Baptist Blogger will continue posting those blogs that are already queued, which include the remainder of the “Rules for Radicals” series, a post on the inequity of SWBTS employment practices, an essay on Shakespeare and the SBC, and a historical reflection about the need for an intramural critique of the conservative resurgence. These posts should carry us until the Baptist Identity Conference at Union University, and to the Executive Committee meeting in Nashville, TN.

After that, I will be taking two weeks of vacation to read and write for other projects.  Baptist Blogger will shut down from Feb 20 until the next meeting of SWBTS trustee board this Spring.

We will blog about the SWBTS board meeting, and then suspend all blogging except for discussion of the SBC Nominations Committee report and an analysis of Frank Page’s appointments to various convention committees.  Blogging will resume in full force on May 1, 2007, for the run up to the San Antonio convention.

Rules for Radicals, Pt. 5.

“During a conflict with a major corporation I was confronted with a threat of public exposure of a photograph of a motel ‘Mr. & Mrs.’ registration and photographs of my girl and myself. I said, ‘Go ahead and give it to the press. I think she’s beautiful and I have never claimed to be celibate. Go ahead!’ That ended the threat.

Almost on the heels of this encounter one of the corporation’s minor executives came to see me. It turned out that he was a secret sympathizer with our side. Pointing to his briefcase, he said: ‘In there is plenty of proof that so and so [a leader of the opposition] prefers boys to girls.’ I said, ‘Thanks, but forget it. I don’t fight that way. I don’t want to see it. Goodbye.’ He protested, ‘But they just tried to hang you on that girl.’ I replied, ‘The fact that they fight that way doesn’t mean I have to do it. To me, dragging a person’s private life into this muck is loathsome and nauseous.’ He left.”

For Saul Alinsky, the decision to resist no-limits gutterball politics was easily made. There were other means of addressing his concerns and championing his cause than to start airing everybody’s dirty laundry. “Ethics,” Alinsky argued, is “doing what is best for the most.” In other words, utilitarian ethics. Alinsky’s next rule:

5. The fifth rule of ethics of means and ends is that concern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa.

The man who is starving to death has little recourse but to steal a loaf of bread. In fact, it is this hierarchy of ethics that buttressed a monastic theology of concern for the poor. Franciscan friars, in general, and William of Ockham in particular, went to great lengths to develop a theology of property ownership that included provisions for the use of stolen goods to meet basic human needs. These principles of hierarchial and utilitarian ethics continue to influence our system of justice in the West, as well as the way we think about criminal behavior.

For instance, a fifteen year old boy stealing a bicycle so he can ride to the hospital and say goodbye to his father who has just told he has hours to live will hardly face criminal prosecution. And if he is prosecuted, it is unlikely that he will receive a guilty verdict before a jury. A woman who steals a gallon of milk to feed her hungry baby will not face the same public scorn as a president’s wife who takes furnishings from the presidential home on his last days in office.

Of course I’m talking about the Clintons. Who else would I be talking about?

The bicycle-stealing boy and the mother lifting milk have fewer means available to them to address their concerns. The wealthy president’s wife loading U-Hauls with institutional property has a number of other options to furnish his new home. Her theft is without excuse.

In the same way, Alinsky demonstrates, his decision not to use the naughty pictures of his opponent’s sordid affair was the correct decision — not because he wouldn’t have found the information politically useful, but because he didn’t need the information to advance his cause. Alinsky continues:

If I had been convinced that the only way we could win was to use it, then without any reservations I would have used it. What was my alternative? To draw myself up into righteous ‘moral’ indignation saying, ‘I would rather lose than corrupt my principles,’ and then go home with my ethical hymen intact? The fact that 40,000 poor would lsoe their war against hopelessness and despair was just too tragic. That their condition would even be worsened by the vindictiveness of the corporation was also terrible and unfortunate, but that’s life. After all, one has to remember means and ends. It’s true that I might have trouble getting to sleep because it takes time to tuck those big, angelic, moral wings under the covers. To me that would be utter immorality.

