This will come as a complete shock, I’m aware, but I will not be voting for Ronnie Floyd for the SBC convention presidency. He is not my preferred candidate, and because my preferred candidate is not running, I will vote for Frank Page. This I will do without a second-thought. Let me explain why.

During the month of January and into February, I hosted thirteen conference calls with more than 300 pastors and laymen across the convention to discuss the IMB situation. Many of these calls were with friends. Others were with complete strangers who had expressed a desire to join. Some of them included Wade Burleson and Marty Duren as participants. During each of these calls, it became clear that an alternative candidate had to emerge, though at the time we were all anticipating that Johnny Hunt of Woodstock, GA, would be running. It became clear to us that an alternative candidate was not only needed, but also electable.

So a number of us discussed the kind of criteria that would make for an acceptable leader for Southern Baptists, and among those critera five were distilled. They were as follows:

1. A candidate for the Southern Baptist presidency must have a full commitment to the BFM2000, the conservative resurgence, and he must be an articulate theologian with broad evangelical appeal. He must represent the depth of our theological commitments.

2. A candidate for the Southern Baptist presidency must recognize that the BFM2000 is an adequate basis of doctrinal fellowship, and he must have a track-record of resisting exclusionary agendas for convention service. He must appreciate the breadth of our theological diversity.

3. A candidate for the Southern Baptist presidency must not have ever been accused of ambitiously seeking the post, or any other post of leadership for that matter, within Southern Baptist life. He must reflect the forgotten virtue of humility.

4. A candidate for the Southern Baptist presidency must have demonstrable graciousness and the steady hand of diplomacy to lead all Southern Baptists in a time of reflective examination and intentional reformation. He must have clean, steady hands, and an irenic, pious spirit.

5. A candidate for the Southern Baptist presidency must be bold and courageous, a man willing to face immense pressure and opposition without compromising the truth. He must have a spine of steel, a hide of leather, and the ability to say “no” to any self-interest in the convention, whether it be emerging leaders or graying tyrants…whether it be bloggers or big-wigs.

As we searched our hearts and racked our brains for the name of such a man, we finally came to one conclusion. There was a man who met all of these qualifications, and I approached him on behalf of many.

Before I tell you who he is, let me touch upon the original reason for the post. The criteria above continue to be my litmus test for the convention presidency. On every count, Ronnie Floyd is unsatisfactory.

First, Ronnie Floyd is not a theologian. He is a “Biblical Life Coach,” as he’ll readily admit. The Southern Baptist Convention doesn’t need a life coach, however “biblical” he may be. We don’t even need a “winner.” What Southern Baptists need is a man with credible and demonstrated theological acuity. Ronnie has written a book on juicing fasting, and that is commendable. He wrote a book about gays, for which he deserves two snaps. And he’s just finished one on “Finding God’s Favor,” and we can all high-five him for that. But after listening to hours of his sermons, I’m convinced the man knows more about John Maxwell than he does John Broadus. He’s more conversant with James Dobson than he is James P. Boyce. He knows more about Wayne Gretsky than Wayne Grudem; more about Max Lucado than he does Martin Luther. The days of firework-filled rallies at Southern Baptist Conventions should be put to rest, and the days of serious, biblical exposition must be restored. Many of us find it difficult to believe that Ronnie Floyd has the theological center necessary to keep Southern Baptists from the fundamentalist fringe or the pragmatic precipice toward which we are being pulled with feverish intensity.

Second, Ronnie Floyd is not a historian. He has little awareness of the rich traditions that have made Southern Baptists what they are today, and we didn’t arrive on the backs of the megachurches. The breadth of our convention is too great, and the churches are too diverse for the highest convention office to fall by default to the next megachurch pastor in line for the job. Sure, we all hear the Horatio Alger stories of how he pastored “small churches” back when he was in his twenties. Times were tough, we walked uphill bothways to a church with wooden pews and feeding-trough baptistries. (Of course, a feeding trough is much preferred over a fire truck) But 70% of all Southern Baptist churches are running 200 or less. Maybe ten pastors in the whole SBC are pastoring two churches at once. The megachurch does not represent what Southern Baptists are, nor where we want to go. It is the megachurch system that has fueled the “good-old-boy” network that continually passes over small churches and unknown pastors for convention service. A Southern Baptist president must appeal to the little guy in the little town with the little church and the little budget who gives a little more than .27% to the Cooperative Program.

