The Old SBC, the Age of Fear and the End of an Era?

Who knew there was another Littleton somewhere in the United States concerned about the current condition of the Southern Baptist Convention and its future? I didn’t. To say that we see things differently would not be distinctive enough.

In my last piece, I referenced JD Greear, announced as a nominee for President of the Southern Baptist Convention next week in Dallas. Not in my wildest fantasies would I have considered JD to be accused of being a Marxist-Social-Justice-Warrior. Combine Crazy Fear-Mongering Baptist with access to a website and a keyboard and any frivolous accusation is possible. These will be the same folks who will appeal to Matthew 18 for all conflict resolution except for lies they tell.

The Internet also proves an old adage, one created well before the Interwebs were conceived.

“Where two or three Baptists are gathered there are four or five opinions.”

Or to be crasser,

“Opinions, usually excuses, are like [blank] everyone has one.”

Risking self-incrimination as one who proves the points just made, I offer a post sent to me by a former Baptist of another era. Two things seem to underlie the piece. First, there is grief that something good was not fought for harder. The charge that Liberals had invaded the SBC has rarely if ever been responded to with more than a handful of names in a denomination of, at one time, 16 million. Hardly equivalent to a drift. Second, the close suggests we will all survive this moment but leaves it open as to what will we be when we do. Cue the video clip of the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles and his response to his team being uninvited to the White House.

Is it the end of an era?

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The “Conservative Resurgence” in the SBC: An Era Now Passing 

The “Conservative Resurgence” Era, now crumbling down into the same shambles it made of the old SBC, will be remembered, not much and not by many, but by some, and sadly, brought the old SBC into an Age of Fear.

Fear was never too far from the surface for Southern Baptists; fear of Hell, fear of the professors at the Seminaries, fear of Progressives. Fear was everywhere from the smoke-filled prayer rooms at the convention meetings, to clandestine gatherings to plot the dirty tricks that would lead to domination.  The pulpits endorsed fear. In those days many “invitations,” featured a trembling story about a family who did not answer the call and were met by a fiery death on the way home, as if the roadways were littered with the broken bodies of unrepentant church-goers.

The “Conservative Resurgence” brought a different fear in quality, in quantity. The old SBC had managed to exist from 1845 to 1979 without mentioning the word “inerrant.” Now, conversations started with the presentation of the word. If the old friend of the old SBC did not accept the new assertion, the conversation was over, and probably the friendship. Preachers, professors, denominational employees and the common Baptist asked to serve on a board were forced to pledge fealty to an interpretation of Holy Writ few could actually define. Many were the pitiful scenes of one (barely) Baptist (suddenly) inerrantist insisting (loudly) that everyone in the crowd must accept the accuracy of the Bible in all ways, including many he could neither define nor intelligently discuss.

For these men the  Liberals they could never find were Infidels. The Infidels would take over the Convention, as they had infiltrated other denominations. The Convention would decline, the clergy would get too educated, the Bible would not matter. No one would hear the fables from the pulpit without snickering.

So the “Conservative Resurgence” folks came to save the Convention for the Bible. All other persons would learn to be cooperative with them, or the atmosphere would be made so toxic for them they would tearfully leave. Brave new “Conservative Resurgence” leaders, who would ultimately sacrifice exactly nothing personally, emerged to call lesser beings to give their all to protect the convention against the inevitability of Cultural Progressivism. These men (all men) would stem the tide of the homosexual agenda, of feminism, of, well, name something that has happened in American secular and religious culture in the last forty years. The “Conservative Resurgence” would save the old convention from the new world.

I am saying what you know. The “Conservative Resurgence” failed to do anything it claimed. The leadership produced immense fear in the old SBC.  Ironically, the leadership of the dying “Conservative Resurgence,” now dying within a Biblical generation (40 years) accomplished nothing of note, and absolutely nothing of virtue.  American culture, the same culture that elected Conservative leadership over and again to its state and national bodies, did not turn to the “Conservative Resurgence” SBC. Persons who might have come to the old SBC went to Bible churches, musicians to the Assemblies, teachers to the Methodists or Presbyterians.

History, when we are far enough removed from the rotting carcass of the “Conservative Resurgence”, will tell us the saddest truth, to wit, many, many who might have come to the old SBC, or stayed with it, simply went home and stayed there. Amazingly, despite their early teaching, none of them died in fiery crashes on the highway along their way.

What did the “Conservative Resurgence” accomplish? Its venerated leaders finally learned this; the older we get the more we reveal who we are, our own, personal reality. Both will be remembered as persons around whom defenseless persons were not safe. How could anyone who saw how these men savaged others could doubt there was something malicious in them, malevolent about them?

Some persons lost their jobs. No one ever proved they were Liberals, in thought or actions. They just were not on the right side of the war machine.

Some preachers got rich.

The old SBC died. The death of the “Conservative Resurgence” will not resuscitate the old SBC. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is not the old SBC, as much as it tries. The old SBC is gone forever; it might have died, anyway, but not as soon. Tell the truth, if you ever cared at all about the old SBC, do you really not regret the way it was killed?

What do the survivors of the “Conservative Resurgence” Era do now, soon, often and ever? You may find some help from those who survived the callous murder of the old SBC.

Do not look back at the “Conservative Resurgence” Era for heroes or villains. The old SBC let this happen to itself. Better men (and women) than those who wrested power and doomed the whole might have fought harder, or sooner, or longer. The old SBC first did this to itself and then let it happen beyond the point of common sense, when anyone who saw could see its failure, and then let the dreary movement go on until common decency demanded its end.

Even the “Conservative Resurgence” inerrantists could finally not support men who wanted just to get alone with a ravaged person so they could break the old girl down. The new leaders might have seen problems sooner, but, then, they were born to a cabal that taught them not to look askance at its vaunted leaders.

The old SBC is dead. The “Conservative Resurgence” Era, wherein on field missionaries are cut down by a third, where its seminaries are laughable and its agencies destitute, is now dying before the eyes of its own constituency. There is little carrion left; even the buzzards will move on soon. Let this sorry era be a warning to future generations. Do not let it define you.

 

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.