As messengers to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention walked into the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville, they were handed a copy of Missouri layman Roger Moran’s nearly 50-page “Viewpoint” document attacking the “Emerging Church Movement” and the church-planting Acts 29 Network. Once inside, some messengers voiced these concerns and urged investigations into preachers, authors and SBC leaders mentioned in the document.
Among those specifically targeted were non-Baptist preacher Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., who is sometimes referred to as the “cussing pastor” because of his blunt oratory; Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Danny Akin; and Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research.
In addition to the distribution of Moran’s document, which was first reported on by EthicsDaily.com earlier this month, five motions offered by messengers called for investigations into the influence of the targeted leaders. Morris Chapman, president of the SBC’s executive committee, also added his voice to the controversy during the executive committee’s report.
Among the five motions on the subject, two specifically named Driscoll and the other three left little doubt he was a target. A motion made Tuesday morning by Kent Cochran, who is associated with Moran’s Missouri Baptist Layman’s Association, urged each SBC entity to “monitor and report the expenditure of budgeted funds for any activities related to or cooperative efforts” with Driscoll or Acts 29. The motion was referred to all SBC entities.
Chapman appeared to support the attack on Driscoll at the start of his remarks. Although he did not name Driscoll, his comments echoed attacks leveled against Driscoll and other Emerging Church preachers in several Baptist Press articles.
“We must never subvert the changeless gospel to an inordinate fascination to changing cultural norms and sociological trends,” Chapman argued. “Some of the church growth methodologies that masquerade under the guise of Bible exposition are increasingly known for the crude themes and the vulgar language of their strongest advocates. The sacred desk is no place for the carnal, the sensual, and the sensational. Ministers of the gospel must exercise great caution when rushing in where angels dare not tread.”
“We must not encourage, commend, or reward a careless, carnal tongue,” Chapman added. “Christ must be Lord of our lives and our lips.”
During a lunch panel session on Tuesday, SBC President Johnny Hunt reportedly predicted that the Driscoll motion would be thrown “under the Southern Baptist bus.” Stetzer added that SBC annual meetings are like family reunions with the “crazy uncle,” adding that he “saw a few” that morning. That afternoon, four more resolutions targeting Driscoll—including one targeting Stetzer—would be offered.
One motion by Jim Wilson, who is associated with Moran’s MBLA, instructed LifeWay to no longer sell Driscoll’s books. Wilson noted that Driscoll’s books could even be found at LifeWay’s exhibit at the annual meeting. Another motion referenced Moran’s “Viewpoint” document and called on LifeWay’s trustees to investigate Stetzer and Southeastern’s trustees to investigate Akin and professor Alan Reid. The three men are criticized by Moran for their connections to Driscoll and Acts 29.
Additionally, a motion called on all SBC annual meeting planners “to refrain from inviting event speakers who are known for publicly exhibiting unregenerate behavior” and explicitly referenced “cursing,” “sexual vulgarity” and consumption of alcohol. A nearly identical motion urged SBC entities to avoid inviting such speakers. Although Driscoll and Acts 29 were not named, the Baptist Press has attacked Driscoll for cursing and “sexual vulgarity,” and Acts 29 leaders on the issue of alcohol.
After the five Driscoll and Acts 29 motions, Hunt warned messengers to be careful about what they say in motions because “the world is watching.” He also warned that leveling accusations could open the door to legal problems.
However, the very next motion urged LifeWay not to sell books that were “contrary to the gospel and/or the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.” Specifically noted in the motion were The Shack, 90 Minutes in Heaven, any books by T. D. Jakes and John Hagee, and any Catholic study Bibles.
As time to introduce motions ran out, one messenger pointed to Matthew 18 as he moved that the SBC invite Driscoll to come to speak to the accusations. The motion garnered applause from many messengers.
Moran offered a motion during the annual meeting, but on another matter. He asked LifeWay Resources to research alternatives to public education and provide such information to Southern Baptist families. Moran offered a similar motion in 2006 when he requested that LifeWay examine various claims he believes support his anti-public schools agenda. That year Moran co-authored a resolution calling for “Southern Baptists to develop an exit strategy from” public schools, but the resolution never made it out of committee.
In other business on Tuesday, messengers overwhelmingly approved a motion to establish a “Great Commission task force. Messengers also overwhelmingly approved without debate a recommendation by the SBC’s executive committee to disfellowship Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.
Brian Kaylor is a contributing editor to EthicsDaily.com