Monday, February 11, 2008

Principled Objection or Situational Objection?

Around the Internet and elsewhere various people have objected to the nomination of Dr. Albert Mohler for election as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Among the reasons for objection have been the claim that Dr. Mohler's election would represent a conflict of interest, since he presides over the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Nobody has been able to offer any specific credible suggestion as to how a seminary president might advance his personal interests or the interests of the seminary as SBC President. Furthermore, the SBC has elected so many entity heads as SBC President in the past as to make the phenomenon not even noteworthy any longer. Yet still some people will persist in this objection. Why?

I make this observation: I have yet to encounter anyone who raises the conflict of interest objection who has absolutely no other objections to Dr. Mohler's election. In other words, the "conflict of interest" objection seems not to have strong enough legs to stand on its own. People who have other reasons to object to Dr. Mohler's election, according to my theory, latch upon the "conflict of interest" objection to buttress their real reasons for objecting to his election.

As evidence, I encourage you to do a little blog searching regarding this scenario. The office of First Vice President has the sole responsibilities of consulting with the President regarding appointments, presiding over portions of the annual meeting, and stepping into the presidency upon the inability of the President to fulfill his responsibilities. The only qualification for being First Vice President is to be able to be the President if required. If a person is unfit to be President, that person is necessarily also unfit to be First Vice President.

Last year, International Mission Board employee David Rogers was nominated for the office of First Vice President. His nominator suggested that a missionary—an employee of the SBC—was precisely who we "should have…leading us." I do not recall anyone from any point of view suggesting last year that it would be a conflict of interest for an employee of the IMB possibly to be in a position to influence the selection of trustees for the IMB (consulting with the President to make appointments, and possibly winding up as President himself to make the appointments).

If you can locate for me anyone who both objected to David Rogers's nomination last year on the basis of "conflict of interest" and is objecting to Dr. Mohler's nomination this year on the basis of "conflict of interest," then we will have located someone who is demonstrably operating out of a personal conviction (however misguided it may be) about conflict of interest.

92 comments:

Scotty Karber said...

I am one of those whose only opposition to Dr. Mohler is his position as an SBC entity employee. I am opposed to the practice including all in the past. I am surprised you haven't found that in others because I have read it several places and heard it from others.

Bart Barber said...

Scotty,

You voiced an objection to David Rogers's candidacy last year because he was an entity employee?

Anonymous said...

Please look at an organizational chart. The head of an entity reports directly to the Board of Trustees (of whom he has a hand in selecting.) An employee (in this case a missionary) has numerous levels of supervisors between he and the Board.

It is not that complicated. There is a huge difference between the two situations.

Bart Barber said...

Dear anonymouse,

Are you seriously alleging that it there is no potential conflict of interest in an EMPLOYEE being in a position to select his EMPLOYER'S SUPERVISORS?

Would you have the head custodian in your church hand-pick the chair of a committee supervising the pastor?

Ron P. said...

Bart,

I was just starting to read the blogs, but I believe you are correct. No one objected to David because he was an entity employee. NO ONE!

You are also correct in your comment to anonymous. He/she is incorrect or at least inaccurate. Only part of a board is rotated off each year. That is why the CR had to win the presidency for several years in a row to have any effect. One man serving two one year terms will have some impact, but will not choose the majority of the board. All of this is not done in a closed room - but must be approved by the messengers.

Blessings,

Ron P.

Bart Barber said...

Ron P.,

I have precisely the same recollection. I did not object on these grounds back then and I do not object on them now for two reasons:

1. I trust in the people of the SBC to elect men of integrity.

2. I trust the system of checks and balances carefully incorporated into the structure of the SBC. These checks and balances explicitly do not prohibit the election of entity employees to SBC office. Instead, they carefully limit the power of the presidency to make sure that it would not be a problem to elect to that office anyone whom Southern Baptists see fit to elect.

Thus, I have no problem being consistent. The problem lies with those who supported David Rogers last year, but now try to suggest that they oppose Dr. Mohler on the grounds of purported "conflict of interest."

Ron P. said...

Bart,

I would like to make the following observations about this:

* It really isn't about a conflict of interest.

* It really isn't about Calvinism.

* It really IS about Dr. Mohler's exceptionally received response to the fabricated meaning of the Garner motion - that the messengers OVERWHELMINGLY agreed with him about!

Why don't they just put it to the messengers in a simple, straightforward vote, rather than trying to use guile with the Garner Motion as well as the purported reasons for opposing Dr. Mohler.

Ron P.

Grosey's Messages said...

Amen Ron... well perceived... it is about the fact that Al is a godly MAN, and cannot be CONTROLLED by the intimidatory tactics of the counter CR (as is evidenced in his courageous leadership of SBTS during the CR.
Steve

Wayne Smith said...

Bart,

One word “ACCOUNTIBILITY”

How can anyone including you stand up for any Christian being nominated for any office in the SBC, who is not willing to be Accounted/Responsible for the office presently held?

In His Name
Wayne Smith

Bart Barber said...

Wayne,

You proceed from a false premise. Dr. Mohler is entirely accountable to the convention.

William said...

The anti-Mohler faction (start with Wade Burleson's pique over Mohler's view of the Garner motion, expressed in Burleson's description of Mohler and his proverbial finger and trace it from there) is merely seeking a pseudo-sophisticated reason to oppose him.

You are precisely correct to describe it as you have.

Wayne Smith said...

Bart,

As President of one of our Seminaries he should see to an Accounting by whoever should be reporting as to the Budget income/expenses of all funds by the Seminary. Are these rogue Presidents not accountable to the Churches that fund them with CP giving?

In His Name
Wayne Smith

CB Scott said...

Bart,

I did not nominate David Rogers and I did not vote for David Rogers.

I have been consistent in my position about employees not serving the SBC in elected position ever since I realized what a mistake we made and how we have hurt a good man a few years ago by electing him. We were wrong. It is wrong and it needs to end.

cb

CB Scott said...

One more thing,

I am not misguided. The problem is that you are too lightly informed.

Don't spit on my head and tell me it is raining.

cb

Wayne Smith said...

Bart, You Said;

Wayne, you proceed from a false premise. Dr. Mohler “is” entirely accountable to the convention.

Bart, I believe your response was a play on words. Don’t you mean Dr. Mohler “should be” entirely accountable to the convention, instead of “is” accountable to the convention?

In His Name
Wayne Smith

Anonymous said...

Mohler has an agenda, just ask Patterson, Oh he is laying low, i forgot. He is about to cost SWBTS , oops the SBC millions. right. lets keep it in the family. Come on guys when are we going to wake up and realize that it is about Jesus and not about us.

Paul said...

Bart,

In your response to Anonymous (comment #4) aren't you arguing against your own premise? It sounds really odd for you to say that there is no conflict of interest with Al Mohler but that there was a potential conflict of interest with David Rogers or the church custodian who selects the chair of a committee supervising the pastor (which in itself seems like a rather odd ecclesiology, but that's another point for another day).

It's also a non sequitur to say that the conflict of interest point is only tacked on because it can't stand on its own. There is the real possibility that there are more reasons than one some of us are not excited about Dr. Mohler being president and that those reasons don't need support, but that we really do see a potential conflict of interest. Your point makes for good rhetoric, but it is illogical nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Question is why does Mohler want it? plain and simple. Why does Cox want it? and the Good Lord forbid why does Drake want it? Don't get me wrong good guy but not not who you would wnat in front of a camera. sorry wylie i love you though.

Ron P. said...

CB,

I guess the question is: Did you publicly (i.e. blog) about your opposition to David Rogers because he was an entity employee? I do not believe that you did. That really is the point of Bart's question. No one did. You did not post anything on your blog at cbscottreport.blogspot.com opposing it (at least doing a search on May and June). You however did state the following:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007
PRAYER REQUEST

David Rogers

Pray for David Rogers, SBC missionary. Pray for David and his family. They have a journey before them as did David's father's before him.

The road of a true statesman in the SBC has never been easy. Nonetheless, a true statesman is greatly needed at this time. May David be such a man for such a time as this in our Convention.

cb


That sounds to me like an endorsement of an entity employee.

Love ya man,

Ron P.

Ron P. said...

Wayne,

Actually I would have said that Dr. Mohler WILL BE accountable to the convention when he is elected President in June. Though, as President of SBTS, he is CURRENTLY accountable to both the BOT of SBTS and to the Convention.

Did you publicly raise any objection to David Rogers running for 1st VP as an entity employee last year?

Blessings,

Ron P.

CB Scott said...

Ron P,

The heart of that post was for a true statesman. My point was and is, Jim Richards was not.

David Rogers was the other guy running. I did not vote.

I also said very similar things about Dr. Mohler just recently.

Pull that up. Compare that to this.

I was tempted to vote for David, but in the end I could not.

I never said I was voting for him. I did struggle with it greatly, knowing the alternative. But I just could not do it. From that time I have become more firm in my convictions that we should not elect entity employees.

I still wish there had been another person to vote for, because we did not do too well there.

Now, Ron, you can say what you please now. I have told you the truth of the situation.

In August of last year I also said I would vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primaries. As you may know, I did not. I read more about the guy. I came to a conclusion Mike Huckabee had the strongest biblical worldview. I have supported him and I voted for him.

A person can change his mind, can he not, Ron? Or, as in my case, can a person just not be able to do what he really thinks is wrong in the first place?

Have you ever had those kind of struggles, Ron? Have you?

I stand by my position and I am right. An employee of an entity should not be elected. Is it not true that an entity employee cannot be elected as a trustee? If so, why not?

Because of an inherent possibility of conflict of interest. It is just there and it really cannot be rightfully refuted.

As I have said, Dr. Mohler is a great seminary president and he needs to keep his focus there.

cb

Ron P. said...

CB,

I am not claiming that you have been inconsistent. I was however pointing out that Bart's post asked if anyone objected to the nomination (i.e. before the convention) and no one did. I cited your blog as evidence that you were endorsing David.

I have and will change my mind on things, just as you have here. But Bart's point stands - no one who currently objects to Dr. Mohler for "conflict of interest" reasons, brought that up last year about David Rogers prior to the convention. As a matter of fact, the first I started hearing anyone talk about a "conflict of interest" was after Dr. Mohler's awesome speech as the speculation was that he would be the likely nominee if he chose to run - because of that speech.

RE: Employees serving as Trustees. The role of Trustee is completely different than that of President of the SBC. Bart is quite correct - there has never been a suggestion that an entity head (or employee) could not nor should not serve the SBC as President. Quite the contrary, it has always been that way. Again, I agree with Bart: It is our responsibility as Southern Baptists to elect Godly men of integrity to serve, whether they work for the SBC or not.

Blessings,

Ron P.

CB Scott said...

Ron,

Dr. Mohler is a godly man. That is true and if he becomes president of the SBC I will support him as long as he is as he is now.

I have said that also. That is not the issue. Remember my earlier comment was I did not nominate him. I did not vote for him.

There has been much said about conflict of interest relating to entity employees being elected to serve the SBC. I well remember it being said about Dr. Duke McCall. I also remember it being a topic when Dr. Patterson became a candidate.

