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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Texas Baptists and the New Baptist Covenant, Take 2

In my last post, I mentioned a few very vocal Texas Baptists who have come out against the BGCT serving as an official partner with the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant.

Loudest among these critics is David Montoya who in a blog posted after mine had this to say about the BGCT and NBC:

Well, something is being done. There are executive board members who are now realizing the danger of our participation in this event. It is hoped that out of those who do not owe David Currie or Charles Wade their position on board, someone will sacrifice themselves and at least make a fight of it next time the board meets. Also, and this will happen, there will be an attempt to stop this blunder on the floor of the convention in Amarillo.

  • There will be a motion made to not fund the trip
  • A motion made to ask the executive director not to go
  • A motion made to distance the BGCT from the political nature of the trip
  • A resolution offered that states that Charles Wade does not represent the BGCT when he goes

Hopefully a dozen other motions will be made or whatever it takes to stop Wade before he lays waste to the remaining vestage of how we are not like the SBC. We resisted the religious right, why be seduced by the religious left? Why let a powerful yellow dog democrat and the shadow convention he runs and the executive director he has supported embarass BGCT for a political purpose?

In a comment to Mr. Montoya, I wrote:
David,

I think you've completely mischaracterized the upcoming Celebration in Atlanta.

Do you really think that Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Charles Grassley would participate in a so-called "Religious Left rally." Why must NBC critics always gloss over the Republicans who are planning to participate?

Who are two of the most well-known Texas Baptist preachers of the past decade?

Surely Joel Gregory and Julie Pennington-Russell would be at the top of that list. Together Gregory and Pastor Julie represent 50% of the preachers/pastors who will be delivering exciting inspirational messages next January. Last I checked, Joel Gregory wasn't part of some so-called Religious Left? Isn't he a Republican?

Texas Baptists are also deeply involved in every aspect of the planning process for this Celebration. They include:

Joy Fenner, Garland, TX
John Lilley, Waco, TX
Phil Lineberger, Sugar Land, TX
Mark Osler, Waco, TX
Steve Vernon, Levelland, TX
Phil Wise, Lubbock, TX
Babs Baugh, San Antonio, TX
Dennis Parrish, Dallas, TX
Bill Arnold, Dallas, TX
Patricia Ayres, Austin, TX
Glenn Biggs, Boerne, TX
David Nabors, Dallas, TX
Bill Bruster, Fairview, TX
Hardy Clemons, San Antonio, TX
Jason Coker, Dallas, TX
Scott Collins, Dallas, TX
David Currie, San Angelo, TX
Jerry Dailey, San Antonio, TX
Michael Evans, Sr, Mansfield, TX
Ferrell Foster, Dallas, TX
John Halls, Dallas, TX
Ed Hogan, Houston, TX
Marv Knox, Dallas TX
Patricia Lane
Geraldine Lilley, Dallas, TX
Dan Malone, El Paso, TX
Jaclanel McFarland, Houton, TX
Dellanna O'Brien, Frisco, TX
Ella Prichard, Corpus Christi, TX
Gus Reyes, Dallas, TX
Don Sewell, Dallas, TX
Victor Upton, Dallas, TX
Bradley Vinson, Dallas, TX
Mark Winfield, Dallas, TX
Yutaka Takarada, Richardson, TX
Nelda Taylor-Thiede, Gonzales, TX
Charles Wade, Dallas, TX

David, 25% percent of the folks actively involved in this process are Texas Baptists. Throw in all of the former Texas Baptists involved and we're talking about a much higher percentage. Clearly, Texas Baptists have a huge role to play in this upcoming Celebration. Now, I know that you might not like the last person on this list or a few in the middle. But I seriously doubt that you can state with a straight face that these folks on this list are part of some Religious Left boogeyman. I bet you could even spot some Republicans on this list, huh?

Here's the thing, your BGCT funds the Texas CLC and the Baptist Joint Committee. You even have a formal partnership with the CBF. Does the BGCT support Bread For The World? I bet they do. My point is that the BGCT has been actively involved in social Christianity since the days of J.M. Dawson, T.B. Maston, and Foy Valentine. It's part of your history and heritage. How is the work of the Texas CLC any different than a group of cooperating Baptists meeting in Atlanta for 2 days to preach the Gospel and talk about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, taking care of God's Creation and welcoming the stranger among us? I don't see much of a difference. How can one support the two aforementioned organizations financially but not affirm the mission of the New Baptist Covenant? It's a wee-bit of inconsistency.

