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

The Next Year Will Set the Future Course of the SBC for the Next Half Century

On December 10, 2005, a year and a half ago, I attempted to articulate some general concerns for our beloved Southern Baptist Convention. I have learned a great deal over the past eighteen months, including that not everyone is able to separate philospophy and ideology from the people who hold them. Just as I have learned that I can be friends with people who hold to traditional theological liberalism while believing their views dangerous to the gospel and our convention, I can also be friends with people who hold to Fundamentalism while believing their views to be just as dangerous as liberal views to the advancement of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, I remind everyone that what I wrote a year and a half ago about my feelings toward liberalism and Fundamentalism applied to the philosophies and ideologies behind both systems of thought, and not to the people who hold to them . . .

Our convention hated liberalism twenty years ago . . . , but at this hour we better hate legalism and Fundamentalism as much as we did the former liberalism or we will find ourselves so fractured and fragmented that we no longer have the ability to cooperate about anything, including missions. We all agree on the inerrancy of Scripture and the nature and work of Jesus Christ our Lord, but we must not be Fundamentalists when it comes to our convention. Fundamentalism with a capital F is known for her independence, separation, schism-making, and her "I'll do it my way without your help because you don't qualify to work with me" attitude.

I believe if God does not intervene in the Southern Baptist Convention by raising up men and women in the SBC who are more concerned about conservative cooperation than we are conservative conformity, we are headed down this road of religious Fundamentalism.

Much has happened in the past year and a half in the SBC, but I am of the opinion that the clock begins ticking next week for the countdown of the most critical year in the Southern Baptist Convention in nearly three decades. There are no more classic liberals in the SBC, and under no circumstances would I ever be in favor of removing classic Fundamentalists from the SBC -- but classic Fundamentalism better not be the ideology that serves as the foundation for our missions cooperation or the SBC ship will sink. Liberalism takes away from the sacred, sufficient Scriptures while Fundamentalism adds to the sacred, sufficient Scriptures. Both should be anathema in the SBC.

The next year will determine the success of the conscientious and concerted attempt to wrest control of the convention from classic Fundamentalist ideology. Here are a few reasons why . . .

(1). The Resolutions at the 2007 SBC . . . can be divided into resolutions that speak toward unity, cooperation and love and those that speak toward division, separation and schisms. For instance, the resolution on glossolalia and private prayer language is divisive, particularly in light of the released Lifeway study that fifty percent of Southern Baptist pastors believes the gift of tongues, including praying in tongues in private, is a legitimate gift of the Spirit of God. The resolution is both schismatic and illogical . . .

RESOLVED, That we encourage our six Southern Baptist seminaries not knowingly to hire professors or administrators who endorse or engage in the modern practice of glossolalia or private prayer language, and be it further

RESOLVED, That we also encourage our Southern Baptist agencies not knowingly hire anyone who endorses or engages in the modern practice of glossolalia or private prayer language, and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage all Southern Baptists to be patient, kind, and loving toward one another (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) regarding this ancillary theological issue, which ought not to constitute a test of fellowship.

How can you resolve to not hire people who endorse or engage in the modern practice of private prayer language and yet call it an 'ancillary theological issue'? That makes no sense. If this were in place before the hiring of Jerry Rankin, Bertha Smith, and many wonderful professors of our theological insitutions (like SWBTS Seminary's Siegfried Schatzman) , none of them would ever have been employees of the SBC. This resolution must be rejected, but I seriously doubt it will even get out of committee.

A second resolution on The Role of the Baptist Faith and Message, though it sounds good at first reading, is just as problematic. One paragraph in the resolution states:

That we consider public disagreement with The Baptist Faith and Message to constitute suitable grounds for the removal of trustees from service upon those boards which have made affirmation of The Baptist Faith & Message a minimum requirement for service;

I would encourage anyone who would even give one second of consideration to this resolution by SWBTS adjunct professor Dr. Bart Barber to consider the following.

