College Bowl Game Contest

There are sixteen bowl games left, including the championship game. I’m not counting some minor bowls not worth watching. The ones that are left, not including Auburn who isn’t going to make my list of anything, are the ones below. Heck, one of the goofball bowls cancelled their game. Go figure.

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Saturday, Dec. 29

1. Orange Bowl, Alabama vs. Oklahoma

2. Cotton Bowl, Clemson vs. Notre Dame

3. Peach Bowl, Florida vs. Michigan

4. Belk Bowl, Virginia vs. South Carolina

 

Monday, Dec. 31 

5. Military Bowl, Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech

6. Sun Bowl: Stanford vs. Pittsburgh

7. Redbox Bowl: Michigan State vs. Oregon 

8. Liberty Bowl: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State

9. Holiday Bowl: Northwestern vs. Utah

10. Gator Bowl: North Carolina State vs. Texas A&M

 

Tuesday, Jan. 1

11.  Outback Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Iowa

12. Citrus Bowl: Kentucky vs. Penn State

13. Fiesta Bowl: LSU vs. UCF

14. Rose Bowl, Washington vs. Ohio State

15. Allstate Sugar Bowl: Texas vs. Georgia

 

Monday, Jan. 7

16. College Football National Championship

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List your winners in a comment here. The most accurate gets the “C. B. Scott, ‘SEC Now-and-Forever’ Platinum Prognosticator Award”

Runner up gets the “Dave Miller ‘When does spring training start?’ Pewter Yankee Stadium spittoon.

Tiebreaker: Point total for the Oklahoma vs. Alabama game but I realize that many of our valued commenters can’t count that high. Ask for assistance.

The handicap sheet on these says to stick with the SEC and you’ll have a chance of winning, although Kentucky and Missouri look heavily overmatched.

 

Ten Key Questions for the SBC in 2019

Predicting the future is a dangerous thing. I have a copy of Sports Illustrated that predicts that the Atlanta Falcons will defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the upcoming Super Bowl. Atlanta was to have defeated the Vikings in the NFC title game. These football experts get fewer predictions right than a broken clock. I track it.

I lack clairvoyance and am no great expert at the SBC’s inner workings. I have often not foreseen the issues that would arise. Who knew that 2018 would see the downfall of icons and heroes, presidential campaign tactics scraping the barrel in ways we have never seen, the transition of entity leadership at an unprecedented pace, and the explosion of the #metoo movement? I did not foresee the major events of 2018 so I am not prepared to try to predict the major events of 2019.

But I do think there are certain questions that we will have to answer, trends we will need to face. I would like to address 10 such questions, with brief commentary.

Question 1: Who will lead our entities?

This is the key question in many minds. We finally found a leader for our flagship entity, the International Mission Board, but LifeWay, the Executive Committee, and Southwestern remain in transition, with the planned retirement of Dr. Kelly at New Orleans set for this summer.

As far as I know, none of these entities is close to making a hire, though sometimes they surprise you.

Question 2: Will the SBC ever integrate its leadership ranks?

Many of us have been hoping that with 5 entity leadership positions open, there might be serious consideration given to minority candidates and even a minority hiring.

The response to this has been discouraging. I have been called a racist for even suggesting we consider hiring minorities! And the subtle response has often been that considering hiring minorities as entity presidents is “affirmative action” – hiring the less qualified (minority) candidate over the more qualified (white) candidate. “Shouldn’t we just hire the best man for the job?” is the mantra, with the tacit assumption that this refutes minority hiring.

The fact is that there are highly qualified and capable minority candidates for each of our entity leadership positions. We would not have to “settle” to have a president who is not white.

I only hear bits of information, but I have asked people “in the know” and as best I can tell, no minority candidate has been given serious consideration by our search committees yet. There seems to be agreement among those I talk to that we are not going to make any minority hires any time soon.

May we be proven wrong.

Question 3: Will the coming political season tear us apart as the last one did?

The 2016 political campaign was the most divisive thing I have seen in the SBC since the Conservative Resurgence. We share the blame. Those of us who are not enamored with the current president reacted with extreme rhetoric when his star began to rise in the GOP, questioning how Christians could support a man so lacking in moral character. The tide has shifted and now, the biblical fidelity of anyone who doesn’t support Donald Trump is called into question by some.

