All a Matter of Timing: Baptist Press and Mark Driscoll

Yes, it’s all a matter of timing.

Over the course of the past six months, Baptist Press has come out with three articles besmirching Mark Driscoll and Acts 29.  But have you paid attention to the timing of their pieces and what Baptist Press is attempting to do?  I have, and here are my thoughts.

The Context and the Agenda

For contextual purposes, we need to go back to the starting point of Baptist Press and their coverage of Acts29, which of course was the “controversy” with The Journey hosting Theology at the Bottleworks.  The principal antagonist (and still to this day) was Roger Moran, a layman who also was serving on the Executive Committee–where Morris Chapman is CEO, and who are also responsible for Baptist Press.  In the Executive Committee meeting in February 2007, Moran gave a speech where he went after Darrin Patrick, Mark Driscoll, and the “emerging church” in the SBC, aligning them with the CBF.  In March 2007, Baptist Press followed up with their article entitled “Alcohol, Acts 29, and the SBC.”  In that article, Norm Miller pulls quotes from non-SBC churches affiliated with Acts 29 stating their pro-alcohol positions in attempt to beef up their case against dually affiliated SBC/Acts29 churches, all of whom were eventually defunded (in Missouri). Patrick explicitly stated to Baptist Press that he abstains from alcohol and that The Journey “doesn’t personally encourage nor corporately promote the use of alcohol.”  The next word from Baptist Press was “However . . .”.  And when Patrick became aware of an alcohol-related picture and removed it because “it does not reflect the values of our church,” the next word from Baptist Press was “Still . . .”.  Baptist Press simply does not want to present objectivity and report a story; they want you to believe *their* version of the story, which is the version of Roger Moran.

Of course, the underlying issue here is to employ the “guilt by association” tactic and malign anyone connected to the ill-represented Mark Driscoll and remove their influence in the SBC.  So you get paragraphs like this in the article:

Patrick’s SBC connections include the North American Mission Board. He co-chaired NAMB’s Young Leaders Task Force with Ed Stetzer, a NAMB employee who is on the board of Acts 29. The task force last met over a year ago.

But they are not finished because “there are other SBC connections to Acts 29, too“–referring to the speaking engagement of SBTS professor Dr. Bruce Ware at Mars Hill and Southeastern’s Convergent conference where Driscoll was scheduled to speak later in the Fall.

The agenda of Baptist Press as seen in the 2007 article sets the stage for the three articles that have come out in 2009.  They (1) uncharitably depict Mars Hill, Acts 29, and Mark Driscoll, (2) attempt to draw connections for guilt-by-association based on their trumped up charges in #1, and (3) attempt to create controversy in the SBC and malign those associations in #2 through their subversive actions.  They are not reporting the news. Baptist Press has become the news by creating it.

Case 1.  SEBTS 20/20 Collegiate Conference

SEBTS hosted their 20/20 Collegiate conference on Feb. 6-7 of this year to a sold-out crowd of over 1,400 college students where Mark Driscoll and C.J. Mahaney were keynote speakers.  Less than a week after the conference, the “staff” of Baptist Press came out with an article entitled “Driscoll’s Vulgarity Draws Media Attention.”  It was obvious that this was an attempt to embarrass Dr. Danny Akin and shame SEBTS for having Driscoll come speak, and in the article, the “staff” pulled from watchdog blogger Ingrid Schlueter and David Tolliver (who I am led to believe was not aware that his comments were directly related to a forthcoming article on Mark Driscoll) with comments intended to portray Driscoll in the most negative light.

It was evident to many that the impact from the Collegiate conference (and the influence of Driscoll) was intended to be thwarted by the efforts of Baptist Press.  Between the Times, the blog of SEBTS, responded, “We were very disappointed in the BP piece, which we believe was inaccurate in content and harsh in tone.”  Unlike Baptist Press, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina reported on what actually happened at the conference.

Case 2. SBC Annual Meeting in Louisville

The Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention took place in Louisville on June 23-24 of this year.  Just one week prior (June 17) to the convention, Baptist Press published an article entitled, “Bott Radio Blocks Driscoll, Replaces Segment Mid-show.”  Dick Bott stated, “While no vulgar language was used by Driscoll in his interview with Rainey, Bott said he could not trust Driscoll, given his track record . . .”.  For all the times that Driscoll has been called “the cussing pastor,” has anyone provided a detailed “record” of the times he has cussed in the pulpit?  But that’s almost besides the point.