This is not the first time it has been spoken of among Southern Baptists. I remember it being a rather hot conversation once.

Bart is wrong.

cb

Wayne Smith said...

Ron P,

I don’t know what you have against Brother David Rogers and yes I would have voted for David Rogers for 1VP if I were present as a messenger. David is a very Godly Man who is not owned by anyone in the SBC. You might try the missions field someday.

In His Name
Wayne Smith

Alan Cross said...

Bart,

I see your point and you make a good one. Perhaps people did not think all of it through as thoroughly as they should have. I did support David Rogers last year, primarily because I knew him. I am undecided as to who should be president this year. I can see the significance of the conflict of interest argument, but I think that the real problem is electing presidents and trustees with agendas that are never articulated before the election, but they are enacted once the person takes their position. That is akin to a pastor who has an agenda to change a church, but doesn't tell the church about it ahead of time and just starts doing it. I don't know if Dr. Mohler has that intention or not, but that is what concerns me - in any candidate, whether they are an SBC employee or a pastor or anyone else. Perhaps it would be better if the presidential candidates gave their own speeches and said what they were for and what their presidency would look like so we could make more informed decisions. Again, I do not oppose Dr. Mohler at this point, nor do I support anyone else.

Alan Cross said...

One other thing, Bart, since we are bringing up the San Antonio convention and everyone's positions before and after: All last year, I heard you say that you trusted the messengers to the SBC. Yet, when the Garner Motion passed, you quickly said on several occasions that it did not mean what some say it meant and that it was only a reaffirmation of the BFM, which you supported. Does it concern you then that Richard Land and Hershael York were standing in line to speak AGAINST an affirmation of the BFM, if that is all it was? Does it concern you that over 40% of the messengers to the SBC voted AGAINST an affirmation of the BFM, if that is all it was? It seems that if that were the case, alarms would be sounding all over the SBC. We had dozens of articles and blog posts written about the horror of 10% of the Convention voting against the alcohol resolution in Greensboro, yet there was no outcry over the 40% of the Convention in San Antonio voting against a reaffirmation of the SBC, except towards the ones who supposedly duped them and misled them with their trickery. Hard to see how that was possible, since the motion was just an adoption of the EC statement.

If the motion just affirmed the BFM, then why did Dr. Mohler spend his report time interpreting the meaning of the Garner Motion for us in the way that you both saw it, instead of expressing dismay that over 40% of the Convention voted AGAINST a reaffirmation of the BFM, as he also stated that is what it was. It seems that his target, and yours, were the ones who believed that the Garner Motion was more than what you said it was, not the large minority who disapproved of it.

Bart, in my opinion, you really should not be calling anyone out for trying to have it both ways after last summer. You said that you voted for it, but never showed any concern for the thousands in our Convention who voted against it, including entity heads, except to express ire towards the ones who supposedly misled them. Just saying that people were confused doesn't quite make sense, though, especially since you, in this comment stream, said that you trust the people of the SBC to elect men of integrity. I do too, but apparently you don't trust them to understand what a vote is about on something like the Garner Motion.

The Motion was an adoption of a statement by the EC. If over 40% of the people were confused enough to think that it was something else when you so clearly say that it wasn't, then perhaps you should have expressed some concern over the ability of messengers, including entity heads, to think rationally and clearly.

Again, I have no real objection to your initial point as you try to disarm the opposition to Dr. Mohler by crying foul on their inconsistency. But, to the informed observer, it seems that you tried to have it both ways last year.

Ron P. said...

Wayne,

Please do not concoct things that have not been said. You have completely misunderstood the point of Bart's post: The hypocrisy of those opposing Dr. Mohler because he is an entity employee, but had no problem with it when David Rogers was running for 1st VP last year. In other words, their opposition is really based on their disdain for Dr. Mohler, for whatever the reason, not for the purported reason of an entity employee serving. It has nothing to with David Rogers. It is all about the motivation behind the anti Mohler sentiment.

If there are those who do not want Dr. Mohler to be President due to his speech to the convention, then just say so. Bart has, as Alan noted today, rightly called "foul" with their inconsistency.

Greg Welty said...

Alan Cross wrote:

> All last year, I heard you say that you
> trusted the messengers to the SBC. Yet,
> when the Garner Motion passed, you
> quickly said on several occasions that
> it did not mean what some say it meant
> and that it was only a reaffirmation of
> the BFM, which you supported. Does it
> concern you then that Richard Land and
> Hershael York were standing in line to
> speak AGAINST an affirmation of the BFM,
> if that is all it was? Does it concern
> you that over 40% of the messengers to
> the SBC voted AGAINST an affirmation of
> the BFM, if that is all it was?

Bart's position, as I understand it, is twofold: (i) the Garner Motion, best interpreted, simply requires that you affirm and are guided by the BFM, and (ii) the Garner Motion was at the same time confusingly worded, so that different parties could put their different spin on it.

In this regard, it's odd that you cite Hershael York as somehow in conflict with this position. As a matter of fact, he *agrees* with Bart as to the confusing nature of the wording, and it was precisely because of its confusing nature that he lined up to speak against it. In York's own words:

"For all of Wade Burleson's insistence that Southern Baptists weren't confused about this, I must accuse my brother of being disingenuous about that. I don't mind the gloating about the vote, but just be honest and say that the confusion worked in favor of the motion's proponents. To my dying day I will believe that if an articulate and passionate antagonist to the motion had ever gotten to speak, the motion would have gone down. I had at least 50 people ask me how they 'should have' voted, only to gasp in horror when I or someone around me explained our perspective. 'I didn't understand that,' was the frequent reply."

In fact, on York's view, the Garner Motion:

"... is what it is. A well-planned and well-orchestrated parliamentary tactic completely within the rules and with full knowledge -- no, with full *anticipation* -- that many who voted for it would think it said one thing while others could claim it means something else or more."

In the first link above (if you read further), York agrees with Mohler's take on the motion (and, consequently, Bart's), that it could be construed as an affirmation of the BFM. But that isn't why York voted against it.

And *of course* the Garner Motion "did not mean what some say it meant". That's *your* position as well as Bart's, since obviously you disagree with what Bart says it meant :-)

Anonymous said...

All the talk about opposing Dr. Mohler because he is an entity employee is not the issue. If the SBC by-laws do not forbid the election of an entity employee, why waste time expressing opposition to that which you have no control over? Or, why don’t some of you stand up and state your case in the form of a motion to amend the by-laws? Then the issue can be resolved by the convention (but not in 2008). The real issue is not Dr. Mohler’s character, integrity or accountability to the trustees at SEBTS (or if elected SBC president the accountability to the convention). The real issue is that many who oppose Dr. Mohler simply don’t like the fact that he took a higher road for SBTS – a historical high road I might add - in stating that they will not be bound by the BF&M as a maximum statement of doctrinal parameters because of the sacred calling they have to train future generations of leaders in ministry. Frankly, I am one who appreciates those in leadership at our SBC seminaries who hold the standard for service so sacred that they refuse compromise.

B. McWilliams

Anonymous said...

Before I am slammed - not SEBTS as stated - SBTS.

B. McWilliams

CB Scott said...

Alan,

You are dead on in your comment relating to the BF&M.

I would ask you to think about what you are saying relating to Dr. Mohler.

If he had an agenda, it would not matter if he spoke to the convention during the election process or not. If a guy has a deceitful heart, he has a deceitful heart.

I do not think Dr. Mohler has an agenda that would be harmful to the SBC by design. I think he is a man of integrity and honor.

The problem is an inherent potential for conflict of interest. That has always been the problem with employees being elected to SBC positions. We were wrong to do it in the past (as we have been wrong about many things) and it will be wrong again.

It will not be wrong because Dr. Mohler is a bad guy. He is not. It is wrong because it is wrong and it is a mistake to continue to repeat the wrong for a seventh time.

cb

CB Scott said...

Alan, Bart,

Dr. Welty has just made the case. People were confused. They were very, very confused.

That proves the point. We need to change the rules.

We are fortunate it is Dr. Mohler running. A lessor person could have a personal agenda to help his own board, institution, or agency.

So far so good, but it is time for a change. The convention has changed.

It can also be confused. And....it can happen so very easily. Recent histroy proves it.

cb

CB Scott said...

That should be "history" not histroy.

See, it is easy to be confused. :-)

cb

Alan Cross said...

CB,

I agree with you. I think that it is okay for people to learn something and change their minds without being considered inconsistent. I don't think that Dr. Mohler necessarily has an agenda for the SBC. I don't know anything about that at all. I just said that that is what I would oppose if it were there, not that he was an entity head. But, I don't know if it is there. That position is for all candidates, not just Dr. Mohler.

Greg,

My point is just that there was a definite playing of both sides on the Garner Motion last year. There was nothing confusing about the wording at all. It was a straight adoption of the EC Report. If Bart wants to maintain that it means what he says it means, that's fine. My issue is that there was no shock that the SBC voted against an affirmation of the BFM if it meant what Bart, you, and others said it meant. To say that the Convention was confused calls into question the ability of the messengers to understand the plain language that you, Bart, and others claim to have understood.

Either the Garner Motion meant more than you say it did and 58% of the messengers approved of it and 42% didn't, or it meant what you say it did and 42% of the messengers did not reaffirm the BFM. That is a problem for your position, in my opinion. To claim confusion because you THINK there was confusion and you provide anecdotal evidence, and then throw out the meaning of the vote from BOTH perspectives is nothing more than disingenuous and it calls our entire Convention process into doubt. Anyone could claim confusion on ANY vote that didn't got their way.

This is a classic case of trying to have it both ways. Greg, you have challenged my consistency in the past and I really listened to you and tried to hear what you were saying. I respect you. I am challenging your consistency on this, and I ask that you not just disregard my perspective because you disagree with me on some issues. Basically, if I follow your view that the vote was just a reaffirmation of the BFM and 42% of the Convention was just confused so they voted AGAINST the BFM, then we have serious problems with our Convention. I think that the Garner Motion was quite clear as to what it meant and people understood it quite well. Of course, I appeal to the vote totals and not anecdotal evidence of what "some" people said.

Ron P. said...

Why don't we just make this easy and clear for everyone at this year's convention:

The BFM is to be used as a minimal guide in doctrinal matters to SBC agencies. It is not to be construed as a maximal guide, as the Bible is our guide in matters of faith and practice.

Or:

The BFM is to be used as a maximal guide in doctrinal matters and no agency of the SBC can use the Bible in directing it's employees in any doctrinal issues not included in the BFM.

Whichever one you put forward, it clearly states what both sides have basically been debating about regarding the Garner Motion (well except for one person who believes it to be both minimal and maximal depending on the circumstance). The BFM is either a maximal or minimal guide. If maximal, you make it higher than Scripture. If minimal, you place it in subjection to Scripture.

Put either or both to the messengers and let's see how the vote turns out.

Blessings,

Ron P.

Ron P. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
volfan007 said...

alan,

i was confused about the garner motion. i admit it. and, when i got home and talked to my pastor friends around this area....they thought that it was just an affirmation of the bfm 2k. and, alan, that's just a fact. so, you and wade and the others can try to spin it however you want, but that's just the facts. so, stick that in your pipe and smoke it. :)

david

Alan Cross said...

