I just spent nearly 2 weeks in Senegal with a member of this year’s Resolutions Committee. We had adjoining rooms at a beachfront hotel for the Casamance men’s conference, shared every meal, and spent a lot of time talking during that week. You’d think I would have some inside information on what the committee had planned. Alas, Bart Barber was closed-lipped and I gleaned no deep insights. I am toying with writing a resolution extolling the virtues and blessings of coffee just to aggravate Dr. Barber who virtue-signals constantly against those who drink the nectar of heaven.
The apocryphal “ancient Chinese curse” comes to mind here.
May you live in interesting times.
There is no doubt that this will be an interesting year for the Resolutions Committee. If my count is correct (guess why they don’t let me count offerings), there have been 4.3 billion resolutions submitted – 4.1 billion of those related to 2019’s Resolution 9. No matter what the Resolutions Committee does, they will take heavy fire from a segmented SBC.
I have had a long-standing antipathy to resolutions. In 2010, I wrote an article suggesting that it might be best if we did away with resolutions completely. After an Iowa pastor used the resolutions process at our state convention to seek to advance his narrow agenda on an issue, I managed to get a bylaws change that did away with resolutions completely at our annual meetings. I realize that we can do some good with resolutions but the division caused by resolutions makes us wonder if the process is worth it.
Permit me some thoughts on resolutions which will be followed by a plea to the Resolutions Committee.
Perspectives on Resolutions
I am simplifying and generalizing here. The generalization holds, I believe, in general (duh?), but is not universal.
1. Those resolutions are better that speak FOR the convention.
A helpful resolution speaks for the convention to an issue that is prevalent in the world. We take stands on abortion, on racism, on relevant moral or theological issues. A resolution should be the convention stating to the public where we (technically, where the messengers of that annual meeting) stand. That doesn’t mean that a resolution has to be unanimous, but it should be a message to the world about our convictions.
2. Those resolutions are worse that speak TO the convention.
Again, this is a generalization that will have exceptions, but we are better off NOT using the resolutions process to settle internecine battles. When one subgroup of the SBC seeks to use the resolutions process to gain supremacy in our theological kerfuffles, it is divisive and generally unproductive.
This is exactly what happened with Resolution 9. The original resolution was strongly worded to give one group in the “social justice” brouhaha the upper hand over the other. The Resolutions Committee in 2019 sought to bring forward a compromise; condemning CRT/I as a worldview but maintaining that it could be used as an analytical tool. The compromise did not satisfy those who offered the original resolution.
This is not meant to be a rule, but a general guideline. When we use the resolutions process to fight our battles with other Baptists, it is going to divide the convention. We do better when we speak as a convention to the public than when a group of us tries to correct another group of us through the resolutions process.
A Plea to the Resolutions Committee
I am likely to live out my life having never served on the Resolutions Committee. I do not envy this year’s team. There is almost no way they can win. I offer this plea based on my view above.
We are a divided convention this year – almost as divided as we were during the CR. My plea is that you pour no gasoline on the fire. I have read several of the resolutions submitted to you. Some I agree with and some I do not. My hope is that you will bring forward only those resolutions that speak FOR the convention to public issues and not those that seek to advance the agenda of one group or another within the convention.
We have a decisive presidential election a number of other controversial topics coming before us. My hope is that the Resolutions Committee report will be focused on moral, spiritual, and theological issues to which we can speak together.
Let’s speak together to the world through our resolutions, not bicker with one another.