David Rogers, IMB missionary to Spain and son of Dr. Adrian Rogers would be expelled as a missionary for the IMB if this resolution would be applied. David has publicly stated he disagrees with the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message regarding 'closed communion' (as do I). Though some might attempt to say the 2000 BFM should be a 'doctrinal' tool of accountability, in the hands of Fundamentalists it becomes a club of conformity. I find it absolutely stunning that this convention would even consider such a resolution, and am hopeful the committee will see the shortcomings of such a shortsighted attempt to demand conformity. By the way, Judge Pressler and Paige Patterson themselves would have been disqualified during their tenures of trustee service under the 1963 BFM for violating 'the Lord's Day' provisions which were ultimately changed in the 2000 BFM.

It's interesting to note that Dr. Malcolm Yarnell, the person to whom David Rogers writes his email, has seemingly established himself at Southwestern Seminary as the person responsible to remind Southern Baptist leaders of their 'Baptist' identity (as Dr. Yarnell interprets it). SWBTS, under the leadership of Paige Patterson, sees herself as the Mecca of Southern Baptist orthodoxy. I am all for confessions, and I affirm the 2000 BFM on all major points of doctrine, but I believe we are in trouble when our major confessions are placed on the level of Scripture or we depend upon any human to tell us what we can or cannot believe as Baptists.

Confessions change. The Word of God does not.

Of course, some might wonder why I am not mentioning the The Gluttony Resolution and how divisive it will be. Obviously, this resolution will not see the light of day and I would vote against it if it did. However, I am actually looking forward to it being read before the entire convention hall. Why? Messengers need to see the irony of passing the alcohol resolution last year, written with the same arguments and principles found in the gluttony resolution, while this year crying foul on the gluttony resolution. It's much easier to point at the sins of others rather than our own. At least I'm consistent. Both resolutions should not be a part of our kingdom business.

(2). The Election of First Vice-President at the 2007 Convention . . . will be more important than elections of First Vice-President in previous conventions. Dr. Jim Richard, the Executive Director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, is the only announced candidate. However, I predict that a nationally known and respected Southern Baptist leader will run against Dr. Richards, a man that I will be able to endorse wholeheartedly. Though it is impossible to predict the outcome, the election of First Vice-President is essential in that he needs to support the direction and vision of Frank Page for our convention.

(3). The appointments of trustees in 2008 . . . will be the first trustees appointed as the result of Frank Page's election as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Most people do not realize that the Nominating Committee report this year is the result of Dr. Bobby Welch's appointments. Frank Page's appointments will begin to be voted on by the convention in Indianapolis in 2008 and Louisville in 2009.

The convention only changes in terms of more conservative cooperation when the trustees of the SBC agencies adopt a more cooperative approach. When taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to a world in need of a Savior takes priortity over a demand for doctrinal conformity on tertiary doctrines of Scripture, we will be fulfilling our role as a convention to be a 'gospel' convention.

(4). The election of President of the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis in 2008 . . . will be the most important election in the SBC in the last three decades. If we truly wish to be a conservative, irenic, cooperating convention of churches who band together for the spreading of the gospel, then we must elect a conservative, irenic President who has set the example in giving, serving and leading our convention in missions cooperation.

There are many good candidates and in God's providence, the President of the SBC, elected in 2008, will continue a transition for our convention toward a more peaceful future where we focus on missions. Those who have broken away from the SBC and formed the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship should be encouraged to continue their mission efforts, and we Southern Baptists should be part of that encouragement. However, nobody is advocating for the reunion of the CBF and SBC -- it shouldn't happen. There are too many wounds, too many differences, too much water under the bridge. However, it is time for all Baptists, regardless of the denomination, to stop believing each other to be the enemy and realize that the real enemy is spiritual and unseen.

Finally, let me say as clearly as I can that I welcome all Fundamentalists in the SBC -- but I will do everything I can to insure that Fundamentalism as a philosophy does not drive the train. Cessationists are welcome to lead. Continuationists are welcome to lead. Calvinists can be trustees. Arminians can be trustees. One's eschatalogy should not disqualify from SBC service. Open communionists and closed communionists might not be a part of the same church, but they sure can be part of the same gospel convention of churches united for the purpose of the Great Commission.

