BGCT: Are They the Bad Guys?

Since the controversy in Texas regarding the Baptist Faith & Message (2000), the Baptist General Convention of Texas has been vilified as the liberals of the state, especially considering the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention formed to affirm the BFM and its support of inerrancy and the roles of women.

My question is, is the BGCT as “bad” as advertised by many?

As a young Baptist, I went to Dallas Baptist University (a BGCT-affiliated school) and had been fed the idea that all members of the BGCT hate the Bible. As a matter of fact, I was trying everything I could to transfer out of DBU soon after hearing that they were in support of the BGCT. As it turned out, the Lord (thankfully) kept me at DBU and I learned a great deal and got to know some great men. Particularly, I have become very close to Jan Daehnert, a legend in BGCT life. Dr. Daehnert loves the Bible, loves Jesus, and loves the church. After meeting him, and others, I began to realize that the BGCT was not the enemy, as some pastors had told me.

Let me be clear, I am a strong proponent of the BFM precisely because of the reasons that the BGCT turned away from it, and always find myself more aligned doctrinally with the SBTC and the SBC as a whole. I am perhaps the most inerrancy-supporting person you will ever meet, and I realized that some people in the BGCT believe in inerrancy as much as I do and, unfortunately, there are some who do not. But, do I paint the BGCT with a broad brush because of some of those who choose to hate conservative “fundys” like me? I find it to be unfair, at best.

One final thing that helped me to appreciate the BGCT – at least at some level – is the fact that they financially support church plants that they themselves may not totally agree with. I once asked a friend of mine, Rick White, why his inerrancy-believing, Calvinist-teaching, male-elder-led, Acts 29-aligned church would be associated with the BGCT. His answer? “Because they give money to church plants like us.” This was yet another huge revelation for me. I don’t think I’ve ever met a Calvinist in the BGCT nor have I met many who will put a foot down on denying women the pastorate, yet they align with churches like Rick’s, The Village, and Living Acts (whose Calvinist, inerrancy-preaching pastor is a BGCT church planting coach) – all churches that very openly believe strongly in the many things that the BGCT is said to hate.

I rarely agree with opinion pieces published in the Baptist Standard, and I find myself scared of some of the views of the Bible that exist within the BGCT. But, by God’s grace, I hope to never hate another brother in Christ. Muslims are enemies of the Gospel. Mormons are enemies of the Gospel. So perhaps, just perhaps, we conservatives in Texas should be more open-minded and appreciative of the BGCT than we are.

Comments

  1. Dwight McKissic says

    Brandon.

    Amen. They also will plant churches and don’t ask questions about or disqualify church planters or missionaries who pray in tongues in private.

    The BGCT has hundreds of Black Churches active and giving. I attended a meeting of the African American fellowship of the BGCT a few years ago, where they presented me with an award, and there were 500-600 persons present and it appeared 150+ pastors present. I’ve not been active in the SBTC in recent years, but I’ve never seen anything close to that level of Black participation and certainly not annually. I agree with the spirit and letter of your post,

    • John Wylie says

      Dr. McKissic,

      In your opinion, what could the SBTC do to promote a meeting like that in the black community?

      • Dwight McKissic says

        John,

        That’s a good question. I’m not sure. Most African American BGCT churches are conservative and would have no problem signing on to the 2000BF&M.

        The problem is Blacks have an innate, intuitive distrust for those who taut themselves as conservatives based on historical reasons. Therefore, I believe it would be difficult. A couple of years ago a SBTC evangelist preached a message at a SBTC evangelism rally calling for President Obama’s exile or death, if he didn’t repent of certain policy positions he holds. His message was only mildly and marginally repudiated by the SBTC, which further feeds into the distrust that already exist.

        Much to their credit, the SBTC is poised to elect a Black pastor as president in their upcoming convention. That should help some to bridge the gap. If they continue to elect and to appoint Blacks to high profile positions, eventually they may be able to attract Black participation at the level of the BGCT.

        I hope I’ve satisfactorily answered your question.

        Thanks,
        Dwight

  2. says

    Ok, so here’s my take on the article.

    Are their BGCT people who affirm inerrancy, the different roles of men and women in the church, the exclusivity of salvation by grace through conscious faith in Christ alone, and the biblical view of sexuality (one man and one woman in the bonds of matrimony)? Sure. I mean, the law of averages would mean there would have to be some.

    To me that’s not the point because apparently these people who are orthodox in their doctrine are willing to cooperate with people who disagree with them on those key doctrines (i.e. they reject inerrancy, they are egals, they embrace the heresy of inclusivism, and they think calling homosexuality a sin is hateful and bigoted). I wouldn’t be caught cooperating in sweeping the sidewalks with someone like that but those in the BGCT cooperate with them in gospel missions. That would be like Hitl….wait, let me find another analogy.

    In short, no matter how many Bible believing Christians are involved in the BGCT as long as they tolerate moderate baptists they deserve to be described as liberal.

    • says

      Joe,

      I try to avoid the “guilty by association” although it is extremely hard for me to do so (and I know you well enough to know that it’s extremely hard for you), but when we’re talking about cooperating in advancing the Gospel it is hard to say that I’d sacrifice an opportunity to do so because some people in a group are “egals.” Inerrancy is a primary doctrine for me, but I know enough inerrancy-supporters in the BGCT to not brush them with a broad stroke.

      And on other matters, I’d cooperate with Muslims, Mormons, whomever when it came to feeding the poor, battling injustice, etc. which I know is a large problem for some.

