Note: this report is modified from a report by me dated 7 February 2003, in conjunction with my work on a convention study committee. The conclusions and opinions contained herein are mine alone. Those interested in further background information should contact me.
There are several areas of concern with regard to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC). First, there are some issues of possible doctrinal concern. Second, there are issues of accuracy in their statements regarding the BGCT. Third, their missions and ministries goals remain less than fully defined.
Doctrine: For the most part, the SBTC’s doctrine is satisfactory. In November 2000 the SBTC adopted the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message as its statement of faith, replacing a collection of documents in that role. There are a few issues that have been raised.
Shortly before becoming a convention, Southern Baptists of Texas publications made ambiguous statements regarding a literal interpretation of Genesis. In January 1995 J. Walter Carpenter (who would later file the charter for the new Texas Baptist convention), writing in the Texas Baptist, made a statement most consistent with the “gap” theory of creation (creation in six 24-hour periods spread out over several billion years). In May 1997 the SBT’s Plumbline included three articles endorsing Hugh Ross’s organization Reasons to Believe. This organization openly rejects a literal interpretation of Genesis and has been criticized for their theological views. (When I inquired about the endorsement of Reasons to Believe in 1998, there was no response or retraction.)
Each year at its annual convention the SBTC has passed a resolution regarding abortion. On the first two occasions, November 1998 and November 1999, the resolutions were weak and were consistent with permitting abortion in many situations. The 1998 resolution, while stating that “all human life is sacred specifically life in the womb,” only referred to the “ethical understanding” that should govern abortion but did not specify what this understanding is. The 1999 resolution qualifies its criticism of abortion by referring to “the unjustifiable taking of any human life” and “the premature ending of human life for reasons of convenience or malice.” Both resolutions are vague enough to be consistent with the widely criticized paper “Abortion and the Christian Life” by the Christian Life Commission (CLC) of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT). Subsequent resolutions (2000, 2001, and 2002) have included condemnation of abortion as murder, without exception even to save the physical life of the mother.
While the 2000 BF&M is more specific than the 1963 version on issues of concern to doctrinal conservatives, it has some changes of possible concern. The reference in the preamble to the doctrine of “priesthood of the believer” was changed to refer to “priesthood of all believers,” eliminating the reference to a believer individually. Some consider this change to present the potential for abuse by authoritarian church leaders. In conjunction with amending the preamble to declare the document “an instrument of doctrinal accountability,” the changes are considered by some to reflect a difference in application of the BF&M to employees, individuals, and churches within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
The 2000 BF&M also includes an amendment to Article VIII, The Lord’s Day. The new version includes the sentence “Activities on the Lord’s Day should be commensurate with the Christian’s conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ,” replacing specific discussion of such activities. The change, rejecting the language of both the 1925 and 1963 BF&M versions, weakens the affirmation of the Lord’s Day as being unique in terms of activities by Christians.
Taken alone, these doctrinal issues may be insignificant. However, they are a greater issue when considered together with an apparent lack of responsiveness by the SBTC to criticism and/or disagreement. A variety of observations suggests that the SBTC does not entertain sufficient internal debate to correct such problems as the weak abortion resolutions of 1998 and 1999, nor is it sufficiently responsive to appropriate outside criticism such as that related to misstatements about the BGCT, discussed below.
The two SBTC conventions I have observed have been characterized by a lack of discussion, motions, and other business activity from the floor. SBTC newsletters have carried few letters to the editor and even fewer critical ones. Since its formation in 1997, SBTC publications (the Plumbline, the Southern Baptist Texan, the Southern Baptist Texan news journal, and the Texas Baptist Crossroads) have averaged one letter per issue, of which 83% have praised the SBTC or supported its position in the convention controversy and 9% have been critical, only one letter on a significant issue. In comparison, a sample from the Baptist Standard over the same period shows an average of seven letters per issue, with 33% supporting and 24% criticizing the BGCT position on convention issues.
It may be noted that the SBTC sees the nature of its relationship to member churches differently than the BGCT sees its relationship to its member churches. The BGCT considers churches to be autonomous entities supporting cooperative ministry and mission efforts (within certain broad parameters). In contrast, the SBTC emphasizes accountability between itself and churches. Member churches must meet doctrinal requirements (which have been adjusted at least once since the convention formed), and the Executive Board has the authority to expel churches which are found wanting.
Accuracy: The Southern Baptists of Texas, both before and shortly after forming a convention, tended to make harshly critical statements regarding the BGCT and its entities. This included statements that were inaccurate and/or misleading, both in SBT/SBTC publications and by SBT/SBTC leaders. When issues have been raised, the SBTC has generally contended there was no inaccuracy. Such statements were sometimes in the context of efforts to recruit churches. While this problem has mostly diminished, recent events show that it is still a significant issue.
In October 1997 the Plumbline printed information from the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association (MBLA) regarding the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). Among the claims was one that the CBF provides funding to the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA), an organization that declared itself open to homosexuals in 1995. However, the CBF had defunded the BPFNA in late 1995 in response to this declaration. In October 1998 the Plumbline reported (also apparently using MBLA material) that the CBF has leaders that worship a “Christ-Sophia.” This is an apparent reference to Jann Aldredge-Clanton, whose last known role with the CBF was in 1995. The use of MBLA research is problematic, since this “research” is characterized by half-truths and guilt-by-association tactics.
In 1999 Ronnie Yarber wrote a paper titled “An Historical Perspective: An Opinion Paper on the Reason for the Birth of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.” Yarber was then Assistant to the SBTC Executive Director and interim editor of the Southern Baptist Texan. The paper was distributed by the SBTC to churches that inquired with regard to membership. The paper misrepresents several issues involving the BGCT. Major problems include: falsely indicating that the BGCT’s CLC has not denounced abortion on demand; falsely claiming that the BGCT action withdrawing fellowship from University Baptist Church in Austin was non-binding; misrepresenting the history and impact of BGCT budget changes with regard to the SBC; falsely claiming that BGCT churches cannot have any voting messengers in the absence of financial participation; exaggerating the contrast between the BGCT and SBTC/SBC on issues of abortion, women pastors, and churches affirming homosexual behavior; and misrepresenting the issues of Sunday school literature and BGCT actions regarding Baylor.
In October 2001, a few months after Buckner Benevolences rejected the SBTC’s proposal for a fraternal relationship, the SBTC’s Southern Baptist Texan printed a Baptist Press article criticizing a Buckner program in Amarillo. The article criticized Buckner participation in the program, promoting teen abstinence, because the 24 co-sponsors included Planned Parenthood. The article did not acknowledge that programs of the various participants were separate and linked only in terms of being part of a joint effort to reduce teen pregnancy by the Amarillo Area Foundation.
The recent presentation by Deron Biles at First Baptist Church of Brownsville (December 2002) shows that there are still problems. Biles made several misleading claims regarding the BGCT, in particular that the BGCT’s position on abortion “basically was abortion on demand” and that the BGCT did not take binding action against University Baptist Church (UBC). Both statements are incorrect. Regarding abortion, the BGCT has passed resolutions condemning abortion, and the BGCT’s CLC pamphlet in question specifically condemns abortion as birth control and calls for legislation restricting abortion. Regarding UBC, the BGCT expelled UBC in February 1998, an action acknowledged as severe and definitive by both the BGCT and UBC, and in November 1996 BGCT messengers adopted a report clarifying that messengers from churches approving homosexuality would not be seated. (Details are discussed in the previous FBC convention study committee reports.) Biles appears to have in part relied upon inaccurate information from Yarber’s paper “An Historical Perspective.” When I wrote to Biles regarding the inaccuracies, he only partly acknowledged them. In addition, material distributed at the presentation included copies of convention study reports by other churches, including one by FBC Dallas which includes incorrect and misleading information.
These statements are of particular concern since they address the very issues upon which many Texas Baptist churches are deciding what to do with respect to the BGCT and SBTC. Taken together, this indicates a lack of care for the truth, particularly in regard to recruiting new churches, and an unwillingness to retract inaccurate statements when confronted.
Missions and Ministries: In terms of missions and ministry goals, the SBTC from the beginning has declared its focus to be on church planting and avoiding a large “bureaucracy.” Beyond this there is ambiguity regarding the goals and direction of their missions and ministries efforts. During its first four years as a convention, some of these directions have changed several times and many stated goals have yet to develop into programs. In short, the SBTC has yet to fully define itself in terms of the ministries it can or will offer member churches.
The SBTC has described itself as different from the BGCT in terms of minimizing bureaucracy. It is not clear how much difference there is: the 2003 SBTC in-state budget includes 21% for administration, operations, financial services, and the newsletter (down from 74% in 1999). The SBTC’s newsletter, the Southern Baptist Texan, is funded from its Cooperative Program (CP) budget (the BGCT-affiliated Baptist Standard is self-supporting and receives no CP funds).
The SBTC has a plan of networking resources outside the convention organization, rather than developing its own ministry entities. It has defined two levels of association with outside organizations, “affiliate” and “fraternal.” “Affiliates” must affirm the SBTC doctrinal statement, must grant the SBTC representation on their governing board, and are eligible for funding from the SBTC budget. “Fraternal” partners must affirm a “high view of Scripture” and are eligible for pass-through designated funds only. Such networking avoids the SBTC having to create such agencies from scratch, but it also gives the SBTC no ability to control these organizations apart from severing the relationship.
The SBTC has affirmed two priorities: a high level of funding for the SBC and a focus on church planting. The 2003 in-state SBTC budget included 20% for church starts. This is an area where the SBTC is applying its networking strategy, having developed a partnership with one outside church planting organization (a relationship with a second is under development).
