Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Of Castles and Kingdoms in Missouri

by Bruce Gourley

The Missouri Baptist Convention owns the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

Seriously, just ask them.

MBC policy dictates that “churches cannot include another denomination or convention in their budgets, financially support another such body’s work, or vote to send messengers to another denomination or convention’s meetings.” (As quoted from the September 21, 2006 edition of the Word & Way, not available online.) In other words, churches affiliated with the MBC can only play with the MBC and SBC, and to dare join hands with any other Christians means the offending church will be cast into outer Missouri darkness, where presumably there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, or something like that. Of course, the barrel of this policy bazooka is aimed squarely at Missouri churches that partner with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, otherwise known as the devil’s playground.

This month the MBC branded 24 Baptist churches in Missouri with a scarlet “EL” for holding hands with the devil (the “EL” referring to “evil liberal”). And if the branding does not scare the hell out of the 24 churches, the MBC will release them fully into the clutches of the pitch-forked one.

I can see the sinister smiles of the members of the MBC credentials committee as they slam the door shut on their fellow Baptists. “You’re not worthy of our holiness,” they sneer in delight, congratulating themselves on protecting God from the filth of the evil CBFers.

No wonder so many outside observers think Baptists are morons … if they bother to think about Baptists in the first place.

As I think about the MBC Cardinals sitting upon their mighty thrones, issuing edicts to Baptist churches, I am reminded of a scene from the greatest movie of all time, The Princess Bride. As the heroes, led by the Man in Black (who has just been brought back from the dead by Miracle Max, played by Billy Crystal), limp forward to assault the mighty castle of the evil king and his henchman, the Five Fingered Man, Miracle Max asks his wife (played by Carol Kane), “Do you think it’ll work?” (referring to the efforts of the heroes). “It would take a miracle,” Kane deadpans.

But in the case of the MBC, assaulting their castle is not necessary, as it is already floating out to sea, sails filled with hot air, following the current of self-righteousness and growing ever fainter on the horizon of institutional isolation. And it appears that it would take a true miracle to bring the MBC back to their senses.


Blogger Kaylor said...


As a Missouri Baptist, let me say that you have done a good job of pointing out just how tragic this situation is. (By the way, I think the Word&Way article you quote from is here.) For a little satire on the situation, check out my column Dear Pluto. It is based on the single alignment letter sent to two dozen churches, with many phrases left the same word-for-word or drawn from other MBC statements.

Since I love The Princess Bride, I enjoyed your analogy. Here is a piece I wrote a few months ago about Don Hinkle (editor of the Missouri Baptist Convention's newsletter) that uses the movie: Inconceivable!

Thanks again for the post.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Bruce Gourley said...


Thanks for the link to the Word&Way article, and for pointing me to your previous Vizzini article regarding Don Hinkle and the MBC. I hope true Missouri Baptists will ultimately stand up to the small-minded bullies of the MBC.


11:21 AM  

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