Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Small Souls...

I am an American Baptist (ABC-USA). I pastor an American Indian American Baptist church. I haven't always been an ABC pastor. Once upon a time (for 35 years) I pastored Southern Baptist churches. Fundamentalism came along and ruined the denomination I loved. I resisted fundamentalism among Southern Baptists and spoke vocally against it. The results of my vocal dissent led the fundamentalists to exclude me. I was pushed out of my job as Director of Missions of the Grady Baptist Association in Oklahoma.

After a year of being out of active ministry, I became the pastor of a small ABC church in Watonga, Oklahoma. I am blessed to serve this church and have grown to dearly love the people I serve. God has richly blessed me and the church. This past June, I had occasion to attend my first national ABC convention, which is held biennially (the ABC-USA Biennial). I am at home among American Baptists churches because they are, as I am, moderate Baptists. The happiest years of my ministry have been the last two and a half.

I went to Denver in June knowing there was a movement that would attempt to change the denomination. I half expected to see a floor fight wherein the fundamentalists would raise a nasty fuss. That did not happen. There was some hall-talk that the fundamentalists might attempt to impose their views on the denomination. Been there and done that on far too many occasions.

For me the highlight of the biennial was the message given by the Dr. Roy Medley, General Secretary of the ABC-USA. His message was powerful and prophetic. He warned the denomination to resist the temptation to fracture and separate. The moderates wanted all ABC churches to continue to work together despite their differences. The fundamentalists did not feel they could work cooperatively with those who did not excommunicate churches that were welcoming and affirming. Homosexuality was the hot button issue.

In his plea to the denomination Dr. Medley said...

"We stand at a crossroads... In our world, the path of radical discipleship -- the path of radical love -- is the road less taken. We dare not choose another. We dare not choose the wrong road ... The road that leads to separation. That choice will certainly unite you with like-minded people but will give you small souls and make you comfortable Christians."

Small souls? Small souls! Today I learned that there is an entire region that is preparing to split from the denomination. They're doing this all because they could get their selfish ways at the Biennial. The region (ABCPSW - American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest) is going to leave the denomination. Evidently, fundamentalism's powerful influence caused their souls to become so small that they cannot work with those who do not agree with or conform to their views.

My soul is sad to see these small souls leave the denomination. But fundamentalism does that to folks. I can't understand it. I can't understand how people can bow to the influences of fundamentalism. In my mind, fundamentalism is pure evil. Radical fundamentalism in anything fosters evil. Radical fundamentalism in religion always ends with legalists attempting to superimpose their wills upon others. Fundamentalism seeks to control. This is true in politics. It's true anywhere.

Small souls... A small number of small souls among Southern Baptists took over and ruined the entire denomination. The Southern Baptists of today are but a shell of their former self. They have isolated themselves from the rest of the world of Baptists. They are arrogant in their small souls. Now a small number of small souls in the ABC are leaving the denomination. That's sad. Perhaps it's better that they leave than transform the entire denomination into small souls as did the Southern Baptists...

16 comments:

D.R. said...

David, I think it is easy to say that the conservatives have small souls and cast them off as basically idiots. What about their convictions concerning the Bible? Why do you assume selfishness when they seem to assert that they split because they feel they can no longer be a part of an organization that opposes the plain truth of the Bible, such as that homosexuality is a sin? I realize that everything that the SBC leaders did in the resurgence wasn't Christlike, but does that mean that they did not have some motivation to preserve the essentials of the faith, calling to account those like E. Glenn Hinson who openly declared that salvation could be lost and others who claimed that Jesus was not truly divine?

Seems to me that we should separate ourselves from those who do not value the truth, for that is the essence of unity -- standing in likemindedness in the truth of Christ.

Speedzzter said...

d.r. is absolutely correct. (Oops, "absolutely" is probably a "small" fundamentalist word).

Rev. Flick's thoughts on the alleged ABC split are not theologically precise. His charges are conclusionary slogans lacking specificity.

"Cooperation" with people who deny the truth of Scripture is simply compromise.

As the LORD said in Matthew 10:34 (KJV)

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

In other words, an "authentic" Christian life isn't always about peace and unity . . . .

Curiously, Rev. Flick does not address the Fundamentalists' substantive objections to the sin of homosexual conduct. Thus, I'm reminded of the following:

Romans 1:18-2:4 18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

[Ironic, isn't it? The Anti-fundamentalists guilty of exactly what they charge against the so-called Fundies!]

2 Timothy 3
1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

Jude
5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord[c] delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

8In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. 9But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" 10Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.**

11Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion.

12These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.


II Corinthians 4

1Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God.*** On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.


