RESOLVED: THE CASE FOR RESOLUTIONS By Nathan Finn

I appreciate Dave Miller giving me the opportunity to weigh in on this topic for SBC Voices. This post is intended as a response to Dave’s interesting post “Be It Resolved: Resolutions Are a Waste of Time! Or Are they?” Dave concludes:

At the current time, here’s my stance.  I see a little value in the resolution process, but not much.  It is prone to silliness and to being co-opted by issue-obsessed individuals who waste all our time while they ride their hobby-horses.  I guess at this point I do not see the benefits outweighing the risks.

Though I’m sympathetic to some of his concerns, I disagree with Dave’s assessment of resolutions. In my opinion, resolutions are quite helpful and the SBC, Baptist state conventions, associations, and even local churches should continue to adopt them. I’ll try to make this case via interaction with the five points Dave raised in his post.

1) There is some value to resolutions.

Dave and I are actually pretty close on this point, though we’d emphasize different points. He thinks there is some value to resolutions because some issues are worthy enough to deserve a resolution (e.g. abortion). I would say there is much value to resolutions in general, but not all resolutions are equal because some are admittedly mundane and some issues probably aren’t worthy of a resolution. But again, we’re fairly close.

2) Resolutions ultimately have little effect.

I would disagree with this assertion for at least two reasons. For starters, resolutions have exactly the effect they are intended to have—they put a group of Baptists “on the record” regarding an issue. That is the purpose of a resolution. But what Dave really means is that resolutions don’t have the “power” to change anything because of Baptist polity. But is all change related to power—can’t change also come via influence?

Two examples should suffice. The 2008 resolution “On Regenerate Church Membership and Church Member Restoration,” while admittedly lacking any power to change the actions of any church, has influenced several churches that I know of to make real changes to their membership. At least one state convention has officially adopted an anti-alcohol stance regarding state leadership because of the 2006 resolution “On Alcohol in America,” and another state convention is at least considering the same. Both of these are examples of changes coming through the influence of resolutions, even though those resolutions don’t have the power to change anything.

Now it is true that some resolution seemingly have little effect, but I’d counter that many of these resolutions aren’t mean to bring change. Rather, they are meant to communicate what we believe, regardless of the consequences. They are “here I stand” statements. Resolutions on matters such as abortion and homosexuality are examples of this type of resolution.

3) Resolutions can have unintended, detrimental effects.

Sure they can. But so can any action taken by a body of Baptists. In other words, this is not an issue unique to resolutions. In fact, because resolutions aren’t binding, this may be less of a problem for resolutions than for motions. Besides, what’s “detrimental” is in the eye of the beholder. The example Dave uses is of a state convention that will not allow its staff to stay in hotels that sell porn because of an anti-porn resolution. Sure, this is arguably inconvenient at times. But is it detrimental?

4). Resolutions are used by obsessed individuals to foist their personal agendas on everyone else.

Everyone has their hobby horses. And yes, some folks use resolutions to try and promote those pet agendas. But this is also not limited to resolutions. If someone is obsessed with some position or strategy or conviction, they’ll use any means they can to promote it. I actually think the resolutions committee does a pretty good job, in general, of rejecting wacky resolutions. And even if one does slide through the committee and is recommended, Baptists have every right to say, “we ain’t gonna vote for that one.”

If we have a good committee, I think we’ll avoid adopting too many weird resolutions. What weird people do with our resolutions (or motions, or agency reports, or convention sermons, or . . . ) is beyond our control.

5)  Resolutions open the door to the ridiculous.

For the record, the rapped resolution wasn’t adopted by messengers.

Again, any of us might quibble with the occasional resolution—you might even think one is ridiculous. But I just don’t think this nullifies the usefulness of resolutions in general.

More importantly, I think this is a problematic line of reasoning. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that 70% of the resolutions adopted by the SBC in the last decade are ridiculous. (I don’t think they are—again, this is for the sake of argument.) This doesn’t necessarily mean resolving is a bad thing to do, it just means that either (1) the resolutions committee is comprised of imbeciles or (2) the SBC is a convention of doofuses. Of course Dave absolutely doesn’t believe this, but I do think he ought to be careful on this one. Remember that resolutions are recommended by a duly appointed committee and voted on by credentialed messengers from cooperating churches.

Everything we do “opens the door” to the ridiculous. Democracy is risky business. But I don’t think the occasionally silly resolution outweighs the many worthwhile resolutions we adopt.

Conclusion

It is a good thing for a group of Baptists to adopt resolutions. Of course we need to be discerning. Of course we need to be thoughtful. Of course we need to think through the ramifications. Of course we need to make sure the matter is weighty enough to merit comment. Let’s pray this is the case every time we recommend, debate, and adopt a resolution.

Again, I share some of Dave’s frustrations. But there’s no need to amputate when an aspirin will do. Let’s pray for more discernment. Let’s hope that future resolutions committees will be as thoughtful and helpful as the last two or three have been. Let’s hope that if a ridiculous one slips through, messengers will have the sense to vote it down.

And for the record, even though the resolution isn’t binding, I’ve decided to stop pilfering copper.

Comments

  1. says

    Dr. Nathan Finn is a professor at Southeastern, and has been one of my favorite bloggers for some time. As I explained in my blog post, he challenged me to write on the subject of resolutions after a discussion in the state conventions comment stream.

    He has presented his response as a separate post.

    I’m kinda intimidated. I have a son who is in graduate studies at MIT. I learned long ago not to argue science with him. Arguing a theological or Baptist polity topic with Dr. Finn is just about as daunting.

    Thank you for writing this, Dr. Finn. (I think he’s one of those men who prefers to be called Nathan, but I’m kinda old school on stuff like that. In my responses below I’ll go with “Nathan.”)

  2. Dave Miller says

    Let me address the issues above, using the number from my original post that are repeated in this post and Nathan’s response.

    1) Not much disagreement here. We seem to agree that there are benefits and drawbacks to the process. The question is a balancing act. Do the benefits outweigh whatever drawbacks may exist?

    I will make one point here. I am not a hard core, resolutions-have-to-go person. I guess I’m a little dubious of their value. I began this willing to be convinced by the discussion.

    2) I think this is really the heart of the discussion. And frankly, Nathan makes some good points. He mentions the resolution on regenerate church membership that was adopted in 2008. Doug Hibbard in the comment stream on my original post raised the memory of the resolution on repentance from racism adopted several years ago (I think it was a resolution and I think it was in Indianapolis). There is no doubt that there have been resolutions that were important.

    Nathan brings up resolutions on homosexuality and abortion, which I also referenced as valuable.

    In reality, we have very little disagreement here. He sees a little more value than I do and perhaps sees the downsides as a little less malicious. But our positions are actually not that far apart.

    I have to admit the point that there is a real value to resolutions at the national level and perhaps at larger state conventions.

    In Iowa, I’m not sure that these would serve the same purpose, which is why we did away with them. I think the value of the resolution is proportional to the size and influence of the organization making the resolution.

    3. The detrimental effect was the fact that convention personnel were unable to stay in hotels on business for a year. It was a huge hindrance to their work.

    This is not a major point.

    4. and 5. These are pretty much gradations on the same continuum. I want to clarify, in response to what Nathan said, that I am speaking more of the resolutions offered than the ones adopted. I have not had a lot of objection to adopted motions at the SBC. My only objection might be that some of them were majoring on minors a little.

