Thoughts on the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association Decision
about Pleasant Valley Community Church
Part 2: Reflections on the Significance of What Happened

November 4, 2011


By Dr. Lemke, Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, occupying the McFarland Chair of Theology, Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, and Editor of the
Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.


Reflections on the Daviess-McLean Decision

In Part 1, I shared my perceptions (from admittedly incomplete knowledge) about the decision of Daviess-McLean Baptist Association (DMBA) to deny the membership request from Pleasant Valley Community Church (PVCC). The main point was that although theological issues were involved in the decision because of the strongly Calvinistic doctrine of PVCC, the decision appears to have been based more on attitudinal issues by PVCC that the member churches of DMBC felt could be divisive. Here are some brief reflections on my understanding of the significance of the association’s decision to deny membership to PVCC, and the implications of this action for other churches and associations as we move forward.

(1)   The local church is the center of (earthly) authority in Baptist polity. Local church autonomy is a distinctive Baptist belief (as I have discussed). The local churches in Daviess-McLean Baptist Association were perfectly within their rights to deny membership to Pleasant Valley Community Church. This determination was made not by associational officials, but by duly authorized messengers from the member churches of DMBA. They were voting as representatives of their own local church, not as representatives of the association as a whole. At the same time, DMBA has no authority to force PVCC to change their doctrine or practice. PVCC can worship as they choose, believe as they choose, and do church as they choose. The biblical foundation of church autonomy, of course, is the priority given to local churches in the New Testament. However, theologically it reflects that through the priesthood of believers (another Baptist distinctive), each member seeks the will of God, the headship of Jesus Christ, and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and represents that divine leadership in voting on decisions in the church. This collective reflection of the will of God is much more reliable than putting this decision solely in the hands of a few fallible authoritarian leaders. This is a wonderful and marvelous thing that inflexible top-down hierarchical denominations like Catholics and Presbyterians “desire to look into” (1 Pet. 1:12, KJV).

(2)  Doctrine matters. The Daviess-McLean Baptist Association decision has underscored the fact that doctrine really does matter. Birds of a feather flock together. Churches that are in agreement in faith and practice tend to be more unified and harmonious. In this case, while acknowledging that the theology of PVCC was not heretical, and not going into specific detail about their theological concerns, the association did “recognize that it [PVCC’s theology] is vastly different than the majority of churches within the DMBA,” and thus would be potentially divisive. This decision is a powerful antidote to the strong pluralistic, ecumenical forces in our day that threaten to dull the doctrinal distinctives of evangelical Christians and denominations to be merged into an amorphous lowest common denominator which does not truly represent anyone’s real beliefs.

(3)  Those who want to be accepted should make themselves acceptable. It is befitting for those seeking acceptance from others to try to minimize any possible hindrances to acceptance. It was PVCC seeking membership in DMBA, not vice versa. The onus of responsibility was thus on PVCC to demonstrate their cooperativeness and fit with DMBA and demonstrate their worthiness to join DMBA, not vice versa. Without knowing most of the details of this situation, it is evident from the overwhelming 104-9 vote of DMBA that PVCC did not take common sense steps to connect in positive ways with the association. PVCC did demonstrate that they valued and sought interaction with other faraway groups in such as the Acts 29 Network based in Seattle, Washington than they did fellowship with Southern Baptist churches in their own area. And when interaction did take place between PVCC and the local churches in DMBA, it evidently was not predominantly a positive experience. The Credential Committee’s findings noted that PVCC had not given evidence that it “would be sympathetic with the purpose and work of the body of the DMBA,” and noted that PVCC had practiced “an overall lack of the key elements of cooperation found in patience, humility, kindness, compassion and gentleness.” It clearly appeared to be these perceived uncooperative and somewhat arrogant attitudinal problems that “ultimately” led to the denial of PVCC from DMBA. This was a preventable tragedy, but PVCC (perhaps in part because of the inexperienced leadership and/or a doctrinaire inflexibility) must bear much of the responsibility for their own rejection.

(4)  This DMBA decision has a very limited impact on PVCC.  The main impact of this decision is that messengers from PVCC cannot vote in the annual session of DMBA.  I don’t think that being denied this minor privilege is going to cripple the ministry of PVCC. The DMBA’s decision does not bar PVCC from attending DMBA meetings. It does not delimit PVCC from attending DMBA training events, such as Sunday School training or Vacation Bible School training, if PVCC had any interest in these. It does not prohibit PVCC from membership in the Kentucky Baptist Convention or the SBC. It does not bar PVCC from participating in the evangelistic or missions efforts of DMBA (if PVCC’s theology did not prevent the church from desiring to do so). It does not prohibit PVCC from sending their youth or children to camps sponsored by the DMBA. It does not prevent PVCC from inviting other DMBA pastors to speak in their church for revivals (if PVCC’s doctrine does not prohibit themselves from having revivals) or in other worship services. It does not prevent PVCC from partnering on projects with individual DMBA churches. It does not prohibit PVCC from contributing money to DMBA or its related ministries. If PVCC were genuinely interested in demonstrating their cooperative spirit to DMBA, doing any or all of these things (and doing so in a sweet spirit) would go a long way in changing the perception of the churches in the association that PVCC has an uncooperative spirit. Again, the point is that one should not make more of this decision than the minor impact it has on PVCC.

