By Bob Allen
A Baptist state newspaper editor says Texas Baptist leadership should consider a do-over of a change to governing documents that could jeopardize six decades of respected social witness by the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission.
The Baptist General Convention of Texas established the CLC in 1950 to attend to areas such as race relations, economic and family matters, church/state relations and moral issues like alcohol and gambling.
In an era when many Baptists in the South were suspicious of the “social gospel” movement associated with liberal Protestants in the North, longtime Southwestern Seminary professor T.B. Maston pioneered a model for educating Baptists about the gospel’s social imperative without compromising biblical authority or personal evangelism and steering clear of single-issue politics.
That tradition of speaking “to” Texas Baptists and not “for” them could be lost with passage of bylaw changes approved last month, Baptist Standard Editor Marv Knox wrote in an editorial dated Aug. 16.
A vote by messengers to clean up governing documents moved descriptions of operating committees of the BGCT Executive Board from convention bylaws to a policy manual. The change is designed to assist convention leaders in making day-to-day decisions without having to go back to the full convention to sign off on minor adjustments to program assignments.
Knox said the change was needed, but some messengers who voted in favor may not have understood that it gives the Executive Board power to modify or eliminate the CLC without convention approval.
“All Texas Baptists have a stake in the Christian Life Commission,” Knox wrote. “We should maintain a say in its future.”
Knox said current leadership supports the CLC philosophy, but there is no guarantee that will always hold true in the future.
He said the Executive Board “should recommend reinserting the CLC in the convention’s bylaws at next year’s BGCT annual meeting.”