    I certainly did not intend to call the committee imbeciles or the convention doofuses. I may not have been clear enough that my focus was primarily on the introduction of resolutions, not the work of the committee or the actions of the conventions.

    Actually, I am in almost complete agreement with Nathan’s conclusion:

    “Again, I share some of Dave’s frustrations. But there’s no need to amputate when an aspirin will do. Let’s pray for more discernment. Let’s hope that future resolutions committees will be as thoughtful and helpful as the last two or three have been. Let’s hope that if a ridiculous one slips through, messengers will have the sense to vote it down.”

    And I am so glad to hear that Nathan is now committed to stop pilfering copper. Resolutions do work!

    • Dave Miller says

      As to #4 and #5 – there are two reasons my the introduction of resolutions, even when they do not go through the committee are problematic.

      1) They take the time of the convention on issues that are often not worth handling at the convention level.

      2) When we do not act on them, it creates a lot of anger and frustration on the part of those who supported or presented the resolution.

      Not major things, but annoying.

    • says

      I think your clarification is very helpful, and I think we’re pretty much on the same page about how at least some resolutions are introduced and discussed/debated.

      Again, I don’t think you believe the committee and or the messengers are bottom-dwellers. Well, maybe the Florida Gators fans, but none of the rest of the messengers . . .

      NAF

      • says

        and once again Dr. Finn proves that, for an intelligent man, he lives in the midst of some glaring fallacies…..I’m speaking of his dislike of the Gators and their fans, of course.

        • says

          Whilst I cannot disagree with Dr. Finn’s view of Gator fans, Dave has demonstrated again and again his lack of discernment in sports situations, what with his support of the evil empire, that shows through with his SEC comment here.

          At least he wasn’t a Boise State supporter.

  3. says

    Dave,

    I agree that there are some humdingers that get proposed. When I read through the list of all the resolutions that get proposed at the SBC every year, it makes me very thankful for the resolutions committee!

    Also agreed on annoyances. But isn’t this part of what makes the SBC so much fun? The SBC is like a family, and just like in real families, we have our share of wacky uncles.

    Seriously, I think the benefits of the many, many good resolutions outweigh the occasional resolution that bugs me or the sometimes irritating debates that take place over nixed resolutions, amendments, etc.

    NAF

    • Dave Miller says

      I think that I tend to focus on the ridiculous resolutions that get offered more than the good ones that get passed. You’ve made a strong point on the value of those resolutions.

      Again, the value of the resolutions seems to be proportional to the size and influence of the deliberative body. At the national level, there seems to be a great deal of value. The same would perhaps apply to larger state conventions. In Iowa, they seemed a little pointless and we abandoned them. I’m not sure where the tipping point is in my mind.

      • cb scott says

        Dave,

        In a state such as Iowa wherein FOOTBALL is pointless, I can understand why you would say resolutions are pointless.

        Just as you have abandoned all hope of a National Championship in FOOTBALL, I can see why all Iowa Baptists would abandon any hope of producing a meaningful resolution.

        All meaningful Baptist resolutions come from Baptists who were reared on the SEC FOOTBALL CONTINENT. Never in Baptist history has a meaningful resolution in any Baptist meeting originated from the individual or corporate thinking of a Baptist mind/minds from within the “big 12″ FOOTBALL CONTINENT.

        “Dr.” Finn is correct about resolutions. “Dr.” Finn is from the SEC. BTW, he is also representative of the superior thinking of SEBTS which head and shoulders above all other seminaries and theology schools within/without the SBC.

        In simple terms: SEC/SEBTS trumps all others in all things.

        BTW, the AUBURN NATION will bring the National Championship home to the SEC again as is proper.

        Lastly, I call “Dr.” Finn “DR.” because I promised his uncle Huck on his deathbed to make Nathan feel important and help him along all I could.

  4. says

    Last year after the ABSC, the Arkansas Baptist News editor offered this summary, which typically applies to a Baptist meeting:

    “When all was said and done, much more was said than was done.”

    I think the point of this discussion has been that we need to be aware of the impact, though, of what’s said. And that there are things that don’t need saying. It’s like either the parade of anti-Driscoll motions in Louisville, or the guy that apparently every year moves we adopt a specific flag: get a blog and vent your stuff there, and let’s focus on bigger matters.

    Maybe we should all co-author a resolution for the SBC encouraging that we not waste time on silly resolutions? That way, as we have a Committee on Committees, we can have a Resolution on Resolutions!

    As to the allowing the craziness to come out: if we would use that to illustrate the openness and individual liberty to follow Christ that we as Baptists are claiming to cherish, then it’s a valuable, even though insane-looking. No other large group of Christians allows just anybody to try and persuade the crowd to approve something, do they? And while we get frustrated when our resolutions get shot down (like I did in Louisville), we ought to have the maturity to get over it.

    • says

      Let’s see:

      Whereas, some people offer silly resolutions that waste our time; and

      Whereas, other people offer resolutions that are worded such that you hate to oppose them, but they are still either pointless, useless, or so absolute that to follow them would be paralyzing, and

      Whereas, the crazy resolutions hurt the value of the few that are actually of value,

      Be it resolved that: We, the comment stream at SBC Voices ask that silly resolutions stop;

      Be it further resolved that: this includes any resolution that attempts to lock in one viewpoint on any issue that is not explicitly Biblical or historically Baptist;

      Be it further resolved that: if you resolve something, but your resolution is rejected on grounds of being in violation of this resolution, you need to build a bridge and get over it;

      Be it finally resolved that: resolutions should only be used for important things that we actually really want to do and say something about.

    • Dave Miller says

      Doug said,

      “It’s like either the parade of anti-Driscoll motions in Louisville, or the guy that apparently every year moves we adopt a specific flag: get a blog and vent your stuff there, and let’s focus on bigger matters.”

      Let me see if I am understanding you, Doug. If I read you right, I think you are saying that the place for petty, opinionated, hobby-horse riding, loud-mouths is not resolutions, but blogs?

      Did I get that right?

      If I did, it is in the running for brilliant comment of the year. As long as Kevin Ezell doesn’t say it.

      • says

        Well, I have a blogger blog, it’s free, and if you think it’s a waste of time, you don’t have to come. I’m able to voice my personal opinion, because it’s my own personal forum.

        So, yeah. Get a blog. If you have 1,000 readers who agree, put it in writing and try to get it resolved. Otherwise, get over yourself.

        • Dave Miller says

          That’s one of the things I love about blogging. It is open to anyone. Anyone can say anything. If people read it and are interested, you get an audience. If no one reads it, well…

          Again, brilliant comment.

  5. says

    This is a useful discussion and both Dr. Miller and Dr. Finn make great points. That being said, I tend to agree with Dr Finn on his points. The resolution process is time consuming (some say “time wasting), and cumbersome, but the resolutions are a record of Baptist polity development over time. They offer insight into what Baptists are thinking as related to secular policy and moral issues. In real time the resolutions may not seem to offer value but to future generations of Baptists they offer insight into Baptist identity.

    I will make one point that I think is often overlooked. Some resolutions seem to have a hidden agenda as the presenting issue may not be the real issue. Namely, resolutions that stimulate urgency for evangelism, to name one example, but have the only real effect of raising funds but not baptisms. The Convention rarely revisits decisions to analyse the real effect or the “hidden agenda.”

    • says

      That is an excellent point, Tom.

