“A worthless person, a wicked man,
Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,
Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,
Who points with his fingers;
Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil,
Who spreads strife.
Therefore his calamity will come suddenly;
Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.”
This week, I published an article at The Pulpit and Pen that was critical of Connect 316 Director Rick Patrick’s recently published list of “25 Traditional SBC Heroes”. In this article, I asserted that Rick Patrick was using worldly bandwagon and celebrity endorsement marketing techniques to enhance his Connect 316 brand. His use of these techniques, I think, is obvious to anyone with any background or education in marketing. However, Patrick also uses a much more subtle and insidious technique that isn’t so obvious by publishing his list of “heroes”. By creating a list of “Traditional SBC Heroes”, Patrick implies (but does not state outright) the antithesis: that there are non-“traditional” villains. This bit of subliminal marketing is faction-mongering at its worst. Patrick doesn’t come out and state that there are villains; Patrick lets his reader subconsciously draw this conclusion. Does Patrick believe that he needs a faction, real or imagined, to fight against so that he and his friends can rise to power in the SBC? I think Patrick knows his SBC history well enough to believe that he does have such a need. Patrick came of age in the midst of the great conservative resurgence of the SBC. Many of the men on Patrick’s list of “Traditional SBC heroes” (such as Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines) are such because they came to prominence by boldly standing against the very real villains of theological liberalism. Now, however, the liberals are gone. Patrick and Connect 316 need to create new enemies if they wish to seize power by fighting over controversy, the way that their conservative predecessors did. Such villains have been created: Calvinists. Connect 316 is using old tactics to start a new war against new villains.
Good Guys and Bad Guys
“I think it is naive to suggest that denominations will not form distinctive wings or parties representing different positions within the group. A few years ago, it was Conservative and moderate. In the reformation, it was Protestant and Catholic. In the New Testament, it was Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. Thirty-one years ago, Founders formed a little group of like-minded people separating themselves from people like me. One year ago, we finally formed a group to promote the opposing view.” Rick Patrick
Notice the different groups Rick Patrick contrasts in the quote above:
- Conservatives (good guys) and moderates (bad guys)
- Protestants (good guys) and Catholics (bad guys)
- Gentile Christians (good guys living under grace) Jewish Christians (judaizers living under law)
If it was my responsibility to hire seminary professors, commission IMB missionaries, and appoint SBC trustees, I would not appoint one liberal, moderate, catholic, or judaizer…not one bad guy…not one villain.
Neither would Rick Patrick. Rick Patrick knows no one would appoint a villain. Make no mistake; it is clear from his words that Rick Patrick has painted Calvinists as villains. Rick Patrick has created a supply of villains in the SBC and wider evangelical world. This supply of villains creates a demand for heroes, which Rick Patrick is all too happy to supply.
Marketing through Association
Brands often desire to associate themselves with those things that people already think are desirable. Volvo associates itself with safety. Cadillac associates itself with luxury. Almost all brands try to associate themselves with beautiful women. Politicians use association, too, often in a negative way. Right now every Republican Senate candidate is trying to associate his opponent with our very unpopular president, Barack Obama. Association techniques can sometimes be over-the-top and obvious like an Axe Body Spray commercial. Other association techniques can be understated, such as the way Kellog’s tries to associate the Frosted Flakes brand with father-son time in the back yard. Rick Patrick uses association to sell the products of his Connect 316 Brand, namely Adam Harwood and Eric Hankins.
Consider that many of the men of Rick Patrick’s list of “25 Traditional SBC Heroes” are universally appreciated heroes of the SBC Conservative Resurgence. Paige Patterson, Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, and Jimmy Draper are all former SBC Presidents and venerated soldiers of the fight against liberalism. These men were all included near the top of Patrick’s list. These men are well-advanced in years or dead. Their SBC convention careers are either in their twilight or over. Harwood and Hankins come in at the very bottom of Patrick’s list…but they are still on it. They have many years left to grow in SBC influence. Rick Patrick wants these men to be associated with the accomplishments of Patterson, Rogers, Vines, and Draper. I remember when Barack Obama ran for president and became so popular, people used to ask “What’s he done?” Rick Patrick must have noticed that this question didn’t keep Barack Obama from wining.
