Jerry Nash is the Director of Missions of the Harmony Baptist Association in Trenton, FL. He is, I’m sure, a man of God who loves Jesus and serves him faithfully. But in the article he published at SBC Today on Monday, entitled “Hold the Hearse, I Have an Idea!” he demonstrates to me a spirit of arrogance, exclusion and anger that is causing the splintering of the SBC of which I wrote last week (here and here).
I want to be clear. I think the spirit and tone of the Nash article is precisely what is splintering the SBC. I am confronting it here because it was published at SBC Today. It needs to be answered. I have contacted Jerry and told him that if he desires, we will give him the ability to give a counterpoint here at SBC Voices.
In the article, Jerry suggests that those who do not share his view of the SBC should “go out and become whatever it is they want to be. I believe God would be honored if they left before destroying The Southern Baptist Convention.” Really? Those who do not share the traditionalist view of SBC life are destroying the convention and should leave immediately?
It appears that Jerry Nash has set himself up as the arbiter of true Baptist Identity for the whole convention. What gives him the right to determine that those with whom he disagrees are not true Southern Baptists? On what authority does he tell others to leave? There is an exclusionary spirit here that I find dangerous and unwarranted. If you don’t agree with Jerry, get out. Let’s not work together, bear with one another in love, unite in spite of our differences. No, if your vision is different than Jerry’s, you need to leave. As I read this article, I sense frustration and anger as well.
I do not know Jerry Nash. Again, he is probably a loyal and wonderful Southern Baptist. The SBC is probably a better denomination because Jerry Nash is a part of it. His viewpoint should be heard and respected. Frankly, I don’t even know what that viewpoint is, except that he wants the SBC to remain distinctively Southern, Baptist (evidently according to his personal definition of what a Baptist is) and a convention (I know of no one advocating to change that.) He seems to be attacking those who suggest changes of any kind in the SBC – we should remain what we have been.
Nash has a valid viewpoint. He has every right to advocate that viewpoint. But he has no right to demand that everyone else agree with him and his viewpoint or leave the SBC. Cannot a Southern Baptist be younger and hipper than me (and than Jerry is evidently comfortable with)? Cannot a Southern Baptist be a Calvinist, or a non-Calvinist? Cannot a Southern Baptist be from the North? Cannot one Southern Baptist like contemporary music while some like traditional hymns? Cannot one Southern Baptist church end its service with an invitation and another church not do so?
Yes, we all need to honor God’s Word, hold to baptism by immersion, be in general agreement with the BF&M and cooperate with the SBC in its missions endeavors. Amen. But do we really need to enforce conformity on every doctrinal issue and on stylistic, strategic and preferential matters? Will forcing conformity or excommunication make us a better denomination?
He seems to be advocating exactly the splintering which I wrote hoping we would seek to correct.
Do we all have to be exactly’alike to work together? Will Jerry Nash (and evidently the mavens of SBC Today who published his article) serve alongside people who disagree with them? From this article, one would be led to believe that such is not the case.
I would make the following points.
1) I’m confused about Jerry’s comments about being “anti-Southern”. Is he saying that only Southerners should have a place in the SBC? Or that the SBC should prefer Southern culture, heritage and ways above others? I live and serve in Iowa. I have no Southern accent. Jerry, are those of us who are not Southern not welcome in your SBC? That comment confused me. I would hope he would clarify.
2) The Southern Baptist Convention has never been monolithic. In the days of the Founders, there were certainly a lot of Calvinists around. But the “Founders” organization’s name may be a little misleading. Not all of our founders were 5-pointers. There was always theological diversity. In the 50’s and 60’s there was a growing theological diversity in our convention and in our schools. The SBC has never been as monolithic as the eyes of nostalgia would like to believe.
It would be a mistake for traditionalists to suddenly demand that their vision is the only valid vision.
3) I am a lifelong Southern Baptist. I was baptized in an SBC church, went to a Baptist College and SWBTS. I have never been a member of anything but a Southern Baptist church nor have I served any church outside our convention. I am Southern Baptist by heritage, by conviction and by calling.
What gives Jerry Nash the right to tell me that I am not a Southern Baptist because I supported the GCR and think that the SBC needs to change in some significant ways?
4) There have certainly been some bloggers and others who seemed to relish the idea of the downfall and destruction of the SBC. But I am not among and I do not think that most of the bloggers here are among them. We criticize the SBC because we love it and we want it to be better. Jerry does not have to agree with my convictions about the SBC. He is welcome to disagree and to advocate a different vision. But it is wrong to say that anyone who critcizes the SBC or its leaders is “destroying the Southern Baptist Convention.”
5) Sorry, Jerry, but I’m not leaving. You are not going to get your way. I’m sure that if you and your compatriots continue to aim anger and vitriol towards Calvinists and younger SBC leaders, some of them might leave the SBC. The fact that this would please you bothers me. But I’m not leaving. I’m just one small voice (coming from a large body) in Iowa and I do not delude myself that I am prominent, eminent or influential. But I’m sticking around and I’m going to keep on voicing my convictions.
I’ve been called derogatory names by some of the biggest names in Baptist blogging. I’m still here. I’m kinda stubborn, I guess. But I got into blogging because I did not want a narrow and exclusionary vision of the SBC to reign and ruin our convention. Five years later, I am still advocating the same things. I do not intend to stop.
You are welcome to advocate for the SBC you desire. But I’m going to continue to advocate for an SBC that is convictional on the things that matter and congenial on everything else. I’m not asking you to leave the SBC. I’m just letting you know that I am not leaving either.
6) Does Jerry Nash really believe that there is nothing broken in the SBC? A decade and a half of being plateaued with statistical declines? All the troubles at NAMB? There is nothing broken about the SBC that needs to be fixed? Well, I guess we are just going to have to agree to disagree on that one.
7) Does Jerry Nash believe that SBC Conservatives should have left the denomination instead of seeking to redirect it in a more theologically orthodox direction? He is saying here that if you don’t like the SBC, you should just leave it. Should that attitude have prevailed in the 8os?
8.) We can do better than this! The Spirit of God was able to bring Jews and Gentiles together in the early church and break down the walls of hostility. Surely he can bring together people who love Jesus, honor the Word of God as inerrant, preach the Word faithfully, but interpret it differently on some matters, worship in different styles and use different strategies to accomplish God’s work!
We can rise about this kind of sectarian, divisive and destructive attitude. We can serve together with people who disagree with us or diverge stylistically.
I continue to believe that in the face of discouraging screeds such as this one. Let us rise above this SBC and unite to serve Christ and make his name known in this world.