The greatest contrast between SBTC and BGCT missions and ministries is that the SBTC is avoiding institutional ministries-educational institutions, human welfare ministries, and the like. The SBTC had no such ties until March 2001 when affiliation with Criswell Center for Biblical Studies was approved. The SBTC attempted to develop fraternal relationships with various BGCT entities in 2001, including Bucker Baptist Benevolences, other BGCT child care agencies, Texas Baptist Men*, Baylor University, Hispanic Baptist Theological School, and other BGCT schools. However, there was little response from the BGCT agencies, some of which expressed concern that they would be unnecessarily drawn into convention politics. (The SBTC’s invitation was ironic, given variously negative coverage of some of these entities in the Southern Baptist Texan in 2000 and 2001.) In the aftermath, the SBTC began exploring some in-house programs, establishing Human Care and Family Ministries along with Missions Services in July 2002. The 2003 in-state SBTC budget allocated 4% for institutional ministries (the majority for Criswell), below the 15% limit stipulated by SBTC planners and comparing to the 52% allocation for institutional ministries by the BGCT in 2003.
The SBTC allocated 1.2% of its in-state budget in 2003 for partnership missions, compared to 3.7% of the BGCT’s budget for partnership missions. The SBTC does not support such traditional Texas Baptist programs as Texas Baptist Men* and the River Ministry, and does not forward designated funds to these programs. The SBTC has indicated plans for missions efforts in Mexico, although this will be in terms of networking or coordinating efforts through Texas churches rather than creating a ministry structure.
* Note added 3/13/03: the SBTC reports March 3rd that Texas Baptist Men has met the criterion for a fraternal relationship; if the SBTC Executive Board approves on April 3rd, Texas Baptist Men will be eligible to receive designated pass-through funds (but not budget funds) from the SBTC.
A Texas Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee was formed by the SBTC in 1998, but as of November 2002 it was still drafting a mission statement and described itself as still organizing.
There are several areas of concern with regard to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC). First, there are some issues of possible doctrinal concern. Second, there are issues of accuracy in their statements regarding the BGCT. Third, their missions and ministries goals remain less than fully defined.
Background: The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention originated in parallel to the political and theological controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). In 1979 a group of conservative/ fundamentalists gained political control of the SBC, reversing institutional trends towards theological liberalism. Centrist/moderates, failing to regain a voice in politics, formed the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in 1991 as an alternative to the SBC Cooperative Program. Meanwhile, the BGCT remained under the political control of centrist/moderates, despite efforts of conservative/fundamentalists to produce change.
A group of Texas “conservatives” organized seeking to reverse perceived political/theological trends in the BGCT. In 1990 Baylor University unilaterally acted to amend its charter, reducing BGCT control over its board of trustees. A group of conservatives established the Baylor Restoration Committee in 1991 and began producing a newsletter. The organization’s name was later changed to Conservative Baptist Fellowship of Texas (CBFT) and the objectives were expanded to oppose moderate influence over the BGCT.  In July 1994 J. Walter Carpenter filed a charter for a new state convention for future use.  In 1995 the CBFT became the Southern Baptists of Texas (SBT). In 1996 they merged with Baptists With a Mission (BWAM), another group of conservative Texas Baptists. The BWAM newsletter, the Texas Baptist, became the SBT’s Plumbline.
In November 1997 the SBT announced the formation of a cooperative funding organization with the stated objective of forming a second state Southern Baptist convention in Texas. This objective was attained with the first meeting of the SBT Convention (SBTC) on 10 November 1998 in Houston. In September 1999 the Plumbline’s name was changed to Southern Baptist Texan. The SBTC has grown in size from 120 affiliated churches and missions in November 1998 to 418 in November 2000 and 1,253 in 2002. A portion of these churches are dually aligned and thus among the roughly 5,700 churches and missions affiliated with the BGCT.
In early 2002 a second publication was introduced, also titled the Southern Baptist Texan. In January 2003 the original publication became Texas Baptist Crossroads and will continue publication alongside the Southern Baptist Texan.
On several occasions the SBTC and affiliated publications have made ambiguous statements regarding biblical doctrine.
I. Texas Baptist article on creation, 1995
The January 1995 Texas Baptist included an article "The Big Bang and Biblical Truth" by J. Walter Carpenter. It states, "Is there any way to reconcile the Genesis account of a six day creation with what science is showing as a 15 billion year old universe? The answer is a resounding YES, both are literally true!"  The statement does not support a 144-hour creation; rather, it is most consistent with the “gap” theory of creation (creation in six 24-hour periods spread out over several billion years).
The Texas Baptist was the newsletter of the group Baptists with a Mission, which merged with the Southern Baptists of Texas in 1996. Carpenter had filed the charter for a new Texas state convention in July 1994. 
II. Plumbline article on Reasons to Believe, 1997
The Southern Baptists of Texas, upon merger with Baptists with a Mission in 1996, adopted the newsletter of the latter organization and renamed it the Plumbline. (The year after formation of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, in September 1999, the Plumbline became the Southern Baptist Texan.)
The May 1997 Plumbline included a two-page spread of three articles interviewing Dr. Hugh Ross, president of Reasons to Believe. The articles were positive and contained no criticism of Ross or his organization. At the end of the second article, an editor's note provides a 1-800 number to call to obtain the Reasons to Believe newsletter. 
However, this organization, and Ross in particular, does not adhere to a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 regarding a six-day creation. In "The Shell Game of Evolution and Creation," Ross states: "...I concur that the normal physical science definition for evolution is well established--things do change with respect to time and in some cases over a time-scale of billions of years... A literal and consistent reading of the Bible, taking into account all its statements on creation, makes clear that the Genesis creation days cannot possibly be six consecutive 24-hour days."  Similar statements are found in Ross’s article “Biblical Evidence for Long Creation Days"  at the Reasons to Believe web site.
Ross has spoken to churches in Texas and elsewhere and promotes a theology which is described as elevating the revelation of nature to the level of the revelation of the Bible. On 13 September 1996 at Dallas Theological Seminary he stated, "Therefore it allows me to make an interesting paraphrase of John 3:16, if you'll permit--'For God so loved the human race that He went to the expense of building a hundred billion trillion stars and carefully shaped and crafted them for sixteen billion years so that at this brief moment in time we could all have a nice place to live.'" 
Outcome: In August 1998 I wrote a letter to the Plumbline editor pointing out the facts regarding a separate article. I also pointed out the issue with Reasons to Believe and asked “Can I assume there was no intention by the Plumbline to imply endorsement of these views?”  I have not received a response, nor was any retraction or disclaimer printed.
III. Resolution on abortion, 1998
Each year the SBTC has passed resolutions regarding abortion. At its first convention on 10 November 1998 the following resolution was passed:
WHEREAS, abortion is today’s defining moral issue;
WHEREAS, Texas Southern Baptists are entrusted by God with the responsibility of declaring His moral standard as a foundation to the good news of forgiveness and healing in Christ;
WHEREAS, Texas Southern Baptists agree that human life is sacred and that the wrongful taking of that life is a moral violation of the highest significance;
THEREFORE, IT IS RESOLVED by the messengers of this convention that all human life is sacred specifically life in the womb.
And further, BE IT RESOLVED, that decisions regarding abortion whether personal, political, legislative, or judicial should be governed by the same ethical understanding that should oversee decisions about all human life. 
This resolution fails to state that abortion on demand is wrong. It refers to the “ethical understanding” that should govern abortion decisions but never stipulates what this understanding is. This omission is ironic in that the second line of the resolution says that Texas Southern Baptists have “the responsibility of declaring [God’s] moral standard.”
Outcome: see Resolution on abortion, 1999.
IV. Resolution on abortion, 1999
At the November 1999 convention Resolution 2, Sanctity of Human Life, passed as follows:
WHEREAS, all life is a gift from God, and
WHEREAS, life begins at conception, and
WHEREAS, man has been created in the image of God and for His glory, and
WHEREAS, Christ died for those men and women yet unborn, even before the creation of the world, and
WHEREAS, the unjustifiable taking of any human life by another is prohibited and condemned by God, and
WHEREAS, the presence of abortion in all its forms as well as the premature ending of human life for reasons of convenience or malice continues to be a defining moral issue for Christians everywhere.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the messengers of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, meeting in Dallas, Texas, November 16, 1999, adopt the following statement:
All human life, both born and unborn, deserves equal dignity and rights, and those who are old, those who are ill, those who are mentally and physically impaired deserve full protection and honor as human beings.
FINALLY BE IT RESOLVED that while we fully agree that the Holy Scriptures do not condone the unjustifiable taking of any human life, we faithfully affirm the biblical teaching of forgiveness and restoration. 
This resolution fails to condemn abortion on demand. Particularly by referring to “the unjustifiable taking of any human life” and “the premature ending of human life for reasons of convenience or malice”, this statement is consistent with the widely criticized paper “Abortion and the Christian Life” by the BGCT Christian Life Commission.  The resolution may be contrasted with SBC resolutions on abortion passed during the preceding several years in terms of specific criticism of abortion, particularly the 1993 Resolution on the Freedom of Choice Act, Hyde Amendment. 
It may also be noted that in a 1999 paper Ronnie Yarber of the SBTC (while criticizing the aforementioned CLC paper) said “No adequate, nor serious, discussion of Abortion can take place by a serious student of the Bible that does not address Partial Birth Abortion.”  However, neither the two resolutions cited above nor any SBTC resolution through 2002 specifically addresses partial birth abortion. 
Outcome: I am not aware of any criticism of the 1998 or 1999 abortion resolutions from within the SBTC. Subsequent resolutions regarding abortion have been stronger and more specific statements for protection of the unborn. In particular, both the 2000 and 2001 resolutions correctly identify abortion as murder. When asked about the vague language of the first two resolutions, Deron Biles of the SBTC said “...both resolutions are much broader than abortion, addressing the bigger picture of the Sanctity of Human Life, condemning the unjust taking of life in general.”  (This is discussed further in section F.)
C. Doctrine--2000 Baptist Faith and Message
I. Change regarding Priesthood of the Believer
The preamble of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message includes this statement (not in the 1925 BF&M ):
Baptists emphasize the soul's competency before God, freedom in religion, and the priesthood of the believer. However, this emphasis should not be interpreted to mean that there is an absence of certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified. 
The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (2000 BF&M), as originally proposed by the SBC committee, omitted this statement and indeed made no reference to "priesthood of the believer" or "soul competency."  The omission was widely criticized, and shortly before the 2000 SBC convention the following statement was added  and hence included in the new Baptist Faith and Message:
Baptists cherish and defend religious liberty, and deny the right of any secular or religious authority to impose a confession of faith upon a church or body of churches. We honor the principles of soul competency and the priesthood of believers, affirming together both our liberty in Christ and our accountability to each other under the Word of God. 
