Posted in theology

Why the Jennifer Buck issue is a watershed moment for the SBC

By Elizabeth Prata

We are looking at a watershed moment. We are seeing it happen in real time. We see who, and we know why. It’s not often we understand that THE turning point is happening when it is happening, but we do today.

A watershed moment is defined:

an event marking a unique or important historical change of course or one on which important developments depend

a turning point, the exact moment that changes the direction of an activity or situation

A scandal erupted recently involving some executive higher ups in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and Tom Buck and his wife Jennifer Buck. I won’t go into all the details because others have and they have explained more fully what happened. My indignation is deeply grieved over the details, but is also more universal than that.

Brief recap

In 2018 Pastor Tom Buck’s wife Jennifer wrote up a testimony of what Jesus had done in their marriage 25 years ago when they were newly married. This testimony had been verbally delivered many times to members of their church in counseling sessions and other places. Locals knew of the great work Jesus had done in uniting a drifting couple from years ago, dampening building resentments, and handling anger issues between them. Mighty is He to save…marriages!

The Bucks often lauded Jesus all these years for His intervention and in creating a beautiful picture over time of the Gospel and its power. So in 2018 Jennifer and Tom thought others might be encouraged by their testimony, and Jennifer wrote it up.

Not being a writer per se, Jennifer contacted someone in the literary world known for her writing and editing skills, and that person was asked to review the testimony and share constructive criticism with Jennifer so she could make a final draft. This person was the sole possessor of the draft and the person was told it should remain that way until it was finalized.

The chosen editor was in a bad car accident and dropped out of public life for a while to recover. Jennifer’s writing project stalled and stayed on the back burner, almost forgotten … until this month.

“Somehow” the draft resurfaced, was passed around to executives and higher ups in the SBC, gossiped about, and maliciously used as a weapon to try and discredit Tom (an outspoken critic of the leftward drift of the SBC). It had been published without her permission, the early draft that contained information that in the end, Jennifer did not want made public…but “somehow”, it was.

Questions to ponder

Whether the draft was consciously and knowingly held for 4 years because opponents recognized its value as a weapon, (?) or whether it was rediscovered recently and consciously and knowingly used as a weapon, (?) the fact remains, it was used as a weapon. It was circulated without permission, it was used to discredit a brother and a pastor in the faith, and it was used to embarrass a married couple in the faith.

Here is the watershed moment that upsets me so greatly:

EPrata photo


Someone or Someones held that draft in their hand. They looked at it, with the author’s emotions laid on the page, her raw feelings poured out and her heart opened bare. All for the cause of Christ and to extol Him who saves souls and restores marriages. The Someone or Someones had a CHOICE.

They could choose to use the draft for the glory of Jesus’ name, its original intent, or they could use it in a gross political game to push forward a fleshly agenda and in the process deliberately hurt or even destroy a brother and sister. They could have called up Jennifer and helped her finalize the draft and happily publish it to the edification of many in their own denomination, or they could darkly connive to use it in a way that did the most damage to someone they disliked. They could glorify God, or they could exalt themselves.

You know what they chose.

Now, these are people who lead a denomination. They are people who help others lead the denomination. The denomination was founded for the name of Christ and all its doings are supposed to be for the glory of Christ. Yet, they chose sin, not Christ.

They chose sin. Publicly, unquestionably, shamelessly. Are these the sort of people you want leading you, representing you?


That brings us to the fifth way God is glorified, which is not in parts, but in the whole of our lives. Just as God’s own glory is the fullness of His being, so must our response of glorifying Him be found not in limited actions but in the whole fabric of our lives. “We may think that God wants actions of a certain kind, but God wants people of a certain sort,” C.S. Lewis wrote. In other words, we glorify God by consecrating the whole of our lives—every hour, every relationship, every conversation, every possession, every endeavor, with faith and repentance, starting and stumbling and beginning ever anew—to Him. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31, emphasis added). ~Source TableTalk Magazine


What ‘sort of people’ are these, anyway? Dead. Too harsh? We’ll see.

He who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, and yet you are dead. (Revelation 3:1)

The SBC had a reputation for a long time of being ‘people of the Book.’ Of being stalwart in their pursuit of God, of being conservative, of aligning with the Bible in all its precepts. At times there was even a whiff of smug satisfaction that those other denominations were drifting, becoming liberal, but the SBC remains the lone city on a hill shining its beacon abroad. Hm.

Yet at some point, the loose conglomeration of people in this organization, and I won’t even call it a denomination anymore (for I fear it has nothing to do with Christ, at its highest, decision-making levels), became infected with rot. Trees suffer from something arborists call heart-rot, and it’s apt. The reputation went on in front of the SBC, its deeds became known so they seemed to be alive, BUT ARE DEAD.

Too harsh? Well the church at Sardis was told otherwise in Revelation 3. It IS possible for a church to seem to be thriving, active, and performing many deeds, but inside the heart-rot was killing it all along. It happened to Sardis. In my opinion it happened to the SBC.

McLaren’s Expositions of Revelation 3:1

One characteristic of their death is that they have forgotten what they were in better and happier times, and therefore need the exhortation, ‘Remember how thou hast received and didst hear.’ They have fallen so far that the height on which they once stood is out of their sight, and they are content to lie on the muddy flat at its base. No stings from conscious decline disturb them. They are too far gone for that. The same round of formal Christian service which marked their decline from their brethren hid it from themselves. ~Source McLaren’s Expositions of Revelation 3:1

Someone or Someones held a document in their hand. It could exalt the name of Christ, or it could be used to try and destroy brethren. You know what they chose. Now they are lying in a muddy pigpen at the base of a mountain whose apex they can no longer see. And worst of all, they seem happy there.

For nothing is concealed that will not become evident, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Luke 8:17


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

4 thoughts on “Why the Jennifer Buck issue is a watershed moment for the SBC

  1. I’m fairly new to all this. When I was saved out of the new age, I heard the rumblings and whispers about the SBC but I skimmed over posts because, well to be honest I was trying to find my footing and to me it seemed like unnecessary bickering, gossip, backstabbing, he said she said ….. and it reminded me of cliques within the indie book community, new age community, and politicians. BUT THIS …. wow, aren’t we supposed to be walking in the image of Christ? and these people ….. the ones who are just out for themselves have forgotten that key point. But of course, someone is using the excuse I’ve heard way too much lately, “I’m doing this for the good of the people.” no….no you’re not.

    Is this God’s way of shining the light on the evil within our society? maybe.
    But what the person did was purely for self. It was for gain. It was to hurt.

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    1. I’m with you. I try to ignore denominational doings, and focus on the people of sphere I’m in and walking in the image of Christ. But the bulk of issues has reached critical mass for me and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. President of the SBC Ed Litton’s plagiarism is a sin that hurts; but more abstractly, this, THIS, directly and purposely hurt individuals. I can’t stomach that.

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