Of Unity and Foregone Conclusions

June 30, 2016

Dr. Rick Patrick | Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, AL

As I challenge the prevailing narrative arising from the recent Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, my remarks, though sincere and well-intentioned, will likely be misunderstood. This is regrettable and unavoidable. Just because something is difficult to say does not mean it should not be said. Perhaps my timing will be challenged. Could this not wait for another day? Yes, it could, but Barney Fife’s “nip it in the bud” philosophy is practically a core value of mine. Why allow a questionable notion to grow unchallenged for an extended period of time?

Most accounts of the convention describe the beautiful feelings of unity and peace elicited by the withdrawal of J.D. Greear from the Presidential race just prior to the second runoff ballot on Wednesday morning. The election result was thus determined, not by the expressed will of the electorate, but by one candidate yielding to another. Candidates are free to run and free to withdraw, but in the aftermath of Greear’s resignation, I must have read a half dozen times that Greear is almost certain to become the SBC President in 2018. The theory is that his 2016 forfeiture was such a sign of grace and humility that Southern Baptists practically owe Greear the SBC Presidency in the next contested election, presumably the one in Dallas in 2018.

Several aspects of this suggestion are worthy of more thoughtful reflection. Let me say at the start that my aim here is not to offer any sort of personal attack against J.D. Greear. I am thankful that he withdrew his candidacy. I believe it was a gracious gesture, albeit an unnecessary one. He was under absolutely no compulsion to do so. I would not have thought any less of him had he remained in the race, allowing the will of the electorate to determine the outcome of the election on Wednesday morning. Instead, through his forfeiture, he created a beautiful moment on the platform by endorsing Steve Gaines for President in a very public display of humility and grace.

Let me also add that, in terms of his personality and Christian service, I actually like J.D. Greear. He is my brother in Christ and a fellow pastor in our Southern Baptist Convention. While I do not know him personally, he strikes me as a very nice man and a fine Christian leader. I have no personal vendetta against him. I simply disagree with his ministry direction and philosophy. In other words, I oppose some of the things he stands for in SBC life, such as a certain approach to the financial support of missions, and a certain willingness to partner with non-Southern Baptist networks that actually engage in discrimination against Southern Baptists like me.

Did We Truly Leave St. Louis United?

I am more than willing to grant there was a definite sense of relief when Greear resigned, for the tension of a closely contested election had been resolved, but relief is not the same thing as unity. I am also willing to grant that this was an “outward display of grace” that offered messengers a sort of “public relations kind of unity” in which we “put on a good face” and, for a brief moment at least, chose to mask our differences by pretending they did not exist. Frankly, these approaches to conflict management provide almost textbook cases of denial and dysfunction. This is the couple in marriage counseling that says with plastic smiles, “Everything is fine, really,” when in fact, below the surface, there are numerous issues that remain unresolved.

If we are being completely honest, Southern Baptists left St. Louis with just as many unresolved issues as we had when we arrived. The fault lines were never erased. That beautiful public moment on Wednesday morning did not usher in an Age of Aquarius promoting harmony and understanding, and the reason is that all of the issues dividing us remain:

  • wavering between societal and cooperative missions support
  • embracing or resisting our state conventions and associations
  • balancing our two theologies of Calvinism and Traditionalism
  • evaluating the effectiveness of our church planting strategy
  • rethinking our embrace of non-Southern Baptist partnerships
  • promoting both the harvest and the frontier missions mandates
  • addressing the lack of transparency coming from our leadership
  • investigating charges of national level strong arming at NAMB
  • exploring the role of the ERLC regarding Presidential candidates
  • examining the operational overspending crisis at the IMB

 

Generation Gap or Conflicting Visions? 

Some have suggested our differences are nothing more than a generational divide, but I find that assessment lacking. Yes, most of the Calvinists in the convention are younger, but not all of the younger people in the SBC are Calvinists. I do not believe we are so much divided by age as we are divided by ministry approaches driven by theological orientation. In other words, there are substantive differences creating the disunity in SBC life. This is not merely a personality conflict or a generation gap. It is a clash of ideas. We did not leave St. Louis having resolved the issues that continue to divide us. An outward spirit of unity is a nice charade, a happy moment in the sun, a gloriously pleasant escape from reality. But it is not the real thing. It is not true unity, for it is rooted merely in the fiction of conflict avoidance and not in the reality of conflict resolution.

Were We Truly Spared A Disaster? 

Some have insinuated that by his withdrawal Greear saved the Southern Baptist Convention from an apocalyptic event that would have left us paralyzed, divided, angry and uncooperative. One imagines catastrophic scenes of Southern Baptists rioting in the streets of St. Louis, throwing television sets through shop windows and smashing cars with baseball bats because our preferred candidate for SBC President lost a simple election. The narrative being spun is that Greear saved us from a cataclysmic upheaval the likes of which Southern Baptists have never known. Rubbish, nonsense and poppycock!

We were told by Greear that he wanted to spare us from an election in which one candidate received 51% of the vote and the other received 49% of the vote, but no one ever explained why such a close vote would necessarily be a bad thing. If such a vote truly expressed the will of the messengers and if honesty is still the best policy, why not leave St. Louis with a crystal clear understanding that we do indeed have work to do in resolving our conflicts? Why pretend we are not divided when in fact we so obviously are? And why run in fear of electing a President by such a narrow margin of victory?

