On Facts and Fallacies
by David E. Hankins, VP for Cooperative Program
February 6, 2002

Marv Knox, editor of the Baptist Standard, has accused Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, of "over stepping his bounds." Where did this overstepping occur? It was, supposedly, in a letter Chapman sent to leaders of Southern Baptist churches in Texas in which, according to Knox, he misled his readers, didn't tell the whole story, took sides, and generally distorted the record of the BGCT. Certainly, opines Mr. Knox, Baptists deserve to have facts, not fallacies. Yes, Mr. Knox, they do, but let's see just who is getting their facts straight, and who is not.

Before I make a comparison between Chapman's and Knox's comments, allow me to state clearly why Chapman's mailout was sent in the first place.

The Baptist General Convention of Texas, by official action in its budgeting processes in 2001 and 2002, is trying to dissuade Southern Baptist churches in Texas from their long-term financial support of SBC ministries. Chapman's mailout is an attempt to inform the churches that the BGCT has instituted serious changes in the Cooperative Program, to explain why the changes are bad, and to encourage the churches to do something about it. If the BGCT had not unilaterally broken 75 year-old agreements with the SBC in ways intended to harm the SBC, the letter would not have been necessary.

Entire copies of both pieces are available for inspection and comparison, and can be found at

http://baptist2baptist.net/b2barticle.asp?ID=33
and
http://www.baptiststandard.com/2002/2_4/pages/editorial2.html

Let's analyze them and see who has the facts. The "complaints" are from Knox's editorial; the "answers" are from Chapman's mail out and include my comments.

1. COMPLAINT:

Knox says Chapman misleads his readers by praising the "SBC's response to the Sept. 11 tragedy" when "nearly all of these volunteers were recruited by and through the state conventions, not the national convention." Knox accuses Chapman of trying to "take credit" for work done by others.

ANSWER: Chapman does not try to "take credit" for the Southern Baptist Convention. He does not refer to the "SBC' but to "Southern Baptists." That's all of us regardless of church, association, or state convention affiliation. Look at the letter. He says, "Where were Southern Baptists…?" "Southern Baptist volunteers…" "Southern Baptist family..." While he points out some actions of people in an official SBC position or assignment (e.g., Baptist Press), he is expressing gratitude for the ministries of pastors and those who gave money and time, and who prayed. And he is expressing thanks for "our churches, our denominational structure, the Cooperative Program…" which includes a working relationship with state conventions, association, etc. (By the way, is Knox trying to take credit away from associations and churches when he says the volunteers were "Texas Baptists?" Why were they not "Dallas" Baptists or First Baptist Church Baptists?) This is an example of trying to divide people when there is no division necessary.

The common understanding is that our denominational designation is "Southern Baptist" regardless of our state or associational or church affiliation. I was reared in Texas. I was saved, baptized, called to preach, licensed, ordained, and married in a Baptist church in Texas. I pastored three Baptist churches in Texas. All these churches were affiliated with the SBC, the BGCT, and a local association. But when someone asked me my denominational affiliation, I never said "Texas Baptist" or "Hunt County" Baptist. I was a Southern Baptist. All over the USA, in 40,000 plus congregations, 1,200 plus associations, and 42 regional conventions/fellowships, the membership is made up of "Southern" Baptists. These are the people for which Dr. Chapman was expressing gratitude when he wrote,

"Southern Baptists, like our whole nation, had to reach deeply into our faith and resources to respond to this crisis. But we did not have to invent a way to minister. By the grace of God and the faithfulness of our people, our ministry framework (human resources, financial ability, communications networks, equipment and material, etc.) was already in place on 9/11. How thankful I am for our churches, our denominational structure, the Cooperative Program, and our convictions and commitments. We were ready to be used by God."

2. COMPLAINT:

Says Knox: "He also seeks to lead readers to erroneous conclusions about funding. Chapman's letter would lead readers to believe the BGCT had taken more than $1 million from the 'national strategy' of the mission board. In fact, the 2002 state convention budget only redirects the money the mission board would have sent back to Texas. The new budget eliminates red tape and speeds up funding for mission work in Texas, where that money would have wound up anyway."

ANSWER: The BGCT has taken more than $1 million from the national strategy of the NAMB. In previous years, 1) the churches gave their gifts, 2) the BGCT forwarded a set percentage to the SBC, 3) the SBC forwarded the budgeted amount to the NAMB, 4) the NAMB sent money to each state convention according to a national strategy.