During the hottest days of the conservative resurgence/takeover, decisions were regularly made about the propriety of leaking information about men whose convictions had placed them on the other side of issues. At times, all sense of ethical concern was thrown aside and the rumor mill was cranked up in the blogs of yesteryear, The Southern Baptist Advocate and The Southern Baptist Journal.

When David Montoya recorded the Arkansas strategy session in which state convention leaders orchestrated the unsuccessful election for Ronnie Floyd to defeat Mike Huckabee for the Arkansas State Convention presidency, he soon discovered how far the fundamentalists would go to destroy a person. His life before he was saved was written up while allegations of drug use and other criminal mischief were raised.

When Lloyd Elder was holding onto the presidency of the Sunday School Board, rumors about his having a mistress were circulated among conservatives across the convention. The president of the Brotherhood Commission was accused of having a child out of wedlock. People were told they were “blind as a mole” if they didn’t see that Roy Honeycutt disbelieved the Bible. Duke McCall was accused of winebibbing, and the list goes on and on.

In the past year, it has surprised me the degree to which I have been handed documentation about mischievous little peccadillos and major moral failures. I’ve been given audits of megachurch finances and receipts from questionable reimbursements.But reading Saul Alinsky has taught me a valuable lesson.

There is no need to drop a few tons of nuclear warheads if a sniper rifle will get the job done. The collateral damage of airing some information is greater than the political victory to be gained. Telling everything accomplishes nothing. We aren’t looking to raze the Southern Baptist Convention, just to reform it.

So I’ve made a determination that I will withhold certain information in my hands about lawsuits and settlements and bankruptcies and harrassments and assaults and what-have-you because they do not involve the institutional resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. They are private sins that are better addressed in the context of local church discipline. If however, evidence exists that the integrity, solvency, and accountability of denominational resources have been compromised, I will address it.

That’s why I gave Marty Duren information about the $90 Million Dollar endowment fiasco at Southwestern Seminary. It’s why I’ve given C.B. Scott and Art Rogers documentation about administrative malfeasance. It’s why I turned over nearly 700 pages of documentation to Wade Burleson regarding the efforts to undermine Jerry Rankin’s presidency at the IMB, and it’s why I’ve requested a great deal of information from each of our Southern Baptist institutions.

Some corners of Southern Baptist life are as corrupt as Enron and about as sanctified as a Las Vegas brothel. But there’s no need to amputate our right leg if antibiotics will do the trick.

More confusion from SWBTS Trustee Chairman…

Southwestern Trustee Chairman Van McClain emailed Wade Burleson to respond to the question, “Did you vote for Sheri Klouda to teach Hebrew at Southwestern Seminary in 2002?” In that email, McClain told Burleson that the “vote for Klouda was not unanimous.”

McClain also alleged that Burleson’s blog concerning Klouda was “filled with inaccuracies.” Of course, Sheri Klouda has stated that the “information on Burleson’s blog is reliable.”

At least two men have now asked for the minutes of the April 2002 trustee meeting at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The production of these minutes is necessary to determine (a) if the vote that Van McClain insists was “not unanimous” was recorded correctly; and (b) to exonerate the seminary trustees of the “lax oversight” that Van McClain has alleged. If the minutes record a narrow margin vote for the election of Sheri Klouda, we can at least demonstrate that Sheri Klouda had reason to believe that tenure was never a real possibility. Of course, the seminary is still bound to provide the opportunity for tenure review to a tenure-track faculty member in order to follow its own policies and retain academic accreditation. But if the vote was not accurately recorded with the roll-call vote totals, then Van McClain has again misrepresented the facts.

Here’s what I mean.

The Non-Profit Corporation code of the State of Texas gives very explicit direction regarding the recording of dissent in corporate minutes. If a dissent is not registered at the time of the vote, then a dissenting board director must (a) file a written dissent with the board secretary before the meeting is adjourned; or (b) send a written dissent by registered mail to the board secretary “immediately after the meeting has been adjourned.”

If the director has not filed such written dissents with the board secretary, then he is “presumed to have assented to the action,” according to Texas State Law. Below is the relevant text from chapter twenty-two of the Business Organization Code concerning non-profit corporations.

