But that is not the end of the story. Sam Currin, a former United States attorney was just released from prison after serving over three years of six year jail sentence for fraud. Coy Privette--a politician, director of missions and pastor who was known in all three positions as an outspoken moralist--was himself arrested and charged in 2007 with six counts of aiding and abetting prostitution. These were the two men that leaders of the newly conservative Southern Baptist Convention strategically assigned to bring about a change in Washington D.C. regarding Southern Baptist's representation in religious issues, morality and ethics.
I've gone back and read as many quotes I could find from Sam Currin and Coy Privette regarding the merging of the two Southern Baptist entities into the ELRC and Dr. Richard Land's election as President. Not one time did I read either of these men publicly acknowledge that they had an agenda to merge the two institutions and get their friend and like-minded idealogue Richard Land elected as President. The language was all "The Lord has directed. . ." or "We are grateful to God for His leadership . . . " or "This historic day is part of God's plan . . ." etc... One of the reasons the world has such a hard time with Christians, particularly when we Christians end up getting caught in scandals on par with Currin's and Privette's, is that we have spiritualized our language and our actions--attaching God to just about everything we do. Though we are all sinners--every single one of us--we act as if we aren't. We Southern Baptists need to stop speaking as if everything we do is God directed and be humble enough to talk about our own agendas, our own need for control and power, our own decision making, etc... Frankly, if we were brutally honest like that, it might prevent the compartmentalizing of our "spiritual" lives and our "real" lives. Constantly keeping our tendencies to say and do those things that are often selfish and sinful in front of us by being honest enough to talk about our tendencies would keep others from being so surprised--or cynical--when we fail. There's not a person one who should condemn Privette or Currin. But there's also not a person who shouldn't learn a valuable lesson from these men. The only cure from the kind of pride that leads the foot to slide in due time is an honest assessment that God is not always the reason and motive behind doing what we do.
Bottom line: I wish Christian people would simply state the plain truth and stop spiritualizing everything. How many pastors say "God has called me to another church" when it is more accurate to say "I have an opportunity to go to a bigger church that will pay me a larger salary which will possibly enhance the opportunties and influence I have in terms of my ministerial career." I, frankly, would find the latter--if ever said--refreshing.
In this vein, I was genuinely surprised and pleased when I read the following article in the October 8, 2009 edition of the Arkansas Baptist News.
In the Oct. 8 issue of the Arkansas Baptist News we reported that Chuck McAlister had resigned as pastor of the Church at Crossgate Center to devote full time to his Adventure Bound Outdoors ministry because he felt torn between two ministries that each needed to be full time. Since publishing the article, we have learned he was as one of four defendants in a breach of contract civil lawsuit against a real estate development corporation of which McAlister was a vice president. In a follow-up phone conversation with McAlister, he acknowledged that circumstances regarding the suit factored into his decision, but said he has realized for more than a year that he needed to devote full time to outdoor men’s ministries.
Good for the ABN. How refreshing is that correction?
Chuck McAlister is an International Mission Board trustee. He chaired the committee that took the IMB through their recent (2009) reorganization, a reorganization that I will comment upon sometime next year. I wish Chuck the best in his new venture and his continued service to the IMB. Chuck might not like the honesty of the Baptist newspaper, but I hope he sees that the ABN has done all us Southern Baptists a favor. We got some honesty when others were trying to attach "God" as the reason for a decision made.
It's about time we Southern Baptists agree to stop spiritualizing and simply state the truth. We may find one day God's not quite as thrilled as we think He is about us attaching His name to everything we Southern Baptists say or do.
In His Grace,