Question: “When was the last time Southern Baptists elected a President with only 51% of the vote?” Answer: “The last time we elected a President.” That’s right. In 2014, Ronnie Floyd was elected with exactly 51.62% of the vote. Following the election, there was no hand wringing. I saw neither sack cloth nor ashes in Baltimore. There were no riots. Southern Baptists did not leave the convention hall throwing their ballot cards at one another or spilling each other’s purchases to the floor in the LifeWay bookstore. Instead, we acted like mature adults—with both sides smiling and shaking hands just like I do at the net after every tennis match, win or lose. I refuse to believe that Southern Baptists would have thrown temper tantrums had our side lost the Presidential election. Despite overblown claims to the contrary, J.D. Greear’s forfeiture merely spared the Teller’s Committee a few hours of their time.

How Much Did Greear Truly Concede?

Bear in mind that at the time Greear withdrew from the race, Gaines had received 2,410 votes and Greear had received 2,306. Of the votes properly cast using correct and legible ballots, Gaines received 51.1% of the vote while Greear received 48.9% of the vote. However, by a rule that deserves further examination, 108 spoiled ballots were counted among the total votes cast while not attributed to either candidate. Thus, by considering illegal ballots too spoiled for either numerator but not too spoiled for the denominator, the number of votes needed to reach a majority was 2,413.

Greear was 107 votes away from winning but only 3 votes away from losing. By withdrawing from the race, he essentially conceded those three votes. Was this gracious? Indeed. Was it a sacrifice of monumental proportions? Hardly. Does it mean that Southern Baptists practically owe Greear the SBC Presidency in 2018? Not at all. If the concerns with Greear’s ministry philosophy and vision continue to be relevant in 2018, I hope he will not run unopposed—a status some have suggested Greear has earned by his three vote concession in St. Louis.

It has even been suggested that Gaines might nominate Greear in 2018 as a gesture of unity in the convention. Personally, I hope this is not the case, for I believe their candidacies are actually larger than either of these two men individually. I believe they each represent certain ideologies, beliefs and ministry practices, and that voters deserve the right to vote for the candidate whose platform most closely aligns with their own, in order to influence the convention in the direction they believe it needs to go.

Conclusion

The narrative being spun is that Southern Baptists left St. Louis completely united, that J.D. Greear’s withdrawal from the race spared us from certain disaster, and that his humble and monumental concession practically purchased for him the SBC Presidency in 2018. At the risk of bursting our bubble, and however unpopular this sentiment may be, I am compelled to challenge that narrative. Southern Baptists are not completely united. Greear’s withdrawal did not spare us from any real catastrophe. And no concession of three votes entitles anyone to a future SBC Presidency.

One other aspect of this event deserves consideration—the impact of Greear’s withdrawal upon the democratic processes of our congregational polity. By removing himself from the race, Greear actually short circuited our democratic process, removing the decision from the electorate and taking it upon himself to decide the outcome. While it may rightly be deemed a personally gracious gesture, it does nothing at all to help us more clearly discern the will of a closely divided SBC electorate.

In the final analysis, a lot can happen between now and 2018. The issues dividing us today may be completely resolved. New issues may arise. Greear may not even run for President. We may be raptured by then. But as matters stand right now, as we come out of the convention in St. Louis, this popular narrative deserves to be challenged. No candidate conceding three votes in one election should automatically win the next election as a consolation prize.

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Steve

Dr. Patrick I thought your article was very interesting. While I don’t feel capable of presenting an in depth defense of my traditionalist stance, I am coming at this as a member of a church in conflict. To me, failing to fully address a conflict, even if it is by “graciously” stepping down from an election, does not resolve the issue. Dr Greear has accomplished one thing by doing so. He has avoided what I believe would be a public confirmation that the majority of the convention still holds to the traditionalists view. Graciously stepping down is far superior to losing an election. I’m not saying he has any nefarious intentions, but in the, unfortunately, political landscape this divided convention has found I self in the jockeying continues.

    Rick Patrick

    Steve,
    I share your sense that the issues are not really being addressed, but rather, they are being stifled, muzzled and contained. Our leaders are afraid of a split, I think, because they view this as a second “Conservative Resurgence” type of conflict. I disagree, however. I don’t think we need to split. I think we need to talk. I believe both sides may continue to be actively involved in the convention just as we always have been. But some issues are in need of negotiation for that to happen, and our refusal to hammer out the problems is only perpetuating an uneasy state of denial. Dr. Vines said a few years ago that we need to stop avoiding the elephant in the room. Unfortunately, the elephant is growing bigger all the time.

      Andrew Barker

      Rick Patrick: People do not always get the result they wanted in any election. Here in the UK we have a perfect example of that in our latest referendum. Our choice was a binary choice, in or out, but many people didn’t want it to be that simple. The only way they had to indicate their position was to make a ‘none’ vote. This is different from a spoiled ballot paper where the indication is not clear. Spoiled votes should be discarded from the count completely. If people want to make a point by not voting for any of the above candidates they need to express that clearly by writing ‘none’ through the names and putting a single line through the voting boxes.

      I’m not sure how many of the 108 were spoiled and how many were deliberate ‘none’ votes but I suspect most were in the former category. But if people are unable to make their decision clear then their vote should not be counted, at all. I’m assuming that there were more than 4824 people eligible to vote in this election but only those people who turned up to the conference could actually place a vote (do you have a postal vote option?). If you are going to count all the ‘spoiled’ papers then logically you should also included all those who could have turned up to vote but, for whatever reason, didn’t. That includes those too busy at conference buying books or sipping their cappuccinos while the vote was being cast!

      I’ve been amazed by the number of intelligent well meaning people, who thought staying in the EU was a foregone conclusion who now have difficulty in accepting the democratic wishes of the majority. Some are even saying that they will try to force a ‘legal’ vote on whether or not the decision to leave can be taken by the Prime Minister. It is an interesting parallel with what has happened with the SBC. Some on ‘pravda’ really do believe that 2306 votes should be enough to ‘win’ for their man!! Really?

