A couple of days ago, Tom Ascol shared that it has been announced that Johnny Hunt will be voted upon as the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention. "How can that be?" one might ask. Well, you see, it really has nothing do to with you so much (if you are a SBCer), but rather the "kingmakers." Since the conservative resurgence of 1979, there have been an elite group of insiders who decide in a conspiratorial manner behind the scenes who they want to be the next president. The candidate then goes on a speaking circuit making stump "presidential speeches." You can often find the venues being the likes of the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference, Bailey Smith Real Evangelism Conferences, or state evangelism conferences. According to James Hefley, author of Truth in Crisis, "These well-intentioned kingmakers politicked in informal but successful ways, to get men elected to the presidency ..." Ascol adds that Hefley "goes on to describe how the kingmakers very carefully planned to have their man speak in high profile pre-convention meetings in order to place him in 'a very strategic position for election to the SBC presidency.'"
This provoked Ascol to ask some very important questions:
1. What kind of person would make a good president of the SBC?
2. What kind of process is there--or should there be--for a person to be nominated for president?
3. Is it good to have more than one conservative candidate nominated for president of the SBC?
4. Given that the season for mentioning names as candidates for the SBC presidency is now officially open, who are some other folks that you think would make good candidates and why?
I think that these are questions we need to seriously consider. For one, I don't think that the way we go about selecting the next SBC president is something we should be proud of. The system is rigged better than the nominations for your high school homecoming queen. Admittedly so, the president is not a position many want to have (for obvious reasons), and even the position itself isn't very impacting, given that the convention is made up independent (autonomous and self-governing) churches. However, the questions have been asked, and many have responded.
Actually, at this moment, 111 comments have been made on this post! Needless to say, there are many (including myself) who would rather the SBC have someone other than Johnny Hunt as the president of the SBC. On a follow-up post by Ascol, I made the following comment concerning the issue:
Thank you for your two recent posts about SBC president and possibilites. They are very timely and tactful. I did not respond to your previous post about what kind of president we should look for, but I would like to summarize my thoughts with a verse that characterizes the heart of a true servant of God:
"And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness."
2 Timothy 2:24-25a
I believe this verse epitomizes what our president should be like. I believe he should be a servant of the Lord, to the local churches, and to the denomination as a whole. I do not think that the president should be determined on a straight theological stripe or theological framework, but must be willing to work with those of whom he disagrees, and to do so with kindness and gentleness. Nowhere is there a biblical prerequisite that our president needs to be a denominational elite of a megachurch or a favorite personality in the preacher circuit. He is not a star. He is a servant.
And this is why I believe that Johnny Hunt should not be the next president of the SBC. He has shown himself to be quarrelsome from the pulpit and in person. He has consistently and persistenly derided anyone who disagrees with him and exercises his leadership authority in an autocratic manner which does not lend itself to cooperation and consideration of others. I believe Johnny Hunt is a godly man and a great pastor, but I also believe he has disqualified himself because of his words and actions. Because of his anti-Reformed campaign, he has rallied his followers to even more divisiveness, as even tonight he is preaching in a "bible conference" where one of his followers (my former pastor) has taken the same Arminian rhetoric to attack those in the Reformed tradition without basis, substance or warrant - a tradition which is growing, and a tradition which they denounce.
On another note, you spoke of evangelism and the unregenerate in our bloated church rolls. When I first started reading your blog, you were give case studies of churches, their rolls, and their evangelism. You later considered drafting a resolution for the SBC as a corrective for this. Are you still considering doing so? I think this would serve as a meaningful reminder and continual indication of why and how to reform our churches.
You are correct in saying that God has providentially worked out that this year's convention could be historic and monumental. Considering the IMB and Wade Burleson issue, the election "not-a-debate" discussion by Mohler and Patterson, the line-up of various speakers, and the rise of Christian blogging all serve towards a viable and powerful force juxtaposed to the Kingmakers. Keep up the good work you are doing. And while the Kingmakers have already established who they want on the throne of the SBC, let us not forget that they cannot control the sovereignty of God.
