Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Looking Out" for Texas Baptists (Part 2)

In my previous post, I stressed the importance of each Texas Baptist being a "lookout standing on the watchtower" (Isaiah 21:8). But I didn't tell you how to do that.

Well, Marv Knox, editor of the Baptist Standard, has just given us an example that's helpful and instructive. A few days ago, Marv published an interview with Kenneth Starr, whom Baylor University will inaugurate as its 14th president this Friday.

As president of a university supported, in part, by the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Kenneth Starr will be accountable not only to the regents who elected him but to all Texas Baptists. Marv's first question drives this point home. After pointing out that the BGCT is still responsible for electing 25 percent of Baylor regents, Marv asks Starr for his "ideal for the relationship between Baylor and the BGCT" and about his plans for "strengthening and maintaining that relationship."
  • Starr replies that Baylor plans to "work collaboratively" with the BGCT in "areas of mutual interest and concern."
  • He also points out that "many of our students–69 percent–come from non-Baptist backgrounds" but then cites this as an "opportunity . . . to educate everyone . . . as to the vibrancy of Baptist life."
Throughout the interview, Marv asks questions that, no doubt, many Baptists have pondered since the Baylor regents announced Starr's election as president. Among others, these questions include the following issues:
  • Impact, on "the future of Baylor and . . . its religious identity," of having – for the first time – a president who has no background as a Baptist
  • Strengths, weaknesses, and "most important goals" of Baylor 2012 – the 10-year master plan implemented by Robert Sloan – and whether it is possible to integrate "faith and intellectual excellence" at Baylor
  • Relationship between Baylor's administration and the Baylor Alumni Association
  • Starr's political background and how Starr will encourage political, philosophical, and theological diversity
    • Through campus culture
    • Through administrative actions
    • Through faculty appointments
For many Texas Baptists, the most encouraging part of the interview may well be Starr's apparent understanding – and even embrace – of various aspects of Baptist heritage:
Now it is up to Texas Baptists to be lookouts . . . to see whether Starr's actions match his words.

Click here to read the full interview.

Though few have the forum that Marv Knox has at the Baptist Standard, all of us need to use whatever forum we have – whether it be that of a church member, Sunday School class member, committee member, or whatever your role(s) may be (even that of a blogger). We need to ask the key questions. We need to put pastors, university and institution presidents, convention staff, and other Baptist leaders to the test and remind them that they are representing us . . . remind them that, as Baptists, we expect their leadership to reflect our Baptist heritage and principles.

In summary, we need to hold our leaders and other fellow Baptists accountable. It's not easy. Sometimes you may feel alone. That's why Texas Baptists Committed exists – to encourage each other, to remind each other that we're not alone. We're all partners in this cause of ensuring that Texas Baptists stay free in Christ as God intended us to be. We are all lookouts standing on the watchtower.

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