Yes, I know that blog news has the shelf life of a ripe banana, but other things have pressed me hard the past few weeks, so get over it.
The one and only possibly legitimate concern expressed by Wade Burleson a few weeks back in his post concerning the possible election of Dr. Albert Mohler as president of the SBC, is one of conflict of interest. As I understand it, the convention president appoints the nominating committee, which in turn submits a list of people to be voted on at next convention to serve as trustees of the various SBC entities. The conflict would possibly arise because Dr. Mohler happens to be president of one of those entities, namely, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In his post Pastor Burleson points out just such a scenario and draws a comparison between the possible election of Dr. Mohler later this spring and the election of Dr. Paige Patterson ten years ago.
But take a look at this Baptist Press article announcing Dr. Mohler’s upcoming nomination:
Three former Southern Seminary presidents also were elected to the
office of SBC president — James P. Boyce (1872-1879), E.Y. Mullins
(1921-1923) and John R. Sampey (1936-1938). Other former SBC presidents
who were elected to the office while serving as president of a seminary
were Paige Patterson (1998-2000) while at Southeastern Baptist
Theological Seminary, W. W. Hamilton (1941-1942) while at Baptist Bible
Institute, the forerunner to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary,
and L. R. Scarborough (1939-1940) while at Southwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary. While there is precedent for a seminary president
to be SBC president, Mohler agreed that most SBC presidents have been
“This is healthy as the norm, and one of my hopes is
to encourage more pastors to be deeply involved in the life of our
denomination so that they can help to lead Southern Baptists in this
new era,” he told the TEXAN. “Given the indirect nature of the trustee
appointment process, I believe that Southern Baptists have adequate
protections against any conflict of interest. Above this, however, I
would pledge to lead in every dimension — appointments included —
that would make Southern Baptists proud.”
I find it a bit dishonest that Pastor Burleson would mention only the one example, while there were in fact six. And oh, the example he gives. It is no secret that Pastor Burleson has no special fondness for Dr. Patterson, and maybe for good reason, but come on. Give me a break. Comparing these two is like making a close comparison between Jack Armstrong and Jack the Ripper, simply because they both have the same first name. And on the use of terms, do you think that Dr. Mohler could be described as a sycophant (a person who acts obsequiously toward someone in order to gain advantage; a servile flatterer)? First he’s unelectable because he’s a Calvinist, then later in the same post he shouldn’t be elected because he’s a sycophant.
And my word, you would never guess we’re talking about the Southern Baptist Convention. I would be concerned too, if we were talking about a scenario involving the executives of Enron, or maybe the bosses over at the United Auto Workers Union. How much trouble can a seminary president cause in one year? If he missteps, don’t vote him a second term. Remember, we’re talking about someone “presiding” over a group of autonomous churches. Like Dr. Page has said numerous times in his public addresses “Presiding over the SBC is like trying to herd a bunch of cats.”
This reminds me of a dog who would chase me out of its yard simply because someone else in a brown uniform kicked it five years ago. It never occurred to it that maybe I wasn’t the same guy, and maybe I didn’t make it a habit of kicking dogs, and just maybe its master might want me there to deliver the goods he has ordered. I think Pastor Burleson is having a hard time distinguishing between a few misguided, uninformed leaders and at least one good – the right man for the right job – one.