Cooperating conservatives desire all of us, Fundamentists and non-Fundamentalists, to work together for the Kingdom's sake. But any Fundamentalist who wishes to exclude Southern Baptists from leadership because of their view on the gifts, soteriology (Calvinism vs. Arminiansim), various views on ecclessioloigical authority and eschatological beliefs, or other tertiary differences needs to be aware that he will be opposed to the nth degree.

The issue for me is NOT getting back those who have left the Southern Baptist Convention . . .

The issue for me is KEEPING those that remain . . .

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


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Mike Ruffin said...


Thank you for post.

I don't use labels like conservative or fundamentalist or liberal or moderate to describe myself and I try hard not to use them to describe others. I believe that you are on target, though, with your effort to keep a fundamentalist "my way or the highway" leadership style from becoming (remaining?) dominant in the SBC.

I am one of those who has felt in exile from the SBC, even though, unlike many of my friends, I havve continued to operate around the margins. I have felt that way because I do not use the word "inerrant" to describe the Bible (and I believe that you think that is a necessary and valuable word) because I am committed to the authority of the Bible and I don't think that the Bible itself supports the use of that word. I am more comfortable with "infallible" because I do believe that the Bible infallibly leads us to what we need to know to have and maintain a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But, because I will not use the word "inerrant" I am outside the lines.

I also feel exiled because I don't think that many of those who have been in places of authority in the SBC over the last couple of decades have a real commitment to what I still regard as some of the cardinal Baptist doctrines, namely, the priesthood of all believers and separation of church and state.

And so it goes. Still, I have much love in my heart for the SBC. The church I pastor still supports SBC causes and especially SBC missions.

It's an interesting thing. Calvinists are welcome. Arminians are welcome. Cessationists are welcome. Continualists are welcome. Conservatives are welcome. Hyper-conservatives are welcome.

But some of us who are absolutely committed to the Lord Jesus and who are fully committed to the Bible as God's written revelation, but, who for matters of honest conviction arising out of our commitment to Christ and to the Bible, won't use the accepted (dare I say "creedal"?) word, are not welcome.

As I said, though, I appreciate the efforts you and others are making. Such efforts don't and can't address my situation. But they can offer hope that the SBC will still be a valid Christian movement in years to come.

Shamgar said...

That we consider public disagreement with The Baptist Faith and Message to constitute suitable grounds for the removal of trustees from service upon those boards which have made affirmation of The Baptist Faith & Message a minimum requirement for service;

Well, I guess I would have to ask, do you believe the Confession is a valid exposition of what Scripture teaches? I'll note that they didn't say that if you disagree with the BF&M you can't be a part of our church, you can't worship with us, or any of a number of other things.

They just said you can't hold a contradictory position. You can't be a leader in a position that has, as a minimum requirement, affirmation of the BF&M and at the same time denigrate the contents of that document.

You know, this is a problem that runs quite deep, as there are many people who sadly are more than willing to affirm the document and undercut its core teachings at the same time. (I don't know if there are any trustees like that - I'm not trying to insinuate anything, but in the past we *have* had that problem in our convention within the seminaries)

Nobody is saying you can't disagree with it publicly, you just can't do it while ostensibly holding those positions. Honestly, would we not look the same way at most other things? If I elected you as president and you swore to uphold the constitution of the united states, and then turned around and undermined it I'd certainly be looking to have you removed.

If you believe the confession is in error, then fine, bring that up publicly, argue convincingly, but don't try to do so from a position of trustee. That's not unreasonable. It doesn't even say you can't disagree with it - that you have to agree with every jot and tittle to /be/ a trustee - it simply says you can't *publicly* disagree with it during your term of service.

I don't think doing so is an attempt to make it the level of scripture, it's simply asking the trustees of the convention to be consistent with what they agreed to when they took that position.

GeneMBridges said...

Good post.

It continues to amaze me how folks can appeal to the BFM 2000 in the way Dr. Barber has done. Does he not realize that somebody, somewhere, somewhen must interpret the confession? There are articles in the confession that are not entirely clear, in part because folks have interpreted it without reference to its history, and in part because folks have done so. The article on regeneration, for example, can be interpreted by monergists and synergists to agree with either view. Each side has its own argument, so which view is the correct one? Who gets to make that determination when somebody's position is up for review? Dr. Patterson? Dr. Yarnell? A committee? How does that make the BFM itself any more clear?

