Rainer doesn't like criticism. He believes for pastors "criticism is a huge distraction". Criticism of pastors (and presumably "men of God" who head SBC agencies) is one of Satan's greatest weapons to distract them from doing so much good for the Lord.
Rainer demonstrated this at the Annual Meeting this week when one of his critics rose to ask a very important question about Lifeway.
A messenger from a small baptist church in Tennessee rose to ask a question following Rainer's report on his agency. This is standard practice - the head of the SBC agencies and seminaries deliver their report to the messengers, and then there are open mikes set up for questions to be asked of the agency head. The question from this messenger was a fair one, and it was regarding what biblical criteria Lifeway uses to select books that it sells through its outlets. Very fair question as obviously not all "Christian" publications are sold at Lifeway, but some controversial ones are.
Instead of Rainer articulating a concise answer to the question of "what biblical criteria does Lifeway use in selecting publications it sells"...he chose instead to embarrass and belittle the questioner, and then flat out refuse to answer the question. He said the questioner had contacted Lifeway before, that he had asked the question at previous annual meetings, had contacted board members, etc. How many times this questioner had asked the question previously was not important - it was clear to me Rainer wanted to write this guy off as just a nutcase who already had his question answered. Thus, Rainer said his question was not worthy of his time.
That is ridiculous. The man who asked the question cited specific examples of publications and topics sold at Lifeway stores over which he had concern. He wanted an answer not just for himself, but for the entire convention. Lifeway's selection process is an important matter to many people and has been the subject of much scrutiny in recent years. Jim Smyrl of FBC Jax was extremely concerned two years ago, and he wrote about this as I described on my blog. The messenger's church paid for an airplane ticket and hotel room for him to go and participate in the convention to contribute to the SBC on matters of policy and theology and ministry. The man did what he was sent there to do, and Rainer refused to answer his question. You'll see on the video the man tried to follow up, but he was cut off by Bryant Wright. The next softball question to Rainer was to his liking, so he told the man it was a "good question" and answered it.
It is a good thing that no one stood up and asked Rainer about the nepotism he fosters at his agency by co-authoring books and pushing the books of his three sons. I was hoping that Tim Rogers would step up to the mike and dare to ask Rainer about the Rainer nepotism issue that Rogers wrote about here. I suppose Rainer would have refused to answer that one too.
Time was not a factor in Rainer's response. There were no lines of other questioners at the mikes. Rainer, king of Lifeway, man who thinks criticism is a distraction, just decided he wasn't going to answer a very important question in front of the messengers.
Great example of why there are blogs. Some pastors just refuse to answer questions publicly, or privately for that matter. They think they are above having to answer to peons like this small-church pastor, let alone from some untrained lay person.
Contrast Rainer's condescending non-response, to Al Mohler's response to Peter Lumpkins' question on Mohler's views on homosexuality and how the SBC has been "homophobic". Mohler answered the question directly, he said that the words Lumpkins attributed to him were in fact correct, and then Mohler went on to use the opportunity to make a GREAT point about how the SBC has to do a better job of reaching out to homosexuals with the gospel.
Questions about Mohler's views on ministry to homosexuality are ok, but don't dare ask Thom Rainer to publicly explain how his agency selects publications.