Saturday, June 2, 2007

Mea Culpa

Since Thursday morning, I have been angry. My anger grew steadily from then through this morning. With each blog post of the past twenty-four hours, I injected more and more anger into my writing. "...the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." (James 1:20) Although the question of whether the Holy Spirit inspires non-language utterances is a matter of some contention among us, we all ought to be able to agree that the Holy Spirit convicts us quite eloquently when His children are of the wrong heart. I have to give a little narrative to get around to apologizing to everyone. I have to keep the narrative very vague and uncompelling in order not to make matters any worse. Late Wednesday evening, I first learned of an inappropriate (I came to conclude later) circumstance relating to the upcoming PPL report. Indeed, this is how I came to know that a PPL report was even coming out on Friday. Thursday morning I lit up phone lines across the nation trying to get into a position of equity. At points along the way on Thursday morning, I discovered the inappropriateness of the circumstance. Thus a very strange conversation with Dr. Brad Waggoner on Thursday morning—I had called earlier that morning to try to achieve some equity in the situation and had not gotten through. By the time he called me back, I was starting to learn unsettling things about the situation. At that point, I didn't know whether to beg him, accuse him, tattle to him, or what. I simply spoke with him briefly about my admiration for Lifeway Research—which, at that point, was still how I felt. Nevertheless, that obviously was not why I had called him. I misled him. For that, I apologize publicly. I mention this because someone in a comment had made reference to that phone call, and an explanation is in order to whoever that was. As the day progressed on Thursday, I learned positively that the circumstance had indeed taken place, and in a manner that bothered me even more than what I first thought had happened. I grew very, very angry—all the more so because I felt so foolish about my earlier telephone call to Dr. Waggoner (whom I shall be calling and to whom I shall apologize personally on Monday morning). Then the Lifeway report came out, missing any numbers for SBC laity—an absence barely enabling people to claim that the majority of Southern Baptists believe in PPL. I connected this bewildering and convenient feature of the report with "Situation A" described above, and moved from angry to livid. And that, quite obviously, has been the attitude behind my recent posts. But today, during the wedding, while I was preaching to a young couple beginning a life together, talking about the biblical pattern for marriage, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the awesome destructive force of anger. Yes, sir. Guilty as charged. So, I repent of my anger and my angry words. I have spoken with and apologized to a certain blogger. I apologize to all of the other bloggers who have had the misfortune to cross my path in the past twenty-four hours. I apologize to Dr. Ed Stetzer—although I never alleged that he was a part of the inappropriate circumstance, I did mix his name into all of this, highlighting chapters of his life in the past year that he would probably rather forget. I'll be calling him Monday morning, too. I wasn't ever angry at Dr. Stetzer, but I stirred him into a post marked by my anger toward others. I don't think I wrote clearly enough in my anger for a reader to be able to tell that I wasn't accusing Dr. Stetzer of anything other than being a human being in a difficult position (a fact that he himself acknowledged in the podcast). I apologize to Dr. Waggoner. I never got to my final post in this series, where I was going to point out that, even with all my doubts about the Lifeway report, I would be surprised to see the appropriate corrections lower the PPL fraction by more than a 10-point swing. Thus, I think that the "majority" thing is very dubious, but this report still shows the PPL fraction to be much higher in the SBC than I thought it was. So, where does all of this end up? I've lost a little faith in Lifeway Research. The things that I chose to get angry about are inappropriate and still concern me, even though I am putting away the anger. People make mistakes. Other people ought to forgive. I've lost a little faith in the Southern Baptist people. Azusa Street has made tremendous inroads into the Southern Baptist Convention. My opinion of that is clear, and there's no need to deny it. The trend is also clear. I do not think that the 50% figure is accurate today when describing all Southern Baptists (pastors and laity alike), but clearly that is the direction that the statistics are moving. In a century, we may be thoroughly charismatic as a denomination (I hope that Jesus comes back long before a century has elapsed, for reasons other than this conversation). But mostly, I've lost a lot of faith in myself. God's servant may indeed get angry, but it is unbecoming for anger to be in control of God's servant. I apologize not only to a certain blogger, Brad Waggoner, and Ed Stetzer, but also to you, my readers. I realize that, with all the intentional vagueness, this sounds pretty foolish. I feel pretty foolish right now. If you knew the details, it all might make more sense to you. Others know the details, and it makes sense to some of them. But I can't clarify further. Think of me as foolish if you wish, and that way I'll think twice before I write in anger again. Dear friends, we disagree. I'm not going to quit disagreeing—to pretend I believe otherwise than I do just to please men. But I will not be angry about it. Let us follow our polity to resolve our differences. Let us leave what happens in the hands of a sovereign God. Let us be honorable in our speech and deeds. I will be praying that Southern Baptists will see through the "Charismatic Chaos" and stem the tide. Some will pray otherwise. But I will pray what I pray in love for you all.

24 comments:

R. L. Vaughn said...

God bless you, brother.

martyduren said...

Ditto. Hard step, but much appreciated.

Have a great Lord's Day, my brother.

Matt Brady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Brady said...

Bart,

You have my admiration. Not just for admitting your emotions, but for holding your tongue in this post. You were certainly vague about how things unfolded, but I know it was to protect everyone involved from any hurt or embarrassment even and especially those on the other side of the aisle in this debate. Furthermore, you did so at the expense of making your own position all the more understandable. That is a very magnanimous gesture that speaks volumes about your character.

Malcolm Yarnell said...

Bart,

Of all the people I know in the SBC, you possess the most honest and self-effacing attitude. From what you have stated and what little I do know, I am not sure that you have done anything inappropriate. However, the matters of the heart are difficult to discern, much less one's own heart, much more that of another. Nevertheless, it is safer to err in judgment toward oneself than toward the other.

