The way forward, Part One…

Tensions are growing as Southern Baptists approach the 2007 annual meeting in San Antonio. Eighteen months ago, none of us could have foreseen the whirlwind of events that have brought us to this critical moment. Consider the following:

  1. For the first time in Southern Baptist history, a sitting trustee is recommended for removal by his fellow board members for taking his concerns to the wider audience of Baptists through the use of internet technology.
  2. For the first time in Southern Baptist history, the same trustees reverse course, allowing the trustee to continue his service though denying him any committee appointment.
  3. Caucuses of younger leaders form and issue competing declarations with approximately the same number of signatures.
  4. Robert Reccord is forced to leave the North American Mission Board after an unprecedented exposé in a state Baptist paper of the fiscal mismanagement and irresponsible stewardship of Southern Baptist mission dollars.
  5. The heir-apparent for the convention presidency and much sought after preacher, Georgia pastor Johnny Hunt, surprises his peers by announcing his decision to pull out of the race. He then announces his intention to nominate Ronnie Floyd.
  6. Seminary presidents use the resources afforded them by the Cooperative Program to endorse a candidate for SBC president.
  7. In a surprise move, Tennessee pastor Jerry Sutton jumps into the race for SBC president, splitting the Patterson-Pressler coalition for the first time since the Conservative Resurgence began.
  8. A dark horse candidate from South Carolina with a stellar Cooperative Program record joins the race for SBC president. Frank Page wins on the first ballot in a three way race.
  9. Wiley Drake is elected 2nd Vice President on the first ballot over three other candidates. Many messengers credit the humorous nomination speech as the reason for Drake’s election.
  10. A record number of motions are submitted for consideration by the Southern Baptist Convention.
  11. Southern Baptists adopt a resolution on alcohol consumption that prompted more debate on the convention floor than any resolution in recent history.
  12. The doctoral dissertation of Frank Page is circulated by the president of Southwestern Seminary. The dissertation, written in the early 1980s, endorses the ordination of women for pastoral offices. Frank Page is forced to explain how his views have changed to shield against ongoing rumors about his commitment to the BFM2000, or lack thereof.
  13. Several megachurch pastors begin experiencing trouble because of congregational unrest that takes to the blogosphere. Former SBC President Bobby Welch’s successor at FBC Daytona Beach resigns in the face of insurmountable challenges. Adrian Roger’s successor, Rev. Steve Gaines, faces criticism of his refusal to remove a confessed pedophile from his church staff. Bellevue erupts in strife, forcing Joyce Rogers to defend the legacy of her husband on the radio.
  14. Texas pastor Dwight Mckissic preaches a sermon at Southwestern Seminary in which he acknowledges his own private use of glossolalia and criticizes actions of the IMB board to restrict missionary appointments on that basis.
  15. Southwestern Seminary president Paige Patterson censors McKissic’s sermon and issues a public rebuke of his own trustee, calling his message “harmful to the churches.”
  16. Southwestern Seminary trustees pass a statement aligning the Fort Worth school with the IMB policies and restricting the appointment of faculty who affirm private glossolalia, in spite of the fact that several current professors hold that view.
  17. The Southern Baptist of Texas Convention passes a resolution, authored in part by Drs. Bart Barber and Malcolm Yarnell, that denies that glossolalia were ever given by the Spirit for private use. SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards explains this position by suggesting that Baptists who share Dwight McKissic’s views may “ride on the bus,” so long as they don’t try to drive the bus.
  18. An organization of sexual abuse survivors begins petitioning Southern Baptist leaders to deal more thoroughly with the problem of clergy abuse. Reciprocal press releases are fired back and forth between the survivors network and SBC leaders.