(5)  Sometimes unity requires division. As I noted in an earlier series of articles about the fault lines that divide Southern Baptists, there is a point at which it does not appear fruitful for two groups to continue walking together.  More unity is found by dividing into two groups rather than continuing irritating each other by constantly arguing and bickering with each other in the same group. I described this as the “in Adam” optionunity through division (that is, taking human fallenness into consideration, divisions like this are inevitable). This was true of Southern Baptists and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and it may yet (and the odds are, it will) cause further such divisions over the issue of Calvinism (as SBC Executive Committee CEO Frank Page noted in a recent SBC Today interview) and/or along other fault lines in Southern Baptist life (as I have noted). For example, if churches like PVCC continue finding more commonality with groups such as Acts 29 or the Founders group prior to and over against local associations – networking with them, going to their meetings, seeking their counsel, etc., as Pastor Edwards’ interview on the Acts 29 website indicates – it is inevitable that these alternative groups like Acts 29 and Founders will functionally become an association to themselves, start breaking down into statewide and regional fellowships, and eventually split into another denomination. If narrow doctrinal agreement is required for fellowship, these sorts of splits are inevitable in the SBC in the interest of unity and harmony.

(6)  True unity requires toleration of a greater range of differences. I believe that the Lord’s ideal for his churches is not that they splinter and divide, but that they “dwell together in unity” (Ps. 133:1). This is what I have called the “in Christ” optionunity through diversity. For such a broader unity to be a reality, it is necessary that believers (and churches) be more tolerant and forgiving of each other. It requires that we must be content to agree on major points and agree to disagree on other points. It means in this case, for example, that PVCC not describe widely accepted Baptist patterns of church governance as “unbiblical.” Had Edwards just said in the interview that PVCC sought to discover the church polity that they felt the Bible affirmed, that would have been fine. But to condemn the polity of others as “unbiblical” does not build unity. Again, the DMBA finding that PVCC demonstrated “an overall lack of the key elements of cooperation found in patience, humility, kindness, compassion and gentleness” indicates that DMBA did not consider PVCC willing to demonstrate the tolerant attitudes demanded of true unity.

Unfortunately, the association’s written findings were rather vague both in regard to the specific doctrinal issues which were problematic and in listing specific examples of the attitudinal issues which they found problematic. However, DMBA’s overwhelming 104-9 vote suggests that PVCC wasn’t even close to being acceptable. This was evidently not a hard decision for the association.

However, to achieve unity in a broader spectrum of churches, we must tolerate a wider range of differences. We must respect the autonomy of each local church, and respect the right of that church to be different in some ways. We must not insist that our perspective is the only biblical perspective on operational issues that are not clearly required in Scripture. We must have some flexibility in doctrinal issues, as long as they are not clearly unbiblical. We must strive to improve our communication and the attitudes we express in working with fellow believers to avoid repeated experiences such as this one in other associations.

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sal

Thanks, Dr. Lemke, for this timely assessment. An attitudinal element exists as numerous others have pointed out. I’ve experienced it first-hand and it’s jarring. I learned much from it.

Brandon Swanner

Dr. Lemke,

As a member and pastor of PVCC I feel the need to speak on behalf of my fellow pastor and my church. I respect your freedom to blog about current issues that are happening within our denomination. I appreciate that you have served Christ much longer than I and I realize that in the grand scheme of Kingdom work my hands are far less callused than yours. I say all of those things to communicate that I am not writing these words quickly, with anger, or with any desire to provoke harm upon your reputation or name.

Being a man who is not familiar with this situation(by your own profession) you are speaking with a very sure and negative tone about my brother Jamus Edwards. I simply wish to speak humbly in his/our defense.

We love our brothers in the DMBA. That’s why we wanted to join. We see men leading churches who love Jesus, love lost people, and love the church. Jamus Edwards in every way led our leadership to embrace this vision for associating with these brothers. His love for them was so obvious that it seeded my own heart to produce the same fruit. Once we were sold on this vision we proceeded. We were certainly aware of differences between our church and many within the association, but none nearly as large as the differences between existing churches currently within the DMBA(such as the infallibility of Scripture, the virgin birth, ect). That’s one of the reasons why we were so disheartened at the committees’ decision. We feel we were much more comfortable under the umbrella of the 1963 BF&M(They do not accept the 2000 BF&M) than many of the already existing churches.