And surely you understand that the New Baptist Covenant can speak TO Texas Baptists but never speak FOR Texas Baptists.

I learned that wise piece of knowledge from a few great Texas Baptist leaders.
Another point needs to be made. The upcoming Celebration is essentially the project of the North American Baptist Fellowship. In fact, the core group of organizations behind the Celebration belong to the North American Baptist Fellowship. The NABF is a regional affiliate of the Baptist World Alliance.

Now check this out. EVERY and I mean EVERY Baptist denomination, state convention, or quasi-denomination who has partnered with the New Baptist Covenant belongs to the North American Baptist Fellowship. Heck, the Baptist World Alliance has even signed on.

Last time I checked, the Baptist General Convention of Texas was a member body to both the North American Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist World Alliance. Are Texas Baptists willing to drop support of the BWA? One commenter has suggested that a partnership between Texas Baptists and the New Baptist Covenant will result in loss of moderate control of the BGCT....

Well good golly miss molly. Alarmist or what?

If the BGCT is willing to denounce the New Baptist Covenant, perhaps it's time for those same Texas Baptists to reevaluate their long-standing relationships with other Baptist organizations. And if Texas Baptists are willing to betray their rich heritage of support for social Christianity - then perhaps it's time for Big Daddy Weave to be a different kind of Baptist.....

I sincerely hope that the Texas critics of the New Baptist Covenant don't prevail.

Meanwhile, let's reflect on that long list above of Texas Baptists above who are committed to making January's Celebration a success!

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17 Comments:

Blogger Kaylor said...

Excellent post! Keep up the good work fighting the misinformation about the Celebration.

6:43 PM

 
Blogger Alexis said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:21 PM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Big Daddy,

David Montoya correctly smells smoke--he simply hasn't located the fire.

It's not the political nature of the NewBapCov that should be the focus of the dissent, rather it's the theological (soteriological) incompatibility--or, at best, undesirability--of Jimmy Carter's reported (still unrefuted) pluralism with the BGCT's stated (recently re-stated by Charles Wade in response to the Charles Kimball furor) exclusivism.

Take away the NBC's "authentic Baptist witness" and "prophetic Baptist voice" characterization-- or, better, "Baptist" period--and you'd probably be left with a nice bi-partisan, moral, social initiative. Whether that would warrant the use of churches' Cooperative Program contributions to Dallas is still debatable.

The list of leaders you posted is noted--I, Montoya, and other dissenters will not prevail in either the Baptist Building or Amarillo. The Texas Baptist Committed machine will keep solid control of the BGCT.

But the question begs to be asked, "Since the answer is not a clear gospel message consistent with 'an authentic Baptist witness,' what is driving the BGCT's involvement in Atlanta?"

The same closed-system control that will preserve the NewBapCov will likely drive away the remaining dually-aligned support of the BGCT.

1:49 AM

 
Anonymous Lee said...

Chuck, when you speak of "dually aligned support" of the BGCT, are you speaking of the churches that support both state conventions, or are you speaking of the churches that still support the BGCT and the SBC?

There are (rounded off to the nearest hundred) about 4,500 churches in the BGCT that split their Cooperative Program support with the SBC to a greater or lesser degree, and do not support any other national body. In addition, about 600 of those also support the SBTC. Comparatively, there are about 300 churches that include CBF in that split, with about 150 of those not designating anything to the SBC. TBC receives financial support from individuals in about 500 churches. I suspect there is a lot of overlap between TBC and CBF supporters in the BGCT.

The most vocal conservatives in the BGCT have departed to the SBTC at this point. They've taken something like 1,500 churches with them. Since the initial three or four years, the movement of churches to the SBTC has slowed to a trickle. The BGCT's willingness to allow its churches to determine their own Cooperative Program percentages has been a big step in helping balance the issues related to cooperation that includes both those who want to support the SBC, those who want to support both SBC and CBF, those that want to support SBTC and SBC and those who want to support only CBF, or only the BGCT. That's been a very delicate, and frankly somewhat amazing balance.

