Do We Look Stupid?
TBC Board Secretary, Ron Ellison sent me an article entitled “Signs for Stupid People.” I laughed and laughed. The author, Bill Engvall said, “Stupid people should have to wear signs that just say, ‘I am stupid.’ That way you would not rely on them. You would not ask them anything.”
Then he gave several illustrations.
• It’s like before my wife and I moved. Our house was full of boxes and there was a U-Haul truck in our driveway. My neighbor comes over and says, “Hey, you moving?” “Nope. We just pack our stuff up once or twice a week to see how many boxes it takes. Here’s your sign.”
• A couple of months ago I went fishing with a buddy of mine, we pulled his boat into the dock, I lifted up this big ol’stringer of bass and this idiot on the dock goes, “Hey, y’all catch all them fish?” “Nope. Talked ‘em into giving up. Here’s your sign.”
• Last time I had a flat tire, I pulled my truck into one of those side-of-the road gas stations. The attendant walks out, looks at my truck, looks at me, and I SWEAR he said, “Did your tire go flat?” I couldn’t resist. I said, “Nope. I was driving around and those other three just swelled right up on me. Here’s your sign.”
• I went hunting one day and had my deer on top of my truck. I stopped at a gas station and the attendant asked ... “Been huntin’?” I looked at him and said, “No, the darn thing just jumped up there ... Here’s your sign!”
Anybody you know need a sign today?
Reading these funnies made me laugh out loud and then I read Baptist Press on Friday, September 6, and I wondered if maybe I was wearing one of those “stupid” signs and did not know it. Reading their response to the new Texas Baptists’ missions emphasis made me wonder if maybe SBC leaders think all Texas Baptists have “stupid” signs.
Baptist Press, the official news agency of the SBC, released five press stories relating to the SBC leaders’ responses to the new missions emphasis. It appeared to me that to be accurate, they should have listed the stories as Lie 1, Lie 2, Lie 3, Lie 4 and Lie 5. One would have to be pretty stupid to swallow these lies.
I have written earlier of Jerry Rankin’s letter to me when he told me a “bald-faced lie.” These press releases continue this pattern of bald-face lying.
One philosophy that has always guided my work at TBC is “do not leave lies unchallenged or they will be believed.” For the sake of brevity, I will deal with only two of the “bald-faced lies.”
Lie #1: Jack Graham and “Don’t Mess with SBC Missions” Current SBC president, Jack Graham, is pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas. He chastised Texas Baptists for “messing with SBC missions.”
BGCT has done nothing to “mess with SBC missions.” It is the SBC that launched a “new directions” program, which lessened their emphasis on agricultural missions, medical missions and theological education overseas. The SBC has instituted a creed that missionaries must sign. This creed is a theologically shallow document that will be laughed at by our children and grandchildren.
Graham also urged “every Southern Baptist Church in Texas” to evaluate this latest move and prayerfully consider an action that would support SBC missions.
In reality there are not any “Southern Baptist Churches” in Texas. No such churches exist. Baptist polity is ascendant from the local church. There are only local churches that freely affiliate with local, state, and national organizations. In Texas, all churches still have the freedom to affiliate as they choose. No one in Texas will ever “mess with that freedom.”
I would love to see Jack Graham and Prestonwood Baptist Church “prayerfully consider an action that would support SBC missions.” After all, Jack is SBC president. He and his church barely support SBC missions. Prestonwood Baptist Church gives among the lowest percentages of their revenues to mission causes among all Baptist churches.
In 2001, the BGCT showed that Prestonwood Baptist Church took in over $29 million in total revenues and gave $1.2 million to all mission causes (about 4% plus whatever they gave through SBT). This year, they have given nothing to the BGCT and only $310,800 through the SBT according to the September 5, 2002 issue of the Southern Baptist Texan. If receipts at Prestonwood approached $15 million for the first six months of 2002, then that is just over 1 percent to missions this year.
Contrast that to two large churches whose pastors serve on the Texas Baptists Committed Board, Jim Denision, pastor of Park Cities in Dallas, and Howie Batson, pastor of First, Amarillo. Both these churches gave over 14 percent to missions in 2001, and neither would ever be considered for president of the SBC.
I think Jack Graham, as president of the SBC, should try leading by example–he should start sacrificially supporting missions himself before he chastises Texas Baptists.
Lie #2: Richard Land, “The SBC has not moved”
Now this was a real beauty. Richard Land is president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (the old Christian Life Commission, where I used to work).
Land contrasted the BGCT to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He pointed out that the new recommendations by the BGCT would send the SBC only 21 percent of received funds while the SBT sends 52 percent of its received funds to the SBC. This is true.
He did not mention, however, that the SBT has virtually no ministries and institutions to support other than through the SBC. The real question is: What do they do with the other 48 percent?
Texas Baptists and the BGCT support eight universities, three seminaries, Buckner Benevolences, the River Ministry, hospitals, retirement homes, student ministries and much more. The SBT supports Criswell College, has a few evangelism conferences, and does support some new church starts. This is not much of a comparison.
Land said, “The BGCT reminds me of the farmer and his wife traveling to town in the family truck. The farmer’s wife is sitting all the way on the other side of the truck cab, as far as possible from her husband. She says, ‘we don’t sit as close as we used to.’ The farmer from behind the steering wheel replies, ‘I haven’t moved’.”
Land adds, “The Southern Baptist Convention hasn’t moved.”
Now if you are from Paint Rock, you love and understand these farmer illustrations. This one was especially cute, (maybe Land was taught these at Oxford), but it is a “bald-faced” lie from the president of the SBC Ethics Commission. Of course the SBC has moved. Land, Pressler, Patterson, etc., have said the SBC must move because they feel our seminaries are full of professors who do not believe the Bible, our mission fields are full of people who do not“share their vision,” and the old Christian Life Commission is full of liberals who support abortion.
So which is it? Is the SBC since 1979 just like it was before? If so, then why have so many people been fired and had their lives destroyed in order to “correct the direction of the SBC?”
The SBC has moved dramatically in every area under fundamentalist leadership. They are proud of the changes they have made, the firing of many employees, and the new direction of the convention. So they should be honest about it and not “look us in the eye and lie.” We are not wearing “stupid” signs.
If you support the changes in the SBC since 1979, you should continue to support the SBC. I respect your right to choose.
If you do not support the dramatic changes that have occurred in the SBC since 1979, you should seriously consider supporting alternatives to the SBC that are more in line with what I consider “traditional” Baptist principles and practices.
Lying is unethical and immoral. The leaders of the SBC need to tell the truth about who they are, their agenda and beliefs, and let people decide. Those of us who oppose their approach should do so with honesty and the integrity.
There was no need to issue five press releases lying about what Texas Baptists are considering in the area of missions. Allow people to read and study for themselves and make their decisions. That is what the BGCT does and always will do. The BGCT is proposing a new vision. I urge our informed readers to study it. If you like it, support it. If you do not support it, then in Texas, you have total freedom to support the SBC as you always have. How much more ethical could the BGCT be?
Richard and Jack, come to San Angelo. I have a couple of signs for you.