From the very beginning of this process we were told that because of our doctrinal beliefs, because we had pastors who graduated from SBTS, because we quote John Piper…. we would not receive enough votes to get into the DMBA by the DOM. We met often with the Director of Missions a number of times and were repeatedly encouraged not to apply. It was within this context that we were not sympathetic to the wants and direction of the DMBA’s leadership. Did we sin as pastors…regrettably yes. Please pray that God gives us much grace to continue in repentance. We were agressive in trying to convince our brothers that the stereotypes are wrong. That we want to preach the Gospel to EVERYONE! That we believe John 3:16, that we believe that God isn’t willing that any should perish, that we believe men should be pleaded with to repent and trust in Christ, and we even put on a revival every now and then(I’m not sure what value there was in you calling that into question). In spite of our pleading it was clear throughout the process that we were not going to be allowed in.

I’d like to specifically address a comment in your post:
1. “PVCC did demonstrate that they valued and sought interaction with other faraway groups in such as the Acts 29 Network based in Seattle, Washington than they did fellowship with Southern Baptist churches in their own area. And when interaction did take place between PVCC and the local churches in DMBA, it evidently was not predominantly a positive experience”

We have only been a member of Acts 29 for a very short period of time. In the 5 years of our church’s existence we have served, worked along side of, and prayed for our sister churches in Owensboro. Your assumption that was stated as fact is just plain false. We did not first seek acceptance and fellowship in Seattle. I have personally worked in 10 churches that are within the DMBA in my short time as a pastor. We have had incredibly positive experiences with these churches and these experiences were a big part of what drove us to look past differences and join the association. The fact that 149 members voted to not accept us doesn’t mean that all of those members disliked PVCC. They were doing exactly what they should have done by following the advice of the appointed officers who gave a formal recommendation. We hold no hard feelings toward those who simply followed their leaders, but only wish that we could have had a chance to show them that we loved them and loved the same Gospel.

I am thankful that this story has been such a big deal(quite frankly we have been shocked by the national coverage) only because it tells me that this is a rare event. Our experience is certainly the exception and not the rule. Most associations are lovingly joining hands as Edwards and Wesley did. In spite of our experience thus far we will continue to work with other pastors and churches within the DMBA to joyfully serve our King in bringing Owensboro and the nations to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. In fact I’m convicted at the amount of time I have spent worrying about what a seminary prof in New Orleans thinks about my church while there are lost people dying in my neighborhood. Please pray for us as we pray for you!

HERE IS OUR FORMAL RESPONSE VIA THE WEBSITE: https://acrobat.com/app.html#d=CQKS4K7XyFGV8Ab0P6X85A

    Steve Lemke

    Brandon,
    I’m encouraged by (and share) the commitment voiced in your statement here and in the PVCC statement to reaching the lost. I find the PVCC statement to be gracious and well-spoken. As I voiced in my article, I think continued communications such as these will help resolve this problem in time.
    swl

      Steve Lemke

      Brandon,
      One further response — I hope that nothing I said would be construed as questioning Jamus Edwards’ character or ability. Frankly, my third hand understanding is that some of the negative perceptions from DMBA about PVCC concern some actions by other staff members at PVCC, not Jamus. The only “negative” I said in referencing Jamus was about his statement that PVCC did not “self-identify” as a Calvinistic church, and I listed a number of factors that indicated this was not completely accurate. I do continue to have that perception, and I hope (as your note and the PVCC statement suggest) that PVCC will give attention to addressing that self-identification more consciously.

      For example, on the front page of the PVCC web page, there is a a prominently displayed logo and link to Acts 29 Network. I understand that you are also members of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the SBC, and indeed that these are your primary relationships. But you display no logos or links on your PVCC front web page to them; in fact, I don’t see them mentioned at all. (You also have a link to a non-SBC group focusing on people groups, and we all want to reach unreached people groups, but there is no link to the IMB). So, one more small step in removing this perception would be to publicly identify yourselves as Kentucky Baptists and Southern Baptists as much or more than Acts 29ers. Again, you may have been unconscious of the impression that these sorts of things (including the several other such things I mentioned in the article) are likely to have on others, but they do indicate to a neutral observer that you identify yourselves primarily as Calvinists and just secondarily as Southern Baptists, and hence might bring a question to mind about your cooperativeness with other local Southern Baptist churches.

      Again, my hope and prayer is for unity and joining hands to reach the world for and through Christ.
      swl

Tim Rogers

Brother Brandon,

Thank you for your reply. I personally am sorry that you all have endured this time that your church has gone through. It is not something that you should have gone through, based on your own words.

