My Thoughts on the 2013 SBC Annual Meeting in Houston

I had given a lot of thought to recommending associational meeting places to help boost attendance and interest in the annual meeting that takes place in various cities around the country. However, after attending the meeting in Houston, I realized something; I believe the reason that so many are now staying away from the meeting may have more to do with what happens or maybe more accurately stated, what does not take place at the annual meeting, than anything else. Let me explain.

A number of motions were brought to the floor of the annual meeting last year. Those motions were either ruled out of order or they were all referred to a committee. I looked at the report for this year’s meeting and noticed that all of those motions referred to committees last year were not brought back up this year. Several motions were brought up on the floor of the meeting this year and guess what? Those motions that were not ruled out of order were referred to some committee and not even debated on the floor of the convention. Ronnie Floyd made a motion and managed to get an audience with those in charge of hearing motions, but that is all I heard of that.

The SBC has a resolutions committee that receives resolutions submitted to them before the convention convenes. This committee has the right to revise any resolution submitted to it as it sees fit before presenting the resolution to the convention for approval, if it chooses to do so. If the resolutions committee does not believe the resolution is in the best interest of the convention, it may not present the resolution at all. Once a resolution is presented, discussion ensues and the chair entertains motions to amend the resolution. Once those issues are settled, the motion with any approved amendments are then voted on. There is only one real problem with this; resolutions are nothing more than strong suggestions because those resolutions have no authority where the entities of the SBC are concerned nor do they have any authority over the church, because churches are autonomous bodies. The entities are not autonomous, but are governed by a board of trustees and as such, are not required to follow any vote taken by the convention messengers. This was clearly seen when in Phoenix the messengers voted to have Lifeway take the NIV 2011 off its shelves and when the board of trustees met in 2012, they voted to keep it. The BOT was under no mandate to act on the vote of the messengers in annual session. This is true of all the entities of the SBC.

It might also be noted, that motions made on the floor of the convention would be no more binding than resolutions. Citing an exaggerated scenario, a motion could be made on the floor of the convention to fire one of the entity heads. That motion could pass unanimously but it would still be up to the trustee board as to what they decided to do with reference to such a motion, no matter what the nature of that motion might have been.

The only real significance that can be seen in the business of the meeting would be related to voting for the president of the SBC. Since this year was considered an “off-year” for any presidential election noting Dr. Luter’s unopposed re-election bid, some have said they would save their money for Baltimore where a new president will be elected in 2014. This could explain the lower than expected number of messengers in Houston. I have even heard that reason given for folks not attending New Orleans knowing that Dr. Luter would be nominated unopposed as well. The Convention then elects a First Vice President and then a Second Vice President. Bart Barber was elected to the first position unopposed and Jared Moore was elected to the second receiving 422 votes over Don Cass with 252 or so votes. There were 674 votes cast in total. William Thornton has raised a good question regarding a quorum necessary to conduct business. You can read his article by clicking here. With the number of messengers registered, 1250 would have had to be in the convention hall to even vote for the 2 VP and since 674 votes were cast, there is some wonder if that vote were not cast prematurely. It was 20 minutes or so before the scheduled time on the printed program.

There is a second problem with the nomination process of officers. Someone got up and nominated Jared Moore and basically said Jared is a personal friend; his church gives 16% to the CP and he is not a mega church pastor but just an ordinary guy pastoring a rural church of folks that love Jesus and their community. A second individual got up and nominated Don Cass and spoke to his credentials and why he ought to be the next 2 VP. Neither of these two guys even so much as waved to the crowd, as small as it was. No one had much of a clue who these two guys were other than what they were told by the individual nominating them. This process is producing some serious potential problems. Jared Moore is two heartbeats away from the presidency of the SBC. I find that problematic for a number of reasons.

