Pardon my sarcastic title. I’m in one of those moods.
Let me make it clear that I agree completely with Bart Barber in his previous article about the invitation to Ben Carson to speak at the Pastors’ Conference in Columbus. Bad idea. I was packing, traveling and conferencing yesterday, so I did little more than glance at the Baptist 21 article that is making the rounds on social media, but I agree with what I saw of that.
Politicians have no place at the Pastors’ Conference. For that matter, neither do Seventh Day Adventists.
But it is also time for a reality check.
1. The invitation of non-Southern Baptists is not a new phenomenon at the SBC or the Pastors’ Conference. I can remember it happening years’ ago. Granted, the outsiders were guys like John MacArthur or James Dobson, but the concept is not new. Carson is likely the first Adventist.
2. The invitation of politicians to the Annual Meeting has been common. As far as I know, this marks the first time a politician has been invited to the PC, but inviting Republican dignitaries has been pretty common later in the week, at our business meeting,
3. This is a done deal. No amount of griping about it is going to change the fact that Ben Carson is going to be at the Pastor’s Conference. It is clear that a lot of folks don’t like this. I don’t. Bart doesn’t. The powers-that-be behind B21 don’t like it. Honestly, I’ve not seen a single comment in favor of it. Somewhere someone likes it, I just haven’t encountered that person.
But can you imagine the press if we dis-invited him? No gracious way to do that! Unless he simply decides not to come (I find that unlikely) then the appearance of Ben Carson is going to happen.
So, What Do We Do?
1. We make it clear we find this unacceptable, for the sake of the next president who considers doing such a thing.
And I think we’ve come pretty close to doing this. I’m guessing that PC presidents in the future are going to think long and hard before they consider inviting another politician.
I am not sure how many more articles we need to reach critical mass here. We are close. Is anyone supporting this invitation?
2. We vote on this invitation with our feet.
I get asked to lead protests and such things – not my style, generally. The provocation and cause has to be pretty extreme. But personally, I’m going to register my dissatisfaction with this invitation by simply being someplace else when Dr. Carson speaks. If you are upset, I encourage you to do the same.
I see no need for or value in protests or demonstrations. Just don’t be there.
3. At some point, we’ve got to consider a PC rebellion.
Again, I’m using extreme language. I know of very few people who are happy with the PC (actually no one-but my sampling is limited). Everyone has their own reason, their own gripe, their own solution.
It is my understanding that a group of men confers each year and anoints the next PC president, nominates him and he gets elected. Why? If people are massively dissatisfied with the direction of the PC, then perhaps we need to come up with a new plan. Why not simply decide what kind of PC we want to have, then find someone who will organize such a thing?
(No, I am NOT looking to be nominated – I’d be a disaster at that kind of administrative task!)
Maybe most people like the PC. Maybe they are right and bloggers are just a bunch of malcontents. But I’ve not talked to anyone who is “pumped,” “stoked,” or any of those buzzwords you young whippersnappers use about this upcoming conference.
Maybe it’s time for the Districts to organize against the Capital. I’m not the Mockingjay – it’s not my style. But if we are going to complain all the time, maybe we should do something about it.
I hate to sound all subversive, but if we are all so negative about the PC year after year why do we keep letting whoever they are ( I honestly don’t know) make the choice for us?
if it’s just a negative whining spirit then let’s get right with God. If the PC needs changing, let’s change it.
4. In the meantime, let’s not go nuclear about Ben Carson.
I’m not saying we have to be okay with it. I’m not. Again, it was a bad idea, one I hope will not be repeated. But we’ve let’s not get hysterical either.
I don’t see a way to fix this now. So, we live with it. It won’t kill us. He seems like a decent man. He’s going to be addressing social issues on which we share convictions. I’m pretty sure he will not address the doctrines of the Seventh Day Adventist church. He’ll deliver a passionate speech about issues we care about, on which we agree, and we will live through it.
I won’t be happy he was invited, but the SBC won’t fold. There will likely be worse things that happen in Columbus than Ben Carson anyway!
5. Someone say thank you to Willy Rice for putting the PC together.
There’s some pretty good speakers coming – a wide range from all ends of the spectrum. He’s done a pretty good job.
It’s hard work and it is easy for us to sit back and take pot shots at every selection he has made.
Honestly, there is NO WAY you could select a lineup of speakers who would please more than about 45 or 50% of the SBC. Probably less. In this fractured denomination, no matter what you do, you are going to take it on the chin. So, let’s say thank you for doing a good job.
No, there are a couple of choices I’m not crazy about, and we are going to raise cain about the politician in hopes that the next guy will steer away from doing something like that. But we appreciate you, Willy Rice, and the work you did as Pastors’ Conference president.
Can we say that, folks?
6. Let’s get together again and have a meal.
The 20 or so of us who met together at Cheesecake Factory had a great time. That was probably the best 3 or 4 hours of the convention for me. I don’t have details yet, but I’m gonna figure something out soon and let you know. Join us this time.