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

That Which Unites Us Is the Gospel of Christ

And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him . . . And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.' And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him (Luke 4:17-20).

Several months ago I received a phone call from Attorney Dan Malone in El Paso, Texas. Dan requested that I consider meeting with former President Jimmy Carter about the former President's desire for a convocation called 'The Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant' to be held January 30-February 1, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Frankly, I did not think much about the phone call at the time, but have since discovered that Dan Malone is a very intelligent and persistent Baptist layman from Texas who wishes all Baptists to live at peace and harmony with one another. He eventually arranged the meeting for yesterday, May 17, 2007, in Atlanta, Georgia at the Carter Center - which is located next door to the Carter Presidential Library and Museum. Marty Duren, C.B. Scott, and Ben Cole joined Dan and I in visiting with President Carter.

I learned during the meeting with President Carter several things about the convocation early next year:

(1). The theme of 'The Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant' is based on the first sermon Jesus preached (Luke 4:27-30), and there is a very conscientious effort to keep the convocation focused on those things Jesus said He came to accomplish.

(2). All four major United States African-American Baptist Conventions have moved their national meetings to the week of the convocation so their members can stay and participate. With their involvement, this very well might be the largest and most ethnically diverse Baptist convocation in history.

(3). Because a few have alleged that the convocation is nothing more than a 'Democratic' primary disguised as a Baptist gathering, the organizers have intentionally invited, and received acceptances from, key Republican Baptist leaders. These include Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee; South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham; and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley. However, it was reiterated to us time and time again that the meeting was about the gospel - not politics - and Baptists from every political background and ethnicity were being invited.

(4). If it was said once, it was said a half dozen times -- there is no desire by anyone participating in organizing the convocation to begin any new convention, any new denomination or any new Baptist entity. Everyone wishes to maintain autonomy. The goal is simply to convocate, dialogue, build relationships and ultimately encourage one another in the fulfillment of the Great Commission, and to rejoice over what others are accomplishing.

(5). We were asked to assist in informing Southern Baptists that the goal of the convocation is to focus on what we have in common (Luke 4:17-20) rather than that which divides us. In addition, we were asked specifically to contact a couple of Southern Baptists to request them to speak during the plenary sessions.

My Impressions of the Meeting

I was impressed with President Carter's humility, mental acumen at age eighty three, and his gentle manner. He was very sincere in expressing his desire that Baptists unite around the fundamentals of the gospel of Jesus Christ at this convocation and lay aside all political and minor doctrinal differences for the greater purpose of building the kingdom of Christ. Not once was a negative word spoken about anyone. Not once was there expressed critical statements about the SBC or SBC leadership. Rather, there was a repeated desire expressed that everyone in the SBC feel welcome and a fully participating partner at the convocation.

The discussions for an hour were around the world's need of Jesus Christ and the great possibilities if Baptist Christians were to unite to help eradicate some of the major problems in our world including poverty, disease and injustice. President Carter shared that he teaches anywhere between 200 to 600 guests who attend his Sunday School class during the forty weeks out of the year he is at First Baptist Church, Plains, Georgia. He still uses the traditional Southern Baptist literature (he's been teaching Revelation the last four weeks), but makes it a point to share the gospel of Christ every Sunday because there are people who have come to hear him preach that are in need of Christ. Mr. Carter keeps the main thing the main thing on Sunday morning.

The prayer time at our meeting yesterday was truly a prayer time. The Spirit was present, the words were heartfelt, and the yearning for God to send revival among all Baptists very real. I am not sure what the outcome of the meeting may ultimately be, but I can assure you that it was refreshing to be someplace where discussions of denominational or national politics were taboo, discussions of Christ and kingdom ministry encouraged, and the ideas of all parties respected.

What I Anticipate

Driving back from Will Rogers Airport this evening my wife asked me if I was prepared for those who would seek to crucify me for meeting with President Carter. She said that she was already tensing because of the realization that some would attack my character, my theology, my commitment to the SBC, etc . . .

I smiled to myself and told her to relax. I then said this:

"There is no Christian that I have ever met - not one - Southern Baptist or not, who would EVER be offended or disturbed by what was discussed around that conference table at the Carter Center today."

She agreed with me, but she also said that the problem is some Southern Baptists are so entrenched in their views of others that they refuse to even begin talking. I told her that it was my desire to help Southern Baptists see that fellow Baptists are NOT the enemy. We can keep our unique way of doing missions in the SBC; we can keep our distinct structure and autonomy as the SBC; we can keep others out who will not affirm the BFM if we so choose; but we don't have to keep acting as if other Baptist Christians are our competitors or our opponents.

The Difficulty We Must Overcome

At the DFW Airport on my way back from Atlanta I ran into a very well known oil executive from Oklahoma who has been a friend of mine for several years. He is a Southern Baptist and we have served on different boards together within the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. He asked me where I had been and I told him of the meeting with President Carter.

Immediately a cloud came over his face and he said that Carter was a terrible politician. He then mentioned something that Carter had done in Venezuela regarding oil that damaged the USA's oil interests (including the company with whom this man was associated). I am quite sure that my friend knew exactly what he was talking about, and I am even almost certain I would agree with him if I knew all the details of that to which he was referring.

However, what troubled me was the cloud that came over my friend's face at the mention of Carter's name. It seemed to me that his views of Carter's business and political decisions trumped his views of Carter's decision to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In other words, the man had a hard time getting past politics and business to see a brother in Christ.

My prayer is that we as Southern Baptists can get to the point where our relationship with Christ and each other is more important than our political, philosophical or national ideology. We are part of a kingdom that transcends the natural. It is eternal and spiritual. The head of that kingdom is Christ and He himself said By this shall all men know that you are my disciples; if ye have love one for another.

I shall maintain my conservative values. I have no desire, nor shall I ever have a desire, to recant my conservative beliefs. My love for Scripture and its sufficiency in my life for faith and practice is a bulwark against theological liberalism. I am who I am. However, I refuse to let others define who or who is not my brother in Christ. Nor will I relent to the demands that I not associate with those Baptist brothers who are different than I.

It's time we focused on what unites us with other Baptists instead of what divides us from other Baptists.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Marty said...

The first comment?

Wade, it was good to see you yesterday. Thanks for the invite and I pray that things will go well in any way the the Lord my have us to go.

We just need to get Ben to pray more "beautiful prayers."

Gary Snowden said...


I expressed on Ben's blog (using a variation of my blog name - radreformfan) that I'm extremely encouraged by the steps that you all took to attend the meeting with President Carter and Bill Underwood. I share Rachelle's concern that you and your fellow bloggers who attended will be further subjected to false accusations of liberalism for associating with moderate Baptists, but I commend you for your willingness to dialogue with fellow Baptists about such important issues.

I shared on Ben's blog that I see the potential in the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant for many of the scars generated by the Conservative Resurgence to be healed. The key I believe as you well express in this post is to not allow others to define for you who is or is not a brother in Christ. There's been far too much of that taking place in recent years.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
An old saying goes like this:
“I don’t like that dog!”
“I don’t like the dog he runs around with.”

Wade, you said, “What troubled me was the cloud that came over my friend’s face at the mention of Carter’s name.”

I’ll bet that “cloud” was not as dark as the cloud when people say, “CLINTON?”

I respect Carter very much, but why in the world did he hook up with Clinton?

At present, Clinton may be as ‘good as gold’ or the most repentant Christian in the world, but because of his past actions he will always be remembered as a joke in representing Christian moral principles.

In my opinion, Carter shot himself in the foot when he let Clinton join him.

I believe in most Baptist minds, if the convocation is to be a success, Clinton should fade out of the picture.

I’m glad you didn’t mention him.

Anonymous said...


Great Post! I have followed your blog for some time now. We disagree on numerous issues but you sound like someone with whom I could be friends.

Marty said...

Too many anonywusses out today.

Anonymous said...


What is the difference in someone posting with out a name and you posting with a name but not showing your profile?

This is what I read when I clicked on your name:

"The Blogger Profile you requested cannot be displayed. Many Blogger users have not yet elected to publicly share their Profile. If you're a Blogger user, we encourage you to enable access to your Profile."

Just a wee thought...

Marty said...

It could be because I've been using www.sbcoutpost.com for almost a year; the blogger link to which you've been referred is old. I've never elected a "private" display, so I'll have to check that out.

I have used my name from Day 1 in all comments.

martyduren said...

Try it now.

Alycelee said...

Wade, I'm proud of you and the others who went to talk to the president.
BTW, did you read Sam Storms post yesterday on Fundamentalism. Opened my eyes to an historical look and a clearer look at what it means today.
This post is an example of those who look through that lense and those who don't.
Thank you guys for your willingness to venture outside the camp.


It begs a question for me. Is there ANY doctrinal stance, moral conviction, theological camp, etc. that a "Baptist" could hold to and publicly proclaim that would exclude you linking up with them in ministry?

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

It's been so long since we've chatted, my Brother! I see you have been quite the travelling man of late.

And how disappointed I am you did not contact me. Heck, I would have met you at Hartsfield less than an hour away for me and had a delicious cup with you. Perhaps next time...

Whatever gave you or your dear bride the idea you would be crucified for meeting NCBs, I hardly can tell. To your "enemies" it makes perfect sense and to your supporters, you have the Amen.

To folk like myself, who fit nicely in neither of the above, simple says a man has a right to associate with whom he darn well pleases and people who don't like it, they can just go to...well, you get the picture, do you not?

The most striking thing, at least from my side of the street, is the title of your post, Wade: "That Which Unites Us is the Gospel of Christ." I think that is one cool--not to mention, Scriptural--principle by which various Christian traditions unite as, what F. Schaeffer dubbed, "co-belligerents" to accomplish a common goal.

Presently, I am heavily involved in a major evangelistic project for a metropolitan city where the Executive Team is made up of United Methodists, Baptists, Disciples, Church of God, Wesleyan. Not to mention last evening we excitedly signed on the Associate Pastor of a large Foursquare Church to lead the women's project (don't tell anybody the Associate Pastor is a woman though:^).

Our working paradigm is very similar to yours, Wade: "That Which Unites Us Is The Gospel of Christ."

And while that principle works nicely pulling together various Christian traditions as evangelistic co-belligerents, precioely how it is supposed to be the working principle between Baptist and Baptist sails on by me deep into the night.

I fear we continue to drift toward a cloudy, quasi-baptistic like existence in which being Baptist can mean just about anything one wants it to mean...A sorta religious relativism, if you will: What's Baptist for You is Not Baptist for Me. Professor Fletcher would be proud.

Have a day of grace, Wade. With that, I am...


LivingDust said...

3 prominent Republicans join Carter, Clinton, Gore on New Covenant roster
By Greg Warner
Published May 17, 2007

ATLANTA (ABP) -- Organizers for next January's New Baptist Covenant gathering announced the speakers for the historic three-day meeting -- with former President Jimmy Carter making good on a pledge to enlist prominent Republican Baptists to complement the mostly Democratic headliners.

Republican Senators Lindsay Graham (S.C.) and Charles Grassley (Iowa) join Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee as recently named participants for the Jan. 30-Feb. 1 New Baptist Covenant Celebration in Atlanta, billed as the broadest Baptist meeting in America since Baptists divided over slavery before the Civil War.

