The Save Our Convention (SOC) folks are organizing a slate of candidates to run at the next Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). These are persons who believe the MBC has been taken over by ultra-conservative types who are excluding persons from service. I received a letter to that effect today from a church in town whose pastor is running for one of the positions. Never mind the fact our church isn’t in the state convention anymore. Good to be remembered I guess. Apparently, the current powers that be are eligible to be elected to a second term but the SOC group feels it is too important not to offer an alternative.

The letter indicated that the SOC candidates believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and that the issue is not alcohol. It’s not about the lawsuits against the five Missouri agencies. It has to do with Cooperative Program giving and not prescribing a certain level of giving for a church to allow them to have involvement in the convention. It concerns Roger Moran and that he and others of the Project 1000 crowd have too much control. It’s ironic that many SOC sympathizers were part of that 1000 earlier on. There are other issues as well, but for the most part there seems to be disagreement over the “spirit” of the convention at the moment. The letter indicated there might be some who felt like “walking away” from things due to discouragement.

I came across an article in the Word & Way recently that mentioned the same things. It appears that those in control now sought to “save the convention” from the moderates and liberals. For some reason that didn’t suffice. Now there is another group who once belonged to the group in power now who feel compelled to save the convention once again (confusing, isn’t it?). This isn’t about liberalism or being moderate, they can’t blame us for those things this time. It is about another classic example of fundamentalism.

There is great humor in this for this outsider, whose church was asked to leave the convention a few years ago along with 17 other congregations. Didn’t that fix everything? Now there is dissension in the ranks once again. Big surprise. Fundamentalists have to have an enemy, even it has to be within themselves. I honestly don’t see the big difference between the SOC and those who are in control now. They are theologically, politically, and philosophically identical. Perhaps some are angrier about things than others.

Baptists have always been a schismatic people, and disagreements are bound to come up in the local church as well as parachurch groups. Watching this dispute unfold has to be somewhat satisfying to those who once called the MBC their denominational home. The irony and hypocrisy concerning who is qualified to lead a convention makes me laugh. I suppose this latest argument will fuel another period of struggle for the soul of the state convention. Maybe it will increase attendance at the annual meetings.

I don’t see anything new in this latest crisis. It does exemplify why many Baptists in the pew get impatient with pastors and lay leaders. There is always something to fight about or “save” and this is the latest episode. Anytime you send out letters to churches with a slate of candidates you’ve heated up the political climate. Electing the SOC candidates will supposedly turn things around. Around to where I don’t know. It’s not going to matter much in the grand scheme of things. Evidently a fundamentalist can be too fundamentalist. That has to be an oxymoron.

The SOC might have in mind putting a kinder, gentler face on the state convention. It won’t matter. Fundamentalism is still fundamentalism. The narrowness of scope and spirit of exclusion will continue. The struggle for control will never end no matter who is in charge. These fundamentalist types will turn on one another and devour themselves. Pretty soon there won’t be any convention worth saving, once everyone gets kicked out. At least I won’t have to be involved and can watch this Baptist battle from a comfortable distance.