(a) A director of a corporation who is present at a meeting of the board of directors at which action is taken on a corporate matter described by Section 22.226(a) is presumed to have assented to the action unless:

(1) the director’s dissent has been entered in the minutes of the meeting;

(2) the director has filed a written dissent to the action with the person acting as the secretary of the meeting before the meeting is adjourned; or

(3) the director has sent a written dissent by registered mail to the secretary of the corporation immediately after the meeting has been adjourned.

(b) The right to dissent under this section does not apply to a director who voted in favor of the action.

So if the trustee minutes do not record Van McClain’s vote as dissenting from the election of Klouda, and if Van McClain did not file a written dissent with the board secretary before or immediately after the meeting was adjourned, then Van McClain is “presumed to have assented” to her election to the faculty. The same is true for every other board member present at the April 2002 meeting in Fort Worth.

Where are those minutes, Van?

Or is somebody worried that they’ve been “lax” in their oversight, hmmm?

Crack me up…

Today’s Fort Worth Star Telegram carries a column by long-time religion writer, Jim Jones, about the Clinton-Carter initiative to bring diverse North American Baptists together in Atlanta next year. When Jones called me the other day for comment, I gave him a few one-line gems for his column, one of which he used. The one he didn’t use is the one I like the most:

“I’m having fun watching Dick Land and Russ Moore dress Mitt Romney to look like an Evangelical, and Bill Clinton to look like a Methodist.”

And then Jones asked me if I would attend. I responded:

“If they invite me, I’ll attend…just to see what’s happening.”

Yes, that’s right. I actually said, “what’s happening.” I cracked up when I read that comment in print, because it sounds…well it sounds so juvenile. I can hear it now.

“Reverend, what did you think about the Atlanta meeting?”

“It was hip, baby. Cool like Christmas. Hangin’ with my peeps.  Just here to represent.”

So without further ado, I give you “What’s Happenin.'”

Rules for Radicals, Pt. 4.

“Ethical standards must be elastic to stretch with the times. In politics, the ethic of means and ends can be understood by the rules suggested here. History is made up of little else but examples such as our position on freedom of the high seas in 1812 and 1917 contrasted with our 1962 blockade of Cuba, or our alliance in 1942 with the Soviet Union against Germany, Japan, and Italy, and the reversal in alignments in less than a decade.

Lincoln’s suspension of habeus corpus, his defiance of a directive of the Chief Justice of the United States, and the illegal use of military commissions to try civilians, were by the same man who had said in Springfield, fifteen years earlier: ‘Let me not be understood as saying that there are no bad laws, or that grievances may not arise for the redress of which no legal provisions have been made. I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say that although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed, still, while they continue in force, for the sake of example, they should be religiously observed.”

4. The fourth rule of ethics of means and ends is that judgment must be made in the context of the times in which the action occurred and not from any other chronological vantage point.

Saul Alinsky also tells the story of the Boston Massacre and the dirty propaganda of Samuel Adams who incited the townspeople to revolt. One of the original patriots, Patrick Carr, confessed while dying after the massacre that the British had only been firing in self-defense. The citizens of Boston, Carr explained, had made the first move.

When word of Carr’s deathbed confession got out, the townspeople withdrew and the catalyst for revolution seemed to be passing its moment. Quickly, Samuel Adams began to attack the recently deceased Patrick Carr as an “Irish Papist,” alleging that Carr’s recantation had occurred in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Once Carr’s testimony had been thus tainted in the minds of anti-Catholic Congregationalists, the Boston Massacre could become the powder that loaded the gun that fired the shot heard ’round the world.

What we have to deal with when asking questions about means and ends is the overwhelming naivete of the masses regarding the true art of politics. Indeed, political activity is an art — to some its a Jackson Pollock of random spatter, disorganized and disgusting. To others, politics is a Rembrandt that captures the eyes of the soul, the passion of a moment, or the nuance of shade and hue that reflects life as it really is.

