Restoring Southern Baptist Polity

The Southern Baptist Convention must restore the practice of traditional congregational polity, especially when it comes to the creation, staffing and reporting of our leadership structures. With each passing year, we have grown more complacent in our commitment to congregational polity, having practically surrendered to a style of church government more suited for elders and bishops than congregationalists.

In each example below, I will first state a principle of leadership I consider to be consistent with traditional Baptist practice. I will then offer one example to show how this principle has been ignored at some point during the past few years. Finally, I will comment on the future of the issue, either recommending a solution or offering a warning. My goal is not so much to rehash the past as it is to learn from it so we will not make the same mistakes again.

In describing the ideal congregational political philosophy, I will mention no names, but will only refer to the convention’s offices or positions, intentionally depersonalizing the issue. I am truly not demeaning the people involved, many of whom have earned my profound respect, although at times I must necessarily point out the kinds of procedural grievances committed by our convention’s officers that I wish to see redressed. My purpose is not to attack people but to articulate principles, in order that my one SBC voice might urge Southern Baptists to stop drifting into authoritarian waters and return to the humble congregational course that will steer our ship to calmer seas.

1. STACKING THE DECK 

No leadership group should become a Central Committee possessing the power of all the other committees combined.

Imagine in your church if someone wanted to combine the Finance, Personnel and Property Committees into one all powerful leadership structure. Would you be a little nervous? That represents an enormous consolidation of power. Most Baptists would consider it wise to decentralize that power, sharing it among a variety of leadership groups reminiscent of the same balance of powers upon which our national government is founded.

This principle was ignored when the Great Commission Task Force was formed. Like a Finance Committee, it created new ways of reporting our missions receipts. Like a Property Committee, it proposed a strategy for many new church plants. Like a Personnel Committee, confidential interviews were held with employees who were promised such secrecy that records had to be sealed for fifteen years. When there is an Everything Committee, no other leadership group really matters.

  • In the future, we must resist the temptation to allow one committee to do the work centrally that ten committees should be doing separately. If each individual idea is truly worthy, it will survive on its own without being attached as a rider to an enormous piece of omnibus legislation, most of which passed without the kind of significant deliberation upon the convention floor that would be appropriate for each individual item.

2. PACKING THE COURT

No one individual, even and especially the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, should function as a Committee Selection Czar.

This principle was ignored when the President of the Southern Baptist Convention was asked to appoint the entire Great Commission Task Force. The office of the President of the Southern Baptist Convention does not need to be given more power. This office already possesses all the power necessary to influence the convention through the standing committee appointment process, although even this significant power is somewhat measured since the term of the Presidency is shorter than the terms of board members. In other words, no single President generally appoints the entire membership of a board or commission, and that is as it should be. In the case of the Task Force, however, one man unilaterally appointed an entire leadership group. Frankly, the convention has duly elected committees fully capable of making such nominations. Any committee formed by such a group of people is much more likely to include a wider representation of the entire convention than is a committee appointed by only one man.

  • In the future, no one individual should choose all the members of a leadership structure. It is said that one can determine the outcome of a legal trial if one merely chooses the members of the jury. We must no longer allow this specific task to be a one man show.

3. KEEPING IT REAL

The names we choose for our leadership structures should reflect their true identity and function.

Let us not play with structural labels like “blue ribbon task force” or “advisory panel” when what we are really forming is in fact a committee. This leaves us open to charges that we are sidestepping the conventional channels for creating a leadership structure, such as asking a committee to nominate the members. We must also learn to call these committees by a subject that accurately reflects the reality of the work they are doing.

This principle was ignored when the “Great Commission” Task Force was formed, ostensibly to be something of an “Evangelism” Committee to explore ways we could better share our faith and win the world to Christ. However, in hindsight it is clear that the Task Force did not really concern itself very much with gospel presentations and evangelistic strategies, but focused instead primarily on shifting denominational priorities, changing our missions metric, setting goals and functioning exactly in the manner we would expect from a “Long Range Planning Committee.”

  • In the future, we must have the courage to call things what they truly are. If the denomination will not support an idea identified accurately, then so be it. Whenever we slightly misrepresent or vaguely describe the nature of a group’s work, it leaves us open to unnecessary criticisms. No Southern Baptist should ever have to wonder if the term “Great Commission” is being used merely in an effort to promote a new slate of denominational priorities. After all, was not the previous set of priorities equally intended to spread the gospel message and reach the world for Christ? While it is certainly fair to debate the relative merits of two different priority lists, it is not right to identify only one of them with the Great Commission, as if the other one possessed no such concern for the lost at all.

4. KEEPING YOUR COUNSEL

While convention officers are encouraged to seek the advice of godly men and women, if they form a private advisory group for their own benefit and on their own authority, then this group should report to them alone without appearing to be an official body of the convention or attracting any media attention.

