Jerry Nash, SBCToday & a Chill Wind a Blowin

Jerry Nash has put a burr under a lot of saddles.  The Director of Missions (an endangered species in the new Southern Baptist Convention) of the Harmony Baptist Association in Trenton, Florida, Dr. Nash wrote an opinion piece entitled, “Hold the Hearse, I Have An Idea!”  In his relatively short, five-paragraph post published at SBCToday on May 9, 2011, Dr. Nash uses strong language to express displeasure at what he sees as radical changes taking place within the SBC, changes that he believes will lead to the destruction of the nation’s largest Protestant body.

It did not take long for those with differing views from Nash to join the fray.  Since Nash’s original post was published, Dave Miller at SBCVoices, a prominent site for Southern Baptist news and opinion, wrote a post challenging Dr. Nash’s arguments.  Dave believes that Nash’s article “demonstrates to me a spirit of arrogance, exclusion and anger that is causing the splintering of the SBC.”  Perhaps he is right about what Dr. Nash’s post demonstrates, but the spirit of arrogance, exclusion, and anger that is leading to the splintering of the Southern Baptist Convention has been on full display for the last two years, coming mainly from those who are in much more prominent positions of power within the SBC.

Even though Dave Miller disagrees with much of what Nash wrote, he nevertheless believes Dr. Nash’s “viewpoint should be heard and respected.”  Furthermore, Dave believes that

“Nash has a valid viewpoint.  He has every right to advocate that viewpoint.  But he has no right to demand that everyone else agree with him and his viewpoint or leave the SBC.”

I appreciate that Dave Miller, even while voicing his own opposition to Dr. Nash, still believes Dr. Nash should have the right to advocate for his valid viewpoint.  He even offered Dr. Nash the opportunity to write a response to be published at Voices.  As a regular contributor to SBCVoices, where Dave serves as my editor, I know firsthand that he has published some of my strongly worded opinion pieces (which he disagrees with from time to time) in which I argue clearly and forcefully against the GCR, the new NAMB, and radical redefinition of the SBC.

In juxtaposition to Dave Miller, there are others who would like to see voices like Jerry Nash’s chilled.  I am not going to defend all that Dr. Nash wrote or the tone of his article, but I will defend his right to share his opinion and the right of SBCToday (or any other blog for that matter) to publish Dr. Nash.  When conservative bloggers — who should be the premier defenders of free speech — not only disagree with speech, but actually begin to question whether certain speech has gone too far, then Houston, we have a problem.

In another opinion piece published at Voices on May 16, this time written by Micah Fries, the question in the post’s title gives away the answer:  “When is too much?”  When a post about freedom of speech begins with a question like this, you know that free speech will be defended — at least until you get to the “but”:

“One of the best, and worst, aspects of being a Southern Baptist is our firmly held belief that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Absolutely everyone should have a platform to share that opinion. The fact that I can write what I’m about to write and publish it on this blog is evidence of that reality. In fact, our polity allows us a unique position among other ecclesiastical bodies that make up the American evangelical landscape. This freedom gives us the confidence of always knowing that our voice can be heard, but I wonder if there are times when we take this freedom too far?” (emphasis added)

Who gets to determine “when is too much?”  Who becomes the final arbiter of who has crossed a line and who hasn’t?  Is it determined on what we believe and whether or not we agree with the other side?  Is it based on the tone of the article, on its content, or both?  Do we apply the rules consistently or do we give a pass to those who are our political friends while castigating our political enemies?

While Micah and others may say that they are “honestly grateful that he (Nash) has the freedom to voice that opinion,” I am at a loss as to how attacking New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and their “partnership” with SBCToday truly supports that supposed freedom of expression.

SBCToday, which has been a popular and well-read blog, has recently been revamped with assistance from some folks associated with NOBTS.  Apparently this new partnership sparked some thoughts regarding CP dollars being used by NOBTS to fund the new SBCToday.  Other concerns that were raised had to do with what some view as an unethical and unhealthy relationship between SBCToday and NOBTS that is causing division within the Convention because of publishing articles like Dr. Nash’s.

