SBC Establishment Angry at those Meddling Bloggers over Ben Carson Fiasco

With the decision last week by Willy Rice (president of the 2015 SBC Pastor’s Conference) to drop Dr. Ben Carson from the speakers list, there has been some backlash from the evangelical establishment. Even Perry Noble went through an exhausting rant of unbiblical reasons why he was disappointed over the decision (although he’s hardly the establishment). Willy Rice himself even said that he didn’t agree with his own decision to drop Carson, and pawned it off as a sacrifice for the sake of keeping the SBC “united.”

Now we have Joni Hannigan, of the purely-online Christian Examiner, coming out full swing with the typical mock-speech narrative of those who don’t get their way; claiming that “bullying” is the real source of uninviting the Seventh Day Adventist from speaking at the Southern Baptist Convention. This isn’t the first time Hannigan – who is a close associate of several in the Southern Baptist establishment from her time writing for the Florida Baptist Witness and is repeatedly the go-to person for their propaganda masquerading as “journalism” – has cried “bullying,” recently going after Pulpit & Pen contributor, Seth Dunn, for writing some inconvenient but true things about the Ergun Caner saga on his own blog. Hannigan’s son called Pulpit & Pen after we objected to her using the opinion of a lost woman and vitriolic P&P critic as the opinion of a “mental health professional” (her credentials in the field are dubious) and in the conversation explained her friendship with Caner and close associates, which of course was not disclosed in her article.

In her latest piece of “journalism,” Hannigan  seems to think that anyone who thought it was a bad idea to invite a cult member to speak at the pastor’s conference was bullying the SBC and the conference organizer, Willy Rice. Her article, Southern Baptist Bloggers Bullied Leader to Disinvite Ben Carson, she refers to Baptist21’s article as “intense criticism,” (it was just about the most polite thing ever) and quotes Rice as saying, “I was conflicted and I was disappointed to do what I had to do as Dr. Carson and his team has been first class. They understood the quandary that we were in and what was happening.” Hannigan indicates that Rice was forced to do something he really thought was the wrong thing to do. And so, the bully police have set off their sirens in the name of loving, ecumenical, unity. From her pedestal of “real journalism,” Hannigan proclaims anathema on Baptist21 and other critics who are “bloggers.” Of course, the online-only Christian Index is, essentially, a blog and therefore Hannigan is, essentially, a blogger.

In an all-caps heading of “CALVINISTIC CRITICISM,” Hannigan says…

Rice acknowledged Carson’s invitation to speak to SBC pastors was criticized primarily by a group of Calvinistic Millennials known as Baptist21 and by Texas pastor Bart Barber, who is a former SBC first vice president.

Of course, neither the Baptist 21 article nor the Pulpit & Pen post (or any criticism we’ve seen) regarding the invitation of the cultist to the SBC pastor’s conference was related to Calvinism in any way, shape, form or fashion. First, Baptist 21 may be run by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary president Danny Akin’s boys, (who may, like their father, lean Calvinistic), but Baptist 21 is hardly a website characterized by the over-tone of Calvinism and that’s probably an unfair and definitely an unnecessary characterization. Even so, however, the criticism of Baptist 21‘s piece focused on four issues: (1) Theological concerns – none of which dealt with election or any other Calvinism-Arminian issue, but that Carson is an anhilationist, denies Sola Scriptura, and other pretty serious issues (2) Missiological issues (3) Generational Issues and (4) Gospel concerns – which, again, relates to someone whose religion was founded by a false prophetess and believes salvation is determined by an “Investigative Judgment.”

What does Calvinism have to do with any of that? Hannigan, however, has a tendency to throw the boogey-man of Calvinism into most posts she’s asked to write against the establishment’s critics. Like her friend Jerry Vines, Hannigan and the establishment she writes for under the guise of journalism really does view Calvinism as the problem with the SBC. And in this latest post, it’s like they’re raising their fist and saying, “It’s those pesky Calvinist bloggers again,” like the captured villains in Scooby Doo, angry at “those meddling kids.”

Hannigan then writes:

The online criticism and pressure, he [Rice] said, “would increase in my mind and be worse,” if he[Rice] had not taken the steps to insure Carson was not on the program.

How is this a bad thing? Isn’t the Southern Baptist Convention supposed to be a grass-roots organization? Even Dave Miller, who was mildly opposed to the invite but wasn’t calling for a disinvitation, stated “I know of very few people who are happy with the PC,” and suggested people “vote with their feet,” and walk out during Carson’s speech. Would Hannigan consider this to be a better solution? The fact that we have the ability to voice our opinion and build support around issues only shows the strength behind the intent of the system to begin with. One would think SBC leaders would be excited that it seems Southern Baptists are united about something and engaged in the process. Hannigan and Rice, however, would just rather us keep quiet and let the big shots make these decisions.

Hannigan quotes Maxie Miller, a “black Southern Baptist leader who is careful about building community among ethnic and culture groups”…

“It’s a sad day when bloggers can control the platform of the convention or the Pastors’ Conference,…if the bloggers can do that, that takes away from the voters that place leaders in those positions.”

Now, most people are saying, “who is Maxie Miller again?” But, of course, Miller is black. And Carson is black. You filthy, culturally insensitive racists! Silly us. We were concerned not with the color of his skin, but the content of his Gospel. Feel free to put us bloggers on the back of the bus next time.

Miller continues…

“Cultural sensitivity a must in the church, especially where there is an understanding of grace.”

Hey, who cares if the guy belongs to a cult, believes in direct revelation from a false prophetess, doesn’t believe in hell, Judaizes aspects of the ceremonial code and believes we’re not saved by grace alone. He’s black, man. Be culturally sensitive.

Miller, the former director of the “African American Ministries Division” at the Florida Baptist Convention, continued…

It’s a sad day when bloggers can control the platform of the convention or the Pastors’ Conference. If the bloggers can do that, that takes away from the voters that place leaders in those positions…Blogs have become political tools to vent frustration about activities of the convention…I feel sorry for Willy Rice in being pressured that way.”

Those meddling bloggers again. How dare the typical, average and ordinary (or blacklisted) Southern Baptist speak out. You little, peons. Who do you think you are?

In actually, blogs matter. And bloggers (who are journalists in the most primitive sense – at least as much as Joni Hannigan can be considered one at the online website, Christian Examiner) matter. Welcome to the 21st Century. Oh, and by the way…there was immense pressure from academic leadership circles in the SBC to disinivite Carson. Immense pressure. The thing is, the SBC is highly political and the leaders would much rather blame it on a few bloggers and let them get thrown under the bus than to have the Baptist Press report (as if they reported news in the first place) that President so-and-so of such-and-such seminary put in a call to so-and-so trustee of such-and-such entity and threw a hissy fit about an unorthodox pseudo-Christian preaching at the SBC pastor’s conference.

After toting out the the token “race-sensitive” guy, Hannigan also quotes David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, as saying:

“I think the decision to disinvite him is sad and more importantly wrong.”

Uth had Carson speak at his church during Lord’s Day worship back in July. Uth clearly does not believe in the concept of “guarding the pulpit.” He also doesn’t say why disinviting the Adventist from an event designed for Christian pastors is “wrong.” But someone who lends his pulpit to a cultist on Sunday morning may just not be the best person to determine right from wrong. Call us crazy.

This should serve as a testimony to how a few “bully bloggers” (if that’s how they care to characterize grass-roots small church pastors and Southern Baptist laypeople) can make a difference when it seems that our leaders have lost their ever-lovin’ minds. As print publications go the way of the dinosaur, the only thing that separates “journalists” from “bloggers” is semantics. Things are changing. Alternative media is winning, and the good old boys at the top are quickly losing control as truth is given a megaphone through the World Wide Web.

[Contributed by Jeff Maples and JD Hall]

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