Board was right on CP dollars, Acts 29 plants
Given the untruthful diatribes being spread on the Internet and impression left by the liberal St. Louis Post-Dispatch, one would think the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board was a group of legalistic morons.
On the Internet and through the secular media in recent days the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board and Interim Executive Director David Tolliver have been likened to “a cult,” compared to Mormons, Unitarians, and followers of the late David Koresh, and accused of throwing pastors and their families out on the street at Christmas.
There are a handful of vocal church planters and their supporters who are mad because of the Executive Board’s recent decision to not provide Cooperative Program dollars to church plants affiliated with the Acts 29 Network. Presently there are nine church plants in the MBC that are working with Acts 29, but only two are receiving Cooperative Program dollars from the Convention. Six are being supported by local churches and associations. The Executive Board’s action has nothing to do with them because of the Southern Baptist tenet of local church autonomy. In addition, the MBC will continue to honor the controversial $200,000 loan made to The Journey church in St. Louis, whose pastor is a high-ranking officer in the Acts 29 Network.
One angry Acts 29 church planter accused the Executive Board of being “political.” Last time I checked Southern Baptist polity lent itself to being “political.” We caucus, we vote, the majority prevails and we move on. Ever been to a Wednesday night business meeting at your local church?
Another one of the more outrageous claims by the Acts 29 crowd is that the MBC will next embark on a “witch hunt” targeting Calvinists. There is no basis for this outlandish accusation. At least eight of the 28 MBC Executive Board members who voted not to fund Acts 29 church plants with Cooperative Program gifts are Calvinists! Many more are strongly Calvinistic.
This was not a political decision, though the means with which it was carried out was political. The Executive Board’s decision, which passed by about a 3-1 margin, was based on the fact that all MBC-affiliated churches that give to the Cooperative Program, could not agree on whether funds should be provided to church plants tied to Acts 29. The sticking point had to do with methodology and Acts 29’s perceived “softness” on alcohol and other issues deemed not in step with Southern Baptists.
The Acts 29 group and their supporters, which include a growing number of bitter moderates once in the MBC, believe the Executive Board’s action – based on the alcohol issue – is extra-biblical. They try to justify alcohol consumption from a sufficiency of Scripture point of view. They say because there is no prohibition against consumption of alcoholic beverages in moderation in Scripture, it is therefore, not a sin.
Historically, most Southern Baptists disagree. Scripture does not specifically ban cannibalism, but it is a settled matter in the minds of orthodox Christians. Southern Baptists have led the way in the fight against alcoholism and between the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the MBC, the two have passed more than 100 resolutions condemning the use of alcohol. At the MBC’s most recent meeting, messengers passed by a 503-360 margin a resolution against alcohol consumption. The Acts 29 crowd opposed the resolution.
All debate aside, this whole “stink” over the Executive Board’s action – which only directly affects two church plants – boils down to this: Does the MBC Executive Board have the right to decide how MBC-affiliated churches’ Cooperative Program dollars are going to be spent? The obvious answer is “yes,” because any other answer results in the dissolution of the Convention which, by the way, some people want. Of course we’ve been down that road and it did not work. We can always do more together than we can individually. That is the genius of the Cooperative Program.
The Acts 29 issue has become divisive in Missouri – and Southern – Baptist life. It would appear it is time for some people to ask themselves this: Is being involved with the Acts 29 Network more important than supporting the MBC, SBC and the Cooperative Program of worldwide missions?