Ten Traits of a Southern Baptist president

April 2, 2013

RickPatrickBy Dr. Rick Patrick
Senior Pastor
Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church
Hueytown, Alabama

Apart from prayer, the most direct way to impact the Southern Baptist Convention is to vote for a president who will guide it in the direction one believes to be consistent with the will of God. The right president appoints the right people to move the convention in the right direction. This essay is not a reaction directed at current or former leadership. Rather, it proactively seeks to identify SBC presidential qualifications going forward.

Fairly certain our current officers will be re-elected to a second term in Houston, I am outlining here some general guidelines for future SBC elections. The timing of my suggestions, outside of an election season, is designed to eliminate suspicions regarding the endorsement of any specific candidate. These Ten Traits reflect my personal convictions regarding the kind of candidate I could most enthusiastically embrace.

Unfortunately, the brief nomination speeches rarely provide the information I need to make such a decision. They generally discuss the candidate in terms that could almost apply to any minister in the convention. I want to know more than that. When I vote in American elections, I know about a candidate’s platform and vision concerning where they plan to lead us. In SBC elections, I want to know the very same thing.

1. DENOMINATIONAL LOYALTY

His loyalties are with the SBC, not with the broader evangelical community. Many Southern Baptists take for granted that the pastors who speak and lead at our conventions invest most of their time and energy in denominational networks rather than interdenominational associations. However, this is not necessarily the case. Some Southern Baptist leaders appear more at home among gatherings of evangelical groups representing various denominations than they are with Southern Baptists. I want to cast my ballot for a Southern Baptist leader whose loyalties are very clearly with us. While he may occasionally attend outside gatherings, I want a president focused on SBC groups.

2. MULTI-FACETED INVOLVEMENT

He actively supports every single layer of our denominational structure. Every candidate for convention president will be engaged both in his local church and in our national convention. However, some presidential candidates may spend relatively little time and energy supporting their local association and their state convention. My vote is reserved for that Southern Baptist who values cooperation at every level of our denominational structure. I believe the president of the Southern Baptist Convention should model for all Southern Baptists this kind of respectful multi-faceted involvement.

3. PROPORTIONAL GENEROSITY

His church invests in SBC missions at a level approaching ten percent.

The fact that every church is autonomous can never excuse weak levels of giving through the Cooperative Program. No one questions a church’s right to give as they feel led. However, voters are also autonomous, possessing the right to establish acceptable standards for denominational leadership. I feel led by God to reserve my autonomous vote for those whose church gives through their local association and through the Cooperative Program approximately ten percent or more of their undesignated receipts. I want to vote for a president who leads by example. I want to be able to say, “If every pastor did what this pastor does, our denomination would be strong and healthy.”

4. COOPERATIVE DISCLOSURE

His church submits a fully completed Annual Church Profile each year. Disclosure is very important to me since it clearly reveals that there is nothing to hide. One might compare the completion of a congregation’s Annual Church Profile with the completion of a citizen’s Annual Tax Return. It may be administratively challenging and even a bit unpleasant, but responsible and cooperative participants recognize the value in reporting such information. I want to vote for a president who willingly volunteers the kind of information denominational leaders track and report in order to assist our churches in the fulfillment of our Great Commission task. I do not value Lone Rangers, renegades or other non-conformists who offer the smokescreen of some lofty principle to avoid the accountability necessary to verify denominational support and involvement.

5. CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT

He is unafraid to confront our culture with firm biblical convictions.

It has become fashionable, in certain evangelical circles, to embrace a rather broad philosophy of accommodationism culturally. Conceding defeat in the culture wars is viewed as a more enlightened approach than continuing to stand strongly against the tide of immorality. More than a few ministers, claiming the desire to build bridges and fit in with the lost in an effort to reach them, have gone too far in this direction, taking positions regarding beverage alcohol, homosexuality, environmentalism and other public concerns in a direction incomprehensible to most Southern Baptists. I want to vote for a Southern Baptist president unafraid of our historic counter-cultural posture.

6. MISSIONS SUPPORT

His missions support channels are unquestionably Southern Baptist.

Not long ago, I was stunned to read this direct quote of a Southern Baptist Pastor:

“The fact is, supporting the North American Mission Board is a poor stewardship of God’s money. The Cooperative Program is no longer a safe place to entrust the church’s resources.” This pastor, raised a Southern Baptist and seminary trained with Cooperative Program dollars, abandoned his state convention affiliation and redirected funds to other channels. A Southern Baptist president should not reward such attitudes by catering to them. He should call them out.

7. PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION

He understands our leadership should look like our membership.

