Build a Dinghy

The idea is that the Southern Baptist Convention is a ship that is headed in the wrong direction and it needs to be commandeered and steered by the conservatives in the right direction. (Now, in this case, whether ‘right’ means ‘correct’ or if it just means ‘not left’ remains to be seen.)

To those of you who follow me on Facebook, you already know where this is going, but I would encourage you to read on for two reasons: #1) This is an elaboration on what I’ve been posting for the last couple of days and I’m going to be a little more thorough than what I have been on Facebook, and #2) this is a preface to a forthcoming article Build a Dinghy: Rainbow Edition where I address the “Welcoming” Cumberland Presbyterians. (I’m sure you can guess what their priorities are.)

Why I’m Even Saying Anything

Now, you might be reading this and wondering to yourself, “Logan, you’re not Southern Baptist. Why do you even care? Why are you even taking the time to comment about such things?” It all boils down to the following reasons:

  1. The Southern Baptist Convention is easily the largest Protestant evangelical denomination and they have a large voice in the United States which is where I happen to live and pastor so I think I’m entitled to say something about what’s going in the culture which I to preach to every week.
  2. I was a part of a Southern Baptist church plant for 3 years. While I would not consider them a cult, there were cult-like practices that were in place that eventually led to their downfall. (Imagine Seattle’s Mars Hill Church in small town Arkansas where Mark Driscoll was sane and it was the “Executive Elders” who were arrogant, had anger issues, and terrible opinions about women.)
  3. I have a blog and I can. *insert shrug emoji here*

If You’re Still With Me By Now…

Let me start off by saying that I love my Southern Baptist friends. There are things about being Southern Baptist that greatly appeal to me. Southern Baptists, in a lot of ways, are outdoing Cumberland Presbyterians in how many missionaries they commission each year, how much of a reach they have out into the world with the Gospel, and a lot of them could teach us a thing or two about expositional preaching. So, understand that what I’m about to say doesn’t come from a place of malice, it comes as an elbow jab from a brother. Afterwards, we can go out to the pub and have an apple juice together. (You can tell your congregation it’s apple juice, I’ll lie for you.)

The Jolly Roger Wasn’t So Jolly

I couldn’t really find the origin of it, but #TakeTheShip became the war cry of many of the ultra conservative Southern Baptist pastors and leaders for this year’s annual meeting held in Nashville. The idea is that the Southern Baptist Convention is a ship that is headed in the wrong direction and it needs to be commandeered and steered by the conservatives in the right direction. (Now, in this case, whether ‘right’ means ‘correct’ or if it just means ‘not left’ remains to be seen.)

In an article that heavily featured Southern Baptist pastor and fellow Arkansan, Allen Nelson IV, The New York Times reported, “Those hoping to “take the ship” maintain that piracy is nothing more than a cheeky metaphor for a dry, democratic process.” Now, when it comes to pirate imagery, I’ve got to admit the aesthetic is cool, and I’m a little mad that I didn’t think of it first. However, the imagery implies that those who take the ship don’t belong on the ship to begin with. Historically speaking, pirates weren’t exactly great people who went around kindly asking for stuff with an open hand. They apprehended ships that weren’t their’s by force and took what didn’t belong to them.

Maybe I’m reading into it, but this got me to thinking about what the Conservative Baptist Network and what they really stand for. At the end of the day, I’m sure there are a lot of members of the Conservative Baptist Network who passionately love the Southern Baptist Convention and they passionately love Southern Baptist life. However, if you want to be one of them, it’s not enough that you be Southern Baptist, you must also be a conservative Southern Baptist.

Now, if you’re an “outsider” like I am, you might be reading this and thinking, “Aren’t most Southern Baptists conservative?” Yes, they are. The vast majority of Southern Baptists would tell you that abortion is a sin, homosexuality and all of its related behavior is sinful, and that the Bible should be taken literally. So, what’s the problem? The problem is that none of those things are good enough. It doesn’t matter if you share all of those positions with them, you’re still just a liberal who wants to steer the ship into an iceberg. It’s not enough to be conservative, you have to be conservative by their standards. When they move the goalposts you have to go with them.

For example, if you go to the Conservative Baptist Network website, and try to join a local chapter, you will be asked for your contact information, but then you will be asked to click a box that indicates that you affirm with the Conservative Baptist Network Purpose.

Purpose of The Conservative Baptist Network

Now, if you read the Conservative Baptist Network Purpose this is where it gets interesting. If you know the Baptist Faith & Message, then you can see right off the bat that the second bullet point is superfluous. The Baptist Faith & Message already affirms “the inerrancy, supremacy, and sufficiency of Scripture in all facets of life and application.” If it doesn’t then why are they requiring people to affirm the Baptist Faith & Message as part of this statement?

Now, I’m not going to run through all of these, but these are pretty standard beliefs and practices of those that call themselves Southern Baptist except for the fourth bullet point. Now, I get it. CRT is important issue. I fully believe that CRT does more damage to racial relations than good. Many Southern Baptists felt that passing Resolution 9 at the annual meeting in Birmingham in 2019 was a bad idea, but the resolution only stated that CRT could be used an “analytical tool” not a theological one, AND the resolution affirm that “Critical race theory and intersectionality have been appropriated by individuals with worldviews that are contrary to the Christian faith, resulting in ideologies and methods that contradict Scripture.” What more do they want, egg in in their beer? Part of the failure of Southern Baptist polity is that resolutions don’t really mean anything anyway. Just because a resolution passes doesn’t mean you or your church have to affirm it. It’s not like the Baptist Faith and Message. Which brings me to my next point…

It doesn’t matter if you affirm everything else that they affirm. It doesn’t matter if you stand against same-sex marriage, abortion, or if you stand for the doctrines that are taught in the Baptist Faith & Message, if you can’t agree with them on this issue then you’re not conservative enough for them. They can’t lock arms with you and call you a brother.