Most Southern Baptists, however, are unwilling to face the incarnation of their cherished doctrine of sin in the face of religious leaders. The kinds of people who dismiss fiscal irresponsibility at NAMB by saying that Bob Reccord was a “really nice guy,” or the folks who exonerate every Pattersonian transgression with stars in their eyes about a mythical reformation hero, do not understand that the depravity of man can institutionalize. Once institutionalized, it festers. Once it festers, it kills.

Last Spring, Wade Burleson and I spent two days in Waco, Texas, meeting with Paul Powell, the dean of Truett Seminary and the immediate past president of the Annuity Board. Paul is a colorful figure in Texas Baptist life. He’s as conservative as any man ought to be, and he’s tough as a boot. With his feet kicked up on his desk, Paul Powell leaned back in his chair and told us old war stories about the days of the takeover.

We wanted to hear from Paul Powell because his reputation as a conservative pastor who believes the Bible is unquestioned, even among the most flaming of fundamentalists. He talks plain and quick, and he knows how to move with political skill in denominational life.

About an hour into the meeting, Paul interrupted his own train of thought. “You know that if you win this thing,” speaking of the fight to preserve the convention from the noose of ideological conformity beyond reasonable parameters, “you’ve only got about twenty years before you start stinking like they do.”

Or as George Orwell would put it, the pigs always end up looking like the farmers. Today’s revolutionaries are tomorrow’s bureaucrats, which is why I’ve made a personal commitment time and again that I will never accept any appointment to denominational service. Fortunately, I recognize up front that I’d be twice the tyrant Paige Patterson has become if given the reins of power in the Southern Baptist Convention.

I don’t think Paige set out to rule the convention like a denominational despot. In fact, I don’t think he believed the takeover would ever work.

But when it did work, he certainly didn’t deny himself the spoils of war. Paige Patterson is worried about the intoxicating effects of alcohol. He needs to worry about the intoxicating effects of power and money. After all, the love of booze is not “the root of all evil,” according to the Apostle Paul.

Everybody knows Patterson thinks of himself as the sheriff of the kingdom, as one megachurch pastor told me on the phone the other day. But not everybody can figure out when he changed. Some people, of course, suggest that he’s always been a ruthless cut-throat out for control. His closest associates through the years, however, can pinpoint a few events that morphed the man.

One colleague of Patterson’s through the resurgence years has told me that Paige changed when he became convention president. Once his term was over, and the BFM2000 had been approved, everybody figured that Paige would go back to Southeastern Seminary and end his days of ministry leading the seminary he rebuilt from near dissolution.

But Paige Patterson is a shark, who can’t stop swimming and hunting. And I don’t really fault Patterson for what he has become. One day in his Wake Forest office, Paige told me that “all power in heaven and earth” had been given unto him. Any man — or woman if she was suffered to have such authority — would succumb to the intoxicating effects of power and privilege.

Rather, I fault the trustees at Southeastern and Southwestern for heaping endless praises on Patterson, so much so that he started to believe what they said about him. I fault the long line of chapel speakers who begin their sermons with the obligatory honors and accolades for the “Martin Luther” of the Southern Baptist Convention. I fault every Southern Baptist who has been content to “trust” that Paige would run the convention just fine without their informed oversight.

Corporately, we all have made Bob Reccord and Paige Patterson fat on convention funds. We’ve allowed them to hire inordinantly large staffs, fly to London for movies and install $4000 gas grills in their Pecan Manors. Bob Reccord knew better than to think he could cut off his craving for the prestige and pleasantries afforded him by lax trustee oversight. Once they put him on a diet, he hit the road. I have a feeling that Patterson would find his way to retirement if Southwestern’s trustees started looking at his expense accounts with a little keener eye for excess and waste.

The only difference between Paige Patterson and me is that I’ve been given the privilege of seeing what’s happened to him — enough to reject up front any offer of convention appointments. If I were president of Southwestern Seminary, I would be the Rehoboam to Patterson’s Solomon. Things weren’t great under the latter, but they were worse under the former.

Which explains, I suppose, why I’m blogging all of this. I’m making sure that I never get asked to sit on a committee or serve on a trustee board or lead a denominational agency.

And all God’s people said???