The appointing powers of the SBC president are enormous. He should use his influence to see that our boards and commissions are representative of our denomination. With regard to geography, gender, church size, clergy, laity, age, ethnicity and soteriological orientation, our leadership structures should demonstrate a level of diversity capable of eliminating the disproportionate influence of any one group. To those who wonder why I do not include eschatological or pneumatological orientation in the above list, such other doctrinal concerns frankly do not represent a serious threat to our unity. In all the ways that truly matter, our leadership must proportionately represent our membership.

8. EVANGELISTIC CLARITY

His approach to evangelism includes altar calls and a sinner’s prayer.

It is high time to call a ceasefire with regard to disparaging remarks concerning such historically acceptable evangelistic practices. While everyone on both sides of this issue affirms the need for clarity and integrity when explaining to a lost soul how they may be saved, much greater care must be taken to affirm the legitimate and appropriate use of a sinner’s prayer in evangelism. You do not abandon a worthy practice simply because some may abuse its use. Frankly, if a candidate for Southern Baptist president is unsure about leading someone in praying a sinner’s prayer, then I am unsure about him.

9. SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP

He is generally qualified for Christian leadership in every major way.

It really goes without saying that this person will be a godly family man, a prayer warrior, committed to evangelism and possessing a passion to reach the nations for Christ. He will be gracious, hospitable, kind, prudent, wise, articulate, able to teach and preach and otherwise scripturally qualified. These concerns are important to me, but often represent the only matters described in nomination speeches. I pretty much assume these things are true of most Southern Baptist pastors. When it comes to selecting a president, I may be looking for more than this, but certainly not less.

10. DENOMINATIONALLY UNAPOLOGETIC

He is not the convention’s greatest critic but its strongest supporter.

I have grown weary of those who whine about the way most Southern Baptist Churches do things, whether questioning the manner in which we handle our membership rolls, the songs we sing, the way we dress, the way we do evangelism, the way we support our associations and state conventions, the Cooperative Program funding formula or other time-honored ministry practices. It is time for us to celebrate what is right about the Southern Baptist way and not to denigrate what is wrong. I want to vote for a president who inspires us to “get with the program,” by which I mean the Cooperative Program. Let us remember all that is good about Southern Baptists. I do not seek a president to “reform” the convention, but one to “return” the convention to our historic evangelistic partnership. May we stop trying to change what it means to be a Southern Baptist.

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Norm Miller

The parameters you cite, Rick, have been needed for many, many years. Thx for your insight and convictions. — Norm

William Thornton

This is a thoughtful and fairly reasonable approach to such things. I would expect such from a thoughtful and reasonable colleague like Rick Patrick.

I suppose it is not lost on anyone that the CR would never have happened if these had been around and implemented way back then. But that was then, this is now.

A few observations:

1. Giving. The average CP is around 5% now and associational missions I would guess to be less than 2%. I like the goal but think it unrealistic. What Southern Baptists need to do is settle on an informal but firm threshold of CP percentage for a convention president. I like 5%. If one wants to add in the giving that qualifies as Great Commission Giving and say 10% GCG, I would support that. I will have difficulty supporting another SBC prez whose CP giving is under 5%.

2. Annual Church Profile. “Fully” makes this rather tricky but, certainly, an SBC president should be cooperative enough to file this two page form each year. If not, then no thanks.

3. Mission support: No need to pick the worst flamethrower as an example, but I agree.

4. Proportional representation: This would by definition classify everyone as Calvinist or non-Calvinist and while you may be serious about the other categories, let’s be honest – this is the money part of proportionality. I hate to see the SBC on a quota system, ecclesiastical affirmative action. No thanks.

I like the post, Rick, but in 2014 I would offer the wild conjecture that there will be one issue that will dominate the SBC presidency discussion.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    While a clever phrase, an “ecclesiastical affirmative action” may be the only way to accurate and fair representation. I am not saying you have characterized what it is wrongly, as I think that statement is correct, even if intended to well-poison, but nonetheless, I can’t see anything wrong with the idea, even stated in such manner. Intentionality is always a good thing.

Matt

Wow, a president who looks just like Rick Patrick! Shocking!

    Norm Miller

    Matt: Please deal with the substance of Rick’s post instead of shooting insults from the dark. — Norm

      Matt

      The dark? I’ve been in SBC churches my entire life and am thankfully out of the traditional sort of church that defines the deep south like Rick and your ilk does. Points 7 and 8 are clearly polemical and attached to a way of SBC life that is past and has lead to a 16 million “membership.” No one – and I mean no one – in the churches where I was a member growing up could explain justification by faith. Do we really want proportional representation? We called sheep for a reason. Now, I’ve liked all of our leaders since the conservative resurgence and think they’ve all represented us well, even though I disagree with some of them theologically. I don’t let that bother me. They’re godly men. Clearly, Rick, thinks something still is lacking. he simply can’t handle that power has shifted in the SBC. That’s unfortunate. I don’t expect anything less from Rick, to be honest. If you read his comments on SBC Voices, SBC Today, and elsewhere he beats one drum, plays the same record over and over, variations on the same theme. So, it’s not shocking that his post is a regurgitation of who he is and what he says over and over.

