Thoughts About Article III

by Bart Barber on February 24, 2014 · 190 comments

As Baptist Press has reported, and as William Thornton has already discussed, Dr. John Mark Yeats’s motion about revising Article III in the SBC Constitution has passed the Executive Committee and is likely coming in some form or another to this year’s SBC Annual Meeting. Thornton’s previous post and the ensuing comment thread examined several aspects of this proposal, but one question in Thornton’s initial article is perhaps the most poignant: “Does the Executive Committee think that there is some compelling reason to make a change other than that the dollar figure hasn’t been changed since 1888. If so, what is that reason?”

John Godfrey Saxe (and not Otto von Bismark) famously said, “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” This is perhaps equally true of Southern Baptist parliamentary work, and in this particular case, God gave me the opportunity to observe this sausage’s progress from feedlot to frying pan. A few months before last year’s Annual Meeting I spoke with John Mark Yeats about the motion he was planning to make. I was present in Houston when he made it and when it was referred to the Executive Committee. I attended both Executive Committee meetings in which it received deliberation, including the workgroup and subcommittee meetings at which our EC members hammered out the details. I spoke with people on all sides—and there were many sides—of the deliberations as they proceeded. I myself took an interest in the measure and was among those advocating for one direction or another regarding its eventual disposition.

One reason why I lay out my credentials on this matter is that the text of the proposal does not appear in the BP article, so for the moment you’re going to have to take my word regarding portions of how it reads. There’s a lot more to it than the article gives you. In writing this article I divulge no confidences. Every bit of this was discussed in open meetings which you, too, could have attended this week in Nashville just as I did.

Oh…one last thing: I left the Executive Committee meeting early to visit my mother. Hey—I was attending on my own dime and my own time, and she cooked smothered pork chops for me. She won; the SBC lost. Get over it. So, since I didn’t attend the last plenary session, it is possible that the proposal was altered significantly before final passage at the EC meeting. If I’ve misrepresented the proposal below, then I do most sincerely apologize.

This particular piece of legislation, much like sausage, is a ground up mishmash of various constituent parts. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is bad (I, and a lot of people, LIKE sausage); it just means that searches like William’s for a coherent unifying theme or singular purpose behind the measure are likely to end in failure. Even if a proposal does not have one good reason for its passage in its entirety, that does not mean that it does not have six good reasons for the passage of its respective parts. And, furthermore, even if four reasons are good and two are less commendable, it may still be worthwhile to hold your nose and pass the two you don’t like in order to get the four good ones.

I rarely face such decisions in my blogging or other writing, but I find them all too common in my local pastoral work and my denominational involvement.

And so, permit me to give my thoughts about this proposal piece-by-piece rather than as a whole.

The Part About the Baptist Faith & Message

This is the best thing about this entire proposal: It defines friendly cooperation with the convention to exclude from friendly cooperation those churches who deliberately and publicly demonstrate their opposition to the convention’s statement of faith, The Baptist Faith & Message (which, as our friend Nathan Finn so eloquently reminds us, is and only is the document in its latest revision). I do not recall the precise wording of this portion of the proposal, but the effect is what I have written in the preceding sentence.

This is needed. No, this is DESPERATELY needed. It is needed because churches guilty of rebelling against what God teaches about race ought to be as vulnerable to expulsion from the convention as are churches guilty of rebelling against what God teaches about sexuality. And yet we ought not incessantly to be adding issues one-by-one to the present Article III to make sure that we catch everything. First homosexuality. Then racism. Then pro-abortion. Then churches that hire pedophiles. Then…then who knows what? The best thing to do is to identify the SBC clearly as a confessional fellowship of churches and thereby to simplify the article and clarify the whole situation.

I realize that this part of the measure will likely make some people at least a little bit uncomfortable. I have three such categories of people in mind. The first category consists of those churches who are trying to walk the fence between the SBC and the CBF. In my opinion, the purpose of this proposal is to make it impossible to do that, and (again, in my opinion) that’s one good reason to vote in favor of the proposal.

I say this not because I have any sort of a vendetta against CBF churches, but because (as I hope we can all agree) the CBF and the SBC represent two different and entirely incompatible visions for the future of churches. It is healthy neither for the SBC nor for any church to hesitate between two opinions on the issues that divide the SBC and the CBF.

The second category consists of those churches who practice open communion (or worse) in the SBC. It would be the effect of this measure, they will remind us, to make the practice of open communion a dismissible offense in the Southern Baptist Convention. To that group I would have to concede that their reading of the proposal would be correct, but I would remind you that the wording of Article III would not dismiss a church for practicing open communion; it would only make the practice of open communion one of the grounds by which a church could possibly be dismissed. The convention assembled would still have to vote to boot you. I (who think that open communion is a sign of our present weakness) think it far more likely that the SBC would vote to amend the BF&M on this point than that the convention would actually vote to exclude any church for the practice of open communion. And indeed, should we come to use this document in a way in which we have never used this particular document before, we may find that a very few revisions are expedient. I urge you to look at this matter realistically and to consider not so much the enforcement of the BF&M in its present form as the general idea of having a confessional fellowship in lieu of trying to tack on a running laundry list of dismissible offenses to Article III.

The third category consists of those churches who are simply opposed to this use of a statement of faith by the convention. Although this category will significantly overlap with the first category, it will not perfectly overlap with it. Some among them will claim that this is a new creedalism that runs contrary to Baptist principles. I would ask them to look, among other places, to the beginnings of Baptist associationalism in the USA. The Philadelphia Baptist Association required member churches to promise upon pain of dismissal not even to hire pastors who did not agree with the Philadelphia Baptist Confession. Baptist churches are free and autonomous. One element of this autonomy is the right of churches to choose freely with which other churches they will affiliate. To state that a church or a group of churches has not the right to consider doctrine when choosing inter-congregational affiliations is to undermine church autonomy, not to protect it. Southern Baptist churches have the right to say that their cooperative affiliation with one another will be based upon some lowest common denominator of doctrinal agreement.

There is, of course, a fourth category, which is more populous than you might think: The category of churches who thought it was already the case that churches who were at odds with the convention’s statement of faith could not be members of the convention.

So, who is behind this part of the proposal and what problem does it solve? Supporters of the Conservative Resurgence are behind it, and it solves the problem of churches who have long ago left the SBC for the CBF but who, through neglect on their part or oversight on our part, remain listed as Southern Baptist churches. It gives a basis for the Southern Baptist Convention to act upon what has been utterly clear for a long time within the SBC: The questions of biblical inerrancy, gender complementarianism, conjugal marriage, racial equality, et al are all stare decisis within the Southern Baptist Convention, and our path forward as a convention is as a fellowship of churches who are unified on those questions. Let’s not be coy: Among others, I am someone who supports this part of the proposal.

The Part about Affiliation as a Result of Church Action

Part of the proposal requires that requests for affiliation be the result of an official action on the part of the church to affiliate with the SBC. This is a good change. Occasionally some non-SBC church having a staff member or two who attends an SBC seminary will ask whether a $10 contribution will affiliate them with the SBC so that the staff member can receive a 50% tuition discount. Sometimes these phone calls come from the church staff without having been before the church at all—they have no intention of affiliating; they just want to join a seminary discount club. This measure would require that affiliating churches be actual affiliating churches. That’s a good thing, and it costs us nothing. I did not come up with this idea, but I support it.

If an entire church wants to affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention just to receive discounted tuition from an SBC seminary, and if they are in agreement with our confession of faith, then I say we roll out the red carpet and welcome them in. I think that the church who becomes Southern Baptist may well discover the joy and blessedness of being among our number and may decide to stay once the seminary student graduates. But that’s never going to happen in a stealth affiliation in which the church never even knows that they affiliated with us.

The Part about Messenger Allocation

Let me just say this up-front: I don’t think that this new formula is going to affect even our smallest churches adversely. Frankly, in my experience, smaller churches are more likely to give 10% through the Cooperative Program than are large churches. One Executive Committee member from a rural association went through his association’s roster of churches one-by-one and was unable to find a single church that would have a reduced messenger count because of this formula revision.

By the way, in case you didn’t read the original article, here’s a summation of the new formula: Churches get 2 messengers for giving anything at all, then they get as many as ten additional messengers allotted either one for each percentage of their undesignated receipts that they give to convention causes or one for each $6,000 that they give to convention causes. The two methods cannot be mixed or combined, and whichever approach gives the church the most messengers is the one that the convention will use.

For example, my grandfather-in-law attends the Cedar Bluff Baptist Church of Falcon, MO. This church’s average Sunday worship attendance was 24 for the 2013 reporting year. Their annual undesignated receipts are near the hypothetical $50,000 figure that some of us discussed among ourselves at this week’s Executive Committee meeting. At present this church qualifies for messengers as follows:

Qualifying Action Messengers Awarded
Entry-level “bona fide contribution” 1
Gifts to “Convention Causes” (CP, LMCO, AAEO) of $8,883 9
Total 10

Under the new rules, if adopted, the convention would award messengers to this church as follows:

Qualifying Action Messengers Awarded
Entry-level “bona fide contribution” 2
Gifts to “Convention Causes” (CP, LMCO, AAEO) of $8,883 (20% of undesignated receipts) 10
Total 12

So, when you consider that all of a church’s Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong gifts, as well as any other gifts made to convention causes, get added onto Cooperative Program giving, and then ALL of that giving (including that which came out of designated funds) gets expressed as a percentage of undesignated giving alone, you start to see that most of the Southern Baptist Churches who are participating very much at all as good-faith partners in convention work are going to earn more messenger slots than they are presently using.

I do not think that this measure will be harmful to smaller churches in the SBC.

However, I must tell you that I don’t much like this part of the proposal. I’d rather that we simply award a flat number of messengers to each church. After all, that’s going to be the effect no matter what we do. Prestonwood is going to get 12 messengers. FBC Farmersville (where I serve) is going to get 12 messengers. Cedar Bluff Baptist Church is going to get 12 messengers. Any church that gives a rip about having messengers is going to get 12 messengers. Why not just give every church 12 messengers? Really, how many churches are there going to be who agree with our statement of faith (see the first part of the post) but who can’t find CP giving and designated gifts to convention causes that add up to a high enough percentage of their undesignated receipts or a high enough dollar figure for them to send to the Annual Meeting every last blessed messenger that they want to send?

But I lost that argument. Nevertheless, even having lost it, I still think that the good outweighs the bad in the overall proposal.

Who wants this part of the proposal? What problem does it solve? There are those who want to send a message of encouragement to those churches who sacrificially support convention causes and a message of friendly and fraternal challenge to those churches who do not. The CP Boosters wanted this one. Wait…no…actually I AM a CP Booster, but I didn’t want it. Let’s just say that some CP Boosters with particular theories about how to be a good CP Booster wanted this one.

I couldn’t find anybody who seriously thought that this action would raise the level of CP giving. I couldn’t find anybody who seriously thought that this action would reduce the number of churches who give pittances just to retain SBC affiliation and secure a discount. As far as I can tell, the only reason for having a formula like this is that people wanted the wording of Article III to reflect an opinion about how much the convention appreciates the financial contributions of churches. Let me put it plainly: I think that some people are terrified to send, even inadvertently, any sort of implied message that a church’s giving level does not matter. It seems unjust to them. It seems risky to them. The risk in view, I suspect, is more that the convention might offend those churches who do give 10% through the Cooperative Program by slighting them than that freeloading churches would choose to give even less than they do now because of changes to this article.

For my part, I don’t think there are a handful of churches in the whole convention who choose their strategies for financial support of SBC ministries based upon the wording of Article III, nor that many who look there to discover the convention’s institutional attitude toward donor churches.

By the way, the $6000 figure came from a simply rough adjustment of the old $250 figure for inflation since the 1880s.

The “Katrina Clause”

The proposal includes a final provision that would allow churches undergoing any sort of catastrophic event to notify the convention of such and to freeze their messenger allotments at a fixed level for up to three years. To tell you the truth, I really don’t know who wanted this or why. I did hear somebody say that this would send a compassionate message to suffering churches from the convention.

I’m not quite sure that’s why we have Article III, but OK.

Since a church can’t get any more messengers through the Katrina clause than they had earned the year before calamity befell them, I think the opportunities here for mischief are probably few and minimal. This provision does not bother me much.

Conclusion

So there you go. Who wants this? Lots of different people want different little parts of it. Most people involved in the process got something that they wanted. Most people involved in the process gave up something they wanted. What problem does it solve? Some here, some there. Maybe it creates some problems, too, along the way. Are the problems created smaller than the problems solved? Is it a net gain or a net loss? We will have to decide. Southern Baptists will have an opportunity to consider it all, weigh it in the balance, send feedback, and affect the eventual shape of this proposal to suit their collective liking. That’s the way our process works. Nothing will happen without your consent (or neglect). In the end, Article III will read not as John Mark Yeats or Bart Barber or the Executive Committee wants it to read; it will read as the messengers of the convention vote for it to read.

After all, this system really does work better than any alternative that I can imagine. Sometimes it is complicated and unwieldy, but that’s only because sometimes WE are complicated and unwieldy. I know of no means of simplification that doesn’t consolidate power in the convention far away from you and into the hands of others. In which case the wording of Article III would not matter nearly so much as it really does now.

1 Adam Blosser February 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm

I am glad to see that there is more to this thing than I previously realized. I know you may be tired of the virtual attaboys, but I really couldn’t find anything with what you said that I disagree with.

I am more confident now that this is a good thing than I was with the information I had previously. The messenger allocation parts seem useless to me, but the rest of it looks good.

2 David R. Brumbelow February 24, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Concerns:
Often churches and individual Baptists, rather than publicly oppose an issue, just quietly walk away. Or become a little less cooperative. Or reduce their giving. Or at least choose not to increase their giving. Will anything in this new proposal cause any of these responses?

Frankly, there are non-negotiable items, and negotiable items in the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. Most would put open communion on a different level than biblical inerrancy (totally true and trustworthy) or believers baptism by immersion.

I think some would be more comfortable with raising the $250 to something like $1000, rather than $6000. Some small churches keep their pastor on starvation wages while giving 20% to the CP. I support the CP; but I also support churches doing all they can to give their pastor a livable wage, yea, even putting something into GuideStone for his retirement. There is a large difference in small struggling churches and their staff, and even mid-sized churches.

