Thursday, May 3, 2007


When Suetonius recorded the life of the Roman Emperor "Caligula" (Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), he provided one of the more stunning portraits of reckless abusiveness in the history of human leadership. The Roman throne had hosted ambitious manipulators and ruthless generals, but none of them proved to be more dangerous than a self-absorbed, egomaniacal, pampered-from-birth, pompous, dynastic cynic—Caligula. His reign only lasted from 37 to 41, when his own guards assassinated him.

Frivolity and disrespect were the weapons Caligula wielded to try to destroy the empire. Caligula despised the senate for daring not to yield to his wishes, and he reserved the most ridiculous of his acts of disrespect for the senate. He auctioned off the wives of Roman senators, daring them to object. Suetonius even reported that Caligula considered appointing as Consul his favorite horse, Incitatus.

Consul was not the most important office in the empire, but it was an important office. It wasn't the equivalent of a presidency—more like a vice-presidency.

Don't misunderstand Caligula's motives. He loved his horse, but Caligula did not have any high estimation of his horse's capacity for governance. Caligula was not endorsing anything his horse had done or planned to do in public service. Caligula's actions revealed nothing about his agreement or disagreement with his horse on any sort of political platform.

Nevertheless, Caligula's action is historically significant. Although it reveals very little about Caligula's opinion of his horse, it reveals a great deal about Caligula's opinion of all of the Roman government except for himself. He did not take the government seriously. He disrespected it. As far as he was concerned, the senate deserved to have to deal with his horse Incitatus.

(HT: Wes Kenney's latest post and a forum over at BaptistLife)


Matt Brady said...


A very apropos post. Wade Burleson indeed disavows some of the things Wiley Drake stands for, but Burleson’s disdain for the Conservative Resurgence leadership (despite his numerous comments denying it) and his glee at putting a thorn in the side of the resurgence is revealed in his own comments. He says, “[Wiley Drake’s] positions politically, culturally and eschatologically are precisely the logical ends of the ideological and philosophical viewpoints of many in current leadership…the SBC has deserved Wiley for at least 28 years, and we can at least enjoy him for one” ( Complete comments at ).

Jack Maddox said...

Amazing post and analogy Bart!!! One would wonder if the Burleson coalition continues to take us down a road that they feel they can and will, is it the horses head that we must concern ourselves with, or will the SBC become a model of other certain anatomical areas of the horse!

Let us do all we can to insure that this is not a lasting problem but just a blink on the radar of SBC history.

Jack Maddox

Anonymous said...

And, Wiley should be removed for his stance Bart. He should be removed right now. Today.

I didn't know much about Wiley Drake before last year, although I knew about the Disney Boycott which I thought ridiculous. But, clearly enough of the SBC agreed with it to pass it. Also, enough of the SBC agreed that Wiley should be 2nd VP to elect him. I thought you were okay with whatever the Convention decided? Or, that you would at least live with it.

I vehemently disagree with Wiley Drake and think he should not serve another day in the SBC. But, to compare his election to Caligula, one of the most evil, deranged men to ever live, and his horse takes it too far. Drake was not appointed by a deranged Emperor like President. He ran against other men and was duly elected by the SBC. In your analogy, the SBC would be Caligula, since they elected him. They could have had the wisdom to vote him down, but they didn't. At worst, they agreed that Drake was the best candidate. At best, they were manipulated. Either way, it was clearly wrong and the main ones to blame are the messengers to the SBC. It wouldn't matter how much Wade and Ben wanted Drake to be 2nd VP. Unless the SBC approved of it, it would not have happened.

Which is why I still do not think that matters of Truth should be given over to majority rule on the convention floor or in back rooms with Trustees, but should be guided by Scripture. Thank you for perfectly proving my point, Bart with this example. But, I still would not go so far as you do to compare the SBC to Caligula! ;)

Anonymous said...

Incredible that Mr. Burleson would write an entire article on why Wiley Drake should not be re-elected to an office of the SBC. Whether Mr. Burleson admits it or not,there is no doubt that he supported Brother Drake's nomination. In light of this fact, the comment he made in the Ethics Daily forum is even more alarming concerning his agenda/beliefs:

Word for wrod from Mr. Burleson- "I would suggest that if you have complaints about Wiley, you take them up with him. I only knew of the Disney Boycott, his Sun Yung Moon affiliation, and his political bent."

Are we to understand that Mr. Burleson had no problem with Brother Drake's nomination for Second VP of the SB Convention (that he-WB- so dearly loves),even though, by his own admission, he knew of Brother Drake's affiliation with a cult like the moonies?

The more I read of Mr. Burleson, the more he speaks out of both sides of his mouth (and he obviously REALLY likes to hear himself talk!).

JS Houston

Anonymous said...

Correction: Burleson's comments from Baptistlife.


Bart Barber said...