I am not interested in arguing politics today. My question is not about the merits of the Trump administration, or about immigration or refugees or any of the issues that have divided us. My question is whether we can find a way to love one another and honor one another even while we disagree with politically. We failed miserably in 2016 and it was an ugly time. Will we do better in the coming season?

Can we differ politically without anathematizing one another?

Question 4: Will a “regular guy” run for Pastors’ Conference president again this year?

I have appreciated the last two PC presidents’ focus on biblical preaching. This year’s theme is the Beatitudes.

But I am hearing a rising tide of talk supporting the idea of having a “regular guy” run for PC president again, someone who is not part of or blessed by the Mega-metro group.

To be clear, I have no part in this movement nor do any of the team from the 2017 PC. That wore us out. Not one of our guys has any desire to do that again, not in the foreseeable future.

But I am hearing “chatter” that makes me think this might happen this year.

Question 5: Will the SBC continue to be in the thrall of Mega-Metro Pastors?

The SBC is made up of small and medium size churches but it led by a coterie of megachurch pastors. The numbers are staggering. I believe it is in the neighborhood of about 96% of our 47,000 churches that run less than 400 on a Sunday morning and there are around 200 megachurches. Mega-metro is a fellowship group that meets to discuss ministry, evangelism, and other issues that come up. These megachurch pastors are good men who do great work.

I do not think there should be enmity between large churches and small in the SBC – we should be partners. But our presidents and key leaders are disproportionately drawn from the 200 megas. The SBC is a train whose conductors and engineers are tend to be from the mega-metro churches while the rest of us are passengers. (I am speaking of leadership here.)

This can only be so if we, the majority, acquiesce to it. Will we continue to do so? Or will we take part in leadership, to take our place as engineers and conductors and not just as passengers?

Question 6: Will the CR reignite?

The recent brouhaha at SBU raised the specter that the Conservative Resurgence may be anything but a dead issue in the SBC. It would be foolish to think that theological drift ended 20 years ago, but who knows where this will go?

Perhaps the SBU issue will be a tempest in a teapot or perhaps it will reveal that theological issues still exist in theological institutions and that greater oversight is needed.

I do not have an answer here but I certainly have questions.

Question 7: Whither Complementarianism?

I consider myself a strong, biblical complementarian, but to listen to certain pockets of the SBC, I am egalitarian, because I do not ascribe to all their narrow applications of complementarian dogma.

I believe God made men and women to complement each other; that men are given leadership at home and in the church, but the devil is in the details. Can a woman lead singing in a church? Can a woman lead in prayer? What does, “let the women keep silent…” mean? Is there any cultural aspect to any of this? I have labored long and hard to understand the biblical passages on men and women and I have strong convictions, but they are not the same convictions as some others. As complementarianism becomes less socially popular and as some with more extreme views dig in their heels, how will we respond?

The SBC is going to struggle with this. Witness the discussion about whether a woman could serve as president of the SBC (something no woman I have talked to or read about has expressed an interest in doing). Our BF&M defines us as complementarian but it doesn’t define exactly what that means.

What kind of complementarians will we be?

Question 8: What will happen to Traditionalism?

I am not a Traditionalist and have opposed the behavior and deportment of the often dysfunctional Traditionalist movement in the SBC. I was shocked and saddened to see the surliness, the derogation, the violation of biblical commands to honor one another than became the stock in trade of many of the leaders of that movement. It was rising to a head last spring then, poof, the movement just imploded.

As one who was a critic of the movement, I would be expected to gloat, or at least to be relieved. To the surprise of many, I find it unfortunate. Men like David Allen promote a scholarly alternative to Calvinism and we are a better denomination when soteriological options are articulated well. The problem was not THAT Traditionalism was articulated but HOW it was done.

A theologically robust non-Calvinism expressed within the boundaries of Christian dialogue, free of the rancor, pettiness, and hostility that was all too common, would be good for the SBC.

Will we see it? I hope so.

Question 9: Will any more dominoes fall?

I hope not, but who would have thought we would see some of the moral failures and personal kingdom collapses that we saw in 2018? Lord, help us, but sometimes people fail, even heroes.

