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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Amarillo - A Texas Baptist Recipe For Disaster

Texas Baptists will converge in Amarillo next Monday and Tuesday for the Annual Meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. This years Annual Meeting will feature Purpose-Driven Pastor Rick Warren and a contentious election between the potential first female BGCT President, Joy Fenner, and West Texas pastor David Lowrie.

Fenner is running on a platform that would continue to emphasize missions and ministry.

Lowrie's platform is to bring the BGCT "back to the middle."

And now we meet Rick Davis.

Rick Davis is the pastor First Baptist Church, Brownwood, Texas. Rick is also a blogger. Some describe Rick as a "man of integrity." I've heard others use the word "disgruntled." I don't know Rick personally (though he's always been quite cordial to me) but whatever the case may be, Rick's blog is read by many Baptists across the great state of Texas.

Judging a persons influence is a tricky task. In terms of influence, a large readership may not mean much or it may mean everything. Who knows? But Rick Davis is a dissenter. He's been doing a great deal of dissenting over the past year. I'm reminded of the words of the late Foy Valentine - a great Texas Baptist indeed! Dr. Valentine once described the Baptist dissenter as "the outsider, who yaps at the outside...drinking a little whiskey, and privately just doing his own thing. They have some influence, to be sure, but it's really pretty peripheral."

Minus the whiskey reference, I suspect Foy's quote might sum up the influence of Dr. Rick Davis. But I could very well be wrong? Keeping that in mind, I'd like to point out that Rick recently endorsed a candidate to be the next President of the BGCT.

Who? David Lowrie.

Not exactly a shocker to say the least. Here's the endorsement:
So, today, squaring tiny shoulders, with grim determination, I personally endorse Dr. David Lowrie of First Baptist Church, Canyon, Texas, for president of the BGCT. I endorse him for two terms, in fact, because few of us were in the room when the decision was made BGCT presidents would take one term, not two.....

If apathy is the winner, all who might join us are the losers. We are now in need of a statesman who will reach out to all the bodies left rotating in the diminished Texas circle. Before the energy in the midst of the circle flames out forever, someone must emerge with a firm grasp of reality, beholden to none but the Center Flame and eager for forward movement.

We probably do not dare hope for peace in our time. The cold wars are the longest, for they are measured in influence rather than territory. No treaty is likely to hold when divided cultures live in close physical proximity with totally divergent philosophies and a bloody history.

In a follow-up post, Rick felt the need to defend Lowrie in a post entitled David Lowrie is not a Neo-Con, Right-Wing Fundamentalist who will seek to return us to the fell clutches of the SBC
David Lowrie is, has been and will be what we have said for years we wanted. He keeps focused on the main thing, is beholden to no group to the exclusion of all others and will hold out a hand to all of us, while holding a fist to none of us.

I have taken him on in this space about some of his early comments. He answered all the things I asked, not always to my liking, but in a mature, thoughtful manner. David is open to all of us.

David Lowrie is beholden to no group to the exclusion of all others? And will hold out a hand to all of us? Please. Is this the same David Lowrie who has promised to "stop the drift away from the SBC toward the CBF" because such as a drift has "undermined our effectiveness." Is this the same Davis Lowrie who honestly believes that Texas Baptists are left-leaning and need to "get back to a more centrist position" ??? Ridiculous.

Lowrie has yet to affirm BGCT-CBF cooperation. From all of his interviews and comments, Lowrie has not once affirmed such cooperation or spoken positively of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Why? Davis himself acknowledges that not all of Lowrie's answers have been satisfactory. So how exactly can we be assured that David Lowrie will not exclude any group of Texas Baptists?

We can't.

And I think that's why Rick Davis is forced to constantly defend Lowrie against charges that he's a right-winger, a funny-mentalist. David Lowrie is a hard pill to swallow. Given multiple chances and Lowrie can't even affirm existing relationships between the CBF and BGCT. And then there's the talk of PARITY. Moderates remember all too well a Baptist by the name of Paige Patterson who was clamoring for "PARITY" exactly 25 years ago. We all know how that ended.....

Moving on again....

With that said, I - Big Daddy Weave - offer my blog support for Joy Fenner. She's qualified and nobody contests that. She's a WMUer with a passion for missions and ministry. And it's about dang time that Texas Baptists elect a female as President of the BGCT. It's embarrassingly past time.

On a concluding note, if official BGCT participation in the New Baptist Covenant is taken to a floor vote - I hope Texas Baptists will affirm the NBC and proceed to make their hotel reservations in Atlanta. David Coffey of the Baptist World Alliance will be speaking on the 29th. Inviting the BWA President to speak at your Annual Meeting and then voting against the BWA's most important and historically significant North American project would be disastrous. Let's hope messengers to Amarillo have more sense than that.....

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34 Comments:

Anonymous Chuck said...

Big Daddy,

I chuckle at your passion for symbolism above substance. If Joy Fenner should be BGCT president, let your case stop with the non-gender qualities you mention.

What would be the next demographic group which would need to be acknowledged through being granted the BGCT presidency? An illegal alien? An 18-21 year old, regardless of gender or ethnicity?

As for David Lowrie's stumping message, you do pinpoint the choice BGCT messengers have to make--start moving back at least toward the center, or maintain the leftist position with an ever-decreasing budget and followship.

Finally, Big Daddy, the NewBapCov is much more identified with Jimmy Carter than with the BWA. That wishful perception is late and lost in the translation. Perhaps the BWA president, executive director--whatever the title--should have been at the Carter Center podium this past January instead of Carter and Underwood.

4:50 AM

 
Blogger Dr. Glenn Jonas said...

Well said Big Daddy. Although it has been a long time since I was involved in Texas Baptist "polyticks," I do believe Joy Fenner would be a good president for Texas Baptists. But, more important, I agree with your endorsement of the New Baptist Covenant. Texas Baptists need to get on board with the movement in a formal way. The New Baptist Covenant is the best breath of fresh air to blow over the Baptist tradition in a generation. Hopefully, it will say to the North American Christian world that the Baptist tradition has many positive attributes. Heaven knows, the SBC has sure given the Baptist tradition a lot of negative baggage.

