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"There should be an 'Abstract of Principles', or careful statement of theological belief, which every professor in such an institution must sign when inaugurated, so as to guard against the rise of erroneous and injurious instruction in such a seat of sacred learning."

James P. Boyce
from "Three Changes in
Theological Institutions"
- summarized by John Broadus, 1856

Giving to the SBC through the BGCT

This letter was sent to Southern Baptist pastors in Texas by Dr. Morris H. Chapman, President, Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.

January 15, 2001

Dear Pastor:

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to provide my perspective and hopefully helpful insights to the recent decision by the messengers of the Baptist General Convention of Texas to defund specified SBC entities. Please understand that while I have experienced many emotions before, during, and after the action, I am convinced God's desire for the Southern Baptist Convention is for Southern Baptists to devote our attention, energies, and strategies to the preaching of the Gospel and witnessing to the unsaved at home and on foreign fields.

In my mind and heart, the action taken by the November 2000 annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas to defund the seminaries, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and the SBC Operating Budget cannot be characterized as positive in any way, and, even if it doesn't damage the SBC financially, is certainly detrimental to the ongoing witness of the BGCT, the SBC, and most of all, the Kingdom of God. The cooperative spirit that has been the hallmark of relationships among Southern Baptists has eroded between the BGCT and the SBC, and the Cooperative Program methodology that has served our conventions so well has been imperiled.

These challenges come at a time when the Southern Baptist Convention is poised for unparalleled advance into the new millennium. In my opinion, the Southern Baptist Convention did what it had to do in establishing, hopefully once for all, what Southern Baptists believe about the authority of God's Holy Word. The conviction to stand unequivocally upon the absolutes of God's Word is critical to our efforts in missions and evangelism around the world. As has been said often, "Our zeal for missions will not exceed our zeal for God's Word." The critical importance of our readiness to "stand in the gap" communicating to this nation the Bible's answers to the moral and ethical dilemmas of our day cannot be overemphasized.

As we enter the 21st century, my hope and prayer for Southern Baptists is that God will show us the way through the wilderness. The sun is setting in America spiritually, morally, and ethically. We do not know the time remaining to bear witness to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Although we are experiencing an explosion of information and our knowledge of the things of the world is greater than ever, our hearts are empty. People are filled with loneliness and often desperation. They are searching for answers. Only the Christian has the answer. If we fail to be faithful, to go to the Lord with thanksgiving for His blessings and a burden for souls, this moment in history will be gone and countless individuals shall be lost through all eternity.

I personally do not want the Southern Baptist Convention to be a stumbling block to whatever the BGCT chooses to do apart from the SBC that glorifies the Lord. I do intensely pray that God will raise up Southern Baptists everywhere as the mightiest force for righteousness this world has ever known. I do pray that Southern Baptist churches will not be distracted from focusing upon getting the world on their hearts and a vision to stand for righteousness in a land and among a wayward generation of people pursuing all sorts of worldly remedies for the "sin that doth so easily beset us." We cannot rest in Zion. We cannot allow ourselves to boast about past accomplishments. We cannot take pride in being the largest non-Catholic denomination in the world. Jesus shed His blood for all peoples. We are compelled to make a difference for Christ's sake. We must ask the question, "Is my church making a difference in my community and beyond, or have we grown deaf to the cries of those with spiritual and material needs?"

I know Southern Baptists pray, as I do, for the strength and courage to "run with patience (endurance) the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2). And I believe Southern Baptist churches in Texas want to continue the strong partnership in the gospel with their fellow Baptists through the Cooperative Program.

I have enclosed materials designed to aid your church as you decide how you will respond to the missions giving options before you. We want to assist you in your continued generous support of the effective, far-reaching missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention. Feel free to contact us with questions and comments. Please know that I, along with the staff and members of the Executive Committee, and the staff and trustees of all our SBC entities, are praying for God to give you clear direction for the future of your church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and God's Kingdom. May God bless you "exceeding abundantly above all you ask or think."

In Jesus' Name,
Morris H. Chapman

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