This principle was ignored in the forming of a Task Force to advise the President regarding a possible denominational name change. We can all agree that we are accountable to our Maker. Since the President formed this body, they are accountable to him and him alone. They should report back to him and him alone, not on the convention floor and not in the media. Not only has this leadership structure NOT been formed by the denomination, but the denomination (a few years ago) voted specifically to DENY its formation. This offense flies in the face of congregational polity. It is analogous to the Pastor who asks the church to form an ad hoc committee, and upon seeing that motion fail, proceeds a few years later to create his own committee anyway, announcing this action to the church in the weekly bulletin. Realizing the need for cover, he asks the Executive Deacon Committee to approve the measure, which they do by a split vote in an effort to keep the peace. 

  • In the future, we no more need a one man show to create committees than we need a one man show to staff them. If we allow this to continue unchecked, then what mechanism exists to stop a Southern Baptist Convention President from forming a half dozen private committees, apart from convention approval, announcing their decisions in the press and telling messengers to expect their reports the following June? Frankly, there is enormous power in the ability to create a leadership structure. This is why congregations reserve such a right for themselves. It is also why those who believe in and practice congregational polity foster a healthy respect for that right.

5. SHOWING YOUR WORK

As every sixth grade math teacher knows, you must not only get the right answer, but you must also show clearly how you got it. 

This principle was ignored by the refusal of the Great Commission Task Force to reveal the record of their meetings. By sealing this record in the Southern Baptist Archives for fifteen years, they prevented concerned Southern Baptists from exploring their process. These are the very messengers who gave them their authority in the first place. The Task Force avoided their accountability to messengers by appealing to a confidentiality apparently promised to those who might lose their jobs if the record were made public. When one considers the body count of all those who did lose their jobs as a result of the report’s implementation in Baptist life, it is sadly ironic for this excuse to be given as the primary reason for keeping the record of the Task Force meetings a secret. 

  • In the future, we must never again seal records that prevent Southern Baptist journalists, historians, scholars and all other interested parties from observing the work of a leadership structure that Southern Baptists commissioned in the first place.

CONCLUSION

No matter how articulate or trustworthy our leaders may be, no one is above the public scrutiny afforded by congregational polity. While our polity is biblical, wise and traditionally Baptist, it only functions properly when we insist upon following it. By not stacking the deck, we give no committee too much power. By not packing the court, we allow no individual to choose all of a group’s members. By keeping it real, we call our structures by names that truly define their work. By keeping our counsel, we refuse to legitimize publicly and officially the suggestions of our privately selected advisers. By showing our work, we reveal with full transparency the record of our deliberations and actions, submitting these humbly to those at whose pleasure we serve and to the reporters who faithfully journal our endeavors.

Restoring conventional polity will not be easy. New precedents have now been set. New powers have now been assumed. Some may even be willing for the convention to function increasingly under the authority of a leadership style far more authoritarian than traditional Baptist polity allows. But I, for one, am not yet prepared to exchange my ballot for a bishop or my vote for a vicar. If a committee is to be formed, let me participate in forming it. If it is to be staffed, let me assist in staffing it. I want to help assign the work. I want to help name the work. And when it’s all over, I want to read the minutes and review the work.

Mostly, I want our convention’s officers to understand that I do love them, honor them and appreciate them for their service to the Lord. I pray for them and acknowledge that they, no less than I, desire only to seek God’s heart and to do His will. However, when the time comes to establish, humanly speaking, the organizational hierarchy of our Southern Baptist Convention, then I want them freely to admit that the messengers are at the top while the officers are at the bottom. Because this is true, speaking as a messenger, I give them my permission to restore the conventional polity we Southern Baptists have come to expect and to cherish.

Comments

  1. says

    You make some good points, Rick, particularly on the secrecy of the GCRTF a point on which we agree completely.

    However….your attempt to subsume all of these things under “traditional congregational polity” completely fails. You continually mix that with “Southern Baptist polity,” and “traditional congregational philosophy” leaving your piece hopelessly mixed up on the issue.

    I feel sure you have a pretty good understanding of SB polity but would you please explain the use of “congregational” in regards to those bodies and entities which are not congregations?

    In response:

    1. The GCRTF had a budget, an assignment but no power other than the power to persuade. While I think it was a mistake to simply let Johnny Hunt fill the group, the GCRTF had to persuade the SBC, in session, to adopt their recommendations. That’s about as Baptist as you can get. Even then, those were recommendations, not mandates.

    2. On the use of terms: task force, advisory group, committee – there is no polity issue here. None whatsoever.

    3. While you may not like the formation of the name change committee of Bryant Wright, it raises no polity questions. It has no budget. It has no authority. It has no power. The Executive Committee doesn’t have to hear its report if it chooses not to. If they choose to, that’s the way our polity works. Whatever they recommend is just hot air until and unless the SBC in session votes on it.

    If you are going to write about Baptist polity or congregational polity at least find one example of a polity issue. Here are a few of possibilities:

    1. Connectionalism between various levels of SBC life – SBC, state convention, associations.
    2. Usurping of local church authority, as in imposing requirements for their ministers. (e.g. requiring every church affiliated with the SBC to buy GuideStone insurance for their ministers).
    3. Dictating to entity trustees.

    Other than that, everything was pretty good. ;)

    You have called some of my comments “nitpicking” but I trust that you recognize that when you invoke some of the most serious Baptist practices, you submit your stuff to greater scrutiny than when you are just venting.

