EL PASO, Texas (BP)—A motion placed before the Baptist General Convention of Texas to affirm the 1963 Southern Baptist Convention statement of beliefs—not the 1998 revision which adds a section on marriage and family—was passed during the BGCT annual meeting's Nov. 9 morning session.
The action places the BGCT not only at odds with the Southern Baptist Convention, but also an array of U.S. evangelicals who have affirmed the family article added to the SBC's Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement during the annual meeting held in Salt Lake City in 1998.
The Texas action came in the form of a motion submitted by Bob Newell, pastor of Houston's Memorial Drive Baptist Church, that the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message statement be affirmed as a "unifying statement of our common faith and practice." It also stipulated that the BGCT "distribute this statement to every BGCT-related church, encouraging its teaching and noting that it was affirmed by the messengers at this convention."
The motion was passed on raised-hand-type vote with only a smattering of opposition, a convention spokesman reported. It was dealt with in about 15 minutes, with an effort to amend the motion, to substitute an affirmation of the 1998 SBC revision, failing by a similar lopsided majority.
While the motion made no specific reference to the SBC's addition of a section on marriage and family in 1998, key BGCT leaders publicly stated that the affirmation of the 1963 Baptist Family and Message amounted to a stance against the SBC's 1998 revision.
Clyde Glazener, a Fort Worth pastor who was elected president of the 2.7-million-member BGCT Nov. 8, "led the charge against the [SBC] amendment," according to a national Associated Press news story.
"That amendment, though it spoke about family and had some decent things in it, also had in it some barbs that were intended to hammer women about subservience, in my judgment," Glazener was quoted as saying. Glazener, 64, is pastor of Gambrell Street Baptist Church, across the street from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
Glazener was quoted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as describing the SBC's 1998 marriage and family addition to the Baptist Faith and Message as "Neanderthal."
"We need to endorse the 1963 statement because it does not include barbs about women being subservient," he told the Fort Worth paper.
According to the Star-Telegram, Glazener told reporters that conservatives who pushed for the 1998 marriage and family section are using the Baptist Faith and Message not as a guideline but as a creed to try to get everyone to conform to their views.
"They are trying to hold people's feet to the fire and walk lock-step with them," Glazener said.
Glazener, who holds a doctorate from Southwestern Seminary, also complained that professors at the seminary had been required to sign the amended statement. (According to news reports at the time, two of Southwestern's 90-plus faculty members refused to sign the revised document, with one choosing to retire and another choosing to resign. Seminary President Kenneth S. Hemphill said at the time, "Our charter is very clear on the fact that the convention operates the seminary and sets its teaching parameters. Our teaching parameters are the Baptist Faith and Message as established by the convention.")
Glazener was quoted by the Austin American-Statesman as saying it is a "hopeless task" to think that the BGCT and the SBC's "fundamentalists" can reconcile their differences.
Paige Patterson, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a Texas native, said after the Nov. 9 vote, "I am grateful that the BGCT leadership has made crystal clear for the sake of Texas Baptist churches where they stand on family and church issues. Now it is up to the churches to decide with whom they agree—with a liberal, culturally acceptable view of family and church, or with a Christ-honoring, Bible-believing perspective.
"I have every confidence that the majority of Texas Baptist churches will go with Christ and with the clear instruction of the Bible," said Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and former president of Criswell College in Dallas.
Richard Land, president of the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said in a statement issued after the BGCT vote, "From the beginning, critics of the family article have looked with a jaundiced eye solely at that line which urges wives to submit to their own husbands, as to the Lord, and overlooked the completeness of the article and the entire Ephesian passage [chapter 5 in the New Testament book], which address the distinct, but equally valuable roles of the husband and wife in the marriage relationship."
Land, a Texas native and former staff member at First Baptist Church in Dallas, was on the seven-member committee which drafted the SBC marriage and family article.
Saying he is "delighted" that the BGCT has voted to affirm the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message, Land noted, "The first article of this statement defines the Bible as having 'truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter,' which Herschel Hobbs, the chairman of the statement's drafting committee, said never meant anything but inerrancy.
"I find it curious that the BGCT, while affirming the inerrancy and full authority of Scripture, would question the Baptist Faith and Message's article on the family which was passed overwhelmingly by the 1998 Southern Baptist Convention and which is little more than a paraphrase of the Apostle Paul's teaching," Land continued. "After all, it is the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesian church who instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave himself for it, and likewise for wives to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord."
Land added, "The Apostle Paul has not left us to wonder or guess what he meant about husbands loving their wives. … In writing to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul penned a divinely inspired essay on this love with which husbands are commanded to love their wives: 'Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice. … Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever . …' (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)."
Land also stated he was "stunned that Dr. Clyde Glazener, a pastor of a Southern Baptist church, would describe the article on the family as a 'Neanderthal' amendment that demeans women. … Let it be clearly understood that Dr. Glazener and those who support him in the intent of the BGCT's motion have a disagreement with the Apostle Paul, not merely with the Southern Baptist Convention. As for me and my house, we are going to stick with the Apostle Paul."
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, said, "The motion adopted by the Baptist General Convention of Texas is an intentional rejection of a clear teaching of the Bible. This is another lamentable sign of the determination of some Texas Baptist leaders to alienate Texas Baptists from the Southern Baptist Convention."