Carter, Clinton and Gore?

Brother Wade - perhaps you aren't to experienced in the art of political operations. Please don't be so naive to believe that this is only about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God?

This meeting is about the "world", not the "Kingdom".

othoniel a valdes sr said...

Did you asked President Carter if he plans to apologize to all the Southern Baptist he has maligned during our family fight and why
doen't he invite our National leaders Himself ?

Amy Downey said...

"That Which Unites Us is the Gospel of Christ."

Nice expression. Nice view. Now let's examine what Jimmy Carter believes about the Gospel.

He considers Mormons to be Christians (apologies for the possible broken links) -- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/16/AR2007021601704.html

He does not believe and even argues against evangelism of the Jewish people --

I will offer no editorial comment. I will simply allow the readeres to decide after reading the web articles for themselves.

Tony Hicks said...

I agree with your statement, "That which unites us is the Gospel of Christ." However, we must agree on what the Gospel is. That is our first task. Jimmy Carter has made some very public comments that call into question his belief in the exclusivity of Christ. He has stated that Mormons do not need to be evangelized because they are Christians, which calls into question his understanding of Mormonism, Christianity, or both. He has also made similar statements about Jews.

Wade, I appreciate your desire for dialog and wish to bring people together. However, if we have to paper over the Gospel for unity, such unity is not worth having.

In Christ,

Paul Burleson said...


It was good to talk with you as you drove from OKC to Enid last night and to hear of the meeting in Atlanta.

I have some reservations about politicians of any stripe much as I do about SBC politicians. Were there to be an attempt to make this a political rallying point for a presidential bid by anyone, Republican or Democrat, I would struggle with that tremendously as I know you would.

It is the same struggle I have with politicians addressing the convention with messages other than the gospel or how to promote the gospel being proclaimed. I love America, but "Americanism" is not our message.

I, as do you, have problems with some of the non biblical views of sinfulness and life some of the Republicans AND Democrats have and always will continue to struggle as I determine who it is that will get my vote.

This is much like my struggle with some SBC folks about what is right and wrong biblically in other areas and even some lack of ethical behavior I see in some SBCers from my perspective.

That said, I REALLY like the idea of rallying around the message of Christ and His work on the Cross for humanity and telling the nations of that work.

I also like the idea of not letting anyone say with whom I should or should not link hearts and hands.

My encouragement to you is to continue to rejoice over the fact that the gospel is preached even if it is by some that don't exactly fit in with our group. I think there is biblical precedent for that.

I would also encourage you and others, as even I must myself, leave the judgment of people to the one who truly knows the heart. He does and will.

Our message is and always must be the gospel. "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures."

That is our message and may we be diligent is seeing that it is declared to the nations, including America.


heath lloyd said...

May we be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Alycelee said...

'Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.'

Paul didn't seem to be worried about motives.

martyduren said...

That is the goal.


Motives? Maybe, maybe not. But he sure was concerned about doctrine...

Wade Burleson said...

To those posting anonymously please remember that I have IP addresses and I do not consider it funny when one who has been previously identified on this blog comes back and pretends to be someone he is not.

Christian character demands honesty and integrity and I feel you are lacking in both.

Paul Burleson said...

"Amen" to what Heath said.

Perry McCall said...


I share your wife's concerns and the concerns of many about the potential conflicts. I would hope that people who are aware of carter's drift from an exclusive gospel will find away of expressing that without attacking you. I think that the spirit of your attempts is greatly needed by all of us and I commend you for it. However, I think that some clarifications on the gospel are going to be necessary.

If the purpose of the convocation is about how we can come together to alleviate suffering then it is easy to get past our differences. We do disaster relief with all sorts of believers and non-believers. But if the emphasis is going to be our union around the gospel then we must be united around the same gospel. I am not even remotely questioning your integrity on the gospel. I am not sure if we have enough information to reject Carter's. However, we do have enough public confusion derived fromhis own comments that we must question what he considers the gospel to be.

To those who are expressing these concerns with typical mean spirited attacks I simply plead with you to drop it. The chest beating bravado in "defense" of the gospel is nothing less than an man made obstacle to the gospel.

Kaylor said...

Wade: I am excited to read your take on the Celebration. I spent most of yesterday in Atlanta with others planning to make this historic gathering the best it can possibly be. Later in the day we also got to meet with former President Carter yesterday and I was also impressed with his desire for this gathering.

I know you are going to be criticized by some but that is going to happen no matter what. I think those who attack you for this need to work on putting aside the anger they have toward their Baptist brothers and sisters in Christ. This is going to be a great demonstration of Baptist unity. I’ve written more about this here.

Anonymous said...


how can you encourage joining around the gospel of Christ with someone who doesnt even believe the gospel? and, would you not consider the gospel an essential of the faith?

apparently, mr. carter denies that Jesus is the only way to heaven. who knows what bill clinton believes.


peter lumpkins said...

Dear Marty,

What a great pic of you Big Daddy Weave posted. Ben, you and Wade all together. Hey! Wait a minute! B,M,W...BMW--The Beamer Boyz!

I count it faintly comical that, with all the posthumous criticism of our dear Dr. Falwell and his in-bed relationship with politics--especially criticism from moderate Baptists--that the Beamer Boyz find themselves on a picnic with political celebrities while our moderate brothers drip with ooh and ahh.

Peace, Marty. With that, I am...


p.s. I'll give the link to my Pastor. He'll give you what for!

Wade Burleson said...


I wish everyone could have heard Mr. Carter express his opposition to abortion at the meeting and his puzzlement at why people attack him without knowing him or his positions. In addition, for someone to allege Mr. Carter does is a universalist and does not teach and preach the exclusivity of Christ is also puzzling. I can assure you that his love for missions, consistent Bible teaching on Sunday morning to those in need of Christ, and as one of the principle architects of the 1978 Bold Mission Thrust does not jive with that view.

I do not agree with Carter about everything theologically -- never have, never will. I just believe it is time that Southern Baptists practice more grace and wisdom before attacking another Baptist. In fact, Carter pointed out that he stills consider himself a Southern Baptist. His church gives half of their mission funds to the International Mission Board of the SBC and raises money for Lottie Moon.

Brad Guenther said...

I too like the idea of Christians cooperating together for the gospel. Our church plant has worked hard to work with the few tiny churches that still have the gospel. However, I would echo the concern of others that the gospel according to Jimmy Carter is not the gospel according to the Bible. I will not reiterate the reasons as others have.
Paul pointed out accurately that holding to a deficient gospel is found on both sides of the political aisle. However, if it is as you stated, this gathering is not political, so we need not be concerned with their political parties.
My main question, and this is in no way intended as a slight to you, Ben, or Marty: Why, if they want to invite Southern Baptists, would the three of you be their chosen emissaries? Seems like an odd approach. Might it be that they see you, correctly or incorrectly, as leading a dissident movement within the SBC?

Anonymous said...


I remember Dr. Rogers saying that President Carter had made some false accusations about the statements of which Dr. Rogers did not remember making. He has shown is desire for damage to the SBC more than once. I began reading your blog about a year ago with great interest. I then became somewhat supportive of you. Since the Klouda issue I have begun to disagree with you on most issues. I must say, this issue pretty well seals the fact, in my opinion, that you have either began walking down a road that may be very difficult to recover from [a la Clayton Sullivan] or your motives are in question from the get go. I will not decide which one, as it is not my place to do so. I simply conclude this: this is the most definitive post of all. One need not question where you stand any longer. You stand outside the realm of orthodoxy and within the realm of gospel compromise. I do not believe one should villify Carter, simply we should speak the truth and recognize that the god he speaks of is one other than the One revealed in Scripture. I do not say that with hate nor anger, only an observation of the press releases already linked by writers above. Wade, do not let the political stars blind your eyes to truth. I, a spooky fundamentalist by your definition, did not agree with Dr. Falwell's political inclinations, nor can I agree with this. I am sure you could care less about my personal opinion, but know this, your attempts to broaden the tent are now working to shrink the tent. As a matter of fact, at best, you have simply chopped off the right side of the tent to re-sew it onto the left. My opinion... this is the gravest mistake you have made to date. The goal is not for the SBC to become bigger, but more faithful. This effort will not accomplish said goal. May San Antonio come quickly that the rhetoric may end and the work continue.

With Grace,
John B.


Good call Brad.

the interviews and articles are out there where Carter shares his views on the gospel. I just read three of them. How could anyone miss the confusion and compromise in his answers about:

1) Is Jesus the only way to heaven?
2) Are mormons Christians?

He's left little room for doubt as to where he stands. Remember,he was the president. He knows how to put a spin on things so that all sides involved believes he agrees with them.

Tim Cook said...

Amen, wade. Way to go.

To all who are quick with the criticism: who are you to judge another's servants? "who knows what Clinton believes" someone said. Well, for starters, that he is a follower of Christ? Just maybe? Ask yourself this: how many ministers have had an affair exposed in public? Now, how many of those had their salvation questioned? Don't confuse an all-too-common human frailty on the part of a leader with a lack of a desire to follow Christ. When you do that, you are on dangerous ground. I have honestly, really, lost patience with this kind of talk over the last few weeks. We, as Christians in America, have proven that we lack the ability to forgive as Jesus taught us to by the way we have treated former president Clinton. Quite frankly, we need to get over it.

In Christ,
Tim Cook

Brad Guenther said...

Brother Tim,
Not to get side-tracked, but...
Restoration comes with repentance. What does the Bible say we are to do with the brother who is not repentant?
I have never heard public repentance from Clinton. Does that mean I don't personally have a forgiving heart for him? No. But neither does it mean I should treat him as one of the brethren.



"In October 1998, Baptist Press reported that Clinton had written a letter to his 4,500-member church asking for forgiveness. Clinton, Horne told the Arkansas Baptist newsmagazine at the time, had “expressed repentance for his actions, sadness for the consequence of his sin on his family, friends and church family, and asked forgiveness from Immanuel.” According to church records, Clinton had been a member of the church since 1980."

Full article here: http://www.bpnews.org/bpnews.asp?ID=24982

I find no fault in how Clinton's church handled things, though I don't know all the details (and don't need to)

I do agree with need to let Clinton's past sins go b/c of his repentance.

I do not trust Clinton nor agree with his religious views, but we must forgive and forget.

Wade Burleson said...

On another site, my friend Dr. Bart Barber quoted Mr. Carter (see quote below) and said Mr. Carter denied the exclusivity of Christ. My answer to Bart follows the quote:

Question to Carter: Your first lesson on Ephesians describes man's reconciliation to God through grace and the sacrifice of Christ. Do you believe that grace ultimately applies to people who don't presently believe in Jesus?

Answer from Carter: Yes, I do. I remember two things. One is that in John 3:16, which is probably the best known verse in the Bible - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son."

And Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, said we should love our neighbors, but also love those who despise us and hate us and our enemies. So, the opportunity for everyone to be saved through the grace of God with faith in Christ applies to everyone.