    • Rick Patrick says

      William,

      Thanks for your comments. I agree with more of them than you may realize, but I do not recall referring to your comments as “nitpicking.”

      I agree with you that the terms “congregational” and “Southern Baptist” polity may not be the most appropriate way to describe my concerns. And I certainly agree with you that the final results of these processes all included convention wide support.

      The issues I raise have more to do with including a larger number of people in the processes that lead up to the final approval votes. I’m certainly open to suggestions for improved terminology. I just think we’ve drifted a little too close to authoritarianism in the way we form, staff and report the work of our committees, and I’d like to see that returned to a more participatory style.

      • says

        I suggest that you write of these things in terms of leadership and inclusion rather than in terms of polity.

        For example, Johnny Hunt put together the GCRTF with women as an afterthought (he had to come back and put women on it after it was noticed there were none) and with megachurch folks, pastors or laypeople comprising two-thirds of the TF. While I like JH, these actions (or non-actions) say something to us.

        The sealing of records, the meetings where BP or other press reps are excluded are issues of openness and transparency. We do not have enough of that at all levels of SBC life (speaking of which, how about that forensic audit at Midwestern, when will we hear what that found? Probably never). That’s a leadership issue.

        …just my suggestions.

        • Rick Patrick says

          Thanks. I like “Restoring Inclusive Southern Baptist Participation” better as a headline for the piece. It more accurately describes my issues, and avoids the whole “but we voted to do it that way” issue. Just because the convention went along with it does not mean that the process that got us there was necessarily ideal.

  2. Bill Mac says

    I think William has expressed some of my thoughts as well. I really don’t disagree at all with your dissatisfaction about how the SBC is being run as regards polity.

    My pick is that the SBC is not a church and we are not its congregation. This has nothing to do with church polity. It is no unreasonable to assume an analog between church polity and convention polity, but it is not a given.

  3. Todd Benkert says

    The recent history of our Convention has surely sparked emotions by those who don’t like the process and/or the results of what has occurred in SBC life. Nevertheless, the fact remains that everything that has occurred has happened in ways consistent with congregational polity. This post has much misinformation based on perceptions of Convention actions rather than the actions itself. Much could be said more than I have written below, but here are some key points to consider considering our polity:

    1. The GCR Task Force did not change anything. They presented a specific set of recommendations. WE the messengers changed things when we voted overwhelmingly to approve the recommendations. All of which, BTW, were not binding but were recommendations later acted upon by Trustees of NAMB, IMB and the Executive Committee. That is congregational polity.

    2. The president already has constitutional authority to appoint certain committees (Committee on Committees, Committee on Resolutions), so the principle of a single person making such appointments is not new. In the case of the GCR Task Force, the messengers of the Convention gave the president the authority to make the appointments, thus the process was consistent with congregational government.

    3. You are re-writing history in your recounting of both the purposes and outcome of the GCR task force. The GCR task force was not formed to “explore ways we could better share our faith and win the world to Christ” or to suggest “gospel presentations and evangelistic strategies.” Rather, the messengers of the 2009 Convention authorized the Task Force to study how Southern Baptists can “more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission.”

    Further, structural changes while perhaps the most controversial, were not the only recommendations not did they form the heart of the report. The Task Force report began with an extended call for spiritual renewal. It called for changing NAMB’s focus to “the most unreached and underserved populations of North America.” It called for increasing the CP allocation for IMB to 51 percent “through a reduction in the budget granted to Facilitating Ministries, thus making a statement about our commitment to reduce denominational infrastructure in order to set the pace for growth in commitment to reaching the nations.”
    It called on Southern Baptists “to give as never before, to support the Cooperative Program as never before, and to celebrate every church’s eager and sacrificial support of Great Commission Giving at every level.”

    It followed with a number of recommendations, all of which I support, that were not binding, but later acted on by the various trustee boards.

    4. The records are sealed because WE the messengers voted for them to be so. Congregational polity.
    5. The prior Convention did not vote to DENY a name-change committee, rather, they did not vote TO form the committee. That is a KEY distinction and one that is missed almost every time the issue is raised. Further, there is nothing in our polity that disallows the President to form a committee to study or make any recommendations he wishes. The committee is self-funded and its members, as duly elected messengers of the Convention, are free to make any motion they want. It is up to us as messengers to vote for or against their motion. Plus, even though he did not need to do so per our denominational polity, Wright sought and received the approval of the executive committee to form the committee.
    SO…Just because you might be in the minority, does not make the process unfair or uncongregational. You are free and able to follow the same processes and achieve whatever ends you wish…as long as you can persuade the messengers to follow your lead.

    • Rick Patrick says

      Todd,

      Thanks for your comments. I am not so much speaking to outcomes as to processes. I certainly agree with you that proper processes were followed in the final votes and that our convention did indeed allow and approve each of the things that were done. I’m not calling a “Point of Order” here.

      What I am saying is that I believe what the convention approved was unwise in that it opens up opportunities for the creation of leadership structures that are too powerful, staffed or formed by only one person, misnamed, and unwilling to share their minutes.

