"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

An Interesting Observation About Evangelical Conservatives and the Southern Baptist Convention

The article, entitled Evangelicals Broadening Their Reach was posted on the Dallas Morning News website early this morning. Do you agree with the editor's conclusions?


Bryan Riley said...

So long as we are trusting God, acting in love, truth and grace, then I don't see how we can go wrong. I enjoyed the article. What it seems is happening is that people are asking themselves if everything that used to be said and done was truly consistent with scripture and with God's command to love Him and love others. If not, then we need to ask Him to show us a better way... Praise God that many men and women are doing just that. Grace and peace to you, Wade.

James said...

I don't think "pressing for less emphasis on doctrinal purity" is the most accurate phrase to describe you, Wade. But it's a mostly fair article.

Roger Simpson said...

I think a better description of the new "fresh air" movement among Southern Baptists is "pressing for less emphasis on secondary -- or even tertiary -- doctrinal points".

You are the most articulate spokesman for "fresh air" this movement.

Kevin Bussey said...

For the most part. I like what Huckabee said. Wow, you made the news again!

frostburgpreacher said...

I think the article hits the nail on the head in some ways. We as Christians have always been known for what we are against and there is a move to be more positive in our message without compromising the message.

I have known Governor Huckabee before he was Governor and when he was still a pastor. He is a very sincere man who cares about people no matter what political, social or societal group they belong too. I think he would resonate well with a large majority of people in America. Though I think that being a former "SBC Pastor" might hurt him before people got to know him. Besides he plays a mean bass and can do some of the funniest impersonations you have ever heard.

okiemusicman said...

I have to agree with Bryan: people are asking themselves what the Bible has to say, not just what "traditional doctrine" is.
Preach on, Wade.

Matt Snowden said...

Yes I agree.
I have been looking for third options and new ways my entire short ministry.


Bowden McElroy said...

I thought the article reflected a rather short memory. When I was a child/teen (60's and 70's)being SBC meant you were white, lived in the south, and voted a straight Democratic ticket.

It's only been in the last 25 years that evangelicals were expected to vote Republican.

I hope we are moving to a day when evangelicals are seen as a people who model Christ-like behavior; not a voting block to be wooed.

hashbrown said...

just one point on the article

I didn't realize that it was a recent development that evangelicals cared about children after they were born. That seemed to be the implication..

So evangelicals are broadening the tent by starting to express concern for health care and education. hmmm

I wasn't terribly impressed with the article.

Rod said...

Is God a "James Cagney" God? 8 of the 10 commandments are negative...telling us what not to do. The current mantra picking up steam within some tribes of evangelicalism of being positive and losing the negative touch is misguided.

Maybe we are out of balance and focus to much on the negative and what we are against. But I don't like the movement swinging us the other way.

v domus said...

Heck, we can all just stay home and watch Joel Osteen. We don't need know stinken doctrine!

Stephen Pruett said...

Au contraire, V Domus. This "movement" has produced more discussion and deeper thinking about doctrinal issues than I have ever seen. Just because the favorite INTERPRETATIONS of some people are being questioned for the first time does not mean those who want change are weak on doctrine. The SBC has completely lacked self-critical humility, and it seems to pain some people to be confronted with such a thing. However, I think its great and I hope we are just at the beginning of it.

Bob Cleveland said...

I've noticed for a long time that there's a lot of preaching against all the evils of the world. That's good in church. We need to know the commandments and how we are supposed to live.

I can also remember years on a City Council when preachers showed up at meetings, lamenting the evils of alcohol when someone was asking for an alcoholic beverage license. That's where the church hits the wall.

For the lost person, there are only two things important. 1) They're lost, and 2) Jesus saves. Whether they drink or carouse or steal is irrelevant to their lostness.