I want to ask a couple of questions and also make a point in your response that you, and others in your leadership, may be overlooking. First, according to a couple of statements I have seem made, it concerns the status of the church plant/replant. Is PVCC an original church plant or is it a church that was originally a SB church but left the association? If it was a re-plant, did the church originally have a doctrine that would be attributed as a SB doctrine? IOW, did the church affirm the BF&M prior to the change? If not, then why now? Why didn’t the original church join the association? Second, your opening paragraph is a very humble sounding statement but your concluding paragraph is very condescending. If this statement is indicative of the way your leadership has tried to join the association it seems your inability to cooperate is evident. Third, your understanding of an association’s vote is indicative of your lack of understanding of Baptist polity. If you think Baptists vote in favor of a committee’s recommendation because the people are “following their leaders” you sadly misunderstand Baptist polity. Baptists, in a church as well in an association, are going to vote according to their conscious not according to their “leaders”. Certainly their “leaders” hold certain sway due to their positions but the Baptists in the pews will vote their conscious. It is the same within the association. However, when you get to the state level and the national level then the Baptists begin voting based on their leaders positions. That is the reason, PVCC joined the Kentucky and the SBC. There is no vote to join these two entities. Jerry Falwell led Thomas Road to become a SBC church simply by giving $10,000 to the Virginia Baptist Conservative convention. No vote on the state level or the national level.

As to your position on the doctrines of Grace. It is clear, by your 60 page statement, you are hard core Calvinist. You are not moderately Calvinists as is clear in the hard determinism of your statement along with the double predestination. As SB we do not affirm hard core Calvinism. Also, as to your lack of identifying yourself as “Calvinists”. That is also an issue that must be looked at. This is precisely the issue within the SBC. People “flying stealth” in order to gain positions within the SBC they normally would not gain because of their soteriology. I will work with Calvinists who are upfront about their Calvinist soteriology but I will not work with someone that is a Calvinist but tries to hide it because of some perceived fear.

One other thing that Dr. Lemke did not address in either article. Your lack of cooperating and accepting the will of God as demonstrated through the priesthood of believers is evident in the way you handled the documents pertaining to this situation. Many of the SBTS profs were already speaking about this issue the morning following the vote. Also, the Western Recorder was aware of this issue and made a decision to wait and see if a vote took place. One other thing is Brother Tom Ascoll used a private working document, given to your pastor, instead of the official response from the association. Question, How did Dr. Ascoll get a working document that was a private communication between your pastor and the moderator? And you do not understand why the association concluded PVCC was not going to be cooperative within the association of churches?

Brother, I pray for the best at PVCC and rejoice with her in the kingdom strategy she uses in presenting every living human with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Blessings,
Tim

Brandon Swanner

Tim,

Thank you for your prayers brother. We never received private documentation. Rather per our request the association gave us a formal statement from the committee explaining their decision. There was no request to keep any information private there were no disclaimers disregarded. We were free to communicate to anyone any information we desired.

Could you explain this comment in detail? I’m not quite sure what you mean by accepting the will of God through the priesthood of the believer.

“One other thing that Dr. Lemke did not address in either article. Your lack of cooperating and accepting the will of God as demonstrated through the priesthood of believers is evident in the way you handled the documents pertaining to this situation. Many of the SBTS profs were already speaking about this issue the morning following the vote.”

At this point …I will read your response, but I am withdrawing from posting any further comments. Grace and peace to you all.

Ben Simpson

Brandon said in his original comment, “From the very beginning of this process we were told that because of our doctrinal beliefs, because we had pastors who graduated from SBTS, because we quote John Piper…. we would not receive enough votes to get into the DMBA by the DOM. We met often with the Director of Missions a number of times and were repeatedly encouraged not to apply.” Thank you, Brandon, for helping us understand that the associational vote was a foregone conclusion, making it clear who had an agenda in the process.

peter lumpkins

For the record,

a) if one talks to members of the CC, one gets a very different understanding. Hence, Ben Simpson’s remark that somehow Brandon “mak[es] it clear who had an agenda in the process” is ridiculous. What Brandon did do is possibly demonstrate the discourtesy the association felt in the entire process they experienced. Nor is it helpful to send out the report they received as if it was the final report of the CC. It was not. And for them to allow others to quote from it as if it were is simply wrongF

b) it is interesting that it is reported here that for the last 5 years, PVCC has stood beside other Owensboro churches. Fine. When did PVCC stop being a non-denominational church? When did PVCC join the SBC & KBC? When did PVCC decide they wanted to be a cooperating Southern Baptist church? Answers to these questions could go a long way in helping us understand what’s going on here.

