I thought I would share with the world that I have been recently named TIME Magazine's person of the year. Quite an accomplishment for a farm boy from Hammon, Oklahoma... :-)
click on the cover to see a larger image
Oklahoma Southern Baptists celebrated their centennial last week. The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma came into existance in 1906 when the Baptist conventions of Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory joined together. This event occurred almost exactly a year before Oklahoma became a state. It occurred 35 years prior to my birth.
For more than half a century (1950-2001), I lived and breathed as an Oklahoma Southern Baptist. Having been alive through 65 of the first 100 years of Oklahoma Baptist life, many wonderful memories reside in my heart and soul. Most of these memories are positive. But the last decade of my experience as a Southern Baptist was less than desirableable. In this post, I want to recount a few my personal positive memories and experiences. In the next two posts, I will share another side of the story. On a positive note...
Oklahoma Baptists do have a rich history. No doubt about it. I've had my share of good experiences. However, I am no longer an Oklahoma Southern Baptist. I never dreamed that I would be anything other than an Oklahoma Southern Baptist. In the 95th year of Oklahoma Baptist life (2001), I was excluded and pushed aside as persona non grata, --which is another story for another time. I am now pastoring an American Baptist church (ABC/USA) in Watonga. I am happy. I've been in my present church for three years now.
Oklahoma Baptists celebrated their centennial anniversary in November. Certainly, the BGCO can be proud of many achievements through the first 100 years of their existence. In a recent editorial ("Back to the Future" Links to archived articles are no long available.) in the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger, BGCO executive director, Anthony Jordan, sounded a strange note. Comparing the BGCO to the church in Ephesus, he wrote:
As was true in the words of our Lord to the church at Ephesus, we must return to our first love. Nothing among us must take preeminence over a passionate love for our Savior.
Although our church buildings look different, our ministries have varying shapes and our worship styles have changed, the future of Oklahoma Baptists is centered in a return to the biblical and powerful fundamentals of the past. A love for Jesus, a passion for the lost, a commitment to planting churches and a generosity in our mission support are keys to a dynamic future.
These 100 years of history are marked by the hand and blessing of Almighty God. He has chosen to bless His people with strength in numbers, resources and influence.I believe God did bless Oklahoma Baptists through the first 75 years of their history, God did bless them strength, numbers, and resources. But that's only part of the story. There's another side to the story. And it isn't as pretty. The next post will delineate part of the other side of the story.
Through the first 100 years of Oklahoma Southern Baptist life there have been many high points. In an editorial ("Back to the Future") in the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger, to which the link is no longer available, Anthony Jordan painted a glowing picture of God's hand at work in the first century of Oklahoma Baptist history.
These 100 years of history are marked by the hand and blessing of Almighty God. He has chosen to bless His people with strength in numbers, resources and influence.It's true that God did bless Oklahoma Baptists with strength in numbers, resources, and influence. However, not everything that happened in the last decade or so came from the hand of Almighty God. I don't believe Almighty God had much to do with a whole lot of what happened in Oklahoma during those years. Dr. Jordan tells only part of the story. There is another side that I'm sure many in the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City would rather not have told. There are some low points in Oklahoma Baptist history. Here are several of the of the low points in the history of Southern Baptists in the Sooner state.
An interesting sidelight on the First General Assembly was the work of a modern-day Martin Luther, who tacked a sheet of paper on one of doors of a conference room with the title "95 Theses on Why the CBF of Oklahoma Should Not Exist." Not shy, the intruder signed his name. It was Wade Burleson, currently President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and pastor of Emanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Oklahoma.I don't believe Almighty God instilled the spirit of hate in the hearts of Oklahoma Baptist leaders in 1992. The year 1992 was definitely a low year in Oklahoma Baptist history.
William, I'm well aware that most CBFers are disgruntled former SBCers. 30th response in this blog
While driving through Staples, TX (southeast of Austin) a couple of weeks ago, I ran across this interesting sign.
Brotherhood of Catfishermen? Hmmm... Wonder what they talk about when they are picking up trash along the 2-mile stretch? Maybe they spin wild tales about how large that their most recent catch was...
My voice was not for sale no matter the pressures from trustees, Convention leaders, or administrators. The image that haunted me was the tragic story of Maeyken Wens during the Inquisition. As Will Campbell tells the story, this Anabaptist mother of nine insisted on her right to preach and teach in spite of the threat of the Inquisition leaders to silence her. Finally, found guilty of heresy and insubordination, she was condemned to die at the pyre. On the way to the execution, her tongue was screwed to the top of her mouth in order to keep her from speaking.The fundamentalist juggernaut was relentless in its effort rid the denomination of people whom they believed to be "liberal." How many times have I heard a fundamentalist declare that "those liberals don't believe the Bible?" Fundamentalism in religion is evil. Fundamentalism among Southern Baptists is evil. Fundamentalists would rather fight their perceived enemies than love them. About the fundamentalists, Simmons wrote:
That screw in the tongue has been a vivid mental image regarding efforts by Convention leaders to silence their opposition in Southern Baptist circles. Some accepted the screw without much resistance. Some emerged early on as strong voices against the fundamentalists, then fell silent and publicly withdrew from the fray under pressure. Some sold their birthright for a lucrative severance package or the promise of promotions within the denomination. But the price of "success" was either that of not telling what was known about the unethical practices that were so commonplace in the fundamentalist juggernaut, or never being able to reveal what was known even after going into exile. The screw in the tongue was a severe test of integrity. Few things were sadder than reading the statements of leaders forced out who could only mouth platitudes and defer to "the will of God" while admitting they could not be telling the inside or behind-the-scenes story. They went silently into the night, their tongues screwed securely in place.