        Norm Miller

        The ‘dark’ meaning anonymously, as you don’t reveal your last name. Sorry the churches you attended were so inept at discipleship. If the power shift in the SBC means SBCers will be taught that regeneration precedes faith, then I expect not much will change in the churches you cited. — Norm

          Matt Privett

          Not for nothing, but where is the last name on the comment directly below this one? Or are last names only required of those who disagree with this site’s content? Or is it simply the whim of the moderator?

            Norm Miller

            Last names are preferred, not required. If you would read the commenting guidelines, you would know this. Since you apparently have not read those guidelines, you are now in moderation until you do. — Norm

        Lydia

        “Do we really want proportional representation? We called sheep for a reason.”

        Sheep were highly valued in the 1st century as an essential source of food and clothing. Their shepherds lived with them, slept close to them and spent all day caring for them.

        Is that the “reason” you were alluding to…how important they are?

        Rick Patrick

        Well, Matt, I suppose one man’s regurgitation is another man’s consistency. I do write in favor of Southern Baptist loyalty and the return to a denominational identity in our institutions that I believe prevails in our churches.

        Against your claim that I cannot handle the SBC power shift (and you should know that many claim there has been no such shift and that I am imagining things, so I’m glad we at least agree there has indeed been one) I would have to say that it’s not so much an inability to handle it as it is a disagreement that the current direction truly represents God’s best for the SBC.

        And here’s a little free advice. When I’m tired of listening to someone play the same record over and over, I leave the room or change the station. I don’t stay there and insult them for their record playing. If you don’t like my essays, turn the page or click the mouse. Life’s too short to waste it insulting bloggers.

    Rick Patrick

    Matt,

    I do seek to practice what I preach regarding these Ten Traits. However, the profile I’ve written is not meant to describe me, but to describe the qualities a good Southern Baptist statesman and leader should possess. In lieu of making this discussion so personal, please interact with the ideas expressed in the Ten Traits themselves. I believe there are literally hundreds of people who could pass this test. In 2014, I hope to vote for one who exemplifies these characteristics to a much greater degree than I do.

David Rogers

What if you worded it this way: “His loyalties are with the SBC, not with the Body of Christ”?

    Mary

    What an insulting comment.

      volfan007

      David,

      Dont you think that a leader of the SBC should be loyal to SBC causes and missions and works? Why would we want a leader of the SBC, who is more involved with Acts 29, than with NAMB? Why would we want a leader in the SBC to be more involved with X, Y, or Z network, over the mission and work of the IMB?

      I mean, it would not be that someone was against what others were doing, or that we were competing, or that we would be ugly and mean to them. But, a leader of the SBC ought to be involved in starting Churches the SBC way…..

      David

        David Rogers

        David,

        As I understand the teaching of Scripture, our loyalty (the word Rick used) ought to be toward Jesus Himself, and, as an extension of that, toward His Body–not just to a subsection of the Body, but to the Body itself. I am a Southern Baptist because I believe that cooperating in ministry through the structures the SBC provides a good channel for promoting the growth of the Body. My participation in the SBC is subservient to my participation in the Body, not vice-versa.

        Now I agree that a potential SBC president should be an enthusiastic supporter of the programs and goals of the SBC. What I don’t agree with is presenting loyalty to the SBC as somehow at odds with or in competition to loyalty to the Body of Christ at large.

          Mary

          You are still incrediabley condescending and insulting. How dare you imply that the millions of Saints through the years who dedicated themselves to the SBC with their blood, sweat and tears are somehow less than you because they believed their loyalty to the SBC was showing loyalty to the Body of Christ.

    Rick Patrick

    Personally, I would not favor that wording. It almost implies that the broader evangelical community of non-denominational churches, evangelical free churches, Bible churches, and so on, possess an equal claim regarding my loyalty as do other SBC churches, and I simply do not believe this to be the case.

    While I certainly fellowship with those in other denominations, my closest bonds are reserved for the people who partner with me in supporting Southern Baptist missionaries, seminaries, ministries and charitable organizations.

      David Rogers

      Rick,

      I must respectfully disagree with you here. I cannot imagine the Apostle Paul, for instance, ever voicing such an opinion. It seems very similar to what he was exhorting against in 1 Cor. 3:1-9. Also see, in this regard, 1 Cor. 12:25-26.

      Please understand, at the same time, I am NOT suggesting SBC presidents need not be enthusiastic supporters of the SBC’s programs and goals.

