Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Missouri Baptist Convention & Single Alignment

Those living outside of Missouri might find the religious politics of the state perplexing. With the Missouri Baptist Convention suing 5 former entities that named their own boards of trustees and millions of dollars in Cooperative Program money finding its way to lawyers' pockets as a backdrop, the more recent news has focused on the implementation and enforcement of a policy of single alignment that messengers to the annual meeting approved last year. In an unprecedented move (at least in Southern Baptist life), the MBC has recently sent letters to 24 churches to urge them to reconsider the steps they have taken so as not to jeopardize their historic ties with the MBC. The guilty action of these 24 consists of being somehow linked to CBF--either by supporting CBF in their budget or sending messengers to an annual meeting. The number of churches excluded for such actions will most assuredly grow as the MBC has not yet officially taken the same action against churches involved with the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, though the language of the single alignment proposal that passed last year specifically mentioned these two organizations.

The MBC Pathway has reported their take on this issue, as has the historic Baptist Missouri paper, the Word and Way. By far one of the funniest things to appear regarding single alignment is a satirical piece written by Brian Kaylor. The tongue-in-cheek analogy of Pluto's exclusion from the list of planets in our solar system is a must read.

I find it interesting that while some cooler heads among conservative Baptists in many sectors of the U.S. are calling for widening the tent, permitting principled dissent, and ceasing to narrow the parameters for cooperation among Baptists, in Missouri the exact opposite is occurring. Like the kid on the playground who tells everyone else that if they don't play by his rules, he will take his ball and go home, the MBC is excluding fellow Baptists for the "crime" of being dually aligned with another group in the state. I don't see the same thing happening in Texas or Virginia where moderates comprise the larger state convention. Why is that?

3 comments:

Bowden McElroy said...

What I find interesting is the rationale given for the lawsuits. The explanation I'm usually given is that the biblical injunction against suing another Christian only applies to individuals, not corporations. And since the entities involved are all 501c3 corporations, law suits are permissible.

I must be the only person who finds that logic convoluted. But then, I'm an Okie and just can't be expected to understand these things.

Gary Snowden said...

Bowden,

I'm also bewildered by such an explanation, but I heard it directly from the head of the Legal Task Force that presented a report to the MBC annual meeting, using exactly that argument to justify bringing a suit against the 5 Baptist agencies. Such an approach to hermeneutics reminds me of Jesus' words to the Pharisees about straining at a gnat but swallowing a camel.

Kiki Cherry said...

Gary,

I consistently appreciate your perspectives (except for the Longhorn connection--but everyone is entitled to one weakness!!!) :)

I wanted to say that your post on Wade's site resonated with me. We knew several of those who would not sign a creedal document as a matter of principle. We lost some of our best and brightest Ms over this issue--and the ones who were willing to take a tough stand when others just signed to keep their jobs!!!

Our denomination is a mess right now. I'm not sure what is going to come of it in the future.

But I know where God has called me, and that He has affirmed where we are and what we are doing.

You have sent a lot of encouragement and reassurance my way through your comments and support. Thank you for standing strong and being faithful to your calling.