      If the rules governing ballot papers are not clear now, I guess now is the time to revise them or at least clear them up so that this situation doesn’t arise again. The clearest way would be to have a separate box at the end of the ballot paper which can be marked to demonstrate no confidence in ‘any of the above’. It may sound a bit negative but at least any other marking on the paper could then be legitimately taken as a spoiled paper and discarded completely. That’s my two pennies worth! :)

norm

My sentiments exactly, Rick, exactly. There are those who would/will decry your observations, but I suspect only a fraction of a percent would be those who support(ed) Gaines. Further, your observations should do nothing to quell everyone’s “kum-bah-yah” moment when Greear conceded. Whether that concession was motivated by a sense of unity or the fear of losing we will never know. Similarly, we will never know, I guess, if Greer’s withdrawal was “public relations ploy” to gain sympathy for him in 2018. Some do see it that way. However, it should never, ever be understood as Greear being our “presumptive” president. In my view, he never should have been nominated at all. His documented close association with Acts 29, which requires — prejudicially — its church planters to be Calvinists, is enough to disqualify him in my view. Someone needs to tell me how unifying that is for the SBC.

Inasmuch as Greear (perhaps unintentionally) thwarted the democratic process in STL, it would be another such miscarriage for anyone to assume Greear is owed the presidency. Authority in the SBC is from the pew up, and decisions are not to be made by overlords. However, some are saying that the data plans of the SBC’s current college of cardinals were heavily drained late into the night on the ‘eve of the second run-off vote.

If anyone thinks Greear will go unchallenged in Dallas, then such a person has not been a Southern Baptist quite long enough.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    The drama of the Annual Meeting has put Gaines in an awkward position since he didn’t really win anything, and the perception is that he is a lame duck that can’t say what needs to be said. This “unity” narrative all but insures that he can’t say or do things he thought he could have done going into this.

    I fear Gaines may be the President Traditionalists wanted, but now he won’t be the President Traditionalists needed. He may talk about evangelism and things like that, but I am willing to bet he too will ignore the elephant.

    I hope I’m wrong…but I doubt his presidency will do much of anything other than repeat platitudes.

      Bob Hadley

      Dr. Gaines is not in an awkward position by any means. He is the president of the SBC and as such WILL I believe lead. TO say “he really did not win anything” is a very poor choice of words. I am not aware of any such perception that he is a “lame duck” that cannot say what needs to be said. I have known Steve since 1974 and one thing I can assure you is he is not one to avoid saying what needs to be said or doing what needs to be done. I do not see him ignoring any elephant ANYWHERE and has already spoken to some pretty serious issues facing the SBC in the past and will not shy away from doing so in the future.

      I believe he is exactly what the SBC needs and will do his best to lead the SBC in the right direction.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Bob,

        Far from being very poor choice of words, my are accurately chosen words. Certainly preferred to ostrich words. By removing your fanboy glasses for a moment, you should recognize even as Rick does, the fact is that Gaines didn’t win anything. He was selected to be SBC President by default. He didn’t “win” over the other guy. In fact, when it comes to “winning,” any talk of winning is the flowery talk that Greear was “gaining by losing” or whatever play it is on his book title.

        I know you have a positive estimation of Gaines and want to see him do well. Everyone does. But this perception exists among SBC folks not in Traditionalist circles that, as much as the sentiment exists that Greear deserves the Presidency is out there, there also exists the sentiment that Gaines isn’t going to ruffle any divisional feathers within the SBC given all the unity talk.

        Whether he does or doesn’t will remain to be seen. As I said, I hope I am wrong about him in this situation.

        He will be a fine statesmen for the SBC, but he probably won’t accomplish much of anything on that list above that needs to be addressed. Perhaps that isn’t his job to do anyway. But if not, then any smiling face, including Greear’s, would be fine for the role of SBC President.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          For the record, I too am a Gaines fanboy too. I am just trying to be objective. ;)

          Bob Hadley

          Were it not for poorly given advice, the 108 ballots that were counted should probably have been 10-15, Gaines would have won the election on the second ballot. The votes cast on the wrong ballot should NOT have been counted in the vote total determining the final percentage. It is what it is. Gaines DID have the vote count advantage over Greear and even if you put BOTH votes together, Gaines received more votes than Greear did. Greear did step out; that does not mean that Gaines did not win the election. He was elected. Period.

          Will Steve work toward unifying the SBC, I am sure he will do what he can but he is not going to be held captive by any outside agenda. Furthermore, to label him as a “lame duck who cannot say anything” is pathetic. It would be certainly incorrect to label you in that mold so let’s not make assumptions based on “some silly feeling you have.” He can do what needs to be done and I believe he will.

          Until it is proven wrong, lets see what happens as opposed to throwing out these baseless accusatory statements. The fact that you “carefull chose your words” does not negate the poorly chosen aspect.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Bob,

            The only thing off here is your inability to read correctly.

            I said there is a perception out there that he will be a lame duck. I did not say he was one. I only said it could be the case its true and I hope I am wrong.

            Like Rick said, we don’t know back room deals and agendas.

            Furthermore, “it is what it is” only pertains to whatever the rules were or weren’t, the fact remains Steve did not win an election over an opponent. He was selected President because the other guy dropped out. THAT, not rule haggling about how it could’ve or even should’ve went down but didn’t, is what it is.

            “Poorly chosen” is negated by the reality of “accurately chosen.” All you mean to say is that you don’t like it. Well…so what?

