Timmy Brister, recently surpassed his boiling point over Baptist Press:
“Fellow Southern Baptists, we cannot afford to have this type of gross mischaracterization printed from our denominational news wire… to have Baptist Press continue to exhibit unacceptable journalistic ethic to support an anti-Acts 29 agenda under the banner of Southern Baptist is simply inexcusable” (//link).
So what triggered Timmy’s temper tantrum this time?
It seems Baptist Press published a blog post by Tim Rogers in which Rogers criticized the popular “Reformed” church-planting network, Acts 29, whose chief architect is controversial Seattle pastor, Mark Driscoll. For this, Timmy tags Executive Editor, Will Hall, as spearing-heading an “anti-Mark Driscoll/anti-Acts 29 campaign” which, according to Timmy’s take, there is “no level so low Baptist Press is unwilling to stoop,” even including Will Hall’s deliberate publishing of “known errors and blatant mischaracterizations,” that are not even “fitting for the journalistic ethics of non-Christians” (//link).
When Tim Rogers responded on Timmy’s post, he wrote: “You have said perfectly what I was trying to say. Thank you for getting it right.” However, Timmy’s rejoinder was hardly as courteous: “This is willful, intentional suppression of the truth. There’s no way around that…You may not have attacked, but you have lied, and that lie has been broadcasted through Baptist Press…” (//link).
Adding a flamethrower to Timmy’s tantrum, Timmy’s boss, Founders Executive Director, Tom Ascol, logs on and gives Tim Rogers a what-for, reminding Rogers of an alleged unfulfilled promise owed to him from Rogers. I ask: Exactly what does an alleged personal issue between Ascol and Rogers have to do with the Acts 29 issue?
Frankly, it’s this type of aggressive, out-of-control bullying which remains the chief identifying mark of Founders’ Calvinism. When the executive director sets the tone for this type of approach, it’s no wonder thousands of SBC churches fear Founders Ministries.
So, Tim Rogers allegedly lied in his post and Baptist Press perpetuated his lies. That’s the claim of Founders as it defends a fellow “Reformed” entity, Acts 29.
I happen to know Tim Rogers. And while I know him to be a superb sampling of a squirrel on steroids, he is by no stretch a liar.
I will show you what I mean by the latter (the former will just remain assumed).
Yesterday, Acts 29 Director, Scott Thomas, posted a reply to Rogers (as well as a subsequent post by Robin Foster) on the Acts 29 website (//link). Interestingly, Thomas stated both Rogers and Foster cited “an old covenant tucked in our website that was outdated and took it to task,” obviously implying that neither Rogers nor Foster understood Acts 29 protocol since they were citing an “outdated” covenant which was “tucked” away on their website.
Indeed the impression one gets from Thomas is, Foster and Rogers went scouring for any information they could get to grease the bucket against Acts 29.
The facts, however, hardly convince one either Rogers or Foster looked for info “tucked” away on the Acts 29 website so they could “take it to task.”
How do I conclude this?
First, the quotes from SBC Today came from links on Acts 29 Homepage. All one has to do is, click on “plant a church” and the links to every single quote provided by both Rogers and Foster is either on one of two links: a) FAQ b) Covenant. That’s it. Yet, again, Thomas makes one feel like Foster and Rogers were searching for negligible material.
Second, Thomas said absolutely nothing about Rogers using an “outdated” covenant when he showed up on his comment thread. If I knew someone was using an “outdated” source leading to wrong conclusions, the first thing I’d say is, “I think you’re a bit behind times, brother.” Thomas mentioned nothing about this in his comments (//link).
Third, even granting for argument’s sake both Foster and Rogers used an “outdated” covenant, it does not follow the quotes are irrelevant unless the relevant parts of the covenant they quoted have changed. And, here is where this really gets thick.
The “updated” covenant is virtually the same as the “outdated” covenant which Thomas alleges Foster and Rogers used.
