Messengers pass resolutions on sexual misconduct, racial reconciliation, mental health, prosperity gospel
November 4th, 2019 / By: Michael Foust / comments
Messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention annual meeting passed resolutions on mental health, racial reconciliation and the prosperity gospel Oct. 29 and endorsed a new state law that shields churches from civil liability when they try and stop sexual predators.
Messengers, meeting at First Baptist Church of Odessa, also approved a resolution of appreciation for the first responders to recent mass shootings in Texas and a resolution supporting the “Who’s Your One?” evangelism initiative.
All total, messengers approved eight resolutions.
Liability for Disclosing Sexual Misconduct
The resolution on liability for disclosing sexual misconduct supports a new law signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that protects charitable organizations from civil liability when they disclose pertinent information about a potential employee related to sexual misconduct, abuse or crime. The law, for example, allows churches to contact one another without fear of a lawsuit.
The new law is known as the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
Ben Wright, a messenger and the pastor of Cedar Pointe Baptist Church in Cedar Park, Texas, spoke from the floor in favor of the resolution.
“There have been situations in the Southern Baptist Convention and even in the state of Texas,” Wright said, where “churches or other organizations ... have been afraid to take that action to warn and to protect [others from an accused or convicted sexual predator] because of the fear of lawsuit. This legislation eliminates that. So what that means is that we need to know about our moral obligation. And we need to know that we are protected from lawsuit when we act to warn in accordance with the law.”
The resolution encourages other state legislatures “to follow the lead set by the Texas legislature” and “protect those most vulnerable.”
The resolution on racial reconciliation condemns prejudice “as unworthy of the people of God” and as “an offense to the image of God in all men and women.”
It endorses “efforts to make the representative diversity of our convention be reflected in convention committee and leadership structures” and encourages churches to “consider ways in which their church committees and leadership structures can accurately reflect the ethnic diversity within their congregations.” Further, it urges churches to “increase the ways in which they minister to all ethnicities so that God will be glorified” through the “praises of the multitude from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
Messengers approved a resolution on mental health that acknowledges that Adam and Eve’s sin resulted “in the fall of the entire human race, affecting every facet of the whole person.” The resolution says churches “should provide a safe place for conversation regarding mental health struggles for their members and communities.”
For treatment, the resolution acknowledges that “Christian and biblical counseling are means by which those who experience mental health struggles can receive treatment beyond the local church.” It also acknowledges that “medical and mental health professionals are trained to provide wise and helpful tools as a means of God's common grace for those who experience mental and emotional pain.”
The resolution on the prosperity gospel says messengers “deny that the promises and the teaching of the prosperity gospel are in accordance with sound doctrine and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Further, it says “we have the biblical example of publicly distinguishing true preachers of the gospel from false teachers (2 Timothy 2:16-18; 3:1-8; Titus 1:5-16).”
“Pastors, as commanded by Scripture, should … publicly and courageously oppose teachers of the prosperity gospel as occasion requires (Galatians 1:6-9; Titus 1:9; 2:1; Jude 3).”
First Responders Appreciation
A resolution on appreciation for first responders to the mass shootings in El Paso and Midland/Odessa says messengers “recognize the exceptional courage exhibited by the law enforcement officers in stopping the shooters and interceding on behalf of the citizens” and “express our appreciation for the emergency services and hospital personnel who removed the victims, provided exceptional care, and comforted those who were impacted by both events.”
“We encourage each church of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention to express appreciation to and pray for the law enforcement officers, emergency services personnel, and medical first responders of our communities and our state,” the resolution says.
Messengers applauded when it passed.
Who’s Your One? Initiative
The resolution endorsing the “Who’s Your One?” evangelism initiative calls it a “useful strategy in recovering the primacy of personal evangelism as the essential means for Christians to faithfully fulfill the Great Commission” and urges church leaders to “start a ‘Who’s Your One?’ campaign within their congregations.”
To individual Christians it says, “We call on members of churches affiliated with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention to answer the ‘Who’s Your One?’ invitation by praying for, sharing the gospel with, and leading one person to Christ in the next year.”
Messengers also approved resolutions in appreciation of outgoing SBTC President Juan Sanchez and of First Baptist Church of Odessa, which hosted the meeting.