Like many Southern Baptists, you may not care, but the election for president of the convention has been thrown into an uncertainty not seen in years. With a month to go before the annual embarrassment fest known as the Southern Baptist Convention, the conservative oligarchs do not have a unanimous candidate.
The heir apparent, until recently, was Georgia pastor Johnny Hunt. As usual, the oligarchy met and announced their nominee, assuming everyone would fall into lock step. However, that was not the case, as many younger pastors expressed their lack of support. Hunt, faced with a possible contested race, announced he would not run.
Now, it appears the gang will nominate Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd, pictured above.
Another problem is the do as I say not as I do mentality of many of the leaders of big, conservative SBC churches. Notably, although they come to the leadership of all the agencies supported by the cooperative program, their churches do not support the cooperative program very well. One SBC panel has called for the officers to be elected from churches that give at least 10 percent of their undesignated receipts to the cooperative program.
This would have knocked out Mr. Hunt, whose church gave about 2.2 percent of the churches undesignated receipts. Floyd may face the same criticism. His church gives about 3.6 percent of undesignated receipts.
The other interesting factor for this year is the growth of the number of the SBC's Calvinists. Rumor has it that Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., will be nominated for first vice president. Dever is a Calvinist and speaks at seminars with John Piper, John McArthur, R. C. Sproul and others.
This will give the oligarchs food for thought and a decision to make. Will they enlarge the tent of leadership or try to keep their death grip by only offering nominees from their own circle of friends? Will they put their money where their mouth is by only nominating someone who supports the cooperative program in a significant way, whether at 10 percent or some other number.
Finally, will they tolerate, embrace or shun the Calvinists.
What started as a blah year in SBC politics may have turned into a pivotal year. Like the song says "the whole world's watching". Will our leaders make us proud? Or, will they return to the thrilling days of yesteryear when you could count on the convention for embarassing headlines.
Remember, fewer people admit being Southern Baptist at convention time than any other.