Saturday, September 16, 2006

Water Under the Bridge...


It has been a long time since I've written an article on Southern Baptist denomination's politics. About six months, in fact. Since Most of my writing is devoted to the BaptistLife.Com Discussion Forums, I haven't spent a lot of energy writing here.

Back in January and March, I wrote several articles hereon that related to Wade Burleson's stressful experiences with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board (SBC IMB). I have been keeping a close watch on his blogsite to see how things have unfolded. I have also kept close watch on several of the "young bloggers."

Wade has gotten quite a lot of attention on the BaptistLife.Com Discussiuon forums. I performed a rudimentary research back through two of the of the three discussion forums (the Baptist Faith and Practice forum and the SBC News and Trends Forum). I counted 36 thread titles that contained Wade's name. There was a total of 805 posts in the 36 threads. No less than 31,644 persons viewed and read the threads. And this included only the thread titles in which his name appears. I'm satisfied, although I did not research it, that his name appears in numerous other threads. I think it's safe to say that no other person has gotten as much attention as Wade Burleson. Not bad for nine months.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since early January when this controversy broke into the public eye. Wade's blog has had 353,449 visitors since December 10th. Initially, I was skeptical that Wade could make an impact on Southern Baptist life. I didn't think he could make much of a splash in the water flowing under the bridge. I didn't think he could impact the fundamentalists who hold the reigns of power in the denomination. Afterall, things have rocked pretty much the same since 1979 when Paul Pressler, Paige Patterson, and W. A. Criswell fired the first shots of the takeover.

All moderate Southern Baptists were marginalized and pushed aside as being radical "liberals." Many of them, including myself, lost their ministry positions and were driven away. According to the fundamentalists, we moderates don't believe the Bible because we refuse to use the word "inerrant" and reject the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. The myth floating around among the fundamentalist circles is that all Coopoerative Baptists are little more than disgruntled Southern Baptists. I confess that I get angry when I hear that CBFers are simply disgruntled Southern Baptists. Brad Guenther wrote a response to one of Wade's posts and declared as much. Guenther wrote:
William, I'm well aware that most CBFers are disgruntled former SBCers. 30th response in this blog

Guenther doesn't know what he's talking about and neither does anyone else who repeats such a ridiculous myth. I'm not a disgruntled ex-Southern Baptist. I spent more than five years trying my best to get along with the fundamentalists. I'm a moderate Baptist who gave every effort to cooperating with the fundamentalists but was fired because I spoke out against the 2KBFM. Neither the doctrine of inerrancy of the Bible nor the 2KBF&M are essential to being a Southern Baptist. And neither issue should be required for all Southern Baptists.

Being an Oklahoma Cooperative Baptist, I remember the Wade's 95 Theses against the the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma. Wade gave me a copy of that document a couple of months ago. I think Wade was mistaken to have written that document. I do hope that he has changed his mind regarding the 95 points against the CBFO. I hope someday to discuss the document with him one on one. But that's essentially more water under the bridge so far as I'm concerned.

I've changed my opinion about Wade in recent months. I believe he honestly desires cooperation among all Southern Baptists, even with the moderate Southern Baptists. I believe his opinion about moderate Baptists has changed significantly. I believe he now knows that we moderate Baptists aren't evil "liberals" who don't believe the Bible. He is receiving a lot of heat here in Oklahoma for fraternizing with folks like me. In Oklahoma, it's definitely not kosher to fellowship with moderate Baptists, specifically with Cooperative Baptists. But it happened recently. It really did. I sat beside him at a table and fellowshipped. Here's the proof.

I long to see the day when there will be reconciliation between Oklahoma conservative and moderate Baptists. I honestly believe that if it ever happens, Wade Burleson will be one of the leaders to facilitate reconciliation. One thing is for certain, a lot of conservative Oklahoma Baptists are going to have to come to their senses before it does happen. I once believed reconciliation was virtually impossible. Now I believe there might be hope, now that much water has flowed under the bridge of controversy.

11 comments:

A 10-40 Window Missionary said...

David,

I, too, think that it might happen (reconciliation), I only wish that I might live to see it.

David L. Miller said...

I posted this on another one of your blogs. I transferred it here, so if you see it twice, well...

You guys insist on pretending that there was no theological issue in the conservative resurgence. I will not defend everything that was done by conservatives, but there are two facts that you consistently ignore.

1) There WAS liberalism is SBC schools. The OT prof at my college (a grad of SEBTS, who later taught at Midwestern) said "Face it, men. Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed - they are all just different flags under which God flies his name." My profs denied the substitutionary atonement of Christ, taught that there were historical and scientific inaccuracies in the scripture. One of the men in this book spoke at my college. He told us that Jesus never intended to die when he came to earth. It was a confluence of events, not the intent of God.

I don't know what was in Judge Pressler or Paige Patterson's heart, but I know what I was taught in school. It was liberal. It was a problem. Men were taking CP dollars and undermining the faith of young Baptists.

Those who denied the existence of liberalism in the SBC were like a man standing next to a dead skunk and denying there is a bad smell.

2) The victimhood mentality of moderates is a little dishonest. You act like you were the victims of an organized political effort. Yes, conservatives organized to win the day. The only difference though is that you lost. Moderates were vicious in their rhetoric, organized and dirty in their politics. I freely admit that conservatives were guilty of some of these things. Just don't act like the moderates were innocent.