And I have been asked often, you know, in my Sunday School classes, which are kind of a give and take debate with people from many nations and many faiths - what about those that don't publicly accept Christ, are they condemned? And I remember that Christ said, "Judge not that ye be not judged."

And so, my own personal belief is one of God's forgiveness and God's grace. That's the best answer I can give.

Bart, are you alleging that Mr. Carter does not believe in the exclusivity of Christ? Obviously, if that were so, he would not be an evangelical believer in the good news of Christ. However, after personal conversation with him it sounds to me like he is truly an evangelical with a desire to take the gospel to the nations.

The quote you use simply tells me that Mr. Carter believes in common grace. Bart, I think you would agree with Mr. Carter that the 'grace' of God extends to every man, would you not? You and I may be more precise and call this 'common' grace, but not one time have I ever heard Mr. Carter say 'saving' grace is a possession of all men -- it is a gift only to those who trust Christ.

He was quite clear with us yesterday that faith in Jesus Christ and His work at Calvary is the only hope for a sinner. You allege his answer belies a hidden universalism. I disagree. Ultimately, the only way to know is to ask him and talk with him. I'm wondering when you visited with him about your concern?

Dialogue, a gracious heart, and a willingness to listen is the only way to determine where there is agreement. Until and unless Mr. Carter clearly denies the exclusivity of Christ, I'll take his word to me that he does not.

Brad Guenther said...

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I was unaware of it. I stand corrected. While I stand by the principle, I have obviously been proven wrong in this case, and publicly repent.

Tony Hicks said...

The tone of some who are criticizing Wade concerns me. To suggest that Wade has motives other than those he states is to go into areas of judgment that are clearly unbiblical.

I also have concerns about President Carter's orthodoxy, based upon public statements he has made. But, I find Wade's personal conversation with Carter to be intriguing. If President Carter would make a clear public statement of his belief that salvation is only through personal faith in Jesus Christ, it would go far in allaying the concerns of those of us who are familiar with his previous public statements.



Why don't you ask him?

"President Carter, do you believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven and that those who have not put their faith in Jesus will face an eternity separated from the Lord in hell?"

Join me in calling for Carter to make a clear public statement where he stands.

Of course, with his clear statement that mormons are Christians too, it begs the question which "Jesus" and does it matter?

Bob Cleveland said...

I have trouble with the "Forgive and forget" thing. Mainly because I cannot forget things.

But neither does God. As I recall, God says He will remember our sins no more. That word means "call to mind". He doesn't promise not to forget it, He promises never to bring it up, and if we bring it up, He remembers He forgave it, too.

I like that better, and it ties in with instructions I heard from my mentor years & years ago: forgive, and remember it as forgiven.

And never call it back to mind.

Big Daddy Weave said...

Kudos to you, Wade, and the others who met with Carter and Underwood.

I see the attack Jimmy-fest has begun in several of these comments. The Celebration is not about his theology nor his politics. Carter was needed to organize the event. More often than not, you need a "big name" to make a simple dream into a reality. I'm thankful Carter was willing to lend a helping hand.

But a focus on Jimmy Carter is a red herring.

Let's talk not about one man. But, if we must, let's have a talk about the participating organizations including all of the African-American denoms, North American Baptist Conference, Lott Carey, and others that are JUST AS if not more theologically conservative than the average Southern Baptist.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Those,

To question the action and/or prudence, Those, of a Brother--in this case, Wade's decision to eat at the table with a democratic who's who--is not quite the same as questioning his motives or heart for doing so.

Hence, this chatter from Those about "who are you to judge your brother" or "Why are we questioning Wade's motive's" stands moot.

With that, I am...


Alycelee said...

Questioning Wade, his motives, his judgments, his actions - hardly moot.
It happens here every day, many times HERE and on Blogs too numerous to mention.
Strange to me, especially with a man who has always been, in my experience with him, honest and open.
I wish we were all so 'obvious.'

Wade Burleson said...

Wise words Big Daddy

peter lumpkins said...

My Brother BDW,

I may be mistaken, but you are welcome to correct me. Have you not made it a point more than once to question the politically adulterous liason of SBC leaders like say, Dr. land, for his much too cozy relationship with political republicans?

If I am anywhere near target, it surely seems odd to offer kudos to BMW for warmly cuddling up to political democrats, does it not?

Grace. With that, I am...


Anonymous said...


I can say it no clearer. "Wade, I do not question your motives. I disagree with you."

Peter, amen.

John B.

Wade Burleson said...


I am a Republican politically. I am a hard line conservative fiscally, politically and ideaologically. The only people I get 'cozy' with politically are those I agree with politically.

I'm not sure that I will ever be able to convince you that the gospel transcends politics. I do not agree with Carter's politics, but I can unite with other Baptists who come from diverse political, social, ethnic and cultural backgrounds for the advancement of the gospel.

Benjamin S. Cole said...


One truth that often gets missed in this kind of discussion:

How do you know where and when you can work with another person in Kingdom enterprises unless you meet them, visit with them, pray with them, and seek areas of common ground?

What is the wisdom in determining you cannot work with someone without talking to them?

And what is the virtue in refusing to talk with them?


peter lumpkins said...

Dear Alycelee,

Good afternoon, my sister. I suppose your words, though not directly, were in response to my post. You wrote: "Questioning Wade, his motives, his judgments, his actions - hardly moot."

I agree wholeheartedly with part of your statement--"...his motives..."--and its implication. Personally, I think one is in deep trouble trying to scale the mountain of discerning motives. And, while I'm unsure you were implying such, we surely can agree that no man's actions or judgements stand beyond question.

Grace, Alycelee. With that, I am...


Tony Hicks said...

Maybe I'm missing something but I fail to see how discussing Jimmy Carter's orthodoxy is a red herring. The conference organizers chose Carter and Clinton for publicity purposes because they are public figures who are Baptists. The conference is a celebration of Baptist identity. Endemic to any discussion of Baptist identity is the nature of the Gospel we are to rally around. Therefore, in my mind, a discussion of the orthodoxy, or lack thereof, of those who have become the public face of this conference, is extremely pertinent.

Big Daddy Weave said...


Simple answer, Celebration of the New Baptist Covenant is not a political event. NBC is not proposing partisan legislation or policies of any kind. Carter's role is as a well-known Baptist layman with lots of pull and influence. Perhaps, only he can get the ball rolling to make such an occasion possible.

All those who attend, whether CBF, SBC, or National Baptist will get the hear the wonderful preaching of my pastor, Julie Pennington-Russell, William Shaw, Charles Adams, and Joel Gregory. I'm sure more speakers will be named later.

Those in attendance will also hear from Democrat Baptists as well as Republican Baptists including Mike Huckabee, Charles Grassley, and Lindsey Graham. All will be speaking as committed Baptists.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

Good afternoon. You oddly write: "I'm not sure that I will ever be able to convince you that the gospel transcends politics."

Convince me? To assume, as do you, Wade, that somehow I believe such a truncated gospel demonstrates, at least to me, an evident void in our conversations. Facinating.

Peace, Wade. With that, I am...


Tim Cook said...

We seem so easily to translate disagreement into enmity, especially where politics are concerned. You can disagree with someone's politics and still consider them a friend, or partner with them in areas where you do agree.

This reminds me a lot of the flack Rick Warren took for hosting Obama at Saddleback. The same rational applies: God wants us to do something to help hurting people. We should help hurting people with whoever will help us do that. period. I hear a lot of talk coming from this effort to organize Baptists about social justice, poverty, and similar things. If we can agree with Carter and Clinton on those issues, can we not allow their influence to assist us in helping people who need help? Incorrect theology on the part of some of the participants does not negate the glory that would be given to God if this effort actually translates into more love, more unity, and more people reached with good news ( I mean good news both as in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and also "Your child can go to a hospital" or "you can drink clean water". that is good news, amen?). Rather than offering endless criticism, let us pray for everyone involved and pray that God use this for HIS purposes, regardless of the motives of the people involved.

In Christ,
Tim Cook

Wade Burleson said...

Excellent point Ben.

Wade Burleson said...

And Tim

peter lumpkins said...

Dear BDW,

All who believe that, stand on their head.

With that, I am...


p.s. Note, BDW, many of Wade's otherwise supporters, contrary to my prediction, are not standing on their heads either.


Anonymous said...

What exactly do the planners of the conference plan to accomplish? What would you like to see accomplished by the conference? What I have read about the conference, I find the goals to be somewhat vague. Please clarify.

Anonymous said...

tim cook,

this aint about politics. it's about joining with people who deny the inerrancy of scripture,and who deny that Jesus is the only way to heaven...amongst other things that are against God's Word.


Wade Burleson said...


I, for one, believe what BDW is saying.

In fact, that was the SOLE reason for agreeing to the meeting. To confirm that the convocation in January was to be exactly like BDW described.

I am convinced that the purpose of the meeting is EXACTLY as BDW described. If it were for any other reason I could not, and would not, see any benefit to it.

Big Daddy Weave said...


You're in the Atlanta-area I believe? Next January you'll have to check it out. You might just be surprised.

If you do, I'll introduce you to several of the historians that you often quote on your blog.

Wade Burleson said...


Dialogue, encouragement, partnering in missions with each other, and fostering a spirit of placing the gospel above everything else are the stated goals.

Nobody desires anyone to change. Nobody desires the creation of any new entity, convention, or denomination. Everyone wishes to express appreciation and acceptance of the differences, while emphasizing what it is we have in common -- salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and a desire to help the world through the words and works of the gospel (those were the exact words given to us).

Wade Burleson said...

Sorry folks, but I'm off for my Friday golf game. :) That trumps everything on Friday afternoon!

Bobby Brown said...

I thought Carter was a poor president also but actually no worse than our current president George Bush. It's a toss up for me between the two. The point is, as you stated, can't we love each other as Christians and not let our differences politically or doctrinally in non-essential areas damage our fellowship? I imagine that Jimmy Carter would be much stronger in this area than most of the fundemental conservative Repubican chritians that we know.

Bobby Brown

Colin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Hicks said...

Wade's last post was his best. This is my off day and I think I'll follow his lead.

One more thing...Wade wrote, "Dialogue, encouragement, partnering in missions with each other, and fostering a spirit of placing the gospel above everything else are the stated goals [of the conference]"

All of these plus the social activism of helping the poor are very commendable and are things we should be doing. However, if we cannot agree on what the Gospel is, we would be best to pursue these laudatory actions separately.

God is never glorified by a unity that disregards the primary thing that we should be unified about.

Sola Dei Gloria

Lance said...

To me, Carter seems like a wonderful man, and I would jump at the opportunity to spend time with him.

I have been alarmed recently, though, by his comments on the Mormons in Newsweek. Under the surface of what appears to be a wonderful organization, the Mormons disagree with biblical and historic Christian orthodoxy, concerning the person of Christ and salvation.
Yet Carter believes that Mormons are no different than Christians, according to recent and past comments.

I don't know if you had the chance to ask him about this, but it seems that he is willing to blur the lines of Christian orthodoxy, in order to promote better Christian orthopraxy.

Can we be truly unified if we disagree on essential aspects of Christology?

Can we preach contrary gospel messages and still unify ourselves under the cross (Galatians 1:8-9)?