            In any case, putting both votes together means nothing when many of those are the SAME people voting. There are plenty of reasons why Greear supporters weren’t in the room during the first runoff and plenty of reasons they were ready for the second given how packed the room was. Besides, Greear won the first vote in actual numbers, and we don’t know what would have happened if there were a second runoff, that would have happened had Greear not dropped out regardless of procedural issues with the first runoff.

            Election process concerns aside, the only thing silly and pathetic in our conversation is your reading comprehension and rejection of reality as it actually occurred and trading it for what you wish had occurred given your issues with the ballots. Quite frankly, I’m rather surprised by it.

            Read more carefully next time.

Robert Vaughn

Rick: Barney Fife’s ‘nip it in the bud’ philosophy is practically a core value of mine.

An old preacher I knew always said that “nitpicking” is a good thing — you definitely want to pick the nits rather than let them become full grown lice!

    Robert Vaughn

    Let me clarify that my “nitpicking” comment is not directed at any person referenced in Rick’s article, but is just a response about a similar kind of philosophy that Rick mentioned.

Pam Knight

Thanks again Rick for giving alot of us a voice in this. Theo and I totally agree with what you have said here. One thing Theo and I feel strongly about is how Traditionalist should respond to our Calvinist brothers and sisters in the Lord. Theo and I don’t believe we ought to ever compromise the Truth of God’s Word for the sake of unity. The most important thing we can do as Southern Baptist Christians is to take the Gospel of Christ to the lost people of the world. But just as important is the need for us to take the True Truth of God’s Word to our Calvinist brothers and sisters in the Lord. We should never , for the sake of unity, knowingly settle for error to be taught in our Southern Baptist Churches and Seminaries. Calvinist are our brothers and sisters in the Lord and we should love and care enough about them and their view of who and what God is that we should be actively involved in praying for and reaching out to them with the Truth of God’s Word. I don’t believe it’s a hopeless case to believe that a person can come out of Calvinism to the Truth. As Christians we don’t need to give up on believing that God wants us to share the Truth of His Word with everyone. I have a son who we love dearly and who we believe loves the Lord. But he has been sidetracked and deceived by this error of doctrines and I wake up every day praying and sharing with him, every opportunity I have, the real Truth of God’s Word . Hoping and praying for the day that he will walk through our door and tell us that God has answered our prayers and he sees the Truth and he’s been set free. There should be alot more thought, effort and prayers on how we as Traditionalist can effectively reach out to our brothers and sisters in the Lord with the hope they will come back to the Truth that will set them free. I do not mean any disrespect to anyone . Because of my son and his 5 children who are being raised under these doctrines. My heart is burdened to share the Truth with them. Because I have 5 grandkids involved, one of them is saved, but the other four right now don’t know if God has chosen them or created them to be children of wrath that will burn in hell for His Glory. That isn’t something children ought to have to wonder about. Children ought to be able to grow up being told Jesus loves them and died for them so that they could be saved. Please God, give us Wisdom and Guidance in this situation as we reach out to our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
In Christ
Theo & Pam Knight

David R. Brumbelow

SBC rules should be changed so that whoever gets the most votes in a runoff is elected, regardless of any bad ballots cast.
For years I’ve seen some preachers, as a joke, mark up the ballot wrong or put in the wrong ballot. Some are leaving early and they will not be able to vote again, so they turn in another ballot or the entire ballot book. The convention should not be penalized for such ballots.

Let them put in any kind of ballot they want, but don’t let that cause the top vote getter to lose.

Don’t change this rule, and some will now purposely try to sabotage an election.

David R. Brumbelow

    norm

    Interesting, David. I am wondering if the ratio of “bad” ballots to total ballots is considerably disproportional to the same ratio in previous years.

Becky

My assessment was that Greear withdrew because he knew he’d lose.

Michael White

Rick,

What is sad is that some people divide over issues simply because they are in disagreement. The above 10 bullet pointed issues should not divide us. To expect that the millions of SBCers will agree on each and every one of these issues, and also that they are even issues to disagree on, and if they don’t agree that we are a divided people is a bad expectation and a poor definition of unity.

Do you think unity can only be accomplished by everyone of us agreeing to your understanding of how these issues are to be resolved?
Or can a people be united in spirit and yet hold to some disagreement? And if the latter, is the above list indicative of the line you draw to be united in spirit and thus not be divided?

    Rick Patrick

    Michael,
    You say that the above bullet points should not divide us. Of course, I list them precisely because I am in agreement with you. I believe that we can resolve these matters by sitting down and working through them to develop some strategies acceptable to both sides. If I could not unite with the SBC in spite of our differences, I would be gone, right? My primary point is that, right now, this working out of differences is not being done at all. Rather, we are simply pretending the ten bullet points are not even there. That is something I consider unhealthy and unhelpful, as we move forward in a spirit of unity.

    No, I do not think unity can only be accomplished by my own preferred resolution to each of these issues. But I do think all of the options should be presented and that SOME reasonable effort at conflict resolution should be made. Yes, people can agree to disagree. That’s what would likely happen if we ironed out some publicly agreed upon solutions. But again, that’s not what we’re doing. We’re just plowing it all under and pretending the issues are not even there.

    Suppose, for example, that we address my concern that both NAMB and IMB have gone overboard in addressing the FRONTIER mandate and are neglecting the HARVEST mandate in our placement of both North American and International missionaries. (This is not really my own analysis, but that of a well regarded missiologist named Robin Dale Hadaway, although he only applied his research to the IMB strategy.) Hadaway believes we should allocate resources 40% Frontier, 40% Harvest, 15% Education and 5% Administration. I believe this approach would immediately yield better Great Commission results.

