Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a situation that you would never have believed if you hadn’t experienced it firsthand? My husband, John, found himself in just such a situation many years ago when he was a young man and we had only been married a few years. Through a sequence of events, he learned that he had been elected to the Board of Trustees of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This was many years before Dr. Al Mohler became President. John was only twenty-eight years old at the time.
The seminary had undergone a severe liberal drift over the decades before John came on Board. The entire Southern Baptist denomination was in turmoil because of a conflict between liberals and conservatives. These terms refer primarily to their views on Scripture, with conservatives believing the Bible was God’s Word, without error, while the liberals believed the Bible contained God’s Word but it also contained some errors so people had to try and decide which part of scripture was God’s Word and which was to be ignored because it wasn’t God’s Word. John stood solidly on the conservative side of the issues and became one of the first conservatives put on the Board during these years of controversy.
He didn’t go looking for trouble and was actually naïve about the issues at first. But he’s a quick learner and soon joined the fray. The story is riveting, recounting the drama of John’s ten years on the Board, and the changes that he helped bring about. His story reads like a whistle-blower novel with all the twists and turns any well-written fiction would have…but it’s not fiction. The things recorded in this book actually happened!
We embarked on writing this book over ten years ago. Finally, as the book neared completion, we sought a publisher. Talk about a run-around! First, we approached B&H (Lifeway’s publishing arm.). They refused it, though, in my opinion, this story was theirs to publish. We think they found it a bit too hot to handle, in that the story is a tell-all that steps on the toes of some well-known people.
Next, through an agent friend, we got in the door at P&R (Presbyterian & Reformed). They took our proposal to committee and kept it for months and months. They sent signals that gave us great hope, but in the end, they declined it. Then a boutique publisher, “Founders Press”, picked it up and offered us a contract, but it was not a contract we could agree to, mostly because of the question of who would own the rights to the story. So after more than a year of seeking publishers we were no closer than when we started.
I suggested we approach Gregg Bridgeman with Olivia Kimbrell Press, a small press/self-publishing company. Gregg had published my novel, The Whisper of the Palms and I had been very happy with the process and the end product. We sent him the manuscript to read. To our great joy, he agreed to publish it. John was not treated well at many times in his pursuit of doctrinal truth on behalf of the institution. Gregg Bridgman is a soldier, having served time in Afghanistan. I think it took a soldier to be willing to take this project on that others ran from. When we asked Gregg why he agreed when other companies had not, he responded, “It’s a story that needs to be told.”
Yes, it is! And it’s a story that needs to be read too, by anyone. It appeals to all. If placed in a different setting, the plot would have made a good intrigue novel—international business, for instance, instead of a religious institution.
So, after ten years of experiencing it, more than ten years of writing it, and more than three years trying to get it published, our book baby was finally born on Jan 15, 2020!
Look … wonder, be astounded. For I am doing a work in your time that you would not believe if told. Habakkuk 1:5 (ESV)
The book comes in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. To purchase, click Here.
Click-to-Tweet: “This story reads like a whistle-blower novel with all the twists and turns any well-written fiction would have, but it’s not fiction. The things recorded in this book actually happened!” — Harriet Michael via @InspiredPrompt