While the folks at The Wartburg Watch are billing the upcoming election of the next Southern Baptist Convention President as a referendum on the direction of the SBC, I have a more dire view: both of these candidates are a representation of all that is wrong with the Southern Baptist world.
First, some disclaimers:
(1) I know Jimmy Scroggins–who announced Greear’s candidacy–from my days at Highview Baptist Church. I have no issue with Scroggins, as, during his time there, he (and pastor Kevin Ezell) went a long way toward cleaning up a major mess that the previous pastor–the late Bill Hancock, who was forced out when it became known that he had been carrying on an extramarital affair–left behind.
Scroggins may very well be in the NeoCal camp, but I cannot say anything bad about him on the basis of what I saw when I was at Highview.
(2) I’m aware of the pedophile matter at Bellvue Baptist Church. In fact, I excoriated Gaines over it in 2007. Hopefully, Gaines has learned his lesson in that one.
(3) The fact that a church lists books by Driscoll, Piper, and Dever for recommended reading does not make that church inherently evil. While I do not identify as a Calvinist (Paleo or neo)–as while I have no problem with Calvinism as a hermeneutical model, I do not accept every plank of Calvinist dogma–I do not categorically reject everything from the NeoCal world as evil. I have my disagreements with Piper, but I think he is generally a very solid preacher. Ditto for Keller.
Setting the NeoCal vs. NotSoCal issue aside, and setting aside Gaines’ mishandling of the sex abuse case at Bellvue Baptist, I still have serious problems with this slate of candidates.
Both candidates are being touted in terms of their numbers: growth in membership, churches planted, number of baptisms, number of satellite churches, and dollars given to the Cooperative Program.
Am I the only one seeing a problem with this picture?
And while Greear, to his credit, actually lists some goals for himself should he be elected, am I the only one who has a problem with his “platform and equip non-Anglo pastors and members” statement?
At this time, it would be naive if not outright dishonest to conclude that the Church in the United States, and that includes the Southern Baptist Convention, is anything other than an out-and-out disaster. The fragmentation, the lack of depth, the scandals among clergy, rampant sexual immorality, the infusion of Prosperity Theology and Universalism, the factions within Congregations, the Fifty Shades of Calvinism, the list goes on…
We in the United States–the collective Church of which is a spitting image of the worst of Corinth and Laodicaea–are in no position to be lecturing “non-Anglos” about the Gospel. In fact, it may be time for Americans to look at their brothers in Iraq, Syria, China, and Africa for exhortation and admonishment.
It is evening in America. And while the Church may not be wholly to blame for that, She does share a substantial amount of responsibility. Unless you’ve been in a coma, it should not be news that the United States is, as of this writing, a post-Christian nation.
It’s all downhill for the foreseeable future.
At any rate, now is not the time–I would contend that it is never time–to be electing Church leaders based on worldly metrics of “performance”.