I am thrilled that the GCR report passed at the SBC Annual Meeting by a very strong majority. I guessed the vote to be about 75%-25%. Another blogger I ran into estimated things at 70%-30%. Someone else said it was 85%-15%. Hard to count. I could have wished that the vote was 95%-5% like the authorization vote last year, but the vote we had was a clear and convincing vote. The majority of the SBC was behind the GCR Report.
But there were many bizarre things that happened today in Orlando – some personal and some political. On the positive side, almost every one of these trips into Bizarro-land also carried with them a blessing. Let me tell you what I found bizarre today.
1) Don’t let anyone tell you that Baptists engage in group-think or refuse dissent. I cannot remember a convention where the elected leaders and the entity heads were in such sharp and clear disagreement. Morris Chapman came out with both guns blazing against the GCR in his report and the Task Force did not back down. It reminded me of the late 70’s and early 80’s when the elected leadership was moving the denomination in the Conservative Resurgence and the entity heads stood in opposition.
But do not mistake me. I thought the dissent was healthy, principled, even godly. Morris Chapman aimed his comments at the recommendations of the GCR, not the people who made the recommendations. Johnny Hunt referenced Morris Chapman’s principled dissent in a prayer and commended him for speaking his mind.
Those who say that the SBC squelches dissent need to deal with reality. I thought today’s GCR debate was a great example of how to argue the right way.
My perspective may be colored by the fact that I voted in the majority every time. But I thought the discussion was lively, reasoned, passionate and positive.
2) Barry McCarty, who is known as a great parliamentary expert, messed up the GCR debate royally. A motion was offered to do away with the Great Commission Giving system and the vote was too close to call. Ronnie Floyd offered a compromise which included some of the substitute motion’s language. We voted on it and it passed overwhelmingly. But no motion was made or seconded. They just made a suggestion and we voted. Has Barry McCarty ever messed up that badly in a parliamentary situation?
On the other hand, I greatly appreciated Ronnie Floyd (and the task force) and the conciliatory spirit he showed. I was critical of him yesterday but I thought he demonstrated a great, godly spirit.
Johnny, Ronnie, Barry, and the man who made the motion conferred for a long time and came up with a new compromise that satisfied nearly everyone. It was a godly resolution to an unseemly situation created by a incredible gaffe by Barry McCarty.
The Task Force did not set themselves in opposition to the man who made the motion. They demonstrated humility and a conciliatory spirit as they worked together to come up with a solution to the parliamentary gaffe.
3) The presidential election was a shocker. I sat with Leo Endel and none of us were shocked that he only garnered around 600 votes. The big shocker was that Jimmy Jackson did not make the run-off. Most bloggers in our little community endorsed him, including the so-called SBC Majority. Yet he finished third. And I was shocked that Bryant Wright outpolled Ted Traylor in the run-off. I thought most of the Jackson vote would go to Traylor. Shows what I know.
I did not vote for Bryant Wright – not in the original vote or in the run-off. But I probably wouldn’t have voted for Johnny Hunt two years ago and he has been a transformational leader for our denomination. Maybe Bryant Wright will be the same.
4) On a personal level. I had an extremely bizarre moment as I left the meeting tonight. Two men were standing about 3 feet apart (I don’t think either knew the other was there). I ended up having conversations with both at different times. Both of them were men I had viewed as villains in my early blogging days.
First, I was introduced to Jerry Corbaley whom I viewed negatively primarily because of how Wade Burleson represented him. I had a very pleasant conversation with him. We discussed our differing views on those IMB policies, but again, it was a cordial, reasonable discussion. I came away thinking that he seemed like a very nice man. I felt bad that I had judged him so harshly in days gone by. Who knows, folks? Maybe I should not have been so quick to fit him with a black hat based on someone else’s view of him. Know what I mean?
The other man I met was a luminary from the early days of Baptist blogging – Mr. Ben Cole! I had criticized him pretty harshly in the past as well. I stood in the hallway and talked to him for a couple of minutes. He’s an interesting man! Fascinating. I found myself thinking he would be a fun guy to hang out with, and to argue with. I also realized that some of the things I perceived about him, and some of the things others have said about him may not ring true.
It was surreal, but quite a privilege to meet and talk to two men I once had viewed so negatively. Think there might be a sermon illustration in there somewhere?
5) The funniest moment of the night came from a poor soul who was trying to speak against the GCR recommendations. He made a statement pretty much like this:
“I know that there are people who are dying and going to hell, and I am going to do everything I can to see that more people go there.”
I don’t think he heard the titters that ran throughout the convention center. Then, he ended his statement by saying,
“For this reason I am not going to be able to vote against this report.”
We knew what he meant, but it was a funny moment.
I will not be writing much more on the convention, since I will be leaving to drive back to Iowa mid-day tomorrow.
But in spite of everything, it has been a great week in Orlando. Especially fun was getting to meet so many of you in the blogging world – including one of our favorite commenters here – Rick. I met Todd Benkert, most of the SBC Today guys, Tim Guthrie, the inimitable CB Scott and so many more. Good times in the hot town of Orlando.
I wish this fat boy could tell you I sweated off a few pounds. Unfortunately, whatever I sweated off I put back on by frequent trips to visit my new best friend – Tony Roma.