Southern Baptists are our own best cheerleaders. The ubiquitous, distinguished sound of back-slapping can be heard long after the annual convention is held. Regardless of whatever stereotypical posturing-reboot the leadership masterminds (this year it was providing yet another chest-thumping denunciation of racism), we’re all sure it was ground-breaking, history-making and brave. Whatever dead horse we decide to beat, Southern Baptists will compliment ourselves endlessly on how well we beat it. And no matter the issue or position we’re self-congratulating ourselves about, we’ll sing about the importance of unity like a We Are the World event circa 1985.
As any denomination with the word “United” in its name can illustrate, unity is often the clarion call of compromise. Of course, it doesn’t have to be. Unity can and should be a characteristic of Christian discipleship (1 Corinthians 1:10, John 17:23). Of course, what makes unity a distinguishing characteristic for both disciples and anti-disciples is to what they are unified. Unification has a subject. The UMC, UCC, URC, and UPC have all united around unity, and we see what has become of them. Campfire kumbaya makes somebody feel warm and fuzzy, but only until the fire burns out and the s’mores get cold. Real, lasting, godly unity must be found around something (or someone) of substance. I’m not sure the kinder, gentler, discernment-proof Southern Baptist Convention gets that.
Case in point…
In an a blog article published by the New Orleans Baptist Association, two state-wide Baptist publications were impugned for their “combative tenor” for questioning the decision of two SBC entity heads signing up to lobby the government to get a Mosque built in New Jersey. And by “combative tenor,” they meant “gentle criticism.”
You see, the post-Conservative Resurgence Southern Baptist Convention is beyond criticism. The liberals and progressivists and non-inerrantists all got kicked out. There’s no one left to criticize. “Unity! Unity! Unity!” we say, after having kicked out our theological opponents. Any and all criticism of Southern Baptist leaders post Conservative Resurgence, therefore, is seen as treason. And a Baptist newspaper in Georgia and Louisiana have just challenged the oligarchy. The peasants are revolting.
Drawing from the inspiring, tear-inducing, lovey-dovey moment of unity in which one guy who was going to lose in a run-off election for SBC president decided to benevolently and graciously – for the good of the Convention, of course – forfeit to the the one he surely would have lost to anyway (they talk about this like it was Custer surrendering to Crazy Horse for the good of the troops or something). And although this isn’t quite the Hallmark movie script the group-huggers in the SBC think, this is from what the New Orleans Baptist Association article draws from to pave the “let’s get along” driveway upon which they’ll ask we dance a unity jig.
Because unity is highly valued among our churches, we are troubled by the critical editorials in our state Baptist paper against SBC agency heads David Platt and Russell Moore. This combative tenor is not new in our state. Within the past few years, Louisiana College was often in the news with stories about professors who were ‘let go’ because they were Reformed-leaning.
Yeah. That was me. Blame me for that. I exposed the bribery and blackmail payment made to Joe Aguillard’s gay, drug-using assistant who was paid to remain quiet regarding Aguillard’s misdeeds. I released the info about Hankins’ promise to save Aguillard’s job in spite of his misdeed in exchange for firing the three kinda-Calvinisticky professors. I released the hidden audio. It was Pulpit & Pen that brought that to national light. I was the one facing lawsuits and private investigation into my life because I was releasing those documents. So yeah, I know all about the hateful shenanigans in Louisiana that the co-signers of this article (including then-president, Fred Luter) chose to sit down, shut up and ignore. Let it be on the record that none of the men signing this article did a cotton-picking thing to help or stop the situation in their own state. These same men talk to us now about “unity.”
Back to situation recently at the annual Convention, the New Orleans Baptist Association article lauds the unity recently demonstrated and now claim that it’s in jeopardy because Baptists believe in freedom of the press…
[The election forfeit from one guy to the next]sparked surprise, relief, gladness, and even celebration. We witnessed an act of grace motivated by a desire for unity…Grace and unity go together, and Scripture points us in the same direction…God has shown favor on our Baptist community in New Orleans where men and women of all cultures worship and serve God in unity. The racial composition of our association is evenly balanced. Although pastors here don’t identify as being non-Reformed or Reformed, both comprise our association.
Okay. Here’s the bait-and-switch. First, note that the Calvinist presidential candidate (who had been slightly ahead in the first vote) forfeited to the non-Calvinist candidate (who likely would’ve won the run-off, because a third candidate who was no longer in the race took more votes from the Calvinist than from him). The thought is, “Wasn’t it great that the Calvinists and non-Calvinist could get along? Don’t we feel warm and fuzzy now?” Then, the thought projected by the article will be, “Don’t screw up our good vibe by having an honest press.”
A few in our state have developed a reputation for being inhospitable toward Reformed pastors, professors, and denominational leaders, with assertions that they are prepared to split our Convention over this issue.
Do we want our Convention split in two? Do we want to continue to read editorials in our state Baptist paper critical of SBC agency presidents? Do we want unity or division?
