Thursday, December 11, 2008

20/20 Blindness

That title just popped into my mind as Peg and I were driving out of our driveway to go to my treatment, yesterday. I liked it so much I figured I'd write something to go along with it. :)

Seriously, I'd been contemplating all the wrangling that's been going on in the Wonderful World of Blogs lately, about nearly anything and everything you can imagine, and a really "WHOA" thought struck me.

I shall try to put it down in electrons.

It seems to me that, particularly with the better-known bloggers, anything they write about can (and usually does) start a brouhaha. Complete with well-defined presentations of views pro and con, with sarcastic remarks too frequently, and with recriminations, criticism, name-calling, and occasional condescension. Plus all the other factional and divisive stuff that I'm sure you've seen, by now.

I first got drawn into this via reading Wade Burleson's blog, commenting thereupon, starting this little blog of my own, emailing Rev. Burleson, and then getting involved in the SBC itself. By actually going to Greensboro.

The first time I got any attention beyond the local church and the blogs, was the Sunday preceding the 2006 Convention. A reporter had gone to the church where Wade was preaching, to interview him. Peg and I had gone there to meet him and hear him preach. So, when the reporter asked Wade what sorts of people read blogs, he directed her to me, saying I was a frequent commenter. I said a couple controversial things when she asked me about some stuff, and then I observed that I was really curious why the SBC hadn't seen the blogs as a media they could use to keep SBC members informed about stuff that was going on. I recall saying it would be super if the Big Leaders could have a Town Hall Meeting in every church every week; they'd be hailed as heroes. So along comes the internet, and the emergence of blogs has provided the SBC a medium where they could, in effect, do just that.

But .. in their infinite wisdom (right....), they decided to shun them. One leader, I even saw refer to blogs as "internet porn". Yet, despite their scorn of the blogs, Rev. Frank Page was ostensibly elected SBC President owing largely to the influence of the Blogs.

I'd think the Powers Who Be would have learned from that, but apparently not.

Over the last couple of years, the divisions (or make up your own name for it) have grown; at least it looks like it to me.

A few SBC leaders have blogs, but I don't see any concerted effort among them, along lines which I shall explain: To my way of thinking, the BlogBog has not caused any divisiveness, or rancor, or any of the other stuff we decry. All the qualities in all the people out there, who are seen spouting wisdom, or sarcasm, or divisiveness, or contempt, or humor, or reconciliation, or whatever ... those qualities (good AND bad) were all there before Blogs were invented. Blogging has merely surfaced all that stuff, for all to see.

Here's the blindness part: Leadership in the SBC had at least two possible responses, that I can see. One would be to read, huddle, and conclude "There's some problems out there in the ranks, and we need to address them". Get some education, ministry, reconciliation, etc going.

One example comes to mind ... Ed Stetzer & Co's revelation that a majority of SBC pastors believe that "Tongues" is a valid gift, today. SBC leadership had pooh-poohed that idea forever, and had said only a tiny minority believed it. BUT ... the upshot of that revelation seemed to be SBC bigwigs criticizing the survey techniques ... "let's shoot the messenger.."

Followed by what seems a complete lack of action; say, requesting Lifeway to address the issue via education, research into scriptures, and a display of the evidences on both sides of the issue.

So, what could have been an opportunity to further the cause and unite two sides, using the same methodology and entity that brought it into focus, was simply ignored. At least that I can see.....

That seems to be the other possible response: circle the wagons, in defense of the status quo.

Doesn't Nashville realize that every time they set up one of these criteria, measuring sticks, something we're supposed to agree with (like signing the BF&M), they're setting up some more of the "Us & Them" attitude that can damage what's supposed to be a body? Kind of like your left side resenting your right side, and not wanting to cooperate in walking, working, etc....

Why hasn't the SBC recognized the communicational nature of the blogs to analyze these divisions, as well as address them? Why did Tom Ascol and SEBTS have to put together a conference to try to bridge THAT one particular gap? And why was it seemingly (to me at least) countered by one bent on shooting down the conference that tried to build those bridges?