The first is highlighted by an article Jared himself wrote on his own blog. For those who do not know Jared, he is an avid blogger. In an article he wrote that was published at SBC Voices on September 24, 2012 titled “An Open Letter to “Failing” Churches and Foolish Southern Baptists”, he wrote the following statement:

The church I pastor, New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, KY, didn’t record a single baptism last year (2011). I realize some folks in Southern Baptist churches and in Southern Baptist State and National entities lament our efforts as “failing,” but I want to publicly rebuke them, and encourage those who have labored faithfully without much tangible fruit.

It is bad enough that Jared’s church did not baptize a single person in a year but he sees it as his duty to rebuke those who find that problematic. Jared goes on to say,

“At least one baptism per year” is an unbiblical quota. Where is such a quota at in Scripture? You won’t find it. So, why do some judge the ministries of others based on this quota? Furthermore, why is their quota so low? Why isn’t their quota “at least one baptism per week”? Or, better yet, “100 baptisms per week”? I suppose then they would have to admit that they’re failures as well?

I do understand there are a lot of circumstances surrounding people being saved and baptized in our churches. However, one of the biggest reasons people are not saved centers around our not witnessing and sharing the gospel with folks outside the pulpit. It is absolutely inconceivable that ANYONE who is saved could not win 1 person to Jesus in a year. I agree with Moore that there are no such goals spelled out in the Scriptures but I would also argue that the thought that a born again Christian would not lead one person to Christ in a year would be highly unusual as well. Moore’s article can be read by clicking here. He does make some good comments but there really is no excuse for anyone to go a year without leading someone to Christ. If the 422 messengers who voted for Jared knew this fact, I wonder how many would have still voted for him?

Perhaps there ought to be some kind of opportunity to ask, “If anyone knows of any reason that this person should not be nominated to this position, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.” It works for weddings; maybe it ought to be used in nominations for office in SBC elections of the future. A brief question and answer session ought to be incorporated into the election process, seeing that these are the most significant opportunities for messengers to engage in.

There was a pronounced effort made to set a tone for co-operation in the SBC. The repeated cry was for all of us to “look at all the things we agree on” and not focus on the few things that we disagree on. Personally I find that a little condescending. If there were not significant differences, we would not be having these debates in the first place. Here is a fact. The cry to get along is almost always the cry of the underdog until they become the big dog and then there is no longer any toleration for differing positions. From all indications, the same can be said of the New Calvinist movement. The new church planting organizations that are Reformed, are planting reformed church plants that are committed to reformed theology up front. More recently, the trustees of a couple state supported Baptist colleges have voted not to renew contracts on professors and the New Calvinist contingency has made their calvinism a major issue in their contracts not being renewed. Sharp criticism has been leveled against the institutions and in one case the executive director of the state. It is as if the day is fast changing and the New Calvinists are already flexing their muscles proving their desire to have one theological position in the SBC; Reformed Theology.

Call it what you want; it is what it is. We can call for unity and I believe everyone would love to see real unity. However, the unity we are seeking is a one-sided effort allowing the other side to continue doing what it needs to do to move the SBC closer to the Reformed way which I believe is set to be solidified when the SBC moves to Baltimore. The foundation has been laid and barring a significant move of God, the guys leading this calvinist charge will prevail in Baltimore and the SBC will be turned to a more reformed position.

This convention in Baltimore may well prove to be one of the most significant conventions in the history of the SBC. I believe every Southern Baptist ought to begin to make plans to go to Baltimore because win, lose of draw, this will be the convention you will not want to miss.

May God bless the SBC in these very interesting days!

Bob Hadley,
Pastor
Westside Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, FL

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About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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8 Responses to My Thoughts on the 2013 SBC Annual Meeting in Houston

  1. Max says:

    Brother Hadley, you paint a vivid picture illustrating that the destiny of 16 million Southern Baptists are in the hands of only a few hundred votes! The Calvinization of the Southern Baptist Convention will go down in history as brilliant strategic maneuvering. To put a slightly different slant to an old phrase “Never was so much owed by so many to so few” … where are the few that will truly stand for majority Southern Baptists in the days ahead? Would that be members of the Calvinism advisory committee, or should we look for others? Are we striving for unity or harmony? There’s a difference.