1 Corinthians 3 [Emphasis added]

16Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. ****

18Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"[a]; 20and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.

[**** An inquiring mind wonders if the sort of "gay" conduct representated as normal and commonplace in Randy Shilts book And the Band Played On -- which did arguably contribute to hundreds of thousands of deaths -- would be admonished by verse 16?]

1 Corinthians 6

9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

12"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13"Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."[b] 17But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Maybe Rev. Flick can blog a sermon on these passages which will defend accomodation of homosexual conduct, but I doubt it.

David Flick said...

Speedzzter wrote: Maybe Rev. Flick can blog a sermon on these passages which will defend accomodation of homosexual conduct, but I doubt it.

I wouldn't attempt to blog a sermon using those passages, Speedzzter. I'm opposed to homosexuality but I'm certainly not a homophobe. The "small souls" of the ABC (and other denominations) demand control over local churches. That isn't, and never has been, the Baptist way of doing things. Homosexuality is sin, but homosexuality doesn't exclude a single soul from salvation. Traditional Baptists don't exclude persons from churches based solely on sexual sins.

If you're going to kick out all the homosexuals, then when are you going to start on the adulterers? Those verses you quote above speak to all sorts of sins. If you're going to be consistent with Scripture, you're going to have to go after those full of envy, the murders, those who cause strife, the deceitful, and those filled with malice. You're going to have to go after the gossips, the slanderers, the God-haters, the insolent, the arrogant and the boastful.

But the hypocritical fundamentalists go after only the homosexuals and forget all the others. Maybe Speedzzter could use his own scriptural passages (the ones he listed above) and blog a sermon that hits all the sinners. But I doubt it. He's too selective with his sins....

Speedzzter said...

No one is suggesting that homosexuality is some sort of "super-duper" sin (notwithstanding the rather dramatic demise of Sodom and Gomorrah). Sin is sin.

However, scripture does teach that sins against one's own body are especially destructive and dishonorable (see prior comment). And Paul does specifically identify same-sex perversion as one indicator of depravity and spiritual blindness. Id.

Any church with a biblical view of scriptural church discipline will not ignore, much less sanction open adulterous conduct any more than they should open homosexual conduct.

The "welcoming and affirming" jibber-jabber of the left is nothing more than a way of saying the church will ignore politically-incorrect sins.

Culturally-compromised churches which consider same-sex unions, homosexual marriage and practicing homosexual clergy have abandoned the teachings of the passages I cited and have adopted the foolish "wisdom" of this age as their false "god."

"If you're going to be consistent with Scripture, you're going to have to go after those full of envy, the murders, those who cause strife, the deceitful, and those filled with malice. You're going to have to go after the gossips, the slanderers, the God-haters, the insolent, the arrogant and the boastful."

Indeed!

Acts 2:38
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 3:19
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

Acts 8:22
Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

James 1:21
21Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

James 4
4Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

5Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

6But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Nothing in the foregoing should give any comfort or "affirmation" to anyone who wants to live a sinful lifestyle, whether homosexual or not, while dabbling in a church.

David Flick said...

David: "If you're going to be consistent with Scripture, you're going to have to go after those full of envy, the murders, those who cause strife, the deceitful, and those filled with malice. You're going to have to go after the gossips, the slanderers, the God-haters, the insolent, the arrogant and the boastful."

Speedzzter: "Indeed!"

David: So when are you going to begin being consistent with Scripture instead of concentrating solely on the homosexuals? When are you going to begin kicking out churches who welcome and affirm those full of envy, those who cause strife, the deceitful, and those filled with malice? When are you going to begin kicking churches out who welcome and affirm the gossips, the slanderers, the insolent, the arrogant, and the boastful?

Speedzzter said...

The MBC, the Southern Baptists of Texas, the Conservative movements across the South . . . they've already made a fairly decent start!

When godly preachers powerfully, specifically, and unashamedly preach against all forms of sin with holy conviction; when Spirit-filled leaders humble themselves and pray with fervor; when laymen commit themselves to growth in discipleship, sanctification and evangelism; when godly churchmen stand up and lead their families according to the teachings of Scripture; and when church leaders drop the sham of "tolerating," "excusing," "welcoming" and "affirming" open and notorious sin in the Body of Christ, THEN those unrepentant ones who insist on living full of envy, causing strife, actingly deceitfully and with malice, the gossips, the slanderers, the insolent, the arrogant, and the boastful become so uncomfortable under the conviction of the Holy Spirit that they generally either yield or leave.

For those who don't repent and therefore are in conflict with the Body, Jesus describes specifically how the Church must deal with them. See Matt. 18:15-17. See also http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=532 (comprehensive outline on the doctrine of Church discipline).