Third, ambition is the dry-rot of Southern Baptist life. Sure, Coach Floyd assures us that he “never sought the job.” Just like, I’m told, he never sought the job at Lifeway, or the job at Southwestern Seminary, or the job at First Baptist Dallas, or the job at the North American Mission Board, or the job at the Annuity Board, or the job at whatever position has been open. No, we are repeatedly assured on Ronnie Floyd’s blog that he doesn’t want the SBC Presidency, but that he is only allowing his name to be placed in nomination to follow some twisted application of the Macedonian call in Acts 16. He has been “supernaturally drafted by God,” we are told. And just in case you didn’t catch that he wasn’t running for the job, he was sure to post Al Mohler’s email in big, bold letters. And if you missed it the first time, he posted a second endorsement from Johnny Hunt. But no, Southern Baptists are convinced that Ronnie isn’t “campaigning” for the post.

Well, I guess I’m not campaigning against him either then.

Fourth, Ronnie Floyd is a polarizing nominee. Listen to people across the convention. Have you heard anybody but Ronnie Floyd who is ecstatic about his nomination? Word on the streets is that the SBC leadership is searching for anybody to run so they don’t have to live with Ronnie Floyd as president for two years. People have approached Frank Cox, who declined for family reasons. Now there is much talk about Jerry Sutton of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, TN, running for the spot. They’re afraid that Frank Page is too close to Wade Burleson, and they’re afraid that Ronnie Floyd is too close to Joel Osteen. I’m not trying to be brutal here, I’m just saying in public what everybody else is saying in private. It’s called transparency. We need to get used to it. I don’t wish any harm done to Ronnie Floyd. I don’t doubt his commitment to his wife, his love for the Lord, or his financial integrity. He’s not a thief, a drunkard, or a glutton. But he’s not a consensus builder, and he’s not a man that the convention will follow. End of story. Ronnie Floyd has as much chance of fostering renewal and reformation within the Southern Baptist Convention as I have being elected to the faculty at Southwestern Seminary.

Fifth, Ronnie has courage. I’ll give him that. But does he have the courage to tell Paige Patterson that he’s not going to appoint the wife of a Southwestern vice-president to a key committee? Will Ronnie appease the men who pulled out the stops to get him elected, or will he thank them for their support and do the right thing anyway? I have my doubts. Any man who asked for Al Mohler to serve as his “theological accountability” after a bungled pastor’s conference in 1997 is probably going to buckle under the kind of pressure that gets put upon a convention president.

So those are some of my reasons, and surely some people will take offense or offer objections. But they don’t have to be your reasons. I’m not trying to convince anybody how to vote. I’m merely telling you how and why I’m going to vote the way I am. It’s not just the firetruck baptistry. It’s not just the .27% CP giving. It’s not just the silly nomenclature of a “life coach” or the shoddy exposition of Scripture. It’s not just his connection with Jerry Falwell or the paternalism of Paige Patterson’s endorsement. It’s not just questions about raw ambition or swelling pride. It’s not the rags-to-riches biography, or the pages and pages of “accomplishments” he’s posted on his website for us all to read. It’s not a Macedonian call or a “supernatural drafting.” It’s all of them put together, and more.

For months I have been telling people, now numbering over a thousand, that there is a man who can lead Southern Baptists. He can lead us to renew our center and reform our system. He can lead us to reaffirm our heritage and reinvigorate our mission. He can touch all Southern Baptists and bring us together as one people of one faith, one Lord, and one baptism. There is a man in Southern Baptist life who will resist the narrowing trends and reassess our denominational efficiency. He’s got a mind as keen as Calvin’s and a passion as hot as Luther’s. He can speak the truth in love, stand firmly with grace, and call all Southern Baptists back to the heart of our cooperation with integrity, skill, and sincerity.