Last, it would be good to seen the entire proposal in print.
David R. Brumbelow

3 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 7:03 pm

David,

You will see the entire proposal in print. From what I can tell, the determined intention of our president and our Executive Committee is that SBC Life and other EC organs will publish full information and dialogue about this proposal for the entire convention’s consumption and comment.

4 Dave Miller February 24, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I’ve been reading through this, and will need to come back to it later to finish this rather substantial meal!

However, some things I’ve noticed in my readings so far:

1) We need to distinguish what it means to be a Southern Baptist. We can accept someone as a Christian and even as a good Baptist, but there are parameters for our cooperation as Southern Baptists that need to be defined. There was a reason we chose to go a different direction than the CBF.

2) As to the open communion thing – that is a non-issue. If stats are correct, then it would be institutional self-immolation for the SBC to start removing churches that practice open communion. Since that is a majority of churches, it is not likely to happen.

However, I am concerned that an over-zealous board of trustees of one of our institutions could go nuclear on the issue and we’d end up with silly policies such as the IMB adopted years ago which would exclude otherwise worthy Baptists from service if their churches do not practice closed or close communion.

The fact it happened once, where a narrow view of Baptism was used as a bludgeon against other Baptists (who were in NO sense in violation of the BF&M) means that this is something we ought to be concerned about.

I would be in favor of an official interpretation of the BF&M being passed that would say something to the order of “While the SBC’s long held belief is in closed communion, the practice of opening the Lord’s table to non-Baptist believers will not be considered a violation of this confession.” That is off the top of my head. But something that makes it clear that closed communion is never going to be used as a bludgeon the way PPL and the narrow view of baptism were nearly a decade ago.

3) Your statement about autonomy is golden! The idea of autonomy has been twisted to say that we cannot hold one another accountable and we cannot limit fellowship. The opposite is true. Autonomy demands that a church not only be free in its governance, but also in its association.

We as a denomination have no right to impose our will on a particular church, but we do have the right to say that a church that does this or that is not part of our fellowship of churches.

I wish all Baptists understood this.

5 Jerry Corbaley February 24, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Dear Brother David Miller,

Thank you for your service as moderator of SBCVoices, and your service as past vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and most importantly, as a voice of reason and encouragement and Christian love toward those who blog in the name of Christ. To my limited knowledge, no one has done more on the blogs to bring inflated rhetoric back to speaking the truth in love. I think you are quite influential among the SBC bloggers and rightfully so.

But this is not one of your better moments, brother. From your comment above: “over zealous, go nuclear, silly policies, exclude worthy Baptists, it happened once, used as a bludgeon, going to be used as a bludgeon-(like) nearly a decade ago”.

For all of your readers: If this is a subject worthy of a fight, after nearly a decade, then I ask that you do two things. First, review the public minutes of the IMB plenary sessions and see if anyone ever bothered to offer an alternative guideline for baptism or “ppl”, instead of just complaining about what others were doing. And second, consider crafting a motion for one’s trustee-board-of-choice that addresses the issue in a better way than what was adopted. The trustee boards are quite large, and you only need one trustee to voice your motion and one trustee to second the motion and the issue can receive a public hearing (while one can elect to skip this point and take the motion personally to the SBC annual meeting, the motion is guaranteed to be referred back to the board of trustees who are responsible for addressing the issue in the motion). To sum up, fashion something better and present it.

Or, folks can just keep grumbling and complaining. A topical Bible study on grumbling and complaining would be worthwhile. I don’t mean to be rude or hurtful, but grumbling and complaining is wicked and an absolute sign that one is not walking in fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

Also, Dave, you end your comment with, “We as a denomination have no right to impose our will on a particular church, but we do have the right to say that a church that does this or that is not part of our fellowship of churches.” I agree completely. SBC autonomy is very unusual, and has many strengths, but is poorly understood. What is even more poorly understood is that the seminaries and mission boards are also autonomous and the SBC cannot tell them what to do. The SBC can elect trustees, remove trustees (generally one at a time) and cut funding. That is pretty much it.

The only reason I address this publicly instead of by your email is that you are a known voice of reason and wisdom to a lot of younger Southern Baptists and what you have said might be taken (in good faith) much more literally than you intend it.

6 Alan Cross February 25, 2014 at 3:05 am

Dave,

I remember very well what happened during the IMB/PPL/Baptism fiasco. I would consider it to be a disaster if a similar approach would be used on the Communion issue – and, I would not be surprised if some enterprising faction felt the wind in their sails and decided to do just that at some future point.

That would be very concerning and would rip the SBC to shreds, in my opinion.

7 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 7:47 am

I put the chances of that happening (somebody seriously trying in a way that has some chance of succeeding to exclude churches with weaker communion views) near 0%.

8 Alan Cross February 25, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Perhaps, Bart, and I trust you on that – you are probably right. But, as we saw in the past with the IMB trustees, trustee boards can do what they want and if they think that they have a mandate can make their own decisions about who they appoint and who they affirm.

The other issue is just the general sense that an SBC church that is otherwise in good standing is essentially now under discipline and the only thing that keeps that church from being ousted is the negligence of the convention itself when in assembly.

That might not be the intent of this – I am sure it probably isn’t – but, I also think that it is a door that does not need to be opened lest someone unintended barge through.

9 Dave Miller February 25, 2014 at 11:50 am

Jerry, I read through my article before I posted it and considered toning down some of the language. I decided against it. I like you and consider you a friend, but I consider those IMB policies to be a blight on SBC fellowship and a mistake I hope we will someday correct.

As to offering alternatives – no one was ever asked to do so. These policies were not announced until the brouhaha developed, were they?

We tried to oppose the policies through the Garner motion and realized that the entities could simply ignore the messengers (I didn’t realize that then, I do now).

So, I am hoping that as time goes on the SBC will garner some wisdom that will help it see that those policies were bad. I keep hoping that we will hear that the IMB BoT has undone the policies. That day, I’m buying everyone a round of Colas, of their choice.

10 Jerry Corbaley February 25, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Hi David, thank you for responding. I also like you and consider you a friend. I look forward to the day when we can spend some time together in person. Even more, I look forward to the day when our Lord will set everyone straight with His Word; and face to face insist that we desist with sin. I am willing to be straightened out first, and desire this far more than my next breath.

I do not deny any Southern Baptist the right to disagree with what any of our entities do or say. I do not deny any Southern Baptist the right to use unloving and inflammatory rhetoric, nor do I deny them the right to divide into factions and complain and grumble according to their heart, for it is out of the heart that the mouth speaks and the fingers type. Who am I to deny anyone? I am not anyone’s Abba. But there is One who is.

We all face the opportunity to tone down the inadequate expression of the passion of those with whom we disagree. It is another thing to tone down our own passion when we disagree. Dear brother, there are those with “excessive passion” who you have moderated who will notice if you adopt a different policy toward yourself. You have clearly seen words slung as fists and you have taken a righteous stand against it.

Perhaps there are many who share your thoughts that no one asked them to offer an alternative. If one wants to work within Southern Baptist polity, then one can try whether they are asked or not. Leaders will lead. While I doubt it will be accepted, I ask those who disagree with some of the decisions of some of our entities, “Will you please work within the system and offer what you consider to be a better idea?”

But I think you already know these things, brother. I wish you well. I still think your influence on SBCVoices is much needed. I know very well what would happen if someone who does not share your wisdom were to replace you. I’ll drop it now. You have the last word.

11 David Rogers February 25, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Jerry,

I notice that in two different comments now you have brought up the suggestion of offering a suitable alternative to the aforementioned policies/guidelines at the IMB—if I am understanding you correctly here. Correct me if I am not.

The alternative many of us have asked for from the beginning is to simply rescind the policies/guidelines and go back to the way it was before they were passed.

12 Jerry Corbaley February 25, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Hi David Rogers,

My suggestion is to work within the system to offer a suitable alternative to the Executive Committee. There are many astute people here, and some of them should be able to figure out how to be cooperative and express an alternative opinion without jumping to disrespectful conclusions.

13 David Rogers February 25, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Thanks, Jerry. It looks like I was misreading you.

14 Dave Miller February 25, 2014 at 6:01 pm

By the way, Jerry, I would take issue with your “disrespectful” accusation here.

I have not disrespected the individuals involved. I’m sure they had reasons why they felt those policies needed to be changed. But I oppose now (as I did then and will continue to do) the policies themselves. They were wrong.

Can I not say that the IMB BoT grievously erred in adopting those awful polices without questioning the integrity or intent of those who formed them?

15 Nate February 24, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Bart/Dave,

Could each of you define what you mean by Open Communion? I think that there might be some confusion on this because I don’t believe that the majority of churches practice what I consider “open communion,” although Dave, you seem to think most do.

I would define “open communion” as opening the Lord’s table to anyone who is not a member of my church, who also professes to be saved and has been baptized by immersion.

16 Nate February 24, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Sorry, I should have said that I don’t believe the majority practice Open Communion without the stipulations I defined. In other words, I don’t think most churches just say, come one, come all.

17 Dave Miller February 24, 2014 at 3:52 pm

That is essentially my definition. And a survey a year or two ago by LifeWay demonstrated that most Baptist churches (around 55%) practice open communion. Such churches do not demand that one who observes communion be a member of the church (closed communion) or even a fellow-Baptist.

18 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Open communion would have no qualms about having a person participate in the Lord’s Supper who refuses to be baptized.

19 David Rogers February 24, 2014 at 7:26 pm

And by that definition, I do not hold to open communion. But neither do I hold to close or closed communion.

20 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Then neither would you have a problem with the BF&M, right? Because all the BF&M says is that baptism is prerequisite to participation in the Lord’s Supper.

21 David Rogers February 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Um, no. I think our quibble here likely has to do with your use of the word “refuse.” As I understand it, there are two categories of people in play here (and possibly more, but at least these two): 1) those who understand what the Bible teaches about baptism (as we as Baptists interpret it), and yet, in spite of that, refuse to be baptized, either because of stubborn disobedience or willful neglect; and 2) conscientious paedobaptists, who sincerely, following the dictates of their conscience, believe they are being obedient to scriptural teaching concerning baptism, because they believe their sprinkling or effusion or even immersion received before their profession of faith was valid biblical baptism; and even, in the case of some, believe it would be a violation of their conscience to be “re-baptized.” I believe those in category 1 should be admonished not to partake of the Lord’s Supper, while those in category 2 should be admonished to prayerfully and carefully consider the reasons behind the Baptist understanding of NT baptism, but if still unconvinced, should be invited to partake of the Lord’s Supper in accordance with the dictates of their conscience. Those in category 2, as I understand it, are not “refusing” to be baptized.

22 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Even the second category has the opportunity to be baptized, which they then refuse. Your two categories are simply two different reasons for refusal. The one refuses because his mind has been convinced but his will has not. The other refuses because neither his mind nor his will has been won over.

But if I’ve offered him the opportunity to be baptized, he has either accepted or refused that offer. His opinion of what is or is not baptism does not change the fact that he either accepted or refused the offer.

23 David Rogers February 24, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Okay, a question of semantics, as I see it. But I think it should be evident, from what I write here, why I take umbrage at the use of the term “refuse.”

24 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Well, I can see perfectly well why THEY would take umbrage at that use of the word. I can also see why you might take umbrage at an attitude that you might infer to lie behind my use of that term (moral or spiritual superiority, loathing for brothers in Christ, etc.). But what if I’m just trying to describe the situation with (perhaps an uncomfortable) accuracy upon which you and I are in agreement?

25 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 10:24 pm

And as I mull it over, I think perhaps it might help to clarify my thinking here as much as I can.

When I say that these are people who refuse baptism, I’m not basing my response at all upon anything that I infer about their attitude. Their attitude is immaterial, and I’m willing to presume that every one of them—100%—are utterly sincere about their being unbaptized.

But, David, you and I both know that there are also people all around the world who are utterly sincere about their being lost. Even a person with a good disposition might not be in a good position.

I’m not saying that the unbaptized are lost. I’m just saying that I don’t see why intentions would determine reality in one case and not in the other.

26 Nate February 24, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Bart, sorry to keep on asking for definitions, but I’m going to assume when you say baptism, you mean immersion. I do know that many churches don’t define baptism (as immersion) when they speak about who can participate and therefore skirt this issue. The BF&M would obviously define baptism as immersion. So, allowing Open Communion could still state that one has to be baptized, but not define baptism as immersion.

I think that is disingenuous, but I think it gets done all the time.

27 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Nate,

I, like Jesus and the New Testament, define baptism, at least in part, as immersion. Now, about your hypothetical person who does not want the person who refuses baptism to participate in the Lord’s Supper but is willing to count, for example, coercive baby sprinkling as baptism, I would simply observe…

1. This person is a pedobaptist, not an open communionist.
2. This person either favors open membership or is strikingly and peculiarly inconsistent.
3. This person can affirm what the BF&M says about the Lord’s Supper but cannot affirm what it says about baptism. The bit about the Lord’s Supper really isn’t his problem.

28 Jeff Johnson February 25, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Bart,

Thanks for the explanation of the proposal.

FWIW, having been a lifelong Southern Baptist with exposure to many different SBC churches, I’m quite sure that I’ve never encountered a closed-communion church, and I don’t ever remember hearing a pastor explicitly listing baptism “by immersion” as a qualification for partaking in the Lord’s Supper. Almost always the invitation I hear is for fellow Christians to participate. Maybe my experience is not the norm, however.

The BF&M aside, I wonder why it would be “strikingly and peculiarly inconsistent” to require baptism by immersion for church membership but not for communion. If my Presbyterian friend wants to join my church, I would explain that he would have to be baptized by immersion. If we are going to serve together in the context of the local church, I think it’s important that we share a common understanding of what baptism is as we seek to make disciples together. But if that friend drops by on a Sunday when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, I would invite him to remember Christ’s body and blood given on our behalf. I can understand why someone might disagree with that approach, but I don’t know why it’s logically inconsistent, given that the scope of communion and church membership are different.

29 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Jeff, do you mind whether we do this in a couple of installments?

Hypothetical: Suppose your church has home groups? Suppose you were to learn this week that one of your home groups is sprinkling infants? What would you do? If they persisted, would the church dismiss them from membership? On what grounds? That what they were doing was sinful, or just that you would prefer that they didn’t?

To put it differently, do you have the right to exclude people from Jesus’ church just because they don’t agree with you and they make your life and ministry difficult?

