Confronting trouble at the church’s doorstep
September 9, 2003
On Aug. 28, around 3 p.m., I was standing in the outer office, when I saw Jim Barnhart, our associate pastor, waving at a young man. As I entered the conversation I noticed that Jim was actually telling the man to turn around and that we were not interested in the material he was trying to deliver.
The young man was dressed in a white pull over shirt with the logo for the Baptist General Convention of Missouri (BGCM) embroidered on it and had a handful of BGCM materials. It turns out that this young man was a pastor who had traveled here from the other side of the state to try to entice our church into joining the BGCM.
I immediately let him know that we were a conservative church that supports the Southern Baptist Convention and the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). I told him he was wasting his time because we were in total disagreement with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and the BGCM. He stated that he too was a conservative and was not associated with the CBF. He went on to state that the BGCM was not associated with the CBF in any way. He even went so far as to say that very few BGCM churches even give money to the CBF. He said his church gives to Southern Baptist causes through the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT). I pointed out that much of the BGCM leadership had been or was currently involved in the CBF, but he denied that as well.
I told him that I believed what he was doing was wrong. Then I asked him this: Why is there a need for another convention in Missouri?
He said he disagreed with the lawsuits that the convention has against the five entities. I pointed out that the MBC’s legal action was in response to the deceit and lawbreaking by the trustees and leaders of those entities. When pressed about the illegal actions of the five entities, he did not believe that they had done anything wrong.
The last question I asked was, "Why are you out trying to steal churches from the MBC instead of starting your own?" He really couldn’t give me a satisfactory answer.
At the end of our visit I told him that I recognized him as a Christian brother and would pray for him, but we were not interested.
I believe that this young pastor is very sincere about his stand, but I believe that he is sincerely wrong. Either he is very misinformed, or was trying to whitewash the truth about the BGCM.
First of all, he was wrong about the BGCM leadership. In response to the MBC, CBF supporters in Missouri and their political "arm," known as Mainstream Missouri Baptists, decided to form a new state convention – the BGCM. Many of the recorded participants in the BGCM’s organizational meeting had ties to Mainstream Missouri Baptists and the CBF. Glen Haddock, Charles Davis and Martin Barker, three Mainstream board members, were elected to the BGCM’s board of directors, along with Nan Olmsted, a former member of the Missouri CBF’s Coordinating Council.
Secondly, He was wrong to try to steal sheep. I wonder how this pastor would feel if the neighboring pastor got a list of all his members and began to visit them one by one to convince them to leave the church he pastors and join a new church. Most pastors would be appalled! We all know that God never blesses sheep stealing whether we are talking about individuals or churches!
He was also wrong about the five entities. I believe that the leadership of these entities saw the handwriting on the wall concerning the reclamation of the MBC. They saw that the majority of Missouri Southern Baptists, who have always been theologically conservative in their views, were elected to leadership positions. I believe that the leaders and trustees of the five entities thought, "If we can’t have control of the MBC, then we will take the institutions."
The rules, which they governed by for so many years while controlling MBC leadership positions and ministries became obsolete when the MBC was reclaimed by the majority. They decided to rewrite the rules; go against the legal charters of the entities; and deny the direct wishes of MBC churches to take control of these institutions for themselves. No one likes a lawsuit. Unfortunately these entities have been unwilling to go to binding Christian arbitration and the law is the only means by which we might reclaim that which has been wrongfully taken.
Many of us have been in this battle for the Bible for a long time. We welcome the so-called moderates and liberals in the BGCM and CBF forming their own conventions and going their own way. Unfortunately, they still claim to be Southern Baptist, too. They want the identity of a Southern Baptist with out holding to the biblical principles Southern Baptist believe. They cry and moan about the "over throw and take over" of the SBC and MBC, but fail to recognize and admit Southern Baptists in Missouri have reclaimed our heritage!
They have done their best over the last few years to redefine what we should be and what we should believe. They label themselves as conservatives and blast conservative Fundamentalists. I am proud to be a Fundamentalist. I believe in the fundamentals of the faith and the inerrancy of Scripture. My Bible has not changed! The truths in it have not changed! What is right has not changed and I am glad to stand with the MBC for what is right. (Mitchell L. Jackson is senior pastor, Miner Baptist Church, Sikeston.)