Debate over SBC cooperation, direction marks Baptist Identity conference

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    http://www.abpnews.com/www/1725.article

    Debate over SBC cooperation, direction marks Baptist Identity conference
    By Phillip Jordan
    Published: February 16, 2007



    JACKSON, Tenn. (ABP) -- The future should be bright for Southern Baptists, but it won't be if they continue their infighting, said Southern Baptist Convention president Frank Page Feb. 15 at a conference on Baptist identity.


    Page, pastor of First Baptist Church of Taylors, S.C., urged Southern Baptists -- who have been squabbling over narrowing doctrinal parameters and other issues -- to stick together. “But if we continue to break into factions that continue to fight each other and focus on turf-protectionism, the future will not be bright,” Page said.


    Page spoke during the “Baptist Identity II: Convention, Cooperation and Controversy” conference Feb. 15-17 at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. He wove a theme of unity throughout his message, which focused on the need for Baptists to remain together despite disagreements.


    Page cautioned that dissent and debate should not devolve into anything that would reproach the gospel. “[The Apostle] Paul didn’t say, ‘Whose side are you on?’” Page said. “He asked, ‘Are you preaching Jesus Christ?’”


    The conference comes amid intra-denominational disagreements among Southern Baptist conservatives, who have controlled the 16 million-member SBC for almost three decades. Recently, internal differences -- over issues such as control and cooperation, speaking in tongues, the place of women in leadership roles, censorship and alcohol use -- have signaled some unraveling at the edges of the denomination.


    For well over a year, some conservatives have expressed their displeasure with what they perceive as narrowing fundamentalism in some SBC circles. Page was elected as SBC president last June with support from those who want more flexibility and transparency in the convention.


    The three-day conference at Union University was organized in an attempt to discuss what the future of Southern Baptist life might look like.


    Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson began the second day of the conference by asserting contemporary Baptists could learn much about how to relate to each other from Anabaptists -- the Reformation-era ancestors of modern Baptists.


    “If modern Baptists are to find a way out of our current malaise, we must, like the Anabaptists did, find a way to make church membership more meaningful,” said Patterson, himself a former SBC president.


    He said Baptist churches -- both in the Anabaptists' time and today -- are lacking in their ability to effectively discipline and provide guidance to new converts. "We are showing a lack of care with new converts," Patterson said. "And a disciplined church is necessary for the church's witness."


    Patterson, the key figure in conservatives' rise to SBC power, noted that Anabaptists’ refusal to change their minds on issues unless convinced by Scripture should also be a testament to contemporary Baptists.


    During his address, Patterson said only God can know people’s religious motivations, and he chastised those who spread slander and gossip from within Baptist ranks.


    “That should be shameful among any Baptists today,” Patterson said.
    His remarks come less than a month after it became known that Patterson dismissed a female professor from her position at Southwestern’s School of Theology solely because she is a woman.


    In January, Baptist blogger Wade Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Okla., wrote a widely circulated essay on kerussocharis.blogspot.com that denounced Patterson for dismissing Hebrew professor Sheri Klouda.


    Patterson adheres to a strict interpretation of biblical texts that he believes mean women should not be allowed to teach men, even in seminary.


    While Patterson avoided the topic during his speech, there were members of the audience who wished the subject had been addressed, including Baptist bloggers who have played a key role in recent SBC dissent and Page's election. Interaction with the bloggers was a part of the conference program, and several were in attendance.


    Benjamin Cole, pastor of Parkview Baptist Church, in Arlington, Texas, and another blogger who has written about Klouda (baptistblog.wordpress.com), said he wished Patterson had more time to answer questions. Patterson only answered two questions after his presentation.


    Cole had planned to ask Patterson if he agreed with a thesis by author Roland H. Bainton that Anabaptists had been among the earliest reformers to advocate for women’s education, suffrage, ordination and the holding of church office.


    “I wanted to ask him about what contemporary Baptists could learn from Anabaptists in that area,” Cole said. “Anabaptists were among the first to support women’s suffrage, and by the early 20th century they supported the election of women to serve in the faculties of their schools.”


    Other presentations at the conference were delivered by Thom Rainer, president of Lifeway Christian Resources, and Mike Day, director of missions for the Mid-South Baptist Association in Memphis.


    More than 300 people are attending the conference, which will continue through Saturday, Feb. 17.


    Other scheduled speakers include Russell Moore, dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; David Dockery, president of Union University; Ed Stetzer, missiologist and research team director at the North American Mission Board; and Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University.


