Prior to the debate on the motion to adopt the Executive Committe statement on the BFM, Dr. Morris Chapman, the President of the Executive Committee, had already given his address to the entire convention. Though I have not spoken with him about this issue, I can understand and comprehend his words. During his official report to the Convention, Dr. Chapman said:
"(1) Any practice instituted by an entity in the Southern Baptist Convention that has the force of doctrine should be in accord with the Baptist Faith and Message and not exceed its boundaries unless and until it has been approved by the Southern Baptist Convention and secondly,
(2) If an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention adopts a confession of faith separate and distinct from the Baptist Faith and Message and it includes a doctrine unsupported by our confessional statement, the entity should request approval from the Convention prior to including the doctrine in its confession."
It is my desire in this post to show the intent of the messengers when they voted for the motion to officially adopt the Executive Committee statement on the BFM. The messengers intent was to implement exactly what they had already heard the President of the Executive Committee say we needed in the SBC. Of course, an additional way to know what was in the mind of those who voted FOR the adoption of this statement is to hear those who articulated the reasons why this statement SHOULD be adopted. Likewise, to listen to the intelligent and articulate arguments AGAINST the adoption of this motion informs the impartial reader why this motion was not voted for by its opponents.
The following transcipt is taken from the video archives of the SBC Tuesday night's session entitled Previously Scheduled Business.
Again, the purpose of posting this is simply to prove that there can be no doubt in any fair-minded, non-partisian person as to the intent of the SBC messengers in adopting this statement, and further, the debate shows very clearly that SBC messengers present in the hall knew EXACTLY what they were doing when they voted by a 58% majority to adopt the Executive Committee's statement on the BFM 2000.
Rick Garner is the messenger and conservative pastor from Liberty Heights Baptist Church in Liberty Heights, Ohio who had made the motion to adopt the statement earlier that morning. The Committee on Order of Business believed this motion was important enough to be dealt with by the entire convention, and when it came time to debate this motion, President Frank Page encouraged messenger Rick Garner, if he was present, to move to a microphone. While the convention was waiting, President Page read the motion in order that the convention would be clear what it was we were about to debate and ultimately vote upon.
I move that this convention adopts the statement of the Executive Committee issued in February of this year, and included in the Executive 's report found in the 2007 Book of Reports, Page 17, which reads 'The Baptist Faith and Message is neither a creed, nor a complete statement of our faith, nor final and infallible; nevertheless, we further acknowledge that it is the only consensus statement of doctrinal beliefs approved by the Southern Baptist Convention and such is sufficient in its current form to guide trustees in their establishment of policies and practices of entities of the Convention.'
After reading the above motion, President Page then said, "The Committee of Order on Business has decided that this particular motion should be dealt with at this time, and so, we would like to know if Rick Garner is in this hall and, if so, would he like to speak to this motion.
President Frank Page: Bro. Rick, are you at microphone nine?
Pastor Rick Garner: Yes, sir.
President Rick Garner: You moved. (Laughter)
President Frank Page: Would you like to speak to your motion sir?
Pastor Rick Garner: Yes, Mr. President.
President Frank Page: All right.
Messenger Rick Garner speaks FOR the motion:
Mr. President, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 stands as the doctrinal capstone of the conservative resurgence. It is the only consensus, and therefore, the only sufficient basis for doctrinal accountability among Southern Baptists. It is the privilege, it is indeed the sacred responsibility, of this convened body to inform our entities, agencies, and institutions of our continued and firm commitment to this instrument of doctrinal accountability.
The question before us this evening is this: Is the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 sufficient in its current form to guide the Southern Baptist Convention and all its agencies, entities and institutions? An affirmitive vote is for its sufficiency. A negative vote is a vote for its insufficiency and will effectively render the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 anemic to accomplish its purposes. I believe it is sufficient. My church believes it is sufficient. The Executive Committee report affirms it is sufficient, and this Convention believes it is sufficient.
If the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is sufficient for the Southern Baptist Convention at large, then it should be considered sufficient for all Southern Baptist entities, agencies, and institutions.
Amos 3:3 says, "Can two walk together unless they are agreed. We have all agreed that the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is our convention's confession of faith. The only remaining questions is, 'Will we walk together?'
Mr. President, thank you.
