The TheoBros have reacted with typical bombast this week to two articles we’ve published about Voddie Baucham. In predictable fashion, they have lobbed vitriol at BNG and our writers while accusing us of being vitriolic.
This is a classic distraction play for narcissists and demagogues: Loudly accuse your critics of doing what you have been accused of doing yourself, so as to avoid the real issues.
Watch the pattern here, because we’ve seen it before: Anytime anyone publishes a well-documented article that calls attention to the extreme views of the Calvinists and complementarians, the TheoBros immediately label it a “hit piece.”
Somewhere, there must be a vocabulary booklet published with key words and phrases for these defenders of male dominance to use on command. “Hit piece” and “antithetical to the gospel” are favorites, along with “the watching world.”
These are the same people who called Vice President Kamala Harris a “Jezebel,” who denied the reality of COVID, who led the Southern Baptist Convention to adopt a resolution demanding a complete ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest, who believe school children should not be taught about America’s racial history, and who believe Donald Trump is a “true patriot.”
They are distraught that we dared to use Baucham’s own words to demonstrate that he espouses a dangerous theology of male domination, physical abuse of children, control over grown daughters and denial of the reality of systemic racism in America. We did not make up any of this stuff; we published Baucham’s own words verbatim. And these are not one-off statements; they are quotations from books, videos and sermons.
The real problem here is that many Calvinists and complementarians actually believe what Baucham believes and can’t imagine why a Baptist publication would think there’s anything wrong with it. They are so insulated in their cultural bubble they assume all true Christians surely believe as they do.
But here’s the problem: Most of the Christian world does not share their beliefs. And that makes them angry. In their hearts, they know they are a minority voice, not just in America but also in American Christianity. Their insecurity makes them scream all the louder for fear of being pushed aside.
And in the troubled state of the SBC right now, even more rational leaders have to pay homage to the far right just to try to do their jobs. Elected leaders and professional staff of the SBC are being bombarded every day with complaints and critiques from this far-right segment of the denomination.
Perhaps that’s why SBC presidential nominee Willy Rice felt compelled March 9 to issue a statement denouncing our coverage while also not defending Baucham’s dangerous theology. He wrote: “Over the last several days, a number of social media posts and articles have been written that are strongly critical of Voddie. In my opinion, some of these things simply cross the line. Such attacks are unnecessary, unloving, and harmful to our witness. I condemn both the nature and the content of criticisms that distort the truth, unjustly impugn Voddie’s character, and attack his family. I do not know Voddie Baucham. I have been aware of his prodigious ministry through the years, and I appreciate his courage and conviction. That does not mean I endorse or agree with everything he has said or the way he may have said it. But Voddie is my brother in Christ, and I welcome his voice and involvement in the Southern Baptist Convention.”
To which current SBC President Ed Litton via Twitter added his endorsement, accusing BNG of “baseless attacks.”
Here’s my challenge to Rice, Litton, Baucham or any other person who believes we’re in the wrong: Show me what we reported that Baucham has said or written that he didn’t actually say or write. Everything we’ve published has been documented. If we have impugned his character, as Rice says, we have followed his lead by simply quoting his own words.
The problem is not that we’ve misreported Baucham’s theology. The problem is that it’s problematic for the SBC to be confronted with Baucham’s theology. Imagine if he were elected SBC president and represented the nation’s largest non-Catholic denomination on national TV by saying daughters ought to stay under their fathers’ rule until they marry? Imagine the president of the SBC giving an interview to the New York Times and suggesting that parents should spank their children into submission — including whipping infants and repeatedly spanking a young girl for being afraid to shake the hand of a grown man she does not know.
Here’s my challenge to the Conservative Baptist Network and Founders Ministries: You’ve been so worked up about your own accusations of plagiarism against Ed Litton, why are you not concerned about documented allegations of plagiarism by Baucham? Or was your concern not really about plagiarism after all?
And by the way, Rick Pidcock’s opinion piece — which I hope you’ll read — is just that: An opinion piece. It is not labeled as news; it is labeled clearly as opinion.
You can disagree with a writer’s stated opinions, but to do so you need to produce evidence that validates your opposing opinion. All we’ve heard so far are general declarations that we at BNG are “sinners” and “liars” and “reprobates.”
Oh, and there’s all the comments from Baucham supporters directed at Rick Pidcock because he’s a stay-at-home dad with five kids. The TheoBros who admire Baucham’s hyper-masculinity are making fun of our writer for being a male who takes care of his kids while his wife works a full-time job. They’re calling him “weak” and “feminized.” And we’re the ones who are slinging mud? How much more sexist can you be?
Again, the root issue here is that Voddie Baucham espouses an extreme and dangerous theology of male headship, science denial and racism denial. If the SBC wants to jump wholeheartedly on that bandwagon, so be it. But messengers to the upcoming SBC annual meeting at least need to be informed about who they’re voting for.
In truth, this is a conversation that needed to happen anyway, whether Baucham runs for SBC president or not. At last year’s annual meeting in Nashville, copies of his Fault Lines book were handed out to messengers. Today I had a conversation with a pastor friend who serves a large middle-of-the road church in Texas, and he was glad to have read our articles because there are people in his CBF-friendly congregation who are holding up Baucham as a model of good theology.
Also consider the context in which this is happening. The SBC is in the throes of a contentious debate about sexual abuse and race at the same time. The most conservative caucus within the SBC — represented by the Conservative Baptist Network and Founders Ministries — wants to avoid that conversation and has tried hard to change the subject.
They are the ones who have viciously hammered Ed Litton about his sermons, and CBN leaders were among the most vociferous opponents of an independent investigation into allegations of mishandling sexual abuse claims at the SBC Executive Committee.
So, it appears they had come up with a perfect candidate to do their bidding, now that Litton has said he’s not running again. They found a Black pastor who has a devoted following among the most conservative segment of white conservative evangelicals and — even though he is likely ineligible to run for office because he’s not a member of an SBC church — were planning to introduce him soon as their candidate. We got the news out first, and they suddenly found themselves on the defensive.
Baucham is a perfect candidate for the white Christian nationalist wing of the SBC because he’s a Black man who agrees with their view that systemic racism isn’t a problem — a view held by precious few Black Christians or Black Baptist pastors.
And for the record, before either of our articles were published, we reached out to Baucham for a comment, and he never responded. Just as we reached out to Litton for comment about his decision not to run for re-election. Litton gave an interview to Religion News Service, but not to us. So, it is ironic that he now wants to jump on the bandwagon criticizing us.
Here’s my offer to Voddie Baucham: If we’ve misrepresented your theology, please respond to our request for an interview and set the record straight. And we’d also like to report your denunciation of the pastor you chose to succeed you at your Houston church who now sits in prison on a conviction of raping a teenage girl repeatedly during the time you were pastor there. What did you know, and what are your thoughts based on what you know today?
Here’s my offer to Willy Rice and Ed Litton: If you want to defend Voddie Baucham’s theology, I’ll publish what you write. You know how to reach me.
Mark Wingfield serves as executive director and publisher of Baptist News Global.
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