Preliminary review of the Lakeland Baptist Church Lewisville report
by Wm. Robert Johnston
updated 24 June 2001
Some specific inaccurate/misleading statements and flaws in reasoning (statements from the report are italicized):
- Report is not a well balanced treatment. For example, the BGCT receives detailed scrutiny while SBTC statements are accepted at face value.
- Report addresses opposing points of view to only a limited degree.
- Report is marred by some spelling/grammatical errors.
- Definition of terms...liberal...moderate...conservatives...Fundamentalism
These definitions do not support a full understanding of the current conflicts in the convention because they address only theology and not politics. While the definitions are stated to address theology specifically, the distinctions between the first three groups incorporate politics, as implied by the "moderate" definition. The common usage of the term "fundamentalist" also often involves politics.
- Moderate--A moderate in the area of theology would normally question the validity of higher criticism, however they also question the Bible in various areas. They normally question anything in Scripture that does not correspond with scientific, archaeological, and historical data that is currently known... Many moderates are in this camp not because of theology but because of politics, however the theological base does exist.
Definition is flawed. The "many moderates...in this camp...because of politics" are those which hold to conservative theology but reject the prevailing conservative politics. Because the definition is based on theology, it erroneously implies that many in the moderate camp have abandoned their theological convictions over political issues. In reality, the theological positions of many individuals referred to as "moderates"--particularly among Texas Baptists--does not conform to this description.
- What are the points of divergence in the 1963 and 2000 Baptist Faith and Message Statements?
Comparison omits any reference to several points of divergence: statement on priesthood of the believer (Preamble); status of the BF&M as "instrument of doctrinal accountability" (Preamble); activities on the Lord's Day (Article VIII); Family article (Article XVIII).
- Selected leaders of the [BGCT] take the position that this statement violates the autonomy of the local church... The 2000 BF&M statement about women pastors in no way dictates what a church can or cannot do. It is simply an expression of the SBC's convictions on what the Bible states about women in ministry.
The BF&M does not dictate a church's choices, but it does impact them, particularly when the BF&M is used in certain applications. For example, some state conventions and local associations are considering requiring member churches to adhere to the 2000 BF&M.
- September 28, 1999...the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a denomination-like shadow organization formed in protest of the SBC's leadership
This is not an even-handed definition of the CBF; since the source of this definition is the Baptist Press, it demonstrates bias on behalf of this news agency. The CBF can be better described as a cooperative missions organization, somewhat denomination-like, formed by churches and individuals unhappy with the direction of the SBC's leadership. The CBF cannot be described as a "shadow" or a "protest", since it is engaged in broader activities than merely registering opposition to the SBC's current leadership.
- November 1999. An in-depth study by a deacon committee at the First Baptist Church, Dallas.
An in-depth analysis of the FBC Dallas study reveals some instances of individuals being quoted incorrectly. This may arise from the fact that some information may have been drawn from publications of the Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association, rather than from first-hand research by the committee.
- May 18, 2000. Houston Baptist University, a traditionally conservative school, voted to declare autonomy from the BGCT in an effort to stop the removal of some trustees who attend churches that "did not meet the threshold requirements of being a BGCT cooperating church."
These "threshold requirements" are minimal financial support of the BGCT Texas budget, through which Houston Baptist University receives funds. Regardless of HBU's justification, the action violates the agreement between the BGCT and HBU.
- June 14, 2000. A Texas Baptist pastor tells messengers to the SBC meeting in Orlando that the "Bible is just a book."
The Texas Baptist pastor, Sisemore, had a more extensive statement than this; his remarks were prefaced with the statement "Without any hesitation, I believe the Bible is God's Word..." (as cited later in the report). By quoting only those five words here, the Baptist Press allows very different conclusions regarding Sisemore's intent.
- June 24, 2000. Clyde Glazener, president of the BGCT, said the convention might leave the SBC. The issue will be discussed at the annual BGCT meeting in October.
Glazener's comments on June 24, 2000, were ambiguous. At the convention, the leadership made no move to leave the SBC. A motion from the floor to completely defund the SBC was almost unanimously defeated.
- The BGCT has also redirected at least $4.3 Million from SBC Seminaries by placing a $1 million dollar [sic] cap on all funds given through the BGCT as Cooperative Program funds.
There is no BGCT cap on Cooperative Program funds for the seminaries, only a cap on CP funds from the BGCT budget. The BGCT is respecting individual church designations towards the seminaries.
- Is it fair for Texas Baptist [sic] to allow churches from other states to supplement the theological education of Texans and in turn refuse to assist in funding the theological education of students from other states?
The BGCT funding of the seminaries is proportional to the number of Texas students at each seminary. In order for the above statement to be true, it would have to be the case that non-Texas students require greater financial support than Texas students.
- Some services are currently duplicates.
1. Truett and Logsdon Seminaries are alternatives to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
2. Working with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) for mission projects rather than The International Mission Board (IMB) and the North American Missions [sic] Board, (NAMB).
3. A study on annuities and health insurance offered through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) in cooperation with an American Baptist Annuity Board is being studied as an alternative to the Annuity Board of the SBC.
4. Bible study Materials are published with a Texas slant that could be used as an alternative to LifeWay.
These services are only duplicates to the degree that they (1) provide identical services to (2) the same customer base. Since Truett and Logsdon Seminaries are "moderate" in contrast to the "conservative" SBC seminaries, they likely serve different students. CBF missionaries include many rejected for service in the IMB and NAMB. CBF mission efforts in most cases are planned to avoid overlap with IMB and NAMB efforts; given the large number of lost in the U.S. and the world yet to reach, duplication is essentially nonexistent. The annuity and health insurance proposal was only a study and may represent a concern that some individuals will be excluded from SBC programs.
About 10% of SBC churches do not use LifeWay materials, and some of the rest use a combination of LifeWay and other materials. At the June 2001 SBC convention LifeWay acknowledged a failure to keep up with demand for VBS material. Many churches supplement LifeWay material with material from other sources, sometimes even non-Baptist sources.
- WHEREAS selected leaders of the BGCT expressed the following theological assumptions: ... The events of Scripture are termed story in contrast to history.
Which leader(s) this refers to is unclear.
- WHEREAS the BGCT violated the spirit of harmony and voluntary cooperation among Baptists by redirecting [funds]...
The report does not acknowledge SBC actions that "violate the spirit of harmony" such as excluding individuals from BGCT-supporting churches when making committee appointments.
- AND WHEREAS the BGCT now publishes its own literature and has approved relationships with churches outside of Texas who wish to affiliate, thus duplicating the historical role of the Southern Baptist Convention and its agencies
The literature issue is not necessarily one of duplication, as addressed above.
- And WHEREAS Lakeland Baptist Church sees no theological discrepancy between the 1963 and the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message
This statement does not make sense, given the report's preceding analysis. Both conservatives and moderates agree that there are theological discrepancies between the two versions.
© 2001 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 24 June 2001.
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