  19. Lifeway Christian Resources releases a study that reveals 10% of Southern Baptists identify themselves as Calvinists. Not even Malcolm Yarnell questions the legitimacy of the statistical data.
  20. In spite of the swirling controversies, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering reaches its highest receipts ever.
  21. Southern Seminary reports record enrollment, surpassing Southwestern and Southeastern in total headcount. Southwestern reaches the lowest enrollment since Southern Baptists have been using the new formula to calculate CP allocation to the seminaries.
  22. Former Southwestern faculty member Sheri Klouda files a lawsuit against the school, citing Paige Patterson’s breach of contract, fraud, and defamation as the grounds for her suit. Accreditation agencies begin an investigation of Southwestern’s alleged violations. Southwestern’s trustee chairman, Van McLain (NY), says that Klouda’s hiring was a “momentary lax of parameters.”
  23. Union University President David Dockery succeeds in bringing the factions of the Southern Baptist crisis together for a three day conference at the Tennessee school. For the first time since Wade Burleson’s near ouster, the groups talk to each other face-to-face.
  24. The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention affirms the BFM2000 as a sufficient guide for SBC agency policies and doctrinal parameters.
  25. Missouri Baptist layman Roger Moran takes swipes at Ed Stetzer, Danny Akin, and others in his effort to purge the Southern Baptist Convention of “emergent” theology and practices.
  26. The Missouri Baptist Convention ousts 19 churches whose members designate a portion of their mission dollars to go the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. A new church in St. Louis becomes the source of controversy due to its ministry in a local pub. MBC Executive Director David Clippard is terminated.
  27. The Tennessee Baptist Convention sues Belmont University for control of the school.
  28. A million dollar debacle in the Texas valley brings the ouster of several top BGCT staff. Charles Wade announces his retirement.
  29. Louisiana College, the only Baptist College in the State of Louisiana, continues to suffer loss of morale due to ongoing disputes between the administration and the faculty.
  30. Richard Land, president of the ERLC, counsels Mormon candidate for the United States presidency how he can attract evangelical voters while denouncing the candidacy of Rudy Giuliani, raising suspicion in the blogosphere and elsewhere.
  31. Fulfilling a promise to balance his appointments, SBC President Frank Page appoints BGCT and BGAV pastors to serve on key convention committees.
  32. Not once, but twice, resurgent warriors gather in Dallas, Texas at a meeting hosting by Criswell College president Jerry Johnson. No candidates emerge to challenge Frank Page.
  33. NAMB trustees choose Geoffrey Hammond to replace Bob Reccord at the helm of the Atlanta-based mission board.
  34. Texas pastor Dwight McKissic hosts two “roundtables” to discuss the policies of Southwestern Seminary and the International Mission Board. From the first meeting, letters are sent requesting that Lifeway conduct a study to determine the position of Southern Baptists on the issue of tongues. After the second meeting, a conference on the Holy Spirit takes place.
  35. Lifeway Research releases its report on Southern Baptist view of tongues. Supporters of the IMB/Southwestern policies cry foul, denouncing the research methodology as flawed and rejecting the findings as accurate.
  36. As never before, resolutions submitted to the Southern Baptist Convention are publicized on blogs, allowing potential messengers information leading into the convention previously inaccessible.
  37. After a one year reprieve from the traditional SBC Pastor’s Conference under the leadership of Marietta, Georgia pastor Bryant Wright, new conference president Hayes Wicker returns the format to its earlier style. Younger pastors continue to opt for non-Southern Baptist conferences with increasing frequency.
