I love Tennessee. I ought to. I--along with eleven brothers and sisters--was raised in the sleepy little county of Middle Tennessee known as Lawrence. Our official address was Leoma, but we all knew we were from Dunn--or even more precise, Coon Creek Hollow >>>
I was born in Tennessee, raised in Tennessee, married in Tennessee, became a father in Tennessee, saved in Tennessee (and before that, I unhappily and ashamedly was first drunk in Tennessee), called to preach in Tennessee, and pastored in Tennessee. So, I love Tennessee. And, I love Tennessee Baptists.
I am also elated that Tennessee Baptists became the first Southern Baptist state convention to go on official record denying the trendy suggestion that identifying ones self as "Southern Baptist"--whether a church or a denomination--is a hindrance to gospel effectiveness. At the 2011 Tennessee Baptist Convention, the messengers passed a strong resolution opposing the "task force" SBC president Bryant Wright unwisely, unilaterally, and without appropriate constitutional authority appointed to "study" the question on a name change for Southern Baptists.
Below is the full version of the 2011 Resolution passed by Tennessee Baptists:
Resolution on SBC Presidential Task Force
Considering a Name Change
Southern Baptist Convention
WHEREAS, it has been argued that keeping the name Southern Baptist Convention could cause harm to our missionary efforts worldwide; and
WHEREAS, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention appointed a task force to study a name change for the Southern Baptist Convention; and
WHEREAS, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention have repeatedly turned away such proposals; and
WHEREAS, the name Southern Baptist Convention is recognized worldwide as a convention of churches partnering together for "One Sacred Effort, the Propagation of the Gospel;" and
WHEREAS, the costs associated with such a name change could be used for things that relate more closely to our task of winning the lost to Christ; and
WHEREAS, many costs associated with such a name change would be borne by the churches associated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention; and
WHEREAS, there may also be other unanticipated negative consequences of such a name change.
Therefore, be it RESOLVED, that we, the messengers of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, meeting at First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, TN, November 15-16, 2011, support retaining the historic name "Southern Baptist Convention" and oppose any change to such name; and
Be it further RESOLVED, that we ask the President of the Southern Baptist Convention to cease the work of the task force; and
Be if finally RESOLVED, that a copy of the resolution be forwarded to each member of the SBC presidential task force, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the members of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention
Thank you Tennessee Baptists.
From my standpoint, the TBC resolution indicates an omen to Bryant Wright's "study" committee. Southern Baptists are simply not going to fall over like nervous Billy-goats while denominational elites attempt to make decisions from the top down for all Southern Baptists.
Nor may we overlook the precise location from which this resolution came. The resolution came from Tennessee Baptists as they were gathered in metropolitan Nashville where arguably the strongest influence for name change is located. Lifeway's Thom Rainer is obviously behind much of the name change energy, as is Jon Akin, pastor of a Lebanon church*. In addition, Jimmy Draper, chair of the "task force" for name change also has deep roots there as does Ed Stetzer who is lead pastor of a church plant a few miles from the convention host, Hendersonville First Baptist Church.
Hence, the way I see it, the TBC just dashed a bucket of ice down name change advocates' back.
With that, I am...
*Baptist & Reflector recently ran a story on Akin and his Baptist21 website, an article including Akin's positive push for name change (11/09/11), a pre-convention article which may have offered strategical leverage for name change advocates (no implications should be assumed toward The Baptist & Reflector, however)