The New York Times. The London Telegraph. The UK Daily Mail. Fox News, CBS News, NBC News, ABC News. The Washington Post. The Los Angeles Times. The Christian Post. Christianity Today.
These are all media outlets that have covered Alex Malarkey’s open letter to Lifeway, admonishing Thom Rainer for selling Heaven Tourism. This story, according to at least one major newspaper editor, was the biggest story in the world the day it broke. Some outlets, like Salon Magazine and the Christian News Network, focused exclusively on Thom Rainer’s 8 month advance notice that the book was a sham and his choice to ignore the information and do nothing. Several national news outlets are planning not just one, but several more follow-ups that detail Lifeway’s culpability in great detail – meaning that if Southern Baptists think the story is going away any time soon, they are wrong. It’s just going to get worse in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Lifeway has remained quiet except for issuing two (by our count) provably false statements that allege they only found out last week about the Malarkey story being fabricated. The Baptist Press – nothing. Absolutely nothing. Get that. News about a Southern Baptist entity went worldwide and made every single major news outlet in the Western World and the Baptist Press reports nothing.
No fear. While Thom Rainer, Ed Stetzer, Ronnie Floyd and other professional leadership gurus refuse to show even the slightest modicum of leadership on this issue, Dave Miller at SBC Voices has decided to go all-in in yet another lecture regarding criticism of SBC leaders. No, another one. No, another another one.
You might recall that lecturing Southern Baptists on not criticizing our leaders in any way that could be taken, well…critically has been a past time for Miller. We’ve discussed this several times at P&P. Any time there seems to be a grass-roots movement of ordinary Southern Baptist leaders or laypeople to bring much-needed change to an issue or much-needed critical look toward one of our leaders, set your watch. It’s only a matter of time before Dave Miller will break out his wagging finger and lecture us on how to properly criticize our leaders (read that, not criticize). Miller – who is probably the first Southern Baptist to publicly do so – defends Lifeway’s leadership in his new post...
No matter what decision a Russell Moore makes, someone isn’t going to like it. Pretty much anything LifeWay stocks is going to offend someone. You simply can’t please everyone.
This is how Dave begins his critique of, well…critics. Russell Moore says that Southern Baptists should attend gay wedding celebrations (just not the wedding itself). He calls Jesus an “illegal immigrant” while advocating amnesty for illegal aliens. Moore advocates “creation care” environmentalism. Lifeway sells Heaven Tourism to spite the resolution passed by Southern Baptist messengers. Lifeway sells Modalist heretics and prosperity preachers. Lifeway even sells Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer, should you ask them to order it for you. Lifeway sells The Shack and Justin Lee’s gay-christian propaganda, Torn. Lifeway sells a book that claims to be written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Calling. And Dave Miller says, “You simply can’t please everyone.”
Miller acts like this is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation. Who’s mad (at least, among Southern Baptists) at Lifeway for removing these books? And concerning Moore, there are basically two groups of people who are pleased with his performance at the ERLC – unabashed social progressives and Moore’s Southern Baptist sycophants that, frankly, would be as enamored with him regardless of whether or not his political posturing leads left or right.
We need leaders in the SBC with the intestinal fortitude not to let the angry voices drive them or discourage them and not to be bullied by the social media terrorists or their campaigns of mass destruction.
Yes. Yes, that’s it. We need “leaders” with the intestinal fortitude to dig their heels into the ground and not relent when critics catch them in obvious and clear error. Disenfranchised Southern Baptists took to the only venue they have to be heard; social media. These are people pleading for repentance, not further entrenchment. Miller – a former 2nd VP of the SBC – refers to them as “social media terrorists” on a campaign “of mass destruction.”
No love for those misled by the products of lies sold for profit at Lifeway. No love for neighbor, as Southern Baptists peddle lies through their bookstore. No love for truth. No, to Dave Miller, they are terrorists.
You can read the post for yourself, but let it suffice to say that what’s contained therein is the absolute perfect example of what’s wrong the SBC. Miller, who calls himself “a big fan of Dr. Rainer,” shoots (proverbially) the messengers, accusing them of terrorism. Then, Miller exhorts SBC leaders to answer critics without pointing out the painfully obvious. Southern Baptist leaders – with Rainer at the center – have plainly rejected the notion of answering critics.
Most revealing are the comments in that post’s thread. After receiving some pushback on giving Lifeway a pass on selling The Shack because, after all, you can’t please everybody, Miller alleges that Rainer has given an explanation for why they sell these books so vastly opposed by Southern Baptists as a whole. With all due respect to Miller, that assertion is flatly absurd. At no point has Rainer or any other Lifeway executive given concerned Southern Baptists any explanation for why these books are sold. Miller can’t provide it. It simply hasn’t happened. And as long as the sycophant army of small-church pastors pining to rub shoulders with the elite continue to obfuscate truth to receive a seat with royalty, they never will.
Dave also comments in the thread that we (the social media terrorists) aren’t listened to because we’re like “the boy who cried wolf” while major media outlets around the world continue to pound away at the laughingstock that is Lifeway’s inventory. And while he suggests no one is listening to #the15 (although he wisely avoids use of that term), Pulpit & Pen is still being emailed, called and interviewed regularly concerning this very matter.
So if you’re a reporter or journalist visiting this website, here’s what we want you to know…this is what we’re up against. Dave Miller is what we’re up against. There really are concerned Southern Baptists who are sick and tired of being scolded for criticizing our leaders when they do stupid or sinful things. There really are concerned Southern Baptists who have just plain had enough of being told our concerns don’t matter – and if they do matter, then we didn’t express those concerns graciously enough. There really are Southern Baptists who are tired of our legitimate concerns being hushed by men like Dave Miller whose personal convictions are as shallow as their desire to be well-liked by the establishment is deep. We want to make a difference. We want integrity in our leaders, but we are allowing them to get away with unconscionable behavior because men like Miller are their “big fans” and have turned a blind eye to problems while lecturing us on tone. In fact, Miller says that his post will “open the floodgates of hate.” That’s how Miller characterizes us for criticizing Rainer for choosing to sell a story he knew was untrue and Southern Baptists – by vote – overwhelmingly condemned. We are hateful, while selling lies for profit is loving.
Secular media, if you’re wondering why the Southern Baptist Convention has no problem calling secular humanists to repentance while we ourselves are so ashamedly corrupt, look no further than Dave Miller and the sycophant segment that he so flawlessly represents.
***By the way, the Pulpit & Pen twitter account tweeted out a single quotation from his post (the “social media terrorists” one above) and was blocked immediately by Miller. It seems like, just maybe, Dave should take some of his own advice.
Posted by Dustin Germain