In an editorial which ends with a criticism of Southern Baptists evangelistic efforts being stalled largely by their “condemning and rejecting everyone who does not think just like them,” Baptists Today executive editor John Pierce spends several paragraphs ridiculing, condemning and rejecting the “Great Commission Resurgence.” In an issue where the New Baptist Covenant is lauded for attempting to unite Baptists and “meet the world’s needs” and where a full page is devoted to reporting James Dunn’s receiving the Judson-Rice Award, Pierce’s editorial, strategically placed above a third of a page ad pleading for financial support, takes a very disunifying swipe at the SBC.
Clearly, when Pierce talks about Baptist “unity” and “inclusiveness,” he doesn’t intend to include the SBC. Aside from all the glory, laud and honor his publication lays at the feet of certain Baptists with whom he happens to agree philosophically and theologically, this editorial is yet another egregious example of the fact that moderate Baptists seem incapable of developing an identity other than “we’re not the SBC,” and must continue to resort to criticism of the SBC in order to drum up support and rally the troops. So much for the talk a while back about “moving on” to more positive, productive “dialogue.” Dialogue seems to be the forte of moderate Baptists; action is apparently quite a different matter.
Pierce’s critique of the Great Commission Resurgence includes a swipe at the concern some Southern Baptist leaders have regarding the decline in the number of Baptisms. Suggesting that previous higher numbers came about as a result of “re-baptizing deacons, Sunday school teachers and choir members along with near-infants,” Pierce laughs at the notion that Southern Baptists might “eventually find enough common biblical and theological ground that we could focus on the Great Commission.” Perhaps, considering the way some Southern Baptists have behaved in the past three decades, a chuckle is warranted, but at least Southern Baptists seem to be giving some concern to a specific issue, a biblical mandate that is a lot more specific than “dialoguing” over some vague form of Baptist “unity” to accomplish some vague, undefined, utopian statement like “meeting the world’s needs.” The world needs the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the best way Baptists can meet that need is through the Great Commission.
The stories and coverage of Baptists Today generally focuses on the progressive, forward thinking actions and events of Baptists of the same stripe as the executive editor, designed to create the impression that those featured within its pages represent the true spirit of Baptist history and heritage. With this editorial, the publication takes two steps backward, resorting to its old tactic of trying to boost the image of its own kind of Baptists by lambasting the Southern Baptist Convention.
It could well be true that Southern Baptists have hindered their own evangelistic efforts by appearing to “condemn and reject everyone who does not think just like them.” But I have to think that the moderate Baptists’ lofty goals of “dialogue to achieve unity and diversity to meet the needs of the world” suffer just as much from their repeated criticism of their own Baptist brethren, which is just as caustic, and just as “fundamentalist” in its approach as that of which they are most critical.
What is sauce for the goose….well, you know.