David, if you will read what I said, I am not arguing with you. If people thought it was a reaffirmation of the BFM, then fine. Why did 42% of messengers vote AGAINST a reaffirmation of the BFM? Why did that not create an outcry? 10% voted their conscience on biblical grounds against the alcohol resolution almost 2 years ago, and we're still seeing articles, blog posts, and resolutions passed in horror that ANY Southern Baptist would not believe that the Bible forbid drinking a glass of wine. Where is the shock that 42% voted AGAINST reaffirming the BFM? That is my point.

You say that people were confused, but that would only make sense if something like 90% voted for the Garner Motion because they thought it was a reaffirmation of the BFM, and others tried to make it say something else. Instead, you have a 58-42 vote. That leaves you with some problems. Either, quite a few people thought it said what your opponents read it to say, or quite a few people are against the BF&M, or quite a few people don't know what they were voting for - they just like waving those cards around at random times. These objections do not make sense.

Again, I only bring this up because Bart is saying that if you were not against David Rogers last year for 1st VP because he was a denominational employee, then you should not be against Al Mohler this year on the principle of conflict of interest. I said that he made a good point, but I also wanted to bring out that people were inconsistent all over the place last year in regard to the Garner Motion and it's interpretation, and it stopped no one from stating their opinion and "spinning" as you say.

So, David, since I don't smoke pipes, I guess that I'll just have to receive your words in the spirit in which they were intended. Grace to you. :)


Ron P.,

I think that all of us want to use the Bible in making policy. The problem is when one group asserts themselves on the basis on an interpretation that eliminates a group of people that have not been eliminated by a consensus opinion of Southern Baptists. If someone took the article on marriage and women to mean that women could not be appointed as missionaries or campus ministers because their likelihood of teaching or influencing men in some way was very strong, and they based that new policy off of their specific interpretation, that would be the same type of issue. It is not that you cannot use the Bible - we should. But, when we are eliminating people that have been acceptable in the past, there should at least be some type of permission given by the Convention so that the SBC at large can speak into such a thing. That way, a small group with a specific opinion does not hold sway.

But, I digress. This post is about inconsistencies in the opposition to Mohler (whom I do not oppose), not the Garner Motion. That was just brought up as another inconsistency so that we could understand that everyone has them.

CB Scott said...

Ron P,

Maybe you should run for president of the SBC. You seem to have a grasp on the Garner motion and all of its applications or the possibilities thereof.

Alan,

Thank you. I was basically just making things clear, or as clear as mud. You may choose.

Vol,

Alan Cross was not involved in any attempt to confuse anyone. He, as are you, is a straight shooter.

All,

I do think it is time for everyone to admit there was confusion relating to the Garner motion. Confusion was inherent in the presentation and debate of that motion.

That is just true and we have issues ahead now because of the confusion.

I still maintain an entity employee, including missionaries, should not be elected to serve the SBC. Some earlier person in this comment thread was right. There needs to be a motion to cease the practice.

cb

Ron P. said...

Alan,

It is precisely because we can not have an all inclusive guideline/policy document in the BFM (i.e. no cross dressing as per Dr. Mohler's speech etc.) that our forefathers had the insight to create a Trustee system to let them implement policies for their respectitve agencies. It is that system that has come under profound and baseless attacks these past couple of years. If any BOT of any agency gets out of line with the beliefs of the convention, then the SBC will do like she did during the CR: elect presidents to make the right appointments. Now the attack comes against someone being nominated for President, not because he is an entity employee, but because they disagree with him, and hide under the cover of a purported conflict of interest that did not exist last year.

CB,

I'll leave the presidency to others. The point I was making was that either of those two motions is the PRACTICAL and LOGICAL outcome of the spin of the Garner debate from Enid. However, you will have no problem on this side of the debate that Garner was anything but confusing to the Messengers. You'll have to convince the Enid crowd not anyone here. Good luck with that, but please do not hold your breath waiting for it.

Ron P.

volfan007 said...

alan,

42% of people voted against it because some saw it like bart saw it...others saw it like wade and you see it...others were just plain confused.

now, i'm just plain confused all over again.

david :)

Alan Cross said...

David,

Bart voted for it.

CB Scott said...

Ron,

The trustee system is not under attack. The quality of many of the trustees has become the problem.

The trustee system is just fine and works well when knowledgeable people are serving as trustees.

You can even have liberals (just a few) on a board and still do well if the great majority know what they are doing.

You can lay the whole problem at the IMB at the feet of trustees.

Many, many people agree with me on that, some who have commented on this comment thread. It is just not politically correct for them to be public about it and they know full well I will not "rat" them so they are safe in their........we will say "silence."

Greg Welty said...

Hi Alan,

> My point is just that there was
> a definite playing of both
> sides on the Garner Motion last
> year.

Indeed.

In fact, I just cited York in support of that point of view. Cf. my second quote from York above.

> There was nothing confusing about the
> wording at all.

Hmm, let's see:

"The Baptist Faith and Message is not a creed, or a complete statement of our faith, nor final or infallible; nevertheless we further acknowledge that it is the only consensus statement of doctrinal beliefs approved by the Southern Baptist Convention and as such is sufficient in its current form to guide trustees in their establishment of policies and practices of entities of the Convention."

The key phrase here is: "sufficient in its current form to guide trustees in their establishment of policies and practices of entities of the Convention."

What does "sufficient to guide" mean here, Alan? I already addressed this issue on Wade's blog, back on June 16, 2007:

[begin excerpt]
To say that the BFM is a "sufficient" guide to doctrine can be parsed rigidly, flexibly, or loosely. So how do you parse it? Either way, you undermine your goals.

[1] A rigid understanding of "sufficiency": the BFM is the trustees' only guideline in setting doctrinal policies. It sets a minimal floor and a maximal ceiling.

[2] A flexible understanding of "sufficiency": the BFM is a minimal guideline for trustees in setting doctrinal policies, but they are free to consult other standards as well. It sets a minimal floor, but not a maximal ceiling. It is sufficient for guidance on those topics it chooses to address, but is obviously insufficient to guide in those topics it does not address. [Notice that when the EC statement says that the BFM is not "a complete statement of our faith," nor a "final" statement, it appears to confirm the flexible understanding.]

[3] A loose understanding of "sufficiency": the BFM should be a source of guidance for trustees, but it is neither a minimal floor nor a maximal ceiling. In forming policy and practice, trustees are free to go contrary to individual doctrines in the BFM which they deem to be minor doctrines. They can also form policies that go beyond the BFM.

If the rigid understanding prevails, then you've paved the way for both the overturning of the IMB policies, and the rejection of any candidate who disagrees with anything in the BFM. That's what happens when the BFM is a minimal floor and a maximal ceiling.

If a flexible understanding prevails, then you get the worst of both worlds. The IMB policy is not necessarily challengeable, but you still get the rejection of any candidate who disagrees with anything in the BFM. That's what happens when you get a minimal floor but not a maximal ceiling.

If a loose understanding prevails, then the IMB policy is not challengeable on the basis of the EC statement, but at least future employees get to disagree with parts of the BFM. That's what happens when you get neither a minimal floor nor a maximal ceiling.

I don't think many proponents of the statement have clearly thought through the consequences of applying the language of "sufficiency" to the BFM rather than to the Scriptures. In order to reconcile the EC statement with our traditional understanding of sola scriptura, you've got to scale back the understanding of "sufficiency" in the EC statement. But once you do that, the agenda many have behind the statement falters.

So how in fact would you like the "sufficiency" clause of the EC statement to be implemented? You have lots of choices here, but none seem to bode well for the consistency of your position. You seem to want a house that has a roof but no floor. You want a maximal ceiling but not a minimal floor. I don't see that as a reasonable parsing of BFM-as-sufficient-doctrinal-guide.
[end excerpt]

Perhaps, Alan, you would like to commit to one of these three proposed interpretations: rigid sufficiency, flexible sufficiency, or loose sufficiency. 'Rigid sufficiency' turns the BFM into a creed (there are no caveats or exceptions to the BFM whatsoever), and thus contradicts the very first clause of the Garner Motion (and the preamble of the BFM itself). By way of contrast, neither 'flexible sufficiency' or 'loose sufficiency' afford any basis for reigning in the new IMB policies, which was ostensibly the point of the Garner Motion in the first place.

Or perhaps you would like to offer an interpretation of your own that successfully navigates these pitfalls and clearly excludes the rival interpretations noted above.

Also useful here is Bart's short post on this topic, and my initial comment upon it. And I still stand by my subsequent comments in that comment stream.

Thus, I have already given ample case for the confusing, vague, and ultimately unhelpful nature of the Garner Motion. I don't blame those who interpreted the statement in a particular way, and then voted their conscience based on *their* reading of it. What else could they do? But I do have a problem with those who presume that the statement was, in fact, clearer than mud. The alternative statement proposed by Bart in the preceding link is almost as concise as the original Garner Motion, and yet its "with the result that" clause would add a significant dose of clarity on a topic that desperately deserves it. I state this in order to preclude charges of postmodern relativism in my theory of meaning. It does *not* follow from my view, that the convention should despair of passing clear, significant motions, because meaning is allegedly 'in the eye of the beholder'. I think a clear, useful statement *could have* been passed, but was not. "Sufficient to guide" is precisely the kind of language through which you can drive a Mack truck. By way of contrast, "trustees ought not to adopt any policies or practices regarding doctrinal matters not explicitly contained within the BF&M unless and until they obtain prior approval from the SBC" is not.

Here's another way to view the lack of clarity here. In the view of many, the Garner Motion...

[begin excerpt]
...means trustees should never go *beyond* the BFM in doctrinal areas. The BFM is a sufficient guide here. But wait a minute. The BFM itself says that the Holy Bible is "the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried" ("I. The Scriptures"). Well, which is it? If trustees are wrestling with a doctrinal issue not addressed by the BFM, should they not look to the Bible for guidance? On your view, they should not, since the BFM is sufficient to provide guidance. I regard this as incredible.

Much more plausible is the alternative view, that the BFM is sufficient as a guide in those areas it chooses to address, but it is obviously insufficient as a guide in those areas it *doesn't* address. And surely a trustee, led by conscience, is bound to *search the Scriptures* for wisdom in these areas the BFM doesn't address. Three advantages of this view come to mind:

[1] It is consistent with the EC statement itself, which says that the BFM is not "a complete statement of our faith," nor is it "final."
[2] It is consistent with the BFM, which affirms *the Scriptures* (not the BFM!) as our supreme standard.
[3] It is analogous to and therefore accords with our pre-existing understanding of Scriptural sufficiency.

