Jeff Straub publishes a report on the ETS proceedings concerning the late attempt at tightening up the ETS doctrinal basis. His report, especially the last four paragraphs, provide interesting reading.
The Vote—The final business meeting came early Friday morning. The final issue on the agenda was this vote which was placed before the membership. Less than 5 percent of the society’s 4,600-plus members attended the business meeting, but the constitution specifies that such an amendment requires an affirmation from 80% of those attending the business meeting, not of ETS as a whole. A standing vote took place, and 46 of the 177 members who voted favored the amendment. Apparently, people who attended the business meeting simply abstained. Immediately after the vote, ETS secretary-treasurer James Borland moved to adjourn. President Bullock accepted the motion with a second, despite loud objections. He then put the motion to the gathered members. Over the voices of more noisy protests, the motion carried and the meeting was adjourned. Members quickly filed out of the hall.
Several members approached the platform to question President Bullock’s speedy closing of the meeting. Grudem, among others, was frustrated that his planned proposal was preempted. Bullock explained to those gathered around him on the platform that had the vote been stronger, he would have allowed for the Grudem motion. Since, in his opinion, there was a weak showing to the amendment, he felt justified in closing the meeting. Other members of the executive committee seemingly were caught off guard. It was an unexpected and disappointing conclusion.
If the ETS follows Robert’s Rules of Order, a motion to adjourn cannot be debated, it is a privileged motion. Since this is so, the abrupt ending without debate was legitimate under the rules of order, but it also was clearly a power play on the part of quicker witted opponents of doctrinal amendment.
Should we be surprised? It is ever thus!
Look back at the records of the meetings in the days of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy and I would expect you will see similar power plays by savvy modernists and their moderate enablers to head the conservatives off at the pass. Same old story here. The simple and naive are tripped up by procedure. No surprise. Kind of funny, though, in an ironic sort of way. I don’t know why victims of this power play should be surprised. They aren’t going to win in the game of political hardball.
It remains to be seen what the ETS membership will do in light of this decision. Many of those present, including Grudem and the two Southern Baptist men who originally proposed the motion, were disappointed. Since the meeting ended, however, Burk and Van Neste think they have gained some ground in that the executive committee is now motivated to take up the matter more closely. One thing became patently obvious: the society needs a parliamentarian to help run its meetings. For two members of the executive committee to limit further discussion, without the knowledge of the committee as a whole, seems odd. Time may have played a factor as further discussion would have taken the meeting over its allotted time slot.
Gained ground? Right. Mark these fellows down as hopelessly naive.
The society needs a parliamentarian to run its meetings? Hah! They obviously have one and he ran his opponents into the ground. What the conservatives need is to realize who and what they are dealing with. And perhaps they need to read the rules of order again.
The motion failed for several reasons. First, those who supported it early in the discussion failed to attend the vote in sufficient strength to carry the day. Even some who favored the motion on Wednesday were missing at the vote on Friday. Moreover, the statement itself, while broad enough for some, was too narrow for others. One Arminian argued that he could not sign it because the statement affirms that all humans are guilty. He believes, however, that infants, though sinful, are not actually guilty until they commit personal sin. So it seems that while the statement is broad, it is not broad enough. Another man suggested that the statement would omit Landmark Baptists because it affirmed the universal church. In the end, perhaps Mohler will prove to be prophetic. Maybe ETS is really a society about the study of evangelicalism rather than a group of evangelical scholars, though doubtless many will dispute this interpretation. Time will tell.
Those who supported it earlier didn’t support it sincerely enough to bother to show up and vote. Right! Do the words ‘lip service’ carry any meaning? If you support something that is going to be voted on, you show up to vote. Actions speak louder than words.
One of the things that is ironic here is that we see again the display of the left’s superior politicking. The conservatives usually don’t have this figured out and usually get overridden every time. This is just like the old controversies of the twenties. What is even more ironic is the so-called fundies who are surprised (and involved) in all of this.
Deja vu, anyone?