I’ll be on the road most of the day as my son and I head back home after spending an enjoyable few days in Dallas. Stephen’s doctor’s appointment went well — no surgery anytime soon — and we even managed to see the Mavericks beat the Celtics at the AA Center (American Airlines, not Alcoholics Anonymous — you just gotta keep all those nicknames straight). Monday was also a day of finding and eating good Texas BBQ, even if it was at the Red, Hot, and Blue restaurant chain out of Memphis!
Of course, the big story of Monday was the announcement by the unofficial “official” Name Change Task Force of a new “unofficial” nickname for the Southern Baptist Convention. Completely optional, the new nickname will be “Great Commission Baptists” (no one saw that coming). Just a few observations (to add to the increasing number of diverse voices on this issue — here, here, here) before devoting more extensive analysis later this week.
- The only thing surprising about this announcement is the “informal” nickname angle. I predicted earlier that the Task Force would not recommend an official name change, which would have required a 2/3 majority vote of the messengers at two consecutive SBC Annual Meetings. I also predicted, wrongly, that a d/b/a would be recommended as a way around the supermajority requirements to amend the SBC Constitution and By-Laws. How this is any better than a d/b/a or how this can be characterized as a “win-win” situation is baffling.
- The “informal” nickname angle — totally optional for each church within the Southern Baptist Convention — doesn’t even sound good on the surface. When I talked with my wife Monday night on the phone and explained the new nickname recommendation, her first thought was about the same as mine. I won’t repeat the word she used (not a bad or vulgar word) because it was less than flattering. I imagine that many folks on both (or all) sides of the Name Change debate had less than flattering initial reactions to the announcement.
- How will this be implemented? As this is an “informal” nickname, this should not be given equal, much less preferential, treatment by any officials, officers, or entities of the Convention. Good
luckprovidence on that one!
- Much like the GCR before it, this will be touted as a way to bring unity to the Convention and to help strengthen our Great Commission efforts. After all, if you put “Great Commission” in the title of anything, how can it not bring unity and strength? In the end, this will be more divisive than the GCR. Much like a “traditional” church when a new “contemporary” pastor comes on board, we will see young pitted against old and “traditional” pitted against “contemporary.” Questions will inevitably be asked and have to be answered, such as: “Do you have an affinity for churches who go by the nickname “Great Commission Baptists” or do you like those churches who still cling (along with their guns and flags) to the name “Southern Baptist?” The questions might be subtle at first (“Which service do you attend?”), but they will become more pointed (“Do you want to see the world won for Christ or do you just want to stay stuck in the past?”).
- The process that brought us to this point was fundamentally flawed. Unless the Executive Committee votes to reject bringing the Name Change/Nickname recommendation to the floor of the Convention — which I highly doubt — we will continue to see hardball politics employed at the highest levels of our Convention. Who would have thought that The Great Commission would be used, not to unite us, but to divide us?
These are just some of my initial observations. I will flesh out some of these in additional posts throughout the week. I will not have access to a computer for most of the day on Tuesday. I will try to interact with those who comment as soon as I can either late Tuesday or Wednesday morning. God bless!