      Of course, I agree with you that the convention did indeed approve these actions. What I question is whether or not certain processes that were followed in doing so truly represent the best practices for creating, staffing and reporting leadership structures in the future. Is this really our new way of doing things? It seems far more authoritarian than in the past.

      As always, though we may disagree, I appreciate your perspective. We are Great Commission partners and brothers.

      • Todd Benkert says

        The only power the GCR task force had was persuasive power due to the strength of their report and the broad spectrum of leadership and prominent pastors who supported it.

  4. Rick Patrick says

    Todd,

    “The president already has constitutional authority to appoint certain committees (Committee on Committees, Committee on Resolutions), so the principle of a single person making such appointments is not new.”

    Granted. But I would say there is a categorical difference between the committee that functions only for one year (Resolutions) or that only appoints one-third of a group (C of C) and the committee possessing long term decision making authority. For example, we would not want the President to name all the board members for Lifeway, the Executive Committee or one of our seminaries, so very appropriately, he does not. My principle is that the more powerful the committee is, and the longer the term of its influence, the more people should be involved in forming it.

    • Todd Benkert says

      Fine, but the two committees you are using as an example were both short term and met for less than one year, and had no authority beyond presenting a report and recommendations, so I don’t really understand your argument.

      • Rick Patrick says

        Todd,

        Apparently, I view both the Great Commission Task Force and the Name Change Task Force as being extremely powerful in terms of the tasks they performed and the issues they considered. I view the authority to present a report and recommendations as a big deal, not a small one. The duration of their meeting times is not the only measure of their significance. I would say they are both big committees and, as such, deserve more inclusion in nominating their membership.

        Let me put it this way. I have no problem with the President of the convention naming the Time, Place and Preacher Committee. Charting the convention’s long term course (GCRTF) and naming the entire denomination (NCTF) do not fit in the same category, in my view.

        I hope that helps you understand my argument, even if we happen to disagree over it. Have a blessed day.

        • Todd Benkert says

          I too appreciate being able to have real disagreements in a cordial manner. I do understand what you are saying, but I think you overestimate the power of such committees. The actual power lies with the messengers who approve or reject the recommendations, and the trustees who choose whether or not and how to act on these recommendations. The changes at NAMB were made by the trustees and the CEO they hired, not the GCR Task force. If the NAMB trustees were not in agreement with the recommendations, they could choose not to enact them. As it stands, they did agree and enacted them at an accelerated and aggressive pace. If someone does not like the changes at NAMB, however, their beef is with Ezell and the NAMB trustees, not the GCR Task Force or the president who appointed its members.

          Also, the recommendation for the president to appoint the GCR task force was made known well before the annual meeting. If you did not like the idea of giving the president that authority, you should have made a motion to that effect. It was the messengers who chose to give him that authority — they could have easily chosen not to if they had been so inclined.

          • Rick Patrick says

            And I am merely seeking to use my meager influence to so incline them–the NEXT time–regardless of the issue.

            I would ask you to consider if there is not possibly a sequential “House of Cards” situation here. By that I mean that perhaps a committee appointed task force might have come up with slightly different recommendations which would still have been approved by messengers, and that the final implementation of this altered approach might have changed the overall result, possibly improving it.

            If committees are formed by convention approval, and groups of people are involved in nominating the members, and they still come up with the same result, then fine. At least I will be satisfied that in the formation, staffing and reporting of leadership structures, the process is inclusive and transparent.

            As I measure this inclusiveness and transparency today, I think we have been missing the mark.

          • Todd Benkert says

            Perhaps, but the GCR committee did not come up with their ideas in isolation. The committee and its members had numerous meetings with pastors, denominational leaders, state convention execs, associational DOMs, pastors, and public online forums and conference calls, etc.

            I myself, a relative nobody in SBC life, was part of two of those conference calls. The group discussion was moderated by an associational DOM who opposed several of the suggestions especially concerning CP and NAMB. And Dr. Floyd and numerous other committee members took questions and suggestions from any who called in or had submitted questions beforehand.

            The task force’s process was more open and sought more input than any I have seen before. I don’t see how having a committee appoint the task force rather than the president would have improved things at all. Rather, it would have merely slowed the process considerably and at great expense.

  5. says

    Here’s my basic quarrel with this whole line of reasoning. I’ve been to SBC Annual meetings in the 70s (79, the beginning of the CR), the 80s, the 90s, the aughts and the teens (well, almost).

    I just don’t think that what is happening is that big of a departure from what used to happen.

    The SBC has always been led by large church pastors.
    It has never been a particularly open and transparent organization.
    Everything you complain of is normal and standard.

    The GCR was duly elected and approved by an overwhelming majority of Southern Baptist messengers.

    The sealing of the records (which I think was a HUGE mistake) was also approved by the messengers of the SBC Annual Meeting.

    It is debatable whether the appointment of the name-change task force was within the boundaries of the President’s purview. It may have been a departure from precedent, but as I understand it, it is not outside the president’s authority.

    Here’s the thing. Everything that has been complained about was approved my messengers. If the name changes, it will be because the messengers at two conventions approve it. Baptist polity has been observed.

