SBC Voices posted an article from William Thornton, with his picks for the Top 10 SBC News Stories of 2015. Such a list is subjective, obviously, but it was interesting to see a blog colloquially known in the Pulpit Bunker as SBC Echoes – the preeminent SBC peanut gallery – suggest their pics for “top stories” in the SBC.
Here are Pulpit & Pen’s Top 10 SBC News Stories of 2015. There are a few differences. First, we don’t limit this list to what was in the “mainstream” news. And we certainly don’t limit the list to what was in the Baptist Press, because pumped sunshine isn’t really “news.” In case you missed these stories, here they are.
1. Alex Malarkey writes rebuking letter to Lifeway, becomes top news story in the world for two days.
Fox News. ABC News. CNN. MSNBC. The Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal. The New York Daily News. The New York Times. The UK Daily Mail. The London Telegraph. The South China Sun. All of these press outlets covered our story, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven Recants Story, Rebukes Christian Retailers. Alex Malarkey was fed up with Southern Baptist retailer, Lifeway, and wrote them an open letter of rebuke for selling a book written by his father regarding his fictitious trip to Heaven. According to Malarkey, the SBC-owned bookstore should have know Heaven Tourism was unbiblical. As Lifeway was the object of ridicule and scorn around the world, the Baptist Press was silent – except for a lying post by Marty King, who claimed Lifeway CEO Thom Rainer had no idea the book was fake, and that it had been pulled. Later, after a movement known as #the15, Lifeway pulled all Heaven Tourism books, but [laughably] says they were going to pull them anyway.
2. Emails reveal Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer knew Heaven Tourism book was false, and chose to keep selling it at Lifeway.
Rainer, who had the Baptist Press report falsehoods via his spokesman Marty King, said they just found out about claims of falsehoods that week (after the viral Pulpit & Pen post). In reality, Justin Peters informed both Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer nearly a year previous, acting as a surrogate for Malarkey’s mother. Both men were demeaning and rebuking of Peters in response. Those emails were posted at Pulpit & Pen.
3. ERLC research fellow, Karen Swallow Prior, says calling abortion murder is “unchristlike” and “worse than inflammatory.”
Karen Swallow Prior, as Pulpit & Pen pointed out repeatedly in the second half of 2015, belongs in the SBC like Chris Christie belongs in a Republican primary. The only people surprised at her deplorable statements on abortion, saying it was “unchristlike” to call it murder, were those not reading Pulpit & Pen. The Baptist Press has not reported on this story, although dozens of blogs (a few even more read than P&P) and at least one national radio show.
4. Southern Baptists “break bread with gay community,” soften tone on homosexuality.
All in one meeting, Al Mohler denounced reparative therapy (that he supported just a few years ago), SBC leaders sat down to eat with “gay christians,” Matthew Vines and Justin Lee (1 Corinthians 5 be damned, apparently), Russell Moore gave the thumbs up to attending gay wedding receptions, and the secular outlets like the Wall Street Journal were noticing the “softening tone.” Combine this with ERLC research fellow Karen Swallow Prior’s support of an LGBT fundraiser, and I’d say the SBC had a very gay-friendly year.
5. Baptist College president, Ergun Caner, resigns immediately upon accusations of sexting scandal and racism.
In a despicable move, Caner first blamed his resignation at Brewton-Parker College upon grief over his son’s suicide, using insiders who knew the truth along – Peter Lumpkins and Buck Kennedy – to propagate that lie (and compared him to Elijah). In reality, he resigned immediately upon allegations of sexting and racism. Since then, Caner has filed for divorce against his wife. Both are alleging infidelity. The Baptist Press reported the initial story, but not the truth behind his resignation that broke only days later. Caner is continuing to preach.
6. Baptist college sweeps president Jimmy Epting’s adultery under the rug, until exposed on video tape.
The college let him resign with accolades (does this sound like #5?). It turns out, he had been having an affair, as caught on his son’s video. Almost all of the insiders testify the board of trustees knew darn well what was behind his sudden resignation, but let him go quietly and with honors. They acted surprised when the video broke. After briefly withholding funds from the college, the baptist state convention cleared the board because they were financially responsible and reinstated their funds. But are the spiritually responsible?
7. ERLC partners with Humane Society for animal rights campaign.
Did you ever think you would see the ethics division in the SBC partner with one of the most radical animal rights groups in world? The initiative led by ERLC research fellow, Karen Swallow Prior (who said she wanted to end factory farming “the economy of the country be damned”) yokes the SBC to the animal liberation movement.
8. SBC president, Ronnie Floyd, to speak at hyper-charismatic cult, IHOP.
IHOP is the quintessential charismaniac empire in evangelicalism, and qualifies as a cult. Ronnie Floyd is speaking there and it has caused no shortage of outrage. Oh, and there’s a “Catholic track” for all the Catholics showing up to worship with the SBC prez. But don’t expect the Baptist Press to report on this.
9. Lifeway’s Ed Stetzer partners with radical Imams and advocates of Shariah Law.
Lifeway’s #2 partnered with radical Muslims, cop-killer fund-raisers, and Islamic scholars calling for Shariah Law and handed over Southern Baptist data to help them understand how to relate to evangelicals. You know. For Jesus, I guess.
10. SBC seminary president endorses and does promotional video for atheist group.
Did you think you’d see the day that a Southern Baptist seminary president does a promotional video for a group called “Openly Secular,” which is hostilely anti-Christian and pushes a secular humanist agenda. That was Danny Akin, and it happened in 2015.
What do we learn from the 2015 List?
First, what Pulpit & Pen writes about – like with the majority of these articles – typically shows up (sooner or later) in the mainstream press. You read it here, first. Polemicists are usually ahead of the curve, and that’s been P&P’s track record. Secondly, what doesn’t make it into the mainstream press, certainly makes it into blogs and social media. And that is where wars are fought and won. Third, the SBC is messed up. It’s really, really messed up. Fourth, there is an active attempt by Christian media to downplay the Downgrade. It is not working.