I’ve been following Wade Burleson’s blog with interest for some time now. He is a Southern Baptist pastor who serves as a trustee on the SB’s International Mission Boards, one of the largest missionary organizations in the world. He began blogging about his experiences and his concern there appeared to be a lot of abuse of power in the Southern Baptist Convention hierarchy. He has come under fire and taken a lot of heat for his blog, which sincerely seeks to shed light, not malign individuals.
What is occurring now among varying levels of Southern Baptist Convention leadership, both within state conventions and the national one, is rather disheartening. Rank and file Southern Baptists for so long have just assumed that their convention is being led by men who sincerely seek to be obedient to scripture. I still believe that is true for most. However, there are still those at great levels of influence who use their own agendas and opinions to isolate, condemn, undermine, and prevent open dialogue, dissent, and honest questions.
The blogging world gives such autocrats nightmares. It reaches the masses like no other form of communication prior to our era. No longer does one have to go through a means of a publisher to disseminate his findings or thoughts. Leaders who don’t appreciate input or counsel but would rather choose to have everyone march in lock step with them, are terrified by the mobilization of individual churches and believers that is occurring through the blogosphere.
Granted, blogs are also a way for anyone to shoot off at the mouth, make irrational and unsubstantiated claims, and malign others. Bloggers desperately need to commit themselves to being ethical and fair, and to avoid personal attacks. (A great set of suggested ethical guidelines is here).
I have a great respect for Southern Baptists. I am deeply indebted to them for my own heritage, discipleship, and friendships. I would simply encourage them, however, to be informed, to think for themselves, and to hold their leaders and convention accountable to pursuing Christlikeness and the building of God’s kingdom rather than their own.