    Your final sentence suggests that I am “drawing lines for unity” in spirit. Of course, I don’t see it that way at all. I believe we are presently sufficiently “united in spirit” to encourage my church family to donate over $100,000 to local, state and national Southern Baptist causes. I approach all of this from the view that we are united in spirit enough to participate with one another. However, that does not mean that our participation is one that must be free of all communication, negotiation, give and take and addressing of concerns.

    Think of it in the context of America. We have lots of problems to solve. So let’s work together and solve them. If someone raises ten issues that need to be resolved, it does NOT mean that they are not proud of America or that they would like to secede or move to another country. The act of raising issues is simply not the same thing as being divisive.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Real unity means there can be discussions. If there can’t be discussions, there is no real unity.

      Michael White

      Rick,

      Thanks for your reply.
      Did you present resolutions at the convention to address your grievances?
      How did you expect the convention to resolve your grievances?

      Now as to unity. Unity can exist even if our lower tier positions are being ignored and/or not dealt with. In many places in life where unity is desired, say a marriage, sometimes one partner will not deal with an issue as adequately as the other spouse desires. They do not have to divide to disagree.

      Lets look at what you said.
      You said that the 10 issues you mentioned were not being dealt with as you desired. Maybe none of the ten are even being discussed with you. What if there is not a sitting down together of even if there was, a solution amicable yo you is put forth, what then?
      And from your OP, it sure seems that these unresolved issues could divide us.
      And that they would divide us if you draw the line and say that without resolution, we are divided.

      Of course, we can agree to disagree and remain united. Those who make the decisions might disagree with you that there is any need to change or compromise. Would you be willing to agree to disagree if that was the case, in the name and spirit of unity?

        Rick Patrick

        I am sorry, Michael, but I am having trouble following your train of thought. My point is a very simple one: we are not as united as a convention as some would have us to believe.

        As for the philosophical nature of differences “dividing” us, I suppose it depends on what you mean by divide. A denominational split kind of divide? I think not. Two or more discernible factions forming? Yes, I think we have that right now.

        We are not divided because I say we are. I say we are because we are divided.

        Your final paragraph begins to make a bit more sense to me. Leaders are apparently disagreeing with me at present that there is any need to address these matters. They have not come right out and said so. They are just ignoring the questions of many. No, I am obviously unwilling to accept being brushed off in that fashion. That is why I am raising various issues. I am not going to be quiet, ever, in the interest of unity while my concerns are ignored by leadership. Well, when I die, I guess. Again, truth before unity.

        Di-Vision simply means “two visions.” I make no apology at all for mine. I believe the SBC needs to move in another direction. Believing that, how could I help but promote a second vision for our future? Is it always divisive to have a new vision than that of the leadership? If so, then I suppose I will wear the label, if you must place it.

        Jesus, then, was divisive against the Pharisees. George Washington was divisive against Great Britain. And so on. People who think matters need to be changed are subject to being called divisive. It goes with the territory.

Brad Jones

You are right on every point as far as i can tell. What was resolved at this years convention that needed to be ? Nothing. None of the serious questions i have was not answered, IMB, ERLC, NAMB. They were not dealt with. I could not go, i wamted to but my grandson was born the week before and i missed several days away from the church with that so i could not take off more time. Just so folks cannot say I have no right to question what went on. The mnessengers should have decided the outcome, good or bad, not one man. Although I figure there was more than one man behind his decision. good article

    Tyler

    On the contrary, they were talked about and resolved….just not in the way you probably wanted.

Randall Cofield

I’ve read many revealing OPs and comment threads on this site over the years.

This one takes the cake.

peter lumpkins

To those supposing we all left St. Louis humming Blessed be the tie that binds… upon what issue in which we disagreed before St. Louis are we now restored to unity after St. Louis? Please name one (or more if possible). It would be interesting to see and compare the bullet list offered in contrast to Rick’s list in the OP.
In addition, Rick is entirely correct concerning the magic that’s supposed to take place when, in 2018, some furry creature with fuzzy beard rises to say,

“I move we elect by acclamation JD Greear as president of the Southern Baptist Convention since he humbly, selflessly, sacrificially, and for unity’s sake, removed himself from consideration in 2016 giving the office to Steve Gaines.”

Some think this could not take place given our governing polity but I think they are naive in thinking so. Assuming some of the weak-kneed polity calls over the last few years coming from the platform, it would not be at all surprising if the chair ruled such a motion in order and spent 41 minutes uttering technical jargon from Roberts Rules as to why what they were doing was legal. By the time average messengers could figure what in Sam Hill he’s talking about, the vote would be over, and 2/3 of the messengers would be in the restaurants.
What an interesting time to be a Southern Baptist.
With that, I am…
Peter 

    Andy

    Sorry Peter and Rick, but while I can agree with some of Ricks article, and the need to discuss some hard issues…this part of it just seems not even worth worrying about.

    Trying to figure out some 2 year conspiracy plan seems like an exercise in unnecessary worry to me.

      Rick Patrick

      Like I said…”Nip it in the bud.” No sense in letting this *narrative* (not a conspiracy plan) grow any stronger than it already has. I have heard too many people suggest that 2018 is essentially Greear’s “turn” to refrain from commenting on the matter. We need to dismiss that notion. The 2018 election should not become a continuation of this one. That’s all.

        Andy

        The same was said about it being Floyd’s turn….but the election went on as usual….no coronations…I expect the same in 2 years.

        Stuart

        Surely you aren’t suggesting that certain personalities in the convention would get together before the convention and decide whose “turn” it is to run and to be president. That could lead to a string of uncontested presidential elections. The SBC might not survive that.

    Debbie Kaufman

    Color me naïve because I just don’t think this is going to happen.

Bill Signer

This is accusation disguised as speculation.