These controversies are not about churches who welcome struggling sinners who are trying to stop sinning and are honestly seeking. This is about accepting and condoning homosexuality in the Body of Christ as normative and not sinful (at least in "committed" relationships).

These controversies are not about churches who minister to broken homes, the addicted, the homeless, the hungry and the hurting. Every true Christian does this. This is about ignoring the responsiblity of the Church to not only minister to such suffering and to bring souls affected thereby to conversion, but to help all the saints in Christ become sanctified and to hold each of them accountable.

Churches that don't preach the whole Bible without apology-- those who neglect the awful doctrine of Hell and candy-coat specific sins under the false opiate of a modern, permissive, all-loving, grandfatherly "God" or excuse the "hard" passages as relics of a bygone era -- are no better than the Church at Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29) or at Pergamos (Rev. 2:12-17).

Would any New Testament church allow a meth addict to "tweak" in the sanctuary? Would any such church serve alcohol to a drunk? Would any such church open its doors as a house of prostitution? Would it teach covetousness or bearing false witness? Would such church encourage their youth to explore fornication or opposite sex sodomy? Would such a church advise members how to cheat on their taxes or accept donations from immoral or illegal gains? Yet when "open, welcoming and affirming" congregations ignore the unequivocal teaching of Scripture on homosexual conduct (note I didn't write "homosexuality"), as well as its horrible health and social costs, they are condoning and facilitating such conduct. When they campaign for "gay rights," they are tilling and fertilizing the ground of society for growing the seeds of Sodom's perversion.

Your responses thus far are disingenuous because they wholly ignore the specifics of what the "welcoming and affirming" jibber-jabber is really all about.

David Flick said...

Speedzzter: Your responses thus far are disingenuous because they wholly ignore the specifics of what the "welcoming and affirming" jibber-jabber is really all about.

Speedzzter, your responses are --as General Honore to said to a reporter in a press conference in New Orleans-- "stuck on stupid."

SmallSoul said...

Anything that suggests that a bunch of so-called "fundamentalists" wants to exercise control over autonomous congregations is patently absurd and decidedly disingenuous. All of those seeking to correct the denomination over the presenting issue of toleration and open celebration of homosexuality, but more importantly the underlying issue of biblical authority, uphold unconditionally the autonomy of local congregation of the Church, including their absolute right to whatever forms of faith and practice they desire -- orthodox, unorthodox or heretical. However they -- we -- do not uphold their right to do so in association without accountability. The dynamics change when autonomous bodys engage together associationally; even the first Baptist association in America made that clear:

The following was prepared, edited and entered into the Minutes of the Philadelphia Baptist Association from A.D. 1707 to A.D. 1807 by A.D. Gillette:
_________________________

At our annual Association, met September the 19th, 1749, an essay on the power and duty of an Association of churches was proposed, as above hinted, to the consideration of the Association; and the same, upon mature deliberation, was approved and subscribed by the whole house; and the contents of the same was ordered to be transcribed as the judgment of the Association, in order to be inserted in the Association book, to the end and purpose that it may appear what power an Association of churches hath, and what duty is incumbent on an Association; and prevent the contempt with which some are ready to treat such an assembly, and also to prevent any future generation from claiming more power than they ought — lording it over the churches.

ESSAY

That an Association is not a superior judicature, having such superior power over the churches concerned; but that each particular church hath a complete power and authority from Jesus Christ, to administer all gospel ordinances, provided they have a sufficiency of officers duly qualified, or that they be supplied by the officers of another sister church or churches, as baptism and the Lord’s supper, &c.; and to receive in and cast out, and also to try and ordain their own officers, and to exercise every part of gospel discipline and church government, independent of any other church or assembly whatever.

And that several such independent churches, where Providence gives them their situation convenient, may, and ought, for their mutual strength, counsel, and other valuable advantages, by their voluntary and free consent, to enter into an agreement and confederation, as is hinted to in our printed Narrative of discipline...

Such churches there must be agreeing in doctrine and practice, and independent in their authority and church power, before they can enter into a confederation, as aforesaid, and choose delegates or representatives, to associate together; and thus the several independent churches being the constituents, the association, council or assembly of their delegates, when assembled, is not deemed a superior judicature, as having superintendency over the churches, but subservient to the churches, in what may concern all the churches in general, or any one church in particular; and, though no power can regularly arise above its foundation from where it rises, yet we are of the opinion, that an Association of the delegates of associate churches have a very considerable power in their hands, respecting those churches in their confederation; for if the agreement of several distinct churches, in sound doctrine and regular practice, be the first motive, ground, and foundation or basis of their confederation, then it must naturally follow, that a defection in doctrine or practice in any church, in such confederation, or any party in any such church, is ground sufficient for an Association to withdraw from such a church or party so deviating or making defection, and to exclude such from them in some formal manner, and to advertise all the churches in confederation thereof, in order that every church in confederation may withdraw from such in all acts of church communion, to then end that they may be ashamed, and that all the churches may discountenance such, and bear testimony against the defection.

