20 Years, 700 Victims in SBC Churches

There are 4 Comments

Aaron Blumer's picture

For what it's worth...  It seems to me that the main barrier to fixing "culture of..." problems in entities like independent churches is that these are really separate organizations only loosely connected in an association. The press and the public (and many not-well-informed Christians) don't seem to grasp that.

There are things an association like SBC can do, but their ability to institute changes in churches is--by design--very limited. Much of the rhetoric is not encouraging realistic expectations, due to not understanding that.

That said, if we're talking about a "culture of..." and "systemic..." there would not really be an authority-driven, coercive solution anyway. Cultures are built on beliefs and in networks like SBC (or the even less interconnected IFB churches) beliefs are very slowly influenced by the educational/training institutions where pastors are prepared for ministry.

What I'd personally like to see is some kind of coalition of educational institutions, focused on the issues of pastoral authority and accountability and ethics. They could unify around a set of principles and a remedial educational agenda.

I'm also convinced that part of the solution is educational ministry directly to congregational leaders. What I mean by this is some kind of well funded, well designed, seminar for church "lay leaders" that would try to get into as many churches as possible and teach lay leaders how to think biblically about what a pastor is and is not and what they should and should not let him do, along with other practical things like what kinds of qualities to look for in pastoral staff and how to structure constitution/bylaws/procedures to help keep things ethical at the top.

These churches are not going to give up autonomy, and they shouldn't (and the RCC is proof that this is really not "the solution"). So an educational solution -- a belief-based solution, if you prefer -- is the only way to achieve some progress with these kinds of problems. And it needs to be two-pronged: colleges/seminaries and in-church congregational teaching.

Joeb's picture

Aaron I agree with most of your positions but if the SBC can disconnect from a church for confirming and hiring a practicing gay Pastor why not a Convicted Sexual Predator Pastor.  There is no excuse and the lacking the authority or you don’t understand the organization argument does not hold water period.  The point is they don’t want to and that sends a clear signal to the outside world that a Sexual Predator can be reformed and is less of sin then being GAY.  

I don’t know of any states publicly publishing lists of people for being GAY do you.  Why? The GAYS are not dangerous to children.  

Plus if the Pastor assaulted children in his church it’s directly job related.  No Personnel Manager in a private Corporation would ever hire a person with directly job related violation in their background to do the same job again. 

Bert Perry's picture

As Joe notes, the boundary for congregational polity in the SBC is a set of doctrines that are considered essential to fellowship--fundamentals on their part as it were.  Given that there have been a couple of bombshell reports of huge problems in the SBC, one step I'd encourage the body to make as a whole is to say that certain best practices are essential to maintain fellowship in the SBC.  

If they don't, they're going to learn the hard way that congregational polity is not an insuperable barrier to civil lawsuits of the SBC itself.  They discipline on human sexuality in other areas; why not this one?  You'll see the same thing in restaurant franchises, really.   And I'd encourage the same thing in the GARBC and other Baptist(ic) associations.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joeb's picture

Aaron I stand to be corrected.  My brother said the authority to disassociate with  a church of lies at the State Level not the National Level.  So when the National Leadership says they don’t have the authority that’s a true statement.  My brother commented that the National Leadership can do more and they welcome the article as a place to move on and do better.  My brother said the SBC has 47000 congregations and at any time a church can still be using the SBC name but not officially be a member.  My brother stated that the churches in the SBC tied closer to the seminaries then the state boards are much better grounded.  My brother is now involved with an SBC church plant which I attended about a month ago and this plant prospering and growing.   

Bert has a good point about the actions that can be taken . I mentioned the GARBC to my brother.  My Brother said that the GARBC is a much smaller organization and by size alone should have much more of an  impact on their churches in the association.