Then comes Valleygate, a costly blunder involving individuals on the state convention level using their power and the trust invested in them to protect friends. That rattled the foundation somewhat, prompting the retirement of Dr. Wade, and it has had a rather profound effect on Cooperative Program contributions to the BGCT.

There are some people who have some legitimate questions about involvement with the NBC. There are those who are stuck on the politics, and always will be. But I think Chuck's question deserves some kind of response. At issue is the perception of Jimmy Carter's theological views. For one thing, at this point, I think Carter himself needs to correct that perception, if it is wrong, and put that issue to rest for good. But if Carter does hold to the "pluralism" that some claim, that's going to create difficulties for a lot of Baptists involved in the NBC, because of Carter's leadership, and because there aren't many Baptists who share that view.

And for that reason, I think it is unwise, at this point, for the BGCT to be represented in the NBC without a clear, affirmative vote from the convention. If individuals connected to the BGCT want to take part, fine. But this is an integrity issue. To bring the state convention into this partnership withour the convention's approval isn't Baptist, and I don't care how the other groups are doing it.

I've now attended two of the listening sessions held by the ED search committee, and the sentiment that was virtually unanimously expressed at both was the desire to see the BGCT get back to a better working relationship with the SBC, and, as one pastor put it, "stop the spitting contest." Several of the search committee members who have been "listening" pointed out that this has been the single most mentioned issue related to finding a new ED, to get someone who can work with BGCT Baptists who still want to cooperate solely with the SBC. TBC may have a "lock" on the proceedings of the convention, but I believe if they try to force this one down people's throats, you'll see another 1,500 churches leave in the next two or three years.

9:34 AM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Jimmy Carter is not the New Baptist Covenant.

The New Baptist Covenant is much bigger than one person. Unfortunately, I don't think this point will ever be realized by the Celebration's critics.

I don't believe Jimmy Carter is a pluralist. I read him to be an inclusivist. And among educated moderate Baptists (like Jimmy) that's a very common and "academic" theological position. A well known Truett professor (and Texas Baptist) recently advocated inclusivism in a Letter to the Waco-Trib editor just two weeks ago.

Even Mohler himself acknowledged that Carter has in the past preached inclusivism. I'm not jumping on the "Jimmy Carter is a Universalist" train merely because Brother AL asserts that Jimmy "appears" to be a Universalist based on one paragraph from an interview with Beliefnet. Appears?

Yes, that's convincing.

Chuck, I don't know if you're Southern Baptist or if you even attend their annual meetings. But without a doubt the loudest critics of the NBC have been Southern Baptists. Yet, Southern Baptists have seen it appropriate to invite a confessed RELIGIOUS PLURALIST to address their Annual Meeting on numerous occasions.

Who?

President George W. Bush

Hey, and who said anything about CP dollars? The NBC hasn't asked for your money...

10:19 AM

 
Anonymous Lee said...

If there's really not a problem with the NBC, and the leaders of the BGCT who are involved are confident that this is a good thing, and they'd like for the BGCT to be one of the sponsors, then they shouldn't have any trouble openly asking the convention's messengers for their approval, should they? I've heard all my life, from mostly moderate Baptists, that we are not a "top down" denomination, and that we do not have a heirarchy that makes decisions for us.

Partnership with the NBC is an endorsement of its purpose, vision and mission, and neither the executive director nor the executive board has the authority to make that kind of a decision on behalf of the BGCT without a straight up floor vote. If everything is on the up and up, then securing a majority vote in favor of the partnership shouldn't be a problem.

12:14 PM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Lee,

I'm referring to churches still dually aligned with SBTC and BGCT. Thank you for the revealing stats on the number of churches contributing in the various combination of ways. True, it's the freedom to direct worldwide giving as the churches desire that, to date, has held these conservative, religious right-leaning churches in the BGCT tent. However, the desire to be a full-fledged member of a state convention, along with the dwindling percentage (21%, I believe) of Cooperative Program gifts passed on from Dallas to Nashville, is putting stress on the arrangement.

Now, the BGCT's heavy sponsorship (12 of the 80 attenders at the January 2007 Carter meeting were BGCT employees or related to TBC) of the NewBapCov, despite Carter's theological baggage which is incompatible with the Convention's stated and re-stated exclusivity stance, will further stretch the band holding support together.

Lee, I find your comments thoughtful and hope to dialog with you further, perhaps on your blog.

