Month: June 2005

Motions at SBC stretch from missionary training to tax policy

NASHVILLE, Tenn.–Messengers proposed 24 motions during the opening day of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting on such topics as theological training for missionaries, Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and ministry to people seeking to overcome “same-sex” attractions.

Russ Bush of Raleigh, N.C., moved that the SBC’s International Mission Board bring to the convention in 2006 a plan for continuing support of “theologically conservative” educational institutions “with Baptist doctrinal and polity convictions that are engaged in leadership training and theological education on the various mission fields of the world, and that clearly explains and reaffirms the Board’s intent to continue to require theological training in a Baptist seminary for all full-time missions personnel.” Bush’s motion was referred to the IMB, to report back to the 2006 convention to be held in Greensboro, N.C.

Wiley Drake of Buena Park, Calif., moved that the SBC president “appoint a study committee to evaluate and make recommendations to the SBC in 2006” on whether it is biblically correct for a church to be organized pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code which prohibits nonprofit corporations from engaging in political campaigns. Drake’s motion was referred to the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

Grateful for convention action establishing a task force on ministry to homosexuals as a result of his 2001 motion, Bob Stith of Southlake, Texas, moved that “the SBC establish as quickly as possible a liaison position to coordinate and enhance the ministry of the convention’s task force on ministry to homosexuals and those who struggle with unwanted ‘same-sex’ attraction.” As Stith recommended, the motion was referred to LifeWay Christian Resources, the North American Mission Board and the ERLC.

Motions referred to the Executive Committee because they affect the SBC constitution or bylaws proposed:

> that the SBC’s bylaws be amended to allow for resolutions to be brought to the Resolutions Committee for review as early as April 15 or in the beginning of the afternoon session of the first day of the annual meeting, submitted by Drake.

> that at least one woman be appointed to the committees of every SBC entity, submitted by Sharon Luke of Leesville, La. Concerned that “many of these are made of all men,” she stated, “We have to accept the fact that our women also have viewpoints on what’s being done. Sometimes they see things in a different way because they’re the nurturers and they attend to many things that the men don’t. So their viewpoint and ideas on these things are not addressed.”

Welch responded, “There’s not a husband here that doesn’t agree with that.”

> that the SBC annual meetings no longer meet on the week following Father’s Day, submitted by Robert Wensil of Iron Station, N.C.,

> that the SBC recognize and fund the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship as a “formal evangelistic mission entity” to Jewish people worldwide, submitted by Connie Saffle of Wichita, Kan., in keeping with the Acts 1:8 emphasis on global evangelism.

> that the Executive Committee ask for a “good faith estimate from state conventions who (sic) are in cooperation with the SBC as to when they will reach the original goal of a 50/50 split of Cooperative Program funds between the SBC and state conventions,” submitted by Ron Wilson of Thousand Oaks, Calif.

> that the SBC invite the Woman’s Missionary Union to become an SBC entity, submitted by Leslie Stock, from Boonville, Mo. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the WMU is neither owned nor operated by the SBC. As the sole auxiliary to the SBC, WMU cooperates closely with IMB and NAMB to encourage churches to give generously to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.

>that the SBC Bylaw 26 be amended by changing the words “with the exception that” to read “unless,” and that the words “may be” be amended to read “is,” submitted by Jeff Purvis of St. Louis. Bylaw 26 allows messengers to direct the Committee on Order of Business to facilitate immediate consideration by messengers of motions dealing with internal operations or ministries of SBC entities. His change would instruct the Committee on Order of Business by two-thirds votes to give immediate consideration at the same or a subsequent session.

Referred to LifeWay Christian Resources was a motion requesting:

>that LifeWay “make available once again through any and all willing local, hometown Christian bookstores, including LifeWay Christian Bookstore, any undated LifeWay and convention study curriculum and dated and undated Vacation Bible School materials at the same prices as with LifeWay, with the same opportunities for returns for credit as with LifeWay,” submitted by Tim VanLandingham of Valdosta, Ga.

VanLandingham said that his motion grew out of concerns that Southern Baptist churches in communities far from a LifeWay store either have to pay “large shipping and handling charges” to obtain VBS materials through a catalog, or else elect to “visit their local Christian bookstore where they well find a variety of VBS materials from various publishers, but not LifeWay.” Two motions were referred to all 12 SBC entities:

>that all SBC entities review all aspects of their areas of ministry as they impact or serve single parents and their children, and remove any barriers to effective ministry to single parents and their children, submitted by Gerald Dominy of Rogersville, Ala.

