Georgia Baptist Blogging Resolution

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Last week in Augusta, GA I was a messenger to the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Two resolutions passed one on appreciation and another on blogging. Fellow Georgia Baptist blogger Roger Ferrell recently commented on this resolution over at sbc IMPACT! I pretty much agree with his observations. I also appreciate that Timmy Brister has chimed in as well. The resolution on blogging is below.

Resolution on Blogging

Submitted by Rev. Wayne Bray and Rev. William Harrell
Beulah Baptist Church, Douglasville, GA

WHEREAS, the American people have the distinct privilege of freedom of speech as provided by our United States Constitution, and this resolution is not intended to limit that freedom of speech we all value so much; and

WHEREAS responsible blogging can be a means of promoting the flow of information and encouragement of our people, but certain people use this tool for divisive and destructive rhetoric at the expense of peace among the Brethren; and

WHEREAS blogging is also being used by some as a tool for personal attacks upon other Christian Brothers and Sisters, and this critical and divisive use promotes a negative view of the Southern Baptist Convention in the eyes of the society we are striving to reach with the Gospel (James 3:6,14);

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the messengers of this convention oppose blogging when it is used to cause division and disharmony among the members of our Southern Baptist Family (Proverbs 6:16-19; I Cor. 1:10); and since personal differences should not be dealt with in public view,

BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that all personal attacks should cease immediately (Proverbs 17:27­-28; John 17:21-23 ); and

BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that we reaffirm the historic method of administering our agencies and institutions through elected boards of trustees, and we call upon bloggers to cease the critical second-guessing of these elected leaders; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all Georgia Baptists respectfully request and expect that individuals who disrupt the fellowship through blogging repent and immediately cease this activity and no longer cause disharmony for the advancement of their own personal opinions and agendas; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, 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.

It’s not necessarily a bad resolution nor is it exclusively anti-blogging, but I still voted against it. Several people from the floor expressed reasons why they were against it. While I can agree with the spirit of this resolution it is the limitation on the medium of blogging that I disagree with. As a general example, take this article at the Associated Baptist Press entitled Georgia Baptist resolution criticizes Baptist blogs where we find this quote.

Wayne Bray and William Harrell, pastors at Beulah Baptist Church in Douglasville, submitted the anti-blogging resolution, (emphasis mine)

This news report is an example of a different medium calling a resolution “anti-blogging” which it really isn’t, IMO. And that’s just it isn’t it? Who gets to decide who and when someone is not adhering to this resolution? It would then become a matter of defining terms, motives and attitudes.

Let me provide another example from one of the authors of this resolution. In October 2006 Bill Harrell is quoted in the Christian Index about Calvinism.

“Second,” Harrell continued, “we must deal with Calvinism. I have solid Christian friends, some of them pastors who are Calvinists, but I think they are wrong about the tenets of five point Calvinism. In my opinion too much of the New Testament must be ignored or radically interpreted to embrace the five points of Calvinism.”

…but that man should not answer a call to a church that is not Calvinistic, neglect to tell them his leanings, and then surreptitiously lead them to become a Calvinistic church. That is not to suggest that all of our Calvinistic friends do that, but when it is done it is divisive and hurtful.

Is what Harrell said a “personal difference” in “public view”? Is it “divisive and destructive rhetoric” to say that fellow brothers in Christ ignore much of the New Testament? Who gets to decide? Is it bringing harmony to tell other pastors how they should conduct themselves when looking for a church? That their methods are divisive and hurtful? Who gets to decide?

If someone is going to draft a resolution like this it needs to include all mediums from gossip in the hall to newspaper articles to sermons at the annual convention. And even then we aren’t all going to agree on the tone, syntax and application of disagreements. Especially, when it comes to distinct theological disagreements.

I believe one of the issues for bloggers is that as one gains SBC “status” it’s as if they can say or write just about anything publicly and get a pass. Just because it’s in a newspaper or said at a certain meeting doesn’t mean it’s correct or proper. Blogging has opened up a new world with which people can respond so don’t blame the vehicle. Many of these voices are ones that have been suppressed or ignored or both, but have been here all along.

Many Southern Baptists certainly try to have a very controlled autonomy. I’m not suggesting that we not be civil to one another, but we are still sinners who will say things wrongly and even react in misunderstanding. We need grace on both sides.

Even though I am trying to be more understanding and loving in my approach I would vote “no” again for this resolution.

Mark

The above article was posted on November 21, 2007 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Scott Bridges November 21, 2007 at 2:45 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful article, Mark. I think another aspect of this issue deals with the greater exposure pastors face as a result of the internet age. Ten years ago, pastors could get away with saying almost anything in the pulpit that was well-meaning, and only a handful of people could criticize or hold him accountable. With the advent of worldwide audience, pastors who write online or have their messages posted on the web make themselves open to criticism from a vast host of online readers.

Since those in the ministry deal with messages of life and death, this is a good thing.

It’s embarrassing to have your errors pointed out before an audience of millions. Some pastors have not been very careful in this regard, and often make use of poor arguments or not-quite-factual information to make their points.

On the other hand, I do agree that Christians should not publicly attack brothers for personal reasons. Pointing out theological error is another matter altogether, and if the original message is posted publicly, it is appropriate for a rebuttal to posted in like manner.

2 Dan Paden November 21, 2007 at 3:46 pm

It’s all in whose ox is gored; if that resolution isn’t aimed squarely at Wade Burleson and SBCOutpost, I’m a dutchman.

Wade’s always struck me as unfailingly polite, confining himself to pointing out execrable failings of policy and bald-faced attempts to silence legitimate criticism. At least one of the contributors to SBCOutpost has often struck me as less restrained, sometimes to the point of being vitriolic, but it nevertheless seems to me that they are pointing out legitimate problems that need to be addressed.

Perhaps pointing those problems out via the blogosphere wouldn’t be a necessity were it not for the all-too-clear desire on some peoples’ parts to work their–well, their skullduggery–in the dark.

It’s enough to drive you crazy if you dwell on it. Point out that that the IMB is trying to pass missionary guidelines that go well outside the BFM, and you are divisive; point out that the Garner Motion is not being as aggressively implemented as it could be, and you are being divisive; accept censure in order to bring news of that sort to Southern Baptists who have little other means of getting it, and you are being divisive and rebellious. On the other hand, if you criticize Calvinists in public and slander them to the convention via a newspaper or even in your own blogging, and you are not divisive, you are being a watchman, a voice for discernment; surreptiously try to alter the standards set for missionaries, and you are…well, something. You’re really something.

Politeness and speaking up lovingly should be givens; attempting to silence legitimate criticism by calling your critics divisive is a pretty transparent tactic.

Sorry for the rant, but I’m beginning to get tired of this. To my poor ignorant eyes, there seems to be a pretty substantial coterie of people in the upper echelons of the SBC that have confused their bundles of man-made traditions and man-focused Finneyistic evangelism for the truth once delivered to the saints, and they seem to have no hesitation in trying to enforce their ideas on the whole of the convention.

But maybe that’s just me.

3 Traveler May 15, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. The days when men of the cloth and their denominations could operate without healthy scrutiny are over.

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