According to Marv Knox, editor of the Baptist Standard, TBC’s chapter as a denominational political entity is closed, and the organization must now “reinvent” itself as an educational agency. 

“Texas Baptists Committed must reinvent itself, as some observers hoped it would do a couple of years ago. The BGCT does not need TBC to endorse its officers or rally folks to attend meetings. But our convention and all freedom-loving Baptists need TBC to help them become all they can be. TBC—or something much like it—must become a first-rate educational organization. Baptists need to know our heritage. We need creative methods for instilling our principles in the lives of our people. And even though the heat of battle has chilled, we need wise and winsome warnings about the clear—if not imminently present—danger of fundamentalism. We also need advocacy for our mission and ministry, for our institutions, and for all the “least of these” who will not receive the gospel and experience wholeness if we do not reach them.”

I can’t disagree with the need for advocacy of our mission and ministry, for our institutions, for educating Baptists in their history and heritage, or for creative methods for instilling principles in the lives of our people.  All of that sounds great, though somewhat vague and undefined, and similar to the political cliches of the past couple of decades in Baptist life.  But a Baptist convention, unlike most other denominational structures, only facilitates cooperation between independent, autonomous, though “like minded” churches.  That’s something that both sides have forgotten in the great Baptist controversy. 

“Criticism aside, we owe a debt of gratitude to Texas Baptists Committed. Thanks to TBC, our state convention has not endured the upheaval and redirection that afflicted the national convention and many other states. Our state convention stands as a bastion for historic Baptist principles, such as soul competency, the priesthood of all believers, local church autonomy, the primacy of Jesus, and the separation of church and state. We have had Hispanic, African-American and female presidents. Thank God and TBC, our strong and vital institutions have neither fallen to fundamentalism nor forsaken our convention.”

In light of what Texas Baptists look like today, the veracity of this statement is certainly up for debate.  Certainly, when TBC began its work, it did not envision a fragmented, splintered, much-reduced BGCT with an executive staff that spends much of its time pondering how it will pay the bills out of a steadily shrinking stream of Cooperative Program contributions from a slowly declining number of cooperating churches.  And while those who are supportive of its efforts throw admiring glances its way, lauding its preservation of “historic Baptist principles” and the ethnic diversity of some of its officers, there are real, and unanswered questions about its commitment to historic, traditional Baptist beliefs and theology.  On the other side of the line in the sand that TBC drew are Baptists whose doctrine and theology is firmly rooted in a belief that the Bible is a “perfect treasure of divine inspiration.”  There are some teachings and practices in institutions and agencies of the BGCT that, in spite of protests to the contrary, have created real doubts in the minds of a significant number of Texas Baptists regarding the BGCT’s commitment to that. 

“It also endorsed slates of BGCT presidents and vice presidents, who won victories every year. Their elections controlled the process for nominating board members of about 27 agencies and institutions affiliated with the state convention, plus the BGCT Executive Board. These steps rebuffed efforts to steer the BGCT in the direction of the national convention, an endeavor that succeeded in most other state conventions.”

Controlled.  There is the key word in that portion of the paragraph cited above from the Standard.  The end result is a BGCT which is now perceived as elitist and exclusive.  The fact of the matter is that most Baptist organizations drift into the prominence and prestige game, and have some sort of tendency to become cliquish and exclusive, but the BGCT, through TBC, has made a system of Baptist royal privilege an art form.  Those on the inside laud that as an accomplishment.  Those who have been excluded, either through theological disagreement, or because they are not involved in prominent churches with pro-active TBC leadership, are leaving in droves and taking their CP dollars with them.

There are some critics of TBC who have said all along that they fear an eventual “merger” of some sort between TBC and the BGCT.  This particular editorial, calling for the “reinvention” of TBC, linking it to the Baptist General Convention of Texas as an “educational” organization promoting the convention’s missions and ministry, and its institutions and agency, appears to be laying the groundwork for such a move to occur.

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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.

9 responses

  1. Colby Evans says:

    Wow. In secular politics, an organization that had done that much damage to one of the major parties would have long since been put out of its misery.

  2. Ray Burch says:

    I have a real problem giving TBC credit for “preserving historic Baptist principles” among Texas Baptists when it has helped keep trustee boards at the convention related institutions and agencies which support doctrinal views and interpretations which are, at the very least, inconsistent with what most Baptists teach and practice, and which in some cases are heretical. At the top of the list are teachings which undermine the authority and veracity of the Bible as “a perfect treasure of divine inspiration.” TBC has stacked trustee boards and packed the BGCT executive board with individuals who promote theological error and outright heresy, and that is exactly why there has been a substantial exodus of churches from BGCT affiliation. The rhetoric which lauds Currie and TBC for keeping the BGCT out of “fundamentalist” hands is laughable. What they have done is preserve as much of the denominational hegemony as they can for their closest friends, and excluded anyone else. This recent, faint, slight turn back to the right to appease what appears to be a significant and substantial majority of its remaining churches who are standing by the SBC is too little, too late. The future of “Texas Baptists,” a term which the BGCT has co-opted in a desperate attempt to grab at straws, lies with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

  3. spiritualsamurai says:

    Lee,

    I believe you and I both see Marv Knox for what he is, one of the elitists who has nearly killed the Baptist Standard. You do not know who is writing their stories (Ken Camp let Currie write his own) or who the editor really is Marv Knox or Ken Hall.

  4. Ken Coffee says:

    Merging TBC with the BGCT would serve no purpose, since the TBC members are already committed to the BGCT. As I previously blogged, I think TBC can have a role in helping our churches understand the mission of the BGCT. Frankly, I can’t see there is anythying left to merge.

  5. doug evans says:

    If there is to be a reinvention, then let’s all make it one that is needed. Currently, our success rate in Texas is nothing short of appalling, if measured by church attendance, baptisms and outreach to our communities. I fail to see any of our internal bickering about right and wrong reaching the lost. There is a reason we are becoming irrelevant as a denomination and as soul-winners, and we are it. If Texas Baptist, I mean all of them, would become Texas Christians we could be much more effective. This reinvention must be a heart issue, we are only going to be corporately what we choose to be individually. We want to talk Baptist History, let’s become the Baptist of yesteryear, there services were loud with amens, passionate with sermons and moving in invitations. pastors would bring people to the alter, sin was confronted, and people were saved. Our cities had revival, our state had meaning and our nation had direction due to the presence of Christ in our daily lives. Reinvention of TBC, BGCT, SBC or QVC makes very little difference to a lost and dying world. Let our leaders give an accounting not of the latest program developed for the masses but of the personal evangelism and the fruits of it. Let us be led by soul winners not politicians or theologians. Then we will be a soul winning organization naturally as it should be.

    the simple ramblings of a mechanic/pastor

  6. spiritualsamurai says:

    Doug,

    Great comment. Thank you….

  7. rick davis says:

    If the BGCT cannot stand up for itself yet, there is not much hope for its existence. If BGCT needs someone from outside to come in and teach baptist principles, it is not worth saving.

    In short, TBC did all it could do. Now, the funeral. Then, the next day.

  8. Lee says:

    Lots of good comments here. Doug, you hit the nail on the head, and Ray, so did you.

    Essentially, unless “Historic Baptist Principles” are rooted firmly in the Bible, they are not worth preserving. Though it has been clouded by a lot of other issues, and shoved around by denominational politics, that’s the bottom line, it has been, and it is now. What some call a heroic battle to preserve historic Baptist principles, others call turf protecting.

  9. doug says:

    There is a financial delimma in reinvention, who gets the dollars. As a group we should demand results to receive the God’s money. If our seminary graduates are having the problem Focus on the Family claims, of 95% burnout in 5 years then we should require them to reinvent themselves inorder to continue receiving funding. If our conventions are not focused on ministry more than survival then they should reinvent themselves to continue receiving funding. Not a surface re-whatever a really serious problem solving effort that has measurable results. If that is unattainable then why should funding be offered.
    Plainly God’s work is being done around our world and I am tired of supporting status quo works as some of the real work is happening under-funded on the raw edge that is called Faith Ministries…they simply go to the work an fully expect God to fill the needs…and surprisingly He is.
    Let us as “Texas Baptist” stop ministering by available dollars and allotments and get back to our roots – believing what we read in the Bible not just reading what we believe. His promise is to supply every need, if we are doing what we can afford to there is no need for His provision. We must minister beyond the edge of reason. Let us be a people of Faith again.