Don Hinkle, the editor of Missouri Baptist’s Pathway, drafted this piece which quickly became a part of the propaganda spearheaded by none other than Roger Moran (also of Missouri) to be passed out on the convention floor in Louisville.  Complete with the copyright of The Southern Baptist Convention Baptist Press, this article was formatted and freshly inserted into Moran’s hit piece entitled, “Acts 29 and the Emerging Church: The ‘Controversy’ in the Missouri Baptist Convention is making its way to the SBC.”  The first half dealt with Southeastern Seminary and Mark Driscoll, saying that “SEBTS has become the leader in charting the new course toward a more tolerant view of the ‘new liberalism’ that is infecting the SBC in a significant way.”  Following the charges against SEBTS was that of Ed Stetzer, whom Moran calls the “chief defender of Mark Driscoll and Acts 29.”

During the convention, more motions (five in total) were made against Mark Driscoll and Acts 29 than anything or anyone else–Driscoll himself not even being a Southern Baptist.  But the motions against Driscoll were not the only things Baptist Press and Moran had in their scope.  The lead architect of the Great Commission Resurgence–the driving narrative of the convention–has been Dr. Danny Akin.  It should be noted that, solely based on Moran’s literature, a motion was made to investigate Akin, Stetzer, and Alvin Reid–literature of which Baptist Press had played a part.

Most recently, when the profiles of the Great Commission Task Force were provided by Baptist Press, they took extra effort to add this to J.D. Greear’s profile:

Greear/The Summit are members of the Acts 29 Network, whose covenant requires governance by a plurality of elders; agreement with the theological beliefs of Acts 29; and the commitment of 10 percent of internal tithes and offerings to church planting with primary consideration given to Acts 29-approved planters.

Was this necessary? No. Well, if you are Baptist Press and are seeking to expose any and all connections to Acts 29, then yes. Surely other GCR task force members have affiliations with non-SBC organizations to some degree, but none were mentioned except that of Acts 29.

Case 3. Fall Semester Kickoff @ SBTS

Seminary classes began for students of Southern Seminary on August 17.  Two days later (August 19), Baptist Press runs an article entitled, “New Driscoll/Acts 29 Leadership School Features SBC Staffers Stetzer, Ware, and Allison.”  The Resurgence Training Center (Re:Train) was originally announced on June 1, 2009–over two months ago.  The problem for Baptist Press is that it is not newsworthy in the middle of June but rather the middle of August because it is not Re:Train they want to report, but the egregious associations of SBC professors with Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll in order to create controversy over this affiliation.

You see, Baptist Press could have simply reported on the joint teaching of these professors and kept it at that, but that is what objective news wires do, not Baptist Press.  BP has to present MHC and Driscoll in the worst light, so they bring up everything else they have trumped up to this point (vulgarity, Bott Radio, SEBTS conference, etc).  The “staff” begins with talking about the professors (117 words), then turns the bulk of their attention to Driscoll (358 words), and then concludes with the professors again (181 words) attempting to draw close association between the SBC professors teaching at Re:Train and the former actions of Driscoll, of which he has repented. If you consider the weight of the article in words, it is not about Re:Train as much as it is about Mark Driscoll.  Additionally, it should be noted that they even included the statement that “one motion called for the investigation of Stetzer and two other SBC entity employees for their ties to Acts 29” when that very motion was publicly rebuked on the convention floor in Louisville.

Conclusion

It should be clear to everyone paying attention that Baptist Press is no longer reporting the news.  They have become the news.  The are not revealing controversy.  They are the controversy.  With well-timed articles smearing Mark Driscoll and attempting to shame anyone who identifies with them, they have carried the water of Roger Moran and furthered his anti-Acts 29/Mark Driscoll agenda under the banner of Southern Baptist news service.  Whether it is Danny Akin, SBTS, Ed Stetzer, Darrin Patrick, or anyone else who associates with them, Baptist Press will attempt to further the anti-Acts 29 agenda by adding fuel to a fire they have lit with their own matches.

Yesterday, Mohler gave a fantastic presentation about the future of the SBC on the day Baptist Press printed their article about SBTS professors (BP did not report on Mohler’s message).  In his presentation, Mohler said that “on the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention, crankiness is evident.  We criticize people who are not even there!”  He went on to add that “if we are a denomination of unhappy cranks, we will decline and disappear, and deservedly so.”  Scripture tells us that where there is no wood, the fire goes out (Prov. 26:20).  We can either get rid of the wood and put the fire out, or we can watch our denomination slowly disappear through the unhappy cranks.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Responses, SBC

Tags: , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

40 Comments on “All a Matter of Timing: Baptist Press and Mark Driscoll”


  1. Way to connect the dots on this, Tim. Have you read Wills’ book on the history of the seminary? It is a fascinating read that helps to shed some light on what is happening here. With the denominational newspaper attempting to shame the seminaries as well as Driscoll and Acts29, it is important to note that there has been an uneasy (at best) cooperation between the denomination and the seminaries throughout the short history of the institutions.