    • sbcissues says:

      Max,

      I think your question, “Are we striving for unity or harmony?” is indeed a very good question. I believe we all want both; the problem is, we want them for differing reasons.

      I believe the average Southern Baptist wants unity and harmony so that we can be about the business of reaching the lost for Christ. I believe those promoting this calvinist revival want unity and harmony so they can continue doing what they are doing.

      So, I am afraid you are right; there is a difference.

      I love the phrase, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” I believe you are absolutely correct again; The Calvinization of the Southern Baptist Convention will go down in history as brilliant strategic maneuvering.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • Max says:

        Brother Hadley,

        According to my old Webster,
        “Unity” is a continuity of identity without deviation or change.
        “Harmony” is a pleasing arrangement of parts.

        Harmony says to the diverse parts “let’s try to get along, even if it means change.” Unity says to the primary identity “let’s stick together, lest we change.” I was young and now I’m old … and during my journey I’ve come to discern what genuine unity looks like. What is unfolding within the SBC is a compromise for the sake of harmony, not unity, as this denomination struggles to identify itself in the midst of theological drift.

      • sbcissues says:

        Max,

        I understand the difference between harmony and unity. It is possible to have harmony without unity but it is impossible to have unity without harmony. I am having a difficult time even managing harmony given what I am seeing taking place whether I like it or not and I guess that is my point. Unity is not even on the radar if harmony cannot exist.

        It is not that I cannot have harmony with calvinists; I can and can do so joyfully and wholeheartedly. However, when it comes to the deliberate infiltration of the entities of the SBC, that is a much different story. My primary concern is the theological direction the entities are taking and that has to swing back to the middle and not continue down the reformed road. Mohler and company are deliberately and determinedly working to move the SBC to being a Reformed convention and they are a lot farther down the road to success than many apparently are aware of.

        I guess that is what surprises me the most. It seems that preachers today are too concerned with their popularity in the convention and being able to preach at this conference or that conference and too many are concerned with their own personal agendas to get too close to this issue that is going on right in front of our noses. I can only imagine how it must feel for those leading this reformed revival knowing that no one seems to care what they are doing!

      • Max says:

        ” … no one seems to care what they are doing!’

        Brother Hadley,

        Perhaps there is more in the drop of convention attendance than location, economy, or off-year Presidential election. Could it be that the majority of Southern Baptists have grown apathetic – feeling that they really have no voice and that SBC strategies and direction are set by a handful of determined elite, regardless of which theological kingdom rules in any given year?

        I sat in on several of the SBC-Houston sessions via livestream. In the comfort of my office, with no convention floor distractions, I listened carefully and weighed what I heard. A single line from a certain seminary president’s message keeps coming back to me: “Without your giving to the Cooperative Program, we could not do what we do.”

        “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand” (Prov 8:1-2).

        Sir, I will soon be laying down my keyboard in contending for this. I have grown weary with the blogosphere. I felt led to enter this debate – this old man now feels led to leave it. The season has passed. I waited for the advisory committee to speak, to provide some framework to protect majority SBC belief and practice, and to halt the proliferation of New Calvinism in our ranks. I’m still waiting. The powers that be have spoken – my input is but a drop in the bucket and few appear to be listening. I will use the last chapter of my life to preach the Truth I know and pray for a genuine revival in pulpit and pew. I wish you the best in your journey. Thank you Bob for your stand. I will see you here, there, or in the air!

  2. Matt says:

    I have no clue who Moore is. I saw where he wrote an article about getting into a PhD program without an accredited degree. In my thinking, I’d imagine that future employers in academia wouldn’t like that. At least his PhD will be accredited.