There’s just one problem with the concerns that were sparked — SBCToday is not funded by CP funds from NOBTS.  There is no ethical violations in this “partnership” between some associated with the seminary and the new SBCToday.  To imply that Dr. Lemke (not named specifically) and others at NOBTS are somehow misusing CP funds to support SBCToday, is simply not true:

“To be clear, SBC Today is not owned by the Baptist Center or New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) or any of the churches involved, is not a publication of the Baptist Center or NOBTS (or any of the churches involved), and does not necessarily express the views of the Baptist Center or NOBTS (or any of the churches involved). SBC Today is privately owned, is supported by private donations, and its content is guided by an editorial board of contributing editors.” (here)

What is true, however, is that there is at least one seminary — Southeastern — which has its own blog, Between the Times.  Prominently displayed on its homepage, above the “Follow Us on Twitter,” is this bit of information:

Sponsored by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Unlike SBCToday, it would appear that BtT is very much a part of SEBTS.  I do not know if CP funds are used to operate this group blog, but it would be interesting to know.  In any event, a blog sponsored by one of the SBC’s six seminaries has managed to use some pretty interesting language directed at certain constituencies within the SBC.

From Dr. Akin’s original “Axioms of a Great Commission Resurgence,” (published at BtT  on April 16, 2009) where he implied that State Conventions were wasting money on “bloated and inefficient bureaucracies” to Dr. Ed Stetzer’s piece critical of traditional Southern Baptists who felt marginalized (i.e., Brad Whitt and others, although not specifically named by Stetzer, but interpreted to mean Whitt by SEBTS Professor, Dr. Nathan Finn), SEBTS has been ground zero for the GCR and the radical redefintion of the SBC.

Now, here’s the thing.  I think that the best way to arrive at a conclusion is through an exchange of ideas.  More ideas are better than less ideas.  Even ideas which may not be expressed in a way that would be pleasing to all concerned are better than less ideas.  I really do not care whether SEBTS or any other seminary sponsors a blog and uses CP money to fund the enterprise.  Go for it.  Let the marketplace of ideas within the larger SBC determine which ideas are good and worthy of acceptance and which are bad and need to be rejected.

If we want to open the door to critiquing NOBTS for supposedly using CP funds for SBCToday – which they have not — then we better be prepared to level the same criticism at SEBTS — which actually sponsors a blog that has published articles that some Southern Baptists might find objectionable.  Instead, let’s keep the door open to debate and dialogue, even that which is strongly worded and with which we may not always agree.  In the end, whether in our country or Convention, free speech should never be chilled!


Comments

Jerry Nash, SBCToday & a Chill Wind a Blowin — 35 Comments

  1. “Now, here’s the thing. I think that the best way to arrive at a conclusion is through an exchange of ideas. More ideas are better than less ideas. Even ideas which may not be expressed in a way that would be pleasing to all concerned are better than less ideas. I really do not care whether SEBTS or any other seminary sponsors a blog and uses CP money to fund the enterprise. Go for it. Let the marketplace of ideas within the larger SBC determine which ideas are good and worthy of acceptance and which are bad and need to be rejected.”

    I think you are right but I also think this is a big problem for the SBC. The “marketplace” of ideas is relatively new to the SBC organizational structure. We have an appearance of autonomy but little in practice when it comes to the entities and headquarters.

    They are not used to just anyone from the ranks having a platform to express ideas, disagree, etc. This is new territory and impossible to control. It makes the historical way of back room meetings obsolete.

    “Who gets to determine “when is too much?” Who becomes the final arbiter of who has crossed a line and who hasn’t?”

    Good question. And the answers we might see scare me.

    • Lydia,

      I think that you have hit on something regarding the “marketplace of ideas” being relatively new to some within the SBC and that some in leadership are not used to anyone expressing contrary ideas. I’m not so sure that it is an institutional problem (which it maybe) as much as it is a particular people problem. Many within the higher ranks of leadership at our entities come from churches that have an appearance of autonomy, but are run more autocratically. Many churches — both large and small — are “led” in such a way that dissent from the congregation is not well received. When you are in a leadership position, whether as a Pastor or a President of an SBC entity, you should realize that you cannot control everyone. That’s sometimes a hard and bitter lesson for some to learn, but I think learn it they will. Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  2. My problem is not with Nash speaking his mind – the whole premise of blogging is that people can have their say.

    My problem (other than not particularly liking his tone) was with two things. First, he determines who is and who is not a true Southern Baptist. Second, he called on those who do not fit his narrow interpretation to leave the convention. That was the sticking point for me.

