There is a move by the Executive Committee to allow Southern Baptists to choose between calling themselves by the official name or referring to themselves by an officially proposed unofficial official name–The Great Commission Baptists. While this is an “unofficial” name the convention will “officially” vote on it in June at the convention held this year in New Orleans.
I only have one question to ask; “What is our leaders thinking?” Do they not remember when the Alliance of Baptists formed? Have they forgotten how much chaos that caused within the convention? Do they not remember the competing Pastors Conferences? Do they not remember the constant fussing and fighting that marked the convention during those days? The amazing thing that has caught my attention is the reason being placed before us in favor of a
name change new nickname-because we have a past of fussing and fighting. This move to officially/unofficially change our name add a nickname certainly has not diminished the fussing and fighting history, but exacerbated it.
After a week I have had some time to reflect on the Task Force (TF) report that was presented to our President at the Executive Committee on February 20, 2012. Reading the tweets from some of our convention entity leaders one would think the TF just resolved the tension between God’s sovereignty and Man’s responsibility. However, after some time of reflection and reading various comments and blog articles I honestly cannot support this recommendation that will come to the convention floor for the following reasons.
Is This Needed? This seems to be the multi-million dollar question. If the TF could find clear evidence there was a need for a name change then money would not have been an issue. Certainly we would have inner struggles concerning spending any amount of funds that exceeded the million dollar mark. However, most Baptists would see no problem with spending the funds if it could remove a barrier that would hinder the Gospel.
With the upcoming name change debate from now until June one thing may be overlooked and even intentionally not spoken about–the cost. There are three things that come to mind that may never see the light of day in this debate.
First, there is no way for anyone to accurately determine the cost in Cooperative Program Funds that churches, local associations, state conventions and various SBC Entities will spend in the process of changing documents and paying lawyers fees. There is an estimate of $20 million floating around. However, it is really hard to accurately estimate this cost with so many entities, state conventions, associations, and churches needing to change their constitutions and bylaws. Second, the entire process of changing the names, even a DBA, could place into jeopardy the charters of various entities. For example New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is chartered under Louisiana law. From what we are told by those at NOBTS Louisiana law is based on the French legal system, which means there are slight nuances that calls for various differences. Remember the huge debate that ensued when the Executive Committee called for every entity to embrace Sole Membership? Three, a division that results will be between those that continue to call themselves Southern Baptists versus those that will identify with the DBA name. These three points are areas I want to explore in this post and I believe, if allowed a hearing, will lead us without dividing us.
In future posts in this series on name changes I will attempt to show how a discriminatory attitude is allowed to run rampant among those that desire to change the name. Those of us who live in the south are caricatured as being dumb, backwoods, and in-bred. This attitude is not only allowed to be articulated by name change proponents but is articulated as a reason to change the name. In this initial post I want to look at the professed foundational reason name change proponents desire to see the name change–church planting.
We are told that up north and in the mid-west the name “southern” is a hindrance to church planting. There seems to be a simple question everyone is overlooking. Why is the name of the convention an obstacle to church growth? When the church planters go out and invite people to become part of the church plant what are they telling these prospects? It seems that many are using this argument for the simple reason they do not like the name “Southern” or “Baptist”. If one will notice the overwhelming new church starts have been done without using the name “Baptist”. Thus, one has to wonder the reason for removing the “Baptist” moniker.
We are now informed by the apparent voice of the new
SBC, er whatever cool name is presented, Jonathan Merritt that neither “Southern”, nor “Baptist” will be able to remain in the new name. Read more
I want to look at the “What if…?” question in order to help some better understand where the push back against changing the name of the SBC is coming among many Southern Baptists. I know the futility of this matter as some already desire a name change. It seems, from Dr. Bryant Wright’s passionate presentation to the Executive Committee (X.Com) on that Tuesday evening, that he desires the Southern Baptist Convention to be named something else. It is evident that a name has already been picked out and the “Task Force” seems to have only one task–make sure no one else has the name trademarked. It is also evident this is a direction the President wants us to move as he has appointed Dr. Draper to chair the committee due to his experience in already leading in a name change of one entity plus Dr. Draper’s experience of trying to lead in a name change for the convention in the past. But with all of this in place I want to ask our readers to answer the “What if….?”
What if Adrian Rogers would have chosen a Task Force this way back in 1987?