On the Issue of a Southern Baptist Name Change (pause for a breather)

I have just submitted an article that, Lord willing, shall soon appear in our Illinois State Baptist paper on the issue of whether or not the Southern Baptist Convention -- the denomination of which I have been a part for many years now -- should change its name.  And while I shall not at this time disclose where exactly I have come down on the issue (have to read the paper folks), I do want to pause for some comedy relief. 

As I was engaging in a bit of research for this article, I came across a genuinely funny article on an intriguing blog called The Wardrobe Door.  There I discovered the "proceedings" of a debate between Rev. "Jimbo" Jones and Luther "Presbyter" Calvin on what the SBC should change its name to.  Definitely worth a few minutes of your time, if for no other reason than to find out what BASCAR stands for.

The Jimbo v. Presbyter Debate

And for those of you that love a good conspiracy theory, Peter Lumpkins is usually a sure bet.  Check out his intriguing (and slightly crazy) post on this issue here.


  1. Thanks the visit, the link and the compliments. I enjoyed "observing" that debate myself.

    I haven't taken a very public position on the name change, but I did write a serious post about the voices to whom we should (and should not) listen in this debate.

    1. Here's the link:

    2. Greetings, Aaron! I enjoy your blog and had already read your piece "Who we should listen to in the SBC Name Change Debate". Good stuff. Keep it coming!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Cody,

    Thanks for link.

    And, since you've obviously digested the post to which you link, albeit dubbing it "intriguing," it nonetheless, according to your judgment, remains "slightly crazy" being the "good conspiracy theory" it is. I'd be interested to know the parallels you see between my matter-of-factly little piece and actual "conspiracy" pieces.

    What is more, Cody, you seem to indicate you keep up with what I write since I take it you think those that "love a good conspiracy theory" will be entertained by my pieces since "Peter Lumpkins is usually a sure bet" (embolden added). I'm assuming you mean you keep tabs on my literary stuff. So, tell me, Cody, what other "conspiracy theory" pieces would you recommend from my fine collection?

    With that, I am...

    (I deleted the former comment because I misspelled your name. Sorry...

    1. Greetings Peter,
      I must say that I'm a bit taken aback by your comments. I am, after all, a rather small-time blogger, so it is surprising that you would even notice the brief mention. Be that as it may, welcome!

      On to the matter at hand, I must confess that I thought you were intentionally going for conspiracy theory with the article I've linked to above. After all, you are certainly theorizing - that is, you are postulating / speculating about what is going on with the SBC name-change issue. Beyond that, you are undeniably suggesting that a kind of conspiracy is afoot. I'll grant that you have not made any mention of Area 51 or the Trilateral Commission, but your article nevertheless had a number of juicy, conspiratorial elements to it. You have anonymous domain name purchases, a mysterious Arkansan named Brian who "has the ear of someone very close to the taskforce", and the strong suggestion that the taskforce itself was nothing more than a ruse. Throw in Lee Harvey Oswald and I think we could write a pretty compelling screenplay. If, however, you were not really trying to write conspiratorially, I must say that you have rather successfully stumbled upon the genre.

      As for me describing your post as “slightly crazy”, I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. If however, you would insist that not a shred of paranoia, irrationality, alarmism, or the like has influenced your posting, then I apologize. In that case, of course, I feel I’d have no other choice but to describe your post as “rather mean”. After all, you have sought to cast serious aspersions on the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and the members of the taskforce. Through a deft use of quotation marks and italics, you have intentionally suggested that these leaders may lack integrity and that the process that has been undertaken may indeed have been “bogus”. I happen to have a friend who has served on the taskforce and know him to be a man of exceptionally high character and love for the Lord. In talking with him about his time on the taskforce, there is little doubt that these leaders took their task seriously, approached it prayerfully, and executed it with diligence and devotion. Your article suggests pretty strongly that this wasn’t the case at all. It conjures up images of smoke-filled rooms and pompous powerbrokers pounding on tables and, in my view, that’s unfair, unkind, and unhelpful. From this perspective then, I hope you can see where the phrase “slightly crazy” was meant as a kindness. After all, I consider myself to be at least slightly crazy most of the time and wouldn’t consider it to be much of an insult. If you do, then I am sorry. However, in that case, I feel you really do have to explain why you have chosen to call into question the integrity of these leaders.