Brad Guenther said...

May I ask again, as you may have missed it earlier: Did you wonder why you, Ben, and marty were selected for this honor of being the emissaries to Southern Baptists?
I certainly would have accepted the invitation as well. I just wondered if the thought crossed your mind.

Baptist Theologue said...

A few observations about the Carter quotes referenced by Bart Barber:

The quotes came from an interview by Elizabeth Sams on Beliefnet.com. Here is the title she gave for the interview: “Jimmy Carter, Sunday School Teacher: The former president on why he believes Jesus will save everyone, and how his faith complicated—and sustained—his presidency.”

Here is Beliefnet.com’s mission statement: “Our mission is to help people like you find, and walk, a spiritual path that will bring comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness.
Whether you're exploring your own faith or other spiritual traditions, we provide you inspiring devotional tools, access to the best spiritual teachers and clergy in the world, thought-provoking commentary, and a supportive community. Beliefnet is the largest spiritual web site. We are independent and not affiliated with any spiritual organization or movement. Our only agenda is to help you meet your spiritual needs.”

Notice that only the first half of John 3:16 was given in the interview.

Here is the key part of the interview:

“And I have been asked often, you know, in my Sunday School classes, which are kind of a give and take debate with people from many nations and many faiths - what about those that don't publicly accept Christ, are they condemned? And I remember that Christ said, ‘Judge not that ye be not judged.’ And so, my own personal belief is one of God's forgiveness and God's grace. That's the best answer I can give.”

Interestingly, the word “publicly” is used. Does this usage mean that he was implying that those who accept Christ privately but not publicly are saved? Probably not. From the information we are given in the interview, it appears that adults were attending his class who are members of other religious groups (not Christian). It also appears that they were asking whether they could go to heaven without surrendering their lives to Christ in repentance and faith. This was Elizabeth Sams’s understanding, according to the title of the interview. If President Carter has been misunderstood, perhaps he will clarify his stand on this very important issue.

Matt Brady said...

When asked whether Jesus is the only way to Salvation, the only answer for an inerantist is always a CLEAR "yes." Instead, Carter gives ambiguous, "judge not lest ye be judged" answers. the blog referenced earlier by Baptist Theologue Wade

We can explain the exclusivity of Christ with graciousness, but we ought always be clear about it. I don't think Carter's lack of clarity is due to a lack of eloquence. He is a politician after all.

By the way, I get the idea that those who had a private conversation with Carter yesterday are therefore privy to know that Carter believes in the exclusivity of Christ. All suggestions to the contrary are therefore unfounded until we also talk to Carter personally.

Forgive me for disagreeing. Carter's public statements are on record for anyone to verify. His private conversations, like the one he had yesterday, are left to the interpretation of those who were there.

If indeed Former President Carter does believe that those who do not accept Christ are damned, then this very public event in Atlanta would be a great place to clear up all the misunderstandings.

Matt Brady said...

That link should say " The blog referenced by Baptist Theologue and earlier by Wade"

Baptist Theologue said...

P.S., before the key part of the interview that I noted, President Carter said,

"So, the opportunity for everyone to be saved through the grace of God with faith in Christ applies to everyone."

That statement might be interpreted as meaning that only through faith can people be saved. Not everyone has the opportunity to hear the gospel, however, so what does he mean here by saying that the opportunity to be saved applies to everyone? Maybe I am over-analyzing this statement.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear BDW,

I surely am in the Atlanta area. And, I have no doubt that some of the historians I both admire and respect would be there. As for shaking their hand, that surely is an additional treat but just as good, know, I would like to shake yours.

Now, to the point: So far, you and Wade are the only ones standing on your head. Are there any others?

As for me, I do not yet accept that NCBs is apolitical because it caters to more than Baptists anymore than I accept the Moral Majority was apolitical because it catered to more than Baptists.

Peace, BDW. With that, I am...


P.S. The next time you drool over our Brothers at EthicsDaily for their blistering critique of Dr. Land's illicit relationship with Bush's Washington, I'll remind you of philospher Pee Wee Herman's famous retort: "I know you are, but what am I?"

Alycelee said...

BT- you left out the first part of that quote. The 'Therefore' if you will.
He said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son...Jesus said we should love our neighbors but also love those who dispise us or hate us.
The opportunity for everyone to be saved through the grace of God with faith in Christ applies to everyone.
Is he correct in his statement that we cannot judge anothers heart in relation to their connection to or committment to Christ?

I work in the news media. As far as headlines-they have one purpose. Get attention, as much as possible to draw readers to the article. Do writers do this intentionally? This headline is not a quote.

Baptist Theologue said...

Alycelee, I think I see the point you are making about President Carter’s connecting the first part of John 3:16 with the command to love our neighbors and enemies. I also see your point about a headline not being a quote.

You asked,

“Is he correct in his statement that we cannot judge another’s heart in relation to their connection to or commitment to Christ?”

You are probably referencing Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge lest you be judged.” (NASB)
Remember, however, that in the same chapter Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:20)

Knowing them by their fruits is a judgment call. Some judgments should be made. It is important to know whether or not a person is a Christian. One reason is that we believe in regenerate church membership. Another reason is that we need to know whom to evangelize. Thus, there is a need for diagnostic questions. Sometimes such a judgment call is easy to make. For example, if people identify themselves as non-Christians and as members of other world religions, such a call is easy. From the interview, it appears that the people in question clearly identified themselves as non-Christians.

Tim Cook said...


*stands on head*

count me in :)

Tim Cook said...

I think it is possible that Mr. Carter was answering a version of the "what about the guy in deep, dark, africa that never hears the good news" question. As I read it, he simply affirms that salvation is in the hands of God, not man, to determine. That may not have enough teeth for some of us, but it hardly amounts to heresy.

As to mormons: I agree that their beliefs are heretical, but I have met other christians, whom I deeply respect, who are of the opinion that they have some individual mormons who do have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and believe Him to be their Savior and Lord. Are they confused? yes. Are they saved? Well, that is for God to decide. None of us, thank God, will kept out of heaven for mistaken theology; we will just be confused when we get there ;) Just because he thinks that mormons might be Christians, does not mean he has redefined the gospel - it may just mean that he is misinformed.

In Christ,
Tim Cook

Anonymous said...

Man, I dunno, Jimmy Carter - plus his political animal friends together during the very height of the presidential primary period next February.... Clinton & Gore have been so utterly cynical in their use/abuse of religious appearances.

Mr. Carter gets so fired up about political things that I even wonder if he would still be focussed on Baptist issues in Jan/Feb. His private Christianity sounds so strong and sincere, yet the garbage that has come out of his mouth so often relating to religion throughout the years just makes me wonder.

The view that pops into my mind is Jesus at the feeding of the five thousand with a crowd of tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritans, and a Sanhedrin judge or two - would He have been amidst such a crowd in such a public setting, or would He have been concerned about what the lost would think, and His ability to keep the main thing, the main thing?

Steve Austin
Hoptown, Ky.

Tim Cook said...

that should be "have MET some individual mormons..."

R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade -- "To those posting anonymously please remember that I have IP addresses..."

I don't post anonymously. And pretending to be someone else is wrong. But I do often post from public computers. I'm sure others do, so sometimes might show the same IP address??? Please keep that in mind when you're looking at those IP addresses.

Brother Paul Burleson -- "I love America, but 'Americanism' is not our message."

Amen, Brother!! We Baptists in America need to post this on our refigerators (or wherever) and read it every day.

Anonymous said...

how quickly we forget that our lord and savior was called a frined of sinners and prostitutes bu the religious fundamentalists of his time. I am proud of wade for meeting with these men, i for one plan to attend the meeting in atlanta- Jesus prayed for unity- i think i'll error on the side of jesus
John daniels

Anonymous said...

I just now noticed the dates of the conference. Isn't it strange that the conference is being held the week/same week prior to the presidential primaries? Also, the conference was suggested by 2 former presidents of the same party. HMMMM! Wonder why? I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure this one out, or so it seems.
Gene Price
Gleason, TN

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debbie said...

Yet RL you said this yesterday and having been one who reads your comments often, you have even commented on my blog recently yet this is the first time that I know of you revealed this: "Dr. Yarnell, since I'm not a Southern Baptist and may not understand all the procedures,"

Not that you don't have a right to post here but one should be totally honest. This omission is just as deceitful in my opinion. You are not the only one who has done this but it is just as wrong.

Colin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kaylor said...

Gene: Pay more attention to ALL of the speakers. I cannot figure why you would suggest this is a plot to help the Democrats in the presidential election when one of the speakers is none other than Mike Huckabee, who is running for President as a ... wait for it ... Republican! Oops. Quit trying to make this into something that it is not.

Barry said...


I must admit that I too would be one with "A cloud on my face" when I hear the name Jimmy Carter. Because of my political leanings, because of my perception of his less than ringing endorsement of the Gospel on occasions and his very impolite references to a sitting President at the Coretta Scott King funeral, I generally do not like the man.

However, it is amazing how a face to face meeting can change our perceptions of an individual. Several years ago, through a unique set of circumstances I shared a breakfast with the Evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne, a man I had criticized publicly. Through his tears he shared with me about his ministry. I left that breakfast determined not to be so critical of another based solely on what others said about them.

I too have learned the power of a face to face meeting. It may take a face to face meeting for me to get over my real or perceived notions about President Carter but in the mean time, I believe I will be a little quicker to extend some of the grace that has been extended to me.

Thanks for sharing yourself on your blog. I very much enjoy reading it.


Randy said...

The wisest thing Wade has done today is leave all of this for the golf course. Wade, hope you go low!

Randy McLendon

Big Daddy Weave said...

Peter, Peter, Peter,

Do read my blog over the next few days.

At my blog and Baptistlife, I have said quite a few good words about Richard Land and his move to the "middle."

I am bloggin Land's latest book, which I admit, is worth reading. Some of the book makes me cringe but much of the book is encouraging for folks like myself.

To others,

On Jimmy Carter, let me state that of all his past addresses to the CBF - none have been political. Nor are his sunday school lessons which he teaches 40 weeks of the year. As a south Georgian, I've heard him teach multiple times.

If people are concerned about Carter and other Democrats, are you not equally concerned about Southern Baptist and Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee? Remember, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (also speaking) is from South Carolina who is holding one of the first primaries. So, let the conspiracy theories come from both sides of the aisle!

I'm not concerned.

It will be a great time of fellowship with a diverse group of Baptists. Those of us from smaller Baptist organizations do not get to experience large gatherings/celebrations every year...

Jeff said...

Wade, My Friday Golf game today revealed me to be a liberal...everything went LEFT :) My normal course was closed so a deacon and I drove up the road and played at a little 9 hole course. I love to play golf with you one day, but only if you give me a couple shots per hole.

bryan riley said...

I am amazed at how unwise people are to always want to draw lines and put up boundaries. These questions of are there any doctrinal boundaries, etc...? What really is the point? To label? To judge? To finally put at rest a presupposition that Wade or some other CHRISTIAN is, God forbid, "liberal"?

Let God judge.

