Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Executive Committee should drop the BFM linkage in their constitutional amendment proposal

Although the SBC Executive Committee adjusted the language in proposing to link the Baptist Faith and Message to the definition of churches "in friendly cooperation" to the convention, my view is that they should drop it altogether for the time being. Since the proposal will be made on the floor, one hopes that an amendement will be offered that deletes this portion.

Here's some brief background:

1. The SBC Constitution does not define what constitutes a church "in friendly cooperation with the Convention and sympathetic with its purposes and work," save for stating that homosexual-friendly churches are not in friendly cooperation and that a church must be a "bona fide" contributor to the SBC's work.

2. The EC, in a bit of a runaway train mode, decided that while they were looking at the messenger formula, might as well fix this definition and thus proposed the following:
Has not intentionally operated in any manner demonstrating opposition to the doctrine expressed in the Convention's most recently adopted statement of faith, (By way of example, churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior would be deemed not to be in cooperation with the Convention.) 
This was a very poorly formulated amendment for several reasons, noted here. A constitution is not the place for a clause like "By way of example..." and the back door linkage to the BFM, while I understand some of the reasons the EC chose to address with this, is ill considered.

3. Yesterday the EC amended the wording to read as follows:
...a faith and practice which closely identifies withe the Convention's adopted statement of faith.
This is an improvement in that it makes a positive rather than negative linkage. Still, this part of the proposed constitutional amendment should be scrapped. The formula changes that involve contributions is fine. Let it stand and adopt it.

Here are some reasons why this should be scrapped:

1. No one asked the EC to take a few hours among themselves and propose the most momentous changes to our constitution in decades, perhaps ever. I don't presume that they acted out of any motivation other than to address some issues that they thought needed addressing but the process is flawed. If we are going to do something like this, then let's be clear about (a) why it is necessary, (b) why we need to do this now in light of the fact that we have never made such linkage in the history of the SBC, (c) why we wouldn't choose a broader-based, more deliberate and transparent process in doing so.

What the EC has not done is to offer much of a rationale for making this change. The following few word was made by the EC chairman in a Q & A on the changes:
By making participation in the convention more than just about money, it sends a signal to churches that may wish to give a token contribution to the convention in order to benefit from such things as seminary tuition discounts... 
That's it? Yep. That's it.

If this is worthwhile, then the least the EC could do is make a persuasive case. I suspect that there are far more important reasons than tuition discounts. Make the case. Make it out in the open.

Since this hasn't been done, let's deep six this for now and start over if it seems wise to do so.

1 comment:

William Thornton said...

We can deep six my suggestion that this be dropped. Adopted with no discussion.