It’s looking, sadly, like some in the SBC will be consumed by a hot denominational war over the SBC presidency. A few colleagues have objected to the martial terminology. While I think it is a good fit, in consideration of the sensitivities of the most militant participants, I’ll call it a clerical collar ecclesiastical conflict. That’s the kind where folks in suits smile at you and offer syrupy Christian fellowship platitudes from behind their howitzers.
Since, according to some, our denomination faces a critical moment, a crucial election, the first such of year-after-year-after-year contested elections, I’ll start with the examination of all those presidents who must have stacked trustee boards with non-Trads to the point where we need a drastic course correction.
There’s no question the convention is more Calvinistic than when I first began to follow denominational matters. There’s no question that there is behavior by some Calvinists in the SBC that I have found objectionable. My interest here is in trying to explain how all the entity machinery came to be, as is asserted, excessively Calvinistic. The key to controlling the SBC is the election of presidents, said Paul Pressler decades ago; hence, the Conservative Resurgence and, here we go again.
Have we gotten to the point today where there are too many Calvinist-dominated trustee boards and entities through Calvinistic friendly presidents that the SBC has elected? Here’s the list, and I start with the first prez of the CR, Adrian Rogers:
- Adrian Rogers. Nope, not a Cal. In fact, I’ve heard him preach stuff that would set Calvinists’ hair (and beards) on fire.
- Bailey Smith. Nope. Have you forgotten his evangelism tours where there were great multitudes of rebaptisms?
- Jimmy Draper. Nope.
- Charles Stanley. Nope.
- Jerry Vines. Nope. Signer of the Traditional Statement that is adopted by not one Baptist body of which I am aware.
- Morris Chapman. Nope. As Executive Committee Chairman, he was an early voice against Calvinists in SBC churches.
- Ed Young. Nope.
- Jim Henry. Nope.
- Tom Elliff. Nope. As IMB head, he said the BFM was sufficient.
- Paige Patterson. Nope. Singer of the Trad statement. Perhaps the most prominent non-Cal voice in the SBC.
- Jim Merritt. Nope.
- Jack Graham. Nope.
- Bobby Welch. Nope. He had that baptism bus tour that set the Cal beards on fire again.
- Frank Page. Nope. He’s got this book, The Trouble with the Tulip, that would probably have gotten him executed in 16th century Geneva.
- Johnny Hunt. Nope.
- Bryant Wright. Nope. He’s often on the radio near me and I have yet to hear the Cal dog whistle from him.
- Fred Luter. Nope. He said that “we [the SBC] have a major, major issue with Calvinism.”
- Ronnie Floyd. Nope. A Trad…nominated for SBC president by a Cal. That’s the way we ought to work.
- Steve Gaines. Nope. A Trad who is being commended for his appointments by the anti-Cals but whose demeanor and relationship with J. D. Greear is a great example for those who see him as the Great Trad Hope.
So, there’s your list presidents. Not a Calvinist in the bunch.
I will agree that there is some import in this year’s election but that it is from a generational, not theological, viewpoint. My wish for this year’s election and especially for these months preceding it is that Southern Baptists would demonstrate grace, love, and comity…just like we did in 2016.
For the record, this is strictly my opinion and not that of Dave Miller who is in Africa as I write, and whose hair might be on fire when he gets back and reads this. Neither is it the view of any other of the contributors here. As opinion, it may be worthy of not much more than being drop-kicked into the Mariana Trench and forgotten. Also for the record, I plan to vote for J. D. Greear and have so declared since before he was nominated in 2016. I think highly of Greear for a number of reasons, the same for Ken Hemphill. I think Greear will be a great president, that his appointments will be fair and equitable, that his enthusiasm for evangelism and missions will be positive for the SBC.
Perhaps the Lord will give us another authentic Moment of love and grace at the 2018 Annual Meeting.