If Wade and others are carrying the gospel of the Kingdom of God into such meetings then PRAISE THE LORD!!!! My goodness, why wouldn't we participate, explore, learn, listen, and be the ambassadors of Jesus we are called to be??

Does God love Jimmy Carter any less than you or me? Does God desire the best for him? If you all are so concerned about whether he is saved (only God knows), then praise the Lord there are those representing the gospel of Christ in the meeting!

Anonymous said...

Wade Burleson wrote:
"In fact, Carter pointed out that he stills consider himself a Southern Baptist."

Huh...guess he miscommunicated to the CBF paper here then when having his daily interview with them.

October 23, 2000

Jimmy Carter says he can
'no longer be associated' with the SBC
___By Greg Warner
___Associated Baptist Press
___ATLANTA (ABP)--Former President Jimmy Carter, Southern Baptists' most famous layman, says he feels "excluded" by the Southern Baptist Convention and "can no longer be associated" with the nation's largest Protestant denomination.
___As a candidate in 1976 who introduced the term "born again" into the political lexicon, as a president who was criticized for witnessing to world leaders, as a goodwill ambassador through his work with Habitat for Humanity and as a Sunday school teacher at his small church in Plains, Ga., Carter has been one of the most visible and respected Southern Baptists for 25 years.
___But in a letter and press statement released Oct. 19, Carter lamented the new "creedal" direction taken by the SBC. He said the recent changes in the Baptist Faith & Message doctrinal statement are "profound and revolutionary" and reflect "an increasingly rigid SBC creed."
___"I had never been involved in the political struggle for control of the SBC and have no desire to do so," Carter wrote in the letter, which was mailed to 75,000 Baptists nationwide by the moderate group Texas Baptists Committed. He said he was disappointed that his effort two years ago to promote dialogue between SBC factions failed. "My hope was that, as a traditional Baptist layman, I could find some channel through which I could help fulfill our Christian commitments.
___"But since that brief interlude of apparent harmony, I have been disappointed and feel excluded by the adoption of policies and an increasingly rigid SBC creed, including some provisions that violate the basic premises of my Christian faith. I have finally decided that, after 65 years, I can no longer be associated with the Southern Baptist Convention."
___"This is a torturous decision to make," Carter added in an interview. "I do it with anguish and not with any pleasure." Carter, 76, said he could no longer "add my name and my support" to SBC efforts because its leaders "have departed from what I believe."
___He decided to go public with his decision after meeting, at his initiation, with moderate Baptist leaders from Texas, Virginia and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
___"This is strictly personal for me," he told ABP. "I am not trying to speak for my church. … I'm not going to mount a crusade against anybody. We've had enough of that."
___He said he will remain a deacon and Sunday school teacher at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains and support the church's recent decision to send half of its missions contributions to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
___In his press release, Carter said he and his wife, Rosalynn, want to associate with "other traditional Baptists who continue to share such beliefs as separation of church and state, servanthood and not domination of pastors, local church autonomy, a free religious press and equality of women."
___He lamented the SBC's departure from those beliefs and the exclusion of those who disagree from service in the convention.
___"Over the years, leaders of the convention have adopted an increasingly rigid creed, called a Baptist Faith & Message, including some provisions that violate the basic tenets of my Christian faith," Carter said. "These premises have become mandatory criteria that must be accepted by employees, by members of committees who control the convention's affairs and by professors who teach in the SBC-owned seminaries. Obviously, this can have a far-reaching and permanent effect."
___Carter told ABP that one particular change in the 2000 doctrinal statement "overrides and explains the other concerns I have"--the SBC's decision to eliminate language that identifies Jesus Christ as "the criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted."
___"Most disturbing has been the convention's recent decision to remove Jesus Christ, through his words, deeds and personal inspiration, as the ultimate interpreter of the Holy Scriptures," he explained in his press release. "This leaves open making the pastors or executives of the SBC the ultimate interpreters."
___The revisions to the SBC's official doctrinal statement in 1998 and this year have become a line in the sand for many moderates after years of being excluded from denominational leadership. Among controversial changes is a 1998 amendment on the family that calls for women to submit to their husbands. Additional revisions adopted this year weaken references to the doctrine of soul competency and state that women cannot be pastors in local churches.
___SBC conservatives defend the narrower language as reflecting the views of most Southern Baptists and as necessary to guard the denomination against liberalism, which they claim infiltrated seminaries and agencies during the 1960s and 1970s.
___Moderates in Texas and elsewhere, however, say the new Baptist Faith & Message turns the Bible into an idol by placing it on an equal plane with Christ. They also say announced plans to use the new statement to ensure "doctrinal accountability" violate Baptists' historic aversion to creeds.
___In his letter, Carter said, as a Georgia Baptist, he is "quite concerned by the effort of SBC leaders to impose their newly adopted creed on our state convention."
___"Our prayer is that we can avoid this divisive action and adhere to the traditional beliefs that, for generations, have sustained our ancestors and us in a spirit of unity and cooperation," he wrote.
___In the letter, Carter endorses a taped message by Charles Wade, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Copies of the tape are included with the mass mailing.
___On the tape, Wade pledges that neither the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message nor its predecessor, the 1963 version, will be imposed as a creed on Texas Baptists. "We need no creed to define what the Bible says, and we need no confession of faith if it is going to be used as a creed."
___"It's a painful thing when people try to dismiss you because you don't 'believe the Bible,'" he added. "I challenge anybody to make that charge stick against Texas Baptists. But I want you to understand we do not worship the Bible. We worship God revealed in Jesus Christ, recorded in Scripture so that we might know him."
___Carter initiated a meeting in Plains Sept. 28 with David Currie, director of Texas Baptist Committed, and Becky Matheny, director of the moderate Georgia Baptist Heritage Council, during which he shared his convictions about the SBC.
___"We said, 'It would be great for Baptists to know how you felt,'" Currie recalled. "He said he was thinking about sending a letter to folks. That's where the idea of linking the (letter and tape) came together."
___Carter's letter and Wade's 45-minute tape were mailed beginning Oct. 18 to Texas Baptist Committed's national mailing list at a cost of more than $75,000, Currie said. Donations were received from the Georgia Baptist Heritage Council and a few individuals--including $2,000 from the Carters--to cover about half the cost, he said. The rest will be borrowed and repaid with future donations.
___Currie said the mailing was not intended to influence the Texas vote, but that might be a welcome byproduct. It may also motivate people in other states, he said. "We just want as many people as possible to listen to this tape and realize that the SBC has deserted every historic Baptist principle that Baptists have been committed to," he said.
___Carter said in the interview that the recent decision by directors of the Christian Index, the Georgia Baptist newspaper, to restrict articles and ads promoting the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship "is improper and a violation of freedom of press."
___"The fact is that almost every one in Georgia who gives money to CBF is also giving to the Georgia Baptist Convention. And the Christian Index is supposed to represent all Georgia Baptists."
___"I don't like that at all," he continued. "That's just a forerunner of things that are pending and just a further imposition of the creed."
___Carter, who in office and since has distinguished himself as a negotiator and reconciler among troubled nations, said he was disappointed that his 1997-98 attempt to bring reconciliation among Southern Baptists failed.
___While parties seeking peace can make progress if they are flexible and mutually respectful, he said, "sometimes there is a total recalcitrance that prohibits progress," like the Arab-Israeli disagreement over control of East Jerusalem.
___Such an impediment to peace now exists in the SBC, he suggested. The new strictures adopted by Southern Baptists mean that "if you don't accept these premises, then you cannot be a part of the Southern Baptist Convention."

Anonymous said...

As far as Jimmy Carter and the gospel go...Al Mohler is waiting for someone to refute this...

Jimmy Carter Revises the Gospel . . . Again

Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 at 11:42 pm ET

Former President Jimmy Carter is at it once again. In a recent interview with Beliefnet.com, Mr. Carter stated once again his belief that there is salvation outside of faith in Christ. But this time he seems to have gone even further, suggesting openly that all persons will be saved.

Here is the relevant exchange at Beliefnet.com:

Do you believe that grace ultimately applies to people who don't presently believe in Jesus?

Yes, I do. I remember two things. One is that in John 3:16, which is probably the best known verse in the Bible - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son." And Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, said we should love our neighbors, but also love those who despise us and hate us and our enemies. So, the opportunity for everyone to be saved through the grace of God with faith in Christ applies to everyone.

And I have been asked often, you know, in my Sunday School classes, which are kind of a give and take debate with people from many nations and many faiths - what about those that don't publicly accept Christ, are they condemned? And I remember that Christ said, "Judge not that ye be not judged." And so, my own personal belief is one of God's forgiveness and God's grace. That's the best answer I can give.

Well, that's not good enough. The former president's answer is a confused mash of out-of-context biblical citations set to the music of universalism. For some time Mr. Carter has been arguing that explicit faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not necessary for salvation. Now, he takes this argument further, and the inescapable conclusion a reader of his latest comments must reach is that President Carter evidently believes that all persons will be saved. This, in fact, is how Beliefnet.com characterized his position.

But Mr. Carter's argument, if one can call these sentences an argument, is also self-contradictory. In one sentence, he argues that "the opportunity for everyone to be saved through the grace of God with faith in Christ applies to everyone." Does the opportunity apply to all, or does salvation? If he means the former, how do all persons confront this opportunity? The tragic reality is that millions of persons have never heard the Gospel of Christ. As the Apostle Paul makes clear, this is the central thrust of the missionary mandate.

The apparent contradiction in Mr. Carter's argument comes with the second paragraph of his answer, in which he argues that God's grace and forgiveness is extended even to those who do not profess faith in Christ. He goes on to suggest that when Jesus taught love of neighbor and the limitations of human judgment, He was teaching universalism. This is nonsense, of course, since those texts mean nothing of the kind. Beyond this, Mr. Carter's interpretation would mean that Jesus contradicted himself when He warned of Hell and condemnation for sin.

The Bible is clear that not all persons will be saved. Jesus contrasted the wide gate that leads to destruction with the narrow gate that leads to salvation. As the Lord said in Matthew 7:13:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

The fact is that many persons are embarrassed by the Gospel as revealed in the Bible and taught by Christ. The central issue of offense is the exclusivity of the Gospel of Christ, And yet, Christ left no doubt about the matter.

In John 14:6, Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." The first sentence is not the ground of offense. The second sentence is. The "but by Me" statement leaves no room for confusion.

In recent decades, some have attempted to argue that faith in Christ is indeed necessary for salvation, but this faith need not be explicit faith in Christ. This position, known as inclusivism, suggests that persons may know nothing of the Gospel, and yet be saved. This argument is often used to claim that adherents of other faiths and belief systems will be saved through the work of Christ, even though they may not hear of Him in this life. Many Roman Catholic theologians have adopted this argument. The late Karl Rahner put an interesting twist on the theme by suggesting that some persons are "anonymous Christians." These would be persons who now think themselves devotees of other belief systems but who are actually Christians who have no explicit faith in Christ. This argument cannot be squared with the biblical witness.

Universalists take the argument even further, with most arguing that all persons will be saved, completely without regard to faith in Christ. With this latest interview, Mr. Carter appears to join these ranks.