I know next to nothing about Hankins other than he largely authored the Connect 316 “Traditional Statement”. Harwood is a theology professor. I’m sure he is a good teacher and nice man or he wouldn’t have the job that he has. (I’ve got nothing negative to say about these two men, I’ll let their lives and records speak for themselves.) However, neither of these young men, are Adrian Rogers…Adrian Rogers! I can’t help but think of Dan Quayle’s infamous comparison of himself to John Kennedy during a Vice Presidential Debate. Quayle’s opponent went down in history for looking at Quayle and forthrightly stating, “Sir, I knew Jack Kennedy…Jack Kennedy was a friend of man…Senator you’re no Jack Kennedy.” Somewhere out there, some old SBCer may be saying,
“Rick, I knew Adrian Rogers and Eric Hankins is no Adrian Rogers.”
The Bait and Switch
When I took Marketing at the University of Georgia, I learned about an unethical marketing technique called the bait-and-switch. I was taught not to use it and be wary of it. Retailers sometimes use this tactic to take advantage of their customers by advertising low priced goods that aren’t in stock. When customers get to the store to find their desired item out of stock, they are pressured by sales people to buy similar but more expensive goods. I will demonstrate Rick Patrick’s Bait and Switch.
The following men are men who everyone would agree are heroes of the SBC Conservative Resurgence:
3. Al Mohler (a Calvinist)
2. Jimmy Draper
1. Adrian Rogers
The following men are “Traditional SBC Heroes” according to Rick Patrick:
3. Eric Hankins
2. Jimmy Draper
1. Adrian Rogers
That’s quite the magic trick. Rick Patrick made villainous Calvinist Al Mohler disappear. He baited the SBC audience to look at agreed upon heroes and then switched the type of hero and replaced Al Mohler with his friend Eric Hankins. Calvinist Heroes of the Conservative Resurgence need not apply for Rick Patrick’s new war.
False Advertising: Fake Ecumenism
Rick Patrick advertises Connect 316 as organization created in response to ecumenical Calvinist organizations. In his article “Coalition is Right” at SBCToday.com, Rick Patrick demonstrates the joint affiliation of individuals in the gospel coalition. He uses the following graphic to do so:
He then uses the following graphic to attempt to show the ecumenical nature of Connect 316:
This graphic is preposterous. Connect 316 appears to exist almost entirely within the SBC. Connect 316’s blog website is called “SBC” Today. Rick Patrick makes list of “SBC” Heroes. Connect 316 was clearly created for the sole purpose of installing its members in positions of SBC influence (trustees, professors, etc…). Here’s a truly representative graphic (thought it’s not drawn to scale):
Rest from War
“I am a non-Calvinist. I am definitively not an anti-Calvinist–and that for two simple reasons. First, to be anti-Calvinist is to be anti-Christian. Calvinists stand tall in our common faith deposited to the Church of Jesus Christ. They have faithfully preached the gospel, strived for Church purity as well as left us a trail of theological acumen second to none for God’s community on earth. To be anti-Calvinist is to be anti-Christian. Secondly, to be anti-Calvinist is to be anti-Baptist. Whether or not you accept it, Calvinism dwells deeply within the root system of the Baptist movement. Wherever on God’s earth there have been Baptists, there have been Calvinists. As Baptists, we owe much to our Calvinist forefathers. Know this, you who are anti-Calvinist: our river runs red with Calvinist blood spilled for Baptist convictions. When you curse Calvinists, you are cursing your spiritual ancestors.” Peter Lumpkins
At this point, readers may be asking themselves, “Is Seth not being charitable to Rick? Is he reading this marketing stuff in?” I can’t read Rick Patrick’s mind but I do believe I’m a fairly reasonable and observant man. When I first started noticing all of these marketing strategies, I wasn’t even aware that Rick Patrick has a marketing degree from Texas. I can’t say I was surprised when I found out that he did. Think about for yourself or a ask pastor with knowledge about the history of the conservative resurgence and how deals were done. There’s a lot of smoke here. I think there is fire. Why in the world does Connect 316 exist? What does it do if not promote Rick Patrick and his friends? Do you think Rick Patrick really felt the need to recognize the contributions of many of the men on his list of heroes? Doesn’t everybody already know how great Adrian Rogers and Billy Graham were? The men on his list are hardly unsung heroes.
Fellow Baptists, watch out for Connect 316. It seems like they desire a way to recover the glory days of the conservative resurgence. Ask any real war hero, war isn’t really glorious. It’s long, costly, and tragic. Thankfully, the SBC war is over, the liberals are gone. We’ve had enough liberalism, back-room political dealings and in-fighting. We can put good men in leadership when such men demonstrate their qualifications. We don’t need worldly marketing techniques and good-ole-boy backslapping. We’ve got the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and a great commission to fulfill.
“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war.” Joshua 11:23
[Contributed by Seth Dunn]
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.
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