    I know that BtT and others have written pieces that advocated a viewpoint and even offended others.

    But I see a difference between advocating a viewpoint and demanding that those who do not share your viewpoint are destroying the SBC and ought to leave. Comparing BtT and others to Nash is apples and oranges, as I see it.

      • Tim Rogers:

        Have you not been guilty of wanting others to get out of the SBC; that is wanting those that do not follow your narrow interpretation about certain items to leave the convention?

    • Dave,

      I would say that comparing BtT and Nash’s article is tangerines and navels or perhaps even oranges and grapefruit. But, when it comes right down to it, this is not about Jerry Nash and what he wrote. This is part of the bigger picture and the ongoing struggle for the heart and soul of the SBC and where we head in the future. As to determining who is and who is not a “true SB,” that is an open question that you and others have asked. Dr. Nash may have answered in a way that many people did not like, but he answered. If his answer and his solutions speak for many, we will see that played out. If he speaks for only a disgruntled few, that will become evident as well. I certainly do not have issue with your arguments and post opposing Nash — that’s what the marketplace of ideas is for. What I have major heartburn over is Micah’s post, which in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, tries to chill free speech at another blog through making accusations against NOBTS (and some of its leaders), said accusations being unfounded. Perhaps after SBCToday’s clarification, he will modify his statements, but I highly doubt it. If you want to post my article at Voices, I am game, but I understand if you think it would be too hot to handle right now. Have a great day and God bless,

      Howell

      • I will post this at SBC Voices if you put it up.

        I have stated that I believe the #1 need for the SBC right now is to define who we are. We really don’t know. We all have an idea what it is or what it should be, but no one knows definitively what it is.

        Micah’s post was careful to advocate free speech among Baptists, wasn’t it? I guess I saw that differently than you did.

        But, if this article appears at Voices, it will be published – the sooner the better.

        • Dave,

          We did see Micah’s post differently regarding the free speech issue. Perhaps because of some similarities I see in the political world where people advocate free speech with one hand but then say or do things that would chill free speech, that’s what I see in Micah’s post. He may or may not realize that’s how his post could be interpreted, but his bringing NOBTS into the picture was, IMO, of trying to draw a line in the sand. That SBCToday apologized within their clarification post sets out a new line beyond which they will be unwilling to go. That maybe a good thing or it may not, but a new line has been established. What’s to stop the line from being moved in the future? I’ll try to have the post for you to review later this morning. Thanks,

          Howell

  3. Howell,

    Thanks for hitting the nail on the head and pointing out that in this matter, the pot is certainly calling the kettle black. The hypocrisy of the GCR crowd who started all this division with their own harsh “bloated bureaucracy” charges against our state conventions at a CP supported seminary with a controversial blog stretches my patience.

    I could not agree with you more that we enjoy freedom of speech, and that openly exchanging ideas is the way forward.

    To those voices claiming we have now gone too far in our criticisms, at least they now understand what those of us on the other side of this debate have been feeling for the past few years. It really is odd to me that they seem surprised and offended by Nash’s (and to a lesser degree, Whitt’s) counter-attacks, as if the offensive GCR charges by Akin and others would never be answered. Did they not expect any push back? Or did they misread the winning of convention annual meeting parliamentary debates as a clear mandate for their cause?

    GCR was skillfully passed, but I do not believe for a moment that it enjoys the kind of convention-wide mandate they are claiming. That’s why Nash and Whitt must seem like trouble makers to those in charge, scattered voices of discontent and controversy. They speak for many, many people in the SBC. Their constituency has simply not made its voice heard on the floor of the convention. After Louisville’s revolution and Orlando’s confusion, perhaps Phoenix will offer a measure of discretion and balance.

    • Rick: Who are these many? Have you actually spoken to and taken a count of these many? The words “They speak for many” are usually used to convey power in numbers, to promote what the speaker is saying as fact, it’s usually a smokescreen.

      And where in any of SEBTS article have they ever called folks to leave for disagreeing with them? That isn’t even a point to be considered. Where in any Calvinist post has anyone asked anyone to leave for disagreeing with them? Yes, it is better than saying it behind closed doors, and frankly I’ve known or at least suspected this viewpoint among a few for a long time. But I do believe it is among a few. It would be interesting for this type of thinking to be taken on the floor of the Convention.