        Rick Patrick

        David,

        Our views may be closer than we realize. I do recognize the need for fellowship and cooperation with the larger Body of Christ. I am not preaching denominational isolationism.

        But looking at the situation in the most practical of terms, if the SBC President spends the appropriate amount of time enthusiastically supporting the SBC’s programs and goals, then he will not have very much time to emphasize all the other non-denominational organizations as well.

        It’s not so much the idea of SBC ONLY as it is the idea of SBC FIRST. One does not have to go far to observe that some leaders, although Southern Baptist, do not really embrace Southern Baptist conferences, meetings, ministries and programs. I want the kind of President who does.

          David Rogers

          Rick,

          Though I still would not word it just like you, indeed, we are probably closer on this than what it may seem at first. However, I think the way you stated things in your original post, without this needed clarification, can easily lead to an unhealthy and unbiblical denominationalism.

          By the way, in case you didn’t realize, there is a lot of historical context to my comment, including some lengthy discussions regarding “evangelical ecumenism” (personally I prefer the term “gospel-centered Christian unity”) here at SBC Today when it was under previous management.

    Norm Miller

    David R.
    I am surprised you see loyalty to the SBC and the Body of Christ as mutually exclusive. — Norm

      David Rogers

      Norm,

      Actually, I am saying just the opposite.

        Norm Miller

        Makes no sense then. If the SBC and the BODY are mutually inclusive, then your point is meaningless. Loyalty to one means loyalty to both. — Norm

          David Rogers

          Norm,

          Perhaps you are misreading what I am saying. The original question was asked with a bit of irony. My point is that a love for the SBC and the things we do as the SBC should not preclude a concomitant love for and loyalty toward the rest of the Body of Christ, which, as I understand it, generally coincides with “the broader evangelical community” (depending on how you understand this term).

          It seems as Rick is wanting to present them as in tension with each other, while I am trying to emphasize that, from a biblical perspective, they go hand in hand. Indeed, from this perspective, the purpose of denominations, if they can be justified at all (and I think they can), is to support and contribute toward the growth of the Body at large.

            Norm Miller

            Dave:
            Perhaps so. Here is your original wording: “What if you worded it this way: ‘His loyalties are with the SBC, not with the Body of Christ’”?
            I think you can see how I got the impression from you that you believed the two were mutually exclusive. And, therefore, if they are not mutually exclusive, as you intimated in a follow-up, then if his loyalties are with the SBC, then they also are with the Body.
            Thx for clarifying. — Norm

            David Rogers

            Norm,

            RE: “if his loyalties are with the SBC, then they also are with the Body”

            No, that is not exactly what I am saying. As I see it, it is indeed possible to be loyal to the SBC and at the same time disloyal to the rest of the Body of Christ. On the other hand, a healthy loyalty to the SBC will necessarily extend to a concomitant loyalty to the rest of the Body of Christ. Following Paul’s metaphor of the body and its members in 1 Cor. 12, we as the SBC should not take a stance of isolation from or independence from or superiority over the rest of the Body. We each need each other, and should each work toward the growth and health of the other members.

dr. james willingham

Could it be that Rick is fearful of the possibility of the taint of Calvinism sneaking in? But then, the SBC was started by and continually led by Calvinisys all the way from William B. Johnson down to the 20th Century and even until the fifties or was it the sixties? No room for them now. They are the dividers, aren’t they?

    Norm Miller

    Dr. James: You were asked recently to move off of the topic you are addressing. Please respond directly to the post, and avoid continually attempting to make the point in your current comment. You must move on. — Norm

Leslie Puryear

Fabulous post, Rick. This is just the kind of man to lead the SBC, a true Southern Baptist. Good job.

Leslie Puryear

Johnathan Pritchett

Interesting article Bro. Rick. I agree that what we want from our President and officers is an important topic to address, and the timing is right for that discussion for the reasons you listed.

I offer the following evaluation and criticism in a respectful manner, for public consumption; just to give some points of either alternative considerations that may have not been considered, or to express firm disagreement, or to express firm agreement. It contains all that. I hope it is received in the spirit it is offered.

Point 1 is entirely valid for the function of the SBC President and the Convention officers in general. The beauty of the SBC is that local churches can part with the broader evangelical community as they like, and they should be encouraged to do so to have greater impact for Christ in their communities. BUT, as far as denominational leadership, I think not only SBC First, but SBC ONLY (going further than Rick did in his comment above) seems entirely appropriate to me.

Point 2 is entirely valid, and necessary as well. Especially in this time where the SBC convention is feeling a bit heavy-handed on the “top-down” approach rather than the “pews up”. This is not the fault of anyone right now in particular, but the fault of the prevalent custom of the past decade, which as it were, also coincides with the decline in the SBC of the past decade. I think there is some connection here that does not get mentioned in discussions about SBC decline.

