A Southern Baptist Convention leader attacked the Baptist General Convention of Texas for allegedly breaching the cooperative spirit within Baptist life and abandoning its worldwide commitment.
Morris Chapman, president of the SBC's Executive Committee, charged committees of the BGCT with breaking a 72-year cooperative partnership between state conventions and the national convention. He also said Texas Baptists are turning inward toward a Texas-only emphasis.
Last week, BGCT committees moved toward reducing the funding of SBC seminaries and defunding the SBC moral concerns agency beginning in 2001.
The BGCT seminary study committee report is available on the Web site of the Baptist Standard. To access this report go to http://www.baptiststandard.com
The text of Chapman's report to the Executive Committee, carried in Baptist Press on September 19, blamed BGCT for the entire conflict between the SBC and the largest state convention.
Chapman said the BGCT was "systematically attempting to influence Southern Baptist churches in Texas to forsake their loyalty to the SBC." He asserted the BGCT was forcing Texas churches to choose between the BGCT and SBC.
Accusing the BGCT of moving toward a societal system, Chapman, a former Texas pastor, threatened that the SBC would go directly to Texas Baptist churches to raise funds, if the BGCT changed its historic ties to the SBC.
A leader of the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC, Chapman said, "BGCT leaders seem to be attempting to lead the Baptists in Texas to have Texas only on their hearts."
Chapman told members of the SBC's most powerful committee that Southern Baptists believe in the autonomy of the local church, the priesthood of the believer and soul competency.
Blaming Texas Baptists for all breakdown of the cooperative partnership and claiming Texas Baptists have abandoned their worldwide commitments smack of willful misrepresentation.
More grievous than Chapman's dishonesty is his disregard for the intelligence of Texas Baptists. Surely, no thoughtful Texans will accept the moral argument that only one party is at fault in this conflict. But that is the essence of his case.
Fair-minded Baptists know every dispute has two sides, and every side deserves an evenhanded hearing. Studying the BGCT seminary report mentioned above is one way for discerning Baptists to divide the truth rightly.
Robert Parham is the executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.