The ghosts of blogging past made some appearances at the SBC Annual Meeting this year:
Dave Miller is the first blogger (to my knowledge) to be elected to SBC national office. That's an interesting and significant development, I think. I don't know that it represents a major change in the way that Southern Baptists view bloggers, since factors specific to this year may have played a significant role. Then again, maybe it does represent a change, since…
Marty Duren was present at the convention as a paid employee of Lifeway. The outsider blogger has now been assimilated. :-) Maybe a history of blogging doesn't really amount to a roadblock for anything you want to do in the SBC.
The (in)famous "Garner motion" made an appearance at the convention, as well. Back in 2007, SBC blogging erupted in interpretive warfare over whether the BF&M was a "maximal" or "minimal" doctrinal statement for Southern Baptists. The "Garner motion" was like a Rorschach test. Some people suggested that it reinforced the "maximal" viewpoint—that the convention was saying thereby that our entities could expect people to adhere to the BF&M, but to no more than the BF&M. Others (including myself) maintained that the motion actually backed up the "minimal" viewpoint—that the convention was saying that our entities must expect their employees to adhere AT LEAST to the BF&M and could have additional doctrinal requirements beyond that minimal standard.
This year's resolution "ON COOPERATION AND THE DOCTRINE OF SALVATION" made specific reference to the Garner motion:
WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention in 2007 affirmed The Baptist Faith and Message as a consensus confession, but not a comprehensive confession, seeking to unify Southern Baptists, local churches, and other Baptist bodies that may also hold other confessions of faith. (emphasis mine)
And so, now the messengers of the SBC are on record affirming the interpretation of the Garner Motion that I supported all along. The BF&M is our "minimal" "consensus confession" upon which we all agree. Our churches and our entities "may also hold other [additional] confessions of faith." Some of our churches or entities may be more Calvinistic and may affirm the Abstract of Principles or the Second London Confession. Other churches or individuals might affirm something like the "Traditional Statement" as an alternative soteriology to Calvinism. I suppose, if an entity can affirm the Abstract of Principles, an entity could also affirm the "Traditional Statement" and make affirmation of it a requirement for employment, although no entity is going to do that. The point is that, the individual variations of our churches and entities notwithstanding, we are unified by the fact that we all affirm the common core of doctrine that is the Baptist Faith & Message and then we have freedom to go beyond that.
Well, that was precisely what I and others were saying all along about the Garner motion. It was nice to see Southern Baptists owning that view of the Garner motion as their own through the adoption of this resolution.