On this latter point, when we say that the Scriptures are "sufficient," we mean that they are sufficient to provide guidance in the areas they have chosen to address, either explicitly or implicitly. But the Scriptures are insufficient to guide in those areas they do not address. This is uncontroversial. The Scriptures do not tell me whether I should allow quarks into my ontology, much less whether they have charm or spin. The Scriptures do not tell me how the JFK assassination went down. Nor do they tell me if Malcolm Yarnell is saved, since Malcolm Yarnell is not mentioned by name in Scripture. I have to consult other sources of information to get guidance on these and other matters.
[end excerpt]

So here's the question that purveyors of the 'clarity' of the Garner Motion need to answer: does the Garner motion ask trustees to studiously *ignore* both (i) the Bible and (ii) any resolutions passed by the assembled messengers, when trustees look for guidance "in their establishment of policies and practices"? (To clarify: if the Bible and any convention resolutions speak to areas not spoken to by the BFM, should they both be ignored for the purpose of guidance?)

You continue:

> It was a straight adoption of the EC
> Report.

No, it wasn't. Why think this? Even York points out that, "The original wording of the Executive Committee statement was much stronger." What the convention voted upon wasn't "the EC Report," but rather the vague statement cited above.

> My issue is that there was no shock
> that the SBC voted against an
> affirmation of the BFM if it meant
> what Bart, you, and others said it
> meant.

You are failing to distinguish between (i) what we think it can be reasonably construed to mean, and (ii) what many others obviously construed it to mean. Why should there be "shock" that the messengers voted their conscience on a poorly-worded statement? It doesn't mean they voted *against* what someone else construed it to mean.

Again, York is a case in point. He agreed with Mohler's take on the statement, as to what it actually required of trustees. And yet he wanted to vote against it, because he knew the agenda *others* had behind the statement. Should York be "shocked" at himself? ;-)

> To say that the Convention was
> confused calls into question the
> ability of the messengers to
> understand the plain language that
> you, Bart, and others claim to
> have understood.

So, the fifty or so people that York talked about, or the other group that Patterson talked about: these people simply don't exist? They weren't confused? What, you've interviewed them? The horrified gasps were just a figment of their imagination?

At best, what you're contending is that I swap my conspiracy story for your conspiracy story. No dice :-)

Anyway, as I already explained to you: (i) the Garner Motion, best interpreted, simply requires that you affirm and are guided by the BFM, and (ii) the Garner Motion was at the same time confusingly worded, so that different parties could put their different spin on it.

What "me, Bart and others" are saying is that there is such a thing as *the best interpretation of a confusing statement*. That is, *if* a statement is indeed vague, all you can do is give it the best interpretation you can. By contending that the statement doesn't actually *require*, in so many words, any more than affirming and being guided by the BFM, we think our interpretation is the best one. But by recognizing that the statement *is* vague (cf. my analysis above), and can therefore be construed to mean any one of a number of things, there is no need for us to be "shocked" that someone wouldn't take our interpretation of it. Again, they voted on some statement, not some lengthy report.

> To claim confusion because you THINK
> there was confusion and you provide
> anecdotal evidence

If I can't know something based on the simple testimony of others (such as York, Patterson, and other people in general), I think I'll have to be content with knowing next to nothing at all. No thanks.

Of course, I wouldn't blame you if you thought I *did* know next to nothing at all ;-)

> Basically, if I follow your view that
> the vote was just a reaffirmation of
> the BFM and 42% of the Convention was
> just confused so they voted AGAINST
> the BFM, then we have serious problems
> with our Convention.

Why think that is "my view"? Again, I've already given you an example of someone who voted against the statement, but he clearly *didn't* "vote against the BFM." Rather, he apparently resented the fact that an agenda was hidden behind vague language, language which was calculated to get votes but without having any specificity that would turn away votes. York suspected that the motion was worded with the anticipation "that many who voted for it would think it said one thing while others could claim it means something else or more."

Again, let's just put the question to you: if it was stated by the proponents of the Garner Motion, just prior to the vote, that said motion would require all trustees to studiously *ignore* both (i) the Bible and (ii) any resolutions passed by the assembled messengers, when trustees look for guidance "in their establishment of policies and practices," do you really think it would have had much of a chance of passing by a Bible-believing people? Or, alternatively, do you really think that if the proponents had added the simple clause that Bart suggests, it would really have had much of a chance of passing?

We will never have "serious problems with our Convention," I believe, *if* those who propose motions actually bother to word them in such a way that they have teeth, have specificity, and aren't easily subject to contradictory interpretations. As I've said elsewhere, the problem isn't that the proponents of the Garner Motion gambled and lost, or gambled and won. It's that they weren't willing to gamble at all, and take a risk with the kind of specificity that our messengers deserve.

> I think that the Garner Motion was
> quite clear as to what it meant and
> people understood it quite well. Of
> course, I appeal to the vote totals
> and not anecdotal evidence of what
> "some" people said.

And that, in short, is the problem. You cannot exegete the *meaning* of the statement from vote totals. The vote totals don't tell you what those who voted thought the statement meant. How could they? They're just numbers. But when I actually give you some reportage from those who were there, something which *is* actually relevant to this whole issue of meaning, interpretation, and confusion... you dismiss it.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Bart,

This comment section has taken on legs. :^)

Brother CB,

I do not believe anyone is questioning your integrity in your position of "conflict of interest". I know that I am not. However, Bart does have a good point. No one argued "conflict of interest" with Brother David Rogers.

Brother Alan,

You said;
You say that people were confused, but that would only make sense if something like 90% voted for the Garner Motion because they thought it was a reaffirmation of the BFM, and others tried to make it say something else. Instead, you have a 58-42 vote. That leaves you with some problems. Either, quite a few people thought it said what your opponents read it to say, or quite a few people are against the BF&M, or quite a few people don't know what they were voting for - they just like waving those cards around at random times. These objections do not make sense.

I believe your premise is flawed. First, Brother Bart voted in favor of the motion and I voted against it. Brother Bart and I had a discussion before the vote and we were trying to convince the other why we needed to vote together on it. Our situation was that he interpreted it as it was stated that it was good for us all to abide by the BF&M. I tried to convince him that the motion would be interpreted by some, as it was, that there was nothing else to be used by an entity but the BF&M. However, the icing on the cake was, whoever that lady was that someone was able to find and convince to throw in the '63 BF&M in the argument. That was the confusion that brought everything to a head. If that person had not spoke against the motion on the grounds of the '63 BF&M, we would not be arguing the confusion of the motion.

Brother David,

Brother Alan is correct, Bart voted for the motion. However he interprets it completely differently that others that voted for it. Thus, it is evidence of your correct view about the confusion of the motion. Of course, if the motion was not so confusing why didn't Brother Art Rogers move aside when the chair recognized his microphone for a person to speak against the motion?


Blessings,
Tim

Greg Welty said...

Tim Rogers makes a very good point:

"However, the icing on the cake was, whoever that lady was that someone was able to find and convince to throw in the '63 BF&M in the argument. That was the confusion that brought everything to a head. If that person had not spoke against the motion on the grounds of the '63 BF&M, we would not be arguing the confusion of the motion."

Wade Burleson has provided us with a very helpful transcript of the debate. Here is Barbara Turner's speech against the Garner Motion (a speech which I happened to observe live on the video feed as it was happening):

"Yes, sir. My name is Barbara Turner and I am a messenger from the Mountain View Baptist Church in California. And uh, I did not grow up in a Christian home, however, I had people who took me to church and so forth, and I accepted Christ after a Baptist camp, not a Southern Baptist. However, when I moved I had a neighbor who took me to the closest church, which was a Southern Baptist Church. And, as I started learning about that church I picked up a little paper, really a little card, that was called the Baptist Faith and Message. And as a young teenager, really preteen, I read that and thought about it quite a bit. And, you know I believed the things that were in that document. I felt like, yes, this is what I believe - this is what I want to subscribe to - and this is a body of believers that I want to join with. And I put a lot of thought in that, even as a young person, just as I did my salvation, knowing that God would want to call me to things. That document was written in 1963. It was put together thoughtfully with many great leaders, including Herschel Hobbs, who many people still read his commentaries. I have nothing against the 2000 as far as submission or whatever. However, I have a problem with saying you must subscribe to this particular Baptist Faith and Message or you can't serve. I guess I cannot serve because I believe in both of them. And I think there's a problem, and so I believe it should be Baptist Faith and Message - period, and not Baptist Faith and Message of a certain year. And I also believe, as it is stated, that it is a statement of faith - this is what we believe - but we are autonomous. I believe when we are saying we must set this as a guide - we are not using this as a guide - we are using it as a creed, and that goes up against who we are as Baptists. Thank you."

Notice three things:

(1) Barbara's first objection was that the motion required you to accept the BFM 2000, but reject the BFM 1963: "I have a problem with saying you must subscribe to this particular Baptist Faith and Message or you can't serve. I guess I cannot serve because I believe in both of them. And I think there's a problem, and so I believe it should be Baptist Faith and Message - period, and not Baptist Faith and Message of a certain year."

How did she get that restriction from the motion as worded? Probably from the language that the BFM "is sufficient *in its current form* [i.e., its year-2000-form] to guide trustees...". Her notion of "sufficiency" appears to be what I've earlier designated as 'rigid sufficiency': because the BFM *2000* is specifically said to be the BFM which is sufficient, anyone who believes in the BFM 1963 is automatically excluded from service in the convention. Now, 'rigid sufficiency' is one very reasonable way to take "sufficient to guide" (absolutely no caveats or exceptions are allowed, in this case from the BFM 2000), and so her objection is reasonable. But it is definitely *not* the view of sufficiency taken by most of the prominent backers of the Garner Resolution. (Wade in particular thinks it is compatible with there being 'tertiary' doctrines in the BFM 2000, and therefore allows exceptions to the BFM 2000.) In short, she was confused through no fault of her own, since the motion didn't bother to spell out what it *meant* by sufficiency.

(2) Barbara's second objection was that the BFM "is a statement of faith - this is what we believe - but we are autonomous. I believe when we are saying we must set this as a guide - we are not using this as a guide - we are using it as a creed, and that goes up against who we are as Baptists."

Now, why would she say that the Garner Motion sets the BFM up as a creed, especially when the Garner Motion explicitly says that "The Baptist Faith and Message is not a creed"? Perhaps because, on her view, what is said *later* in the Garner Motion tends to undermine this earlier disavowal. Sure, the Garner Motion says that the BFM is not a creed, but it *also* says that it is "sufficient to guide" trustees. And when you look at the statement through the lens of 'rigid sufficiency,' it's easy to conclude that the Garner Motion implies that there is no *other* source of theological guidance for trustees, except for the BFM 2000. She thought it imputed too much authority to the BFM, and this disturbed her. In the second half of the statement, it was being given a *functional* authority equivalent to that of the Bible itself, despite the protestations to the contrary in the first half of the statement. Given this palpable tension within the statement itself, at least on one understanding of sufficiency, it's hard to blame her for being suspicious.

(3) Wade comments on Barbara's speech thusly:

"(Barbara is a very bright individual. She knew exactly what she was saying. However, what she may not have been aware of was that those who were AGAINST this recommendation desire to tighten the BFM even further, 'de facto,' by tightening the doctrinal parameters and narrow the definition of what it means to be a Southern Baptist by using trustees of Southern Baptist agencies changing the doctrinal parameters 'out of the view of the entire Southern Baptist Convention.' I promise you, if Barbara listened carefully to the two speeches by Bob Cleveland and Jeremy Green that followed hers , she saw it)."

