor, Mr. Hinkle said that he had been sent to observe and report back to his "church" in regards to the meeting.

The meeting resulted in the official formation of the BGC of Missouri. I observed a group of individuals that included the former executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention who was former church planter with the SBC's North American Mission Board, having started almost 20 churches during his tenure there. The overall tone of the meeting was one of "let's get on with God's work and anyone who is tired of fighting convention politics is welcome to join with us in doing His work". In addition, they pledged to support 5 Missouri Baptist agencies that declared their independence from the MBC that had recently been overrun by the fundamentalists in (and out of)the state due to their fear of a history of politically motivated board position "pay-offs" as witnessed nationally and in other states where the same had occurred. The participants even had the gall to pray for God to bless the Missouri Baptist Convention as they chose to exit the ranks of the MBC, vowing to leave the fighting behind as much as it was up to them to do so.

Overall, the report we took back to our church was one of information as to who was involved and the tone of the meeting which we characterized as a union of those tired spent time and effort in convention fights and ready to get on with the focus of reaching the world for Christ as their first priority. Our church did not join the newly formed convention but did allow members individually to choose whether to continue to send their own portion of CP through the official channels of the Missouri Baptist Convention or the BGC of Missouri.

The "report" taken back to Mr. Hinkle's church actually ended up in one of the first newsletters put out by the Missouri Baptist Convention. Mr. Hinkle described the meeting as one of a people who were trembling in fear, basically saying it was a bunch of losers who were in attendence. As you can see, Mr. Hinkle and I must have attended two different meetings as our impressions were polar opposites of each other.

I must add that those newsletters from the MBC later became the "official" paper of the MBC called "The Pathway". This "fair and balanced" official publication was formed due to the fact that the "Word and Way" (formed prior to the existence of the MBC) was one of the agencies that refused to be controlled by any outside force hostile to its existence or who might attempt to control the content of its reporting. I would liken the nature of the paper to be similar to the reporting of the ABP rather than the official BP contolled by the powers that be in the SBC. In other words, more independent of an official controlling power.

As the fundamentalists could not control the "Word and Way", they deemed it necessary to start their own paper to publish their "viewpoint". Guess who was chosen as editor? Got that right! Mr. Don Hinkle.

For these reasons, I find it curious that he was the only member of "the media" allowed to attend.

Lastly, to those of you who are lay individuals, let me post these questions:

Would the SBC (or state conventions) be where they are today if our churches did not pay convention expenses for our pastors to attend? Would our pastors be more content to focus on the local mission field to which they are personally called to minister if such was the case? How many "witches" in the SBC would not have been hung if the professional clergy had not been involved?

10:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you're back!
Great stuff.

It's sad that some are feeling the squeeze now. I do wish that their experience would make them more aware of the suffering that I and many of my friends experienced a few years back.

My guess is that they only hope to widen the convention to make room for them.

Howie Luvzus

11:09 AM

Anonymous chip atkinson aka christspeak said...

I'm not a Baptist, I am a member of the ARP. However, how is possible to allow for dissent on issues like abortion and homosexuality? The Bible is remarkably clear that God recognizes life in the womb. Gay sex is absolutely forbidden. I am not aware of any scholarly dissent on these issues.

7:37 AM


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