I’ve seen some interesting responses to the VRI by the IMB. Wow, have I. Some of them have been published here, but a good many of them did not make it past moderation, simply because I saw no real value in posting baseless charges. This morning, I wrote a post about changes in the SBC since my young whippersnapper days, and I posted it a little early. I had a long day ahead of me and I didn’t have time to edit or complete it as I should have. As the day went on today, I thought of how I should have ended that post. So, here is the ending to this morning’s post!
How should we respond to the changes that Dr. Platt and the administration and trustees of the IMB have brought us? I asserted that we should find a middle ground somewhere between the unthinking loyalty of my youth and the sometimes arrogant modern tendency to assume that we always know better than the experts and the officers what should have happened. So, what is the middle ground? How should a modern Christian, a blogger, a person with opinions and a platform – how should we respond?
1) We should pray.
I hear it a lot. “I pray for Dr. Platt and the IMB.” Do we? One of the most common lies we Christians tell is, “I will pray for you.” If I say it and don’t do it, it is a lie! If I tell someone I will pray for them, I try to do so right then, even for a moment. Then, if I forget later, I may not be a faithful prayer warrior, but I’m not a total liar either! But the IMB, our missionaries, and David Platt need our prayer. They need us interceding for their work. They need us to be downright charismatic, spiritual warfare, fighting the fight, battling the darkness on our knees kind of praying for them.
I suppose that if we spent as much time praying for David Platt and the IMB as we do picking at or praising them, we’d be amazed at the results.
2) We should put our own wisdom in perspective.
I have some opinions about missions, but I am not a missiologist. I do not have access to any of the studies done by the IMB. I’ve not been privy to the discussions that took place at the administrative or board level. It is perfectly fine for me to have opinions and to express them. That’s part of being Baptist. But I should also remember that I know in part and I opine in part. I do not have full knowledge. I can believe what I believe, but I ought not assume that my opinions are perfect.
That is the arrogance I spoke of in the original piece – the belief that on partial evidence I can come to a better decision than those who have all the evidence. We see that in court cases. The jury deliberates having heard all the evidence, but I, armed with the knowledge of having read an article or two about the case, feel justified in boldly stating that their verdict was unjust. Roger Goodell blew it (he did, if he had just executed Tom Brady, this would all be over!). We jump to snap decisions and assume the near-infallibility of our judgments.
A little humility in this case might be helpful for all of us. “This is my opinion on this matter. Of course, that is based on my limited understanding of the matter and skewed perspective.” I don’t know everything (really, folks, I don’t!) and you don’t either. We must not act as if we do.
3) We must assume the best, not the worst in others.
I have been very disappointed in some of the comments posted here, but mostly in the ones I didn’t post, because of the tendency to jump to conclusions about the character and integrity of Dr. Platt and of those who work for him. I’ve read some pretty awful things about David Platt! Thing is, from everything I’ve heard about him, he’s a passionate Christian, sacrificial and committed. He is a man of integrity, honesty and true Christian passion. He is, well, radical.
Why do we feel the need to question the motives and intent of those with whom we disagree? David Platt has said that he realized that the IMB was spending tens of millions more annually than it was taking in. This has been going on for many years. He said that the slow approach has been tried and is not working. So, he is balancing the budget. It is – no question – a radical approach. But there is no evidence that it is anything but what Dr. Platt says it is.
If anyone catches David Platt in a lie, let me know. I think an entity leader who lies to the SBC should be fired. Gone. To me, lying should be right up there with stealing and adultery. One and done. You cheat on your wife, you cheat with the money, or your cheat with your words, and you are updating your resume. No second chances. We forgive you as you are packing up your office. But until there is evidence that a man is lying, could we assume he is telling the truth?
What does it say about us that we default to the assumption that our entity heads are lying to us, shading the truth? That is a sad state of affairs. When we assume that what he says to us is not the real truth, that there are hidden agendas, secret purposes – we’ve gotten to a very sad place. I tell you what it says to me (and yes, I know that this is going to chafe a few folks) – I suspect those who constantly accuse others of hidden agendas and ulterior motives of operating regularly from such. Those who live in honesty tend to assume that in others. The deceitful tend to assume everyone else is as they are.
If Platt is lying – fire his keister! But if you don’t have evidence of that, stop accusing him of it. It is a serious allegation. Assume honesty. Assume the best. Remember that silly “Love Chapter” Paul forgot to leave out of 1 Corinthians? It tells us to “always believe, always hope, always trust, always persevere.” Maybe we ought to actually try that!
4) We need to be better listeners.
“Why is this the first we are hearing of this? Why didn’t anyone tell us this was a problem?” That refrain echoed over and over as this news stunned us. But in David Platt’s letter to the SBC family, he showed us that over the years, the IMB informed the SBC family time and time again that a crisis existed and we didn’t pay attention. We probably need to pay better attention!
I’ll probably think of something else later (and perhaps add it in), but for now, that’ll do, pig.
(If you are old enough, you will get that.)