In other words, apparently:

(i) Dr. Chapman's earlier report wasn't enough;
(ii) Rick Garner's speech on behalf of the motion wasn't enough;
(iii) Dwight McKissic's speech on behalf of the motion wasn't enough;

No, according to Wade, in order to "see" the proper interpretation of the Garner Motion, poor Barbara had to listen carefully to two speeches after her own speech! Suddenly, not even (i)-(iii) were enough to interpret the motion correctly. Just imagine if Bob Cleveland and Jeremy Green *hadn't* gotten up to speak pro and con; poor Barbara and all of the "very bright individuals" like her would have remained in darkness concerning crucial things they "may not have been aware of"!

Not confusing... yeah, right! The transcript itself refutes this notion, and Wade's commentary unintentionally reinforces the point.

CB Scott said...

All,

Tim Rogers is right about the Garner motion. From the beginning that particular motion was going to be confusion and it was. Obviously, it still is.

Therein lies the problem. Alan, Bart, Tim, Paul and many others go to the convention to do business. They are prepared and well informed. They "stalk" the convention like a skilled hunter does his prey. They study its mood, its habits, its history, its size, etc. You get my point. The convention is serious business to them.

The truth is that most people go to the convention because it is a gathering of Southern Baptists. It is a tradition. They meet old friends. They hear great sermons. They love the music. They eat. They eat some more. They, traditionally, go to the "hall" for certain "parts" of the "business of the SBC." Their buddy at lunch expressed his "learned" opinion upon the evident, the common, the regular items to come up.

There is the glich. The Garner Motion was anything but regular. People were confused.

One more thing, Tim,

Art Rogers did not move because he did not have to do so and he was not intimidated.

He had prepared himself for the convention in San Antonio just as you did and he understood the system. Art did nothing wrong. Maybe someone else at that mic did, but it was not Art Rogers.

Lastly, as to the theme of this post; It is still an inherent possibility of conflict of interest for an entity employee to be elected to the SBC. Why? Because the convention can be confused. Dare I say the convention can be fooled?

I am thankful it is Dr. Mohler who is running and not some less noble man.

One day it will happen. The convention will be fooled. Too many things have changed.

Therefore we need to change the error of allowing entity employees to be elected to office in the SBC.

cb

cb

CB Scott said...

Dr. Welty,

Somebody should give you a raise. :-)

cb

volfan007 said...

alan,

i know bart voted for it. see, i'm confused about this whole thing once again.

david :)

Alan Cross said...

Great discussion, guys. Thanks for taking the time to set me straight. :)

Greg, I'd love to buy you a cup of coffee one day. I think we'd have a fascinating discussion. I really mean that. In the mean time, I'll try and write a comment as long as yours was! :)

We went a few rounds on this last year, if I remember. I stated then and I will say again, for SBC employees, I am fine with the BFM being used creedally if it means that caveats are not allowed. At least we all know what we believe. Similarly, I also think that SBC entities should not enact doctrinal policies that exceed the BF&M without some approval being given by the convention. That would happen quite simply: During the entity report, have the entity bring before the convention their proposal for a doctrinal policy that exceeds the BF&M. Allow a year for discussion, scholarship, and debate to occur in the SBC. At the next convention, allow there to be some debate and then take a vote, as long as it is approved by the trustees of the entity and passes the muster of biblical scholarship from the convention at large (if it is a heretical belief, that would be exposed during the year of debate). Let it pass by a simple majority or 2/3 vote, whichever seems most reasonable.

Hopefully, this type of thing would be very rare, but there would be a mechanism where it could occur. Primarily, it should happen if a new doctrinal requirement was being placed upon employees to limit their service if they did not adhere to the new requirement. This allows trustees to lead, but it also allows the convention to directly hold them accountable. This could work if we trusted the SBC and the Convention messengers.

As far as the confusion regarding the Garner Motion, I and probably 50 other people that I talked to understood it perfectly the very first time they heard it. There was no confusion. Actually, the moment that I read the EC Report in February of 2007, I understood it to read that the BFM was sufficient. That is how Dr. Chapman understood it. That is why he spoke the way he did. I even wrote and submitted a resolution to the resolutions committee taking the wording of the EC Report and drafting a similar resolution to the Garner Motion. Les Puryear did the same. Neither made it out of committee, but the Garner Motion was deemed appropriate. I talked to dozens of people on Tuesday, both before and after the vote, and everyone of them understood the motion to mean that entities were limited in going beyond the BFM. I talked with several people who were very highly placed in SBC life and they understood it that way as well. I promise you, I can see your 50 or so that talked to Dr. Patterson, and raise it.

None of that is my point. My point remains that the Garner Motion was interpreted by Bart and others to be a simple reaffirmation of the BFM, nothing more. Yet, 42% of messengers voted against it. You say because they were confused, yet I did not meet anyone who was confused. Perhaps David Worley was confused and others were, but 42%? Either, they knew exactly what the motion was calling for (which everyone that I talked to did) and they opposed it, or they opposed reaffirming the BFM, or they were just raising their hand against it for the heck of it. No matter the option, you have a problem with your position and the messengers to the SBC. If they were confused because they were not informed, then that speaks volumes. Actually, what it means is that the Convention can be easily manipulated, yet it is used to elect presidents who indirectly appoint trustees, and adopt revisions to the BFM like in 2000. Politically, all of that is fair game, but when you are talking about the veracity of the unchanging Word of God and global missions, it is a dangerous thing to be playing politics with.

If the Convention can be so easily swayed as many, including Drs. Patterson and Mohler seem to understand based on their speeches last year (they knew who their audience was and played to it quite nicely - not a criticism, just an observation from someone who understands rhetoric), then perhaps it is best to NOT bring doctrinal changes before them like I suggested earlier. But, then again, if we can't do that then we also cannot claim to trust them, which Bart and many others claim to do. No matter which way you look at it, the passage of the Garner Motion last year pokes holes in your argument in one way or another. Either,

1. The Convention approved of the Motion as a sufficient guide/limit for our entities - which makes sense considering the fact that the vote was 58-42.

2. The Convention was just reaffirming the BFM, which makes no sense considering that 42% voted against it.

3. The Convention was completely confused, which does not bode well for future conventions, elections, or votes on resolutions or motions. Anyone who loses a vote could just claim that the convention was confused and throw out the vote.

If the Garner Motion was just a reaffirmation of the BFM, then what do you do with the 42% who voted AGAINST it? I don't think that you can so easily sidestep that fact and just call it confusion. I mean, you can, but then again, you can do whatever you want. :) Many have, actually.

Again, the whole reason that I bring this up is because Bart has said that those who supported David Rogers last year but oppose Dr. Mohler this year are being inconsistent. First of all, I believe that people have the right to look at things from different directions. Secondly, I think that many were playing both sides of the fence last year on the Garner Motion, so calls of inconsistency over this should be taken with a grain of salt.

Basically, I am not against Dr. Mohler as president of the SBC. Actually, I think his election is inevitable. I am also FOR the sufficiency of the Bible and do not see why caveats to the BFM should be necessary for denominational servants. So, you can't really pin me completely on one side of this or the other. But, I DO believe that trustee boards should not be allowed to set doctrinal policy that affects the entire SBC with a simple majority, and the only recourse we have is to elect presidents for 10 years to restack the boards. That is insane. But, that is where we find ourselves and the call for any type of accountability is rejected outright.

Why don't we see the problem with this?

Alan Cross said...

Re: that last statement, I should say that the call for accoutability that does not take almost a decade to enact, or that does involve an issue that is just complete and obvious heresy, seems to be rejected. The call to trust our trustees is a flawed one, especially when you consider the way that the IMB trustees did not even know that they did not have the authority to tell Wade Burleson that they would no longer pay his way to trustee meetings. The EC had to tell them what their own bylaws said! How can we trust them to set arbitrary doctrinal policy beyond the only consensus Baptist statement of faith?

Wade Burleson said...

Alan Cross,

You deserve a medal.

You have been patient and kind in this written debate, but from my perspective, you have been even more keen and logical in your analysis.

I, too, respect Dr. Welty, but I must say that he, nor anyone else in this comment stream has been able to refute your logic on what the passage of the Garner Motion actually represented.

Blessings,

Wade

CB Scott said...

Wade,

Alan did speak well. He also agreed with other statements others made in this thread.

Would you agree there was confusion among the messengers relating to the Garner motion?

What is your opinion as to the subject of this post? Is there an inherent possibility of conflict of interest for entity employees being elected to SBC positions such as president, etc.?

cb

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

You are right, Brother Alan needs a medal. Why don't you give him your egalitarian medal you received from the CBE? :>)(Just ragging you)

Seriously, Brother Alan certainly has presented a great position in this discussion. However, the comment threat is on the position of the "conflict of interest" argument. You have been one that has argued that Dr. Mohler's nomination is a conflict of interest. But you promoted Brother David Rogers, also a fine candidate for the position of 1st VP, and never said anything about it being a conflict of interest for an employee of an entity to serve in a position that had the potentiality of appointing his bosses.

Also, just one more question. Because the Garner Motion was presented at San Anton as a result of the, as you say it, narrowing of parameters on the IMB, have you not broken your word about taking a month off from speaking about IMB issues by engaging this comment stream?

Blessings,
Tim

volfan007 said...

alan and everyone,

i was confused. when i heard some of the comments at the microphones, i began to think that it was a maximum standard statement. i voted against the garner motion. right after the vote, i went to bart and matt brady. i said,"does everyone in here know what they've just done?" and, bart and matt both stated that all we did was to affirm the bfm 2k. that they had voted for it. when i got home and talked to my pastor friends who harldly ever go to the net... dont even like blogs, i talked to them about it. they too thought it was just an affirmation of the bfm 2k. they would still tell you that today.

so, confusion. some voted against it because they understand it like wade and alan do. some voted for it because they believe like wade and alan do. some voted for it because they saw it as an affirmation of the bfm 2k. thus, confusion.

what's bad is when someone tries to bring up the garner motion like it truly has teeth to support a maximum standard arguement. they try to act like everyone understood such a confusing motion that was not discussed fully...so that everyone could understand... including those of us who are not as mentally swift as the rest of you brainiacs. but, to use the garner motion like a club for a maximum standard defense for the bfm2k is either naive, or else dishonest. because, it was confusing to many, many, many people.

david

volfan007 said...

btw, i dont yet know who i'm voting for...dr. mohler or frank cox. i'm still undecided. i can be bought off with a nice slab of wet pork ribs with all of the trimmings. shoot, i can be bought off with a great cheeseburger and fries...if i get a large pepsi with it.

david :)

Alan Cross said...

Tim,

I brought up the Garner Motion and the reaction to it as an example of situational objections. I read Bart's post as being about inconsistencies, not conflicts of interest, so that is why I engaged the way I did with another example. I did not intend to hijack the comment thread, but rather to illuminate the discussion with other examples and state that we have all done what Bart was accusing others of doing. Like he said, we don't seem to see it when it is an issue that we approve of. If I was wrong about Bart's intent and ended up hijacking, I apologize.