>that GuideStone Financial Resources become the primary insurance provider for all employees of SBC entities and agencies, submitted by James Salles of Beaumont, Texas.

Salles’ motion was mirrored by Charles Edwards of Immokalee, Fla. Edwards moved that the SBC or Executive Committee “require” GuideStone to bring a report “to justify” why their “rates for health coverages (sic) are so far out of line with other [insurance] companies.” Despite the applause for the motion from messengers, Edwards’ motion was ruled out of order by the chair because on SBC entity cannot be required to direct another SBC entity to take any action.

Eight other motions were ruled out of order, including this motion that was deemed to be more appropriate as a resolution.

>that the SBC president send a letter to the Disney corporation telling them that the SBC will end its boycott of Disney on June 22, 2005, also submitted by Drake. It was ruled out of order because it addressed a resolution passed in 1997 representing the collective opinion of messengers at that time but could not bind future messengers or conventions. A current convention cannot retract the resolution of an earlier convention.

These motions were referred out of order as they attempted to instruct an entity to take an action, a role reserved for the entity’s board:

>that a 10 percent “tithe” of this year’s budget for the ERLC be allocated to the Center for Reclaiming America of Coral Ridge Ministries in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to support efforts to “reestablish the right to acknowledge God in America” and “ to correct the major American problem of federal judges making laws rather than interpreting laws,” submitted by Hiram Smith of Pensacola, Fl.

> that the SBC encourage all affiliated churches “not to remove the name ‘Southern Baptist’ or ‘Baptist’ from their church signs,” submitted by Chris Burghoff of Alabama who quoted Southern Seminary President Al Mohler in saying, “’We have a living heritage.’ Therefore Southern Baptists should not hesitate to take a stand for being Southern Baptists,” he said.

> directing WMU to amend its charter to make the SBC its sole member, submitted by Leslie Stock of Boonville, Mo. However, because the WMU is not an entity of SBC, the convention cannot direct its affairs.

>that LifeWay and NAMB study how single adults are being ministered to by the SBC;

>that the Executive Committee publish “line-item expenditures and receipts in all financial areas from every reporting entity,” including salaries, bonuses, benefits and claimed expense account amounts for all reporting entity personnel, submitted by J.D. Muschany of Lebanon, Mo.

>that LifeWay examine the Disney movie “America’s Heart and Soul” and the accompanying study guide for biblical soundness, and make the movie and guide available to all southern Baptists in the event they are found biblically sound, submitted by Drake.

A motion by Kent Cockran of Raytown, Mo. Moved:

>that all SBC entities “respond to a covenant with Southern Baptists … to go the extra mile” in their business, ethics and public financial disclosure practices, submitted by Kent Cochran of Raytown, Mo. The motion was ruled out of order becaouse the Committee on Order of Busines could not determine the intent of Cochran’s motion.

–Compiled from a Baptist Press report by Brent Thompson and reporting by Tammi Ledbetter



SBC Resolutions

Resolution No. 1


WHEREAS, Children have been entrusted to parents by the Lord and represent our nation’s future and our spiritual legacy; and

WHEREAS, God has given parents the responsibility for the upbringing and education of our children (Proverbs 22:6; Deuteronomy 6:6-7); and

WHEREAS, Many negative influences are attempting to transform the moral foundation of the culture by reshaping the core values of our children, undermining historical truth, and promoting promiscuity, violence, and other immoral behaviors; and

WHEREAS, Children are vulnerable to marketing and entertainment campaigns that redefine truth, morality, and family relationships; and

WHEREAS, Homosexual activists and their allies are devoting substantial resources and using political power to promote the acceptance among schoolchildren of homosexuality as a morally legitimate lifestyle; and

WHEREAS, Educational institutions are often an effective gateway to children’s hearts and minds; and

WHEREAS, Parents have access to textbooks, curricula, special programs, teachers, and other school personnel, giving them tremendous power to effect change in schools; and

WHEREAS, All citizens have the right and responsibility to participate in local, state, and national elections and to use their influence to effect change; and

WHEREAS, Involved parents are the ultimate influence in the lives of their children; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, June 21-22, 2005, urge parents and churches to research and monitor the entertainment and educational influences on children; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge parents and churches to exercise their rights to investigate diligently the curricula, textbooks, and programs in our community schools and to demand discontinuation of offensive material and programs; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge our churches to assist and support parents as they investigate community schools and as they train and disciple their own children; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we commend godly teachers and students who feel called by God to take a stand for Christ in secular schools as a light shining in the darkness; and be it further

RESOLVED, That as citizen Christians we commit to hold accountable schools, institutions, and industries for their moral influence on our children; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we urge Christian parents to fully embrace their responsibility to make prayerful and informed decisions regarding where and how they educate their children, whether they choose public, private, or home schooling, to ensure their physical, moral, emotional, and spiritual well-being, with a goal of raising godly men and women who are thoroughly equipped to live as fully devoted followers of Christ.