      • “Have you actually spoken to and taken a count of these many?”

        Yes, I have, Debbie. There are 24,317 people in all.

    • Rick

      I think you are right in your observation that the pro-GCR folks in the Convention have overestimated their supposed mandate. From the time that we walked away from Orlando last June, the divisions that the GCR has created have become more pronounces and public. Those who still believe that Jerry Nash and Brad Whitt speak only for a few, disgruntled folks in the SBC are really not seeing the bigger picture. I’m sure that I could be wrong about a silent majority in the SBC (as Debbie seemed to indicate to you), but the way that the GCR has been handled — before, during, and after Orlando — has been a major source of division within the Convention. Jerry Nash is not the issue. The real issue is a struggle for the heart and soul of what it means to be a cooperating Southern Baptist. Until we get that figured out, the divisions will continue. Hope all is well with you in AL. Have a great day and God bless,

      Howell

      • Jenn: You don’t wish to know me so you would rather kick me or anyone who disagrees with your theology out of the Convention? I would say that is something definitely that should be discussed and not just dismissed because you don’t want to know me. I have no reputation to proceed me that I know of other than I think discussion should occur whether we disagree or agree and I think honesty is the best policy especially among Christians.

  4. “…… at least they now understand what those of us on the other side of this debate have been feeling for the past few years. It really is odd to me that they seem surprised and offended by Nash’s (and to a lesser degree, Whitt’s) counter-attacks, as if the offensive GCR charges by Akin and others would never be answered. Did they not expect any push back? Or did they misread the winning of convention annual meeting parliamentary debates as a clear mandate for their cause? …..”””

    Ding!Ding!Ding! It’s astounding how those who have been pushing pushing pushing for an SBC to be made in their image are now suprised that there are those resisting that image.

    Now here’s a question. Is Micah Fries speaking as the Second Vice President of the Missouri Baptist Convention? Does the Missouri Baptist Convention appreciate him getting involved in the national politics using his position of authority to scold others into silence?

    • I didn’t see Micah using his position for anything. He spoke as a pastor and an individual. As for the Convention being in our image, our image which I also believe is God’s image is not to push those who disagree with us out. The same cannot be said for Nash’s article or those who support his view.

      Rick: I would be interested in knowing where these “24,317″ people are and how you have personally or collectively spoke to so many.

      • That is a drop in the bucket figure however compared to 8 million or so Baptists. 10% of which are Calvinist in theology, others who are not Calvinist but do not believe Calvinists should be pushed out. I personally could give you 22,000 who believe they should not be pushed out.

      • I would also add Jenn, if you think Micah used his position(which I totally disagree) didn’t Jerry Nash use his as well(which I don’t believe but using the same argument you are attempting to use.)

      • Debbie, you are no one that any one on these blogs could possibly hope to have any kind of civil conversation with since everyone who ever post anything you disagree with you accuse of being a liar are part of some vast anti-Calvinist conspiracy. Go in peace Debbie, but you are someone I really do not want to know. Your reputation precedes you.

        Rick, maybe we should add my 32,582 to your number – even then it still won’t convince some people.

  5. Act 5:38 KJV – And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
    Act 5:39 KJV – But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

  6. Howell,

    Well written and effective, I assure. Unfortunately, the very ones whose incredibly biased eye concerning SBC Today and Between the Times–and whose bias you clearly exposed, my brother–will not concede so easily, I’m afraid.

    Grace.
    With that, I am…
    Peter

    • May God bless you mightily, Peter, for putting that space between “SBC” and “Today.” It is a pet peeve, one that has hounded me for nearly four years.
      :)

    • Mark,

      You may have missed my answer to Greg at Voices, but the answer is no. Do I want anyone to leave? No. Do I think that disparate groups can continue to function effectively under one big tent? I doubt it, but that is still an open question. There is no question that the inerrancy battle helped to bring a variety of conservative Southern Baptists together. Can the BF&M2000 (or some other doctrinal statement) hold us all together? Probably not. That’s not because people are evil or mean spirited (although there are those like that). It’s because it becomes more difficult (not impossible) to walk together in a spirit of cooperation when there is more than one direction (or vision). For me, it’s not a Calvinist vs. non-Calvinist issue. At its heart, it is fundamentally what does it mean to be a cooperating Southern Baptist. Do I think that people on either fringe of SB life would be more comfortable partnering with more like-minded people? Yes. But I would not be in favor of telling people to leave. Hope that helps. Thanks and have a great day,

