Or who is killing the SBC?
Well, not really The Company Man™ per se. To us at Pulpit & Pen, Miller is just an archetype. He’s an exemplar. He’s the quintessence, the embodiment, the epitome of something else. The Company Man™ is just an illustrative device, like Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, whose sum total of what he represents is greater than his parts. He is the walking, breathing, blogging talisman of sycophancy whose ineffectual, epicene fingers grip tightly the throat of our beloved convention and promise to choke it to death while whispering sweet nothings in its ear.
In other words, we’re not talking just about the blogger from Iowa. We’re talking about all those like him, who allow the more nefarious characters in our convention do what it is they do, and who even applaud them while doing it.
If we were to come up with a list of nefarious characters in our Convention, there would be no shortage. We have liberal progressives like Russell Moore calling Jesus an illegal immigrant (source link) and “softening his tone” (source link) on homosexuality. We have Moore’s hire at the ERLC, Karen Swallow Prior, who attends gay fundraisers (source link), calls herself a feminist (source link), and says calling abortion murder is unchristlike (source link). We have Ronnie Floyd speaking at a charismatic cult (source link) and shooting confetti out of his baptistry cannon (source link). Our two most famous Southern Baptists are Rick Warren and now, James MacDonald and both are famous for Bible-twisting. Ed Stetzer just spoke at a meeting of Islamic clerics and radical imams and gave them SBC data and how to reach us effectively (source link). Paige Patterson enrolled a Muslim at one of our seminaries as an evangelism effort (source link). Ergun Caner burned out in a vapor trail of racist remarks and allegations of adultery (source link), so we don’t have that to worry about that anymore. Of course, Johnny Hunt, who lied and said he wasn’t pushing for Caner at Brewton-Parker it turns out did push for Caner at Brewton-Parker (source link) and then called him repentant (source link) and had him
preach tell jokes at his church (source link) and had Seth Dunn hauled out by security for being there. There’s no shortage of ne’er-do-wells in the SBC doing really stupid and sinful things and – for the most part – getting away with every last bit of it.
How do these people get away with such stuff?
The answer is very simple. There is a sizable contingent of Dave Millers, aka The Company Men™, who drown out calls for reforms (which in this case necessitates a flash light and can of Raid) with admiring applause. So who are the Dave Millers? Who are The Company Men™? A few common traits seem to characterize them.
- The unwillingness to acknowledge anything written or brought to light, unless it is through approved channels of communication, like the Baptist Press
- The immediate characterization of anything exposing a denominational celebrity’s bad behavior, unless through an approved channel of communication, as slander or gossip
- The unwillingness to read and discern from sources they don’t like, an immediate discounting of all information brought to light as untrustworthy, even when evidence is presented them
- The unwillingness to speak out regarding any act of impropriety or error unless there is already a large swath of others – and usually by necessity another denominational celebrity – already speaking out
- Instituting a burden of proof for accusations against denominational celebrities that is far greater than for, generally speaking, any other human being on the planet
- Characterizing any error of a denominational celebrity as being a fluke, rare occurrence, possible oversight and, generally speaking, anything but a systemic problem with their character or judgment
- The ability to say things that are repeatedly, provenly, demonstrably untrue and repeat them with unashamed frequency
We’ve written about sycophancy before at P&P, and we really do believe that The Company Men™ are a greater and more systemic problem than all the celebrity scoundrels mentioned above. When someone like Mark Lamprecht sells his soul to Johnny Hunt and flushes every ounce of convictions they have for a ride on the golf cart, then the scoundrels of the world can play a full 18 holes without being interrupted by things like facts and a conscience. It’s this kind of mindset among Southern Baptist laypeople that allow Southern Baptist leaders to behave badly.
Here’s what The Company Man™ wrote regarding Thom Rainer, president of Lifeway, just today…
His leadership at Lifeway has been exemplary.
Um…how? Lifeway sells every omen-interpreting, necromantic, charismatic, tongue-speaking, prophecy-giving, secret-unraveling, judaizing, Dual-Covenantal, modalistic, anti-Trinitarian, Roman Catholic, mystic, feministic, egalitarian, prosperity-shilling, divine revelation-claiming, festering ooze of heresy that the evangelical world has ever known and until Alex Malarkey’s Open Letter to Lifeway, Heaven Tourism.
Thom Rainer is the crack-dealer of the Christian publishing world. He is the pigeon selling money changer of the contemporary Christian world. He sells poison. He sells what he knows to be poison, and he does so for a profit.
Now, let’s see if Thom Rainer really listens to critics and responds…with humility.
Justin Peters came to Rainer privately and personally in 2014. Peters, a former trustee for Lifeway and the world’s foremost apologist on charismatic error who personally knew Rainer, warned him that Alex Malarkey and Malarkey’s mother had told him his Heaven Tourism book was untrue. Keep in mind, once Alex released his “Open Letter to Lifeway,” it became the #1 news story in the world on January 17 and 18 of 2015. It shamed Lifeway. Lifeway was scolded in every major news outlet in the world (as far as the London Telegraph, the UK Daily News , the South China Sun and beyond). Lifeway and Rainer had shamed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and now they were shamed and ridiculed because Lifeway’s trusted reputation for selling “Christian Resources” was irrevocably damaged.
Rainer could have said, “Thank you, Justin. I appreciate your concern and I’ll look into this. If it is true, we won’t continue to sell [what no Christian in their right mind would have sold in the first place].” Here’s the link to those emails. And here’s the humility and genuine concern in Justin’s email…
You can see the pleading in Justin’s email. His humility, his genuineness. Here is Rainer’s response…
Rainer calls Justin a “critic.” He then cc’d Ed Stetzer as back up to get Justin off of his back. Then, after a final exchange (which also accuses Justin of being a dirty old critic), they stopped corresponding altogether.
Imagine that, all that world-wide mocking of Lifeway (and sadly, Jesus) that took place because Thom decided to sell Heaven Tourism could have been avoided if he had just responded to a critic with humility. And a year later, and Rainer has still not answered Alex Malarkey’s open letter (source link).
Then, Rainer had his PR man, Marty King, lie and say he had only found out Malarkey’s book was fake with the rest of the world “this week” (source link). Lies. Lies. Lies.
Liars are not good leaders. People who risk the reputation of Jesus because they don’t listen to critics are not good leaders. But who don’t have the common decency to respond to a young man in a wheelchair who they took clear advantage of aren’t good leaders. But who did Dave Miller blame? Following the revelations of Lifeway’s lies and prostitution of religious goods and services, Miller called the critics “social media terrorists” (source link).
That, my friends ^^^, is what is killing our convention.
We don’t need more Company Men™, we need small church pastors to stop playing defense for scalawags and denominational rapscallions.
[Contributed by JD Hall]