Leaders of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will consider a preamble to the CBF constitution restoring references to Jesus Christ and the Great Commission dropped from a purpose statement this summer.
CBF moderator Joy Yee leads communion service at this year's General Assembly. (CBF Photo/Mark Sandlin)
At its June 30-July 1 General Assembly in Grapevine, Texas, the CBF approved revisions to its constitution and bylaws. Omission of specific references to Christ and the Great Commission raised questions on the floor of the meeting. Southern Baptist Convention leaders seized the opportunity to allege the CBF was backing off from its commitment to the gospel.
A new purpose article now reads: "The purpose of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship … is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission. The Fellowship shall fulfill its purpose in keeping with its commitments to the historic Baptist principles of soul freedom, Bible freedom, church freedom, and religious freedom; to biblically-based global missions; to a resource model for serving churches; to justice and reconciliation; to lifelong learning and ministry; to trustworthiness; and to effectiveness."
Previously, the article described the CBF's purpose as "to bring together Baptists who desire to call out God's gifts in each person in order that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be spread throughout the world in glad obedience to the Great Commission."
Two motions to return the new purpose statement back to the Coordinating Council to consider restoring references to Christ and the Great Commission were defeated, with CBF leaders contending those commitments were implied.
Leaders said the intent of the change was to bring the language in the Fellowship's governing documents in line with its publicized mission statement.
After the General Assembly, amid news stories that the CBF had removed mention of Jesus from its constitution, leaders issued a statement saying they were "sensitive" to concerns about the new language and promised to address them.
CBF moderator Joy Yee said Jack Glasgow, a member of the Coordinating Council from North Carolina, approached her in July with the idea of drafting a preamble as a way to declare the group's theological allegiance without backtracking over the new purpose statement.
Following several drafts, the preamble statement was approved by the council's legal committee and advisory council, and will be presented to the full Coordinating Council when it meets Oct. 13-14 in Atlanta.
The proposed preamble read: "As a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches, we celebrate our faith in the One Triune God. We gladly declare our allegiance to Jesus Christ as Lord and to His gospel as we seek to be the continuing presence of Christ in this world. Our passion is to obey the Great Commandment (Matt 22: 34-40) and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) of our Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit, and to uphold Baptist principles of faith and practice as we partner with one another and other Christians. "
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com
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CBF Leaders 'Sensitive' to Concerns About New Constitution