And further, that an Association of the delegates of confederate church may doctrinally declare any person or party in a church, who are defective in principles or disorderly in practice, to be censurable, when the affair comes under their cognizance, and without exceeding the bounds of their true duty, to advise the church that such belong unto, how to deal with such, according to the rule of gospel discipline, and also to strengthen such a church, and assist her, if need be, by sending able men of their own number to help the church in executing the power vested in her by the ordinance of Jesus Christ, and stand by her, and to defend her against the insults of such offending parties.
____________________________

Note that this is from an association that continues on to this day as part of ABC/USA. From its history, we can see that the "associational principle" may best be summarized as follows:

I. The Motives for Associating
A. mutual strength
B. mutual counsel
C. other valuable advantages

II. The Ground, Foundation and Basis of an Association, namely the agreement of distinct churches in:
A. sound doctrine
B. regular practice

III. The Authority, Duties and Limitations of an Association, namely a defection in doctrine or practice in any church in such association, or any party in any such church, is ground sufficient for:
A. withdrawal of the Association and its churches from such a church or party
B. exclusion of such of them in some formal manner
C. publication to all the Association’s churches in order that every church in confederation may withdraw from such in all acts of church communion, to then end that:
1. the defecting church or party may become ashamed,
2. that all the churches may discountenance such and bear testimony against the defection, and
3. when the affair comes under their cognizance, without exceeding the bounds of their true duty:
a. advise their churches how to deal with such according to the rule of gospel discipline
b. strengthen and assist their churches, if need be, by sending able men of their own number to help the church in executing the power vested in them by the ordinance of Jesus Christ, and
c. stand by their churches to defend them against the insults of offending parties.

Of course, in a reading of this document, we can easily see how the currently prevailing view of Baptist associations at the local, regional and national in American Baptist life has fallen short of the original ideal, but we should all be equally convicted of our gradual complicity in failing one another especially with regard to the final paragraph. In regard to all of the things that have transpired, we have failed to advise, strengthen, assist, stand by and defend one another “against the insults of such offending parties,” rather we have allowed things to progress so far as to find the majority virtually irretrievable from the claws and jaws of wolves (Matt. 7:15; 10:16; 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; Luke 6:26; 10:3; Acts 13:6; 20:28–29; II Pet. 2:1; I John 4:1; etc.), acting more like the hired hand described in John 10:12: “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.”

About this much more could be said, but the fact of the matter is that this is where we find ourselves.

Bro. Small Soul
Prescott Jay Erwin, Pastor
Brownstown First Baptist Church, Indiana

David Flick said...

Bro. Smallsoul: "Anything that suggests that a bunch of so-called "fundamentalists" wants to exercise control over autonomous congregations is patently absurd and decidedly disingenuous."

David: First Bro. Smallsoul, I want to thank you for exposing the size of your soul. At least you are honest to the fundamentalist point of view, which is a determination to exercise control over all churches in the denomination.

Secondly, your argument is fatally flawed if you think those of your persuasion are not attempting to control the heart and soul of the ABCUSA. You and your friends have same mentality as the fundamentalists of the Southern Baptist Convention. You and your friends are seeking to wrest control of the denomination. Having spent 35 years ministering in SBC churches and serving in mid-level SBC denominational positions, I am more than familiar with your modus operandi. The fatal flaws of your argument may be expressed as follows:

A) Appealing to the minutes of an association that has been dead for nearly 200 years (Philadelphia Association; 1707-1807) in no way speaks to the current denomination. Granted, any association of Baptists can set the guidelines and draw the parameters as narrow as they choose. Said associations may also exclude member churches for not maintaining a brand of orthodoxy that suits their fancy. The fatal flaw in your argument is that the ABCUSA is NOT the Philadelphia Association. In fact the ABCUSA wasn’t formed as a denomination until around 1845 when the SBC broke away from them over the issue of slavery. Furthermore, the ABCUSA is not and has never been governed by the rules of the Philadelphia Association. Thus appealing to the documents written by the long-dead association is a blatant attempt to establish control over the denomination. It’s the same modus operandi the fundies of the SBC used to gain control over their denomination.