Will another show his feet of clay? Will I shed more tears when I hear that a friend whom I deeply respect has fallen? Will more #metoo scandals show our failures?

We would like to think this is all in the past, but the flesh never is.

Question 10: Will the slide end?

The SBC Annual meeting has been a yearly time of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth over our statistical decline. Will it ever end? Are we on a neverending slip-and-slide trip to denominational oblivion or can we pull out of this dive and turn things around?

Again, I don’t have an answer to that but I do think it is an important question.

Do you have a question to add?
Do you have an answer to one of my questions?
Talk amongst yourselves.

The SBC single best moment of 2018

That would be the moment  in our annual session when messenger and trustee of Southwestern Seminary, Bart Barber, said the following:

I am an old-time Baptist congregationalist. My church has business meetings every month because I want us to have business meetings every month. I believe in our polity. And it is a part of our polity that our entity heads do not get to remove trustees when they become an inconvenience to them, that entity heads have to answer to their boards both when they want to do so and when they don’t want to do so, that seminary employees have to abide by board decisions.

Paige Patterson is a human being made in the image of God. He is a man who has promoted some of the finest women scholars in our convention. He is a master exegete and the consummate preacher. Even today I’d vote for him for any of those things, and I’m thankful for the Conservative Resurgence and all that it accomplished. I was not out to get him; I was out to help him. But I cannot vote for him to occupy any monarchy. We are Baptists. We have no popes. We are all accountable to someone. Whatever divides us, I hope that we are all in agreement about that.

For my part, I’m accountable to you. I’m a tell-the-people-and-trust-the-Lord Baptist. Whatever you decide, I will abide by it. It has been a great honor to serve you in this way. Thank you for the trust you have placed in me. I have tried to defend your rights at SWBTS. I would urge you as you vote to consider this: Please do not rob the trustees throughout our convention of their spine. They keep our entities accountable to you. Think of the precedent this will set if we start voting out trustees every time they face a difficult decision. Will any board have the courage to hold entity heads accountable again? And if they are unaccountable to their trustees, they are unaccountable to you. If you rob the trustees of their spine, you rob the messengers of their voice. 

We Southern Baptists have “moments” and we have “movements.” Sometimes a “moment” becomes a “movement.” Barber’s short time at the mic in Dallas qualifies as an authentic “moment,” easily excelling beyond other important statements, votes, and actions around the SBC during 2018. Here are a few reasons why I think this to be so:

  1. If not spontaneous, it was not one of those planned and plotted grandstand moments. Any SBCer who has been around for a while learns to recognize these. Some celeb or celeb-wannabe rises for his moment in the sun. He may or may not have prayed about it but he certainly planned it, discussed it with others, and rehearsed it. He gets all the backslaps, atta boys, and maybe gets some visibility and a greater entree into the SBC oligarchy. Bart Barber’s moment was, best I can understand and best I could see from across the cavernous convention hall, an occasion that wasn’t hatched in a back room and carefully orchestrated. While as a SWBTS trustee he certainly would have had more information than the rest of us, it looked to me like one Baptist having his say and saying it well.
  2. We Southern Baptists say we don’t have popes but until we show it, the saying doesn’t count. Paige Patterson and a few others in the CR curia had been given enormous power in the SBC and accomplished great things with them. Had this gotten out of hand? Looks like it from a distance. Ordinary messengers finally acted (the vote looked like something in the 95/5 percent range) to deny Hatley and Patterson and in doing so affirm Barber and the pastors and others who scraped up enough shekels to make it to Dallas for the meeting.
  3. The trustee system is both our salvation and our weakest point. How and why Barber ended up addressing this and not others, I don’t know. There is no more spineless group in SBC life than trustees who have declared fealty to a Southern Baptist Lord and find some satisfaction in the role of sychophant. I’ve heard all the excuses over the years (“We handle things in private…just trust us,” etc.) but trustee failures are regular though thankfully infrequent in SBC life.
  4. We all can repeat the mantra “tell the people and trust the Lord” Baptist. Finally, though, someone who shows it.
  5. So, here we are with the SBC having dramatically, decisively declared that they will not rob the trustees of their spine. So, how about trustees not giving their spine away. No need to go through all this again but I’m hopeful that we will if we need to. If this moment continued as a movement, that would be great for all of us.