      I draw the line at: Would I let a person who denies inerrancy teach at my seminary or from my pulpit? Heck no. But would I accept funding for church planting from a group like the BGCT of whom SOME of its supporters disagree with me? I’d have to think a lot harder about that (not selling-out for the money, but allowing a bridge in order to see the Kingdom advanced).

      Say what you want, but the BGCT has shown an obvious willingness to bridge gaps, and I respect that.

  3. says

    Joe Blackmon, You remind me of a very rare and occasional co-pilot that I would have to tell to sit on their hands and not touch anything , and please close their mouths as they would cause more dissension than they would cure. No sweeping the sidewalks. Please don’t touch the broom. You don’t know nothing bou’t machinery.

  4. John Wylie says

    I was saved in a BGCT church when I was 13 years old. There are lots of conservative churches in the BGCT and the rank and file member in those churches has no clue about the views of much of the leadership. The tragedy I believe is that the libs/mods of that convention largely advance their agendas on the pocketbooks of conservative churches. My concern would be their connection with the CBF which has at least two churches with known lesbian pastors. You can call it gulit by association, but I want nothing to do with any group that rubs elbows with welcoming and affirming churches. To their credit the BGCT did disassociate with a welcoming and affirming church in Ft. Worth, TX. I would be hard pressed to cooperate with them, especially in the form of giving money because I would not want to support their more liberal causes.

    • John Wylie says

      BTW, I forgot to say that my brother attends a BGCT church in West Texas that is very conservative and I would fellowship with them and even allow their pastor to preach in my pulpit. I just want nothing to do with BGCT as an organization, but I would fellowship with various individuals and churches in it.

  5. DAVE RIDGWAY says

    I was raised in one the most conservative of homes and attended and grew up in one of the most conservative SBC-BGCT churches in Oak Cliff. I have worked in missions and severed on staff part time in music. I am currently a member of a Mega-Baptist church. Here of late I have been very disappointed in the BGCT. When entering the building of the BGCT it is like stepping back into “Little Old Church Lady Land”, I just don’t feel any life there.
    One of their problems if you are trying to get hired is that you have to be a member of a church that supports the BGCT. I was informed that my church does not. I felt this was in error and so I check with my church, and yes they do support the BGCT, just not every month like they did at one time. It is at the end of year budget that my church sends its support. This is not the first time they have wrong information. The other thing I have found that BGCT spend money to save money and in the end waste more money than they save. I have found that the BGCT has become bogged down in many areas.
    The other concern I have is they frown upon you if you did go to a Southern Baptist seminary. I have a real problem with that. I went to a Bible seminary and got excellent teaching and training. In some ways much more conservative that some of the Baptist seminaries and colleges.
    With decline in church membership and the merging of churches to survive, if I were the BGCT I would step back and look at things.
    1. Are we truly still doing the Lords will?
    2. Are we living in the past and become unbending traditionalist?
    3. Are we being good stewards of the money and talents we are blessed with?
    4. Are we truly out of touch with people?

  6. sal says

    I’m afraid the baggage of the Bible wars has us terribly confused. I reject inerrancy because I don’t find it helpful; it’s not a biblical category. The books of the Bible and the Bible itself came together as the result of human and divine agency. Divine inspiration was operative among the writers. Inerrancy simply has nothing to do with this. The idea behind the term is foreign to Scripture itself. The inerrancy advocates wanted to safeguard Scripture in the modernist war on revelation. Calvinism, too, originates from an historical phase where rationality collapsed human agency into divine sovereignty. As for the male, elder-led, Acts 29 church, I’m not convinced it existed. I think we can trace it back to 16th century Geneva or 17th century Scotland.

  7. Bart Barber says

    Of course, a great many conservatives remain in the BGCT. This does not mean that there is no difference between the two institutions.

    1. The official theologian of the BGCT, Dr. James Denison, is the author of “The Errancy of Inerrancy” (see my rebuttal An Errant Bible: The Gateway Heresy). Brandon says that he would not “let a person who denies inerrancy teach at [his] seminary or from [his] pulpit.” If Brandon is giving any money to the BGCT, he is doing precisely what he says he wouldn’t do.

    2. The SBTC forwards 55% of its CP receipts to the cause of missions outside the State of Texas. The BGCT forwards only around 20%. Yes, Texas is big. Yes, we have some lost people here, too. But for many of us, 80/20 just doesn’t reflect our priorities regarding where lostness is and where missions money needs to go.

    Without labeling the BGCT as the “bad guys,” I’d simply say that they represent a set of priorities widely divergent from mine and those of my church. Thus we are an SBTC church.

    • says

      Bart,

      I agree with you, which is why our church is affiliated with the SBTC. I am not saying that I aim to plant a church through the BGCT or that I suggest people support them. That is a decision people/churches make on their own.

      My point is, as I said, let’s not spew hate at them and paint them all with a broad brush like so many do. I’m pretty darn close-minded when it comes to conservative theology, but I’m not going to smear them nor should any other believer (not saying that you are). This post is not necessarily meant to promote them, but to open discussion on how we view them as a whole.

  8. says

    Also, let’s take a hypothetical church anywhere in the state of Texas. Let’s say that church:

    1) Rejected inerrancy.
    2) Believed that God will accept muslims who are sincere in their muslim faith and their level of nicey-ness.
    3) Believed that if Harold and Mark are in love there’s no way that anyone can call their love “sin” without being bigoted. Paul was just a bigot when he wrote Romans 1.
    4) Jesus was not born of a virgin and dead people don’t come back to life.

    Now, would said church be allowed to join SBTC? No. Would they be allowed to join the BGCT? You’re darn tootin’ they would. While there are BGCT churches that would not affirm what they believe, they’d be willing to partner with them. That is a problem, no matter how you slice it.