Sunday, December 11, 2005

"Obsequious" and "Feckless Representation" or "We've done everything humanly possible to challenge and persuade PSW" - Which is it?

One of the regular posters on the ABE message board commented on the recent delegation from the General Executive Council of the ABCUSA to meet with the Pacific Southwest board. Eye witness accounts of both meetings report that while the GEC delegates were sincere and earnest, they brought nothing substantial to divert or redirect the PSW. The next day, when PSW board members gathered, reports indicate that there were some initial concerns among the board regarding timing and manner of action. However, following a brief, but evidently heartfelt time of prayer during the meeting on December 8, the board moved with great unanimity and singlemindedness of spirit.

What follows is my own response to the message board posting suggesting that the GEC delegation report was singularly unsatisfying. Dr. Ronald Ratliff, a pastor from Edina (MN) wrote: "But for my own need to be clear: First, obsequious wording. Second, feckless GEC representation!"


From my experience with national leadership over the years, "obsequious wording" and "feckless representation" are two of the qualities for which Executive Ministers are rewarded. The image of Nero fiddling while Rome burns is the most apt one for me. No matter what disastrous news comes from the churches, PC talk dominates.

Newly minted Executive Ministers generally represent the "best of the best" of our pastoral ranks. However, it does not take long for the culture of Valley Forge to overcome the best intentions of our regional execs.

The report from the GEC delegation sounds like typical Valley Forge-speak. Without such Orwellian verbal gymnastics, how else could you paper over the drop in numbers of missionaries to a paltry 120 or so and other outrages in recent years? For years the AB News Service specialized in disinformation (or more charitably: a refusal to tell the full story and a tendency to propagate only the most self-serving VF versions of events).

We promote mediocrity, rationalize failure, and celebrate our "tolerance" of heresy. Under the cover of the rhetoric of "family," we accept everything from moral failure in high places to painting happy faces on statistics which only chronicle our faithlessness.

The environment of national denominational leadership tends to suck the life and initiative out of otherwise good people, encouraging them to "go along to get along" until they are just like the rest of the gang. The wording in the GEC report is a case in point. One of the authors has gone from an evangelical firebrand to politically correct defender of the status quo in a few short years.

This is what makes Dr. Salico's exemplary courage so striking. He distinguishes himself as willing to stand by convictions rather than merely bide his time until he is old enough to begin collecting his MMBB payments. We all owe him our admiration and continuing prayers for his heroic steadfastness. When you consider that he is temperamentally an incrementalist with deeply held commitments to the ABC as "family," his rare qualities of Godly leadership shine even brighter. Unlike the majority of his colleagues in the REMC, Dale has been willing to tell the emperor that he has no clothes. And, even while he is buffeted by peers and ABC critics, he refuses to vilify them in return. "For such a time as this . . ."

As Dr. Salico often comments, it is never biblical or ethical to play "let's pretend" when you are called to lead. The delegation from the GEC only reinforces how far down the road we are in the ABCUSA. Only an unbiblical and unethical game built on denial and wishful thinking can justify continuation in the ABCUSA as presently constituted.If the ABC had a news magazine, I would nominate Dr. Dale V. Salico as "Daniel of the Year."

Dennis E. McFadden

[Just a So. Cal crazy off his meds and speaking for himself alone]

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