  38. Jerry Falwell dies. His funeral and tributes receive more coverage perhaps in Baptist Press for a greater period of time than did Adrian Rogers, Homer Lindsay, or W.A. Criswell. Two weeks after his death, Falwell banners are still prominently displayed on Baptist Press, even getting headline billing over the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention or the New Orleans relief effort.
  39. Both Southwestern Seminary and IMB trustees pass policies that seek to limit the degree to which sitting trustees may speak publicly against board actions. The silencing of principled dissent continues, until SWBTS Professor Malcolm Yarnell takes his aim at Thom Rainer, Ed Stetzer, and the entire Lifeway administration.
  40. Rick Warren, author of the immensely popular Purpose-Driven literature, is scheduled to address the 2007 meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
  41. Two longtime opponents of SBC fundamentalism die. Houston businessman John Baugh, founder of SYSCO Foods, and Baylor University’s president emeritus, Herbert Reynolds, are gone within months of each other.
  42. SEBTS President Danny Akin draws fire from other SBC seminaries because of his balanced assessment of Calvinism, Emergent churches, and other hot-button issues. Akin proceeds undaunted.
  43. Texas pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church unites with charismatic leader T.D. Jakes for a second annual “Global Day of Prayer” on Pentecost weekend, after which both churches lead the Dallas community in 90 days of blessing their communities. Graham draws repeated fire from SBC fundamentalists who think building homes and praying with T.D. Jakes are compromises of the doctrine of the Trinity.
  44. Continuing his herculean efforts to fight the “Five Global Giants,” California pastor Rick Warren hosts a conference on AIDS. Among the speakers invited to address the group is Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, drawing more fire at Warren from SBC fundamentalists who believe his actions constitute a compromise of pro-life social philosophy, and perhaps the doctrine of eternal security.
  45. Julie-Pennington Russell becomes the first woman to pastor the First Baptist Church of Decatur, GA, further evidencing the “vast feminist conspiracy” of the Baptist left.
  46. SBC President Frank Page speculates about reopening the question of Southern Baptist involvement with the Baptist World Alliance.
  47. The Women’s Missionary Union succeeds in defeating a motion brought by the SBC Executive Committee that would lead to more direct control of the Birmingham-based missions support organization by the Southern Baptist Convention.
  48. After a series of tersely-worded emails, a debate between Tom Ascol, James White, and the Brothers Caner falls through. Both sides accuse the other of “pulling out” or “changing the format arbitrarily.” The debate regarding Calvinism never occurs on the campus of Liberty University.
  49. After a minor surgical procedure, Southern Seminary president Al Mohler nearly dies from pulmonary emboli. Miraculously, Mohler makes a full recovery and offers a meaningful commentary on life, death, and the sovereignty of God.
  50. The Southern Baptist of Texas Convention, under the leadership of this year’s First Veep nominee, Rev. Jim Richards, forwards to all their member churches an anti-Calvinistic mailing that warns of a decline in baptisms if Reformed theology gets a foothold in Southern Baptist life. The letter, originally sent under the cover of Evangelism Director Don Cass, is allowed to simmer a few weeks in SBTC circles before Jim Richards sends out his own letter expressing regret that the earlier mailing could have been misinterpreted as a criticism of Reformed theology.
  51. A group of Missouri Baptists who supported the conservative shift in the state convention ban together to oppose the increasingly hard-right fundamentalism of Roger Moran.
  52. Paige Patterson’s sister-in-law, Kathleen Kelley, mysteriously gains an appointment to the International Mission Board, making her the third member of Patterson’s family, including Patterson himself, to serve on the board during Rankin’s administration. The second family member was the former editor of the Southern Baptist Advocate, Federal inmate number 04899-017, Russell Kaemmerling.

