Good news! and some questions…


In a welcome turn of events, Don Hinkle is reporting that as he understands it, the Missouri Baptist Convention is going to work to continue funding at least one of the Acts 29 churches that it had appeared to have cut ties with. He states that MBC ExComm members, and Dr. David Tolliver both want to fulfill their previously made commitments. That is welcome and good news! Don Hinkle is one of my favorite people in MBC life. I have never, in fact, had a conversation with him that I did not thoroughly enjoy. I disagree with him at times, but I have found him to be an extremely thoughtful, well spoken individual who I very much enjoy knowing. Having said that, I do have a few questions about the rest of the post.

Don continues his post by saying that one of the churches – Karis Community, I believe – may or may not continue to receive funding. If this is true, I think it is appropriate to ask why one will continue to receive funding and the other will potentially not?

Finally, Hinkle makes a comment that I find interesting. Hinkle says,

I also believe the convention is not that far from peace. Now that the Acts 29 issue has been settled I think the prospect for a peace — leading to much-needed unity — is within our reach. I heard many board members say Dec. 10 that they feel healing has begun. There will no doubt be attempts by people who hate us to disrupt that process. We are theological conservatives and while we may not agree on every theological issue, we agree on the essentials and the need for us to continue to work together and support one of the greatest missions-giving operations ever created — the Cooperative Program.

I think there are a couple problems with that statement.

First, in my mind the Acts 29 issue is far from settled. While I love my MBC brethren, and I am hopeful that we can find a better resolution in the future, I also believe that if those who made this decision are of the opinion that we who disagree will simply fade into the background now, because their decision is finalized, they are sadly mistaken. This decision is a blow to biblical faithfulness, in my opinion, and as such cannot be left alone. My commitment to the sufficiency of God’s word and my commitment to living under its authority alone, will not allow me to simply sit idly by. To believe that this issue is settled appears to be naive, it seems to me.

Secondly, to claim that “we are theological conservatives and while we may not agree on every theological issue, we agree on the essentials and the need for us to continue to work together and support one of the greatest missions-giving operations ever created — the Cooperative Program.” after having just watched us cut ties with a faithful church planting organization and commit to pulling Cooperate Program funds from effective Southern Baptist churches, seems to be a strange statement. I agree with Don that the CP is the greatest funding mechanism in existence, but I am of the opinion that this recent decision stands in stark contrast to everything he has claimed in that statement. Rather than theological conservatives rallying around essentials, we are pulling apart over non-essentials. We will need further clarification for this “healing” to occur. Healing, in my opinion, cannot occur until there is a coming together by both parties. In this instance, it appears that one side is pulling away and then asking that we come over to them so that healing may occur. I’m sorry, but I am not as confident that we will see that happen.

So today has brought good news and then some questions as well. We will have to wait and see what continues to happen.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He's Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he's a debtor to grace.

24 thoughts on “Good news! and some questions…

  1. I’m the pastor-teacher at Believer’s Church in Hannibal and so far I haven’t heard anything from the MBC about our funding being reinstated. However, it would seem inappropriate to me to reinstate funding for only one and not both of us since neither of us have broken our agreements with the MBC.

  2. I appreciate your assessment here, Micah. And I agree with you:

    This decision is a blow to biblical faithfulness, in my opinion, and as such cannot be left alone.

  3. Parts of the cited statement immediatly brought to my (twisted) mind that Hitler brought peace among the German populace, unless you happened to be a Jew, of course.

    I am not comparing any Missouri Baptist to Hitler or Nazis or anything of the sort. But that statement WAS asinine.

  4. Micah:

    You raise some good points and questions that must be answered if there is going to be any meaningful unity among brethren who hope to work together after this fiasco settles down.

    Sam:

    I find it strange that you know nothing about this that Don has reported. This story keeps getting curiouser and curiouser! Keep the faith!

    ta

  5. Sam-

    I’m curious to know what your response to the apparent activity by the ExComm will be?

    Do you have freedom to share?

  6. Well, it now appears that Don Hinkle is the official spokesman for the Missouri Baptist Convention. In both his original post and one of his comments, he speaks for Dr. Tolliver and the intentions of the Executive Board.

    That bothers me almost as much as A-29 issue itself since Mr. Hinkle’s overview of events seems to be, at best, colored by his personal views.

    DID Dr. Tolliver speak against the A-29 motion? Mr. Hinkle implies that he was for it, but I’ve been told by an Ex. Bd. member that he recommended it’s defeat (just as Darrin Patrick has, apparently, heard). I also find it interesting the the position of the president, Gerald Davidson was not reported….

