Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Floyd Nomination--Is There An Integrity Gap?

Dr. Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, for whom I have tremendous respect, decided to move from a silent observer to endorsing Dr. Ronnie Floyd as President of the SBC. I have lost some respect.

I agree very much with the reasoning of Dr. Morris Chapman on this subject. His post last Friday entitled Diminishing Returns is “must-reading” for this topic. Denominational leaders of our entities should remain neutral. In addition to the issues Dr. Chapman raises, I think it’s highly inappropriate for an entity that belongs partially to me to be promoting a candidate I do not support. Why does SWBTS’s website contain Dr. Patterson’s personal endorsement? I can only assume Dr. Patterson is using Southern Baptist time and Southern Baptist resources to lobby for someone only a fraction of Southern Baptists support. Wasn’t that a part of what the conservative resurgence decried? I’m not suggesting the issue is as grievous; only that there are similarities.

Second, Dr. Patterson reportedly said FBC Springdale’s child baptistry was “blasphemous”. This was reported by the Founders website in 2000, reporting on a Patterson interview with Mark Dever. Admittedly, FBC Springdale was never named by Dever, but one wonders whether Patterson has had a change of mind. Is the famed fire-truck baptistry with confetti cannons no longer “blasphemous” because it is in his friend’s church? Patterson evidently hasn’t published any clarifying words to this rather clear hypocritical stance.

Third, Dr. Patterson, who is dependent upon Cooperative Program support, is promoting a candidate who pastors a church with a shameful record of CP support. You’ve all heard the numbers. FBC Springdale’s CP giving is .27% (that’s point-two-seven percent). Even if you combine that with “joint SBC causes” the number only raises to 1.8%. What ingredient is more important to Southern Baptists than the Cooperative Program. We all know it isn’t music that holds us together; theologically we’re Arminians and Calvinists; church methodologies don’t hold us together. How can Dr. Patterson so easily overlook this glaring deficiency in Dr. Floyd’s resume?

Fourth, Dr. Patterson had a slip of the tongue (I hope) in his posted support of Dr. Floyd. He said "...Dr. Floyd has built one of our greatest churches in a smaller community..." Dr. Patterson knows only Jesus builds the church (Matthew 16:18). What has happened to that razor sharp intellect that sliced liberal light-handling of the scriptures in the 1980s? Woe to us for electing any pastor who builds churches. But aside from the sloppy comment of not ascribing church building to Jesus, why is FBC Springdale “one of our greatest churches”? Greatest implies there are not so great churches. Buildings, baptisms and budgets aside, what sets FBC Springdale higher than other churches? Isn’t this more of the tired old mantra that Southern Baptists have been hearing for decades?

I am sure FBC Springdale is a fine church, filled with noble Christians led by committed staff and a passionate pastor. I mean to detract nothing from them. But with over 16 million Southern Baptists, can we not find one candidate who has wider appeal and fewer objectionable issues than this pastor?

No comments: