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.
A Prevailing Spirit of Hate toward Moderate Baptists (CBFO) in Oklahoma:
From the moment the Cooperative Baptist fellowship was formed, the BGCO leadership sought to discredit and prevent moderate Baptists from having a voice in Oklahoma Baptist life. The Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma was born on February 29, 1992. Anthony Jordan, (who was at the time President of the BGCO) and the leadership in the Baptist Building began their attacks on moderate the CBFO and all CBF friendly people. In April of 1992, Glenn Brown, editor of the Baptist Messenger, wrote an editorial saying that there was not room in Oklahoma Baptist life for both the BGCO and the CBFO.
On March 26, 1992, incorporation papers were issued by John Kennedy, Oklahoma Secretary of State, to the new "Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma." The Secretary of State ruled that the word cooperative could not be used for any kind of organization in Oklahoma except farmers' cooperatives and public utilities. His opinion was ostensibly based on a prohibition contained in the Constitution of Oklahoma. Thus Oklahoma's Fellowship is the only state CBF organization that is "cooperating," but not "cooperative."
Through the summer of 1992, the BGCO leadership did everything possible to prevent the growth of the CBFO. The BGCO leadership did not want the CBFO to even exist. CBFO historian, Dr. Dan Hobbs, wrote a history of the Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma. He wrote:
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.
The Joe L. Ingram Controversy:
The most egregious example of the BGCO's persecution of moderates came in November of 1993, when the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma voted to censure Joe Ingram, its former Executive Secretary and Treasurer, for being in sympathy with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship movement. He was the Executive Director-Treasurer of Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma for 25 years (1971-1986). He was a moderate Baptist before "moderate" was in vogue. Oklahoma Baptist University named the OBU School of Christian Service in his honor.
In 1992, Ingram had appeared on the program at the first annual assembly of the Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma. In retribution for his transgression of "consorting with moderates," the BGCO selected a small committee, headed by Anthony Jordan, to meet with their former leader. Dr. Ingram's "great sin" was that he wrote a letter to key Oklahoma pastors, inviting them to attend a CBF meeting. The Committee sought to express the Convention's displeasure at the exercise of his Baptist freedom and priesthood. A man of impeccable taste and unimpeachable integrity, Joe Ingram refused to meet with the designated committee.
Almighty God had nothing to do with the treatment that Joe Ingram received from the fundamentalists. The controversy was a very low point Oklahoma Baptist history.
Dr. Gene Garrison and First Baptist Church in Oklahoma City:
In the 1970's Dr. Garrison was a respected member of SBC and BGCO boards. He was a frequent conference speaker. In the mid-1980's he, like other moderate Oklahoma Baptists, was blacklisted by the fundamentalists. He pastored First Baptist in Oklahoma City 1973-96. In 1983 Bailey Smith, then pastor of Del City (Oklahoma) First Southern Baptist Church, condemned Oklahoma City FBC for ordaining women deacons. This set off a controversy that led Capital Association to refuse to seat messengers from the church. Dr. Garrison never again had the opportunity to so much as lead a BGCO meeting in silent prayer. After he was blacklisted, he never again appeared on the platform at a BGCO meeting or function.
Almighty God certainly had nothing to do with Dr. Garrison being blacklisted and excluded from having a voice BGCO affairs. Dr. Garrison's treatment by the BGCO was a very low point in Oklahoma Baptist history.
Dr. Lavonn Brown and First Baptist Church of Norman:
Dr. Brown pastored First Baptist in Norman 1970-99. He also was a respected member of SBC and BGCO boards and was a frequent conference speaker. In the mid-1980's he, like Dr. Garrison, was blacklisted by the Fundamentalists. Norman FBC had also ordained women deacons. In 1980 Dr. Brown joined 17 Baptist pastors at Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to discuss the takeover and to help counter the conservative direction of the convention. That group, known subsequently as the "Gatlinburg Gang," formed the nucleus of what became the "Moderate Movement" in the Southern Baptist Convention. From that experience, the Oklahoma Baptist leaders branded him as being a "liberal."
In 1989, when First Norman celebrated its 100th anniversary, Dr. Brown petitioned the BGCO leaders to allow the church to host the convention's annual meeting in the church's centennial year. The convention leadership refused to allow the church to host the Convention's annual meeting simply because Dr. Brown was friendly to the CBF.
Almighty God certainly had nothing to do with Dr. Brown being blacklisted and excluded from having a voice BGCO affairs. Like Dr. Garrison, he never again had an opportunity to lead an Oklahoma Baptist meeting in silent prayer. Dr. Brown's treatment by the BGCO was a very low point in Oklahoma Baptist history.
Dr. Gary Cook Kicked Off the BGCO Strategic Planning Committee:
Dr. Cook was a former Vice President for Church Programs and Services at the Sunday School Board. He accepted pastorate of First Baptist Church in Lawton, OK shortly after trustees removed Lloyd Elder as President and replaced him with Jimmy Draper. In 1993 Fundamentalists had Cook removed from BGCO's Strategic Planning Committee because he had moderated a CBF discussion group and had introduced a CBF Cecil Sherman at a luncheon. Dr. Cook was blacklisted and never again had a voice in Oklahoma Baptist life.
