Are SBC Resolutions Only Valid for One Year?

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While citing the Southern Baptist Convention website on resolutions for yesterday’s applied ethics post1 I noticed a interesting statement about resolutions.

Note the following from the SBC website [emphasis added].

21. How do I find out the official SBC stance on various issues?

The Southern Baptist Convention makes official statements regarding specific issues by means of resolutions passed at our annual gatherings each June.  Southern Baptist polity views these resolutions as expressions of opinions or concern which are representative of the messengers attending the meeting, but are not binding upon any individual church or successive Convention.  Generally speaking, resolutions are snapshots of views widely held among Southern Baptists at the time and in the social contest in which they are passed, but they are not deemed to be doctrinal or creedal (tests of fellowship).2

It is understood that resolutions are expressions of opinion and are not officially binding. Of course, those opinions are of the messengers present as they are the ones listening, interacting and voting. However, the above states that not only are resolutions not binding, but they are not binding upon the “successive Convention,” that is, the following Convention that meets. It makes sense that such resolutions represent views at the time and context in which they are presented and passed since cultural issues faced by Southern Baptists can change from year to year.

Do the above statements on SBC resolutions mean that they are only applicable to the particular Convention in which they are passed and not successive Conventions?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bill Mac April 19, 2012 at 11:40 am

That’s the way I read it. And of course, they don’t really matter that much for the year in which they are adopted.

2 Chris Roberts April 19, 2012 at 11:41 am

That’s what it sounds like.

3 Bart Barber April 19, 2012 at 11:45 am

It all depends upon what “binding” means.

There is certainly a sense in which SBC resolutions are at least enduring. For example, if you were to submit a resolution this year that addressed an identical theme from a perspective identical to that of a resolution adopted in 2004, the committee (and the convention) are likely to decline your resolution claiming that the SBC has already spoken on that question. The presumption is that the statement from 2004 appertains to this year’s convention as well. This is at least one way in which the resolutions of a previous year impact the action of this year’s convention.

On the other hand, there is a sense in which a resolution is not even binding upon the convention meeting that actually adopts it! We could, in the same year, both adopt a resolution and pass a motion doing something that we opposed in the text of the resolution. No two votes of even the same convention have the exact same group of people voting. It depends upon who is in the hall at that moment. And the adoption of a resolution would have absolutely no parliamentary impact upon the convention’s actions.

PS: You have pastors visiting your blog. We haven’t had to study math since our undergraduate degrees. Isn’t your security question a little presumptuous? 😉

4 Joshua Collins April 19, 2012 at 11:51 am

Some of us haven’t had math since high school (got credit for my only required undergrad math class). But I can just copy and paste Mark’s math riddles into Google and get my answers. 🙂

It is interesting how the resolutions work. I do find our parliamentary processes fascinating and I hope to get to attend the national convention in the years’ ahead to experience it on that sort of scale.

5 Andrew Wencl April 19, 2012 at 11:56 am

I moved to Indy the year it was here and I was on vacation in Kentucky the year it was in Louisville. I’ll probably never make it! But I agree with the post. It would appear that the resolution is more of a one-time statement than anything else.

Does this mean we could pass a resolution this year stating that the NIV, while flawed, is a fairly decent translation?

6 Doug Hibbard April 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Since resolutions do not require action, then they are not really “binding” in the first place. However, we could change our minds or even simply say “Well, that was then” about any resolution passed in a prior year.

Without doing the research, one might consider a hypothetical resolution passed in say, 1942, calling for the utter defeat of Germany and Japan. We would not consider such a resolution still the opinion of the 2012 SBC. It would not be necessary to pass a resolution in 1946 saying “ok, Germany and Japan are cool with us now.” (Although a “Glad the war is over” resolution would certainly be in order.)

So, no, no binding requirements. In the same way, even a “one-time” motion would not be long-term binding. We could vote this year to do something once (or not do it) and it can be brought up again later without regard for the prior consideration.

7 Greg Alford April 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Resolutions are a complete “Waist of our Time”… No one pays them any attention, including our own agencies.

Do I need to remind everyone of the fact that the IMB completely ignored the resolution passed by an overwhelming number of messengers that was intended to communicate to them that the BFM2000 was to be considered sufficient go guide us in who was to be considered acceptable for appointment as a missionary and who was not.

So, until the IMB submits to the will of the convention in this matter… I will pretty much consider all resolution as meaningless!

8 Greg Alford April 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm

OK… I know… “Wast of our Time”…


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