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Can the Southern Baptist Conference be saved?

(RNS) — Fred Rogers, the TV kids’s present host, was well-known for saying, “Search for the helpers.” 

“After I was a boy,” he as soon as defined, “and I’d see scary issues within the information, my mom would say to me, ‘Search for the helpers. You’ll all the time discover people who find themselves serving to.’”

I’ve been eager about Mister Rogers’ phrases within the context of some notably scary issues within the information these days — particularly, the Southern Baptist Conference’s latest launch of the report of its sexual abuse activity pressure, adopted by the conference’s annual assembly the place the report’s suggestions had been voted on and accepted.

In his deal with to the SBC assembly earlier than the vote, Bruce Frank, a Southern Baptist pastor and chairman of the duty pressure, supplied stirring, convicting phrases to the hundreds assembled.

The 300-page report detailing failure after failure to behave is each “heartbreaking and horrifying,” Frank mentioned. However, he continued, “The query earlier than us at present is — is it humbling?”

Bruce Frank discusses the sexual abuse activity pressure’s work in the course of the Southern Baptist Conference annual assembly, Tuesday, June 14, 2022, in Anaheim, California. Picture by Justin L. Stewart/Faith Information Service

Are we humbled? That is precisely the best query for the Southern Baptist Conference on this second.

It’s the proper query for all highly effective establishments and folks on this second and all the time.

Quoting the New Testomony’s Letter of James, Frank supplied the meeting this problem: “’Humble yourselves earlier than the Lord.’ Not pray for humility, however do it. The sample within the Bible is both we humble ourselves or God will humble us, by placing us in a humiliating circumstance.”

The intercourse abuse report has certainly been a humbling circumstance for the Southern Baptist Conference. In fact, the best devastation has been borne by those that have endured the abuse, and understanding this, the messengers overwhelmingly accepted the suggestions.

It was a momentous resolution. But it was a call years overdue and one which represents only one step in an extended journey the denomination faces in higher dealing with sexual abuse circumstances in its midst.

The SBC is just not the one place, nor the one denomination, dealing with the #MeToo #ChurchToo downside, after all. But, the SBC performs an outsized function throughout the bigger tradition due to its current as the most important Protestant denomination in America and its previous as a denomination based on the protection of the evil establishment of human slavery.

The Sexual Abuse Task Force holds a press conference during the Southern Baptist Convention, held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Photo by Justin L. Stewart/Religion News Service

The Southern Baptist Conference’s sexual abuse activity pressure holds a press convention in the course of the SBC’s annual assembly in Anaheim, California, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Picture by Justin L. Stewart/Faith Information Service

Some query whether or not an establishment whose very roots are so immoral can not — even perhaps shouldn’t — be saved.

It’s a query value asking, and positively one reply isn’t any.

However I envision one other risk.

I consider that such a previous, such a gift provides the bottom for real humility — the type that acknowledges and accepts our shortcomings and the implications for them. The sort that heals ethical blind spots so a greater future could be seen and grasped.

The basis phrase of humility is earth: floor. Humility actually grounds us.

Humility is the alternative of delight.

Satisfaction is the primary sin, the deadliest sin, the sin of Lucifer, the fallen angel.

God offers grace to the common-or-garden. And the Southern Baptist Conference wants grace greater than ever. Which means our humility is required greater than ever, too.

As with each different treasured reward, counterfeits abound. False humility isn’t any exception. False humility takes many types. One type particularly related within the context of institutional abuse is to “portray helplessness during situations in which we have power.” In rejecting the guise of helplessness, the resolution by the Southern Baptist messengers to start taking actions throughout the management of the conference is the embodiment of humility.

People celebrate the passing of the second recommendation from the Sexual Abuse Task Force during the Southern Baptist Convention, held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Photo by Justin L. Stewart/Religion News Service

Two people have a good time the passing of a suggestion from the sexual abuse activity pressure in the course of the Southern Baptist Conference annual assembly in Anaheim, California, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Picture by Justin L. Stewart/Faith Information Service

It seems a little bit like the proper image of humility given within the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.

In your relationships with each other, have the identical mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    didn’t contemplate equality with God one thing for use to his personal benefit;
relatively, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being present in look as a person,
    he humbled himself
    by turning into obedient to demise —
        even demise on a cross!

Humility is obedience — obedience to the purpose of demise.

Simply as true humility is uncommon, false humility is widespread. False humility seeks to govern and management in service to self relatively than others.

With declining numbers not solely within the SBC however within the church in America as a complete, with an increasing number of folks deconstructing their religion and even deconverting, we who stay should cling to obedience and humble ourselves. In so doing, we get ourselves out of the way in which with a purpose to absolutely reveal the mercy and justice of a holy God.

“Search for the helpers” is sweet recommendation that’s timeless. Thanks, Mister Rogers.

However I believe the recommendation that’s actually wanted proper now could be to search for the common-or-garden.

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