President Frank Page: Thank you. I would like at this point (uh) what we are going to do, in case you are knew, normally in these situations we allow persons to speak for, and in fairness to speak against, if there is someone - and we do believe because the button is pushed. And let me say this very quickly -- we have a fancy box up here. It's nice, it's real nice. And it tells us who is pushed what buttons, but it doesn't show us who it is. We don't know who it is, but it does tell us if you are pushing for or against, so I hope it is correct. Number 2 says their against this. Would you like to speak against this?
Messenger: Yes I would
President Frank Page: Name, church, and . . .
Messenger: Mr. President, it's another Robin. Robin Hadaway, Missions Professor, Midwestern Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri, messenger Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Liberty, Missouri.
Wade Burleson's commentary: (Read very carefully the following arguments professor Hadaway gives on why the motion should be voted down. Notice what he calls 'doctrine' and why the BFM 2000 falls short of being 'sufficient' -- to me he articulates very clearly the problem we Southern Baptistts would face had his view prevailed).
Messenger Robin Hadaway speaks AGAINST the motion.
I served as an IMB missionary for 18 years and as an IMB regional for 6 of those years and I enforced the IMB policies. The IMB has long had a policy that divorced persons cannot be appointed as long-term missionaries. This is a doctrinal interpretation of I Timothy 3, and is also based upon the fact that divorced persons are not normally called to Southern Baptist pulpits in the USA and are especially problematic for our Baptist partners overseas. The Executive statement on page 17 of the Book of Reports says, "The BFM is sufficient in its current form to guide trustees in their establishment of policies and practices of entities of the convention." Guide does not mean an exhaustive list. Let me list several doctrinal issues the BFM does not speak to.
Speaking in tongues or private prayer languages are not mentioned in the BFM, but do you want a seminary professor like myself, at your six seminaries, practicing glossalalia? This is not in the Baptist Faith and Message.
Last year's Resolutions Committee of which I was a member, and I am a member of this year's Resolutions Committee, passed a resolution on alcohol consumption. Our committee quoted Scripture making it a doctrinal issue. The IMB does not appoint missionaries that drink alcohol, and neither do the seminaries. Alcohol is not in the Baptist Faith and Message.
The Resolutions Committee a number of years ago passed a resolution on gambling. Scripture was quoted making this a doctrinal issue. Gambling is not mentioned in the BFM either.
Neither is the usage of tobacco.
Let's not make a creed of the BFM, let's keep it as a guide and allow the trustees of your boards, agencies and entities to design policies and procedures to select godly men and women as missionaries, professors, and employees to serve in these agencies.
Otherwise, you may have missionaries and professors like me, with practices not in keeping with the vast majority of Southern Baptists. I urge the defeat of this motion.
Wade Burleson's comment on Dr. Hadaway's speech: (Other than the fact I am amazed that the good professor believes 'quoting' Scripture makes something a doctrine, I would like to point out three problems with what Dr. Hadaway said. (1). To equate the Holy Spirit gift of glossalalia with divorce, tobacco, and alcohol would cause every mainline, conservative systematic theologian to raise his/her eyebrow, and (2). Dr. Hadaway well illustrates the problem the Southern Baptist Convention is now facing -- there are some who are attempting to force upon the entire convention their particular interpretations of holiness -- and worse, they are attempting to make EVERYTHING a 'doctrinal' issue and dismiss from service anyone who disagrees, and (3). A few of my fellow IMB trustees ought to be glad I am uninterested in enforcing the good professor's 'doctrine' of tobacco (wink). Of course, the passage of the motion rules null and void Dr. Hadaway's attempt to make everyone look like him.)
President Frank Page: Thank you Robin. Now do we have at microphone number nine again someone to speak for this particular motion?
Messenger Dwight McKissic speaks FOR the motion.
Yes, Mr. President, my name is Dwight McKissic, I pastor the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas.
It's really a simple matter. Are we going to let the parents make rules for the house, or our we going to let the children rule the house? The agencies and entities should be subordinate to the Southern Baptist Convention.
When I gave my church a doctrinal statement, all of our leaders are asked to read it and believe it, the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. We buy into the convention based on that document. Then, when agencies circumvent that document it leaves a church like the one I pastor in a quandry. "Pastor, you sold us on the Southern Baptist Convention based on the contents of this document. Now decisions are being made that are not consistent or compatabile with this document that affects the identity and image of our church."