Point 3 is not entirely valid, and I think quite mistaken. I can see where Rick is coming from, but ten percent of anything can shut a lot of churches down these days, and this assumes that whoever is President or nominated to be some other officer, must come from a church that can afford it. Which would then mean that our candidates will continue to be predominately our large or mega-church guys from the larger cities. I think some officers from small to midsize churches would be a nice corrective to the SBC leadership as it is, and thus would also entail not excluding men from churches who may not have that percentage to give to those ends. I hate it that SBC elections are a lot like American elections these days, where an Abe Lincoln could NEVER get elected in this sort of climate that values credentials over the person.

Point 4 is entirely valid as it relates to transparency, but I would caution, similar to my points made above in 3, that there should be no arbitrary standard that those numbers should reflect. This sort of thing would eliminate pastors from small to midsize churches that would be great men, but lack the arbitrary numbers that would satisfy some arbitrary standard.

Point 5 is mostly valid, but in a somewhat murky, yet innocuously obvious way. What positions “regarding beverage alcohol, homosexuality, environmentalism and other public concerns in a direction incomprehensible to most Southern Baptists” would those be that are unwelcome and too far? I don’t know of any “more than a few” Southern Baptist pastors in the limelight that have inappropriate views on these matters. Who are these drunkard, gay-rights supporting, mother-earth worshiping pastors? (obviously being facetious with that descriptor)

List ten examples please…or even five.

Point 6 is entirely valid. Stated perfectly.

Point 7 is entirely valid. Stated perfectly.

Point 8 is not entirely valid. I have been an outspoken defender of such means, but while I could say that the President should be POSITIVELY AFFIRMING of such means, and encourage them or those who utilize them, I don’t want to say “this is how you MUST do evangelism” to be our President. That strikes me as running up against some pretty stout SBC distinctives regarding our Priesthood, autonomy, and competency ideals that say things “must be done” in one specific way, and would hint that those means are the only valid means for the SBC (which would then mean, the only Biblical means). We ought not go that far, and this sort of standard pushes it that way.

Point 9 is entirely valid. Stated perfectly.

Point 10 is not entirely valid. While I see the value in some of the positive statements about being the strongest supporter, some fearless ability to offer criticism is a trait I admire as well. We don’t want Presidents to shut their brains off when taking office. I think involvement entails a both/and approach, not a either/or here. I would admire a President who addresses issues important to him, regardless if it goes down easy for the SBC masses. A President should not leave all criticism for others to carry, but follow his instincts as well. We don’t need Presidents to just be cheerleaders, we need them to be Presidents. So biggest cheerleader, yes, but not just a cheerleader.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I have endeavored to take this list seriously, and I hope my responses, even where there is disagreement, reflects this seriousness I share with Rick regarding the topic.

Good article and good issue to bring up.

    Rick Patrick

    Jonathan,

    Thanks for a thoughtful and informative reply. You make many good points and round off some of the rough edges. I will add this, however, concerning the approximately ten percent missions support ideal in Trait Three. For whatever reason, it appears to me that the smaller and midsize churches actually are more likely to approach that standard than many of the megachurches. Maybe megachurch overhead costs or budget line items unique to these large churches are responsible, but I’m not at all sure this trait discriminates against leaders serving smaller churches. In fact, it might just result in more of them serving than ever before. Thanks for your insightful and cordial interaction.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      That may be true, I don’t read much of that data nationwide. But I do know that giving is down in our Association due to the economy and am probably just extrapolating from there.

Alan Davis

Do the candidates for president not come out before the convention? If so much of what you ask for can be found out before hand. It is currently still up to the messengers and we can vote for who we want. Looks like you want a litmus test so only those you approve could make the ballot leaving out the messengers. This would seem more top down control than now.

Support for sbc should be there and for historical tactics that are biblical not just the last 100 years of our history either. But it does appear you are saying on this you want no change just keep on the last 100 years tradition track.

Now on writing this article you appear to have either have problems with past presidents or anticipating problems with future or current presidents? What has been some of the problems as of late or what is the anticipated problems you see?
And why do you miss trust our current messenger election system?

Alan Davis

    Rick Patrick

    Alan, I am not at all calling for a top down litmus test or screening prior to the ballot. I am calling for messengers, through the democratic process of elections, to elect this kind of person.

    As I stated in my post, I do not have problems with past presidents. I do, however, anticipate the possibility of future candidates with SBC loyalty issues. Hence, the post.

    It is precisely because I DO trust the messenger election system that I seek to influence messengers to vote for SBC candidates possessing these ten traits.

    Others are certainly free to advance their own criteria. I am simply saying that this is the kind of person who will earn my vote.