You correctly understand my post. Every person who voted for Wiley Drake is at fault. Would that we had not been so cavalier in Greensboro.

Let's do better in San Antonio.

Bart Barber said...


When you can find a way for the SBC to be guided by the Bible without it going through people, then you let me know and I'll sign right on.

Only nobody anywhere has ever known of such a plan. The closest thing I can think of was the unification plan that brought together the old General Association of General Baptists and the General Assembly of General Baptists. "No creed but the Bible" could have been their motto. The entire group had slipped the bonds of Christian orthodoxy into full-blown Unitarianism before a generation had passed.

Bart Barber said...


Let me say clearly, I do not believe that Wade Burleson supports the killing of abortion doctors.

I am asserting that many people disrespected the SBC by electing Drake in Greensboro. His nominator and speechwriter certainly share some of the blame. If the Coalition supported his nomination, it deserves some of the blame. Some lesser level of blame rests upon all who voted for him. The convention clearly did so on a lark. Shame on us for taking so lightly something so important.

Anonymous said...

What I mean is that we have some type of controlling authority like the BF&M that is an agreed upon statement of faith that should be hard to change. That way, the whims of the majority do not hold sway. Admittedly, I don't think that it would have affected this situation much, but my point is that just going with the whims of the majority on everything is not always the best move. Obviously. Could that also be the case with ppl? I think so and you think not. I just thought that your analogy cut more than one way.

Anonymous said...

And, you and I completely agree that we should do better in San Antonio.

Anonymous said...

I always find that facts help. Facts like that Wade nor Ben picked Wiley as a tweak of the nose to the "Powers that be," but that Bill Dodson nominated him in 2005 (a year earlier) with a promise that he would continue to come back and nominate him until he was elected.

I posted more thoughts on this at Wes' blog.

Nevertheless, since you appear to buy into the theory that Wade and/or Ben selected Wiley, and that this situation somehow originates with them, I thought I might remind you of the facts.

As to what we do now, should we also make the same conclusions about criminal trustees and the Presidents who selected them?

That list is just as tantalizing and, frankly, more worthy of direct critique as some evidence, I believe, exists that these situations referenced were actually known prior to their appointment.

People are unpredictable. I disagree with this statement (assuming Wiley understood what he was doing and it was him that did it) and don't want it representing me. Could I, should I have been able to predict that he would do it? Be real. No one could have predicted this.

Bart Barber said...


Yes, facts are always helpful. Here are a couple:

First, if you'll read the comments, you'll see that I have identified the targets of this post. Look at my response to JSH. Then please let me know if you believe that your comments are still appropriate. If you still do, then I will respond to them. But I do not want to further what may simply be a misunderstanding.

Bart Barber said...


Apparently, I can't count. That's one fact.

Anonymous said...

i know dr. bill dodson personally. in fact, i see him nearly every week. he is very conservative in his theology. he would disagree with ben and wade on many, many issues that they bring up.

he is 82 years old, and pastors a church that runs over 200 on sundays. he is a soulwinner, and he has a brilliant mind. he's a good man who loves the Lord.

i cant say much about the situation because i dont want to break any trust....i dont want to betray his confidence. but, doc is a good man.


Bart Barber said...


Brother, personalities notwithstanding, Drake was elected by frivolity, and we ought not to elect our leaders that way. God bless you, and I love you in the Lord, but to elect officers in that fashion dishonors the convention, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

According to the latest reports, I obviously should have said "If Wiley signed his name he should have been removed . . . " I, like everyone else, believed what I read. I apologize to Wiley Drake for assuming that what Wes, Wade, the ABP, and others said was correct.

You know, I didn't approve of Wiley Drake for 2nd VP because of the Disney thing, but I voted for him because I saw him as someone who loved the SBC and who deserved a chance to serve, despite his eccentricities. I'm pretty much an SBC novice, so I wasn't aware of the other things. But, I do not just want people like me to serve, either. I am fine with ultra fundamentalists serving, even though I often disagree with them. They are part of the SBC and should have a voice - Because they are part of the SBC.

If I had known all of the other things, I would never have voted for Wiley. Just like many of us would not have approved the slate of trustees if we had known that they were going to advance the ppl and baptism policies at the IMB. But, hindsight is 20/20, isn't it?

Bart Barber said...

To All:

First, I admit that I thought Bob Allen had the goods on Wiley Drake. We'll soon find out whether that is the case, but Drake's adamant denial certainly casts doubt upon Allen's reporting. I apologize for leaping to conclusions.

Second, I'm glad that I didn't print the conclusions to which I leaped. I deliberately kept this post and the subsequent post limited to those things that I could personally confirm. Regardless of the day's events, I still believe that Drake was elected as a lark, and I still believe that selecting our SBC officers that way is like voting in Caligula's horse.

Third, I'm so incredibly relieved for the SBC if it turns out that Drake did not express sympathy for this murder.