    The first Baptist Identity conference was held in April 2004.
     
  2. PeterM

    PeterM
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    I attended all 3 days of this conference. I found it to be truly insightful and the presenters were all consistent in their focus on Biblical truth as well as the health of the SBC. No punches were pulled and many recommendations were suggested that will certainly rock the foundations of the local, state, and national associations/conventions.

    The future continues to be bright... at least potentially.
     
    #2 PeterM, Feb 17, 2007
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  3. Baptist Believer

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    That's the pot calling the kettle "black."

    I wonder why he said it was shameful "today." It was shameful when he did it to others when he was starting the takeover movement.
     
  4. Jack Matthews

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    From what I've read about things that have been happening in the SBC recently, he's still doing this.
     
  5. gb93433

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    It is for image control.
     
  6. Jack Matthews

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    I guess I just don't see why the SBC, which is basically an organization based on the voluntary cooperation of independent, autonomous congregations, has such a large executive administration for each of its mission boards, agencies and institutions, and additional layers of independent, autonomous structure on the state level where even more executives are employed, spending what appears to me to be excessive amounts of money that is given by churches under the "mssions" tag. The Tennessee Baptist Convention is housed in a rather large office complex in Brentwood, and the size of the building and parking lot indicates to me that there might be over 200 people working there. Supposedly, money given to the Cooperative Program through the TBC goes to its agencies and institutions and then a portion of it is passed along to the SBC. I went to Belmont University, which was at the time "supported" by the TBC and received Cooperative Program money, but it was a drop in the bucket compared to the schools total operating budget, about 1%, and didn't make a dent in the tuition, which provided most of the operating money.

    Tennessee is just one of many different state conventions. I've seen the headquarters buildings of the state conventions in Georgia, North Carolina, Missouri and Texas, and they are all large, imposing structures with lots of employees. The SBC headquarters at Ninth and Commerce in downtown Nashville is nothing to sneeze at, either, nor is the gigantic Lifeway complex which stretches along 10 city blocks. The SBC's North American Mission Board has quite a large, imposing structure in Alpharetta, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta as well, and again, it is a building in which several hundred employees work. I have to wonder how much of the Cooperative Program money actually benefits the mission field or the students in the seminaries? It seems like a lot of people have an administrative or executive tap in the stream.

    Now we read about executives in various SBC agencies having "businesses" on the side, and speaking engagements for which they receive large honorariums and supplement their income by taking advantage of their position. I don't think our church is the only one having discussions about reducing the amount of money we send to this bloated bureaucracy.
     
  7. gb93433

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    It is the good ol' boy system of patting each other on the back. The SBC is full of friends of friends who hire friends of friends. You have got to have a pedigree to get into the inner circle.

    Somebody has got to pay for the new addition on the president's home at SWBTS to house his books and trophy animals he will take into eternity.
     
    #7 gb93433, Feb 20, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2007
  8. gb93433

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    The tuition is going up at the seminaries.

    There are students coming from foreign countries which would love to just have a bicycle in their own country when they return so they do not have to walk to the two or three churches they pastor each week. While at the same time the president at SWBTS goes to those same countries to get trophy animals and bring them back and then asks the Americans for more money to build a library to house his books. Any trustee that would hear such a request should make a motion to have that president removed immediately. That kind of man is not fit to lead with such greed in mind. He does not fit the qualifications of a pastor.
     
  9. PeterM

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    Were you privy to the comments made be Dr. Mike Day, the DOM for the Mid-South Baptist Association, he views the traditional structure and system living on borrowed time and offered several alternatives to take their place. His reasoning sounds alot like your own. The days of the TBC and other state/local associations hoarding funds and resources while creating unecessary redundancy within the system are limited as a massive change must occur.

    Churches are already doing an "end run" around the state associations financially, getting funds and resources directly to the agancies that need them. His main point was that original intent for associations and conventions to be supporting and resourcing the local churches... NOT CREATING THEIR OWN MINISTRIES and MISSIONS!

    I am hopeful for the future...
     
  10. gb93433

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    What I find interesting is the fact that more money is devoted to planting new churches in places where there already the most SBC churches.

    Missions?
     
  11. PeterM

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    Simple fact that older, established churches do not experience the growth as new chruches and chruch plants, thus the stategy the plant as many churches in an area as possible.

    New churches are more effective at reaching new believers. Older more established churches can grow but the typically experience transfer and biological growth.