Thus in the 2000 BF&M, priesthood of the individual believer is omitted and replaced by priesthood of believers collectively.
II. Doctrine of Priesthood of the Believer
Soul competency is the principle that each individual person deals directly with God spiritually: there is no intermediary but Jesus Christ, God the Son, for confession of sin, salvation, receiving of the Holy Spirit, and prayer. Priesthood of the believer is the principle that each individual believer is, through Christ, a priest capable of interpreting the Bible, of intercessory prayer, able and required to minister to others, and more.
The basis of the doctrine of priesthood of the believer is such Scriptures as:
Examples of Scriptures relating to soul competency include Ezekiel 18:20 and Romans 14:12.
The freedom from human intermediaries in these doctrines by no means implies license to misinterpret Scripture. The doctrines directly acknowledge accountability to God. (A simple analogy is the fact that while the United States guarantees freedoms unheard of in most countries, this does not grant license for irresponsible action.) Additionally, the BF&M elsewhere discusses this constraining accountability. For example, article XII on Education states "Freedom in any orderly relationship of human life is always limited and never absolute."  Consider an example of the relevance of this doctrine: suppose a church pastor leads his congregation to a false interpretation of the Scripture. If an individual can only interpret Scripture under accountability to the congregation, he or she has no grounds to question the interpretation. In reality, priesthood of the believer acknowledges that an individual believer can correctly interpret the Scripture.
This was the role of priesthood of the believer as exercised by Martin Luther in the Reformation. While some conservative theological leaders have attempted to downplay the role of this doctrine for Luther , it is undeniable that it is a necessary doctrine to justify his (then) minority dissent against the Catholic church's interpretation of Scripture.
III. Controversy over change to the Baptist Faith and Message Preamble
Critics have charged that the BF&M preamble change regarding the priesthood of the believer serves as a rejection of this core Baptist doctrine. This, in conjunction with the inserted language that confessions of faith are "instruments of doctrinal accountability,"  serves to contradict the statement tracing back to the 1925 BF&M: "Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience." 
Defenders of the 2000 BF&M have contended that the change in wording regarding priesthood of the believer is minor. However, there is evidence that the change has an intended objective: following adoption of the new BF&M Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Theological Seminary and BF&M committee member, said "Baptists believe in the priesthood of believers, but it is dangerous to say the priesthood of the believer."  He also told the BGCT Seminary Study Committee during 2000 that the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer "provides too much freedom."  Regarding soul competency, in a March 30, 2000, address at Southern Seminary Mohler stated "The result was an autonomous individualism that has infected the Southern Baptist Convention and now widespread has infected evangelicalism to this day." 
The nature of these statements would seem to contradict an earlier statement by Mohler implying that the change was unintended: "It would be unfair to say we deleted [the phrases in the preamble about soul competency and priesthood of all believers]. We weren't seeking to minimize those Baptist concepts. When we pulled concepts from the 1963 statement, that's just one paragraph that didn't get included in the new report" (as cited by the Baptist Standard ).
Critics of the 2000 BF&M also point out that while the new language still bars a "religious authority [from] impos[ing] a confession of faith upon a church or body of churches,"  it does not bar such imposition on an individual believer. These critics further claim that the SBC is doing just that: requiring rigid conformance to the 2000 BF&M from its employees, missionaries, missionary volunteers, and committee appointees. 
The SBC leadership insists that it "imposes" the new BF&M on no one, but openly declares employment to be conditional on agreeing to the new version. Their position is essentially that employees may choose to disagree with the change, but if they do, they must choose to work elsewhere: Mohler stated in November 2000 "we do not force anyone to accept the confession of faith, but those who accept employment here do so under these terms."  If this is the SBC's interpretation of "imposing" on no one, then there is no constraint on forcing dissenting churches to "choose" to leave the convention.
IV. Change to Article VIII, The Lord’s Day
The second area of more flexible language in the 2000 BF&M is Article VIII on the Lord's Day. Here, the 2000 BF&M abandons restrictive statements regarding activities on the Lord's Day.  The new language leaves the issue to the conscience of the individual Christian. This change differs from other changes in that it is less restrictive, rather than more restrictive. Some are concerned that the new language regarding the Lord’s Day fails to properly differentiate Sunday from other days in terms of worldly activities.
An effort to amend this language in 2001 was harshly criticized by SBC leadership. One motion would have amended the article on the Lord's Day to include the phrase "informed by Holy Scripture". Messengers rejected the motion after a series of statements by SBC leaders including Mohler, who said it would be "confessionally reckless" and "unfair" to revisit the BF&M. 
V. Controversy over use of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message
Controversial uses of the 2000 BF&M have occurred with regard to the SBC seminaries, NAMB and IMB missionaries and staff, and nominations for SBC committees. Generally speaking, the SBC insists that the BF&M is applied the same as previous versions; while this is true in principle, there have been changes in practice.
Seminaries: The first new applications of the 2000 BF&M occurred at the SBC seminaries. Supporters of the new BF&M state that the new version is required of instructors no differently than the old version was before. Setting aside the aforementioned theological change in the document, there are many claims that adherence to the document is now much stricter.
Historically, SBC seminaries have required instructors to teach "in accordance with and not contrary to" the 1963 BF&M. This traditional wording leaves room for an instructor to personally disagree with an aspect of the document, as long as their teaching remains consistent with the document. Some seminaries have had or currently have additional requirements: Southern BTS also requires teaching consistent with its Abstract of Principles. Southeastern BTS currently uses as "formative statements" the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and the Danvers Statement regarding the role of women in ministry, requiring faculty to sign these statements. Midwestern BTS requires faculty members to agree to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and the Chicago Statement of Biblical Hermeneutics as well as the 1987 findings of the SBC Peace Committee. 
However, the BGCT Seminary Study Report cited changes in implementation:
SBC seminary leaders have repeated stated that "we do not force anyone to accept the confession of faith, but those who accept employment here do so under these terms."  Beyond this, however, faculty are being forced to leave if they fail to sign the new BF&M, such as Johnson and Holloway at Southwestern Seminary in early 2001. 
NAMB: The 2000 BF&M is also being used by the SBC mission boards to exclude prospective missionaries, to varying degrees. New North American Mission Board missionaries, while they are not asked to sign the new BF&M, must "agree to minister and lead consistent with and not contrary to the current BF&M", according to Randy Singer, NAMB executive vice president (as of 2001). 
Existing missionaries of the NAMB are apparently not forced to resign over the new BF&M (as of 2001). However, many chaplains endorsed by the NAMB (and generally receiving their financial support from other sources) must be endorsed annually. At the point of renewal, chaplains with long records of service with the NAMB must either affirm the 2000 BF&M or lose endorsement--with the additional consequence of loss of employment. An unintended consequence of this new application of the BF&M is an increased pressure on entities such as state conventions to provide endorsement of chaplains and other ministers--a responsibility traditionally left to the national SBC. Another consequence is placing the NAMB in technical violation of the 1991 Cooperative Agreement between the BGCT and Home Mission Board.  (In 1998 the Home Mission Board and the Radio and Television Commission were merged into the NAMB. The NAMB's position was that it was not bound by agreements involving the HMB.)
IMB: Initially the International Mission Board was less strict with regard to the 2000 BF&M. In 1993 Rankin, chair of the IMB, had stated "As long as I am president of the IMB, no missionary will be obligated to sign a doctrinal statement."  In December 2000, he said "Asking people to sign the BF&M would make it a creed. No one is proposing that be done. And I stand by my statement [of 1993], although it was probably unwise for me to make such a statement since I do not have the authority to prohibit our board from requiring it if they should so choose." 
Following adoption of the new BF&M, the IMB first required affirmation of the document by prospective missionary candidates. The IMB said "The BF&M is not imposed upon anyone, but we seek those missionary candidates who share these convictions and join in voluntary affirmation of our confession of faith." 
Subsequently, current administrative staff was asked to affirm the 2000 BF&M. On May 21, 2001, Bill Phillips, the IMB administrator for west Africa, resigned from that post following his decision to decline to sign an affirmation of the 2000 BF&M. Phillips and his wife are being allowed to return to service as IMB missionaries. Both Phillips and IMB President Jerry Rankin agreed that the decision did not involve questionable doctrine on behalf of Phillips. 
On 30 January 2002 the IMB released the text of a letter sent by Rankin to all currently active missionaries asking them to sign an affirmation of the 2000 BF&M.  Rankin stated in February 2002 that missionaries who fail to sign will not necessarily be fired, but that there had not been a final decision on how to deal with such a situation.  Subsequently (late 2002 to early 2003), various sources report that some missionaries are being fired or forced to resign for declining to sign the affirmation (the IMB reports 32 resignations, other sources report more);  this situation is still developing.
Committees: The Executive Board of the SBC is requiring that any nominees for SBC committees and agency boards be "fully supportive of our 2000 edition of the Baptist Faith & Message."  Such individuals are not SBC employees.
State conventions: While the 2000 BF&M is not (yet) being imposed on individual churches by the SBC, it is starting to be imposed on churches and individuals by some state conventions and local associations. 
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention requires churches to take "official church action" to "affirm that we are in full agreement with [SBTC's] mission statement and doctrinal position." Since the SBTC adopted the 2000 BF&M into its doctrinal position in Nov. 2000, churches must be in full agreement with the 2000 BF&M regarding the aforementioned doctrines. 
SBTC leaders and publications over time have occasionally made statements which are either false or misleading and have often failed to correct them. This list may be considered illustrative only. Some of the examples cited below are more significant than others. However, they do raise the issue of how careful SBTC leaders are with the truth, particularly in regard to those they would criticize.
