Missouri CBF/BGCM using questionable tactics
Don HinklePathway Editor
September 9, 2003
It is has been said that a man can build a staunch reputation for honesty by admitting he was in error, especially when he gets caught at it.
Perhaps it is time for leaders of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri (BGCM) and its beleaguered sidekick, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) of Missouri, to "come clean" before Southern Baptists in the "Show Me" state. Honesty is a worthy virtue.
If you haven’t read guest columnist Mitchell Jackson’s revealing article, perhaps you should do so now.
For sometime Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) leaders have suspected that BGCM and CBF Missouri operatives were visiting pastors and lay leaders in an attempt to persuade their churches to leave the MBC and join the BGCM. There is no written agreement, but it has always been understood that Southern Baptists do not raid one another’s churches. It is one thing for the Jehovah’s Witness or the Mormons to recruit, but it is a different matter when it is a supposedly fellow Southern Baptist – or a virulent strain of Baptist.
And it’s not just that the BGCM’s representative showed up to try to lure Miner Baptist Church from the MBC, but that the very act contradicts the vision statement adopted by BGCM members on April 21, 2002.
In part, the vision statement says: The BGCM "will welcome inquiries and requests for information" from churches and individuals, and that "we do not intend to actively recruit congregations."
Somebody has some explaining to do.
MBC leaders have received an increasing number of reports of pockets of pro-CBF/BGCM supporters attempting to sow discord among pro-MBC/SBC congregations throughout the state. Battles between these opposing groups have boiled over at the association level as well, with Heartland Baptist Association splitting and at least one other, Mineral Area Baptist Association, on the verge of a volcanic eruption. Others are brewing.
No doubt pro-CBF and BGCM leaders would deny having anything to do with such things, yet there is no doubt that it is happening and appear to be at the root of this latest round of mischief. If the pro-CBF/BGCM leaders do not condone such un-Christ-like clandestine activity, then why not publicly say so?
Don’t hold your breath for an answer.
It is this kind of behavior that stirred the once silent majority known as conservatives (Missouri Southern Baptists the BGCM and CBF Missouri leaders have pejoratively referred to as "fundamentalists" as in "The Taliban" as one moderate leader out of St. Louis once put it) to the point that they began showing up and voting at state conventions. The result, for horrified "moderates," was a loss of power in the MBC. Knowing they – and the trustee boards and convention committees they packed with multiple members from their handful of controlling churches — were about to be shown the door, they illegally seized control of the five breakaway agencies with which MBC churches are demanding returned.
Someone once said that trying to get a handle on the moderates in this state is like trying to grab Jell-O. Such is the case when some claim to believe the Bible while others run along side homosexual activists, like the 40 percent of the messengers who voted for a more tolerant view of the sinful lifestyle at a recent CBF general assembly meeting.
I am reminded of BGCM leader Randy Fullerton, who on the evening that he and his colleagues approved their vision statement gushed: "We need some people who are willing to trust each other and work together for the Kingdom of God. There is no place for politics in the church."
Now mind you, this is the same Randy Fullerton who stood before MBC messengers and said Missouri Baptist College trustees would not go self-perpetuating, then just a short-time later, while chairing those same trustees, they voted to go – you guessed it — self-perpetuating.
There appears to be a pattern of behavior here.
If one visits the BGCM Web site you see that "moderates" are claiming to "partner" with Hannibal-LaGrange College and Southwest Baptist University. Yet the presidents of both institutions have said no such partnership exists. I find the whole thing curious. I cannot imagine Fee Fee Baptist Church or First Baptist Church, Farmington (two of only a handful of churches that have joined the BGCM), hiring any of the future "fundamentalist" preacher boys that will come out of both schools. It is more their style to crow about their partnership with non-SBC theological schools like Mercer University in Georgia, where the president has denied the deity of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the most despicable example of the Missouri CBF/BGCM "smoke-and-mirrors" tactics came at a time when they were trying to raise $250,000 to get Harlan Spurgeon elected MBC president. The pro-CBF Spurgeon, while "stumping" for votes around the state, attempted to use the "Mediscare" language utilized by Democrats to frighten senior citizens into voting against Republicans. Only this time it was Spurgeon and the "moderates" using it to frighten Southern Baptists in Missouri to keep them from voting for his conservative opponent. (As you recall it didn’t work and Robert Collins flattened him at the convention.)
"Baptist Home applicants could be denied access to The Baptist Home if they don’t give (to the) right (ministries and) if we allow the present conservatives to advance their agenda," Spurgeon told about 40 attendees at a rally at Black Jack Baptist Church in St. Louis during the 2000 campaign.
Notice the nuanced language and — one word in particular: "could." I guarantee that if an 85-year-old heard Spurgeon; the word "could" was not zeroed-in on amid his rhetoric. Very cunning, unless you realize with what you are dealing.
Such behavior has not abated, surfacing most recently in some Baptist Home promotional literature given to senior citizens. The mission statement says: "The Baptist Home Ministries for the Aging is an extension of the Churches of the Missouri Baptist Convention."
I bet that comes as a shock to Southern Baptists in this state victimized by "moderate" Baptist Home trustees, who have betrayed Missouri Baptist churches by illegally amending the Baptist Home charter, giving themselves sole responsibility in naming their successors while arrogantly refusing to submit to the authority of the church. Once again, notice the nuanced language, "extension of the Churches of the Missouri Baptist Convention."
Unfortunately there are too many in this state who for too long have been unaware of – or unwilling to confront — such shenanigans. If the "moderates" in this state want to form a new convention, I say, "God bless you" and "go for it." But why sow discord among Missouri Baptist churches?
If Missouri Baptists want to join a convention that lives under a tent of "diversity" that includes pro-homosexual activists, Bible-bashers and slick talkers, then have at it. But if Missouri Baptists want to be part of a convention committed to planting 100 new churches a year for the next 10 years, evangelizing Missouri and the world through partnerships with nations like Romania and Iraq, supporting colleges, universities and seminaries committed to teaching the Bible as the inerrant, infallible Word of God, then the MBC and SBC is the place.