B) The essay suggests “[T]hat an Association is not a superior judicature, having such superior power over the churches.” But using this as an argument against attempting to control the denomination ludicrous. If an association possess the power to kick churches out because they don’t adhere to particular brand of orthodoxy, the association is indeed a “ superior judicature .” The very reason you are appealing to the Philadelphia Association’s is an attempt to change the entire denomination. Currently, the ABCUSA is a denomination of free Baptists. No single association (or region) controls the denomination. But the fundamentalists among us are attempting gain control and force the denomination into their narrow parameters. It’s an attitude with no latitude, which is exactly the same as what the SBC fundamentalists accomplished.

C) The essay suggests that “[S]uch churches … must be agreeing in doctrine and practice, and independent in their authority and church power, before they can enter into a confederation). This idea is fatally flawed because the ABCUSA is already a functioning confederation of churches. The denomination is not entering a confederation of churches. The fundamentalists are attempting to force an existing confederation of churches to adhere to a particular brand of orthodoxy fostered by a minority. This is a power-mongering move unique to most all fundamentalists. The Southern Baptists took their confession of faith (the Baptist Faith and Message) and converted it into a creed. They then used the man-made creed and fired seminary professors and hundreds of International missionaries from their jobs because they refused to sign it. One thing I sincerely appreciate about the ABCUSA is the total absence of creeds or confessions. If the small-souled ABC fundamentalists succeed in getting their way, they will write a creed and use it to kick churches out of the denomination. That’s exactly what Dr. Medley warned us against doing. Did you attend the last Biennial in Denver? Have you forgotten so quickly?

D) One of the trademarks of small souls is that they believe they are the only people who can accurately interpret the Bible. They believe their view of Scripture is the last word. They believe any person (in this case, Baptist) who disagrees with them is wrong. They believe in a peculiar brand of inerrancy that defies common sense. What they fail to recognize is that there are other ways that Baptists can interpret the Bible. I dealt with that messy stuff for years in the Southern Baptist Convention. I believe the Bible and accept it as the final authority for my personal faith and practice. Fundamentalists have an attitude without latitude when it comes to interpreting the Bible. But as a Bible believing Baptist, nobody can, or will, steal my Baptist belief in the priesthood of believers. That Baptist right and privilege was stolen from me while I was a Southern Baptist. I’m not going to stand idly by and let it happen a second time. I will oppose any and all attempts to have the denomination in which I serve to be stolen from me again.

If the small souls of the ABC want to leave and go do their own thing I will hate to see it happen. But I think it would be better to see them leave than to see them takeover the denomination and leave me trapped in a position I was in for 25 of the last 35 years…

SmallSoul said...

Clearly, you have no idea what a fundamentalist is. Your argumentation is as fatally flawed as you accuse mine of being.

A) Your historical knowledge is a bit wanting. The organization that would eventually mutate into ABC/USA began long before 1845; The General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America for Foreign Missions (the Triennial Convention) was formed in 1814. When congregations in the South removed themselves in 1845, the Triennial Conventioned renamed itself the American Baptist Missionary Union. It continued on with only small organizational adjustments until 1907 when it completely reorganized itself as the Northern Baptist Convention. Following the Modernist-Fundamentalist controversies of 1920s and 1940s when fundamentalists left NBC to form new organizations, the NBC reorganized itself in 1950 as the American Baptist Convention. A major restructuring of ABC took place in 1972 -- the year that those pushing the homosexual agenda "became vocal and visible for the first time" (according to the AW&AB website) -- with the formation of ABC/USA. When ABC/USA leaders saw what was happening to the SBC in the 1980s, they pushed by-laws changes that prevent a similar occurrance in ABC/USA. Thanks to these changes, according to the Rev. Dr., Gen. Sec. Roy Medley in a meeting last month, if a congregation affiliated with ABC/USA was to declare itself racist as part of its organizational principles and was somehow to fenagle positions on the General Board and other denominational leadership positions, there would be nothing any of the rest of us could do to remedy the circumstance; that's pretty disturbing.

B) Appeal to history is neither ignorant nor the exlusive purview of "fundamentalists;" liberals and moderates appeal to history when it suits their purposes as well. Especially humorous is their appeal to Roger Williams as a great Baptist. Certainly he helped form the first Baptist congregation in American, but remained part of that congregation for only about a year before he found he did not agree with Baptist doctrine and practice and split from it. American Baptist denominational leadership constantly appeals to what they call historical Baptist principles, but they redefine them so as to be virtually unrecognizable according to history.

Did I say that we should be governed by the findings of the Philadelphia Association? Of course not. But there are timeless Baptist associational principles that should be considered.

