In his letter to the editor, John V. Rutledge stated several opinions with which I agree. The decrease in membership and baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention is particularly concerning.
Now that the “conservative resurgence” has been solidly in control of the SBC for more than two decades, it “owns” every outcome. However, as Mr. Rutledge pointed out, the proposed solutions for membership decline have been ineffective.
The response of SBC leadership has been to urge members to pray for a Great Awakening. Who could oppose that? However, what it lacks is precisely what the resurgence has always lacked—any sense of self-examination or objective self-criticism. Serious questions need to be asked before we can expect God to honor prayers for an awakening.
What was and is wrong with the resurgence, and can it can be fixed at this late date? I could offer some suggestions, but they would be useless coming from me. The key is for them to come from “insiders” and represent honest self-examination.
A few years ago, I exchanged a letters with one of the major leaders of the resurgence, and the most surprising aspect of his responses was his absolute refusal to consider even the possibility that he was wrong about any of the issues we discussed. It didn’t matter to him that I cited Scripture and scholarly works by SBC theologians interpreting Scripture.
Until this aspect of the resurgence changes, I have little hope for an awakening in the SBC.