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2010.10.12

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Howell Scott

Peter,

Just so folks know that we are talking to each other, thanks for the words and the link. In reference to what was said about Obama and the health care agenda, I think that is exactly what we are seeing in our Convention. What amazes me is that the same type of rhetoric and the same kind of process -- that most, if not all, GCR supporters have opposed in the government world -- have been used and are continuing to be used in the SBC world. Your Thomas Sewell reference is spot on. Thanks and God bless,

Howell

A. Price

Thank the Lord! Fianlly! I'm so thankful to know I'm NOT the only one who thought that the whole GCR 'thing' was right out of the 'play-book of 'Saul Alinsky'!
We've been 'had' folks!

Luke Tolbert

Peter,

I admit that your pieces normally do not align with my thinking and we are often at odds. However, I do enjoy reading your blog because I want to understand the thinking and feelings of those on the other sides of the issues. Your blog helps me to understand a little better what the other side is saying in the GCR debate.

However, I do have some questions regarding this post. The comparison to Obamacare is a little puzzling to me since only a very small percentage of the American public (our senators and congressmen) voted on that legislation, however, there was a vote on the GCR - even if we say that the numbers were inflated in the final vote reports, there was still overwhelming support from the messengers who represent significant percentage of our churches.

Also, perhaps it would help for you to provide a concise list of how these "hired hands" "twist[ed] arms into submission, an imposition from the top down." I understand that some things were not as open as many would have liked (aka. the sealing of the records). But I am not sure I have seen the "twisting" of arms - could you maybe give some examples?

Lastly, I am not sure I understand the grassroots argument since most of the CR's success sprang from the election of a SBC President who then appointed a Committee on Committees who then appointed conservative, Bible-believing persons to be trustees. These trustees helped the CR to take place throughout all of our institutions. Couldn't someone make the argument that it was a "top-down" resurgence (or as the moderates would call it, "takeover"). Just wondering your thoughts on that. Thank you!

peter lumpkins

Luke,

Thanks for the interaction and I am glad I can offer a respectable voice from across the hall. I think we all learn better when we can listen more and yell less.

Your questions are more than fair, and I’ll try to address them in the order you asked them:

a) Obamacare: I think the parallel we’ve noted is not who originated the process (whether congress on one hand and SBC on the other) which, of course, makes the “vote”—large or small--irrelevant. Rather it, becomes the process itself, which has been highly centralized into the power of a few

b) the ‘hired hands’ of course is a provocative image designed to communicate the backwardness of Baptist polity. Our agency heads are, in effect, making decisions for all Southern Baptists. While they have done this and do this everyday as it pertains to their respective entity, the difference now is, entity heads are making decisions outside their assigned entity. Consequently, the effect is, they are guiding the direction of the SBC. For an example, simply follow the Task Force, the decisions, the appointments, etc.  If that does not persuade, I’m not sure anything could.

c) Who do you think elected the President?  Even more, how do you think the presidency and boards of trustees were washed out?  There was no internet, email, twitter, blogging, or facebook, Luke. It was all through scattered meetings in various states with nobodies—so far as the SBC was concerned—showing up to speak.  Prior to 1977 or 1978, Paige Patterson was a complete unknown in SBC life. He held no influential office in the convention or on a committee—a thoroughly impotent personality in denominational life, a bonafide outsider.  The same could be said for other men like Pressler, Rogers, Stanley, and Vines. They became the personified voice of all the grassroots Southern Baptists sprinkled across the USA.  There remains no hope in attempting to make the CR a top-down movement.

Contrarily, the GCR did not arise from outsiders but insiders, people already entrusted with incredible amounts of denominational capital and decision making power. The idea was spawned by an agency head, and the GCR document was written by an agency head. The TF—while having some pastors on it—nonetheless was not made up of representative of all Southern Baptists. It was made up primarily of denominational leaders—at least the ones who were the movers and shakers on the TF.  Try as they may to make it out as a successor to the CR, the GCR movement is not grassroots-driven; rather, the GCR an elitist movement,  a movement of power-brokers, men who already had the microphone entrusted to their care.

A final example: contrast the Orlando 2010 meeting with Dallas 1985, a good balance in purported significance according to GCR advocates. With all the power of the internet—something CR people could have only dreamed about—GCR couldn’t even surpass the attendance for the prior year in Lousiville. All their pushing and prodding got them exactly nothing in Orlando, a very very favorable place to have an historic meeting—especially for young Baptists. Dallas had what?  Almost 50,000 registered messengers.   Sure a hunk of those were “moderates.” Nonetheless, it was grassroots Southern Baptists who showed up by the thousands because it was their cause, their agenda. The GCR is not grassroots. That’s why it struggles. It’s agenda-driven from the top by denominational employees, not conviction-driven from the bottom by thousands of like-minded Southern Baptists.

With that, I am…

Peter

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