C) Your understanding and characterization of what occurred in the SBC is quite skewed. I also lived and ministered through the conservative resurgence of the SBC and am proud of where it is today. The accusation of "creedalism" simply doesn't hold up under an honest assessment of where the denomination is today.

As for my congregation, they have already chosen to leave ABC/USA. They know that the Gospel Jesus preached calling for people to repent of sin and believe in Him is incompatable with a gospel that celebrates a particular sin as a gift from God, the gospel of such congregations as Uiversity BC, Austin, whose leadership is entrenched in ABC/USA denominational leadership. They know that the Gospel presented in the Bible calling for exclusive allegience to Jesus Christ is incompatable with the gospel presented by such congregations as Seattle FBC whose mission statement says:

“As a church family, we want to help you find something you can do with your life that is even more extraordinary than what you are doing already. It’s NOT about becoming a Baptist. It’s NOT about saving your soul. It’s NOT about asking you for money. It’s about all of us helping one another to live our lives with passion and service.”

The focus of these kinds of congregations really has nothing to do with a holy God, but is wholly humanistic. These aren't churches of Jesus Christ; they're service organizations at best. Obviously, the mission of SFBC, UBC Austin and my congregation are utterly IN-compatible -- even through the ABC/USA. There is no level on which I can justify working in cooperation with them, for we believe that:

1) the Church is made up only of true believers, though some who appear to be part of the Church ultimately will be shown to be otherwise (Matt. 7:21, et. al.);

2) that the local church is uniquely a gathered community of professing believers in Jesus Christ;

3) that mission of the Church and of local churches is to accomplish the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, making true lovers of God and true disciples of Jesus Christ through the spread of the unique Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ alone as presented in the Bible;

4) that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is:
a) all human beings are sinners before the holy God, are separated from Him and destined for death and Hell;
b) but that it is not God’s desire that any should perish, but that all to come to repentance (II Peter 3:9);
c) so while we were yet sinners, God demonstrated His own love toward us in that Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8);
d) that Christ’s death was the only possible true and lasting atonement and propitiation for sin (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 2:17; I John 2:2; 4:10);
e) that unless people repent, they will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3) and that everyone “must be born again” (John 3:7);
f) and that “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10).

How could I ever justify supporting missionaries sent with SFBC's gospel message along with others with the Bible's Gospel message? How could I ever justify supporting ministries

But now, ABC/USA is your denomination and you're welcome to it.

David Flick said...

Bro. Small Soul wrote: "Your understanding and characterization of what occurred in the SBC is quite skewed. I also lived and ministered through the conservative resurgence of the SBC and am proud of where it is today. The accusation of "creedalism" simply doesn't hold up under an honest assessment of where the denomination is today."

David: Conservative Resurgence? Baloney cheese! Bro. Small Soul, you and those of your persuasion are ignorant of the facts. That which you call a "conservative resurgence" was a "fundamentalist takeover." Period. Fundamentalists like you are devious, deceptive, and divisive people. You lie about the truth and attempt to convince others that your lies are truth. You are little more than modern day Pharisees.

If you are proud of where the SBC is today, I suppose you will be leading your church over to the SBC? If so, then count yourself to be a thief. The SBC fundamentalist thieves stole the denomination from the majority. I have no doubt the SBC would be happy to have you join them. As for me and my house, I'm steering clear of a self-righteous dying denomination. And I'm going to oppose a fundamentalist takeover of the my new denomination with every fiber of my being. As Dr. Medley said in Denver, the choice to separate from the denomination "will certainly unite you with like-minded people but will give you small souls and make you comfortable Christians."

Bro. Small Soul wrote: "But now, ABC/USA is your denomination and you're welcome to it.

David: I gladly affirm my allegiance to the ABCUSA. And I'm happy to see folks like you walk out the back door. That makes one less fundamentalist my ABC friends and I have to contend with. As far as I'm concerned, takeover fiends are not welcome in the ABCUSA. Their souls are much too small to run with the free Baptists...

SmallSoul said...

Yes, yes; I've been called all those loving names by you tolerant moderate-liberal Baptists: liar, theif, Pharisee, fundamentalist, mean-spirited, idiot, ignorant, etc. Since working among American Baptists, I have found ABC/USA -- the self-proclaimed "most diverse and tolerant body of Baptists in America" -- to be rife with prejudice and, as you demonstrate, intolerance and mean-spiritedness.

Nonetheless, your comment gave me just the lift I needed today; your interjection of a bit of humor did me good:
_________________________

FLICK: As for me and my house, I'm steering clear of a self-righteous dying denomination.
__________________________

Oh, that's rich!