I don't let my four children decide what the McKissic household believe. Dwight and Vera McKissic decide what we believe and what we stand for. Joshua said, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." We need the convention itself to speak to this issue and not the children.
President Frank Page: Thank you Bro. Dwight. One more. Microphone number five do you speak against this motion.
Messenger: No sir, I'm here to speak for this motion.
Wade Burleson's comment: (It was here that the messengers could see Art Roger's at the microphone, the messenger ready to speak for the motion. Behind him one can see on the video screens Dr. Hershael York and Dr. Richard Land prepared to speak AGAINST the motion. You could see Dr. York adamantly attempting to get the microphone monitor to allow him to speak, but Art was at the microphone first and by rule, Art did not have to give up his spot until he had the opportunity to speak).
President Frank Page: To be fair, we've got to go with someone against. All right, we'll try number eight. Microphone number eight over yonder.
Messenger: Yes, sir. My name is Barbara Turner and I am a messenger from the Mountain View Baptist Church in California. And uh, I did not grow up in a Christian home, however, I had people who took me to church and so forth, and I accepted Christ after a Baptist camp, not a Southern Baptist. However, when I moved I had a neighbor who took me to the closest church, which was a Southern Baptist Church. And, as I started learning about that church I picked up a little paper, really a little card, that was called the Baptist Faith and Message. And as a young teenager, really preteen, I read that and thought about it quite a bit. And, you know I believed the things that were in that document. I felt like, yes, this is what I believe - this is what I want to subscribe to - and this is a body of believers that I want to join with. And I put a lot of thought in that, even as a young person, just as I did my salvation, knowing that God would want to call me to things. That document was written in 1963. It was put together thoughtfully with many great leaders, including Herschel Hobbs, who many people still read his commentaries. I have nothing against the 2000 as far as submission or whatever. However, I have a problem with saying you must subscibe to this particular Baptist Faith and Message or you can't serve. I guess I cannot serve because I believe in both of them. And I think there's a problem, and so I believe it should be Baptist Faith and Message - period, and not Baptist Faith and Message of a certain year. And I also believe, as it is stated, that it is a statement of faith - this is what we believe - but we are autonomous. I believe when we are saying we must set this as a guide - we are not using this as a guide - we are using it as a creed, and that goes up against who we are as Baptists. Thank you.
Wade Burleson's Commentary on Barbara's Speech: (Barbara is a very bright individual. She knew exactly what she was saying. However, what she may not have been aware of was that those who were AGAINST this recommendation desire to tighten the BFM even further, 'de facto,' by tightening the doctrinal parameters and narrow the definition of what it means to be a Southern Baptist by using trustees of Southern Baptist agencies changing the doctrinal parameters 'out of the view of the entire Southern Baptist Convention.' I promise you, if Barbara listened carefully to the two speeches by Bob Cleveland and Jeremy Green that followed hers , she saw it).
President Frank Page: Thank you Barbara. Let me ask at this time microphone number one you have pushed a button saying you have a motion, would you please give me your name and your church and clarify what you are asking please?
Messenger: Leroy Cole, West Tyler Baptist Church, Alabama, I call for the question.
Wade Burleson's comment on the call for question: (I do not know Leroy Cole, but his motion to cease debate and vote on the recommendation passed by a two/thirds majority raising their ballots in favor to end debate -- at least according to the ruling of the chair. It was at this moment that one of the lower points of the convention occurred. Several who were AGAINST the motion (and possibly a few who were for it) booed and hissed and shouted at the chair because they didn't feel the motion to end debate had actually passed. Dr. Page graciously ruled that debate would continue for five minutes because it was a close vote, but then he said, "Do not holler at me (applause). Do not holler at me. I have a litte bit of redneck in. Don't holler at me." (Good for the President).
The Continuation of Debate for Five Minutes
President Frank Page: Five more minutes. Microphone number three speaking for.
Messenger Bob Cleveland speaks FOR the motion
I'm Bob Cleveland, lay messenger from First Baptist Church, Pellham, Alabama. I came to the Southern Baptist Convention, to a Southern Baptist Church, from the United Methodist and the Presbyterian churches. In each case I was given, in those denominations, a book and they said "Here's what we believe." And I actually read it. And when I came to our church, I asked Bro. Mike before I ever joined, if we had such a book and he said, "Well, no. We have no creed but Christ." But here's the Baptist Faith and Message which is a consensus statement of our faith. And I read it. And I went back to him and said, "You know, there's a lot of things this doesn't cover."
