In recent days Danny Akin and now Ronnie Floyd have addressed what they believe to be myths about the Great Commission Resurgence, or at least the work of the GCR Task Force. A few bloggers and at least one state paper editor have responded. A common theme in these responses is that the blogger or other interlocutor claims he has not heretofore heard of the myth. Some have asked for evidence of the myth in either hard print or in the blogosphere. Presumably if Akin or Floyd cannot (or at least will not) provide such evidence, that calls the existence of the myth into question.
In light of this, I thought I would take my own stab at myth-busting. So here’s the myth: It is always necessary to provide a link to some blogger or other writer when addressing inaccurate interpretations of (fill-in-the-blank). Now don’t misunderstand me. If someone has perpetrated one of the GCR myths in writing, I think it is perfectly appropritate (thought not necessary) for Akin and/or Floyd to link to that myth and debunk it. But that’s just it–nobody is putting these myths into writing, or at least writing that is public in nature.
Each of the myths Akin and Floyd mention are primarily oral myths, “water-cooler” talk, if you will. Or even more accurate, they are “Convention hall” and “email” and “conference calls” and “snail mail” and “lunch meeting” myths. And I’ve heard every single one multiple times from multiple individuals, though I am unaware of a blogger or other writer who has publicly promoted any of them. I suspect this is because if someone did put at least some of the myths in print, they would have their lunch handed to them by folks who know the facts. Those facts can be pesky things, after all–especially among those who overemphasize the value of denominational politics.
The fact that the GCR myths are not on blogs or other print or electronic media doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It simply means nobody is passing the myths along via those particular forms of media. You may be wondering why, if the myths are not in print, Akin and Floyd have responded in print. The answer is simple: people read what these men write. They are widely recognized SBC leaders, and for that reason (among others) their opinions carry weight. They counter the myths in a public way because more people will read their words than will listen to the myth-mongers. And that’s what matters.
I think it is perfectly legitimate for anyone to engage Akin and Floyd, even in criticism. Their ideas are out there for public consumption, and the public should feel free to consume. If you think the GCRTF meetings should be open to the public, then by all means, state your opinion on the matter. But the demand for written evidence when almost everyone knows that none exists rings hollow, and I suspect most readers see right through it. We all know the myths are out there, and we all know they are being spread like most gossip and innuendo is spread–by word of mouth, lest there be a paper trail.
I sincerely hope that one day some folks in the SBC will look back and regret that they were complicit in myth-mongering and other types of “cloak-and-dagger” tactics like character assassination, spurious interpretations of Baptist history, misuse of authority, and misrepresentation of the opinions, actions, or priorities of others. I believe this type of stuff is the single biggest reason so many have left the SBC or on the verge of doing so. And I don’t blame them.
I am very thankful for success of the Conservative Resurgence. I am hopeful for the success of the Great Commission Resurgence. But I hope and pray we can also experience a Great Commandment Resurgence in the way we interact with one another. (I know I read the term “Great Commandment Resurgence” on a blog somewhere, but on whose blog I can’t recall.) If we don’t, it really doesn’t matter which of the competing visions for the SBC wins out at the end of the day, because we will have forfeited our right to be a meaningful part of all that God is doing to redeem a lost world unto himself through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.