This is what happens with confessions like the BFM or the 39 Articles of the Christian Religion. For that matter, anybody who knows anything about Particular Baptists today and of yesterday knows they didn't all agree over the 1689 Confession. There is certainly less ambiguity in it than most confessions, but there is still disagreement.

Let's take another example from history. Most people think the Chalcedonian Creed is very clear...but who gets to interpret it? What about the word "person?" Who's definition do we use? The original? Boethius? Richard of St. Victor? One of the other theologians of the East or West through the Middle Ages? In other words, somebody, somewhere, somewhen must interpret the BFM, and if the issue on which a person states his disagreement is ambiguous, who gets to make that determination?

Further, what is the hierarchy of articles in the BFM with which folks must disagree, and how are they to state their disagreement? Are we to take the support of Mitt Romney by some to be a repudiation of the Trinitarian articles? Should we hold the hosts of Justice Sundays in certain churches' feet to the flame for using the state to do the work of the church? If we were consistent, then we'd take the rather obvious cozying up to the Republican Party in deed if not in word, and to particular candidates and not others in deed, if not in word, as a stated disagreement with the BFM 2000. Yet we don't do that. Further, as anybody who heard the tapes or attended the 1999 Convention knows it was the article on Scripture that was most hotly debated, and, ironically, if my memory serves, a question about the article on communion was not answered or debated when a gentleman asked about it from the floor, because time for debate had expired. So, who then gets to decide which articles are the articles qua articles that must be held?

My own church uses the First London Confession. We decided long ago to use a * for the articles that a prospective member must believe and understand and confess in order to be a member of our church. There are other articles we deem of less significance. You don't have to, for example, be a covenantal Baptist to join our church. You don't have to be a premilleniarian or amill, or post-mill, etc. We made this very clear when we did that. In short, we had the good foresight, or rather our founders of the church did, to put a mechanism in place for making determinations like the ones above in the confession.

Most people don't know that in the evangelical Presbyterian denominations, one does NOT have to hold every article of the Westminster Confession. He must tell the ordination presbytery why he disagrees. Some disagreements are not tolerated. For example, he can't deny justification by faith alone or his Calvinism or trinitarianism or paedobaptism. But he doesn't have to hold the strict view of the covenants in the WCF, among other items. I can even join a PCA church as a Baptist and not be a Calvinist (though I am) and disagree with paedobaptism (which I do with ever fiber of my theology). John Piper's church is the same way. They have one confession for the membership and another for the deacons, teachers, and eldership. The latter is more complete and stringent. Each group does it differently, but each group also put a mechanism in place to allow some measure of dissent over the confession, wisely so, before these matters came up for debate. I would be all for Dr. Barber's statement, if and only if such a mechanism was in place, where there were certain essential articles that could not be denied and others that were considered of lesser importance. Dr. Barber is making the old Lutheran error, the error of excess, in which no articles of faith were considered not essential to be a Lutheran. The Reformed tradition (from which Southern Baptistery springs) as a whole has always included a mechanism for a middle ground and delineated errors that are essential or direct and others that are inessential or ambiguous or indirect. Our theological forebears long ago dealt with these issues. We could learn a thing or two from them, and that, Wade, is one of the reasons I sent you that paper on those matters earlier this year. Please use it to your advantage.

Alan Cross said...

Thanks, Wade. I agree. I wrote some similar comments today on my blog regarding the actual irrelevancy of PPL in the vast scheme of things.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

I see the campaign is climaxing. Heavens to betsy, I was disappointed at the end of the post when no announcements were made for either 1st VP or Indianapolis 08. Now my suspense is going to kill me!

Personally, I think our Joe has asked a question that, frankly, needs a definitive answer. Which view, of your many views, is the definitive view of being Fundamentalist? And, how is being Fundamentalist with a capital "F" different from presumably a fundamentalist with a itty-bitty "f"?

Just for kicks, I think it's odd you made no distinction between Liberalism with a capital "L" and the little "l". In fact, liberalism was all little "l" in your post. Is there no distinction? If not, why is there one for "F" and "f" in fundamentalsim? For me anyway, this simply demonstrates the arbitrariness of your proposed definition.

