Monday, April 25, 2011

Whatever happened to the benefit of the doubt?

It is a rare commodity these days.

Take the example of a very good point raised by Tim Rogers in his blog of last Thursday. He noted that one of the pastors and churches featured in a Baptist Press article, written by a North American Mission Board writer, was identified on its website with the Acts29 Network.

The story was a promotional piece for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions - Russian speaking pastor in Boston doing a good work but the connection with Acts29 raises the hackles of many SBCers.

How is it that SBCers support such a church with our AAEO money? Is this what we want to be doing with our AAEO donations?

Good questions. Fair questions. Questions that should be asked and answered.

Questions, assertions, conclusions, misrepresentations,and declarations ensue from the blog linked above. You can read it all there. You may notice that no one spoke to the pastor involved and ascertained exactly what connection the church has with Acts29, not that it slowed any of the critics down.

So, one pastor with connections to two churches is identified on the Acts29 website. NAMB doesn't know of his involvement. The extent of involvement is not ascertained; nonetheless, this one instance is implied to be a stealth policy at NAMB.

Pick a factoid, apply it liberally, as you wish, draw conclusions from it. Unfair. Unreasonable. Premature.

Is there not a better way?

Don't we lose something here - trust, comity, colleagiality, and respect?

And wouldn't it be sufficient at this stage to say that the Acts29 business is important to us and should absolutely be given due diligence by NAMB and see what happens before we pull Annie Armstrong offerings, before we elevate this example to policy, before we imply hidden agendas, and before we parse every syllable that flows from the keyboard of our agency people?

I believe that would be the more helpful, less harmful, and ultimately beneficial route to take here.

Too bad for all of us that we're past that.


Jared Moore said...

William, in your opinion, why do think the "benefit of the doubt" has been neglected in this instance? It seems to me that there are some Southern Baptists that are on a witch hunt for the "Calvinist Agenda." It's unfortunate.

BDW said...

Enjoy the new blog layout. With your rise in readership, you really ought to go buy before someone else does!

Tom Parker said...


Mike Ebert talks with Tim Rogers and look what got stirred up.

It is as if some critics are not happy unless something is always being stirred up.

All of this constant fighting and it is as if some never tire of the fighting.

William Thornton said...

I wouldn't speculate about the motives, Jared. I just don't think that this method of approaching things is productive.

There is, best I can tell, a certain segment of SBCers who populate the blogs who like to see things stirred up. I am not attributing that to Tim but we all know there is an audience for such things.

Tom Parker said...


Tim Rogers loves to keep things stirred up. Especially when it involves anything other than total abstinence of alcohol.

That seems to be his fixation.

Tom Parker said...


One last comment and I will let it go. Tim Rogers really does not like to be challenged and if you do many times you will find he will not publish your comments.

He is quite intolerant of any one who disagrees with his views especially on alcohol.

I have found that to be my experience for several years now.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother William,

Benefit of the doubt? Ok, what is good for the goose should be fair for the gander. You say I have implied a "stealth" NAMB policy. Please show me where. Give sources to my implication. I contacted Mike Ebert 24hours before I ran the article. He replied to me publicly forts, then replied to me by email privately--the same he wrote publicly. His email ended with 'don't want to see these comments on a blog.' So, before you accuse me of being unfair, maybe you cold drop me a line to ask some questions.


William Thornton said...

You want the benefit of the doubt on your piece, Tim? That's a little backwards, don't you think? You aren't in the middle of your major mission offering as NAMB is.

You say that “maybe [Ezell] and NAMB didn’t know about the Acts29 affiliations when they agreed to fund…” You say that you were told that Ezell was unaware if any Acts29 affiliation of the pastor, yet you make the considerable jump to saying that NAMB is not using proper discretion in distributing AAEO funds. Discretion at least implies knowledge, which has been denied. If you know more, say so.

You make an issue of Ezell’s use of the phrase “formal relationship” with respect to NAMB and Acts29 which is to parse his words. If you know more, say so.

A fair reading of your piece leads me to the conclusion that you mean to imply that NAMB is being clever, stealthy in funding Acts29 churches.

If you don't mean to say this then...say so.

My email is public on my profile here:

If you think you have something I need to know, email me.

Anonymous said...

I agree with BDW. You need to purchase the web address: (.org .net or .whatever), posthaste! It only costs like $10 a year, or so.


Tim Rogers said...


I am not the one that has gone from your place arguing for a point and then becoming silent, only to show up three days later to squeal like a little school girl about some over dramatized position. Thus, I do not need to contact you by email because I have not question about your position on this. You think that I raise some pretty interesting questions but just because you and I have had differences in the past you would rather take this opportunity to shoot at me.

I have never presented anything as "stealth" in the Annie Armstrong funds. I have presented the facts and Mike Ebert even showed up to say that he still considers the church planter as planting SBC churches. After all of the facts before him he sticks with the story that they fund only SBC church planters. Problem is they have the facts and still make the statement they are funding SBC church plants.

In this piece you take me to task concerning my not contacting the church planter. Why, under God's Carolina Blue Heaven, does anyone need to contact someone that is interviewed by an organization and listed on the organizational website as one of theirs to see if they are part of that organization? Your logic fails completely because it is based upon your apparent disrespect of me. That is ok. That is like slapping the newspaper delivery boy and refusing to read the paper because he threw your paper in your walkway instead of the porch stoop.

Ezell did use the phrase "formal relationship" I have not parsed any of his words. If you would take the time to read the BP article and then if you have further questions, feel free to contact the profs at SWBTS about their understanding. It seems that I expressed that "technically" Dr. Ezell was correct, but with his lack of knowledge is possibly the reason he does not realize he is not accurate. That is, due to this one issue. Also, it seems that my article even when on to express that I supported him and wanted to see him succeed. Thus, your seemingly presumption that you base your issues with me on are located in the comment thread. I do not control what others say. For the facts, I even cautioned those that took issue with Dr. Ezell and NAMB over my artilce that we wanted to see them succeed.

So, William, forget giving me the benefit of the doubt. Forget your little "I feel good, you feel good" dog and pony show and let's adhere to what Joe Friday would say; "Just the facts, ma'am'"


William Thornton said...

Tim, I made a conscious decision last week, Easter week remember, to not do any blogging or commenting that involved SBC politics or conflice until after Easter. Seemed like a reasonable thing to do since Good Friday and Easter are our two main annual days.

If that makes me a squealing school girl to you, then so be it. Guess I didn't get the benefit of the doubt for not continuing to comment on your blog.

I can't remember why we had earlier conflict, Tim. I consider you a brother-in-Christ. If I had desired to take a shot at you I could have called you names like 'school girl.'

My main objection is in the overall thrust of your piece. The timing of it is suspect. The intent, hardly hidden. That you don't think contacting the pastor in question has any relevance reveals much about your approach here.

There not a single syllable of disrespect towards you in my article or in any comment on your or this blog. One might ask others to examine what you have written above and come to the same conclusion.

It troubles me, Tim, that you get in such a snit when questioned. If you don't want to be questioned about your blog pieces then don't post them.