      As for sharing a list of highlights from your writings, I’ll pass for now. Clearly, you are a compelling and gifted writer and you’d be welcome to share some of your favorites yourself in this thread briefly. I haven’t read your book on Alcohol, but have observed that there is a fair number of articles on your blog that you might want to reference. Off your blog, I did find the following interesting But, before I leave off, can I ask if you’d clarify one thing. Do you try (not in the UFO and Bigfoot sense) to espouse conspiracy theories (i.e. Calvinists are taking over our seminaries, Acts29 is taking over our planting efforts, etc.) or not. Again, I kind of thought that was your thing, you know, intentionally.

      Alright then, I do appreciate your feedback.

    2. Cody,

      First, I’m unimpressed with the mega-mentality so common in our celebrity soaked Christian sub-culture which only recognizes big names contra “small-time”. And, I think more than not I’d have Scripture anchoring my position.

      Second, “intentionally going for conspiracy theory”? I do not understand, Cody. You really mean to say, you thought I was intentionally embracing conspiracy theory? And, just why would you think I would intentionally embrace a theorizing tool which is customarily described as a genuine wacko-nut-job position? Seriously, would anyone intentionally entertain their position as actual conspiracy theory? In addition, yes, I am theorizing—i.e. postulating / speculating about what is going on with the SBC name-change issue. But why is it “undeniably” a raw fact I am suggesting a literal conspiracy, Cody? Why can’t it just be denominational politics at work? Would you deny politics are involved in the SBC? If so, perhaps it is you who really needs a lesson in how things get done in the SBC (and, yes, the Conservative Resurgence was soaked and drenched in denominational politics. Indeed the CR could never have happened without the proper political strategy). Even so, to suggest political maneuvering reduces to conspiracy theory is plainly absurd.

      Third, you mention a number of “juicy, conspiratorial elements” in my piece including two anonymous domain names and the “mysterious Arkansan named Brian” along with whom, if we throw in Kennedy’s killer, could be a good screenplay conspiracy. Cody, this just plain silly. First, the info you mentioned had not the least mystery about it whatsoever. I used public information that a grade-school kid working on a simple junior essay could have found on the internet. What’s more, I linked the sources so people could make up their own minds whether or not there was anything to any possible inference I may be making. And, let’s not forget the only reason I mentioned the anonymity of the first two domains was to explain what “by proxy” happened to mean. To then describe this as a juicy, conspiratorial element in my piece is frankly, absurd. Virtually anything one writes which associates one thing with another reduces to conspiracy. If this is so, then there is no such thing as non-conspiracy theory. Everything potentially becomes conspiracy.

      As for Brian Armas in Arkansas, why would you dub him “mysterious”? Again, I linked the sources for the info about him—in his own words no less—with no secret documents telling us who Armas really is. Rather the info was from his personal website. Cody, you’re simply reading into my piece what is not there. For all practical purposes, I merely publicly posted on my site what was already publicly posted elsewhere. It’s true I made associations or as some say, “connected some dots”. But I gave the sources so others could either connect the same dots or deny my associations. Even so, if you find it not a point of interest about who Armas is, and his role in the GCRTF, I’m afraid I must disagree.


    3. Fourth,you suggest you were giving me the benefit of the doubt by describing my piece as “slightly crazy.” Then you go on to strangely assert that if I insist that “not a shred of paranoia, irrationality, alarmism” influenced my piece, you apologize. But if I do insist on that, then you will state my post is “mean”. Excuse me? I challenge anyone to make sense of what’s just been proposed.