It is erroneous to equate the money that comes from the churches in a state with the money that NAMB grants to the state convention for joint ministries. For the BGCT to keep an amount of money roughly equal to its previous year's Cooperative Agreement with NAMB presumes that the churches gave to the SBC Cooperative Program expecting to get a specified amount back in Texas, which is not so. The churches are not so crass. It also presumes NAMB will have a strategy for Texas costing the same amount as the previous year. But most importantly, this "new" BGCT practice removes NAMB's opportunity to include those funds in planning its overall national strategy, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT CHAPMAN WROTE. I quote, "this year the BGCT Cooperative Giving Budget redirects over a million dollars from money the churches had previously earmarked for the North American Mission Board. BGCT leaders say they want to direct this money for Texas mission work by themselves. I believe most Baptists in Texas recognize the value of the national strategy of our North American Mission Board and desire to continue the historic partnership." That's a fact!

3. COMPLAINT:

Knox: "Despite what Chapman implies, the BGCT still is likely to provide about $9 million to the mission board--still the largest contribution of any state convention."

ANSWER: You talk about having your facts wrong! The BGCT does not give one red cent to the mission board or to the SBC. The SBC gets its money the same place the BGCT does -from the churches. If the BGCT listened to the churches more closely, it could have avoided this controversy. The fact is less than 25% of Baptist churches in Texas utilized the BGCT adopted budget in 2001. Why? It did not allocate the gifts to the SBC the way they desired.

Another thing: it seems quite disingenuous to boast about how large an amount of money comes to the SBC from Texas churches through the BGCT office when the churches are giving contrary to the advice of the BGCT. Yes, the churches are being very faithful to SBC ministries-but no thanks to the BGCT.

4. COMPLAINT:

Knox: "In another place, he claims a church's decision to give through the BGCT Adopted Budget will fail to 'fully support ... mission boards'--plural. The state convention's Adopted Budget does not impact the SBC International Mission Board in the least. Nothing in the BGCT budget suggests cutting back funds for foreign missions."

ANSWER: The letter reads: "If you give through the Baptist General Convention of Texas and select the 'BGCT Cooperative Giving Budget' on the remittance form, you will severely limit your gifts to SBC ministries. Therefore, if you desire to fully support SBC seminaries, mission boards, and other work as you have in past decades, you will need to direct your gifts utilizing the 'Other' option." Knox quotes just enough words to make it say what he wants. However, choosing only the parts of the sentence you like is not permitted. The gist of what Chapman wrote is: If you want your CP gifts to support SBC ministries like they have in the past (same percentages, same recipients, same process) you will have to use something other than the BGCT Adopted Budget plan. If the editor is going to criticize Chapman for not telling the whole story, the least he could do is put in the whole sentence he did write.

Furthermore, even though Chapman did not accuse the BGCT of cutting back funds for foreign missions, don't be surprised if that cut is next. Knox's co-anti-SBC, pro-CBF buddy David Currie is already making noises about how Baptists may want to re-consider their support of IMB. Although Knox is defensive about the BGCT and its IMB support, I predict that is the next step in their budget cutting plans.

5. COMPLAINT:

"Chapman doesn't tell the whole story… What he doesn't say is this Texas budget was proposed after a special study committee examined all the SBC seminaries and pointed out numerous problems with those schools."

ANSWER: The SBC Executive Committee is on record categorically disagreeing with the conclusions of the rather slipshod report on our seminaries. This was publicized through Baptist Press.

6. COMPLAINT:

Knox: "He doesn't tell his readers that, even despite these reservations, each church still is free to fund any such causes as it feels God directs."

ANSWER: I believe he did. The mailout attachment says, "Because the vast majority of Southern Baptist churches in Texas chose a more traditional or direct method of Cooperative Program giving last year, rather than the BGCT adopted budget, Southern Baptist missions were not harmed. We pray churches will choose to support the traditional Cooperative Program again this year. "

7. COMPLAINT:

He doesn't say the BGCT still is expected to provide about $3 million to the six SBC seminaries.

ANSWER: What $3 million? The BGCT adopted budget produced a whopping $41,000 for the six seminaries last year. And the $1 million cap is in place again this year and probably will not be reached through the adopted budget. Surely the reference is not to the money churches in Texas gave through other avenues against the BGCT's wishes? Does the BGCT really want to get credit for that? Knox is making our point: Churches have to give around the BGCT budget to fully support the SBC.

8. COMPLAINT:

Knox: "Of course, he doesn't say the other funds Texas Baptist churches provide for theological education will support ministerial students who also will serve across Texas and around the world."

ANSWER: Yes, he does. I quote again from the letter:

"Thousands of other Southern Baptist seminary students will be similarly deprived of Texas Baptist support because the BGCT has voted to shift millions of dollars of support from them to a couple of hundred Texas students at two new seminaries in Texas."