    It makes you wonder if the denominational press (and those involved) really care about a Great Commission Resurgence. One can only hope that we, as a convention, we be more willing to be unified around the cause of the gospel of Christ rather than try to be uniform in our approach.

  2. Jeff Says:

    Timmy,

    Excellent post. I would add that Bott radio stopped the airing of the Driscoll interview on May 18, but BP didn’t report it until the week before the SBC. Further, when they did report the “news” of the event, they failed to report the date of the event.

    God Bless,
    Jeff

  3. Todd Young Says:

    I am so sick of hearing Mark Driscoll’s name drug through the mud! I know he’s a sinner, and I know he’s said things that I would never say from the pulpit in my context, and I know there is a reason why he was dubbed “the cussing pastor.” But come one!

    I’ve listened to about 30 or 40 of his sermons over the past several months, and I cannot find any reason not to recommend his sermons and writings to others. If I were forced to choose between an unchanging SBC and Acts 29, I would probably choose Acts 29.

    When will the Baptist Press expose the sin of bitterness and self-righteousness in its own ranks? Someone at BP needs to spend some time in Matthew 7.

    Thanks for this article, Tim. It is good to hear someone thinking logically and critically. Maybe the BP should run your story.

    Todd


  4. This is completely laughable (not your analysis, but BP’s “news”).

    Those guys need to get jobs. Real jobs. That way they could spend time with non-Christians and not just rabble-rouse.

  5. Brent Hobbs Says:

    Its a sad state of affairs at Baptist Press. Along with a few human interest stories, it is basically a public relations arm of a particular group in the convention.

    I’ve been at times frustrated with our state newspaper, the Biblical Recorder, but I honestly believe it does a better job of reporting news than BP. And I know some other state papers have done the legwork on certain news-worthy items when all we got was a news blackout from BP.

  6. Nathan Says:

    This is admittedly off topic but has anyone ever wondered why Southern Seminary doesn’t have a student paper?

    • iMonk Says:

      I was there 79-84 (Not exactly Mohler’s team running the place) and we didn’t have a student paper. I don’t think anyone had the time.

      There are these blogs now though….:-)


    • Nathan,

      iMonk is correct. When I was at SBTS, I helped start Said at Southern Seminary with Tony Kummer which eventually highlighted over 100 blogs from SBTS students. It was I believe the closest thing to a student paper.

      The School of Theology has attempted to start a quarterly journal of student papers, but I’m not sure how that is going (or even if it is still publishing).

  7. Tyler Recker Says:

    Can I go on record as being another SBC guy from an SBC seminary in an SBC church that thinks A29 is awesome in uncompromising, strategic Kingdom impact?

    A29 is organized around progressing the mission. They do a good job at it.

    SBC is organized around maintaining status quo. (AKA decline…come on GCR.)

    If certain SBC folks want to shoot at A29 guys, they can shoot at me too. Even though I’m not A29…because one time I did have coffee with an A29 pastor…and so they can come after me in their A29 witch hunt…

    Appreciate the trademark citations and research….solid.

  8. Jacob Hall Says:

    I echo the sentiment of Tyler, in that I am currently pursuing my MDiv through an SBC Seminary, graduated from an SBC Seminary Undergrad program, and serve in a very conservative, older SBC Church; and I love what A29 is doing in the communities around me. I personally spoke with Roger Moran at SBC2009 and his words were full of venom and hate towards Driscoll. I showed him on my iphone the blog entitled “Spring Cleaning” in which Driscoll repented of his Edinburgh talk. Moran’s response was “Well, we will see if he truly repented”. I was without words that he would go as far as to question if he had actually repented.

    Tim, Once again your scholarship in this issue is unsurpassed. As a follow up to this article, is there a way to prepare to make motions against funding Baptist Press in Orlando in 2010? If they are going to make news instead of reporting it, I would rather Will Hall’s salary go to put missionaries on the field.

  9. Brad Says:

    I have read this and I think that now I could become a cussing pastor. Its so crazy. I grew up Baptist, they gave me my foundation, I work at a Baptist church and to be honest I am embarrassed to say that I am one.

    Maybe it is good that we not be called Baptist, or A29 or this or that. That we be called believers. Believers that even cuss at times, glad Christ took that to the cross with Him as well.