    Rick Patrick

    To speculate is to hypothesize about an event, to conjecture, to form a working theory. It is a perfectly legitimate part of both journalistic and scientific inquiry. It is not a sin to speculate.

    To accuse, on the other hand, is to offer a charge of wrongdoing against an individual or a group, not merely to speculate that they may or may not have acted in a certain way, but to label that way of acting wrong, and to claim definitively that they performed such an act, neither of which was done in this case at all.

    To equivocate speculation with accusation is, however, a lie. If you want to call me an accuser, fine, but my only accusation is against you for suggesting that I have made any kind of accusation, when in fact I have merely speculated.

      Jon Estes

      The line between speculation and accusation is extremely thin. Would you encourage your church members to speculate public ally about things they did not agree with or did not like? I hope net. If they began speculating, using your definition, concerning the church, you or others, you would probably be unhappy. You might even call it gossip.

      Any wordsmith can take an accusation and make it appear as a speculation. Those who are the better wordsmiths may come across as being noble in their presentation, the others come across as complainers or attackers. Some Calvinistic blogs are accused of such on this very forum.

      I am not sure if there is room for discussion with you on your 10 points. I am not sure if there is any compromise you are willing to accept that does not fit your desired paradigm. Even your traditionalist statement leaves no room for compromise in certain areas.

      Yeah, let’s talk… We all go round in circles.

      Lastly, you write well.

        Rick Patrick

        My question was a morally neutral conjecture. Did a conversation take place? Did they agree to nominate each other? I never said that such would be immoral, only that it might be secretive. I believe this fact rescues my speculation from any charges of accusation. Still, because that one question was such a bone of contention, and not wanting to cause my brothers to stumble over my wonderment, I removed the speculative question from the original post. It was truly unnecessary to my primary thesis anyway. I do hope we can talk about things and work out our conflicts. Thank you for your kind words about my writing.

Jon Estes

“Did a conversation take place? Did they agree to nominate each other? I never said that such would be immoral, only that it might be secretive.”

Did the pastor go over to that divorced woman’s house alone late last night?

Come on. Such questions put more questions in the minds of others than help anything. Deal with facts, please. I know you removed what you wanted to but the words have already been stated.

In regard to any conversation… How far would you compromise your wanted position to acquire what you think is necessary to have the SBC where you want it to be? A

    Rick Patrick

    Your hypothetical scenario concerning the pastor is that he went over to a divorced woman’s house alone at night, which is morally objectionable.

    Again, my hypothetical scenario concerns two men possibly discussing a nomination for a future SBC election, which is not morally objectionable, but is totally within their rights.

    It is perfectly fine, in my opinion, to wonder if something took place or not. Facts are for news stories. Editorials, on the other hand, necessarily deal in opinions, hunches and theories. They state a person’s point of view. Opinions are just not going to be facts. Not ever. If they were, it would be a news story, right? It would be on the front page of Baptist Press. “Gaines and Greear Strike Deal.” Believe me, if I knew that for a fact, I would write a news story, not an editorial, and I would use that headline.

    It’s okay to speculate about possible events and activities. Some people are extraordinarily uncomfortable with the subjunctive case, in my opinion. They need to get over it. In the real world, people share their informed opinions. They will not always share the facts. They will, from time to time, share an unproven theory as a possibility. They will hypothesize. This is categorically different from gossip. You can equivocate speculation and accusation all you want, but they will never be the same thing. Ever.

    Your final sentence makes little sense to me, for I am not compromising anything.

      Jon Estes

      “Your hypothetical scenario concerning the pastor is that he went over to a divorced woman’s house alone at night, which is morally objectionable.”

      I think bringing into question things that you do not know if happened, in the form of a question. which plants seeds of possible negatives in the hearts and minds of others is morally objectional.

      “Opinions are just not going to be facts.”

      When we, as Believers, are dealing with the character of other Christians need to be concerned about facts. I think it is sad you do not see that spreading words that question your Brothers character and trying to make it ok because you want to have your opinion.

      I remember a sermon from Sam Cathey on Luke 17 which in the verses below he makes the biblical point that as a Christian “we have no pesonal rights”.

      Luke 17:7-8, 7 And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? 8 But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’?

      He used the illustration of freedom of speech in our country and as a citizen we have that right but as a Christian, we do not have freedom of speech.

      I think he hit on something here that you might consider. As a citizen of the USA, you have a right to your own opinion but as a Christian, you do not.

      As a matter of fact, you (and me) have a duty to do only that which the Master says we have a right to do. (check out v. 10).

      “Your final sentence makes little sense to me, for I am not compromising anything.”

      So there is really no need for a discussion or talk on your 10 points. It is your way with no compromise, or nothing. Where then does the need for discussion. you say you want, begin?

        Rick Patrick

        Jon,
        We are not communicating especially well for whatever reason. It seems to me that you are misunderstanding nearly everything I say. Feel free to private message me, Facebook, email, whatever. Perhaps another form of communication will help.

        Some people have assumed my speculation, as you put it, “plants seeds of possible negatives…” but I never said that for one Southern Baptist to talk to another Southern Baptist about nominating him in 2018 was negative, wrong, outside the rules, immoral, or anything like that. I only stated that it might have taken place in secret. Many things happen in secret that are not wrong. That is where the key difference lies. If one engages in speculation that does not cast aspersions, there is no gossip or sin. (Example: “I think my neighbor might buy an ice cream cone today.”) Speculation? Yes. Aspersion? No.

        On your last statement regarding compromise, I understood you to be talking about some kind of moral compromise, as in compromising your convictions, etc. If what you mean is, “Are you willing to talk about these matters and explore possible solutions with well intentioned brothers and sisters on both sides?” then of course, the answer is yes. That is the entire point of the ten article series in the Transparency Agenda.

