Thursday, November 08, 2007

Intolerance Raises Its Ugly Head...

Will it ever end for Southern Baptists? Will Southern Baptists ever reach a point of tolerance for dissenters?

Last week, Anthony Jordan (executive director for the Baptist General of Oklahoma) wrote an editorial about 'Intolerance'. The point of his article was that there is a growing intolerance of the liberal media and the intellectual elite who promote tolerance as their cardinal virtue to biblical truth and the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. In part, I agree with him on this point. There is an intolerance by some toward the preaching of the gospel. Jordan closed his editorial by stating:
We should never be mean spirited or unkind. We should always strive to be tolerant of those who have another view or reject the Gospel. At the same time, we cannot be silent. We have a story to tell to the nation and nations. It is the story of a Savior, an old rugged cross and an empty tomb. Here we stand. If that message makes us intolerant in the eyes of others, so be it.
Again, I fully agree with his statement. We should never be mean spirited or unkind. We should always strive to be tolerant of those who have another view or reject the Gospel. But what about tolerance toward a brother in our denomination who disagrees on nonessential secondary and tertiary issues?

Currently, and over the past 30 years, Southern Baptists have been guilty of being very intolerant toward brothers and sisters of their own kind. I am no longer a Southern Baptist. A few of my Southern Baptist brothers could not, yea, would not tolerate my dissenting views on some issues not important to salvation. I opposed a heavy-handed, top-down denominational leadership who sought to control the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of all Southern Baptists. I vocally opposed the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. A few of my fellow Southern Baptists simply could not tolerate the fact that I disagreed with them. It was intolerance of the worst sort that drove me from the ranks of Southern Baptists.

Intolerance is probably the single biggest reason why Southern Baptists have been, and continue to be, in crisis over the past 30 years. From June of 1979 forward, Southern Baptist leaders have been excessively intolerant toward dissenters and those who disagreed with the denominational party line, whatever it may have been at the time.
  • Paul Pressler could not tolerate moderate seminary professors. He affected change in seminary boards of trustees and removed all moderate professors from seminary faculties.
  • W. A. Criswell could not tolerate those who did not interpret the Bible as literally as he did. He railed against those who disagreed with his view of inerrancy.
  • The Southern Baptist Sunday School Board could not tolerate the moderate views of Lloyd Elder and they fired him.
  • The Southern Seminary Board of Trustees could not tolerate moderate president, Roy Honeycutt. Trustee Jerry Johnson of Colorado accused Honeycutt and many faculty of heresy. They forced Honeycutt to resign.
  • The SBC Executive Committee could not tolerate Baptist Press editors Al Shackleford and Dan Martin's reporting on the fundamentalist takeover effort and their refusal to cease writing such stories. The two editors were fired.
  • Al Mohler could not tolerate women professors and he fired Molly Marshall and Diana Garland.
  • The International Mission Board could not tolerate moderate professors who taught at Rushlikon Seminary in Europe. Southern Baptists and the IMB defunded the seminary.
  • The Southeastern Seminary Board of Trustees could not tolerate moderate president Randall Lolly and they excluded him.
  • The Southwestern Seminary board of trustees could not tolerate Russell Dilday's moderate views and they fired him.
  • Paige Patterson could not tolerate women professors teaching men and he fired Hebrew professor Sheri Klouda because she was a woman.
  • None of the seminaries could tolerate professors who refused to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Those who refused to sign were fired.
  • The International Mission Board could not tolerate missionaries who would not sign the 2000 Baptist faith and message. Those who refused to sign were fired.
  • The Southern Baptist leadership could not tolerate moderate and liberal Baptist members of the Baptist World Alliance so they withdrew from the world organization.

This week, Southern Baptist intolerance has raised its ugly head yet again. The International Mission Board could not tolerate trustee, Wade Burleson's, principled dissent on several issues of little consequence. In the scheme of things, Burleson's dissent amounts to little more than a hill of beans. Yet the IMB, led by chairman John Floyd and former chairman, Jerry Corbaley, censured him. In a wildly slanderous and lengthy report, Cobaley accused Burleson of slander and sin. Burleson's censure says a lot about the credibility of the IMB. on a scale of 1-10, the IMB's credibility is minus-6. It says a lot about Burleson's credibility as well. On the same scale, Burleson's credibility is a strong-9.

The Southern Baptist Convention is in a world of hurt right now. The SBC is hurting because of gross intolerance over stuff of little consequence in the scheme of things. The intolerance is killing the denomination. If the intolerance doesn't end soon, the SBC will become an also ran denomination. The credibility of the SBC leadership from top to bottom is lower than a mole's belly on digging day.