Yes. “A few” in your state have “developed a reputation for being inhospitable toward Calvinist folks.” Chiefly, your executive director, David Hankins, who laid out the well-documented blueprints to eradicate convention offices and colleges of Calvinists in a scheme I reported on extensively and called the “Final Solution.” So yeah, that’s an understatement.
But, here’s a question I find very interesting, “Do we want to continue to read editorials in our state Baptist paper critical of SBC agency presidents?”
Are you serious? Very explicitly, in no uncertain terms, what these men are arguing for is an ecclesiastical fascism. They’re actually arguing against denominational newspapers from printing opinions deemed critical of SBC leaders. Do they not remember Paige Patterson, a lion of the Conservative Resurgence, arguing at its height that convention newspapers needed to feel free to print criticisms of denominational leaders? Or is it now that the “conservatives” are in charge (they clearly are not, by the way) then suddenly our newspapers can’t print editorials with adverse opinions?
This is frightening. These eight co-signers of the article are literally, explicitly, expressly arguing that convention newspapers should only pump sunshine that is positive to our SBC leaders. They’re telling us that our state newspapers are only propaganda wings of the Convention.
Furthermore, what the article is alleging is that the Georgia Baptist Index and the Baptist Message of Louisiana are somehow on a campaign against Moore and Platt because they’re “Reformed.”
Uh, about that. First, if Russell Moore is Reformed then I’m a skinny jeans hipster. Secondly, in the Baptist Index piece, its editor, Gerald Harris, quoted Pulpit & Pen and their contributor, Bud Alheim in their concerns that SBC entity heads are lobbying to get a Mosque built. P&P, as well as Alheim, are raging five-point Calvinists. I know. I founded the ministry. We would have adopted a sixth and seventh point if we could have. Don’t you find it strange that Harris is quoting Reformed folks if this is all an anti-Reformed conspiracy?
Now, here’s the thing. Nobody has criticized these two publications more than me. Literally, no one. I have repeatedly gone after the Baptist Index and Baptist Message for perceived biases. And yet, I’m in complete agreement with both publications on this one because they’re right on the substance of their concerns. And yet, this article on the New Orleans Baptist Association website completely ignores the substance of their concerns. I’ll put them in bold so they’ll be harder to ignore…Are we paying the ERLC 4 plus million dollars a year to lobby to get a Mosque built in New Jersey? The ERLC website says four times that they exist to help churches. Is helping Mosques in the job description of Russell Moore – and in relation to this specific brief – David Platt?
Oh, but the substance of the Index and Message concerns are irrelevant to the SBC Oligarchy. What’s relevant to them is that these newspapers are hurting our
Party Convention “unity.” So ra ra ra. Go team.
The following statement from the article demonstrates why this kind of stuff can only be printed on a blog with a through-the-floor web ranking and can’t be said in any type of two-way dialogue. Some degrees of idiocy can only be a one-sided hit-and-run.
We want leaders who love people, who are friendly. We don’t want leaders who only want Southern Baptists of a certain type in leadership, professorships, and pastorates.
We also want peace-making leaders who give elbow room to fellow believers and to sister churches. We don’t want leaders whose metrics for participation is conformity to a certain view.
It’s here that the straw man is soaked in diesel fuel, torched, and shot to pieces like confetti out of Ronnie Floyd’s baptistry cannon. What on Earth has led you to believe that the Index or Message don’t like Moore or Platt because they have a “certain view” or aren’t a “certain type” of leader? Their concern is that Southern Baptist Cooperative Program dollars given by Gramma in the offering plate from her milk and eggs money is going to help a Mosque get built in New Jersey. The only “certain view” that’s been questioned by the state newspapers is that one. Deflect much? Good grief.
Constant criticism is destructive—it discourages the faithful, depresses support for our work, and turns people off and ultimately away.
We tire of “buzzard” politics and editorials directed against our agency presidents. We want them stopped.
So, let me get this right. Gerald Harris – who in particular has been constantly criticized by Russell Moore fan boys (who are fine with Moore attending gay wedding celebrations) – should stop criticizing because criticism is bad. Did I get that right? The Baptist Message in Louisiana should stop criticizing leaders because criticism is bad and that makes them bad for being critical. Did I get that right?
Hello, Pot. This is Cognitive Dissonance. I mean, Kettle.
Like toddlers stamping their feet, the Oligarchy throws a hissy and says, “We want them stopped!”
Yeah well, I’m sure Hillary Clinton would like alternative media stopped. I’m sure Donald Trump would like conventional media stopped. But guess what…you don’t get to just tell people to stop sharing opinions, even if you’re the SBC gestapo.
Finally, here’s a huge irony that I’m sure these gentlemen haven’t thought out.
Essentially, the Index and Message have been castigated for asking if it’s the role of Southern Baptists to help Mosques get built. Russell Moore has assured us it’s a very Baptist thing to believe that everyone has First Amendment rights, including the right to observe faithfully your religion.
There’s another First Amendment right all people have. It’s the Freedom of the Press.
Isn’t it ironic? The same men who will fight for Muslims to have their First Amendment rights are the same ones demanding that Baptists don’t have theirs.