“Southern Baptists have made a golden calf of the program… It’s almost easier to be against the virgin birth than the program.” Adrian Rogers, 1982
In the wake of the announcements that Prestonwood Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Morristown have decided to suspend their Cooperative Program giving, I thought it important to provide some clarity about the nature of Southern Baptist Convention membership. There is a very real misconception among some Southern Baptists that a church must give through the Cooperative Program in order to be considered an official Southern Baptist Church and be eligible to participate in the annual convention. This is not the case at all. Article III of the Constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention includes the following text:
The Convention shall consist of messengers who are members of Baptist churches in cooperation with the Convention. The following subparagraphs describe the Convention’s current standards and method of determining the maximum number of messengers the Convention will recognize from each cooperating church to attend the Convention’s annual meeting.1. The Convention will only deem a church to be in friendly cooperation with the Convention, and sympathetic with its purposes and work (i.e., a “cooperating” church as that term is used in the Convention’s governing documents) which:(1) Has a faith and practice which closely identifies with the Convention’s adopted statement of faith. (By way of example, churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior would be deemed not to be in cooperation with the Convention.)(2) Has formally approved its intention to cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention. (By way of example, the regular filing of the annual report requested by the Convention would be one indication of such cooperation.)(3) Has made undesignated, financial contribution(s) through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the Convention’s Executive Committee for Convention causes, and/or to any Convention entity during the fiscal year preceding.
If a Church sends money to any Southern Baptist entity it is considered a cooperating Southern Baptist Church. The Southern Baptist Convention existed nearly 80 years without the Cooperative Program. We can, and have, had one without the other.
Unfortunately, pastors trained at Southern Baptist seminaries are indoctrinated not only with sound baptist theology but with the unsound, self-serving political idea that the Cooperative Program is the best way to support Christian missions. This is not the case. Pastor Adrian Rogers rightly called the Cooperative Program, which was instituted by 1920s era Democrats, a “golden calf”.
For more on the Cooperative Program, please read my free e-book, The Cooperative Program and the Road to Serfdom.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use. I do not receive compensation for writing at the Pulpit & Pen nor do I necessarily support any advertiser featured on the site.
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