    This motion did not come through regular committee channels — the church planting workgroup of the Church Outreach Committee never considered this action prior to it being brought to the full board. Is that a problem? YES. We are asked by our leaders to trust the system of boards, trustees, committees that we have in place; but then those same leaders are willing to work outside this same process.

    I truly don’t know how anyone can speak for continuing funding for a church (or churches) associated with A-29 when the Ex. Bd. won’t meet until April…WOW. So much for doing things the “Southern Baptist way”.

    I’ll close with an apology to all for you cynical attitude and somewhat sarcastic comments.

    Charles Brazeale
    Neosho, MO

  7. Oops — That last sentence should read, “I’ll close with an apology to all for MY cynical attitude and somewhat (well, OK, quite) sarcastic coments.

    Charles Brazeale
    Neosho, MO

  8. Bob,

    “Parts of the cited statement immediatly brought to my (twisted) mind that Hitler brought peace among the German populace, unless you happened to be a Jew, of course.

    I am not comparing any Missouri Baptist to Hitler or Nazis or anything of the sort. But that statement WAS asinine.”

    IF you are not comparing my brother, why even bring it up? It seems to me that you are comparing the two, but you want us to go easy on you since you really are not. “Let you yes be yes, and your no be no.” Really, to even mention in the same breath mass murderers to brothers in Christ who are in the wrong is a bit beneath us. I hope and pray that the rhetoric subsides a bit into a little more brotherly love and concern.

    Rob

  9. Just as a service…

    Link to story in Pathway about Hannibal Acts 29 church

    I used to love you once…Your Pal, MBC

    And connecting a few interesting dots…
    Acts 29 event featuring former MBC church plant strategist / current MBC church pastor

    FYI – Ron Cathcart is Gerald Davidson’s son-in-law. I too would be interested in the vote from the ExComm.

    Very small disclosure…Pastor Davidson is my former pastor. Awesome man of God. His son-in-law is likewise. I love my former church FBC Arnold…with no qualifiers, and no but’s…

    What’s weird is that I have American Baptist friends (former SBC) who actually giggle when they ponder what kind of SBC/MBC universe we’re in where Gerald Davidson is labeled the moderate.

  10. Rob…

    Give Bob a break. He wears pink hats (original post with background here), and lives in Alabama. 🙂

    In all seriousness, Bob is a great Christian brother, and I know he didn’t intend to compare Missouri Baptists to Nazis.

    I thought his point was crystal clear… this action does anything but bring peace and unity, unless you’re of the opinion that Acts 29 has no place in Missouri Baptist life. I guess if your intent is to drive them out by treating Acts 29 churches and supporters as second-class citizens of the MBC, then yeah… maybe we will have peace and unity one day… after everyone of that particular persuasion leaves.

    Perhaps my comments are too harsh as well, so I apologize if I’ve offended anyone.

  11. John,

    I am not of the opinion that Acts 29 has no place in MBC – in fact contraire. I am of the opinion that Nazi analogies have no place in civil Christian conversation or debate for it is improper and reprehensible, and it debases the true victims of the Nazi horror. Acts 29 church planters have merely lost MBC funding. The Nazi victims lost their lives horrendously in mass murder.

    Rob

  12. I hate to be the guy that butt’s into a current conversation without knowing the facts and then tries to offer input. Then again, I am “that” guy. I can’t stand it anymore so I have to ask, “What is an Acts 29 Church and what was MBC’s problem with them?”

    Please forgive the ignorant.

  13. Ron-

    Acts 29 is a church planting network. They don’t fund church planters, but they do provide training and networking for them. Supposedly the issue with Acts 29 is that they endorse drinking and alcohol usage. If you read their theological statement, however, that argument doesn’t hold water. It’s particularly inaccurate when you understand that the Acts 29 guys here in Missouri have also signed alcohol abstinence policies and they regularly teach about the dangers of alcohol use.

    What is most disconcerting about this move by the MBC ExComm is that when asked how many of them were familiar with Acts 29 and their policies, only a small handful recognized that they were even familiar with them. They voted, however, to discontinue fellowship without knowing what they (Acts 29) stand for.

    All of that leads me to say that it’s difficult to know why the MBC would disfellowship, if you will, Acts 29. It can be argued that this is about control, but even then I’m not certain.

    I would encourage you to read this article, by conservative MBC pastor David Kreuger. It sums up the experience very well, I think.

