In one of the great naval battles of history, the HMS Hood, pride of the British Navy, for years the largest, most powerful ship of its day, was sunk on May 24, 1941 by the giant and famous German battleship, the Bismarck.
The Hood, launched in 1918, was getting a bit long in the tooth but along with British battleship Prince of Wales engaged with the Bismarck and German heavy cruiser Prince Eugen in the battle of Denmark. The Hood was hit by several German shells and sank in three minutes. There were only three British survivors among the Hood’s crew of around 1,500 souls.
Over 46,000 tons, 860 feet long, eight enormous 15 inch guns, thickly armored, but only three minutes before the ‘Mighty’ Hood was headed for the bottom of the cold North Atlantic.
Of note, battleships were found not to be decisive armament in WWII. The sinking of the Hood was not a decisive moment (the Bismarck went to the bottom less than a week later). Aircraft carriers were the critical ships.
Which brings us to the Grand Old Ship SBC. Large, barely maneuverable, long in the tooth, rusty and leaky, declining by almost every measure.
Will a strong salvo sink the ship in short order? No.
This year, it’s not that we have opposing groups and conflict. It’s not that we are set up so that there will be winners and losers. It’s that I hear people on both sides declaring that they will be done with the SBC should the other side win.
Some people should leave and go where they can be happy but my hope and prayer is that there will be no significant loss. We have considerable assets, the two mission boards, six seminaries, LifeWay, ERLC, Guidestone. We have this declining revenue stream, The Cooperative Program, declining slowly still a mammoth source of funds. Among the two mission boards, the CP, and revenue that is given directly to seminaries, there are hundreds and hundreds of millions of mission dollars that make up the old ship SBC. Too much to relinquish without a fight.
When the Calvinists declared a takeover war, when the old Traditionalists declared a takeover war, I said I’m not up for a decade of highly contentious votes. Now that the upstart, renegade CBN has declared war on the SBC, I’m dusting off my ballot, attending the convention at my own expense and will vote for sanity, security, and the greater progress of the Gospel. I’ll vote against taking the convention back to the ugly days of chaos, scandal, and self-interest.
But let’s be optimistic. Absent a small cadre of bitter, angry, misguided, single minded dissenters, we can find a way forward for the Gospel, in unity and harmony. That’s my prayer.
See you in Nashville.
The Hood’s day was done in 1941. If it survived the battle it would not have been a factor in the war. The Grand Old Ship SBC isn’t done. Sure, it’s tough to steer, weighed down by a lot of things that don’t add to the mission. But, it’s on the right course.
Military historians, naturally, still debate some aspects of this battle.
Homiletics profs always counseled preachers not to make a sermon out of an illustration…but a good illustration can fortify a biblical sermon.