Tracking the mail…

For those who are interested in the Baptist Blogger’s recent mailouts, we are providing the tracking information for you to see when and where our letters have been delivered. Feel free to visit and track the mail.

Letter Requesting Information from SBC Institutions

Dr. Al Mohler
7006 2760 0004 2562 6092

Dr. Daniel Akin
7006 2760 0004 2562 6108

Dr. Phil Roberts
7006 2760 0004 2562 6535

Dr. Charles Kelley
7006 2760 0004 2562 6788

Dr. Paige Patterson
7006 2760 0004 2562 6542

Dr. Jeff Iorg
7006 2760 0004 2562 6498

Dr. Jerry Rankin
7006 2760 0004 2562 6504

Dr. Richard Land
7006 2760 0004 2562 6511

Dr. Morris Chapman
7006 2760 0004 2563 4097

Dr. Roy Fish
7006 2760 0004 2563 4080

Dr. Frank Page
7006 2760 0004 2563 4073

Rev. William Harrell
7006 2760 0004 2563 4066

Hon. Roy T. Sparkman
7006 2760 0004 2563 4059

SACS Letter of Complaint Regarding SWBTS Violations

Dr. Belle Wheelan
7006 2760 0004 2562 5613

ATS Letter of Complaint Regarding SWBTS Violations

Dr. Jimmy Dukes
7006 2760 0004 2562 5606

The second letter…

January 25, 2006

Dr. Jimmy Dukes, Dean
Extension Center System
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
3939 Gentilly Blvd.
New Orleans, LA 70126

Dear Dr. Dukes:

While I regret that the nature of my letter concerns your role as chairman of the Commission on Accrediting for the Association of Theological Schools, I first wish to thank you for your faithful service to Southern Baptists, in particular, during these difficult days at New Orleans Seminary following the Katrina disaster. You have a long and honored tenure of service at New Orleans, serving under both Drs. Landrum Leavell and Chuck Kelley, and I am confident that your distinguished career has well suited you to address the issues which this notice of complaint raises.

I submit to you this letter of official complaint against one of the member institutions accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, and I am forwarding this letter to the members of the Commission on Accrediting for their review. Officially, I am still a student of record at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, though circumstances unrelated to this immediate complaint but consistent with a potential trend of accrediting violations has caused me to suspend the pursuit of any degree from the Fort Worth seminary and pursue doctoral candidacy at another institution.

I am requesting that you investigate what appears to be a serious breach of the accreditation guidelines for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Should the commission determine that such a breach has occurred, I hereby request that you undertake any and all means necessary to bring Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary back in line with the accreditation guidelines of the Association of Theological Schools.

Below are the facts that warrant investigation by the Commission on Colleges:

  • During the April 8-10, 2002, Trustee Meeting of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX, seminary trustees approved the election of Dr. Sheri Klouda as a tenure-track professor to teach biblical languages in the seminary’s theology school. Dr. Klouda is a graduate of the Criswell College in Dallas, TX, holding both the B.A. and the M.A. with honors. She received her Ph.D. in Old Testament from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary later that Spring. I have attached to this letter Dr. Klouda’s Curriculum Vitae as Appendix A.
  • Dr. Klouda was elected with the status of assistant professor.The Policy Manual of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Section VII, page 30, defines an assistant professor as “a teacher who holds a doctor’s degree or its equivalent in professional experience in the field of instruction and who has shown evidence of special ability as a teacher and scholar.” I have attached to this letter the entirety of Section VII as Appendix B.
  • As a tenure-track professor in the school of theology, Dr. Klouda was guaranteed a clearly-defined process of tenure review. Section Ten of the seminary’s Policy Manual defines the process of tenure review, which I have attached to this letter as Appendix C.
  • All pronominal language in the Policy Manual is careful to reflect the gender diversity of faculty status and the equity of tenure review for both male and female professors at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  • The Policy Manual makes no gender distinction between the various schools of music, evangelism, theology, and educational ministries relevant to the selection of tenure-track faculty.
  • Dr. Sheri Klouda, subsequent to her election as a tenure-track assistant professor, was informed by the seminary administration that she would be ineligible for tenure review because of her gender. I have attached as Appendix D several news articles substantiating this claim, including statement from both Dr. Klouda and the trustee chairman, Dr. Van McClain.
  • Considerable evidence exists that Dr. Sheri Klouda was denied the process of tenure review outlined in the Policy Manual, and that she was denied the process on the basis of unenumerated criteria and gender bias, which constitutes a violation of the tenure policy guidelines adopted by the seminary trustees and governing the institution.