30 Jeff Johnson February 25, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Sure, I’ll play along.

I would talk to the leaders of the home group and explain that our church believes in and practices baptism by immersion for those who have professed faith in Christ. If the home group rejected that instruction and kept sprinkling babies, I would enlist one or two deacons to accompany me in reinforcing the point to the home group leaders. If they still refused to stop the sprinkling, the deacons and I would present the issue to the entire church body to make clear that we do not endorse the practice or permit it to be done under our auspices. At that point, if the sprinklers remained on, we would exercise church discipline. The primary grounds for discipline would be a refusal to submit to church leadership. Although we could not stop those people from sprinkling in their own homes, the church could dismiss them from official membership or suspend their memberships until they stopped sprinkling and repented of their rebellion against church leadership.

I would answer your final question with “no”: I can’t exclude someone from the church simply because he disagrees with me or makes my life difficult. However, if the point of disagreement is something the church leaders and I consider integral to the beliefs and mission of our congregation, then he can be disciplined for insubordination if he persists in teaching and practicing a contrary position within the church. This would be true, for example, if our church holds to a pre-tribulational rapture and a member insists on teaching post-tribulationism to his Sunday School class. I don’t think I would have a basis to dismiss him based on his post-trib beliefs, but he can’t stir up dissension in the church by teaching something else to the congregation.

31 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 11:22 pm

So, if the cause of exclusion is the stirring up of dissension, suppose there’s an SBC church in Mississippi that is teaching against interracial marriage, but there’s a cell group in that church that teaches that interracial marriage is OK. Would it be acceptable for the church to discipline out that cell group for stirring up dissension for their persistence in teaching that interracial marriage is not a sin?

32 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 11:30 pm

To save us all some time, I’ll cut to the chase…

I think you’re going to reply: “No, the cell group wouldn’t be in sin. Because THEY’RE RIGHT and the church is wrong.” That’s true. And the reason why you’re disciplining out the cell group that sprinkles infants is because in that case your church is right and the cell group is wrong. Persisting in teaching something or in performing an ordinance can only amount to stirring up dissension if you’re teaching error or performing an ordinance wrongly. If the cell group is right and if the sprinkling of infants is not contrary to the word of God, then THEY aren’t the ones being divisive; YOU are.

But the cell group is NOT right and the sprinkling of infants IS contrary to the Bible’s teachings, and the activity of this cell group is therefore sinful.

And here’s where the consistency thing comes in: There’s only one sound reason to withhold church membership from a Christian—unrepentant sin. There’s only one sound reason to withhold communion from a Christian—unrepentant sin. If the unbaptized are not in unrepentant sin, then admit them both to church membership and to communion. If they are in unrepentant sin, admit them to neither.

33 David Rogers February 25, 2014 at 11:53 pm

Bart,

1. Would you not agree that an on-going pattern of unrepentant sin is evidence that someone is not truly born again?

2. If your answer to question #1 is yes, where does this leave people like Tim Keller, R.C. Sproul, etc.?

34 Bart Barber February 26, 2014 at 10:13 am

David,

I do not agree to your first premise. Sanctification is progressive over the course of our lives. I’m guessing that there are sins in my life and yours of which we are not even aware that we have been committing unrepentantly from the day we were saved up through now.

35 Bart Barber February 26, 2014 at 10:16 am

And, I’ll turn the question around on you: Is racism and the enslavement of Africans a sin? Where does that leave every single solitary Southern Baptist from 1845 through at least 1899?

36 David Rogers February 26, 2014 at 10:53 am

It seems to me, then, per the last paragraph of your comment (currently #32), that neither you nor I should be admitted to either communion or membership of the local church. Or is there something I am missing here?

37 Bart Barber February 26, 2014 at 11:02 am

David,

If I were enslaving blacks or sprinkling infants or selling cocaine or habitually lying to someone, then my congregation would be right to exclude me from participation in the Lord’s Supper for any of those things about which they are informed. A church cannot exclude a person for secret sin. I cannot exclude myself for sin of which I am not aware.

You and I both agree that KNOWN sin is the only grounds for exclusion. As best as I can tell it, the difference between us is that I think a known sin is a sin that EITHER church OR participant knows about, and, at least with regard to the refusal of baptism, it seems to me that you hold that known sin is a sin that BOTH church AND participant knows about. That is, if my church knows that it is wrong and sinful to sprinkle infants and call it baptism, but the individual participant does not yet know that, then we can’t call that a known sin.

38 Bart Barber February 26, 2014 at 11:10 am

Inaccuracy: I wrote that I perceived you, David, as “both/and” with regard to known sin. As I ponder it, I actually don’t think that’s correct. I think the church doesn’t enter into it at all…it’s all bound up in the self-perception of the participant and the church has no say or interest in it according to my understanding of your view.

But I suspect that this is only true for you with regard to baptism.

39 David Rogers February 26, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Bart,

Excuse me if I am unwarrantedly circumventing the brunt of several of the points you are making here (you can bring me back to them afterward, if you so desire); but…

Do you believe we should treat paedobaptists who confess the essentials of salvation, and maintain an otherwise non-objectionable lifestyle, “as you would treat someone who does not know God or who is a tax collector” (Matt 18.17 ESV)?

40 Jeff Johnson February 26, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Bart,

I don’t know if you’re still following this thread, but this has been my first chance to follow up. I disagree with your statement that the only reason to withhold church membership from a professing Christian is unrepentant sin. Someone could be a Christian yet not be eligible for membership in our local church because they do not agree on a doctrinal point — one that is not integral to saving faith in Christ but is nonetheless important to our working together as a cohesive congregation. However, I would find that person eligible to partake in communion as a means of remembering the body and blood of Christ. I’m not prepared to say that every person with doctrinal disagreements with my church is walking in unrepentant sin. To be sure, some are. But likely all of us are wrong on some point of doctrine or Biblical interpretation. We may disagree on what issues are important enough to merit exclusion from communion, but I would open the table to all Christians, with a reminder to each to take heed to Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians. Otherwise, why draw the line at baptism? What if a woman pastor, a Baptist, wants to take communion? Or a member of a church with a female pastor? Or a charismatic (assuming your church is cessationist)?

41 David R. Brumbelow February 24, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Nate,
Some will define Open Communion differently.
I would say:

Closed Communion – only members of your local church can partake of the Lord‘s Supper.
Close Communion – only members of your denomination can partake. Or, only Baptist-like individuals can partake.
Open Communion – if you know Christ as your Savior, you are welcome to partake of the Lord’s Supper.

David R. Brumbelow

42 Nate February 24, 2014 at 4:09 pm

David, I think your definition of “open” is more with what I was wondering if Dave and/or Bart were defining it as. For me, just professing you know Christ as your Savior is very problematic. I really could have added (and actually in hindsight I do mention) that one needs to be a member in good standing with a church.

I realize any form of “open” communion has its problems, but I guess I didn’t think 50+% of SBC churches only would say, “If you know Christ as Savior.”

43 Dave Miller February 24, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I think many of us, even those of us who practice a more open communion, were surprised at the results of the survey.

44 David Rogers February 24, 2014 at 5:23 pm

David Brumbelow,

I think this is a false and unhelpful tri-chotomy, because it doesn’t take into account the modified open communion position (or perhaps even the various modified open communion positions).

http://sbcimpact.org/2010/04/19/discerning-the-body-a-biblical-defense-of-modified-open-communion/

45 David R. Brumbelow February 24, 2014 at 5:55 pm

David Rogers,

Well, I do not believe what I said was false and unhelpful. Having a different view does not necessarily make the view false.

You can divide these three views up all you want.
You can view it differently.
If someone wants to define them differently, they are welcome to do so.
I even alluded to that in my “false and unhelpful” statement above.
But in my humble opinion, my definitions briefly explain the three views.

I stand by my comments.

By the way, many would assume in each of the views, that the participant be a person who is right with the Lord, rather than someone who may trivialize the observance of the Lord’s Supper.
David R. Brumbelow

46 David Rogers February 24, 2014 at 6:05 pm

I did not mean to say you were lying or speaking falsehood, just that the way of dividing it up into 3 rather than 4 or more positions obfuscates the real issues at stake rather than clarifies them, at least from my point of view. For instance, I, for one (and I believe many more), do not ascribe to any of the three options as you give them.

See here: http://mind.ucsd.edu/syllabi/98-99/logic/falsedichotomy.html

47 David R. Brumbelow February 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm

David Rogers,
Well, I further do not believe my statement “obfuscates” the real issues.
I have heard my definitions used for decades.

But you are welcome to your views as well.
And I will probably not denigrate them.
David R. Brumbelow

48 David Rogers February 24, 2014 at 6:18 pm

David,

I recognize that the description you have used has been used for decades (even longer, I imagine), and it was not my intention to in any way denigrate. I am just wanting to point out that, for people holding to my position, it is an unhelpful categorization, because it does not take into consideration the particular option to which we hold. That’s all.

49 Dave Miller February 25, 2014 at 2:00 pm

David B, you unnecessarily took umbrage at comments here. David said your three-part division was “false and unhelpful.” that is a common term in such discussions.

Why on earth would you take as a personal insult. You seem to be looking for an offense. He spoke of your views and you acted like he insulted you. That is unhelpful.

50 David Rogers February 25, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I wish I could go back and re-word the way I said it. I really didn’t even say that what he said was “false and unhelpful.” At least, that was not what I meant to say. I merely said that the division he was using was a “false tri-chotomy,” playing off of a common term in logic, “a false dichotomy.” I had no intention of implying David himself or his comment was false, or that he himself was unhelpful. I was merely saying that the division of only three categories, when referring to different views of who may partake in the Lord’s Supper, was “a false dichotomy” (or, in this case, “a false tri-chotomy”), because it does not take into account all the viable options, among which was my own view on this.

David, if you understood me to be personally denigrating you, I am very sorry. That was not my intention.

51 Roger Simpson February 25, 2014 at 6:40 pm

David:

I went back and looked at your detailed post on April 19, 2010 where you discuss open/closed/close communion.

Could you define “MODIFIED open communion” in a few words? I just can’t see exactly what it is by re-reading your 2010 writeup.

Say I was currently practicing “open communion”. What would I have to change in order to adopt “modified open communion”?

52 David Rogers February 25, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Sure. There may be various versions of modified open communion. I don’t necessarily speak for anyone else. But here is my view:

1. The Lord’s Supper is for the Body of Christ. If you are not a born-again believer, you should not partake, nor should you be invited to partake.

2. Before partaking of the Lord’s Supper, you should confess any un-confessed sin and repent before the Lord. We should not partake of the Lord’s Supper while at the same time allowing known, un-confessed sin for which we have not repented in our life.

3. There is a process in the church for calling out known sin within the body: the church discipline process that is outlined in Matthew 18:15-17. At the same time, confession of sin is often—indeed most often—a private, personal affair. We do not know, and have no way of knowing, what sins our brothers and sisters are harboring in their hearts. Because of this, each one should examine himself or herself before partaking.

4. We should teach what the Bible teaches with regard to NT baptism. Baptism is immersion for those who have repented and trusted in Christ. So-called “infant baptism” is not truly baptism.

5. The Bible commands each believer to be baptized.

6. Some people, based on their diligent and sincere study of the Word of God, come to the conclusion that their so-called “infant baptism” is a biblically valid baptism, and thus have no sense of conviction that they ought to be immersed subsequent to their conversion. Many of these are truly born-again people, who are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

7. While we should urge these people to reconsider, and lay out the biblical case for why we believe they are wrong, we should still recognize that many of these are true brothers and sisters in Christ who may well have confessed and repented of all known sin in their life. We should thus invite these brothers and sisters to examine themselves, and if their conscience, before the Lord, permits it, participate together with us in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
—————————————
As I understand it, many full-fledged versions of open communion fail to emphasize points 1 to 5 above, or any combination of points 1 to 5. That, as I understand it, is the difference between “open communion” and “modified open communion.”

53 Roger Simpson February 25, 2014 at 7:21 pm

David:

Thanks for defining “modified open communion”.

In the church I attend, I’d say we more or less follow “modified open communion” — but it is done only in a summary fashion. We don’t have some number of points — such as the points 1 to 7 that you enumerate. We probably have a version of “modified open communion” where the exact interpretation of key parameters is left to the discretion of the hearer.

54 Les Prouty February 26, 2014 at 11:47 am

David Rogers,

I really appreciate your definitions here and your stance. I’m a former SB pastor and MABTS grad who has now been in the PCA for 22 years as both a ruling and teaching elder. I can affirm both credo and paedo baptism as valid. My five children were all baptized as young children by sprinkling. When we visit the in laws in Alabama, we attend their SB church in a small town. Very traditional church. They’ve had communion when we’ve been there and not once were our children (older by then) refused the elements. The table fencing was rather simple. If you are a baptized member of an evangelical church and in good standing and thus have professed faith in Christ, you are welcome to the table.

Now I have been immersed, several times in fact. So my participation was not in question. My children’s participation could have been though.

So could my now grown children commune at the Lord’s table at a church you would pastor? Seems like they could.

Again, thanks for your clarity on this subject.

55 Dwight McKissic February 26, 2014 at 11:22 am

David B,

Does your definition of “open communion” presuppose baptism?

56 David R. Brumbelow February 26, 2014 at 11:47 am

Dwight McKissic,

First, my point was not necessarily to advocate any of the three major views, just to explain or define them.

But I believe the most accepted view of Open Communion would be viewed separate from Baptism.
In other words, if a person is a believer in Jesus Christ, and is right with God, he is welcome to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Period. Whether he is Assembly of God, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc. And whether or not he agrees with all points of Baptist doctrine.
Unless someone defines their view differently, this is what I would assume he believes if he practices Open Communion.

David R. Brumbelow

57 Dwight McKissic February 26, 2014 at 12:35 pm

David B.,

Thanks for your response.

58 Tarheel February 24, 2014 at 4:06 pm

“Your statement about autonomy is golden! The idea of autonomy has been twisted to say that we cannot hold one another accountable and we cannot limit fellowship. The opposite is true. Autonomy demands that a church not only be free in its governance, but also in its association.

We as a denomination have no right to impose our will on a particular church, but we do have the right to say that a church that does this or that is not part of our fellowship of churches.

I wish all Baptists understood this.”

Ding, Ding, Ding….

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!

59 william thornton February 24, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Bart, was all of this, particularly the BFM part, in Yeat’s motion offered last year?

60 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Yeats’s motion merely called for Article III to be revisited with new wording to be proposed by the EC.

