As I mentioned in my previous post one of the more significant issues to arise on day one of the Tennessee Baptist Convention was a motion to change the way potential convention servants were interviewed.
Last year a motion passed charging those who contact nominated candidates for positions on TBC boards and committees to ask the nominated whether or not they affirmed the Baptist Faith and Message. This information would be (and was this year) distributed to the messengers of the annual meeting.
Apparently some number of Tennessee Baptists were upset about this but didn’t know exactly why they were or what to do about it. Some (this year) wanted to abandon creeds and simply ask a vague question about what one thinks about the Bible. Others apparently wanted more creeds as they took out an advertisement in the Baptist and Reflector to suggest that potential candidates should be asked if they affirm any one of the three generations of the Baptist Faith and Messages.
Eventually both groups made their way to the microphones at this years convention. As previously mentioned, the group wanting a vague affirmation of the Bible in some sense didn’t garner enough votes to change what was decided last year. As was also previously mentioned, those who wanted any of the three creeds usable for the interview proposed a motion at this past afternoon session whereby the question would become something along the lines of “Do you affirm either the BF&M 1925, 1963, or 2000?” The messengers would receive a report indicating, yes, the candidate was willing to affirm one of the three but with no indication or which one or simply no.
I just got word from Steve about the vote on that second option. Those wanting to change from one BF&M to three lost. But not by much. Apparently the vote went 407 against changing the question to 400 for. That, my friends, is a pretty close vote.
So how does one analyze this? I see several options and I’m not sure which one it is.
1. The TBC could really be that split over the issue. I’ll be honest, I doubt it. For one, last year, when the original motion to begin asking about the BF&M was on the floor it was voted in overwhelmingly. Perhaps a significant number of those who voted “yes” last year had a change of heart or were replaced by messengers this year who didn’t agree with last year’s action.
2. You could simply have a result which indicates many TBCers had reached a point where they’d had enough miscellaneous business and were ready for some lunch. Don’t laugh. If my memory serves me correctly there were over 1000 votes cast in the Presidential election (with Pastor McCoy winning with something like 600-ish total votes). Where did those other 200 messengers go? Many left between when the threefold BF&M motion was being considered and when I read my resolution title.
Either way, this is apparently quite the hot button issue. Will there be some attempt tomorrow to introduce a similar motion in the hopes that some of the conservatives have gone home? Will there be a greater number of conservatives in attendance tomorrow because of the narrowness of this vote? Will a re-introduction of this motion (or one similar to it) swing some votes because they are tired of dealing with the issue? Will there be a motion to add the BF&M 2000 to the bylaws of the TBC? I have no idea. But when the afternoon plays out (and as soon as I can get to a Wi-Fi spot) I’ll let you know what, if anything, comes of this issue.
Updated numbers on the vote: 497 to 490. Somehow my source didn’t account for 90 votes. Either way, the margin stays the same, right?