Today Baptist Press announced that Albert Mohler will nominate Pastor Ronnie Floyd for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention this year in Baltimore. In my judgment, it would be inappropriate for me as a sitting officer of the SBC to make any sort of an endorsement in the upcoming elections. I suppose it is possible that I might even be moderating the meeting during the election itself, in which case my impartiality would be of some small measure of importance. So, let me make it clear that I am not endorsing Ronnie Floyd by this post. We don’t even know whether anyone else will run, and if someone does, we don’t even know who that would be, so even before considering my scruples regarding the impartiality of officers, it’s a bit early to make a choice anyway.
After all, if Chuck Norris should run, I’m backing him.
And yet, having said all of that, I don’t mind saying that I’m glad that Ronnie Floyd will be nominated. The following reasons make me happy about this nomination:
Ronnie Floyd has shown leadership in the SBC apart from holding any office in the convention. He gave leadership to the GCR program. He has given leadership this year to a series of prayer meetings for SBC pastors. You don’t have to have attended all of the prayer meeting and you don’t have to have agreed with every plank of the eventual GCR platform to recognize that Ronnie Floyd cares deeply about the SBC and wants to give leadership to our convention. Even if other people run and even if someone else is elected, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention ought to be someone who has already demonstrated some love for the SBC and some willingness to be active in convention work.
Ronnie Floyd understands the perspective from both sides of the convention experience. Ronnie Floyd has been on the platform. In Orlando during the GCR presentation, he was working hard to achieve the passage of that set of proposals. The events in Orlando involved the unconventional disposition of an amendment to the main GCR motion.
But in 2013 in Houston, Ronnie Floyd found himself on the other side of the great gulf fixed between the platform and the messenger microphones at the SBC Annual Meeting as he argued from the floor for Southern Baptists to reach out in some compassionate and helpful way toward those struggling with mental illness. He got a taste of the difficulty a messenger faces when trying to speak coherently into a microphone while a 5-second delay disconcertingly confounds you with your own greatly amplified words. He experienced firsthand the way that the labyrinth of SBC procedures and rules of order can make it difficult for anyone—even a well-respected and seasoned SBC pastor—to propose something new from the floor and see it through to a successful end.
I think every SBC President ought to be someone who has tried at least once to make a motion at the Annual Meeting. I think the memory of his 2013 experience will strengthen Ronnie Floyd’s determination to be respectful, compassionate, and evenhanded in his wielding of the Broadus Gavel, should he be elected.
Ronnie Floyd has given careful thought to the actual constitutional duties of the SBC Presidency. Namely, I am confident that he will make good appointments and I know that he will pay careful attention to the content of the Annual Meeting. After the 2013 Annual Meeting in Houston, Floyd offered a series of tweets considering how to make the Annual Meeting a more effective, more popular event. Some of the ideas that I offered in my own post “Belonging and Giving” over at SBC Voices—the ideas about how to cultivate a sense of belonging in the convention—are ideas that I had already discussed with Floyd in private conversation. That conversation took place because Ronnie Floyd reached out to me and asked me about my thoughts for improving the Annual Meeting.
Now, let me make this clear: I don’t know that Ronnie Floyd agrees with all of what I wrote. I don’t know that he agrees with ANY of what I wrote. Certainly my post is nothing that should be considered “campaign material” for Ronnie Floyd and I don’t have any reason to think that any of my ideas would have any influence upon the way that he would conduct himself if he were to be elected. I’m just saying that it is encouraging to me that Ronnie Floyd would want to have the conversation in the first place. This is someone who has been thinking about our Annual Meeting for a long time and has been asking other people to think about it and to give him input.
It would be a plus for any SBC president to be someone who has done just that.
Just the circumstances of his nomination are encouraging. Albert Mohler, the putative Calvinistic Don Corleone of the SBC, is nominating a pastor who is ostensibly a Traditionalist with regard to his soteriology. Floyd isn’t a Southern grad, either. The whole affair just oozes the kind of cooperative spirit that last year’s Calvinism report commended to us all and that our convention greatly needs. No matter who else runs, no matter what outcome the election brings forth, the mere fact of the nomination makes me happy.
So, hopeful that I have stayed within the bounds of decorum and optimistic about the future of our convention, I give you the official announcement and wait with you to see what will unfold in the ensuing months.