Two things have deeply disappointed me today in the reaction to the Lifeway report. First, an employee of Southwestern Seminary, Dr. Malcolm Yarnell, has come out with an article criticizing Lifeway's research. I am not bothered by Dr. Yarnell's article of criticism, but rather I am stunned at the hypocrisy of SWBTS publicly and officially censuring trustee Dwight McKissic for allegedly criticizing the International Mission Board, while standing by silently as Dr. Yarnell criticizes Lifeway. If you are going to publicly state that no 'employee or trustee of Southwestern is going to criticize a sister SBC agency,' as President Patterson stated when censuring Dwight, then he better be true to his word and censure Malcolm
Or . ..
I personally believe that both Dwight and Malcolm should be free to speak their minds -- as Baptists have historically been able to do -- and I would do all I could to protect their rights to criticize Lifeway and/or the IMB. Only tyrants and dictators stifle dissent (check out Venezuala), but real Baptists champion free and full dissent.
Therefore, Dwight McKissic is owed an apology. The reason we need the Holy Spirit in our convention is only the Spirit will enable God's people to be humble and apologize when a wrong has been perpetrated.
Second, we need the Holy Spirit to transform the hearts of us as pastors. Pastor Jeremy Green of First Baptist Church, Joshua, Texas wrote this comment on Bart Barber's blog about Lifeway's professional researcher, Dr. Ed Stetzer . . .
" . . .it certainly appears that Ed Stetzer is too busy speaking at conferences where the attendees are beer drinking, tongue speaking, potty mouth church planters to properly conduct research"
I cannot believe that those types of things could be written by a Southern Baptist minister of the gospel about one of his fellow Southern Baptists, especially an employee of our convention. Dr. Stetzer is fulfilling both his duty and his calling with Lifeway. Just because a young, inexperienced pastor like Jeremy learns that what he has championed on his blog for the past year cannot be supported by official research, that does not give him either the right or the excuse to personally attack the researcher. Unless and until the Holy Spirit gets a hold of our hearts as pastors in the SBC we are in trouble.
In His Grace,