10:51 AM

 
Blogger bowtiebaptist said...

Perhaps David Coffey can promote the New Baptist Covenant as a BWA sponsored event and eliminate the misperception that it is some left-wing political event.

Many of those who are most opposed to BGCT participation really are opposed to Charles Wade's participation as Ex Dir. Those folks are hopefully not representative of the majority of Texas Baptists.

There is a very one-sided and negative perception of the BGCT being perpetuated by a few. I hope that the real story of what is going on in Texas will be told in Amarillo and the rest of the Baptist world will stop listening to those who seek to tear down and not build up.

Michael Dain

12:26 PM

 
Blogger Kaylor said...

Chuck: You must not have been paying too much attention to the Celebration press conference. It happened in January to be a part of the annual gathering of the North American Baptist Fellowship (a regional body of the BWA). Thus it has been connected to the BWA since the beginning.

5:22 PM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Kaylor:

Your point is well-taken and thanks for reminding me, but it also makes my point: President Carter, at The Carter Center, was the star and given all the props, so the fact that NABF was meeting at all was lost in the shuffle. I also believe that the BWA has been emphasized late as a reaction.

And I understand if it's that way: Carter's pluralist theology is a big liability to an authentic Baptist witness and new prophetic voice, and certainly doesn't protect "traditional Baptist values." It makes politics (since the theology of the leader's not in line) appear to be participating Baptist entities' motivation, even if it's not.

6:06 PM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Michael (("Bowtie" (which looks very sharp, I might add)):

I'm not intending to tear anything down--that's happening internally among the ranks of liberal and moderate BGCT leadership.

Let me be specific, brief and blunt about the drift of the BGCT toward what is, to conservative Baptists, an intolerable point near the left end of a liberal-conservative spectrum:

1. Anti-SBC and anti-Religious Right rhetoric and venom. Whether it's reaction to perceived mistreatment, national political siding, or scriptural disagreement with great conviction, the venom is destructive.

2. Siding with left political causes. The CLC's swallowing whole the global warming theory needlessly polarizes Baptists over a political issue.

3. Tolerating, if not embracing, as Baptist what is not Baptist. Carter and Charles Kimball's pluralism are current and prime examples. Neither should be presented by BGCT leaders as acceptable Baptist theologians, yet both have.

4. Force-feeding of the legitimacy, need, and desirability of women pastors. Most Baptists don't agree with this.

5. Tight, exclusive control of officer elections by Texas Baptist Committed, and the assurance that this group's agenda will come to pass in the BGCT within 5 years of the declaration of that agenda. The officers elected in recent years are almost exclusively associated with CBF rather than SBC, even though the constituent churches are overwhelmingly non-CBF.

Finally, neither Charles Wade, the next Exec. Director, nor any of the numerous BGCT employees among the 80 January 2007 attendees should represent the BGCT at the New "Baptist" Covenant Celebration. (12 of the 80 January 2007 attendees were BGCT employees or related to the convention, making the BGCT the biggest promoter of the thing.)

6:49 PM

 
Blogger bowtiebaptist said...

Chuck,

Thanks for the bowtie compliment.


The BGCT has not been secret about the direction that it is taking. That is why the SBTC was formed. Actually, it seems to me that the anti-SBC rhetoric is quite toned down in the last several years. I think that Texas Baptists really want to be about serving Christ and helping people in Jesus name.

Global warming is a hot-button political and scientific issue. The CLC always speaks to Texas Baptists but not for Texas Baptists. Texas Baptists should listen to all voices in this debate and make a reasoned descision.

Whether Carter or Kimball are pluralists or not is up for debate. I really don't think that Kimball's influence is as great as you make it out to be. Perhaps many in the leadership would not agree with Kimball or have even read his books.

How many women pastors are left in Texas? Julie Pennington-Russell left. I find it hard to believe that you could assert that Texas Baptist leadership is forcing the issue of women pastors. It is always a local church deciscion.

The last time I looked, Texas Baptist Committed did not force anyone to vote for the candidate that they endorsed. Just because a group endorses a candidate does not ensure that they will win. Everyone in Texas does not pay dues to TBC or attend their meetings.

If the New Baptist Covenant comes to a vote then you will be free to vote against participation. Charles Wade has been very active in promoting the event and the BGCT is an active partner with the North American Baptist Fellowship and the BWA who are sponsoring the event. Why should we not be represented since we are directly involved with money and personnell?

Michael

5:02 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a member and deacon in a BGCT only church in the metromess I will say that I dont know how much longer our church will be BGCT with the way things are going. Our pastor and staff who are all very non political are very concerned about how our CP dollars are being spent. Even if we stay with the BGCT, there is a good chance that we sill decrease our CP giving and begin giving more to missionaries in our church and church plants that we are participating in.

My opinion is that most BGCT churches lean to the middle, they are afraid of the right leaning SBTC, but are like us very very concerned with what is happening in the BGCT. I think that they identify themselves more as SBCers and lest as BGCTers or SBTCers, if they perceive that the BGCT is tying itself more and more tightly to the CBG, they will be gone. the financial messes in the valley is starting to push us.

It is for that reason that I support David Lowerie - I think that he can help unite right and left in the BGCT. I'm afraid that Joy Fenner's election will connect the BGCT more tightly to the CBF.

Our church has always held onto the old 67-33 split - but even so, our CP giving this year will be around $75,000 not including annie and lottie. How many churches like ours do you want to see walk away. I think this is a watershed year

Jim Champion

7:05 AM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Michael (Bowtie),

Agreed, the CLC speaks to, not for. The problem is Cooperative Program funds the CLC, and it is clearly left in what it speaks.

Agreed, the SBTC formed over the stated direction and direct actions of the BGCT. However, there was then, and is still, significant dually-aligned support coming into BGCT which is going to evaporate, as the political and non-tertiary doctrinal drift has increased to the intolerable point.

There may be wonder if Carter is a pluralist--he needs to refute the recent reports and reporters if he's not. There is no debate that Charles Kimball is a pluralist--he's self-described. The CLC's and BGCT executive staff's defending him as merely academic in his comments is a case of either negligent ignorance or dishonesty--which one, I'm not sure.