      Alan Davis

      Thanks for the clarification Rick. I too trust the messengers and yes you certainly have the right to advance they consider the criteria above. And they should consider.

      Alan Davis

David Rogers

A further illustration of my point above…

From my perspective, a positive trait I would include in my list of presidential candidates would be the ability to serve as a good ambassador to and networker with the broader Body of Christ. Though I am not necessarily promoting him as candidate for president, I think a good example of such a person is Ed Stetzer, who regularly interacts with and demonstrates a good working knowledge of the evangelical world at large, seeking to serve them and to help them grow both numerically and in maturity in Christ, while at the same time making clear his identification with the SBC, support of our programs, and commitment to our doctrinal distinctives.

Unless I am reading Rick wrong, it seems as if he is inferring this same trait is something he sees as more of a negative than a positive.

    Norm Miller

    I would beg to differ that Stetzer has the kind of commitment to our SBC doctrinal distinctives as you may think. If so, we wouldn’t have Anglicans, Methodists and Presbyterians commenting in the Gospel Project Sunday school curriculum. While you may think that “demonstrates a good working knowledge of the evangelical world at large,” I say it shows compromise Re: SBC doctrinal distinctives. — Norm

      David Rogers

      Norm,

      We will just have to agree to disagree on this. As I see it, the inclusion of other evangelical voices (without teaching outside of the parameters of the BFM and without actually advocating their errors on secondary issues) is a faithful application of the principles taught by Paul in 1 Cor. 3 and 12. Since we all agree on the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, it would be interesting for me to see a specifically biblical defense of your position on this.

        Norm Miller

        David: To allow those outside of our denomination and who hold doctrinal positions diametrically opposed to our doctrinal positions to then comment to us about theology and doctrine through a teaching curriculum is not a matter that should require me to use scripture to refute as we are aware of our doctrinal differences with Anglicans, Methodists and Presbys. To wit: works salvation, falling from grace, and baptizing babies, respectively. I should not have to offer biblical evidences to the contrary of those positions which I believe are not biblical, nor are they Baptist. I therefore see inviting such people to speak to the SBC in a teaching curriculum, e.g., smacks of ecumenicism at least, and allowing wolves in the sheeps’ pen at worst.
        This is not the sort of behavior that pleases me in a Southern Baptist leader (Stetzer). Such behavior is not Southern Baptist statesmanship; it is treason. I would seek no such traits in an SBC presidential candidate. — Norm

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Well, I would say that SS curriculums are essentially no different than Seninary textbooks to the point you are making. Given the anemic state of SBC scholarship in all the relevant fields, our SBC seminaries offer little more than other seminaries given that standard texts are essentially used in various evangelical seminaries in general.

          My going to Biola rather than a SBC school at this point makes little difference, because our reading is scarcely different than any of the SBC seminaries or any other conservative seminary for that matter.

          I am sure even TMC does not assign primary texts from strictly SBC sources at the undergrad level.

          Do you think that this is different simply because it is an academic setting rather than SS?

          Mary

          Hye Norm, I’m just wondering and of course it’s none of my business but enquiring minds and all – has anyone actually contacted you about this comment? Or are people just taking you to the wood shed all over the internet while taking this comment completely out of it’s context without having actually contacted you first? That’s always the Calvinists first attack “Did you contact him first?” But anyway how dare anyone think that a man who earns his livelihood from the SBC should show a loyalty to the SBC! because as we’ve been told now if you’re loyalty is to the SBC you obviously are not being loyal to the Body of Christ!

            Norm Miller

            Mary:
            No one has contacted me with regard to this matter. — Norm

            Mary

            Norm, if you would indulge me here. Have you banned some of these people who have written whole blog posts about this comment from commenting here? See one of the complaints is that no one called you on the comment and my first question is so why didn’t this Voice or that Voice post a comment? Why make a whole blog post to allow all kinds of people to just pile on and pile on some more and in one comment stream we see not just your integrity and intellect as being in question but we see someone questioning your very salvation – and even stating that people who fought the conservative resurgence may not have even been saved since Baalam and such and such. See comments calling people heretics and questioning peoples salvation sound a lot more hateful to me than pointing out that someone has demonstrated time and again that their loyalty is not with the SBC.

            Now of course comments against you are being dismissed as “frustration” See Calvinists are allowed “frustration” to vent and spew hateful rhetoric. But you Norm deserved to taken out and soundly beaten by the multitudes for calling someone – gasp a traitor! to the SBC! Of course I could understand how Calvinist think being called a traitor is awful seeing as what they do to traitors historically. Maybe you could explain that you haven’t gathered the wood and the stake?

