SBC control of NOBTS

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by gb93433, Feb 18, 2004.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    Associated Baptist Press

    February 18, 2004 Volume: 04-15

    New Orleans Seminary delays
    SBC effort to consolidate control
    By Tony Cartledge
    NASHVILLE (ABP) -- New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, the lone holdout in a lengthy SBC attempt to gain stronger control over its entities, is under increasing pressure to change its charter to make the SBC the "sole member" of its corporation.
    The seminary's trustees voted in their Oct. 6-8, 2003, board meeting to decline an earlier request to make the SBC its sole member.
    Following two hours of detailed and often repetitive discussion, the SBC Executive Committee voted Feb. 17 to officially request that the NOBTS trustees reverse course and amend the seminary charter during their spring 2004 meeting to make the SBC its sole member. The motion asks that the action be forwarded to the Executive Committee "for subsequent recommendation" to the SBC during its June 2004 meeting.
    If the NOBTS trustees again decline to comply, the Executive Committee could ask SBC messengers to approve a motion to make the same request. If that happens, NOBTS president Chuck Kelley said, the trustees would comply.
    The "bottom line" is that he and the trustees understand that the seminary is owned by the SBC, Kelley said. "If the Southern Baptist Convention asks all of its entities to do this, if they make their recommendation to New Orleans Seminary, then New Orleans Seminary is
    going to do it."
    But, Kelley said, he would prefer the option of working out alternative changes to the charter that would address the same concerns.

    "Sole membership" is a legal term pertinent to non-profit corporations. Naming the SBC as sole member allows the convention to control the election and dismissal of entity trustees while granting the trustees authority to direct the organization's work and financial affairs. The requested changes grant the SBC nine specific powers designed to thwart any possible attempt trustees might make to withdraw from the SBC fold, as trustees of some state convention entities have done.
    Naming the SBC as sole member also decreases the convention's level of liability for any debts or lawsuits incurred by the entities by creating a "statutory immunity" for the SBC, said convention attorney Jim Guenther.
    The move toward asking entities to adopt the "sole member" provision began in 1995, when officials charged with reorganizing the North American Mission Board sought to bring its articles of incorporation into line with current law. NAMB adopted language naming the SBC as its sole member in 1996.
    Executive Committee President Morris Chapman sent a memo to all entity heads in Sept. 1997, requesting that they follow suit. The International Mission Board and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission adopted the language in 1997, followed by LifeWay Christian
    Resources and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1998.
    The Annuity Board, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary made the requested change in 1999. When Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary joined the list in 2000, NOBTS remained the sole entity that had not adopted the SBC as its sole member.
    Kelley said the seminary trustees are sympathetic to the Executive Committee's concern and are committed to the same goal of clarifying the school's relationship to the SBC. Trustees have been disinclined to make the change, he said, because they consider it a violation of Baptist
    polity, and because peculiarities of Louisiana law could cause the SBC to become more liable, rather than less, if it becomes the seminary's sole member.
    Concerning polity, Kelley said his concern is not about the present but the future. "What would happen if there were an Executive Committee controlled by moderates who would have a desire to undo the conservative resurgence or take Baptists in a different direction?" he asked.
    "We felt like this was a step in a direction that would make it possible for some things to happen in Baptist polity that have not been possible or would be very difficult before," Kelley said. "My concern is not the size of the step, but the direction of the step," he said later.

