Smooth Transitions or, When Claims of Higher Standards Are Really Lower

SBC Voices’ Dave Miller reported the announced planned retirement of Dr. Richard Land. I write planned retirement for it will not be effective until the date that marks Land’s 25 years of service to the ERCL – to the day in October 2013. We need time for a smooth transition of power.

CNN reported on the Fall of Jonah Lehrer. The story details the manner in which Lehrer’s creative writing included manufactured quotes attributed to Bob Dylan. A freelance writer, also a huge Bob Dylan fan, began scrutinizing the quotes and discovered the creative license. Lehrer resigned amidst the discovery.

David Fitch raised an awareness [which may need an alarm] of an Evangelical ideology bound to empty signifiers. One exposes an empty core when the actions consistent with the claimed ideology face the contradiction of the one, or ones, making the claim. If I claim to have a higher standard than others because I am a Christian and yet my actions do not bear that out we often refer to that person as hypocritical. Another way to look at it is the loss of a center, a core. In this move, the core holds no power to persuade to consistent action. When that occurs it is considered empty. Read More

Ruled Out of Order or, A Pusillanimous SBC Part 2

Southern Baptists pride themselves as literalists. The tendency is to employ a rabid love for the meaning of words until it does not suit the purpose. Southern Baptists are then rigid pragmatists. In both instances stridency becomes virtuous, even in the face of withering contradictions. Most people face this oxymoronic existence at least once in life.

Before proceeding with Part 2, Ruled Out of Order or, A Pusillanimous SBC, let me point to an intentional word play and one deliberate word choice that might have gone un-noticed in Part 1. This does not mean other words were flippantly selected.

First, the title of this series, Ruled Out of Order or, A Pusillanimous SBC, uses the indefinite article, a, to describe the SBC. Read More

Quoted by Reuters or, What About My Other Comments On the SBC?

Wednesday morning Kathy Finn, a stringer for Reuters, asked if she could speak with me about recent events at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans. I had just sat down after losing an appeal to overrule the Chair regarding a motion I made. The motion had been ruled out of order. My brother Paul texted me to tell me I was out of order. You have to love brothers with a satirical sense of humor.

We moved to the hallway where Kathy turned on the recorder. After a series of questions regarding Dr. Luter’s election and my motion she asked about another vote. Finn wanted to know how I felt about the approval of Great Commission Baptists as a descriptor, or tag line, for Southern Baptists.

I searched my own website to see if I had written anything about the matter. Nothing came up in the search. That should tell you something. I was/am ambivalent. Read More

Why I Came to NOLA or, A Vote and an Action

Sixteen years ago I made my first trip to a Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. I learned I had been nominated to serve on the General Council of the Baptist World Alliance and would qualify to make my first meeting in Hong Kong about a month later. I needed a passport.

Living in flyover country means getting a passport quickly required either paying for accelerated processing or visiting a city where you could receive a passport within twenty-four hours, like New Orleans. Our Youth Minister, at the time, and I made the trip to NOLA to get a passport and make our first SBC Annual Meeting.

I admit to thinking the Disney Boycott was silly. However, I was heartened by the recent affirmation of the SBC apology for our history of racism.

Just a few months ago I had no plans to attend the SBC meeting this summer. In fact, after my trip to San Antonio I was not sure I would make another Annual Meeting. Two reasons for this decision. Read More

Land Mass or, Trustees Carelessly Caring for SBC Land

Only a document igniting a fever pitch discussion about Calvinism in the SBC could bury the report by the ERLC Trustees of the SBC.

Suspicions confirmed. Baptist Press released the report from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission on Dr. Richard Land’s racially charged comments and plagiarism. The ERLC Trustees took more action than I suspected, but much less than most pastors or staff would have received. The typical non-celebrity pastor would have surely been terminated.

The rate of pastoral terminations for his or her own indiscretions or the systemic maladies of the churches served could be considered epidemic. Sitting in a breakfast meeting intended to help place graduates of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1988, I remember the statistic of pastoral changes for the State of Oklahoma. Clyde Cain noted, “On any given week there are 12 pastors going to new churches and 12 pastors leaving their church.” Talk about encouraging job security. Not much has changed – anywhere. Read More