The recent renewal of Texas Baptists Committed seems to have caused a bit of angst among some Texas Baptists. Some fear that TBC is back in business in order to establish an oligarchy that will control Texas Baptist life. In my opinion, this angst is unnecessary. In fact, the work of TBC ought to have the opposite effect.
The work of Texas Baptists Committed is to constantly remind Texas Baptists that we are a network of autonomous cooperating churches and not a denomination governed by a powerful few. Texas Baptists Committed helps local churches by providing information and support for Pastor Search Committees who are fearful of being deceived by an authoritarian pastor who would drag their church into Fundamentalist conformity. TBC supports the work of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, because it is through that network that we are able to participate with one another in a variety of ministries without the fear of being under a denominational thumb.
On the other hand, all institutions, including the BGCT, can devolve into a self-preserving bureaucracy that feeds on its constituents and can tend to control rather than serve. Therefore, TBC must be a watchdog, even of the BGCT, to keep us free from denominational control, constantly reminding our institutions of our networking nature as opposed to a denominational structure.
This is not an irrelevant preacher fuss carried on for our political enjoyment. It is a struggle that goes to the heart of how we are going to win our culture to Christ. It is an evangelistic necessity. If we are going to have the ability to speak to a post-denominational world, we must fiercely resist the temptation toward denominationalism. It is not a matter of irrelevant politics. It is a matter of effective evangelism in a changing world. Texas Baptists Committed is needed to continue to remind all Texas Baptists that we are a network of autonomous churches and not a denomination.
The times are indeed a changin’. While in one sense that is disconcerting, in another sense it is very encouraging. Baptists OUGHT to be primed and ready to speak to this changing culture about the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. Well, we will be primed and ready if we can resist the temptation to devolve into a denomination.
Texas Baptists Committed has an evangelistic mission, as it reminds us of who we really are. We are Baptists. Let’s act like it and then change the world.