Feel free to add to the list in the comments. Over the weekend, I’m going to reflect on this wild series/chain of events and share my thoughts about the way Southern Baptists — including me — can get beyond the strife to pursue more noble Kingdom purposes. And, of course, those of you who believe small church pastors without wives or children are unqualified to present their views in an forum such as this…well, I invite you to stop reading my blog.

Which brings me down a tangent:

Does anybody else wonder why so many people come around to read things that aren’t worth reading?

One liners and quotes for my gluttony resolution…

If necessary, I’m prepared to debate the resolution on gluttony on the floor of the SBC. In the event I am called upon to do so, I have compiled the following one liners and quotes. Enjoy:

1. Southern Baptists don’t smoke pot and don’t believe in luck….but put the two together and you’ve got a real revival on your hands.

2. I’ve heard a host of Baptist preachers speak in unintelligible tongues. Usually they had a mouthful of potato salad at the time.

3. Southern Baptists are so fat you’d think we’d been baptized in bacon grease.

4. Ever wonder why our World Hunger Offering has dropped by almost 5 million dollars in the last 20 years? (Looking around the coliseum) Yeah, me neither.

5. We don’t have as many messengers at the annual meeting as we used to, but we sure take up the same number of seats.

6. This convention has gotten so fat that people think SBC stands for Sunday Buffet Customers.

7. “As houses well stored with provisions are likely to be full of mice, so bodies of those that eat much are full of diseases.” Diogenes

8. “Swinish gluttony never looks to heaven amidst its gorgeous feast; but with besotted, base ingratitude, cravens and blasphemes the feeder.” John Milton

9. “Gluttony is not a secret vice.” Orson Welles

10. “A glutton is a man who digs his grave with his teeth.” A French Proverb

11. “Gluttony is a great fault; but we do not necessarily dislike a glutton. We only dislike the glutton when he becomes a gourmet–that is, we only dislike him when he not only wants the best for himself, but knows what is best for other people.” G.K. Chesterton

12. “It is a curious fact that no man likes to call himself a glutton, and yet each of us has in him a trace of gluttony, potential or actual. I cannot believe that there exists a single coherent human being who will not confess, at least to himself, that once or twice he has stuffed himself to bursting point on anything from quail financiere to flapjacks, for no other reason than the beastlike satisfaction of his belly. ” M.F.K. Fisher

13. “Only men in rags and gluttons old in sin mistake themselves for carpet-bags, and tumble victuals in.” Sir Walter Raleigh.

A nomination for SBC 1VP…

Today, the race for First Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention has opened. Pastor Mac Brunson of Jacksonville’s First Baptist Church intends to nominate Rev. Jim Richards, Executive Director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. And while we love Rev. Richards to pieces, we are not convinced that his hour for convention office has arrived.

For a week now, Baptist Blogger has been mulling over the possibility of our making a nomination to this high and esteemed office. We’ve had considerable success in the past with our nomination speeches, so we determined to try our hand again at the process of determining convention leadership.

Today, I formally announce that I will nominate a trusted and loyal Kingdom servant to join Frank Page as First Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

In this day of Southern Baptist uncertainty, our convention needs reliability. We need a First Vice President who knows what it means to wait patiently for the Master’s command. We need a First Vice President who understands the value of loyalty, and is content with any place of service in our convention.

My nominee has never been asked to serve on a board of trustees for the convention, though he has been thankful to observe many. Of all possible candidates, he knows more about the inside scoop on our convention, yet he has an unblemished reputation of gentleness and gratefulness. While some younger Southern Baptists look for choice seats and key appointments, my nominee has never asked for a seat at the table.

Yes, fellow messengers, when it comes to the office of First Vice President there are many qualified candidates. The only thing that distinguishes my nominee, however, from the other nominee is that my nominee is unashamed to tell you that he does what Paige Patterson tells him.

That’s right.

I nominate Noche Patterson to serve as our next First Vice President.

Thank you.

Will Malcolm Yarnell be fired?

Paige Patterson has little tolerance for employees who criticize SBC agencies. We at Baptist Blogger know firsthand that a critical word spoken about Lifeway while on SWBTS payroll can end in termination. Along the way, Dwight McKissic learned how easily Patterson will censor you for it. Remember this papal bull:

Any trustee or faculty member is free to communicate his concerns to the boards of sister agencies, but it is difficult to imagine a circumstance that would merit public criticism of the actions of a sister board.

Nevertheless, Dr. Malcolm Yarnell has made his criticism of Lifeway public on Bart Barber’s blog by saying:

The recent survey on private prayer languages conducted by LifeWay’s Research division is a singular disappointment. The survey and its release are alternately methodologically insufficient and denominationally unwise. Whatever the real intent of LifeWay’s administration in releasing such a report at this time, it certainly gives the appearance of theological partisanship rather than innocence.

Will Paige Patterson deal with Yarnell’s insubordination? Or will he excuse Yarnell’s criticism of an SBC agency and its administration much like he excuses his own criticisms and efforts to remove Jerry Rankin from the IMB?

The Demythologization of Private Prayer Languages…

Southwestern Seminary, the International Mission Board trustees, and a host of pastors have been lying. Private tongues, they say, is the limited practice and belief of the marginal periphery of Southern Baptists, who really aren’t Southern Baptists at all.  Rather, they are Pentecostals. So dangerous is the practice of private tongues, in fact, that the practice warrants the exclusion of missionaries and professors from service in Southern Baptist life, they argue.

Well, with this latest report from Lifeway Research, we must ask our narrow cessationist and exclusionary brethren one question:

What half of their bodies are they willing to amputate?

Private Prayer Chart
Tongues Chart 1
Tongues Chart 2

Let the spin begin…