How about these facts: The earliest Northern Baptist/Southern Baptist post-split statistics I have been able to find show that in 1850 Northern Baptists had 3,557 churches with 296,614 led by 2,665 pastors and Southern Baptists had 4,849 churches with 390,807 led by 2,477 pastors.

In 1940, the ABC had its highest reported number of churches ever with 7,526 while the SBC reported 25,259.

In 1980, the ABC had its highest reported number of members ever with 1,612,841 while the SBC reported 5,104,327.

By 2003, ABC/USA claimed 5,834 churches (a net loss of 1,690 since 1940) with 1,433,075 members (a net loss of 179,766 since 1980) while the SBC claimed 43,024 churches with 16,315,050 members.

Who's dying?

If that's not enough for you, on the National Ministries website, we find this information in the Rev. Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III Director's Message:
____________________

In the same year (1984) we also committed ourselves to an emphasis called "Alive In Mission." Because of our commitment to mission, and refusing to be sidelined by issues that might divide and destroy us, we focused on those things that unified and empowered us. Believing that new church planting was one of the most effective ways of doing evangelism, American Baptists began praying for and working toward 500 More (new churches) by '94... God sent, we went, and by the end of 1994, American Baptists had started more than 500 new churches in that ten-year period. What a faithful and mighty God we serve! American Baptists are Great Commission People.
_________________

Why is it that national denominational statistics from ABC/USA show that between 1980 and 1990 the denomination actually had 8 fewer churches and by 2000 had lost another 98? If this is true, then at the same time as the denomination was gaining 500 new churches they were actually losing 598 others.

In his report to the General Board, the Rev. Dr. Roy A. Medley boasted that since 1998 the denomination has baptized 400,000 people. How is it that between 1990 and 2000 the denomination actually lost 87,835 and by 2003 had lost 179,766. That means that while the denomination was gaining 400,000 they were losing at least 579,766.

From 2000 through 2003 (4 years), the denomination baptized a total of 69,463. According to Medley, in one year (2004) the denomination surpassed all four of those years combined by 2,526 for a total of 71,989, a 14% increase, he claimed, over 2003. In 2003, however, according to ABC statistics, the denomination baptized 13,531, so 71,989 would actually represent a 432% increase.

So from 2000 through 2004, the denomination baptized 141,452 people. That means in 1998 and 1999 they would have had to have baptized 258,548, or more than double the number from the last 5 years -- an average of 129,274 per year in 1998 and 1999.

He also boasted of 257 new churches since 1998, but again from 2000 through 2003, the denomination only had an increase of 59, so in 1998, 1999 and 2004 they would have had to have planted and average of 66 each year. From 1980 through 2003, the denomination actually had 28 fewer churches, so while they were adding those 257, the denomination was losing at least 285.

In his NM message, the Rev. Dr. Wright-Riggins III wrote:
___________________________

According to the 2004 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, American Baptist Churches USA became the fastest growing denomination in the United States and Canada for 2001 and 2002.
_______________________

In 2001 the denomination added 30 churches and in 2002, 50. In 2001 the denomination added 5,915 members and 2002, 41,467, but in 2003 they lost 51,216. While they were adding 5,915 new members in 2001, the denomination was losing 8,010 resident members and while they were adding 41,467 in 2002 they were losing 3,168 resident members.

Wright-Riggins boasted:
________________________

The group of men and women who gathered 21 years ago to shape the American Baptist definition of evangelism as a "joyous witness" hardly could have imagined how that seed would germinate and grow and produce so much fruit in the transformation of individual lives and our larger culture. American Baptists are Great Commission People!
__________________________

But from 1983 through 2003, ABC/USA:

-- experienced a net loss of 13 churches
-- experienced a net loss of 186,038 church members
-- experienced a net loss of 254,032 resident members
-- experienced a net loss of 241,020 in Sunday School, and
-- were baptizing 12,666 fewer people per year than at any other time since the 1940s

How this translates to "so much fruit in the transformation of individual lives and our larger culture" I can't understand.

Meanwhile, the SBC is well over 16.5 million members and growing... unless of course, I'm lying.

Bro. Small Soul
Prescott Jay Erwin, Pastor
Brownstown FBC, Indiana

Speedzzter said...

"If an association possess the power to kick churches out because they don’t adhere to particular brand of orthodoxy, the association is indeed a ' superior judicature .'"

Untrue.

First, what are the limits of the sort of "church" a true "Baptist" association would be required to accept in association, Rev. Flick?

Campbellites? Mormons? Unitarians? Papists? Surely there are SOME limits! The standards suggested by Rev. Erwin are both common sense and historical.