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It would be a millenial stretch to say that Bart Barber and I are friends. We have met, just for a brief few seconds, although we have swapped some comments here for a few years. I haven’t liked all of his stuff but almost all of it.  I’d guess that he is not that thrilled about this article but, I’m a free agent in SBC life…so here it is, like it or not.

The link above is to an SBC Voices piece by Dave Miller. I think it is a transcription of a text of prepared remarks. It may vary a word or so from his actual statement from the floor. Emphases are mine.

I like Bart’s new, smiling photo. In the old one he was using I thought he looked like Luca Brasi. Check it out.

Best of the SBC for 2018

Nothing is over more quickly than Christmas. No more carols. No more Christmas sermons. No more trees, poinsettias, and ugly sweaters. The gifts have all been opened and many will be returned today. Kids have already broken some of theirs and are in tears. Leftovers will dominate the culinary offerings for the week. So, although I like Dave Miller’s four-sermon Christmas series (and I’d steal and use it if I didn’t already a a similar series), let’s go back to business as usual here:

Best quotes:

I’ve been talked down to by male seminary students and held my tongue when I wanted to say, “Brother, I was getting up before dawn to pray and to pore over the Scriptures when you were still in your pull ups.” Beth Moore. Easily the best quote of 2018.

We believe things need to change – that the mega-metro stranglehold on power must be broken, that diversity is essential, and that other changes must happen. Change is needed in the SBC. (Context here) This from Dave Miller (using the non-royal “we” and referring to the SBC Voices team). I use the quote because he is the latest of many who say the same thing. At some point someone has to understand that the celebrity system has benefited individuals but the denomination as a whole has not.

Manipulating readers by withholding information has no place in a denomination committed to the priesthood of all believers…The trustworthiness of Baptist influence is proven by sharing the difficult story. Retiring Baptist editor Bob Terry. We’ve always seen those in charge attempt, often successfully, to control the flow of information and news to the pews. The mods did it pre-CR. The cons do it post CR. Baptist Press does this. State papers do this. Bloggers do this. Social media dilletantes do this. Denominational employees in high position do this. In some cases alternative news outlets, even some that are worthy of revulsion, will be the only source that will share the difficult information. The best we could say about this is that it isn’t as bad as it used to be.

There are more good quotes. I got lazy in saving them. Feel free to add.

Best new book:

SBC FAQs: A ready reference By SEBTS’ Amy Whitfield and Keith Harper. You could stop being so ignorant on SBC stuff if you had this book to consult before talking or typing. And the new book is cheaper at LifeWay than Amazon.

Best #SBC18 decisions:

The 95/5 percentage vote against the motion to dismiss SWBTS trustees. Had this passed the damage would have been incalculable.

The SBC Traditionalist organization’s decision to effectively cancel their #SBC18 event and make it into an informal prayer meeting. Along with this, their decision to end the popular Trad blog, SBC Today, in its then current form. Recognizing when to leave the field and regroup is a good thing.

There are others. Thank God we got a few things right in 2018.

Best head-scratcher

The SBC pastor, a nearly ubertraditionalist, who is starting a new church…one without the word Baptist in the name. Go figure. This is not to say that I do not wish and pray for his and the church’s success. It just struck me as odd.

Best new SBC personality:

Easily the anonymous but erudite SBC Explainer who has gathered over 3k followers since April. Nope, I am not the popular ‘splainer. He/she is smarter than I am. Probably better looking and less irascible as well. I’d speculate that there is nothing “new” about whomever this is.

In the running, Baptist-Blogger. I’m always interested in any blogger who writes stuff above a seventh-grade level. B-B turns some nice phrases and employs some notable vocabulary.

Best score of 2018:

Your humble hacker and plodder’s snaring of a room in the Birmingham SBC19 convention hotel. He who is usually a world class procrastinator jumped on it for once, and scored. See you there.

Best Obituary for 2018:

Billy Graham’s, of course. Since he died way back in February of this year, he was shamefully omitted from many notable death lists. In his 99th year, it is a testimony to his Christian stature and service that his obit didn’t include any sordid episodes. He was a faithful follower of Christ. The day of the grand revival meeting has passed. There will never be another like him.

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Add your own. No pastor works between Christmas and New Year’s, anyway.