    According to http://www.city-data.com, Hustonville has 406 residents. Who knows why there were no baptisms, but there’s not a lot of folks there, as say the 61,000 people in Daytona. 73% of the people in Hustonville identify with the SBC. Perhaps Jarod’s church has already cornered the market in his town. Only 18% of people in Daytona identify as SBC.

    Two heart beats away from the presidency? Lighten up. The 2nd VP is an in-house spokesperson who hardly gets interviews and doesn’t even get recognized by the secular media. He’s not Nancy Pelosi, for crying out loud.

    • sbcissues says:

      Matt,

      Good points but there are 25,000 in the small county and a LOT less churches. The point was really less about Moore and more about the process we have in place to elect officers of the SBC. Granted 2VP is about as useful as a bottle of water being poured into an ocean. Most officers are in a succession line SHOULD the VP and Presidency become vacant for some reason. I guess one would have to conclude that this would indeed be a God thing.

  3. SALVATION by steve finnell

    There are two things involved in the salvation of mankind. What God provides and man’s responsibility.

    WHAT DOES GOD PROVIDE.

    God provides grace: Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. (All men have the opportunity to accept God’s grace)

    Titus 3:4-5 But when the kindness of of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness. but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

    God provided a Savior: 1 John 4:9-10 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

    God provides the means for men to hear the gospel: Romans 10:13-15….14…And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent?…(God provides preachers of the gospel).

    John 20:30-31 …..31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

    God has provided us with His written word, the Bible, so that we may believe and have life.

    —–God provides grace, a Savior, preachers of the gospel, and the Bible—-

    WHAT IS MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY?

    Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

    Men need to believe and be baptized.

    Romans 10:13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

    Whoever calls on Jehovah God will be saved. Calling on false Gods cannot save anyone.

    Acts 22:16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name!

    Saul was told to be baptized and call on the name on the Lord to have his sins washed away. Saul had already believed in Jesus and repented, while on the road to Damascus, three days prior.

    Saul responsibilities were to believe in Jesus, repent (turn from sin and turn toward God), be baptized in water, and call on the name of the Lord.

    Romans 10:9-10 that if confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

    Men must confess Jesus as Lord and Savior and believe in a resurrected Savior.

    Acts 8:27-38…..35 Then Philip open his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said . “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [ And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.

    The eunuch believed in Jesus, he repented, he confessed Jesus as the Christ and as the Son of God. He was baptized in water. The eunuch fulfilled his responsibilities for salvation.

    On the Day of Pentecost Peter preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and proclaimed Him Lord and Christ(Acts 2:22-37). When the 3000 believed Peter’s sermon, they asked what they should do?(Acts 2:37) Peter told them what do (Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.)

    Acts 2:40-41 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there added about three thousand souls.( Peter said be saved, future tense, after they believed and were baptized, they were saved, JUST LIKE JESUS SAID IN Mark 16:16)

    What was the responsibilities of the 3000? 1. To believe in the resurrected Jesus. 2. To believe that Jesus was Lord and Christ. 3. To repent (to repent means to make the commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God) 4. To be baptized (immersed in water).

    Noticed, Peter told them to be saved after they already believed in Jesus. They were still in their sins until they repented and were baptized.

    SALVATION?

    God provides: 1. Grace. 2. The Savior. 3. Preachers of the gospel and the Bible.

    Man’s responsibilities: 1. Hear the gospel. 2. Believe the gospel. 3. Confess Jesus as Lord, the Christ, and God’s only Son. 4. Believe that God resurrect Jesus from the grave. 5. Repent (make the commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God). 6. Be baptized.

    What are man’s responsibilities in order to have sins forgiven?
    Faith is for the forgiveness sins.
    Confession is for the forgiveness of sins.
    Repentance is for the forgiveness of sins.
    Water baptism is for the forgiveness of sins.

    Men can be saved in two hours more of less. No work, no good deeds, and no law keeping is required.—- Then remain faithful until the end. (Matthew 10:22)

    (All Scriptures quotes from: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

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