      Howell

  7. Pingback: An Excellent Article | SBC Voices

  8. Howell,

    Thanks for an interesting article. I also want to thank all who have responded and I pray God’s peace on everyone. I have been reading many of these blogs for a long time, but have not responded until now. I am a SBC pastor in a small rural church in South-Central Virginia and must admit that most of what happens at the national level of the SBC does not affect us personally. However, it seems to me that many folks are being hurt and hurtful in these back and forth debates about the breakup of the SBC and this does absolutely nothing for the cause of Christ. Are we really more concerned about the SBC than with Jesus? Before too long some congregations will begin to leave the convention in search for places where they may cooperate more freely and fully with those of like-mind, but at what cost? There are those here who will be perfectly happy if some of a different theological persuasion do leave, but then who will be the next target? I pray that we may all heed the words of James and watch how we talk to one another. The question that must be asked is, “Is it more important to follow Christ or a convention?” Where we go from here will depend on your answer.

    James 3
    The Tongue Is a Fire
    1Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
    2For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.
    3Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.
    4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.
    5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!
    6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
    7For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.
    8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.
    9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;
    10from the same mouth comes both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
    11Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?
    12Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.
    Wisdom from Above
    13Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.
    14But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.
    15This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.
    16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
    17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.
    18And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

    • Paul,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and to respond. I appreciate the reminder from Scripture regarding our words. In terms of following Christ or a Convention, I would hope that we could do both, meaning that the Convention (and the churches and entities that make up the Convention) are following Christ. Of course, none of us gets this perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and I would be the first to admit that. I believe that Southern Baptists can do far more together than we can apart. That being said, the question remains as to how much we can “agree to disagree on” (theology, methodology, eccessialogy, etc.) and still be able to partner and cooperate together for missions and ministry. If there is any kind of split (which I hope does not happen), it must be on amicable terms. I do think that the direction and vision of the GCR that has been set forth by those in leadership during the last year is currently at odds with a large segment of the SBC. Can people buy into that new vision and direction and agree to walk together in a spirit of love and cooperation? Yes. But, force a vision and new direction on a people — whether in the local church or in a Convention of churches — before that people is ready, is setting yourself up for major disappointment. Even as we agee to disagree, we must remain civil and Christ-like in our attitudes and words. Thanks for being willing to let your voice be heard. God bless,

      Howell

      • Howell,

        Well said, and I agree we can and should be able to do be both Christian and Baptist. I also agree that there may indeed be a split eventually and, if so, it can be done amicably. The thing that really concerns me is that rather than talking with each other in Christ-like fashion we are letting the whole world see a side of ourselves that doesn’t even remotely look like Christ. The world that we purport to carry the gospel to as we cooperate together is seeing this “gospel” worked out in real life amongst ourselves. No, we are not perfect, but we must strive to be as we are led by the Holy Spirit to be true followers of Christ. As Romans 12:1-2 reminds us we must not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may discern the will of God what is good and acceptable and perfect. I appreciate all the reasonable voices on these blogs, but we all must be more subject to the will of God as revealed to us in the Scripture we so treasure. If we truly believe that it is inspired, infallible, and inerrant, then it also must be sufficient and authoritative in all it says. Thanks you once again for letting me speak on this matter. God bless you and everyone else who may respond to this post.

        Your brother in Christ,
        Paul

  9. Before too long some congregations will begin to leave the convention in search for places where they may cooperate more freely and fully with those of like-mind, but at what cost? There are those here who will be perfectly happy if some of a different theological persuasion do leave, but then who will be the next target?

    Exactly. This has been shown the last five years as the exclusion target changes. This year it is Calvinists, next year it will be something else. It seems to be a happening thing every year and I would like to see it end so that we can get to the reason the SBC even exists and that is missions and supporting our missionaries with our dollars and our emotional support. Meeting the needs of our present and future missionaries as well as go ourselves and preach the gospel. That seems to have taken a back seat the last several years to these petty disagreements.