Agreed, the TBC (probably) can't force anyone to do anything--it simply gets its Board together when the future BGCT Officer list needs updating, decides who will nominate whom, then "endorses" those candidates. This year, for instance, Joy Fenner and the FBC Tyler pastor are on the TBC Board, the third guy serves on the staff of the church where Bill Brian attends. I asked David Currie to just go ahead and drop the "endorses" language. No one informed swallows the Board got together AFTER Fenner and David Lowrie became announced candidates to contemplate which one to "endorse."

Agreed, TBC's candidates aren't assured of winning--there still has to be a vote. But, for $25 each (or whatever small amount "bona fide" means), a silent coalition of CBF churches would have stood a better chance of storming an SBC annual meeting and electing someone it nominated from the floor than a non-TBC candidate for a BGCT office has stood since the Baylor pull-out.

Agreed, BGCT women pastors are few, if any, since Pennington-Russell left Waco. Like I said, many Baptists believe it to not be biblical. However, David Currie is determined that at least 500 are needed, so keep watching. It will be interesting to see if enough male pastors can be found who are qualified to pray or preach or be appointed at every BGCT gathering now that Julie is gone.

Lastly, we should not participate in the NBC because any cooperative effort with other groups under the banner of "Baptist" must have, at its center, a clear gospel message. Jimmy Carter doesn't convey that clear message, as I've already discussed, and he is the trumpeted convener, keynoter, and host. The fact that BGCT is directly involved with money and personnel is to be deplored and should be corrected, not condoned. If BWA continues to sponsor it, let them. The SBC showed that it's possible to decrease or sever such ties, if protests go unheard.

I agree with Jim Champion that this year is a watershed year for the BGCT.

Interesting that it was also in Amarillo in 1994 that the re-definition of Cooperative Program giving was adopted by the BGCT . . .

9:59 AM

 
Blogger bowtiebaptist said...

Chuck,

I found this set of talking points on a downloadable pdf file on the NBC website.

I thought that the first addresses your question about the gospel, although I understand that you might have a different definition of what the gospel is.
I cut and pasted these from the pdf file into this reply.


o Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications for public and private morality
o Promoting justice and peace
o Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless
o Caring for the sick and marginalized
o Welcoming strangers
o Promoting religious liberty and respect for religious diversity.

These sound something like what Jesus preached after he read the text from the book of Isaiah.

11:44 AM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Michael,

All the objectives mentioned can be gleaned from the Luke 4 passage except the last one.

Jesus didn't promote, and Baptists historically haven't promoted respect for religious diversity in the spiritual sense. Civic-wise, perhaps. It's this extra-biblical objective that presents the problem.

The problem with the New Baptist Covenant is that it purports to be a "new prophetic voice," to offer an "authentic Baptist witness," and to uphold "traditional Baptist values" while Carter, the movement's public figure, goes about making his pluralist statements. He not only promotes respect for religious diversity, his reported statements also endorse non-Christian religions as legitimate paths to God.

Charles Wade and others recently (during the CLC's Charles Kimball fiasco) reassured Texas Baptists of the BGCT's exclusive view of salvation. Surely the BGCT is capable of, and is addressing the worthy objectives you've quoted. There is no need for, or wisdom in expending time, financial and human resources to join a social-issues-focused movement calling itself Baptist whose leader espouses an iff-y message of salvation through Jesus, Judaism, Mormonism, and maybe other ways.

That's not Baptist. That's not BGCT Baptist. Perhaps it is "New Baptist."

1:47 PM

 
Anonymous David Lowrie said...

Big Daddy,

Thank you for calling me to task on the CBF issue. I support and would encourage cooperation with the CBF where our cooperation can further the work of the Kingdom.


I simply desire for us for find a position where our churches can find points of cooperation in Texas. The primary work of the BGCT has little if anything to do with what happens in the SBC or the CBF. The important task is to engage all our churches in our primary mission of reaching Texas, educating students, touching human need, and planting churches.

For example, I am supportive of the stated objectives of the New Baptist Covenant, but I have reservations about how to best cooperate in this movement. The NBC calls us to be the caring and compassionate people of God in the world. Who could oppose this idea or mission? However I believe there are a number of unanswered questions that need to be clarified for many in our convention before we can fully embrace this movement.


No doubt I have stumbled in some of my comments. I am not very good at politics, but I believe I am growing as a leader.

I believe the vision and leadership of the BGCT needs to move closer to the values of our BGCT churches who continue to support the SBC through their mission giving. I am afraid too often our fears of what might happen has distracted us from our mission.

I apologize for leaving the impression that I did not value the contributions or the passion of our CBF churches and our members who support this mission organization that has a great heart to touch the world. I value greatly the contributions and perspectives of men like Dan Vestal and Keith Parks.


Thank you for helping us embrace this conflict and find points of cooperation.

Sincerely,
David Lowrie
Canyon, TX

2:59 PM

 
Blogger Kaylor said...

Chuck: You clearly do not know your Baptist history! Baptists have historically fought for religious liberty for all. It is only recently that some Baptists have done otherwise. I recently wrote about this rich heritage of Baptists here. In this sense the "New Baptist" way is really a return to the old historic Baptist way.

3:10 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Oh, boy, this'll be interesting. Are you going to vote?

One thing that gets lost in all this is how off-putting the whole fight is to the younger generation of Baptists. There's lost of talk about encouraging the development of young Texas Baptist leaders by the generations who fought off the fundamentalists. But I'm not sure that most of them understand how deeply our generation just wants to get on with it.

The same problem exists in American politics; the baby boomers never got over Vietnam and birth control. But unlike in American politics, our post-denominational generation can walk away from Baptists who are still fighting the battles of the past.

3:24 PM

 
Anonymous Lee said...

As you said, Joy Fenner is qualified, and no one is disputing that. However, she is endorsed by Texas Baptists Committed, a group that, while successful in keeping a fundamentalist takeover of the BGCT at bay also was influential in selecting Dr. Charles Wade as BGCT executive director, and in selecting most of the current executive board, all of whom more or less sat on their hands and did nothing while three men in the Rio Grande Valley pocketed $1.5 million in Cooperative Program money and used it to purchase large homes, expensive cars, and other personal pleasures. There were some indications that Dr. Wade helped them by using his influence to waive the standard operating proceedure which enabled them. And the attitude of the BGCT exec board and administration has been to try to sweep it all under the carpet.