1:52 PM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Big Daddy,

I'm assuming that eight or so BGCT employees didn't make the trek to Atlanta in January 2007 to have their picture taken with Jimmy Carter without using Cooperative Program dollars to get there and back. I know they spent working time--time is money?

If Jimmy Carter isn't the NBC, then I encourage you and others to remove him from the posters, photos and program as keynote speaker. Otherwise, he needs to refute the reports and reporters of his very current plural and /or inclusive views. (Please let me know who the professor you mentioned is).

I am a Southern Baptist, but the last time I noticed, President Bush doesn't claim to be any kind of Baptist. If and when he does, I'll be sure to check out his soteriology. ;)

2:18 PM

 
Anonymous Lee said...

If I remember correctly, Brian Kaylor wrote a blog post several months ago with some quotes from several of Carter's writings that seemed to indicate his personal belief that salvation was in Christ, and Christ alone. I've read several of his books, and to be honest, never came to the conclusion that he was either inclusionist or universalist. I also sat through one of his Sunday School classes at Maranatha, and, while that's a pretty brief slice of his teaching, wouldn't have gathered from the lesson that day that he believed anything but salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. I've also read the interview from which the inclusionist/universalist conclusion is drawn, and will admit that I am somewhat confused about his beliefs.

I posted the stats about Cooperative Program giving in the BGCT not to complain that the NBC was going to ask for a chunk of the money (though it seems everyone else does, and someone is going to have to put up the deposits on all those hotel rooms and meeting space, and I would think that's included in part of what being a "partner" is all about) but to point out the BGCT's constituency. There's a significant number of its churches who, in their worldwide mission giving, are sole supporters of the SBC and that would indicate to me that they are theological conservatives. At the moment, there hasn't been a spark to ignite any kind of movement among them to do battle for control of the BGCT. But if this continues to get pushed, it could be a catalyst.

And yeah, the fundamentalists in the conservative resurgence that took over the SBC were pushy, rude, mean spirited and in some cases downright vicious in the path they took to control. Is that the same image that the moderates now in control of the BGCT want to project? Do they want to bring about, in retaliation, the same kind of backbiting and name calling that the conservative resurgence is known for? Do they realize that many conservatives have remained in the BGCT because the attitude and rudeness of the SBTC during its formation, and since, has a tendency to repel as much as it attracts?

Here's a chance for Baptists to see some people in convention leadership actually paying attention to historic Baptist principles, and instead of a mean-spirited, winner take all retaliation, they have a chance to build on true cooperation by taking things carefully. It's time to take the politics completely out of Baptist life, and play the game in a Christlike spirit. Let people make their choices about the NBC, and then leave them alone.

3:23 PM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

I'm not talking about a travel expense account (which it seems a trip to meet with African-American Baptists and other Baptists from across North America was well-spent $$)

Has the NBC asked for any CP funds to support the Celebration? No.

Keynote speaker or not, Jimmy Carter is not THE New Baptist Covenant. The Celebration is much bigger than one man or woman....

Why should Jimmy refute his rather evangelical BELIEF that some who are never evangelized may nevertheless be saved by the mercy of God on account of their implicit faith (response to the light they have). This is a common position among Baptists and evangelicals (Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis, and even John Wesley).

It's a wee-bit hypocritical for YOUR Southern Baptist executives to demean Jimmy Carter while using Southern Baptist dollars to hold an annual meeting which allows a confessed religious pluralist a chance to address SBCers....

And the professor? Roger Olson from a July Letter to the Editor in Waco Trib.

"Clinton’s faith

Conservative columnist Cal Thomas [July 30] criticizes “Hillary’s version of faith.” According to him, Sen. Clinton is guilty of “liberal faith” because as a Sunday school teacher she often addressed nonreligious topics.

Thomas should know that for the Christian no topic is “nonreligious.” Every subject is somehow related to one’s faith in Jesus Christ who is “Lord of all.” Thomas himself often addresses “nonreligious topics” as a Christian commentator.

He also scolds Mrs. Clinton for expressing some doubt about whether being a Christian is the only way to salvation. He suggests that this is contrary to a central tenet of Christianity.

He must not be aware that the Rev. Billy Graham expressed such doubt in an interview in McCalls, January, 1978. (Graham’s specific comments are available at a number of Web sites accessible via any search engine.) His published remarks in the April 14, 2006 Newsweek suggested his mind has not changed about the wideness in God’s mercy."

