We bought our van when it was brand new more than seven years ago. The odometer will soon reach 175,000 miles. Once we paid off the note on the van we chose to keep driving it and forgo the monthly payment. Since that time we found ourselves making some necessary repairs on an automobile built not for longevity but to be disposable. Consumption of newer and newer models means a glut of “used” or “pre-owned” vehicles dotting every car lot. I could take a side road here and write about some of my family members who made a living selling automobiles new and used. But that is not the point of this post so the digression be a digression.
Back to the van. While we have continued to make the repairs we realize one day there will be a repair that would cost us more than the value of the van save for sentimentality. And, in that case you cannot get real far down the road on fond memories of trips taken in the “blue van.” You could liken the impending condition to arguments about the San Andreas Fault. It is conjectured at some point the fissure will reach deep enough parts of California will resemble Atlantis. When fissures run from top to bottom the demise is imminent. We know the van will one day reach such a condition.
One of my “minor” asides post-SBC in San Antonio may be major to some. I confess much of my perception to be more intuitive than factual though off the record conversations over the past ten years did make me more sensitive to experiences that could be termed anecdotal information. One of the glaring realities of the recent annual meeting was just how deep the fissure is or how the crack runs from top to bottom in the SBC. Un-repaired the demise is imminent. I realize that is a prognostication of the gravest order. I do not note it lightly. In fact, I think it resonates with the analysis I have referred to since beginning this blog a few years ago.
Bill J. Leonard wrote, God’s Last and Only Hope in the early 1990’s. His unpopular analysis noted the eventual fragmentation of the SBC. In many ways it has already begun to occur. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship being the most notable expression of this fragmentation is not the only illustration. Rick Warren and Saddleback may not have officially “pulled” from the SBC but they are at a place they need no denominational connection to carry out their particular interpretations of the Kingdom. They have certainly been maligned by many within and without the SBC. Andy Stanley, Ed Young Jr., Bob Roberts and a host of others surely tired of the politics. And in similar fashion they may not have “formerly” withdrawn from the SBC bur are content to let it go its own way. Lesser lights have chosen to do the same. They may maintain some small connections via long standing relationships but are wholly unwilling to “take one” for the SBC.
Apparent to me is the divide between the “celebs” of the SBC. I say “celebs” because while they would decry the reference as “Rock Stars” they certainly can whip a crowd into a frenzy by playing the “oldies to “rally the fans” to stem the tide of liberalism. They can do so as strange bedfellows. Underneath the facade of the largest Protestant denomination exits a seething longing for power. These strange bedfellows rang the same alarm as the SBC considered a motion to adopt the Executive Committee statement on the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. A friend noted a weird day when a vote for the BFM2000 is considered liberal. That is just how the celebs shaped their arguments. That is really another post too (this time I think the one about my family in the car business would be better). Some of these bedfellows would likely not “cooperate” were it not for the common perception their power in jeopardy.
Many believe the days between Greensboro and San Antonio nothing more than some young fellows in search of positions jockeying to get in on the power game. Mis-caricatured in sermons and conferences these bloggers mostly called attention to inconsistencies and questionable ethics. If we perform “drive-bys” on these bloggers we may well be able to discredit them and maintain the facade of unity. The fissure is to deep; the crack runs from top to bottom. This is no battle between the children of the resurgence/takeover hoping to see who gets the golden scepters held by entity heads. Instead, this is a fractious group living out the logical conclusions of a runamuck fundamentalism. In my previous post I noted the warning given to allowing the “boat” (convention) floating downstream. We were not warned enough about the powerful inboard/outboards that may hurtle us into the dangers that lurk upstream.
That being said, if those who do hold position without the seething for power will band together to put an end to “king” building in the SBC there may yet be hope. Run over to Steve McCoy’s blog and watch an abbreviated clip of Ed Stetzer. If you can find Morrris Chapman’s address to the SBC get it. It could well be the kind of “reformation” Richard Land spoke of – it just may not occur his way.
You may also want to check out Ben Cole’s analysis – parts of it sound familiar.