Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Baptists Have a Right to Know

Wade Burleson stands in a long and distinguished line of Baptists who have demanded that decision making within the SBC be done openly and for publicly accessible reasons.

Below are some excerpts from a 1957 presentation by W.G. Stacener to the Orange Blossom Baptist Association in Florida. Stacener was editor of the Florida Baptist Witness from 1949-1970.

Baptists Have a Right to Know

Every Baptist has a right to know. We can think of no sufficient reason to withhold any information he or she has a right to know. Furthermore, if one Baptist or one Baptist church has a right to know, then every church has a right to know. There should be no preferred persons or churches or groups among Baptists. All have a right to know.

Baptists have a right to know the Bible and to undersand their own doctrines and the Baptists' principles of church and denominational procedures. Baptists have a right to know the relation and application of their principles to world issues and problems that affect the entire community.

Baptists have the right to know the actions (all the actions) of the denominational and institutional boards and agencies. There can be no denominational secrets if the right to know is respected.

Baptists have the right to know and help formulate the policies and actions with which they are expected to cooperate and which they are asked to support financially.

Baptists have a right to know the thinking, attitudes and activities of all Baptists everywhere.

If a Baptist has a right to know, he or she also has an obligation to know. Willful ignorance is sinful for Baptists. . . .

Basis in Belief

The right of every Baptist to know is based on the equality of believers in Christ Jesus and upon the democratic nature of our church and denominational life. Every believer has a right to serve his or her God, his or her church, and his or her denomination intelligently. This can be done only as the right to know is respected.

If intelligent and cooperative participation in church and denomination life is to be enlisted and maintained, we must erect every safeguard to protect this right and make every effort to apply this principle.

Ignorant, misinformed, misguided Baptists can be powerful, non-cooperative, contrary and dangerous. If Baptists even think that information is being withheld from them they can act up and show their independency something awful.

On the other hand, informed, intelligent and properly enlisted Baptists are cooperative, harmonious and victorious.


TammyJo58 said...


I think that a lot of Baptists have chosen to be uninformed, or they have too much faith in their local church leadership to keep them truthfully informed. We have seen the fruits of that, and we all bear some responsibility.

God Bless,

Realist said...

I have been reading and studying allot about the rise of Baptist fundamentalists in the church. It seems many Baptists find themselves in a church that teaches Calvinism, some, such as Jerry Falwell, teaches Calvinism but desperately wants to separate himself from the extreme forms of it, like the WBC. He calls them "Hyper Calvinists" People who believe that God preordains some to hell and others to heaven. Some believe that God hates some and loves others and this is predestined. The idea that God would hate anybody is wrong in my godless worldview. I am all for people believing in whatever they want. However, when religion begins to grow powerful and organized enough to have sway and influence in our government, we should all take notice. This seems to be happening now. America in my eyes should be moving towards equal rights for every human being, gay, straight, un-religious or very religious. I am so upset over the Marriage Amendment act. If passed it would amend our constitution, something that should be done with utmost forethought. This is being done while people are busy with local elections and are not paying attention to what bills are being debated over in policymaking committee meetings right now. The rise of mega-churches and faith-based money being given to people such as Falwell is giving power to religious zealots who do not believe in separation powers. The more I read the more it scares me. The apathy of the average American is everyones enemy. I would like to know what other Baptist think of Calvinism. I see all the good small churches in my town crumbling. In need of paint jobs and some slumping off their foundations while huge mega-churches, ofetn run by Evangelical Baptists. Maybe I have this all wrong but it seems to me the rise of these large churches limits the places a person can go to worship in the way they wish. It also seems to have taken away from the smaller more home town churches.


GeorgeFrink said...

Absent blogs, the Baptist right to know you so ably advocate would be painfully truncated. Unsupported by Venture capitalists, your blog and the one to which you make primary reference are information-publishing startups. It is and should be largely invisible that the underlying network architecture of the Internet makes their success possible. Underline possible, and transitory if Net Neutrality does not prevail in the Senate. Please look at my Biblical Record Editor's Journal user blog why Net Neutrality matters to the SBC at:
Or if you prefer, read the cross-posted and only slightly different version at my home blog:

Either way, I would appreciate feedback from you on how I might better get the word out. The issue is IMHO regarded as technical, obscure and of comparataively little importance. The history of these matters says the opposite.