  10. Bryan Rabon Says:

    This kind of junk (BP’s “reporting” and the obvious bias of some on the executive committee) is exactly why some of us “young leaders” are almost embarassed to openly call ourselves Southern Baptists. I’m beginning to think that the old guard will never learn.

  11. Mike Says:

    In the recent Missouri Baptist war of 2007-2009, the Moran crowd (MBLA) tried to directly associate the other side (Save Our Convention – SOC) with A29 because Gerald Davidson, one of the leaders of SOC and the MBC President during some of that time, has a son-in-law who is an A29 affiliated pastor.

    Hinkle and Tolliver used the Pathway to turn the term Acts 29 into a pejorative.

  12. paul Says:

    I find the whole “controversey” with Acts 29 and alcohol laughable. The old saying where I live is that you can always tell the Southern Baptists because they dont speak to each other in line at the liquor store. A fairly large number of Baptists under 60 are ok with responsible drinking.

    You would think the former architects of the “conservative resurgence” would be happy about a new church planting movement that describes itself as “not egalitarian” on women and talks about the authority of scripture.

    That’s the trouble with seeking donctrinal conformity – when do you stop?

  13. Robert I Masters Says:

    It seems like you forgot a piece of the story……Danny Akins sermon at Two Rivers Baptist Church where he stated >>>”Anybody
    who touches that stuff is a FOOL and let me repeat what I just said for all to hear…Anbody who touches that stuff is a FOOL”.
    Afterwards a well known singer that all Americans would know stated ‘I think he just called Jesus a fool!

    my point is that Danny Akin was the source of that Alcohol controvesy and not Roger Moran.

    BTW—–If Baptist are people of THE BOOK where is Acts 29 in The Book.

    Robert I Masters
    From the Southern Baptist Geneva

    .


    • Robert, the concept of Acts 29 is something that great SBC scholar, John Polhill, writes about in his NAC Commentary on Acts. The book of Acts ends very abruptly, almost anti-climatically. “Acts 29” reflects the fact that in a sense, Acts is being continued as the Gospel yet goes forth. Obviously, we’re not claiming that what we’re doing continues the writing of Scripture.

      As to your Danny Akin point, I think that Dr. Akin no longer lambastes that point because it is his own personal theological conviction. If we’re going to let tertiary doctrines divide us, we might as well give the talent to the bankers in hopes of getting a little interest.

  14. Matt Privett Says:

    Not for nothing, but has BP even run a story on Clark Logan yet? Or did I just miss it?

  15. Robbie Says:

    I grew up in a Southern Baptist church in St. Louis, Missouri, interacted with the church in the midst of the MBC drama and am now in my mid-20’s. Praise God for the men (Acts29 and other networks) who took a stand for the real gospel and Jesus instead of blind-legalism by opposing Moran and the generation of Missouri Baptists (who completely missed their opportunity to pass on much needed wisdom to young, eager Christian men) who took away money to support the only churches on real mission in the state all for a debate over beer. The one thing that gets to me with these traditional men is how “off” they say Acts29 men are theologically, when all I hear about now is how younger Baptist men have little to NO training or conception of doctrine and the men serving as teachers in Acts29 are typically very doctrinally sound and actually comprehend their role to pass this fervor on to the next generation (anyone ever catch the purpose of Proverbs or 1 Timothy?).

    As to Robert I Masters’s cheap shot about Baptists being people of THE BOOK and Acts29 not being in the Word: Sir, isn’t it about time your denomination started manning up to it and showing how much you are actually in THE BOOK through the way your people grasp the gospel and live on mission in this world. You may have knowledge of the words in the Bible, but the additional step of gospel-transformation is true wisdom that actually affects how you live your every day life, humbly and prayerfully seeking to be the Church that is a continuation of the great Acts of the Apostles.

  16. Joe Carr Says:

    Tim,

    A fair and accurate assessment I do believe. BP News has yet to report anything on Clark Logan’s forced resignation…not even a hint of anything, yet you can search the archives and find several stories from the past about Clark and his good work.

    As to Mark Driscoll, I believe that because he is a Calvinistic preacher and leader that he is marked by some within the leadership of the SBC. An article today on BP about John Piper took special notice to point out that he has been a leader in the Calvinist resurgence. Check it out…very sad as it had nothing to do with the story. BP is an entity of the Executive Committee of the SBC, which is headed by Morris Chapman. Surprise, surprise 🙂

    Southern Seminary has a paper, do not know if it is a “student paper” but is entitled The Towers and is available on-line.

    Finally, thanks for the post…good stuff. Also, I would recommend highly that people avail themselves of John Avant’s new book entitled “If God Were Real.” Awesome book as is “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan.