And he gave me Hershel Hobbs book on the Baptist Faith and Message, and I read that, and I read about what Hershel Hobbs said the fundamental Baptist distinctive is and that's soul competency in religious matters. And I said, 'Woe' this is the most responsible doctrine I've ever seen because it says it's me and God and I'm responsible for what I believe. I cannot blame it on somebody else.
Now if I wanted to change what Southern Baptists believe confessionally I would never attack the Baptist Faith and Message, I would go to missionary sending organizations, both US and foreign, and change what they can be to be missionaries. And then I would just wait until the Southern Baptist Convention changed what they believed.
And if I wanted to accelerate the process I would go to some of the seminaries and change what you had to believe so that they would believe just like me to be a professor. And that would send out pastors into churches here that would believe just what I wanted them to believe. I would never have to touch the Baptist Faith and Message.
We are like the frog in a pot of hot water. You can put him in cool water and turn the heat up and the frog will literally boil to death before he knows he is in trouble. We will change the Baptist Faith and Message because we will change what Baptists believe if we don't vote for this recommendation. Now I know we can't tell the entities what they have to do, but we can tell the entities of the SBC what we believe being a Southern Baptist means, and this is it, and I urge you to vote for it
Wade Burleson's Comment on Mr. Cleveland's speech: (Bob, who is a layman, understands better than anyone I've ever heard that Southern Baptists better be very, very careful in handing over the ability to define what a Southern Baptist IS to either a seminary or an agency)
President Frank Page: Thank you Bob. Now, we will call on microphone number twelve and ask if you are speaking AGAINST this particular issue.
Messenger Jeremy Green Speaks AGAINST the motion
I'm Jeremy Green, pastor of First Baptist Church of Joshua, Texas. According to the Preamble of the Baptist Faith and Message our confessional statement includes only those doctrines that we hold precious and as essential to the faith. If Southern Baptists believe that these doctrines are essentials, then why are certain trustees and employees now not even affirming the bare minimum doctrinal standards of our convention as adopted by each entitity. Baptist polity and our trustee system both necessitate that each individual trustee boards maintain the right and responsibility to employ other doctrinal paramaters as needed.
The Baptist Faith and Message is a sufficient guide, but it is not the ONLY guide. I believe that voting FOR this motion is the first step in the wrong direction. I encourage the messengers to vote against this motion. Thank you Mr. President.
Wade Burleson's Commentary on Jeremy Green's comments: (I thank Jeremy for making very, very clear - right before the vote - what a vote FOR the motion means, and what a vote AGAINST the motion means. He couldn't have said it any better. He's dead on. The convention heard it, and they voted. Contrary to his desire, and others, to move our convention way beyond the BFM to reflect their narrow doctrinal views on matters that are NOT essential to the Christian faith and Southern Baptist identity, the convention said let's keep our parameters of cooperation as broad as possible).
President Frank Page: Thank you Jeremy. Now, here is where we are. Our time is up. If you would like to extend the time, it will require a motion and two thirds majority to extend the time for discussion.
The vote to extend time to debate the motion to adopt the Executive Committee statement on the BFM failed.
Then, the vote occurred on the original motion.
It passed by a 58% majority.
I have a very hard time understanding how anyone can listen to the debate, or read the words of this transcript, and say anyone was confused on what we voted upon.
The convention told the International Mission Board that any doctrinal guideline or policy, based on the IMB trustee board's 'doctrinal interpretation' that has not been APPROVED by the SBC, is not appropriate. Especially when that guideline excludes otherwise qualified Southern Baptists from missionary participation.
The Southern Baptist Convention has spoken. Boards are more than welcome to establish policies and guidelines on practical, ethical or moral considerations, but to move DOCTRINALLY beyond the BFM 2000, and exlude otherwise qualified Southern Baptists from missionary service unless who disagree with their demands for conformity to their additional doctrinal guidelines that exceed the BFM 2000, is not within their purview.
Only the entire convention sets the parameters for cooperation and true Southern Baptist identity. No seminary, no whitepaper, no trustee board, no President -- no one has the authority to narrow the doctrinal parameters of Southern Baptist cooperation but the convention as a whole.
Now, let's see if the boards are listening.
In His Grace,
P.S. Listen to Dr. Chapman's entire address here