      I do not have a doctorate, by the way – earned, honorary or any other sort. I wonder if anyone gives out a PhD in Blogging?

    • says

      Tom,

      I also think this is an excellent point, though I’m not sure we can always know the issue behind the issue. And even when some of us can, I don’t know how much insight messengers have into this. But great point.

      NAF

  6. Dave Miller says

    I’m wondering if it would be possible to make a small tweak to the process. Set a deadline that resolutions that are going to be offered have to be submitted and published in advance.

    The resolutions committee could meet in advance. We could review and discuss the resolutions. If there is a resolution with some sort of hidden agenda, it would be exposed.

    We already have computerized registration. Couldn’t those who have registered present their motions and resolutions in advance by computer (or snail mail). That would save time at the convention and avoid the the spectacle.

    There may be some good reason this won’t work, but it seems reasonable to me.

  7. Bill Pfister says

    I think the purpose of resolutions should be to help us think biblically on social and moral issues. I think we would do ourselves a favor to cut out some of the legal jargon and speak plainly about issues of our day. My objection to the resolutions is that they have no binding effect on anyone yet they get the most coverage in the media. If we are going to be in the media with our resolutions, let’s speak plainly and biblically and offer a clear Word to the world.

    Interesting point-counterpoint discussion. Yet another reason SBC Voices is the best Baptist blog in town…

    Bill

  8. cb scott says

    In all seriousness, a resolution at the 1971 SBC in St. Louis affirming abortion may have had a greater impact on this nation than we realize.

    We will never know, but I have often wondered what would have happened had the Supreme Court known that the SBC stood in diametric opposition to abortion on 1973.

    • Dave Miller says

      I guess I don’t share your optimism that the SBC would carry that kind of influence with the Supremes, but its an interesting question.

      I’ll be honest, I did not know that such a resolution ever passed. I was in Taiwan at the time it passed (and in 8th grade, I guess). I was not aware of that heinous resolution.

  9. cb scott says

    In addition, I believe resolutions aided greatly the efforts of conservatives from 1979 forward within the SBC. We often knew our strength according to the passage of various resolutions.

  10. says

    I think probably the best point that Nathan made is the fact that resolutions give people a voice and a “here I stand” opportunity that most only have the chance to express once per year. Nathan pointed out rightly that though they typically don’t have mass impact, some churches get to thinking about their stances or positions based off of someone’s convictions. This has to count for something.

    The autonomy and democracy of SBC life almost REQUIRES resolutions by default, and this a good thing. Yes, there are ridiculous and pointless ones, but there are also effective resolutions as Nathan pointed out.

    • Dave Miller says

      I think the consensus that is developing here is this: though there may be some silliness and pettiness attached to the process, the opportunity for the SBC (in annual session) to record a position on certain issues is worth the trouble that can result.

      I will agree to that – at the SBC level.

      I’m still not sure that the value is as strong at the state convention level.

      • says

        Probably not, unless there are state-specific issues to address.

        One example right now would be as states wrestle with how to sort out their involvement with the coming GCR-related changes, a resolution could offer at least some sense of opinion from the messengers if there was nothing of a motion-nature to come up. Given that a motion requires action, and a resolution is just meant to say “this is what is thought at the moment,” a resolution could be used to give an opinion to some group, like the sitting Executive Board of the state or a Board of Trustees. This would provide the opportunity to either reinforce the direction they were moving or correct or provide a little ‘guidance’ for them.

        I know such groups are autonomous, but if you passed a resolution unanimously calling for a doubling of funds to IMB, and the next budget didn’t increase IMB a dime, you’d be better positioned to amend the budget on the floor. There would be plenty of opportunity leading up to the state meeting to remind folks what you resolved the year before, and then when you moved to amend, you could state “I move we amend the budget to do this, because last year this convention unanimously voiced our opinion that it should be done. Let’s put actions to our words.”

        But on the social/moral, maybe, maybe not. In Arkansas, almost 30% of the population claims to be Southern Baptist, including most of the politicians. However, the President of the US was an Arkansas Baptist for 8 years, and he didn’t listen much (if at all).

  11. says

    If both the churchs and the SBC are autonomous then neither has any say over the other including resolutions. Which means that the SBC right now transfer moneys from programs that are seemingly short to Guidestone to fund the retirements and health insurance of employees both active and retired. Or if desired could liquidate and pour those assets into retirements and health. Which might explain any haughty attitudes that exist. Blogging is good. Where else could we float , ” what happens if ?”

    • Christiane says

      Does it work like this:
      the Churches support the SBC ‘entities’, but the SBC can decide who from those Churches is ‘fit’ to serve in those entities, by having the prospective employee sign a ‘loyalty’ oath to certain beliefs outlines in the BF&M2K, which under the guidance of Paige Patterson’s appointed writers, changed the BF&M2K in profound ways from the old BF&M (’63?). So the SBC locked in ‘power’ over its ‘entities’ by being able to ‘exclude’ Church members from employment in missions and seminaries who weren’t ‘loyal’ to the new changes.

      That is what I understood. The money flows ‘in’, but not the ‘autonomy’ of the members of the Churches, who differ from the ‘changes’ made to the 2K BF&M. Their ‘autonomy’ as Baptists is challenged if they seek employment by an SBC entity. It’s ‘sign’ or ‘you don’t work for us’.
      I may be wrong, but this is what I understood from all sides of the debate.

      • says

        The only changes to the BFM2k were to make it more biblical. The most important change was to remove the favorite trump card of left-wing nut jobs “…the criterion of biblical interpretation is Jesus Christ…” which moderates used to contend that any doctrine they didn’t like just couldn’t possibly be true because Jesus was too loving to ever think that. (i.e.–Paul’s statement that homosexuality is always a sin can’t possibly be true because Jesus was too loving to ever be that exclusive).

        Anybody who doesn’t like the BFM2k would be MORE than welcomed in the CBF–that’s where Baptists who are more concerned with being Baptist than they are with being faith to God’s word go since it doesn’t matter what you believe int he CBF. Their doctrinal statement is “It’s all good”.

        • Christiane says

          But JOE,

          If you take ‘Jesus Christ’ out of this sentence:
          ““…the criterion of biblical interpretation is Jesus Christ…”

          WHAT do you replace HIM with?
          “. . the criterion of biblical interpretation is ___________”

          ????????

          • says

            Scripture is to be interpreted in its literal, grammaical, and historical context taking into account the type of literature (i.e. narative, epistle, poetry) being examined as well as the overall context of scripture (“analogia scriptura”–Scripture interprets scripture). That is the criterion of biblical interpretation.

      • says

        Well perceived L’s!!!!

        It is a song and dance to control without admitting that the main motivation is CONTROL!!!

        The SBC has gone from many small churches participating without being controlled to an organization led by mega church pastors whose only approah to their church is control. As long as the “King Pastor” view of leadership is at the helm, we have to distort the truth rather than simple say, “You must do as we dictate or we send Joe to kick you out!!!”

    • says

      The Autonomy concept has been redefined in the last 30+ years into “both the Convention and local church are autonomous.” This is something NEVER in the thinking of the foundation of the SBC.

      The great concern was, “How can we cooperate without becoming a hierarchy with orders coming ‘from above.'” Our Founding Fathers were clearly against anything with a hierarchy attached!

      The basic position of Baptists defined with the word, AUTONOMY, meant the local church makes up its own mind as to details of cooperation. You can resolve all you want, but you cannot make any local church comply.

