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Oct 04, 2011


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He didnt really answer the question about "changing the name will not erase our past...we will still be the convention which started as a result of slavery....no matter what our name is."

Having "Southern" in our name has been a hinderance? Does not the very facts that he gave at the beginning of this interview mock such a statement? that we're the largest, Protestant denomination in the USA? having Churches in all 50 states? Good grief.

Also, notice that he said that "Baptist" is also a bad name....sad.


Dana R


My husband and I just listened to this interview again and we are saddened. I'm trying to figure out how this young man gets the ears of our seminary presidents and leaders since Jonathan holds to gay rights and wants churches to change how they deal with the sin of homosexuality.

I would like to know what SBC seminary presidents agree that Baptist ought to be dropped from our name ? We have a right to know! Why do these men take his calls or emails and feel so comfortable talking with him when he holds to some extreme views on homosexuality ? He mentioned that he is a graduate of SEBTS. Does Dr. Akin approve of Jonathans views of the name change or his views on homosexuality ? My husband looked up Jonathans church (Cross Pointe) giving to the CP. This is extremely low considering the size I think(What is the attendance of Cross Pointe) ? How does Jonathan or his dad get the ear of our leaders when the giving to CP is so low. This breaks my heart.

Ron Hale


Well ... there you have it, the 3 R's.

Everything that he said proved my recent article on SBC Tomorrow.

He is obviously part of a "deconstruction' team in SBC Life.


My goodness. Is this young guy going to be the face of the SBC to the media? he is everywhere.

So, let me get this straight. There is NEW excitement that us old fogies do not know about...it must be in the sealed documents of the GCR task force!

"We don't want to fight through the process"? What does that mean? If you want to go through the processes we have in place it means you don't love Jesus as much as those who want to ignore our processes?? We would prefer a dictatorship and that would mean we love Jesus?

Can this young man be more illogical? The propaganda is unbelievable.

Hello! Can we recruit some thinkers to be our spokespeople who blitzkrieg the media?

Tim Rogers

Brother Peter,

It appears we now have a new spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention. As it stands USA Today is turning to Jonathan Merritt for the voice of the SBC. It seems that Dr. Al Mohler is no longer the culture warrior and Merritt has taken the position of culture wimp.



Jonathan Merritt's pathetic explanation(or lack of) is the Young Restless Reformed shallow responses to many deeply held beliefs of Conservative Southern Baptists including, our name, alcohol, gay marriage, abortion, etc....arguing that "We've wasted all this time on moral issues and not dealt with the 'real Scripture'". It seems we're letting 'undo influence by young untried pastors' and that only leads to the gross errors we're already seeing. More to come. Sadly, two Seminary presidents are rushing to this YRR group thinking "We'll lose the next generation of pastors if we don't cater to their every whim". Hard to know who to be disgusted with the most...except the two seminary presidents who should have wisdom, discernment, instruction, good influence, integrity, and maturity...simply don't. They are leading out of FEAR!


What an incrediable amount of arrogance is this attitude that the "old" people have messed up the SBC (yet somehow it's the largest most evangelistic organization on the planet?) but great news the "young" leaders are here to rescue us. I don't believe the education these seminaries are providing is at all up to snuff when we see this absolutely unbiblical attitude of these young leaders.

Bryant Sims

Where do these guys find the time and money to do all of their modeling shoots? Did you notice all of the vain photos? Sick! The outside tells a lot about the inside I think.


Where to start?

First, a preface. I do not know much about Jonathan Merritt. Other excellent culture writers take his place in what I read in general. His arguments do not seem to be hashed out well in his interview with Paul Edwards. I mention this in preface in order to demonstrate that I am not a Jonathan Merritt dude.

However, second. I do not see how the comments in this thread interact with Jonathan Merritt’s points in his interview. David said that he did not answer the question, and then he said that his entire argument is self-destructive. That is possible. But the comment itself does not actually deal with Merritt’s points. Instead it mocks the argument and moves on. The next commenter is troubled that Merritt’s relationship with Akin and Mohler could indicate a dangerous direction those two men could lead our denomination. Dana then mentions the CP numbers for Cross Pointe. The comment as a whole lumps several things together based upon, I assume, the interview above and how, for some reason, the media wants to hear from Jonathan Merritt of all people. The third comment is dismissive of whatever Merritt has to say. Illogical and propaganda. Tim makes a simple observation rather than addressing Merritt’s points, so fair enough. Mary comes along and blasts the dude for arrogance and unbiblical convictions, but does not deal with Merritt’s words except to dismiss them. Then, last but not least, it seems the final commenter is so disgusted with Merritt’s professional photos that there is no reason to work through what he says. I find that last comment ironic since one of the new-traditional leaders in Baptist life could be Brad Whitt, and he has several nice portraits that flash up on his website.

