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.
We were told at the past yearly meeting of Southern Baptists that we needed to trust the Trustee System. After that statement by Dr. Thom Rainer, President of LifeWay, I gave a hearty Amen! As I think about his statement and view the recent Baptist Press public service announcement for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) I am struck with where my allegiance lies. Yes, I trust the Trustee System, but it is the sitting trustees that I am beginning to lose faith in.
The beginning of Great Commission Resurgence occurred when Dr. Danny Akin in a chapel message “The Axioms of a Great Commission”, (cannot be accessed through Between the Times) and is noted to be the inspiration of the GCR Declaration, spoke of a “bloated bureaucracy”. Read more
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
There is a saying in the world of politics; “Need a poll, buy a poll.” It hinges on the understanding that the human psyche is geared toward a desire to be apart of the larger crowd. You see, no one desires to be known as being “outside the mainstream” of society. Thus, the various election polls you see at this time of the year. Many of the media outlets release various polls depending on their likes and dislikes.
Polling data is something that I find interesting but it is not something I always place a dependence on. If you will notice the election polls mentioned earlier, you will find that CNN commissions the polls they report and Fox commissions separate polls for their reports. If the polls do not come back affirming their position it is never released. However, most polling experts agree they can predict how the polls will be returned based on the questions asked. Not only can they determine the data results but they can do so simply because of the way the questions are worded. These polling experts study how they are not supposed to word questions because of a “leading” quality in the question. However, it is that discipline used in forming the poll that can be misused in order to bring about desired results. Which brings me to my title questions; Why another poll? How does it help?
Why another poll?
The Lifeway SBC Pastor Survey 2012 covers a gambit of issues. It begins with leading questions about the upcoming recommendation to the convention concerning the addition of a nickname. It ends with statements concerning the percentages of Cooperative Program (CP) giving. When I say leading I mean the survey presupposes a nickname is a foregone conclusion. There were three questions asked about the nickname with two questions being presented with statements of fact before the question. Notice the first “statement of fact” that is given.
In February the task force appointed to consider a possible name change for the Southern Baptist Convention recommended that its legal name remain the Southern Baptist Convention.
Posted by Tim Rogers on April 24, 2012
Posted in Baptist Issues • Lifeway Research | Tagged With: Dr. Ed Stetzer | 11 Comments
When I entered my office on Monday morning and looked in my box to retrieve my mail I saw something interesting–an envelope from Lifeway Research. I opened the large envelope to find a survey of forty-three questions that began with a question concerning the Task Force that was appointed through a “back-door” reading of our constitution by the current President, and ending with questions concerning the giving of the church.
Well, it doesn’t take rocket scientists observing questions to realize the desired outcome of the Research team at Lifeway. Over the next couple of posts I will observe the questions and see if you agree. Therefore in this opening article I want to look at two statements to help you see the theological bend the Research Team seems to desire.
- My church is theologically reformed or Calvinist
- My church is theologically Arminian or Wesleyan
The statements above represents the theological positions one my choose from. From the look of things it is a clear straight forward statement that defines what one believes. But, this is a Southern Baptist survey and the survey is designed to find the theological beliefs of those pastors in the convention. That being said there seems to be one question. Where is the position for Baptist theology? Are we seriously giving credence that there is no such position as a baptist theology? One other thing about the statements. They are designed to cause a certain response. What person in a Southern Baptist Church is going to say their church is “Arminian or Wesleyan”? Therefore a pastor has only to choose between “reformed or Calvinist”. Is there really a secret as to what we will find from the surveys with these statements? I am not an Arminian, and neither am I a Wesleyan. These theological positions places one in the uncomfortable position of arguing one is not saved forever. Thus, we must choose “reformed or Calvinist”. Why? Because “reformed or Calvinist” is the only theological position to choose from that affirms Salvation is forever. But, I am neither reformed nor Calvinist.
I presented this to a friend of mine that holds a PhD in theology. Here was his reply:
This is pitiful. The vast majority of SBC churches are neither Reformed or Arminian. They are something of a hybrid of the two known as “Baptist.”
To which I must say; AMEN!!