Second, if a particular local church has full autonomy of finances and polity, how is refusal to initiate or continue association a form of control? Are Baptists trying to "control" Methodists because we haven't drafted them into our associations? Aren't the disfellowshipped congregations free to "affirm", "welcome" and even ordain practicing homosexuals? Aren't they free to continue to grind up uncomfortable scriptures they disagree with by using the full range of higher critical techniques? Aren't they free to associate with other "like minded" fellowships?

Third, Baptist associations have long held that nonconforming churches may be disfellowshiped. For example, the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth was disfellowshipped during the pastorate of fundamentalist J. Frank Norris:

"Because of Norris's continued open criticism of the Southern Baptist Convention, his decision to discard SBC literature, his attacks on SBC schools (particularly Baylor University, which he charged with teaching 'evolution and infidelity'), and his spirit of noncooperation, the Tarrant County Baptist Association withdrew fellowship from the church in 1922. The Baptist General Convention of Texas refused Norris a seat at the state convention in 1923 and permanently excluded him in 1924."

http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/FF/ibf1.html

Fourth, the argument that there is a difference between creating a new association and maintaining an existing one is irrational. Under that arbitrary standard, an association would be free to deny membership to heterodox churches at formation, but powerless to eject churches which are initially orthodox but later slip into material error. Under Rev. Flick's analysis, the BGCT would have been unable to eject Dr. Norris, notwithstanding his rejection of the elementary assumptions of denominationalism.

Rev. Erwin correctly observes that "Anything that suggests that a bunch of so-called 'fundamentalists' wants to exercise control over autonomous congregations is patently absurd and decidedly disingenuous."

Finally, requiring a DENOMINATIONAL EMPLOYEE to certify adherence to a statement of faith as a job requirement is hardly creedalism. "Missionaries have complete freedom to note any disagreements they have with the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, just like they had complete freedom to note any disagreements they had with the earlier version when they were appointed," . . . "Differences in personal interpretation is not a barrier to service as long as the missionary promises to carry out his or her work 'in accordance with and not contrary to' the Baptist Faith and Message." http://www.baptist2baptist.net/b2barticle.asp?ID=109

No one who is not paid by Cooperative Program funds has to even read, much less adopt as a formal creed, the BFM.

The sloganeering of the liberals--no creed but the Bible-- is rendered meaningless when the plain meaning of the Bible's teachings are rejected. Otherwise, are there any meaningful boundaries on what it means to be "Baptist?"

Speedzzter said...

"Now a small number of small souls in the ABC are leaving the denomination. That's sad."

"I'm happy to see folks like you walk out the back door. That makes one less fundamentalist my ABC friends and I have to contend with."

One wonders which statement reflects the truth?

David Flick said...

David: "Now a small number of small souls in the ABC are leaving the denomination. That's sad."

David: "I'm happy to see folks like you walk out the back door. That makes one less fundamentalist my ABC friends and I have to contend with."

Speedzzter: One wonders which statement reflects the truth?

David: Both statements are true. It saddens me to see anyone leave the denomination, be he/she a small-souled fundamentalist or otherwise. But if small-souled fundamentalists choose to leave because they can't superimpose their narrow-minded views on the entire denomination, I'm happy to see them go. Thus both statements are true...

David Flick said...

Speedzzter: "The sloganeering of the liberals--no creed but the Bible-- is rendered meaningless when the plain meaning of the Bible's teachings are rejected. Otherwise, are there any meaningful boundaries on what it means to be "Baptist?"

David: Yeah sure, Speedzzter, fundamentalists love to proclaim that they stand for the "plain meaning of the Bible." Yes, fundamentalists ignorantly think they are the only people on the face of the earth who can properly interpret the Bible. Well, I have news for you. There are ways to interpret the Bible other how than the fundamentalists do.

"No creed but the Bible" is more than a slogan, my friend. It's a Baptist principle. True Baptists don't demand that all Baptists adhere to confessions or man-made creeds. True Baptists don't fire missionaries and seminary professors for refusing to sign creedal statements. The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message is more than a confession. It's a creed, pure and simple.

I don't know whether you are an American Baptist or a Southern Baptist. It really doesn't matter, but you should be aware --if you are knowledgeable of American Baptists-- that American Baptists have no confession or creed. When an American Baptist says, "No creed but the Bible," he mean's just that. And by that, he further declares that no fundamentalist will be dare tell him what the so-called "plain meaning of Bible" is. True Baptists can interpret the plain meaning of the Bible for themselves without the help of the narrow-minded fundamentalists, thank you very much...