Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Saga Continues...

and is only getting worse. Today, the blogging SBCland is again on fire about the unfurling of Monday's MO Southern Baptist Executive Board decision to give the Acts 29 Network the cold shoulder. Add in the media, and this thing is getting out of control.

Don Hinkle, as first respondent defending the EB vote, says

If a church wants to cooperate with Acts 29 in a church plant, go ahead, it
will just be without Cooperative Program dollars...Why? Because Missouri
Southern Baptist churches did not give their Cooperative Program gifts to fund
the church plants of another organization. Nor did they give to plant churches
who pledge to do one thing, then do another, often putting the church plant and
convention at doctrinal odds — and without accountability, something Acts 29
seems to be lacking.

The Empire Strikes Back. As a lifelong SB, I was always taught that no another authority exists besides Christ, the Bible, and our democratic votes in church. In fact, Baptists have frowned on by proxy decisions via small elites that seem to act too independently and without accountability. So why does Hinkle state just before this quote that the EB is the highest authority in MO SBCland after the Bible? (whoa!)

Is this only about alcohol? The Baptist Press today added its own article, interviewing David Tolliver:

Tolliver said the convention will have no working relationship with churches
"participating with alcohol," which specifically means that Cooperative Program
funds will not be used for "sinful outreach ministries."

Ouch. Sinful? But if alcohol were the only problem, then why not exempt only those churches who do not have abstention clauses in their statements of faith? I suspect that more than the alcohol issue is in play here; only my opinion: misunderstanding, ignorance, and just plain prejudice seem to be at the root of a hasty and ill-informed decision by the MBCEB against funding any A29 churches for being Emerging, which even Tolliver admits is not necessarily a cause for pulling away.

No one seems to be able to define the emerging church. If you cannot define it,
it’s hard to see how you can be for or against it.” (quoted from Mark DeVine's
Southern Baptists, Missouri Baptists, and the Emerging Church)

It certainly looks as though 28 people on the EB were determined to vote their way no matter what the facts say about A29 in particular.

Furthermore, the timing of this decision makes the hostile nature of the EB more prominent. No funding starting January 1, 2008? In two weeks? Pastors who have already established their budgets (both church and personal) with money promised to them from the MBC will never receive the financial help they were expecting. Not only has the MBC voted no-partnership, they have reneged on its own agreement to help pastors and their families in MO.

Add to that one more insult to injury: By Tolliver--
"We will continue to work with Acts 29 churches who choose to also be Missouri
Baptist Convention churches," Tolliver said. "The Executive Board decision
simply precludes us from funding those churches or church plants."

So, churches who are Acts 29 affiliated can still affiliate with MBC, but the money only flows one direction, which means buy your MBC affiliation with Cooperative Program donations, but don't expect anything back if you need it. What a deal.

Fortunately, the St. Louis Metro Association has started a fund to help the churches directly impacted by this recent decision. Please send contributions to

"Show Me Church Planting Fund"
St. Louis Metro Baptist. Assoc.
attn. Darren Casper
3859 Fee Fee Road
Bridgeton, Mo. 63044

I'm ending this post with two timely quotes I think pertain highly to this situation:

The MBC says nothing about MBC Churches that participate in Christian
Family Day at Busch Stadium, the Beer Temple of MO. (comment by Jim Shaver
following Don Hinckle's blog post)

Default capitulation to whoever is strictest or boasts the longest list of
litmus test issues where Christian fellowship is concerned is not only
unloving, but also unbiblical and unspiritual. Not every purity postured
willingness to divide the Body of Christ winsthe favor of our Lord! (Mark DeVine)


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