My apologies to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, from whose 1992 speech I borrowed the Latin phrase. The royal family had a number of personal difficulties that year…and Windsor Castle caught fire. Sometimes royalty, even in the SBC, has difficulty.
In the Grand Old Southern Baptist Convention we’d like to catch a different kind of fire but it looks like we will have to deal with extensive damage first. To Americanize annus horribilis, try Judith Viorst’s 1972 children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. All of those descriptors work well. Some of the seminarians who were in pull-ups had that read to them (while Beth Moore was getting up early and doing serious Bible study).
…which gets to the SBC’s crisis with Paige Patterson, a rape victim pressured not to report and then placed on seminary probation herself, the Southwestern Seminary trustee’s marathon session to deal with the aftermath…and all that. I hope there are no additional incidents that involve PP but neither he nor SWBTS trustees are likely finished. Start with the convention sermon (I cannot in good conscience support continuing with that, though I own up to favoring it prior to the rape case, which was a dealbreaker for me), and the possibility of deep drama from the opening gavel of the convention. And, Patterson is the chairman of the high profile Evangelism Task Force that will report. Imagine the optics of him standing with the all-male group at this convention.
SWBTS trustees could get in front of things if they disclosed the salary and expenses budgeted for the President Emeritus along with whether or not they are contractually obligating Southern Baptists to these expenses and for how long. All SBC entities ought to publish at least a salary range for their executive leadership. We’ve had people speculating that PP receives a seven-figure salary, which is surely way beyond the actual figure. It’s our money. Put it out there. There’s no good reason not to.
If last year’s SBC annual meeting app, the social media part of it, was a cesspool of alt-right, vicious anti-Russ Moore tweets, what might this year’s social media bring?
…which, when I think of Southern Baptists and social media/blogs and the like, all week last week felt like the deep blue funk of the Monday morning after my worst Sunday as a pastor.
We like winners and losers in our convention whether the question is an election, a theological debate, or whatever, but count me as one who is saddened by the catastrophic events surrounding Rick Patrick, SBC Today, the FaceBook 316 Roundtable page, and the Connect 316 group. SBC Today is one of the longrunning, venerable Southern Baptist blogs. How did it get to the place it is now? I understand backing candidates and theological positions and all that. It’s part of our SBC DNA. But promoting the lawsuits against SBC entities and talk show tinfoil hat tripe? What confirmed Trad wants to have to swallow all that along with the useful and respectable theological discussions? There is a useful place for theological sub-groups in our convention. We need those places. It’s healthy for us as a loose association of 50k churches and a few million believers.
The Roundtable, which allowed me to participate, was a morass of political diatribes, conspiracy nonsense, talk show claptrap sprinkled with occasional serious, useful discussions. Too bad you get defined by your worst stuff and I don’t think I have ever seen in SBC life as contrite and profuse an apology as that of Rick Patrick. I wouldn’t want to be remembered for my worst two minutes online and I hope he is not.
For once, and this is my opinion from afar, it looks like Al Mohler is behind the curve. He said he wasn’t expecting this mess. I’m interested to see how he deals with it.
The 2018 SBC presidential election ought to have been a second proud moment for the SBC but it isn’t. I find no fault with Ken Hemphill but now we are in a place where state convention leaders been open about having chosen sides, the guy that baptizes over 700 per year is trashed for faulty soteriology, and the largest CP giver in one of our major state conventions is said to be neo-societal and not fully cooperative. Hemphill, unfortunately, is bound to some of his less attractive supporters but this is no way to have a campaign.
Add to all that Frank Page’s resignation, right when we need some leadership the most, along with another high profile resignation at Southeastern Seminary.
Bad year, and it’s only May. Mohler calls it God’s judgment poured out. I’d call it that plus chickens coming home to roost.