Very little communication to Texas Baptists has been forthcoming. The result of that has been increasing frustration with the administration and executive board. Their few and limited responses have sounded much more like strategized cover-ups than anything of substance. Hard upon the heels of that are more revelations that more money has been mishandled, again possibly because of the Ex. Directors interference. Then, because of a sagging budget, layoffs are announced in the Baptist building. The layoffs do not affect the executive department, and the biggest cuts are made in missions and evangelism. The blame is placed on a drop in investment income, even though a "slight increase" in Cooperative Program receipts is anticipated.

Do you see the credibility problem here?

1. Cooperative Program receipts at the BGCT have dropped steadily over the past two years, to the point where they are 5% below budget for the year so far, and the gap has widened by almost 4% in one month. There is no indication that the giving will go back up, on the contrary, the pattern is that it will run at least 2%, perhaps as much as 5% below the previous year. By the end of next year, that will result in an almost 15% decrease in giving over a three year period.

2. The biggest job cuts at the BGCT were made in the missions and evangelism department, while the executive department escaped with none. That more or less takes the steam out of the "missions" emphasis that Joy Fenner brings to the table, doesn't it? If "missions at all costs" was really the bottom line, then the way to prove it would have been for the executive department to sacrifice some of their huge salaries to keep the missions department in tact. That way, Joy Fenner's candidacy means something more than just a missions appeal for votes.

I'm not even going to go into the NBC debacle. The BGCT constitution and bylaws clearly state that relationships of that nature must be approved by both the Executive Board and the Convention. The actions of the ED with regard to the NBC tells me that it was planned this way specifically to avoid taking a vote that might not come out the way they wanted it to.

The problem with all of this is that it isn't Joy's fault. It's really not necessarily TBC's fault, either, directly. But Joy has been endorsed by TBC, and while I think there are probably some TBC leaders that are beside themselves about what has happened in the BGCT, they've generally done nothing more than advocate for a hand slapping and a verbal reprimand. More than that is required to rebuild the trust that has been lost.

Charles Wade has given the "silent majority" the motivation they have needed to muster their messengers and make some changes. TBC has relied more on the middle staying home than on the support it can muster from its churches and supporters. Between TBC and the CBF churches in Texas that they count on for help, you're talking about maybe 500 churches. There are almost 4,000 churches that uniquely support the SBC, and before you say "that's about the missionaries," there are over 3,000 that give a 50-50 split or better to the SBC side. If David is elected, he won't be moving the BGCT back to the "center." It will simply be getting leadership that represents where it already is.

3:28 PM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Kaylor,

I'll forgive you for calling me unlearned.

First, I referred to religious diversity, not liberty. I hope you realize there's a distinction between the two. The NBC seems to understand this, since the talking points Michael quoted state "promoting religious liberty and respect for religious diversity."

I made the point that neither Jesus nor Baptists ever gave non-Christian religions legitimacy or respect in the SPIRITUAL sense--i.e. recognizing them as viable paths to salvation. Jesus and we Baptists never said an individual has the liberty to choose successfully any other path to God. I trust your article doesn't say otherwise.

Note I did say we've stood for allowing religious diversity in the civic arena--that's what religious liberty is.

It is only recently that some Baptists, like Jimmy Carter, have decided to lead "New Baptist" movements while legitimizing diverse paths to God.

9:35 PM

 
Blogger bowtiebaptist said...

Chuck,

I took the point about "respecting religious diversity" to be a corollary to the Baptist idea of soul competency. Can we not respect others' rights to have their own religion without affirming that religion or recognizing it as a legitimate path to God? Roger Williams allowed the Quakers to live in Rhode Island, but never said they were right.

The times that I have heard Bill Underwood speak did not lead me to believe that he thought that all religions were a legitimate path to God. He seemed to be pretty conservative to me.

I don't think that Carter is leading us to affirm other movements as legitimate path's to God. What direct evidence is there? I know that some have taken his statements out of context lately, but is there hard, theological evidence that Jimmy Carter has advocated such views?

10:50 PM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Lee,

From the sidelines, it does appear that mistakes were made by Charles Wade. I doubt Charles Wade was alone in making those mistakes though.

As to TBC, why throw the baby out with the bathwater? In this debate, I see two sides with competing visions for the future of the BGCT. Why sould Texas Baptists abandon their leaders who have served them so well for so many years because of a few bad apples or a string of executive screw ups?

George Bush has been a lousy President. Many Republicans will agree with that statement. But I doubt many partisan Republicans will jump ship and join the Democrats in 2008. That may not be the best analogy. But, I think it works.

Why should Joy Fenner be punished due to the mistakes of the Executive Director? This election seems to be about vision and the future of Texas Baptists. Will Texas Baptists stand shoulder to shoulder with the BWA and NABF or will they head down the path already paved by Southern Baptist fundamentalists - a path that leads to rigidity, conformity, and ISOLATION.

David Lowrie has called for Parity (and I thank him for stopping by). And you seem to be calling for PARITY as well. BUt what does that mean? Based on the current system, how many changes would need to be made to achieve that parity? I believe the parity that you are clamoring for will leave moderates (the folks who led the fight against the fundamentalists) facing severe consequences down the road. You see, parity never stops with just parity. Why stop at parity when you can capture control?

Then again, I'm biased against the system in general. We live in a post-denominational world. Big bureaucracies like the BGCT won't survive forever.

As to the "NBC debacle" - the BGCT is a member body of the North American Baptist Fellowship. Why is a vote even needed? By joining the organization, you've made the decision to support their mission and their projects. Similarly, Texas Baptists fund the Baptist Joint Committee. Each time the BJC submits an amicus brief to the Supreme Court the BGCT doesn't take a vote as to whether they affirm the BJC's position. Do you take a vote to affirm each and every project and major resolution/statement passed by the BJC? No.

