7.09.2009

On my Soapbox

Sorry to keep harping on this biased reporting stuff, but here is an excerpt from an excellent blog post over on the Baptist 21 site, that kinda reinforces some of my recent thoughts... You probably only want to read if you're interested in denominational happenings...

"BP [Baptist Press] seems to be in danger, at times, of becoming an opinionated blog rather than a news reporting service. There have been recent articles that either one seem to misunderstand the current trends of ministry or two do not do thorough research in reporting a “story.” BP, under the leadership of the EC [executive committee], seems to have a political agenda. Here are a couple of quick examples.

First, BP is asserting that “everything is fine in the SBC.” It seems like the reason we should feel this way according to BP articles is that we are reaching as many southern Whites as we always have. Will Hall, in a recent series, took up the issue of
decline in membership, baptisms, younger leaders, etc. in the SBC. He says the decline is not about outdated methodologies or a generation gap but rather “demographic changes in our country.” Our numbers are declining because of a declining birthrate among Whites and the suburbanization of America (80% living in major urban centers). He believes all that is needed is a slight “shift” in strategy. We need to plant churches in urban centers (though many Southern Baptist leaders have called for this for several years now, and this seems to be part of the call of the GCR [Great Commission Resurgence]). So, Hall concludes that we are “not necessarily” a denomination in decline. He even implies that we are growing and “thriving.” In this article he says, “if we are to continue to grow,” and in a recent interview with Christianity Today he says we are thriving. The fact that we are in decline is a matter of math, not opinion (see research).

Hall is calling for a minor course correction not wholesale changes. The remedy is not updating outdated methodologies but rather that “we abandoned some enduring principles of proven methodologies about how to plant and grow churches and reach the lost.” What are these proven strategies? Sunday School and Training Union! He says that Training Union “was an effective method of intentionally teaching our beliefs while also developing loyalty to Southern Baptist causes.” So, in order to address the supposed decline in the SBC we need to plant churches in urban centers that do Training Union? This seems a little na├»ve.

Second, BP has launched an all out assault on
Mark Driscoll. The latest article deals with how Bott radio interrupted a show on its airwaves in which Driscoll was a guest. The interview was on the “Family Life” program hosted by Dennis Rainey, a very reputable program. The article implies that Driscoll said something in order to make the radio station interrupt the broadcast. However, nothing in the interview itself caused the cancellation. Rather the cancellation had to do with previous things the station had “heard” about Driscoll. Bott interrupted the show mainly because of Driscoll’s comments when preaching on the Song of Solomon in Scotland (Nov. 18, 2007). What was absolutely irresponsible on the part of Bott and BP is they do not show due diligence in researching the matter. The greatest disgust for Driscoll came over the comments about oral sex that he made in Edinburgh almost 2 years ago. Bott says, “I’ve seen what he said at that church in Scotland and as far as I know he’s never addressed it in any repentant way…” Then BP rehashes all of the same material from this earlier “story.” The fact is that Driscoll was lovingly confronted by an older pastor on this issue that led to Driscoll repenting and pulling the audio off of their website. Neither Bott nor BP mentions this.

This is part of a pattern which led
Between the Times to publicly criticize BP for its coverage of the pastor. Increasingly, Southern Baptists are seeing BP as a biased and agenda driven source, and that does not bode well for the SBC’s confidence in the EC.

What makes it look like BP has an agenda in this matter is that it waited a month from when this “incident” happened on May 18th to report it on June 17th right before the annual meeting..."