        Rather than working on these important issues dividing our convention, Southern Baptists are ignoring them as we discuss resolutions not to display the flag of a government that has not existed for 150 years. There is a definite need to discuss our issues, and yes, I am willing to work with people on both sides to come up with some reasonable ways to move forward that will promote unity and peace. But it is foolish, in my opinion, to just declare that we are unified, when we are truly not. That is an act of denial and conflict avoidance that will not solve anything, in my opinion.

          Jon Estes

          Rick – I understand you very well.

          I think a case can be made thatthe CR was a God movement (which both sides handled not in the best of ways, at times). I’m not convinced your movement is from God or from man.

          Your fighting for what you see as your SBC heritage. The CR was a fight for God’s Word.

          I’m glad to be a SB, but God doesn’t need the SBC, He (by His design) needs His word.

          Fighing for the temporal, man made things, seems to be non-biblical.

            Rick Patrick

            Jon, I am not fighting. I am seeking proportional theological representation within a denomination where the minority view is beating the pants off the majority view in terms of setting the agenda. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the SBC is going down the tubes. We need change from this 2005-2015 Calvinistic regime. We need to restore traditional SBC doctrine and ministry practices. This is a conversation with eternal and spiritual matters at stake, not just a man-made power struggle. I believe God is in this movement. If not, it will fail, right?

Mary

People speculating about other people speculating. I bet it’s not just about “speculating” but specifically about who it is “speculating.” I didn’t have to search to far to find a bit of “speculating.”

Rick Patrick says
June 14, 2016 at 11:44 pm
I don’t dispute the ruling, just the rule, and I know my quarrel here is with Roberts Rules, but I just don’t get it. If the ballot is too spoiled to be counted among either of the two numerators, then why is it not too spoiled to be counted in the denominator?

Reply
Dave Miller says
June 15, 2016 at 12:08 am
If JD were 3 votes from winning, I suspect you’d be championing ol’ Bob and his rules with gusto. Barry can’t chose side and apply the rules that way. He just has to follow the rules.

    Mary

    OK just one more thing then I gotta go sit with the 90 pound big baby of a dog as the fireworks go off in the neighborhood. Miller et al were all “you have to follow the rules! The RULES ARE THE RULES! But then when it was “speculated” that there were those who were going to follow THE RULES! to raise a point of objection or whatever people started going bezerk and began name calling. Dave Miller and others over at Pravda demonstrated perfectly what’s called “projection” Miller was all about the rules when they looked to be in his guy’s favor but if someone was going to use the rules against his guy he and his sycophants went nuts. THE RULES for thee but not for me.

Mary

Here’s the link

http://sbcvoices.com/thre-more-votes-and-gaines-wins/

Lot’s of speculating going on in that thread but that was back when some were for speculating before they decided they were against it. To paraphrase “All ‘voices’ are equal. Some ‘voices’ are more equal than others.”

    Mary

    An outright attack based on speculation as to hearts and motives:

    Dave Miller says
    June 15, 2016 at 12:10 pm
    You saw the contrast between those of goodwill like JD and the conspiracy theory types who throw tantrums and hold grudges – those Rick referenced above.

    Thankfully, those of goodwill prevailed

Deborah Kaufman

I don’t know why I am reading this venom spewing from you and others but I am Mary. What other motive is there? You guys took something wonderful and beautiful and reduced it to dirt and garbage. You also took someone you were promoting and threw him under the bus and ran over him twice. Steve Gaines. As Dave said, thankfully goodwill prevailed. It’s no different than someone who has his/her mind in the gutter no matter how often the opposite is true. Anything to cause doubt and discord.

    Mary

    Deborah??? So you can’t answer the points being made and the evidence presented to support the points therefore you launch an attack. Rick Patrick posted an opinion that was not an attack or “dirt and garbarge” that people didn’t agree with and since it’s Rick Patrick, Pravda had to find an excuse to launch an attack just like you where they don’t actually address anything being said but just call names.

      Ken

      Mary:

      I think all SBs need to accept that the bottom bottom line is that Dave Miller and his whackos are so elated that one of their Calvinist heroes have added the office of the presidency to their conquest of the SBC that they take exception to any speculation as to the merits of that action.

      It is obvious that Dave Miller has a strong dislike of Rick Patrick, that he will leave no stone unturned in his effort to discredit him.

      Rick’s points are well taken. I have gone one step further and denounced any affiliation wit the SBC after 68 years. Although I did so some time ago, I still harbored hope that a second Conservative Resurgence would one day result in turning around the current situation. But, now, with the election of a Calvinist, moderate or otherwise, to the presidency, added to the several prior unfortunate appointments of department heads, I have no hope of seeing a turnabout – unless of course, God decides to intervene and right the ship. I see it as the the beginning of the end for the SBC as I have known it for 68 years.

      There is no way that we who believe that Calvinism’s roots are firmly fixed in the bottomless pit will ever attempt to unite with Calvinists because that would mean surrendering every thing we know as sacred about God and His plan of salvation and sacrifice for our sins. To do so would make hypocrites of us, one and all.

      Oh, sure, many of the so called “leadership,” have succumbed to their wiles simply because they are looking out for their own skins and their cushy salaries and benefits. But the rank and file SB will never join them or profess to have unity with the Calvinists.

        Bill Mac

        Sorry, which Calvinist hero was elected president?

          Debbie Kaufman

          And what facts were written in the OP or comments?