I. Statements by Scarborough, 1996
Rick Scarborough was nominated by the Southern Baptists of Texas for BGCT President. On 19 September 1996 he charged that the Intentional Interim Ministry (IIM) of the BGCT was attempting to place interim pastors that would lead churches to the CBF, away from the SBC, and away from fundamentalist doctrines.  Two interim pastors (Tom Reynolds and David Smith) and an IIM organizer (Bennie Slack) insisted that the program is not politicized in subsequent issues of the Baptist Standard. 
Under the Intentional Interim Ministry a church makes its own selection of an interim pastor from all candidate pastors working with the IIM.  The church has the same opportunity to determine that a candidate is a match for their congregation that they would in called a permanent pastor.
Scarborough also distributed materials with charges concerning CBF contributions by BGCT leaders' churches. One claim was that candidate Ophelia Humphrey's church "budgeted only $2,500 to the SBC last year." In contrast, the church's pastor asserted that the church "contributed $108,080.77" to SBC causes in 1995. 
Other charges involve a presentation shown in a video distributed by Scarborough. It purported to show a presentation by Harold Lantham at First Baptist Church of Rotan and charged that as a member of the Intentional Interim Ministry Lantham was critical of ties to the SBC and promoted ties to the CBF.  The presenter involved, whose correct name is Lancaster, has never served in the Intentional Interim Ministry; while he had some role in formulating the ministry, he was not chosen to be further involved in the ministry. 
II. Statement regarding the CBF, 1997
The October 1997 Plumbline printed information then being distributed by the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association (MBLA). The article stated that the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA) is “an organization which receives funding from the CBF.”  This would be an issue since in 1995 the BPFNA declared its organization open to homosexuals. However, the CBF dropped the BPFNA from its budget in late 1995 as a reaction to the BPFNA move, and the CBF reaffirmed this rejection of the BPFNA in early 1996. 
The same MBLA article criticized a CBF “HIV/AIDS Ministry” packet; the packet in question was printed in 1995 but by 1997 was out of print and no longer distributed.  In a personal communication Roger Moran, spokesman for the MBLA, indicated that they did not have an original copy of the packet in question. 
III. Statement by Slocum, 1997
Dee Slocum, vice president Southern Baptists of Texas, stated in the December 1997 Plumbline that the BGCT’s Effectiveness/Efficiency report “elevated CBF to denomination status.”  In fact, the E/E report called for Partnership Missions cooperation with four organizations, none of which are denominations: the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and the Baptist World Alliance. The report specifically declined to grant the CBF status equal to that of the SBC denomination. 
IV. Article on the Missing Day, 1998
The August 1998 Plumbline included the article "Bible Supplies Missing Info for Scientists"  with this introduction by the editor: "The following article was copied from the Evening Star, a newspaper located in Spencer, Indiana: Did you know that the space program is busy proving that what has been called myth in the Bible is true? Mr. Harold Hill, President of the Curtis Engine Company in Baltimore, Maryland and a consultant in the space program, relates the developments." The introduction does not mention that the article originally ran in 1970. The account in the article is, as best as can be determined, false: the procedure described is impossible to perform, Harold Hill's connection to the space program is misrepresented, and no confirmation of any aspect of the story has emerged in three decades. 
Outcome: In August 1998 I wrote a letter  to the editor of the Plumbline pointing out the facts regarding the above article. The inside last page of the October 1998 Plumbline carried this small-print retraction by editor Skeet Workman: "It seems the article in August Plumbline entitled "...Missing Info for Scientists" is an old article and NOT true. As part-time editor and volunteer; it slipped by me. We will keep trying. Thanks, SW."  (It may well be that other readers offered this correction; I never received any response to the letter.)
V. Statement regarding Aldredge-Clanton, 1998
The Oct. 1998 Plumbline contained the following statement: "The SBC has no feminist theologian leaders calling for the worship of the 'Christ-Sophia.' But CBF does...The SBC has no leaders who refer to God as 'mother.' But CBF does."  Jann Aldredge-Clanton conducted a breakout session at the 1995 CBF General Assembly  and is a promoter of feminist theology.  She is the cited "leader" who espouses a "Christ-Sophia"  but does not seem to be serving on any CBF boards. She apparently has not conducted any subsequent sessions. I am thus unaware of any CBF role for her subsequent to 1995.
VI. Statement by Yarber, 1998
In the December 1998 Plumbline Ronnie Yarber, SBTC administrative director, stated that the leadership of the BGCT “has a long-range goal of setting up a new independent denomination in Texas.”  The BGCT leadership has denied this. (The only “evidence” I am aware of for such a charge is statements and actions by a few former leaders of the BGCT, not speaking or acting on behalf of the BGCT.)
The same article cited Yarber’s statements at the first meeting of the SBTC citing “a lack of response by the BGCT to a Waco church that called a woman to be its senior pastor” among reasons for forming a new state convention.  While BGCT leadership has affirmed women as senior pastors, the lack of formal criticism or expulsion of the church was no different than the SBC’s policy towards such churches. At the time, one BGCT church out of 4,800 had a woman pastor. The SBC had 75 women pastors  among 40,200 churches, or one church in 540. The new Baptist Faith and Message adopted in 2000 states that “the office of pastor is limited to men” , but the SBC does not currently bar churches with women senior pastors from affiliation.
VII. Article on Buckner Benevolences, 2001
There was a significant decline in criticism of the BGCT in the SBTC’s publications following its first year as a convention, but some problematic statements have occurred. The Southern Baptist Texan carried an article by the SBC’s Baptist Press in October 2001 titled “Abstinence program linking Buckner and Planned Parenthood stirs concern in Amarillo.” The article criticized Buckner’s involvement in an abstinence education program in Amarillo because, it was said, Planned Parenthood was among the 24 co-sponsors.  The article was written by Baptist Press reporter Tammi Reed Ledbetter, wife of Gary Ledbetter, editor of the SBTC’s Southern Baptist Texan.
Buckner president Ken Hall responded strongly in statements to The Baptist Standard, referring to the BP/SBTC coverage as “misleading” and “untruthful.” Hall said “Buckner would not lend itself to anything that would teach anything other than total abstinence before marriage” and “We strongly believe in the absolute sanctity of life-from pre-birth to death.” 
The program in question appears to actually have been separate programs by each of the participating organizations, all under the umbrella of the Amarillo Area Foundation in terms of funding and targeting of teen pregnancy. The details of implementation may be comparable to the program implemented the previous year. The Amarillo Area Foundation funded a local Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative in August 2000. Under this umbrella, several organizations engaged in projects of their own design, all targeting teen pregnancy. Buckner engaged in a six-week Family Enrichment Program, CareNet Crisis Pregnancy Centers provided abstinence seminars, Planned Parenthood conducted a program concerning parent-teen communication, and other groups engaged in other programs of their own selection.  A Buckner report announcing award of the grant for 2001 suggests the same organization, with Buckner itself awarded support for its Family Enrichment Program. 
E. Accuracy--“An Historical Perspective”
Summary: Ronnie Yarber’s paper “An Historical Perspective: An Opinion Paper on the Reason for the Birth of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention,” distributed by the SBTC, misrepresents several issues involving the BGCT. Major problems include: falsely indicating that the BGCT’s CLC has not denounced abortion on demand; falsely claiming that the BGCT action withdrawing fellowship from University Baptist Church in Austin was non-binding; misrepresenting the history and impact of BGCT budget changes with regard to the SBC; falsely claiming that BGCT churches cannot have any voting messengers in the absence of financial participation; exaggerating the contrast between the BGCT and SBTC/SBC on issues of abortion, women pastors, and churches affirming homosexual behavior; and misrepresenting the issues of Sunday school literature and BGCT actions regarding Baylor.
In 1999 Ronnie Yarber wrote a paper “An Historical Perspective: An Opinion Paper on the Reason for the Birth of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.”  At the time Yarber was Assistant to the SBTC Executive Director as well as interim editor of the Southern Baptist Texan. For a period after formation of the SBTC in November 1998, this paper was sent to churches that inquired with the SBTC regarding affiliation. That paper misrepresents the history of several issues, including BGCT funding of the SBC, BGCT actions regarding University Baptist Church of Austin, BGCT World Hunger offerings, BGCT position on abortion, the BGCT constitutional change on messenger representation, BGCT actions regarding Baylor University, and use of Baptist publishers. It also presents an incomplete picture of other issues, including BGCT leaders’ statements regarding the SBC, BGCT actions regarding Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, BGCT giving options, and the BJCPA.  Statements from the report are addressed in turn below.
Baylor: Regarding Baylor University, Yarber states, “1991-92: The Baptist General Convention of Texas leaders provided no strong opposition to the loss of Baylor University to independent status orchestrated by the Baylor Board of Trustees (Regents). The final vote in 92 received no opposition at all from the BGCT leadership, either elected or employed.”  In fact, the BGCT suspended the transfer of funds to Baylor after Baylor’s action and began negotiations with Baylor during which Baylor rejected the BGCT’s first proposal. The final agreement, which took a year to culminate, committed Baylor to Baptist ideals and a Baptist Board of Regents.  In recommending the agreement to the convention, the Naylor Committee indicated that it “seems the best approach for the Convention to maintain a relationship with Baylor” ; indeed, it was likely the only option that would both keep Baylor a Baptist institution and avoid long, costly litigation.
Later in his chronology, Yarber notes the controversy between Baylor University and Baylor Health Care Systems in 1997. He refers to “public protest” that prevented the sale of BHCS,  but does not acknowledge the opposition of BGCT leadership which was decisive in preventing the sale.  He also does not acknowledge that the outcome was an improved relationship between BHCS and the BGCT, affirming BHCS as a Baptist institution committed to Baptist ideals. 
BGCT budget: Yarber states, “1995: The BGCT leadership recommended reducing the Cooperative Program giving formula for Southern Baptist Convention causes from 37% to 33% and increasing the amount kept by the BGCT from 63% to 67%. This 4% reduction to the Southern Baptist Convention created a $1.4 million shortfall of funds for the Cooperative Program going to the Southern Baptist Convention.”  Yarber also references the “shortfall” later in the chronology where he states that the BGCT’s giving option 3 is “the option created in 1995 which lowered funding to the Southern Baptists Convention by $1.4 million dollars [sic].”  Actually, the 1995 proposal changed the SBC share of the BGCT’s Cooperative Program budget from 35.5% to 33%, a change of only 2.5%, effective with the 1996 budget.  The previous year a reduction of 1.35% had occurred, from 36.65% to 35.5%.  There was no shortfall of funds for the SBC, which for 1996-97 reported $1,564,761 more CP receipts from the BGCT than in 1995-96, and $564,914 more than in 1994-95.  These increases in part reflect the fact that the BGCT gave individual churches the option of setting their own percentage breakdown.
