"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Al Mohler Publicly and Verbally Spanks Peter Lumpkins at the 2011 SBC in Phoenix, Arizona

Very few people know that former Southern Baptist Convention pastor Peter Lumpkins has taken to his blog to attempt to personally denigrate and shame a fellow Southern Baptist pastor named Jonathan Merritt for being "soft on homosexuality." Now they do. Peter Lumpkins attempted to humiliate Jonathan Merritt and Al Mohler on this very issue at the 2011 Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. Merritt, son of former SBC President James Merritt, has written that Southern Baptists could do more to minister to homosexuals rather than simply condemning them. Peter Lumpkins has taken exception to Merritt's statements. What has particular drawn Lumpkins' ire is an article that Jonathan Merritt wrote where he interviewed  Southern Seminary President Al Mohler.

In that interview Jonathan Merritt quoted Al Mohler as saying to him, "We've (Southern Baptists) lied about the nature of homosexuality and have practiced what can only be described as homophobia... We've used the choice language when it is clear that sexual orientation is a deep inner struggle and not merely a matter of choice."

After Al Mohler made his Southern Seminary report at the SBC in Phoenix, Peter Lumpkins grabbed a microphone and publicly addressed the Southern Baptist Convention at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time to try to trap Southern Seminary President Al Mohler and embarrass Jonathan Merritt. Lumpkins went into a five minute tiff over Al Mohler's "alleged" quotes (see above).

Mr. Lumpkins said to Mohler, "I am interested if in fact these words were spoken by you in the interview. If so, how have Southern Baptists lied? How have we practiced homophobia? If not, has Jonathan Merritt lied?"  Does anybody else find it strange that Peter has the answers to these questions, given to him privately by Jonathan Merrit himself, but Peter insists on making the issue "public?" The only reason Peter would try to trap Mohler and shame Merritt is because he doesn't like what Merritt and Mohler have said about ministry to homosexuals, and in Peter's narrow framework, "if you don't think like I do, you are not legitimate Southern Baptist!"

The President of the SBC interrupted Lumpkins as he was speaking and told him that he had spent all his alloted time to speak. The President then called upon Al Mohler to respond.

Mohler left no room for any misunderstanding. "I made those statements. They are not alleged statements. I made them. "

He went on to say, "When I was asked that question, I believe then and now, that we are to speak the truth about homosexuality, but we are also called to minister to even militant groups of homosexuals. The reality is that we as Christian churches have not done well on this issue. If we do not admit that it is to our shame."

Mohler went on to explain how Southern Baptists have been homophobic. His words were riveting, his passion was clearly for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the mission of seeing homosexuals converted, and when he was through the convention gave loud applause.

He verbally spanked Peter Lumpkins for his question. And well he should.

Peter Lumpkins and his ilk (Fundamentalists with a capital F) take pride in attempting to publicly humiliate men like Al Mohler and Jonathan Merritt because of theological or philosophical differences. It is because of the critical and harsh spirits legalists possess, demonstrated today at the Southern Baptist Convention, that young pastors flock from the SBC instead of toward the SBC.

The best thing that can be said of the 2011 Southern Baptist Convention is that at least one legalistic, shame-filled attack by Fundamentalists who are killing any future growth of the SBC was emphatically put down by an erudite theologian with a round of applause from convention messengers.

May it continue to happen.

Hang in there Jonathan Merritt. Southern Baptists need pastors like you. Critics may be loud, persistent, and sometimes irritating, but thankfully, they represent a minority view in the SBC. Were they to ever be a majority, I would join you in leaving.