[This article was first published here at SBC Today on April 7, 2011. It highlighted the groundbreaking “shot heard ’round the SBC” when Dr. Brad Whitt wrote an article expressing how marginalized and irrelevant many Traditionalists feel in today’s Calvinist-led Southern Baptist Convention. Six years later, not much has changed.]
In the first part of this article, I reflected on Brad Whitt’s article “Young, Southern Baptist, . . . and Irrelevant?,” which was published in the South Carolina state Baptist Courier, on his own blog, and in six additional Baptist state papers. Responses to Whitt’s article, pro and con, have weighed in all over the country in Baptist papers, various blogs, and Facebook discussions. Whitt’s response to these many comments has now been posted on his blog, which he entitled, “The Challenge for Contributing, Committed Southern Baptists.”
I observed, for those who might have missed it, that the title of Whitt’s article appeared to be an allusion to an oft-referenced article in the 2006 issue of Christianity Today, entitled “Young, Restless, and Reformed: Calvinism is Making a Comeback and Shaking Up the Church,” by Collin Hansen, which he later expanded into a book by a similar title, Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists. I also noted that many of the “new Calvinists” or “neoCalvinists” about whom Hansen wrote seem to fit the description of what Mark Driscoll and Ed Stetzer call “Reformed Relevants.” Whitt retained “young,” since he is a younger pastor, and substituted “Southern Baptist . . . Irrelevant?” instead of “Restless and Reformed” or “Reformed Relevants.” Obviously, Whitt thinks that his purported irrelevance has been greatly exaggerated.
[This article was first published here at SBC Today on April 5, 2011. It highlighted the groundbreaking “shot heard ’round the SBC” when Dr. Brad Whitt wrote an article expressing how marginalized and irrelevant many Traditionalists feel in today’s Calvinist-led Southern Baptist Convention. Six years later, not much has changed.]
Brad Whitt fired the shot heard ‘round the SBC about a month ago when he published his article “Young, Southern Baptist, . . . and Irrelevant?” in the South Carolina state Baptist Courier and on his own blog. In essence, Whitt expressed the concern that traditional Southern Baptist churches like his own were feeling marginalized and trivialized as “irrelevant” in many forums in Southern Baptist life. It created quite a furor, with some thanking Whitt for voicing “how I’ve felt for years,” while others criticizing him or saying that the concerns he voiced were unfounded.
Six additional state Baptist papers published the article, and discussions in blogs and Facebook from all over the country weighed in on the validity of Whitt’s concerns. Whitt, a graduate of Union University, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, serves as Pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina, and has been the President of the South Carolina Baptist Pastor’s Conference. He has now posted his response to these many comments on his blog in an article entitled, “The Challenge for Contributing, Committed Southern Baptists.”
Dr. Rick Patrick, Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, AL
Executive Director, Connect 316
Over the past few years, some Southern Baptists have been making overtures about the possibility of combining our North American Mission Board with our International Mission Board. I can already envision the slick public relations campaign. It will sound spiritual, logical and fiscally responsible, like the clear, God-given solution to all of our problems:
We must merge these two great organizations in order to demonstrate our gospel unity because a house divided against itself cannot stand. Our financial crisis can only be solved as we marshal our forces and work together to glorify God and fulfill the Great Commission.
Mighty fine sounding words. But look deeply at such a proposal and you will discover a troubling knot of principles that threaten our historic Southern Baptist governing philosophy. Such a consolidation of raw power would strike a serious blow to principles like shared leadership and participatory decision-making. It would ignore important differences in the mission and function of each board. And it would represent the logical, if misguided, extension of a Great Commission Resurgence Plan begun in 2010 that has consistently failed to deliver on its promises.
Frankly, this centralization of authority at the national level, eerily reminiscent of Obamacare, would create more headaches than it would solve, for once the two organizations were enmeshed, it would be extremely difficult to untangle them. This merger is the kind of idea we should oppose even before it has been formally proposed. Like the telemarketer who interrupts your dinner, we should reject his pitch on principle without bothering to digest his fast-talking spiel and overblown promises of time-sharing nirvana.