One of my church members, Debbie Kaufman, whose blog I do read, posted yesterday about this young pastor's suggestion that I was a liberal because I believe in 'the priesthood of the believer.' Debbie was offended at his proposition, and sans debate, she challenged this young pastor on her blog. I think I will take the opportunity, this one time, to show the fallacy of his logic in calling everyone who happens to disagree with him a 'liberal.'
This young pastor says that true conservatives, of which he seems to believe he epitomizes, believe in 'the priesthood of believers' (plural), and not "the priesthood of the believer" (singular). I am familiar with the arguments of his theory, and it is not my purpose in this post to either affirm or refute them. I desire to show that if we followed his logic, and called everyone who at one time advocated the use of the phrase "the priesthood of the believer," then the following Southern Baptists would all be considered liberal.
Herschel Hobbs, The Baptist Faith and Message, San Francisco Southern Baptist Convention, 1962. “Baptists emphasize the soul’s competency before God, freedom in religion, and the priesthood of the believer. The principle of the priesthood of the believer is the basic belief of Baptists. There are (other) basic things generally held by Baptists today as through past years. But, underlying all of them has been the principle of soul competency in religion.”
Adrian Rogers, Former President of the Southern Baptist Covnention and Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee "The priesthood of the believer does not refer to authority, but to the fact that each believer has direct access to God through the Lord Jesus Christ."
George Truett, Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas"The right to private judgment is the crown jewel of humanity, and for any person or institution to dare to come between the soul and God is a blasphemous impertinence and a defamation of the crown rights of the Son of God."
James Leo Garrett,Distinguished Professor of Theology Emeritus at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. "So, which is it? Priesthood of the believer or priesthood of believers? It is not either/or but both/and. The term "the priesthood of the believer" communicates the biblical emphasis on the individual and soul competency. The term "priesthood of believers" communicates the biblical emphasis on community and fellowship."
L. Russ Bush, Conservative Theologian and Co-Author of "Baptists and the Bible" "There has been and is ongoing a remarkable rebirth of Baptist identity in the world. We are mission minded believers who read the Bible as God’s truthful Word. We follow the teachings of Jesus, baptizing new believers by immersion. We gather to remember His atoning death, and we seek to implement the principle of the priesthood of every believer."
Paige Patterson, Author of "Authority and The Priesthood of The Believer": The Shophar Papers. Criswell Center for Biblical Studies, 1980. "The title of Dr. Patterson's book, written in 1980, is in the form of the traditional singular "The Priesthood of the Believer."
W.A. Criswell, Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, In "A Thankgsiving Sermon." "The nation of America is chosen to God. We do not have a prophet to write our history, but God's hand is evidently upon us. The beginnings of America are hidden in the purposes of God's grace in the world through us. The Puritan came in a quest for God, and history has called them Puritans. They were Puritan separatists. They were trained in the school of John Calvin, they were Calvinists. They pledged allegiance to God alone and not to a king or a hierarchy and they believed in the priesthood of the believer. They believed in the right of every man and every church to worship God without interference from an ecclesiastical authority or a monarchical head of government. . . It is God Who hath given us this beautiful and wonderful land. And it is the Lord God Who must help us and keep us."
The Blue Ribbon Commmittee Who Wrote The Preamble to the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message. "Baptists emphasize the soul's competency before God, freedom in religion, and the priesthood of the believer."
Read the above quotes again. They will help you to resist the temptation of calling 'liberal' those brothers in Christ with whom you may disagree. I am aware that some Southern Baptists, whom I highly respect, prefer the term 'priesthood of believers" and I respect their use of this phrase, but it is wrong to denigrate those who use the singular, particularly since it is the nomenclature used by all Southern Baptists prior to 1988.
In closing, I would like for you to ask yourself this question: Has it ever been the practice of some Southern Baptists in years past to falsely malign other Southern Baptists with the epitaph 'liberal' in order to marginalize and exclude people from Southern Baptist cooperative ministry? If so, could it be that a few Southern Baptists today are using the same tactic? Methinks Southern Baptists are wising up.
In His Grace,