Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Assorted: GCR, BI and Captain Ahab

I realize that when I started this blog I stated that I would probably not blog often. But I sincerely expected to blog much more than I have. I feel that I have missed out on some of the important issues within SBC blogtown the last couple of months. However, life's been busy as a lot has been happening, especially related to our effort to adopt a sweet young boy that we have had in our home for the past 15 months. It has been a struggle with the length of time and expense of the legal side of it. To be precise, it has been a test of patience. God is good, and things are progressing, but at a much slower pace than what we had anticipated. We fully expected to have completed the adoption process quite some time ago. I can not share details at this time, but ask for prayer for all involved, especially for this little guy who had such a rough start in life and may have a difficult journey ahead because of it.

As stated above, I feel like I have missed much in SBC life. I have tried to regularly browse the blogs that I normally read, but I have had little time to comment. In some instances, I deeply regret not joining in the fray. So pardon me as I take a shotgun approach (or as the great sports columnist Blackie Sherrod of the Dallas Times Herald and later the Dallas Morning News would say), “scattershooting” a wide range of topics that I tried to follow to some degree, but was unable to find the time to participate. However, I will limit the number to just a few.

First: The GCR. I have yet to fully read the document. In part, I wanted to wait and see the final draft since I have not be able to engage in discussions about the changes being made to it. I have read Bart's blog on his reservations (here) and must admit that he gives me pause to want to know more.
Today, I finally got to read the editorial in the Southern Baptist Texan (here). I like what I saw there. Since, I am woefully uninformed on this document, I will leave it at that for the moment. But I wholeheartedly agree that we need a GCR. We need to obey the entirety of Christ's command to go and make disciples and immerse those disciples teaching them to observe all things Christ commanded. I hope that we see a renewed commitment to ALL of the Great Commission of Christ.

I deeply regret not joining in two particular conversations. The first was Dr. Bart Barber's report of what IMB personnel openly reported to Trustee's about Lottie Moon funds being held in escrow (see here and here for more details). The second is related, in that Peter Lumpkins was attacked for what he wrote about it (see all here, here, and here). More on that later. At the outset, I want to apologize to both men for not coming to their public defense. Not that either ever need me to defend them, as both are imminently more astute and scholarly than I will ever be. But since I believe both were inappropriately attacked by some drive by comments, I should not have left them there without taking a stand with them. I believe the lengthy record of integrity in the blogging of both men stand above any who were casting aspersions and acerbic attacks. One of the problems that Bart especially faced, was being unplugged where he had no access to the outside world to come back to explain his post and make a needed correction. His intentions, integrity, honesty and everything else in his character were called into question, especially by those seeking to get a “leg up” on the issues within the SBC. I must point out that several who have disagreed with Bart in the past, did give him the benefit of the doubt, but some were especially cruel beyond any respect. As is usually the case from some of these types of unprincipled diatribes, they attack the character of the person with whom they disagree, because that is the only way they can win an argument.

Now let us turn our attention to the personal attacks that Wade Burleson has repeatedly launched against Peter Lumpkins. It is interesting to say the least. Despite Wade's incessant protestations, he does not stand by everything he writes. And yes Virginia, Wade has on multiple occasions changed his posts (thus altering facts and/or important facets of his post) without notifying readers of said changes, as has been observed by many others elsewhere. Thus one can safely conclude he does not really stand by what he writes. For example a recent post tried to marry comments by Wiley Drake to Peter and thus to Baptist Identity. This is his modis operandi: attach something unseemly to those he opposes so as to discredit them. The last time I checked my BI membership Rules, Creeds, and Doctrines, “imprecatory prayers” were not on our list of doctrines that we must adhere to. Yet, Wade had a link in his original post to Peter's blog in an attempt to bind the two (and thus join BI) to these comments in some sort of “unholy matrimony”. I noticed that some called Wade out for his lack of integrity for doing so. Since the original post was published he has removed the link to Peter's blog. But if you did not read it when it was first published, you would be unaware of the clear personal attack on Peter, which at the time of this writing, no public apology has been proffered. Prior to this as linked to in the paragraph above, Wade published untruths on Baptist Life that Peter clearly refuted. I will not rehash the episode, you can read the links above on Peter's site.

Before anyone accuses me of what I accuse Burleson of: personal vitriolic ad hominem attacks, let me state clearly that I hold no personal animosity towards him. I loathe having to point out these things. But, it is necessary to not concede these attacks. It must be pointed out that his issues are not really issues, but misdirection and character assassination in the hope to destroy confidence or support of those with whom he disagrees. It is an effective tactic (ask Barry Goldwater about Lyndon Johnson's 1964 Daisy Girl Ad). I truly wish Wade would actually engage in the great issues of our Convention without always having to build his arguments first upon the ash heap of personal denigration. However, it is he that has his arms buried up to his shoulder blades in mud that he continually slings at anyone with whom he disagrees. Calling him out for his repeated character assassinations is not a personal attack. It is merely stating clearly observable behavior. It is he that has called the movement which he leads irenic but it has been anything but. As I have also stated elsewhere, the blog world is "littered with the bodies" of those who have been on the receiving end of his movement's acerbic ad hominem attacks. It is he that has been caught repeatedly embellishing facts or apparently withholding pertinent information to enhance his attempt to get his readers to reach a conclusion that he wishes to bring them to. For example, witnesses to “facts” he claims in his book, do not recall events happening as he stated them. These are witnesses that he cites to corroborate his tale that were at these events and witnesses named as participants whom he attacked. It is illuminating that their combined recollections are a striking contrast to that of Burleson's who clearly writes with what seems intentional obfuscation. One must logically assume that A) he remembered these events incorrectly; B) embellished said events; or C) was completely untruthful about said events. I will leave you to draw your own conclusion as to which, though none are flattering to Burleson or his credibility.

For me personally, much of Burleson's writings remind me of an episode of M*A*S*H (“The Novocaine Mutiny”) where Major Frank Burns has filed charges against Hawkeye for mutiny. During Burns' testimony, his recollection of the events that led up to the breakdown of command were, shall we say, a greatly embellished fantasy. Hawkeye is then asked to take the stand and testify. Hawkeye states: “The Major’s version of what happened was to say the least fascinating. It was to say the most perjury! No, to be fair I have no doubt that he remembers it that way. More’s the pity. And there was some truth to the story. It was October 11 and we were in Korea. Other than that…”. (emphasis mine). Hawkeye's statement sums up the conclusion that Burleson has led me to draw about himself. More's the pity!

I think that I may be guilty of being the first to label the personal attacks of Cole/Burleson as a remarkable resemblance to Captain Ahab's hunt for Moby Dick. It is the most compelling illustration that one could ascribe to this movement. However, it seems to me that Peter has now become the white whale that Burleson is chasing 'round the world. Why? Think on that for just a few minutes. Take your time. Actually, sit back, relax and take a nice long sip of a non-intoxicating drink and ask yourself this question: Why is Wade so juiced about Peter Lumpkins?


Ron P.


peter lumpkins said...


My brother, thank you for this post. Know I feel you owe to me no apology; and, I would fully assume, Bart feels likewise.

I think you are correct about the obsession existing with denigration at Enid. I've pretty much washed my hands of it. When one resorts to dishonesty to get a point in rather than acceptable canons of persuasion, there really is no point in attempting to engage.

Grace, my brother. And, know I wish God's best as He guides in your adoption.

With that, I am...

Ron Phillips, Sr. said...

Thanks Peter. You are most kind.

The issue for me, and one I have debated and prayed often about, is when and where should we draw the line in not responding to ad hominem attacks that are orchestrated in an obvious attempt at discredit and detract from the issues? It is a dilemma that if we respond, it can give more oxygen to a smoldering fire that otherwise would burn out from any lack of credibility. On the other hand, if we do not respond, some may take such invective as truthful thus having a "Daisy Girl" effect. Neither situation is very palatable.


Ron P.