61 John Fariss February 24, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Bart, you write, “I realize that this part of the measure will likely make some people at least a little bit uncomfortable. I have three such categories of people in mind. The first category consists of those churches who are trying to walk the fence between the SBC and the CBF. In my opinion, the purpose of this proposal is to make it impossible to do that. . . .” I guess I’m just being dense, but how does the proposed change do that? Does it somehow go back to the Missouri (I think it was) proposal a few years back that a church could not simultaneously contribute to both the SBC and any other organization? I am just looking for clarity here.

John

62 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 7:08 pm

The CBF stands in opposition to the Baptist Faith & Message as it presently reads. It would be difficult for a church to be both an enthusiastic participant in the CBF and an enthusiastic subscriber to the BF&M.

63 william thornton February 24, 2014 at 4:50 pm

I looked it up. Here is Yeat’s motion:
“Since the Southern Baptist Convention is a network of autonomous churches that enjoy the sacrificial giving of its member churches to accomplish its shared Gospel mission, and since there is no threshold gift that qualifies a congregation as able to send messengers, and since the base gift of $250 required to send each additional messenger to the Southern Baptist Convention has not changed since 1888 – a sacrificial amount then, but a token 70 2013 Southern Baptist Convention Annual
amount today, and since reported membership numbers may vary in accuracy, I move that the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention form a study committee to re-evaluate Article III, particularly sub-points 1 & 2 for the purpose of updating our minimal standards for the purposes of defining participating churches and messengers and
bring a recommendation to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in annual session at Baltimore, Maryland, June 10-11, 2014.” (Items 54 and 83)

The motion mentions three reasons for studying the Constitutional provisions:
1. No threshold gift to qualify a church for messengers.
2. The archaic $250 per messenger figure.
3. Membership numbers that may vary in accuracy.

There is nothing mentioned about the BFM, open communion, CBF friendly churches or anything like that. I see how the XComm could run with the motion in these other directions but this is a terrible way to do business.

Here’s what we have: The XComm takes this mundane motion, discusses it among themselves openly but without any indication of the extent of the discussion, comes to a conclusion, and puts it out (or will do so when they get it ready), for the rest of us.

This isn’t making sausage. It is taking a motion ostensibly on dollars and soft membership numbers and redirects it to the highest level of importance, and that without any prior notice. This isn’t exercising due diligence and it isn’t respectful of the 47k churches in the SBC and their membership.

This is like a congressional bill about peanut crop supports that an amendment is added to cut the defense department in half.

Frankly, unless I’m way, way off in what you are saying I am quite surprised that a motion on dollars and membership rolls was ballooned into this.

All of the changes might be welcome. They might be needed. They might be desirable. But this is a terrible way to go about it. We have had blue ribbon, convention wide committees to study the Calvinism business and the SBC name change. We get an XC study committee for this which is vastly more significant than the others.

Someone please convince me I am reading this wrongly.

64 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 7:09 pm

The motion called for the EC to re-evaluate Article III. That’s what the EC did.

65 William Thornton February 24, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Yes, I said that I could see how they could run with it.

66 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 7:44 pm

But that’s more than just a way that “they could run with it.” John Mark did not move to amend Article III, in which case I think it might be appropriate to object to what the EC did. In other words, if this happened…

Yeats: “I move that we amend Article III by changing $250 to $6000″
EC: “Good idea. We’re amending Article III to add a Katrina clause.”

Then we’d all be justified to say, “Now wait a minute! That’s not what the motion said.”

But instead, this is what happened…

Yeats: “I move that the EC re-evaluate all of Article III. While doing so please give particular attention to the first two points for these reasons.”
EC: “Very well, here are our proposed revisions for Article III, including changes that address exactly the particular concerns that you have noted.”

Everything that the EC did was precisely what Yeats’s motion asked them to do.

67 William Thornton February 24, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Er, ah, I don’t question the EC’s legitimacy to do this. A reasonable SBCer might conclude that the result was considerably beyond what was anticipated. Still shocks me that BP didn’t offer a syllable about the more weighty part of the matter.

68 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 10:28 pm

That actually surprised me, too.

69 Alan Cross February 25, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Bart, the way that you explain the power of trustee boards and the complete inability of the SBC to do anything about them when they get headed in a direction like this is exactly why I coming to oppose this measure.

I called Dave Miller this morning and told him that I wrote my post last night and asked if he would like to run it. I told him (and Dave can verify this) that I am asking questions here and hope that I am wrong about my conclusions. I told him that I would be happy if someone (you, for example) told me that what I was worried about was completely off base. Instead, my concerns have grown.

So, I am with William here. This is a terrible way to do business. I guess that I will have to dust off my old blog and engage once again. Frank Page will be getting a letter from me expressing my concerns as will other members of the EC. I was already going to Baltimore, but I have more of a reason to do so now, I guess.

I can completely agree with you that no one plans to use this nefariously, but what about 3 years from now? 5 years from now? I trust you, Bart. I don’t trust those I don’t yet know.

By the way, thanks again for your participation here and for getting the word out.

70 John M Yeats February 24, 2014 at 5:31 pm

It’s good to know one can still cause a ruckus every now and again.

When I proposed this motion, the goal was rather simple: Article III (particularly sub-points 1&2) create a definition for participation and representation that is open to abuse. I had no agenda towards the solution. I did not attend any of the EC meetings to weigh in on the solution. I wanted to start the conversation relating to an issue that continues to see abuse within our fellowship of churches.

In the area where I served as pastor, the “Affiliation” issue was rampant. A very large, international, multi-campus church conglomerate was considering how to join our “network” so that students receiving tuition scholarships from Southern Baptists could continue to do so. Some of the students were trying to give to the SBC through their non-sbc church to get the benefits that we offer our students. Thankfully, this large grouping of churches saw this as a lack of integrity and refused the gifts since these churches are not a part of nor desired to be part of the SBC.

The EC’s addition of requiring subscription to the BF&M as foundational to what is considered “friendly cooperation” is brilliant and in keeping with our heritage as a confessional people.

The messenger equation was already a mess. You would be hard to find a congregation that didn’t meet the basic requirement to send a maximum number of messengers if they truly so desired under the current requirements. Besides, if this is only about messengers, we have bigger problems as our current (or proposed) constitution does not deal with multi-campus churches and how they are defined for the sake of messenger count. Ostensibly, a multi-campus church could stack the number count at any convention by claiming each campus as autonomous when they may or may not actually be.

This particular attempt by the EC seeks to address major concerns by maintaining parity between our churches regardless of size through appropriate affiliation and representation. I am grateful they took up the issue.

71 William Thornton February 24, 2014 at 6:14 pm

OK, here’s your headline:

“SBC Vice President indicates that most SBC churches may be ‘dismissible’ from the convention as a result of the constitutional changes proposed by the SBC Executive Committee.”

This may not be fair but it’s inescapable from what has been written. If we are going to put that in play, I suggest that this isn’t a brilliant manner to go about it.

72 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 7:11 pm

William,

The barb in the headline has to do with the content of the proposal, not the manner by which it was considered. Can you suggest a manner of consideration for this proposal that would make your proposed headline go away?

Or do you just object to the content?

73 David Rogers February 24, 2014 at 7:30 pm

I’m not William, but my answer is, that’s just it: the issue is inherent in the content, and there’s nothing you can do to make it go away… unless it is something like Dave Miller says above: “I would be in favor of an official interpretation of the BF&M being passed that would say something to the order of ‘While the SBC’s long held belief is in closed communion, the practice of opening the Lord’s table to non-Baptist believers will not be considered a violation of this confession.’”

74 William Thornton February 24, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Yes, make a motion that the EC study the constitution with the specifics that you outlined above. Then no one would misunderstand the scope and possibilities of it. Something of this breadth and with the possibilities that you detail above might be better suited for a broader based more deliberate process.

Neither Frank page nor the EC chairman even hinted at the things you discuss above.

75 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 7:53 pm

“Neither Frank Page nor the EC chairman even hinted at the things you discuss above…”

…as of yet.

They’re not trying to obfuscate anything. They want to do this through SBC Life and that sort of thing. I don’t think they’ve done anything wrong, although they may not have anticipated the idea that you would so quickly write a post about it and that then I would reply to you by giving more information, etc.

In other words, blogging has changed the world and the timetable by which we operate, and the SBC may not always in every way have caught up to that changed set of expectations along with its characteristic lack of patience.

76 William Thornton February 24, 2014 at 8:10 pm

I have not given the least indication that you, Frank Page, the EC chairman, or BP were attempting to obfuscate this matter.

One reason to inform the general SBC public of something this significant would be to be sure they knew what was up for discussion before decisions were made. What looked like a tedious number crunching messenger exercise suddenly became a matter by which most SBC churches are put in jeopardy as to their ability to participate when the SBC meets.

Would it be asking too much for someone to post the text rather than have us wait for a piece of mail?

77 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 9:28 pm

I wasn’t accusing you of accusing them. :-)

I’m just saying that they absolutely plan to give everyone full information about this and keep the process open. All you’re requesting they’ve already said that they plan to give you. They’re just slow about giving it to you.

78 Gary Snowden February 25, 2014 at 1:49 am

William is definitely on to something here that it seems the Exec Comm either blissfully ignored, or in similar fashion to the actions of the Missouri Baptist Convention a few years back, is deliberately posturing and marshaling its forces to oust churches that don’t specifically endorse the BF&M 2000. What of the hundreds if not thousands of churches in the state conventions of Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, and Missouri to name a few states with a strong moderate Baptist presence that have purposefully rejected the changes introduced in the 2000 document, choosing instead to retain and affirm the BF&M 1963 version? These churches continue to contribute huge sums to the Cooperative Program. Many also choose to designate funds specifically for the missions organizations, particularly the IMB. Will these churches all be ushered out and excluded from the SBC for not being in friendly cooperation with the convention based on their rejection of the 2000 document? If such a course of action is adopted, it will make the resignations of 70+ missionaries from the IMB over their refusal to sign the BF&M 2000 pale into insignificance in comparison with the fallout that will occur.

79 Alan Cross February 25, 2014 at 3:15 am

William said,

“One reason to inform the general SBC public of something this significant would be to be sure they knew what was up for discussion before decisions were made. What looked like a tedious number crunching messenger exercise suddenly became a matter by which most SBC churches are put in jeopardy as to their ability to participate when the SBC meets.”

If this is even close to being right, then … well, good grief. What are people thinking?

80 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 8:08 am

Gary,

Official endorsement of the BF&M is not required under the proposed revisions in order for a church to remain in the SBC. Evidence of church opposition against the BF&M, however, does become grounds for dismissal under this proposal. A church could have it’s own statement of faith, the Philadelphia Baptist Confession, some variety of the London Baptist Confession, or no statement of faith at all and still not be a church that has demonstrated its opposition to our statement of faith as a convention.

I, for one, am entirely comfortable with our going forward as a convention in which our churches are agreed about the nature of the Bible and core Baptist distinctives. We may find that there are a few areas in our statement of faith over which we do not want to divide. The convention will fix any such problems that may arise, I’m confident, perhaps even by revising the BF&M (I’m not proposing; I’m just prognosticating). I’m also willing to predict that the issues that divide us from CBF liberalism will be left in the BF&M just the way that they are.

81 Alan Cross February 25, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Bart, so if a church declares that it has a modified open communion view in regard to Article VII, is that considered to be opposition?

I get the animosity to the CBF, but are we catching many others up in that net as well? Perhaps in an unintended way?

82 Bart Barber February 24, 2014 at 7:02 pm

I’ve been at our state Evangelism Conference all day. My apologies for being absent from the thread.

83 Greg Harvey February 25, 2014 at 7:50 am

The original by-law stands unchanged because it is sufficient and no new one is likely to be more efficient regarding messenger allocations. If the goal is to produce more CP revenue, then the only way that will happen is through conviction not by men but by the Holy Spirit. Waste time praying about it rather than changing the by-laws if you–like Dr. Willingham–truly desire awakening.

As to ensuring Southern Baptist identity: poppycock. We should willingly accept churches that accurately teach the Bible and proclaim Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. The closed/close communion issue is largely irrelevant except as a matter of tribalism of the bad kind.

Not that I usually agree with Bob Hadley, but his comments on this particular issue deserve more consideration. What is the annual meeting other than–based on the presence in the room pattern–a vote for officers and an opportunity to express our outrage at things we don’t like about our nation or the stupid sinners in it?

I humbly offer that we’re really good at finding things to disagree over and publicly succeed at convincing our nation that’s our primary contribution to the national conversation.

Good luck changing that impression with the reporting that will come out of this difficult to understand and analyze proposal. I give credit to Bart for finding the hidden agenda and reporting it. That’s actually helpful.

84 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 7:58 am

There is absolutely no hidden agenda here. There is, in fact, absolutely no hidden information revealed in my post. Please listen to me, all ye who read here: You could’ve come last week to Nashville and walked right through open doors into meetings at which you could’ve heard every bit of this, and more!

Fewer than seven days have elapsed since this vote was taken. A journalist wrote a news article that—as news articles very often do, since they are normally written not solely for online distribution and almost always have strict regulations with regard to length—did not provide both the full text of a revised constitutional article and accompanying commentary by EC and convention leaders. Instead, the author of the article chose to provide the commentary, since—PLEASE DON’T MISS THIS—the commentary itself included the promise that the full text of the proposed revisions and all of the relevant information and discussion would be forthcoming in a large and well-distributed format accessible not only to the technologically-savvy among us but to the entire convention.

85 Dale Pugh February 25, 2014 at 8:28 am

I was about to ask this question: Where is the proposal in its full form? I can’t find it anywhere because it hasn’t been published yet. But now it’s being discussed in a public forum BEFORE we know what it actually says.

As to the section on the BF&M, I dare say that several churches could be considered for expulsion based on more than just open communion, which my church practices, by the way. Who is going to police it? The associations? Our area doesn’t have a functioning local association. The state conventions? My church is part of the BGCT. Will my church be kicked out for being liberal?

Bart, no, I couldn’t have come to Nashville last week and walked right through the doors to hear all of this and more. A large percentage of us couldn’t have done that. As a bi-vocational pastor, I personally don’t have time to go to Nashville every time the X Comm meets just so I can be in the know. Being a pastor of a small (tiny) church doesn’t afford me that opportunity. I dare say that the only way I would ever be able to do that is if I was asked to serve on the X Comm. That will never happen. (And, no, I’m not seeking a nomination to any of our boards.)