      Fifth, nor did I challenge the integrity of a single person, Cody. Not one. I was very careful in what I stated and the way it was stated. And as for the “bogus”, you conveniently left out of that assertion that I framed the assertion unequivocally with the words, “If it turns out…” To make me into saying such was the case is completely unfair. Nor is it helpful to suggest you think of yourself as “slightly crazy” at times. You definitively did not suggest “slightly crazy” crouched in any type of lighted-hearted context. Rather it was in the same breath as the”conspiracy theory” accusation. So, yes it is an insult in the context you wrote it.

      Sixth, you also find “interesting” an extremely critical piece of me off-site. May I ask what White’s personal screed has to do with what has been brought up here? Would you also find this link “interesting” as well ( Or, this link?--

      My point of course is, what does an evaluation from a very well known adversary have to do with what we’re discussing here, Cody? Is White’s link you offered not just more poisoning the well tactics which you actually did in the original post by describing my piece to your readers as from a “slightly crazy” guy who “usually” goes for “conspiracy theories”? Classic poison the well nonsense. Of course if I put a link on my blog to your upcoming piece in the Illinois paper and described it to readers who “love” goofy, idiotic theories that makes little sense to any one with a brain, I hardly think you or anyone else would think that giving you the benefit of doubt. For the record, here is an example of how I’ve handled the name change issue--- Readers who click the link will note I offer no poison the well descriptions of those pieces I linked that are positive toward name change. Indeed would a conspiracy theorist even link to pieces which take an opposite view than the so-called conspiracy? I doubt it.

      Finally, to once again suggest that someone would intentionally embrace what is everywhere assumed to be a wacko-nut-job position is fantastic. No, I do not embrace conspiracy theory. What I actually do is offer evidence anyone can check. It’s true I’ve suggested aggressive Calvinism purports to take over the convention. However, what you and others fail to acknowledge is, I’m only repeating what aggressive Calvinists themselves publicly announce (e.g. Founders has the goal to “reform” the SBC to 5P Calvinism right smack on their website). Nor is it “conspiracy theory” to point out patterns which are taking place, Cody. I’m always careful to source my inferences so people can make up their own minds. And, that, my brother comes no where close to conspiracy theory.

      I realize the above is long. I assure you it will not be repeated. But I think it needed to be thoroughly answered when someone totally mischaracterizes and unfairly criticizes another’s writings. The truth is, I hope no one falsely misjudges your upcoming piece similarly to the way you’ve misjudged mine.

      I trust our Lord gives you sufficient grace for your ministry in the windy city.

      With that, I am…


    4. Peter, thanks for your follow up and for taking the time to share your views fully here. I really am appreciative of that. Unfortunately, I don’t have sufficient time to respond point-by-point to you. I’m sure you know what it’s like and hope you’ll understand. I have noticed that one of your comments did not post. I did receive a copy of it in my email, but perhaps it was over-sized. I’d be happy for you to repost it, if you like. I have no desire to censor your comments in any way.

      Thank you for clarifying that you are not intentionally trying to write conspiracy theory-type pieces. I gather that you have a very negative view of that label and association it with “wacko-nut-jobs”. I personally don’t find “conspiracy theory” to necessarily be always bad. Often conspiracy theories are interesting, entertaining, and even true. I do believe, however, that it is normally unhealthy to suggest that Church leaders are engaged in conspiratorial activities. But I will come to that in a moment. So, in using “conspiracy theory” as a descriptor for your piece, it was not meant as an insult. My honest evaluation of the piece that you have written is that it is of the conspiracy theory genre. And that those who were interested in reading about the SBC name change issue from that kind of perspective would find your piece to be interesting. You have made the point that you disagree with that assessment. I am comfortable with disagreeing on that and letting readers make their own decision.