If you are upset with the work of NABF - WITHDRAW and DEFUND.

That's your answer. No use remaining a part of the organization if you can't support their mission and projects.

1:46 AM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Michael,

Yes, of course we can and do respect religious diversity in the civic sense, as you've referenced in citing Roger Williams, without giving the diverse, non-Christian religions salvific legitimacy.

But, when you pair the NBC's objective of "respecting religious diversity" with Jimmy Carter's reported and un-refuted statements to Newsweek and Rabbi Michael Lerner--both in May of this year--legitimizing Mormonism and Judaism (and indicating his desire to lead Baptists to recognize Judaism's viability), you see the implications for an "authentic Baptist witness" and "new prophetic voice." I think you'll agree that what a person says--and leaves said--is hard enough evidence to warrant great concern.

I was not referring to Underwood as a pluralist, only that he and not a NABF officer appeared with Carter in January, thus lessening the perception of BWA as the sponsor of the NBC. It appeared to be a Carter/Mercer initiative.

4:43 AM

 
Blogger Kaylor said...

Chuck: I cannot believe you! You said you would quit using the Rabbi's remark after he was unable to confirm it when asked. As I told you elsewhere that was third-hand information that is clearly negated by Carter's very specific writings that Jesus is required for salvation. As I have also noted for you elsewhere, he only said he has a relative that is a Mormon that he believes is a Christian, not that all Mormons are Christians. I thought you had read my column that deals with these inaccurate attacks (find it here).

Quit slandering your brother in Christ!

6:41 AM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Kaylor,

Following your and my PRIVATE correspondence, and after further contact with the Rabbi, I decided that your new rules should be followed. Quoting my comment on your post on your blog of Sept. 20 (parenthesis content added for clarity):
__________________________

You (Kaylor) said ". . . if Oldham was misquoted or misled why has he not spoken out about it yet? If he is going to be the Convention's spokesperson on this issue then he needs to be . . ."

I say again, borrowing you(r) rationale, ". . . if President Carter was misquoted or misled (by Newsweek or Rabbi Lerner) why has he not spoken out about it yet? If he is going to be the New Baptist Covenant's convener and keynote spokesperson on this issue of a 'new prophetic voice' and 'authentic Baptist witness,' then he needs to be clearly Baptist in his soteriology."

If you're going to presume, due to his silence, that Oldham was accurately quoted, then you must presume, do to his silence, that Carter was accurately represented as well.
_________________________________

Now, back to real-time. Your referenced article from late May doesn't address Carter's reported pluralist statements from earlier that same month. They were either too new or too difficult to defend. Your focused rather on Mohler's semantics argument and others' wild accusations regarding abortion and such.

You're jumping to conclusions about the Mormon relative comment's meaning, unless you've talked with, or read clarification, from Carter.

May 2007 is more recent than any of Carter's writings you're placing faith in. As you admitted, you wish Carter would publicly refute these reports and reporters.

Now, believe me, and take back the "slander" sucker punch, or I'll never compliment your Friday photos of Poco again!

:)

8:01 AM

 
Anonymous Lee said...

You said, As to the "NBC debacle" - the BGCT is a member body of the North American Baptist Fellowship. Why is a vote even needed? By joining the organization, you've made the decision to support their mission and their projects. Similarly, Texas Baptists fund the Baptist Joint Committee. Each time the BJC submits an amicus brief to the Supreme Court the BGCT doesn't take a vote as to whether they affirm the BJC's position. Do you take a vote to affirm each and every project and major resolution/statement passed by the BJC? No.

Straw man arguments here. Being a member of the BJCRL and requiring a vote every time it presenta an amicus brief to the SCOTUS is not the same thing as belonging to an organization like the NABF and then automatically supporting every project it undertakes. The BGCT does not "belong" to the NABF any more than it belongs to the SBC. The NBC, while it may be an event that is sponsored by the NABF, is still a separate event, and just because the BGCT is part of the fellowship, does not mean that its support for this particular event is automatic. That's just not Baptist polity and you, as a moderate Baptist, should know that.

Who said anything about "punishing" Joy Fenner? How is her not being elected some kind of "punishment." She is not entitled to the office just because TBC nominated her, or because she is a missionary, or because she is a woman. I don't have any problem with TBC, or with its move to keep the BGCT from being dominated by fundamentalists, particularly those who engineered the same kind of takeover of the SBC. That's because I object to any kind of a "takeover" and dominance of a Baptist convention, which is supposed to be open to the broadest possible cooperation between churches for missions and ministry, by anyone. TBC has, in recent years, with their continued endorsements, and their activism in getting their core churches to send the maximum number of messengers to the convention. In so doing, they have made certain that the committees and boards are dominated by moderate Baptists. You are right that Charles Wade is not the only person responsible for the problems related to the Valleygate scandal. And there are other problems in the Baptist Building as well. TBC was not only responsible for putting Charles and his administration in the Baptist Building, but an overwhelming number of its supporters sit on the executive board and the committees as well. They have endorsed the officers of the convention for years, now.

Moderates in the BGCT are a minority. That's a fact, no matter how you want to slice it. TBC, CBF and the entire moderate constituency of the convention are probably not represented by more than 500 churches, if that many. More than 4,000 churches in the BGCT give uniquely to the SBC, and over 3,200 of those give a bigger share to the SBC than the BGCT. That's not just a "we're doing it for the missionaries" constituency. Most of those churches are theologically conservative, and they remained in the BGCT because they believed, as I did, that moderate leadership is fair, equitable, and open to diversity, and that they would still be included, even if they did not support TBC or CBF. In the BGCT, however, that has not exactly worked out in practice. The result has been a drop in Cooperative Program support for the BGCT, an increasing feeling of discontent, and that has finally produced an alternative candidate for President.

The perception is that the moderate leadership of the BGCT has disenfranchised those who still support the SBC, to the point where they feel they have no voice, and are forced to support things like NABF. Churches are offered the choice as to whether they want to support the SBC or not. So why should all BGCT churches be required to support the NABF if they do not want to do so?