3:27 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Did you get a reply?

4:38 PM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Big Daddy,

Carter should refute or defend his un-evangelical, non-Baptistic statements that "a Mormon is a Christian" and that Judaism is "an equally legitimate path to God."
These statements do not refer to those "who are never evangelized." Most, if not all, followers of Judaism deliberately reject Jesus as the Son of God. Mormons reject monotheism and the eternal deity of God the Father and God the Son.

As for Billy Graham, I'm grateful that God magnified and used his preaching the exclusivity of Christ to save, and minimized his questionable theological commentary. He should have been called on to make the same defense or refutation of his comments as I'm saying Carter should make.

What either of these men have to say doesn't change the truth of what scripture says about salvation. That's the authority for Baptistic faith and practice.

4:55 PM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

TIA,

Yes. David Montoya and I have had a handful of quality, reasoned emailed exchanges over the past few days. Though David is perceived in a negative light by some Texas Baptists, and even though we don't always see eye to eye, I've thoroughly enjoyed our online encounters at BL.com and through email over the past year.

I noticed you're part of that Texas Baptist Young Professional Network on facebook. Not exactly sure what it all entails (etc.) but it does look interesting. So, I signed up.

12:04 AM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Glad to hear that the conversation is interesting and civil. I would love to see more productive dialogue in Texas Baptist Life.

Re: the young professionals network, I'm not sure what it's about either, but Alexis Cooper is coordinating it out of Suzii's office. I know she's been doing coffees in various cities - I think Waco is (or was) on her agenda. The Austin meeting is in a couple of weeks.

8:24 AM

 
Anonymous Lee said...

I certainly hope that the NBC isn't about either Carter's theology or his politics. For me, personally, it's not, though I have to stop and listen to those who feel that it might be. That's certainly due to the influence of fundamentalism, and to the guilt by association tactics of Roger Moran. The result is that a lot of people jump to conclusions as a result of someone's involvement or endorsement. But the bottom line here is that we are all Christians, and our behavior is not governed by gut reactions, or by our feelings, or by reasoning that a minority position should be ignored because it is a minority.

Personally, I've been a Baptist long enough to know that cooperation with individuals who don't share your exact theological, political or social perspective doesn't constitute endorsement of their position. It's been noted that Julie Pennington-Russell, an ordained pastor, once signed on with something that Planned Parenthood of Waco was doing. Supporting the New Baptist Covenant, which she is supporting, doesn't mean that I either endorse female ordination or service as pastors or support the position of Planned Parenthood.

The scripture's instructions regarding the conscience of the weaker brother, and the resolving of differences between brethren supercede my own personal preferences. It's not about what I want, it's about what God wants me to do. And as Paul says, if it is a matter of offending a brother, then I'll set my own personal preferences aside.

The resolution to this problem is pretty simple. The BGCT needs a motion from the floor of the convention and an affirmative vote to proceed. That should not be hard to obtain, if I read things correctly, and would be the right thing to do.

10:23 PM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Lee,

I can understand, perhaps agree, with your call for cooperation by toleration with other believers on the issues you mentioned.

But if the NBC is going to claim to be a "new prophetic" and "authentic Baptist voice," the leader of the movement and keynote speaker of the much publicized event needs to hold to perhaps the most basic of Baptist values and beliefs--the exclusivity of Jesus Christ to save.

I wouldn't have Carter teaching a Sunday School class, much less leading a "Baptist" movement I'm identified with, if his reported comments about Mormons and Judaism hold up.

Without a refutation of the reports of Carter's inclusive and/or plural views, if the BGCT votes for, or just carries on as planned in, being the chief banner-waving sponsor of the Celebration, it will signal a new era: The political-left agenda of TBC will be proven to have won the day in the BGCT.

Supporting the SBC, much less the SBTC, and the BGCT will be a lost art, resulting in lost churches and $'s for Dallas.

5:05 AM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Lee,

For what it's worth, the guy who is spreading the anti-NBC stuff, a man named Jack Alda (if that's reall his name) doesn't always tell the Truth or the real story.

I saw his recent diatribe at the blog of Rick Davis. He's a Roger Moran wannabe.

1:40 PM

 

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