Yarber also states, “NOTE: If churches in Texas should choose option 5 [73% BGCT, 27% SBC], as they are being encouraged to do, it could reduce Cooperative Program funds going to the SBC missions and ministries by a minimum of 2.9 million dollars, creating a shortfall for SBC missionaries around the world. This reduction of 6% added to the 1995 reduction of 4%, which created a 1.4 Million dollar shortfall, can amount to a total annual reduction of 4.3 million dollars to the SBC Cooperative Program.”  In addition to the issues discussed above, the figures Yarber gives are mutually contradictory. If a 4% change truly produced a $1.4 million shortfall, then a 6% change would give a $2.1 million shortfall, for a total 10% change or $3.5 million shortfall. Based on Yarber’s previous figures, the $4.3 million figure is too high by 23%. However, Yarber’s whole hypothetical discussion is of questionable relevance. No SBC shortfalls have occurred, and indeed BGCT Cooperative Program support of the SBC has not shown the changes described here because churches have availed themselves of the various giving options. The BGCT did not “encourage” churches to select option 5 over any other option; rather all options were made available equally, with option 5 at the end of the list.  Additionally, the new option would impact SBC missions specifically less than Yarber indicates, since the option would designate money to the missions agencies over the Executive Board, seminaries other than SWBTS, and ERLC. 
University Baptist Church: Yarber’s chronology states, “1995: The BGCT leadership refused to allow the matter of the University Church, which has a practicing homosexual deacon, to be discussed and voted on by the messengers at three consecutive annual convention sessions. Rulings by the President upon recommendation from the parliamentarian kept the issue from being debated and decided by the messengers.”  In fact, the issue was raised at the 1995 and 1996 BGCT convention meetings, but not the 1997 meeting.  The 1995 motion regarded seating of UBC messengers and was referred to the Credentials Committee (the UBC apparently did not send messengers to these conventions).  An additional motion to amend the constitution was referred to the Executive Board, resulting in the Messenger Seating Study Committee Report approved by messenger vote in 1996. This report charged the Credentials Committee with issues of seating messengers. The motion to withdraw fellowship from UBC in 1996 followed this messenger vote and was ruled out of order because UBC had sent no messengers to refuse seating to.  On the issue of accepting UBC funds, the remaining element of affiliation with the BGCT, the Executive Board voted to decline such funds in 1998. 
Yarber continues, “Finally, on February 24, 1998, the Executive Board of the BGCT passed a resolution that was a non-binding action.”  This action is also described as “non-binding” later on, where the text of the resolution is given followed by the statement, “Note: This allows the University Baptist Church to continue receiving BGCT funds to be sent to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.”  The allegation that the action regarding UBC funds was “non-binding” may reflect the fact that Yarber quotes from the Administrative Committee’s recommendation to the Executive Board, which “recommends” the action; however, the affirmative vote by the Executive Board on 24 February 1998 makes the action binding. With the BGCT constitution now stipulating that membership requires financial support of the BGCT budget,  it is even more clear that UBC is no longer a BGCT church. If Yarber’s “non-binding” allegation is in reference to the “request” that UBC not claim affiliation with the BGCT, this is arguably the most the Executive Board could do to prevent such UBC claims short of legal action. In any case, UBC acted to comply with the “request” eight days after the Executive Board action.  The final “Note” appears to be a misstatement, since there has never been an issue of the BGCT using a church as a conduit of funds.
In this section Yarber also states “The difference between the two Texas conventions of Baptists on the issue of homosexuality is not whether it is a sinful practice but rather whether a church should be disfellowshipped from the Convention for accepting practicing homosexuals into the membership.”  Later on, Yarber describes the contrast differently: “The difference in the position of the two Conventions is on the point of how to deal with churches which accept the practice, i.e., should the convention messengers, in convention session, be given privilege to cast a vote to disfellowship such a church?”  Indeed, on neither point is there a contrast between the BGCT and SBTC. Regarding the former statement, BGCT leadership did effectively withdraw affiliation from University Baptist in 1998. The BGCT’s Messenger Seating Study Committee recommended that such actions be taken through the Credentials Committee rather than by vote of convention messengers. Such a policy serves to eliminate the politicization of such withdrawal of fellowship (contrast with the failed motion at the 1993 SBC convention to withdraw fellowship from Immanuel Baptist Church in Arkansas, where Bill Clinton was a member ). But even this policy, which Yarber seems to refer to in the latter statement, is not a contrast, since the SBTC constitution stipulates that removal of churches from the convention will be upon action of the Executive Board, not messenger vote. 
World Hunger offering: Yarber’s chronology states, “1996: The BGCT leadership unilaterally redirected the World Hunger offerings from the churches to be shared with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, thus dispersing World Hunger funds directly from the BGCT to other states, by-passing the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.”  Yarber then quotes (without argument) a Baptist Standard article from 1999 which describes 20% of hunger offerings being directed to the NAMB-the same fraction as before 1996. The quotation also correctly cites the percentage of funds to CBF projects as 20%, in contrast to the unspecified “redirection” in Yarber’s chronology. The basis for the reference to “dispersing… funds directly… to other states” is unclear, given that no funds are designated directly to other state conventions; such direct cooperation between state conventions, however, would hardly be an unprecedented practice by Southern Baptists (indeed, the SBTC is currently engaged in direct partnership missions with state conventions in the northeast ).
The BGCT’s World Hunger offering remains a designated offering, and churches may give to the offering generally, with funds dispersed as described above, or they may designate money for a specific project, such as IMB projects.  Yarber describes the funds for the SBC as “minimal”, whereas the hunger offering brought more money to SBC projects in 1997 than in 1995, despite the changed percentages. 
Linkage of representation to giving: Yarber’s chronology states, “1996: An amendment requiring Southern Baptist Churches in Texas to give a certain amount (a poll tax) to the BGCT in order to allow messengers from the churches to participate in voting was presented and defeated in the Ft. Worth convention meeting. The same motion was re-submitted in 1998 at the Houston convention and was passed. Therefore churches must meet a certain financial obligation in order to participate in the annual convention sessions.”  The reference to a “resubmitted” motion is repeated later: “The poll tax amendment was resubmitted and passed in Houston in November '98.” 
The 1996 motion would have allowed each church two voting messengers without any financial contributions, with numbers of additional messengers dependent on membership and financial participation.  The same motion was not re-submitted in 1998: in 1997 the Effectiveness/Efficiency Committee presented a report addressing several areas, one of which was a proposed amendment similar to but not identical to the 1996 proposal. This proposal also allowed each church two voting messengers without any financial obligation, with a different dependence of additional messengers on membership and financial participation.  This constitutional amendment passed a first reading at the 1997 convention and a second in 1998. 
Churches with women pastors: The report states, "1998: The Calvary Baptist Church (BGCT affiliated) in Waco called a woman as senior pastor. No response nor action by BGCT as to continued affiliation by the church.”  At that time, this was the only BGCT-affiliated church with a woman pastor among 4,800 BGCT churches total.  In comparison, the SBC had 75 churches with women pastors among 40,900 churches total, or one per 550 churches.  Neither the BGCT nor the SBC has taken action to withdraw fellowship from these churches. (The SBC did adopt a new Baptist Faith and Message in 2000 which addresses the issue , although churches are still not excluded from the SBC over the issue.)
Yarber also states, “BGCT is presently funding the City Church in Dallas, which began April 4, 1999, with a woman pastor. The BGCT issued a financial grant to a mission church in San Marcos, which has a woman senior pastor."  Further is the statement, “The BGCT has now positioned itself on the theological issue of women serving as Senior Pastors of Texas Baptist churches by virtue of financial support being given to at least two churches in Texas with women serving as Senior Pastors. One of those churches is located in Dallas and the other is in San Marcos.”  The latter statement refers to both congregations as “churches” whereas the former identifies one as a mission. The City Church of Dallas is apparently a mission as well; their web site lists three churches supporting them.  Yarber does not identify the mission in San Marcos; I have not been able to identify a BGCT-affiliated mission in San Marcos that does not have a male pastor.
Sunday school literature: Yarber states, "1999: A proposal was made by the BGCT to contract with Smyth & Helwys Publishing to produce BGCT literature.”  No such proposal was made by the BGCT, according to Bernie Spooner, director of the BGCT’s Bible study and discipleship division. Rather, while the BGCT was making plans regarding literature, Smyth & Helwys made a proposal to the BGCT, which the BGCT rejected. 
Yarber also states, “Heretofore Southern Baptist churches have used Lifeway Christian Resources literature (SBC)."  This statement is also false; for decades, Southern Baptist Churches of all theological and/or political persuasions have used literature from a variety of sources other than the SBC. Many SBC churches use a mixture of Lifeway material and material from other sources (some Southern Baptist, some not); about 10% of SBC churches do not use any Lifeway material.  Strictly speaking, SBC churches have only used Lifeway literature since 1998, when SBC’s Sunday School Board became Lifeway Christian Resources.
Giving options: Yarber gives quotations from a 1999 Baptist Standard article  regarding giving options, but he does not distinguish his own comments from the direct quotation. The introduction includes his following comment within the quotation for the text from the Standard article: "Made a unilateral decision to create a Fifth Option for giving which further reduces funds going from Texas churches to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program... “  The same occurs with the inset list of options from the Standard article, where Yarber makes some changes in wording and mixes the following comments with the original text without differentiation: Option 1: “this is the equivalent of defunding the Southern Baptist Convention allowing for a complete departure from Southern Baptist Convention affiliation.” Option 2: “this also allows for defunding of the SBC while allowing for positive designations to the non-SBC ministries which creates a process of distancing from the support of SBC ministries.” Option 3: “This is the option created in 1995 which lowered funding to the Southern Baptists Convention by $1.4 million dollars.” Option 4: “This is the combination of the 1994 redesigning of the Cooperative Program and the 1995 change of the giving formula.” 