His name is David Dockery, but he has thrice declined. Another man came to mind, and he also declined. But David Dockery was the first pick, and he continues to be my preferred candidate.

I pray God his mind will change. Until then, I’m willing to vote for Frank Page, because when I spoke with him about my concerns, he not only listened, but he has pledged to address them in short order. So far, he’s done a fantastic job. Sure, I’m concerned about the anti-Calvinist vitriol, though I’m not a Calvinst. But tomorrow I’ll post my “nomination speech” for Frank Page, were I the one to offer it in Greensboro. ;)

Today, I wanted to let you know that David Dockery was always my choice…and the choice of many, many across the convention who called, wrote, emailed, and visited with him during the week of May 8-12, 2006, pleading with him to stand for nomination.

Maybe it’s not too late:

Email him and let him know that you’d support him this year, or next, if he is willing to accept the responsibility and the stewardship of so noble an office.


During the height of the SBC controversy in the 1980s, disestablished moderate elites decried the efforts of conservative insurgents as political power-grabs. The whole “battle for the Bible” was more about power than principle, more about control than doctrine. For years, I have believed the moderates were in error, but it seems that their broken clock has finally struck its accurate hour in recent months. The Southern Baptist Convention, the “Conservative Resurgence,” and the Cooperative Program by which millions of dollars are dispersed are being co-opted by men whose actions look more like a ravenous quest for power than a beatified thirst for the righteousness of God. Surely this thesis needs explanation.

Acclaimed sociologist Kenneth Clark has committed the greater part of his academic career to studying the character and abuse of power, especially as it relates to issues of race and political marginalization. His book, Pathos of Power, originally published in 1969, is remarkable for its relevance to the current crises facing Southern Baptists.

The idea of political power is hard to define, but not for failure to attempt its definition, as Clark observes. For lack of an acceptable definition of socio-political power, therefore, Clark looks to physics for the rudimentary components of his definition. Physics, Clark notes, has defined power as “any form of energy or force available for work or applied to produce motion or pressure.” Therefore, Clark argues, when the scientific idea of power is applied to a social, political, or religious context, one can define power as “that energy necessary to create, to sustain, or to prevent observable social change.” This definition includes certain tentative premises, which Clark outlines as follows:

1.Power is amoral; it can be used, as can physical energy and nuclear power, for good or bad ends, but in itself it cannot determine value. It may be rational or irrational, constructive or destructive, in its consequences.

2. Power implies possibilities of choice in determining priorities to be assigned to various individuals and groups within a social system of differential status and hierarchy in the gratification of needs. It implies the ability to make and implement decisions and successfully to control resistance or attempts to impose counterdecisions.

3.In the face of conflict, power may be exercised in varying degrees, the first of which is latent, whereby it demonstrates itself when challenged and to the minimal extent required to meet or contain the challenge. Or it may be exercised actively and usually overtly in the face of continuing or anticipated challenges or conflicts. Power may finally be exercised coercively, whereby the holders of power will enforce their desires in the face of intense and persistent challenges.

4. The conditions of passive or active resistance determine the degree of power exerted in any given situation. Power can be expressed in innocuous ways, such as persuasion, argumentation, etc. It can be expressed in more direct ways in the actual control of the behavior of others, by institutional controls, restraints, sanctions, or privileges. Finally, coercive power tends to be exerted only under the conditions of overt resistance to the less intense forms of power when a significant and sustained challenge arises. The law, the police, and other sanctioning institutions operate with impunity in regulating the degree of dissent, challenge, or demand for change that is tolerable to those who control the power.

5. The hoarding of power, power waste, and non-decision may be seen as affirmative attempts to influence the power equation. The refusal by political or religious leaders to use their power in a moral conflict or controversy is an empirically verifiable exercise in power.

