SBC ‘Name Change"
Since everyone who reads this newsletter may not understand Southern Baptist polity, I thought I would attempt to add a little light to the discussion of the recent decision by the messengers of the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention regarding the convention’s name. Each participating Southern Baptist Church is entitled to have messengers attend the annual convention. The only way to have a voice in the convention business is to attend as a messenger. The decisions made were not made by a small group of people in a back room somewhere. Thousands of messengers were present and had an opportunity to express views on both sides of this issue.
The convention name issue has come up time and again for decades. (I’m not going to get into the motivations for this discussion. I can only assume other folk’s motivations based on their comments. Because of my own personal feeling in this issue – I could and probably have misinterpreted some of their intent.)
Some prominent people have made nonfactual statements about the founding of the SBC. The SBC was founded in 1845 in order to facilitate southern participation in foreign and domestic missions. Southerners were not afforded the same opportunity to serve in these capacities because slavery was more prevalent at that time in our region. The formation of the Confederates States of America had nothing to do with the name of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The purpose of the convention was to enable multiple churches to join together to reach the unsaved with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Biblical truth that man is separated from God by sin. That our Creator is grieved by this separation and has made the only means of bridging that gulf and restoring man to a relationship with Himself. God stepped into the world in a small village named Bethlehem. God the Son, Jesus, took on human flesh and lived a perfect life. Jesus died for our sins on the cross, was buried, and rose to live forever defeating sin, death, and the grave. Hundreds saw Him after the resurrection. All who place their faith, complete and sincere trust, in Him and Him alone will be forgiven and receive eternal life. That is the only meaningful purpose of the SBC.
The concern over the name should resonate with each of us. Every reader of this newsletter knows how the name "Southern" is viewed by our adversaries. Our name – Southern – can be another obstacle in reaching some groups with the Gospel. Does that mean I want to change our name? Absolutely not!! We have a fantastic name around the world. We are usually among the first to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and provide shelter for the homeless during disasters in America and around the world, We do this to demonstrate God’s love and in order to present God’s provision for eternal life. BUT there are those who don’t know or understand that truth. Still our purpose is to reach them with God’s love even though they may hold our name in contempt.
The SBC did not vote to change the name. The recommendation was to adopt another identifier – a nick-name if you will (certainly no Southerner should have a problem with a nick-name). Churches can choose to be known by either name – BUT the official and legal name will remain the Southern Baptist Convention. The new optional identifier is Great Commission Baptists. I sincerely hope and pray that this sheds some additional light on the subject. We have so many battles ahead – don’t let this be another issue to further fragment our people.
Wayne Hines, D.Min
Grace Evangelistic Ministries