Not everyone is viewing the recent report from Guidepost Solutions on the sexual abuse crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) as a sign that reform within the denomination is long overdue. G3 Ministries founder Dr. Josh Buice sees the report as a step in the wrong direction and encouraging “pragmatism” over the Word of God.
“While any accusation of sexual abuse within a single local church is horrific,” says Buice in a May 26 article titled, “Dear SBC, the Answer to the Sex Abuse Crisis Is Not Pragmatism,” “I find the Guidepost report to be harmful as well.” He continues:
Not only is it a tragedy that $4 million dollars of money given by SBC churches had to be used to form such a report, it’s not a step in the right direction. If the SBC commits to trial by independent investigation reports rather than pointing back to the local church and the civil authorities as the God ordained means of accountability, discipline, and justice—it will not end well.
Josh Buice: This Is Pragmatism vs. Biblical Sufficiency
On Sunday, May 22, the Sexual Abuse Task Force published the full report from Guidepost Solutions exploring whether or not the SBC’s Executive Committee (EC) covered up allegations of sexual abuse. The report found egregious failures among top leaders, who had prioritized mitigating their own liability over the needs of survivors, thereby protecting predators and perpetuating abuse for years.
Among the report’s many shocking findings are credible allegations that Johnny Hunt sexually assaulted another’s pastor’s wife. Hunt is a former SBC president and served as senior pastor of First Baptist Woodstock Church in Georgia for over 30 years. He resigned as Senior Vice President of Evangelism and Leadership of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) on May 13.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) president Danny Akin said in a letter to students he had made the “the decision to remove Dr. Hunt’s name from any association with programs, facilities, and other items.” Akin also announced plans to do the same with the name of Paige Patterson, another former SBC president and a key figure in the Conservative Resurgence.
In a video meeting Tuesday, EC chairman Rolland Slade, said, “This is a new day in the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, and our commitment is to be different.” The EC denounced a 2006 letter from former Executive Committee general counsel D. August “Augie” Boto that criticized survivor Christa Brown and rejected her requests for reform.
Guidepost’s report found that while publicly refusing to keep a database of abusers in the SBC, Boto and others were keeping their own secret database of alleged abusers. The EC has published this list, which is 205 pages, with some of the information redacted. Furthermore, Guidepost’s report found that local church autonomy was a frequent rationalization leaders used to rebuff survivors and avoid following up on abuse allegations.
Yet local church autonomy is one of Josh Buice’s primary concerns. Buice does not believe keeping a database of abusers will be helpful, saying, “Not only is this a bad idea from a legal standpoint (a simple Google search for ‘SBC sex victim report’ will reveal ambulance chasing law firms who are publishing ads seeking to gain clients in the wake of this investigation), it’s also a bad idea from a church government standpoint.”