      If that church desires to partiipate despite their differences with mission giving, then it is gladly received. NC changed that deal officially some years ago with a Financial Policy precluding churches who minister to homosexuals from having their gifts received. In effect, that kicks them out!

      Interesting!!!!!

  12. says

    This could be where SBC’s Health & Retirements have natureally done as bad making money as the rest of the investment firms in America for a few years and has had to support them by moving some money from certain “entities” to cover Ret. & Ins. causing greater losses where the money was taken from. We just don’t know. But this digresses from the question of SBC autonomy.

    • cb scott says

      The SBC is the assembly of autonomous Southern Baptist churches to evaluate, celebrate and determine what they have done and will do corporately to advance the Kingdom of God through the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

    • Christiane says

      Hi JACK WOLFORD,

      autonomy?
      well, I don’t know the ‘Christian concept’ of it very well, I admit this.
      I am tuned into ‘the vine and branches'; ‘the members and the Head’ way of thinking, so I don’t understand ‘autonomy’ very well.

      I suppose it means a kind of isolation or independence?
      How would someone coming from a Christian spirit define ‘autonomy’ within the framework of the SBC and its member Churches? If I could understand THAT, I would indeed be grateful.

  13. says

    “If, in its autonomy, a Baptist body expels a church from its fellowship, it does not negate that church’s autonomy. The church is perfectly free to go on with its business – but not as a member of that larger Baptist body.”

    The above is a new concept added in recent years—perhaps, because the writers and current leaders know their plans to try and control local churches!

    • Dave Miller says

      And again, you show a dreadful lack of understanding of Baptist History and polity. Baptists have always reserved the right to withhold fellowship from churches that abrogated doctrinal or ecclesiological standards.

      I’m not kidding, Gene. Read some Baptist history and study a little. You can learn what Baptists have always been. Your show a profound lack of understanding of our history, structure and polity.

      • says

        Prove it, my brother!!!

        Just cite the examples. I gave clear testimony from the N. Rocky Mount case in 1959—yet you do nothing but say things not supported by any evidence I know.

        Here’s mine:

        Article III of the NCBSC Constitution states: While independent and sovereign in its own sphere, this Convention does not claim and will never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organizations, association, or Convention. This article has been in the Constitution from early days of churches deciding to cooperate together to reach the state of North Carolina for Christ.

        Dr. Douglas Branch in his testimony was asked if he could name instances where churches had been excluded he states: “I can’t name instances where churches have been excluded . . . I don’t know of any instance when an Executive Committee has been called on to declare a church out of fellowship.

        “When Dr. Tribble says in his book, speaking of the associations and the Southern Baptist Convention, that neither the association nor the State Convention nor the Southern Baptist a Convention can exercise the least authority over any individual church; that this principle sometimes works to produce temporary embarrassment but in the end it works for the best; that we may well adhere to it for it is a New Testament principle and it has been tried and found worthy; as to that statement, I would say that no association or convention can exercise any authority over a local church except in those areas in which the churches in cooperation have delegated it to the larger group.”

        This covers Baptists in NC mostly up through 1959.

        Now, “show me the beef!”

        • says

          An autonomous entity cannot control another autonomous entity. However, it can withhold fellowship from that entity. If an association or convention chooses to withhold fellowship, it is not violating autonomy. The church can do as it pleases. But the autonomous convention or association ALSO has the free right to define the parameters of its fellowship.

          Gene, you can argue as loud as you want. But you are still wrong.

          • cb scott says

            In many local Baptist associations within the SBC a church will be “released” from member affiliation if no financial contributions are recorded for a specified number of years.

            That is not a new concept. The association is an autonomous body and can determine its guidelines for affiliation. A Baptist church is autonomous and can abide by the guidelines of affiliation or refuse to do so. If the church refuses to abide the guidelines of affiliation and its messengers are “unseated” by the association, the autonomy of the church is still intact.

            The same church can apply to another local association and if received will be an affiliated member without any “penalty” whatsoever.? How is that possible? Because the local church and both local Baptist associations are autonomous to make decisions about membership and affiliation guidelines.

          • says

            You gotta be kidding me!!!

            A higher body can tell an autonomous local church what to do or not do and it is still autonomy?????????

            A church like Decatur First, which has historically been in the top 10% giving churches in GA is now kicked out because they have a female Pastor–and that is autonomy??

            A church like Broadway in TX ministers to homosexuals and is kicked out of SBC just like our NC church—and that is autonomy of the local church????

            Send these gentlemen their commitment papers!!!!!!

            CAN YOU NOT READ PLAIN ENGLISH:

            Article III of the NCBSC Constitution states: While independent and sovereign in its own sphere, this Convention does not claim and will never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organizations, association, or Convention. This article has been in the Constitution from early days of churches deciding to cooperate together to reach the state of North Carolina for Christ.

            And just where are the same kinds of examples and proof I give over and over = “you are wrong because I say you are!!!”

          • says

            Dear Gene,

            Can you not read plain English? How is telling Decatur first that because you have a chick preacher you cannot be a member of the Baptist Convention any more telling them what to do? They still have a pastorette, yes? They could still send money to the GBC, it would just be returned to them. No one has made that church do ANYTHING. They’re just prevented from being part of that convention. What exactly are they being made to do, Gene-o?

          • says

            That’s still what confuses me about this whole argument: churches make choices because they are autonomous. In turn, an autonomous convention makes a choice about whether or not they want to affiliate with a church. That seems logical in preserving the autonomy of both organizations.

            what does not preserve the autonomy of both organizations is when one group makes a decision and the other has to live with it. The convention would not be autonomous if they had to accept every church that wanted to claim membership. There’s got to be a line somewhere.

          • says

            I can’t believe that you don’t get it, Gene-o. Telling a church “Because you are unfaithful to God’s word by allowing homosexuals to be members we withdraw fellowship from you” is NOT telling that church what to do. They are welcome to have chick preachers and they are welcome to allow Sodomites to join or remain members once their lifestyle comes to light. Being a member of the SBC is NOT a right that churches have that cannot be abridged.

            Suck it up and deal with it.

          • Dave Miller says

            Guys, it is clear that Gene is not willing to understand how Baptist polity works.

            Lets get back to the discussion. Gene is welcome to continue in his false ideas about polity. We have all attempted to correct his errors and he has refused to listen. So, lets drop it. We have made a good-faith effort to explain Baptist polity and autonomy, to no avail.

            Since Gene is autonomous, he is free to continue in his error!

  14. says

    I remember reading in the Baptist Press that the SBC, maybe thru the executive committee, could transfer property. My question is not about authority but whether they must account to the laity in any way, shape or form ?

  15. says

    Is a resolution from the messengers mandating the SBC do thus & so worth the paper it’s written on ? If “no” then is that because of its ( SBC’s ) Autonomy

    • says

      Nathan’s point, and one that he has made pretty well, I believe, is that the purpose of the resolution is not to mandate, but to influence and to put our views on the record.

  16. says

    A resolution bears no mandated action on an autonomous board of trustees—for example, you can resolve that the current convention wants the IMB to give out lollipops, but the IMB board can decide not to do it.

    It bears no impact on individual Christians: you can resolve to boycott Disney, but people will still buy the movies.

    It bears no impact on churches: you can resolve that priesthood of the believer doesn’t trump pastoral authority, but 4 deacons is still a majority enough to get the pastor packing.