Even more alarming, Wade, is not your inadequate explanation of-- and, thus, immature indictment toward--big F fundamentalism. Rather, it is your changing of precisely who you want Baptists to be.

You write: "I believe if God does not intervene...by raising up men and women...more concerned about conservative cooperation than...conservative conformity, we are headed down this road of religious Fundamentalism."

It's that "conservative cooperation" that stands as fuzzy in your posts Wade as does Fundamentalism.

On another post, I showed where you had, in Winter of last year, a set criteria you said was necessary for cooperating.

Then you recently reduced it to a much broader, looser criteria, the Nettles' triad: trinitarian orthodoxy, evangelicalism and separatism.

You later boldly proclaimed you'd stand toe to toe to anyone who wanted to make "being Baptist" any narrower than that.

From my standpoint, Wade, the fuzziness you intentionally maintain makes it easy to not only say you'd be for everybody, virtually of every stripe, it also makes for convenient "consistency" when your dissenters have stopped the boat.

If I am honest, I have to say sometimes your posts sound strangely like thinly veiled political campaign speeches, wrapped snugly in religious garments.

I hope you preach well this evening. With that, I am...


Anonymous said...

Well Ben Cole, Marty Duren and Wade Burleson have all alluded to this mystery candidate for 1 VP. When will the unveiling occur?

Next year Al Mohler would be an excellent choice for convention President. He could be the sitting President when the Convention is in Louisville. That will also mark the 150 anniversary of THE Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Bart Barber said...


I'm equally surprised at the conclusions that you have drawn from my resolution. I have not argued that anyone must affirm any particular interpretation of any vague part of the BF&M.

My rationale is clear and convincing: To affirm that you agree with the document in order to obtain a position of service, although you actually do not agree with the document, is (to put a fine point on it) lying. Anyone who would do so should not be a trustee, not for any doctrinal deficiency, but for an ethical deficiency and lack of integrity. I cannot see how it is elevating the confession to the status of scripture to expect people to be honest.

Bart Barber said...

Oh...I forgot to mention. My resolution does not even call for any sort of examination of trustees with regard to their beliefs. I'm more than willing to take people at their word.

But when people publicly state disagreement with the BF&M after having affirmed it to obtain their positions, no sort of inquisition is necessary. So that's all I'm suggesting in the resolution—that Southern Baptists ought to put away forever the spirit of "Paris is worth a mass."

Debbie said...

Peter come to our church not just one Sunday but several, see how treat each other even when we disagree and that will more than adequately answer both you and Joe. I warn you however, it's a beautiful sight to see. :)

Wade Burleson said...

A Fundamentalist, Peter, is one who will separate in fellowship and cooperation with a fellow evangelical over tertiary doctrinal or ethical issues. A cooperating conservative will find, as Gene Bridges describes, a 'middle ground.'

Wade Burleson said...

Dr. Barber,

Do you have someone in mind in your last comment to Gene? What would you say about David Rogers publicly disagreeing with the BF&M regarding 'closed communion?'

Ron West said...

Thanks for another very prophetic and insightful blog. I appreciate your comments about being able to be friends and have fellowship with those with different beliefs, especially on peripheral issues. This is so different from the direction our leaders have taken. When I first went to the mission field in 1979, I was very denominational centric as opposed to ethnocentric. I had much to learn. I was soon excited and surprised at the opportunity to fellowship and cooperate with missionaries from a wide range of sending agencies. We learned we had much more in common than we had differences and we could accomplish more through cooperation than competition while still maintaining our distinctives.

I would like to comment on your statement about those who broke away from the SBC and formed the CBF. While it may be true that many did break away and would have no interest in ever being part of the SBC again, many did not break away. They were forced out. Many in CBF had spent their lives supporting our SBC missions and missionaries and all of a sudden were told they could no longer have a role in the IMB, serve as trustees or be heard on issues. This was not because of theology but because they would not endorse the leaders of the conservative resurgence or play their political games. What were they supposed to do?

