Many motions made, few are chosen at SBC

LOUISVILLE–Standing at a microphone to present a motion before the world’s largest deliberative body may get you a headline in a secular newspaper, but odds are against having messengers to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention take a vote on your proposal.

Thirty-one motions were offered to the June 23-24 meeting this year, but messengers acted on only one–authorizing SBC President Johnny Hunt to appoint a Great Commission Task Force (see related article beginning on page 9).

The remaining 30 motions were either referred to particular SBC entities for consideration or ruled out of order. That’s an increase from the entire docket of 23 motions made to last year’s annual meeting, all of which were referred or ruled out of order. Only one of last year’s referred motions made its way back to the floor this year for action–declaring Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth not “in friendly cooperation with the SBC” due to its inaction about openly homosexual members.

Numerous motions made direct or veiled reference to Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll who, while not a Southern Baptist, founded the Acts 29 church planting network that includes about 150 churches in the United States, with 17 of them appearing to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, according to the Acts 29 web directory. Five of the proposed motions sought to lessen Driscoll’s perceived influence, citing allegations of vulgar speech and questionable biblical interpretations, some involving episodes for which Driscoll has publicly repented.

A motion by Texas messenger James T. Egan, pastor of First Baptist Church in Post, was referred to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and LifeWay Christian Resources since it called for an investigation of individuals employed by the two entities. Egan based his appeal on allegations featured in the June 2009 issue of the Viewpoint newsletter published by the Missouri Baptist Layman’s Association.

Two of the motions–one asking for an accounting of SBC-funded activities in cooperation with Driscoll, and the other asking entities to avoid inviting speakers “exhibiting unregenerate behavior,” were referred to all SBC entities. Another motion was ruled out of order because it resembled a resolution and fifth one because it reflected harshly on an individual.

An effort by an Arizona messenger to allow Driscoll to “address the concerns of his accusers” at the 2010 annual meeting was ruled out of order because it could have put the convention in the role of exercising church discipline.

Three other motions addressing LifeWay Christian Resources sought to remove books from their stores or literature, but both were ruled out of order, including one objecting to books by T.D. Jakes and John Hagee, “The Shack,” “90 Minutes in Heaven” and any Catholic Bibles; one objecting to books by Driscoll and another objecting to referencing Bible translations that “question the validity of any Scripture.”

Responses to several of these concerns have already been made in advance of their consideration by trustee boards to which they were assigned. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Danny Akin referenced the Driscoll motions near the end of his reflections on the SBC meeting posted at

Calling some of the information circulated “erroneous or outdated,” Akin said SEBTS has no formal relationship with Driscoll or Acts 29 while “thankful for many aspects of both ministries.” He repeated his disagreement with Driscoll on some of his behavior and his position on beverage alcohol, while adding, “Mark has much to teach us about missional living, theology-driven ministry and culturally relevant expositional preaching.” The blog post offers links to pertinent discussion of the issues, including an interview by an SEBTS theology professor with Driscoll.

Regarding the motions objecting to books carried in LifeWay Christian Stores, spokesman Rob Phillips told the TEXAN, “LifeWay Christian Stores do not carry Catholic Bibles. We offer a very limited selection of books by John Hagee and T.D. Jakes. The titles we offer are of great interest to Southern Baptists and are not inconsistent with the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.”

Three motions were referred to LifeWay trustees, asking trustees to research affordable educational alternatives to traditional Christian schools, use of “American-made” resources in Vacation Bible School materials and celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible in 2011.

Three motions referred to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission expressed concern for “Pepsi-Cola Company’s promotion of the gay/lesbian lifestyle and agenda,” desire to designate a “Sanctity of Life” year and a call to petition an “end to abortion in America and the funding of Planned Parenthood along with all other abortion-providing” organizations.
Motions referred to the SBC Executive Committee sought:
>increased cooperative partnership among ethnic churches in serving the needs of the SBC,
>submission to messengers any entity actions “to interpret the Baptist Faith & Message,”
>amending seminary allocation formula to increase consideration of extension sites,
>possibility of allowing designation of portions of Cooperative Program dollars to particular Convention causes,
>adopting Christian flag as “banner flag of encouragement,”
>term limits for trustees,
>a change to the formula for distributing the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund giving from an 80/20 split between the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board to a 66.67/33.33 split in order to more adequately fund NAMB ministries that include Canada and U.S. territories and
>opening annual meeting with posting of the American flag and an honor guard.

A motion referred to all seminaries sought publication of data relating to regional and international diversity of seminary students.

Two motions were ruled out of order in regard to President Obama because they resembled resolutions. One implored him to seek biblical direction with respect to Israel and the other expressed disapproval of his proclamation of June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. The latter was addressed in the first of several resolutions passed by messengers.

A motion seeking a willingness to partner with other Christian organizations and individuals was also viewed as resembling a resolution. Other motions ruled out of order included one asking SBC entities to avoid the use of secular music in promotional materials and an attempt to amend a previous convention resolution on alcohol. A motion seeking the display of photographs of individuals running for SBC offices is still being reviewed since its original introduction last year.

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