The Apostle Paul refuted both inclusivism and universalism in Romans 10, where he insisted that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Paul explained that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ -- which means explicit knowledge of the Gospel. He explained that salvation comes to all those who confess with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised him from the dead. Then, just in case we missed the obvious, Paul explains the missionary mandate -- a mandate completely undercut and contradicted by inclusivism and universalism (and by President Carter's comments):

For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. [Romans 10:13-17]

The logic of Paul is clear. If they hear they may believe, but if they never hear they will never believe. And, if they never hear and believe, they will not be saved.

In a series of books, interviews, and comments, Mr. Carter has dismissed biblical inerrancy and once suggested that his faith would not be shaken, even if Jesus did not perform some of the miracles attributed to him in the New Testament. He has adopted liberal positions on a host of issues and once identified liberal theologians such as Paul Tillich as major influences in his life and thought.

Nevertheless, it is tragic to see this man of influence, now releasing another published set of his recorded Sunday School lessons, set himself so clearly against the Bible and the historic faith of the Christian church. This, like all demonstrations of theological error, is both sad and deeply dangerous. What could be worse than getting the Gospel wrong?

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you said, but you seem to be unaware that former President Carter is an inclusivist, if not a pluralist. Just since the January meeting at the Carter Center announcing the coming "Celebration", he has said a Mormon is a Christian, and that Judaism is a viable pathway to God. He encouraged religious Jews to shun overtures from "Zionist" right-wing Christians who only befriend Israel in order to convert them or see them go to Hell. So, what's the "new prophetic voice" going to sound like? The only thing more disconcerting to me than being identified with a Carter-call Baptist movement would be having him teach my Sunday School class.

Bryan Riley said...

Are those who comment anonymously ashamed of the gospel they are touting? Why anonymous? What is there about what you are saying that requires your anonymity?

peter lumpkins said...


My words actually were about EthicsDaily, BDW, and your drooling over their scorched Land approach, not your own blog. And I will read it. Thank you for the invitation.

I find it a big belly-roll that you and EthicsDaily apparently find Dr. Land's--not to mention the late Dr. Falwell's--coziness with politics a horrible vice, but Ben, Marty and Wade's flirtation with politics a heavenly virtue.
Such a sweet paradox, I presume.

By the way, there's now three of you on your head--Tim weighed in ;^)

With that, I am...


Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Lumpkins,

I wish you would be honest and let people know you actually know nothing of my politics. Absolutely nothing. I am Republican to the core and have National Committee Chairpersons in my church, friends with our Frank Keating, Oklahoma Governor and both our Republican Senators in Washington.

I am a supporter of George Bush and the war in Iraq, and am right of you in probably all areas of politics. I vote straight ticket Republican. Period.

However, that does not prevent me from fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ who are politically different than I. My relationship with Christian brothers transcends my politics.

I would encourage you to be careful that you do no misrepresent the truth when you write by acting as if you know something me that that you do not.

martyduren said...

If you are still checking in, re: the photo. If it had been a Democratic or Republican meeting, I would not even have gone. Everyone in the room agreed that we were meeting for reasons of Baptist fellowship.

Jerry Falwell was never criticized for having his picture made with Baptists. Get your act together.

Please, please tell me where you got the idea that I had invited Frank Page to yesterday's meeting. If that's what my words conveyed, I need to do a fast edit, because that is not accurate. I have not spoken to Frank Page about this meeting.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Colin, you wrote, "You cannot trace an IP address to the physical location of a computer....The most one can do is compare stats from a counter such as Sitemeter, but even then it is a shot in the dark., etc."

I have noticed that my own sitemeter often records my own visits to my blog as "San Angelo, TX" -- far across on the other side of the state. At times it shows "Rapid City, SD"! I'd say that's not too reliable.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Debbie, thanks for the opportunity to address this again.

On the thread The Case for Continuationism: Dr. Sam Storms, I asked this question: "Wade, I have posted randomly on your blog ever since someone gave a link to it on the Baptist Board. I am not in the SBC and have never made any pretense that I am (though perhaps I've never thought to discuss it; don't remember if it came up). Anyway in view of full disclosure and of being sure I am not violating any etiquette or trespassing I am mentioning this and asking whether you want the input of those not in the SBC? Thanks." To which Wade graciously responded, "You are always welcome and I appreciate the information on Mr. Valdez Sr...."

I would add that any differences I have with Wade Burleson are matters of theology, practice and/or opinion. Nothing is personal and in fact Wade was very helpful to me when I started blogging on Blogger.com in explaining to me the way some things work. (I got into computers later in life).

In addition to this, I hope you would consider the difference between deliberately trying to disguise who one is and merely not mentioning it every time one posts. Besides posting on blogs, and being known by some other bloggers, I have been on the Baptist Board for years (as well as a member of some other discussion boards). Since I assume there is some knowledge (by some) of who I am, and some ability (for others) to find out who I am, I guess I haven't thought it necessary to mention it unless it seemed relevant to the post. I once had a good bit of information about myself in my Baptist Board profile, but a few years back concern about identity theft caused me to remove most of it. If you need to know something more about me, please e-mail me. I'll be glad to try to answer.


peter lumpkins said...

Dear Marty,

Frankly, I am sure, with you, my Brother Marty, that Dr. Falwell was never criticized for taking pics with Baptists.

What I am unsure about, however, is your interesting implication that I've offered criticism of your taking pics with Baptists.

Peace. With that, I am...


p.s. By authority of my dear wife, I'm confident my act can never quite be together...

Big Daddy Weave said...


You've misrepresented any past critiques I've given concerning the Right and its leaders.

As T.B. Maston first said, and as James Dunn and Richard Land have repeated time and time again. Religion and Politics will mix, should mix, and must mix (though without merging church/state). I agree. My critique of Land (which I've softened recently) is not so simplistic and slightly more complex than what you've characterized me as saying. But that discussion will be saved for another day.

You might have a point if the upcoming Celebration were political. But it's not.

I said this on another blog, but people forget or just don't realize that the CBF does not consist of mostly Baptists who vote Democrat. We're a rather diverse organization. Heck, the CBF Church I grew up in, The Oaks of Lyons (Vidalia), Georgia, consists primarily of Republicans. Parkway Baptist in Duluth, another CBF church, consists of mostly Republicans. Here in Waco, I don't know how my church members vote - they don't talk about it.

If this event was a political rally, it would never happen. Many moderate churches would not participate. But the CBFers I know, Repubs and Dems, are excited about such a diverse celebration of fellow Baptists.

400 years is right around the corner, the historian in me has got my fingers crossed for a big celebration of that too!

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

As for "being honest," I do not fear. Candidly, I have no reason not to be honest.

Nonetheless, it's just weird you should bring that up, Wade, for I've not once attempted to describe your personal politics. In fact, you've done a pretty good job of doing so yourself. I have positively no reason to believe anything other than you are as you say you are: "I am a Republican politically. I am a hard line conservative fiscally, politically and ideaologically." So be it, my Brother. So where have I questioned that?

In addition, Wade, you conclude: "I would encourage you to be careful that you do no misrepresent the truth when you write by acting as if you know something me that that you do not." If questioning the prudence of an action--as many of your community supporters have done today, Wade--is "misrepresenting the truth," then, I must confess I stand doubly guilty as charged.

Grace for the Weekend. With that, I am...


WTJeff said...

Wade, Marty, & Ben,

I admire your willingness to face criticism in order to further fellowship among baptist. I'm not sure I would have your courage. Meeting with President Carter would cause me some heartburn due to his political and theological views...however, I think that says more about my own lack of spiritual maturity than anything else.


You've raised condescension to an art form. Too bad you can't make your point without seeming to look down on those of us who are simple minded enough to rarely, if ever, know what you're talking about.



peter lumpkins said...

Dear BDW,

Oh, my. What's a guy to do?. It looks as if all I can do today is "misrepresent" "misrepresent" "misrepresent." I guess I'll call it a night and start over tomorrow. Perhaps a good night's sleep will assist my horrid dishonesty.

Grace to you, BDW. With that, I am...


peter lumpkins said...

Dear Jeff,

May the Lord bless you and keep you and may His face shine upon you and give you peace.

With that, I am...


WTJeff said...


Thank you for the blessing and may God's grace and peace flood your life as well brother. I may not always agree with or understand you, but you are my brother nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

WADE, you've really stepped in it now!
Working "with" Carter and others who believe 'Jesus is not the only way' and 'homosexuality is no longer a sin'...one must ask, "What is your basis for fellowship?" Since just these two items alone prove that it's not Scripture. Protest all you want but you're 'in bed' with the unfaithful!

Wade Burleson said...


You said, "I find it a big belly-roll that you and EthicsDaily apparently find Dr. Land's--not to mention the late Dr. Falwell's--coziness with politics a horrible vice, but Ben, Marty and Wade's flirtation with politics a heavenly virtue.
Such a sweet paradox, I presume.

The bold words are where you err and misrepresent me.

Colin said...


You missed the second "you" in the question.

Emily said...

I am struck by the selective memory (or perhaps simple inconsistency) at work in this thread, as many seek to discredit President Carter as a sort of pseudo-Christian for his recent statements regarding Mormonism and the destiny of the unevangelized.

What about the great Billy Graham's often controversial and ambiguous theological statements in the past 5-10 years? We seem to have no problem showering him with praise and supporting his crusades with ecumenical abandon (as we should). Or, what of the many wildly outlandish theological statements of the late Rev. Falwell? Few saw fit to excommunicate him from Christian faith and cooperation when he blamed 9/11 on homosexuals and slandered Calvinism as heresy.

(Shall I even bring up the thousands of theological aberrations lurking in every pew of every church in the SBC? How many of our faithful regularly assert their "choice" to be saved? How many of them secretly hope and tell their unchurched friends that they think many will "make it" into eternal life despite their faith in other gods? How many honestly believe that their children become angels when they pass from this life into the next? These examples of "folk theology" are just as problematic and, I would argue, ever-present in SBC churches.)

I think if we think critically about this for a moment, we will see that we are exceedingly selective about which Christian leaders we hold to tight doctrinal standards for our cooperation. Perhaps the vitriolic reaction to Pres. Carter's supposed theological aberrations has more to do with his divergent political views and faithful support of Democratic causes.

It IS about unity in the Gospel of Jesus Christ: the declaration to the world that the reign of God has broken into history and God is reconciling all things to Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ. I am saddened that so few are missing out on the significance of our unity, despite numerous (real) doctrinal differences.

Thanks for your bravery and graciousness, Wade. I am always encouraged and challenged by what you have to say.

Lee said...

It seems to really irritate some people when people who are known by their testimony of Christian faith, as Jimmy Carter has been since he first ran for governor of Georgia, choose not to follow a particular secular political position, regardless of their reasons. And somehow, secular politics always manages to creep back into the discussion, whether that's what it's about or not.

I heard a great sermon at the Baptist Conference on the Holy Spirit, by Ben Cole, about where such things belong in the Kingdom of God, the church.

This was the right thing to do, and the right people went. May God bless your efforts in whatever way he intends for them to be used.

Chuck said...