The BP article was, by necessity, brief, but I’m trying to make sense of your original post in light of that article. It ain’t working for me. I think we need to have the proposal in hand before we try to argue its merits.

86 Gary Snowden February 25, 2014 at 8:42 am

I think you’re correct, Dale, about your concern for how the BF&M is interpreted and enforced being a major issue if not a potential disaster with this proposed change to article 3. I appreciate your suggestion that discussion of the merits of the proposed changes await the official publication of the full text. Nevertheless, I share a deep angst about how the enforcement could play out. Bart states in his reply to my earlier comment, “Official endorsement of the BF&M is not required under the proposed revisions in order for a church to remain in the SBC. Evidence of church opposition against the BF&M, however, does become grounds for dismissal under this proposal.”

On a practical level, what constitutes evidence of church opposition against the BF&M? If a church in a business meeting voted to continue to affirm the 1963 document while rejecting the changes introduced in the 2000 edition, does that constitute evidence of opposition to the BF&M? I’d suggest that it could be interpreted that way by zealous proponents of the BF&M 2000. That in turn prompts me to ask my earlier question again, “What happens to the hundreds or thousands of churches that still identify with the SBC, sending huge contributions to the Cooperative Program and the missions agencies, but who have not affirmed (or who have even expressly disavowed) the changes introduced into the BF&M 2000? Are they to be ousted from the SBC on the basis of that action? If so, I suggest that there’s going to have to be a lot of belt-tightening done across the convention as churches who’ve faithfully and generously contributed for decades are suddenly deemed to be non-cooperative. Before someone objects that it could never happen, the not-too-distant history of the Missouri Baptist Convention in its decision to oust churches not “singly aligned” with the MBC and SBC illustrates that it can and indeed has happened.

87 Dale Pugh February 25, 2014 at 9:04 am

Your second paragraph describes the problem I see and my concern for what the X Comm has come up with. As I pointed out, my church is part of the BGCT. The BGCT has rejected the 2000 BF&M. My church gives 6% to the CP. BUT, it is given through the BGCT. Is the new proposal going to draw some lines in the sand? I don’t know, but some of what I read concerns me. That’s why I make the point about all this discussion taking place when we don’t have the knowledge to discuss intelligently. I’m not advocating shutting down the discussion. I AM advocating that we have more to work off of than what is currently available to those of us who are not “in the know.”

88 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 9:20 am

Dale,

I agree that it is very difficult to discuss this before the full text is published. I only posted my article because William Thornton posted his. William only posted his because BP published their article.

I have seen the full text. I have heard debate on the full text. I never had my own copy of the full text. I certainly haven’t memorized it.

I recommend that Dave Miller call the Executive Committee and ask for the full text. Then he can post it here at Voices and everyone will have it.

89 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 9:25 am

Dale,

I’m not faulting you for not having gone to the EC meeting. There’s a middle ground between…

1. You evil slackers! If you really cared about Jesus you’d attend every EC meeting and know about everything happening in Southern Baptist life!

…and…

2. Those nefarious, villainous scofflaws! The EC is trying to hoodwink the convention by having hidden agendas pursued in smoke-filled rooms where The Man sticks it to The Little Guy.

You see? There’s a middle ground in there in which nobody is guilty of wrongdoing, everyone is acting in good faith, and with a little time we all get what we need. What I’m trying to do is occupy that middle ground.

90 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 9:35 am

Dale,

One last thing. To the question “Who is going to police it?” I would simply say, the same people who have been policing it since 1845: The messengers to the convention. Because the proposed revisions to Article III would not change the way whereby a church gets dismissed. For that to happen, somebody has to make a motion at the convention for a church to be excluded, and then the messengers have to vote. It has been the case for all of your life and mine that, truly, any messenger can make a motion to exclude any church for any reason whatsoever. The messengers can approve that motion for any reason that suits their fancy. And then you’re out, and there’s not a blessed thing you can do about it.

But 170 years of existence teaches us that our messengers do not toss out cooperating churches willy-nilly. Nothing proposed in these amendments is going to change that.

91 Dale Pugh February 25, 2014 at 11:21 am

Bart, as usual, your answers are cogent and well-stated. That’s why you’re in the position you occupy.

I hope you know that I don’t consider the X Comm to be nefarious, villainous scofflaws. Nor do I believe any of them are smokers (with the possible exception of those from Kentucky who also probably drink bourbon).

You brought up open/closed communion. I see that as a non-essential. But who’s to say that others who view it more strictly than I won’t make it a matter of fellowship? After all, the BF&M says it. That settles it, right? And the fact is that in my lifetime and yours it HAS been used as a point of fellowship in local associations. So has baptism by immersion in an SBC church as a requirement for membership. Am I to be tossed out for having a more egalitarian view than those in power to make the decisions? It’s possible, though not likely.

Are we moving toward a strict adherence policy? I don’t know. And that’s my point. Is 170 years of NOT tossing out churches willy-nilly going to change to a more willy-nilly policy? If that sounds alarmist, then so be it. The fact is that we’ve had those on this very blog argue for a tightening of our doctrinal statements. Why? So that we know “who’s in and who’s out”? So that we know “who’s right and who’s wrong”? I guess we’ll find out.

I’d like to see the full content of the proposal, not just a BP article. I won’t be at the Convention this year to vote on it, but I’ll have an opinion about it. I trust that those of you who are there will do so prayerfully and carefully.

92 Dwight McKissic February 25, 2014 at 9:11 am

Bart,

Just curious. I really don’t know what the CBF believes or practices. Although I fully embrace the 2000 BFM, I have no qualms or reservations about the ’63 BFM. I believe that our convention is weaker, numerically and financially, because we made an issue out of changing or adding to the ’63 BFM. If the goal is to get rid of CBF churches, why not just make a recommendation to remove them from the SBC? The Balkanizing of the SBC must cease. It appears to me that somewhere buried within this recommendation is a continued effort to Balkanize the SBC. I find that detestable. The way that the baptismal and tongues policies were abused by the IMB trustees, this recommendation leaves me skeptical.

My curiosity has to do with your statement regarding gender complementarian issues. I know of high profile SBC pastors who have allowed an continually allow a woman to speak/preach annually in the Sunday Morning worship hour at their church. Will they be excluded by this proposal? I know of many SBC AA churches who have women deacons, oten called, deaconesses. Will they be excluded by this proposal? I know of SBC churches that have ordained/commissied woman to specific ministry roles. Would they be excluded by this proposal? I know of SBC churches that refer to women in certain staff roles as “Pastor Judy,” not the Senior Pastor’s office, but other roles. Would they be excluded by this proposal? Does any one of the above scenarios violate the 2000 BFM?

Peter Lumpkins dropped a Grand Piano on Troy Gramlin’s head, the Florida Senior Pastor who ran for SBC Pastors Conference President a few years ago, because of high profile women in ministry in his church. If the SBC is opposed to churches who believe in and practice gender Complementarinism, while restricting the office of Senior Pastor to males, will this proposal remove the Troy Gramlin’s type pastor and church from the SBC roles? Please be more specific regarding what do you mean by “gender complementarinism.” Again, would any of the above mentioned scenarios violate the 2000 BFM? Thanks in advance for your response. I sure hope that we don’t continue down this path of Balkinization.

93 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 9:28 am

Dwight,

If there is any role for which you would say, “This role is open to one gender but not to the other,” then you are a gender complementarian. The Bible restricts the office of pastor to men. The BF&M acknowledges that truth. The revised Article III, if adopted, would not parse it any further than it stands at present.

94 Dwight McKissic February 25, 2014 at 9:54 am

Bart,

Thanks for your answer.

95 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 10:29 am

1. I would say that a woman position in a SBC church holding any position that is a pastoral in title or practice is a violation of the BFM2000.

2. I would say that a woman holding the position of deacon may or may not violate it.

A. It would violate if the deacons, as the do in most SBC churches, serve in the capacity of elders and, with the pastors, performing and overseeing the preaching and teaching ministry and other business of the church.

B. It would not violate if the deacons, as they do in many SBC churches, act in a service only oriented capacity and possess no other authority….rather the church has elders for the purposes of performing and overseeing the preaching and teaching ministry and other business of the church.

I have long said that most SBC churches are elder led…they just call thier elders deacons. In that case….as SBC’ers believe, biblically and confessionally, that deacons must be men.

96 Mark Lamprecht February 25, 2014 at 10:32 am

Tarheel, yep!

97 Dwight McKissic February 25, 2014 at 10:46 am

Tarheel, Mark, and Bart,

Tarheel’s and Mark’s interpretation & application of the BFM 2000 is the problem with this proposal. There are current SBC churches who have women serving in what Tarheel and Mark might consider the role of a pastor. Tarheel & Mark, if consistent, would vote to remove those churches for being in violation of or opposed to the BF&M 2000. I interpret the BF&M 2000 as does Bart, if I am understanding him correctly. Only a female serving in the office if Senior Pastor would be in violation of the BF&M 2000.

Question, Tarheel & Mark. Who would determine whether or not a female us functioning in the role of a pastor? This proposal could really be problematic & divisive in our convention, especially if the majority view the BF&M on the role of women as does Tarheel & Mark.

98 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 10:56 am

More later…but I’ll say quickly….I do not think my “interpretation” is different than the plain reading of the text and further I do not think it is a minority view….

Dwight, respectfully your view is the minority view and violates the both the plain text reading and the intent of the framers of the BFM2000 as well the understanding of most of messengers who voted to approve it.

The SBC believes, biblically and confessionally, that the office and duty of pastor is designated to only men.

99 Mark Lamprecht February 25, 2014 at 11:12 am

Hi Dwight,

I understand your concerns. I am not sure if Bart understands the BFM as I do or not because his answer was too vague on this particular issue.

You ask a good question, “Who would determine whether or not a female us functioning in the role of a pastor?” This might be a difficult question to answer if we dig into particulars and various hypotheticals. Consideration might be made by way of pastoral authority and/or function in the local church. As Tarheel mention, deacons often function in the pastoral role rather than the role of servant (deacon).

On the surface, however, I’d offer two areas off the top of my head: 1) if a woman has/uses the title “pastor” in any capacity, and 2) she preaches to the congregation.

As I read the BFM on church offices it says in part”

“[The church's] scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

I read no distinction in the BFM between a “senior,” “preaching,” or any other kind of pastor. The BFM simple states “the office of pastor” is for men only. Ironically, many woman function as deacons in local churches, but are never given the title because their local church restricts the office to men.

On some level, it may come down to what defines pastors and deacons – function, title, or function and title?

100 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 11:17 am

Dwight,

My view is that the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by scripture.

In ways I may agree with both you on the one hand and Tarheel and Mark on the other hand. With them I agree that the Bible knows absolutely nothing about an office of “Senior Pastor” (except for the similar phrase “Chief Shepherd,” which is an office limited not only to men but further to God-men). There are simply pastors/elders/overseers. That office is limited to men by the Bible. The BF&M says the same thing.

With you, however, I acknowledge that a great many churches are terribly confused and horribly indiscriminate in distributing freely (or, to the other extreme, not at all) the actual TITLE of pastor, so that there are churches who place the title of “Associate Pastor” or “Children’s Pastor” or “Administrative Pastor” upon someone who is no such thing (and whom they in no way treat as a biblical holder of the pastor/elder/overseer office), and that there are churches who have people who clearly hold and function in the biblical office of pastor/elder/overseer who have some of these crazy titles and descriptions that people conjure up these days.

Any and everyone holding the office that the Bible describes and defines as the office of pastor/elder/overseer, whether there be 1 or 100 such people in any given local church, must be a man.

101 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 11:20 am

We cross-posted, Mark. It’s great when we do that and the comments actually fit pretty well with one another!

102 Adam Blosser February 25, 2014 at 11:00 am

There is really no way to argue that #2 is a violation of the BF&M. That requires reading your own position into the document. We do not have women deacons in the church where I serve. Our deacons function like elders in that they lead our congregationally governed church, so the church reserves that role for men. So basically, I agree with what I understand your position to be but disagree that the BF&M is as exclusionary as your position.

103 Dwight McKissic February 25, 2014 at 11:42 am

Bart, Mark, Tarheel,

Until the SBC parses this further and define what us meant by pastor in the BF&M, I don’t believe that we will have clarity on this issue. If Mark’s interpreting is correct, we already have a problem. Are we really going to seek to remove all the churches that don’t fit Marj’s, Tarheel’s, and perhaps your interpretation? I can think of many, including the one that I pastor that don’t fit the interpretation you all give. I would even volunteer my church for scrutiny on this matter. This needs to be voted on for clarity sake. I truly believe at the core of the decline of the SBC are pertty issues like this one that the SBC has somehow made as important as the gospel itself. I would invite one of you all to make a motion to dismiss CBC where I pastor from the SBC, in order for the outcome to answer the question, what does the BF&M 2000 mean on the disputed issues at hand. And Bart, if u like me are aware that many churches have titles & functions that perhaps are in disagreement with the BF&M 2000, based on your, Mark’s, and Tarheel’s interpretation, why then are they not brought before the convention floor for disfellowshipping? I’m confused.

104 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Adam, who are you talking to…several people have a “number 2″ in their posts. LOL

105 Adam Blosser February 25, 2014 at 12:47 pm

My above post is addressed to you, Tarheel. The indentation of the comments indicates that it is a direct reply to your post. I will try to be more clear next time.

106 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Dwight,

Just because lots of churches are doing it does not make it right.

If a church has a woman serving functionally as a pastor in any capacity (leading a preaching and teaching ministry and recognized by the church as a pastor) they are clearly in violation of the BFM2000. Unequivocally in violation. There is no parsing required. However, does it rise to the level of dismissal of said church from the convention? Of that I am not sure – however I would say that if a church so blatantly ignores a plain reading of the BFM2000 and scripture on this matter – I would honestly have to wonder what other sections of the confession and more importantly the scriptures they are also ignoring. In my view it would necessitate a further look.

The BFM2000 sought to clarify previous BFM’s/confessions ( and did a magnificent job I might add) in so doing intentionally added some wording, modified some wording and equally intentionally left out wording on debatable issues – leaving those matters to each member local church and her membership to hash out…but the office of pastor being reserved to men is not one of the issues left open to debate, at least not if a church is going to be in full cooperation with the SBC.

In fact the statement adds the modifier “as qualified in scripture”…that leaves no doubt in a reasonable reading and interpretation as to the position of Southern Baptists on this issue.

