Dave Miller and the Pigs of the Southern Baptist Farm
“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” George Orwell, Animal Farm
Dave Miller is the pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa. He is a member of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Leadership Council. He was the president of the 2017 SBC Pastors Conference. He was the 2nd vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2012. Before that he was a critical blogger. One of the best blogs he ever wrote was entitled “A Great Commission Suggestion: Pink Slip the ERLC.” In that powerful piece of prose, published in 2010, Miller argued plainly and strongly that the SBC would do better to take the multi-million dollar budget of the ERLC and fund “32 missionary families serving around the world” instead of paying for the ERLC to lobby on political and social issues in the United States. Miller asked Southern Baptists if they wanted dozens of missionaries or a culture-warrior.
Now Miller, who was but an obscure medium-sized church pastor in 2010, serves on the ERLC Leadership Council with a number of prominent ERLC personalities. He went from calling for the ERLC’s end to serving it. What happened? How did Miller (along with his blog SBC Voices) go from being a consistent voice of dissent to a loyal SBC company man? The answer may be found in the pages of George Orwell’s classic allegorical work Animal Farm.
Animal Farm tells the story of the residents of Manor Farm. Pigs, horses, cows, and other animals work Manor Farm under the harsh yoke of Mr. Jones. The pigs of Manor Farm, tired of laboring to make Mr. Jones rich, incite the other animals to revolt. Mr. Jones is run off and Manor Farm becomes an egalitarian society where “all animals are equal.” After a time, however, the pigs begin to take more and more power and change the rules of Manor Farm. Soon all animals are equal but “some animals are more equal than others.” In the end, the pigs who complained the most about the abuses of Mr. Jones’ power, become just as corrupt and authoritarian as Mr. Jones himself. Rather than making things better for the animals laboring on the farm, the pigs caused just enough unrest to take power and became just like all the other men in the farming community.
When was the last time anyone heard Dave Miller and the other “pigs” of SBC Voices complain about the ever liberalizing ERLC and SBC seminaries? When was the last time anyone heard Dave Miller and company criticize the vision-casting self-serving megachurch pastor culture in the Convention? Some people complain enough about those in power to get close enough to them to get some of that power for themselves. This is sadly how things can sometimes work in the SBC. Prophetic voices are silenced for profit. Until bold-hearted men have enough courage and fortitude to call for meaningful and lasting change, the SBC will continue to cycle through leadership like Manor Farm.
Dave Miller complimented my writing once. That was a long time ago.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.