This is the problem with the conversation. This is not supposed to be personal attacks and snide dismissals. It’s supposed to be about what view is correct. Peter has pointed this out before when it comes to internet whiners. I have disagreed with Peter’s application of that approach to polemics and hardball politics, but I don’t mind the principle.

So shouldn’t it be followed here then? The points Merritt raised were (in my words) regionalism, racism, and the Baptist name in our convention’s moniker. Baptist is who we are. Merritt’s argument there, even for lots of the YRR crowd of the SBC, is weak. The Southern part of our name is less important, and poses the strongest point of argument for those who are pro-name change. To me, this needs to be a serious part of the discussion.

Then there is the shock word, racism. Listen. I do not accept extreme arguments that our convention does not attempt to reach all peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations. I assume most churches in our convention don’t have a moral problem with a racial mix in their congregation. In fact, I should hope most SBC congregations hope for it. The counterpoints I have seen most in this part of the discussion are anecdotal or they point to the SBC’s formal repentance as a convention over past racism in 1995.

However, I think we should still consider the race issue. Truth is, most of our churches are white in the South, and it is hard to reach those who are black. I wonder what the deal is. We have repented of past racism. We might struggle with racism in our own hearts at times, but we know what God wants. We know he hates racism.

That brings me to this thought. Our convention has history in racism. None of us were around back then, I know. However, that was not that long ago. 150 years. Time heals old wounds, but this wound goes deep. Not to mention that our country’s civil rights movement took another 100 years. Our country’s racial hurts are still there. Sure it goes both ways, but the racial issue is real. I have not even mentioned the newer racial issue between whites and Hispanics around our nation. The race issue is a tough one. No one likes the accusation of racism here. I wouldn’t suggest our convention is racist. Instead, what I would suggest is that we are not done yet with what happened in 1995. There is still work to do.

Now, whether a name change conquers a small hill in the matter or not is another can of worms.

In Christ,



"Where do these guys find the time and money to do all of their modeling shoots? Did you notice all of the vain photos? Sick! The outside tells a lot about the inside I think."

It is all about "branding" themselves.


Kevin, I was a kid in the SBC in the 60's and in many SBC churches in KY because of my mom's mission work. I can tell you that my experience in a large city as a kid is that most SBC churches were much more integrated back then than they are now. My first SS teacher was black.

I think that is where some of us are coming from. You guys are describing an SBC we never saw. I would like to hear other people's experiences who are over 40. You know, the ones who financially supported the SBC for so many years.

And the irony of your comment is that Jonathon Merrit has put himself out there as the face of the SBC in the media. It started with the environmental manifesto and then piece in CSM and Huffpo that we are homophobic and now this. Sorry, but I know what to expect from this guy. It is about him and making a name for himself. I just cannot figure out why the big guys give him quotes for his pieces and sign his manifesto. It makes no sense unless they are trying to rebrand the SBC, too. Perhaps they want to be "relevant" to the young people. AFter all, we know Green will attract such people to our churches. And if we change our name maybe more will come. I think it is ultimately about money and control. Otherwise, it would have been taken the messengers as is Baptist governance in the Convention.

Brad Whitt said Steve Gaines was one of his hero's. That was enough for me to never read him again. So, don't try to lump us all into together. I disagree with Peter on many things. But, if Brad Whitt thinks it was wrong to go around the messengers with this name change committee, then that means I agree with him on THAT ONE issue.

Tim Rogers

Brother Kevin,
I didn't know this post was one where it was devised to interact with the arguments. I will certainly interact with Merritt's argument if that is what the post was intended to do. However, I thought the post was placed up in order to give information and Brother Peter would later place a post up to interact with the positions young Merritt places out there. Thus, as to interacting with Merritt it seems that one who doesn't know the SBC succeeded from the Triennial Convention doesn't deserve interaction with his thoughts. He doesn't even know the basics of what he is debating. Let's face it interacting with Merritt's points only give them validity, which none have.

Brother LMalone,

Brad Whitt said Steve Gaines was one of his hero's. That was enough for me to never read him again.
In all due respect, really? I mean, really? Don't we all have heroes that do things we would not agree with? When our heroes do things that seem to place them in a bad light do we turn our backs and never have anything else to do with them? Brad Whitt stating that Steve Gaines is one of his heroes doesn't negate anything that Brad has placed in the public eye. Your statement honestly makes Brad guilty by association. I do not mean to be negative towards you here, as I have agreed with you on more than I have ever disagreed, but I believe you need to reassess the above statement.



