Georgia Baptist Convention on Southern Baptist Bloggers

Tim Brister —  November 21, 2007 — 12 Comments

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.

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  • While I agree that some of the language used in the resolution is not exactly clear, I do know that the intentions of the resolution is not to stand against simple differences with exegesis. I am from Georgia and I grew up in a Georgia Baptist Church. I am connected to several of the key players in the GA Baptist Convention, and I know that the resolution is not intended to be an outright attack against blogging.

    I am currently aware of one specific attack that is going on against my former church, pastor, and staff via the internet. The attack has been ongoing for well over a year now, and it has caused much instability and confusion within the church. Therefore, I believe the resolution is directly connected to this situation and is intended to make us aware of the harmful effects of such internet / blogging attacks.

    For the glory of God!

    Rev. Josh Buice

  • Timmy, we should be thankful for the Said at Southern community for this reason; namely we aren’t rogues taking potshots at the convention with no one around to tell us that maybe we’re a little out of hand. We actually have accountability and a set of parameters within which we blog.

    Regardless of the particulars of the Georgia situation, however, this resolution was extremely ill-conceived, made a private matter public (if what Josh feels is happening turns out to be the case, of course), and as such makes the GBC just as guilty as the bloggers they are railing against.

    And some people wonder why us younger guys can’t stand denominational politics.

  • At least there are some bloggers who are willing to offer correction to fellow bloggers. How about the denominational political leaders?

    The more I see the less I like. I’m not going to say that the recent meeting was a good ole boys club, but I certainly am not going to say that it wasn’t. 🙂


  • Josh,

    Your comments are helpful, but I can’t help but wonder why they do not make it clear what this resolution is about and why they proposed it. I have been outspoken against churches and members “airing their dirty laundry” online whether through blogs, forums, or websites (as in the case of Wet Palm Beach and Bellevue). But it appears here that the medium and those who use it are being demonized for the practices of particular groups of people.

  • Oh, and the P&P investigation team has discovered that one of the writers of this resolution has, of all things, his own “weblog”. Check it:


    “This is an interactive opportunity for individuals to discuss the hot topics of the week in light of God’s Word and perfect will.”

  • Timmy,

    Yes, I agree that to misrepresent the medium (blogging) and those who use it (bloggers) because of the bad practices and choices of a small percentage of the overall blogging world is a bad thing! However, due to my knowledge of the situation and climate within the GA Baptist Convention, I maintain my position that the goal is centered upon those who are misusing blogs rather than those of us who are seeking to bring glory to God.

    Rev. Josh Buice

  • Josh,

    Agreed. But I just don’t understand why they do not make that explicit in their resolution. Do you not agree that such a vague resolution implicating more than intended does not serve the purpose they are intending? If you look at the responses from this resolution, it is an embarrassment to Southern Baptists. It only confirms in the minds of those outside the SBC what they have been led to believe in the first place . . . and I find that tragic.

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  • Timmy,

    I will say that many SBC leaders have no real understanding of blogs and how they can be very beneficial. Therefore, the vagueness of the resolution is a bit troubling, but I think I have a good grasp as to what they are intending to battle against. The problem is that not everyone has the same perspective regarding the resolution. Therefore, I do agree – more communication and description would have better served the SBC as a whole.

    Josh Buice

  • With all due respect to Josh Buice at , I don’t believe that this resolution was aimed at those taking potshots at the pastor and staff of a local church. The resolution made a point to “reaffirm the historic method of administering our agencies and institutions through elected boards of trustees.” That tells me that it was directed at bloggers who were questioning the decisions made by boards of trustees. Certainly Wade Burleson, who has always dissented with grace and courtesy, had to be in the target. No doubt some of the sights Timmy mentioned in the original post were also.

    Mike Hardin

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