SBC Today’s Editorial Response to the Nash Controversy

by Dave Miller on May 16, 2011 · 48 comments

The editors of SBC Today have published their response to the controversy that has surrounded the article they published last week in which Dr. Jerry Nash called on Calvinists and non-traditionalists in the SBC to leave the denomination.  I wrote an article last week confronting the Nash article and Micah Fries wrote an article today questioning the involvement of New Orleans Baptist Seminary and the Baptist Center in the blog.

In the article, the editors countered criticisms by asserting that they publish a range of viewpoints and that their “About SBC Today” disclaimer made it clear that not all opinions expressed represent the opinions of SBC Today’s editorial board.

That is certainly true.  I publish views here that I disagree with, sometimes strongly.  Just because they published Nash’s article does not mean that everyone involved in the blog agrees with them.   Whatever one believes about Nash’s article or the advisability of its being published, their defense of the process is well-stated and comprehensive.

They claimed that the purpose of the blog is lively discussion and they did not censor those who logged on to voice their displeasure with Nash’s article.  Again, this is true.

The editors issued an apology for any offense that might have occurred as a result of the article.

In the “About SBC Today” section, the editors clarified the relationship between SBC Today and the Baptist Center.

To be clear, SBC Today is not owned by the Baptist Center or New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) or any of the churches involved, is not a publication of the Baptist Center or NOBTS (or any of the churches involved), and does not necessarily express the views of the Baptist Center or NOBTS (or any of the churches involved). SBC Today is privately owned, is supported by private donations, and its content is guided by an editorial board of contributing editors.

Check out the clarification article and the purpose statement at SBC Today.  You can make up your own mind about the entire process.

1 Dave Miller May 16, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Comments are open here, but I would suggest that those interested in the subject comment at SBC Today – in a respectful and positive way of course.

2 Tony Kummer May 16, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Maybe we should clarify our about page so people know that SBCvoices is controlled & funded by a shadowy coalition… the purposes of which are indeterminable and often contradictory, yet fully committed to stirring the pot.

3 Dave Miller May 16, 2011 at 11:40 pm

The First Rule of the Shadowy Coalition: Never talk about the shadowy coalition.

4 Tony K May 16, 2011 at 11:46 pm

The Second Rule of the Shadowy Coalition: Always talk about the shadowy coalition.

5 Dave Miller May 16, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Like the SBC’s Identity, the rules of the Shadowy Coalition are somewhat confusing and contradictory.

6 Tony K May 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Is that a motion or a report from your committee?

7 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 12:07 am

I’ve been working all day with drywall mud and floor tiles. So, right now, I am motionless and have nothing to report.

8 Jeff Musgrave May 17, 2011 at 12:16 am

A shadowy person can read a lot into that sort of statement.

9 Jeff T May 16, 2011 at 11:26 pm

They say their blog is offer a variety of SBC views. Right? Do they have a calvinist writing for them?

10 Debbie Kaufman May 16, 2011 at 11:29 pm

:)

11 Dave Miller May 16, 2011 at 11:31 pm

I do not know who their full team is right now, but I know of at least one five-pointer who is part of the original group. And if I remember rightly, another one might have been.

So, it would not be fair to say that there have never been any Calvinists on the SBC Today writing team.

12 Greg Alford May 17, 2011 at 9:33 am

Yea… :-)

13 Mark May 17, 2011 at 12:14 am

One of the lines that stood out to me in the SBCToday article is:

This article was very forthright, and though it did not single out any particular individual, its strong wording may be accused of falling short of being kind or charitable.

After observing various SBC theological fights I think that not singling out people causing more harm. Why? Well, it becomes a witch hunt of sorts. It becomes a chase of the hypothetical man who may or may not exist and may or may not teach what is being criticized. I mean…without names and specific positions, who knows?

For example, Nash wrote, “Let us agree to let the anti-SBC, anti-CP, anti-Association, anti-State Convention and pro-Primitive Baptist doctrines be blessed to go out and become whatever it is they want to be.

Who exactly does this apply to? If it is no one specific then why state it? That is just causing undue controversy. If it is someone or some specific groups then let’s address them. Let put it out on the floor or, again, why say anything?

