(RNS) — Throughout deliberations final week on how the Southern Baptist Conference’s Govt 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 many examples of prayerful fasting for a trigger, however Floyd, the creator of a 2010 book 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 individuals 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 giant 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.”
As a substitute of strong-arming the Judeans into repentance, Ezra fasted, prayed and waited for the individuals to reply. His tack produced almost unanimous repentance.
Floyd’s prayer and fasting, alternatively, 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 process power to supervise an impartial third-party investigation into the SBC Govt Committee’s file on coping with sexual abuse within the denomination’s church buildings. The movement, in opposition to the needs of the Govt Committee members on stage, was clearly a rebuke to the committee’s repeated makes an attempt to subvert the church buildings’ efforts to handle 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.
SBC politics and polity get complicated rapidly, 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 by the messengers chosen to symbolize the church buildings on the annual assembly. The group of 86 individuals on the Govt Committee, elected by the messengers to behave for them between annual conferences, “is subject to the review of the Convention.”
This reality goes in opposition to the false claims by Govt Committee member Joe Knott that the messengers “do not have the power to tell us to do anything.” The Govt Committee is topic to the messengers — it should do what the messengers direct it to do. It’s that straightforward.
Nonetheless, the Govt Committee has now voted twice on a movement to waive attorney-client privilege, and twice the committee voted in opposition to doing so. Somewhat than facilitate the individuals’s want to do what is true, Floyd and different Govt Committee members have defied the desire of the messengers of the Southern Baptist Conference and are combating tooth and nail to make sure that, within the phrases of the Gospel of John, “(evil) deeds is probably not uncovered.”
A growing minority of Govt Committee members are arguing for Floyd and others on the committee to do what is true, together with Govt Committee chair and California pastor Rolland Slade and the distinguished Tallahassee, Florida, pastor Dean Inserra.
That minority voice represents the categorical 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 a long time of sexual abuse and coverup of that abuse throughout the Southern Baptist Conference.