The current state of the Baptist General Convention of Texas

****Disclaimer**** In the original article there are numerous footnotes with citations and websites listed to document what is found here. That formating did not come when I imported the document. If you would like a copy of the document in Word please email me at paulduncan@mambrino.org 

Information Concerning Mambrino Baptist Church’s Affiliation
With the Baptist General Convention of Texas

The purpose of this document is to inform the membership of MBC of trends, teachings, and practices currently guiding the BGCT.

Many of you will ask if this even matters. Here is a brief list of why you should be concerned with the happenings in our State Convention:
• 10% of your tithe goes to the Cooperative Program which pays for BGCT and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) institutions and individuals to operate. Simply by giving financially you are declaring your support. If you tithe to MBC and do not stipulate how those funds are allocated you are affirming the efforts of the BGCT and SBC.
        o Currently 10% of all undesignated offerings at MBC are allocated to the Cooperative Program. 72% of those funds remain in Texas with the BGCT and 28% is sent on to the national convention, the Southern Baptist Convention.

• Your tithe goes to support the colleges and seminaries of the BGCT. Your tithe is a vote of confidence in the administration and teachers of these schools.
        o These colleges and seminaries train the pastors, missionaries, ministers, and lay-leaders of tomorrow. Their theological positions are critical for shaping the theology of future ministers, missionaries, and churches.

• Your tithe goes to fund particular mission efforts and strategies through the BGCT to reach those outside the state of Texas.
       o This historically and practically has not been the role of the State Convention but the role of the National Convention.
       o You may ask, Aren’t more missions better than less missions? Yes, but when mission monies are allocated for the duplication of administrative personal this does not help missions but takes necessary funds out of the mission field and puts it in the BGCT Baptist Building for state-side non-missionary staff.

• Church Planting
       o This historically and practically has been one of the functions of the State Convention; helping churches in Texas plant churches in Texas.
       o The BGCT has recently announced affiliation with the Emerging Church Network and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) in regards to church planting.

• Specific Theological issues of concern
       o The BGCT’s unwillingness to defend the inerrancy of Scripture
       o The BGCT’s open support for, special training of, and call to the churches to hire women as senior pastors.
       o The BGCT’s unwillingness to defend the biblical teaching that God knows the future while supporting those who teach Open Theism which denies God’s knowledge of the future.
       o The BGCT’s obvious support for the Emerging Church Movement. This movement often denies the existence of truth as defined by Scripture or the person of God.

I. Specific concerns regarding the direction and theology of the BGCT
       A. The BGCT’s intentional movement away from the biblical and historic Baptist position defending the inerrancy and innate authority of Scripture
              1. In a workshop at the 2007 BGCT Annual Convention discussing the development of the canon of Scripture (what books make up the Bible) Dr. Dan Stiver, theology professor at Hardin-Simmons, drew the conclusion that the canon should still be open allowing us to add books to the Bible when we feel it is appropriate.
              2. Take note that when a person/entity is only willing to affirm the authority of Scripture it is generally because that person/entity is not able to affirm the inerrancy of Scripture. Among BGCT leadership this is the current position.
              3. The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message made inerrancy a primary issue. The BGCT rejects the 2000 BF&M holding instead to the 1963 BF&M. Affirming the inerrancy of Scripture among convention leadership became the major issue in the Conservative Resurgence leading to the theological turnaround in the SBC.
              4. If you would like to see a comparison of the 2000 and 1963 BF&M you can find one at http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfmcomparison.asp

