Sunday, June 03, 2012

For Land's Sake

Because of my beginning the doctoral journey, as our professors call it, and because of some other reasons, I have curtailed my blogging.  It's not that I don't have anything to write about, and perhaps today I will fill up the screen, but I have been thinking about the excess that the Internet provides under the guise of freedom of speech.  I will post on that next, but here I will post on a victim of the excess that freedom speech can give.

I am reflecting on this subject because of Dr. Richard Land's recent censure and apologies and removal from the radio by the Ethic And Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.  I must preface my remarks with the truth that Dr. Land was the interim pastor of our church for over a year, so I sat under his preaching (which is quite good) during that time.  He also spoke in our Sunday School class by my invitation (I have a funny story about that, too), and it was fascinating.  He was almost always very careful to preach the gospel in the pulpit and stay out of politics when preaching, but he sometimes transgressed, just a bit, in that regard.  However, I didn't mind, for a few reasons.

One, he is a great speaker.  Second, he is the smartest guy in the room (and usually knows it, but I don't mind that).  Third, he has a wonderful, scathing sense of humor, and again, knows it and keeps it in check--most of the time.  He can shoot from the hip.  Fourth, and this is both the most important and the most ironic point, he is the only Baptist preacher whose preaching I ever sat under who talked openly about racial reconciliation and the sin of racism.

When speaking in our Sunday School class, he said that that Barack Obama was a Christian (a liberal one, he admitted) and would not let some of the ladies get into the "he's a Muslim" thing.

So, I feel I know his heart.  That is why I find it so ironic that he is being treated like some kind of neo-Nazi in the press and even by his own denomination.  He has humbly apologized to the president and the Martin family and other interested parties--twice.  One of the things he said was clearly inflammatory and unwise; the other, about the law needing to be deferred to in the Martin case, was what the majority of people in the U.S. felt.  However, because of his position, it is right that he should apologize, and that should have taken care of it.

I can't help but wonder if the ELRC's response is not politically motivated in some way.  Dr. Land (who, by the way, has an earned doctorate from Oxford, so he is no intellectual slouch; I will say, however, that he uses that intellect in support of the party line quite well)  is the president of the commission.  Could this be a power play somewhere?  Much is being made of the fact that the next president of the SBC will be an African-American, who also has been apologized to.  It's about time, to say the least, that Dr. Luter will be the president; that is an exciting prospect. 

There is the other issue of plagiarism.  I can't write to that.  It doesn't seem to be written plagiarism, but related to some material he used in his radio program.

I can't help but think that having a daily forum on the radio is the temptation to forget to measure words.  I know I would fall to it.  Just like I am not sure I should post this because I have the freedom to.

If you have kept with me this far, let me summarize and make my position perfectly clear.  He said the wrong things.  He apologized.  His whole ministry of over fifty years should not be judged by one comment, and the way he is being pilloried is so hypocritical of many people.  Some apologies by high-profile people are subject to suspicion.  His should not be.  

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