Monday, July 9, 2012

Blogs, independence, control, and content

Here is an observation and one that I make without any hint of disapprobation: the popular SBC blog SBCToday is under new institutional management and ownership.

Steve Lemke, prof at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has an announcement to that effect.

Emir Caner of Truett-McConnell College has agreed to captain a new editorial team that is being assembled. The transition of SBC Today to TMC direction has been underway for several weeks, and official ownership is being transferred today.

Truett-McConnell College is an institution owned by the Georgia Baptist Convention and supported by our Cooperative Program.

While we recognize advocacy is unavoidable in this business, and there is nothing wrong with any blog pushing any particular position on issues that concern Southern Baptists (SBC Today has been the main proponent and defender of "The Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation"), it is important to be aware of the places and occasions where this is present.

It adds a wrinkle to this business of blogging to understand where money out of our common funding plan, the Cooperative Program, might be used in advocacy. One can see the potential for conflict and prudence must be exercised by institutional blog owners.

As for SBC Today, I'd fire them forthwith if they fail to continue to publish the best pastoral helps currently available on blogs - those by Joe McKeever.

I wish SBC Today well under new ownership and content control.

  

6 comments:

Rick Patrick said...

William,

Is it fair to say, at our mother seminary in Louisville, there is no hint of advocacy with regard to the Calvinist-Traditionalist discussion? One can only hope that Truett-McConnell will be equally as impartial.

Rick

William Thornton said...

In blogging, I'd just like to know if a generic sounding site like SBC Voices or SBC Today is independent or has institutional connections.

The matter of institutional advocacy could get rather prickly, Rick. Are we to have various individual institutions dedicated to serving one segment of Southern Baptists yet funded by all? I don't think this is the attitude at SBTS or SEBTS, or at NOBTS. It shouldn't be.

Anonymous said...

What about Trevin Wax's blog? The other SEBTS guys who have a blog which I cannot recall the name of now? How is this different? What about Ed Setzer's blog which can highlight a position on something being discussed on other blog. Russ Moore has a popular blog. I could go on and on of blogs that are admin by those receiving CP funds.

Is it that the Calvinist guys have been doing it for so long it seems normal? I am confused.

Lydia

Anonymous said...

Lydia,

Trevin Wax and Ed Stetzer are not at an organization that receives CP funds. Russ Moore and others with blogs do not claim the generic framework of "SBC" in their blogging. They are personal blogs in nature.

I think there's a difference between someone having a personal blog, and an institution running a blog under a name like "SBC Today" while aiming for just one segment of the SBC.

Just my 2 cents.

Kyle THomas

William Thornton said...

LifeWay is an SBC entity and should be seen in this the same as if they do receive CP funds, that is, they should work for all SBCers and not just one segment or against any segment. Almost all of their revenue comes from SBC churches.

I have no criticism of LifeWay Research for being tendentious. I do think there are some things they need to research but haven't.

Southeastern's blog, Between the Times, is clearly identified with the Seminary. Moore, Mohler, and others are easily identified with their institutions. Trevin Wax is clearly identified with LifeWay and The Gospel Project will receive more scrutiny that any LifeWay curricula ever has.

D.R. Randle said...

William,

I had similar thoughts myself - individuals that are a part of an institution running a blog are one thing, but if there is actual institutional support then that is a whole different ballgame.

Another thing I thought is that it seems that Tru-Mac is going all in with its Traditional stance. That's fine, but Shorter and/or Brewton Parker shouldn't follow suit. If these schools want college students from our Churches to attend them, then they will need to broaden their soteriological stances. The folks of my generation (and those after it) will not be sending their kids to schools that affiliate with the Baptist Identity movement. There is already a significant gap in Southern Baptist leadership from the effects of liberalism in the 70's - 90's. GA Baptist schools simply cannot afford to extend that.

And honestly, for the largest state convention in the SBC, they are already far behind schools elsewhere like Union (TN), OBU (OK), North Greenville (SC), and Cal Baptist (CA). Even Mississippi College ranks higher than any of our GA Baptist colleges. That's not good at all. I can't see continuing to narrow the parameters of their theological identity is going to help in any way.