    5. I’m sure that, as you say, I have much to learn about SBC politics. For the most part, however, I am very uninterested. I am also ready to confess that I am naïve about many such things. This is a label I intend to embrace as long as I can. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that my choices are either naiveté or jadedness. Or perhaps by simply saying that, I’m already giving in to the specter of jadedness? For the record, I did not characterize your research as being on a grade school level. I thought I was clear that I felt you were a very competent and compelling writer. My reference to Dr. White’s article was my attempt to fulfill a request of yours in your first comment. I was hesitant myself to do so because I thought your request to supply examples of other conspiracy-esque pieces would take us off topic. I am definitely cool with dropping that line.

      I am sorry that you did not understand my “slightly crazy” comment to have been made in a lighthearted context. I hope you will reconsider this. I did make the comment in the context of a post that was entirely focused on humor. Please notice again that the main focus of the post was an article about a fictional debate between two funny Baptist stereotypes on the name change. Clearly, you haven’t taken it to be lighthearted. But, essentially, I linked to your article because I thought my readers would find it at least entertaining and perhaps intriguing. At the end of the day, the goal was really to raise awareness of the debate. I think you and I agree that awareness is a good thing.

    6. For the record, if you reviewed my article and said on your blog that it was goofy and that I was ugly, etc. I really, very honestly, would not mind at all. I know that we do not have a personal relationship. I don’t mind any critique whatsoever of my writings. Dialogue is good and I have a very, very strong view of God’s sovereignty. It is just as good for my ideas to be proven false as to be proven true. I hope you will review my article because I know that you have a large following and I really would welcome their feedback and pushback. So that you know, once my article is published in the Illinois Baptist, I will post the long version here and at the Lausanne Global Conversation. If you do decide to review it, I think it would be better to focus on the longer version where I have more opportunity to develop my argument.

      So, to be clear, I am not offended by your describing what I’ve written as absurd, silly, etc. I accept that such negative feedback goes with the territory and I am not taking it personally. I genuinely appreciate your feedback.

      More to the heart of the issue, my perspective of your piece is that it was indeed intended to suggest that a number of our leaders were engaged in underhanded, secret, and disingenuous maneuvering in this whole ordeal. You are clearly saying that this was not your intention. I am glad that you are stating your position. I do not believe it. Readers will be able to decide for themselves. I prefer, at this point in my life, to err on the side of trusting leaders in the Church and to believe that they are genuine men and women of God who aren’t trying to do anything underhanded. Again, that is my naiveté coming forth.

      Well, I’m happy to leave it there. I will take a look at your links soon and will look forward to moving this debate more on the grounds of the true substance of the issue. It could be interesting to do so. Thank you for your well-wishes for our ministry!
      Blessings! Cody

  4. Cody,

    Thanks. One qualifier: politics happens. Period. There is no getting around this. One may deny it, ignore it, fight it, cuss it, approve it, etc etc. It remains...politics is. And, politics does not go away when we are speaking about a religious organization in contrast to a non-religious one. Politics still plays a vital role in what we know as the townhall. As I said earlier, the Conservative Resurgence would not have taken place had politics not been a vital factor in the theological renaissance.

    You also write, Cody, "my perspective of your piece is that it was indeed intended to suggest that a number of our leaders were engaged in underhanded, secret, and disingenuous maneuvering in this whole ordeal. You are clearly saying that this was not your intention. I am glad that you are stating your position. I do not believe it."

    First, once again, these are your words describing what I allegedly suggested about some leaders--"underhanded, secret, and disingenuous maneuvering". Yet not a single line or syllable in my piece necessarily implies such a harsh interpretation, Cody. If there is, produce it. If you cannot produce it, then could it be your perception is entirely unfair, jaded, and disrespectful of a fellow brother's writing? On the other hand, if you can produce it, I'll be glad to concede your summation when you show how my actual words necessarily imply your overly harsh reading of them.