14 Alan Cross May 17, 2011 at 12:35 am

As an old writer for SBCOutpost, I remember when we got in trouble for having entity heads write recommendations for us and then having very controversial posts written by contributors. Micah will remember this well as the editor for the communal version of SBCOutpost. But, that was in the Wild West days of the SBC Blogosphere. The Nash article wouldn’t even have raised an eyebrow back then. So, maybe things are getting better.

15 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 12:51 am

I do believe that with a few notable exceptions, the tenor of blogging is improved today. Your description of those days as the Wild, Wild West is perhaps too tame.

16 Alan Cross May 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Perhaps. You had to be quite the gunslinger to keep up. A lot of guys stopped and then blogs like this one and SBC Impact emerged to provide for good discussion with a toned down rhetoric. Of course, we were trying to move the immovable object back then. I say “back then” like it was 20 years ago. It was 5 years ago.

17 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Hard to believe that. I think your analogy may be correct. The initial push may have needed to be more severe, more forceful than what is needed now.

It was a wild ride.

18 Bill Pfister May 17, 2011 at 8:02 am

I shared Sunday night in our systematic theology small group that while I lean more towards the side of the sovereignty of God in salvation, there are others who lean more towards the human responsibility side. I said that both streams are active in the SBC. My solution is to designate inbounds and out of bounds. For me, if you believe in salvation by grace, through faith in Christ alone and you preach Jesus to all, we can be team mates; you are in bounds. I thought as Southern Baptists we said the BFM 2000 was what designated in and out of bounds. It is sad to me that some are trying to redraw the boundaries now to exclude certain brothers.

19 Job May 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm

“The editors issued an apology for any offense that might have occurred as a result of the article.”

Not “I am sorry for the offensive words.” Or “I am sorry for my decision to publish an article containing words that we knew would offend many.” Instead, it is the typical “I am sorry that you CHOSE to take exception to an article that was bashing you over the head.” One of those “your face needs to apologize for the injury that it caused by its repeatedly striking my fist” deals that we see in the secular world all the time.

“not all opinions expressed represent the opinions of SBC Today’s editorial board”

Sure, but they DID NOT state that they disagreed with Dr. Nash’s views. Quite the contrary, Dr. Lemke called Dr. Nash’s position “the in Adam option” here: http://sbctoday.com/2011/04/08/the-shot-heard-%E2%80%98round-the-sbc-part-c/
Dr. Lemke specifically compared the Calvinists to the CBF types who deny the virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, inerrancy etc. first of all, and second stated that the Reformed Baptists’ forming their own denomination that the SBC could “cooperate” with would be preferable to things continuing as they are now.

In light of what Lemke and the others who write for SBC Today actually believe, and have actually stated numerous times, this “non-apology” (that was not an actual apology) and this statement that “we do not NECESSARILY agree with ALL of this” (without rejecting or even distancing themselves from ANY) of it is just misleading PR, and should be treated as such.

20 Greg Alford May 17, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Job, Well spoken…

That Dr. Lemke can actually call for churches to leave the SBC and not be held accountable for it by the Trusties of NOBTS tells us all we need to know about NOBTS…. “It’s time for a new Board at NOBTS!”

21 Job May 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Consider it this way. Suppose that an adjunct non-tenured professor employed by or affiliated with NOBTS were to make ONE STATEMENT at ONE TIME in ONE FORUM in favor of abortion or homosexual marriage! You can only imagine what the response from NOTBS would be, and how quickly it would come.

Yet the provost of NOBTS is able to make multiple statements in multiple forums over a course of who knows how long endorsing the idea that Particular Baptists leaving the SBC, and what is their response? Crickets …

SBC Today may wish to separate Lemke from the institution where he serves as a top administrator, but that is folly. Especially since his institution does not see fit to distance itself from his words or actions with regards to this matter, as they certainly would were Lemke promoting homosexual civil unions. Especially since being the provost of NOBTS gives his words a much wider audience – plus the appearance (or the reality to be honest) of being those coming from an expert on theological and SBC matters – than it would from the average blogger, or for that matter the average pastor or theologian who is a blogger. Similar to when Ergun Caner made his famous “Calvinists are worst than Muslims” crack, even if that comment was SLIGHTLY out of context, those words still came from the dean of the seminary of the world’s largest evangelical university, and not some random Christian voice.

