During the course of an interview on The O’Reilly Factor, especially when a politician attempts to spin their arguments, Bill O’Reilly often tells his guests that he is “a simple man.” While I don’t think anyone would accuse Mr. O’Reilly of being a simpleton, his “simple man” approach does have a way of cutting through the political spin and simplifying the issues for his viewers. That’s probably one reason that he continues to have the highest rated cable news show for the better part of a decade.
Although some would see my legal background as an impediment in the ministry, I have always seen my law school training and practice as an attorney as a benefit and blessing. It allows me to bring a unique perspective to the table and to hopefully simplify and clarify those issues that others would like to obfuscate (muddy).
So, let’s cut through the mud and the spin that has become the GCR. For many, the GCR has simply replaced CR as the rallying cry in what appears to be the never-ending battle for the heart and soul (not to mention control) of the Southern Baptist Convention. Not content with a thoroughly conservative convention, including all six seminaries and both mission boards, the ruling elite within the Convention has now set its sights on taking control of the Baptist state conventions. Some on the GCRTF would have already taken control, but for that pesky Baptist doctrine known as autonomy. That some on the Task Force had to be educated about the autonomy of the state conventions is a telling sign of where the battle is headed in the days and years to come.
Another telling sign has been provided by Nathan Akin, the son of Dr. Danny Akin, in a post on the Baptist21 blog. Entitled “GCR Phase2?,” Akin lays out a clear and compelling strategy for GCR supporters to follow in order to accomplish the full implementation of the GCR. This strategy, quite simply, means changing the structures at all levels of SBC life:
“Therefore, it is likely that there will need to be several more phases for a GCR to take root in all levels of our convention structures. Phase2 of the GCR will likely be involvement in the state convention and other local Baptist structures.”
While I do not presume to say that Nathan Akin speaks for anyone else in this particular article, I think it would be naive to believe that he speaks for no one else in this article. I would find it passing strange if his views were not shared by many, perhaps most, of those who support the GCR, including a good many of the ruling elites within the SBC.
I would say that I am surprised by the battle plan that Akin has articulated, but I am not. In a recent post, “The GCR & a New War Between the States,” I predicted that the battle for the GCR implementation would have to be fought, in large measure, at the state convention level. And, make no mistake, this is exactly what Nathan Akin and other GCR supporters are advocating for.
What is surprising about the Baptist21 article is the lack of self-awareness on the part of some GCR supporters. What is fascinating about the strategy proposed by Akin is that he seems to be encouraging pastors who have heretofore never had much use for the state conventions or the annual meetings to now show up in mass to make their voices heard.
The most astounding — and revealing — part of the article is when Akin writes:
If we are to see more money leave the Deep South, we must be present at state conventions, be a consistent part of the process, vote on budgets, make motions, and more. Make your voice heard. So do something this October/November that may not be as glamorous as going to T4G, the Gospel Coalition conference, or Catalyst, take a day and go to your state convention meeting and vote on budgets and resolutions that reflect your churches priorities. If you are an advocate of the GCR go and vote on things that represent what was called for in the GCR Task Force Report that was adopted in June at the National Convention. Load up a van and take some friends with you. Make this a first step in seeking a GCR in our structures at all levels of SBC life.
So, let me get this straight. For those pastors who have up to now shunned the non-glamorous annual meetings of the various Baptist state conventions and who have presumably chosen to spend their conference time and money on attending such glamorous non-SBC events like T4G, the Gospel Coalition or Catalyst, they should now deign to show up at the state convention annual meetings in October and November to let their voices be heard. Wow! How have we been able to function without all those glamorous folks showing up at our annual meetings?
The all-out politicizing of the Great Commission by the GCRTF and the establishment and ruling elites within the SBC will continue to have negative ramifications convention-wide. The tone-deafness of many of the GCR supporters reveals a lack of understanding of where I believe most Southern Baptists are.
When SBC President Bryant Wright tells state conventions that they can be “real heroes” if they gut their state conventions by just forking over more money to national SBC causes and, when young leaders like Nathan Akin hold up some state conventions (i.e., Florida and Kentucky) as “worthy of emulating” (as opposed to those non-worthy state conventions — Louisiana?), then the fragile unity — supposedly built around the Great Commission — that was evident in Louisville will continue to erode. And, erode quickly! By Phoenix, we may have a 50-50 split of a different kind.
There’s a lesson for the SBC establishment in this past Tuesday’s elections. When you offer people hope and change, but then unveil a radical agenda that is at odds with the vast majority of Americans and, when you ignore the will of the people by arrogantly and heavy-handedly imposing a leftist agenda on a center-right country, you watch two years later as your party gets shellacked in an historic election. But, just like the political elites in this country, I don’t expect the SBC elites to learn the lesson or to stop the spin until the damage has been done. Two years seems about right.