Hi Tim –

In response, Peter indicated he would post a critique later, which is now up. Does his interaction with Merritt’s points now grant Merritt undue credibility? If so, should not Peter retract his post altogether? Of course not. His post actually does address the interview, and despite the fact that Peter’s prose irritates me, I will not be the internet whiner who dismisses arguments with snide character attacks and whatever else comes to mind.

So I think that answers your objection. Whether Jonathan Merritt deserves the attention of people or not, he has it. Therefore, his arguments must be dealt with. Should his credibility be challenged? I do not know enough about him to make that judgment. Peter thinks so, and presents his reasons for that – bravo! In my comment above, I just pointed out how most of the commenters just make snide dismissals or character attacks without any interaction or challenge to what he has to say. That smells of intellectual laziness. You see, I do not mind the direct, strong language. What I hope for is that this spirited debate will be about what view is right rather than which kid-buckaroos or Reformed conspirators or tyrannical SBC leaders are the chief emasculators of our Baptist heritage. Perhaps there are overlaps, but the word of caution is that there could be some friendly fire in all of this, and that is not to be applauded.

The above paragraph is meant in the spirit of my first comment. I am not a fly on Peter’s wall. I often disagree with him. But, I believe (and correct me if I am wrong) that Peter posts about the name-change issue because he believes he should stand as a voice to answer the issues of regionalism, racism, and whether we should keep the Baptist moniker. What I hope is that the discussion moves forward in a way that lends both sides credibility so that we can decide what is best for our convention. To be honest, even some of the more measured, irenic posts I have read about this debate sometimes lose credibility in my mind because the conversation in the comment threads resemble the chain emails I occasionally receive about Obama conspiracies and etc. We are better than that. I hope.

Now, I don’t have a bone to pick in this debate. I could care less about Southern in SBC, but I have never thought of it as the next big issue our convention should take on. Baptist, however, must stay. That is who we are, and I am not ashamed of it. Call us a convention, a fellowship, whatever. I honestly do not care. What bugs me is that it is hard for me to see how a simple name change helps us move forward in our mission. So, there’s where I come from on this issue. With that said, I think the larger issues of regionalism and racism do need to be discussed. Like I said in the comment above, race is not what we want to talk about. We know the Lord hates racism, and we do our best to hate it too. Yet I stick with what I said earlier – what we did as a convention in 1995 is not done. We still have work to do. Praise God where we have made progress. Where we have not, let’s do the hard work that needs to be done. Thanks for your time and interaction, Tim.

In Christ,



"In all due respect, really? I mean, really? Don't we all have heroes that do things we would not agree with? When our heroes do things that seem to place them in a bad light do we turn our backs and never have anything else to do with them?"

When it comes to keeping a pedophile on staff the answer is yes. Sorry if that offends you but that is serious stuff. I am amazed at how many people just blew it off. I fear there is a lot of hero worship on both sides of the divide in the SBC. We gotta stop that stupid stuff.


Serously Kevin, Playing the race card in this situation is not considered intellectual laziness? When one does that, it is only obvious their character, agenda and past is going to be questioned. I am simply amazed anyone thinks there is credibilty in that. That is considered a standard of civility?

The "tone" was set for this debate the minute the race card was played by those who ignored our processes and disrespected the messengers.

I could care less about the name. But I do care about HOW we do things. The ends do not justify the means.



Thanks for logging on. LMalone has very good point. The argument JM put forth in his interview with Edwards was substantially based in pure emotion and provocative rhetoric which, in effect, attempted to portray those who remain unconvinced a name change is necessary as stuck in either the past or even worse, in their prejudicial mindset. Al Mohler's essay, while much more sophisticated in content, reduced to emotion as well. His capstone argument was his "personal loss" in thinking through a name change. In other words, Mohler "feels our pain" who resist losing the "Southern" Baptist name. Hence, again, name change advocates assume we are just being sentimental in resisting a name change.

The fact remains not a single reason has been offered for name change which is inferred from any kind of hard data. Instead, it's pure preference based on unsubstantiated opinion. Now if I am missing the compelling data, I'd be entirely open to you or anyone else producing it right here. Until that takes place, however, I think LMalone's point stands: playing the race card virtually amounts to a concession of hard data's lack not to mention intellectual laziness.

With that, I am...

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