Beyond the blessings of a marriage now forty years long it has been difficult to identify much to be thankful for this year. It has been a long and trying year. One that has stripped away more delusions about moderate Baptists than I care to count. I list them in the order in which the delusions became apparent to me.
I thought Cooperative Baptist leaders really believed in a servant-leadership model of ministry. This year I discovered that many of their practices cannot be distinguished from the most autocratic actions of corporate CEO's.
I thought Cooperative Baptist leaders really supported women in ministry. This year I discovered that that support does not apply to young women with young children.
I thought Cooperative Baptist leaders really believed that every believer is a priest and that all have equal worth in the eyes of God. This year I discovered that the testimony of one hired leader counts more than the testimony of an entire slate of volunteer lay leaders and ministers.
I thought that Cooperative Baptist leaders had the integrity to conduct conscientious investigations into the truth. This year I discovered that, when the integrity of a close friend is questioned, they rise quickly to his defense and deliberately devise processes to obstruct thorough investigations and obscure the truth.
I thought Cooperative Baptist leaders really believed in the autonomy of the local church. They affirm it as one of their four fragile freedoms and give it a lot of lip service, but their actions betray their words. This year I discovered how suspicious they are of entrepreneurial ministers who form partnerships with moderate Baptist mission efforts that are not under their umbrella. In practice, they value exclusive loyalty to their mission program more than local church autonomy.
Many will say that I am unfairly painting all CBF leaders with a broad brush. It is true that CBF has many leaders who serve with integrity and none of the above applies to them. None of them, however, appear to have much influence in Oklahoma.
Under these circumstances, I am truly grateful this year to learn, however belatedly, that I need to devote my time and energy to pursuits that are more productive.