(RNS) — During deliberations final week on how the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee would deal with an investigation into its (mis)dealing with of sexual abuse, the committee’s president and CEO, Ronnie Floyd, invoked prayer and fasting in his arsenal of weapons to argue in opposition to a totally clear inquiry.
There are loads of examples of prayerful fasting for a trigger, however Floyd, the writer of a 2010 guide on the ability of prayer and fasting, would most likely acknowledge the parallel to a second some 2,500 years in the past, when the Jewish scribe Ezra prayed and fasted to persuade the Jewish folks to save lots of themselves at a time when their sinful conduct was threatening their very existence.
In 538 B.C., the Persian king Artaxerxes despatched Ezra to make sure that the conquered Judeans adopted the regulation of God, empowering him with a really massive stick: Ezra may order the execution, banishment, imprisonment or confiscation of possessions of anybody who refused to “obey the regulation of your God and the regulation of the king.”
Instead of strong-arming the Judeans into repentance, Ezra fasted, prayed and waited for the folks to reply. His tack produced almost unanimous repentance.
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Floyd’s prayer and fasting, however, has satisfied him to do the other and stop the Southern Baptists from repenting, regardless of their religious want to take action.
In June, the delegates on the SBC annual assembly voted overwhelmingly to nominate a job drive to supervise an impartial third-party investigation into the SBC Executive Committee’s report on coping with sexual abuse within the denomination’s church buildings. The movement, in opposition to the desires of the Executive Committee members on stage, was clearly a rebuke to the committee’s repeated makes an attempt to subvert the church buildings’ efforts to deal with the sexual abuse disaster publicized by the Houston Chronicle in early 2019.
The messengers’ mandate particularly included the situation that the committee members waive attorney-client privilege.
Southern Baptist Convention messengers attend the annual assembly, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, on the Music City Center in Nashville. RNS picture by Kit Doyle
SBC politics and polity get complicated shortly, however the important thing level within the present debate is that the SBC is a bottom-up group. All the ability rests with the church buildings of the conference, whose will is expressed via the messengers chosen to symbolize the church buildings on the annual assembly. The group of 86 folks on the Executive Committee, elected by the messengers to behave for them between annual conferences, “is topic to the assessment of the Convention.”
This reality goes in opposition to the false claims by Executive Committee member Joe Knott that the messengers “shouldn’t have the ability to inform us to do something.” The Executive Committee is topic to the messengers — it should do what the messengers direct it to do. It’s that easy.
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Nonetheless, the Executive Committee has now voted twice on a movement to waive attorney-client privilege, and twice the committee voted in opposition to doing so. Rather than facilitate the folks’s need to do what is correct, Floyd and different Executive Committee members have defied the need of the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention and are combating tooth and nail to make sure that, within the phrases of the Gospel of John, “(evil) deeds will not be uncovered.”
A rising minority of Executive Committee members are arguing for Floyd and others on the committee to do what is correct, together with Executive Committee chair and California pastor Rolland Slade and the outstanding Tallahassee, Florida, pastor Dean Inserra.
That minority voice represents the specific will of the church buildings, and I hope and pray that their voice will win out. I hope and pray that, like Ezra 2.5 millennia in the past, they’ll facilitate the motion that should accompany our repentance for the many years of sexual abuse and coverup of that abuse inside the Southern Baptist Convention.
(Russell L. Meek (PhD, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a author, editor and lecturer in Old Testament and Hebrew at Ohio Theological Institute. You can comply with him on Twitter at @russ_meek. The views expressed on this commentary don’t essentially symbolize these of Religion News Service.)