Of course, Chapman implies it is a bad move to shift approximately $4 million from several thousand students to a couple of hundred.

9. COMPLAINT:

Knox: "And he doesn't mention that no other state is helping to fund these BGCT ministerial students, even though almost 40 other state conventions are providing support for the SBC seminaries."

ANSWER: Should Oklahoma Baptists stop supporting Texas students at Southwestern Seminary because Texas Baptists don't support ministerial students at OBU? Southern Baptists have a plan where churches support all the students: it's called the Cooperative Program! It is again Chapman who is correct when he gratefully says:

"…most Baptists in Texas want to support all our student missionaries and ministers regardless of which state they call home."

10. COMPLAINT:

"Chapman takes sides among Texans." Knox considers this overstepping his bounds. His evidence is that Chapman tells readers how to contact the SBTC, an implicit endorsement of the group, while providing no information on how to contact the BGCT.

ANSWER:

  1. The mailout is in response to the BGCT mailing of their remittance forms to the churches. The churches already have the contact information from the BGCT.
  2. Mailing addresses of both conventions are clearly visible on the depictions of the remittance forms on the attachment to the mailout.
  3. The document has BGCT instructions on one side and SBTC instructions on the other. Over one thousand Baptist churches in Texas have chosen to give through the SBTC. Not mentioning them would be biased.
  4. The contact information about SBTC is given because the point of the mailout is to let the churches know the new ways they can support the SBC while the BGCT is acting as an unfaithful partner. Does Knox expect Chapman to encourage the churches to contact the BGCT so they can be lobbied not to give to SBC ministries?
  5. The BGCT has voted to cut SBC support severely. The SBTC has voted to forward 51% to the SBC. Some might think there is a reason to take sides.

11. COMPLAINT:

Knox continues with his claim that Chapman fails to tell the whole story: "Chapman declines to note churches that leave the BGCT cease to support" all the many wonderful ministries in the BGCT budget.

ANSWER: Let's see if we can get the facts straight:

  1. The SBC did not adopt a budgeting plan intended to take support away from the BGCT. The BGCT adopted a plan to take support away from the SBC.
  2. The SBC did not unilaterally violate the historic Cooperative Program agreement with the BGCT. The BGCT unilaterally, over the protests of the SBC, violated the historic Cooperative Program agreement with the SBC.
  3. The SBC did not produce a sham report highly critical of BGCT ministries. The BGCT produced a sham report highly critical of SBC ministries.

Chapman does not criticize support for regular BGCT ministries. He is encouraging churches to consider alternatives to the adopted BGCT budget only to offset the cuts to the SBC the BGCT budget intends. If the shifting of funding from the churches hurts the BGCT ministries, the BGCT has only themselves to blame. In fact, the SBC Executive Committee officially appealed to the BGCT to maintain a traditional Cooperative Program approach, which would have harmed neither convention's ministries:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, September 18-19, 2000, appeal to the BGCT to reject the new proposal and reaffirm the traditional Cooperative Program principles that have guided it as the Southern Baptist Convention's collection agent and ministry partner."

By the way, if satisfactory cooperation by the BGCT could not be achieved, the same resolution further authorized the Executive Committee leadership to create a new approach to collecting funds in Texas, not to harm the BGCT ministries but to protect its own:

"Be it finally resolved that the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention establish a new method of promoting, soliciting, and collecting offerings from Southern Baptist churches in Texas should it be demonstrated that the BGCT no longer intends to perform these functions on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention according to the historic agreement."

Chapman's mailout is an effort to carry out the assignment of establishing new ways to communicate with Southern Baptist churches in Texas regarding ministry support.

CONCLUSION

A fair reading of Chapman's mailout and Knox's editorial demonstrates that not only are Knox's criticisms unjustified, but also that they are more applicable to him than to Chapman. If anyone regularly misleads readers, refuses to tell the whole story, and takes sides in Texas, it is the Baptist Standard and Marv Knox. The current editorial is just the latest example.

I would suggest Knox make a straightforward declaration of his views to the Baptist public on this matter of SBC support from Texas churches. He has strong affinity for the left-leaning CBF and a strong dislike of the SBC, and has admitted as much. He ought to further admit that, if he had his way, churches in Texas wouldn't give any support to the SBC. The vast majority of Baptist churches in Texas would be repulsed by an all out repudiation of the Southern Baptist Convention. Therefore, this budgeting process of the BGCT is an attempt to gradually distance the churches from the SBC while claiming the changes are mere improvements of the partnership process, instead of the obvious and damaging violations of history and policy they really are. If Mr. Knox doesn't want the churches making decisions based on fallacies, he should give them those facts!

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