Southern Religion

Woes of the SBC Pharisees

Enid, Ok., pastor Wade Burleson is conducting more than a personal homiletic exercise when he flogs the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) through Matthew 23. His whip of the “Woes of the Pharisees” does burn, and rankles some SBCers.

Burleson cuts immediately to the bone with his (2) “pastors and self-proclaimed leaders of the SBC have seated themselves in positions of authority” who even demand (6) “that they be called “Dr.” by those who know them.”

No, prez Johnny Hunt isn’t the only SBCer with with a fake Phd. on his resume. Nor does Burleson gloss his excoriation with footnotes. Whether he has Hunt in mind is from the text unknowable.

Likewise, readers may find any number of SBC controversies among Burleson’s other broad hints.

Or choose to read his short-form allegorical satire – not quite Dante’s Divine Comedy – as straightforward experimental sermon.

It’s surely a stretch (unless perhaps you’re from Missouri, Georgia, New Mexico, Washington, Oregon and northern Idaho, and others on a growing list) to read (23) & (24) as somehow in part commentaries on the Great Commission Resurgence Task force recommendations. He writes:

(23) Woe to you, SBC pastors and self-proclaimed SBC leaders, hypocrites! For you emphasize giving, giving, and giving, but you neglect the weightier things: justice and mercy and faithfulness. Don’t neglect these things while you seek the dollar! (24) In your blind greed you are straining gnats and swallowing camels.

Whereas it is hard not to read (29) through (33) as criticisms of what David Flick in a different context usefully calls the “conservative insurgence.” Burleson writes:

(29) Woe to you, SBC pastors and self-proclaimed SBC leaders, hypocrites! For you exalt other pastors and you build monuments to their legacy, (30) saying, ‘If we had lived in the liberal days of our forefathers, we would have helped them them in turning around our convention.’ (31) Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered your brothers. (32) Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. (33) You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to judgment yourselves?

Tim Dahl found it useful to ignore SBC political implications and read himself into the text. As did this writer.

If Burleson’s whip stings, is it because your back needs it?


April 2, 2010 - Posted by | SBC | , , ,

1 Comment

  1. It’s time. Take down the SBC shingle and re-organise under the Gospel- Only the Gospel. Let the BFM be a contract to be agreed upon to belong. Let the others pay themselves. Be in the business of selling the Bible, and only the Bible and get out of the retail business (Lifeway) and out of the printing business. Heads of seminaries can walk if they don’t agree. Churchs over a certain size must have a pastor with legitimate credentials (so he has a chance of knowing the Bible says not to add or take away from scripture). Intellectuals have left many churchs leaving the screwballs, the mentally ill, in charge and preaching whatever comes out of the persons mouth that is preaching that day that “doesn’t charge anything”. People want to be with a winner. The Bible is the winner and the “goofy gospels” and the people that teach them can go their own way. All we need is a leader. And it doesn’t have to be finished by May. Fred Luter is fine for me if he would do it and he could start us down the correct track of uniting all such Baptists leaving the autonomous jerks to their own demise! It only takes a good heart and great backbone. I don’t have either, thank you.

    Comment by jack | April 2, 2010

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