Saturday, May 3, 2008

Is It All About Wade?

The Southern Baptist Convention has been hit with some bad news in recent days. Our numbers are not encouraging. After a decade or so of plateaued numbers, we have finally had a year in which numbers actually declined - the first ever (or in a long time?). We also have competing versions of resolutions in favor of making sure our churches are filled with the redeemed, not the lost. They are essentially identical, except one calls for repentance over our history of reporting inflated numbers and the other doesn't.

And so the blogosphere is abuzz. About Wade Burleson! We are declining, so lets talk about Wade! That will solve things, won't it?

Wade continually blogs about the so-called "Baptist Identity" movement, casting them in a very negative light. He has engaged in several debates on various blogs recently with Bart Barber or Malcolm Yarnell. The Baptist Identity movement, it seems, is intent on narrowing the parameters of fellowship so severely that anyone who does not bow and kiss Paige Patterson's ring will be excluded from the denomination (I know, I am exaggerating, because I am frustrated).

And the Baptist Identity bloggers have gone to town! It always amusing when bloggers spew angry invective calling someone to repent for their angry invective. One blogger called for the garbage collector to come and carry off all of Wade's garbage. Another wrote a long, angry, hateful blog about Wade, comparing him to Communists and accusing him of the politics of personal destruction. He writes blustering, hate-filled blogs, and the point is confronting Wade's blustery hate. And he is totally incapable of seeing anything but Wade's sin and evil. These guys are totally obsessed with Wade. Everyone is either pro-Enid (where Wade pastors) or anti-Enid. I have been suspected of being a Wade worshipper because I thought some of their accusations were unkind or ungodly.

Recently, I received the stern rebuke of the Baron of the Blogosphere myself. I told a blogger I thought the wording of his attacks on Wade were over the top. Wade confronted me, saying that only he was allowed to respond to a blogger who blogged about him.

Wade Burleson was put in an historical position when he confronted the IMB Board of Trustees about their policies on private prayer language and baptism. He called attention to what I believe was a very bad set of policies. I will always be grateful that he stood and that he brought the narrowing of denominational fellowship to the attention of the denomination.

But, contrary to what several seem to believe, the problems in the SBC are not caused by Wade Burleson, and he is certainly NOT the solution to them. Our problems have nothing to do with him. He may have brought some problems to the forefront.

But we are not going to solve the problems in the SBC by talking about Wade Burleson. (I know, I am writing about him here - love the irony?).

We need to deal with issues that confront us. We do not need to argue about whether Wade is a modern day John the Baptist or another Rasputin.

John Lennon wrote the song, "Imagine," and dared to imagine a world without religions and borders. I imagine an SBC blogosphere that doesn't revolve around what Wade Burleson thinks or says. He can have his say, like anyone else. But it isn't about Wade.

I am going to do my little part. I probably should just leave the blogosphere behind. I am not sure what Kingdom purpose most of it serves. But I am going to keep interacting with Baptists who care about the future of the SBC. I am leaving the Wade-osphere behind (I know - who cares about what I am doing, right?). I may read Wade's blog from time to time to read his latest manifesto on Women in Ministry (should that be womanifesto?) or the evils of Malcolm Yarnell and Bart Barber. Its entertaining. I will keep reading Bart Barber until the day I get to nominate him for SBC President. But I am leaving the Obsessive Anti-Wade blogs behind. These poor folks bluster like a spring storm about Wade's bluster. They write angrily of his anger. Talking to them is pointless, because they believe that they are the ministers of justice, protecting the SBC from the Antichrist of Enid. They seem to care more about destroying Wade than correcting the Convention.

I have learned something recently. There are some really good blogs out there that don't center and focus on Wade.

Look for me on those.

6 comments:

Bart Barber said...

Wow. You did just post something, didn't you?

Dave Miller said...

Believe it or not, I rewrote this to tone it down.

My frustration level is pretty high.

Bart Barber said...

Dave,

We've all been there if we've blogged long at all. Enjoyed our conversation today.

Bart

Bart Barber said...

BTW,

If you want to know what I mean by "Baptist Identity" just look at my "Fifth Century Initiative."

In Christ,
Bart

Dave Miller said...

Bart,

I don't know if you saw my comment, but I suggested a few days ago you present THAT as a resolution.

Your Fifth Century Initiative is exactly what we need.

CmlCros said...

Dave,
Good post. I actually stopped reading the blogs the last few days.....the venom was too much. Everyone starts to sound the same they just talk bad about different people.
Camel Rider