MBC theological panel begins work
JEFFERSON CITY – The ad hoc committee meeting to study the theological soundness of all relationships the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) has with non-political para-church ministries met for the first time Feb. 8 at the Baptist Building to set some boundaries around their work.
Members of the committee are: Kim Petty, laity, Grace Community Church, Smithville; Denny Marr, minister of education and administration, Calvary Baptist Church, Republic; David McAlpin, pastor, First Baptist Church, Harvester, St. Charles; Jeff White, pastor, South Creek Church, Springfield; and Chairman Michael Knight, pastor, First Baptist Church, Viburnum. Petty, Marr and Knight are also members of the MBC Executive Board.
McAlpin and White engaged in a spirited debate over the meaning of the phrase “sufficiency of Scripture.” Knight wondered whether the committee would like to attempt to hammer out a statement on this all-important phrase. The committee voted 4-1 to do so, with McAlpin opposed.
“I think that this issue of sufficiency of Scripture is one of several issues that seems to be in play,” McAlpin noted.
“The motion is to check theological soundness of non-political para-church organizations,” White said. “Sufficiency of Scripture, eternal judgment, the content of the Gospel, and methodology flowing from sound theology are all in play, as well as any other fundamental. Theology yields philosophy and philosophy yields methodology. We need to look into all of that.”
Knight asked a series of questions throughout the meeting that indicated that he, as chairman, was “open-minded,” as he put it, about what committee members wanted to do. He eventually got them to agree to contact other state Baptist conventions in Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and Oklahoma to see whether they have policies or guidelines in place concerning their professional staff members networking with other ministries. Petty agreed to gather that information for the committee.
“Kim Petty seemed to state it well in that other state conventions seem to be dealing with these issues,” Knight said. “Even we would admit that there seems to a measure of ambiguity even within the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message. So is the statement on Scripture (in the BF&M 2000) strong enough?”
The committee instructed MBC Executive Director David Clippard to compile a list of ministries the MBC is in relationship with so that the list can be reviewed at the committee’s next meeting March 1 at the Baptist Building. Clippard said there were “hundreds” of ministries in that category. White also requested that Clippard provide a list of all of the ministries involved with MBC Church Planting Strategist Mauricio Vargas.
On Feb. 8, Clippard sent out an email to all MBC specialists asking them to assist him in compiling the list. He mentioned such ministries as Crown Financial Ministries, Evangelism Explosion, Share Jesus Without Fear, Focus on the Family, Child Evangelism Fellowship and Olford School of Preaching as candidates for the list.
Committee members acknowledged that they are facing a large task. For example, how the MBC is relating to “the emerging church” is something that committee members do not wish to ignore. Petty, in particular, indicated she has done extensive research on that topic; Knight seemed inclined to allow her to present her material at a future meeting.
The chairman emphasized that February judgments on the outcome of the committee’s investigation would be premature. Their charge is to report their findings to the MBC Executive Board no later than the July meeting.
“We’re doing our homework,” Knight said. “We’re at a very early stage.”