    In some states, though, the state by-laws allow for a resolution to be binding on the direct workers of the convention, as Dave references about the anti-pornography in hotels resolution that complicated travel plans.

    So, no, a resolution doesn’t mandate the SBC do anything. A motion would mandate an action. A resolution states a point of view held by the majority.

    Doug

    • says

      What you are citing is the attitude pre-BF&M 2000. The Baptist Faith and Message has been with us since the 1930’s–prompted by the Norris Controversy in Texas.

      The last, and now, pre-empted BF&M was prompted by the Elliott Controversy. Its Preamble clearly stated it was not binding and was just a statement of general concensus.

      The current BF&M is used as a litmus test of SS literature writers / missionaries on the field / GA State convention which used it to kick out 2 churhes now with female pastors. It is being used as a Creed by a clearly non-creedal group from its beginning in the 1800’s!

      The difference between a Resolution and a Creed is the enforcement thereof. Let actions of recent years speak louder than words for a non-creedal group the SBC used to be.

      Can’t anyone admit “things have changed”?????

      • cb scott says

        Dave,

        Correct me if I am wrong, but I think Gene has given us a Point 1 and a Point 2 once again.

      • says

        Gene,

        Correct me in my error here, but I don’t see the equality between a resolution and BFM2K. I do know that the independent trustee boards voted to install BFM2K as mandatory, including what I felt was an inappropriate going back and mandating prior-appointed missionaries to do so, but the SBC itself did not vote that onto them.

        If there was a resolution re:BFM2K that was, in turn, used by the boards as evidence/impetus to make those rules, then it proves the point that a resolution actually can accomplish something, even though all groups are autonomous.

        As to whether or not “things have changed” I have no doubt. And change is not always good, and not always bad, and is often a mixture of both. This is even true of diapers, as I learned that changing a stinky is good, but if the new diaper isn’t on right, then you get a big mess later.

        I would raise this question regarding various churches that the GBC or SBC has separated from: Why do they want to be SBC/GBC churches when the viewpoint of those organizations is divergent from their own? Why would a church that wants a lady as pastor want to be in a denomination that states women should not be pastors? The churches autonomously chose to practice differently than the other organization. Who left first? FBC Decatur left GBC doctrine/practice and the GBC simply voted to acknowledge their departure. I hear FBC Decatur continues to do well and reach people for Christ. There would have been vehicles whereby the methods of the GBC could have been changed.

        Like someone could offer a resolution….

        As to pre-1979, I was born in 1977, so I didn’t experience prior. I was raised by an SEBTS grad who graduated in 1973, so I’ve heard both good and ill of then and now.

  17. says

    Baptists have almost always affirmed that all of our layers of polity–local churches, associations, and conventions–are autonomous. Baptists have always argued that associations and conventions can refuse to cooperate with a church for any variety of reasons. In the middle third of the twentieth century, there was a concerted effort by denominational progressives and bureaucrats to redefine Baptist distinctives according to a particular freedom-centric interpretation. They cherry-picked quotes from Baptists of days-gone-by. They perpetuated this interpretation in colleges and seminaries (including SEBTS, where Gene Scarborough attended school). They initiated high-handed powerplays in various places, including with the North Rocky Mount case in 1959, where the state convention and a Baptist historian from SWBTS redefined Baptist distinctives so they could win a court case. It was, remains, a travesty of historic Baptist polity.

    Facts are our friends, and conservatives, while by no means perfect, have a better understanding of historic Baptist identity and emphases than progressives. The CR was a return to an earlier view of Baptist identity, one that had been systematically undermined for at least two generations. Gene (and many others) are the products of that, and they really, sincerely believe they know who Baptists *really* are because they were indoctrinated to believe that.

    NAF

  18. says

    David,

    In 1954, North Rocky Mount Baptist Church split after its pastor led a majority of the church to vote to disaffilliate with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and the SBC. The pastor had an Independent Baptist background and led the church to become an Independent Baptist church. The minority, which wished to remain Southern Baptist, sued the majority, claiming that they were the “real” North Rocky Mount Baptist Church because they were the group in continuity with the church’s past emphases. The minority wanted to keep all the assets, including the church’s property.

    The case worked its way up all the way to the NC Supreme Court in 1959, which ruled in favor of the minority. The judge didn’t understand that in Baptist polity, decisions are made by a majority of the congregation. So while it might be unfortunate (from our perspective) that a majority of the church wished to take the church out of the SBC, it is a fact that the church had the right to do so. Baptist principles lost.

    This is where it gets interesting. The North Rocky Mount case united conservatives in the state convention, who rallied to the defense of the majority (even while they pleaded with them to not drop ties with the SBC). A formal conservative network was formed within the BSCNC dedicated to defending local church autonomy in particular and historic Baptist and orthodox theology in general.

    But the state convention staff sided with the minority, even (allegedly) helping to fund their lawsuit against the majority. State convention leaders testified on behalf of the minority in court. They also urged all BSCNC churches to amend their bylaws so that, in the event of a similar vote to disaffiliate, all the assets would remain with the minority who wished to remain SBC and BSCNC. Most churches complied. The state convention flew in SWBTS historian W. W. Barnes to testify for the minority. Barnes argued that Baptists have always believed that churches that are started as SBC/BSCNC churches are always such churches, and thus the minority should keep the assets. This was a startling reversal on the part of Barnes, who in 40 years earlier was worried that denominational centralization and bureaucratization was a threat to local church autonomy.

    This debate was heavily covered in the Biblical Recorder, including editorials, letters to the editor, and guest articles. Conservatives saw the state convention’s involvement in the case as inappropriate, driven by the disdain progressive bureaucrats had for conservatives and especially those who “played nicely” with Independent Baptists. Progressives countered that the conservatives were really Independent Baptists who didn’t appreciate the Baptist Way of cooperative missions, denominational loyalty, etc.

    I hope that helps.

    NAF

    • says

      Progressives countered that the conservatives were really Independent Baptists who didn’t appreciate the Baptist Way of cooperative missions, denominational loyalty, etc.

      That’s really funny because they do the same things today. Obviously, progressives/moderates are more concerned about faithfulness to their brand of Baptist distinctives than they are about faithfulness to the inerrant word of God. No wonder the CBF, with its lack of doctrinal definitiveness, is a much better fit for people who are more interested in forming a religious club rather than doing ministry in the name of Christ.

    • cb scott says

      Major “Nathan Brittles” Finn,

      Glad you took this up. I was debating bringing light to Gene’s dimness. But just do not have the time of late and it is somewhat like fighting a Tar Baby.

      Nonetheless, I will be watching your back if he tries to ambush you. Remember he does work among the trees and often talks about “how high the monkey climbs” so maybe he lives among the trees also. Yet, I do not know if he is accomplished in “Guerrilla” warfare, but I am pretty sure he is a tactical “gorilla.” :-)

    • says

      Nathan—

      I’m glad to meet you and have perused your website. It indicates:
      1) Youth
      2) Solid affiliation with SEBTS
      3) Our common GA background = too bad I am an Emory Graduate pulling for GT and you are a solid UGA fan!!!
      4) Your experience with N. Rocky Mount is academic while mine is personal–having pastored the church.

      There are several points on which you need to refine your knowledge of the situation:

      1) The calling of a real Independent Baptist to N. Rocky Mount vs. a traditional Southern Baptist was full of pretense and the covering of factual background information to the church.