With that, I am…
Peter

Ben Simpson

It’s always good to have Peter adding to the record. ;o)

Peter, when a DOM tells a cooperating SBC and KBC church from the beginning of and continually throughout the process that it will not be admitted to the association because of its doctrinal position, which in no way runs opposed to the DMBA doctrinal position of the BF&M 1963, then an agenda is definitely afoot. Long before the CC detected a so-called “lack of the key elements of cooperation found in patience, humility, kindness, compassion and gentleness,” this SBC/KBC church was told to not apply. Sadly, the DMBA felt at the end the need to impugn the character of the PVCC leadership, most likely to divert attention away from the DMBA agenda.

Perhaps the pastors of PVCC let their flesh rule at points as the process progressed–they’ve admitted to sinning at points–but injustice has a way of tempting a person to sin.

And injustice is precisely what happened here. Nobody is denying the right of the DMBA to reject a church. As has been said ad nauseum, this association is autonomous and can deny anybody they want on whatever basis they want. But, there should be much questioning of the rightness of the DMBA doing what they did. While no one’s rights were violated, the DMBA did not act justly according to their official doctrinal statement–the BF&M 1963. They rejected a church, primarily because of a doctrinal position, who met every doctrinal qualification the association has set forth. They created an unjust double standard.

However, PVCC was doing fine before the rejection and will continue to do so. As Dr York pointed out in the comment section on part 1 of this blog, PVCC is going to be featured for their mission work during the IMB report at the KBC and baptized 50 converts last year. I would add these baptisms were most likely 50 actual converts to Christianity and not “converts” to the Baptist church or rebaptisms infinitum. I mean, who wants a true Great Commission Baptist church in their midst, right? Sadly, the DMBA doesn’t.

peter lumpkins

Ben

Not sure if you’red being facetious or not with your opening statement. Even so, to depend on hearsay as a means to better communicate a solution to problems is heightened nonsense. Dr. York should be ashamed of himself denigrating a DOM that hasn’t been mentioned in any of the media but apparently only to him via the allegedly “wronged” pastor. Tale-bearing pure and simple.

You also say, “They rejected a church, primarily because of a doctrinal position, who met every doctrinal qualification the association has set forth. They created an unjust double standard.” Well, this is ridiculous. They offered both doctrinal *and* attitudinal reasons unlike you mention. In addition, your claim about a “double-standard” is firmly nonsense. The PVCC does not affirm any version of the BFM and certainly does not affirm the 1963 BF&M. Instead they chose to write their own. Great. All the power to them. But I wouldn’t touch a church or church plant that did not embrace at least one version for the BF&M, especially a church with no SBC roots but only non-denominational roots.

With that, I am…
Peter

    Joshua

    To begin with humor, the mere mentioning of “attitudinal” by Peter Lumpkins is…well, words can’t describe.

    To the point Peter, your last comment regarding PVCC being a church “with no SBC roots but only non-denominational roots” is inaccurate and absurd. The church’s pastor is a SBC seminary grad and the church is a member of both the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention. To say that PVCC has no “SBC roots” is grossly inaccurate.

      volfan007

      Joshua,

      In all fairness to Peter, I heard that they started out as a non denominational Church. Is that not so?

      David

      peter lumpkins

      Dear Joshua,

      A) If you have something concrete to suggest about my alleged “attitudinal” frame, please offer it with substance. I have no interest in squabbling about whether or not you feel I have “attitudinal” concerns or not. I am interested in ideas, however.

      B). Well, check the record, brother. Was PVCC a non-denominational church or not? Nor is it remotely relevant that a pastor graduated from an SBC seminary. Last I checked we have hundreds of students and thousands who’ve graduated from our seminaries who are definitively not Southern Baptists. Hence you point would be…?

      C). So far as my information goes, PVCC became affiliated with the KBC late 2010. If this is incorrect, please supply me with a corrected source. If then my info is correct, the PVCC most certainly does not have SBC roots, and surely has not, up until recently wanted to be “grafted” in, so to speak.

      With that, I am…
      Peter

Ben Simpson

Peter, simply because a church doesn’t have a BF&M as their official statement of faith matters not. There are many churches in the SBC that are in this situation, including my own. Sometimes churches want to say more than the BF&M, and some want to say less. In this case, PVCC wanted to say more. But, that’s the beauty of the BF&M. It’s a consensus statement upholding a glorious middle ground to facilitate cooperation.

Let me point you once again to Brandon’s comment above, who is a pastor at PVCC: “We feel we were much more comfortable under the umbrella of the 1963 BF&M (They [the DMBA] do not accept the 2000 BF&M) than many of the already existing churches.” That says to me that they wholehearted affirm the BF&M 1963.

So, I stand by my statement that the DMBA unjustly created a double standard. The DMBA either needs to overturn their unjust decision or amend their statement of faith to reflect the doctrinal position they used to reject PVCC.

    volfan007

    Ben,

    Lets also not forget that it was not just their very strong, Calvinists beliefs and affiliation with Acts 29; but it was also due to their attitude. I believe it was said that they seemed to have an attitude which would cause strife and division in the Assoc. I believe that was the general gest of the statement.

