Sure, I’ll weigh in on the name change now being studied by the blue ribbon, select, committee of SBC men and a couple of wives of men .
“Baptist” is the third rail in SBC denominational life. Touch it and you die. If there is any thought, any hint of a thought, any whisper of a hint of a thought to jettison the term “Baptist” from Southern Baptist Convention the thing is stone blasted cold - dead on arrival. That’s spelled SBC-DOA.
We’ve gone down this road before. Baptist Press reports 1965, 1974, 1983, 1989, 1990, 1998, 1999, and 2004. That’s about once ever five years. We are overdue by that measure. Problem for those who are indignant that the matter has even been brought up again is that no vote of any SBC in session precludes the matter being raised in future years. Call it unwise. Say it shouldn’t be done. But don’t say that Bryant Wright cannot raise the question again.
Money is an issue. This committee has no funding, thank God, and they will serve at their own expense. But the matter of the cost of a name change is a serious one. In a time of budget and personnel cuts and of the steady erosion of Cooperative Program giving, how much funding can we devote to this? What brash, optimistic SBCer would speculate that we are talking less than millions of dollars for the legal work plus a media campaign that is well nigh indispensable to the effort. And if better public relations is driving this possible name change is better PR a slippery and elusive goal? How long will national media note that the new XYZ Convention is the former SBC? A long, long time.
"Southern" seems to be the main culprit. We are heavily Southern and we are Baptist. We could call it the Aspirational National Baptist Convention since being non-southern is more an aspiration than a reality. While we like to remind folks that the Southern Baptist Convention is no longer Southern but rather has churches in every state, fact is that 82% of SBC churches and 86% of SBC members are in fifteen southern states: AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, MO, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV (astute students will count in that list all of the states of the Confederacy, two border states, one breakaway state, and one territory. A witty friend has suggested CBF: Confederate Baptist Fellowship. Now that would be cooperation with our moderate friends.).
It keeps coming back and I share some sympathy with my friends who are indignant that the matter has to be dredged up every few years but I see no solution to it. It’s like fighting a liquor referendum: Opponents have to vote it down repeatedly, forever, while proponents just have to win once. Sorry about that.
Perhaps the most compelling reason not to change the name of the good old SBC mother ship is because a very prominent blogger would then have to change the name of his blog: SBCPlodder.
Alas and alack! What sleepless nights await Plodder who must now try to cope with the possibility that his name might become obsolete. OTOH, I am becoming obsolete...