            Mary

            Debbie, I know that facts you don’t like you just call lies so there’s really no point in trying to engage with you. Again, rather than dealing with the points being made you just huff and puff and attack with the insinuation that there are no facts. You constantly brag about how much you love Jesus and the Bible and yet NEVER do you treat people who disagree with you in a Christian manner.

        Mary

        Ken, Steve Gaines is a Traditionalist. The Calvinists of the SBC did not want him to win. I know there was some article posted somewhere that stated Gaines was a moderate Calvinists but that was not correct. Probably written by a Calvinist who thinks to be a Christian you have to be at least a moderate Calvinist.

          Bill Mac

          It was posted here, by a Traditionalist.

          Ken

          Mary:

          Thanks for that information. FYI I got that from a quote from a Christianpost.com article written by a Brandon Showalter, a CP contributor, in an article entitled “Calvinism Not To Blame For Southern Baptist Decline, JD Greear says.” His exact line was “After the first round failed to produce a victor, Greear, a strong Calvinist, threw his support behind Steve Gaines, who is more moderately reformed.”

          I have tried unsuccessfully to find a way to contact Steve Gaines via several sources to get his take on his theology. I don’t want to be guilty of mislabeling any person, especially designating someone with that Satanic label “Calvinist.”

          I plan to keep trying to contact Steve although I came across a twitter post supposedly by Gaines in which he stated he was neither Calvinist nor Arminian. That doesn’t answer the question as to where he stands in regards to Traditionalism.

            Rick Patrick

            I cannot speak to the issue of whether or not Gaines would accept the *label* of Traditionalism as a description of his soteriology, but I can state with absolute certainty that Steve Gaines is indeed a signer of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” as was Steve’s mentor, the late Dr. Roy Fish. http://connect316.net/view-the-signers/

              Ken

              Rick:
              Thanks, that’s good to hear.

              Keep up the good work.

            Mary

            Thanks Ken for confirming that there was an article that was not the Richard Land article stating that Gaines was a moderate Calvinist.

        Mary

        Ken, I agree with most of what you say. Dave Miller and Co hate people who have a different opinion than them. They accuse them of the behavior they themselves are guilty of. But make no mistake the Calvinist are not happy about Gaines beating out Greer.

          Tyler

          Honestly Mary, most Calvinist really don’t care. Most have more things to worry about.

            Mary

            Whatever you say Tyler.

Debbie Kaufman

I simply asked a question Mary. Where are the facts of your accusation. Watching the video at the time the last election and concession was happening, I saw none of what you are talking about. Your last accusation addressed to Ken was wrong as well. That Gaines was a moderate Calvinist was written on this very site by a Traditionalist. No it’s not true.

Show me one person who has written or said in any blog, comment, or article that they are said Gaines won. You will not find one, because although I did not want to see him elected President, changed my mind when I saw how Christlike and wonderfully both handled this election. It was great and God was working the whole time, one could feel it. So that too is not true. I have not seen you write one true thing.

Mary

No Debbie you didn’t just ask a question. You came in accusing people of spilling “venom” and “dirt” and “garbage” Everybody who disagrees with you has their mind in the gutter. Don’t play all innocent. Just because you declare something “beautiful” you expect that everybody has to agree with you. Not everybody agrees with you and you spew your hatred. You’re just like Dave Miller. He goes off on Patrick for speculating when he himself speculates all the time which I provided the evidence for in this thread. He was for the rules until he was against the rules which again I provided the posts. You don’t care about facts Debbie and you never have.

And yes I know Richard Land declared Gaines a moderate Calvinist but I also thought I read a State paper article where someone not Land called Gaines a moderate. Maybe it was Land’s article I read somewhere else or maybe someone was quoting Land. Unlike you Debbie I can admit that I’ve been wrong before and could be wrong here. But there’s not a a non Calvinist who posts anywhere on these blogs who doesn’t get that there are Calvinist who treat us as if we’re idiots who don’t realize that we’re really just Calvinist and don’t know it. Al Mohler has made comments to that effect. And yes Debbie there are Calvinist sad that Gaines won because it’s POLITICS and their guy lost. Most of what you spew is against POLITICS. Things that in the whole scheme of things shouldn’t be a big deal to such a SUPER Christian like yourself. And yet you will attack attack attack because people are not supposed to have conversations that you and people like Dave Miller don’t like. It’s SBC Fascism under the guise of “Unity.”

Debbie Kaufman

No Mary, I hate conversations that lack the truth. Disagree a way, but base it on the truth and not turning something into garbage that isn’t. As Christians we are all about truth. Every speculation, every question should be based on the truth. I did say you spewed venom and garbage and dirt. I stand by that. You do so without an ounce of fact.

Mary

No Debbie I did no such of a thing. Again you have addressed no points but continue to declare everything you dislike as lies. People are allowed to “speculate.” based on their own experience. And no “speculation” is called “speculation” for a reason. Everybody everywhere does it. People are currently “speculating” on why Bill Clinton had a thirty minute conversation with the Attorney General who is supposed to make a decision on whether to indict Hilary. Seriously, people can’t even ask questions because they have to already know the answers or the “truth” No Debbie you do not get to tell people what to think. Not everybody was impressed with this year’s SBC and that doesn’t make them less of a Christian than you and it doesn’t make their thoughts garbage and full of venom. I made a statement and then I went and got actual quotes proving the points. Miller was for the rules before he was against them. Miller was shown speculating even though he attacks Rick for speculating. Those are facts proven with evidence. More than an ounce. Because you can’t deal with things you disagree with doesn’t mean everybody you disagree with are spewing venom and gabage and dirt. Now seriously Debbie why don’t you go hang out with your friends over TWW? Oh wait they finally got tired of your nonsense. But they’re haters now too aren’t they Debbie because they say things Debbie doesn’t like.

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