I recall being counselor at a Bill Glass Crusade 30 years ago. They told us when folks came forward for prayer, because of sin in their life, we were not to pray about the sins. We were to pray with them over their relationship with Jesus. Telling them, if they were lost, to cut it out, left them no better even if they did. For the believer, the sin was the symptom and not the cause.

That's why I so dislike organized "religious right" political endeavors.

Lee said...

Evangelicals have given millions of their votes time and time again to Republican candidates who don't always deliver on their promises. In exchange for what I would call "monumental" support, evangelicals have received very little in the way of political support for their agenda. I know in the situations where I work, people are tired of unfulfilled promises, and from feeling that their support is going to issues and political positions that aren't always consistent with their Christian faith, particularly in economic policies.

As to the breath of fresh air that seems to be sweeping through the SBC, I was quite pleased that Frank Page was elected to a term as SBC prez. But the name Wade Burleson, as this article in a secular paper shows, is the one most frequently associated with the shift in the SBC. Whether you wanted the job of leading a movement in the SBC that falls outside the current leadership or not, you've apparently landed that job. I'll be praying that God grants you wisdom, and keeps his hand of protection on you, your family, your ministry and your church.

GeneMBridges said...

It seems to me that evangelicals are realizing that if they run to the state to do their work, then they are creating a climate for nominalism in the long run, thus effectively making their own monster.

It also strikes me that many will willingly comport with people who deny the gospel in order to pass a bill in that state house or federal House while denying help to the poor in their local communities. Where I live at present we're having a time with a new health center for the poor that will focus on prevention not sick care. People are demanding that Baptist Hospital do it on their own, but the county hospital, which in a supreme twist of irony does not do indigent care and says it is "exploring ways to help," is ignored. The churches don't want to step up to fund the center themselves, so we're left to the county commission. When push comes to shove, these fine evangelicals take a page from Social Darwinism when the words "taxes, health, and poor" are combined in one sentence. Oh they'll say it's not govt.'s responsibility, but then when you say, "Then let's set up our own fund and all contribute from special offerings at our churches," they don't want any part of that either.

It's one thing to vote your conscience. It's another to ally yourselves with enemies of the gospel in order to change the social order. Laws on tablets of stone do not change hearts. Read the OT carefully. They produce hearts of stone. People will prostitute themselves before the ephod and call the serpent "Nuhustan" when nominalism works its way into the church through apostasy, social religion, and minimalism. You'd think we'd have learned from the Imperial Era of church history, not mention Israel's, that this won't work.

Folks most often allying themselves with the state are often those forfeiting the game in their own churches. They'll circulate the petitition against (insert issue here) but then where are they when it comes time to preach on the corner at the abortion clinic on Saturday?

I'm seeing more in my own generation see this happening and being frustrated. We're in this mess, in large part, because we grew too complacent with social religion. Perhaps a dose of persecution is what the church in America needs. Before Constantine in weeded out many a nominalist, and the church grew and grew and grew. God's grace is great. I fear, however, if it comes it may look more like Babylon taking off Judah, given the amount of apostasy and apathy among the churches.

The opposite danger lies in disengaging from culture and govt. so much that we turn into Anabaptists and Essenes. We have to engage the culture but not make ourselves one with it. We can only vote so many of "the party" (whatever that party may be) into office so many times, and laws against abortion do nothing to stop the murder in men's hearts. What's more, using the state as our tool has the added effect of creating even more resentment in unbelievers than what there is already. They already hate God and His people by nature, do we really need to give them more reasons? I'd rather be hated for presenting the gospel consistently to them than for relying on the state to do my dirty work for me while not doing anything to change the hearts of the men around me.

Roger Simpson said...

Fresh Air Movement (as applied to Southern Baptists): A call to define the parameters of cooperation to those doctrines stated in the Baptist Faith and Message. The primary agent for this movement is Pastor Wade Burleson from Oklahoma.

Bob Cleveland said...


I hear you. I once heard a pastor (SBC) say, in argument against a state lottery, that it'd produce more poor folks and a lot of the burden of THAT would fall on the churches.