Lemke is more than willing to use the benefits of his position to pursue his agenda, and claiming that it is not a reflection of those who placed and retain him in that position stretches credulity.

22 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Could you show me where Dr. Lemke asked for anyone to leave the SBC?

I have had dealings with Dr. Lemke and found him to be honorable and conciliatory. He is a man of honor.

23 Christiane May 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I am not understanding what Dr. Lemke meant by the term ‘in Adam position’. Does anyone understand, from what he wrote there on that site, what the term is referring to ?

Thanks, if anyone can help.

24 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm

In Adam refers to our sinful nature – that which is born in sin under God’s judgment – what the Bible calls the “natural man.” In other words, it is the normal human way.

In Christ, those who believe are redeemed from sin and given a new way, a higher way. That is “in Christ.”

25 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Greg and Job, you can certainly address any position that Dr. Lemke stated.

However, I have had dealings with Dr. Lemke and found him to be honorable, conciliatory and straightforward. Disagree with positions he has taken, if you will. Frankly, that was his whole point in discussions I had with him – that disagreement was fine and advanced our discussions.

But please guard your words. This is a fine man of God who has served the Lord honorably.

Greg, I would ask you to provide documentation for your statement that Dr. Lemke “call(ed) for churches to leave the SBC.” I have not seen him make such a call. If you do not provide documentation for this accusation, I will delete it. Please link to or paste here the place where he said such a thing.

He personally assured me that such was NOT the case.

I’m going to moderate this one a little more aggressively than some comment streams because of the volatility of the subject matter.

C

26 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm

I went back and re-read Dr. Lemke’s article. I would suggest that you do the same. Honestly, if we would maintain the spirit of Dr. Lemke, we would be a lot better off.

Job, you so spun Dr. Lemke’s words that you came pretty close to abusing the truth.

He said that there were two ways the SBC could go – “in Adam” and “in Christ.” He defined the “in Adam” path as division. He used the CBF as an analogy.

He in NO WAY compared Calvinists to the CBF in doctrine. You just simply cannot make his words say that. He said that a split could occur much as the CBF and SBC split a few years back.

And he makes it clear that this is not the best way. He is clearly for the “in Christ” option.

Look, in this discussion I have been a voice for the Big Tent. I am also Calvinistic. But I cannot allow you two to make false statements about Dr. Lemke without those statements being challenged.

I do not think we advance the cause of unity by twisting the words of others to make our points. There are a couple of bloggers who do that to me and it rankles me a lot. I will not let you do it to Dr. Lemke.

So, here are the options: Provide some support for the accusations you made and do so soon. Or I will delete this entire stream from the comments.

We do not advance truth without speaking the clear truth and doing so in love.

27 Jason May 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I’m with you…but you do recognize that even a passive agreement with the idea that a group of people should leave the SBC is an undermining of his main point.

I would make 2 observations for this discussion:

1. It was unwise for Lemke to use the CBF as an example. Even if it used rightly. Why? Because that wound is open and it can lead toward a misunderstanding of labeling your opponents as pro-CBF. Even if that is not what he intended. Opening that can is not helpful. He did not need to go there. That said, I agree with him that division is not a good thing and should be avoided. So, maybe we need to be extra careful how we describe the issues so as not to push it there unnecessarily.

2. Who is calling for division? I only see one side calling for people to leave. I only see one side demanding things. The ones who could accurately be described as pursuing the path of “in Adam” only appear to be from one side. So, the calls across the aisle seem a little disingenuous when it is people on “his side” that are the ones calling for division and separation.

Just some observations.

28 Greg Alford May 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Good points Jason,

And let me just ask a question of everyone on all sides here…. “Since when is Diversity in the SBC equated to Division in the SBC?”

29 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Again, I think it is wrong to say that “one side” is calling for division.

I have only heard one person specifically call for this, and a couple of others even hint at it.

It might be more accurate to say, “a few voices on one side” are calling for division.

30 Jason May 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Well, there is also a call to have a “separate” pastor’s conference…and there has been vocal support for Nash’s comments, which would mean that they are in agreement.

