Former Congressman, Tom Delay, wrote:
“I have learned something about liberals. They are much like Communists. They believe they have to destroy you in order to win. ... Liberals in Congress have no ideas that history hasn’t disproved, and this leaves them pursuing only power. To get that power, they will destroy you — and if they can’t destroy your message they will try to lock up the messenger. Congress today is plagued by the politics of personal destruction.” (italics mine).
Today, the same could be said of dissenters in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Oddly enough, when some are lamenting the demise of the Southern Baptist Convention as a denomination because of recently released numbers of decline, the growls of dissent have turned to deadly bites and the snarls of query to malicious mauls.
I offer two examples for your necessary consideration but not by any stretch for your nourishing edification. Surely no one who loves the Southern Baptist Convention or appreciates sober reasoning about truth could imagine in a thousand lives--were our Lord to grant them--that edification could result from such a read.
From my vantage point--and mine alone--one is conceivably far more likely to contract rabies than come by edification in adhering to the thought processes of weblog posts such as these. If you do read, note your distance. Rabies is extremely contagious and I'm told the least drop of drool contains all necessary to make you a carrier.
The first example is a post on Grace & Truth to You and can be dealt with easily. Of course, Mr. Burleson is no stranger to us here. He of late comments more frequently on this site.
Nor is Mr. Burleson a stranger to many Southern Baptists. He guaranteed his name in lights by kicking sand on the Trustees of the IMB every time they met at the beach for a meeting. The trustees patiently dug the sand out of their ears for several meetings, moving on with the Missions agenda before finally having enough. Then one day the bullie kicked down their sand castle. And Mr. Burleson made history.
He self-proudly became the first, sitting trustee in the history of Southern Baptists to be censured from serving what Southern Baptists had appointed him to do. Not kick sand in people's faces, mind you. But work for global missions with other like-minded Baptists.
Now Mr. Burleson no longer kicks sand; instead he poisons soup. His current post posing as an "unmasking" of those he dubs the "Baptist Identity movement" is a complete fabrication within his own mind. He desires to expose their extreme views and extra-biblical philosophy with which he contends but cannot manage to dialog with any of the actual writings of those he allegedly unmasks.
Burleson's engagement with the "Baptist Identity" views is limited to one short sentence from an essay I penned and which Professor Malcom Yarnell subsequently quoted . This is the statement that Burleson unmasked for all Southern Baptists to see:
Cooperation must end where our bedrock convictions are compromised.
From that one statement, Burleson bit, gnawed, snarled and mauled the alleged "Baptist Identity" advocates. From his view, we propose a "top-down ecclesiology" which is akin to Roman Catholicism, a "loss of local church autonomy" and an "extra-biblical theology". Burleson never quotes any sources for his "unmasking" of the real agenda of "Baptist Identity". Just the innocuous statement I penned above--for effect, I suppose.
Then again, if it is one, valid criticism that stuck to him over the course of these eighteen months or so since some of us challenged his provocative assertions and rumormongering about SBC leadership, it is this: the absence of positive evidence or the exploitation of possible evidence.
Either way, Mr. Burleson's posts stand, in my view, as the quintessential embodiment of litigation mania currently in our culture, which cares not about factual concerns but only about fiscal returns. A genuine, sober reading of evidences seems out of the question.
The second example is Provocations & Pantings, a Founders-friendly blog, written by Timmy Brister, a former Southern Baptist Theological Seminary student and watchdog for all things NonCalvinist. Timmy has made quite a name for himself for his hard talk toward all things not birthed from pure, undiluted Dortian Calvinism.
Indeed, according to Collin Hansen's new book, "Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists", Timmy took a beating even from seminary officials for his over-the-top language against NonCalvinists. Twice let go as staffer from previous Churches because of his vocal stand on Dortian Calvinism, Tom Ascol recently took Timmy under his wing by bringing him on staff at his Church. And, Timmy wasted no time flexing his muscles as the go-to-guy for Dr. Ascol.
On this post, Ascol, who has for two years brought a resolution on regenerate church membership to the SBC for consideration-- concerning which, by the way, both times were rejected for whatever reasons--explains the differences between his resolution and now one by Drs. Bart Barber & Malcom Yarnell which is obviously perceived by some to be a "rival" to Ascol's.
There was apparently dialog, however small, between the various men who were working on both resolutions. Ascol offered some changes to the other resolution being written which, from what I gather, could have led to a joint resolution.
Nonetheless, for reasons known only between the parties involved, while Ascol's recommendations were considered, they were not in the final draft. By the way, my name, should you want to know, stands as one of the charter sponsors of the Barber/Yarnell resolution. One trump-card of this resolution is that a major group of Southern Baptists have already passed it--or, at least a very similar version of it.
