In the most recent edition of The Pathway, the state paper published by the Missouri Baptist Convention, editor Don Hinkle makes the rather astounding claim that neither he nor the Pathway should be counted among those as involved in denominational politics. His exact words are these: “I expect to be criticized and I understand that people will not always agree with my position – that is the nature of being a state newspaper editor. All I ask is that as we debate difficult issues, we do so void of personal attacks. I understand that many are involved now in convention politics (I, nor this newspaper, should be counted among them), but it seems too many are falling to the temptation of using politics of personal destruction. How does such behavior bring honor and glory to God?”
I’ll freely confess to being one who has been critical of Hinkle in the past, and no doubt I’ll find occasion to criticize him in the future. I do concur wholeheartedly with his call that debate about denominational issues be free from personal attacks. I sincerely hope and trust that in the future that editor Hinkle will abide by his own words.
As to the rather preposterous claim that neither he nor the Pathway are involved in convention politics, one need merely peruse practically any back issue of the paper to find abundant evidence to the contrary. In his first column of the year, Hinkle extols Al Mohler as the right man at the right time for the presidency of the SBC. He even claims to have spoken with Mohler last June, urging him to pray and seek God’s will about the timing of allowing his named to be placed in nomination. Hinkle’s column goes on to urge Missouri Baptists to attend the convention in Indianapolis and vote for Mohler. (Baptist Press reported today that Mohler has withdrawn his name from consideration due to health issues that include surgery in the near future for a pre-cancerous tumor in his colon).
In addition to the blatantly political nature of the above-mentioned editorial, the Pathway’s coverage of the ongoing legal battles between the five “renegade” institutions (to use Hinkle’s terminology) and the MBC has been nothing short of a classic demonstration of denominational politics at its worst. The attempt to vilify those associated with these institutions and their ministries is purely yellow journalism and politicking. Added to that are the constant attacks on CBF and the BGCM with ungrounded and unsubstantiated accusations of these groups being theologically liberal.
No, I’m afraid that Hinkle’s expectations to be criticized will certainly not be in vain. When one actively engages in denominational politics and then denies such activity, criticism is both justifiable and inevitable.