Three Interesting Decisions Made Today by Southern Baptist Leaders
Within an hour, leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) approved three interesting resolutions today at the denomination's annual meeting in Houston, Texas.
Just after 10 a.m., convention attendees approved a resolution that calls "on all Southern Baptists to report allegations of child abuse to authorities." The resolution, filed more or less in response to the high-profile lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), was amended to ask that "SBC leaders and employees practice the highest level of discernment in affiliating with groups or individuals that possess 'questionable' policies and practices in protecting children against sexual abuse," according to Baptist Press (BP), which live-blogged the morning's votes.
Fifteen minutes later, SBC members weighed in on mental illness. While the resolution was being considered, Rick Warren, who has worked to keep mental illness in the national spotlight after his son Matthew committed suicide earlier this year, tweeted:
TODAY we ask #SBC13 to approve a resolution on raising awareness and lowering the stigma of mental illness. Pray it passes.– Rick Warren (@RickWarren) June 12, 2013
It did, but only after attendees "overwhelmingly (defeated) an amendment that said Scripture is the 'final authority' on all mental health issues. Another amendment that was overwhelmingly defeated said messengers 'affirm Scripture as sufficient for counseling all phases of the human condition (2 Peter 1:3),'" BP reports.
The Houston Chronicle reports that only one person, Charlie Dale, vocalized his opposition to the resolution, noting that "Scouts already oppose all sexual activity of boys. He also argued that any child who says he is gay has been exposed to something he should not have been and needs to be brought into the fold for counseling, not cast out."
"I don't think we'd kick such a boy out of our Sunday schools," Dale said, according to the Chronicle. "I don't think we should hold the Boy Scouts to a standard we would not put on our churches. Such a boy needs our love. Let's show them what real Biblical manhood is about and love them."
Although the resolution approved at the meeting does not encourage SBC churches to disassociate from the Boy Scouts (as several SBC leaders had advocated), it does promote an alternative youth program run by Southern Baptists.
The approved resolution counters what recently retired Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Richard Land told CNN in May about how members would vote: "'There's a 100 percent chance that there will be a resolution about disaffiliation at the convention ... and a 100 percent chance that 99 percent of people will vote for it.'"
Last week, A.J. Smith, head of the Association of Baptists for Scouting, encouraged churches not to disaffiliate from BSA. According to Smith, doing so would "deprive Baptist churches of ministry opportunities," Associated Baptist Press reported.
Additionally, attendees also re-elected president Fred Luter–the denomination's first black president–to his second term yesterday. Luter recently has pushed to increase the number of black SBC missionaries, which are 'missing' in spite of the fact that black SBC churches are booming.