I appreciate your statement that we need to stop seeing each other as the enemy and realize the enemy is spiritual and unseen. I am not sure what you meant by there should be no reunion of the SBC and CBF. I don’t see that happening since they are two different types of organizations but does that mean individuals or churches in CBF would not be welcomes back. Many if not most of the churches involved in CBF are active contributing members in Southern Baptist state conventions and associations. Why are they allowed there but not in the national convention? You have mentioned David Rogers. As you know, he first went to the mission field with another sending agency, not the IMB. I have no idea why but I assume he felt there was something about the IMB that caused him to believe he could better serve with another agency. Should we not have allowed David to reunite with the SBC after that? I once asked Jimmy Draper why we missionaries should support Charles Stanley for SBC president when he had given so little support to us and had led his church to give the majority of their mission support to non-SBC missionaries. He told me “we” all support other groups. Should we have not allowed Jimmy Draper and Charles Stanley to reunite with the SBC?

If the issue is not getting back those who have left but keeping those that remain, are you saying that it is more important to keep people like Roger Moran, Jeremy Green and Malcolm Yarnell than getting back people like Russell Dilday, Keith Parks or the thousands who were ostracized.
Ron West

Wade Burleson said...

Ron West,

Good point and I agree -- I was not clear.

Anyone should be welcome back. I was referring more to the denominatinal structure, not people. There are two denominations and missions sending organizations. The more the merrier. I am all for people being a part of the SBC who desire to be so.

Bart Barber said...


I'm tempted to cite Carly Simon:

"You probably think this resolution's about you..."

Actually, although I read that the IMB currently calls upon new trustees to sign the BF&M, I do not know that you have ever been required to affirm the BF&M to obtain your position as a trustee.

I see even in this post that you are publicly disagreeing with the BF&M. That's a matter of public record. If you affirmed the BF&M to become a trustee...if it was a requirement for being a trustee...but you did so while not actually agreeing with the BF&M, then you have demonstrated a breach of integrity with the Southern Baptist people who elected you, and you should resign. Surely this is not the case? I would expect more from you.

I am not inventing my principles in some attempt to "hunt you down." In fact, you can read here that I apply the same principle rigidly to myself.

Bart Barber said...


As far as the someone in mind for the "Paris is worth a mass" statement, I was thinking of Henry of Navarre.

Bob Cleveland said...

An ex-boss of mine had a lot of mottos. One of the more memorable:

"Pleasing everybody pleases nobody".

The SBC seems to be proving that one out. Too many folks seems to want to be winners in the context that the other side needs to lose. Or switch sides.

Good post.

Paul Burleson said...


To "lie" one must have an absolute standard known to all and accepted by all and that one must choose to NOT perform the accepted standard but say they have.

I don't think a standard that the BF@M must be accepted or adhered to word for word or even every single thought or idea in order to serve as a leader in Southern Baptist life, has been, in fact, accepted by our Convention. This would turn it into a creed. [ from the Latin "Credo" "I believe."] Were a BOT of an agency to do this they would be guilty of the same thing IMHO.

Our BF@M is a "confession" or a "formal statement of religious beliefs." It is a guide... not an accepted standard for every word since it is NOT inerrant.

To "affirm" is to "make a solemn declaration in place of an oath."

To affirm the BF@M is to solemnly delare it describes my basic religious beliefs. To insist on an oath taken TO the BF@M is to take that document far beyond the intention of Southern Baptist people I would think.

The ambiguous nature of some of it's statements is in keeping with our Baptist heritage of the inerrancy of the SCRIPTURES not other documents.

I don't see your charge of lying, if one has a single caveat, as being truly Southern Baptist, at least in my history with our Convention. I could be wrong but I don't think so. Just my opinion on an important issue.

Jack Maddox said...

Hey Wade

You whacked Bro. Joes comment...what gives?


Matt Brady said...

Brother Bob,

To some it may indeed be about "winning" or causing their opponents to lose, but to others it is about being faithful. I'll draw no conclusions about who fits in which category, but to me it is about more than just winning and losing. I for one am willing to be on the losing side of every decision the SBC makes, as long as I believe I am being faithful to the teachings of God's Word.

Les Puryear said...


I, too, look forward to the announcement of the other 1st VP candidate. He is greatly respected among all Southern Baptists.


Jack Maddox said...

