After the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, the Democrat Party and their leaders in Congress, including Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, just knew that the voters had given them a mandate for change. After eight years of George W. Bush, the electorate was indeed ready to go in a new direction. Little did they know that Obama and Company, in less than two years, would not only turn the country in a different direction, but would attempt one of the most radical transformations of American life that we have witnessed in the modern era.
In less than two months, the American people will go to the ballot box to either affirm or repudiate the radical agenda that has been implemented by power-hungry politicians who have over played their hand and over stayed their welcome. If what happened in the Delaware Republican primary last week is any indication, then the establishment elites — both Democrats and Republicans — will be in for the shock of their lives when the American people rise up and let their voices be heard loud and clear.
In the same way, many within the Southern Baptist Convention establishment may also be shocked to find that more and more Southern Baptists are letting their voices be heard loud and clear. From Morris Chapman (see here and here), soon to be retired President of the SBC Executive Committee, to State Baptist Executive Directors David Hankins of Louisiana and Emil Turner of Arkansas to rank and file Southern Baptists (see here, here, and here), the divide between grass-roots Southern Baptists and those in the ruling establishment continues to grow. With the nomination and election of Kevin Ezell to lead the North American Mission Board, a mission agency that he led his church to minimally support in the last ten years, coupled with the Search Committee’s deaf ear toward the concerns of State Baptist Executives over Ezell’s nomination, the divide has increased. Depending on who is nominated as President of the International Mission Board, there could be further division. If one of the members of the Great Commission Task Force or someone closely aligned with someone from that group is nominated, the SBC establishment should be prepared to field tough questions from the churches that they ostensibly represent.
However, if the “leaders” continue to play from the same playbook, no one should be surprised when those within the ruling class do not answer any questions. And why should they? When you can unilaterally seal your own Task Force’s records for 15 years and brazenly tell rank and file Southern Baptists that this is necessary; when you can hold closed-door meetings and vote for new Presidents of the Executive Committee and NAMB in secret; when you can say that you support the Cooperative Program, but all the while take actions that, if followed to their logical conclusion, would eviscerate CP and the State Conventions while radically redefining what it means to be a cooperating Southern Baptist; when you can, with a straight face, tell small and medium-sized churches, that sending money to CP isn’t enough if you don’t plant your own churches or satellites, then you can do anything you want without having to fear the unwashed masses. If it were not so frustrating and sad, the similarities between the political maneuvering of the ruling elites in Washington, D.C. and the ruling elites in the SBC would be amusing. Unfortunately, neither is.
Two years after President Obama’s historic election, the supposed mandate that he rode into office on has evaporated. That’s what happens when you mistakenly believe that you were given a mandate by the American people for radical change. The SBC establishment, with about 10% of Convention churches represented at the Annual Meeting in Orlando, thought that they were given a mandate for radical change when 75% of the messengers voted to approve the GCR Task Force Report. I’m no math whiz, but that was less than the 95% (including me) who voted for the formation of a GREAT COMMISSION Task Force in Louisville last year. If the SBC establishment keeps misreading their mandate, they may discover in Phoenix next year that they really are in the minority when the majority of grass-roots Southern Baptists rise up and let their voices be heard loud and clear!