These two things separated conservatives and moderates. Neither side will be particularly proud of all their tactics on the day we stand before Christ. But conservatives WERE standing for the truth of scripture. And the only political difference between the left and the right here, is that the right side won.

The SBC left wing was not morally superior. It was just numerically inferior.

David Flick said...

Miller, the trouble with the SBC is folks like you. Your hateful attitude reflects the leadership of the denomination. The SBC is in a hopeless decline. The SBC, as we once knew it, is gone and dead, thanks to the fundamentalists.

1) Bad professor stories are a dime a dozen. I've heard them all. I have degrees from two SBC seminaries (SWBTS & MBTS). I never had a professor that could be called a liberal. Furthermore, I never knew of a professor who could be called a liberal. True, I had some professors with which I disagreed on some points, but I never knew of one to be a classic liberal. I earned both degrees before the fundamentalists ruined them. There was a time when the SBC seminaries were institutions of higher learning. After the fundamentalist takeover, they became centers for fundamentalist indoctrination.

2) Call it "dishonest" if you must, but you would be singing a different tune if you had been fired from your ministry position for simply disagreeing with other Southern Baptists. I recommend that you read Carl Kell's book, Exiled. And I also recommend that you read, When Religion Becomes Evil, by Charles Kimball.

David Flick said...

David Miller, here's something for you to read...

Myths that changed the SBC

David L. Miller said...

Wow!

I challenged your position and am called "hateful" for my efforts.

For the life of me, I cannot understand what was hateful about my comments.

I think many moderates have a distorted memory of the events that took place. And I think many people put their heads in the sand and ignored a real theological problem - one which I saw personally.

Read my comment again. The only "hateful" thing I did was disagree with your premise. I did it reasonably. I guess the analogy of the smelly skunk may have been a little graphic, but it made my point.

I said clearly that I thought that there was plenty of sin on both sides.

It seems to me that you are angry because you want to put all the blame on one side. I think there was plenty to go around on both sides.

I was under the impression that posts like this were places for debate. I stated my position reasonably. Evidently, you only want comments from people who agree with you that the conservative movement in the SBC was 100% evil.

Since you do not permit dissent from your established position, i will not post on your site anymore.

(By the way, I sent a follow up post just moments after the first explaining that my "the right side won" comment was not exactly the way I wanted to say it. I only intend that the right side-as opposed to the left side-won. For some reason, that post never appeared on your site. Or maybe it only appeared on the earlier site where i posted this by mistake.)

foxofbama said...

Flick: When we gonna do lunch again at the fish place in Atlanta, good place...
Presheate the generosity of spirit in this post about Wade. And I am delighted you had lunch with another good man, Tom Webb and Wade. But I think it a little too soon, to pronounce all is well.
Wade is open and that is to be encouraged. And as you know from "The Board" minus the last three months, I have good fundamentalist friends too.
But I don't see any evidence Wade is ready to square the deep entanglements whose thickets you yourself have traversed, the history explored in your endorsed read of Carl Kell's Exiled, to on a basis of one sweet fellowshipping meal in Enid Say everything is gonna be okay.
Just today Burleson was expansive about his affection for Paige Patterson and the like on his blog. I am proud of his big heart; My own Dad was bent that way.
I like Wade. He has been very kind indulging my remarks routinely the last several months on his blog.
But I don't see the Great Reunion happening any time soon.
STephen Fox
Collinsville, Alabama

David Flick said...

Fox wrote: I like Wade. He has been very kind indulging my remarks routinely the last several months on his blog. But I don't see the Great Reunion happening any time soon.

Fox, I tend to agree with you. Wade isn't where I'd like to see him, but he seems to be edging in our direction. He's open to dialogue, which is something most fundamentalists are not.

Dr. Danny Chisholm said...

Good to find another kindred spirit out here. But, I've decided that debating all the SBC takeover stuff is a waste of time and energy. CBF folks may have been disgruntled SBC exiles at first, but I haven't gotten wind of that mentality lately. It's good to be out of Egypt.

Pastor Brad said...

David,

You and I have never met, but I would have expected an email or something from a Christian brother if you were going to call me out.

I have no animosity for the CBF. I pray that God will use your churches to reach many people with the gospel.

However, to say that the CBF did not grow out of people who were formerly a part of the SBC and were no longer satisfied with it is simply ridiculous. The CBF continues as a pseudo-denomination and continues to claim churches that have no real affiliation with it simply because one member may have contributed to it.

Please enlighten me as to the true nature of the CBF. Are it's leaders not mostly former leaders in the SBC before the conservative resurgence? Was it not a reactionary movement to the conservative resurgence? If this is incorrect, and the CBF is not made up of disgruntled former SBC people, then please tell me why half of the articles on abpnews.com are one-sided attacks on the SBC?

I realize this is an old post and you may not respond, but I just became aware of your critique of my words.

Brad Guenther

Pastor Brad said...

David,

Two other quick responses I wanted to make in case you ever read them:
1. Your continual commenting on being fired does not well support your contention that the CBF is not made up of disgruntled former-sbc people.
2. My response was in reaction to a CBF person named William Madden, who himself stated that the CBF was made up of former SBC types (as did another CBF person - Dr. Danny Chisholm).
3. Your response here to David Miller that liberal professor stories are "a dime a dozen" illustrates well his point that liberalism was rampant in the seminaries.
4. The fact that you would not call them liberal is of little consolation, given that you feel than innerancy is not something for the SBC to divide over.

BG

Pastor Brad said...

Well, I guess it was more like 4. I never said I could count.