       B. The deliberate movement away from the inerrancy and innate authority of Scripture has led to the introduction and support of these practices:
              1. The role of senior pastor is open to both men and women
                     a) Why does this matter? Malcolm Yarnell theology professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary says it well, “As a pro-homosexual bishop told me, the ordination of homosexuals was a logical extension of the ordination of women which in turn was a logical extension of the ordination of divorced men. Indeed, in England, calls for the ordination of women were followed in a few years by calls for the ordination of homosexuals. Once you begin claiming that a scriptural statement must be interpreted entirely according to the ancient biblical cultural context and that it may not be applicable to our context, you open the door to such ethical shifts”
                     b) On Baylor University’s The Lariat Online an article titled, “Editorial: BGCT election signals changing of the guard” made this statement, “The SBC holds the belief that women should not hold positions of leadership within the church…The BGCT is filled with moderate Baptists who maintain that women holding leadership positions within the church is in line with generally accepted New Testament theology. Unlike more conservative interpretations of the Bible that make leadership a gender issue, the BGCT and other moderate Baptists acknowledge the cultural context of passages related to women’s roles in the church.”
                     c) The recent Oct 19th ‘Women in Ministry’ conference hosted by Hardin-Simmons University and the BGCT was for the purpose of encouraging and equipping women who sense God’s call to the ministry including senior pastors of Baptist churches. The Rev. Dorisanne Cooper current senior pastor of Lakeshore Baptist Church in Waco was a speaker.
                     d) The current Executive Director of the BGCT, Charles Wade, made this statement concerning how BGCT churches should respond to the trend to call out, train, and hire women pastors:
                              (1) “That’s exactly as it should be, BGCT Executive Director Charles Wade said. Texas Baptist churches already certify women for ministerial programs, making them eligible for ministerial scholarships through the convention. They also need to be open to hiring them, as well, he said.”
                              (2) Quote taken from “Women in ministry describe journey together” published in the Baptist Standard.
                     e) Roger Olson, professor of Theology at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological seminary has been an open supporter of churches calling women to be their senior pastor. Cooperative program money goes to pay his salary and support the way he is educating our next generation of ministers.
                     f) The current President of the BGCT is Joy Fenner, the first woman president in the history of the BGCT. At the convention she was charged with “leading our churches” by Charles Wade.
                                   (1) She received 900 votes while her opponent, David Lowrie, received 840 votes. The two messengers from MBC, Pastor Paul and Aaron Landis, voted for David Lowrie.
                     g) The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship who is linked in many ways to the BGCT is openly in support of churches calling women as senior pastors.

                     h) Biblical Testimony concerning a woman’s place of leadership in the church:
                              (1) 1 Timothy 2:12; 1 Corinthians 14:34&35
                              (2) On the issue of gender roles see Genesis 1:27; 2:18; Matthew 19:4; Ephesians 5:22-6:4; and Colossians 3:7-21
                     i) Statement from MBC By-laws concerning pastors:
                             (1) A man found to exhibit the spiritual qualifications of Pastor is to be recommended to the congregation by a special committee that the congregation has charged with the responsibility of locating and interviewing the candidate.
                     j) 2000 Baptist Faith & Message concerning pastors:
                                 (1) While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

              2. Open Theism- the belief that God does not know exactly what will happen in the future. God knows what might happen but not what will happen. God learns and reacts as we learn and act. Open Theism is taught and believed by BGCT leadership.

                     a) At the 2007 BGCT convention Pastor Paul submitted a resolution to the Resolutions Committee calling on the Convention to openly defend the truth that God has known exhaustively and exactly from eternity past the actions of His creation and thereby deny the teaching of Open Theism.
                     b) The resolution did not make it to the convention for discussion and vote because such a statement was deemed “too controversial” by the Resolutions Committee.

                     c) The action of the Resolution Committee displays clearly the theological stance of the BGCT: affirming God’s knowledge of the future would be too controversial because so many pastors, institution leaders, church members, and churches do not believe God knows the future.

                     d) Wallace Roark, then professor of Christian Studies at Howard Payne University, in a Baptist Standard article wrote, “But because God is love, and because he created humans with the freedom that love entails, God does not know the actual future until it happens. It is open.”

                     e) Baptist Standard Editor Marv Knox wrote an article on Open Theism titled “Evangelicals debate open theism.” In the article a clear denial of the claims of Open Theism is missing by him and BGCT leadership. What is there is the support of Dr. Robert Olsen professor at Truett Seminary.

                     f) Biblical testimony concerning God’s knowledge:
                           (1) Numbers 23:19; Psalm 139:5, 16; Isaiah 14:26&27; 46:9-11; Luke 3:18; 4:28; 22:22; Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:2, 20; Revelation 22:13

                     g) 2000 Baptist Faith & Message statement:
                           (1) God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures.

              3. The Emerging Church- a way of doing church that denies absolute truth.
                     a) This movement is based on Postmodernism. Postmodernism basically holds to the belief that truth is cultural; each culture or community gets to define for themselves what is and is not true. Truth is not defined by God or the Bible but by the culture.

                     b) See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerging_Church for a helpful description of the Emerging Church.

                     c) In the 2007 BGCT workshop with Dr. Dan Stiver, professor from HSU, he told us that Logsdon had recently sent a number of theology students to Gateway Community Church in Austin, a large Emerging Church, so they could learn from Gateway’s pastor.

                     d) “The [BGCT] staff also works with the Emerging Church Network to minister to younger generations that may not feel comfortable in traditional congregations.”
                             (1) Visit http://www.emergingchurchnetwork.com for more information about the Emerging Church Network.

                     e) Biblical testimony to the existence of truth:
                            (1) Psalm 25:5; 51:6; 86:1; 119:160; 145:18; Isaiah 10:20; 65:16; Jeremiah 7:28; Amos 5:10; John 1:14, 17; 8:32; 14:6, 17; John 17:17; Romans 1:25; Galatians 2:5; Ephesians 6:14; Colossians 1:5; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 John 4:6;

                     f) MBC Statement of Faith:
                          (1) We believe the Holy Bible is the inspired word of God, has God as its author, salvation for its end, is wholly and completely true without any error, and testifies of Jesus Christ, who is the basis of our faith.

II. Concerns with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
       A. In response to the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the return of the SBC to biblical standards, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) formed. The CBF is a national convention formed by those who disagreed with the conservative direction of the SBC.

       B. Russell Moore, dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, after attending a CBF annual meeting, wrote, “With songs and prayers to ‘Mother God,’ an auxiliary organization of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship opened its annual meeting at the CBF General Assembly Thursday with a clear message—the current controversy is about more than women pastors. The annual Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM) breakfast was rife with stridently feminist God language, culminating in a litany read by BWIM members about their discomfort calling God ‘Father,’ ‘Lord,’ and ‘King.’

       C. James Smith, in an article titled, “The CBF – This Boat Won’t Float,” points out that the Baptist Press exposed pro-homosexual literature in the exhibit hall of the 2000 General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

       D. Church planting has become a joint effort between the BGCT and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF).

III. Specific concerns regarding the BGCT’s choices of institutions to cooperate with:
       A. David Currie, Executive Director of the Texas Baptist Committed, has called for the BGCT to stop sending money to the Southern Baptist Convention and stop funding SBC mission efforts.

              1. The Texas Baptist Committed is highly influential in the BGCT. The last four presidents of the BGCT have been members of the executive board of the Texas Baptist Committed.

       B. The New Baptist Covenant
              1. The New Baptist Covenant is the collaboration of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, the Northern Baptist Convention, and other Baptist groups to come together and address society’s needs.

                     a) BGCT Executive Director Charles Wade made the decision to include the BGCT in the New Baptist Covenant.

IV. What are our options? Note- Mambrino Baptist Church has the right to become members, or remove our membership from any organization.

A. We could stay in the BGCT and work for reform.
1. The difficulty is the majority of conservative churches removed their membership from the BGCT when the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention was formed. The BGCT is made up mostly of Moderate Baptists. Conservative Baptist Churches like Mambrino Baptist Church are rare in the BGCT.

B. We could remove our membership and funding from the BGCT.
1. This action must be taken in a business meeting of Mambrino Baptist Church. The removal of MBC’s membership from the BGCT must come in the form of a motion, receive a second, undergo discussion, then be voted upon by the church body.

C. We could join the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention.
1. This state convention has taken a stance on the inerrancy of Scripture and currently supports the missionary efforts of the Southern Baptist Convention.
2. Visit http://www.sbtexas.com for more information about the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

V. Frequently asked questions/ramifications of this decision

A. Does removal from the BGCT mean we can no longer be a part of the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU)?
       1. The WMU is not a ministry of the state convention. Any church or individual may choose to affiliate with the WMU according to the standards of the WMU.

