6/25/2015 2:26:08 PM
Corruption in Texas Baptist Convention
June 23, 2015
Dear Pastors and Churches,
Praise God that I was not the only one who had concerns with the decision and direction of the Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas (CBHT/ Convención). Many pastors and leaders who belong to the CBHT and the Texas Baptist (BGCT) share the same concerns. I pray that this is God who is giving us the conviction to return to biblical fidelity.
I have good news and bad news. The bad news: Many pastors from all areas of Texas expressed their disapproval, yet the Convención leaders have doubled down on their decision to host false teachers, Marcos Witt and Bishop Samuel Rodriguez (New Season (Sacramento, CA). The executive director, Jesse Rincones, emailed me and justified their position. The president of the CBHT, Beatrice Mesquias, also gave her approval. The BGCT has remained silent on the issue. (The executives did not respond via email. However, a source did confirm that one of the executives justifies the participation of Mr. Rodriguez). It seems that this is their common practice to circle the wagons when anyone is called to accountability. The BGCT is also responsible for this deviance because they fund the CBHT and provide staff members who are part of the decision-making at CBHT. Below is a summary of Jesse Rincones’ response to my initial questions and concerns.
1. The CBHT partnered several years ago with Mr. Rodriguez’s organization the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).
2. “Convención partners with the NHCLC to give attention to 7 directives that include areas like Education, Sanctity of Life, Immigration, and Family.”
3. “Mr. Rodriguez and the NHCLC have a history of collaborating with both Texas and Southern Baptists”
4. “No Pastor or church has expressed concerns to Convención regarding their participation.”
5. Marcos Witt’s songs have been “incorporated in many of our churches and Compañerismos.”
6. “As a convention, we can appreciate Mr. Witt's music, without approving or adopting all of his personal beliefs.”
7. A sponsor will pay for Mr. Witt’s concert performance.
8. The Convención’s leaders do not agree with all of the theology of either of these men.
These arguments may seem sufficient and logical to the average person; however, there is a slight problem. The Convención’s leadership did not provide a single biblical argument to support their position. They have justified their actions by essentially saying, “this is what we’ve done in the past” and “these false teachers are accepted by others.” This logic is reckless and insufficient for any Christian organization.
The Convención’s reasoning demonstrates their lack of being established and driven by clear biblical principles and convictions. For example, the NHCLC’s 7 directives seem noble, but it clouds the Great Commission. Also, the Convención leaders have no problem being under the umbrella/“anointing” of the New Apostolic Movement, which is a part of the Word of Faith theology, and Dominion Theology, (I.e. Heretical teachings). Some may argue that we’re just partnering on social issues. But ultimately, even when we engage in most social issues, (abortion, poverty, family…), our ultimate goal is to share the only message of hope, the Gospel. However, Mr. Witt and Mr. Rodriguez propagate a different gospel. God does not take lightly partnering with those who preach another gospel: “As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” Galatians 1:9. “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:16. “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who… are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” (Romans 16:17-18). “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” 2 Corinthians 11:3-4.
More Troubling Information:
1. Despite the opposition of pastors (years ago), the Convención is adamant in hosting the Marcos Witt concert (open to the public), since a donor is paying for it ($8,000). Who will warn the public to only appreciate Mr. Witt’s music? Who will warn the lost people to not adopt all of Mr. Witt’s “personal beliefs”, which he proclaimed publically for 10 years from Joel Osteen’s pulpit?
2. I am sure that most of the pastors belonging to the Convención would have opposed the partnership with Apostle Samuel’s organization if they knew his background. They should have researched and disclosed all of his information to the pastors. However, the Convención leaders managed to make this deal with NHCLC because it benefited their agenda (whether economical or political).
4. Many pastors confirmed that the executive director Jesse Rincones and the Convención leaders held a special meeting about a year ago with some pastors and leaders with the hopes of partnering with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), a liberal organization that affirms the membership and ordination of homosexuals. Did you know that the BGCT is already affiliated with the CBF and funds them with your offerings? (You need to be aware of these organizations: The CBF also funds The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, a pro-gay pacifist group. The CBF allowed them to distributed at their annual meeting curriculum advising churches on how to implement same-sex marriages and gay ordinations.) The Convención leaders were very eager to negotiate with the CBF because the CBF agreed to contribute $70,000 (and other benefits) toward the Convención/staff. Praise God, some pastors opposed the motion and it was not approved.
The poor decisions of the Convención leaders and permissive attitude of the BGCT demonstrate that there is a history of deep-rooted problems with both conventions. Their ACTIONS speak LOUDER than WORDS. (I have personally met Dr. Hardage and Pastor Rincones. They seem to be good men with good intentions, but either their philosophy of ministry is skewed or the conventions are beyond repair). The only hope to change the direction of these conventions would be to replace all of the Convención’s executive leadership, elected officers, and some of the BGCT officers, Gus Reyes (Christian Life Commission), Rolando Rodriguez (Hispanic Ministries Director), & Gabriel Cortez (Hispanic Education Initiative Director), who have worked directly with the Convención. Unfortunately, it would be nearly impossible to replace all of these ‘leaders’. So what do Bible believing Baptist do?