Yarber erroneously identifies both option 3 and 4 as “67% BGCT, 33% to SBC, with up to five line-items exclusions on either side” (although he does distinguish between them in terms of his comments).  Option 3 should be “67% to BGCT, 33% to SBC”, without exclusions, while option 4 is with exclusions.  Yarber represents each flexible option as negatively impacting the SBC, whereas the same flexibility can be used to positively impact the SBC and/or negatively impact the BGCT. Yarber’s comment on option 2 does not acknowledge that a church could use that option and set an arbitrarily high percentage for the SBC. Indeed, following introduction of these options Texas churches used the flexibility to give more, not less to the SBC. Note that option 4 was widely utilized by churches in Texas to exclude Baylor University and the BGCT Christian Life Commission: while Yarber criticizes the “redefinition” of the Cooperative Program involved here, many conservative churches have been content to utilize that redefinition in regard to support of the BGCT. (The comment on option 3 has been discussed previously.)
Statements on abortion: Yarber cites a statement from the BGCT Christian Life Commission regarding abortion; this statement, from the 1994 CLC booklet “Abortion and the Christian Life” , is incorrectly quoted. Between the first and second sentences of the text Yarber has omitted the sentence “Reverence for the life of the mother helps to define these circumstances.” Additionally, he begins the following sentence with “The obvious case” instead of “The most obvious case” as in the document. 
Yarber follows the quotation by stating, "The clause which says, "...her mental and emotional stability..." makes room for abortion-on-demand and abortion as birth control."  However, other statements from elsewhere in the same CLC document leave no such room. Two paragraphs earlier the CLC states, "It should be a major concern to the Christian community that most of the 1.5 million abortions performed annually are performed for reasons more related to birth control than urgent medical therapy. Abortion as birth control is not compatible with the gospel's call to reverence life."  Later in the document the CLC writes “The raising of the exceptions described above should not be interpreted as encouraging abortion even in the face of extreme circumstances.”  In the next to the last section the CLC writes "The Christian Life Commission supports legislative remedies which serve to limit abortion except in extreme circumstances."  Yarber quotes the CLC out-of-context and his comments significantly misrepresent the CLC position.
Additionally, Yarber states, "Notice also that the statement does not address the tragic practice of Partial Birth Abortion, which is the killing of the child while being removed from the mother's body alive. No adequate, nor serious, discussion of Abortion can take place by a serious student of the Bible that does not address Partial Birth Abortion."  Again, Yarber ignores a CLC statement in the same document, "In similar fashion we sense that the closer the fetus has developed to viability, the more heavily the unborn life weighs against competing claims of other lives. This means that while all abortions are tragic, late term abortions are especially tragic."  In contrast, the SBTC has failed to address partial birth abortions specifically in any of their five resolutions on abortion (in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002), and the resolutions in 1998 and 1999 failed to identify abortion as murder and used vague language comparable to sections of the CLC document. 
Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs: Yarber cites the research of the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association in this regard. Despite the practice of citing the MBLA’s research and publications, its information has a history of being misleading, incomplete, or erroneous. Proper research should, if at all possible, cite primary sources, not secondary sources such as the MBLA. The two statements Yarber quotes from the How to Win manual are apparently not cited from the original but from an MBLA publication. The MBLA gives a reference for the second citation of p. 20,  whereas the MBLA gives p. 120.  Yarber prefaces the quotations with the statement “Two statements from the manual clarify the extremely liberal position of the BJCPA.”  However, these statements are not from any of the articles contributed by BJCPA members; both are from an article by Tom Swift of the Human Rights Campaign Fund. 
F. Accuracy--Biles Presentation
The recent presentation by Deron Biles at First Baptist Church of Brownsville (December 2002) shows that there are still problems in the area of accuracy. Biles made several misleading claims regarding the BGCT, in particular that the BGCT’s position on abortion “basically was abortion on demand” and that the BGCT did not take binding action against University Baptist Church (UBC). Both statements are incorrect. Regarding abortion, the BGCT has passed resolutions condemning abortion, and the BGCT’s CLC pamphlet in question specifically condemns abortion as birth control and calls for legislation restricting abortion. Regarding UBC, the BGCT expelled UBC in February 1998, an action acknowledged as severe and definitive by both the BGCT and UBC, and in November 1996 BGCT messengers adopted a report clarifying that messengers from churches approving homosexuality would not be seated. Biles appears to have in part relied upon inaccurate information from Yarber’s paper “An Historical Perspective.” When I wrote to Biles regarding the inaccuracies, he only partly acknowledged them. In addition, material distributed at the presentation included copies of convention study reports by other churches, including one by FBC Dallas which includes incorrect and misleading information.
Abortion: Dr. Biles refers to four circumstances in which the CLC says abortion is acceptable, says that this is basically abortion on demand, and that this represents the position of the BGCT. In the follow-up e-mail, Biles acknowledges that the CLC paper condemns “blanket abortion” and legislation restricting abortion.
The CLC pamphlet “Abortion and the Christian Life” notes the following exceptions in which they say abortion “might be contemplated”: where the mother’s physical life is threatened; rape or incest; when the mother’s “emotional health” or “mental and emotional stability” is at risk; or “fetal deformity and disease incompatible with life”.  The first category is the exception noted by recent SBC resolutions where abortion might be accepted.  While it has been claimed by the SBTC that the reference to "...her mental and emotional stability..." makes room for abortion-on-demand and abortion as birth control,"  other statements from elsewhere in the same CLC document leave no such room. Two paragraphs earlier the CLC states, "It should be a major concern to the Christian community that most of the 1.5 million abortions performed annually are performed for reasons more related to birth control than urgent medical therapy. Abortion as birth control is not compatible with the gospel's call to reverence life."  Later in the document the CLC writes “The raising of the exceptions described above should not be interpreted as encouraging abortion even in the face of extreme circumstances.”  In the next to the last section the CLC writes "The Christian Life Commission supports legislative remedies which serve to limit abortion except in extreme circumstances."  Dr. Biles seems to be using a non-standard definition of the term “abortion on demand.” Abortion on demand is abortion immediately available for any reason-with limited exceptions, the current practice in the United States. Most abortions in the United States are for birth control, which the CLC condemns; indeed, the CLC pamphlet condemns abortion in cases which amount to at least 80% and as much as 95% of abortions currently performed in the United States.  In addition, the CLC calls for restrictive legislation, which is not an “abortion on demand” position.
It is not accurate to claim that the CLC paper is the BGCT’s position on abortion without acknowledging BGCT resolutions on abortion. In the 1980s the BGCT passed resolutions condemning abortion except in the cases of threat to the life of the mother, rape, or incest.  In the 1990s the BGCT has passed resolutions and motions condemning partial birth abortion and elective abortion and calling for legislation restricting abortion. 
Regarding my claim that the SBTC’s resolutions on abortion in 1998 and 1999 are similarly weak, Dr. Biles says that these resolutions addressed sanctity of life and not abortion in particular, and that the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message states the SBTC position on abortion. However, the 1998 SBTC resolution in question refers to abortion in its opening statement-“Whereas, abortion is today’s defining moral issue”-and in its conclusion: “Therefore, it is resolved by the messengers of this convention that all human life is sacred specifically life in the womb. And further, be it resolved, that decisions regarding abortion whether personal, political, legislative, or judicial should be governed by the same ethical understanding that should oversee decisions about all human life.”  Despite referring to abortion twice by name, the resolution fails to condemn it. If Dr. Biles statement is to be accepted that the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message represents the SBTC position on abortion, then the question remains as to what position, if any, the SBTC had on abortion prior to November 2000. Although the prior Baptist Faith and Message, as amended in 1998, refers to “Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord,”  the 2000 version is the one which specifically addresses abortion, in Article XV, The Christian and the Social Order.  At the November 2000 meeting, the SBTC adopted the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message as its statement of faith and also passed a resolution which was a stronger statement regarding abortion.  It may also be noted that the SBTC resolutions in 2000 and 2001 regarding abortion, if taken at face value, condemn abortion for any reason,  including to save the physical life of the mother (an exception made in recent SBC resolutions).
University Baptist Church: Dr. Biles stated in the presentation that the BGCT declined to withdraw fellowship from University Baptist Church; he did not acknowledge any action by the BGCT in this regard. In the follow-up e-mail Dr. Biles acknowledges that the BGCT did take action in February 1998 but insists that this action was weak, non-binding, and did not expel UBC.
In 1995 University Baptist Church of Austin ordained a practicing homosexual as a deacon.  The issue came up at the 1995 and 1996 BGCT conventions: in 1995 a motion regarding seating of UBC messengers was referred to the Credentials Committee, since the UBC had sent no messengers.  An additional motion to amend the constitution was referred to the Executive Board, resulting in the Messenger Seating Study Committee Report approved by messenger vote in 1996. This report charged the Credentials Committee with issues of seating messengers and spoke against seating messengers from churches affirming homosexuality.  The motion to withdraw fellowship from UBC in 1996 (cited by Dr. Biles) followed this messenger vote and was ruled out of order because UBC had sent no messengers to refuse seating to.  On the issue of accepting UBC funds, the remaining element of affiliation with the BGCT, the Executive Board voted to decline such funds in February 1998. 
As stipulated by the BGCT Constitution, a church’s affiliation with the BGCT comprises two elements: financial giving and the right to send messengers to the annual meetings.  The element of financial giving is required for affiliation.  With regard to UBC, the BGCT terminated the former in February 1998 and clarified its position terminating the latter in November 1996. BGCT asked the UBC to cease to claim affiliation with the BGCT (UBC promptly complied)  and the BGCT does not list UBC as an affiliated church.  UBC is no longer part of the BGCT by any valid definition.
