On GCR Myths (And Those Who Spread Them)

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.

Myth #3: The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force is attempting to influence and even control the search committee process at the Executive Committee, the IMB and NAMB.

Conspiracy theories are usually entertaining. And, they often contain a modicum of truth, but not much more. I believe this is the case with this myth as well. The GCRTF has watched, as have most Southern Baptists, with great interest the events that have unfolded in recent months (and days!) at NAMB, IMB and the Executive Committee. It would be dishonest to say we did not anticipate or see some of these things coming (others were a shock), but still we were surprised by their suddenness and proximity in time to one another. Since these decisions were made I, and I strongly suspect all GCRTF members, have been praying for these 3 agencies and their future leadership.

Dr. Ronnie Floyd, chairman of the GCRTF said as much on behalf of the GCRTF, but amazingly some have misread or misunderstood his words as implying that we would like to influence and even direct the decision-making of some or all of the search committees. To jump to such a conclusion based upon Dr. Floyd’s statement that the presidential search committees watch and pray for the work of the GCR is unfounded and irresponsible.

We, and again I believe I can speak for the whole Task Force, will not be calling any of the search committees asking for a meeting. We will not be writing, emailing, texting or tweeting trying to interfere with or do their job. We will pray for them and if they want to take the initiative to meet with some or all of us for whatever reason, I am sure we would do our best to serve them and try to comply with their request. However if they do not do this, then there will be no meetings. It is as simple as that. I can assure you I will be calling no one asking for a meeting! I may or may not make a recommendation. I don’t know right now.

Personally, I have no idea where these searches will go. Actually it is too soon for them to have gone very far at all. As I write this NAMB has just named a search committee (being patient and taking their time was wise in my judgment in light of recent turmoil). I learned that Ted Traylor, a GCRTF member, would chair the search committee when I read it in Baptist Press. The fact is I have had zero influence and input on any of the search committees and their makeup. I strongly suspect that is true for the rest of the GCRTF as well.

So, who will these three search committees call to fill these three crucial and critical leadership positions? Believe it or not I know the answer! They will call who they, as a particular search committee at a particular moment in time, believe to be God’s man to lead their agency for the future. Of course they will receive resumes, talk to references, have formal and informal conversations, but when all is said and done, they will do what they think best before the Lord regardless of what anyone else thinks. As has been the case in the past, their decision(s) may be a complete surprise to many of us. We may find ourselves saying “Wow! I didn’t see that coming!” That’s o.k. I can live with that. The fact is I have too. Interested and inquiring Southern Baptists minds would do well to do the same. Pray for them and entrust them to our Lord. Isn’t that where we should want them to be?

Southeastern President Issues Challenge to Support International Missions with “Christmas in August”

WAKE FOREST, N.C. – In the midst of tough economic times Southern Baptists are being challenged to dig deeply and financially support international missions by giving to a special Lottie Moon Christmas offering during August.

Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., said on Tuesday, June 23, at the Southern Baptist Convention that it is his desire to see Southeastern students, alumni and friends, and eventually all of the Southern Baptist Convention, to give so more can go overseas. The challenge came about during a sermon on the text of Romans 15:14-21 in which he said he dreams of Southern Baptists taking the gospel message to non-believers all around the word.

In light of news that the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention – the international missions arm of the SBC – is no longer financially able to send all of the eligible missionaries, Akin said, “It breaks my heart that people want to go, but we don’t have the funds to send them. I am not going to tell our students to look for a home assignment just because of a shortage of funds. I am going to tell them to look for a movement of God to get the necessary funds to get them to the fields.”

To encourage his own students to give sacrificially, trusting God for his provision, Akin announced that on August 25, the day of the Convocation chapel ceremony at Southeastern, he will have a time of offering, so students can support the work of missionaries. The money raised that day will be designated as part of the Lottie Moon Christmas offering, although taking place in August.

Akin said, “Southern Baptists are a Great Commission people. At moments of crisis and need, I have watched our people step up and respond time and time again.” He said the recent shortfall in the annual Lottie Moon Christmas offering “provides us with another opportunity to demonstrate our devotion to Christ and passion for the lost. That is what Christmas in August is all about.”

Akin said he desires that not only Southeastern students give, but that God would ignite a passion for the lost in all Southern Baptists, leading them to give financially in support of missions.

“I believe God will move His people to give joyfully and sacrificially to see that the gospel continues to go forth to the more than 6,000 unreached peoples around the globe,” Akin said. “This is no time to pull back or retreat. I am convinced we won’t!”

Churches around the area are responding to Akin’s encouragement to give in faith. Marty Jacumin, senior pastor Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., said his church will give as part of Christmas in August.

“Bay Leaf Baptist Church has this lost world on our hearts, and we are currently making plans to participate in Christmas in August,” Jacumin said. “Not only do we send, but we also give. My hope is that God will stir the hearts of the people at Bay Leaf to give sacrificially so that the IMB can send as many as are willing to go.”

“I know these are hard economic times, but I also know that we serve a great God, who according to Haggai 2:8, owns all of the silver and gold in this world,” Akin said in a recent email to students, faculty and staff. Akin said it was his desire to challenge churches to have Christmas in August to help make up the shortfall in Lottie Moon giving. “Let’s help bring the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to those who have never heard the gospel before.”