http://www.baptiststandard.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10133&Itemid=53

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.

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About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

8 responses

  1. spiritualsamurai says:

    Once again, Lee, you have shown great insight and have expressed feelings I also carry. I am praying for what you are seeking to do.

    You are carrying a big load. However, if anyone can see this through, I believe you can.

    Bless you and yours.

  2. Ken Coffee says:

    In my huumble opinion, neither you nor I will live long enough to see one of our institutions dually align. These institutions do not need the BGCT for funds, and the amount being given each is a very small portion of their budgets. Fund raising is largely outside the convention fences anyway. As a trustee of one of these institutions, I can vouch for the fact that we cherish our identity as a BGCT insitution, even though we do not depend on the BGCT for major funding. Now, what you might see is one or more doing what Baylor did, changing their charter so that the BGCT does not elect all their board members. That would allow some of them to find board members in non-BGCT churches.

  3. […] at Deep In the Heart reviews the difficulties faced by narrowly focused organizations like TBC during times of […]

  4. rick davis says:

    Lee,

    You and I totally disagree about one or two major items. As a one time supporter of TBC, I think it was a needed organization at one time. I also think the Conservative Resurgence you mention in the place of Takeover has greatly reduced the SBC. It is now a declining denomination for much the same reason the BGCT has declined. You seem to gloss over this fact.

    TBC failed because it left its mission to protect the BGCT from any takeover and went to making decisions like any school yard bully. I can list some of them for you but the point is they left their historic place and started pushing into territory no one sanctioned them to go. The Praetorian Guard in old Rome came to rule the rulers. The TBC did the same, all denials to the contrary.

  5. Lee says:

    There was a time when I would have fully agreed that TBC was a needed organization. On the surface, it certainly seemed that the BGCT was probably in line for a move by the Conservative Resurgence, or takeover as moderate Baptists like to call it, and that its institutions might be subject to the same tactics for controlling trustee boards as was transpiring in the SBC. I was soured on the conservative resurgence at the outset for a long time, as a result of having been burned in a couple of church positions, and not of my own doing. That’s a long story.

    But, such as it is, I’ve been “behind the scenes” so to speak, in places in what would be called “moderate Baptist life” by some, “flaming liberals” by others, and frankly, I’m more disturbed by what I see there, particularly with regard to theology, and to what I would call “working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” than I am by the tactics that were used by the conservatives in their “takeover” of the SBC, though it is difficult for me to call it that now in light of the fact that 98% of the churches have supported, and gone along with, the “takeover.”

    Most of what I’ve experienced is a personal journey, and much of how I now think and react to things, especially in Baptist life, is directly related to that. It’s a long story. I realized that the “fundamentalists”, so labelled by TBC, would have included virtually the entire membership of the small church in Arizona where I grew up. And I sure didn’t see them with the horns, tails and pitchforks that moderate Baptists do. One of my college classmates used to refer to me as a “Baptist with just enough Pentecostal blood to make you dangerous.” My higher education, at Grand Canyon University, in Arizona, was equally conservative and I came away from that experience with deep respect for men whose names are not necessarily well known, but who have left behind a spiritual legacy and a debt of gratitude from me, and they were in that same category. Likewise, I went to Southwestern at a time when most of its professors were Biblical conservatives, many of whom remained there through the trustee board transition without difficulty.

    So, while TBC “protected” the BGCT from a conservative resurgence takeover, in the long run, it wound up protecting some theological and doctrinal positions that I think are, at the very least, in conflict with the essence and identity of Baptists generally, and of Southern Baptists in particular, including my own convictions, which, at the core are derived from my belief that the Bible is what the Baptist Faith and Message says that it is. TBC’s protection of the BGCT has allowed the latter to continue to support some individuals who hold beliefs and teach things I can’t support. With my stubborn streak and thick head, it took me a while to see this. But I’ve seen it. Given the choice between a Southern Baptist Convention led by individuals who operate with an iron fist inside a velvet glove, but who uphold said parameters of theological conviction, or the moderate “old guard” who flirted with liberal theology and wanted to continue to fund it in the interest of “ministry cooperation,” I’ll take the former.

    I’m a minister of the Gospel, called to this vocational service, and though I have tried to run away from it several times, I can’t. I believe in the integrity and accuracy of the written word, the blood of the living word and the power of the Spirit. In order to do that, and be true to my calling, personal preferences and opinions must be set aside. Ministry is at the local church level and that’s where I serve. I can live with the rough edges of the conservative resurgence, though I don’t put things in the nice, neat packages that they do. But I wasted too much time and spent too much energy crying over something I couldn’t change.

    I am going to make my promised motions at the BGCT in November. Too many people have given their support for me to treat that casually, though I know that they will probably be voted down. The message that will be sent by making them needs to be sent, and I’m told that there are plenty of folks in high places in Dallas who have already taken notice. That will probably be the last time I attend a BGCT meeting.

  6. Colby Evans says:

    Well, I’d have to agree that you’re a Baptist with just enough Pentecostal blood to be dangerous. 🙂
    I have to agree with your evaluation of Texas Baptists Committed as well. For a while, it looked like they were fighting for historic Baptist principles, freedoms and all of that. But much of what they protected from the scrutiny of the people they labelled “fundamentalists” was not really part of historic Baptist principles, or at least, not historic Baptist theology and faith. The end result is a fractured and fragmented convention, the loss of almost two thousand of its churches and more than a third of its budget, and the continuing loss of churches, scandal, dismissal of employees, downsizing. To me, it sure doesn’t look like they were trying to protect cooperative ministry and “historic” Baptist principles, it looks like they were going to draw a line in the sand and wage a battle to protect their turf. Can they really be satisfied that the present end result is a “triumph”?

  7. rick davis says:

    I think you are right with what you intend to do. I also think you will be ruled out of order, out of touch or out of something so fast your head will spin.

    So, I think you are brave and good, which are virtues a minister should have in his heart. I will not be there to cheer you on or scoop up the shards of your broken heart afterward. Please know I admire your resolve and clear thinking.

  8. John95 says:

    When Rerun realizes this, he starts to run after the truck, with no success. ,