More has been stolen from survivors by the SBC than I gave to the SBC as a pastor. I spent a decade in the SBC. I studied in its seminaries, joined its church plant pipeline, and served in its churches. Some have been traumatized for nearly their entire lives.
I cannot, will not, forget the names of faithful people in those spaces. Jesus said the weeds grow along with the crop, till the end. And I can recognize that imagery only as I look back on that decade.
We’re not hijacking for ourselves God’s right to judge when advocates or survivors bear witness to ideas that harms people and the name of Christ, in the name of Christ. “Leave room for God’s vengance” and “speak the truth in love” work together.
The culture that surrounds the SBC cooperation towards missions is plagued by rot. All SBC churches cooperate financially to send missionaries. This can be good, but not with the culture. It is a theological facade, that has left lives wrecked behind it.
When Jesus said you cannot serve God and mammon, he explicitly marked the impossibility of treating mammon as a necessity to accomplish the mission of God.
But that’s just what has happened. A culture has developed, it invokes the name of God and his mission, but it serves mammon. It treats the missions “sending capacity” of Southern Baptists as an economic enterprise that cannot, will not be, threatened by anything that might slow the speed of production.
Of course, making this machine run calls for leadership. And for some, the power of mammon is better than mammon itself.
And so lives, real lives, have been sacrificed—warped by trauma—in service of this warped belief that without mammon we can do nothing of consequence for God’s kingdom.
How else might we explain decades of abuse cover ups? How else can we account for executive Southern Baptists calling survivors “distractions” and “satanic schemes” meant to hijack evangelistic efforts?
If “defending the gospel” or “doing the work of the gospel” demands a culture that betrays the gospel, and covers up abuse, then it is no gospel of Jesus Christ.
And those who would have you believe otherwise are lying. Those who would disassociate the actions of individuals away from the culture that shaped & normalized them cannot possibly be concerned with caring for the broken. Those who would address this crisis by minimization, distraction, or rebranding can’t be trusted to bind the wounds.
I believe in resurrection. What was stolen, what was given in vain, I believe there will be restoration and redemption on God’s terms and time. Like the prophet Joel said. “You restore the years the locust has taken”
And while this may not sound hopeful right now, I think the path to hope demands honesty. And if we do not have room or time for honesty, we cannot be hopeful as Christians.