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Defining the Work of the Convention

The Executive Committee recommends the adoption by the Convention of the following as defining the relations of the Southern Baptist Convention to other Baptist bodies:

1. The Southern Baptist Convention is organized like all other Baptist bodies, on the voluntary principle. This is derived from the fundamental principle on which a Baptist church is constituted—self-determination in all matters pertaining to its own work under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

2. The relation of the Convention to all other Baptist general bodies is purely advisory. It has no authority over the churches, over District Associations, State Conventions, or other Baptist bodies of any kind, nor has any other Baptist general body any authority over the Convention.

3. The Convention occupies a sphere in our denominational work peculiar to itself and in conflict with no other organization or interest of the denomination. In order, therefore, that the unity, integrity and efficiency of the Convention be not weakened or impaired, it is necessary that the Convention maintain and preserve its own right and function in determining its general plans, policies and programs as to organization and methods, the raising of funds and general objectives involved in its own work. This is simply another way of saying that the Convention should preserve its own integrity as a Baptist body.

4. In all cases and degrees where the activities of the Convention are related to the activities of other Baptist bodies the controlling principle is free and voluntary cooperation for common ends. Since no Baptist body has authority over any other, there can be no question of dictation on either side. Among Baptists moral and spiritual rights and obligations are mutual. Only confusion can result from a failure to recognize the mutuality of these relations. We cooperate, not by coercion, but by mutual consent. Free conference and frank discussion enable us to reach satisfactory conclusions for cooperative work. We must never convert moral and spiritual into legal relations among Baptist general bodies.

1923 SBC Annual, Proceedings #86, “Report of the Committee to Which Was Referred the Executive Committee’s Report and Special Recommendation,” pp. 70-75; citation, p. 74.

While independent and sovereign in its own sphere, the Convention does not claim and will never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organizations, associations, or convention.
SBC Constitution, Article IV. Authority 2018.02v1.00 : 2.15.2018
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