Resolution No. 2


WHEREAS, The Bible teaches that all human life is sacred (Genesis 1:26-27); and

WHEREAS, Humans have a sacred trust to care for the most vulnerable among us (Matthew 25:31-46); and

WHEREAS, Current trends in stem cell research promise great benefit to some and threaten great peril to others; and

WHEREAS, Stem cell research using non-embryonic stem cells offers tremendous hope for millions of people and has already produced many successful results in humans, such as relieving the symptoms of juvenile diabetes, reversing Parkinson’s disease symptoms, regenerating heart tissue, and restoring feeling and mobility to people with spinal cord injuries; and

WHEREAS, Embryonic stem cell research currently requires the destruction of human embryos; and

WHEREAS, Embryo-destructive research has not produced any positive results or cures; and

WHEREAS, Even if it does, it is never morally acceptable to prey on some humans to benefit others; and

WHEREAS, We do not believe that the issue of world competition in embryo-destructive research justifies our nation’s entry into this barbaric activity; and

WHEREAS, The United States House of Representatives has voted to provide federal funding for human-destructive research on embryos being stored at fertility clinics; and

WHEREAS, The United States Senate is preparing to vote on this issue; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, June 21-22, 2005, wholeheartedly support efforts to find cures and therapies for human maladies that respect the sanctity of all human life; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we strongly support stem cell research that does not require the destruction of human embryos or put them at risk in obtaining human stem cells; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we deplore embryo-destructive research, since it kills human beings in their earliest stages of development; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we express our deep disappointment in those members of the United States House of Representatives who voted in

Knowing is half the battle

My kids loved GI Joe during his second life in the 1980s. Our house was littered with outlandish vehicles in garish colors and implausible configurations. The boys would charge from room to room shouting “Yo, Joe!” as they pursued reptilian bad guys. One part of the cartoon stuck with our family. Anytime someone refers to knowing something or needing to know something, another family member finishes the thought with “?and knowing is half the battle.” This refers to a series of goofy GI Joe public service announcements on fire safety, drug abuse, going with strangers, etc. The hero Joe would tag the message with, “And now you know, and knowing is half the battle!”

Everyone agrees that learning and teaching have high value in our culture. We may not agree about the content of necessary knowledge?some value technical information more than the theory behind it?but we all find information of some sort worth pursuing. Our natural curiosity will find an outlet.

That’s one reason we spend billions on education. That’s why no success of our recent Texas legislative session compared with their failure to address school funding. We want our kids to know; and knowing is?well, half the battle.

Progress in our society is dependant on passing along the lessons of those who have gone before. Even before reading and writing were commonly-held skills, new generations were orally given the understanding accumulated by their forebears. There have always been teachers.

In our culture, that work depends heavily on professional educators in a public school. Thousands of our college grad education majors feel called to serve in this context. These teachers are central characters in the life of our communities. Because it is a service profession, many Christians are drawn to the work.

While teachers agree that the joy of their work and their preferred focus is teaching children skills and knowledge, their time is increasing taken with other responsibilities related to social needs of families and students. This trend is a source of some discouragement among those who love to teach children. One retired teacher added that her responsibility increased as the authority to fulfill it decreased. The experience of being a teacher today is completely mixed with these increasing frustrations.

Their primary challenge is to do the thing they love in an increasingly complex setting. Some of the complexity comes from being a governmental institution. Some of it comes from the troubled homes of the children. Teachers at the beginning of their careers may seek another profession before they’ll take a position at a school where they expect teaching to take a backseat to social and disciplinary problems.

For Christians there is an aspect of mission to the work. They carry with them a view of truth that inevitably shines through as they work with students. This, by the way, is a reason why the character and behavior of teachers matters very much. A teacher who prays for her students and who sees them as valuable bearers of God’s image will be a better reading teacher than one that only judges potential and accomplishment. Conversely, a teacher ravaged by a self-destructive lifestyle is poorer at whatever he tries.