Bryan Riley,

I'm the anonymous post just before your's. It's anonymous because I couldn't figure out how to create an identity, being new to this blogging stuff.

Let me assure you, though, I'm not ashamed of the gospel or of pointing out Jimmy Carter's obvious pluralism.

Chuck said...

Wade and Marty,

That Jimmy Carter is an inclusivist, if not pluralist, is a given. Just read his recent Newsweek interview and/or the account of Rabbi Lerner.
Other less obvious instances are referenced in many of these comments.

Once you've verified that Carter doesn't hold a Baptistic view of salvation, you and your fellow Southern Baptist blogger attendees need to answer why you would, could, or should, endorse the coming "Celebration" as a watershed Baptist event.

With Carter at the center of this movement, "the new prophetic voice" behind the acts of social kindness to be encouraged / facilitated at the rally could just as well be attributed to Joseph Smith, Muhammad, or Rabbi Lerned.

And, remember, an early-stated purpose of the "New Baptist Covenant"--which Carter may not have mentioned in your meeting--is to give America a new distinct Baptist witness to counteract that of Southern Baptists, whom the organizers loathe and Jimmy Carter disowned in 2000.

Anonymous said...

Way too many political personality coming to that meeting if you ask me. Oops, I guess you didn't ask.
It is a presidential election year and you don't think this will turn in to a big campaign rally.
God can work in unusual ways so I sure pray everyone stays on the important issues and God receives the glory.


Debbie said...

RLVaughn: Thank you for the kind response and my apologies. I was wrong and thank you for clearing this up.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

Good morning! It's chilly here in Georgia. Hope our peaches do o.k.

Let's see if I can type a statement or two today without misrepresenting everybody and follow our Brother Marty's challenge to "get my act together."

Your original charge toward me, Wade, concerned my honesty about your politics and my supposed pretense I knew something about you I did not, in fact know:

"I wish you would be honest and let people know you actually know nothing of my politics. Absolutely nothing... I would encourage you to be careful that you do no misrepresent the truth when you write by acting as if you know something me that that you do not."

I conceded to you, Wade, that you were right: I did not know about your personal politics but that you explained them to me very clearly.

I pointed out, however, that I never mentioned your politics and asked you for clarification, to which you oddly mentioned the following: "...but Ben, Marty and Wade's flirtation with politics a heavenly virtue. Such a sweet paradox, I presume. 'The bold words are where you err and misrepresent me.'"

Aside from the fact that "...Wade's flirtation with politics..." was made in jest as a "ps" to BDW, it says absolutely nothing about your politics, Wade. Nothing. What it does do is speak toward an action--your involvement with politics.

Thus, the question is, did you, in your involvement with politics, "flirt"? Or, perhaps, were you "involved" at all? It's a disagreement about facts, Wade, not about your personal position--Republican or Democrat--on politics.

I trust I have not misrepresented anyone's position. I hope I can hold this weekend together.

Grace, Wade. With that, I am...


Bart Barber said...


I've been out traveling, not to meet with former presidents, but to a small gathering at the Baptist Church in diminutive Nixon, TX. :-) But now I have posted a response to your response. Carter's quote cannot be tied to common grace. I give the details in my comment on my latest thread, but the summation is that I encourage you to listen to the lesson from Ephesians that Carter taught which was the subject of the question—that lesson removes whatever slight big of ambiguity might have existed in the Q&A—and I don't think there was any ambiguity there to begin with.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Peter, it's a cool morning here, too. 50 degrees in late May in East Texas seems pretty unusual to me.

Debbie, I'll be glad to try and clear anything up at any time. I don't like to give too much personal informaiton on the internet, but I have nothing to hide concerning my faith, practice, or affiliation -- I was raised in the American Baptist Association, my in-laws are staunch Democrats and have been to Jimmy Carter's Sunday School class, and I am a past Republican precinct chairman and have served as a delegate to our state Republican Convention.

I have become quite cynical politically and don't trust politicians. I have almost reached the point of believing some advice I once heard -- vote against the incumbent. Anyone who is in office needs to be voted out! The source of my cynicism, I suppose, rises from our state situation. We stuffed our state congress (and governorship) with Republicans. One of our supposed Republican ideals was "less government". But when they got down to Austin it was the same ol' same ol' written in a different key -- bigger government, more laws, more taxes, ad nauseum.

All that to say, laying theology aside, the promotion of and high presence of politicians in this Baptist convocation makes in very suspect to me.

Bart Barber said...

Of course, I should clarify, I don't have any trouble with you meeting with President Carter. 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, you know.

My first objection is to the suggestion that we have no gospel differences with Jimmy Carter, when obviously we do. My second objection is to Jimmy Carter moving beyond being a former president and asserting himself as Bible teacher extraordinaire and man-with-the-prescription-to-fix-all-Baptists, when he is plainly and publicly heterodox in the basics of the gospel. Now, if Jimmy Carter has reconsidered his views or didn't mean to say what he said, then I need not court a private audience with his highness—he can recant as publicly as he stated these views in the first place, and we'll all be satisfied.

My third objection is to parameterless quests for unity which, if they had been the historical tradition of Christianity, would have us all Arian today.

Anonymous said...

Shame on Jimmy Carter for his conduct - epsecially his spoken and written words in recent years. I'm compelled to let the world know I struggle to find anything in common with this man's beliefs.

Meeting with Carter was not so much the bad judgement call. But chosing to overlook the obvious problems of Carter's beliefs and talk about "unity" has disappointed me greatly. Carter has put his beliefs clearly on the record and it's silly to think that people who weren't in a meeting or haven't talked to him personally just don't understand fully.

Wade Burleson said...


In response:

(1). You and I have doctrinal differences with Jimmy Carter, but I can guarantee you I have no 'gospel' differences with the man. I am the one who sat with him and spoke to him about his relationship with Christ. I am the one who heard him clearly speak of the cross, atonement, and salvation by grace through faith. I have no differences with him on these areas -- and neither do you, though you seem to be mixing other doctrinal differences with the good news.

(2). Second, nobody called Carter a teacher extraordinaire. All that was said is that he makes sure the gospel is shared every Sunday he teaches because (in his own words), 'There are hundreds of visiters who need a relationship with Christ.'

(3). I realize you jest about 'Aryanism,' but frankly, I refuse to accept that I would become an 'Aryan' because of a relationship with Jimmy Carter or men and women like him. I sincerely doubt your faith is so weak that you would either, but if it is the fear of conversion to 'Aranyism' that keeps you from relationship with other believers who do not see things eye to eye with you, I would be happy to mentor and disciple you. (wink).

Seriously Bart, I appreciate your theological acumen and insight and believe we could be friends. You have heard me preach. We are not that much different in our views -- we may be different in how we choose to relate to others who are different from us, but I would hope that you and I could enjoy each other's company because of what we have in common.

Tom Goodman said...

A question for your readers: What SBC spokesman would you want at the convocation? I've raised that question and suggested some answers at my blog, Get Anchored.

Anonymous said...

Carter even today is in the headlines for bashing Bush and Blair again.

Forget theology and politics, really. Carter has no decency as a statesman. I don't care how polite he is in a one-on-one meeting. It's not about politics or theolgy. It's about his lack of decency or respect.

Chuck said...


Are you sure you have no gospel differences with President Carter, and that the rest of us are mixing other doctrinal differences with the good news?

Rabbi Lerner reports that, less than two weeks ago, Jimmy Carter said Judaism is a viable pathway to God. Less than two months ago, Newsweek was told by Carter that a Mormon is a Christian.

Did you ask President Carter about these recent statements? I'm not surprised that he's perfectly pleased to be saved himself through faith in Christ, and can express that to you. It's his view that there are other ways that others can be saved that should trouble you.

Does the presentation of the gospel, "the good news," not include the exclusivity claims (or are they the "bad news"?) of passages such as John 3:16, "whoever believes in HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life"? And what about the last verse of that chapter, "he who does not have the Son does not have life . . . the wrath of God remains on him." And Romans 10:13, just to mention a few?

Please re-state any differences you have with Carter doctrinally.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
I have NOT heard a response of WHY Clinton is in the picture? What Christian respect of morals does he bring to the table?

Last month, many were wondering who the father of a certain baby was. A sketch with the words, “I AM”, was the joke of the day.

Even though sin is forgiven by God, consequences may follow to the grave—ask King David.

I have a personal interest in this as some leaders of the BGCT are eyeball deep in this meeting. Our new pastor gave our BGCT church in writing that he would try to lead us into joining the new convention of Texas. So far, he has not said a word, but he told me if the BGCT joins Clinton, he was going to raise sand, and I know some of our members would kick their own mother out of church if they joined Clinton.

Is anyone willing to help, or is there none to give?

Chuck said...

Bro. Rex,

Clinton is pretty much window-dressing, playing no real role other than giving this a heightened political potential.

I must say, though, Clinton should be less of a kill-this-deal than Carter since, at least, Bill hasn't revealed any pluralist-universalist theological views.

You can leave Carter's politics out, and focus solely on his theology, to still conclude to steer way away from this deal.

Bart Barber said...


Not "Aryan" (Heil Hitler!), but "Arian" (There was when He was not).

Has it ever entered your mind that a politician (of any party persuasion) might have told you what he thought you wanted to hear about his theology of the gospel? Or maybe he told the BeliefNet reporter what he thought the reading public wanted to hear about his theology of the gospel. The simple fact is, given the question and in the context of that lesson, Carter's quote cannot in any rational sense have been a discussion of common grace rather than saving grace. Period. Paragraph. If he told you that he is not a universalist and believes in the exclusivity of Christ, then his private statements to you contradict his published statements to the world.

As for enjoying one another's company, I believe we already have, haven't we?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply. Most of the people in my church including me have always thought of Carter as an honest president even though he was not a ‘powerful’ president.

We’ve seen his integrity through the years of helping poor people. We’ve known nothing of his religious theology except he was a Baptists who left the SBC because he felt the SBC had left him.

On that point, I somewhat agree with him, but I’m like the old cigarette add, “I’d rather fight than switch.”

Not until this post have I’ve heard anything about the possibility of his questionable thinking on some issues.

Enough about Carter—my problem is Clinton. You say he is “pretty much window-dressing.”

Why would anyone decorate a window with a garbage can? With the average Baptists, Clinton makes Carter look like an angel.

Chuck, you say Clinton gives the deal a heightened political potential.

I would take that as one more reason he should excuse himself because we know the ‘publicity’ would be helping his wife to be president.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said...
Didn't copy my name again. Sorry

Cherryl said...

President Carter again today was in the news, some very harsh words for President Bush. The media are saying that a former president has never talked about sitting president in this manner. It has been done in such a disrespectful and disdainful manner that certainly it doesn't seem like Carter is interested in open and meaningful discussions. The blog on the meeting just strikes me as so naive and somewhat starstruck. We are to be discerning, especially those in leadership roles. I feel like President Carter is concerned about his legacy, he knows he is mainly considered to be a bit of wash out as a president and now he looks to the democratic leadership for validation of his value. They in turn use him for their purposes. When they want to appeal to Southern Democrats out comes Carter. If the man would state his religious views as clearly and completely in public as he does his political ones, we would all have a much clearer view on what he actually does believe. I don't think questioning someone who says that Mormons will go to heaven is being judgemental it is following "I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes unto the Father but through me". Carter seems to pander to his audience. Meanwhile we can pray for all of them - yes even Clinton.