      2) Rev. Johnson was winsom—as are many conservative-sounding-say-the-right-things preachers. He told the Pulpit Committee what it wanted to hear, in other words.

      3) By the witness of people who were there vs. your academic research—he flat lied and conned a 51% majority to vote to leave the N. Roanoke Association and NCBSC.

      4) The Church Conference which made the decision was hastily called without a proper week’s notice nor clear statement of the intent of the called church conference = to leave the Association and become Independent.

      5) By the time it was clear what was done, a 49% minority found themselves worshiping in homes and unable to use their church facility which they bought and paid for.

      6) They, then, began to examine the details and reached a conclusion: the deed to the church property was given with the clear understanding–in writing–that it would belong to the N. Rocky Mount Baptist church as long as it was an SBC congregation.

      7) It was clear that the group using the property now was an Independent Baptist Church which focused the majority of their energy on criticizing and opposing every SBC church in the town of Rocky Mount (see Jerry Fallwell and Liberty Baptist Church for your contemporary example).

      8) The minority secured legal counsel and took the 51% to court over property ownership naming Johnson (the pastor) as the offender. (I have the transcript myself and the church’s copy is now given to the Baptist Archives at Wake Forest University). My statements involving the testimony above are directly quoted from the trial transcript.

      9) The formal trial was appealed all the way to the NC State Supreme Count and upheld in 1959 with the church property returned to the 49% minority.

      10) The group with was legally determined to have stolen a solid SBC church moved up Falls Road by some 2 blocks and extablished the Falls Road Baptist Church with Rev. Johnson as the pastor. They were the only Independent Baptist Church in Rocky Mount for some years. Today they are trying to relocate from a predominantly black area to a location already obtained near Dortches, some 6 miles north on the same road.

      Your description of “Conservatives saw the state convention’s involvement in the case as inappropriate, driven by the disdain progressive bureaucrats had for conservatives and especially those who ‘played nicely’ with Independent Baptists. Progressives countered that the conservatives were really Independent Baptists who didn’t appreciate the Baptist Way of cooperative missions, denominational loyalty, etc.” is an example of how current academia—funded by the SBC—is attempting to paint themselves in a redactive light in the same fashion as Al Mohler is trying to claim SBTS was Calvinistic and that is the core of SBC theological thinking.

      Let’s be honest with one another: You are a paid historian who is now approved by the SBC to be present at SEBTS as a “supposed” expert in Baptist History. While your story is “good” it is far less than “exact.” Further, it smacks of a view which is supposedly not biased when, in fact, it really is.

      In other words, you start with the presupposition that CR is returning us to our roots when, in fact, it is making us more like the Independent Baptists who refused to cooperate with the Mission giving of the SBC. The SBC focused on AUTONOMY so that churches had no reason to give up their independence to join in mission giving. The Independents insisted on TOTAL CONTROL to the point they would not fund any Missionary not personally approved by their church = they do not trust anyone other than their Pastor and themselves—to the point most Independent Church Pastors own the deed to the property, rather than the Trustees elected by the Congregation.

      In the case of N. Rocky Mount, the Trustees were the plaintiffs and Rev. Johnson was the defendant.

      By the clear definition of “Southern Baptist” attested to in court with the testimony cited above, an impartial and non-religious civil court ruled the 49% minority was the true SBC congregation—which the deed clearly stated should own the church property. Should they ever cease to be Southern Baptists, then the deed clearly stated the property would return to the grantor of such.

      Should you like to discuss this further, you may contact me at Gscrbr5@redscable.com for further details on the transcript or–even better—contact the Baptist Archives at Wake Forest which has the original transcript.

      The transcript and your analysis of the situation clearly shows to me a skewed view from your funding Institution which has drastically changed from Dr. Drummond’s Presidency to the present. I graduated in 1970 when Dr. Olin T. Binkley was President and CR was a glitter in the wind long before you were born!

      • Dave Miller says

        Gene, could I request something?

        Just stop using bold and italics in your posts. You often – as in this case, do not properly stop them, and then they infect every comment after yours.

        It would be best if you just left the bold and italics alone.

        • says

          Sorry, old buddy, as the editor it gives you something interesting to do!!!

          I’ll try to be more careful in the future.

          AND–I appreciate you letting the discussion continue on this. It is most important in my view.

          • Christiane says

            Gene, stress not, worry not, all shall be well.
            Here’s a gift:
            for Evensong from the Sarum Primer:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qif2rfBmcTA

            (Lyrics from the Sarum Primer, 1538 –
            Anglican music by Henry W. Davies, 1910)

            “God be in my head, and in my understanding;
            God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
            God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
            God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
            God be at mine end, and at my departing… “

          • Christiane says

            We’ll share this with JOE, also,
            as it is an Advent blessing:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qif2rfBmcTA

            (Lyrics from the Sarum Primer, 1538 –
            Anglican music by Henry W. Davies, 1910)

            “God be in my head, and in my understanding;
            God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
            God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
            God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
            God be at mine end, and at my departing… “

          • says

            L’s–

            Thanks!!!!!

            I listened / was given a sense of peace and joy / intend to listen to the other renditions as well.

            Beautiful setting / beautiful words—any insights as to where it was recorded?

            I have visited Westminster / Notre Dame / USAF Academy Chapel at setting of the sun = the hostilities of religious people should be offset by the beauty of holiness!!!!!

            Thanks for being here and taking some of the hostility usually reserved for me.

      • says

        Gene,

        I’ve studied it pretty closely, thanks. I well know what each side claimed of the other, including the side you pastored.

        You can assume what you want about me–I’ve got no quarrel with you nor am I terribly concerned with what you think about me. As for your comments about SEBTS, SBTS, the CR, the SBC, etc., I’ve read many of your comments here and elsewhere, and your response to me above is pretty much in keeping with your misinformed and inflammatory approach to all things Baptist history and theology.

        NAF

        • says

          Nathan–

          While I appreciate your position, I think you are biased in your above statement.

          I am trying to explain it more fully with the personal knowledge only the church’s pastor could have.

          I think you are an intelligent person who teaches at SEBTS, but your description contains certain biases which a true academic approach should not have.

          Just contact me personally and we can discuss it further–with intelligence and honesty, I would hope.

        • says

          Nathan–

          I do my best NOT ot assume anything about anybody, but the fact you are an admitted professor at SEBTS tells me a lot about where you come from.

          Can you give us any more academic background as to the places of education and degrees attained from what institutions?

          I do my best to be honest according to my personal experiences. That is what I gave you in my response to your N. Rocky Mount analysis. Should you have personal knowledge and experience beyond your viewing of any documents, I would appreciate knowing about it. I was not aware of the “Conservative allegations” in NC before your post. I don’t agree with them, but that is beside the point.

          I am age 64. I have been Southern Baptist all my life. I am ordained by the FBC Decatur GA / was president of the Emory BSU in the Altizer “God Is Dead” era (in which I personally observed a true “liberal” at work) / attended SEBTS 1967-70 / did not view the faculty at that time as “liberal” / was at Houston when Adrian Rogers was elected the first CR President / know personally (through my father’s observations and my own) the inner working of the SBC with personal employment by the HMB-NCBSC-Raleigh Baptist Association as its first Director of Juvenile Rehabilitation (1968-70).

          As such, I believe I have a true right to claim the personal knowledge I share. You can take it or leave it, but it far exceeds your youthful knowledge of the things we are discussing.

          Just let people judge for themselves as to the validity and accuracy of what we say to one another on this blog. I don’t feel compelled to beat you on any of your analyses, but I do have the right to express myself as accurately as I can.

          I will give you the same respect you give me in these matters.

          We can always “agree to disagree” in any matters Baptist—OK??

        • says

          I’ve read many of your comments here and elsewhere, and your response to me above is pretty much in keeping with your misinformed and inflammatory approach to all things Baptist history and theology.

          Best.Comment.Ever!!!

      • cb scott says

        Gene,

        How many different years and under how many different presidents of SEBTS did you graduate?

        BTW, may I contact you? I would like to get some more information about your tenure at the Rocky Mount church. I have heard a couple different versions related to your departure.

        • says

          cb–

          First, you are welcome to contact me.

          I was at SEBTS for 3 straight years–1967-70. which immediately followed my years at Emory with a Psychology degree (1963-67).

          Olin T. Binkley was President and it was reputed to be “liberal.” I did not see this and received a “well-balanced” education in my view. Anyone wanting to call SEBTS “liberal” would have to totally ignore Leo Green / I.N. Patterson / Tom Bland / Olin Binkley, to name just a few.

          “Liberal” = ludicrous in my personal experience!

      • Frank and Larry says

        Gene, you are stating something that just doesn’t seem right–the judge ruled in this case based upon a theological determination of which group was “most Southern Baptist.”

        I know from a four year battle in California all the way to the Supreme Court, that any decision regarding a church must by law exclude anything “ecclessiastical.”

        So, the judge’s decision has no bearing whatsoever on any theological issue. Whatever decision was made was strictly made from within the four corners of the deed.

        And, just as a side note: a court ruling in any matter involving the church is a two-edged sword that wounds both sides of any argument.

        • says

          SSBN—

          There was NO JUDGEMENT as to which side was “most Southern Baptist.” I was based on “who is the real Southern Baptist group” vs who is not = more simple than you think.

          The group which got the property called on witnesses from a neighboring church–Rocky Mount FBC, pastored by Douglas Branch who later became the Executive Secretary of the NCBSC and was tragically killed in an auto accident. His perspective was as a member of the same Association and the largest church (SBC) in Rocky Mount.

          Other witnesses were a couple of Professors at SEBTS who were experts in SBC history. To the best of my transcript reading, there were no other “imported” witnesses. It was all based on basic writings on the nature of Southern Baptists and practical SBC matters.

          The real problem with any testimony is the convoluted nature of the SBC = how can you be organized without telling churches what to do????

          This description all comes from the nature of AUTONOMY!!!!

          Unless you have been a Southern Baptist (as I have) and experienced the “strange nature” of cooperation without being forced into a narrow mold, even a current Southern Baptist really “has no clue.”

          Otherwise, there would have been a massive rejection of recent actions and votes in the SBC of the last 40 years. Instead, there has been no other choice than to form the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and quit fighting over supporting the sharing of the Gospel.

          In the years immediately following 1979, “moderate” leaders tried to meet and work out a compromise with “conservatives.” Based on the “stuff” I encounter on these SBC blogs, I can identify with Cecil Sherman and others concluding—“There is no getting along so we might as well start something where we can enjoy being Baptist once again = it’s better to quit than fight!!!”

          Were it not for the possibility that–with recent developments in the SBC over new internal conflict and a plateau of growth and giving–I would not waste my time on any of this.

          At the present, I am about to conclude “I’m wasting my time!!!” Only the participation of those seeming to want to “make it better” encourages me to keep on keeping on.

          I’m not the enemy—I’m just a “voice crying in the Wilderness, ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord.'”

          • Dave Miller says

            Gene, I think you are wasting all of our time. You do not understand the way that Baptists have always worked. You are filled with anger and misiinformation – a deadly combo.

            That is all on this topic. Please address the subject – resolutions.

            We are all tired of your incessant reiteration of the same points over and over again. Enough. Its over.

            Address the topic.

          • Frank and Larry says

            Gene, you are definitely wasting your time. Move on. No matter what anybody says, about anything, as CB says: “it’s 1-2or-3 Gene.”

            The reasons “resolutions work” is because we are autonomous. A majority in a gathering expresses an opinion and each individual church, and each individual believer, can decide how much weight to give to that opinion.

            That’s how it has always been.

        • says

          Here are some important views from Baptist Forefathers describing the nature of a local Baptist church:

          12. That as one congregation hath CHRIST, so hath all, (2 Corinthians 10:7). And that the Word of GOD comes not out from any one, neither to any one congregation in particular. (1 Corinthians 14:36). But unto every particular Church, as it doth unto all the world. (Colossians 1:5. 6). And therefore no church ought to challenge any prerogative over any other. (Thomas Helwys, A DECLARATION OF FAITH OF ENGLISH PEOPLE REMAINING AT AMSTERDAM IN HOLLAND, 1611).

          “No outside body, however influential or numerous, can impose on a Baptist church, even the smallest or humblest, a decision that it does not choose to accept” (Henry Cook, What Baptists Stand For, 78).

          All this means discerning the direction of Christ’s rule is messy.

          My friend who shared the quotes preferrs to describe them as a “better way of expressing Baptist ways than using the word, AUTONOMY.”

          • Dave Miller says

            No one here disagrees with that Gene. NO ONE. We all believe in the autonomy of the local church.

            What you seem to be unable or unwilling to understand is that the autonomy of the local church is not abrogated when a convention or association enforces doctrinal standards (or other behavioral standards).

            The church is autonomous. The convention is autonomous. The association is autonomous. None of them dictates to the other. That is why we have messengers, not delegates. Each Baptist body is free to operate according to its conscience.

            If my association doesn’t like something my church does, they are free to withhold fellowship from us. We are autonomous, and do not have to conform to the dictates of the association. But the association, as a free and autonomous entity, has the right to set its membership and to hold that membership accountable. They cannot tell us what to do, but they can withhold membership and fellowship from us!

            That is the way Baptist relationships have been since John the Baptist founded First Baptist Church of the Wilderness.

            Gene, this is the last comment on the subject. Any further comments that you post on this subject will be deleted.

          • Dave Miller says

            Every church has the “right” to operate according to their conscience and convictions.

            NO CHURCH has the “right” to be Southern Baptist. If their conscience and conviction leads them in a way that is contrary to the beliefs and convictions of Southern Baptists, they can go where they please, but we have the equal right to say, “We will not seat your messengers at our meetings.”

          • cb scott says

            Dave,

            Was you PawPaw the guy who served as pastor of FBC of the Wilderness after John or did he follow Polycarp? I have forgotten the order of succession.

  19. says

    You cannot ” mandate ” a Congressman to do anything. That would be illegal no matter what message the writer is trying to convey. Those that vote on a resolution with ” mandate ” in it might not know it’s not possible when they hear it read. Mandate means Mandate. Nothing else period.

    • Dave Miller says

      I think I just figured it out, Jack.

      Anybody’s first comment at Voices has to be approved by the editor. It’s an anti-spam thing.

      Look at your name. Jack Wolfordf – you added an “f” at the end of your name and that showed you as a new commenter. So, I had to approve your first comment.

      I won’t say anything about the fact that you misspelled your own name, Jack – I’m too nice a guy for that.

      Trust me on this, dear readers. If you go on comment moderation, you will be notified by me, at the email you provide, that moderation is taking place. No one gets secretly moderated.

      So, Jack, the lessen is this: learn the spelling of your last name!

      Sorry about the confusion.

  20. says

    Dave, A point well made but I think you could rub it in a little more to see if I crack under the pressure. Mis-spelling my name could be an example of a mistake made under stress but I hope not and would instead offer it as just a mistake for which I should apologise for creating more work for you. But not today as this mistake did not rise to that level in my opinion ; however, a vote could be taken “mandating” that action if anyone thought it would work. My name has not appeared already printed on the Comment Heading since I started to use my first & last name – I’m sure for the same reason. I see you said “sorry” so in the interest of fairness and politeness I will say this has caused me more concern than you know. I’m sorry. Freedom of speach is a wonderful thing including the words, ” I think what was Posted came from a screwball “. I’d love that more than you know !

    • says

      Honestly, there are a lot of inner workings in this site I don’t always understand, but if your comments get moderated and I haven’t contacted you by email, you can rest assured it is a glitch and not intentional.

      Have a great day, Mr. “Wolfordf.”

  21. Bill Mac says

    I think there is consensus that (most) resolutions have (to varying degrees) something greater than zero value. The question is, does their value justify the making of resolutions?

    I’ve never been to a convention. What percentage of convention time is taken up with resolutions? I’ve always assumed it was a large percentage but I don’t really know. I’ve also pretty much assumed that they have small value (not zero). But their relative value is judged by the amount of convention time taken up with them.

    • Dave Miller says

      There are a couple of times on Tuesday when resolutions are introduced, and then they are published in the program. On Wednesday, the committee reports them back and we vote on them, usually as a whole.

      I would guess that less than an hour total is devoted to resolutions during the convention.

      Motions are a different thing. Almost all motions are either ruled out of order or are referred. Then, someone will move to consider the motion instead of referring it. Seldom does that motion succeed, but if it does, they schedule discussion and the vote during one of the miscellaneous business times.

      • says

        These days, resolutions have to be pre-submitted by 15 days before the date of the SBC. Then, they are looked over by the committee in that time frame. Wednesday is when the committee presents its report, usually by the start of that day there is a printed copy of resolutions to be presented. This copy also includes the titles of rejected submissions and the name of the person that submitted them. So, it takes up about a 20-minute block on the schedule.

        A person who had a resolution submitted and rejected can move to bring it up anyway at that time, but it takes 2/3rds to do so.

        The 15-day line is in the by-laws, has been for a few years. It kind of stung in Louisville, because there was a desire to express support for the people rioting in Iran over the elections, but that didn’t start until inside the 15-days, so no resolution was possible. Many of the items cited about resolutions in this thread, such as the anti-Driscolls and the rapping pro-Driscoll were actually motions that were offered. They were both ruled out-of-order on the grounds of singling out specific people. (and perhaps being a waste of time)

        Most states allow resolution submission into the actual convention time. Here in Arkansas, you can actually bring your motion up on the floor after the resolutions committee, but you have to bring enough copies for everyone to have it in writing before they vote on it.

  22. Dave Miller says

    Okay folks, we’ve discussed autonomy and now, perhaps we can return to the discussion of resolutions.

    Good and instructive discussion. Let’s keep it that way.

  23. bill says

    In my opinion, most resolutions highlight:

    1. We have some people woefully out of touch.

    2. We have people who’ll gladly go after Mark Driscoll.

    3. We have people who’ll gladly go after LifeWay.

    4. We have a person who wants to make his flag our flag.

    5. Rapping optional…

    6. People will gladly use them to publicly attack someone, knowing that it’ll die in committee, but the attack is still made…

    7. The need for a filter of resolutions might ought to be considered at future conventions…

    8. Some resolutions state the obvious, i.e. stealing is wrong, but we resolve to highlight that the theft of copper is wrong too. Really?!?

    • cb scott says

      bill,

      If you are in reference to some of the recent resolutions presented at the SBC, you are correct.

      At the same time, there have been many resolutions presented that reflected biblical convictions relating to contemporary issues that were very important. The various news mediums have published resolutions presented at the SBC. Resolutions relating to issues such as child abuse as well as foster care and adoption have been helpful.

    • Dave Miller says

      CB, that’s the point that has kinda swayed my thinking a little. I’ve never been morally or inalterably opposed to resolutions – just thought they were kinda silly. But I think that this discussion has reminded me that there have been some really good resolutions made through the year, and that perhaps the value of these resolutions at the SBC level outweighs the embarrassment or silliness that some people advance.

      I was talking to someone a little while ago who was following the discussion and we agreed on this – we sort of find ourselves agreeing with everyone. There’s a lot of silliness that goes on and there is a lot of good that is done.

      • bill says

        I do not doubt that there is some good somewhere when it comes to resolutions. I just don’t like the whole concept of resolutions. I feel that they are a waste of time.

        To me, for any resolution worth anything of merit, we get dozens of resolutions that are clearly written either to state the obvious (stealing copper is wrong) or are designed to draw attention to a person rather than an issue (re: the attacks on Mark Driscoll or any other public figure). Also, when serious resolutions are so out of left field that they are post on youtube with zero trick editing yet dozens of laughing comments, there ought to be some sort of filter in place.

        Many of these left field or silly resolutions aren’t stepping on the world’s toes, they are highlighting the flaws of the convention. So either the resolutions need to be filtered by the state conventions before they get to the national convention or they need to be submitted for approval before they are presented to the convention at large.

        Is this censorship? No.

        It’s called being responsible.

        By the way, has anyone attempted a resolution against piracy? After all, the church is largely the worst violator of copyright laws in most cases. I’d love to see that pass.

  24. says

    I have attempted to read ‘most’ of the MUCH discussion & MANY comments about resolution. For many years, I thought the resolutions process needed one thing, “TO GO!!” Yet, today it seems to me (I am not, by no means, a theologian, profession, or an authority) that the process simply needs a little revision.
    These are simply my thoughts;
    Since our connections as Southern Baptists are so (shall we say) ‘loose’, we need to know what the larger group believes (I would almost call these ‘position papers”). For this small time preacher, this is the only positive which I can discern from the ‘resolutions’ process. If someone asks me what Southern Baptists believe about a subject (outside of the BFM), then I seek to find a resolution where we have spoken to that subject.
    Almost everything we do will have ‘some level’ of unintended consequence (which is another subject for another time).
    It seems to me that the ‘sillyness’ (a really good word) type of resolutions have to be discarded. That being said, the process of resolutions may be what really needs to be reviewed.
    Because no one knows me–as I don’t blog that often–here is what you are free to remember me by – “I HATE POLTICS” (and I know it’s not right to hate)…I particularly dislike politics in the Family of God, whether at the National, State, Associational, or Church level. One of the reasons we find ourselves debating things like resolutions (only to mention one) is because (at least it seems to me) that politics have invaded those who I like to call “Kingdom People”, have taken us captive, and won’t let us go. The result is that when we need to ‘repair’ a needed process, like resolutions, we must navigate not only what the Bible teaches but what the politics demand.
    Few, if any, will be lost because of & if resolutions lost. Few, if any, will be saved because of & if the resolutions are saved. My prayer is we can find the right use in the right way for adopting the right and needed resolution that we may be seen as salt and light in this world.

Trackbacks