Christians currently engaged in public education face new challenges. I don’t believe a teacher today is as free to overtly uphold the values I saw in many of my teachers. No Christian can or should leave his faith in the car when he gets to work. But can the living out of one’s faith in the context of this local and very personal government service be allowed? In many places, the answer is still “yes.” Those places will be fewer as each year passes.

I don’t expect the challenges faced by public education will be solved. These problems reflect the moral confusion of our culture; they do not cause it. Because it is a government entity, a school wanders through the same political minefield as other public institutions (the military, welfare, etc.). Since religion, specifically Christianity, is controversial, government agencies try to steer clear of ultimate truth claims. That’s why advocacy groups freak out when some Christians at the Air Force Academy witness to their friends. That’s why the Supreme Court offered such mixed, tortured opinions about displaying the Ten Commandments on public property.

What about the other, harder half of the battle, applying what you learn? You simply can’t teach skills or capabilities separate from their right application. Sex education is a fair example. It is not value neutral. We either offer guidance regarding proper sexual relationships or we leave students free to apply what we’ve taught them (and what we taught is necessarily selective) as they wish.

Teaching, particularly teaching our children, is always values-laden. There are assumptions behind any teacher’s message. If Christianity is out of bounds, some other belief system will fill the vacuum, every single time. Currently the most acceptable belief system is wildly relativistic. All foundations for understanding truth are considered equivalent, dissimilar though they may be.

Teaching history, for example, in this way is a mess. An event may be seen from many different perspectives but not all are equally significant or even valid. Trying to teach this way separates facts from meaning. This is also true in science (the question of origins or bio-ethics), literature (what weight to give classic western literature), or grammar (spelling and punctuation are culturally weighted). Arguably, teaching error is better than teaching that truth cannot be discovered or valued. A firmly held but wrong belief can be addressed; this pale “all things are true and precious” nonsense is as hard to engage as it is to define.


Public school resolutions again in the fore as SBC annual meeting nears

HOUSTON–For the second straight year, resolutions critical of public schools have been submitted to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolutions Committee, perhaps setting the stage for another debate among messengers at this year’s annual meeting.

In one resolution, two Texans are asking SBC churches to remove children from public schools that affirm homosexual practice. A second resolution–submitted by two pastors from Texas and Tennessee–all but asks Southern Baptists to remove their children from public schools.

Both resolutions commend Christians who serve in public education.

Two Houston-area men, Voddie Baucham and Bruce Shortt, submitted a resolution in May asking SBC churches to determine if their area schools are promoting homosexuality as an “acceptable ‘lifestyle'” and if so, to urge parents to remove their children from that district’s schools.

In an interview with Florida Baptist Witness, SBC president Bobby Welch gave partial support to the prospective anti-public schools resolution.

“My opinion is that we likely need a resolution stating all the things we’re concerned about, but my view is we would be best served by a resolution that falls short of calling for all Christians to be removed from public schools,” the pastor of First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach said.

Baucham is a Christian apologist and frequent speaker at Baptist meetings, and Shortt is an attorney who last year co-authored a much-publicized resolution calling for Baptists to pull their children from public schools. That resolution was not favorably considered by the Resolutions Committee, and messengers declined to approve an amendment from the floor to approve a truncated version of the resolution.

The Baucham-Shortt resolution cites homosexual or diversity clubs and curricula or programs that affirm homosexual practice as ways schools affirm homosexuality.

The resolution also calls on churches to “provide or generously support” Christian schools, homeschooling, and “alternative models for providing Christian education such as University Model Schools and Christian One-Room Schoolhouses, giving particular regard to the needs of children from low-income and single-parent families.”

Baucham, a homeschooling father, told the Southern Baptist TEXAN that he initiated the resolution and invited Shortt to join him in submitting it to the SBC Resolutions Committee after investigating what he calls a “Trojan-horse” approach by homosexual activists to enlist gay clubs, “diversity” clubs and anti-bullying campaigns in public schools. Baucham said he is offended as an African-American that homosexual advocates have successfully attached their agenda to the diversity initiatives of large teachers’ unions such as the National Education Association.

In response to critics’ claims that the resolution fails to take account of Christians’ responsibility to reform the culture, Baucham responded, “If we think pulling our kids out of schools where this is going on is somehow not being salt and light, then we are ripping the Scriptures completely out of context. We’re not sending 10- and 11-year-old kids to the mission fields. Our children are to be formed and shaped and educated with a biblical worldview before we send them out. “

“We’re losing our kids,” Baucham said. “Between 75-88 percent of kids, depending on the study, are not involved in church by their sophomore year in college.”

