The other day, the P&P contributors were chatting in our “convo bunker” about who was the most sychophantic follower of Southern Baptist celebrity leaders.
There were a few names mentioned, but Brent Hobbs came to the very top. I know the Southern Baptist blogosphere frontwards, backwards and sideways. Hobbs is, far and beyond, the greatest sycophant the SBC has to offer. There is not a convention leader, anywhere, who could do anything, that would not be defended and cheer-led by Brent Hobbs. His recent post at SBC Voices demonstrates that.
While it’s true that blindly and unrelentlessly defending the indefensible will no doubt land Hobbs a trustee position somewhere at some point in time (sycophancy is the grease that lubes the wheels of the Southern Baptist Convention), it cannot restore the integrity to one who gives up all semblance of conviction for an “attaboy” pat on the back from the denominational bigwigs. Hobbs writes…
Over the past year, there’s been a small but constant stream of criticism in SBC social media about certain books available in LifeWay stores. A few titles and authors are brought up frequently as evidence that LifeWay leadership must not care about sound doctrine or that they care about money more than biblical faithfulness. I reject those characterizations and you should too.
Everyone agrees there should be a line drawn determining what books LifeWay should sell. The issue for us today is how tightly that line needs to be drawn to our own views, preferences, and opinions.
A line needs to be drawn. Yep. It sure does. Here are some questions for Brent Hobbs. I expect a response.
Brent, does the line need to be drawn at books espousing Catholic doctrine? Because here’s one of the books they sell that do that.
Brent, does the line need to be drawn at books that promote Christian mysticism, like this one that teaches prayer practices from “Christian Mystics” (and yes, that’s in the title of the book)?
Brent, does the line need to be drawn at Word of Faith pastors like Joel Osteen and Impastors like Joyce Meyer, as our audio from dozens of calls to Lifeway stores revealed employees eager to order them for – what we told them – were Southern Baptist Bible studies?
Brent, does the line need to be drawn at “Gay Christian” propaganda (yeah, click the above link for the information). Gay. Christian. Propaganda.
Brent, does the line need to be drawn at selling books by anti-Trinitarian modalist heretics like TD Jakes (not to mention Prosperity Gospel teachers)?
Brent, does the line need to be drawn at self-titled charismatic “prophetesses” like Priscilla Schrier?
Brent, does the line need to be drawn at dual-covenant theologians (who don’t believe the Jews need the Gospel) and modern-day prophets and omen-interpreters like John Hagee, in books like this one?
Brent, does the line need to be drawn by Seventh-Day Adventists, who believe that worshiping on Sunday is a seal of the anti-Christ, who follow the religion of a false-prophetess and Judaize the dietary law, like Ben Carson?
Brent, should the line be drawn at books that literally claim to be direct, divine revelation from God, like this one?
Brent, in the midst of your never-ending, sniveling, convictionless and sycophantic defense of any and all Southern Baptist leaders who might put you on a committee somewhere, can you stop for a single moment and defend any of these books being peddled by Southern Baptists to the world?
No, Brent. You cannot. Shame on you.
Yes, we all agree there are boundary lines. But as someone who considers myself theologically educated and discerning, I am aware that if I personally drew the boundary lines, I would have a tendency to draw them too narrowly and mirroring my own views & preferences.
Brent, if you are comfortable with Lifeway selling this abject theological poison, for the love of God (literally), stop calling yourself discerning. You don’t know what that term means. At what point has #the15 complained about a single book sold by Lifeway that is within the realm of Christian orthodoxy? Let me put that in bold for you…
Brent, at what point has #the15 complained about a single book sold by Lifeway that is within the realm of Christian orthodoxy?
Answer the question, Brent. Please, please do. Please show us how terribly unreasonable we’ve been to suggest that a Southern Baptist entity shouldn’t profiteer from books by Catholics, cultists, mystics, prophets and prophetesses, and Heaven Tourism?
You, can’t Brent. You can’t because you mind is clouded with the opportunity to get a pat on the back from Ed Stetzer. And this type of defense for the indefensible is the reason why the SBC is a dwindling, dying, watered-down and increasingly mainstream pile of refuse that it has become. You’re greasing the wheels, Brent.
Brent makes a bullet-point of his “defense” for the indefensible.