    So, it was not just about their doctrinal stand.

    David

      Ben Simpson

      Hi, David. You are correct that in the end, it was not just PVCC’s doctrinal stance that the DMBA has cited as reason they rejected PVCC, but let me reiterate what I said to Peter, which I think shows why they were really rejected. Long before the CC detected a so-called “lack of the key elements of cooperation found in patience, humility, kindness, compassion and gentleness,” this SBC/KBC church, who verbally affirmed the DMBA statement of faith, which is the BF&M 1963, was told to not apply because of their doctrinal stance. The attitudinal element came in at a much later time, seemingly at the last moment given that the CC’s written report to PVCC included nothing attitudinal.

      As Pastor Barry Rager, who made the motion to accept PVCC into the DMBA, told the Western Recorder, “In my dealings with the pastors from this church, I experienced good fellowship [and] good cooperation. These men love the Word, they preach the Gospel; … they are taking the Gospel around the world.”

        peter lumpkins

        Ben,

        It’s tiring hearing what outsiders like us speculate is the real reason DMBA did what they did. It started on a twitter gossip column and even perpetuated by a Southern professor on part I of this series who had the audicity to indict the DOM based on sheer hearsay. As I said, while the pastor may have told the seminary prof lots of things, I personally talked to both the DOM and CC members and got quite a different impression than the good professor says the pastor gave him. However, I have no business divulging such because I cannot collaborate it, which ends up being no more than hearsay. Hence, drop the nonsense about ignoring all public documents given to the association and quoted in the media and instead offering pure speculation about the real reason PVCC was denied membership. This is nothing less than ipso facto implicating the association with sheer dishonesty based on no tangible evidence.

        Second,what you cite about from the working document a member of the CC sent to PVCC is definitively not the report. Rather, it was a list of preliminary findings sent to the pastor upon request, findings sent after the pastor learned the CC was not going to recommend them. It was not intended to be the final report to the association–the only report that ultimately mattered And truth be told, had the CC member known the pastor was going to email-blast it out to select people who stirred the waters up, he probably would have thought twice in sending it. Why? Well, guys like Tom Ascol and now you & others attempt to use it not only to tout a supposed contradiction between what the committee told the pastor and the association, but also to concoct a theory about the real reason they were denying membership to DMBA.

        With that, I am…
        Peter

          Ben Simpson

          Peter, the facts as reported remain the facts. Spin them how you want to, but you cannot change the fact that PVCC was told to not apply long before a so-called “lack of the key elements of cooperation found in patience, humility, kindness, compassion and gentleness” was detected. If you have other facts, Peter, report them.

    peter lumpkins

    Ben,

    A) it most certainly makes a difference to me, Ben and frankly most associations with whom I have any knowledge whether or not a church supports the BF&M

    B) albeit any pastor’s verbal support for any confession, it remains a fact PVCC does not officially embrace any version of the BF&M. Such a flagrant omission cannot be dismissed, Ben

    C) Once again, you ignore the history of PVCC which only recently was connected with the KBC and whose history is as a non-denominational church. It has no SBC roots. Therefore, you may stand on your original statement all you wish. I wouldn’t have given this church the time of day until it demonstrated a clear conversion from non-denominationalism to Southern Baptist yearnings. It could have began the process by officially embracing at least one version of the BF&M, something you feel unnecessary. Sorry, Ben, it just not that easy. As Dr. Lemke judiciously said, they opted instead to write their own confession–a confession clearly more bold in its explicit “Reformed” yearnings than any SBC confession–and sought to network with an exclusively “Reformed” group before it devided it wanted to “partner” with Southern Baptists. The CC did exactly the right thing in not affirming a recommendation–not yet. When PVCC shows undeniably proof it desires to be a a DMBA affiliated church, then the talks could very well be reopened.

    With that, I am…
    Peter

Ben Simpson

Peter,

a) PVCC certainly seems to have supported the BF&M for associational cooperation but desired to say more in their church’s official doctrinal stance.

PVCC or any other SBC church does not have to have the BF&M as their actual statement of faith in order to be fit for associational life. The BF&M was meant to be a consensus document for the SBC, state conventions, and local associations. As a good friend of mine wrote recently, “The purpose of the BF&M is to unite like-minded, but not identically-minded, Baptists in the cause of the Great Commission of going to the nations, making disciples, and teaching them to observe our Lord’s commandments.” I think he’s captured the spirit of the BF&M perfectly.

