Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Death by a thousand cuts

The grand old ship SBC, if not doing just fine, is in no danger of sinking. Pronouncements of our being a dying denomination are more melodrama than truth.

And, as serious as the Calvinist/Traditionalist discussions may be, I don't see catastrophic failure in our future as a result. There is nothing plaguing us that is as serious as the Moderate/Conservative conflict of the 1980s and 1990s.

If we are to die, my conjecture would be that we will die the death of a thousand cuts - innumerable, endless pinpricks, slices, and cuts all over the body SBC until we are bled dry of common goals and cooperation for the things that we are here for - starting churches, seeing folks saved, and doing the work of Christ here and around the world.

I hope the day never comes.

Consider the example of the North American Mission Board, just one of the areas of criticism and conflict in the SBC.

NAMB knows spectacular meltdowns, having had a couple in the last decade. Now, they are stable, have solid leadership, and in my view is moving in the right direction. They are now in the process of launching a major church planting initiative.

We're the largest non-Catholic religious group in the United States, right?

You bet.

We have almost 16 million adherents, over 45 thousand churches, a powerhouse for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, right? Right on the first two, but hold on a sec on the third.

I have noted before that our grand denomination added less than a single new church, net, on average per state convention in 2011. Pathetic. 

So, NAMB aims to change this by planting thousands and thousands of new congregations in places where there is a dearth of SBC churches now. Some may say that we are beyond the day when we can have success in top-down, grand denominational plans and programs.

Perhaps, but would we feel better if NAMB was doing nothing, just rocking along spreading our $115 million or so around in legacy jobs and pet projects?

Not me.

A man from Mars would review NAMB's recent history and say, "I bet Southern Baptists are pleased about how things are going."

Instead, NAMB is pricked and nicked on all sides for this or that minor issue. Would that more SBCers were from Mars.

While spectacular meltdowns are more riveting, death by a thousand cuts is death nonetheless.


Tom Parker said...


I am absolutely amazed that serious charges are made about NAMB publicly without the one making the charges doing the basics of research.

And do you think there is ever an apology made for such--not hardly.

It appears to me the destruction of the SBC will come from within.

Big Daddy Weave said...

I don't think Southern Baptist bloggers ever really fully grasped the deep damage that Hollywood Bob did to their denomination.

That might be because Hollywood Bob was defended by entity heads along the way, etc. I don't know.

Compare the treatment of new NAMB exec to Hollywood Bob. It's really amazing.

Tom Parker said...


Who is Hollywood Bob?

Tim Dahl said...

I think that Todd Littleton's trio of posts give a good synopsis of the malady of the SBC. Seeing the reprocussions of the 30 years war, leads me to continue to believe that it has done more damage than good. Those "CR Warriors" don't know how to do anything but fight. The current "Traditionalist/Calvinist" fight is just a symptom of the cancer underneath.

Remind me again, where are the 6-7 million of those supposedly 16 millions SBCers at? Remember, we can't seem to find them anywhere.

Are there some redeemable things about the SBC? Sure there is. Guys like Todd Littleton, William Thornton, Fed Luter, etal give me hope. But, as long as guys like Patters/Pressler/etal are still running the show, the fights are going to keep on coming.

Will the SBC die? Not during my lifetime. But, we sure are working at it.

I think that NAMB has the right strategy. I wish other conventions/assemblies/etc had the same one.


William Thornton said...

The reference is to Robert Reccord.

We are beyond that, years beyond that. I don't think that much of the current criticism of NAMB is of the same genre, aside from general skepticism and mistrust.

Tom Parker said...


You said:"Those "CR Warriors" don't know how to do anything but fight. The current traditionalist/Calvinist" fight is just a symptom of the cancer underneath."

I agree, it is like no one will admit the obvious.

Cooperation seems like an impossibility for some.

Surely, God shakes his head at what the SBC has become.

Anonymous said...

The comment "There is nothing plaguing us that is as serious as the Moderate/Conservative conflict ..." reveals that some in SBC are unaware of the underlying dynamics impeding SBC’s ability to effectively minister to a broader group of people.

Tom Parker said...


My belief is that there is not nearly enough trust among SB to cooperate with each other.

IMO the Moderate/Conservative conflict still exists within the SBC.

Anonymous said...

Tom, the 'Conservative Resurgence' is taken for granted in SBC, but in reality it is not well understood. Case in point is the current comment and comments at, say, SBC Voices. Moderating policy-in-use at SBC Voices is that when conservatives write using events leading to or results of 'CR' comments stand, but when moderates respond to these stated concerns of conservatives, comments are deleted. 'CR' is only allowed to be approached from the standpoint of the victor, but the writing and interpretation of history does not best proceed from this practice, not to mention subsequent institutional behavior that is shaped by said practice and interpretation.

William Thornton said...

I've not found SBCV to be unfair in their commenting moderation. Since some of the Moderates' predictions about the future of the SBC, stuff they said a generation ago, is coming to pass, I think a mod voice every now and then couldn't hurt.

Everyone ought to get an 'I-told-ya-so' occasionally.

Anonymous said...

"I've not found SBCV to be unfair in their commenting moderation."

That's not unexpected given your perspective. But I have witnessed comments that challenge pro-CR comments at one moment to which are gone the next.