I am available to you should you require further information to substantiate an accreditation review of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, an institution which has already, in the recent past, faced investigations and citations for its failure to meet accreditation guidelines as required by the Association of Theological Schools.

Should you feel the necessity to recuse yourself from this investigation on account of potential conflicts of interest due to your service at Southwestern’s sister seminary and the fact that your seminary president is the brother-in-law of Southwestern’s president, I will fully understand.

Thank you for your diligence. The solvency of accrediting agencies such as the Association of Theological Schools is further assured by your expedience and thoroughness in this matter.




CC: Susan E. Davies

Bangor Theological Seminary

Bangor, ME

Wendy Fletcher

Vancouver School of Theology

Vancouver, BC

Paul Rajashekar

Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA

Anne T. Anderson

University of St. Michael’s College

Toronto, ON

David E. Draper

Winebrenner Theological Seminary

Findlay, OH

Gary Riebe-Estrella

Catholic Theological Union

Chicago, IL

Mark R. Ramseth

Trinity Lutheran Seminary

Columbus, OH

Mary Ann Donovan

Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

David Esterline

McCormick Theological Seminary

Chicago, IL

Melody Mazuk

Palmer Theological Seminary

Wynnewood, PA

Barbara Mutch

Carey Theological College

Vancouver, BC

Kevin LaGree

Pastor, First United Methodist Church

Des Moines, IA

Gordon Smith

Overseas Council Canada

Mayne, BC

Hillary Gaston Sr.

Philadelphia Baptist Association

Philadelphia, PA

Right speech…wrong speaker.

Baptist Press has just reported that the pastor at FBC Daytona Beach, FL, has resigned his position, effective at midnight last evening.

I have two thoughts.

1. This is a very sad circumstance, and most likely it was preventable. David Cox has resigned with grace and sincerity from a position that brought challenges he never could have foreseen. That Bobby Welch was in the service of his resignation is perplexing to me. Jerry Vines has done the right thing by moving away from Jacksonville to allow Mac Brunson the freedom to establish himself as pastor. Overlapping pastorates are recipes for disaster.

2. David Cox has bowed out of a position of leadership for causes far less serious than those which currently face other leaders in our convention. His resignation should have been drafted for them instead.

More doublespeak from Southwestern…

Giving Tom Hatley a run for most bumbling Baptist trustee chairman, Van McClain has continued to trip over his own words.

From Religion News Service:

McClain also denied that gender discrimination played a role in Klouda’s dismissal: ‘The second issue involves the desire of (the seminary) to have only men teaching who are qualified to be pastors or who have been pastors in the disciplines of theology, biblical studies, homiletics, and pastoral ministry. This is in keeping, of course, with the statement of faith of the SBC that clearly says the pastorate is reserved for men.’

Did you get that?

“It had nothing to do with gender.”

“But she isn’t a man so we can’t let her teach.”

Thanks for clearing that one up for us there, Van. We are soooo much more confident that you know what you’re doing over there in Fort Worth.

Is anybody else concerned that prospective faculty members at Southwestern Seminary are about to undergo the most humiliating of scrutinies? And who, pray tell, gets to “check under the hood” to make sure Southern Baptists don’t end up with their own version of Pope Joan myths? I can hear it now:

“Come in. Welcome to Southwestern.”

“Thank you, Dr. Blaising.”

“Now before we begin the interview, could you just have a quick seat over here in this special little chair. MmmmHmmm. Well I guess that will do.”

(Turning to shout to his secretary on the other side of the screen)

“Barb…could you turn the thermostat up. It’s a little cold in here.”