Urban Myths about the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention

Urban myths seem to never die. There are still some who believe that renowned atheist Madelyn Murray O’Hare is trying to outlaw gospel broadcasts over television and radio. Of course this is not possible, because Mrs. O’Hare has been dead several years. Procter and Gamble lost millions because the symbol on some of their products was tied to “Satan worship” by some. The company has done all it can to set the record straight. Heart-wrenching photos appear on the internet, saying a little child is desperately ill and needs email sent to his address to provide encouragement. Often the email address is a dead-end, an agitated recipient or even worse, some type of junk email list.
Baptist life is no different. There are all types of denominational urban myths:

  1. All Baptists believe the Bible.Truth: There is a difference between authority and inerrancy. Something can be authoritative without being totally true and trustworthy. The nature of Scripture demands an affirmation that all the miracles occurred in time and space as literal events, that the narratives are historical in nature and true, and that the authors of the biblical books are the authors to whom the books are ascribed. What you believe about the nature of Scripture is the foundational element of any belief system.
  2. The Cooperative Program is whatever an individual, church or state convention wants it to be.Truth: The founders of the Cooperative Program intended for churches, state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention to be partners in an undesignated giving channel. Since the SBC created the Cooperative Program, state conventions are obligated to honor the definition. To say the Cooperative Program is an undesignated giving vehicle is like saying a circle is round.
  3. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has more money than it can spend.Truth: The constitution of the SBTC requires the convention to be debt free. Messengers at the 2001 annual meeting authorized the Executive Board to purchase property and build a permanent facility as a means of better stewardship. Surplus funds have been retained in order to pay cash for the facilities as mandated by the governing documents.
  4. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has no real ministries in Texas except The Criswell College.Truth: Virtually every area of local church ministry is facilitated through the SBTC. Conferences, workshops, and seminars are funded to provide training opportunities for associations and churches. Beside events, everything from assisting small church pastors in crisis to providing funds for a sonogram at a crisis pregnancy center, SBTC in-state Cooperative Program is at work in Texas. Over 175 church planting missionaries have been supported through the SBTC-CP. Total missions and evangelism expenditures make up 37% of the in-state operating budget. Contributions to the retirement accounts of qualified SBTC church staff members enable those who serve the Lord to prepare for an active retirement. Over 100 church ministries are facilitated through the SBTC.
  5. The SBTC is creedal.Truth: Churches desiring fellowship around certain theological truths affirm a statement of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. The churches do not have to adopt the BF&M 2000 as their document. Nor are churches required to sign the BF&M 2000. Churches are asked to affirm (state affirmatively) that they are in agreement with the BF&M 2000.
  6. Churches cannot designate funds through the SBTC.Truth: Churches may designate the percentage they desire to go to the Southern Baptist Convention. The vast majority of churches give in the traditional, undesignated manner. Churches may give to over 30 different institutions or ministries through the SBTC by designating their gifts.
  7. Churches surrender autonomy by having fellowship within doctrinal parameters.Truth: Churches are free to associate with whom they wish and in whatever manner. Churches choosing to establish a minimal set of doctrinal positions as the basis of fellowship has been practiced by Christian churches in general and Baptist churches in particular for centuries. Baptists retain their autonomy while choosing to relate to other churches through a doctrinal covenant.

I doubt these truth statements will put to bed all the denominational urban myths, but the truth needs to be told anyway. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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