Thursday, June 17, 2010

SBC in Orlando 2010: Kadesh or Kibosh?

I’m daring to venture into an arena that I do not approach lightly. For various reasons do I approach this arena at times and I do so with great respect not only for the venue but for those who I bring with me into this setting. Never-the-less, I remain undaunted at the task that is before me and endeavor to be fair and forthright.

SBC President Johnny Hunt addressed the Convention on Tuesday with a message from Numbers 13-14 and Joshua 14. He entitled his message, “The Southern Baptist Convention at its Kadesh Barnea”. His great appeal was to persuade the Convention to approve the GCTFR that was to be presented and he used the aforementioned texts to drive home his point. However, though his use of the Numbers passage has a ring of authenticity, is his use of the text authentic to the Text?

Hunt painted the picture that those who would vote against the GCTFR were like the 10 spies who brought back the negative report in contrast to those who would vote for the GCTFR being like Joshua and Caleb. Is his picture, is his analogy true to the text of the Scripture that he based it upon? Let’s look at the text.

In Numbers 13-14, 12 spies were sent into the land and were to bring back a report with authenticating evidence, fruit, from the land. If there is any correlation between this passage and the GCTFR report, it would look something more like what I will propose thus insisting that our use of a text demands that we be true to the text and not use it for a proof text to bolster our opinions. The 12 spies would be likened to the GCTF and to them only. The 12 spies were sent to search out and the GCTF was commissioned to research and report of their excursion into “the promised land” (Great Commission Resurgence). THUS, if all the members of the GCTF approved of the report to the Convention, Hunt’s use of this analogy in the way that he does comes not from the Text but from Hunt’s desire to persuade the Convention to approve the report. The Convention would be likened to the crowd who would receive the report of the committee, NOT the 10 unbelieving spies. But allow me to press the analogy further. Was some of the Convention really UNBELIEVING or were they as of yet UNCONVINCED because of the lack of fruit to demonstrate that the spies “committee” had been where they say they had been. Truthfully, the fruit was not produced but rather sealed away in a freezer for 15 years time after which the fruit will no longer be fresh and the moment will have passed away. Instead, the Convention was asked to believe the report of the GCTF without the substantiating documentation, fruit. The GCTF sought to keep those records private and the majority of the convention voted to do so but what this did for many was eliminate the verifying fruit that the Committee had gone where it was supposed to have gone.

The way the sermon was presented turns the Text into a piece of clay that is molded to fit the hands of the potter. Rather, I was taught in Seminary that the Text is the potter and it is supposed to mold my hands, the clay.
I do not believe this Text was used properly either within its context or the use by which it was designed to persuade the Convention. This does not mean that I believe the GCTFR lacked validity but rather that the chief speech, Hunt’s presidential address, that was used to bully, as the lady said, some into voting for it was just that, a big stick meant to provoke. Well it has provoked me enough into saying that even if I thought the Committee was going in the right direction, the method used to accomplish that direction would make me want to vote against it altogether.
I conclude that his use of the Text was not authentic to the Text. The GCTFR may indeed end up being the SBC’s Kadesh. Why? Because the MAJORITY in the Text ruled the day just as the majority ruled in Orlando.


Byron said...

Good analysis, not that I know anything about SBC politics.

Luke said...


Long time no speak. Good to hear from you.

While the sermon does incorporate the SBC politics, my goal was not so much to go after the politics but after a poor use of the Biblical Text for a personal gain. It's not that I do not think preachers, including myself, are not going to make mistakes though they should be few and far between. But at an event as this, surrounded by pastors of all ages, I would expect that someone other than me would have picked up on the abuses to the Text that was used.

If one is going to use the Word to beat someone up, they need to at least make sure that the passage they use supports the truth they purport to bring. In this case, to me, the exegesis of this Text into application was a classic fail and should be used in all Seminaries to teach against such abuses of the Biblical Text.

Thanks for leaving a footprint.

selahV said...

Hi Luke, wow! Someone ought to send this to Johnny Hunt and see what he has to say. It would be interesting to have his rebuttal for his use.

Seems like more than a few felt pretty much the same way about his message. I didn't hear it or view it, so I wouldn't know other than from what some are saying.

I guess I would have to have sat on the sidelines with this one and waited for someone to bring me some fruit. Afraid I don't see what others seem to be seeing with this report. But I'm only a little old lady from Oklahoma. :) selahV

Byron said...

Hey Luke, one thing I do like about you: you tell the truth as you see it, and you do not simply rubber stamp what leaders say. I am sure Johnny Hunt is a good guy, even though I do not know him, but I would have to choose your exegesis over his. But for the larger matter of the SBC politics, I am not knowledgeable enough to have an opinion. It is enough for me to know that people who care about this deeply are praying and seeking the Lord's will. May He give wisdom and grace as He sees fit.

Luke said...

Mrs. V,

Feel more than free to send this to Brother Hunt.:)(I almost dare you.) I would really like to see him exegetically defend his use though I'm sure that emotion drove much of what was said in that sermon. I understand that he whole heartedly believes in the GCTFR and I would hope so if it was being delivered but I'm not so sure that he would have received a good mark on that sermon from my OT professor when I was in NOBTS. I too feel as if I did not have enough info to make an intelligent decision and when I am in that state of mind, I usually stay the course until I am better informed that is unless God is directly telling me to either do or not do something.

Little old lady...pffsss...since when have we let a little wisdom stop us from doing anything?;)

Luke said...


If you only knew me. I seldom go the way of the crowd just to avoid being where the crowd is. And I certainly don't like it when somebody is telling me the sky is falling when I know most certainly that it is not. Be that as it may, I agree with you about the sincerity of Brother Hunt but sincerity does not make up for a lack of faithfulness to the Text. I trust that if I am ever seen rubber stamping at the expense of the truth of God's Word that someone will thump me.

I really do not like politics as we see it play out in the public arena and I like it even less when it occurs in the "religious" arena. I agree with your prayer that God would grant us wisdom and that the drive of the SBC would continue to be to reach the world through as many venues as is acceptable to God with the Word of God.

Blessings towards SE Texas.

Byron said...

Luke, Johnny Hunt's use of Scripture reminds me of something else I don't like. I heard Texas A&M people using a Scripture about sawing off the horns of the wicked and applying it to UT. I'm not a big sports fan, but I'm for UT over Texas A&M (and a sports heretic to some). To me this is seriously at the very least a misapplication of Scripture, and perhaps even a lower view of Scripture than is warranted. Scripture is always true, but context is very important. Taking Scripture out of or beyond its intended context seems to me to be twisting Scripture. I may be wrong in many theological areas, but I am not wrong about Scripture being inerrant and that it should be handled correctly. Do you believe as well that the Texas A&M usage of Scripture by some is a low view of Scripture? At least lower than orthodox? (And I'm biased as a UT fan, but even if I wasn't, to me this is more important than sports).

Luke said...


I'm not much of a fan for twisting Scripture for any reason. I am not saying I do not make a joke or two now and then but for the most part, I even try to avoid coming across as any kind of serious should I do that. This does not mean I do not find humor in the Scripture, but I think we really need to be careful in how we use it though I am quite sure that I have failed/will fail though it is not the intent of my heart to twist Holy Scripture.



PS: And in the context with Hunt, I take it even MORE serious because the event was a serious setting, the topic was a serious topic and jesting in any form was not present, no sarcasm alerts or tongue in cheek notices.