When trust is violated, repairs are difficult to make
When the theologically moderate trustee boards of the five breakaway entities voted to make their boards self-perpetuating, therefore cutting Missouri Baptists out of the equation and effectively stealing the agencies from the Missouri Baptist Convention, “trust” was violated.
Webster’s defines “trust” as one having “a firm reliance in the honesty, dependability, strength, or character of someone or something; one in which faith or confidence is placed.” “Trust” is not to be toyed with. Once “trust” is violated its damage is almost always irreparable.
We have seen this first-hand in Missouri Baptist life with the broken relationships and untold dollars spent by both sides in the legal fight over the breakaway agencies. It is hard to envision the two sides ever again having the relationship they once had. When a blue-ribbon panel of theological moderates and conservatives were appointed to investigate the root of the differences that surfaced in the last quarter of the 20th century in the Southern Baptist Convention (known as the so-called Peace Committee), they concluded that “trust” had been violated and led to schism. The nature of “trust” is so powerful that God incarnate – Jesus Christ – gave His life, thus providing the perfect provision for lost sinners like you and me to place our “trust” in Him for our eternal salvation.
“Trust” is something I’ve never taken lightly as editor of The Pathway. The day Missouri Baptists stop trusting their newspaper is the day it should close shop. This idea of “trust” has played out in grand fashion as the MBC – through its Executive Board – wrestled for five long years over how much editorial freedom The Pathway should have. This is understandable given how “trust” had been violated by the reckless action of the renegade board overseeing the MBC’s previous newspaper, Word & Way. The board wanted to make sure that such a travesty could never be repeated, but at the same time realized that MBC-affiliated churches needed a state newspaper free to keep them informed and to always tell them truth. The board did that in July when it decided that the editor, while being administratively accountable to the executive director, would retain editorial freedom and would editorially be under the supervision of the Executive Board. That decision has worked out well and should strike the right balance between on-site accountability and editorial freedom.
Please do not interpret this column as an opportunity for me to whine. After 30 years in journalism and the Gospel ministry, I understand that maintaining public “trust” is an awesome responsibility and a priority for this newspaper. For nearly six years The Pathway has told Missouri Baptists the truth. It is in our DNA.
In the coming months The Pathway will have the responsibility of telling Missouri Baptists whatever is going on in their Convention. Sometimes that will be easy, like when we tell how Missouri Southern Baptists are impacting lives to the glory of God. Sometimes it will not be easy, like when we cover the Convention’s ongoing legal battle with the five breakaway agencies or controversial actions by the Convention’s boards and committees. No matter the difficulties, Pathway readers can be assured that what they are reading is true, and when controversial, fair and accurate.
In some circles in Missouri Baptist life it has been said that The Pathway is political and that the editor is political. The Pathway is not political, although it is charged with covering political activity related to the life of the Convention, whether it be a moral issue like abortion or two groups fighting for control of the Convention’s boards and committees. A few weeks ago I wrote that neither this newspaper, nor I as editor, will take a political position. I want to clarify what I should have more precisely said. The Pathway, nor me personally, will take a side in any battle between political groups fighting for control of the Convention.
It is important, however, for newspapers and editors to take positions on issues and perhaps politics outside MBC life. A perfect example of this was my endorsement a few weeks ago of Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, for president of the Southern Baptist Convention. I was honest about my relationship and feelings toward Mohler, but still shared information that Missouri Baptists hopefully found enlightening. And even in that instance, I told the truth.
The Pathway is not a political tool for any group. It is a ministry under Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father. I believe that is why God continues to bless this ministry that He established. It is my heart’s desire that we will never violate our readers’ “trust” and that The Pathway will continue to be a blessing to you.