Note the wording below (order of use is as Rogers quoted the "outdated" covenant "tucked away" on Acts 29):
Acts 29 Covenant “tucked away”
|“Primary funding consideration shall be given to Acts 29-approved planters”||Primary funding consideration shall be given to Acts 29-approved planters|
|“We agree with the theological beliefs of Acts 29 as a Christian Evangelical Missional Reformed network”||We agree with the theological beliefs of Acts 29 as a Christian Evangelical Missional Reformed network.|
|“We agree that our church will meet all biblical requirements for elders, including that the church will be governed by a plurality of qualified male elders.”||We agree that our church will meet all biblical requirements for elders, including that the church will be governed by a plurality of qualified male elders|
|“This means that when we begin our public services we will give 10% of our internal tithes and offerings…to church planting, under local elder authority as follows…”||This means that when we begin our public services we will give 10% of our internal tithes and offerings… to church planting, 9% under local elder authority 1% to The Acts 29 Board Fund as follows: (underlining shows change)|
As one can clearly see, the single change in relevant portions of the Acts 29 covenant is the last quote, a change concerning which neither Rogers nor Foster’s post addressed. In other words, the covenant Thomas alleges was “tucked away” and wrongly used by Rogers and Foster turns out to be identical—at least in its relevant portions--to the “new covenant” Acts 29 has implemented since June 2009***.
Consider what this means for Thomas’ accusation Rogers and Foster employed “outdated” information to bolster their conclusions. Indeed consider what this also means for both Brister and Thomas’ persistent denial that money goes into the Acts 29 network.
“let me reiterate the matter about 10% giving in Acts 29 because this is the foundation to his entire article. The Acts 29 network does not receive mission money from churches within its network…Rather, the 10% giving reflects a commitment of Acts 29 churches to keep the priority of being a network of mission-driven, multiplying churches who dedicate a significant portion of their budget to planting more gospel-centered churches” (//link).
Nevertheless, according to Acts 29, Timmy apparently is employing the covenant “tucked away” as well.
Furthermore, according to Acts 29’s interpretation, they are receiving missions money from Acts 29 churches to keep their organization going. They write: “1% of your general income will be given to The Acts 29 Board Fund” (//link).
Albeit Acts 29 refers to the 1% as a “voluntary fund” the 1% nevertheless represents monies that “will be given” to The Acts 29 Board Fund for relief and training purposes*. For a church like J.D. Greear’s, that means approximately $31,000, a bit over half of what Greear’s church gave to the CP (//link).
First, Timmy Brister owes Tim Rogers an apology for blatantly calling him a liar when Rogers quoted accurately Acts 29 blog (not to mention Timmy’s boss, Tom, who wrongly brought up a personal matter between him and Rogers on Timmy’s tantrum post). The scorched earth policy Founders has pursued for years needs to give way to a more credible, Christianly approach to those who dare question their "Reformed" commitments.
Second, Timmy needs to consider his own faulty use of Acts 29 covenant “tucked away” on their site, insisting Acts 29 does not receive missions monies from churches when at least 1% of the 10% goes directly into Acts 29’s network specifically for Board use. Perhaps a post saying "I was wrong" is not a bad consideration.
Third, Acts 29 would do well to avoid charging folks with misrepresenting them when they are only quoting the official Acts 29 material. Founders has milked that cow dry, yelling "Stop misrepresentating us!" when folk object to their vision posted on their website**.
Furthermore, to then charge others with quoting “outdated” information, as did Thomas, when the quotes are accurate—even if it was from old information—is spurious and cheap. It also lowers the bar for perception, making one appear not only sneaky but also morally unstable.
With that, I am…
*if English language means anything, there is a basic tension here between “voluntary” monies on the one hand and monies that “will be given” on the other but that’s not my concern presently
**I must confess sometimes I wonder if a stop-misrepresenting-me attitude is intrinsic to Founders' Calvinism
***UPDATE: A full comparison of the Acts 29 Network Covenants is now available (//link). And, the single change in the covenants concerns a 1% expectation to be given to the Acts 29 Network Board specifically used at Board discretion