Someone referred to Tom Ascol's church as being "outside the confessional mainstream of Southern Baptist life."

Would that be ...
  1. the stream that's produced 40,000+ churches of which XX% (sorry I'm not up on all the percentages) didn't baptize anybody next last year (whoops .. well, I AM a Calvinist..)?
  2. the stream of churches which can't find half their members?
  3. the churches that are playing the leading role in a denomination that's shrinking?
  4. maybe the churches that have as many of their members divorcing as unchurched folks?
  5. maybe the stream that loses 80+ % of their 18+ kids?
One of two conditions must exist. Either we're not doing what it was that grew the SBC into a (once-) strong denomination, or what we did before doesn't work any more. Based on what I've seen in our church, particularly in Sunday School, what we've done IS what we're doing, and when the numbers start lagging, we beat the Sunday School over the head to do MORE of what it was that largely produced 1 thru 5, above.

I'm guessing that the attitude of "come to us" had best give way to one of "go to them". And more than just going to them to ask them to "come to us".

One thing I'm sure of. In the past couple of years, the Blogdom .. along with the other communication avenues available now, that weren't 25 years ago .. put up an ample display for one and all, of the problems in the SBC. And the SBC seems to have ignored them.

My daddy told me that even the worst of us has one good point: if nothing else, we can serve as a really GOOD "bad example". So, I'll give THIS to the SBC:

The blindness, to what was already there, is a good'un...

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8 Comments:

At 12:55 PM, December 12, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, not SBC, never been...just got saved about 39,000 times at Baptist revivals...I know that don't yeha with your eternal security...i digress...but this is an excellent article and could be said of most denominations...including the one I once belonged to!
Really enjoy your blog!
Hoping your health is improving!
Ron

 
At 1:08 PM, December 12, 2008, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Ron,

Thanks for the comment. If you want to email me, I'd be happy to share my decidedly non-baptistic views on eternal security (which I DO believe in..).

 
At 6:02 PM, December 12, 2008, Blogger CB Scott said...

Bob,

You are right. It is the same game with new technology.

If some of the really old soldiers ever find out how to use a computer; Watch Out:-)

cb

 
At 10:13 AM, December 13, 2008, Anonymous Jerald said...

I wonder, Bob, are the same kind of things you mention happening to SBC churches happening in most other churches in America?
By the way, I probably missed it because I'm new to your blog, but what kind of 'treatment' were you on the way to? Email me if you like.

 
At 10:29 AM, December 13, 2008, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Jerald,

Don't really know about other denominations, albeit I've been a member of several. In some, control and dicta are inherent, like the United Methodists, who assign pastors around (they used to, at least). The Presbyterians hand you the very thorough Westminster Confession and say that's what they believe.

Baptists are unique in their freedom via the BF&M, which many see as endangered.

Treatments are radiation, for prostate cancer which had migrated to a lymph node, discovered after surgery. As my doctor has said, at my age, I'll probably die with it, but not from it. Besides, my days were numbered before all this stuff. God says so. :)

 
At 2:44 PM, December 13, 2008, OpenID jeraldd said...

The reason for my first question is that I've heard folks like George Barna saying some of the same kinds of things about the America church.

And...I don't think I any younger than you are and the head and neck cancer I had is completely gone - praise God. I pray that the Lord heals you, one way or 'tother.

 
At 10:00 AM, December 17, 2008, Blogger Paul Burleson said...

Bob,

Excellent and thoughtful words that I believe need to be heard by all.

While enjoying all the post this particularly rung my bell...

"All the qualities in all the people out there, who are seen spouting wisdom, or sarcasm, or divisiveness, or contempt, or humor, or reconciliation, or whatever ... those qualities (good AND bad) were all there before Blogs were invented. Blogging has merely surfaced all that stuff, for all to see."

Amen and amen.

We continue to pray for your earthsuit to get better.

 
At 10:27 AM, December 17, 2008, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Paul,

Thanks so much. Your words and thoughts and prayers mean much to me.

 

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