Is "autonomy" an excuse or a real obstacle for the SBC?

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Is "autonomy" an excuse or a real obstacle for the SBC?

Postby Sandy » Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:26 am

https://sbcvoices.com/autonomy-is-still ... tist-life/

Current SBC President JD Greear got some kudos from some quarters for using his "bully pulpit" to take at least some action against some of the churches mentioned in the Houston Chronicle report on multiple SBC clergy involved in sexual abuse. He also got some criticism.

As this blog post from William Thornton indicates, the SBC really has no way to take action against individual abusers with regard to their ministerial credentials. The authority for local church ordination rests with the local church in Baptist polity and there is no way to change that. The only way I can see for the SBC to have any influence over this issue is to use the threat of disfellowshipping congregations if they don't revoke ordinations or enable the abusers to move on elsewhere. Even if there was a strong desire within the convention to give it enough authority to deal with this problem, it couldn't be done. To say that it's complicated is an understatement.

Reading some of the Chronicle information, one of the things that stands out is the connections many of these individuals had that enabled them to get their position in the first place and then enabled them to move on because they dropped some names, or someone they knew helped them. It seems improbable that a system where information is readily passed along through the grapevine when it comes to "who's who" and who's "up and coming" and who has their wagon hitched to what prominent SBC self-appointed leader does not also carry information about situations where these individuals have been involved in abuse. It's almost as if some of them had a prominent friend call the prospective church and tell them that the candidate "was unjustly accused by a vengeful church member." The current majority Baptist view of women in the church contributes to discounting a woman's accusation without questioning it or asking for evidence. And that's where the current elected leadership of the SBC can make a difference. Use the bully pulpit, because people are listening. And get away from the inner circle of inner circle kingmakers and influencers when it comes to picking committee members and trustees. Pick people because they are genuinely qualified, not connected to denominational politicians and who genuinely listen to the Holy Spirit.
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Re: Is "autonomy" an excuse or a real obstacle for the SBC?

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:40 am

The reality is that only the ordaining church can revoke the ordination given to anyone in an SBC-related church. My ordination took place over fifty years ago in my home church. They have never bothered to keep up with me since my parents died. I have not been invited back to speak there in over twenty years, so their role is nil. I remember churches with large numbers of seminary students near the campuses used to ordain numerous students on their way to their first call after seminary. I guarantee that they have not kept up with the people they ordained.

The larger question seems to be that churches should have access to information about credible charges made in churches. The shielding of clergy when charges are not made and they have been allowed to move on is as criminally wrong in Baptist life as it was in the Roman Catholic Church. It seems we have forgotten our responsibilities to hold clergy (and some lay members) to the standards of the civil law, much less to the standards of Christian love. There has been too much of Paige Patterson's way of telling women (or young men) to forgive. His brand of forgiveness has no accountability built into it, and that is the failure of Baptist people, not Baptist polity. Of course, there have been suspicions about Judge Pressler for over thirty years, and no one in the SBC ever held him accountable either.
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Re: Is "autonomy" an excuse or a real obstacle for the SBC?

Postby William Thornton » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:35 am

Dave Roberts wrote:The reality is that only the ordaining church can revoke the ordination given to anyone in an SBC-related church. My ordination took place over fifty years ago in my home church. They have never bothered to keep up with me since my parents died. I have not been invited back to speak there in over twenty years, so their role is nil. I remember churches with large numbers of seminary students near the campuses used to ordain numerous students on their way to their first call after seminary. I guarantee that they have not kept up with the people they ordained.

The larger question seems to be that churches should have access to information about credible charges made in churches. The shielding of clergy when charges are not made and they have been allowed to move on is as criminally wrong in Baptist life as it was in the Roman Catholic Church. It seems we have forgotten our responsibilities to hold clergy (and some lay members) to the standards of the civil law, much less to the standards of Christian love. There has been too much of Paige Patterson's way of telling women (or young men) to forgive. His brand of forgiveness has no accountability built into it, and that is the failure of Baptist people, not Baptist polity. Of course, there have been suspicions about Judge Pressler for over thirty years, and no one in the SBC ever held him accountable either.


It's complicated. Who collects and keeps such information? What are credible charges? Whois it that " allows" clergy to move on? In what way is the SBC ( or CBF ) like Roman Catholics? Not in the ordaining, assigning to a church, supervising, firing or transferring from a church, revoking of ordination, or other measures of disciplining ministers, nor in requiring clergy to be educated or have any specific training. The power of the SBC at each of the three expressions (associational, state, national) extends no farther than exclusion of the church.
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Re: Is "autonomy" an excuse or a real obstacle for the SBC?

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:50 am

Which has to mean that ordaining churches must stay in touch with the people whom they ordain. That would seem a role those churches would want, but they do not. There should be a stewardship expected in those churches, shouldn't there?
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Re: Is "autonomy" an excuse or a real obstacle for the SBC?

Postby William Thornton » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:21 am

I don't disagree and have written that ordination is a scandal in SBC life.
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Re: Is "autonomy" an excuse or a real obstacle for the SBC?

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:31 am

William Thornton wrote:I don't disagree and have written that ordination is a scandal in SBC life.


The wider problem is that I don't see any effort to create a way to make it a better system. The only people who ever seemed to pay much attention to my ordination were the folks on my local draft board back in 1968. Someone once joked that ordination and 75 cents would get me a cup of coffee at Hardees. Prices seem to have changed, but the significance has not in most quarters. As far as I know, no church ever looking at me as a candidate for a ministry position ever contacted my ordaining church for any information about me.
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Re: Is "autonomy" an excuse or a real obstacle for the SBC?

Postby KeithE » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:55 am

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Re: Is "autonomy" an excuse or a real obstacle for the SBC?

Postby William Thornton » Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:47 pm



Many thanks.
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See my review on Christian Ethics Today on autonomy

Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Mar 04, 2019 2:12 pm

Winter 2019 issue, Review of Quiros God With Us. Laity in Americus Ga in 65 used autonomy rubric to maintain whites only church policies.

Scroll down to page 26

http://christianethicstoday.com/PDF/CET_Issue_111.pdf
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Re: See my review on Christian Ethics Today on autonomy

Postby KeithE » Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:46 pm

Stephen Fox wrote:Winter 2019 issue, Review of Quiros God With Us. Laity in Americus Ga in 65 used autonomy rubric to maintain whites only church policies.

Scroll down to page 26

http://christianethicstoday.com/PDF/CET_Issue_111.pdf


It’s a book review by none other than Stephen Fox.

Not my style but congratulations on being published. And I have always thought that racial bias has been rampant in many white churches. And not just Southern churches. Still is today.
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Re: See my review on Christian Ethics Today on autonomy

Postby Sandy » Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:25 am

Stephen Fox wrote:Winter 2019 issue, Review of Quiros God With Us. Laity in Americus Ga in 65 used autonomy rubric to maintain whites only church policies.

Scroll down to page 26

http://christianethicstoday.com/PDF/CET_Issue_111.pdf


I did.

Congratulations. Excellent review. I intend to read the book. When your focus is directed toward a particular subject, and you get away from all of the name dropping and conspiracy connections, you're pretty good at making a point. I'm not really sure what this has to do with the crisis the SBC is facing regarding its sexual assault and autonomy problem, but I've long since become used to drop-in posts by you on this board.

My experience growing up in a Southern Baptist church was so much different. It's taken a while, but I have come to the understanding that the term "liberal" among many Southern Baptists means that you consider African Americans as equals and you think integrated churches are fine.
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