As I shared, I hope to expound upon the text I aforementioned later in a post and why I believe it is crucial that we have a president that represents every tradition within the SBC, not just those in the inner circle of denomination elites. Here's where the Caner brothers come in. It is obvious that they felt it necessary to defend Hunt and make some outlandish and inappropriate comments. For instance, Ergun Caner said:
Well...after reading your comments about Dr Johnny Hunt- I am beside myself. Completely.
At one point, Dr. Ascol asks if you could perhaps change the conversation...
You should have listened. Classic case of the second generation destroying the work of their fathers.
Knowing Dr Ascol and his reputation, I am certain he would be embarrassed by your ruminations concerning Dr. Hunt.
Have any of your grown a soul-winning church like Woodstock?
Do you send out missionaries every two weeks?
Have any of you done ANYTHING accept kill your churches with sermons expounding the Westminster Confession?
I would guess that, unlike William Carey, most guys who are hyper about Calvinism use it to justify your laziness.
I BEG of you- PLEASE bring another name to the floor of the SBC. I would be thrilled to watch that person go down in flames, as we enjoy another conservative who has not adopted semi-Presbyterianism. On the positive side, you can always just "punt" and say it was predestined for you to lose.
And I DOUBT if Dr Akin would like too be joined in with the others listed. He wouldn't fit anyway. He still gives invitations, and attends a church with Baptist polity, instead of an oligarchy.
Johnny Hunt is not "anti-Calvinistic." He is a soul-winner. You do the math. And just because you cannot answer the questions concerning your views of predetermined fatalism does not make his arguments "straw men."
Like Beza, this next generation will ruin what men such as Dr Ascol built. Drawing our attention to the Charleston stream of the SBC is a good thing.
I am proud to say that Johnny Hunt is a Trustee here at Liberty University, and more specifically, a trustee for the Seminary.
By the way- I too found it ironic that Johnny is going to be "elected."
Of course, just like true Baptist polity- ANYONE can be elected- all they have to do is ask-
Following this comment, the discussion further digressed. Caner continued with his rants as follows:
"Five-point Calvinism is a VIRUS. It saps the evangelism of every church it infects."
"The only thing you have in common is what I call the BARNACLE PRINCIPLE- charismatics and calvinists creep into vibrant churches and attach themselves. They do not grow their own movements- they attach themselves to others."
Sounds like the frontpage of BaptistFire
to me. Anyway, Ergun Caner later attacks the ministry of John Piper (on baptism and calling him a hyper-Calvinist) as his brother (Emir) made the snide comment "Let the nations be glad that God is the author of evil and takes joy in people going to hell...
" The two Caner's successfully paraded themselves as the "intellectual pit pulls" that they are - only that they have rhetorical bark with a whimpering bite. Fortunately, Gene Bridges commented and corrected
the many errors the Caner brothers have purported. Until yesterday, I have had great respect for the Caners' (especially Ergun - having heard him several times); however, this uncharitable and disgraceful act is unbecoming not only of a scholar and a dean, but of a Christian - period.
So back to the issue of the next president of the SBC. I guess it could be said that the SBC is just as divided ecclesiologically as our nation is politically. What will it take to bring Southern Baptists together? Attacks by Johnny Hunt and Herb Reavis at Real Evangelism Conferences? Reckless comments by Southern Baptist professors and deans on blogs? Backroom bulleying of the convention by denomination elites?
Are we ripe for a reformation
? I think so. Their charges and campaigns cannot snuff out the truth. Let the Arminian bandwagon roll. Let the resurgence kingmakers manipulate the system. Let the lies and accusations fly. The more they speak, the closer we are to a reformation. People are getting it.
And it may very well be that this year, the evidence of that will be seen.
Let us pray for the future of the SBC, for the vindication of God's truth, for charity among the brethren, for a real reformation to take place in our churches, and for Spirit of Christ to dwell in our hearts and not be grieved by what and how we communicate with one another.