Tolliver acknowledges complex issues facing MBC
By Allen Palmeri
November 9, 2004
RAYTOWN – David Tolliver used his presidential address to the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Oct. 25 at First Baptist Church, Raytown, to remind messengers that he does not have all of the answers.
“I have learned that those who think they know the most probably understand the least,” Tolliver said.
Tolliver referred to John 9:2, when the disciples asked Jesus to tell them whether a blind man or his parents sinned. Jesus replied, “Neither.” Tolliver tied this to the text of his message, Mark 2:1-12, in which the cause of a paralytic’s ailment was perplexing. The president said the MBC is faced with some perplexing problems these days.
“I have learned that the ministries of this convention, the issues that we deal with and the decisions the convention leaders have to make on a regular basis are all more complex than I thought they would be,” Tolliver said. “They are complex issues that require serious consideration, intense investigation and spiritual insight that comes only through prayer.
“Before I took this job, I thought I could handle it. Now that I’ve had it, I know none of us can.”
Tolliver said that single alignment, the constitutional process by which MBC churches are affirming theological fidelity in support of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the MBC’s effort to legally recover five renegade agencies are examples of perplexity. Adding to that perplexity is the fact that he, as MBC president, just spent an entire year working closely with those he disagrees with on 1 Corinthians 6, which Tolliver said should be interpreted as a passage that forbids Christians from suing Christians.
Tolliver, who serves as pastor of Pisgah Baptist Church, Excelsior Springs, said he has learned that Matthew 18 is another important Bible passage when it comes to the current Missouri Baptist situation.
“Some of you seem to think that the Legal Task Force is a group of war-mongering folks bent on the destruction of the Missouri Baptist Convention,” he said. “Others of you think we are your personal warriors fighting for you. Both of you are wrong.
“The Legal Task Force, a group that overwhelmingly disagrees with me on 1 Corinthians 6, is a group of some of the godliest people I have ever had the privilege to work with. They are not people who have chosen to disregard the Word of God. They are people who love the Word of God and love the God of the Word. They may differ with you on interpretation and application of a particular passage of Scripture, but you ought to be very careful before you attack their theology or their motives. I will ask you not to attack mine.”
Roger Moran, research director, Missouri Baptist Layman’s Association, said that Tolliver has been his very close friend throughout the Missouri Baptist conservative resurgence. Moran said Tolliver’s character and quality of honesty came through as he presided over the issues facing the 170th annual meeting.
“David is absolutely a man of character,” Moran said. “I have the utmost respect for him. One thing about David Tolliver: When he tells me something, I believe it.”
Tolliver told messengers Monday night he was asking for the insight of God and the demeanor of Jesus Christ throughout the convention. Moran recognized that as the type of honest, authentic communication he has come to expect from his good friend.
“I think he preaches from the heart,” Moran said. “With David Tolliver, what you see is what you get. There’s nothing fake, nothing artificial. He is who he is. He is a man of integrity.”
Before Tolliver’s sermon, his daughter, Terra Jo Boucher, and wife, Myra, both sang solos. David and Myra Tolliver have been married for 32 years. They were joined on the platform by their son, Adam.
Tolliver was succeeded as MBC president by Mitchell Jackson, pastor, Miner Baptist Church, Sikeston. Mitchell and Cindy Jackson, a member of the MBC Executive Board, have been married nearly 28 years.