David,

Your position is well stated. I do not doubt that many were confused. I accept what you are saying, and because of the confusion and reinterpretations, I am not trying to enforce anything through the Garner Motion, even though I believed it to clearly read as I previously stated.

But, just like you said, Bart and others expressed that it was only a reaffirmation of the BFM2K. If people really believed this, then why not express dismay and outrage at the 42% who voted against it, like many did at the 10% who voted against the alcohol resolution? To claim that messengers were just confused shows that either 42% understood the Garner Motion the way that Wade, you, and I did and thought it was wrong (which is a substantial number and eradicates the argument of confusion), or, 42% were against the BFM2K (which I highly doubt), or 42% were confused (which casts doubts on Bart's repeated claims to trust the messengers to the Convention). No matter how you look at it, you have a problem with your argument because none of these possibilties were ever addressed as being a problem within the SBC. Bart and friends just turned their focus on the proponents of the Garner Motion and conveniently dismissed the 42% who voted against it, if it was as they claim, just a reaffirmation of the BFM. That is a problem with consistency not disimilar to what Bart is claiming in regard to this year's presidential election.

My whole point is that we all have prejudices when it comes to things like this. I appreciate Bart's original point and I accept his premise. No, I did not think about such things in the 1st VP election last year. If I had thought about it, it might have made a difference. Again, the biggest thing that I fear are those that have agendas that have not been previously approved by the SBC. That is a bigger issue to me than having an entity head serve as SBC president. I just want a president that I know will represent all Southern Baptists, not just a faction, and that will encourage us to love God and love people.

From what I have seen, I think that Dr. Mohler and Dr. Cox are both capable of such leadership. Whether they will lead that way or not will only be determined in time.

Wade Burleson said...

CB,

You ask "What is your opinion as to the subject of this post? Is there an inherent possibility of conflict of interest for entity employees being elected to SBC positions such as president, etc.?"

I agree with Alan's assessment of this post. You can't have it both ways. Though I believe there is a HUGE difference between a PRESIDENT of an agency and an employee of an agency in terms of 'influence,' (not to mention the difference between PRESIDENT of the SBC as compared to FIRST-VICE PRESIDENT of the SBC), if someone were to press an objection that it is inconsistent to nominate David Rogers for Vice-President and be opposed to Al Mohler's nomination for President because of 'confict of interest' then I would have to agree - on the basis of consistency.

The President of the SBC has FAR more influence and power than I hear people being willing to acknowledge in this post or comment stream. I believe, beyond any shadow of doubt, that ANY agency head, whether it be Rankin, Mohler, Patterson, etc . . . SHOULD NOT BE President of the SBC. If that same concern is pressed on ANY employee of an SBC agency, then I acquiesce to the logical consistency and say it was wrong to nominate David.

And, believe it or not, I really admire Dr. Mohler, as I do David Rogers. It has nothing to do with my personal affinity for the nominee - I don't believe there should be a position where possible conflict of interest arises. I honestly didn't see the conflict of interest with David because of a missionary's LACK of influence as it relates to the Board of Trustees - but if others object to David's nomination for Vice-President because of 'conflict of interest,' then I would have to say I could see their point.

Again. Consistency is the issue - and Alan has nailed this one with his logic.

More important than the election of President is Alan's brilliant analysis of the Garner Motion. Anybody who sat in on the debate, who reads the transcript of the debate, who watched the people who spoke against it, knew exactly what was being voted upon.

It just so happens the problem is that some did not like the outcome.

In His Grace,

Wade

Greg Welty said...

CB Scott,

I’ve already gotten a raise. Dr. Patterson recently appointed me the Resident Expert on the Garner Motion. It comes with a small stipend, and a reduced teaching load ;-)

Alan,

> Similarly, I also think that SBC entities
> should not enact doctrinal policies that
> exceed the BF&M without some approval
> being given by the convention.

See? That's a clear, plainspoken, and specific position. I wish the Garner Motion was worded like that.

BTW, I think you make a reasonable proposal in the material which comes after this.

> I promise you, I can see your 50 or so that
> talked to Dr. Patterson, and raise it.

I can see my gambling language has taken on a life of its own ;-)

> Yet, 42% of messengers voted against it.
> You say because they were confused,

I never said that. Sure, *some* were confused. But others were convinced there was an agenda behind its vague wording, and voted against it because of *that*. They weren't confused. They were convinced they knew exactly what was going on. York here is my paradigm example. Many from the vocal SWBTS contingent voted against it, for similar reasons. And so on. That 42% number can be broken down in a number of ways.

You're setting up a false dilemma here: of those who voted against it, they did it because (i) they oppose the BFM, or (ii) they were confused. You're leaving out another category: (iii) they oppose poorly-worded motions in principle, because they can be hijacked to serve an agenda. People in category (iii) are not confused. Rather, they are very clear about the confusion that such a statement *could* generate, and they oppose it in principle.

> First of all, I believe that people have
> the right to look at things from different
> directions.

Will you allow me that privilege, with respect to analyzing the Garner Motion? :-)

> But, I DO believe that trustee boards should
> not be allowed to set doctrinal policy that
> affects the entire SBC with a simple
> majority, and the only recourse we have is
> to elect presidents for 10 years to restack
> the boards. That is insane.

If so, that insanity is grounded deeply in our convention's tradition. I think it is perfectly fine to seek to revise that tradition, and propose the alternative which you do earlier in this comment. I just want everything to be clearly and specifically stated, so that everyone knows exactly what they're voting for and what they're getting, *and* that what they're getting is a significant departure from past precedent re: trustee accountability.

BTW, I find it interesting that I can't find any significant opponent of the alcohol resolution that argues that people were confused. There's an easy explanation for this: the alcohol resolution wasn't confusing. It didn't say, "The Bible calls us to a holy life. Therefore, we shall have a negative relationship to alcohol." Rather, it said, well, you can read it for yourself. Those who opposed the alcohol resolution knew *exactly* what it was proposing, because it was so clear and specific.

My point is that I don't accept your doom-and-gloom scenarios about the convention, that if the messengers were confused on the Garner Motion, then "the Convention can be easily manipulated," etc. No, the solution here is not to deny that vaguely worded statements are confusing. The solution is to avoid vaguely worded statements.

Wade,

> Anybody who sat in on the debate, who
> reads the transcript of the debate,
> who watched the people who spoke
> against it, knew exactly what was
> being voted upon.

Including Barbara Turner?

But perhaps all inconvenient counterevidence should be suppressed. Including that which exists on your blog :-)

Your non-interaction with my specific arguments is telling.

Paul said...

Two things:

First, I have publicly opposed the electing of Al Mohler based upon a very real conflict of interest. At the same time, I supported David Rogers for 1st VP. But there are differences in the two that for me make all the difference in the world. I don't know for sure, and I'm sure some historian can tell us, but I wonder (and doubt) whether a 1st VP has ever taken over for a President who was unable to fulfill his duties. Who knows what the Providence of God holds, but I did not have any substantial reason to believe that David Rogers would become President of the SBC. In addition, the influence of the President and the relative influence of a 1st VP are miles and miles apart. A 1st VP can do nothing in actuality. He can try to influence, but his influence goes only as far as the President allows it. He does not ultimately appoint anyone to anything anywhere. Everyone who has been involved in the CR knows this. The CR did not happen because Adrian Rogers and Charles Stanley were elected 1st VP of the SBC. The SBC could have elected a liberal unregenerate to 1st VP and 2nd VP during the CR and it would not have changed one single thing in terms of the direction of the convention because those positions have no direct ability to do anything.

Secondly, what exactly is the ethical position one is taking when he/she votes for/against something when they don't even know what they are voting for/against? Would any of us want someone in our churches to vote on something - either for or against - about which they were confused? Wouldn't wisdom lead them to simply abstain? And it appears that there were 500 who talked to Dr. Patterson and another 50 or so who talked to Dr. York who said they were confused, yet they voted anyway??

volfan007 said...

paul,

people were not confused when they voted. they thought they knew what was being said. the confusion comes in what the people thought they knew. some people voted for the garner motion because they liked the idea of a maximum standard. some voted for it because they were confused and thought that it was a reaffirmation of the bfm2k. others voted against it, because they thought that the garner motion was an attempt to make the bfm2k a maximum standard. thats why i voted against it. thus, the confusion, paul. it was not that we were dizzy headed and didnt know why our arms and hands were voting the way they did. and, i really dont think that a large percentage of the sbc pastors are stupid, either. even though, i know that some of you out there have large brains and are so much more knowledgable and mentally sharp than the rest of us normal simpletons. i just wish that i could be as smart as all of you brainiacs so that i can keep up with the conversation and the motions offered at the sbc. (maybe we should leave the decisions of the sbc to wade and ben and paul and their gang to make....we'd be so much better off). paul, the confusion is about understanding exactly what the garner motion does....what did it actually do? it was not clear for a lot of people. it can be interpreted in so many ways...as is evidenced by what so many think that it said. if it was clear there wouldnt be so much confusion...would there?

i'm beginning to think that it was worded the way it was by "smart" people who were attempting to make it vague, so that it would have a great chance to pass...knowing that many would vote for it thinking that it was a reaffirmation of the bfm2k...so that they could then, in turn, use the vote as a way of promoting their cause of making it a maximum standard, and thus turn the tide against all those narrowing parameters guys out there. you know, so that they could then say things like, "well, the garner motion shows that sbc entities cant make doctrinal parameters... like women not teaching men doctrine...or, cant exclude charismatic tongue speaking amongst sb m's, etc." it's really starting to look that way to me. i dont know. i could be wrong. but, usually when you smell dead fish, there's a dead fish somewhere.

why was not the garner motion made more clear? something like what alan cross said? it would have been very clear then, and we wouldnt be having all of this discussion now. btw, alan, i kind of like some of the things that you proposed as well...that dr. welty liked as well. i could live with that. if that's what the majority want.

but, for heaven's sake, let's make it very clear what we're voting on for now on.

david

ps. boy, i'm starting to get real dizzy now. why is my hand reaching for the mouse? why am i pressing on the publish button? why is this happening? i'm so confused.....lol.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

Where did you find Barbara Turner? It certainly seems that she pushed the right button in order to speak against something but spoke for it by bringing in the '63 BF&M.

Are you trying to tell us that this motion was presented with an understanding that this would once and for all clear up the BF&M debate? From the way Brother Ben told it, this motion was put in play with the understanding that it was vague enough to garner (pun intended) support from people that would otherwise oppose it if they knew the way it would be interpreted. That is the reason he called for the question when he saw Dr.'s Land and York at the mic. That also is the reason that Brother Art Rogers would not give up his spot when his mic was recognized to speak against the motion.

Blessings,
Tim

Bart Barber said...

Glad to see that everyone has been having fun.

I've seen the comments, but I simply cannot bring myself to attempt blogging on a phone. I suppose that the folks behind the Apple iPhone would allege that I have "fat fingers." Don't get me wrong, the iPhone is GREAT, and it does pretty well interpreting my multi-touch typing, but the whole process is fatiguing.

It's gonna be tough to respond to everyone. I'll focus on Alan, since everyone else seems to be doing so.

