Earlier today I twittered that I think I'm voting to split our convention. Here is why. Actually, I think I’ll start with a bit of background for those of my readers who have no idea what I’m talking about.
The Southern Baptist Convention underwent a theological shift during the 1970s through mid-1990s. Before this period, the convention was headed in the same direction as the mainline protestant denominations. This theological shift took place over the inerrancy of scripture, although it manifest itself in many different ways. Let me say that differently. On the 1970’s the SBC leadership was strongly leaning away from a view of scripture as inerrant. During this period, conservatives, those who would say that the Bible is true in all that it declares, began an effort to return the convention to its roots. They were ultimately successful, and today the Southern Baptist Convention is a thoroughly conservative denomination. And I, for one, am grateful to those who were involved in that process. At the end of this process, many theological moderates left the SBC and formed their own convention, known as the CBF.
This same battle took place in the vast majority of state conventions as well. However, for a variety of reasons, it had differing success in different places. In Virginia, Texas, and Missouri, the conventions actually split and the conservatives left to form their own state conventions. North Carolina has been able to remain united partially because of giving plans.
What are giving plans? In 1925, Southern Baptists developed the Cooperative Program. (CP) The CP is simply a method of sharing in mission work by pooling money from the 42,000 SBC churches. Each church sends a portion of its gifts to its respective state convention, the conventions in turn, use a portion for missions and ministry and send a portion to the SBC for missions and ministry. This combined amount makes the SBC able to send some 12,000 missionaries around the world, operate 6 seminaries, and do more than I can list in this paragraph.
Within North Carolina there were churches along the theological spectrum that wanted to contribute to state missions but not to SBC missions. Some want to send part of their money to the SBC and part to the CBF. Giving plans were created in order to facilitate the desires of everyone, and they essentially created confusion.
So today, the last item of business was to get rid of all of the giving plans and replace them with a single plan which had options. A church could still designate funds to the CBF, or it could exclude the SBC, but it was all done under one plan. It was essentially the same thing, but done in a much less convoluted way.
Sorry about that lengthy background passage, here is the news of the day:
When the motion was presented, messenger Matt Williamson, pastor of Oak Forest Baptist in Fletcher (ht - Biblical Recorder for that info) immediately asked it be amended to exclude the CBF. (Actually there was some confusion, but that was the point of his ammendment) That means that if the amendment passed, there is no way for a church to give to the CBF through the BSCNC. In other words, CBF churches would be effectively shut out of the state convention. If they still wish to give to both CBF and BSCNC they would have to write two checks. No big deal it sounds like, but they would now have to go out of their way to support the state convention and the CBF. It would be a formal severing. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of discussion both for and against the amendment.
What did I do? My heart was definitely with the amendment, but I had a fear that it the amendment passed, the unified giving plan would fail and we would be exactly in the same place as we began; a largely divided convention with a horrible system of giving.
Someone finally called the question and it came time to vote. We took two sight-votes (raise your ballots and see if any side clearly wins), but it was obviously very close. So we cast ballots. The amendment passed four-hundred sixty-something to three-hundred-something. Less than 1,000 total. If anyone had suspected that would occur there would have been many more messengers.
Oh yeah; What did I do? I voted for the amendment.
After the amendment passed, the motion to move to one, CBF-less giving plan passed overwhelmingly.
I don’t want to get into prophecy, but this seems to have been the death-knell of the CBF in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
Here is the Baptist Press story about the convention