The allegation that the action regarding UBC funds was “non-binding” (a claim made by Ronnie Yarber in his 1999 position paper ) may be based on the Administrative Committee’s recommendation to the Executive Board, which “recommends” the action; however, the affirmative vote by the Executive Board on 24 February 1998 makes the action binding. If the “non-binding” allegation is in reference to the “request” that UBC not claim affiliation with the BGCT, this is arguably the most the Executive Board could do to prevent such UBC claims short of legal action. In any case, UBC acted to comply with the “request” eight days after the Executive Board action.  The claim that the action was a “slap on the wrist” contradicts the nature of affiliation with the BGCT, which was terminated with regard to UBC, and is belied by the reaction of outrage by the pastor of UBC.  UBC, the BGCT, and various outside sources have consistently interpreted the action as both severe and binding. 
The issue may be semantics, after all, since the BGCT is criticized for not “disfellowshipping”. Such action is meaningful for local associations or for the SBTC, which requires a signed statement of affiliation on file (among other requirements), but not for the BGCT. The contrast may in part reflect the nature of accountability that individual churches of the SBTC are held to; in this regard, BGCT procedures are more akin to those of the SBC. Yarber has claimed “The difference in the position of the two Conventions is on the point of how to deal with churches which accept the practice, i.e., should the convention messengers, in convention session, be given privilege to cast a vote to disfellowship such a church?”  But even in this regard there is not a contrast, since the SBTC constitution stipulates that removal of churches from the convention will be upon action of the Executive Board, not messenger vote. 
Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs: Dr. Biles refers to the “How to Win” manual as produced by the BJCPA and states that the pamphlet shows “they are pro-homosexual,” “they're trying to create coalitions between gay and non-gay churches,” and that “that's been their passion.”
The manual in question is How to Win: A Practical Guide for Defeating the Radical Right in Your Community, published in 1994.  The BJCPA contributed to the manual but it was actually produced by the Radical Right Task Force, a coalition of several dozen organizations including the BJCPA. The BJCPA made three contributions: “Prayer in Public Schools and Graduation Ceremonies” and “Theological Arguments Against Intolerance,” both by Dr. W. Kenneth Williams, and “Public Aid to Parochial Schools” by J. Brent Walker. None of these address homosexuality (the “Theological Arguments Against Intolerance” addresses religious intolerance). The statement Dr. Biles cites regarding “coalitions between gay and non-gay churches” is not from a BJCPA contribution but from an article by Tom Swift of the Human Rights Campaign Fund.  The BJCPA has indicated that they do not necessarily agree with the policies of all groups that were involved.  While the BJCPA’s judgement may be called into question, the BJCPA’s participation seems inadequate to document a “passion” for pro-homosexual policies.
Dr. Biles indicated that the references to the “radical right” were referring to “us”. While this is largely true, the manual also criticizes those that would seek to legislate religious beliefs to a degree beyond that which is consistent with the Baptist Faith and Message.
General BGCT: Dr. Biles stated that the BGCT has chartered a name “Baptist Convention of the Americas”. This was not done by the BGCT or in the name of the BGCT but by Herbert Reynolds.  Reynolds was then chancellor of Baylor University but holds no position in the BGCT itself. In public statements regarding his extreme suggestions on the future of the BGCT, Reynolds has stated, “...I am speaking for myself only. I do not represent Texas Baptists Committed, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and certainly not the SBC. Further some of the viewpoints I will present may seem presumptuous and are not necessarily shared in by some of the people with whom I have labored over the years.”  (Reynolds’ suggestions have been more in terms of a national convention with which the BGCT might affiliate, not that the BGCT become a national convention: “While maintaining the autonomy and integrity of our state convention [the BGCT] and that of any partnering states…” ) In any case, the BGCT has taken no action in this regard. A motion in 1999 to completely defund the SBC was overwhelmingly rejected,  and the BGCT continues to participate in the SBC. The 2003 BGCT budget, approved in November 2002, restored funding to the SBC Executive Board, ERLC, and all other SBC entities on an undesignated basis. 
Dr. Biles described meetings between BGCT and SBT leaders shortly before formation of the SBTC and refers to a joint press release, implying that this joint statement acknowledges the disagreements he describes regarding biblical inerrancy, women pastors, abortion, response to homosexuality, and the BJCPA.
However, it appears the points of disagreement he discusses come not from the joint statement but from Yarber’s position paper “An Historical Perspective.” When I asked Dr. Biles for a copy of the joint statement, he instead referred me to the coverage in the Baptist Press and the Baptist Standard. Dr. Biles cites the Baptist Standard as substantiating his representation of the joint statement, but it does not. Citing the release, the Standard reported there were “many points of agreement”, that the differences “did not seem resolvable,” that SBT leaders “indicated that they planned to proceed with the official formation of a new state convention.” Further, the release stated “Each person present committed himself to be constructive, honest and factual in personal and private, written and spoken communication about these matters,” and “In further discussion, they agreed to seek areas in which there could be cooperation in carrying out the Lord’s Great Commission, reaching the Texas and world missions field.”  Russell Dilday told the Standard that SBT leaders complaints were: BGCT actions perceived to be anti-SBC and/or pro-CBF; lack of inclusiveness on BGCT committees and boards; “inaccuracies” in reporting mission giving; too much bureaucracy; perceived biased reporting by the Baptist Standard; and lack of BGCT control over the Standard. 
According to Yarber’s own account, SBT leaders basically demanded that the BGCT Executive Board enact the SBT demands,  demands which had been rejected repeatedly by the messengers at several BGCT conventions.  Thus, for example, what the BGCT may have agreed is not that there is a disagreement in position on abortion but that there is a disagreement on whether the BGCT should take action against the CLC in regard to the pamphlet “Abortion and the Christian Life.”
G. Missions and Ministries
In terms of missions and ministry goals, the SBTC from the beginning has declared its focus to be on church planting and avoiding a large “bureaucracy.” Beyond this there is ambiguity regarding the goals and direction of their missions and ministries efforts. During its first four years as a convention, some of these directions have changed several times and many stated goals have yet to develop into programs. In short, the SBTC has yet to fully define itself in terms of the ministries it can or will offer member churches.
Support for the SBC: The SBTC has placed a greater emphasis on its support for the national Southern Baptist Convention than on its own in-state missions and ministries. In 1999 and 2000 it allocated 50% of its Cooperative Program budget for the SBC. Ronnie Yarber, SBTC communications director, indicated in November 2000, “Previously approved plans call for increasing the percentage of receipts forwarded to SBC endeavors by another one percent every two years until a 55/45 split is achieved.”  Accordingly, the SBC portion was increased to 51% with the 2001 and 2002 budgets; SBTC leaders pointed out that this was a greater percentage for the SBC than that allocated by any other state convention in the nation.  The SBC portion was increased to 52% in the 2003 budget. SBTC leaders have consistently cited these percentages as a “selling point” for their convention. 
These allocations may be compared to the 36.3% average for Cooperative Program funds from the 39 SBC state conventions for 2000-2001,  down from 39.1% in 1987-1988. 
It should be noted that these figures do not consider grants that the SBTC has routinely received from various SBC entities. Accounting for these, the actual net budgeted support of the SBC was 38.8% in 2000, 45.5% in 2001, 49.6% in 2002, and 47.9% in 2003. This includes both grants from SBC Cooperative Program-supported agencies and from financially independent agencies, such as Lifeway. 
Part of the original justification for a smaller in-state allocation was that the SBTC would rely on SBC agencies such as the North American Mission Board and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission to a greater degree than the norm for state conventions. How well this has worked in practice may be reflected in changes in subsequent budgets.
Organization: In March 1998 Ronnie Yarber described the SBTC as “’a more excellent way’ to do missions and evangelism…[to] decrease the ever increasing bureaucratic costs and to increase the amount going directly into the field.”  Later that year, David Fannin, SBTC second vice president, stated “We want to be a streamlined, debt-free, non-bureaucratic assembly of churches who are pro-active for the cause of Christ in Texas.” 
In the June 2000 Southern Baptist Texan, the SBTC discussed salary figures reiterating a commitment to “avoid building a bureaucracy.” In 1999 salaries were 20.2% of the in-state budget, with 24.2% expected for 2000, both figures being slightly over budget for the respective budget year.  The fraction of the SBTC’s in-state budget specified as administrative has declined: 34.0% in 1999, 23.0% in 2000, 9.5% in 2001, 6.1% in 2002, and 4.3% in 2003. These figures do not include salary expenses (such as secretarial) which are divided among other budget categories. When combined with operational and financial service expenses, these fractions are 52.0% in 1999, 35.0% in 2000, 21.5% in 2001, 19.6% in 2002, and 17.4% in 2003. 
Neither do the above figures include the cost of the SBTC newsletter, the Southern Baptist Texan (formerly the Plumbline). The newsletter is funded from the SBTC budget (in contrast to the BGCT’s Baptist Standard, which is financially independent of the BGCT budget), plus its function compares to that of the SBC’s newsletter SBC Life and web communications, which the SBC includes in the Executive Board operations portion of its budget.  The allocation of SBTC Cooperative Program in-state funds for their newsletter was 22% in 1999, 8.9% in 2001, 4.9% in 2002, and 3.4% in 2003. 
In spite of the SBTC’s direct and indirect criticism of BGCT’s administrative expenses, the SBTC may not be doing significantly better. Although a direct comparison is not possible, the 2003 BGCT in-state budget includes 4.8% for administration (Office of Executive Director) and 10.0% for administration/ operations/financial services combined. 
The July/August 2000 Southern Baptist Texan stated: “The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s plan is only ten full-time ministry staff persons for the first one thousand churches. This will make the SBTC one of the smallest church-to-staff ratio state conventions in the nation. Rather than hiring a large number of staff members to meet the ministry needs of the churches, the SBTC is a facilitator. The SBTC coordinates resources from SBC entities, mega-churches, volunteers and paid consultants. Actually, the SBTC could be called the Southern Baptists of Texas Network. By using this model, more money will flow to SBC missions and ministry without neglecting Texas. The SBTC is working to do more with less by establishing a new paradigm among state conventions.” 
The October 2001 Southern Baptist Texan stated:
In order to maintain an efficient use of ministry resources, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention uses the strength of SBTC churches, SBC agencies, volunteers, and consultants in order to conduct its diverse ministries. It is necessary that the convention work this way in order to keep missions and evangelism as the major emphasis of its work.