True?

31 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 6:21 pm

I’m not sure, Jason that there was a “call.” It was talked about.

I hope you are not thinking of the April Fool’s joke post I put up here about Tim Rogers and his alternate pastors’ conference.

I don’t think anything has gone beyond the speculation phase on that.

32 Jason May 17, 2011 at 7:29 pm

OK, maybe not “call” but there was “discussion” about such a thing because “they aren’t including us” (they and us being the key issues here).

But even if that was simply meaningless banter…the bigger problem, IMO, is the support for the words and tenor of Nash’s post.

Agree?

33 Jason May 17, 2011 at 7:32 pm

BTW, of course I am not referring to an April Fool’s Day post. Come on. Why would you think that? Especially when this post was made on SBC Today.

http://sbctoday.com/2011/03/29/do-we-need-an-alternative-pastors-conference/

34 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I just wanted to make sure, jason. I had so much fun on April Fools day, I would have been sad to hear that it caused anyone to believe a rumor or something.

But yes, you are right. Tim did make that speculation.

35 Jason May 17, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Dave,

The funny thing in all this is that I feel like a homeless man in this whole discussion. I just don’t line up with the “us” or “them” that the BI guys are pushing. I am a young guy, who is not Acts 29, pastors a (more) traditional small(er) church, who has no love for trendy or flashy ministry stuff, who doesn’t drink but doesn’t believe drinking is a sin, who is against the renaming of the SBC, has fought battles with CBF, non-charismatic, but who also happens to be more calvinistic.

I have no home in this whole thing….that is why I hate the “us” vs. “them” thing because I’m not sure it can be defined so easily.

36 Jason May 17, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Maybe I should add: pro-SBC, pro-CP, pro-GCR, pro-evangelism and missions as well.

Where do I fall on the continuum?

37 BDW May 17, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Y’all are debating the difference between “best” and “acceptable”

I thought the “best” choice for supper tonight was some Pei Wei teriyaki chicken. My wife said, how about a grilled chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A. I said her choice was acceptable. I still prefer some spicy Pei Wei but no complaints tonight.

The “in Adam” option, if that’s the path chosen, would likely not play out as it has in years past among Christian denominations. Does anyone really think that one constituency within the SBC (many of those constituencies overlap anyways) is going to pick up and leave and form a new, separate organization with a multi-million dollar budget? In this era where denominations matter less to local churches, that seems highly unlikely.

Keep in mind that CBF was formed after moderates were completely excluded from leadership positions at the seminaries, agencies and on boards and committees. That’s why it’s more appropriately and accurately called a Takeover (quibble with the fundamentalist part, but it was a takeover). One group took power from another group over a decade long period through annual elections and appointment powers.

Nowadays, these fault lines – as articulated by Lemke – involve a diverse group of leaders who are currently in power. No significant constituency is going to pick up, pack up and leave and start something from scratch. That would require influential people to give up their power.

Look at the Calvinist vs. non-Calvinist divide. There are very very influential people in positions of denominational power on both sides.

I suspect all this will play out with increased conflict, increased controversy, lots of squabbling, etc. The fussing and fighting will be a turn-off to some which will lead to a steady decline in CP giving – ultimately requiring the SBC to do what other denominations have already done, gut the bloated bureaucracy and go lean (that seems to be already happening in some corners).

Maybe in the long-run, the SBC will look more like ABCUSA in terms of the “society” approach.

38 Greg Alford May 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Dave, here you go…
Dr. Lemke’s words are as follows:
——-
In many ways, splintering or splitting the SBC would be a tragedy, but in some sense it might be a good thing…
If we cannot agree, or agree to disagree, it would be better to break into two or more groups than to continue battling over these points…
So, what was once a major point of contention in the SBC in the 1980s has now yielded two groups who are happier being separate than together…
Applied to our current setting, it might mean that either several splinters need to happen in order for people to “get happy,” or perhaps a single significant split…
That is one possible future – not the best future, I believe, but a possible and an acceptable one.
——-
I could go on, but that will suffice for now… Dave, you can delete my comments if you wish… that’s entirely up to you, but that will not remove the fact that many in the SBC may not take kindly to one our Convention Employees making such comments.
Grace for the Journey,

39 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Greg, he did NOT advocate that. He said (pretty clearly in the series) that he did NOT think that was the best way. It was a way that the SBC could go if it so chose.