Read the listed “statement of the historic Baptist conception of the nature and function of confessions of faith in our religious and denominational life” from the preamble of the BF&M. The first statement says, “they constitute a consensus of opinion of some Baptist body, large or small, for the general instruction and guidance of our own people and others concerning those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us.” The third statement says, “any group of Baptists, large or small, have the inherent right to draw up for themselves and publish to the world a confession of their faith whenever they may think it advisable to do so.”

So, Peter, the BF&M is a consensus (ie, lowest common denominator) statement, and a local church, under the advisement of the BF&M framers and the conventions that passed the BF&M, are welcomed to publish a different statement of faith if they so wish. It’s in no way “anti-SBC” or “anti-BF&M” for a church to have its own statement of faith. It’s actually thoroughly BF&M to do so!!

The DMBA chose to stand with the BF&M 1963, which PVCC seemingly affirmed for the purpose of associational cooperation. Unfortunately, the DMBA did not utilize the BF&M 1963 when they made their decision. They created a second standard.

b) Are you implying, Peter, that any church who does not have a BF&M as their statement of faith should be removed from associational life?

c) Exactly how long has PVCC been SBC and KBC? How long is long enough?

d) Peter, it seems to me that you are inventing reasons the DMBA rejected PVCC. Please demonstrate that part of the reason the DMBA has cited for rejecting PVCC is that they had non-denominational roots. As best as I can tell from what’s been reported, it was because of PVCC’s doctrinal stance and their perceived attitude.

e) If talks between the DMBA and PVCC were to be reopened, it should begin with the DMBA going to PVCC, asking for forgiveness and inviting PVCC to reapply.

peter lumpkins

Ben,

A) Perhaps I did not make myself clear. Let me attempt it again. It doesn’t mean jack squat what you or I think about what the BF&M is or is supposed to be or how it is supposed to me a “lowest common denominator” and etc. as it pertains to the DMBA. They do not accept new churches unless they officially subscribe to their confessional statement (a.k.a. the 1963 BF&M). Now we can argue all day about whether that is a good policy, an inconsistent one, a horrible one, etc etc etc, ad infinitum, ad naseaum. But they made the decision based on their criteria. And, we have no right to judge their decision wrong based on consistency with their on standard.

B) If the church does not have the BF&M as an official confession, no amount of rhetoric can suggest they support, Ben. Please. You’re simply being argumentative. Either they confess the statement or they don’t. PVCC has their 60 page confession. They do not have the 2-3 page confession the SBC produced (either 1925, 1963, 0r 2000). Now, I’m through arguing that point. But you can continue on by yourself if you like

C) No, I’m implying precisely what DMBA embraces and practices, namely that no new church start and certainly no church with a non-denominational background should be allowed to become a member of an historic Southern Baptist association without embracing a thorough-going Southern Baptist confession. If that’s not clear, let me know.

D) A heck of a lot longer than a year, especially in light of the fact that a church has no SBC roots or “mothering” and apparently no desire to embrace any SBC confession

E) Inventing reasons? Excuse me? I most certainly did not invent any reason whatsoever, Ben. I stated a fact. That’s all I did. I did not attribute the non-denominational status of PVCC to the CC or the DMBA’s reasoning. If I did, where? Hence, if you wish to dispute the fact, have at it, Ben. But do not accuse me of inventing reasons when I did no such thing. To the contrary, you and many of the critics on this site are the ones repeatedly popping off about the real reason DMBA denied membership to PVCC, repetition about which you possess only hearsay

F) You may continue condemning DMBA as you wish. Nor is the absurd notion that DMBA should apologize to PVCC and “ask forgiveness” even morally sensible, Ben. Good grief. The association pursued their own protocol and made a decision consistent with their association. It didn’t go well for the candidate. So, the association should “apologize.” I never cease to learn…

With that, I am…
Peter

Ben Simpson

Peter, where is it stated that the DMBA does not accept new churches unless they officially have the 1963 BF&M as the church’s statement of faith? That would be new news.

My church does not have the BF&M as our doctrinal statement, but we support the BF&M for all levels of SBC cooperation, as do many SBC churches. It seems like PVCC was trying to do the same. Your reasoning that PVCC doesn’t support the BF&M simply because it’s not their actual church statement of faith is ludicrous.

Peter, I’m glad to see that you could not produce a citation from the DMBA suggesting that they had rejected PVCC for its non-denominational roots. Therefore, I would encourage you to stop reasoning that way as well. We’re discussing what the DMBA did, not what Peter would do.

As I’ve argued, Peter, the DMBA ruled using a double standard, which is unjust. They claim that the 1963 BF&M is their standard, but clearly it is not. Asking forgiveness for that would be a great start. And then they either need to amend their statement of faith to reflect how they judged or invite PVCC into the association.

peter lumpkins

Ben,

A)Why not pick up the phone and ask them?

B) Is your church a member of the DMBA? If it is not, your point is meaningless.

