Monday, June 18, 2007

Is the SBC exporting its controversies overseas?

I would like to direct your attention to an insightful editorial by Jim White of Virginia’s Religious Herald. In it he reacts to Bobby Welch’s new job assignment by the Southern Baptist Convention as “strategist for global evangelical relations.” White raises the question as to whether or not Welch’s task, all disclaimers notwithstanding, will be to convince Baptists around the world to withdraw from the BWA in order to affiliate with this new conservative group. The questions White raises are extremely valid. Do Baptists around the world need for the SBC to export its own political infighting into their local settings? Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17 and His words that all men would know that we are His disciples by our love would be appear to be undermined by Welch’s mission. Just because the SBC couldn’t dissuade the BWA from accepting CBF into its ranks doesn’t give the U. S. convention the right or moral authority to project upon Baptist bodies overseas its own internal struggles. Jim White's editorial is definitely worth the read!

5 comments:

GuyMuse said...

Very interesting article. Of course, we IMB M's are caught in the middle of all this, and have never been instructed exactly how we are to relate to our fellow Baptist organizations that are still affiliated with the BWA, when our own denomination has cut ties with them. The implications overseas of this have been awkward to say the least.

Gary Snowden said...

I appreciate the struggle that missionaries like yourself have of trying to walk the tightrope between not offending the powers that be (BOT & others) that have supported the withdrawal of the SBC from the BWA, while at the same time recognizing that refusing to relate to national Baptists in the country where one serves is counterproductive to sound mission strategy and limits our ability to fulfill the Great Commission. My prayers are with you guys in the trenches as you face these conflicting priorities.

Chuck said...

Jim White's column is accusatory, cynical, and sounds not at all like the words of someone who would desire all Baptists--including Welch and other Southern Baptists--to be in Atlanta next January.

Jesus' prayer for unity in John 17 is more certainly hampered by White's column than by Welch's mission.

I find the column far from excellent.

Gary Snowden said...

Chuck,

Judging from comments that you have left on Brian Kaylor's blog that I also read, let me say that your response doesn't surprise me. Like many defenders of all things SBC, any critique of an action by the convention comes under your immediate fire. I personally would welcome the participation of as many SBC'ers as possible at next year's meeting in Atlanta, but I think most have already dismissed the gathering as a politically motivated, liberal get together. That's unfortunate.

White's column interprets Welch's mission in light of the facts--the SBC pulled out of the BWA and now is intent on establishing ties with Baptists overseas who they can try and win to their same fundamentalist/conservative mindset. The sad thing is that the issues that the SBC gets hung up on aren't even on the radar screen in most of those nations, and hoisting them up the flagpole to rally the troops around will only distract from the good work that so many conventions, unions, and other BWA-affiliated groups are currently doing.

Chuck said...

Gary,

Thank you for affirming the consistency of my comments. I attempt to be forthright and comment only when I feel strongly about the topic, thus I shouldn't surprise you.

Your and White's assumptions or "interpretations" of Bobby Welch's motive for his mission are as negative and unfortunate as you believe the SBC's views of the BWA and NewBapCov to be.

I'm not necessarily a "defender of all things SBC". My comments on this matter come from my limited personal association with Bobby Welch, who I believe to be one of the most gracious, endearing, hard-working, compassionate Christan leaders I've met. I expect that Welch "is intent on establishing ties with Baptists overseas who" will join other like-minded believers to try and win more lost people to the Lord.

My stated concern about the NewBap Cov is not that it's political or liberal, but that its identified leader and keynote speaker is President Carter. I wouldn't, and don't feel any true Baptist should, endorse any Carter-led movement under the banner "Baptist" unless and until his theological pluralism (as reported most recently by Newsweek and Rabbi Michael Lerner) is refuted.

I believe the clear message of the gospel must be central to all cooperative efforts which purport to offer to America a new, authentic, prophetic Baptist voice. As it stands, to hear Carter tell it, the new prophetic Baptist voice could just as well be Mormon or Jewish.