My wife went ballistic when we got home, about that one.

deusvult2 said...

I agree with Gene Bridges and Bob Cleveland. We can't change society and unregenerate mankind through laws, or political power, or social action leagues, or any activism, although they may be agents of God's common grace so to speak, but only through the Gospel can we really effect change. A tenet of liberal theology in the last century was social/humanitarian efforts that would progress mankind into a better humanity, not personal conversion, and now we seem to be believing that old malarky! I trust not Capitol Hill but Calvary Hill.

Bob said...

I have never taken your writings in such a way as to think you are de-emphasizing doctrinal purity. I think the writer didn't get that correct. There must be a balance between standards and doctrine, but his idea is that in your 'crusade' to stop the narrowing in the IMB, he thinks you are watering down your doctrine.

foxofbama said...

Wade: Thanks for this link. Good article; Huckabee is a fascinating cookie. I think it was Huckabee who David Montoya reported in 1988 was on Ronnie Floyd's hit list of possible Ark Baptist candidates Floyd thought he could take.
But any deep an honest look at this subject, any real virtue a man like Frank Page would try to bring to the discussion, and even Huckabee if he were ever called on to make a statement comparable to JFK's statement to the Houston Baptist Ministerial assoication in 1960 would have to have a conversational knowledge of my friend Randall Balmer's magisterial chapter: Where Have all the Baptists Gone in his new book lamenting not only what the SBC takeover fundies did in the SBC, but what Richard Land and Karl Rove attemtpted to do to our country the last 8 years.
Balmer in a chapter honoring George Truett, calls Richard Land a "counterfeit."
I think Balmer hit the nail on the head.
How did lunch go with Flick and Tom Webb. Would love to have a report on that.
Learning things this week at Furman's Pastor's School
Stephen Fox of Alabama

Hello Marty Duren; know you are out there. What say you about Balmer's designation of Land as counterfeit, a BINO

Mark Spence said...

"... a series of superconservatives at the helm, Page steps in just when Southern Baptist bloggers are pressing for less emphasis on doctrinal purity"

My support of Page was on his doctrinal purity rather than the alternative of pharisaical doctrine. I think this misperception could harm the ministry of Frank Page as the president of the SBC. The goog old boys will pounce on this misrepresentation and trumpet it from the pulpits of the megachurches, from the pulpit of chapels at Seminary and from editorials inBaptist papers. This is very dangerous.

What was at issue this past Jues was orthodoxy vs pharisaical arrogance. At heart of the issue was are we going to be cooperative with like minded organizations to accomplish the task of the Great Commission? OR are we going to be arrogant and claim that we are the only group who holds to true doctrine?

Belief in the orthodox faith, conservative values, innerrancy also allows for disagreement. Believing that we are the only ones who are correct has no trace of humility.

Ray said...

Rod, you're right, doctrine is important. I'm a firm believer in that as well as taking stands on morality. In saying that however, the only people Jesus really confronted with their sin were the Pharisees, who were the religious leaders in their day. The "sinners" Jesus hung out with and uplifted. I like this new evangelical movement, but we need to maintain balance.

Rod said...


Didn't Jesus confront the selfish ambition of James and John? What about Peter's admonishment of Him to stop talking about dying on the cross? The infamous story of the woman caught in adultery? He was gentle, but straightforward..."Go, and sin no more." The use of "no more" qualifies Christ as a negative person...sharing what He is against. I understand sometimes we are out of balance and seem to have smoke coming out of our ears as we stomp and snort. But there is a growing movement within Evangelicalism and the SBC in particular against "being negative" that disturbs me.

Ray said...


Jesus also said to the woman caught in adultery I do not condemn you when all the religous leaders were about to stone her. As far as the disciples are concerned Jesus confronted their lack of understanding of what he was about. They were wanting a messiah to deliver them from Rome. Jesus is a messiah who delivers people from sins.