LifeWay’s CEO, Ben Mandrell, and their Trustee officers have brought a lawsuit against Thom Rainer (in apparent contradiction of Scripture). They announced that they were ending the lawsuit to seek a peaceful resolution, but it was later found that this was not the case. They were only “suspending” their legal action during negotiations.
Thom Rainer made a statement a couple of days ago asserting several clear facts which could have been easily disproven by LifeWay or their trustee officers with simple evidence. No evidence has been produced. Instead of seeking peace, Mandrell and LifeWay pursued a lawsuit (they argue it isn’t a lawsuit – a petty distinction that most will not be impressed by).
Several trustees at LifeWay, led by former chair Jimmy Scroggins, have chided the board officers for acting without the support of the full board to pursue this legal action against Thom Rainer.
Rainer has consistently said that he wants a peaceful solution. A few minutes ago, he released this tweet.
LifeWay has put forth six stipulations to end the lawsuit. For the sake of the gospel, I plan to accept all of those terms on Monday. This legal battle between Christians before the watching world has to end. I will end it.
— Thom Rainer (@ThomRainer) October 4, 2020
We do not currently know what the six stipulations are. It is likely that Baptist Press may have those eventually.
When this started, I was confused. Why was LifeWay doing this? Why would Ben Mandrell and the officers of LifeWay pursue biblically suspect legal action against Thom Rainer when there were other options. I have had lots of conversations and received a lot of information, some of which I cannot share. I am convinced of several things, some of which I cannot prove with violating confidences, but here is where I stand.
My Current Perspectives
1. Thom Rainer has, from all I can see, acted in integrity. He is returning his severance pay. He sought and received release from LifeWay to publish elsewhere. He has been conciliatory and biblical I was convinced of his integrity at the start and more so now.
2. The trustee officers of LifeWay need to resign and be replaced. They acted to take embarrassing legal action without even seeking the approval of their board. They went after Thom Rainer without seeking mediation or other solutions. This kind of action by trustees is bad for the SBC.
3. There is always a possibility that new information that could arise that would change my perspective. The trustee officers could release documents that disprove Rainer’s statements. They seem to be operating out of antipathy toward Rainer and if they had the goods on him, one would think they would have released that. They did not even seem willing to show their cards to their own full trustee board, so I remain convinced that truth lies with Rainer.
New information can always change everything. My conclusions here are based on a lot of information, but obviously, not ALL the information.
4. Why did Ben Mandrell seek such a shameful confrontation with his predecessor? I believe he owes the entire SBC an explanation of this action.
- How did going after Thom Rainer in a lawsuit (okay, legal action) help the ministry of LifeWay, the cause of the gospel, and the work of “Great Commission Baptists?”
- Will authors be flooding to join LifeWay now that you did this to Dr. Rainer?
- Will other authors be looking for the exit door?
LifeWay has given itself a black eye. There are people who are refusing to deal with LifeWay anymore until this stiuation is fully resolved. Their actions have hurt our convention and their own business.
Ben Mandrell, you need to take action here. You need to account to your trustees and to all of Great Commission Baptists for your action.