B. Does removal from the BGCT mean we can no longer be a part of the Paluxy Baptist Association (PBA)?
       1. The PBA is not a ministry of the state convention. Any church may choose to be a member of the local Baptist Association by meeting the standards of that Association.

C. If MBC removes our membership from the BGCT can someone choose to designate their Cooperative Program monies to the BGCT?
       1. Yes, by marking your tithe envelope “Send 10% to the BGCT” funds would be sent to the BGCT. However, MBC would not be recognized as an affiliated church so the monies would be considered an individual donation.

D. Can MBC be a member of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention?
       1. Yes, there is a provision through which a church can be dually aligned with both state conventions.

E. If we remove membership from the BGCT how can we give to Texas missions?
       1. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention have an offering for state missions titled ‘Reach Texas’. Support for Texas missions could continue through this avenue.

F. Will MBC still be able to use the drawings done by the Church Consultant from the BGCT?
       1. Yes, those plans are the property of Mambrino Baptist Church and can be used in any way by our discretion.

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9 thoughts on “The current state of the Baptist General Convention of Texas

  1. Tim, from what you said we are alike. There is much work to be done in all our communities and to the ends of the earth. Thanks for your comment.

  2. May God bless you in your ministry and ministerial affiliations. Regardless of affiliation, we’ve still a lot of work to do here in our communities. I’m pretty sure that you and I may be alike in one thing, neither of us goes to bed thinking about convention affiliation; but we might be loosing sleep about the family down the street that we know is having a hard time.

    Be Well,

    Tim Dahl

  3. David, I have no plans of burning any bridges. If anything this conversation has given me a great respect for both you and Lee Saunders. I guess that’s why I voted for you two at the convention.

    I’m ready to move forward. I have given little to this page until recently because I’m not here to cause a stink. I want to be fair and honest. I’m not here to fight just get the job done in the way I believe is closest to Scripture.

    Working to change a militant attitude while we agree with doctrine is a much brighter prospect for us than changing a militant attitude while we disagree on doctrine.

  4. It should be noted that Dan Stiver has denied drawing the conclusion of explicitly teaching an open canon at the BGCT breakout session. However, since Dr. Stiver has offered no further explanation of his stance on canonicity the conclusion is still evident from his article and powerpoint slides from the breakout session: adding to the Canon would be appropriate.

    Yet in an attempt to be fair to Dr. Stiver the master document has been changed to read:
    “1. In a workshop at the 2007 BGCT Annual Convention discussing the development of the canon of Scripture (what books make up the Bible) Dr. Dan Stiver, theology professor at Hardin-Simmons, introduced a concept he titles “An Incarnational View of Scripture.” His teaching leads to an open canon meaning books could be potentially added to the Bible.”

  5. pastor paul,

    Thank you for letting us see your concerns behind your actions. It is clear you have thought long and hard about this matter. It is far from a knee jerk reaction.

    I can identify with many of your concerns. I am leading our church to stay the course at this point. I am still hopeful for positive change in the near future. Our next Executive Director could make a significant change for good if the committee will be willing to call what Russell Dilday called “a constructive conservative”. I believe the main emphasis our convention needs to be on those matters that united us not those that divide us. In our effort to represent a minority position we have lost touch with the main thing.

    I pray the Lord will guide you and your church as you begin this adventure of faith, but please don’t burn the bridge there could be a day when returning will be your best option.

    David Lowrie

  6. Certainly some interesting points.

  7. You know, I also tried to get a resolution to the floor, and it was referred to the committee on business. Yet the resolutions committee complained to me that they were spending a lot of time coming up with resolutions on their own because, “there aren’t any messengers that turn resolutions in to us.” The words in quotes were theirs.

    My resolution, as you may know, dealt with the “unofficial” participation of the BGCT in the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant in Atlanta. I later found out that two members of the resolutions committee are also serving on committees from that particular event. Their referral seemed innocuous at first, but after hearing your story, it doesn’t quite seem that way any more.