            And if I may just post this lil’ thought I think the comment upstream implying and stating that loyalty to the SBC is equal to disloyalty to the Body of Christ is as hateful of a comment as any I’ve seen and unless I miss the mark is actually where this conversation started. Of course that comment gets ignored and no one has to apologize for being so offensive or being misunderstood.

              Norm Miller

              Several people have been banned from commenting on this site. However, I am unaware whether they are the ones commenting about me today as I am not reading their blogs. I do have a response that I will release soon. — Norm

          Dean

          Norm, if i had your email I would drop you a personal note sharing some of my feelings about the “small” stir over your treason comment.Forgive me for doing so here. I do not believe the word treason was wise to use. For one, the word on its on without any knowledge of your heart seems to be offensive to many when applied to Ed Stetzer. I am in agreement with you about what our leaders in the SBC should be promoting and focusing on. However, we need to be gracious in our language and careful in our words when speaking, especially about the brethren. Secondly, there are some who are combing every word that prominent trads make looking for a reason to pounce on any indiscretion they can find. Many live in fantasy land believing they are modern day reformers taking the church back to its glory and away from the heretics. One in your position must know that hundreds of eyes are looking for an unfit word to shred you and what we believe in.

          You are going to make a comment soon on this issue. I know you will follow the Holy Spirit and will probably try to make amends with Dr. Stetzer. I know you to be a gracious from my reading of you. Now for some unsolicited advice, do not spend one keystroke trying to placate some who are so offended by your use of treason that they are hooting and hollering to all who will listen. They are few but pretend to be countless. This perception can be nerve racking if you let it. We are told to live at peace with everyone if it is possible. Norm, there are some who are offended by your use of the word treason simply because you said of one of their heroes. They despise SBC Today and our non reformed seminaries. I have experienced them act like gentlemen in public then use the most hateful tones about SBC Today and our seminaries that are not promoting the reform brand in private. Any attempt to try to make amends on this issue with such will be unwise and simply will be more fodder for their guns.To me, there are some who are offended because they are Christian gentlemen. They are easy to spot because they are consistent. Others however use hateful language and ignore hateful language of their own ilk but are smoking on you now. Once again, I know you will be gracious. I just wanted you to know I was praying for you this morning that you will have great joy this day.

            Norm Miller

            Dean:
            I receive your comments in the manner they were offered: measured, sincere and Christlike. However, I cannot take the credit you give me for being so “gracious.”
            Sadly, my flesh fails me. But I thank you nonetheless for your advice and encouragement.
            Yes, I have a response ready. And although I suspect it may not be everything you advised me it should be, I do think I’ve handled the matter reasonably well.
            I also thank you for not only being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, but for having both the courage and compassion to be “Nathan-like” in approaching me.
            Please feel free to do that at any time.

            Blessings,
            Norm

    Johnathan Pritchett

    He is, and there is nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of folks who can branch out in our convention with the broader evangelical community. Why do we need Presidents to do this? That shouldn’t be their job.

    It strikes me that if there is not enough SBC-only irons in the SBC fire to keep a President plenty busy, then correcting that would also be a priority.

    Lydia

    “From my perspective, a positive trait I would include in my list of presidential candidates would be the ability to serve as a good ambassador to and networker with the broader Body of Christ. Though I am not necessarily promoting him as candidate for president, I think a good example of such a person is Ed Stetzer, who regularly interacts with and demonstrates a good working knowledge of the evangelical world at large, seeking to serve them and to help them grow both numerically and in maturity in Christ, while at the same time making clear his identification with the SBC, support of our programs, and commitment to our doctrinal distinctives. ”

    So he is already doing this and is not the SBC President yet is very well known. Perhaps being SBC President could cramp this in some ways if you think about it. Does anyone know in what capacity he does his work? I cannot get a handle on who he works for exactly.

      David Rogers

      Lydia,

      From Ed’s website,

      “Ed Stetzer has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches. He has trained pastors and church planters on five continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Ed is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine and Catalyst Monthly, serves on the advisory council of Sermon Central and Christianity Today’s Building Church Leaders, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USA Today and CNN.

      Ed is Visiting Professor of Research and Missiology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Visiting Research Professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has taught at fifteen other colleges and seminaries. He also serves on the Church Services Team at the International Mission Board.

      Ed’s primary role is President of LifeWay Research.”

      I probably opened up a can of worms by even mentioning his name in the context of the SBC presidency. I have no knowledge that he would ever be proposed or ever be interested in such a role. I was merely bringing him up as a good example of one person who exhibits this one trait that I would see as a positive trait for someone who might be president.

        Lydia

        Thanks David. So his full time paying job is at Lifeway Research?

        I thought I had read not too recently that he was also pastoring somewhere? I cannot keep up!

          David Rogers

          Yes, that is correct.

          I think he may also be interim pastor somewhere, or at least, was, recently.

