Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after conflict and controversy,
for in the Southern Baptist Convention they will eventually be satisfied.
– SBC Beatitude
“Yet forty days, and Ninevah shall be overthrown” wrote Jonah and our SBC Annual Meeting is forty days hence. While the magnitude of the meeting doesn’t look biblical it has the potential be catastrophic. In fact, it looks certain that there will be no shortage of rancor and acrimony. All in Good Christian Spirit as we Southern Baptists do rancor, one hopes.
Last year the alt-right mess was unexpectedly upon us and, although the, uh, right moves were made after the sausage making process of resolutions, we left Phoenix hot, parched, and with a denominational black eye.
This year here are some possibilities for more black eyes:
Paige Patterson, half of the Conservative Resurgence catalytic pair of Pressler/Patterson, is scheduled to preach our one and only convention sermon with the backdrop of having to revise, explain, and contextualize his “two black eyes” anecdote of 18 years ago about spousal abuse. It can’t be good when one of our icons feels the need to state that ““For the record, I have never been abusive to any woman” nor to explain how he has never condoned marital abuse. If a convention spokesman is explaining how the convention might remove the person voted to preach the convention sermon, that can’t be good either. Expect placard carrying protesters outside the convention hall over this one. What might be worse is if Patterson receives the enthusiastic standing ovation Ed Stetzer predicts. Here’s your headline in that case: “Southern Baptist leader who condoned domestic violence receives standing ovation.” No, that wouldn’t be a fair headline but media need not be fair.
We’ve got a candidate for president who is a new generation, who baptizes over seven hundred annually, who plants churches here and abroad by the hundreds, whose church is the sending church for more overseas missionaries than any other SBC church, who supports heavily the SBC, the Cooperative Program, our mission boards and his state convention, so there’s smooth sailing on this, right? Wrong. This is the most negative and contentious SBC presidential election since the 1990s. Several state convention leaders have lined up, rather aggressively, against one candidate. There’s a group who believes that defeating him would be saving the convention. That’s a license for mayhem. Some have labeled him and his church as not fully cooperative. Here’s the headline, “Greear elected SBC president in contentious election.” One can hope for a moment of grace and comity from Ken Hemphill and his supporters. I’d expect such from the candidate but not from supporters.
The resolutions process is always risky. Will we have more racially aimed resolutions presented? Will the Resolutions Committee, surely a group hyper-primed for the moment, be deft in their handling of matters? One hopes so.
The Committee on Nominations has already been criticized for the racial structure of their report. “Too Anglo,” we’re told, but they’re working on it. Will there be amendments offered from the floor, substitute nominees? It’s been done before.
Our Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission leader will be present and gets 27 minutes Wednesday afternoon for the ERLC report and presentation…and questions. The Trump wing of Southern Baptists considers him close kin to the antichrist. Maybe one of these will get to a mic. Hopefully…not.
David Platt, still the head of our largest and most important entity, the International Mission Board, will make his report. Seems odd, understanding that he has resigned. I’m thinking that many Southern Baptists have emotionally moved on to the next leader.
Not only does he have the Convention Sermon, Paige Patterson is set to give the Evangelism Task Force report. This is the group Steve Gaines asked for and received, an august body to look at the problem of declining baptisms. It has been noted that it is an all male group that will be recommending on evangelizing a population that is half female.
Ravi Zacharias and Dave Ramsey are special guests. Not suggesting anything untoward about them but why do we have all these celebs? LifeWay stores need a boost?
Dare I say that a strident anti-Greear, anti-Calvinist state convention leader gets the closing prayer for the convention. You can’t make this stuff up. Will he be in a good mood or a bad mood?
Augie Boto, thrust into the Executive Committee’s leadership position after Frank Page resigned suddenly, will give the EC’s report. He is a good man in whom we can have a lot of confidence.
I’ll be there. Should be…well…interesting. The Grand Old SBC will survive all of this but sometimes we make things hard on ourselves.
There are Southern Baptists who love this stuff but I make a motion that we go back to a convention that is incredibly, mind-numbingly boring.