6. Certain forms of power appear to be effective but in reality they are illusory pseudo power. Verbal posturing, unaccompanied by the ability to implement words in action, or the delusion of power, or the mistaken perception of power where it does not actually exist are pseudo power. In quiescent situations, pseudo power appears real, but in conflict or controversy the conscious or unconscious pretension to power is seen to be ignored. Pseudo power cannot sustain, or prevail, under conditions of prolonged protest or conflict. And finally,

7. The voluntary transfer or sharing of power may also be illusory. This phenomenon poses many problems which relate to questions of motivation. When power is “shared” by the dominant, it may be that what is shared is the appearance rather than the substance of power.

With these premises as my point of departure, I want to explore how the quest for and abuse of power in the Southern Baptist Convention is rotting our collective conscience. Indeed, leaders of the conservative resurgence should lie awake at night wondering to themselves, “What should it profit a man if he should gain the whole denomination and forfeit his own soul.” If they aren’t, then we’re in worse shape than I thought. In case they’re reading, then, let me offer some thoughts to get the discussion going.

First, Kenneth Clark recognizes that power and influence are amoral; that is, they are not by themselves either good or evil. When men who lead our SBC agencies and institutions, either as trustees or as executives, are using the influence and position to faithfully execute the desires, goals, and commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, they are using the authority granted them by the convention to achieve positive ends. However, if a man, or a group of men, or a group of trustees, use the positions afforded them by all Southern Baptists to advance the agendas of a subset of Southern Baptists to the exclusion of others, then power has been corrupted and the result is destructive. A board of trustees may use the power granted them by the convention to ensure that field missionaries are faithfully reflecting in their witness and work what all Southern Baptists have defined as the confessional parameters of our cooperative missionary enterprise. If, however, a group of trustees seeks to implement a restrictive doctrinal parameter that does not reflect the diversity on non-essentials that Southern Baptists recognize, then they have abused the power given them, thus constituting an “evil” application of an “amoral” privilege. If it can be demonstrated that the actual policies on private tongues and baptism are not reflective of Southern Baptists confessional diversity, then the board of trustees has abused the authority granted them by the convention to act in opposition to those who have authorized them to act.

Second, Clark recognizes that power elites will always use their power to control resistance and subvert challenges to the power they have achieved. For instance, can the use of the “power” afforded a seminary president by the Southern Baptist Convention to endorse particular candidates for office be understood as an “abuse” of power to “control resistance.” Is it possible that the men with extraordinary influence would use that influence to recommend persons for service on their own trustee boards or the trustee boards of other SBC entities, especially those entities against which they have already made public critique? Has there been undue influence exerted on the nomination process by trustees wishing to bring “likeminded” votes onto their respective boards who might work to remove the agency president? Has there been similar influence exerted by any seminary presidents upon the boards of trustees of the SBC to implement a particular agenda for that institution that falls outside the immediate administration of their own institution? The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy that men who lead the church should be those who “manage their own house well.” With this in mind, is it appropriate or helpful for SBC entity administrators whose own institutions are facing unprecendented shortfalls to circulate missives and white papers about what’s wrong with another man’s leadership? A farmer who is concerned about the fruit of his neighbor’s field when his own is drying on the vine is poor steward indeed.

Third, Clark argues that when challenges to power arise, the powerful will respond with increasing degrees of intensity. Again, the case of the International Mission Board is illustrative. When the problem was a few “undesirables” who had private prayer languages or had been baptized by “unacceptable” ecclesial authorities, the tact was to implement a policy change. One trustee began blogging his dissent, and resistance grew. Moving from argument and persuasion, the IMB Board of trustees chose to remove the “dissentious” trustee, trusting that the SBC would sustain their request. Once again, a groundswell of opposition arose, greater than before. Realizing that their assertion of raw power would not be approved by the necessary majority of convention messengers, the IMB Executive Committee, under the uncircumspect leadership of Tom Hatley, backpeddled, choosing rather to implement a new policy barring dissent. In the meantime, a position paper was offered to assuage concerned Southern Baptists, yet its irrational, illogical, and unbiblical argumentation was summarily dismissed by most anybody who read it. A greater number of Southern Baptists started crying foul, and the blogging trustee would not be silenced. Blogs broke out everywhere, letters to the editors poured in, and unbelievable pressure was applied. The IMB trustees then converged on Albuquerque, where Chairman Tom Hatley, in his final act as chairman, used the office afforded him by Southern Baptists to launch a full-frontal attack on a trustee, recommending that he be barred from doing the very work that thousands of Southern Baptists had elected him to do. As the opposition grew, so did the abuse of power by those who were threatened.