Alan, I do trust the messengers to the SBC, and have done so consistently. You sneak into your argument an assumption that you would have me adopt: That the Garner motion means what you say it means.

Were people confused about the Garner motion? Of course there were confused people. I'm guessing that we have people confused on EVERY measure we adopt in an Annual Meeting. We all know that. Probably there were a great deal more people confused than usual—the fruit of a deliberately vague motion.

I will have ceased to have trust in the messengers when I allege that they are incapable of making the right decision or ought to be ignored. I can trust the messengers and, at the same time, disagree with them. And yet, not only have I not alleged that the people of the SBC are incapable of making the right decision, I am not even alleging that their vote in this case was the wrong decision. Not only am I not deriding them, but I also am not disagreeing with them.

The people of the SBC, in their majority, voted precisely as I did. By doing so, they adopted as their sentiment a statement affirming the guidance of the BF&M for our trustees. I agree with the statement. They agreed with the statement. Right decision. Good job, SBC messengers.

I do not, however, agree with the way in which you wish to have the statement interpreted. The SBC has not, to date, voted on that question. They will not have the opportunity to do so until they can consider a motion from someone with the courage to provide clear language to the convention to consider. I'm not saying that nobody on your side of the issue possesses such courage—some clearly worded resolutions and motions came from your side of the aisle in San Antonio. It's just that we didn't vote on any of those.

Bart Barber said...

To clarify my initial comments: I saw the comments all day yesterday and this morning, but was unwilling to join the conversation until now, when I have arrived at my desk and my computer.

Wade Burleson said...

Bart,

You say, "The people of the SBC, in their majority, voted precisely as I did."

The attempt to speak for me and others in the majority is silly, Bart, particularly since Dr. Patterson, Richard Land, Malcolm Yarnell, Al Mohler and a host of others that you would identify yourself with voted AGAINST the motion because, unlike what you claim, they knew precisely what it meant.

Blessings,

Wade

Bart Barber said...

Wade,

I voted in favor. The majority voted in favor. They voted precisely as I did. Irrefutable fact. And that's all I was saying by that sentence.

Wade Burleson said...

Dr. Greg Welty,

You state to me, "But perhaps all inconvenient counterevidence should be suppressed. Including that which exists on your blog :-)

Your non-interaction with my specific arguments is telling.


I can assure you of two things:

(1). Nothing on my blog has ever been suppressed, but on the contrary, remains in its initial form for all the world to see, and if you would allow yourself to admit it, you would realize the only reason you fellows can even remember Barbara Turner's name or quote what she said is because you READ IT on my blog - which trumps any argument that something is suppressed.

(2). I see not one place where your 'specific aruguments' are either addressed to me personally or merit any discussion over and against the brilliant 'point, set, match' response of Alan Cross. Alan says it all.

Bart Barber said...

Wade,

If you'll re-read my comment more carefully, you'll see that, rather than claiming that the people of the SBC share my precise viewpoint of what the Garner Motion means, I have noted that the SBC has never considered that question at all.

Ron P. said...

Wade,

What many of the people you listed objected to was not the vague statement itself, but the spin that would be put on it because it was vague. For the past 8 months, that is precisely what you and others have done. Tried to spin the Garner motion to say something it clearly did not. Had I been a messenger, I would have voted against it for that reason, not because of what it says, but what you and others have contrived it to mean.

Bart and Greg have been quite correct in their analysis today and these past 8 months that Greg quotes. The point, set, and match goes to Dr. Welty. Alan hit several balls that were clearly "out" as well as some "service faults" that Greg so clearly documented and refuted. :)

Blessings,

Ron P.

Greg Welty said...

David wrote:

"i'm beginning to think that it was worded the way it was by "smart" people who were attempting to make it vague, so that it would have a great chance to pass...knowing that many would vote for it thinking that it was a reaffirmation of the bfm2k...so that they could then, in turn, use the vote as a way of promoting their cause of making it a maximum standard, and thus turn the tide against all those narrowing parameters guys out there. you know, so that they could then say things like, "well, the garner motion shows that sbc entities cant make doctrinal parameters... like women not teaching men doctrine...or, cant exclude charismatic tongue speaking amongst sb m's, etc." it's really starting to look that way to me."

I couldn't have put it better myself. And clearly, *if* someone suspected exactly this of the Garner Motion, and they rejected this perceived agenda, then it would make sense to *vote against it*. Contrary to Paul's claim above, the ethical option wouldn't be to abstain, because you're trying to *stop* this anticipated sequence of events in its tracks, a sequence predicated on the motion's *passing*. Your conviction would be that revolutions shouldn't be predicated on statements you deem to be vague and confusing. This explains the vote of someone like York. *Or* you could recommend voting against the Motion, because -- through no fault of your own -- you're genuinely confused as to what it is requiring. This seems to explain the speech of someone like Barbara Turner. Notice, then, that the "no" vote doesn't have to be construed monolithically. We have evidence for a diversity of opinion here, even on one side.

Wade,

> (1). Nothing on my blog has ever been
> suppressed, but on the contrary,
> remains in its initial form for all
> the world to see, and if you would
> allow yourself to admit it, you would
> realize the only reason you fellows
> can even remember Barbara Turner's
> name or quote what she said is
> because you READ IT on my blog

"If I would allow myself to admit it"? Perhaps you missed the part where I said, "Wade Burleson has provided us with a very helpful transcript [link here] of the debate. Here is Barbara Turner's speech against the Garner Motion..."

I didn't just "admit" I read it on your blog. I linked to it and drew others' attention to it.

> - which trumps any argument that
> something is suppressed.

LOL

Clearly, it would be absurd of me to suggest that Barbara Turner's speech has been suppressed *on your blog*. That would be absurd, since I just cited and linked to that speech on your blog. It's there. What I was suggesting was that your sweeping claim:

"Anybody who sat in on the debate, who reads the transcript of the debate, who watched the people who spoke against it, knew exactly what was being voted upon."

...is faced with counterevidence in the case of Barbara Turner. It is *not* the case that everyone knew exactly what was being voted on. My point was that the counterevidence from Barbara Turner was being "suppressed" *in your argument above* (i.e., you're not taking it into account when you make sweeping statements like that), not that it was being "suppressed" on your blog.

You say to Bart:

> The attempt to speak for me and others
> in the majority is silly, Bart,
> particularly since Dr. Patterson,
> Richard Land, Malcolm Yarnell, Al
> Mohler and a host of others that you
> would identify yourself with voted
> AGAINST the motion because, unlike
> what you claim, they knew precisely
> what it meant.

What's interesting here is that you've not only missed Bart's point, but you've reinforced one of my own. All Bart said was that "The people of the SBC, in their majority, voted precisely as I did." Clearly, that's true. The majority voted for the motion, and Bart voted for the motion. Therefore, they *voted* precisely as Bart did. Of course, it does not follow from this that each member of the majority *had the same understanding* of the motion and its implications that Bart did. The majority's understanding was not monolithic.

Nor was the *minority's* understanding monolithic. Or do you mean to suggest that York's reason for opposing the resolution was the same as Barbara Turner's?

If John McCain wins a majority of votes, does it follow that everyone in the majority had the same reason for voting for him? And ditto for the minority who voted against him? You seem to act like a mere number can be imputed with extraordinary semantic significance.

Bart Barber said...

AN APPEAL FROM THE HOST:

Really, we've been over and over and over this Garner Motion thing since last June. Is there anything to be said that hasn't already? I tried to submit a post about something new: The connection between the David Rogers nomination and Dr. Mohler's nomination. Now the comment stream has fallen into eight-month-old ruts.

The same tired old arguments rehashed—you people would make my blog like SBC Outpost! :-)

Bart Barber said...

Of course, my gentle admonishment notwithstanding, I love "you people" in Christ. And some among you are even correct in your arguments.

Ron P. said...

My apologies for contributing to the hijacking of your post Bart.

Ron P.

Wade Burleson said...

Bart,

It's not tired news.

It is THE issue in the SBC. Will we continue to press doctrinal conformity BEYOND our convention's doctrinal confession, the ONLY consensus doctrinal standard that is a sufficient guide for cooperation, by allowing entities to demand allegience to narrower doctrinal standards to which the convention has not voted, and as a result of these narrower doctrinal parameters exclude otherwise qualified Southern Baptists from cooperative missions ministry?

The Convention said "NO" by resoundingly adopting the Garner motion.

In His Grace,

Wade

Paul said...

David,

You say that people were not confused when they voted, and then that some were confused when they voted.

This is a part of our problem.

Greg,

Are you really telling me that if someone brought a motion to the floor rejecting the practice of abortion, disallowing homosexuals to teach in our seminaries, showing appreciation for the host city or any number of other things, that if the motion is not as clearly worded as some judge it should be that they should vote "no?"

That's amazing.

Alan Cross said...

Bart,

Sorry for the change of subject. I repeatedly tried to show that I was trying to talk about consistency in arguments. But, I agree, we have gone far afield of your original point.

One last question, if you don't mind: Was there anyone in the debate for the Garner Motion that articulated your view of what it meant? I know that there were several, including Dr. Garner and Dr. Chapman who articulated the view that I believe was correct. At what point was your view voiced so that it would influence messengers? The first time I ever heard your view was the morning after when I read your blog. Then, I heard Dr. Mohler share it. Are you saying that messengers ignored the floor debate that did articulate the view that I have proposed, and just voted for the words of the motion according to the view of you and Dr. Mohler, without anyone speaking for it? That would be an amazing feat for a majority of a crowd of almost 5,000 people.

Anyway, my overall point was that for you to not react in surprise to 42% of the Convention that voted against a reaffirmation of the BFM, according to your own view, well, that is amazing and I would say inconsistent with your other positions. But, I give you that right, and I also respect your right to completely disagree with me on this.

Grace to you.

CB Scott said...

Wade,

The substance of the Garner motion is but a symptom of the real problem.

The very situation you found yourself in is a result of the true systemic problem.

Our problem is a problem with the selection of trustees based upon a predetermined agenda of the few versus the the good of the SBC as a whole.

The very subject of this post actually addresses that overriding and continual problem.

Disclaimer: I have said before that I believe Dr. Albert Mohler to be a godly and noble man. Therefore, I am glad he is the entity employee we are dealing with at this time. A man of lessor character may prove my point in a literal fashion and put the SBC is a greater jeopardy than it is in right now.

The issue of this post, I think, is; should an entity head or any employee be elected to a position in the SBC such as president, etc.

Wade, you have also said you admire Dr. Mohler as do I. You also agreed there could be a conflict of interest. You did make a slight difference in your application, but basically agreed with me.

All,

Wade and I have stated our objection to an entity employee being elected to a SBC post. We have also agreed it has nothing to do with Dr. Mohler and his stated position to the Garner motion or any other position he may hold.

Therefore, we are either liars, or we have such a conviction based upon merit relating to the conflict of interest argument.

cb

Bart Barber said...

Wade,

I recommend that you bring THAT COMMENT precisely to the floor of this year's convention. Then we'll see what the SBC has to say about it.

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

I agree that your initial point was germane to the point of my post. Although I disagree with your conclusions, it was a relevant and eloquent point. It is the subsequent discussion that has left behind my post.