  14. Debbie,

    I respectfully disagree. This WAS only a matter of funding, and said churches were NOT removed from fellowship. If I am not mistaken, it would take a vote of the convention to remove a church form fellowship (or unseat messengers). These Acts29 plants are free to contribute to the Cooperative Program, send messengers to the Annual Meeting, and function as all of the other MBC churches do, provided they are legal churches and not in “mission” status. (Someone correct me if I am wrong)

    I hate to sound reactionary, but 200 years ago, the decisions of elders in a church or Association were respected and honored. Maybe not agreed with, but respected. Such immediate public ridicule was not the norm. (I know many of you can site many examples to the contrary—but in general) The point is, Don Hinkle is right. The matter IS settled…..for now. Our elected reps have made the decision for us….whether you like it or not. And the fact remains, that funding is no longer an issue. The churches 2008 budgets are not in jeopardy–infact, I would be willing to bet that the controversy has sparked giving beyond the initial losses.

    So I would submit that we stop denigrating our EC, cling to the principle of the SBC-CR, stop the “wide-tent” rhetoric, get over ourselves, and begin good Christian dialogue (one on one) with the board members to educate them on our…err…YOUR position. The issue IS settled. Now lets look to the future. Does it really need to include Acts29? Let us debate this. Discuss this, and decide if this is the best thing for the MBC. And if it does not go your way…….do not blacklist our leaders, our convention or the CP. There is always another day….and God’s work will always go on unimpeded, regardless of our how bad we all mess up.

    K

  15. Dear K,

    I agree with you in one instance “God’s work will always go on unimpeded.” With the rest, I am at a loss.

    A vote of the Executive Board does not settle the issue. The issue becomes settled in Baptist life on the floor of the Convention by vote of the messengers. That is the Baptist way. Church committees have no power to settle church disputes. Only the church does. The same is extrapolated to Baptist bodies. If you believe that this has been settled one iota, then you are sadly mistaken.

    The main issue before us now is clearly integrety. Is it Biblical to suspend covenants made in good faith with church planters – to cut off funding to them, not because of any thing they have personally done, but because they have networked with an association that some within that association has done something sinful or wrong? And to suspend this money one week after Christmas is shameful, regardless if others have provided funds to cover their loss or not – your argument here is a non-sequitor. These men have families to feed. Do you support your leadership when they have done these things, and are now scrambling because “pragmatically” they have been called on the carpet for it? Are you suggesting that we should “blindly” follow leadership because they are always right, and support them in violation of God’s Word and our conscience?

    Don Hinkle is wrong. In respect to him, he spends too much time in the Baptist builiding and among those he agrees with, and spends little time where the churches are unless he is invited to speak with them. He listens very little from my perspective. As our editor, and our elected representatives on the EB, each of these is accountable to the churches – would you not agree? So if the messengers dispute and object to the report of the Executive Board and vote to overturn it, will you then side with the messengers and say “they did the right thing”? I suspect not. I will not blacklist leaders, but merely say “you did the wrong thing.” You however need to ask yourself this question, “How many churches need to leave the convention before we stop these destructive practices?”

    Debbie,

    I being from Missouri and being a Missouri pastor with contacts within the Executive Board know of what I speak generally. And while the postings on bulletin boards have brought all sort of ridicule and aspertion from bloggers and posters, I am of the mind that we all have problems as Baptists in churches, conventions, and associations – yet we are each autonomous. I would no more put my nose in the business of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma or make comments of the problems associated with them than all the amount of money in the world (and beleive me, being a former pastor of a church in Oklahoma, I could write a book). Whatever happened to “praying for you folks to settle your differences in God’s peace?”

    Rob

  16. Rob,

    Thank you for your heartfelt reply. Here is the thing. I do not believe this will be overturned on the floor of the Convention. This is not about alcohol. This is about Baptists planting Baptist churches. The Journey is not a Baptist church. Neither is Karis and others. They might have pastors who have graduated from SBC Seminaries, they might even hold to all the same doctrine, but if they do not consider themselves to be Baptist then they are not. And I assure you members of the Journey that I know, do not consider themselves Baptist. I find this to be a problem. Biblically we are to contend for a faith once for all. Baptistically we are to reproduce ourselves. Just like Catholics and Pentecostals reproduce “after their kind.” I have no problem at all with non/trans-denominational churches existing and lacking a teaching against alcohol. I admit that God will use them to reach some who would not come to him in other ways. But it is not the method which saves, but the Maker.

    I do not want my CP dollars going to support plants of Acts29 or any other denominational group for that matter. Many Missouri Baptists agree with me…or rather I with them. The Cooperative Program till belongs to the members of the Conventions. Not Mark Driscoll, Darrin Patrick, and the Acts29 Brothers.

    Lastly, I have nothing but respect for Mr. Hinkle. He is your brother. You might want to discourse with him offline and fix this division before your church’s next Lord’s Supper. Not necessary, but sure can’t hurt.

    Oh, and I am perfectly willing to reduce the size of the MBC to such a number as to maintain biblical purity on the essentials. We did it once, and now the CP is nearly back to its all time high.