Mohler said he is confident "that the great mainstream of Texas Baptists will remain faithful to our Southern Baptist heritage and support the wonderful work of the Southern Baptist Convention. We must never apologize for standing on the solid rock of biblical conviction, and for standing together on all that the Bible reveals."
The article on marriage and family added to the Baptist Faith and Message last year states:
"God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.
"Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church, and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel for sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.
"The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
"Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God's pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents."
Campus Crusade for Christ adopted the SBC marriage and family article as its own stance in July, adding one paragraph in amplification. The adoption was announced to more than 5,000 staffers July 28 at the interdenominational ministry's U.S. Staff Conference in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Bill Bright, who founded Campus Crusade for Christ with his wife, Vonette, in 1951, said in a statement July 29, "As a movement, Vonette and I, along with the leadership of Campus Crusade for Christ International, felt it was time to step forward with our friends from the SBC by affirming the Biblical standard for marriage and family."
Bright noted, "As never before our nation's marriages and families are in trouble. The marriage covenant has become meaningless to many and shredded by an anti-God culture, resulting in every kind of sin, including abortion and divorce."
Bright said the family "is God's smallest battle formation in the Great Commission Army. By making this statement, it is our fervent prayer that future generations around the world will have homes filled with the love and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray that future generations of families will faithfully embrace the Scriptures and proclaim Christ to a world that is stumbling in spiritual darkness."
The Campus Crusade statement adds a fifth paragraph to supplement the parts addressing marriage, which states: "In a marriage lived according to these truths, the love between husband and wife will show itself in listening to each other's viewpoints, valuing each other's gifts, wisdom, and desires, honoring one another in public and in private, and always seeking to bring benefit, not harm, to one another."
Dennis Rainey, executive director and co-founder of Campus Crusade's FamilyLife division, made the July 29 announcement to the ministry's staffers. Applause followed his introductory remarks of, "A year ago, the Southern Baptist Convention took a courageous stand against the [secular] culture and on behalf of the biblical family by adopting a biblical stand on marriage and family."
Rainey, at the end of his remarks, thanked the Brights for grasping that the Great Commission—to tell the world about Jesus—is far more likely to occur generation after generation when undergirded by healthy marriages and families. Campus Crusade staffers followed with a standing ovation for the Brights.
Rainey, in an interview at the time, said he believed other denominations and organizations would follow the lead set by the SBC and Campus Crusade.
The common ground now shared by the SBC and Campus Crusade on marriage and family is historic, Rainey said. "I think we're seeing the beginnings, the seeds of a family reformation," he said, "when the world's largest Protestant denomination and one of the largest para-church missionary-sending organizations both embrace a biblical stand on the family in a time of such crisis" in so many marriages and families in American culture."
Clear stances on marriage and family are needed, Rainey said, because "within the Christian community we have a crisis of belief. … We really are unsure of what we believe about marriage and family, about the marriage covenant, about how husbands and wives are to relate to one another and the value of children.
"And that's why the Southern Baptist statement was so important—to give young couples a set of blueprints to build their marriages and families by.
"The statement is by no way intended to be an exhaustive statement of everything the Bible teaches about marriage and family, but it does give a solid overview for how we should relate to one another and to our God who created marriage and family in the first place."
Rainey, who was a featured speaker at this year's SBC annual meeting in Atlanta, initiated the August 1998 evangelical affirmation of the SBC statement on marriage and family after it quickly came under media fire when it was adopted at the convention's annual meeting in June.
In August 1998, 131 evangelicals signed a full-page ad in USA Today affirming the SBC marriage and family stance. The signatories included two of evangelist Billy Graham's children, Franklin Graham, of Samaritan's Purse, and Anne Graham Lotz, of AnGeL Ministries; Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and his wife, Janet; Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson and his wife, Patty; Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney and his wife, Lyndi; Dallas-area African American pastors and popular speakers Tony Evans and T.D. Jakes, along with Evans' wife, Lois; and Joseph Stowell, president of Moody Bible Institute, and his wife, Marti.
"At a time when divorce is destroying the fabric of our society," the ad stated, "you [the SBC] have taken a bold stand for the biblical principles of marriage and family life. We thank you for your courage."
SBC President Paige Patterson said at the time he was "profoundly grateful" to Rainey and the other signatories, who described themselves in the USA Today ad as "pastors and lay leaders, civic and business leaders, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers representing a variety of denominations." Said Patterson, "It does exhibit, in the light of a good deal of contrary criticism, the extent to which the evangelical community does still understand clearly what the Bible says about the family."
The evangelical leaders' USA Today ad stated to the Southern Baptist Convention:
"You are right because you recognized that the family was God's idea, not man's, and that marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman for a lifetime.
"You are right because you called husbands to sacrificially love and lead their wives.
"You are right because you called wives to graciously submit to their husband's sacrificial leadership.
"You are right because you affirmed that the husband and wife are of equal worth before God.
"You are right because you reminded us that children are a blessing and heritage from the Lord.
"More importantly, you are right because your statement is based on biblical truth."
Lee Weeks, Dwayne Hastings, and Tim Ellsworth contributed to this article.
Copyright © 1999 Baptist Press.
The Baptist General Conference of Texas web site includes news about its convention.
The Southern Baptist Faith and Message, including its revised section on family, is posted on its Web site.
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