In the movie “The Patriot” the central actor, played by Mel Gibson, has a line that speaks volumes to the attitude of our nation’s forefathers. Gibson’s character, while debating whether or not South Carolina was going to become part of the revolution against England, asked the question; “why should I trade one tyrant three thousand miles away for three thousand tyrants one mile away? ” He answered his question by saying; An elected legislature can trample a man’s rights as easily as a King can. There is now a question that should be asked of all NC Baptists. Have we traded one “good-ole boy” bureaucratic network for another? There are some items of importance to watch for today at the convention that will reveal we have.
First, watch how the convention leaders handle two motions that were presented last year and overwhelmingly affirmed by messengers. There were two motions that I saw come to the convention floor that have the potential of being controversial. The Baptist Faith and Message motion, made by my friend Phil Addison, and the motion on alcohol policies made by yours truly. The BF&M motion is going to be handled by presenting a resolution for the convention. There is one question that I have concerning this resolution; why have we not seen it before we get to the convention? I know there are resolutions the Resolutions Committee is dealing with but those have already been published. The only resolution, I know of, is the standard resolution we make for the city of Greensboro. Thus, to get the resolution before the messengers there will need to be a rules change. The question needs to be asked. Why does an appointed committee from the Board of Directors, that has been meeting all year, not operate within the guidelines already laid before the convention? There will probably be 4 or 5 resolutions presented today during the “Miscellaneous Business” session and those messengers will need to call for a “suspension of the rules” in order to get their resolution before the convention. Thus, you have the Board of Directors operating outside of the set rules and guidelines while the rest of the messengers are looked upon with suspicion for doing the same thing.
The second motion to be handled will be the alcohol motion. I have promised Brother Mike Whitson, the chairman of the appointed committee, that I would accept whatever the committee recommended. This committee reviewed all of the policies already in place and they have affirmed the policies with some wording changes. Therefore, the committee will merely mention that the current policies are sufficient. A good motion to come would be one that calls for the convention to publicly post the policies in the Biblical Recorder.
In both of these committees the person making the motion was not originally consulted by the committee at large. There may have been some innocuous calls and conversations had between one member on the committee and the maker of the motions, but the committee as a whole never heard from the one making the motion. The Baptist Faith and Message committee, after many phone calls and visits with the maker of the motion, finally had a meeting without the maker of the motion’s knowledge the entire committee would be present. The entire time I have been supporting the conservatives regaining a majority in the BSCNC I have been told that the moderates stifled private disagreement and would not allow open debate on the convention floor. When I made my motion in 2001 concerning a study committee investigate if Plan C was in agreement with the BSCNC Constitution, I was told by some in leadership now that the committee should have contacted me. Some, in leadership now, told me they could not understand the reasons behind the committee not contacting me and then suggested that it was due to their desire to see a certain outcome. Well, it seems we have traded 30 tyrants, operating publicly in Winston-Salem three days a year and call into question the Word of God for 30 tyrants operating publicly in Greensboro 2 days a year and say they believe the Word of God.
Second, look at the small amount of time to hear from the messengers. Two reasons are in play with this move. First, the messengers are not in any way disagreeing with the direction of our convention. In the last Board of Directors meeting there was a two hour debate on wording for the Baptist Faith and Message motion before it was passed. The Board of directors presented the $33 million budget and it passed in 2 minutes. What is the difference? Words mean things and the messengers want to mean what we say and say what we mean. We trust the handling of the funds as we agree with much of the direction we see the convention headed. Second, though there is a lack of disagreement it does not mean that there cannot be disagreement. Our current leadership is structuring things in order to stifle public disagreement. Which brings me to the second area of play that causes the small amount of time for the messengers to have a voice.
The Miscellaneous Business session is only 15 minutes long and is just before a “set order of business”. Therefore, there can be no extension of time in order to hear from the messengers. Forgive me, but I thought that was the idea of the annual meeting. Thus we have an administration that seemingly desire to get the accolades and funds from the Baptist constituency but do not want to hear a word we have to say. Oh, do not get me wrong. I will probably hear from some of our leaders on various items, but it is only a private, “just between me and you” conversation. When there is a discussion on record the leadership refuses to tell anything that will get back to them. Thus, the “Miscellaneous Business” is shortened in order to limit the amount of uneasiness the administration will have to deal with.
One other area and I am off to cast my vote for Dr. Mark Harris for President. Notice the places being increased in the budget along with the the focus they are placing on these increased items. The only increase that is being promoted is the increase of the funds going to the Church Planting. There are a number of increases that in years past would cause huge concern. For example, we are increasing the “School of Pastoral Care” at Wake Forest University a whopping $50k. This subsidiary school of WFU is receiving nearly 3/4 of a million dollars out of NC Baptists cooperative program dollars. Wake Forest is a school that not only has stated their disbelief in an inerrant text but has done so through their promotion of the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender lifestyle in their policies. Nearly $750k is going to this school and it should make us all sick that none of that money will be used to win a soul to Jesus. Also, the increase to the Biblical Recorder should cause some concern. We have removed the last editor and told him to hit the bricks simply because the circulation was not up to par. We have brought in a new editor and there is no circulation increase to speak about and increased him $99k. What are we thinking? Should there not be some proof in the pudding before we pour money down a hole? You may say that we need to give water to a dry, parched desert. Ok, then why didn’t we give water to the last editor in this dry, parched desert?
It will be interesting to see how today goes. Looking forward to seeing more friends and interacting within the ranks of the snobbish. It is amazing that some slap you on the back and other hug you trying to find the soft spot to stick the knife. While I am happy we have conservative leadership, I am suspicious they are acting and even stifling the voice of the people in the pew.