    As another policy concern, Kelly said the Executive Committee seems to be more interested in directing the seminary than advising it, and is unwilling to hear counter proposals from the seminary trustees.
    The seminary hired Greg Irwin, an expert in Louisiana corporate law, as a consultant, Kelley said. Irwin advised the trustees that protections for the SBC as spelled out in the seminary's current charter would be sustained by Louisiana law, Kelley said, while changing to a sole membership arrangement might weaken the SBC's position. Additionally, Irwin passionately believes the move would increase liability for the SBC in the case of an ascending liability lawsuit, Kelley said.
    Guenther disagreed, insisting that making the SBC the sole member for NOBTS would grant statutory immunity to the convention. Louisiana law recognizes directors and members of corporations, Guenther said, and the current arrangement names the trustees as both directors and
    members, leaving the SBC as a third party, with no legal governance.
    Guenther said the convention's goal is "to give the Southern Baptist Convention the inalienable right to elect the seminary's trustees."
    "The Southern Baptist Convention means to have the right to elect the trustees as long as the convention chooses to do so," he said. "The convention wants to make certain that the seminary is legally tied to this convention and that the seminary could not at some time in the future declare its independence from the convention, as has occurred in the state convention arena."
    Spelling out the rights of the SBC is necessary, Guenther said, because "there are several strategies by which a board might undertake to flee convention control." Guenther cited potential strategies and said "there are several gates to the institutional corral, which must be kept locked, and the convention must have the right to control those gates."
    Guenther explained that the nine specified rights included in the request give the SBC power to appoint and remove trustees, along with the right to approve any changes in the charter and any merger, consolidation, dissolution, sale or lease of a majority of assets, or creation of a subsidiary corporation.
    Kelley said the issue involves two groups who love Southern Baptists who are looking at a complicated issue and seeing it differently.
    Kelley was questioned by several Executive Committee members, who had been given more than 140 pages of documents detailing the lengthy negotiations between the Executive Committee and NOBTS.
    Bruce Martin of North Carolina questioned Kelley's concern that the seminary seemed to want the option to leave the convention if the SBC should became more moderate. "If you have the option to walk away 50 years from now, then you have the option to walk away today," Martin
    said. "We as Southern Baptists have the responsibility to make sure you don't have that walk-away option."
    Kelley said he did not believe the trustees have such an option now, and are not trying to leave themselves a loophole for the future.
    When the question finally came to a vote, the Executive Committee approved the motion overwhelmingly, with two opposing votes.
    Afterward, Kelley said he had hoped to be able to find a different resolution that would please both the SBC and the seminary. "I regret that they weren't patient enough to allow an entity to finish the process," he said. He predicted the seminary trustees will not act on the Executive Committee's request but will wait for SBC messengers to make the request. Then, he said, "I guarantee they will revisit the issue."
     
  2. go2church

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    It is only a matter of time before New Orleans is forced into making this move. It is not a baptist thing the SBC (hey but when has that ever stopped them) is trying to do and is reflective of the distrust that the SBC leadership has about things it cannot control. I have met Dr. Kelly and I can assure you that he isn't leaving the SBC, he is Pope Paige's brother-in-law for goodness sake. Nothing New Orleans has done would even come close to warrenting this action. In fact for many years New Orleans was considered the most conservative of the six seminaries. Most of the funding they recieve is directly from the SBC. They pioneered a prison education program that is training hard-core criminals that is highly commendable and becoming a model for others to follow. Yet, the SBC is demanding this, it makes no sense whatsoever. In the interest of full disclosure, I have a sister and brother-in-law who are New Orleans grads.
     
  3. gb93433

    gb93433
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    I am told there is only one thing behind it. They want Mohler as chancellor and Patterson is against that.
     
  4. Hardsheller

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    Your source has a flaw.....

    No way the Exec Committee of the SBC will approve Mohler, a renowned Calvinist as Chancellor. This is someone's fantasy! ;)
     
  5. preachinjesus

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    From what I understand of the controversy there are two sticking points for the trustees:

    1. there seems to be a matter of definitions with LA's quirky (to say the least) laws of non-profit incorporate

    2. the more pressing issue of Baptist polity

    personally I have no problem with it, these entities are funded largely by the SBC thus the SBC can be seen, legally, to be their sanctitioning body.
     
  6. Todd

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    It's nice to see that we get an "unbiased" view on this issue from Brother Tony Cartledge of the "Associated" Baptist Press. I love when moderates quote the ABP. In any event, preachingJesus is right - the six Southern Baptist seminaries are funded in very large part by Cooperative Program $$$. Why shouldn't the Convention have the say in many of the matters listed above. This action by the SBC is not a "power hungry takeover" as Brother Cartledge and others would have us to believe. Rather, it is a safeguard for the seminaries from becoming what they once were (please see the 1992 SEBTS enrollment for a refresher on what the seminaries once were). The last thing we need is six Southern Baptist seminaries becoming like many of our Baptist State colleges now are - breeding grounds for liberal professors. Many of those colleges have broken ties with their state conventions, and that is the last thing we need to happen with our seminaries. I applaud the work of the Executive Committee.
     