    In addition, I plainly showed in the comment above you conveniently left out the hypothetical framework in which my words were crouched--"If it turns out..." Once again you do so. The fact is, nothing follows if it *doesn't* turn out! This is standard, literary syntax, Cody.

    Second, I'm afraid to suggest you or others wouldn't mind if your piece were treated completely unfairly is very hard to take seriously. While you may not care if I (that is, PL) would poison the well so to speak about your piece, it wouldn't be hard, if I actually knew you, to spit out a trail of names which would disturb you very much if one of them mischaracterized your piece, assigning it uncharitable traits (i.e. "slightly crazy" or wacko-nut-job).

    Finally, you acknowledge that I was "clearly saying that this was not my intention" nonetheless go on to curiously but boldly assert "I do not believe it." Uh? You do not believe what? Are you saying I did intend to say such? That's what it sounds like. So then what, am I being dishonest with you, Cody? In other words, you're suggesting I really did intend to do the "conspiracy theory" gig but just won't admit it? I'm really confused. Please help me out.

    Nor will readers be able to decide for themselves. If I am incorrect, please consider: how are you or other readers going to be able to decide what I intended? Will you look into my brain and discover my intentions? Will you or others dig deeper into my heart and read what I intended to suggest in what I wrote?

    Please don't move on until we solve this little mystery, brother. I need some real assistance here.

    With that, I am...

  5. Peter, at this point, my wife isn't even reading this thread, so I'm not sure of the value of going forward. Be that as it may . . .

    You have said that you engaged in grade school-level research in order to bring to light a number of facts and then relate them to the SBC Name-Change issue. Gifted writer that you are, you accomplished this with self-evident skill. My assertion is that the resulting piece was designed to raise questions in the minds of your audience -- to make them consider that perhaps our SBC leaders were engaged in something shady and unethical (I call this a conspiracy theory, you are welcome to call it what you like). I understand that you are asserting that this was not your intention at all. Since it isn't possible to engage in fruitful debate as to your secret intentions, I don't really see the point in continuing.

    For all I know, you have unconsciously written a conspiracy theory (or however you want to classify it) piece. I do however, reserve the right to perceive your piece as I honestly and without malice aforethought perceive it. You clearly do the same as you have perceived my description of your piece as "slightly crazy" to be intended as a serious analysis of your mental health rather than as a humorous quip intended to encourage my readers to read and interact with your article.

  6. Lastly, re:

    "Second, I'm afraid to suggest you or others wouldn't mind if your piece were treated completely unfairly is very hard to take seriously. While you may not care if I (that is, PL) would poison the well so to speak about your piece, it wouldn't be hard, if I actually knew you, to spit out a trail of names which would disturb you very much if one of them mischaracterized your piece, assigning it uncharitable traits (i.e. "slightly crazy" or wacko-nut-job)."

    1. I did not call your piece a "wacko-nut-job" piece. You did.

    2. I suppose that if my wife publicly said that I smelled bad, I would be hurt. However, I am actually pretty comfortable with criticism re: my writings. I am not a tremendously experienced writer, but do engage in a fair amount of writing on both an academic missiological and popular level. The nature and style of the criticism varies depending on the genre (blog article, journal article, book, etc) but I certainly aim never to take it personally unless it proved to be a genuine personal attack (i.e. my wife saying I smell bad). If Al Mohler, or Ghandi, or John Elway, or whomever said that I had written a silly or crazy post, I trust that the Lord would give me the grace to handle it fine and respond effectively to either defend my positions or concede them.

    I do not begrudge you the right to disbelieve this.

    Leaving it there then, I hope I'm clearer and appreciate the opportunity to clarify your misunderstandings. I look forward to further discussion on the true substance of the debate of changing the SBC's name. I won't have time to continue our chat on the topic of whether or not your piece may be properly labeled as conspiracy theory. That is what I trust the readers will be competent to ascertain for themselves.