    The difference between this and the CR is one thing, as best I can tell. People that supported the CR and therefore supported the actions of the “power elite” during that time do not like the GCR and the potential name change now rebel against the same thing – a small but powerful group of people leading our convention.

    • Rick Patrick says

      “I just don’t think that what is happening is that big of a departure from what used to happen.”

      Fine. If so, then let my recommendations apply to both. I’m talking about the future here, only referencing the past to explain that the way we sometimes form leadership groups could be more inclusive and transparent.

      What’s done is done. But the next time we form an official group, let’s do it the right way, and by that I mean, if it’s a major decision making group, let’s all get in on the formation of it.

    • Dave Miller says

      You know, I would agree to that. I think that much of what you are recommending would make the SBC better. My quarrel is with the idea that somehow the GCR was a departure.

      I fully support increasing openness, an attempt to include more people in the process – all of those things are noble goals.

    • Dave Miller says

      I looked back over your points, and I would agree with every one of them.

      I do not completely agree with your application of the principles to our current denominational life, but I think that your basic principles are right on.

    • Jon says

      Ok, I’ll bite. The CR was based in a clearly defined action: make the SBC bureaucrats more accountable to the people in the pews. I suppose there are some who think the entire CR was just “who likes Paige Patterson more than Russ Dilday?” But for most, a vote for Paige was a vote for a specific action: require inerrancy in the leadership. If they didn’t deliver, they would have been canned.

      What, in terms of concrete action, is this generation of leaders asking the Convention to do? How do we judge them a success or failure?

  6. Jon says

    I find it funny that many people who would draw no distinction between a CEO and a Pastor would draw a thick line between Congregational and Denominational polity.

    Our polity, both congregational and denominational, is based on a simple premise: we make better, more God-honoring decisions about our collective efforts when we do it together.

    That conviction has waned in American culture, and in American churches. It’s at its lowest among Pastors who see themselves as CEOs, and second lowest among bad elders.

    But, I think Rick’s right; the question for the next ten years is this: do Baptists really believe that groups of believers, led by the Holy Spirit, can make some kinds of decisions better than smaller groups of “experts”? Our polity will change based on the answer.

    • Rick Patrick says

      Thanks, Jon. I especially liked this: “we make better, more God-honoring decisions about our collective efforts when we do it together.”

      I also think you’re right in your warning about the next decade. Will “groups” lead Southern Baptists or will “small groups of experts?” I like the way you put that.

  7. says

    The SBC, its institutions, and our State Conventions and their institutions, grow out of the federalism which is the pattern of our national government which, in turn, is the pattern by which masonic lodges are governed. There is more to the whole affair, admittedly, than I am saying here, but the point is that the only two institutions that have any scriptural basis would be the local church and the local associations. The first is well established by biblical usage, and the second by inference from instances of cooperation in the NT between local churches, i.e., relief of the Jerusalem believers by the folks at Antioch. The problems with federalism on the national level and, I suspect, on the masonic international level is the problem of independent satraps (if I might borrow a word from another language) that develop due to the elected figure and the board that backs him in his position…Sort of like J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI..and like Duke McCall at Southern or one fellow that was head of the Executive Committee of whom I heard many years ago. Our problem with the local churches is the attempt to introduce government by eldership; the rule of the elders is purely spiritual, by example, with plenty of checks and balances. I saw an instance two years ago of how the eldership in a presbtyerian church, when once it falls into the hands of those who are inimical to the teachings of the creed, can take it astray. Baptist Congregationalism has a biblical foundation. One needs to begin reading the writings of the Puritans and others in England concerning the findings regarding the ekklesia and continue with the Baptists and even the landmarkers in America. No form of church government is immune to destructive influences. Evils can be perpetrated even in Heaven itself, so why not a local church. Prayer and the investment of time and concern in the local government of the church is a vital necessity. the ekklesia is the very thing that Christ died for, and I think that is particularly remarkable. Such a body is composed of equals, of citizens of the Kingdom of God, all of whom have a say in the well-being and conduct of the local congregation. This is the nursery of democratic practice which produced enough people to make the self-governing aspect of American civilization work which according to one source aroused the admiration of Thomas Jefferson concerning the Buck Run (name?) Baptist church near Monticello. The more believrs participate in the activities of the church, the more the church is assured of its success.

  8. Lydia says

    Process is very important. Debate is important. Depending on how something is presented can make a big difference in how it is accepted or not and if there has been time to really debate it before we meet.

    Why would the convention vote to seal record/minutes/notes of a task force? The reasons I have seen given are not good reasons unless one is interviewing colleagues and the protected businesses of Vito Corleone. But that is not who we are. Priests in the priesthood, right? IF people are afraid of losing their jobs, we have a much bigger spiritual problem and need to start there.

    Process is important and one reason why Executive orders can be so nefarious. A way to circumvent congress and the people. One can also overturn bad Exec orders by rescinding them when elected.

    Wright did not break any rule? How about, we did not know we needed a rule for such things! Now we know.

    There is a reason our democratic process is so grueling. It needs to be so for checks and balance reasons. And sinful man will always find a way around it to get more power or a particular pet project through. The SBC is no different. I just find the spin in doing so a bit of a stetch.

    All the explanations/defenses and excuses for appointing an official “unofficial” name change committee/taskforce/loose group of movers and shakers….whatever you want to call it…..are simply spin. Yes, we get to vote but by then, the media blitz will have worked and anyone NOT voting FOR it, loves slavery. People can be so gullible.

  9. says

    I think the real aim was formulated by someone outside the convention; it is unstated, lethal, well-planned, hid in subterranean depths of an outside conspiracy. Just think of what could be accomplished, if you effectively remove from the public scene, the largest evangelical, Gospel preaching, mission minded denomination in the world. What would or who would rush into fill the void, and who would benefit the most from that removal? The planning of the resurgence in N.C. of business, research, education, industry, computerization, whole new areas of development, a great influx of population, has tilted the playing field in favor of what was once the smallest denomination in NC, now number two, the one with the moola. Could it be that it had investments in the FRS? Our societies are not immune to the influx of money and power. We are not immune to the hierarchial view of mankind though we have had over two hundred years of egalitarianism. If the process works rightly we shall have a stratified society in which, like the untouchables of India, we shall have people who can never rise from their lowly estates to something better. And what is worse, do you all know anything about transubstantiation type views being introduced into the Baptist Churches in Great Britain? You might do some googling on that issue and asked yourself why? And why are we even having a discussion on the issue of congregational church government, a given of Baptist ecclesiology. PERIOD.

  10. says

    Rick,

    Thanks for the article. The principle of polity — while not exactly the same at the local church level and the Convention level — certainly can shed some light on how things are done vs. how things should be done. The simple fact is that many of those in power within the national SBC have long ago watered down — if not outright abandoned — a congregational polity in their churches. This same type of leadership/church government philosophy has become the standard operating procedure within the Convention, both in reality and in philosophy. However, the pendulum will swing back to a more congregational polity sooner or later.

    On a side not, I am still surprised that some — like Dave and Todd — still put forth the notion that the messengers to the 2010 Orlando Convention voted to seal the GCRTF records. That is not what happened. The GCRTF, led by Ronnie Floyd, unilaterally sealed ALL of the records of the Task Force 10 days prior to the Annual Meeting. A motion was made to unseal the records. The Task Force, including Drs. Mohler and Akin, strenuously argued against the release of any records. The records were given to the SBC Archives and Historical Library to be kept under lock and key, which, by the way, was in itself a violation of the SBC Constitution which requires records of Committees to be deposited with the Executive Committee. If the Executive Committee has possession of the records, all it would take is a majority vote of the EC Trustees to open the records. Thanks and God bless,

    Howell

  11. says

    Sounds like someone was really concerned that something might be found out that would impugn the motives of the committee and other concerned persons. You all should know the history of how the moderates formed a group back in the early part of the 20th century, the dodeckers (like the Greek word for 12), the aim of which was to place a moderate minister in so many leading pulpits, school and convention positions, and it continued for years until the got so many, they did not have to use it. One Conservative preacher of some age denied it, but I have a tract written on the subject by a conservative leader in another state. You just never know what the other fellow knows. I could tell more, but I question our so-called conservatives as to who they really serve, the key ones that is. Could it be they serve the same forces that the moderates served? After all, the name of the game is control, and certain folks want to keep control….like the fellow who said, “I don’t care who governs as long as you give me control of the money.” We will probably never get much accomplished until the Great Awakening converts most of the Conspirators or God removes them from the scene. Control is ultimately in His hands anyway, and He will exercise it at the optimum time. We will have that period, when the Heavens drop down (Isa.45:8) and the whole earth will be awakened to the the Lord Jesus Christ. Come on, folks, do some thinking. The Bible calls for the number of the redeemed in Heaven to be a number that no one can number. For that to be true, one has to have the time and the people, sinners, no less, who are truly saved, and, for it to be done by the message of Christ on the Cross and in the Resurrection, the greatest honor and glory shall and must redound to God Himself for choosing the peaceful means of the Gospel preached as the way to win. Wow! Imagine that!

  12. Pastor Al Brodbent says

    As to the secrecy one only needs to look at the process used by our founding fathers. As I understand it (and it’s been years since I read it) they committed to secrecy and everything would only be released when there was just one member alive.

    The reason for this was the conflict between a federalist form of government and a Republic. I understand, just like in a church meeting all the informatin would be disclosed as to what went on in a Deacon’s meeting.

    In these committees the Holy Spirit needs to be allowed to flow through the members without retribution from those outside who don’t have all the facts. God Bless

  13. Lydia says

    “In these committees the Holy Spirit needs to be allowed to flow through the members without retribution from those outside who don’t have all the facts”

    And that is the problem. No one ever thinks the other side has all the facts. A common refrain in Christendom.

    The only reason we know what went on during the Constitutional Convention is because the very melancholic Madison took copious notes.

    See Drinkwater’s “Miracle at Philadelphia”.

    So, I must ask….were the task force members subject to a king they were defying and their lives on the line as traitors?

    Methinks your example is a bit hyperbolic. Why would believers have anything to hide from their fellow believers?