And this is just one instance among many others in our convention today.

Fourth, there is a tendency for those with power who do not abuse it to shrink from confronting those who do. In essence, a “good old boy” network develops, whereby everybody turns a blind eye to everybody else’s corruption in an evil pact of reciprocity. In such a system, you will hear things like this: “We should support so-and-so because of all the things he did for us way back when;” or “We need to stand by the men who led us to power because if we don’t we will only confirm what their ‘enemies’ said about them;” or “It’s perfectly okay for a seminary president to endorse a candidate for president, just like all Southern Baptists can.” Of course, on this last one, I agree. A seminary president should be able to endorse a candidate like everybody else. The only difference is that everybody else cannot use SBC Cooperative Program resources to issue their endorsement.

Again, while it is upsetting that so many are willing to keep silent in the face of such abuses of power, Southern Baptists should be encouraged that “God has saved a remnant” who are willing to stand up and speak out when such abuses occur. Of course, I have in mind the recent position taken by SBC Executive Committee President Morris Chapman, whose courage, sensible demeanor, and diplomacy will calm the waters in Greensboro to some degree.

Fifth, Clark recognizes that not every instance of power is actual power. Some forms of “power” are, in fact, instance of pseudo power. Some claim to have power, but in actuality they do not. When all things are rocking along with little conflict or opposition, those who wield pseudo power are able to sustain the impression that they are powerful. As opposition increases and questions get asked, the pseudo powerful get strangely quiet. In the coming days, more questions are going to be asked about abuses of Cooperative Program resources, about the exertion of undue influence upon the agendas of SBC boards of trustees, and about attempts to use the positions of influence afforded by all Southern Baptists to advance the narrow agendas of a few? Questions are going to be asked about the way facts and figures of our SBC institutions have been reported. More questions are going to be asked about the tremendous Cooperative Program dollars that are used by some in SBC leadership to live like kings on the mite of widows. As these questions are asked, and as the answers are uncovered, I doubt that others will have the wisdom and grace to follow the example of Robert Reccord. Rather, some will dig in their heels and “cash in” their political power to stay in power. When a man’s only influence is that afforded him by his office, he only possesses pseudo power. If a man continues to have influence after he’s out of office, then his power is real and his influence is assured. Or put another way: think of the difference between Adrian Rogers — who had influence without an office — and others whose names you can’t even remember because they don’t have a title or expense account anymore.

Finally, Clark reflects on the “voluntary transfer of power,” alleging that such a “transfer” is really a sham. I’ve been thinking about this a great deal lately with all the talk of “bringing new faces to the table.” There are those who say that Ronnie Floyd is going to “bring in new guys” and others suggest that the nomination of Mark Dever as 1st Veep and J.D. Greear as 2nd Veep are ways to bring “Calvinists” and “Young Leaders” into a power-sharing deal with the old graying heads of the conservative resurgence who occupy the key posts of denominational influence. But most people know better. If anybody really thinks that the election of Mark Dever will bring an end to the sniping of reformed theology by ignorant men, then I’ll be shocked. The election of Mark Dever won’t bring an endorsement of elder-rule by Paige Patterson any more than the election of Wiley Drake will bring an endorsement of the Wiley Drake Show by Richard Land.

In light of all this, I would like to make five final comments:

1. The power-elites of the Southern Baptist Convention will use every tool at their disposal, both ethical and unethical, to resist the change advocated on this blog and others.

2. Those of my peers who have cultivated a place of service under the wings of the power elites will be increasingly frustrated as the men who have “groomed” them for positions of power attain their eternal reward, leaving their proteges with the positions and titles but not the influence to lead the convention.

