Of course, it’s fairly old news now: Dr. Bart Barber and the SBC Today blog members have recently been the focus of numerous calls for taking the current posts down from their sites respectively. Dr. Barber, a well-known—and I add with utmost confidence—well-respected Baptist blogger wrote a post reporting that sources within the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) cited specifically the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) as escrowing missions monies given specifically for IMB purposes as a measure to “safeguard BGCT cash flow” (/link).
Barber further indicated while BGCT has “has trimmed its staff, programming, and budget substantially over the past several years,” such a measure, if true, constitutes a “rare occasion of BGCT's taking action to blockade funds designated by BGCT churches to SBC causes.” The identical post was published at SBC Today, a team-blog of which Dr. Barber is a member.
Predictably, flies swarmed from enemy territory laying their usual eggs in poo. Nevertheless, two unpredicted incidents occurred with this particular post. First, Dr. Barber has been, for the most part, absent from the comment thread. I am not judging Bart for being absent. To the contrary, I haven’t a clue his personal circumstances. And, from what I have come to know of Bart Barber, whatever the reason is, I do not believe for a minute he’s hiding out, afraid to engage the ideas of his post. If he is doing so, let’s just say, it is not the Bart we know and have come to respect.
Nonetheless, because Bart has been absent, the other guys at SBC Today have had to defend a post not theirs. I do not know how the team at SBC Today functions. I do know what I tell guests who blog at SBC Tomorrow: you write it, you defend it.** That’s not to say I won’t log on and offer support. I will and I do. But, the author remains the quarterback not me.
Furthermore, if I disagree with the idea on display, it’s much too awkward for my veins to channel blood to an out-of-place heart. I say this to suggest my sympathy with the guys who—completely without malicious intent from Bart, I’m confident—got stuck holding a sack of candy they did not buy. I’m quite sure some will say, “Yes, but they are all together on this.” Albeit to suggest there necessarily exists a singular mind between either those who blog together or are “Baptist Identity” is what we call in the south a fatal dose of dumb.
The second unpredicted incident concerning this post is the presence of reputable disputants who logged on and strongly asserted the contrary. Forget the flies who stir stink. When credible denominational employees—not anons who “say” they are so and so—log on with their names and titles for all to see (and investigate for authenticity if one so wishes), antennas should have immediately tuned in. Granted the employees may have been covering behinds. After all, that is a possibility. Nevertheless, honor to whom honor is due I’ve read the Apostle many times. Therefore, Christian duty and grace, at least as I see it, require due acknowledgment of their presence and their perspective.
Personally, I think it may have been wise to attach a note to the post (on both sites) which acknowledged the factual basis behind the story Dr. Barber composed has been seriously disputed by credible people. Immediately, this would show good faith toward the denominational servants as well as offer time for appropriate follow-up.
Furthermore, it would allow Dr. Barber ample time to sufficiently take care of other duties in order to address the alleged discrepancies in the story. May I say, for the record, I possess no doubt Dr. Barber will address the issue and, if shown the reasonable evidence, will do the right thing. Period. Indeed I hold not the least reservation that every guy associated with SBC Today will do likewise.
In passing, some continue to call for the removal of the post. I may be a lone wolf howling all by myself, but taking down the post, in my view, is a mistake. Better to post an apology on the original piece (or link to an apology) than to take it down. Myths and legends are notoriously born out of thin cyberspace when posts are removed. Flies just can't seem to leave stink alone.
In addition, flies will also lay eggs in the new poo created by taking the post down! Not long ago, a noted female Baptist blogger took a post down and one popular Baptist site known for feeding frenzies shamelessly tormented her so severely, wildly insulting her with malicious, vicious attacks, she almost stopped blogging altogether. Take a post down? Please***.
From my standpoint, integrity of neither Dr. Barber nor SBC Today is on the line—unless, after alleged counter-facts are substantiated and consequently are found to reverse the alleged factual basis of the originally reported story, Dr. Barber and/or SBC Today deny any part in questionably erring by publicizing a false report.
Again, a tight moral distinction must be clearly kept in mind. Moral blame is not normally found in sincere gestures of reporting truth. To do so, it seems to me, reduces every mistake to a lie which is morally absurd. Thus, if, for the sake of argument, the factual basis of Barber’s reported story turns out to be false, he should not be morally blamed for accurately reporting the story as given to him. Hence, integrity is not at stake here.
On the other hand, if, for the sake of argument, the factual basis of his reported story turns out to be false, then moral culpability may be at stake if denial of culpability is maintained by asserting sincerity in motive and no intention to deceive; thus, the story reported stands true to received information and consequently shields one from any part in perpetuating false information.
The fact is, the story was publicized with both SBC Today and Bart Barber’s name on it. And, if no factual basis exists for the truthfulness of the report received, then, BGCT deserves a sincere apology. From whom better to publicize regret than the ones who publicized the report?****
Lord knows I love you guys at SBC Today. I fully respect you, honor you, and agree with so much of what you stand for. I furthermore appreciate Dr. Barber, an unusual bright spot in SBC blogging. The last thing I’d desire to see—justly or unjustly—is a tarnished reputation. And, I’m fully confident our Lord, through His Holy Spirit magnifying His Word, will guide you safely through these choppy waters.
May our Lord continue to bless us all as we meagerly attempt to blog for God.
With that, I am…
**I do and will continue to make exceptions to this “you write, you defend” notion for servants of the SBC who may post at SBC Tomorrow. The reason is simple: I refuse to allow a servant of our denomination who posts on this site to be hounded by a sometimes overly aggressive community of bloggers. Period.
***Of course, if the post was filled with common vulgarity or blasphemous slander against God, that is quite different from known facts overturning mistaken reports.
****Assuming the alleged factual basis of the report is not sustained