Monday, December 12, 2005

A small prophecy fulfilled

I make no claim to being a prophet, at least in the contemporary predictive sense of the word. But sometimes I do get something right.  A couple of years ago a told a friend, who was considering leaving the SBC because of the actions of the current leadership, to be patient.  I told him that the current leadership of the SBC cannot survive because they will self destruct.  When they no longer have "liberals" (can anyone tell me who those liberals were and where they are today?) to fight against they will start fighting each other.  We have already witnessed some opening salvos of the battle with the replacement of Ken Hemphill at SWBTS with Paige Patterson.  Now the trustees of the International Mission Board have stirred up a hornets nest with their passage of new selection guidelines.

Such “supposed pillars” of the “supposed conservative resurgence” as Morris Chapman and Wade Burleson (see Crusading Conservatives vs. Cooperating Conservatives: The War for the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention)  are greatly disturbed because the tactics which were used to “take of the convention and its agencies” are now be used to “take over the convention and its agencies.”  Somehow these men and there supporters still don’t understand that the take over of the SBC was never about theology. It was always about power.

Oh well, like my church history prof used to say, “If the SBC ever splits, go with the Annuity Board.”


Roger said...

Why was your friend considering leaving? The real power of the church doesn't come from committees or leadership roles. The Holy Spirit is not limited to those things. No matter who is in leadership positions, the word of God doesn't change.

sepherim said...

My friend (who did decide to unite with a non-SBC church) felt that the current leadership, who is saw personified in Paige Patterson, had become an anti-christ. He was not referring to the mythical figure who may or may not show up in the last days, but to the spirit of anti-christ that you find in 1st John. He felt he could no longer give even tacit support to an organization whose leadership was so far off fron what it means to be Christian. And whille I am still an active member of an SBC church, it is one whose membership could care less what is going on at the convention level.

Roger said...

I don't understand why temporal disagreements with personalities take precedence over being the church. Why does that consume so many Christians?

sepherim said...

The problem arises when the personality of the leader produces an atmosphere in the church which is contrary to the spirit which one should expect in the church. The current leadership of the SBC makes it difficult to remain focussed on the main task of making disciples.

Roger said...

But what are the reasons for this view? Are they personal or scriptural? If you have this view, is it scriptural to then take it upon yourself to battle what you see as error instead of proclaiming truth? From your comments, I do not even know what the truth is and what the errors are. It seems that this method keeps you from moving on and boggs you down in the arguments, quarrels, and controversies that Paul tells us to avoid in Titus chapter 3 ... which is exactly what the enemy wants us to do.

sepherim said...

If we are talking about my friend, he moved on so that he could work for the kingdom in a church which was not bogged down in institutional controversy. If we are talking about me, I have so far chosen to stay in an SBC church so that, at least at the local church level, I can work to overcome the influence of those who are trying to keep the churches of the SBC bogged down in the fight over non-essentials.

Roger said...

Again, what are the non-essentials? How can you make an argument without making your case? How does your blog work towards avoiding the 'stuff' that keeps us bogged down? I'm not meaning to give you a hard time, I just think there's a deception that has taken root in the church. While many are fighting against the things that they say are dividing the church, they in turn work towards that very division. I don't believe that God is calling us to this. However, I believe the enemy enjoys every minute of it.

Anonymous said...

Just stumbled onto your blog today. Nice. I'm a baptist too. Call myself a former "Southern Baptist." Great stuff!

Howie Luvzus

JG said...

The SBC is the spirit of the antichrist????

LOL. Give me a break.

I don't agree with everything that goes on in the SBC...but calm down a bit. Geez.

BTW, I think it really WAS about theology. But of course the group who loses power accuses the other of making it about power. Those liberal baptists weren't complainign about power when they had it, were they?
The SBC as a whole took back power from those who did not represent the majority of churches. Plain and simple. How did they not represent the churches? Their theology. So, in a sense, it was about both theology and power.

neruda said...

Well jg, the logical force of your "give me a break" argument not withstanding, I believed then and now that Brother Paige and his ilk represent the antichrist spirit rather well. Take just for one instance the top-priority goal of male hegemony that is ubiquitous in the current leadership. Given the fact that the Kingdom of God that Jesus talked about was one of inclusion, I doubt he would be too keen on their eerily overt advocacy of the oppression of women.

As for their "revolution" being about theology, you may be right. If you mean it was about their gaining the power to shoulder out anyone whose theology wasn't identical to their own, then you're probably right. It was about theology. One more reason for believing they just might be a good example of antichrist. Since Jesus was most critical of men whose theology was impeccable but whose love was unforgiving. In the Kingdom, being right is insignificant in the face of being gentle and loving. The so-called liberals and moderates never had power in the same sense as the current leadership because they never thought it appropriate to manipulate the fallen power of denominational politics to forward their agenda. You know what they were focussing on while Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler were planning their coup? An awfully liberal program called Bold Mission Thrust whose liberal aim was to reach every people on the planet with the Gospel of Christ.

Now I'm wondering, what would be a good name for a group of men who, in order to gain the power to implement a homogenous denominational theology, put their full manipulative force behind a plan to derail a program aimed at spreading the Gospel and Kingdom of Christ to the farthest corners of the globe? A group who acted directly to thwart the efforts of missionaries striving to establish the Kingdom of Christ. A group of men who elevated their own ideas above the promulgation of Christ's Kingdom. Men who in this sense worked against Christ. Gee, I don't know jg. Doesn't really sound so ridiculous to me, calling a thing what it is. Of course I'm just a liberal; so what could I possibly know about Jesus.

sepherim said...


I'm still a southern baptist from the perspective of still belonging to a southern baptist church, but have chosen to distance myself from the views expressed and acted upon by the current leadership. I do like your website.

sepherim said...

"Give me a break" may be good talk radio jargon, but does little to make a convincing argument. And please, even the masterminds of the takeover realized there were no "liberal baptists" in power. Their crime was never being too liberal, it was being too moderate. Try to make sense out of that. I have even heard the president of a baptist college express that he was not afraid of the conservatives but of the "radical moderates." Where, but in baptist life, would a statement like that even make sense.

And while you are certainly entitled to your opinion about the motives behind the "take-over" of the sbc, the facts definitely show it as a power-grab. Look at the history of what happend. At a very early strategy meeting the PP boys and their cronies even discussed which issue they should base their strategy on, and choose the inerrancy of scripture because it would have the most emotional impact on the average southern baptist. They then came up with the strategy that ultimately worked to bring them to power. There were several things that could have been done to stop them early in the process, but those who were in power chose not to use the same kind of power politics to do so. They, somewhat naively, trusted in the integrity of the process and the understanding of local churches to overcome the political ambitions of a few. Obviously they were wrong to be so trusting.

And if you really think the SBC as a whole took back power, you obviously do not keep up with what is going on in Nashville and Richmond these days.

Regarding the spirit of the anti-christ, I will give you one very specific example. Look at the 2000 revision of the Baptist Faith and Message. In the first article of the 1968 version, the last sentence is "The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ." In the 2000 version that sentence was replaced with "All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation." This is a strong step away from the Christological principle of Biblical interpretation, which is one of the most treasured of the historical, evangelical principles of interpretation. It severly weakens the claim of the Reformers that "Christ is King and Lord of Scipture."

For good analysis of this and other problems with the BF&M see Russel Dilday's AN ANALYSIS OF THE
BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE 2000. You can find it easily using Google.