IMB trustee Hershael York should be called out for his hateful remarks

Southern Baptist Convention headed for schism

Editor’s note: This is not related to football, so skip it if you don’t care about theology or denominational business. I’m posting it here because I am tired of keeping silent while serious issues fester within my extended family.

Trustees should be seen and not heard. Seriously, that is the best advice one could give an SBC trustee after reading the uncharitable remarks one IMB trustee made.

On a blog post about David Platt and anti-Calvinist criticisms of Platt’s appointment to head the IMB, Hershael W. York wrote, “A few months or years from now, people will grow tired of talking about how much his church gave to the Cooperative Program, and his relentless drive to reach the nations will swamp and drown those driving the chariots of anti-Calvinism in a sea of irrelevance.”

Chariots? Swamp? Drown in a sea? Vivid.

Also, disgusting to use language about anti-Calvinists that makes everyone’s mind run to the biblical story of an evil Pharaoh who pursued to his own ruin the people of God.

If this is a reflection of how IMB trustees think, then there is a real problem.

I must confess I don’t know who this guy is. I know he is a pastor, a good writer and trustee. There is no doubt he will do more to further the Gospel than me, but I do worry about the tone of his post as a broader reflection of a problem in the SBC.

In all my 40 years I have never seen such a statement directed at brothers and sisters. Well, I take that back. Since I’ve been on the Internet paying attention to Baptist theology, I’ve been called “Pelagian,” “semi-Pelagian,” “heretic” and simply “too stupid to understand.” All those labels were tossed by Calvinists at my lack of getting why they were right.

What highlights the problem of an intense group-think and good-old-boy club is that this comment was apparently met with approval from Denny Burk. Burk is a professor at Boyce College of Southern Seminary. I wouldn’t have read York’s comment if not for Burk excerpting the most offending portion. Burk didn’t repudiate such divisive words, and he appeared to endorse the comments by penning this comment, “Southern Baptists who have had such concerns should read what York has to say. His commendation and exhortation at the end are particularly relevant.”

I read Burk’s blog often and appreciate his blog and formal scholarship. However, there is a growing problem in the SBC, and I wonder if Burk is even aware of how York’s post appeared to those outside the narrow circle of SBC politics?

I have no doubt that God will use David Platt to make the IMB better and to accomplish much for Christ. I have serious doubts about the process that led to Platt’s selection, and greater concern about the entire direction of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is often said that SBC politics functions like a club. With the consistent selection of Calvinists to key positions, and the triumphalist pro-Calvinist/anti-anti-Calvinist remarks coming from the likes of trustees, the Southern Baptist Convention is headed for schism.

I have avoided writing about this to a broader audience on this website for over two years. But, this level of rhetoric requires saying something. I know another Internet post regarding Baptist and Calvinists will yield little (or no) benefit. Yet, if I do not say something about such a mean comment, then there is little hope that the SBC can continue to work together as an effective force to reach the nations for Christ.