  14. says

    I dare say that if we knew the real facts about the convention in Philadelphia and the true story behind the U.S. Constitution, well. As they say, Hell has not fury like a woman scorned, and surely a people whose governments were more biblical with some great problems were no match for a smooth masonic con game called hoodwinked. And the wars of Napoleon were masonic wars. But who is behind the masons. Not that I am on an antimasonic crusade. I just wish to know the truth, and, if many knew the little bit I know, they might feel very differently about the matter and take a greater part in their own government. And the same goes for the SBC, the state conventions, and the institutions of each. While we are at it, we need to regain the congregational church polity and the sense of equality among brothers and sisters.

    • Frank L. says

      Dr. J, I think your Masonic “bogey-man” may seem real to you but it just doesn’t pass historic muster. You are assuming that we know little of what took place at the founding of our country. You assume we know little about the “real” faith of the Founding Fathers. That simply is not the case.

      There’s no hidden “Masonic Conspiracy” that makes our Constitution any less of a document based upon solid Judeo-Christian principles. The writings and sermons and Bible quotes and allusions weave back and forth through our founding documents like a bright colored thread through a tapestry.

      Was there a masonic element in our early history. Yes, there was but it was far from a major factor and it does not detract from the voluminous influence of the Bible on the Founders.

      “Hoodwinked?” I don’t think so.

    • says

      dr. James Willingham & Frank L – No one that I am aware of ” speaks ” for the masonic fraternity which includes me. But, I am a mason and its been a part of both sides of my for a really long time . I will tell you what I believe to be the truth The masonic fraternity maintains the requirement of a belief in God . It uses the Holy Bible as the only book in the meeting and that is placed in a place of Respect . If a person who belongs to another Religion joins he is allowed to use his book for himself but does not remove the Holy Bible for the rest of us. The masonic rituals were the subject of many books that “exposed” these secrets . These rituals were “stolen” and used twice in two other organizations. The first was in Germany and its name slips my memory – but many of us have heard it mentioned. If I remember I’ll come back. The other use was more fruitful in that Joseph Smith’s brother was a mason and helped Smith concoct the goofy words and rituals that the Mormon church uses. The Masonic fraternity cannot do anything about these situations except ignore them. That said , ALL masonic Lodges by virtue of being located in far removed cities are not the same. Some composed of people that live in racially motivated cities assume that character – and that’s not nice. Most however , including mine in Washington, D.C. assume the character of their noble God fearing towns and find a good reason to meet & eat sitting down with everyone including guests – all without swords ( I have a secret knife in my boot ) – for a few laughs and sometimes an enjoyable speaker who is well educated and knowledgeable in his field who can give us all the benefit of his perspectives. I’ve seen both types and those that believe in white supremacist tendencies are out spoken individually to me and I remain outspoken in my views to them. Some refer to the Song of Solomon as the Bibles ban on intermarriage . Most people and I agree that is not the case – but I have never heard anyone – that’s anyone in any leadership position state this fact about the Book of Solomon – EVER . There was a radio announcer that belonged to these miscarried folks who made statements over the air which I guess he thought solidified his job. He’s gone and when he shows up at a Country Music festival no one wants his help . Times have changed and as you might expect – Truth has flourished . You can only get so far with “bologna” . Sit back and enjoy the ride – and keep your feet off the seats – we plan to fill them several times over . The head of the Theology Department of Catholic University In Washington , D.C was the Guest Of Honor in my Lodge and we did the best we knew how to give him all the respect we could muster , including dressing in tuxedos . He was smart and eloquent and his desires were a credit not only to Catholicism but to humanity’s desire to prosper in every way. We are people folks. Fighting isn’t Fun !

      • says

        The name conspiritists always refer to and I could not remember above is : ” Illuminati ” and sometimes in the same breath ” The New World Order ” is mentioned . A radio preacher who was listened to by Randy Weaver of the Ruby Ridge affair also sent them ” study books ” about the Illuminati . I tuned him in and heard him and called him , and he answered and I asked where he got his facts about the Illuminati . He said that his material wasn’t factual but fiction . That , in his words , Christians were entitled to read fiction like everyone else. That’s his goofy answer that he mixed in with , ” and every knee shall bow “. A tragic story.

      • Frank says

        Jack, I respect your right to be a Mason but if you are speaking as one who has a “good knowledge” of masonry, then you are being deceptive.

        If you are speaking as one who has not studied the pagan roots and practices of masonry, then I would simply suggest you analyze the symbols and sounds of the masonic rites.

        It simply is NOT true that Masons only (or even) honor the Bible or that they only have fraternity with Christian believers. The Bible does not advocate eccectic worship or fraternity with persons who do not believe in the God of the Bible.

        • Frank says

          that is, “eclectic” not eccetic. I can’t believe I even possessed the ability to spell that badly. It must be an art form.

        • says

          Frank – YOU CAN’T READ ! Seventh (7th) line down I say if a person of another religion ” joins” ! How can I be deceptive when I said I was a mason ? If I remember correctly you are the guy that moaned about my only using my first name ” Jack” in my posts some time ago . What’s your last name if Frank is your first. No I’m not an expert but I know more about it than you do . Instead of playing “lawyer” and trying to corral me into a lie – why don’t you try listening some time . You may hear something new.

