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Did the SBC lie to help David Platt?

Your CP dollars at work: Obfuscation to help David Platt after Platt violates his church’s constitution.

The SBC has no member churches. Since this is a basic precept of SBC life, why did Ashley Clayton deceptively write that McLean Bible Church was not a “member church,” since there is no such thing as member church? Was this an SBC lie to help David Platt? Judge for yourself.

According to the Christian Post,

“Last year, Ashley Clayton, the executive director for church affiliation for the SBC Executive Committee, wrote in a letter to McLean Board Chairman Larry Cooper that McLean was considered a ‘partnering’ church but not a member church.

“‘As background, the SBC Executive Committee Office for Church Affiliation exists to identify and facilitate ‘partnering relationships’ with like-minded evangelical churches for the purpose of gospel advancement, church planting, sending missionaries, offering theological training and giving hope and relief to broken and hurting people,’ wrote Clayton.

“‘We intentionally do NOT use the term ‘membership’ in these partnership initiatives, as we know many/most non-SBC churches are looking for a ‘fraternal’ status, again, a working partnership with the SBC, and do NOT intend to join our denomination, or otherwise identify as Southern Baptists.’

“Clayton clarified that McLean was ‘included in the SBC church database, with an identifying SBC ID number,’ but that this was ‘purely for the sake of accounting purposes as MBC partners together with SBC entities on mission.’”

This is nonsense. The SBC doesn’t use “membership” to apply to any church in friendly cooperation. So, it is obvious that Ashly Clayton is obfuscating here. (Sort of like NAMB is doing in its legal filings trying to mislead the federal courts about the nature of SBC polity. See here and here and here.)

If a church gives to the Cooperative Program and holds to the basic doctrinal beliefs, that church is going to be entitled to send messengers to the SBC Annual Meeting.

Let’s make this perfectly clear by the SBC’s own words. According to an affidavit filed in Virginia court, then SBC VP Bill Townes said, “SBC is a religious organization. It has no members. No church, association, or state convention is a member of the SBC.”

Ashley Clayton was obviously skirting the truth in that letter since someone who works for the SBC EC would have to know that there are no member churches.

Now for the question that lawyers representing the McLean Bible Church dissidents should be asking via subpoena is: Was McLean Bible Church entitled to send messengers to any SBC Annual Meeting since 2018?

Also, Did McLean Bible Church ever send messengers to the SBC Annual Meeting?

Unfortunately, there is no way to get that information without a subpoena. The Capstone Report asked the SBC Registration Secretary Don Currence if McLean Bible Church was eligible to send and/or sent messengers to the SBC Annual Meeting. He was kind enough to reply with detailed information. He said that this is not available to the public.

Unfortunately, we only share messenger registration information with those from a church in question. If you have questions regarding a church’s attendance to the SBC Annual Meeting, I would suggest contacting that specific church for that information,” Currence said. “The exception to that is that while at the Annual Meeting, if a church’s or messenger’s eligibility is questioned, that dispute can be made to the Registration Committee.”

Currence continued by explaining the complicated process for determining messenger allocations to a church.

He said, “As for eligibility of a church to send messengers, some information can be found in SBC Workspace but that is only officially determined at an Annual Meeting. Because churches can give directly to entities or because some do not report information into SBC Workspace that would deem them eligible, we are only able to verify eligibility at the time of the SBC Annual Meeting. Simply put, a church may give to Convention causes, but no one knows it because it is not reported in Workspace or at the State Convention level, but they can show up with appropriate receipts and register messengers accordingly. It’s impossible to really know until the moment of registration.”

One very important point is raised—state conventions.

Lawyers wanting to probe McLean Bible Church’s relationship with the SBC should reach out to the SBC of Virginia and ask: Did McLean Bible Church ever send messengers to the SBC of Virginia annual meeting? This is important because we know it was through SBCV that McLean channeled over $300,000 to the SBC.

And McLean Bible Church is listed as requesting (and being granted) partnership/affiliation status with SBC of Virginia in the 2018 ministry report (see page 82).

And you can also see McLean Bible Church’s CP giving for 2018 ($100,000) on the CP giving report (see page 103). Helpfully included at the top of this section of the ministry report is the explanation: “The following gifts were received in the SBC of Virginia office Sept. 1, 2016, through Aug. 31, 2017, and Sept. 1, 2017, through Aug. 31, 2018. These gifts represent the most recent 12-month period for which giving records are available. The 2018 total (Sept. 1, 2017, through Aug. 31, 2018) is used to determine the number of messengers per church as required by the SBCV Constitution (Article V, Section C).”

Also, partnership is the term that SBC of Virginia uses to describe churches in friendly cooperation with it. For example, “Dr. Brian Autry serves as Executive Director of the SBC of Virginia, a partnership of more than 790 Southern Baptist churches.”

Was McLean Bible Church one of those partnering churches? Of course, it was. It gave to the Cooperative Program. Is there any other method for determining a cooperating church?

CR asked via email if McLean ever sent messengers or was entitled to send messengers; however, we have not heard back as of press time. We will update the story if Virginia responds. Regardless of the answer to this question, McLean Bible Church appears to be no different from every other church involved in giving to the state convention.

Oh, and lest there be any doubt about McLean Bible Church affiliating with the SBC, let the words of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware make it clear:

At the May 8 Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) General Mission Board meeting at Skycroft Conference Center members voted to welcome three churches to the BCM/D:

Hillcrest Baptist, Temple Hills, Md., led by Pastor W. Clyde Pearson, transferring from Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBC);

Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C., led by Pastor Mark Dever;

McLean Bible Church, Vienna, Va., led by Pastor-Teacher David Platt, who also serves as president of the International Mission Board.

And, also this from BCMD: “Members of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s (BCM/D) General Mission Board (GMB) celebrated some good news at their May 8 meeting at Skycroft Conference Center. Members voted to welcome three churches to the BCM/D: Hillcrest Baptist, Temple Hills; Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.; and McLean Bible Church, Vienna, Va.”

The SBC and David Platt along with all the others at McLean Bible Church should do us all a favor and stop lying about MBC’s intimate relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention.

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