3. If those of us who are advocating change are successful in achieving our goals tomorrow, it will only be a few years before we behave just like those we have opposed today.

4. That is why I have made the private and public commitment never to accept any role in Southern Baptist life except the pastorate of Parkview Baptist Church in Arlington, TX. Of course, I don’t feel like I’m giving anything up. They are the sweetest most Christ-honoring people on earth, and I’m regularly dumbfounded about how a guy like me ended up serving a church like that.

5. Whatever the distribution of power in the convention, for two days every year the playing field is level. Any messenger can make a motion. Any messenger can offer a resolution. Any messenger can speak from a floor microphone. Anybody who doubts me, should remember the day that a little blue-haired grannie derailed Jack Graham’s agenda for renaming the convention. Messengers control the convention, and they can control it if they put their minds to reform and renewal rather than blind loyalty to men who might have betrayed their trust.


The Southern Baptist Convention is experiencing a crisis of integrity.  Consider the following:  One Southern Baptist executive, upon his election as president, is discovered to be guilty of fiscal irresponsibility by using institutional funds to pay for his family to travel to Europe.  Infuriated, the board of trustees threatens to forego his inauguration and rescind his election until another entity head appeals to a majority of the board to sweep the problem under the rug and proceed with the inauguration by arguing that the institution will not withstand two presidential terminations back-to-back.  The story never sees the light of day.  Several years later, another SBC entity president takes a significantly less expensive trip to Europe with his wife, prompting a trustee report and the resignation of the embattled president.

Or consider this:  During earlier days of contested SBC presidential elections, leaders of the resurgence decried that the resources supplied by all Southern Baptists were being expended to endorse candidates and precondition potential messengers about potential actions on the convention floor.  Flash forward sixteen years, and three seminary presidents offer unqualified endorsements of an embattled,  second-string nominee, using the resources, offices, and influence afforded them by all Southern Baptists and the Cooperative Program to engineer the election of officers.

Or what about this:  SBC agency heads begin intentionally obfuscating the difference between funding “SBC causes” and Cooperative Program support when their preferred nominee’s full commitment to the convention is in doubt.  Nobody seems prepared to ask how many dollars from the nominees church went to Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary or to Midwestern Seminary student tuition subsidies, as they would have if the church had been supporting the Cooperative Program, rather than SBC causes.  Questions, in fact, are never answered, but dismissed as “attacks” calling for counter-attacks.

Or yet again:  An SBC seminary president reports “increased enrollment” to his trustees and the convention, covering up the contrary evidence that FTE’s, or the actual basis of Cooperative Program support for the seminaries, are falling.  When people begin to wonder if the president in question has chosen to endorse “supporting SBC causes” rather than Cooperative Program percentage giving is in any way related the fact that his institutions CP revenues are down on account of declining enrollment, they are painted as seditious, or bitter, or even liberal.

Or what about this:  One SBC entity head raises questions about what are claimed to be the “exorbitant” salaries of Executive Committee employees and even goes so far as to meet with trustees of the Executive Committee on numerous occasions to discuss strategies for coerced disclosure.  The salaries of top Executive Committee employees remain undisclosed, but when asked about his own salary, or automobile expense, or the number of convention employees on payroll that are washing his car, or folding his clothes, or changing his bed linens, or preparing his meals, the room gets very quiet.  Dismissed is the fact that the president of the Executive Committee is not given a house with all bills paid, including toilet paper and handsoap, while his accusing counterpart milks every luxury imaginable from the Cooperative Program.

And the list could go on…but you’ll have to wait for my book.

My point is this:  From the highest levels of denominational leadership to the smallest church and the numbers it reports on the Annual Church Profile, we are a convention of half-truths, hidden agendas, and careless misrepresentations.  These things, brethren, ought not be.

Which brings me back to integrity.  Everybody seems to talk about it.  Nobody seems able to define it.  Few seem to possess it.