But the whole point of his article was that there was a better way, and more Christlike way. Did you not read that?

Here is the link: http://sbctoday.com/2011/04/09/the-shot-heard-%E2%80%98round-the-sbc-part-d/

It is simply not accurate to say that he advocated the “in Adam” option. Frankly, his post series was outstanding and exhibited the kind of godly debate we need more of in the SBC.

40 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Look at your own quotes:

“That is one possible future – not the best future, I believe, but a possible and an acceptable one.”

He said it is NOT THE BEST! It is most definitely an option, a likely one if the kind vituperative, angry and sectarian attitudes that are on full display today continue. But that is not what he desired or promoted.

41 Greg Alford May 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Dave,

I had not read his last article…

I still do not appreciate some of the comments he made in article three…. and I think he has actually provided those who are advocating division in the SBC support by some of those unwise words.

I wish he had written article 4 and left it at that…

Grace for the Journey,

42 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm

I think, though I do not speak for him, that he was saying that these are our options.

Either we are going to get along and love each other in spite of our disagreements, or we will have to separate.

He was defining the options, but I think he was clear that the best option is the “in Christ” option.

43 Frank L. May 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Who are the real “witch-hunters” in this discussion?

Some people have painted Jerry Nash and Dr. Lemke as just short of being in collusion witht the Anti-christ. There words have been stretched to such an extent that they have become something other than what was written.

As I said, I cannot speak for Nash’s heart because I do not know him. However, I do know Dr. Lemke and have spent many hours with him. I may not (and do not) agree with everything he says, but I know him to be a very kind, generous, church-minded individual who is very open to discussion.

He is also an extremely brilliant scholar and deep thinker. I think the charge that he is “misusing” his postion as a professor is at least exaggerated or worse. That’s just not how he rolls.

44 Jason May 17, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Where are the people who have painted them in such a way as you describe?

Those types of statements are unhelpful unless they are attached to specific examples. Pointing out someone’s errors or inconsistencies is not the same thing as saying they are in collusion with the anti-Christ.

To add a layer to this…I have not seen anyone lob attacks over there saying that those people are not Christians or that they should leave because they don’t represent biblical values. Can the same be said about “that side”? Lemke has gently suggested that division could be a good thing on this issue. Moreover, the only people I have seen say “leave” remain on one side…with people cheering their posts.

45 Tim Rogers May 17, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Brother Dave,

I cannot get to the reply on the comment that you and Brother Jason were having concerning my post over at SBC Today. For the life of me I cannot understand how you are saying I am calling for a separate Pastor’s Conference. I thought I made it clear that I was only examining the pro and con of such a move.

It seemed to me that many different things were already dividing us and we just did not need a meeting that would clearly represent a demarcation within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). This understanding comes from a deep seeded conviction that I am going to be loyal to the SBC and will make my voice heard when there are things that I just cannot remain silent about any longer. I would rather be an inside voice for change than an outside voice of criticism.

The comment was found in the first paragraph. I then examined the various meetings already taking place during some time during the scheduled Pastors Conference. But to make it even more plain I make the transition statement;

There is one question that trumps these questions just asked; would another group be good or bad for the SBC? I want to look at the positives and negatives of another group of pastors meeting during SBPC.

Dave, I then entered into a pro and con position. If you read the article that Brother Jason linked, you will find, I had three paragraphs of negative effects of an alternative pastor’s conference vs only two paragraphs for the positive effects.

Thus, to advocate that I have called for an alternative pastor’s conference is, well, not correct.

Blessings,
Tim

46 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 9:36 pm

I think that I said that you speculated about it. I did not mean to say you specifically advocated it. Thank you for clarification.

47 Jason May 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Thanks for your reply, Tim. I corrected my statement to say it was discussed rather than a call to action.

I did not mean to misrepresent your views…only to mention that discussion took place. The comments were rather enlightening as to some people’s opinions of an event like that.

I do apologize for any misunderstanding.

48 Jeff T May 17, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Can you please quit listing Lumpkins’ blog?

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