Baucham said it is conceivable that some parents, especially single parents, have no option but public schools.   “I was raised by that woman,” Baucham said.

“That’s why we’re calling for our churches to provide affordable alternatives.”

The resolution also laments the reduced average lifespan of homosexuals and chronic health problems many of them face, Baucham said.

Grady Arnold, executive director of and formerly pastor of Forestwood Baptist Church in New Caney, and David Scarbrough, an education minister from Tennessee, said their resolution is “radical” not because it calls for a public-school exodus but because it calls on Southern Baptists to warn their peers about the “toxic spiritual nature of the government school system,” a new release distributed May 31 stated.

The Arnold-Scarbrough resolution applauds “courageous teachers in government schools who disregard the law and bring their Christian faith into the classroom.”

It also calls “all churches to lovingly warn all of their members concerning the toxic spiritual nature of the government school system, and warn their members concerning the dangers of having a child’s values, morals and ideals shaped by a secular institution. It encourages “all churches to become aggressive and pro-active in starting Christian schools and encouraging homeschooling, and provide their children with Christian alternatives to government education.”

“Southern Baptists have been playing the ‘ostrich with its head in the sand’ routine long enough,” Arnold said. “The time is way overdue that we acknowledge the devastating effects public school is having on the faith of our children.”

The SBC Resolutions Committee will begin deliberating on submitted resolutions later this week. The committee is charged with deciding which resolutions it will bring before messengers during the convention June 21-22 in Nashville.

Dallas pastor, Liberty dean answer ‘Why Churches Die’

“Church would be a whole lot easier if it were not for the members.” That honest assessment introduces a new book titled “Why Churches Die: Diagnosing Lethal Poisons in the Body of Christ.” Co-authors Mac Brunson and Ergun Caner admit to being surprised when they heard a leading evangelical pastor make the comment as he admitted that he hated pastoring.

“Perhaps this statement is a bit strong,” they add. “Perhaps it is better said that he loved the calling, but the tangential bureaucracy of modern church life drove him crazy,” Brunson and Caner write. They offer common examples of things that wear down pastors:

4the spat over bulletins,

4the arguments over the color of choir robes,

4the quarrels concerning parking lots, and

4the disputes over committees, deacons and sermon length.

“You get the point,” Brunson and Caner tell readers. “It is a sad secret that many pastors secretly resign every Monday. They lie in bed, debating internally whether to get up or hide under the mattress.”

With a combined experience of 50 years of pastoring, the two men recognize that many church members go through the same internal war. “They faithfully attend church but quietly rue getting up on Sunday. ?The silliness and sinfulness that consumes many churches drive Christians to survive church,” the authors write.

Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, served as president of the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference and president of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention. Caner began his ministry as a youth minister in Vincennes, Ind., and later pastored in North Carolina. He now serves as dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va.

Both men have been successful writers. Brunson’s two books, “The God You’ve Been Searching For” and “The Miracle You’ve Been Searching For” were released last year and Caner’s award-winning “Unveiling Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Belief” was co-authored with brother Emir Caner. He’s written 10 other books.

In this new release from Broadman & Holman, the authors “identify the diseases that besiege local churches, tell how to excise the poisons and bring church back to the biblical model?joyous and encouraging.”

The authors offer a New Testament survey of specific actions members are called to take. “Looking over that list, one could easily become depressed,” the authors concede. “So many people attend church to be seen, to make connections or to attack one another. Often it seems that the majority of people who profess to be Christians do not act as Christians.”

Using the list of the ‘Holy Dozen’ as a scriptural standard for church life, Brunson and Caner diagnose the most debilitating diseases in the body of Christ. “Consider this an autopsy of churches that have died and a biopsy of churches that are seriously ill,” they tell the readers.

Both men admit that ministers often swap tales at conventions and meetings, “relaying stories of horrific business meetings, contentious committees and brutal fellowships.” And yet, the biblical description of the churches does not include any of the wars, fights and furies, they respond. Instead, the 77 references they studied reveal “an empowered people of God, left as ambassadors to the world and family to one another.”

With so many local churches that die or are paralyzed or terminally ill, Brunson and Caner propose a spiritual autopsy to examine the root causes of such untimely deaths. “Why do Christians, many of whom have been raised and trained in godly churches and under biblical preaching, end up acting like pagans?in the church?” they ask.