Church autonomy means that the convention cannot dictate to church that they follow the confession of the convention of churches they have willingly aligned themselves with….and as a proponent of local church autonomy myself, I would not tell a church that they MUST adopt and abide by our confession…..I would however, respectfully, have no issue with saying that if a church chooses to ignore or defy the BFM2000, which again they are free to do, that they are not in friendly cooperation with the SBC and would strongly consider removing such a church.

107 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 1:04 pm

This issue that you brought up, is different than the communion one that is being discussed in that there are reasonable and various interpretations and discussions as to what the phrase means (everyone agrees that only believers should partake – but after that the nuanced stances spring forth) – here there is no reasonable debate.

The office of Pastor is reserved for men, as qualified in scripture.

108 Dwight McKissic February 25, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Tarheel,

What u consider a slam-dunk reading of the BF&M regarding gender issues, everyone that I know that belongs to the SBC, and believes that the only restriction that the BF&M places on a woman is being biblically prohibited from holding the office of Senior Pastor, or pastor if u prefer(because a church has only one pastor, or lead pastor), interprets the BF&M as I do. That is the plain simple reading of the text. Again, if u are correct, why have a doctrine if it is not going to be enforced? Therefore, if your interpretation is correct, why would the SBC–knowing that many churches interpret and apply the BF&M as I do on this issue–mice to correct or disfellowship us? The mere fact that not one church has been charged with violating the BF&M(not even Troy Gramlin) on this matter, tells me that your interpretation is wrong.

109 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Dwight,

I did not say that lots of churches had titles that disagree with the BF&M. I think that there is a lot of confusion in the way that churches use the word “pastor,” but there’s nothing in the wording of the BF&M that condemns them for this. The BF&M carefully leaves some latitude on this question.

You have said that there is really only one pastor in a church. That’s one point of view. That point of view fits fine within the BF&M. You’re not alone in holding it. If that’s the case—if there is absolutely only one pastor in a congregation—then I’m just saying that a church believing that should only use the title pastor with one person on the staff. The BF&M doesn’t say that; I’m saying that.

At FBC Farmersville, on the other hand, we have three pastors. We consider all of them to be pastors/elders/overseers. We believe that the biblical qualifications apply to all of them, because we believe that all of them hold the biblical office. Lots of people believe that! That fits just fine within the BF&M. If that’s the case—if many staff members are all pastors/elders/overseers—then all of those people should be men if we affirm the BF&M.

At some churches, people who are not even on staff at all are considered to be pastors/elders/overseers. Such a church might have ten elders, some on staff and some not, who are all considered by the church to be pastors/elders/overseers and to whom the church applies the biblical qualifications. If that is the case—if some staff members and some non-staff members are all pastors—then all of those people would need to be male in order to agree with the BF&M.

The BF&M leaves it to you and your church to decide which of the people in your congregations are pastors/elders/overseers. Make it one. Make it 101. That’s your church’s business. The BF&M simply says that, once that’s all said and done, everyone whom you think is REALLY the pastor is someone who ought to be a man, if you would be biblical.

Now, in addition to what the BF&M is saying, I’m further saying that all of this would be clearer to everyone if churches would reserve the use of the word “pastor” to everyone and only those whom the church considers to be a real pastor in the biblical sense.

110 Rick Patrick February 25, 2014 at 9:49 am

I can and will support this measure, but one I could REALLY get behind would never pass, but would (1) lift up the value of the Cooperative Program, and (2) take seriously what Jesus said about the widow paying more than all the rich people.

Leave the current cap of TEN Messengers in place.

Give each church ONE Messenger for each part of one percent they give undesignated through the Cooperative Program:

0-1 % One Messenger
1-2 % Two Messengers
2-3% Three Messengers

111 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 10:32 am

Rick, I agree with you.

I too woukd like to see messenger allotment tied strictly to church coopertive Program giving…..only the CP not designated entities.

112 Wyman Richardson February 25, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Bart,

I appreciate you and your writings, but I hope you’ll forgive me if this statement caused me to guffaw: “but I would remind you that the wording of Article III would not dismiss a church for practicing open communion; it would only make the practice of open communion one of the grounds by which a church could possibly be dismissed.”

Oh…well, then…wait…what?!

Meaning, over half of all Southern Baptist churches would now be potentially dismissible on the basis of their now formal (if this thing passes) non-compliance with Article VII of the BF&M…but don’t worry because it’s not likely to happen?

Right.

The rub isn’t in the, “Oh, they could theoretically dismiss us,” but in the, “You likely won’t be, but you’re now at formal, technical odds with our creed [yes, creed], and, were we consistent, you should be.”

Perhaps you’ll also forgive me if I’m not comforted by your caveat.

Honestly, this is nearly unbelievable. I say nearly because I’ve been at this too long now to be surprised.

Don’t get me wrong: I will continue not to lose the slightest bit of sleep over gladly defying the wrong-headedness of BF&M Article VII and over inviting all blood-bought believers to come, remember, and celebrate Christ at His table, but it is a bit interesting to see oneself formally declared an outlaw in our particularly idiosyncratic brand of orthodoxy.

I’ll be sitting over here with fellow communion heretics John Bunyan and Charles Spurgeon watching all of this develop.

Wyman Richardson

113 Gary Snowden February 25, 2014 at 1:53 pm

This has to qualify as one of the best comments ever posted on SBC Voices.

114 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Wyman,

Well, let me add something that I think will make my reasoning seem more rational to you…Although I strongly disagree with open communion, I think it is a foregone conclusion that the next time we amend the BF&M that article will be revised to permit open communion.

115 Wyman Richardson February 25, 2014 at 4:24 pm

One hopes. It would be a really good thing to see such a revision made before this proposal from the Exec Committee is adopted, and an even better thing for the Exec Committee themselves to make the proposal for revision of Article VII so as not to pass a de facto anathema upon the majority of SBC churches regarding their communion practices.

I actually contemplated bringing a motion to amend Article VII last year, but ultimately did not:

http://www.walkingtogetherministries.com/2013/03/14/why-article-vii-of-the-baptist-faith-message-should-be-changed-part-i/

I was thinking about his particular wording at that time:

http://www.walkingtogetherministries.com/2013/03/14/why-article-vii-of-the-baptist-faith-and-message-should-be-changed-part-ii/

Maybe I will bring the proposal this year.

116 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 4:20 pm

…and so, I think it would be a terrible shame and a mistake for us to miss this opportunity to make this structural change solely because of an unpopular provision in the BF&M that is destined soon to go away. To fail this proposal over that concern alone would be terribly short-sighted, I think.

Look, if you don’t like what the BF&M says, you have plenty of reason to amend the BF&M apart from this proposal. Why are you content to impose it upon everyone who works for the SBC if you are not content to live under it yourself? One could argue that such an approach is opportunistic and selfish!

So, there are two questions here: (1) Do you like what the BF&M says? (2) Do you think the SBC should be a confessional fellowship with some doctrinal basis for affiliation?

If your answer to the first question is no, then the solution is not to defeat this proposal, it is to amend the BF&M. That’s not the question on the floor right now, and if you want it to be on the floor, you’ll need to put it there.

If your answer to the second question is no—if you favor a fellowship with no doctrinal basis whatsoever—then you really ought to join the Unitarians, but short of that, you could oppose the effort to have a confessional standard for affiliation in the SBC.

117 Wyman Richardson February 25, 2014 at 4:39 pm

I just saw this second part of your response, Bart. Honestly, and, believe it or not, respectfully, parts of what you put here could be used in a case study for how to indulge in reductio ad absurdum (i.e., the charge of possible selfishness, joining the Unitarians). Come now. That kind of talk would be on a par with me throwing down the Landmarkism card on you, which is something I wouldn’t do.

As for this great opportunity, what is the particular 2014 exigency that renders this summer more advantageous than, say, next, especially when we could avoid the labeling of the majority of SBC churches as theoretically (but not actually) out of fellowship on the basis of the unnecessary Convention-wide codification of the adiaphora in Article VII?

118 Bart Barber February 26, 2014 at 11:02 am

By the way, John Bunyan was consistent: He was open membership.

119 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Adam Blosser,

You are right. I did opine my position regarding deacons…the BFM does not state it in the way I did. However I right. ;-)

Biblically the office and function of elder (whether we call them deacons or dooflachies) is reserved to men.

120 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 1:09 pm

So if our deacons function as elders….that position is biblically reserved to men.

121 William Thornton February 25, 2014 at 1:37 pm

This is getting pretty good. Before it’s over, I will probably conclude that I never pastored a church that was in friendly cooperation with the SBC according to the addenda, provisos, and interpretations of some here.

122 Dwight McKissic February 25, 2014 at 1:41 pm

William,

The Sandy Creek Church would not have been in friendly cooperation with the SBC. They had women elderesses and preachers. That’s why I know that Tarheel is so wrong.

123 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Dwight, you may not like the fact that the bible and our SBC confession are unequivocal on this issue…but they are. The exclusion of women from the role of pastor/elder is firmly established and commonly accepted by any reasonable reading of the texts.

I have already admitted, as Adam pointed out, that deacons/deaconesses is not as clear cut in the BFM…but I still maintain that scripture makes it clear that those who function as elders (even if we call them deacons, which I believe is a conflation of the biblical offices, but that aside) must be men in order to abide by biblical instruction.

As to the “open communion” and the BFM2000 discussion (I place quotation marks around the term because even the term itself is not exactly commonly agreed upon) is completely different because the plain reading and intent of the text in the BFM is not so clear…so long as the teaching and practice of the SBC church is that only baptized believers shall partake in communion…that is a point that we all agree upon. Nuance comes in after that minimum point of agreement. (Nuance takes the four forms that have been mentioned here, and can be arrived at without ignoring or defying (for lack of a better word at the moment) the BFM2000.

I too am of the opinion that the next revision of the BFM might need to include a clarification of the communion issue.

124 William Thornton February 25, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Not quite so simple. This comment stream is churning with subjective opinion on the roles of women I our churches relatives to the BFM. The mess will only grow.

125 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 5:14 pm

What is subjective/opinion about my stating of the clear and unequivocal statement in the BFM2000 regarding the office of pastor being relegated to men only?

Seriously?

126 William Thornton February 25, 2014 at 6:40 pm

You could start with your own stuff, anonymous commenter, maybe defining for all what a “pastoral role” is since you used the phrase. Good luck.

127 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 6:55 pm

So now we’ve resorted to veiled personal attacks. Nice.

Hint. That’s what people do when they’re either out of, or never had, a real argument.

Let’s not get personal and discuss the topic, please.

For starters, let’s just use a minimum standard….if a church officially designates one as a pastor and the members of said church recognize them as a pastor and grant them overseeing and performance duties of a preaching/teaching elder ….then he’s a pastor.

Of course there’s a lot more to it – but that’s a good starting point.

128 truthunites February 25, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Tarheel,

May I presume that you’re aware of who Dr. Russell Moore is?

Are you familiar with what he said in an interview with Mark Dever?

Russell Moore: “Gender identity and complementarianism… I hate ….the word ‘complementarian’, I prefer the word ‘patriarchy’…”

Russell Moore: “Because complementarianism doesn’t say much more than the fact that you have different roles. Everyone agrees that we have different roles, it just a question of on what basis you have different roles? So an egalitarian would say, “Yeah, I’m a complementarian too, it’s on the basis of gifts.” I think we need to say instead, “No you have headship that’s the key issue. It’s patriarchy, it’s a headship that reflects the headship, the fatherhood of God, and this is what it looks like, you then have to define what headship looks like.”

129 william thornton February 25, 2014 at 8:18 pm

What’s personal about “anonymous commenter”? Or, insulting, false, or inappropriate? You are a commenter. You are anonymous.

I was hoping for you to define the phrase you used, “pastoral role.” It’s your language, not mine. You didn’t get very far offering one person designated as pastor. You’ve already said your deacons are elder/pastors.

Let’s get this thing nailed down.

130 Tarheel February 26, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Willliam,

It was an unnecessary jab and completely irrelevant to the discussion.

You meant it pejoratively, at least in part, No? Especially given that you have comment about it before.

Have a good day.

131 Dwight McKissic February 25, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Tarheel,
You are absolutely wrong in your view of the BF&M 2000 excluding women from serving on staff in any position other than Senior Pastor. You are wrong if you interpret the BF&M 2000 prohibiting a woman from preaching/teaching/speaking in a worship service or Sunday School teaching service where men are pastor. You are wrong if you believe that the BFM 2000 restricts a woman from being calked pastor of evangelism, pastor of worship, pastor of Christian education, or anything else. It only restricts a woman from serving in the office of the pastor, not a pastor. You and I are in agreement on this point. But on everything else you are reading into this document what simply is not there. You are isogeting, not exogeting. Again, explain why all the churches in the SBC that practice the things that I just mentioned are never called into question about these practices, if they were clearly in violation as you suggest? You are denying the plain reading of this document and imagining things no where suggested, mentioned, or intimated in the BFM 2000. I will believe your interpretation when one of the churches are actually brought before the convention for violating the document in light if your interpretation. Until then, practical doctrine trumps your imaginary doctrine. Again, I volunteer to let you take my church before the convention & charge us with violating the BF&M 2000, and I guarantee you that the SBC will not disfellowship CBC for any of our practices related to women, simply because we are not in violation. Neither was Troy Gramlin. It was clearly documented by Peter Lumpkins that Troy had women preachers/pastors on staff and preaching on Sunday morning. There was no effort to disfellowship him. W A Criswell’s wife taught 300-500 men every week. There was no effort to disfellowship FBC Dallas. So go ahead Tarheel,if u really believe what you are saying, make a motion to disfellowship one of the churches. You will then find out that your interpretation is absolutely wrong.

132 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Let’s stick to what I have said…

The office do elder/pastor/bishop is relegated in scripture to men. Thts all I’ve said.

I have not argued nor disqualified women from ministry. I have not said the cant teach, I have not said they lead ministries within the church (in fact our Awana commander is a female, and we have other leadership positions held by women) however pastoral roles are reserved for men. That is biblical.

You keep saying im wrong…but i maintain that place women in roles (functionally and by title) in roles they are excluded from by scripture is wrong.

Further it’s a violation of our voluntary confession as southern baptsists to place women in pastoral roles.

133 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Further, just because no one has been called on ignoring the clear, reasonable reading of our confession does not mean that it’s; a) right. b) not in violation. That’s in relation to BFM.

