The list of casualties from the Fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention — now 30 years in the making — is long and growing. Yet many good church people continue to ignore this reality.
Jerry Rankin’s announcement that he is retiring next year from the SBC International Mission Board could be seen by the uninformed as just another “think I’d like to play a little more golf” decision. But Rankin has been harassed steadily by his trustee leadership in recent years — and pushed to keep narrowing the already-narrow doctrinal restrictions on SBC missionaries.
The other SBC mission agency (North American Mission Board) has gone through two failed presidencies in recent years — one a egomaniac throwing around millions of mission dollars like a rock star and the second a short-term leader tagged as incompetent and/or uncooperative by those who ushered him into office.
The top leadership vacancies at the two SBC mission boards will have the boys who run the denominational show now wrestling to (1) perhaps combine the two boards and (2) get a person(s) into the top post(s) who reflect their side’s political bent. That’s a battle between the Fundamentalists and the even-more Fundamentalists.
The mission leaders being ushered off the scene in SBC life today are not the so-called “liberals” (a most ridiculous claim against former overseas mission leader Keith Parks who gave up catching darts from the takeover trustees in 1992) but those who were put in place by the takeover victors insisting their orthodoxy would bring peace and mission success.
These second- or third-wave leaders were/are so-called “inerrantists” with unwavering loyalty to the so-called “conservative resurgence” — after the cleansing. They were to be the answer to the “problem” of leaders like Parks.
Instead, the ever-narrowing, suspicious, fear-based nature of Fundamentalism has played out as it always does: turning inward to find enemies. Now missionaries — except those forced off the mission fields by this ongoing nonsense through the years — must be wondering what hoop they will have to jump through next.
A friend once said to me reflectively: “Southern Baptists got what they asked for — and probably what they deserved.” Sad, but true.