One of the most egregious positions for church leaders to find themselves doing is to be part of covering for their friends when a sin is exposed. When I was called to my present ministry the chairperson of the search committee and I became close friends. This person was very scholarly in his approach to the scriptures and he was one of a few people I could debate issues with and feel challenged in the debate. This person and I became very close as we worked in various areas of ministry. Four months into my tenure the person was arrested with numerous accounts of taking indecent liberties with a minor. I did all that I could to confront the situation when I found out about his grievous sin but I made certain that I did not make the mistake of giving him “cover”.
Many times when friends are accused of moral failures the first move many church leaders feel compelled to make is to give cover to our friend. We take the position, I cannot believe this person would never do anything like this. Let me be clear, I am not speaking about some groundless charge or a “he says, she says” scenario. I am speaking of someone that is accused of something with a person willing to tell the personal story. It must be investigated thoroughly and with an unbiased approach. As we make the transition to a national level it appears one of our denominational leaders has intervened for one that has been accused of moral failure. Because of this intervention, it makes it appear a cover-up is in place.
Dr. Ed Stetzer
Ed Stetzer did an interview with Jonathan Merritt after he was outed in the blog world. That interview was projected all across Twitter by Stetzer’s followers. In the interview Merritt came clean that he had “physical contact that went beyond the bounds of friendship” with this homosexual blogger. However, in Stetzer’s article he chastised Christian bloggers for linking to the homosexual bloggers’ site and even questioned if those who reported on this story were even Christian. To that I can only respond, WOW! Why would a denominational leader question the salvation of someone for merely linking to a site and questioning if this were true? Read more
In the recent days I have been on a blog hibernation and was not about to post anything new until August 15, 2012. However, in the recent days a report has come from the homosexual community accusing the author of Green Like God and The Faith Factor, Jonathan Merritt, of being a homosexual. When this story broke on Monday, it was picked up by our own Peter Lumpkins on Tuesday. I added to Peter’s comment stream that I saw Jonathan at the NOLA convention at the Cafe Du Monde on a Tuesday enjoying time with a female that appeared to be his girlfriend. After the story on Peter’s blog, Ken Silva, at Apprising Ministries revealed in an article that he contacted Azariah Southworth and reported his conversation.
Today Ed Stetzer, President of LifeWay Research, released an interview with Jonathan Merritt where he affirms that Azariah Southworth claims are somewhat valid. Jonathan affirms;
We corresponded several times by email and text for a couple of weeks, some of them inappropriate…we had physical contact that went beyond the bounds of friendship. I was overcome with guilt, knowing I had put myself in an unwise situation. We never saw each other again and we ceased contact after a period of time.
I would like to address, not the reality of this statement nor do I want to address innocuous statements concerning Merritt’s confession. I honestly do not know the details and am only responding to what is in the public and what is part of this interview. George Washington had rules he lived by for maintaining “Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation”. One such rule is;
“Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of any.”
Thus, I am not being hasty, but I am going to point to a few facts that need to be addressed.
Posted by Tim Rogers on May 16, 2012
Posted in Lifeway • Lifeway Research • Southern Baptist | Tagged With: Surveys
Completing my recent survey from LifeWay Research made me begin thinking about surveys. It seems that one can find, at Dr. Ed Stetzer’s blog, a weekly research recitation that tells us what the pastors, people in the pew, or most anyone is thinking. However, I believe it is the way these surveys are formed and used that call into question their validity. If one studies political science one will find that surveys are not used to inform an opinion but to market an opinion. There is a quip in the political circles that reveals exactly what I am saying; “Want a survey? Then buy a survey.”
This being an election year gives evidence of what I mean. Read more
Throughout the history of the SBC there has been an understanding concerning resolutions. Everyone knows that resolutions are not binding on entities. The reason resolutions are non-binding is we have a trustee system in place that oversees the work of these autonomous entities for the convention of churches. We have long honored the trustee system for one simple reason–they are made up of people in the pews who listen to the voice of other people in the pews. The late Dr Adrian Rogers addressed the voice of the people by assuring the Peace Committee that whatever the people said the professors were to teach. Thus our trustees, while knowing the resolutions were not binding on the entities, clearly understand that resolutions voice the will of the people. My friend Peter Lumpkins has posted his interpretation of Lifeway’s action. It is in the Lumpkins piece one will find a quote expressing the nature of resolutions. The quote on the nature of resolutions in the SBC is from Dr. Mohler when he was still editor of the Christian Index in 1992.
Due to this recent action by Lifeway there remains one question that must be answered. Why did the Lifeway trustees refuse the will of the people? There are three reasons that come to mind.
First, they did not understand the resolution. Read more
Posted by Tim Rogers on February 9, 2012
Posted in Baptist Issues • Lifeway | Tagged With: SBC and Calvinism, Trevin Wax
I considered very strongly about responding to the recent interview at SBC Voices with Trevin Wax. Certainly there were some issues of agreement that I would thank Brother Trevin for clearing up. One particular item concerned the payment of those involved. Notice how Brother Trevin handled that item:
“We think it is great that leaders like D.A. Carson, Matt Chandler, James MacDonald, and Danny Akin would take the time (without compensation) to give us their input in how to shape a curriculum.”