Scripturally, A pastor is a pastor is a pastor. To pretend that a delineation exists in scripture separating “senior pastor” from other pastors is ridiculous. Talk about isogesis. You’re looking for a loophole to justify a practice you endorse…thats textbook isogesis.

If one holds the title and duty of a pastor/elder…he’s at minimum being presented as a pastor and therefore should meet the biblical qualifications…one of which is being a male.

134 Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. February 25, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Tarheel,

The “voluntary confession” does not say that a woman cannot serve as “Children’s Pastor,” or any specific/particular area of assignment pastor. The “voluntary confession” says that a female cannot serve as “the pastor” . And on that subject it says nothing more or nothing less.

Question: If your Awana’s leader who according to you is a woman, had the exact same duties that she has today, but at another SBC church they called her the “Awana’s Pastor,” would that place her in violation of the “voluntary confession”? You would say, yes it would. I would say, no it would not. The BF7M references “the office of pastor”. An Awana’s Pastor, or any other position pastor, would not be occupying “the office of pastor”.

135 Tarheel February 26, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Dwight,

YOU said; The “voluntary confession” says that a female cannot serve as “the pastor”

I SAY; You have added the word “the”, sir. It is not so delineated in the text of the BFM2000. The BFM reads like this “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified in scripture”.

YOU asked; “If your Awana’s leader who according to you is a woman, had the exact same duties that she has today, but at another SBC church they called her the “Awana’s Pastor,” would that place her in violation of the “voluntary confession”?”

I SAY;

1) Our awana commander is a female, and she is not, nor she aspire, nor is she recognized as a pastor. She ministers under the authority of the pastors in our local church.

2) Should another church choose to recognize a female awana commander as a pastor then that is something they should determine for themselves…but however they determine to act does not change the plain working of the BFM. Further, with regard to Awana, that should not happen as the Awana charter forbids that. The commander is only to recognized as a pastor if they are in fact in a pastor. the Charter is very clear that the awana commander (unless they are a pastor) ministers and serves under the authority of pastoral leadership.

3) AGAIN, If a church ordains a woman to the position of pastor and/or identifies her as a pastor, and/or she is recognized as a pastor by the church membership – then that is bottom rung delineation that she is performing as a pastor.

That clearly stands in opposition to the voluntary confession called the BFM2000. I identify it as voluntary because as has been pointed out numerous times by myself and other posters and continually missed by some….the BFM is not a compulsory document…no one has to sign or affirm it.

It however makes sense that if you do affirm it them you should not ignore or reinterpret it to suit you, but abide by it….the idea of the pastorate being reserved for men is not really an area of reasonable debate or disagreement as to what it means. You are grasping at straws to affirm a practice you embrace and are seemingly intentionally, twisting the plain reading and meaning of the document to do so.

(I realize I may be wrong in my assessment of your intent – but I feel there is ample evidence for my summation.)

136 Tarheel February 26, 2014 at 2:17 pm

*Our Awana commander is a female. However she is not a pastor, she does not aspire to be a pastor, and she is not recognized as a pastor within our fellowship.

*…no church is required to sign or affirm it.

*however it makes sense that if a church does affirm it…

137 truthunites February 25, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Dwight McKissic: “Tarheel,

You are absolutely wrong in your view of the BF&M 2000 excluding women from serving on staff in any position other than Senior Pastor. … I will believe your interpretation when one of the churches are actually brought before the convention for violating the document in light if your interpretation. Until then, practical doctrine trumps your imaginary doctrine.

Hi Pastor Dwight,

I thoroughly enjoyed your comment.

Let me just make one distinction. For argument’s sake, let’s assume that Tarheel’s argument, his hermeneutic, his exegesis, and his doctrine is correct and sound with respect to both Scripture and the BFM2000.

Now just because there’s no enforcement of the doctrine does not mean that the doctrine is “absolutely wrong” as you put it. It just means that the SBC is chicken doo-doo when it comes to visibly blatant violations of church doctrine and church praxis.

In such case, what you said is absolutely true:

“Until then, practical doctrine trumps your imaginary doctrine.

138 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Yep. That’s “truth” right there.

(see what I did?)

139 truthunites February 25, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Yep. That’s “truth” right there.
(see what I did?)

Equivocation?

Anyways, as an aside, I surely do like Pastor McKissic taking Rev. Al Sharpton to town for his endorsement of same-sex marriage. Dat’s a plus.

But we do have some negativities. Pastor McKissic is a tongue-speaking bapticostal who supports women elders and who loves President Obama for supporting Trayvon Martin.

Oh well.

140 Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. February 25, 2014 at 7:38 pm

truth,

Why is the SBC afraid to uphold their doctrine? I don’t believe that’s the case at all. The SBC prides herself on doctrinal purity. The only reason that the SBC would not enforce the doctrine as Tarheel, and perhaps you interpret it is because you all have the wrong interpretation of this doctrine.

My allegiance is to the Kingdom of God, as opposed to a denomination. Therefore, my views reflect what I believe that the Bible teaches and a Kingdom viewpoint, rather than trying to reflect or echo a denominational point of view. That’s why I can take on a Al Sharpton or the SBC. I am a free man, not a denominational man, or a political party man.

141 Tarheel February 26, 2014 at 1:41 pm

*no church is required to sign or affirm it.

142 Stuart February 25, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Bart,

As far as you know, did the president of either mission board have an opportunity to speak to the working group who formulated this?

I’m asking because it occurs to me that there are any number of reasons a church might have some Statement of Faith or confession that isn’t the BFM2K. As only one example, I’m sure you are well aware that in your own state, there are probably dozens if not hundreds of churches that would still claim the 63 (and their reasons for doing so and whether or not you and I agree with them aren’t germane to my question) as their Statement, yet who still support the CP–and particularly Annie and Lottie–quite generously.

As one who agrees with BFM2K and has signed off on working within its parameters, this question didn’t even occur to me the first time I read your post and all the comments related to Baptism/Lord’s Supper.

But upon reading your post again and reflecting on all you’ve written, I’m curious if, in any of the sessions you attended, it was ever discussed how this proposal could impact CP revenues and those entities which rely on CP and special offerings if a significant number of churches are removed from fellowship because they haven’t ever/won’t/don’t formally adopt BFM2K as their church’s own statement of faith.

I understand your illustration about the seminary discounts and would share those concerns, I’m just also seeing other unintended consequences that could result from this potential change as you’ve described it.

143 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 4:20 pm

All entity heads had input in the process.

144 David Rogers February 25, 2014 at 4:32 pm

I would be most curious to know if during the discussion over the revision of Article III in the Executive Committee meeting the specific issue of close/closed/open/modified open communion was mentioned and the possibility of effectively eliminating 50%+ churches and pastors within the SBC from the defined circle of confessional orthodoxy. IOW, are all those who voted to approve this aware that this is an issue?

145 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 4:35 pm

To my knowledge it was not discussed at all during the deliberations. I cannot, however, give a definitive word on that.

146 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 4:36 pm

In fact, I confess that it did not even occur to me until I (a) started writing my blog post and (b) considered the fact that you would be reading it.

147 David Rogers February 25, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Well, that at least encourages me to get the word out, so that people out there, including even perhaps some of those on the EC, and eventually the messengers at the SBC, are aware of what is actually at stake here.

To be honest, if it were not for your post here, this would have probably escaped my notice as well—for a while, at least.

Thanks for the heads up. ;)

148 Alan Cross February 25, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Yes, I am engaged as well. Thank you, Bart. I think that this is a bigger deal than the PPL/Baptism issue of earlier days ever was, at least theoretically or potentially.

I will be sure to help get the word out and to contact the people who will be making these decisions. Thank you.

149 Stuart February 25, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Every entity head had input, and…

a) Stuart, you’re the only person who has raised any concern about what potential impact this could have on CP and the mission offerings… or,

b) Those entity heads who would be most impacted by any loss of revenue to CP and the missions offerings addressed similar concerns, but in the end decided that trying to bring 45K churches into confessional unanimity is ultimately the more worthy goal…or,

c) Those entity heads who would be most impacted by any loss of revenue to CP and the missions offerings addressed similar concerns, but in the end 50%+1 of everyone else determined that trying to bring 45K churches into confessional unanimity is ultimately the more worthy goal…or,

d) Similar concerns to yours were raised Stuart, but the CP folks employed by the EC crunched the numbers and discovered that the potential loss of revenue that would accompany disfellowshipping potentially several thousand churches isn’t as great as you fear.

I’m sincerely not trying to be antagonistic, but if a revised Article III is going to define “cooperating church” such as you’ve described in your post, I can’t see a scenario where the result wouldn’t be hundreds of disfellowshipped churches and accompanying losses for CP, Annie, and Lottie.

I guess I would add my voice to those who are wondering if this isn’t a solution looking for a problem.

150 Bart Barber February 26, 2014 at 10:26 am

The number of disfellowshipped churches would be low. All of the heat associated with that point notwithstanding, nobody is even talking about disfellowshipping open communion churches. Nobody.

Nobody.

That leaves churches that, for example:

1. Perform same-sex marriages.
2. Are racist.
3. Have women serving in the office of pastor.
4. Sprinkle infants.
5. Deny the Trinity.
6. Proclaim that there are errors in the Bible.

For any such church, if they provided 50% of the SBC’s budget, I’d vote in favor of disfellowshipping them.

151 Stuart February 26, 2014 at 2:50 pm

I guess I misread your post then. I thought I read you to be saying that churches must affirm BFM2K in order to be considered in fellowship. I thought that was why you brought up CBF-friendly churches in the first place. If I was incorrect, count this as one time I’m pleased to be so. Thanks for your replies.

152 Tarheel February 26, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Amen and Amen, Bart.

We should not and cannot allow fear over “losing money” trump our shared confession that is so deeply rooted in scripture.

Even typing this and thinking of the possibility that such monetary concerns would even be considered by fellow Southern Baptists over doctrinal ones makes me want to throw up…and I am not be being overly dramatic when I say that…such a notion really does make me want to puke.

153 cb scott February 26, 2014 at 10:35 pm

Bart,

Yep.

Tarheel,

Yep.

154 Stuart February 28, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Tarheel,

Nobody suggested putting $$ first. But to exclude churches from fellowship (which I now realize Bart isn’t even suggesting) which would otherwise be considered in friendly cooperation would be, to use blount CB language, quite stupid.

155 Tarheel February 28, 2014 at 3:09 pm

well to be equally blunt…

allowing the ‘fear’ or even reality of losing money to come into the picture when faced with a clear decision of what is doctrinally right and what is doctrinally wrong is worse than stupid…it is abhorrent.

Sometimes ya gotta do ‘stupid’ stuff to stay on the right track…but it always worth it and right to stick by the right stuff…consequences come as they may.

156 Stuart February 28, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Right.

And I have stated pretty clearly that I misunderstood what Bart wrote. I can think of a whole bunch of churches right off the top of my head that are “doctrinally right” (to use your term) and have never flirted with either the CBF or any of the things listed in Bart’s enumerated list in the comment above, yet whose confession of record isn’t BFM2K. THOSE are the kinds of churches I had in mind. And Bart clarified that that isn’t what he meant. That works for me.

Moving on.

157 Tarheel February 28, 2014 at 11:24 pm

“I can think of a whole bunch of churches right off the top of my head that are “doctrinally right” (to use your term) and have never flirted with either the CBF or any of the things listed in Bart’s enumerated list in the comment above, yet whose confession of record isn’t BFM2K. THOSE are the kinds of churches I had in mind.”

I’m just trying to understand your and others concerns…I have to vote on this issue too, and I’d like all the info I can get.

If these SB Churches you know of exhibit none of the things Bart listed in his example list are an issue, and the CBF, BWA are not issues then why would the BFM 2000 not be the confession of record?

BFM2000 is now our official confession of record is it not?

158 Adam Blosser March 1, 2014 at 12:26 am

Tarheel, certainly you understand how churches that were established long before 2000 would have other confessions as their official statement of faith while not being opposed to the wording of the BF&M2K.

159 Tarheel March 1, 2014 at 3:40 am

I guess my thinking is that if you are a Southern Baptist Church and you have no objection doctrinally or semantically to the most current revision of our confession why it wouldn’t it be adopted?

I understand that it’s voluntary, and no church is required to sign it, but why wouldn’t they, unless they objected in some way?

Let me say it like this – I’ve never, in my experience, heard of a pastor/church who has not affirmed the BFM2000 but instead holds to the 1963, unless they (or a strong faction of the church) object to the 2000 in some way.

160 Stuart March 1, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Tarheel,

I personally don’t know why a church–doctrinally sound, no flirtations with CBF, etc.–would continue to use the 63, but I know they’re out there. There are other statements of belief besides the 1963 and 2000 BFM, too. As I said to Joe B., there are churches with statements of faith that could be categorized as “more reformed” or “less reformed” than BFM2K. There are churches with statements that are more overtly dispensational than BFM2K. There are churches with confessions that are more clearly cessationist or continualist than BFM2K. It’s really not as simply as saying, “If you’re 2K then you’re ‘wuhnuhvus’ and if not, you’re not.” I’m all for saying that to convention or entity employees, I’m much less for saying that to churches.

161 Tarheel March 1, 2014 at 5:02 pm

I think I understand, I’m a little slow sometimes.

Let me try to say what I’m saying like this…

Since the BFM is a more of a minimum standards document, I can’t think of any reason why a church wouldn’t affirm it.

If they want to “more” something or another, there’s no issue…only if they wanna be “less” in an area where the 2000 addresses. They can have other confessions/statements they also assert, they just shouldn’t have less. (our church goes “further” in the area of inerrancy – we affirm the Chicago statement)

Like I said, every church/pastor I know who doesn’t affirm the BFM2000 rejects it because they think it has “gone too far”, never (again in my experience) because they feel it doesn’t “go far enough”.

Im not trying to be argumentative, but I still must be missing something?

162 Joe Blackmon February 25, 2014 at 2:54 pm

The first category consists of those churches who are trying to walk the fence between the SBC and the CBF. In my opinion, the purpose of this proposal is to make it impossible to do that, and (again, in my opinion) that’s one good reason to vote in favor of the proposal.

That doesn’t make it a good reason to vote for the proposal. That makes it a GREAT reason to vote for the proposal. Any church that is allied with the CBF should not be welcome in the SBC.

163 Tarheel February 25, 2014 at 7:27 pm

True dat.

