NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The full text of the report by Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, to the group on Sept. 18 follows.
Chapman’s report focused on a proposal pending with Texas Baptist leaders to reduce by up to $5 million funding for the SBC’s six seminaries, the Executive Commission and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Chapman’s report was part of the opening session of the Executive Committee’s two-day meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
The full statement:
Southern Baptist Convention
September 18, 2000
Committees of the Baptist General Convention of Texas have announced intentions to recommend to the Executive Board and to the annual meeting of the BGCT that the Texas convention defund all the SBC seminaries by an amount of $4.3 million, choosing rather to fund only Southern Baptist seminary students who have been members of a Southern Baptist church in Texas for two years. All the money, the entire $4.3 will remain in Texas if the recommendation is adopted.
The administrative committee has announced plans, with the exception of $10,000, to defund the SBC Executive Committee ($706,000), and the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission ($345,000).
It is yet unclear whether this is just another option or if this will be the only plan for Texas churches to send their gifts through the BGCT. If it is another option, the erosion of the partnership continues that began several years ago with the adoption of five options. If it is the only plan, then the BGCT will have managed to destroy the partnership that has existed between the SBC and the BGCT for 72 years. One thing we know for certain. The BGCT is systematically attempting to influence Southern Baptist churches in Texas to forsake their loyalty to the SBC. In 1928, the Southern Baptist Convention spoke of its belief in the principle that each Baptist body is autonomous, or self-determining in its own sphere and activities. The Southern Baptist Convention further stated, “The Convention has no authority to allocate funds or to divert funds from any object included in a state budget. In like manner no state body has any authority to allocate funds or to divert them from any object included in the Southwide budget” (The Southern Baptist Convention 1928, p. 33). Today we continue to recognize that autonomy while maintaining a desire to work with the state conventions in the cooperative manner characterized our relationship for these 72 years and longer. While the BGCT is starting down the path of creating a societal system, perhaps even for the purpose of declaring itself a national convention, we are prayerful that there is a way to continue working together for the good of the Kingdom and the glory of our Lord Jesus.
In light of the recommendations that have been announced by the BGCT committees, Southern Baptist churches in Texas are asking the question, “If the proposed recommendations are adopted, how may our church support the Southern Baptist Convention and the Cooperative Program.” As far as we know, there are three possible answers.
1. If the traditional Cooperative Program remains an option to the churches through the BGCT, then the churches can continue to give through this option. Using this option, the SBC receives $.33 from every dollar given by the churches. The BGCT keeps 67% of every dollar.
2. Churches in Texas may wish to give through the SBT, the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention. This convention is supportive of the Southern Baptist Convention and sends 50% to SBC missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program.
3. Churches in Texas may send undesignated gifts directly to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. These undesignated gifts are considered Cooperative Program funds. They are distributed to the various entities of the SBC in accordance with CP percentages adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention.
On behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention I do want to thank all Southern Baptist churches in Texas that are committed to remaining faithful in their giving to world missions through the SBC Cooperative Program. Thankfully, in spite of the fact that the BGCT, in recent years, has offered five giving tracks to the churches, 63% of the gifts from the churches continues to flow through the traditional CP track. Also, I would not want to miss this opportunity to commend all the state conventions that are remaining true to our historic partnership.
If the BGCT refuses to let the churches in Texas give to the traditional Cooperative Program, and/or if it fails to promote the Cooperative Program as a means of supporting world missions in cooperation with SBC, then the Southern Baptist Convention will be compelled to assist the churches directly. In 1928, the SBC was in agreement with the state bodies that they would handle the collection of Cooperative Program funds, but in so doing was most careful to state that “in principle the SBC retains as inalienable and inherent the right to direct appeal to the churches.” Southern Baptists always have had the world on its heart. Now BGCT leaders seem to be attempting to lead the Baptists in Texas to have Texas only on their hearts. If this is true, it is an indescribable travesty and a miscarriage of the cooperation by which all Southern Baptists have lived.
Most tragic of all is the attempt of the BGCT to force the local churches in Texas to decide between the SBC and the BGCT. The BGCT seems determined to lead Baptist churches in the state to turn inward. Why would any Baptist body not run from a strategy that would knowingly create chaos, confusion, and division among the members of local churches? The genius of cooperation has been God’s people insisting that nothing shall deter them from working together “to be witnesses unto Jesus Christ both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Many questions remain but the answers, I assume, will be forthcoming from the Baptist General Convention of Texas to the churches in Texas.
For continuing updates and resource information about current issues in the Southern Baptist Convention, we have created a new web site. The site will be launched on October 1. The URL is to be Baptist2Baptist.net. You will be able to go directly to the site or find it through www.sbc.net.
Southern Baptists believe in the autonomy of the local church.
Southern Baptists believe in the priesthood of the believer.
Southern Baptists believe in soul competency.
Southern Baptists believe in the pre-existence of Christ, His virgin birth, His sinless life, His atoning death, His bodily resurrection, and His glorious return.
Southern Baptists believe in the inspired, infallible Word of God, inerrant in the original manuscripts.
I must say to you, doctrine does make a difference. Contrary to some opinions, doctrine, like faith, is taking God at His Word. In the first church, “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine”(Acts 2:42). Biblical conviction makes a difference, and as a people of faith we are to read God’s Holy Word. We are to accept it as God’s revealed Word. We are to believe it as God’s perfect Word. We are to obey it as God’s guiding Word.
The world has changed. Culture has changed. Trends have changed. Values have changed. But Christ has not changed. The Bible has not changed. Absolutes of God’s authoritative Word have not changed. The exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation has not changed. The promise of God’s Word is that my Word … “shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). If we stay the course of our convictions, preach Jesus, reach the unsaved, and send missionaries to the four corners of this nation and to the ends of the earth, God will not forsake Southern Baptists. There is no reason to despair over dollars. God is on His throne and He will pour out His blessings upon His people if they remain faithful.
If you want to know whether a man has the faith of our fathers, ask him these questions:
1. Do you believe in the sacrificial and the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ?
2. Do you believe salvation comes by faith in Christ and Him alone? Is there any other way to be saved?
3. Do you believe in the actual, literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ?
4. Do you believe the Bible to be God’s absolute truth in all matters to which it speaks?
5. Do you believe the narratives of Scripture to be historically and factually accurate?
6. Do you believe every Christian should be a soul-winner?
7. Do you believe the church of our Lord Jesus Christ is God’s plan for reaching the world with the gospel.
8. What is your passion in life?
If a person is truthful, these questions, and others like them, will reveal the condition of an individual’s heart before God. The difference is in the belief system.
The difference between most Southern Baptists and dissident voices for liberal causes is what they believe and/or what they do not believe biblically. If you want to know what separates the two, ask individuals these questions; read carefully their answers and listen closely to their responses.
God has blessed mightily the concept of cooperative literature, cooperative program, cooperative missions, and a cooperative spirit among all Southern Baptists. Now after all these years of cooperation, the BGCT leaders are saying, “Texas literature, Texas program, Texas missions, Texas spirit.” I trust the churches will not be led to this conclusion. When Isaiah saw the Lord as He really is, he saw himself as he really was. When he saw himself as he really was, he saw the world as it really is.” His response to God’s call was, “Here am I, send me.” And the Lord said, “Go and tell this people…until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate.” God’s call, God’s assignment, and God’s promise have not changed. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20). So let it be among all Southern Baptists. Let us not be distracted from Christ’s commission and our mission. We ask all Southern Baptists to go with us.