So, Dr. Ascol decides to continue with his. Frankly, I do not see what the problem is at this point. Anyone or any group of cooperating Southern Baptists may submit a resolution for consideration. Meet the guidelines, submit. That's it. That's the process.
And, the rule is, there are always many more resolutions submitted to the Resolutions Committee than either considered or recommended to the Convention for vote and approval.
In addition, even if one's resolution is considered and ultimately approved for recommendation to the Convention for vote, it's virtually certain it will be edited and very probable it will look unlike what you originally submitted.
That said, Dr. Ascol had every right to continue developing his resolution to submit as did the Barber/Yarnell group they theirs. It sounds so easy here. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, here it is:
The Founders mentality, which simply cannot and apparently will not leave their Dortian Calvinism out of the equation of any single issue with which we find ourselves at odds as Southern Baptists, opened fire.
Dr. Malcom Yarnell logged on to the post linked above and Timmy Brister responded back about the lack of Gospel in the Barber/Yarnell resolution. *"Repent is the first word of the Gospel", Timmy insisted.
After a couple of exchanges and Timmy denying he said Southern Baptists had "lost" the Gospel but only lost "focus" on the Gospel, I penned a comment of my own, showing, I believe, precisely that Timmy indeed did explicitly say we have lost the Gospel and needed desperately to "recover" it.
And, instead of humbling himself and admitting he, in fact, was guilty of saying **Southern Baptists have lost the Gospel and need to recover it, he went silent in the thread but opened fire with double-ought buckshot. In that post, which near steals one's breath, Brister indicts both Barber and Yarnell as lacking moral integrity in bringing the resolution because both men are in Churches that Brister suggests is apparently 70% unregenerate. Therefore, Brister informs us, Ascol's resolution is superior.
Timmy had other reasons why he supports Ascol's resolution over Barber/Yarnell's. But that one stabbed me really good. Am I to understand that, if a Church does not meet the numbers quota that Calvinists like Brister defines, neither the messengers from those Churches nor the Pastor of those Churches is morally suited to offer a resolution to the Southern Baptist Convention?
If for no other reason I could think, if Ascol's resolution comes to the floor of the convention as it is, I think I'll just vote no. I cannot imagine that's the acceptable interpretation these guys are placing on their resolution. If so, this stands as just another reason why the so-called "Baptist Identity" position may be attractive.
These two bloggers--Burleson & Brister--while possessing separate agendas, are both exemplar of the kind of directions dissenters of the Conservative Resurgence would lead us. One of these would lead us to Geneva to bow at Calvin's feet, creedally endorsing without debate all five points of Dortian Calvinism. Moreover, these apparently would decide who's Church was qualified to be called regenerate and whose would not.
The other major dissenting group looks to Wade Burleson as a spokesmen. He is less harmless because of his complete disregard for factual accuracy and his sloppiness in skewing sources when he employs them.
Call me an historic Baptist if you like. Call me an advocate of "Baptist Identity". Call me backward or old-fashioned. I really am unconcerned much about what I am called. But know this, dear reader:
I absolutely, positively refuse, by the grace of our loving Lord, to travel to Geneva with Founders or get swallowed up in a black hole of evangelical anonymity with Burleson.
It's really that simple for me. I am not interested in buying what either set of these dissenters are selling. Personally, I'd rather die.
With that, I am...
*I do not at all accept such a simplistic convolution of the Gospel. And, frankly, given Founders advocates like Timmy, who constantly sing the sad song that Southern Baptists need to "recover the lost Gospel" I am confused why our Founders brothers let him get away with such theological nonsense.
If "repent" is the first word of the Gospel, the Gospel is a Gospel of works, not gracious love. Repent is something I do. And, whether repentance is a gift or not is absolutely irrelevant. Even if God divinely, monergistically enables me to repent, it nonetheless is me repenting; it is not God repenting.
Thus, if the Gospel begins with repentance, the Gospel begins with me. That's pure, unmitigated nonsense as far as I am concerned. There is only one word that could possibly qualify for the opening act of the Gospel--Christ. Period. No debate. No discussion. No ifs. Christ alone is the first word, Timmy. Indeed, I'd say He was last as well, the Alpha and Omega, so to speak.
**When Founders like Timmy Brister say the Gospel needs to be recovered, do not mistake this key component: for them, the lost Gospel which needs recovery is the Doctrines of Grace, more popularly interpreted as the Five Points of Calvinism or TULIP. This is easily demonstrated.