Day 2 SBC Reflections
Today was another long but good day at the SBC. There is a lot to process and think through, so I will only be giving a few highlights. I hope this is a benefit to you all.
1. The spirit isn’t as divisive as it might seem
Be careful not to be too informed by pessimistic attitudes about the SBC online. I’ve read many things about how the meeting went – “mics cut off,” “silencing those who want to speak,” “a spirit of great division.” However, having been in the room, I can tell you that many of those things simply aren’t true. While there is disunity, is there as much disunity as online feeds portray? No, I don’t think so. Most of my time today was a great joy. I laughed a lot, ate good food with friends, met new people, enjoyed healthy debates with others, got more free t-shirts, and had a lot of fun.
2. The election of Bart Barber as SBC president
Honestly, I am not sure what to think about this. I know very little about him and his ministry, and I think it wise to refrain from making any judgment yet. However, I believe it is important that you know what the SBC president does and does not do for the Convention. So, here is a place you can go to read up on what the duties of the convention president are: https://thebaptistpaper.org/historical-look-at-southern-baptist-convention-presidents/
3. There are things to be encouraged by
When it came to many important things on the floor today, I was deeply moved by the unity of the room. Two examples stick out. First, one of the committees recommended a “task force” to study the word “pastor.” This task force stemmed from a misplaced desire to allow churches with women pastors to continue to be in fellowship with the SBC. The room almost unanimously argued against this idea. Many, including significant SBC figures, argued that the SBC doesn’t need a group to define “pastors” because the Word of God and our confessional documents are clear. A pastor is a qualified male chosen by God and a local church to carry out the office of shepherding God’s people. I was amazed to see the courage of so many to oppose this.
Second, there was excellent agreement on the resolutions by the sexual abuse task force. While I won’t get into all the details here, I will say that the spirit of the room was helpfully balanced between condemnation of the evil of sexual abuse and protection of victims without creating a “witch hunt.” I was encouraged by the thoughtful response.
4. There are things to be discouraged by
My main concern in the meeting came when the pastor of Saddleback, Rick Warren, came to read a letter of “resignation” from the SBC (I put it in quotes because I’m still not sure whether he resigned or not, the whole situation was confusing). Essentially, Saddleback has ordained woman pastors but argues they aren’t “lead pastors,” so it is ok. The SBC had been debating whether to remove them from the Convention and was probably about to do so. While there was a lot wrong with what he said, I want to focus on one thing. His main argument boiled down to this: “You either care about the Great Commission or these other issues, like us ordaining woman pastors. Start focusing on what is most important and forget about this other stuff.”
You need to know how dangerous this argument is to the Christian faith. What Rick Warren did is called the “Either-or-Fallacy.” This fallacy presents you with only two options when more exist. His argument essentially stated that you either care about the Great Commission or how Saddleback (and other churches within the denomination) run their church, but you can’t do both. Thus, the SBC needs to get out of his business and return to the Great Commission. This argument implies the SBC errs if it requires its member churches to hold to its confessional documents. Again, either you focus on how churches in the denomination live out the SBC confessional documents, or you can care about the mission. Either-or.
Church, this is a fundamentally untrue and dangerous line of thinking. While the mission is the most important thing, that doesn’t mean how we get there no longer matters. The SBC is a confessional organization, and those within it should not feel they fail the mission by making others in the Convention hold to that confession. When this letter is released, I encourage you to read it for yourself.
Now, I bring up this example for this purpose: I found this line of thinking prevalent from all sides today on a whole host of issues. This was only one example of many times the either-or fallacy was present. Frequently, arguments were made claiming, “You either hold our position, or you hate ______.” Be warned of this line of thinking. While there are times in which you must pick between two options, there are many times in which you don’t. Do not pigeonhole other people into this fallacy, and do not let others pigeonhole you. We don’t always have to pick one side or another. Sometimes we will, but many times we won’t. We shouldn’t have to decide between doctrine and the mission. Sometimes it isn’t either-or; it’s both.
There was much more that went on today, but in my tired state, I’ve already droned on longer than intended. I pray you were able to follow!
I love you all and am thankful for our work together at BBCKC. It is a joy to serve with you.