Almighty God had nothing to do with Dr. Cook's dismissal from the BGCO Strategic Planning Committee. He was blacklisted by the Baptist Building and state leadership. His treatment by BGCO personnel was a low point in Oklahoma Baptist history.
Anne Graham Lotz Banned from at the Oklahoma State Evangelism Conference:
In 1993, Jerry Don Abernathy was the state evangelism director for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. As the director of evangelism in Oklahoma, he was the person who planned the program for the annual evangelism conference, held in January. Abernathy planned a program that included Ann Graham Lotz as one of the speakers. The program for the January evangelism conference began to be published in the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger in September.
Shortly after the conference program appeared in the Messenger, Wayne Keeley, pastor of a church in Claremore, began a crusade to have her removed from the program. He wrote numerous letters to the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger and gathered a number of vocal supporters. At the '93 annual BGCO convention in November, Keeley stood on the floor and made the motion to have Mrs. Lotz struck from the conference program. The motion passed and Mrs. Lotz was disinvited because she was a "woman preacher." Keeley let it be known that "Oklahoma Baptists do not approve of women preachers." Not a single voice spoke against his motion. Not one Oklahoma Baptist stood to speak on her behalf.
Keeley attempted to get Abernathy fired because he had invited a "woman preacher" to speak at the 1994 Oklahoma State Evangelism Conference. He was not fired. I don't know what happened, but he was gone from Oklahoma less than a year. Almighty God had nothing to do with banning Mrs. Lotz from preaching at the Oklahoma Evangelism Conference. Almighty God had nothing to do with the terrible treatment that Jerry Don Abernathy received for inviting her to Oklahoma. The controversy was a low point in Oklahoma Baptist history.
The 1998 Baptist Faith and Message and the "Submissive
The first revision of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message occurred in 1998. Oklahoma Baptists were heavily involved in the revision process. Tom Elliff, pastor of the Del City (Oklahoma) First Southern Baptist Church and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, appointed a monolithic fundamentalist revision committee, with Oklahoma's executive director, Anthony Jordan, designated as chairman. The committee did not reflect the whole of the Southern Baptist Convention. Rather it reflected the exclusive views of the fundamentalist SBC Takeover faction.
The revision did not change the text of the 63BF&M. Rather, it added an article (Article 18) to the 1963 BF&M. The new article, disguised as an "Family" article, codified an unwritten fundamentalist doctrine relative to the submission of women in the church and home. Fundamentalists, since the beginning of time, have practiced gender discrimination in their homes and churches. Women are to be kept in their place. Wives are to be "submissive" to their husbands. Women are to be excluded from being pastors and deacons. Women must not be ordained to be either deacons or pastors. While the fundamentalists vehemently deny it, they relegate women to second class status in the church and home.
Oklahoma Baptists played a key role in codifying the regulation that women must be kept in their place. The 1998 BF&M was the first document in Southern Baptist history that codified the position of women in the church and home. The 2000 BF&M took the codification process a step farther.
I don't believe Almighty God had anything to do with the 1998 revision of the Baptist Faith and Message. The appearance of the 1998 BF&M was a low point on Oklahoma Baptist history.
The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message Became a Creed:
Oklahoma became one of the first state Baptist conventions to formally adopted the the 2000 BF&M. In August following the June 2000 SBC annual convention in New Orleans, the Oklahoma Fellowship of Directors of Missions formally adopted a resolution on the 2000 BF&M. Anthony Jordan, without the assistance of a resolution committee, presented the resolution to the DOMs. With very little discussion it was railroaded through and passed with one dissenting vote.
At the November 2000 BGCO annual meeting, the convention formally adopted the 2000 BF&M. From the floor of the convention, there were two attempts to dissuade Oklahoma Baptists from adopting the confession, which by that time was quickly becoming a creed for all Southern Baptists.
The 2000 BF&M presented disastrous consequences not only for Oklahoma Baptists, but for all Southern Baptists. Thousands of Southren Baptists suffered the consequences, especially the missionaries, seminary professors, and denominational employees. The 2000 BF&M became a test of fellowship in Oklahoma and across the denomination. Hundreds of faithful missionaries were fired or forced to resign for refusing to sign the creed-like confession. Scores of committed seminary professors were fired or forced to resign. Many good and godly denominational employees became casualties for speaking out against the confession. In an indirect manner, I lost my position as Director of Missions in Grady Baptist Association for writing and publicly speaking out against the confession. I am just one of thousands Southern Baptists who suffered the consequences of opposing the 2000 BF&M.
I don't believe Almighty God had anything to do with the creation of the 2000 BF&M. The God I love and serve is not the author of division and controversy. The God I love and serve does not demand that all Baptists agree, jot and tittle, with the fundamentalist Southern Baptist theology and agenda. The God I love and serve does not treat believers with the same disrepect that the present day fundamentalists treat their fellow Baptists. He is a God of love, not a god of controversy and division. The creation of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message was a low point, not only in Oklahoma Baptist history, but in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Almighty God is my witness!!