  7. gb93433

    gb93433
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    Can you imagine any of the SBC seminaries holding a candle to men like Broadus and A.T. Robertson? Control means nothing if it is not good control. Paige Patterson is a dispensationalist. Historically SBC professors are not dispensationalists. Spurgeon called it Darbyism.

    Sometime read anything A.T. Robertson has written and then read the books written today coming from the SBC. There is a huge academic difference.

    You are right about the Baptist Colleges. HBU published the horoscope in its paper each week. As far as I know all of the SBC colleges knowingly accept non-believers to work and attend classes there. What would they do if a graduate ever applied to teach there.

    why do you think that SWBTS publishes the givers to the seminary? Why do you think it is published what each church gives to the cooperative program? MONEY and manipulation
     
  8. Todd

    Todd
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    GB, your implying that the SBC seminaries don't have anyone who can "hold a candle" to the likes of men like Broadus and Robertson is ridiculous. There are many great scholars in SBC life right now: Al Mohler, Paige Patterson, Bruce Ware, David Alan Black, L. Russ Bush, etc. Just think about the great intellectual acumen of the men I mentioned

    1. Al Mohler - consistenly called upon even by the secular media to define SBC doctrine to the world. An outstanding young scholar.

    2. Paige Patterson - in my opinion, the greatest theologian in SBC life. For instance, I saw him debate the radical Stanley Hauerwas in 2001 - he made him look like a little school boy. He can speak on nearly any topic with great theological prowess.

    3. Bruce Ware - a great theologian and defender of orthodox theology. If you don't believe me, just look at any of his recent work in rebuttal of "open theism."

    4. David Alan Black - one of the premier NT scholars in the world. Like A.T. Robertson, he has the acclaim of the world-wide NT community of scholars. His recent work on the Synoptic problem has been both ground-breaking (to the modern culture) and very much needed.

    5. L. Russ Bush - there is probably no finer Christian philosopher on the entire planet. Like Black, he has the respect of Christian philosophers worldwide.

    To imply that our seminaries are no longer breeding grounds for great scholars is simply ridiculous. I'll remind you that it was because of the work of some scholars such as E.Y. Mullins and Herschel Hobbs (A.T. Robertson's pupil) that so much "wiggle-room" was left within the BF&M. It took today's scholars to clearly define what SBC theology is, and I for one am thankful that they have done so.

    Contradictory to what you think, the SBC is not currently be run through some system of "money and manipulation." I can see where some disgruntled moderates/liberals may be of that persuasion, but anyone who is actively involved in SBC life will clearly see that things are not the way you make them out to be.
     
  9. preachinjesus

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    lest we forget professors the likes of Dr. E. Earle Ellis who have penned extraordinary texts that are accepted and sought after by theologians and scholars worldwide. [​IMG]

    We have a fairly young theology faculty at SWBTS right now, but the men who occupy those offices will soon be adding their contributions to scholarship that will continue to legitimatize the biblical worldview and positions of the SBC.

    I echo what Todd said about the other members of seminaries. Excellent points all around.
     
  10. Baptist Believer

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    Is Dr. Ellis still teaching classes? I know he is not officially retired, but I imagine that Southwestern still wants him on campus because of his scholarship.
     
  11. go2church

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    Where are the happy faces? That is very funny stuff!
     
  12. preachinjesus

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    Actually yes Dr. Ellis is still teaching classes. Technically he is the theology researcher in residence so he can continue to pump out these excellent documents, but he still manages to teach classes. Actually I had him for Theology of the Gospels in Spring 03. Great stuff!
     
  13. gb93433

    gb93433
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    I agree and disagree with you. Ever read the grammar Robertson wrote? Ever read any of his other works? May are still in use today.

    It is not about SBC theology. It is about God and His theology. Theology is manifest where the rubber meets the road.

    I pastored in the SBC and saw what a disgrace it was first hand. Men that would not step up to the plate. I pastored a church that allowed the Mormon bishop to preach locally. When I stepped up to the plate, I got no help form the local SBC pastors, and state workers and DOM. How’s that for SBC theology? They would take the church’s money though. The one pastor that stepped up to the plate was a local Pentecostal pastor who told the leaders one-by-one it was wrong and we sought to do something about it. I am not a moderate and I am not that kind of SBC person either who make great claims of believing the Bible and ignore it when it is convenient. . I came into the SBC thinking they believed the Bible and would stand on it. I found out otherwise. I had great professors at SWBTS and was very impressed. But when I started pastoring I found out otherwise. I saw men deviate from what they were taught. I have seen trustees that deviated to get in with the right crowd. I know that is everywhere. and not just in the SBC.