  8. Lee, thanks for your comment. I will be open when I say that I’m not pleased with everything I see in the SBC and I am frankly embarassed by the way things were handled in the 80’s and 90’s on both sides. I’m also not fond of the fundamentalist spirit that is evident from time to in the SBTC.

    But there have been a series of events that have taken me away from the BGCT. I attended a workshop for young pastors either at the 2004 or 2005 BGCT convention and I was asked by another pastor, “Why are you here?” He wasn’t mean or angry that I was there. He didn’t suggest that I should leave. He was simply surprised that a guy like me would be invovled in the BGCT. In 2005 when a candidate was nominated against Michael Bell something along the lines of “he’s definitely not a fundamentalist” was offered for this candidate. It was joked about that the TBC would never let a fundamentalist win an office. I leaned over to my wife who was equally as shocked and I told her, “there’s no place for me here.” I’m the moderator of my local association and this is my 2nd year. I go to the conventions and I vote. I try to get a resolution to the floor and it gets denied because it it “too controversial”. I’m trying to get in the game but nobody wants to let me play.

    There is a pastor in Plano who I became friends with before God called me into the ministry who promises me I’m not a fundamentalist because I’m not angry. I’m not focused on personalities and I’m not here to smear people’s names. I want what is best for the church where God has placed me. God has called me to lead the people and guard the flock. God has called us all to be wise stewards. With the needs of my neighborhood not counting this town it’s hard to muster the energy to fight for reform in the BGCT when we can join and work on the spirit of graciousness among the SBTC.

  9. If I may, I’d like to offer a couple of comments.

    You say, “The difficulty is the majority of conservative churches removed their membership from the BGCT when the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention was formed. The BGCT is made up mostly of Moderate Baptists. Conservative Baptist Churches like Mambrino Baptist Church are rare in the BGCT.”

    I believe there are many conservative churches in the BGCT, in fact, I believe a majority of the churches that have remained in the BGCT are conservative, Bible-believing, evangelistic churches. The churches of the SBTC tend to be more fundamentalist in their approach to the interpretation of scripture, a difference that is significant enough to keep most Texas Baptists from joining in with their convention. That, and the fact that the SBTC really does not have any Texas-based missions enterprises to support, means that I believe churches such as yours need to remain in the BGCT. I believe it is time for churches such as yours to get back into the ball game in convention life, so to speak, and be heard.

    You said, “The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message made inerrancy a primary issue. The BGCT rejects the 2000 BF&M holding instead to the 1963 BF&M. Affirming the inerrancy of Scripture among convention leadership became the major issue in the Conservative Resurgence leading to the theological turnaround in the SBC.”

    The statements on the scripture between the two BFM statements are almost identical. Both proclaim the scripture to be a “perfect” treasure of divine instruction, and that it has “truth without any mixture of error” for its content. Neither statement actually affirms what is known as the “Doctrine of Inerrancy.” I don’t think the problem is with the statement itself, it is with the way it is used. It is not an instruction to the churches as to how they must believe, it is simply the stated, agreed upon basis for cooperation between Baptists. We may not agree on everything doctrinally, but we can agree on enough to cooperate in certain ministry areas. The problem has been that the BGCT hasn’t used it to respond to concerns in the classrooms that have been raised, such as your encounter with open theism from a professor teaching in one of our universities. It isn’t a matter of not having the means to address that issue, it is the will to address it.

    There are changes that need to be made, not in a mean-spirited or venegeful way, but with the gentleness and respect that the scripture mandates for such disagreements. There are people in the BGCT who want to see these changes made. We need churches like yours to step up and help do just that.

    Let me direct you to my blog, http://deepintheheart.wordpress.com
    I’ve linked yours on my blogroll, and I hope you will do the same. The problem with change in Baptist life in the past is that it somehow becomes focused on the personalities involved, and away from the issues. The focus here needs to remain on the issues, and I think you will find some other bloggers with which you have common cause.

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