When I was a part of a Southern Baptist church plant, I was taught that part of what it means to be a Southern Baptist is to affirm the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message. When I could no longer do that, I stopped identifying as a Southern Baptist and eventually left. If you cannot lock arms with someone who also affirms your confession and your statement of belief, and you have to go above and beyond it to make sure someone is on “your side” then you either need to repent and seek biblical reconciliation or if you believe you are correct, then you need to form a new statement of belief that matches your ideals and use that as the goalpost.

If You Can’t Take the Ship…

If you feel the need to take the ship like pirates on the open sea, then you’re implying that you weren’t on the ship to begin with and in all honestly, maybe you weren’t. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I disagree with the Conservative Baptist Network a lot, but I think a lot of them have good intentions. I don’t think they’re evil people, but maybe it’s time they branch out. Starting a new denomination or cooperative program isn’t a bad thing. The body of Christ has arms and it has armpits. Some parts might stink more than others, but they’re all necessary.

So, if you can’t take the ship, build a dinghy.

P.S. I’m not going to be so nice in my next article.

The Guillotines of Fundamentalism // #100DaysToOffload

The guillotines of fundamentalism tend to make life hard for preachers too…

“A Hasidic proverb says, “We need a coat with two pockets. In one pocket there is dust, and in the other pocket there is gold.” We need a coat with two pockets to remind us who we are. Knowing, teaching, and learning under the grace of great things will come from teachers who own such a coat and wear it to class every day…


I happened to come to the seminary to teach during some rough years of denominational struggles. Some fundamentalist conservatives were making it hard for every professor to find out how to wear the coats with two pockets. Everything taught had to be scrutinized very closely, and it had to match the thinking of the powers in charge. Any number of professors were fired for being liberal, and within our school it was often the case that a student from a conservative church would smuggle a tape recorder into class to try and catch a professor saying something that might be interpreted as heresy. Then the student might take the heretical tape to a conservative trustee and it was either “ouch” or “off with his head.” The guillotines of fundamentalism always make teaching a nightmare.”

Calvin Miller, Life is Mostly Edges: A Memoir

Christocrat

Christocrat

“How can you vote for a Democrat?”

I’ve heard it for years now.  It’s this mixture of shock and disgust. As if personhood rises and falls on who I put down on my ballot. As if one party has a direct line to God’s throne room and is covered in the Shakinah Glory. But God doesn’t save people and then call them to a particular political party. Unless “final salivation is faith, works, and being Republican” By no means are my issues with ALL the people of the GOP. Some are Common sense and we just have different ideas of how to help people. I want to be clear I’m not blasting one side. I’m explaining where I’m at and how I got there. So today, let me tell you the scariest story of them all: Why a Conservative Christian is a Political Democrat (most of the time).

Over the last 9 years, I have seen a well sized chunk of Conservatives use fear, lies, photoshop, selective use of data to ensure the charecter assasination of President Obama. My Great Aunt Betty shared a notorious photoshopped picture of President Obama’s kissing a “LGBT leader” (who wound up being UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who is happily married to a beautiful woman). But she and all of those in her age bracket were convinced it was real.

Durng the 08 election, I heard horror story after horror story about how Obama was going to close our churches (he didn’t) and take away our guns (he didn’t). And I heard it for the next 8 years. Once the 2016 elections were up and rolling, it was the same song and dance. Fear. Not leadership, hope, the call to work hard and work together. Straight fear. I can’t do that anymore. I’m not a kid anymore, I’m not going to be afraid of the Democrat boogeyman that gets dreamed up all the time.

Also, the Evangelical Right probably drove me away faster than anything. Especially, during last years elections, the use of the Church for political ends was enough to make me sick. The Church accepting a man who’s made his money through deception, prostitution, and greed  God’s “Cyrus” candidate. I don’t by the idea that Christians has no other option or that Trump was the lesser of two evils. I’m not buying that. Let’s be honest: it was the red stew for the birthright. Power for the proclamation. Justices for Jesus. They traded the White House for witness. I can’t jump on board there. I’m not scared anymore. I grew up.

By now you’re wondering how I can vote like I do when the clear teachings of Scripture call abortion and homosexuality a sin. I agree. Both are sinful and the Church should call people to repentance. But I don’t see anything coming out of the GOP either.

Heres what I mean. From 2000-2006 Republicans had all three branches of government. There were 0 attempts to rid the country of abortion. 0. None. Here we are again in the same situation. One year later, still abortions. So when are they going to do something about it? When will it become more than a talking point?

But I believe it’s equally sinful to not care for one’s neighbor. In fact half of the Law is summed up for loving one’s neighbor. These include refugees, kneeling athletes, immigrants, and unarmed black men. But my friends on the other side seem to put all of these on blast. I want us to responsibly fund education, infrastructure, healthcare, and faithfully steward God’s creation. I think government is a better tool than a taskmaster. I don’t believe we make things better by financial bloodletting. That’s just common sense.

So why do I vote for Democrats? Because right now, the alternative leads from fear. Because helping one’s neighbor is just as important and fighting for the unborn. Because Christ saves those from both sides of the aisle. Because the cross is big enough for the both of us.