    I do agree with you about Bush and Black in many ways. I know little about Ware.

    So you don’t think it is about money and manipulation. Why do you think they are wanting to change their name? Vance Havner once said, “Well, I suppose it doesn't do any harm to change labels on an empty bottle."

    What do you think about all those churches in Arizona that lost all or almost all of their money in the BFA scandal. Before it even happened I warned my church and other pastors about the wrongness of how it was operated. The response was it is SBC therefore it is good. The problem was that it was not of God and was wrong. So god took it away. It was operated under false pretenses and operated wrongly. Even some of the local people knew better.

    What would you think if I told you that back in the 90's the SBC started bringing non-SBC people on their boards for advice? What would you think about a seminary hiring non-SBC people to be employed there? What would you think about hiring people at SWBTS as professors who graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary to teach? DTS does not even agree with the theology taught at the SBC seminaries. Patterson is one of those who would agree with DTS. It wasn’t but a few years ago that Dr/ Lea spoke about dispensational theology and how he believed it was wrong. Now we have a president of SWBTS that thinks it is right. Know of any SBC colleges, universities and seminaries that teach dispensational theology? When I was a student at SWBTS not one of the NT studies and theology professors believed dispensational theology.

    You are right SBC theology is not what it once was. You do know that the original SBC believed in slavery and supported stealing people from their homeland. I am glad to see that some changes have been made.

    Some of the finest men who taught at SWBTS have left. Hardly any are still there. Some are just waiting to retire so they can get out of there. Some have even taken an early retirement. Ever read the article about Dr. MacGorman and what he said? Just ask a few retired professors what they think about what is happening. What would you think about the author of a book telling me personally that what he believes is not written in the book that was published with his name on it as the author. Some things were changed that did not represent his beliefs. Integrity by the editors and publisher? Would you call that Christian ethics? Two of the consulting editors for that book are from the people you listed. The author was a dean of theology at one of our seminaries.

    Read the accounts of when Dr. Dilday was fired. Integrity by the trustees? Is that the kind of theology that is present and called good today?

    It’s not about being a moderate, liberal or fundamental. It about trusting God. It’s about believing God’s word. I am convinced that some believe image is more important. Doesn’t that sound much like Mormonism today.
     
  14. JGrayhound

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    I don't see what NOBTS and Kelley are hoping to gain from this.

    This move on their part makes no sense.
     
  15. gb93433

    gb93433
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    Remember what relationship Patterson and Kelley have.
     
  16. JGrayhound

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    So?

    Enough with conspiracy theories.

    Kelley has no leg to stand on with this and he is digging himself into a hole. I still don't see what he is trying to do. His reasoning is weak, and it'll get accomplished one way or another. Why did he pick this as a hill to die on...because he will not win this. He will not win, not because of power of SBC but because he is wrong.
     
  17. dr396

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    I got some inside info on this if anyone is interested. When this soulmember thing first came out it sounded good to everyone so all the presidents signed it, except Kelly who had to go through some hoops waiting on the trustees and the lawyers to get around to looking into LA state law. He had intended to sign it like everyone else though. Then Patterson and Mohler started to rethink their positions. They decided that this thing could go bad were there to be a liberal SBC president voted in. So Patterson called Kelly and told him not to sign. Kelly then tried to get out of it through diplomacy, then a position paper, then by means of a vote by the trustees and so on. The Executive committee, however, would not give in. He told them that if they met and voted to ask for NOBTS to sign, then he would do so, but asked that they not take this step. The committee did anyway and have asked Kelly for the seminary to sign on. Now they are waiting for a board of trustees meeting to determine their next action, which will likely be to sign. Still Patterson, Mohler, and Kelly feel it is a bad idea along with a lot of other conservatives. Apparently the only ones who think it is good are those on the Executive Committee and those who don't know the whole story.

    Oh, and a side note. I think if you look at the faculty of Southern Seminary, you will see that it is probably stronger than any other faculty in the history of the Southern Baptist convention -- Boyce and Broadus would truly be proud of their heritage.

    D.R.
     
  18. Jeffrey H

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    Preach it, brother! Preach it! I could not agree with you more.
     

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