          • Frank says

            Jack, I don’t know what you are talking about. I couldn’t care less whether you use your first name, last name, nickname, or the name of your cat.

            I also didn’t say you were deceptive, necessarily. I allowed for the other possibility of you being ignorant of what masons teach.

            So, I’ll concede that you are not being deceptive, but that in fact, you are being deceived. I also doubt very seriously if you know more about masonry than I do.

            From what you post, you know very little–if, as I said, you are being truthful with all you know. It can’t be both ways. You are either deceptive or deceived because you are certainly incorrect.

            The Lodge presents an absolutely false plan of salvation. Simply read Albert Pike’s “Morals and Dogmas,” page 23, for a simple example.

            By the way, just for the record, I’m not looking for a new faith. The Old Time Gospel has worked well for years.

          • says

            Frank – who was Albert Pike and what part of masonry uses his material ? Your using a bunch of pamphlets put together by someone with an agenda. Masonry offers no way to salvation . It can’t . People of different religions belong – remember – I told you that. Masonry is not a religion . Don’t read the rest of that paper. Nobody needs your support . Why don’t you just consider it a ” mission field ” and without being a jerk , see if you can save some .

  15. says

    Frank, I never have use for bogeymen. When I write about something, I try to stick to reality whether it is palpable or not. Believe me, I know a whole lot more than I write. I have found it pays to do research outside the box. Not that I would waste my time on chasing the issue, but I do like to know where I am at when dealing with realities. My great concern is prayer for the Third Great Awakening which will win the whole earth.

  16. says

    Mr. Wolford: I have read and studied some on masonry (I guess much would be a better description across so many years) and there are good masons just like there are bad ones. Same goes for Baptists. Some of what I know was told to me by masons themselves. Like I say, I am on no crusade against masonry, but intellectual analysis plus writings for and against does suggest there are lodges which are inimical to other lodges. One thing I have found is that some of the lodge follow a very strange form of ethics, and I hesitate to repreat some of what I know. As one who has taught history, philosophy, and political science on the college level, as one trained to do critical research, as one who has done research for years in various fields, I have developed a fairly good dtector for “phoney baloney.”

    • says

      dr. james willingham – Not to belabor this but it needs to be said that you having studied and talked with people , and I having participated and talked with people probably know more about certain things such as the LDS affair or european history than most other masons are aware . They do try to remember the widows & orphans . Beyond that there are enough people involved for anyone to pick and choose with whom they will associate . I have no reason to deceive anyone . I would rather just refuse the conversation with someone that wants to ” duel” and avoid a fight – as most already have their minds made up.

  17. says

    Mr. Wolford: I did 6 years of research in church history and have some knowledge of the LDS affair, namely, that a lot of the enmity they earned by talking weak women into their camp and inducing them to become a part of plural marriages..which did not set too well with frontier folks. I mean if it was well enough known for Zane Grey to write about the problem in several of his western novels many years ago,…. As to masonry, they are a handy tool for some one who knows how to make use of it. And Pike’s remarks are very enlightening on the issue…to one who studies how political sentiment is formed and promoted.

  18. says

    O yes, and Jack, from a fellow mason I learned that the illuminati were present back in the 12th century. You might read the various novels of Louis L’Amour for the references, expecially those focused in that period. Mr. L’Amour had a very good habit of doing careful research in writing his noverls. While I don’t know the reference he had in mind, I do trust his penchant for stating facts.

    • says

      dr. james willingham – Their gone . And there is no connection with present day masonry and the 12th century. Of course you know that a ” novel ” is fiction . How do you separate facts from that ?

  19. says

    My, Jack, you do seem a little disturbed. I could mention about the illuminati of the 1776 and the est. of a lodge in Charleston, and the moving of that lodge to D.C. in (was it 1835, I forget the exact date and year) the exact time as another lodge is describe as moving to D.C., one with a more familiar name. And shall I mention Genl.and President Washington’s references to the issue, especially with reference to Robinson’s work on the subject (a morals professor at the Univ. of Edinburgh or was it Glasgow). Seems Frank and I struck a nerve, but I do not wish to get involved in the matter, so I will drop out for now. As to facts and fiction, I think I know how to distinguish between the two. Do you?

    • says

      dr. james – Having learned how to do all that research I was reticent in pointing that “novel” thing out to your “team “. The truth will set you free .

  20. says

    Jack: Where in the world did you get the idea that I followed a “Novel” ? I simply referred to a historical fact in a novel by Mr. L’Amour which fact he was happy to say was one he had searched out…and I should add a fact that I had some independent confirmation of on my own, being a historian as well as a counselor and a minister with graduate degrees in all three fields. Good novelists as is well known are people who do research in order to give a reality to their fictional work. You must be dreaming to imagine that I would base my knowledge on fictional accounts. As to the truth, the only truth that concerns me is that of Christ and Him crucified as set forth in the Words of Holy Scripture, and effectual, efficacious, and effective atonement for the sins of God’s people. That is the truth that sets sinners free. I hope you know it.

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