The Valleygate scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. Since posting on Rick Davis' website a couple of days ago about committees and boards in the BGCT being stacked with moderates, I've received several emails from people who used to be involved in the committee selection process, outlining how heavy handed and manipulated the nominations have been, and how slanted toward moderates they have been. That is not what I expected from moderate leadership. As a result, I am voting for a change. Joy is a great person, I sat by her all day at a recent TBC meeting, and I have no doubt as to her capability to lead the BGCT, but her candidacy offers no hope to those who feel disenfranchised in the BGCT, and David Lowrie does.

I really enjoy your blog and I agree with a lot of things that you say. But your denominational views, while being relatively open minded to most things, are biased and closed against those who hold a more conservative view than you do, and you have exhibited an attitude of both superiority toward them, and a disdain for any sort of cooperation with them. Not all conservatives, and by all means not all Southern Baptists, have the mean-spirited exclusivity that the fundamentalists who controlled the convention have. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, we can, and should, be working together, and that is possible if we will set the partisanship, personalities and egos aside, understand who the real enemy is, who the real savior is, and work to advance his kingdom.

A few years ago, at a cooperative mission project in Oklahoma, I found myself on the same corner of a roof with an individual from a church in Nashville whom I recognized immmediately as an individual high up in the conservative resurgence, someone who had been very much in the forefront of blasting moderates. I still had a lot of bitterness and was fresh off an encounter with a fundamentalist in a previous church that had cauaed me to give up my job and move. My first feelings, honestly, were to get down off the roof and go ask to be assigned to another crew. But I didn't. Instead, the Holy Spirit convicted me. The young girl who was our group devotion leader for the week divided everyone up for prayer partners that week, and the two of us got put together. It was hard for me. On Tuesday, when we got back to the school where we were staying, he came and found me, and asked if something was wrong and how could he help? I vented. He listened, then told me of his own conviction and repentance from the things he had done. He was in the process of trying to contact individuals he hurt to ask their fogriveness. How difficult that must have been! We prayed, cried, hugged (don't tell anyone), prayed and cried some more, and the rest of the week went great. There was something about being up on a roof in the hot sun, focusing on someone elses needs that made all the Baptist war just fade away. We are still friends.

I just don't think Baptist conventions and organizations are worth the relatioships that are sacrificed between brothers and sisters in Christ on behalf of political agendas and control of the structure. It is time for a change in the BGCT, and I think David Lowrie represents our best chance at doing that.

10:19 AM

 
Anonymous Lee said...

Bowtie Baptist said, "If the New Baptist Covenant comes to a vote then you will be free to vote against participation. Charles Wade has been very active in promoting the event and the BGCT is an active partner with the North American Baptist Fellowship and the BWA who are sponsoring the event. Why should we not be represented since we are directly involved with money and personnell?

It will come to a vote, or at least, a motion will be made to that effect. I have taken on that project myself, and I will be citing the chapter and verse of the BGCT constitution that clearly requires it. The current BGCT leadership has been extremely vocal in proclaiming that the BGCT is independent and autonomous, with regard to its relationship with the SBC to which it contributes a significant amount of money and with which it participates in sharing a considerable number of personnel, and they interpret that to mean that we are not obligated to participate in anything that they do, just because of that. The same principle would apply to the NABF and the NBC. We are not obligated to participate, and the committing of funds or authorization of the use of the BGCT's name in endorsement is subject to the vote of the convention. At the very least, a vote of confidence, which cannot be overruled by the chair, will be made.

I'd be fully in favor of the BGCT's participating in this, if they would be equitable, and broaden their scope of support for, and participation in, the SBC to be fair to those churches who want to see that happen. Well, perhaps not completely. I object to the involvement of the secular politicians in this--Carter, Clinton and Gore, along with Graham and Grassely. If not for that, I'd be for it.

10:57 AM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

No straw man here.

How is being a member body of the BJC any different than being a member body of the NABF? You offered a conclusion not based on any facts. Nothing but an assumption.

The BWA speaks to but not for Baptists. The NABF speaks to but not for its member bodies. The BJC speaks to but not for its partnering Baptist bodies. Same goes for the Texas CLC.
You don't seem to grasp that basic Baptist concept. Instead, you've offered a very radical version of Baptist polity that would require a vote to be taken each time an organizaiton that you partner with hosts an event or makes a policy statement. That's 100% unrealistic. The BGCT being listed as a partnering organization with the NBC (through the NABF) does not violate your conscience. We as Baptists cooperate with state conventions, national conventions, and other organizations. But those organizations don't fetter our conscience. Their decisions don't infringe on your rights. If you understood the "speaking to but not for" concept - this wouldn't be an issue.

Your entire post sounds like the argument the Seventh Day Baptists were making against the BJC just a few months ago. Ultimately, some Seventh-Dayers decided that the should not be partnering with any organization because no Baptist speaks for another Baptist. Well, that's true. But they didn't understand the "speaking to but not for" concept either. Taking a vote on each and every project supported by a partnering organization would be the precedent that you are setting. It's the logical extension of the conclusion that you've already articualted.

You've joined up with NABF. That's a fact. The New Baptist Covenant (document) symbolizes the mission of the NABF. The Celebration is their #1 project. Now, if you can't support the mission and you can't support the project - why remain a member body? If the interests of Texas Baptists are not represented - why not bolt and withdraw?

And no, BGCT does not have an obligation to participate in the NBC. But the BGCT doesn't have an obligation to partner with the NABF either.

The vote shouldn't be on whether to officially particiapte in the Celebration. If a vote is necessary, it should be to decide whether Texas Baptists should remain in the NABF and BWA.

Why is Joy Fenner being punished?

You didn't read my argument. Joy Fenner gets punished if Texas Baptists take their anger out on Charles Wade by voting against their self-interest. Like I said, I doubt many Republicans will vote Democrat merely because they believe Dubya to be incompetent.

Baptists who don't desire rigidty and conformity should be thankful for the moderate leadership - even if heavy-handed. Giving Southern Baptists a greater voice would ultimately put power back in the hands of fundamentalists. You remember the old saying - the only way to cooperate with a fundamentalist is to obey him. Are some non-fundamentalist Southern Baptists being denied a place at the table? Maybe so. And maybe work can be done to improve that situation. But Parity? Authentic Parity would open the floodgates up for fundamentalist control. And there is no denying it....