To be sure, the fundamentalist movement took no prisoners. It was a fierce, no-holds-barred assault against the moderates in the Convention. They had the temperament for a fight to the finish, while moderates had no taste for the excesses involved in any political battle worth winning. Fundamentalists fought with the ferocity of a medieval crusader. They are "true believers" as described so well in the classic by Eric Hoffer. They are intransigent, dogmatic, aggressive, domineering, controlling, and ideological. They are also motivated by fear-fear their goals will not be realized, fear their faith will falter, fear homosexuals will ruin the family, and that pluralism will dominate the country.Southern Baptists who experienced being exiled from the denomination will certainly identify with the stories in Dr. Kell's fine book. Fundamentalists, if they dare to read the book, should have their consciences seared with guilt. All of the exiles in this book are now my heroes of the faith. I will not allow my tongue to be screwed to the top of my mouth. I intend to resist fundamentalism with all my strength. Thank you, Dr. Kell, for writing this book. Thank you for helping to expose the evils of fundamentalism in Southern Baptist life...
It is a sad day to be a Southern Baptist. I can only hope and pray that we can mobilize a group who are willing to stand up for God and His Word to show the Southern Baptist Convention that being conservative is not the end of the battle. It seems that it has just begun. We do not need to exclude viable opinions and arguments from the boards and committees. Rather, we should freely discuss, debate and decide what is biblical, not what is practical or what secures our power. Just because some of us have a different methodology and philosophy of ministry does not make us liberal. If not accepting the status quo is not conservative enough, I guess we'll have to rewrite Scriptures to sanitize and conservatize (is that even a word) Jesus Himself.How odd that the young guns, who seem to love fighting and "fireworks," are saying exactly the same thing the moderates were saying decades ago. How about these comments:
How ironic that these youngsters are saying precisely the same things we moderates were saying years ago. There was no honest reason to exclude the CBFers and moderates because they held different opinions about the Bible. The CBFers and moderates, while holding a different methodology and philosophy of ministry, were not liberals. These youngsters are completely oblivious to the fact that this is just another round of a fight that the older fundamentalists fought three decades ago.
1) "We do not need to exclude viable opinions and arguments from the boards and committees."
2) "Just because some of us have a different methodology and philosophy of ministry does not make us liberal."
I've shaken the hand of Jerry Rankin, heard O.S. Hawkins respond to "How are you?" by saying "I'm blessed," and have an autographed autobiography of Jimmy Draper. I've heard Roy Fish tell a class on evangelism to "Put THAT in your Calvinistic pipe and smoke it." I've peed next to Danny Akin while he told me stories about the ethics class he took under Paige Patterson. I've had Ken Hemphill (cowboy boots and all) and his wife Paula in our Fort Worth townhouse for brownies and ice cream. I've had many conversations with Al Mohler, including one about an episode of Prairie Home Companion.This guy is way beyond me because I don't believe I've ever had a conversation with anyone about anything while standing in front of a urinal.
The SBC controversy was a hill on which to die. Many did die-if not physically, in other ways. It was a hill that had to be won, and won it was. I am grateful for those who will lead in the future. I am grateful for the many, many young people who will not be damaged in our Southern Baptist institutions by liberal teachers but instead will go forth with hearts aflame for God. I am grateful for the increased mission activity. I praise God, for only He could have brought about the present result.
Source: A Hill On Which To Die, p. 306
(5). Finally, I am convinced that these actions were caused by God to bring about result that would be impossible without such a public act. Because I believe God is behind it all I don't pay much attention to what men say.Wade is convinced that God is behind the current controversy. Essentially, he is crediting God for the controversy. Apparently, God is on his side and is opposed to those with whom he disagrees. The logical conclusion is that God is the author of controversy.
"I have stood side by side with my fellow conservatives and toe to toe with liberals in our convention over the years. When the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship organized in Oklahoma I nailed on the door of their organizational meeting "Thesis Against the Formation of the CBF", an act which marked me forever as an opponent of the CBF."Secondly, Wade's latest claim to fame is that he stood toe to toe with fellow trustees over a disagreement in the direction which the IMB is moving. He dared to oppose the powerbrokers, both inside and outside the body of trustees. The powerbrokers inside the body of trustees have apparently been violating the rules of decorum. Many of the trustees are unhappy with IMB President, Jerry Rankin. Wade claims that the trustees want Rankin's head on a platter. They want him fired or relieved of his position.
Now that Wade is experiencing the wrath of the fundamentalist IMB trustees, his supporting friends are attempting to say that this is a different sort of fight. Wade wrote a blog that attempts to differentiate between groups of fundamentalists. Wade says there are "crusading conservatives" and "cooperating conservatives." He is casting lots with the "cooperating conservatives." Many of his supporters are casting lots with "cooperating conservatives."
I have stood side by side with my fellow conservatives and toe to toe with liberals in our convention over the years. When the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship organized in Oklahoma I nailed on the door of their organizational meeting "95 Thesis Against the Formation of the CBF," an act which marked me forever as an opponent of the CBF. Source...
(On 2/6/06, Wade edited out the words highlighted in red)