Anonymous said...

well stated cherryl

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
You said, “Meanwhile we can pray for all of them - yes even Clinton.”

Would you tell us what your Clinton - prayer would be? Would you thank the Lord for him being a “window-dressing” as Chuck indicated, or would you pray for him to leave?

Anonymous said...

CARTER'S Sunday School Class this morning will be "Speak not evil of one another Brethren." I am sure that all of us want to be there.

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks Mrs. Ch___, I didn't realize your first name was Cheryl.


Cherryl said...

A prayer for President Clinton (other than the one for the Czar from Fiddler on the roof, which was something like "keep him safe and as far from me as possible") Acts 26:18 Open his eyes and turn him from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that he may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
I believe your prayer has been answered, but the Czar’s is still lacking.

Karen in OK said...

Lots of good comments here, including by Bart Barber and by Cherryl.
Wade, you seem to be asking us to ignore many public, ambiguous statements because you had a private conversation.
See Bart's comments on how statements may be made according to the perceived desire of the audience.

I don't have any trouble with you and Marty and Ben meeting with President Carter or anybody else.
I do have a trouble if you are speaking for other Baptists at large.
Sometimes I agree with you, and sometimes I don't, but you do not speak for me any more than Paige Patterson does.
There is a certain point at which you need to be wary (I have no idea how close you are to that point or not) of thinking you speak for more people than you do, simply because you have a blog that has been quoted a lot in newspapers.
I believe you were chosen for this meeting because you come up on google with many criticisms of the SBC (a number admittedly justified in my view).

Next time you go to something like this, take some lesser known people who disagree with you.
There will be a next time because fame begets fame. Especially when controversy is involved.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Karen, good points.

Dan Malone said...

I’m only a lawyer and certainly do not claim to be a theologian of any sort. But I just went and listened to the BeliefNet interview of President Carter. Quite frankly, other than the tag line to the interview (”The former president on why he believes Jesus will save everyone”), I didn’t hear anything in the interview to support the criticism/questioning in this post that President Carter teaches or believes anything other than an orthodox Gospel.

Just as no one would reasonably build a Biblical argument on only one isolated verse from the Bible, neither should we ascribe to President Carter a position on the Gospel or as an “inclusionist” (I’ve never even heard terminology before reading this post) based on a tagline created by an interviewer, or on a portion of the interview that either lacks crystal clarity or which has been misconstrued.

For you theologians, please listen to the entire BeliefNet interview, or at least listen to the portion in this link below, and help me understand how your understanding of the Gospel differs significantly from President Carter’s. Please try to use quotes from President Carter’s actual words when possible, and in fairness, try to put your criticism within the totality of what he said in the interview.


It seems very difficult to conclude that President Carter believes that all will be saved, whether they believe in Christ or not, when his actual words indicate (to me at least) nothing but traditional, Evangelical, Gospel orthodoxy:

- “What Paul said to the Corinthians, to the Ephesians, and I’d say more vividly to the Galatians, is that we should just remember one thing and that is that we’re saved by the grace of God through our faith in Jesus Christ.”

- “We don’t have to give up our beliefs. But, we should have those as a very secondary thing to our common belief that we are saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ.”

- “So, the opportunity for everyone to be saved through the grace of God with faith in Christ applies to everyone.”

- (In response to question of whether he had one favorite Bible verse) . . . But, I think everybody likes John 3:16, and everybody likes the statements of Paul’s that we are saved through the grace of God through our faith in Jesus Christ, and the first verse of the eighth chapter of Romans where Paul has described all of his own sins and failures and he knows about what he ought to do, but he never does do it, and then, the first verse says that “there is therefore now no condemnation of those in Jesus Christ.” And so, those are some of my favorites just off the top of my head.

- “I would say that modern day Christians are more divided than they were in those early Christian church days. The Baptists are divided, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Episcopalians from the Anglicans, the Catholics are divided from one another and so forth, maybe even more deeply before. And it saps away, saps away at the vitality of us to expand God’s kingdom through Christ in a very serious way.”

Last question for you theologians: If Carter truly did believe that all will be saved (not just that all have the opportunity to be saved), how could he refer to “expanding God’s kingdom through Christ?”

(This same comment is posted on the May 21 entry, "Has the Gospel's Power Been Lost in the SBC?" My apologies if copying my prior comment on another thread violates blogging rules.)

Chuck said...


The terms "exclusivist", "inclusivist" and "pluralist" are used and discussed by Charles Kimball (Wake Forest School of Divinity, recent BGCT CLC Conference speaker now famous for his God-Allah comments).

I'm surprised--as a director of The Baptist Standard (I'm assuming you're the same attorney Dan Malone)--you're not better informed on Kimball's views, since he's been around CBF workshop circles since at least 2002. I personally informed Marv Knox and Ken Camp of his elaborated comments prior to their follow-up article on the two Associations' resolution letters. The follow-up article, however, only reported on Kimball's comments about his own comments! (Look into that for me, will you, Dan?)

Again, Jimmy Carter will advocate advancing God's Kingdom through Christ, as well as--at least--Judaism and Mormonism.

You just have to read a little, or ask the right question if you can get a personal audience with him.

Dan Malone said...


If you will contact me, or provide me with information on how to contact you, I would be happy to visit with you personally about your concern with the Baptist Standard's story and what exactly it is that you think I need to "look into." I don't want to misinterpret the tone or spirit of the remainder of your post, so I'll wait to hear from you personally.


Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Since I left the SBC years and years ago to become part of the Alliance of Baptists, Inc., I seldom comment on many specifically Southern Baptist blogs. Forgive me if these words are an intrusion.
First, I would just like to thank all the SBC bloggers who met to become part of the New Baptist Covenant event. I am disappointed that Gov. Huckabee is withdrawing his participation and hope that neither ya'll nor Sens. Grassley (R-IA) and Graham (R-SC) follow suit.
Second, since Carter was one of my childhood heroes, I happen to know much about him and can clear up some confusions that have been expressed in these comments.

1) Carter on abortion. It is true that he was pro-choice in the early '70s. So were MANY evangelicals at the time, including W.A. Criswell (who told Christianity Today in 1973 after Roe v. Wade that he, Criswell, had always believed that abortion should be the mother's decision and that human personhood began with viability outside the womb), Norman Geisler (compare the first edition of his Christian Ethics in which he lists conditions under which abortion might be permissable with his second edition, in which he has changed his mind--but without admitting he ever held a different view), Carl F. H. Henry, and others.
Like many others, Carter changed his mind on this matter. It seems to have happened after he was given some right to life literature during his 1979 campaign--during the Right to Life movement's infancy. As president, he had no chance to appoint any Supreme Court nominations, but he did end the use of tax dollars to pay for abortions--something for which he is seldom given credit by conservatives.
Since that time, Carter has expressed his opposition to abortion in speech and print many times--usually while pointing out that his is also "pro-life" outside the womb and is opposed to the death penalty.

2. Far from being a universalist, Carter has been on several short-term mission trips and includes the plan of salvation in each Sunday School lesson because of the numerous visitors to his church who may never get another chance to hear the gospel clearly. While U.S. president, he witnessed to the ambassador of Communist China at a State Dinner. While the ambassador did not convert, he was influenced enough by Carter's witness to begin permitting the importation of Bibles--previously banned. What other recent president has given such witness?

3. Has Carter said some negative things about leaders of the SBC "Conservative Resurgence?" Yes--after years of keeping quiet while he was vilified. SBC leaders accused Carter as president of being a "secular humanist" and gave as their reasons not some heresy, but his capital gains taxes and his following the rule of law in returning the Panama Canal to Panama--this was a doctrinal matter?

Like many of the rest of us who have felt chased out of the SBC by people and forces we believed were profoundly misguided, Carter has said some negative things about folk like Paige Patterson. But the entire purpose of this New Baptist Covenant is to try to bridge those kinds of gaps. The sin of inhospitality here is not all on one "side."

I hope to see many of you in Atlanta next January.

Chuck said...

Michael Westmoreland-White,

The objections you're seeing to involvement with a Carter-led Baptist movement is his inclusivist-pluralist statements. He can go on mission trips and witness to someone about Christ--that's good. But in his interviews (Newsweek and Rabbi Lerner), he reveals that the gospel of Jesus Christ is only one (perhaps his personal favorite) of at least three legitimate pathways to God. Mormonism and Judaism are at least two others.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I believe these are misunderstandings of Carter's words. But suppose they are not: Would not people want to come to the event and hope to be able to convince Carter he was wrong? One seldom corrects the errors of a sister or brother by refusing to speak with them or condemning them from afar.

In fact, Jesus COMMANDED us to go to our brothers and speak to them when we have "ought against them" which surely includes having "ought" against their theologies, no? Jesus believed that to take priority even over worship, no?

You seem to be saying that appearing at an event that Carter is organizing is endorsing his (supposed) non-exclusivist soteriology. How so? BTW, when such views were more commonly expressed in official SBC circles, it did not prevent exclusivist messengers from coming to the annual convention. They came and expressed their displeasure.
So, it seems to me that it would be far more Christian, far more in conjunction with obedience to Christ's command in Matt. 5, to come to the NBC, thank Carter for efforts that you appreciate and, in a context of Christian love, express your concerns about his soteriology.

From whence cometh this idea that one must have 100% agreement before one can even show up at some place? How else better to be a gospel people of mutual correction than through dialogue? But such needs relationship. People here fraternal concerns from those they know love and respect them, not from those who condemn from afar.

Not so??

Chuck said...


A clear gospel message (including its exclusivity) is central to all cooperative efforts I will join/endorse under the banner "Baptist."

If you or anyone is a personal friend of Jimmy Carter's--perhaps Wade fits the bill now--then, by all means, plead with him to recognize Jesus as the only name by which anyone can be saved. I don't have that forum now, and don't believe that's the set-up in Atlanta, either. Remember, this isn't a voting convention like SBC annual meetings.

Michael, your opening sentence seems to say that--in order to be true to yourself--you need to find out if your belief that "these are misunderstandings of Carter's words" is reality, or just wishful thinking.

If Carter does hold these non-exclusivist views, and you don't, your Atlanta itinerary must change to accomodate the doctrinal correction you mention.

Chuck said...


Two points I forgot to address:

First, you indicated that you and others "have felt chased out of the SBC by people and forces we believed were profoundly misguided." Could any Baptist be more misguided than to believe there are paths to God other than the Way, Jesus Christ? Is there a doctrine more central to the Christian faith that someone, or some force held, chasing you out of the SBC?

Second, I'm not condemning President Carter, close-up or from afar. I am expressing concern and questioning involvement in the NBC as close-up as I know how--to BGCT leaders (12 of the 80 January 2007 Carter Center meeting were BGCT employees or had close ties to BGCT) and SBC bloggers who get personal invitations to meet with President Carter.

I hope either Wade--the blogger or BGCT's Charles Wade--will ask the questions of Carter that need to be asked.