  17. joshjcollins Says:

    As someone who lives in Missouri, I’m definitely sick of the theological fire-bombing going on in the press. If we cannot represent someone else’s position with the graciousness we would want our position given, then we shouldn’t talk about it.

    As you have pointed out Tim, the “timing” issue shows that these articles are not merely a “concerned” reporting of facts. It is a deliberate, calculated plan to tarnish the reputations and ministries of fellow Christians. It saddens me to know that average Sallie Pewsitter who reads her state newspaper is getting half the news from people she should be able to trust. And those who actually do their homework are driven further from wanting anything to do with convention life.

  18. Daniel Says:

    For the record, BP has reported on Mohler’s address now. I’m not defending them though…

    http://bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=31110

  19. Larry Says:

    1Co 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
    1Co 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

  20. Robert I Masters Says:

    Larry:
    Yes when Lifeway continues to sell The Shack and it remains in the very front and center of the very church bookstore that Lifeway president Thom rainer attends; then the timing of Baptist Press articles seem inconsequential.

    Southern Baptist need to kill sin.

    Robert I Masters
    From the Southern Baptist Geneva

  21. Todd Young Says:

    Larry and Robert,

    I would contend that both the popularity of The Shack and the timing of these Baptist Press articles are symptoms of a related disease. Both miss the mark of worshiping God in both spirit and truth. We must love God and seek to understand the truth about what he has revealed about himself, and we must love our neighbor as ourselves. We cannot tolerate error in critical doctrines, just like we cannot tolerate back-stabbing and self-righteousness.

    I agree with you, Robert. Southern Baptists need to kill sin.

  22. iMark Says:

    I wish someone would just lay down what there problems are with any SBC association with Acts 29. What is the real problem folks have when examining doctrinal statements, etc.?

    It’s not like all of our churches are lock step in holding to the BF&M, for example.

  23. Robert I Masters Says:

    IMARK:
    For a good discussion of this see SBCTODAY.

    Robert I Masters
    From the Southern Baptist Geneva


  24. Um, yeah, SBC Today is an unbiased, well-researched source of information.

    /irony

  25. Robert I Masters Says:

    Stephen<
    Everyone has biases and mine are with the calvinists but this has become a tribal fight…..the baptist identity crowd vs the
    reformed crowd.
    Does that make Robin Fosters argument wrong? I agree with it?
    Just like I agree that my church, Grace Community Church in Nashville, is un-baptistic in having a elder-ruled congregation.

    Robert I Masters
    From the Southern Baptist Geneva

    • Jordan Rouden Says:

      Robert, you attend Grace Community Church? Is that the GCM that’s in Brentwood? If so, that’s our church as well. We recently joined.

  26. iMark Says:

    Robert,

    You and I agree on many things. Maybe not so much on this one.

    My issue is, however flawed, that some in the SBC want to argue that others can’t rightly work with the SBC in certain areas due to their own doctrinal statements. I’m thinking that the SBC has their own issues with even following their own doctrines. IOW, let’s get our house in order and hold SBC folks to SBC positions and stop pointing the finger at those outside.


  27. Thank you for this post, Timmy. I’ve been reading you via reader for a while and this A29/SBC Christian (who’s a former cub journalist) is thankful for your Gospel focus & careful research.


  28. […] All a Matter of Timing: Baptist Press and Mark Driscoll […]

  29. Wade Rials Says:

    Tim,

    Good post. Unfortunately, I think you may be right which is very unfortunate.

  30. Maarten Says:

    that SBC entities avoid “inviting event speakers” who “are known for publicly exhibiting unregenerate behavior … such as cursing and sexual vulgarity, immorality, or who publicly state their support for the consumption or production of alcohol,”

    Publicly state their support for the consumption of alcohol? I never understood how US (southern?)baptists read their bible, since this is totally a non-issue in the church here in Europe. Jesus made water turn into wine at a party, how much more support do you need? So Jesus cannot be an invited event speaker at the SBC? I’ll have to pray for the SBC that they will not idolize their religion for Jesus.

  31. Jonathan Says:

    I think if you look at the pre-SBC Mark Driscoll stories and the post-SBC Driscoll stories, you’ll notice a subtle change in tone.

    There was a very constructive article about Driscoll from a NOBTS prof.
    http://www.bpnews.net/BPFirstPerson.asp?ID=30903

    And, the latest Driscoll story included statements of repentance that the previous ones did not.
    http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=31103

    I think that’s significant, although I do wish they’d give it a rest.

  32. MRWBBIII Says:

    JOHN PIPER ON MARK DRISCOLL SERMON JAM


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: