Judge Paul Pressler speaks…

...and it's a very good message. The following quote is taken from his book, "A Hill on Which to Die." The specific section is found on pages 296-297.

A Hill on Which to Die

Grave problems still confront Southern Baptists, however. One is the bureaucracy of the convention. I once wondered how local, independent, Bible-believing churches in the first century developed into the Roman Catholic Church. After observing the manner in which the bureaucracy grew in the Southern Baptist Convention in a very short time, I no longer wonder. The main danger of a bureaucracy is that it becomes an end in itself and not a means to effectuate the principles for which it was founded. History shows us that a bureaucracy, whether political, religious, or business, ends up seeking additional perks for itself and additional favors for those in the bureaucracy. It becomes loaded with individuals whose only qualification is that they have been loyal to the system and, therefore, are rewarded by being placed in the bureaucracy when they fail elsewhere.

The "good ol' boy" system evidently started years ago. Liberals developed under this system, because the liberals were careful not to voice their extreme positions publicly (with a few exceptions) and were careful to pay their dues to the system. Such a system must not be allowed to develop under conservative leadership. We must guard against a reinstallation of a "good ol' boy" system under which anything could occur as long as it didn't harm the bureaucracy.

I fear bureaucratic control and domination.

Judge Pressler is absolutely correct. As we prepare for San Antonio there are a plethora of events that will command our attention. Whether it be the issue of Private Prayer languages, the issue(s) with Southwestern Seminary, the IMB policy on baptism, etc. I would encourage you, however, that possibly the greatest problem that we must consider, and quite probably the quickest and most successful method of reform that we can encourage is the abolition of a tight circle of convention power. Our convention has been led by good men for a series of years now, but it's been good men engaged in a tight circle of leadership. That must go away. Below I've dug up some research about the candidates for SBC president and the men who nominated them over the past decade or so. It's a telling pattern.

Feb. 3, 1998 - James Merritt agrees to nominate Paige Patterson as President of the SBC. Patterson serves two, one year terms.

Feb. 9, 2000 - Jack Graham agrees to nominate James Merritt as President of the SBC. Merritt serves two, one year terms.

Feb. 4, 2002 - Johnny Hunt agrees to nominate Jack Graham as President of the SBC. Graham serves two, one year terms.

Feb. 20, 2004 - Johnny Hunt agrees to nominate Bobby Welch as President of the SBC. Welch serves two, one year terms.

Feb. 7, 2006 - Johnny Hunt is "anointed" as THE conservative candidate for President of the SBC. After much hoopla over his candidacy, he withdraws his name from consideration and Frank Page is elected over two other candidates. Page is up for reelection in San Antonio. [additional link here]

None of these men are bad men, in fact I'm convinced that they're wonderful men. I also believer, however, that they have been part of an all too tight leadership group [see this article]. Be prepared, while in San Antonio, to continue the pattern begun last summer of requiring the Convention as a whole to reverse this trend.

One further article, that is telling, is this article [click here] that describes the process of nominating Missouri pastor, Gerald Davidson, to the position of 1st Vice President. Notice in particular, Bailey Smith's choice of words; specifically that he declares that "we have decided" that Davidson will be the next 1st VP of the SBC. That kind of thinking must come to an end for the convention to prosper and flourish.