C) Look, Ben. You’re being ridiculous. I did not cite the non-denominational history as part of either the CC or DMBA’s reasoning. If anything, it is an incidental fact that is entirely relevant to my own reasoning. However, if I did cite PVCC’s non-denominational status being expressed by the DMBA, then quote my words back to me either here or from elsewhere. Simple. If you cannot, then drop the nonsense that I am doing so when you cannot show it. One last time: it is a fact that PVCC’s history is a non-denominational church. Either show I am incorrect, or as we say in Georgia, hush-up about it.

With that, I am…
Peter

    peter lumpkins

    All

    Since Ben apparently is not interested in factual matters, neither toward the PVCC’s non-denominational status prior to them desiring to be a “SBC” church nor showing that his allegation about my “creating” reasons for the DMBA’s decision to deny membership to PVCC, I thought I’d show precisely what I’ve said on this thread about PVCC’s non-denominationalism which Ben supposedly used to suggest I “created” reasons for DMBA’s decision. Below are all the comments I wrote about PVCC’s non-denominationalism:

    –“When did PVCC stop being a non-denominational church?” (emphasis added here and below)

    –“But I wouldn’t touch a church or church plant that did not embrace at least one version for the BF&M, especially a church with no SBC roots but only non-denominational roots”

    –“Well, check the record, brother. Was PVCC a non-denominational church or not?… If then my info is correct, the PVCC most certainly does not have SBC roots, and surely has not, up until recently wanted to be “grafted” in, so to speak”

    –“Once again, you ignore the history of PVCC which only recently was connected with the KBC and whose history is as a non-denominational church. It has no SBC roots”

    Now, to my knowledge, these are the only statements I made concerning the non-denominational status of PVCC. Note at no single point did I imply or even hint that part of DMBA’s reasoning for denying membership to PVCC included the non-denominational background of PVCC. Yet Ben insists I “created” reasons for DMBA. He wrote:

    “Peter, it seems to me that you are inventing reasons the DMBA rejected PVCC. Please demonstrate that part of the reason the DMBA has cited for rejecting PVCC is that they had non-denominational roots”

    After I asked him to clarify—“Inventing reasons? Excuse me? I most certainly did not invent any reason whatsoever, Ben… If I did, where?”—he nonetheless retorted:

    I’m glad to see that you could not produce a citation from the DMBA suggesting that they had rejected PVCC for its non-denominational roots

    I asked him three times to clarify. But Ben can’t clarify because Ben doesn’t have my words to validate his absurd assertion I am inventing reasons for DMBA!  This type of nonsense typically goes on–incorrigible opinions masquerading as authentic engagement. In this case, since no tangible proof for the fallacious assertion against my point exists, the accusation of “spin” is tossed out and summarily dismissed. Oh well, I never cease to learn…

    With that, I am…

    Peter

Ben Simpson

Peter,

a) Because the onus is on you to prove your statement that the DMBA does not accept new churches unless they officially have the 1963 BF&M as the church’s statement of faith. You must not be able to support your statement.

b) My point that my church does not have the BF&M as our doctrinal statement but support the BF&M for all levels of SBC cooperation, as do many SBC churches, is very meaningful because you continue to postulate that simply because PVCC doesn’t have the BF&M as it’s church statement of faith, it can’t at the same time support the BF&M for cooperative associations. You reasoning is bizarre because my church and many churches like mine are proof of what you say can’t be.

I’m not denying the fact PVCC has a non-denominational history. I trust you’re being absolutely forthright with that statement. My point is that as best I can tell from the facts reported from the situation in Owensboro, the DMBA didn’t take issue with that. The non-denominational hang-up seems to be Peter Lumpkins’ and not the DMBA’s. And it seems that you ceded that point in your last comment. I’m just trying to get us to stick to what actually went down in Owensboro and not muddy the water.

peter lumpkins

Ben,

A) I’ve been very clear. If you do not get from my statement that the info I received came from my phone call to them I can’t help you. The info is available to anyone who wants it. What do you want a recording? Good grief…

B) Ben, are you even reading my comments? It doesn’t matter what you or I think about the policies of DMBA. You may think I am bazaar. It doesn’t matter what you think of my reasoning. I’m telling you the DMBA requires new church starts to embrace their confessional standards–bazaar or not. That’s the last time I’m stating that because you’re apparently incorrigible about that. So, if you don’t like it, take it up with DMBA.

C). I gave you a list of statements above about what I’ve written on this thread, Ben. I nowhere implied or hinted at PVCC’s non-denominational status is or was a part of DMBA or CC’s rationale. It wouldn’t surprise me if they did have that but it is not stated in any document and I did not attribute it to them.

Now so far as I am concerned, this exchange is over. You may continue on if you wish.

With that, I am…
Peter

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