  10. Howell:

    Of course Jerry Nash has free speech. But so do the people who disagree with Nash. If Nash is going to make a strongly worded statement aimed at certain people, then the people who were the target of his strong words are going to respond in kind. What else do you expect? For Nash to “invite” certain people to leave the SBC, and those people to say “thank you kind sir, you made a lot of good points that we respect and agree with, and we will consider them”? Is that what “dialogue” means to you? Or is that the only “dialogue” that you are willing to have?

    • Job,

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I have no problem with those who oppose Dr. Nash speaking out against his position. In fact, I am not offended that people use strong language in doing so. Obviously, if folks use patently false or crude language in their dialogue, then that is a different matter altogether. I would not expect those who were offended by Nash’s post to say, “Thank you sir, may I have another.” My objection is to those who may want to chill the voices of Nash or anyone else in the ongoing debate and dialogue about the future of the SBC. That’s why I have no problem with blogs, including Between the Times — which is actually sponsored by an SBC entity — to advocate for a pro-GCR agenda or whatever other positions they may take which could be at odds with a segment of SBC churches that are supporting SEBTS with their CP money. That is certainly the case with me, but I could not envision a circumstance where I would try to have BtT shut down because of a post that I disagreed with (and there have been several). I say let the speech flow freely and, the SBC marketplace will decide who has the better argument. If, at the end of the day, Jerry Nash (who I do not know) and other voices make arguments that are limited to a handful of disgruntled people, then nothing will come of it. I probably come at this from a slightly different perspective than most pastors because of my legal background. That’s why I can defend Dr. Nash’s right to write what he did and SBCToday’s decision to publish his article, even if I may disagree with some of what he wrote and/or the tone in which he wrote it. That’s also why I give great freedom and leeway for people to comment here. I can only think of one comment that I have ever deleted and that’s because of the crude language that was used. I say the more voices the better, even if those voices don’t happen to agree with mine. I would much rather have people read and disagree than to never read at all. God bless and have a great day,

      Howell

      • Thank you for your kind, thoughtful response. But please know that when I say “then the people who were the target of his strong words are going to respond in kind”, well questioning whether Dr. Nash’s words were beyond the pale and constitute acceptable discourse in the debate IS “responding in kind.” Wondering whether Dr. Nash, who possesses influence and authority, harbors ill feelings towards Particular and non-traditional Baptists and wonders if he treats those that are within his sphere of influence inappropriately based on those feelings (as I did in a comment that I left on SBC Today) is also “responding in kind.” So is questioning the endorsement of those words (and similar statements of his own) made by a provost at NOBTS, and drawing the conclusion that since NOBTS gives one of its top administrators liberty to speak those words, then they can and should be construed as representing views or opinions at NOBTS (comments that I, Micah Fries and others made on SBC Voices).

        That is, actually, part of the dialogue. Dialogue also consists of how the people who receive your words perceive and react to them. Dr. Nash stated “The time has come for those who not truly Baptist in faith and practice to move along and form their own convention.” Suppose that you are one of those who does not fit Dr. Nash’s view of “truly Baptist in faith and practice.” Not only are you going to take great offense at being called “not a real Baptist” but his stating “the time has come for ME to leave” is going to be a matter of concern. How many people, for instance, feel the same way? How much power do these people have? Well, as the provost of NOBTS does too, and NOBTS is (by all appearances) fine with it, there’s your answer. So, what is going to happen? Are these folks going to attempt to insert anti-Reformed theology language in the next Baptist Faith and Message that is going to force me to leave? If so, when is that going to happen? Next year? 5 years from now? 10?

        Of course, if you are from that perspective – one who is the target of Dr. Nash’s words – you are going to respond IN KIND. The reason is that views expressed by Nash, Lemke and not a few others will result in those targeted by them being forced out of the SBC. Of course, those who do not wish to be forced out of the SBC are going to take action from being forced out of the SBC. In other words, it is a response that is equal to not only the words, but the meaning, and in this case the meaning of “the time has come for you to leave and form your own convention” is not idle.

        It may not be the type of response that you wish to see, but what other sort of response can be made to a person who has said “you are not a real Baptist so leave and form your own denomination”? What avenue is there other than to employ your own words to prevent such Dr. Nash’s views from spreading?

        That is why Micah Fries’ response was a logical, direct and appropriate one to Dr. Nash’s words. Dr. Nash’s words had the intent (or can most certainly have the effect) of driving certain Baptists out of the SBC. To that, a response must be made to counter that intent and effect. And of course, proposing that “we shouldn’t be talking about kicking anyone who agrees with BFM2000 and contributes to the CP out of the SBC, such words are inappropriate and should not be countenanced” goes along with that, because such words are stated with the intent and desire to keep from getting pushed out of the SBC.

        Dr. Nash stated that certain Baptists weren’t really Baptists, should leave the SBC, and (this is implied) if they won’t leave, then action should be taken to get them to leave … an “us or them” stance. Micah Fries, myself and many others did not merely respond to Dr. Nash and his words, but to the effect that his words had (or can have). Attempts to limit the dialogue to the words of Dr. Nash only, and not the effects of his words precludes an “in kind” response, which means it precludes an actual dialogue, and is itself a limit on speech. So, one can hardly expect Dr. Nash to say “you’re not a real Baptist, you are destroying our convention and you should leave” without expecting the “yous” targeted to challenge not only the truth of those words, but the propriety of speaking them. For the “yous”, who feel not entirely without justification of being the target of a CR type purge in the near future, the very high stakes simply will not permit responding in any other fashion.

        • “Attempts to limit the dialogue to the words of Dr. Nash only, and not the effects of his words precludes an “in kind” response, which means it precludes an actual dialogue, and is itself a limit on speech. So, one can hardly expect Dr. Nash to say “you’re not a real Baptist, you are destroying our convention and you should leave” without expecting the “yous” targeted to challenge not only the truth of those words, but the propriety of speaking them. For the “yous”, who feel not entirely without justification of being the target of a CR type purge in the near future, the very high stakes simply will not permit responding in any other fashion.”

          Job,

          Thanks for the continued dialogue. Your above quote from your comment is spot on, perhaps more than you realize. It is not just the words themselves — but the effect of those words — which make this, as you say, “very high stakes.” That’s why I was opposed to the GCRTF’s Report and Recommendations (the words on paper) as well as the effects that some of those words have had already. When people — on either side of the issue — believe that very high stakes are involved (which I believe they are), then you will have people who respond in a passionate and strong way. Hopefully those responses — even if we disagree with them — are done in such a way as to argue about issues and not personalities, but, as we have seen with Jerry Nash, personalities are always involved at some level.

          Our individual perspectives (and biases) will often determine how we react and respond to others’ arguments. If I were in your shoes or in Micah’s shoes, I may have responded “in kind” as you did. I have absolutely no problem with anyone responding with forthright and strong arguments. Those arguments — yours, mine, Micah’s, Jerry’s –are not immune from response themselves. That’s why I believe that the marketplace of ideas within the SBC will eventually sort this out. Do I think that Dr. Nash’s tone was extreme? Yes. But, even if he was advocating for a formal expulsion of a certain group from the SBC (which I don’t think he was, but which you and others could reasonably infer), there is absolutely no way that this is a “winning” issue on the floor of the Convention or even in the court of public opinion within the larger SBC family. Likewise, calling for a new board of Trustees at NOBTS or taking on Dr. Lemke and others at New Orleans will not be a winning strategy, IMO. We pick and choose our battles and where we can have the most influence. If we pick the wrong battles, then not only will we lose those battles, but we will have diminished influence for future battles. Thanks and God bless,

          Howell

  11. Howell Scott:

    You are 100% correct. Everything that you said was absolutely true. I thank you for this dialogue, and I am grateful for the chance to converse with you, as it has benefited me greatly.

    I am going to have to withdraw myself from this issue. I lack the spiritual and theological depth and maturity to deal with it in the proper fashion, and my attempting to do so has caused much more harm (a lot!) than good (almost none!). So, I will leave these issues to be dealt with by people better suited to do so, and you most certainly qualify. I should note that my own pastor, a great shepherd who has taught me many things, has not seen fit to involve himself in these things, and I should follow after his example for my own sake. A curiosity: I am an ardent Particular Baptist, and he is an equally ardent General Baptist! We respect each other’s beliefs, and for me that includes my not using his church as a platform to promote my own Reformed beliefs or to challenge his. If the SBC had more men like my pastor (and like yourself) and fewer like me, our denomination would be in much better shape.

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