In his 1996 book, <em>Integrity</em>, Yale Law Professor Stephen L. Carter does more than any author I’ve studied to explore the subject of integrity — both its commendable application in religion and politics and the lack thereof.  As Carter sees it, integrity has three components: discerning what is right and wrong; acting on what you have discerned, even at personal cost; and openly saying that you are acting on your understanding of right and wrong.  Integrity requires moral reflection, steadfast resolve, and transparency.  On all three counts, Southern Baptists are deficient.

Allow me to explain.  The first essential of integrity requires that a person consider the facts in order to arrive at definite conclusions about what is right and what is wrong.  But Southern Baptists don’t seem to be willing to hear the facts.  Whether it is the actual numbers of our church rolls, or the declining baptisms, we aren’t interested in facing the music, and this because of our own biases.  When “liberals” were running the convention, “conservatives” were quick to point out that liberal theology would mean the death of evangelism and missions.  Only “conservatives” could get the convention on the right track, and the proof would be seen clearly in the baptismal pudding.  Now that baptisms are down, resurgent leaders are at a loss to explain it and all too eager to lay the blame at Geneva’s front door.

Another instance can be seen at the International Mission Board.  Under Chairman Hatley’s deplorable leadership, the board seemed quite unwilling to hear any evidence that people were out to get Jerry Rankin, or that the new policies were attempts to discredit him, or that a caucus existed, or that improper and outside influences on the board had made considerable inroads at frustrating Jerry Rankin’s administration of the IMB.  Indeed, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

And now that Wade Burleson is considering a full disclosure to the whole convention, trustee leadership is reaching new depths in assaulting Bro. Burleson’s credibility and character, hoping that once the facts are released they will drown in a roar of noise about “breaches of confidentiality.”  Southern Baptists are coming to a decision.  Will they dismiss any evidence that their cherished leaders have acted improperly, and perhaps illegally, with the same kind of blind loyalty that kept J. Edgar Hoover in power for half a century?  Or will they appoint and empower a committee to investigate the source(s) of our current crises, and will SBC entity heads cooperate with such an investigation?

Only time will tell.

The second part of Carter’s defition of integrity involves the will of a person who has first discerned the truth to act on it, in spite of great personal cost.  Or put another way, will those people come forward who know firsthand that Cooperative Program funds have been mismanaged, or that caucuses have taken places, or that certain resurgent leaders have continued to employ a network of well-placed political lieutenants to push narrow agendas for doctrinal conformity and bureaucratic control on the convention who entrusted them with immense responsibility?  Or will they excuse <em>prime facie</em> anything questionable or illicit done by “heroes” of the conservative resurgence? Will Southern Baptists take the course of Joab and dispatch Uriah to his death, or will they take the prophetic role of Nathan, and boldly confront the king with those terrible words, “thou art the man?”

Finally, integrity demands transparency.  And when it comes to transparency, Southern Baptists should demand a healthy dose of it.  The secret caucusing and forums must stop.  Executive sessions should be the rare exception, as at the Executive Committee, rather than the rule, as at the IMB of late.  Any man who has integrity should be willing to state openly the nature of his goals, the means he intends to employ in pursuing them, and the reasons why others should join him.

What, then, are my goals for the Greensboro convention:

1.  To see opportunities for convention service opened up to all Southern Baptists, with those who demonstrate a greater commitment to the Cooperative Program afforded the most influential positions.

2.  To see the convention bylaws amended to preclude the recyling of convention trustees year after year and further measures taken to eradicate nepotism, cronyism, and conflicts of interest in denominational appointments.

3.  To reaffirm the place of principled dissent as an essential component of our Baptist witness and identity.

4.  To support any resolution, motion, or recommendation that moves the convention toward greater transparency in its work.

5.  To dismantle without mercy the structures and systems that have tolerated or fostered the foregoing breakdowns of integrity by shining a white-hot light in some very dark places.

In the forthcoming posts, I will explain the means I intend to pursue in advancing this agenda, as well as the rationale behind them.  All this, of course, is one man’s attempt at pursuing integrity.

One more thing: I’m bringing a full slate of messengers with me. :)