The SBC Menagerie – Al Mohler the New Bogeyman?

(I wrote part of this weeks ago. Reading today prompted me to pluck it from the dustbin and muse afresh.)

Anyone observing the Southern Baptist Convention for the past 30 or so years may readily “get” the reference to an SBC menagerie. Even my skeptic/formerly Christian friends who often find plenty of fodder for illustrating the obtuse in religious theology and practice would agree we are quite the collection of animals.

Originally I was ready to excoriate some illustrations that recently were on display at the Annual Meeting. That was until I watched a video of my friend Doug Pagitt titled, “ Douche Bags, Idiots, and Fools Are Ruining Our World” I know, couldn’t I clean up the title? I thought about invoking the in/famous Tony Campolo incident. “You are likely more offended I said [ ] than . . . .”

Some of my SBC friends and readers will immediately turn off and tune out because I mention Doug Pagitt. He is one of the many who fit a Zizekain object petit a for the SBC. These aggressive denouncers find a perverse jubilation, jouissance, at railing on those considered part of the Emerging/emerging church. (See David Fitch’s, The End of Evangelicalism, for an accessible and useful appropriation of the Slovenian’s parable about Diet Coke.) Never mind that the community of faith known as Solomon’s Porch regularly reads chapters of the Scriptures together on Sunday evenings – not something you will find in most Southern Baptist Churches and certainly no mega-churches.

Yes, I may find Doug a bit more enterprising in his theological affirmations as he engages the Scriptures and hopes to live out the Way of Jesus in the world than me. I once heard quite a lively discussion between he and some other friends on the Trinity. In the safety of friends Doug was all too willing to speculate. Now most of us Southern Baptists know we do a bit of speculating when it comes to theology too.

The SBC has long needed its Pagitts, Jones, McLarens, and a host of others to talk about “truths” in a way that betrays the Truth. Before them, it was the Shermans, Dildays, Honeycuts, and Pinnocks in our own backyard. Tactics and political machinations on both sides of the debate justified any ethic employed to rid the denomination of those skunks. Would that we could go back and chronicle the ethics employed and find they comport with the character and Way of Jesus. But, I just don’t think that will hold the line.

I shelved this post thinking the brouhaha that surfaced in Phoenix over comments made by Dr. Mohler would subside in the SBC blogosphere. Yet, a recent post by an SBC blogger led me to pull the post from “file 13” and wonder aloud how it is that Dr. Al Mohler is now the bogeyman in the SBC, at least for some. (I refuse to link to the sniping.)

Maybe it was Mohler’s attempt to clarify his comments. Some think he “backed up” on his comments about Evangelicals lying about homosexuality and accompanying homophobic behavior. Two different interviews and an email response to a pastor’s letter have seemed to do nothing more than give some cause to parse words with even more tenacity. I wished Al would have left it alone. Some will never be satisfied.

Dr. Mohler the jouissance, perverse enjoyment, expressed by those thinking they have caught you with your own words has made you the object petit a, bogeyman, for those once inhabiting the center – at least their self-selected ideologies once held sway. Maybe this would give you cause to reconsider reading and reviewing David Fitch’s, The End of Evangelicalism.

Should you have hopes of offering a more constructive way forward with the Good News of Jesus by calling attention to the very ways our ethics have dehumanized others for their habits and lifestyles, Fitch’s critique and proposals might be worth your time – seeing as you provide illustration in the past for the very experience you are now enduring.

If not, at least do yourself a favor. Stand by your words. Don’t back up. No matter what you say, others will be all too willing to say for you what they need you to say in order to maintain you as their bogeyman.

Guest Post Reviews of David Fitch’s, The End of Evangelicalism

Rick Davis

Stina Busman – Part 1 and Part 2

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.