The Southern Baptist Convention and larger churches have skilled personnel available to assist the full scope of church ministries. Since the SBTC will have a smaller staff, as much of the ministries as possible will be done through existing entities. Conventions provide for churches out of the financial resources given by the churches. Churches pool their resources and decide what types of convention services they want to have.
With this commitment to “no bureaucracy,” SBTC has employed various consultants across the state to provide key ministries… 
As referenced above, a key element towards this goal has been the SBTC’s reliance on networking rather than establishing affiliated agencies. Most state conventions, including the BGCT, have established various agencies which they support financially and exercise control over, either through it being an integral part of the convention or that the affiliation agreement grants the convention a controlling interest in the board of directors. In contrast, the SBTC has so far determined to utilize existing organizations and other outside resources, provide financial support to them, and assist churches in utilizing their services, all without obtaining organizational control of the organization.
The SBTC has defined two degrees of association with networking organizations, “affiliated relationship” and “fraternal relationship,” in a policy statement.  This document states “There is no desire on the part of the SBTC to form organizations or ministries that are already in existence and are willing to enter into an affiliated or fraternal relationship.” “Affiliate” status requires that the organization affirm the doctrinal statement of the SBTC, grants the SBTC representation on the organization’s governing board, and makes the organization eligible for possible funding from the SBTC budget. A “fraternal relationship” only requires the organization to affirm a “high view of Scripture” and be “in basic agreement with Southern Baptist distinctives,” gives the SBTC no representation on the organization’s governing board, and makes the organization eligible to receive designated funds sent by churches through the SBTC (they apparently cannot receive SBTC budget funds, however ).
In March 2001 the SBTC entered an affiliated relationship with Criswell Center for Biblical Studies in Dallas.  In October 2001, the SBTC entered a relationship with the Metro Center for Church Planting in Arlington, Texas, financing Metro Center efforts to plant churches throughout Texas. 
Some possible issues with this method of missions operations concern the degree of control. By opting for networking, the SBTC has no control over the doctrine or practice of these organizations; should an organization stray from acceptable doctrine/practice, the SBTC would have to end the relationship and seek a replacement (the policy statement indicates that can occur immediately and without prior notice ). This contrasts with the practice of most conventions. It is also less strict that the SBTC’s standard of affiliated with member churches, which must affirm the SBTC’s doctrinal statement and are held to a higher degree of accountability than churches in most conventions.
Church planting: The SBTC has consistently indicated church planting to be its missions focus. Its first budget (1998) included 20% for church starts and strengthening small churches.  At the time the SBTC indicated “It is anticipated that this figure [for church starts/support] will increase as churches align with the SBTC. Plans are to keep operations’ costs at a minimum so as to funnel funds into doing the Great Commission in Texas.”  Church starts were allocated 16% of the original 1999 budget.  The line item for new church plants was allocated 19.7% of the 2001 budget, 20.1% of the 2002 budget, and 17.3% of the 2003 budget.  The BGCT, in comparison, allocated 5.1% of its 2003 in-state budget to new church plants. 
From April 1998 to July 2002 the SBTC reported assisting 147 church starts.  New starts in the first half of 2002 were reported as 16 Anglo, 13 Hispanic, 11 African-American, 4 Korean, 1 other Asian, and 1 multihousing. 
The SBTC is using outside organizations as part of its church planting programs, with an example being the formal relationship with the Metro Center for Church Planting referenced above. A similar relationship with the Acts 1:8 Church Planting Center of the Gulf Coast Association is being developed. 
Institutions: In its first years, indications were that the SBTC wanted to avoid involvement with institutions for education, human need ministries, and the like: this was an area in which SBTC leaders were critical of the BGCT.
On 30 March 2001 the SBTC Executive Board approved affiliation with Criswell Center for Biblical Studies.  This was finalized by both entities on 7 June 2001.  The agreement involves $600,000 in support from the SBTC in the next three years and a limit on solicitation by Criswell of SBTC churches. While it has a Southern Baptist orientation, Criswell is independent and has no prior formal ties to any Southern Baptist convention. Jim Richards, SBTC executive director, felt obligated to explain this move in July:
Southern Baptist churches in Texas have supported schools, child care and other ministries for years. The gifts of God’s people through the churches built and maintained these ministries. Although the distribution of funds has been done through a unified budget of a state convention, the people of the churches provided the financial undergirding of these ministries.
The SBTC does not intend to mirror any other state convention. Just because a school or ministry exists, does not call for the SBTC to form a corresponding ministry. SBTC churches have requested certain ministries…
One of the basic elements in the core values of the SBTC’s missiological activity is partnering with institutions. The SBTC desires to partner with institutions that are willing to acknowledge a theological agreement…
Other entities may partner with SBTC through a ‘fraternal relationship.’ Just as a point of clarification, there has been no discussion with entities that the Baptist Faith and Message Statement of 2000 or 1963 has to be adopted in order to be in a fraternal relationship. Theological agreement is expected by SBTC churches of these entities. 
Criswell was allocated some funding in 2000, 0.45% of the SBTC’s in-state budget in 2001, 2.90% in 2002, and 2.45% for 2003. 
Richards’ statement regarding “fraternal relationships” is linked to the SBTC’s effort in 2001 to pursue such relations with entities of the BGCT. The SBTC invited representatives of BGCT affiliated entities to a meeting set for 7 March 2001 to discuss such relationships. Invitations were extended to Buckner Baptist Benevolences, other BGCT child care agencies, Texas Baptist Men, Baylor University, Hispanic Baptist Theological School, and other BGCT schools.  Only Buckner sent representatives, and no “fraternal relationships” developed.*  The heads of several invited agencies indicated that they are and will continue to cooperate with churches that have moved to the SBTC, but that the “fraternal relationship” proposal threatened to draw them unnecessarily into convention politics.  This view is supported by the criticism-in some cases misleading-that has been directed at some of these agencies, notably Baylor and Buckner, in the Southern Baptist Texan. 
Note added 3/13/03: the SBTC reports March 3rd that Texas Baptist Men has met the criterion for a fraternal relationship; if the SBTC Executive Board approves on April 3rd, Texas Baptist Men will be eligible to receive designated pass-through funds (but not budget funds) from the SBTC.
Following this unsuccessful bid, the SBTC explored such ministries in house. On 30 July 2002 the SBTC Executive Board approved creation of two entities: Human Care and Family Ministries and Missions Services. Several international and intranational partnerships with other conventions were also approved.  On 30 October 2002 the SBTC Executive Board established an educational commission to coordinate theological education opportunities with SWBTS and CCBS.  The Human Care and Family Ministries were allocated 1.8% of the 2003 in-state budget.  (While these are the first budgeted funds for human welfare needs, the SBTC has allocated 10% of receipts for their designated State Missions Offering to social and relief ministries. )
Currently, the SBTC has a limit of 15% of its budget for institutions. In 2002 Jim Richards stated, “The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has purposely set a course to avoid being institution dominated. The Business and Financial Plan calls for a cap of 15% for institutional expenditures. The SBTC does recognize the importance of institutions. The Criswell College is supported through the in-state Cooperative Program. There may be others in the future, but they will fit within the core values of the SBTC.” 
The greatest difference between the SBTC and BGCT budgets is institutional support, not administrative costs. The 2001 BGCT in-state budget included 58% for institutions, including eleven schools, the collegiate ministry, four child-care agencies, six health-care agencies, and six ministries to the elderly.  The 2003 BGCT in-state budget allocated 51.8% for these institutions.  This compares to the SBTC’s institutional allocations of 0.45% in 2001, 2.9% in 2002, and 4.3% in 2003. 
Other ministries: The SBTC’s ministry and evangelism budget allocation (excluding new church plants and as a portion of in-state budget) was 15.0% in 2001, 14.9% in 2002, and 19.2% in 2003.  The most promoted effort in this area is the SBTC’s annual Evangelism Conference.
Under church ministry services the SBTC promotes programs such as leadership training for adults and youth, Lifeway’s FAITH evangelism training and VBS programs, and AWANA children’s education (but not the SBC-affiliated RA/GA programs). 
Partnership missions were not a line item in SBTC budgets through 2002; in the 2003 budget it was allocated 1.2% of in-state funds.  This compares to 3.7% of the BGCT in-state budget for partnership missions.  The SBTC plans partnership efforts in 2003 with some groups inside and outside the U.S., including efforts in the PRC, Lebanon, New York City, Ohio, and Portland, Oregon.  The SBTC also facilitates volunteer Mission Service Corps, an NAMB program.
With the SBTC’s bid for “fraternal relationships” with BGCT entities having failed, such traditional Texas Baptist programs as Texas Baptist Men* and the River Ministry receive no support from the SBTC budget, and the SBTC will not forward designated monies to these entities (as of the end of 2001 ). The SBTC has indicated plans for missions efforts in Mexico, although this will be in terms of networking or coordinating efforts through Texas churches rather than creating a ministry structure.
Note added 3/13/03: the SBTC reports March 3rd that Texas Baptist Men has met the criterion for a fraternal relationship; if the SBTC Executive Board approves on April 3rd, Texas Baptist Men will be eligible to receive designated pass-through funds (but not budget funds) from the SBTC.
While the SBTC formed its Texas Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee in 1998 and has allocated funds for it since at least 2001, it is still not clear what role this agency will take. The TERLC was allocated 0.22% of in-state funds in 2001, 0.33% in 2002, and 0.36% in 2003.  The TERLC report at the November 2002 SBTC convention indicated the agency was still organizing, with a mission statement still being drafted, and described future plans of informing churches on issues and networking churches and volunteers.  SBTC leaders cited complaints about the BGCT’s Christian Life Commission as a reason for forming the SBTC,  and their were indications early on that the SBTC would seek to rely on the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for Christian ethics efforts rather than form its own agency. Irrespective of policy complaints about the BGCT CLC, such a state-level ethics agency does have important roles, in particular promoting a Christian perspective on state legislation.
© 2003 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 4 April 2009.
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