Not going to play ball

ADDENDUM: Related links–

Sean Lucas pointed out this article on the SBC “doctrinal” fights. I use quotation marks because there is no real doctrinal issue, except that Darrin Patrick is probably more orthodox than his critic. It’s all about drinking beer and R-rated movies.

In other words, its about badges of identity. The “New Perspective”could not be more relevant to the social dynamics of what is going on. Claiming it is about theological belief is a customized path to confusion about what is really happening.

But, when I say it is about “badges,” we should remember what such things represent to people. Here is where I think Jeff‘s book on Ecclesiastes really helped me understand what lies behind a great deal of church politics:

I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity (Eccl 2.18, 19).

So here it is: “Moran, a boyish-looking 50-year-old father of nine and the owner of a trailer manufacturing company in Winfield, revolutionized the Missouri Baptist Convention from 1998 to 2003.” Right. He did all that work, using “old-fashioned political strategy” and “knocking on church doors, speaking at church rallies and making phone call after phone call to pastors” in order to accomplish “a conservative takeover of the organization, which has remained in control ever since.” And, no doubt, he was sure he was doing all this for the Kingdom–for Biblical inerrancy and other fundamentals.

And now all these young guys are completely changing the vision he fought for. I’ve met Darrin Patrick. I’ve heard him preach. He is a calvinist, and admirer of John Piper and Al Mohler and many other predestinarians, both Baptist and Presbyterian. But he is a threat to Moran. He is showing Moran that life is vapor and trying to gain an advantage is like trying to shepherd the wind. Moran’s fifty. He doesn’t have as much control as he would like to think about where his own grandchildren will end up going to church, let alone the shape of the denomination in Misourri or anywhere else.

But, of course, Darrin’s just as committed to Scripture and sound doctrine as Moran–perhaps more so. The vision is suddenly revealed to have always been about stuff that had little to do with inerrancy.

The result: completely inaccurate accusations and lots of desperate politics. Maybe if we just kick out that bad guys everything will be back under control.

It is all vapor. Trying to shepherd the wind.

The Rev. Darrin Patrick, pastor of the emerging church in St. Louis called The Journey, says Moran’s kind of theology is only driving away young Christian leaders. “When you’re stricter than God about what he commands and permits, younger pastors are not going to play ball,” Patrick said. “They’re not going to take one for the denomination.”

No, they’re not. The SBC is deciding its own fate, not those of these young calvinists who don’t conform to extra-Biblical criteria.

And the SBC is not the only denomination facing this sort of issue. When you see desperate politicing and lots of propaganda, you are facing people undergoing the crisis of learning they are not in control. Your most important duty is to realize your time will come when you see the next generation do things you don’t understand and never envisioned. Will you believe in the sufficiency of Scripture at that point, or will you start campaigning with slanders and half-truths to get your way?

In any case, if church groups were stock, I’d be watching SBC closely and filling my portfolio with shares of Acts 29.

2 thoughts on “Not going to play ball

  1. Pingback: Mark Horne » When life becomes some kind of bad soap opera….

  2. AJ

    This wide-angle perspective on Moran & SBC history is really helpful, especially for me, as a newcomer to the whole Baptist scene. Thanks!


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