My denominational views may very well be slanted against "conservatives." Point taken. But as a student of Baptist history, I know that your personal vision for Texas Baptists while well-intentioned is quite utopian. We've seen how the PARITY ideal plays out in Baptist life.

You talk about how CP dollars are down. My question to you - do you believe that your fellow Baptists have stopped tithing and giving money to missions? Baptists will give their tithes in new and creative ways. The era of big denominations is over. Perhaps it's time for the Texas Baptist machinery to trim back and realize this truth.

6:47 PM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

One more side note.

Does the Convention take a vote each and every time the Christian Life Commission takes a political issue?

You know and I know that those 3,000 Southern Baptist churches don't support many of the positions taken by the Christian Life Commission. That is a historical fact based on 50+ years of history. God knows the majority of BGCT churches wouldn't support their positions on the environment or immigration. But the CLC "speaks to but not for" Texas Baptists. So, all is well.

6:51 PM

 
Anonymous Lee said...

Joy Fenner was is the endorsed candidate of Texas Baptists Committed. TBC is, like it or not, the group whose influence helped Charles become Executive Director. Her candidacy, while it may represent some sort of appeal to missions mindedness, and it's long past time we elected a woman, also represents a "stay the course" position with regard to the BGCT administration. Her election means TBC continues to influence the committee and board appointments that influence who the next ED and administration will be. We've seen the job this administration has done. Do we want more of the same? That's the bottom line of what her candidacy represents. She will owe TBC because they endorsed her. If David is elected, it will have been without the assistance of a political organization.

No one can guarantee parity. But I can guarantee that if the TBC candidate is elected, there will not be any parity in the BGCT, and little chance of it happening in the next year.

I pretty much agree with you regarding the relevance and viability of big denominations. I think that is why it is vital for the BGCT to get its house in order once again. The paradigm shifts that are occuring in the way we do ministry, church, and related work are pressures that require change, deep change, or slow death will occur. I think we are seeing some signs of slow death, especially in the median age of convention messengers. That's another reason why I think David Lowrie needs to be elected. Change is coming, let's be prepared for it. Appealing to missions mindedness is somewhat empty, in light of the deep budget cuts made by the administration in the missions department of the convention. That wasn't a good move. To save missions money by laying off the employees in the missions and evangelism department, and not make any cuts at all in executive salaries or staff is counterproductive.

You're just not going to get why the NBC is the recipe for disaster. You are so enamored by the personalities involved that you are blinded to the realities. When the BGCT joined the NABF, there was no indication that meant signing on to an event like the NBC. If that had been revealed at the time, there would never have been enough votes to get the BGCT into the fellowship.

I have no objection whatsoever to the BGCT participating in the NABF or the BWA. The NBC, with the high profile involvement of Carter, Clinton, Gore, Grassley and Graham, is a surprise. We are not a secular political convention, and I couldn't care less whether anything these men would say would be political or not. They are secular politicians, and the BGCT has no reason to associate itself with anything that might even remotely be perceived as secular politics. You can't pull a surprise like that and not go back to the convention for a vote. To continue to pursue this, in light of what has transpired in the BGCT and what has come to light in the past year, without a vote would be a grave mistake. Those of you who want the BGCT to continue to be part of NABF and BWA had better hope there is a vote, because if there isn't, it will not be long before they are defunded and the relationships severed, either at a future convention, or bu default when churches stop giving.

9:46 PM

 
Blogger bowtiebaptist said...

Lee,

I have never understood the New Baptist Covenant to be a secular political rally. The stated goals are to focus in on those things that Jesus preached in Nazareth when he read from the text of Isaiah. The event is billed as an opportunity for Baptists to focus on those things and to think about justice and peace and what the gospel means for those who are "the least of these." Carter is not doing this as a former president, but as a Baptist. The politicians are there because they can discuss how Baptists can apply the gospel to real life situations.

The election of Joy Fenner would not mean that she would be a puppet for TBC which is what you are implying. Surely you give her credit for having more integrity than that.

As for Charles Wade being the TBC candidate, if you will remember he wasn't even the first candidate put forward when he was elected. The first candidate turned it down and Charles was the second choice. Now, I can hardly imagine anyone who would get within ten feet of the job.

Michael Dain

10:22 PM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

I (and obviously most other moderates) don't desire the parity that you're seeking. It doesn't take a prophet to envision the consequences of parity. Moderates respect theological diversity. Historically speaking, we can't say the same about "conservatives." If Fenner is elected, I hope folks like you and Montoya and Rick Davis will allow her to lead.

I'm not enamored by the personalities you speak of. You hear New Baptist Covenant and picture conjure up the sins of Bill Clinton. I hear New Baptist Covenant and envision a 20,000 strong Baptist Unity rally - a Celebration and time of reconciliation with Black Baptists, Hispanic Baptists, American Baptists and maybe a few Canadians. Unity Amidst Diversity. That's something that many of us desire. We don't desire to be Texas Baptist isolationists. We want to connect with the larger Global Baptist community through the NABF and BWA. I'm not sure that's on your agenda nor is it on the agenda of many Southern Baptists in Texas.

I'm excited about good preaching. Julie Pennington-Russell and Joel Gregory. I want to hear Charles Adams whoop and James Forbes rap. I find black preaching to be quite uplifting. But no, I'm not enamored with Bill, Jimmy or Al. I would like to hear Moyers speak; he is after all perhaps the most articulate defender of the First Amendment in America today. It's about time the larger Baptist community has a serious discussion about poverty, HIV/AIDS pandemic and the continuing race problem that our nation faces. All that to say, it's about time that the World sees that we Baptists believe that social justice and evangelism are but different sides of the same missional coin. We cannot neglect one for the other. So yes, I'm enamored with all of the above. From what I hear, a very large constituency of young Texas Baptist Professionals are share my sentiments.

