Speaking Truth To Power In The SBC!

“Speaking truth to power.”  Used by liberals ad nauseum during President George W. Bush’s eight years in office, this pithy saying, although not in the Bible, certainly was embodied in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, Paul, Peter, John and others in the New Testament era and by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and others in the Old Testament era.  To speak truth to those in power is not an easy thing to do, whether those in positions of power are in government or in America’s largest Protestant body.  Because so few people have the courage to challenge those in power, when it happens, it becomes all the more noticeable.

Such was the case in Greensboro, NC at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in June 2006.  In one of the boldest examples of truth-telling to those in power that I have had the privilege to witness in person, (the late) Forrest Pollock, Senior Pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Florida, placed Frank Page’s name in nomination for President of the SBC.  Ending his rousing nomination speech, Pollock uttered these simple, yet profound words:  

“My granddaddy didn’t have a seminary degree but even he understood you can’t even spell SBC president without a C and a P.” 

Taking on the establishment and their candidates — Ronnie Floyd and Jerry Sutton — Frank Page garnered 50.48% of the vote, securing a first-ballot victory that sent shock waves throughout the Convention.  So dumbfounded were some prominent members of the ruling class that they walked out of the Convention hall after the results were announced, wondering aloud exactly what had just happened.  What had happened was that rank and file Southern Baptists, at least on this one day in Greensboro, said NO to the establishment!  These humble servants, not liking it when anyone tells them no, vowed that “this” would never happen again.  Never again would their candidate lose an election for President of the SBC.  With the elections of Johnny Hunt and Bryant Wright (although Ted Traylor would have fit the bill), the establishment has been true to their word.  But, just like with the election of Frank Page, grass-roots Southern Baptists will rally behind irenic and humble cooperating conservatives who stand in stark contrast to the all too common celebrity pastors that dot the Southern Baptist landscape.

Following his election, Frank Page was quoted as saying:

I think it is a turning point.  And I do think a different tone will come forth from this convention.  And that tone will indeed echo some deep appreciation of the past in the sacrifices men and women have made.  But I think it also will show, in the future (that) the landscape has changed — that there is a deep need to involve a much larger constituency.

I think by “larger” that Dr. Page meant broader, in the sense that a greater variety of Southern Baptists would be included on the trustee boards and other leadership positions within the agencies and entities of the SBC.  Apparently, the establishment didn’t understand it that way.  To them, a “larger constituency” means a mega constituency that they naturally confused for their own “large” churches.  If the 2010 nominations for the 63 new trustees of the SBC’s agencies and entities are any indication, then smaller churches, which make up the majority of churches within the Southern Baptist Convention, are still inequitably represented. 

Unless more people like Frank Page are elected to serve as President of our Convention, then we can expect that the inequity will continue.  How can we ensure ALL of our churches are fairly represented?  When grass-roots Southern Baptists begin to understand that not just the Cooperative Program, but the very nature of cooperation is at stake.  When rank and file pastors and members of small and medium-sized Southern Baptist churches stop following the establishment in their radical redefinition of our Convention.  And, when SBC statesmen and pastors (or former pastors) of larger cooperating churches, like the late Forrest Pollock and others (calling Pastor Bobby), speak truth to power before it is too late!  Grass-roots Southern Baptists are waiting.  And I promise you, we will notice when you speak!

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About Howell Scott

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for the last fourteen years. Before entering the ministry, I was a practicing attorney in my homestate of Florida. I have been married to my wife, Brenda, for 18 years and we have three sons, Stephen, Jacob, and Andrew.
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3 Responses to Speaking Truth To Power In The SBC!

  1. Stephen Fox says:

    Howell:

    Pardon my candor but the SBC reaps what it sows. My friend, the former Associate Editor of the Alabama Baptist, said to an audience of about 70 on an illustrious panel at the church where my Mother was baptized around 1936; on Feb 24, 2002 in the presence of former VP of WMU Catherine Allen and Texas Mainstream Baptists David Currie that Judge Paul Pressler’s definition of the Cooperative Program is: I’ll operate and You Cope.

    I think that is the soundbyte you are looking for here. It is no coincidence as David Montoya pointed out to Pressler at Samford University in the presence of Baptist Press Wilmer Fields Son Randy and 1,000 folks in the audience Ronnie Floyd was Pressler andPatterson’s agent against Mike Huckabee and anybody who may distract from the agenda in the state of Arkansas in the 1980’s. REad Montoya’s history of that state’s ordeal with Pressler Fundamentalism in Ed Babinski’s Leaving the Fold.

    Fast Forward to Sept 28, 2010 and your blog here. Glad you’re finally getting the point though I lament it took you so long.

    Ronnie Floyd did not chair the GCTR by happenstance.

    Please share my response to the brethren at SBC Voices cause that wilderness thicket needs a great light indeed.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Stephen,

      I may be dense at times, but hopefully I can see things as they are, not as I wish they might be. I obviously do not know Mike Huckabee personally, but from what I see on TV, he seems to have a winsome, down-to-earth personality. I would say that would perhaps be at odds with the other major player in Arkansas Bapitst life, who by the way just led his church to change their name to “Cross Church.” I believe autonomous baptist churches can do whatever they want (hopefully under the leadership of the Holy Spirit), but I find it passing strange that the Chairman of the GCRTF of the Southern Baptist Convention would take Baptist out of their name. One step at a time, but could a name change of the entire SBC be far off? And no, I do not believe that Ronnie Floyd’s appointment as the chair of the GCRTF was a coincedence. I believe that Johnny Hunt knew exactly what he was doing when he appointed each and every person to the GCRTF. I only regret that I voted for its creation in 2009. I guess you could say I voted for it before I voted against it! My first blog post on SBC Voices should be up sometime on Wednesday. You might find it interesting. Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  2. stephen fox says:

    Howell:

    Thanks for the reply. I will have to comment here to your blog at SBC Voices as David Miller and I are in the contretemps and I am in the Penalty Box awaiting his cavalier discretion to get some thunderbolt from Heaven so I can return.
    For the record Mark Baggett was the name I advertently left out inthe post above who in my hearing first utterred Pressler’s Definition of Cooperative Program.
    I am trying to bring some of this to the attention of Steven Miller, Billy Graham biographer who is as fascinated in some ways with the effect of Francis Schaeffer on the SBC as Al Mohler is fascinated with the man himself.
    In the wider world of the attenuations of Ronnie Floyd you may want to check that discussion in the googled review of Steven Miller of God’s Own Party.
    For later, Johnny Hunt and Jerry Vines 7th Congressional District of Georgia; would be interesting to explore that under the rubric of Annie Dillard’s notions of the topography of faith.
    We’ll keep chatting.
    SFox

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