    There are local and state associations that are using CP dollars to send folks on mission trips and develop ministires that should be done by local churches. Rather than doing what the chruch should be doing and many are, the association can do its original job of resourcing funds and assisstance to the local church. The chruches do no exist to resource the association, but rather visa versa.
     
    #11 PeterM, Feb 20, 2007
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  12. gb93433

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    Perhaps you misunderstood me. When I was in seminary I wanted to plant churches. When I met the folks from the northwest they told me that little money was available for planting churches. However when I met with the folks from Texas there was lots of money available. I would not exactly call that being mission minded.

    It is a fact that the majority of church plants fail within two years. Few seldom tells anyone that statistic.
     
  13. Jack Matthews

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    Statistically, though, regardless of how many new churches are being planted, the SBC isn't growing in the states where it has the largest number of churches and church members. The total membership figure grows, but the figures that count--attendance and baptisms, is dropping off.

    It just seems like there hasn't been a lot of real financial accountability here lately. I've read blogs and articles about the president of Southwestern and his wife earning something like $60,000 in honorariums for outside speaking engagements, this on top of their already significant salary, while the amount that students must pay is increasing. Didn't he try to hire some pastor friend of his from Ft. Worth, Claude Thomas, after Thomas resigned from a church because of financial scandal? Wasn't that some kind of position that he created just to give Thomas a job? Then there was stuff at NAMB over the President making trips to Europe in a private jet for some movie preview, and expensive contracts made with a business owned by his wife, without seeking other bids for the same services? Why does the president of the North American mission board need to go to Europe at board expense? For that matter, why are any of these Baptist executives allowed travel privileges on the CP's dime? The rest of us don't get that privilege. This is money that is given in the name of missions. If most of it isn't being used for that purpose, then that is deceitful, and disrespectful of the people in the churches, particularly those who give genuinely and sacrificially. Missions, in my opinion, isn't paying executive salaries to people who work in an office building shuffling paper, in a building that we've obviously built recently and for which we paid a small fortune.

    The church I attend is an SBC congregation that was a new church plant just a few years ago. We run better than 350 in worship now, due in part to the fact that we have a contemporary worship service and no one else nearby has one. We've debated as to whether we will continue to have the name "Baptist" as part of our identity, and whether we will continue to support the Cooperative Program. This church didn't receive CP funds when it was started, because the people who got it going didn't go through the bureaucratic channels at the TBC. A local church was primarily involved financially and a couple of others contributed furnishings and equipment. We took out a loan to purchase our building, which we have paid off in two years. It gets increasingly more difficult to convince our people to contribute to the Cooperative Program when they are aware of the salaries that are paid to the executives. The inclination is to put that money into direct support of either a local ministry or finding a missionary couple already on the field who raise their own support.
     
    #13 Jack Matthews, Feb 20, 2007
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  14. gb93433

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    Shouldn't that tell us a lot about the SBC leadership? The majority of them live in those areas. That is the proof of what you get when you settle for politicians instead of workers.

    The gurus have gotten their experience at the lips of someone talking instead of working and making disciples.
     
    #14 gb93433, Feb 22, 2007
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  15. PeterM

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    Simple rule of change: You will have a better chance at seeing change come to fruition if you work from teh inside, rather than be critical from the outside.

    In the case of your church... why in the world did you break the wonderful momentum you had. What you should do, even now, is plant yet another church. Your body has obviously been blessed... give those blessings away with no strings. Why do you think you received them in the first place. The CP can be restored and once again be the tool it was intended to be. However, if your fellowship doesn't participate, you will not have a voice.

    As far as being a baptist... well that has been discussed at length. Most members of baptist churches have no idea of the history or meaning behind the word. Before that label is tossed, everyone should have a at least a basic understanding of what it means.

    Blessings to you and your fellowship!
     
  16. gb93433

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    Not in the case of Martin Luther. He started the reformation.

    Not as long as fox is guarding the hen house.

    Most know what Baptists are against not what they are for.
    Many know Baptists as anti-Catholic and not as people who love God.
     
  17. Jack Matthews

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    We'll start another church soon. That's been the plan from the beginning, when we reached capacity of our facility. And it will be a plant with no strings attached.

    As far as the SBC goes, I'm wondering if a good, natural downsizing isn't something that would be a good thing in making the operation much more efficient and much less prone to thinking that it has an unlimited cash supply, or if the unforseen consequences of such, which I think is inevitable, would just make some of the bureaucrats learn how to hang on to what they've got.
     
  18. gb93433

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    Take a look at www.ctkonline.com. That church has been doing very well since it began in 1999. Take a look at how many churches they have planted.
     

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