And this is somewhat my fault for being absent. I was absent; you were present; the subsequent discussion followed your comment rather than my post.

As to your point: I echo what Dr. Welty has already said. I did not draw conclusions about what the people who voted against the motion were trying to say. Surely you note that, although my blog endorsed the motion and I voted in favor of it, other blogs and personalities with whom I agree on these general issues opposed the motion and voted against it. I knew that they did not vote against it out of the motivation that you suggest. Quite a conversation ensued among conservative bloggers about our differing points of view about what the motion meant.

Bart Barber said...

Wade,

Let's make a deal....

If you agree, I will submit my resolution from last year on the role of the Baptist Faith & Message. Join me in working to make sure that it comes out of the committee and to the floor of this year's convention. Then let's see whether the convention votes it up or down. Question settled.

Or, if you find my previous resolution to be vague in any way, please let me know how and where. I want it to be blunt and straight to the point.

Or, I freely and publicly offer to join with you in the drafting of a joint resolution that frames the question to both of our satisfactions, clearly stating matters such that you and I both stipulate beforehand that a favorable vote sides with one of us and an unfavorable vote sides with the other of us.

And then, let's see what happens.

volfan007 said...

alan,

you said,"Anyway, my overall point was that for you to not react in surprise to 42% of the Convention that voted against a reaffirmation of the BFM"

alan, 42% of the people voted against the garner motion because they 1) saw it as an attempt to make the bfm2k a maximum statement of doctrinal belief; 2)were against any creedal statemtents of any sort whatsoever... as we hear people say all the time when voting on anything like a baptist faith and message; or 3)dont like the bfm 2k...dont agree with it.

but, they were still confused about it's meaning what wade wants it to mean....ya think?

david

volfan007 said...

paul,

what? after reading what you wrote to me...i'm confused.

david

Paul said...

David,

The following words are directly quoted from the first few sentences of your previous comment to me:

people were not confused when they voted. they thought they knew what was being said. the confusion comes in what the people thought they knew. some people voted for the garner motion because they liked the idea of a maximum standard. some voted for it because they were confused and thought that it was a reaffirmation of the bfm2k. [Emphasis mine.]

See? People were not confused when they voted, and then people were confused when they voted.

On top of that, if people were in the hallways just after the vote asking Drs. Patterson and York what they just voted on, then that seems to be some pretty clear anecdotal evidence that at least some were confused when they voted, yet they voted anyway.

Greg Welty said...

Bart said:

"Of course, my gentle admonishment notwithstanding, I love 'you people' in Christ. And some among you are even correct in your arguments."

Why, thank you :-)

Paul said:

"Are you really telling me that if someone brought a motion to the floor rejecting the practice of abortion, disallowing homosexuals to teach in our seminaries, showing appreciation for the host city or any number of other things, that if the motion is not as clearly worded as some judge it should be that they should vote 'no?'"

Of course not. My standard is not: "the motion is not as clearly worded as some judge it to be." Presumably, no matter what motion gets proposed, someone *somewhere* is going to have a problem with it. If that were the standard, no one could vote for anything.

My standard is not: could someone, somewhere, conceivably have a problem with the clarity of the motion?

My standard is: do *I*, as the person who is about to vote, have a huge problem with the clarity of the motion? And do *I*, as the person who is about to vote, have reason to think that this lack of clarity is there precisely to pursue an agenda under false pretenses?

And if that standard is met, *I'm* going to vote against the motion, on the grounds that poorly-worded law is more often a source of evil than good.

I can't speak for anyone else, of course.

Are you really telling me that if someone moved that "we have a negative relationship to alcohol, because the Scriptural teaching on holiness is sufficient," that you wouldn't vote against it? I don't care what someone's view of alcohol is; that motion would be a useless piece of fluff whose meaning is in the eye of the beholder (unlike the resolution that was in fact passed, which was exceptionally clear in its specificity and intended application).

There just isn't an ethical problem here, Paul, in voting against the Garner Motion on the grounds that it was a poorly-worded motion.

Wade Burleson said...

Greg,

If you were to ask the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention if 'The Garner Motion' is a poorly worded motion, what do you think they would say?

Paul said...

Greg,

I understand your reasoning. However, we have been told that there were people who voted on the Garner motion who were shortly found to be in the halls of the convention center asking certain people "what did we just vote on?"

Now, that sounds very different to my ears than to say that they thought it was poorly worded and voted against it because they perceived it to be vague or to be loaded with an agenda. If those people genuinely wondered what it was they were voting on, yet voted anyway, do you not see that as an ethical dilemma? You simply can't classify everyone who voted against the motion as doing so for your reasons and thus I don't believe you can say that there is no ethical problem. Perhaps not with you, but you can't impose your reasoning onto everyone who opposed the motion.

volfan007 said...

paul,

have you ever thought that you knew what was being said, or voted on? and then, afterwards, after some reflection, you begin to realize that many what you thought wasnt exactly what someone was talking about? thus, the confusion over this issue.

while in the convention hall, they thought that the garner motion was about affirming the bfm2k. voted for it. then, after thinking about the people who were opposing it, and realizing that those guys would not have been against the bfm2k, they began to wonder what just happened....really? what went on that they didnt get....that they didnt catch? due to the vagueness of the motion presented.

when i first heard it presented..i didnt see anything wrong with it. when i saw the people...from the blogs which i read...speaking for this motion, and i heard some people speaking against it that i know, then i realized what was going on. i voted against this motion. then, i went to bart and matt brady and asked them if everyone just realized what they'd done. they told me that all we'd done was to affirm the bfm2k. i questioned them on this. then, i finally began to understand.

paul, does that clear up about the confused people?

and, i almost want to think that the vagueness was intentional for the purpose of getting it voted in. i hope not. but, it sure does look that way.

david

Paul said...

David,

I'll tell you what I told Greg and that is that if that was the case for you then I understand, but you have no basis to say that what was going on with you is what was going on with everyone else who you say was "confused."

I also think it is really telling that you so readily judged the motives of your brothers only to talk to Bart afterwards which caused you to reconsider your position. Very nice.

Greg Welty said...

Paul wrote:

"You simply can't classify everyone who voted against the motion as doing so for your reasons and thus I don't believe you can say that there is no ethical problem. Perhaps not with you, but you can't impose your reasoning onto everyone who opposed the motion."

I find this simply incredible, Paul.

I went out of my way to *explicitly* deny the position you impute to me above. I went out of my way to argue that there is evidence for a *diversity* of reasons why someone would have voted for, or against, the motion. Did you not read my comments above where I made these explicit distinctions, in belabored little numbered clauses and all that?

Exhibit A: my words to Wade above:

"Of course, it does not follow from this that each member of the majority *had the same understanding* of the motion and its implications that Bart did. The majority's understanding was not monolithic.

Nor was the *minority's* understanding monolithic. Or do you mean to suggest that York's reason for opposing the resolution was the same as Barbara Turner's?"

Exhibit B: my words to David above:

"Contrary to Paul's claim above, the ethical option wouldn't be to abstain, because you're trying to *stop* this anticipated sequence of events in its tracks, a sequence predicated on the motion's *passing*. Your conviction would be that revolutions shouldn't be predicated on statements you deem to be vague and confusing. This explains the vote of someone like York. *Or* you could recommend voting against the Motion, because -- through no fault of your own -- you're genuinely confused as to what it is requiring. This seems to explain the speech of someone like Barbara Turner. Notice, then, that the 'no' vote doesn't have to be construed monolithically. We have evidence for a diversity of opinion here, even on one side."

Exhibit C: my words to Alan above:

"I never said that. Sure, *some* were confused. But others were convinced there was an agenda behind its vague wording, and voted against it because of *that*. They weren't confused. They were convinced they knew exactly what was going on. York here is my paradigm example. Many from the vocal SWBTS contingent voted against it, for similar reasons. And so on. That 42% number can be broken down in a number of ways.

You're setting up a false dilemma here: of those who voted against it, they did it because (i) they oppose the BFM, or (ii) they were confused. You're leaving out another category: (iii) they oppose poorly-worded motions in principle, because they can be hijacked to serve an agenda. People in category (iii) are not confused. Rather, they are very clear about the confusion that such a statement *could* generate, and they oppose it in principle."

And yet, Paul, in the face of all of this explicit counterevidence, you impute to me the view that I "classify everyone who voted against the motion as doing so for my reasons."

Can I quote you at this juncture?:

"Amazing."

:-)

What gives, brother?

Greg Welty said...

Wade asks:

"If you were to ask the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention if 'The Garner Motion' is a poorly worded motion, what do you think they would say?"

Umm, dunno.

"If we wrote something, it wasn't poorly worded, even if someone somewhere thinks it's poorly worded, and that's that."

Nope, can't imagine that.

"Touch not the Lord's anointed."

Nope on that, too.

"You're pretty impertinent for a guy who's only pushing forty."

No, the judgment of charity says probably not.

I don't know, Wade. What would they say?

Paul said...

Greg,

Given those quotes, what gives is the denial that anyone there was confused, yet voted anyway.

I'm responding to the following quote of yours: "There just isn't an ethical problem here, Paul, in voting against the Garner Motion on the grounds that it was a poorly-worded motion."

Perhaps I should be asking you if you have read my previous comments, because I never argued that voting against the motion because it may (or may not have been) poorly worded created an ethical problem. What I said was, "what exactly is the ethical position one is taking when he/she votes for/against something when they don't even know what they are voting for/against?"

Now, that is very different from what you have described. I've never heard it reported that those who met Drs. Patterson and York in the hallway said that they were confused by a poorly-worded motion. What I have heard reported is that people asked, "What did we just vote on?" David Worley has given us a fine example. He was for it before he was against it. He really didn't know what it meant prior to voting on it or when he voted on it, though he thought he might have some vague idea based upon who spoke for/against it. But he really didn't understand it until Bart explained it to him afterwards. Well, if you are initially for it, then wonder what's up when you see who is arguing for/against it, you are voting party loyalty, not based upon the issue at hand. David initially thought he knew what he was voting on. Had he not seen those whom he supports speaking against the motion he likely would have voted for it, by his own admission. But the situation he describes indicates that he did not know what it meant when he cast his ballot, he only knew that he was throwing his hat in the ring with those who spoke against the motion.

Honestly, I'm not sure if unethical is the best word to describe it. Irresponsible may come closer, and then we might have to call in one of your ethic professor buddies to tell us if acting irresponsibly is also unethical. Maybe it's just "unrepentant sin." [Sorry, I couldn't resist!] :D

volfan007 said...

paul,

people voted for or against because in the convention center they thought they knew what it was...after reflection...they wondered...were confused. after the vote was taken, and they began to talk to some people about it, they then realized how a motion so vague could be construed to mean what wade wants it to mean. they didnt understand this during the voting period...but afterwards, in the halls...after talking to some people who cleared it up for them.

i know people like this. i know some non bloggers who voted for it due to it being an affirmation of the bfm2k. they thought that the garner motion was just an affirmation. some of them still believe that to this day. and, i'm talking about some non blogger friends of mine.

david