1. LifeWay cannot be seen as endorsing the viewpoint or contents of all the books they sell.
Brent uses as an example, selling the Book of Mormon (for study or apologetic purposes). Puh-lease. Brent, do you really believe that selling a book because it’s heresy for the purposes of apologetic training (Lifeway used to put a warning label on these books) is the same as setting up a prominent display of TD Jakes and advertising it for popular purchase among the masses? Get a grip. Have the slightest modicum of integrity and recognize the clear difference between selling heresy to the mindless mobs of poorly discipled, cultural Christians for the purpose of profit and offering books for the purpose of training believers in a defense against them.
2. The fact that I care about sound doctrine does not necessarily mean I only sell books I agree with.
I’m not aware of any member of #the15 being angry that Paige Patterson or Jerry Vine’s books are sold at Lifeway. The title of your atrocious piece, Brent, indicates you’ve heard our criticism. Have you? Really? Are we upset that various viewpoints on soteriology are sold at Lifeway, with Mohler on one side and Patterson on the other? That’s poppycock. However, when a woman writes a book in which she makes love to God, yeah…maybe we shouldn’t sell that. And yet, we do.
3. It’s not clear to me that LifeWay needs to play the role of arbiter on close calls.
Uh, what close calls? What close calls? Let me ask again, “WHAT CLOSE CALLS?” Dear reader to the Pulpit & Pen, what have you seen thus far in this post that you would call a “close call”? This is absurd.
4. The critics ever-narrowing set of parameters that may never be satisfied.
Hobbes says that #the15 are setting ever-narrowing parameters. Prove it. Defend the selling of these books, Brent. Furthermore, basic logic and reasoning would deduce the fact that whether or not Lifeway’s critics would ever be satisfied is immaterial to whether or not they are right that these books – the ones we’ve criticized them for – are currently being sold at Lifeway. Deal with that reality.
5. LifeWay leadership has demonstrated through years of faithful writing & service that they place a high priority on biblical truth & faithfulness.
Uh…refer again to the books above. Writing quality Sunday School literature in the left hand does not forgive one for peddling poison in the right hand. In fact, it kinda makes it worse. They know sound doctrine – it’s presented in Lifeway Sunday School curriculum. And yet the bulk of their profit is from selling TD Jakes, prosperity Gospel, books claimed to divine revelation, mysticism and Word-of-Faith heresy. What Hobbes is getting at here is “Hey, Rainer and Stetzer, these are good guys. Look at all the good things they’ve produced.” Yeah, well…look at all the theological crack they sell.
The critics say they’re planning to force LifeWay to address these issues on the floor at this year’s SBC Annual Meeting in Columbus. That’s why I wrote this. Because I have heard them and I disagree—with both the content of their arguments and their strong arm tactics. I’m confident everyone in the convention hall will see through this (threatened) childish tantrum for what it is.
Well, if asking a question as a messenger of my church (if given the opportunity) or informally in a hallway is “planning to force Lifeway to address these issues” (on the floor or elsewhere) is a “childish tantrum,” one wonders what the point is of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in the first place. How dare we force Lifeway to address our concerns! How childish!
Here’s why I’m going to the Convention…
Lifeway was given an open letter by a boy who was greatly abused and taken advantage of by Lifeway, and Lifeway profited from selling the false revelations manufactured by his father (while the boy was given literally nothing). That letter made its way into every major news source in the world. Lifeway has yet to respond to him. Shame on them. Shame on you, Brent, for characterizing our attempt to get answers as a “childish tantrum.”
Furthermore, Brent, you say that you’ve heard our criticisms. Have you seen the emails in which Rainer and Stetzer were told this young man’s story was false nine months before they removed the book – and only after being made fools of in the international press? I want you, Brent, to look at the evidence presented and demonstrate – with a straight face – that when Lifeway spokesman Marty King said that Lifeway “just found out” about the book that Stetzer and Rainer are anything but liars.
But you can’t, Brent. You can only criticize us for criticizing the guys who may – if you’re really lucky and stand in line – let you take a photo with them.
I hope to see you at the Convention, Brent. Maybe you can come with me on Wednesday evening to meet Alex Malarkey and accuse him of having a childish tantrum.