1 Corinthians 2:11, 15

In Christ,
Malcolm

Jerry Corbaley said...

Dear Brother,

Our Lord says, "Anyone,then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." James 4:17

He also says, "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy." Proverbs 28:13

I am impressed with your high personal expectations and your willingness to humble yourself. This, too, is what walking in the light is all about.

Since you forsake pride, He need not oppose you, but will give you grace and lift you up. 1 Peter 5:5,6

You have earned trust with me. You have gained even more respect.

volfan007 said...

bart,

amen, bro. we love you.

david

selahV said...

"If you have integrity, nothing else matters, but if you don't have integrity, nothing else matters." You, dear Bro. Bart, have integrity. And that is all that matters. Grace be yours. SelahV

Paul said...

Bart,

I say this in all sincerity and with no tongue in cheek whatsoever, but this may well be your best post ever. Very admirable.

Grosey's Messages said...

May I express my personal appreciation Bart, for your careful thought expressed here.
Steve

Jack Maddox said...

WOW!

My danged old internet went down for the last day and a half and look at what I missed!

Bart...people with great conviction often speak and write with great passion...and pathos...which sometimes leads to a Greek word that holds great meaning to me and fits this situation. The word is "Ticked"...ok, it is not Greek...but I don't need Alan to interpret it for me, because I have gotten that way before and so have all of us.

We are all passionate about our positions...may we be as passionate tomorrow about our pulpits, people, and the Lord we serve!

I believe I can speak for all of us in saying...Old Praisegod barebones is a good dude!

Jack

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Barber,

I've come mostly to appreciate your mind over the past months as I've read your posts. Now begins for me an appreciation for your heart.

Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

Dave Samples said...

Blessings upon you Bart! "Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near" (Philippians 4:5). I believe that the attitude that you express in this post is what we all need to take with us to San Antonio. For the glory of God!

Rebecca Illingworth said...

Bro. Bart, many of us wouldn't know the depth of controversy in our denomination if it weren't for Praisegodbarebones. I read this blog before I read the Dallas Morning News or e-mail. Why? Because I love my church. I love my denomination. And I trust you after sitting under your pastoral leadership. The Holy Spirit impressed on my heart a long time ago that our denomination would be seeing more of Bro. Bart Barber. After sharing your blog with others - there is one consistent comment. "We didn't know about this controversy in our denomination!" The truth of the matter is this. You can be relied on. Your blog may get us in our dictionaries, more importantly, it gets us in our Bibles, digging out the truths of His Word . . . digging out the truths of why we are baptist.

Hold your head up, sweet Pastor. I do not understand exactly why you are even apologizing. Many of us understand your anger. Southern Baptists are better today for your servant attitude and your sweet spirit. Southern Baptist are better off today because of the information you get out in Praisegodbarebones". It exposes much. Jeepers . . . all this has made me covet more than the 2 votes my little church has at the convention next month!

joerstewart said...

Have I told you I hate surveys? You are a brother! Thanks for your honest heart.

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Bart,

There is love in the Blog world!!

Eph 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

You have............

Alan Cross said...

Thanks for the apology, Bart. It is well received. May God bless you.

Luke said...

Bart,

I thank God for the insight I have gained from this blog. May God through our Lord Jesus continue to grant you wisdom as you seek to serve Him in this forum. Like Peter, I too feel I have come to see Bart not just for what he writes, but for who he genuinely is. Refreshing and inspiring indeed is Praisegod Barebones.

Luke

OKpreacher said...

Bart,

I greatly respect your attitude of repentence. I personally believe the greatest issue facing Southern Baptists isn't a report on PPL published by LifeWay, but a lack of humility and repentence before God. Thanks for setting an example that all can learn from.

OKpreacher

Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...

Bart,
Words from the heart that reveal a true humility and openness.

Thank you!

sbc pastor said...

Bart,

Thanks for sharing with us from your heart. I hope and pray that your example will be followed by others. God bless!!!

In Christ,
JLG

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Bart,

I believe the best word of this comment stream came from Rebecca Lillington where she said; "Southern Baptists are better today for your servant attitude and your sweet spirit. Southern Baptist are better off today because of the information you get out in Praisegodbarebones".

Your posts may have revealed anger, but it also exposed truth. This post reveals your heart in making certain that truth comes from a heart focused on Jesus. When maintain that focus, we also maintain a desire to not to see others hurting.

Blessings,
Tim

CB Scott said...

Jeremy,

Would it not have been better for you to have finished your comment above by; "and pray that your example will be followed by ALL OF US."

Of course, the way you did end your comment is no revelation to some, but should be to many.

cb

Brad Guenther said...

Bart,
You say you have lost a little faith in the Southern Baptist people. Wade commented that he views the PPL report as evidence that, with the Conservative Resurgence settling the issue of biblical authority, the Southern Baptist people are finally beginning to believe it.
The PPL report stated that the younger SB pastors were the only group that a majority did not accept PPL and held cessationist views. In addition to questioning how many more hold to an "open, but cautious" view, like myself, I also believe that these younger pastors are the children of the Conservative Resurgence, and in them lies a greater picture of the impact of a firm belief in biblical innerancy. And that with all the weak theology being championed in the wider tent of evangelicalism.
Do you agree or disagree? Am I making too much of this? I asked Wade the same question and received no reply.
However, I too find it troubling and surprising to see, no matter the flaws that may be in the study, how far charismatic theology has permeated SB thinking.
Thanks for your humble words here. I hope we will all be as sensitive to our own failures.
I always appreciate your insights.
Brad Guenther