So, we did not compensate these guys for their expertise. Great!!
I honestly do not have the time to research and respond to this preposterous blog post. It is clear the intent of the interview is to alleviate fears of Southern Baptists that “The Gospel Project” is not a way to implement Calvinism into the SBC through stealth measures. However, I am not the only one that can see through this shenanigan. Sources tell me that Lifeway has people working inside the walls that tried to express a need to change the title of this curriculum. However, it is evident the Editor, Dr. Ed Stetzer, and the President of Lifeway, Dr. Thom Rainer is only listening to those in a tight circle.
John Stossell is doing an investigative report tonight on his Fox Business show at 10pm. I encourage you to listen in as he presents how those at ABC believe they are presenting the truth of the news. He correctly identifies the reason the people at ABC believe they are presenting the truth is they have surrounded themselves with only those that think like them. The same is true here within our Baptist Sunday School Board.
There is a person over at SBC and Calvinism blog that has posted a very informative piece concerning the Wax interview. I would encourage you to read his article entitled;
Instead of my response to that interview, I will allow someone else express the very issue I stated in my article concerning this new curriculum. Thank you, whoever you are, as you have certainly asked valid questions and called to task the stealth answers that were given.
Upon perusing the news articles at the online Biblical Recorder I found a Baptist Press article that was an advertisement for the new curriculum at Lifeway. This new curriculum is the first curriculum addition in over a decade. What is amazing to me is the title of the curriculum–The Gospel Project. The Gospel Project is a new curriculum released by Lifeway but put together by non-Southern Baptists. For the first time in over a decade Lifeway introduces a new curriculum and they went outside of the SBC to find advisers for the project. For example a senior adviser is Dr. D.A. Carson the scholarly brainchild of The Gospel Coalition. Another of the advisers is Matt Chandler, Pastor of The Village Church in Dallas Texas. This is a church that is affiliated with the SBC, but something else about Pastor Chandler is his position on the Board of Directors with Acts 29. Acts 29 is the church planting network that rejects planting any church that is not reformed. Acts 29 is also the church planting organization that was founded by Mark Driscoll. Dr. Ed Stetzer, a VP at Lifeway and Co-Editor of the new curriculum, was on the ground floor of organizing the Acts 29 network. With these two serving key roles in this new curriculum, along with the latest book released by Mark Driscoll, Real Marriage, there should be a concern by Southern Baptists when the new curriculum addresses the marriage relationship.
While these are some issues of major concern, for me the biggest concern is the tacit admission of Lifeway with the name of the new curriculum–The Gospel Project. Anyone who has ever dealt with Calvinists in general know the majority believe that Calvinism, the theological system named after its founder John Calvin, is synonymous with the term “Gospel”. Non-Calvinist are castigated as lacking the intellectual ability to understand the system any time they question and criticize the synonymous use of the term The Gospel when in fact it is nothing more than adherence to the five points of a system.
Lifeway has boldly and with brash arrogance snubbed its nose at 80% (and that is a generous percentage for Calvinists) of the convention that are non-Calvinist.
The Elephant Room is an event that clearly focuses on where we are headed as a convention. This upcoming event is not only being simulcast by an established SBC church that was the hub of the Conservative Resurgence, but it is also being simulcast by a NAMB funded church plant. Add to that the program personality of Dr. Jack Graham and one has a recipe that produces a full blown case of Evangelical Ecumenicism. Thus, in the following OP I want to reveal a simple formula that leads to this ecumenicism.
THE ELEPHANT ROOM I
The Elephant Room has been assessed and presented by various people within the SBC while having SBC pastors participate. While every pastor is free to participate with whomever one feels led by God, there is always a fine line of ecumenicism that most pastors have refused to cross. In Elephant Room I there were four Pastors that are affiliated with the SBC in a loose status at best. Dr. David Platt, Rev. Stephen Furtick, Rev. Perry Noble, and Rev. Matt Chandler are those that are affiliated with the SBC. If we are honest Dr. David Platt would be one that is the most connected but he is very loosely connected in his affiliation and support of the SBC.
THE ELEPHANT ROOM II
Merriam-Webster defines nepotism as; “favoritism (as in appointment to a job) based on kinship.” Some expand that definition to include close friends. Thus nepotism, for those defining it to include friendship, would certainly be correct and something, if taken to an extreme, that could be harmful to the SBC. However, for this post I will remain strictly focused on the kinship definition as defined by Merriam-Webster. One may ask the reason I do not use the “friendship” part of the definition? That is a fair question. I do not use that because of the nature of appointments and convention positions within the SBC. Many appointments and recommendations are made based on relationships made within the process of meeting one another through the educational institutions of the SBC. Thus recommendations to various pulpits and other convention positions are based on friendship. I merely would like to point to some positions that seem to be given solely on the fact that someone was kin to someone else.
Dr. Tom Rainer has done a tremendous job at Lifeway. I do not know of anyone that is disappointed with the progress of that company. There are some serious concerns with Lifeway’s direction of headlining authors that have questionable theological views at best, but if the bottom line is financial stability and viability, no one can complain about his tenure. Having said that, there remains some concerns with the nepotism that seems to have embedded itself in that organization.