One statement from the article in the Baptist Standard stood out:
“In recent years, as the organization has experienced financial hardship and endured questions as to its continued reason for being, the group has tried to shift from its previous role of political organizing to a new identity as promoter of BGCT ministries and institutions, as well as a voice for historic Baptist principles.”
It is extremely difficult for organizations like TBC to make this kind of transition. There are several immediate question that is raised by this statement. Isn’t the BGCT capable of promoting its own ministries and institutions? Is “promoting BGCT ministries and institutions” code for “controlling BGCT ministries and institutions”? From a practical standpoint, it seems that most of what TBC wants to do in restructuring itself is already being done, and that money contributed to keep it going might well be spent elsewhere, especially in the cash-strapped BGCT. Aside from its inner circle of core supporters, it will be a hard sell to convince people that the continued existence of Texas Baptists Committed is anything more than organization to control the inner workings of the BGCT. The move from San Angelo to the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex will only add weight to that speculation.
Originally, Texas Baptists Committed was organized to fight a “fundamentalist takeover” of the BGCT. Though I am not sure the BGCT was ever in danger of being taken over by “fundamentalists,” that was the term they chose to use in preventing the Conservative Resurgence leadership in the SBC from gaining control of agencies and institutions of the BGCT. Though that has been the outcome of their efforts, I would not necessarily say that their “success” matches up exactly with their original intentions. The idea was to keep moderate control of the BGCT in place long enough to protect the institutions and agencies, particularly Baylor University, from takeover attempts of their trustee boards. I don’t think they envisioned the formation of another state convention, nor did they think it would cost them 2,000 churches, with more than a third of their total membership and more than a third of their Cooperative Program budget giving. They were successful in keeping the BGCT out of Conservative Resurgence hands, but I don’t think that a fragmented, much-reduced BGCT was what they had in mind.
The danger of a “fundamentalist” takeover is long since over. Conservative supporters of the SBC in Texas now have an alternative convention, and churches which are not pleased with the more moderate direction of the BGCT can simply join it, rather than go through the cumbersome and frustrating process of trying to elect officers, appoint trustees and work the system. The fact that the institutions and agencies are still with the BGCT is not necessarily a victory that can be celebrated. I would guess, that if current trends continue, and the cost of operating a Baptist university continues to climb that several of the schools that are uniquely affiliated with the BGCT will find a way to dually affiliate. The groundwork is already being laid for that to happen at several of them. It will be hard to resist a support stream from a state convention that has healthy CP contributions flowing in.
The BGCT needs more than just an organization to help promote its ministries and institutions. Promotion, and clinging to something nebulus like “historic Baptist principles” will not help churches meet the ministry and evangelism challenges of the time and culture. The window for effecting the kind of change necessary to do this is closing fast, and may, in fact, already be closed on church organizations and structures designed to meet the needs of people in two generations back. Nor will it help for Texas Baptists to remain divided, and continue to point fingers of blame at who was responsible for the split.