I have been following the “wrap ups” of the various state conventions of the Southern Baptist Convention (more on that later), and it should not be to anyone’s surprise that some of the state conventions don’t like the idea of blogging or the democratization of the Southern Baptist voice. Whether it is the extra-biblical dogmatism against alcohol, unbiblical curriculum at Centrifuge conferences, the seemingly conspiratorial anti-Calvinism agenda, censoring articles from Baptist Press, fleecing of the Cooperative Program, (shall I continue?) guilt-by-association attacks while presumptuously propping up arbitrary standards of who is the “real conservative,” I suppose that some will not like the amplification of voices not pre-approved by denominational filters.
So not to be outdone by Florida or Texas who once again flexed their muscles against all the alcoholics in the SBC, Georgia has decide to pass a resolution on blogging. Now granted, this resolution was clearly targeted at particular bloggers, but as often the case, when generalizations are employed, everyone gets lumped into the charge. It should be noted, however, that several leaders have become well-acquainted with blogging, including the one who proposed the resolution–none other the Bill Harrell, the chairman of the Executive Committee of the SBC. I am not in the SBC bloggers loop (such as SBC Witness, SBC Today, SBC Impact, SBC Outpost et al.) and don’t consider to really be one, yet I am a Southern Baptist and a blogger, as is other men, including Dr. Mohler, Dr. Lawless, Dr. Moore, Dr. Haykin, Dr. York, Denny Burk, Ed Stetzer, Mark Dever (and the IX Marks guys), J.D. Greear, Nathan Finn, Jim Hamilton, Tom Ascol, Scott Lamb, Steve McCoy, Steve Weaver, Tim Ellsworth, Wes Kenney, Les Puryear, Bart Barber, and many more (including IMB trustees). Surely the resolution was not directed towards all SBC bloggers. But if that is the case, then why not be clear about whom you are passing resolutions?
Furthermore, the resolution stated that personal differences should not be dealt with in public view. In other words, issues, decisions, or any other public statement cannot be treated in the public domain. But wait a minute – isn’t a public resolution expressing personal differences (that of Harrell and Bray) with bloggers not self-refuting?! This is patently fallacious and does not warrant any further commentary. Yet what should be mentioned is how quickly the resolution moves from “personal differences” to “personal attacks.” Again, it is not explained exactly what constitutes a “personal attack.” If it is some of the tactics used at SBCOutpost, I agree. None of that should be tolerated. But what if it is questioning or challenging someone’s exegesis or argumentation? Is that considered an “attack?”
Lastly, the resolution concludes with the statement – “that we set our eyes once again on the fields to which we are called to labor, refusing to dishonor God with activities that militate against harmony and good will.” I can’t help but think of the logic used by a former SBC president that we would be baptizing more if we did less blogging. Why can’t a blogger be both a committed witness in sharing the gospel as well as an outspoken voice in the SBC? Are we to conclude that the SBC had “harmony and good will” before the advent of blogging?
As with any other form of communication (print, television, radio), there is the good and the bad. There will always be extremes, and there will always be those who want to label others who are not extreme as being “extreme.” As President Frank Page has said, blogging is amoral. I have been outspoken on issues, decisions, and commentary made in public domain (both affirmative and negative), and that in itself is enough to upset those who insist on immunity or loyalty at all costs. I cannot speak for all SBC bloggers, but I think this resolution is ill-conceived and self-contradictory. If those who penned this resolution have something against particular bloggers, then they should consider their own advice and express their concerns or differences outside public domain. On the other hand, there should be greater accountability among Southern Baptist bloggers in order that our blogging (as in every other arena of life) honors the Lord, upholds the truth, and loves our neighbor. And if this resolution serves any purpose at all, it should call us all to mutual submission, humility, and speaking the truth in love.