Richard

Just a sidenote, that in my opinion, one of the finest SBC presidents we have had was not a pastor. He was Owen Cooper, a layman, Christian businessman, heavily involved in his local church, a great supporter of Home and Foreign Missions. To my memory, the grandstanding by certain factions, political strife, and accusations toward leadership were much less then. This, of course, was before the CR, so it reminds us that there were good times and great progress in those years of SBC leadership. I’ve often wondered what would happen if we allowed ourselves to consider lay leadership for this post again.

    Rick Patrick

    Excellent point, Richard. We need to include more laypeople, perhaps at the presidential level, and most certainly on our boards and commissions.

volfan007

David,

People, who are committed to starting SBC Churches in this land, and in foreign lands, are committed to the Body of Christ. The ones I’ve known, do love other Believers from other denominations. That doesnt mean that we have to start Churches with them….Churches that arent SB.

Also, when we have a leader in an SBC entity, or of the SBC, then he should be known as someone, who is solid in his doctrine. And, he should be supportive of SBC causes. I still dont know why we’d want a leader, who was more involved with Acts 29, than he was with NAMB. Why would we? When I elect a leader, I want him to be a solid SB in his doctrine and in his practice…..thus, Biblical.

David

    David Rogers

    David,

    I think you are aware that there are no SBC church in foreign lands, per se, with the exception of expatriate congregations such as those in the European Baptist Convention.

    Also, I agree with you that a leader in the SBC or of an SBC entity should be someone who is solid in their doctrine and supportive of SBC causes. What I don’t see is how this precludes in any way also being supportive of other causes outside the SBC, or on friendly terms with those who may differ with us on secondary and tertiary doctrinal matters.

    Also, I cannot think of anyone who has been proposed, or who might be proposed, as SBC president, who is more involved with Acts 29 than with the NAMB. I am curious, did you have someone specific in mind here?

      Lydia

      “Also, I cannot think of anyone who has been proposed, or who might be proposed, as SBC president, who is more involved with Acts 29 than with the NAMB. ”

      Are we sure they are that different these days?

William Thornton

Rick, the average is approaching five percent, CP. It would be accurate to say that very few megachurches give above this average to the CP. It is also accurate to say that most smaller and midsized churches do not give at a rate around 7-8 percent which is what would be required to fulfill your requirement. The falling CP percentages are across the board.

While you may feel such a requirement is essential, the convention messengers have repeatedly disagreed. My view is that it is more practical and realistic to set a floor percentage.

    Rick Patrick

    William, you may be right about that floor. Too many good candidates might be excluded by the “approaching” ten percent goal. Yours may be the more realistic benchmark.

Matt

Why would you say I’m a coward? Had a friend get their blogs hacked via discussions about the SBC, though not from a people watcher at this website. I just don’t want people knowing my last name here online. It’s on my email, but you can’t see that. What’s it to you?

    Norm Miller

    The move.com was an accident, I guess. I did not intentionally select that as my website. Obviously, now, it is correct. One can easily see that, and my whole name. — Norm

      David Rogers

      Norm, Just a friendly heads up. When you click on Matt’s name, move.com still comes up.

        Norm Miller

        Thank you, David. I tried emailing Matt privately, but his email bounced. For that and other reasons, he is in moderation now. — Norm

          Norm Miller

          CORRECTION: Since posting the above, Matt has admitted to intentionally falsifying his email address; and, while in moderation, he continues to intentionally ‘misconstrue’ my activities and motivations, and to call me unbefitting names. Therefore, he is now blacklisted. — Norm

volfan007

Matt,

When someone comes into a blog, and makes strong statements, then they should be willing to back up their words with who they are. Put a name to your words. Otherwise, they dont mean much.

When I get anonymous letters at Church, I dont put much stock in them.

David Worley

Preston A. Vickrey

I’m very new to the SBC, Joined a church in the Convention this past summer. However I have some brotherly push back and encouragement. We both agree that prayer is “the most direct way to impact the Southern Baptist Convention”. We both agree that the SBC president should be very SBC. They should support the SBC (trait 2), give to the SBC (trait 3), and be of the SBC without shame (trait 10).
-Were you intentional in not mentioning the Baptist Faith & Message in your traits?
You write with a great passion and assurance. From reading the words in both your original post and your follow up comments it is very clear you have a deep love for the SBC. I sense you are worried about the direction that some of the denomination is heading. Your deep convictions are expressed boldly and unashamed. As I read your words I began to realize that some, including myself at times, take your words personally not because we are squarely against your ideas or values, no, I think we agree with most things, however we find ourselves between you and those you are talking to. We disagree in degree not on core principles.
I also appreciate your timing not being during an election year.
Humbly His,
Preston

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