I must be out of my mind for doing this, but I have decided to propose a resolution at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX, June 12-13. Since I am going to wrap up my magical mystery tour through the labrynthine world of Southern Baptist denominational issues, I figure that I might as well offer something productive instead of just sitting in a convention hall bored out of my mind. So, I decided to participate and I need your help in doing so.
I wanted to wait on this until the final report came back from the Ad Hoc Committee of the IMB BoT. I wanted to TRUST that the Trustees would see their error and do the right thing. It didn't happen. So, this resolution will be specifically in response to the actions of the IMB Board of Trustees adoption of restrictive guidelines that go beyond the Baptist Faith & Message, 2000. But, it is also written to address a larger problem of SBC entity boards behaving in a way that seems to express a lack of accountability to the Convention that owns them. The individual entity boards of trustees are NOT autonomous according to my understanding (See The Relation of the Southern Baptist Convention to Its Entities by Dr. David E. Hankins, and Messengers approve request to NOBTS to adopt sole membership by Michael Foust). Trustees cannot do what they like. They are accountable to the Convention and it seems to me that if we have adopted a consensus statement of faith to instruct our participation in Baptist life, that should be sufficient as a doctrinal guide for the development of policies, practices, and guidelines, especially in relation to ministry personnel decisions, unless otherwise noted. Trustee boards should not, in my opinion, be able to develop their own doctrinal criteria based on novel interpretations of Scripture, without the affirmation of the SBC, to which they must give an account. I thought it worth it to see if the Convention messengers agreed with me.
I am not trying to instruct or micromanage the trustees, per se, but I do think it important to clarify expectations and to express displeasure with their actions. I am probably in way over my head here, but I have a habit of doing that, so why stop now? Here it is:
ON THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE BAPTIST FAITH & MESSAGE 2000 AS A DOCTRINAL GUIDE FOR CONVENTION ENTITIES
WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith & Message, 2000 is the only consensus statement of faith regarding the doctrinal beliefs of Southern Baptists and is therefore our agreed upon doctrinal statement of cooperation; and
WHEREAS, The entities of the Southern Baptist Convention are the arenas where cooperation practically takes place on a national level; and
WHEREAS, All entities of the Southern Baptist Convention have adopted the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 as their doctrinal guide; and
WHEREAS, The entities are owned solely by the Southern Baptist Convention and are therefore accountable to the Convention; and
WHEREAS, The addition of further doctrinal requirements and/or restrictions beyond the BF&M2000 for employment by our entities de facto alters our agreed upon doctrinal basis of cooperation without due process or deliberation by the SBC through consultation or amendment to the Baptist Faith & Message; and
WHEREAS, The addition of further doctrinal requirements and/or restrictions by the trustee boards of our entities beyond the consensus statement of faith of the SBC has the potential to detrimentally affect the trust, cooperation, and participation of autonomous Southern Baptist churches and individuals with said entities, as well as the solvency of the Cooperative Program; and
WHEREAS, The SBC Executive Committee in its February 19-20, 2007 meeting in Nashville, TN declared that it "acknowledges the Baptist Faith and Message is not a creed, or a complete statement of our faith, nor final or infallible, nevertheless we further acknowledge that it is the only consensus statement of doctrinal beliefs approved by the Southern Baptist Convention and as such is sufficient in its current form to guide trustees in their establishment of policies and practices of entities of the Convention”; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in San Antonio, Texas, June 12-13, 2007, agree with the aforementioned Executive Committee statement and declare that the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 is a sufficient doctrinal guide regarding the establishment of policies, practices, and we would add, guidelines for the entities of the Convention; and be it further
RESOLVED, That it is also sufficient to establish the doctrinal parameters that inform the hiring of employees and ministry personnel for SBC entities; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we do not desire to see SBC entities go beyond the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 by creating additional doctrinal requirements and/or restrictions regarding the establishment of policies, practices, and guidelines in relation to personnel decisions or theological parameters; and be it further
RESOLVED, That if there is any need for further doctrinal requirements or restrictions that go beyond the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 (our only consensus statement of faith), we request that those items be brought before the SBC's Annual Meeting for deliberation and affirmation from a larger representative body of Southern Baptists with warning of the doctrinal change given at the previous year's Annual Meeting.
(Final Edit: After further advice and reflection, I did decide to take out references to the IMB, NAMB, or SWBTS. People will likely know what I am talking about and there is no need to alienate. I also added in a final "resolved" that spoke to future action along these lines.)
I will leave this open over the weekend and would like to invite feedback from my readers. I will incorporate the best of what you say and duly consider any constructive suggestions, but I will mail it off on Monday. It is interesting to me that the convention is in San Antonio, famously known for The Alamo, where a small group of revolutionaries died to the last man to defend their freedom and autonomy from Spanish rule. I am not comparing myself or this cause to them in any way, but the idea that all of them died makes me chuckle a bit. I am fairly confident that this resolution will either be buried in committee and will never see the floor, or it will be defeated. But, I would rather joyfully go down in flames trying my best to change things, than sit back and later wish I had done more. Please help me out and tell me what you think. I also encourage each one of you, if you are a pastor or church member who plans on going to San Antonio, to write your own resolution and submit it if you feel strongly about this.
For the rest of you that don't care one bit about all of this (and I care more out of a sense of responsibility than real passion at this point): I'll be back to writing about other things next week.