The 25-35 crowd are tomorrow's Baptist leaders. If the denominational system that is the BGCT plans to continue kickin, they best take into consideration how the young professionals view the New Baptist Covenant which could very well be one of the most historic Baptist gatherings of the past 100 years. I know a Texas Baptist who has been traveling the state and has the "pulse" of where younger Texas Baptists stand on this issue. And the support for the NBC is unbelievable here in your own state.

For Further Inquiry on TBYPN and NBC

12:40 AM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Big Daddy,

I'm chuckling once again. No, actually, I'm scratching my hand and somewhat dizzy.

You say, in the same paragraph to Lee, "Moderates respect theological diversity" right after saying "I (and obviously most other moderates) don't desire the parity that you're seeking."

You seem to be conflicted, to have a real love-hate relationship with respect for diversity when it comes to controlling a Baptist convention.

You also say, "Baptists who don't desire rigidty and conformity should be thankful for the moderate leadership - even if heavy-handed."

You again seem conflicted, to have both a disdain for "rigidity and conformity" and an acceptance of "heavy-handedness" when it comes to controlling a Baptist convention.

Your objective (control) sounds very much like that which some other Baptists began implementing in a large national Baptist convention in 1979.

5:34 AM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Chuck,

I'm not conflicted.

Just add "at times" behind the phrase "even if heavy-handed."

I'd rather have benevolent moderate leadership ruling the roost (even if mistakes are made along the way) than mean-spirited fundamentalists (which PARITY opens the door to)

If state convention life has taught Baptists anything since the national Takeover, it's that the moderate minority eventually gets kicked to the curb. Leonard's "Grand Compromise" thesis didn't carry over into the 21st century. Parity AND peace is not possible when fundamentalists are still involved. And yes - there are quite a few funamentalists in those 3,000 SBC churches that Lee wants to give a comfy seat at the table.

10:59 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can anyone who's attended a Southern Baptist gathering in recent years complain about politicians on the upcoming New Baptist Covenant program in Atlanta? That's almost laughable.

George Dubya alone has addressed the SBC by satellite every year of his presidency, and Condaleeza Rice (a person I greatly respect) addressed messengers just this past year.

Leading civil religionists, "creation scientists", and other rightwing political stalwarts such as Oliver North, James Dobson, and Tim LaHaye also appear annually at the SBC. I could live with some of that if there was any hint of balance, but that's not the case.

Notably absent and snubbed, meanwhile, from the SBC's invitation list in recent years have been Carter, Clinton, and Gore - our living Baptist presidents and vice-president. That's shameful.

Mark R.
Alabama

11:17 PM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Big Daddy,

I should and would never be guilty of adding words to those you write.

So, now you want us to give you extra credit by adding "at times" to your extraordinary statement which okay-ed "benevolent" moderate BGCT leadership's "heavy-handed" methods?

I'm chuckling again, and you're statements do sound conflicted, despite your simple, subjective, self-assessing protest, "I'm not conflicted."

Given, you'd rather have moderates (or liberals) rather than conservatives (or fundamentalists) "ruling" (another reference to control) because you are one. But, what evidence indicates, with such certainty as your statement, that past or current moderate/liberal BGCT leaders have been benevolent (while heavy-handed [even at times]?), or that any potential or previously excluded conservative/fundamental leader would be "mean-spirited?"

You're correct in that there are a whole lot of conservatives, if not fundamentalists, in those 3,000 BGCT churches, and that if moderates put into practice what they preach about "inclusiveness," they'll lose some control. Probably advance God's kingdom, but lose power.

And, again, you sure sound like (and didn't protest that) control is what it's about.

8:01 AM

 
Blogger Kaylor said...

Chuck: Not sure if you are suggesting that I violated some private correspondence, but everything I wrote is stuff you wrote on my blog. You ironically ask if I've talked with Carter. You should recall that I did meet with him (although not since I was aware of the Mormon story). But have you? Have you talked with him? After all, you are the accuser here. Read the Mormon one carefully and you will see that Carter only talks about one person, not all Mormons. Thus it would be wrong to broaden his statement without further confirmation. As for the Rabbi's remarks, he not only could not substantiate them but they are opposed by everything Carter himself has said and written. Thus, to continue to use that is irresponsible and falls into the area of gossip, which is condemned in the Bible.

6:11 AM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Kaylor,

I don't accept your judgment that I am irresponsible, that I gossip, or that I slander a brother in Christ.

I don't--rather, Jimmy Carter's reported words from May of this year--do the accusing. President Carter simply needs to refute the reports and the reporters, and I'll be relieved from the obligation I feel. You pointed out that you've had an audience with him before. Why don't you seek another audience and ask him for the refutation you admittedly wish he'd make?

Now, Brian, you must decide which way you want it:

As you said yourself Sept. 20, ". . . if Oldham was misquoted or misled why has he not spoken out about it yet? If he is going to be the Convention's spokesperson on this issue then he needs to be . . ."

I say again, borrowing you(r) rationale, ". . . if President Carter was misquoted or misled (by Newsweek or Rabbi Lerner) why has he not spoken out about it yet? If he is going to be the NBC's convener and keynote spokesperson, then he needs to be . . ."

Brian, if you're going to presume, due to his silence, that Oldham was accurately quoted, then, to be fair and consistent you must presume, due to his silence, that Carter was accurately represented as well.

I'm not complaining, but I emailed you privately about my contact with the Rabbi. I don't remember writing about it on your blog, but I may be mistaken. I'm proof that at least one fundamentalist exists for whom it is possible to admit he's wrong (contrary to another outlandish Carter quote).

I had subsequent contact with the Rabbi since you and I discussed it. Taking into account the Rabbi's further comments, Carter's silence, combined with the ground rules you stated in the Oldham matter, I can't, in good conscience, sweep under the rug the strong possibility that the man is a pluralist.

Until Carter refutes the reports and/or reporters, or the NBC removes him from key involvement, I will continue to contribute my words of caution whenever "authentic Baptist witness," "new prophetic voice," "traditional Baptist values," etc. are used to describe and sell the NBC's potential to potentially naive readers. I want to guide, not misguide.

Again, I appreciate and respect Big Daddy and you for not censoring comments from dissenting viewpoints in the shameful manner of another blogger.

5:09 PM

 

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