SAN ANTONIO, Texas (BP)–Rudy Hernandez is not surprised at the rapid growth of the newest state convention within the nation’s largest evangelical denomination. As the newly elected president of Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Hernandez said the group offers churches something they’ve been wanting for a long time — a place of fellowship for those who unashamedly believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, Spirit-breathed Word of God written by men who were divinely inspired.
“Our people do not have to be concerned about what others might say about us,” he said, emphasizing the doctrinal agreement upon which the two-year-old convention was established in 1998, with the 430 affiliating churches committed to abiding by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Baptist Faith and Message statement of beliefs.
Having served on the Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee that drafted the BFM adopted by the SBC in June, Hernandez said, “We’ve chosen to return to the original statements of our Baptist faith to say that it is not an experiential basis or criterion.” Instead, the Bible serves as the criterion, he explained, preferring earlier language over 1963 modifications that identified Jesus Christ as the criterion by which the Bible is interpreted. “This is not to say the Bible is more important than Christ, but to say that were it not for the Bible, we would not know Christ.”
He said he rejects the arguments of those who emphasize a person’s experience over the biblical revelation. “That’s where our biggest problem has come in our debates all over the country. There are a few moderate Baptists — wonderful people — but they feel they can interpret things outside of the Bible.”
Hernandez affirmed his support for women in ministry, citing his wife, Lucy, as a model partner in ministry for 55 years. “She gives testimonies, witnesses to people, prays, and counsels,” Hernandez said. “She’s supportive of my evangelistic ministry. She’s always there. Lucy has been in ministry for as long as I have been in ministry.”
Following the SBTC decision to send 51 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to SBC causes, Hernandez said he hopes other state conventions will follow their lead. “We are the first to go beyond 50 percent of our undesignated gifts and give it to the Cooperative Program.”