People sometimes declare themselves to be 4 point Calvinists, or 3 1/2 point Calvinists. I’ll describe myself as a 4 point Jurkovichist. That is, I’ll fully take three of Jurkovich’s five points listed under “our purpose” and half of two others making me a four-pointer. Shoot, I’d join the group but you have to give assent, check a box, about “affirming” the CBN purpose. At this stage in life, I’m all for capital preservation, not wild risk-taking and I’d hate to be tied to every statement that comes out of Brad Jurkovich’s mouth.
He is the only leader of this group at this stage. Plaudits to Baptist Press for asking some good questions of him in their article of yesterday: ‘Grassroots’ network launched to address concerns about directions of SBC.
Also yesterday, Valentine’s Day, Dave Miller, reflected on the new network. Guess it was a slow day for romance. Adam Blosser had the initial Voices piece on the CBN. I have a few questions and observations.
Who are the leaders of this outfit? “Stand with Brad” is the plea and I’m seeing just a few people standing and being recognized. BP asked BJ about the people involved in this group. “Lots of people,” answered Brad. “Right now, we haven’t really shared a lot of those names, et cetera…” Et cetera, seriously? There’s nothing like a secret group that is out to save our Grand Old Convention. Builds trust. Establishes credibility. Et cetera. “When we want to share that” sayeth Brad, “we will certainly be ready to do that.” I see.
Nothing like the launch of a new network to start a new Conservative Resurgence (“we need that” BJ said). The CBN has been in the works for months. Why not some transparency on who is behind this?
Is Paige Patterson involved? Jurkovich, BP wrote, “would neither confirm or deny” this. Brad, you had months to think about this question. Why the slippery answer? Either he is and you are proud of it or he’s not and you can say whether or not you wish he was. Amateur hour at work here.
Who is putting money into this organization? “When asked about the network’s funding, Jurkovich said grassroots support has been offered, but the group currently has no official funding stream.” What’s that supposed to mean? Secret funding sources to date. I admire and appreciate the website work that has been done. I’m guessing someone paid for it, officially and really. Tell us who. It may make a difference. Is this dark money and it will stay dark?
Will the group be pursuing the election of like-minded SBC presidential candidates? This is an obvious question, since Jurkovich, when asked by Todd Starnes if it was time for a second Conservative Resurgence, answered, “Absolutely.” From the BP story” Jurkovich told BP the network is “prayerfully looking at the coming months and looking at who’s running…. We have really been intentional to say there’s not anyone that we’re backing today, or we have any plans to do so as a network. The linchpin of the CR was the election of presidents. We already have people saying that “we need to take over the [SBC] ship.” Is this where we are going? We “absolutely” need a second CR, he says. Has the secret leadership group discussed methodology? Transparency would be good. Maybe there’s a reason that transparency was not one of the CBN’s core values.
At least the defunct 316 Traditionalist group (1) openly stated that they needed to win elections, “year-after-year-after-year,” (2) Listed their leadership and supporters, by name, (3) were aggressive in their promotion of the Cooperative Program, and (4) were reasonably open about where their funding came from. Is this group an improvement over any of those? Well…stay tuned…lots of people…et cetera.
As a Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary alumnus, I was intrigued by that seminary’s open support of this. “They [MABTS] just wanted to partner with us and help us any way they could, and they’re excited to be a part.” “Partner” usually means some kind of funding, though it doesn’t have to. I haven’t been on MABTS’ campus in years and don’t really know the people there anymore but this was surprising. MABTS, solidly Southern Baptist, does not receive Cooperative Program funding, nor do they desire to do so (so it has been said over the years), nor did Gray Allison, MABTS founder and president, ever allow criticism of the SBC and SBC entities.
One might make some observations here about our Grand Old Convention: Our flagship funding program, the venerable Cooperative Program, is approaching a centennial. It has declined slowly but steadily for a generation and a half but is still a mammoth funding engine. There are signs of improvement but the whole business is fragile. The two mission offerings, Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong, are at near record and record levels, respectively. NAMB has a new initiative, Send Relief, that shows great promise. IMB intends to add 500 personnel over the next five years. The six seminaries are doing well with three of them under new, younger leadership. Baptisms continue their very long running downward trend. It is not clear that the agenda of the CSB group includes anything that is different than what the SBC has been doing on evangelism.
Al Mohler and Randy Adams are running for president. Mohler tweets that we already have a network. Guess he isn’t on board with the new group. Adams? Haven’t heard.
The website is very attractive. Too bad the initial support from leadership has been so poorly done. I’ve got contrarian in every cell, it’s in my DNA like Neanderthal is. I’d love to see an SBC reform group have success in some areas of denominational life. Ronnie Floyd unveils a five year vision next week. I’m interested to see where it goes.
It’s going to be an interesting year but I’m not up for another denominational war, don’t really see the need for it. Such things are destructive in the extreme.