    Lastly, abstinence form alcohol is not a biblical mandate, but it is most certainly a good biblical principle. I can tell you from experience that we would all do well to preach this with fervency. This is in no way contrary to Sola Scripture.
    ihs,
    Kevin

  17. K,

    You did not answer my questions but avoided them, and frankly I will not allow you to change the subject. You avoided the conflict of Biblical integrety, of not supporting covenants made in good faith with church planters who themselves have not broken the covenants they entered into with the Convention. Acts29 is not a denomination – it is a loose network established mainly as a support group and training for church and church planters – training mind you that even many SBC leaders and seminary professors have provided to Acts29. Each of the two MBC church plants that recieve CP money from the Convention has entered into covenant with the MBC, and have each promised to adhere to the guidelines of denominational accountability, which includes an abstinence position. If these church planters have broken the covenant, then by all means defund them – the issue before us is they have not, so in the name of the churches the EB has broken holy covenant with them. Do you really wish to stand before God with this?

    This reaction by the EB is premature, by all means nuclear, very political, and lacks Christian love and charity – and listen to me my brother – it will not stand. Get your head out of the sand. Do you want to know what the churches think about it? Whose officers were elected at the last convention meeting? And thus this is how this dispute should be settled: on the Convention floor with the messengers of the churches having the final say. The debate will end, the dispute will end, and then the churches can decide if their voluntary cooperation with the MBC will remain, or go elsewhere.

    Brother K – listen to me closely here – CP funds should not be used as a political football – once they leave the hands of the giver they are to be used for the glory of God. To suggest that you are still in control of them is tantamount to blasphemy. Just who exactly should deal with something before the next Lord’s Supper exactly?

    You assume too much. I have no problem with Don. I just believe he is wrong, and way far too political, and way far too opinionated as to the fractional disputes within the Missouri Baptist Convention.

    How many good conservative churches must leave the convention for you to find biblical purity to your liking? And if so, should we allow you the final say for you to be more comfortable with that?

    Rob

  18. “And if so, should we allow you the final say for you to be more comfortable with that?”

    lol Interestingly enough, I would love nothing more, save than to see all who are lost to come to know Christ. But I am smart enough to know that I do not hold all the answers.

    I am going to overlook the “head in the sand” comment and the you “not allowing me to” comment. I will however try and answer your questions.

    As to the integrity issue. Your are 100% correct. However, it appears to me that if Mr. Hinkle is correct, this issue will be resolved before January 1st, and all commitments will be honored. Thus, the initial neglect is being rectified and we should be careful in questioning the integrity of our Board until their action is final and consummated.

    As to how this will be settled: I would urge you and others who desire to bring this before the floor, to settle this before hand. Our convention floor has always been a nasty place to stand. Some of our greatest churches operate in board rooms under Holy Spirit’s guidance, and then have peaceful business meetings (my church, under the leadership of Scott Perry is one of them).

    SOC had good intentions. Their slate of candidates were all great men in their own right. But did not the new President side with the board on this one? I do not have time to dig up a quote by him, but I think he did. Anyway, I am not so much into the politics. I am not even a fan of Moran and the Laymen’s Association. I still think we can all get together and solve this like good Christians. And one thing we are going to have to do is redefine who and what the MBC is. We are going to have to define what it means to be a member. (I submit 5% minimum UD to the CP and church wide affirmation of the BFM2K). Then let us focus only on mission. Let us cut back the Convention staff, and operation the Convention by the will and Authority of the churches who give to the CP. Then, we need to be more loving to all forms of biblical ecclesiology and not forget the little red-brick graying church who got us here to begin with. All of our churches need to focus on family worship just as much as segmented worship.

    Lastly, I am not sure if every MBC plant has an MBC sponsoring church, but if they don’t they should. So a simple solution is for the MBC to always forward CP funds to the sponsoring church for distribution to ITS plant. I am not sure the MBC needs to be planting churches directly. Then, the issue of Acts29 falls to the discretion of the Sponsor church alone. The point is to change the role of the convention to an advisory one in the area of strategic planning and needs assessment to assist local churches plant, and to forward planting funds n a needs basis.

    I just spent an hour in my DOM’s office discussing this matter. He is of the opinion that The Journey is more biblical in their approach in some ways than many of our own churches in our association (this after visiting there twice). I can very well say, after hearing him, that I might very well be shooting from the hip in some regards. I intend to visit he Journey rather than take the words of others. That being said, what they do is not my concern to a point. I do not question the theology of Patrick. I am just not in favor of the MBC supporting like churches who do not consider themselves Southern Baptists.

    Anyway, I have to run, email me any further concerns you might have as to not keep this going on Micah’s blog. I am praying for discernment on this matter. I hope all Missouri Baptist’s (and those pastors benefiting from the CP do as well.)

    Kevin

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