164 Stuart February 25, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Joe,

What of a church that ZERO connection to the CBF whatsoever, but for any number of reasons has formally adopted a different Statement of Faith than BFM2K? There undoubtedly are churches with Statements of Faith more reformed or less reformed than BFM2K. There undoubtedly are churches with a statement that is more overtly dispensational than BFM2K. And on and on the list could go. Do we really want to disfellowship them all?

I realize that in Bart’s 2-state convention context, a church must adopt BFM2K in order to be a part of the group that is considered SBC “friendly”, and that therefore those who haven’t are viewed by many as having cast their lot with those antagonistic to the SBC…but there are plenty of churches in his state and elsewhere for whom having a different and/or unique statement of faith has NOTHING to do with the CBF or SBC political battles long-since settled.

165 Bart Barber February 26, 2014 at 10:28 am

Time number 45 to say it:

NOBODY has to adopt the BF&M. The proposed revision requires NOBODY to adopt the BF&M. There’s a difference between ADOPTING a statement of faith on the one hand and just NOT OPPOSING a statement of faith on the other hand.

166 Adam Blosser February 26, 2014 at 10:46 am

This point has obviously been lost on many who have commented. I think many are upset about something that the proposal doesn’t even say.

167 Bart Barber February 26, 2014 at 10:56 am

Agreed.

168 Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. February 25, 2014 at 8:21 pm

truth,

You did not answer the question. ” Why is the SBC afraid to uphold their doctrine?”

169 Truth Unites... and Divides February 25, 2014 at 8:55 pm

I dont know. Cowardice?

170 Eric February 25, 2014 at 9:41 pm

” truth unites” your comment is both racist and inappropriate. We’re I an administrator of this blog I would remove the comment and issue you a lifetime ban

171 Eric February 25, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Dwight, had “truth” made that comment to anyone I would have responded the same way. It was offensive and racist and as I stated has no business on this or any blog.

You don’t know me, but I live and go to church in Grand Prairie.

I respect the way you have dealt with “truth” and I will now bow out of the discussion.

172 David Rogers February 25, 2014 at 10:05 pm

As part of the team of contributors here, I want to check in and say I agree the aforementioned comment is indeed inappropriate and should be deleted. I just now saw it. I don’t have comment moderation privileges, so I can’t do anything about it. But I think I am not out of line to say that the only reason it is still up is that no one with comment moderation privileges has seen it yet. This is not the type of comment we permit at SBC Voices.

173 Truth Unites... and Divides February 25, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Hello pastor Dwight, my sense of humor was in bad form, it appears, and I thank you for your kind response. If you trust me, no offense was intended, although I do see in hindsight that offense was received. For that, I am genuinely sorry, and ask for your forgiveness for the manner in which the substance of my remarks was delivered.

However, which should not surprise anyone who’s aware of my convictions, I am utterly appalled abortion, the murder for hire of unborn innocents, and President Obama’s appalling support for abortion. Furthermore, it’s well documented that abortion has greatly impacted the black community. No question about it. And Obama is hurting the black community in this regard.

Also, there is a coalition of black pastors that’s protesting against the actions of Eric Holder.

Again, I’m sorry for HOW I expressed my words. What I think is amusing was not amusing to you. My bad.

Pax.

174 Dwight McKissic February 25, 2014 at 11:10 pm

truth,

I forgive you. I appreciate the sincerity of your response.

If I may offer a suggestion it would be that your request for forgiveness and acknowledgement of not the best choice of words or attempt at humor, would be received even greater, if it were not accompanied with the 2nd paragraph, that seem to provide a rationale & defense for your misplaced humor. Again, I do receive your apology and forgive you for your remarks. I wish that nothing else had been stated. The 1st paragraph was powerful and effective. The 2nd paragraph seems to justify, defend, and explain. No justification, explaination, or defense was needed. It took away some of the potency, power, and effectiveness of the 1st paragraph. All is forgiven and forgotten. Be blessed.

175 Bart Barber February 25, 2014 at 11:15 pm

I’m attending our state Evangelism Convention, and I confess that the comment and post volume on this question has exceeded the threshold below which I am able to keep up. I’ve probably said at least once everything that I have to say. I’m willing to leave the remainder of the conversation to the rest of you.

176 Truth Unites... and Divides February 25, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Pastor Dwight, here’s the information I was referencing to you before:

“The Coalition of African American Pastors, a group of conservative, black men of the cloth, say Attorney General Eric Holder ought to be impeached for his stance on gay marriage laws.

The group faulted the entire Obama administration for caving to partisan pressures on the issue — and said the White House has “sold out” American principles for personal agendas — but that going after the president would prove fruitless, The Hill reported. So CAAP members are turning to Mr. Holder instead.

“If Obama was a white man, he would be impeached,” said Rev. William Owens, the group’s founder and president, in The Hill. “Obama has been given a free pass to do what he pleases, but I don’t give him a pass. I’m very black, been black all my life. He doesn’t get a pass. I don’t give him a pass.”

Read more: http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/25/black-pastors-eric-holder-impeachment-gay-marriage

177 Dwight McKissic February 25, 2014 at 11:35 pm

truth,

Thanks for the link. Quite interesting.

178 Truth Unites... and Divides February 25, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Pastor Dwight: “My allegiance is to the Kingdom of God, as opposed to a denomination. Therefore, my views reflect what I believe that the Bible teaches and a Kingdom viewpoint, rather than trying to reflect or echo a denominational point of view. That’s why I can take on a Al Sharpton or the SBC. I am a free man, not a denominational man, or a political party man.”

Rev. William Owens: “If Obama was a white man, he would be impeached. Obama has been given a free pass to do what he pleases, but I don’t give him a pass. I’m very black, been black all my life. He doesn’t get a pass. I don’t give him a pass.”

Now it seems to me that Rev. Owens could say the following with great integrity if he wanted to:

“My allegiance is to the Kingdom of God, as opposed to a denomination or an ethnic race. Therefore, my views reflect what I believe that the Bible teaches and a Kingdom viewpoint, rather than trying to reflect or echo a denominational point of view or an ethnic race. That’s why I can take on President Obama. I am a free man in Christ, not a denominational man, or a political party man or a black man.”

179 Dave Miller February 25, 2014 at 11:54 pm

Folks, one of the most racist and disgraceful comments we’ve ever had was placed on this site earlier. I have not been online since I left the church a little before 6 and have not been on the site before now. I got a Facebook message from a friend about this.

I thought he was joking.

We permit and even encourage a lot of nonsense here at SBC Voices. There are a few things we will not tolerate. First on that list is racist insults.

I’ve been blogging for not much shy of a decade. I’ve been blogging here at Voices for several years. This was the most disgusting and vile comment we’ve ever had. I appreciate whomever stepped in and trashed the comment. Of course, it was made by an anonymous commenter. No one who actually used his name would make such a despicable comment.

I would have blocked the commenter from ever commenting here again, but he has already been forgiven by Dwight and so I am going to walk in the spirit of that forgiveness. Dwight – you are an amazing man!

But to the offender – you are on notice. One toe over the line will not result in moderation, but in being banned from SBC Voices.

To everyone. I apologize that such a comment was on our site for any length of time. I just was not here. By the time I got on the site, the comment was where it belonged – in the trash.

I am sorry that such a thing appeared here, even for a short time.

180 Dave Miller February 26, 2014 at 12:53 am

Unfortunately, “Truth” doubled down by defending his comment as if it were okay.

Racism is simply not permitted here. We won’t be seeing “Truth Unites and Divides” around here any more.

Evidently, he will not be joining the Dave Miller fan club.

181 Dale Pugh February 26, 2014 at 7:10 am

Good job, Dave.

182 David R. Brumbelow February 26, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Some of my beliefs about the Lord’s Supper are found at:

http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2012/08/lords-supper-questions-answers.html

David R. Brumbelow

183 dr. james willingham February 26, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I have not read every word of the above, but I would like to call attention that we might part company with the son of the late leader, Dr. Adrian Rogers. He has clearly indicated that there are parts of the BFM 2000 with which he does not agree. What parts I leave for him to say, though he indicated at the time and I do not remember. There are many good people who will be kicked out and then the fat will be in the fire. We will not be able to support the largest mission force in Protestantism today. We also do not recognize the reality that churches take some time to mature and change and the same goes for ministers. They do not spring suddenly at ordination into full-blown maturity. Their views, understandings, insights, effective services, change and improve as they gain insights and understandings from the Bible and providential experiences that are complementary to that Book. There are those who hold to the original faith, and some of the Traditionalists are chomping at the bits to get rid of them (while there are some Calvinists who want to do the same to the Traditionalists and I think both attitudes is an open door to disaster). Finally, there will only be that small circle of me, myself, and I, and I can’t stand me and myself, and myself-. O well, you get the picture.

I should also like to add that the lack of annuals and websites to locate ministers, friends, associations, even institutions, is a recipe for isolating, separating, and segregating Baptists from one another, effectively shutting down the lines of communication and fellowship, cutting the ties that bind us together. The removal of those records will, in effect, turn the rope of sand into nothing but sand.

I have been, in addition to being a pastor and an instructor in American History at a state college, a Licensed Professional Counselor, who worked in a Senior High School and whose responsibility it was to handle incest and pedophile cases. I am curious to know if the reference to that issue surely meant those churches that knowingly hired such people or those churches that got one even when they sought to avoid doing so? The problem is that no church, I think, would knowingly hire such individuals for fear of law suits. Those who got such individuals regardless of their efforts to screen out such people usually wind up in a mess.

If you want an instance, just consider the Catholic Church and the money it has paid out over pedophile priests. According to the last account I had, it is running in excess of a billion. Anyway, if folks keep pushing such narrow agendas, they will win in the end for those folks who want an end to this denomination.

184 Eric February 25, 2014 at 8:55 pm

The above comment from “truth unites” is racist, has no place on this or any other blog and should be taken down immediately.

185 Alan Cross February 25, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Yeah, well, none of it is funny. If anyone knew who you were, we could at least address you directly. But, you hide behind an anonymous pseudonym. Perhaps your jokes should be funny to be jokes? As it is, they just look racist.

186 Dale Pugh February 25, 2014 at 9:36 pm

I’m with Eric on this one, Dave. Intended as a joke or not, that comment is totally unacceptable.

Truth, the defective understanding is yours. You really need to take a look at what you’ve communicated there. It’s just wrong.

187 Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. February 25, 2014 at 9:51 pm

truth and eric,

I must admit that I was taken aback when I read his comment. My immediate reaction was one of shock. Eric, I chose to ignore it after I got over my shock, because I did not want to distract form the post, or derail, or hijack the conversation. I decided to absorb the shock and pain–as Blacks so often have to do–for the sake of peace, and not being accused of playing the race card.

Your comment here Eric awakened something in me, and brought me back to my initial response that I wanted to communicate to truth, but for already stated reasons, I didn’t. When I read truth’s statement, after I got over the shock, I wanted to ask him to please not communicate with me in that manner. I have not engaged in that type of communication with you, therefore, there is no reason for you to, dialogue with me in that manner. Express yourself to me just as you would anyone else on this thread. But inasmuch as I let his comment pass, I feel as if I allowed truth to disrespect me; I disrespected myself; and I am allowing him to disrespect readers, who may or mat not believe that his manner of speech is permissible. Thanks Eric for calling attention to this.

Truth, the truth of the matter is that I don’t believe that you meant any harm, which is another reason that I withheld commenting to you initially. I also recognized that you were being sincere, but you were also, sincerely wrong. Your remark was patronizing and condescending. But, again, I’m very much aware that you didn’t realize that, neither was it your intent or heart to be condescending. That’s why I initially graced your comment.

Justice Clarence Thomas recently said that all races, nowadays are too sensitive. We are to quick to throw the race flag. I agree with him to a certain extent. That’s another reason that I initially did not respond to a manner of speech that immediately hit me in the face like a ton of bricks. Alan Cross preached at my church Sunday on race. Later, he and our wives had a great time of fellowship. He shared a story with my wife and I that she repeated in staff meeting today. Without repeating the story; suffice it to say that Blacks have no monopoly on being victims of racism in the modern era, since integration. There has also been a lot of Black toward White racism that equally as offensive and evil. I was afraid had I responded to you truth initially, I would have responded in the flesh, and perhaps responded to perceived racism, with racism. That was the sin that Moses committed. Nevertheless, I believe that this is a learning moment for all parties involved. I hope Dave leave the comment up for that reason, but that decision is solely his. Inasmuch as I don’t believe that truth meant harm, I am not asking for an apology, nor for his comment to be removed. I hope that he learns something from this, as I have.

The reality is that I have a genuine, sincere, and deep enough relationship with several guys who blog and regularly comment here, if they had said the exact same thing that truth said, I would have received and interpreted it differently, and probably would not have been offended. Just to name two, CB and Volfan, and I sometime communicate with each other in a jovial manner. We also have broken bread together. I’ve never met truth. He is an anonymous commentator here. It felt odd being communicated with in that manner by an anonymous person, that I obviously have no personal relationship with.

Eric, I don’t think I know who you are. But, again, I might. There is a brother once active in SBC life named Eric that I know, value, and appreciate. If that’s you, thanks. If that’s not you, thanks.

188 Truth Unites... and Divides February 25, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Hello pastor Dwight, my sense of humor was in bad form, it appears, and I thank you for your kind response. If you trust me, no offense was intended, although I do see in hindsight that offense was received. For that, I am genuinely sorry, and ask for your forgiveness for the manner in which the substance of my remarks was delivered.
However, which should not surprise anyone who’s aware of my convictions, I am utterly appalled abortion, the murder for hire of unborn innocents, and President Obama’s appalling support for abortion. Furthermore, it’s well documented that abortion has greatly impacted the black community. No question about it. And Obama is hurting the black community in this regard.
Also, there is a coalition of black pastors that’s protesting against the actions of Eric Holder.
Again, I’m sorry for HOW I expressed my words. What I think is amusing was not amusing to you. My bad.
Pax.

189 Alan Cross February 25, 2014 at 11:55 pm

Truth,

Since Dwight forgave you, I do not want to pile on, but I do have one comment/question: why do the positions of others on abortion or other political opinions justify your derogatory and racist comments? I am glad that you said you were sorry, but a “my bad” when you said what you said really makes no sense. It was really bad, you are right about that.

Dwight, thank you for speaking up and sharing your perspective.
Too often do people – especially in Southern Baptist circles – simply
move on when things like this happen. It is good
for us to hear how it affected you. Thank you.

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