I urge you to disaffiliate yourselves from both the Convención and the Texas Baptist (BGCT). Both conventions have demonstrated that they are not trustworthy nor are they driven by conservative, Baptist convictions. It’s easy to talk the talk or even have a conference on Baptist distinctives, but it is another to take a position on these convictions even at the loss of friendships and partnerships (I.e. CBF).
(ONE OPTION IS FOR YOUR CHURCH TO ONLY AFFILIATE WITH THE SBC DENOMINATION.)
More good news and a second option: There is another Baptist state convention, the Southern Baptist Convention of Texas (SBCT). They have 3 simple values. (Notice, the first value and priority: Biblically Based.)
- Affirmation of a minimal set of doctrinal beliefs.
- Biblical inerrancy is the foundational element.
- Churches working together in mutual accountability.
- A focus on missions and evangelism in budgeting and staffing priorities.
- Striving to resource the needs of SBTC churches rather than to direct their ministries.
- Partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention through the traditional Cooperative Program.
- Utilizing the resources of the SBC agencies to maximize the ministry effectiveness of SBTC.
You may think this has been my agenda with my protest against Convención and the BGCT, but that is not the case. I am not affiliated with the SBTC. I have nothing to gain from my public protest, except criticism. I feel as though I can identify (at a minuscule level) with the apostle Paul when he said, “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). I have no hidden interests. I am simply burdened to see Convención’s abuse of small Hispanic churches that simply want to glorify God and reach the lost. If you are a Baptist church that loves the Word of God and the Great Commission, I encourage you to affiliate with the SBC or partner with the SBTC. (There also exists a 3rd option of being an independent church)
Be very careful to not believe the malicious rumors spread by some BGCT reps and Convención loyalists. I have had older respected Baptist leaders (and some pastors) tell me that the SBTC are fundamentalist or that women are denigrated in their convention. These Convención/BGCT loyalists are either deceived or act in ignorance. Despite all of the facts that I have provided in both articles, the Convención/BGCT could invite Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen, and these Baptist leaders and churches would still remain loyal to their institution. However, my efforts are for those who are willing to examine themselves (Lam.3:40; 2 Cor. 13:5-10).
I encourage you to research the SBTC for yourself. You can easily access information on the SBTC website. Also, give them a call and talk to their Hispanic ministries department. In my personal experience, they have been very humble and willing to serve. You may be surprised to know that many respected Baptist churches are already affiliated with the SBTC.
Also, The SBTC has a close association with our national denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). If you do not consider yourself to have a conservative theology like the SBTC, (if you think they are fundamentalists), then you should not be a Southern Baptist because the SBC endorses the SBTC. They share the same theological conservative doctrines, Baptist Faith & Message 2000 which is a clarification of conservative distinctives. It is not a secret that the SBC has its reservations with the BGCT. It is known among Baptist leaders, especially outside of Texas that the BGCT is a liberal convention (even though some use the label moderate). This is one of the reasons Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has an ‘arm-distant’ relationship with the BGCT.
This is one of the reasons the BGCT has it’s own seminaries and universities that are more in line with there liberal theology, (I.e. Truett Seminary, Baylor University, and Baptist University of the Americas… among others who have some faculty members who questions historical Christian doctrines). Is it wise to financially support these liberal institutions, or to send future pastors to be trained by those who do not share conservative Baptist doctrines? Did you know that the BGCT’s Cooperative Program keeps almost 80% of the offerings sent by churches? So, most of your offerings never make it to the SBC’s Cooperative program to support the conservative Baptist seminaries, International Missions, or North America missions to plant conservative Baptist churches.
So brothers, unless you want to go down this liberal, slippery slope with the Convención and the Texas Baptist (BGCT), I strongly urge you to break your affiliation and flee. Talk to your local associational leader and pastors. Some of these leaders are already organizing pastors who are not in agreement with the Convención. To my fellow pastors who believe they can change these institutions from within, do not be satisfied or deceived with any concession or bone that they throw at you. Unless there is a fundamental change of leadership, the problems remain. Changing these conventions is an up hill battle that will take years. I’m afraid many will end up giving-in or giving-up. Why take this approach when there is already another convention that exists that is partnered with the SBC? These are the humble suggestions of a concerned pastor that loves the church of Christ. May God give us grace to persevere in the Truth so we are not swept away with the cultural norms. Let us always bear in mind the apostles Paul’s mandate in 1 Timothy 1:18-19 and Acts 20:28, “Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.” And, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” If I can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact me.
Your brother in Christ,
Pastor Ignacio Herrera Jr.