Ok...I do not know who this mystery candidate is...but lets get one thing settled right now boys...I WILL NOT ACCEPT YOUR NOMINATION FOR 1ST VP! Now dont make me say it again!

: )


Wade Burleson said...

Dr. Barber,

I am surprised at your seemingly confessional naivete.

I have demonstrated here that the Abstract of Princicples and the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message state opposite views on the fall of man and total moral depravity. Your resolution would require the termination of every professor of Southern and Southeastern Seminary because they sign the Abstract at employment (and NOT the BFM). Yes, SWBTS uses the 2000 BFM as the institutional confession of faith, but not SBTS and SEBTS -- you are demanding the other seminaries be like yours.

By the way, Dr. Nettles agrees with my assessment on the conflict in the two confessions currently used by our various and respective seminaries. I called and asked him. :)

As I also show here, it is completely consistent for a person to agree with the fundamental doctrines of a confessional statement but write down where there is disagreement on minor doctrines. That is integrity.

In addition, here I show how Dr. Mohler's concept of a theological triage is absolutely necessary for a cooperating conservative missions convention and the problem with our confession is that people, like you and others, are beginning to demand tertiary issues be part of major confessions. This is what I call the increasing narrowing of the parameters of cooperation.

Finally, you are conveniently avoiding my question about David Rogers. I think you realize how ludicrous it would be to seek his removal because he has publicly stated his disagreement with the BFM 2000.

Months after I began serving as a trustee of the IMB, I was asked to 'sign' the BFM 2000. I did so, expressing my disagreement on the BFM 2000 article on the fall of man (I believe we are all constituted and classified as sinners before God because of Adam's disobedience, and not our own personal sins), my disagreement with closed communion, and my belief that the statement on women in ministry should never have been placed in a major Baptist confession (though I would personally affirm the statement -- it simply should not be in a doctrinal confession).

Your attempt to remove people from the SBC who don't see things the way you do will not work.

You are definitely on the losing side of this one.

Bart Barber said...

Bro. Paul,

It isn't an oath to the BF&M, nor is it creedalism. Let us banish that shibboleth from rational discussion.

It is no more an oath to the document than I am making an oath to a piece of paper when I sign a lease on an apartment. The promise is to the other party in the agreement, not to the document.

If you'll note carefully, you'll find a forceful affirmation in my resolution of the liberty of all people to agree or disagree with the BF&M. However, if I voluntarily choose to serve in a fiduciary role with the Southern Baptist Convention, and if the Southern Baptist Convention asks me to agree with "those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us" (doesn't sound like a lot of periphery to me) in order for them to convey to me this great trust, then I'd better play fair and honest with them.

Wade Burleson said...

I was fulfilling Joe's request that he not comment on my site.




Wade Burleson said...


Are you calling for the termination of every professor at SEBTS and SBTS who have 'signed' the Abstract, but not the 2000 BFM?


Your position is untenable.

Bart Barber said...


If the IMB trustees do not require agreement with the BF&M, and if you've been honest all along, then how does my resolution apply at all to you?

And, consequently, what really is your objection to it?

Jack Maddox said...

Good Job Wade

You showed him!!!!


Matt Brady said...

Ummmmm Wade,

The part of Bart's resolution that you quote says, "That we consider public disagreement with The Baptist Faith and Message to constitute suitable grounds for the removal of trustees from service upon those boards which have made affirmation of The Baptist Faith & Message a minimum requirement for service;

Exactly when did David and the professors at SBTS and SEBTS become trustees of boards which have made the BFandM a requirement for service.

Wade Burleson said...

Joe, no fair signing in as anonymous either? I have IP tracking. :) Dishonesty really bothers Bart.


Bart Barber said...

Wade, Wade...such syntactical word games.

The very point of the resolution is to affirm the right of institutions to do precisely what SBTS has done—to set their own theological guidelines.

The question is, why are you so opposed to the IMB having the right to do what SBTS already does?

Wade Burleson said...


Read . . .

WHEREAS, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, upon its adoption of The Baptist Faith and Message, nevertheless retained the Abstract of Principles as a body of additional binding theological parameters for the operation of the seminary, setting the precedent and demonstrating the propriety of individual Southern Baptist entities adopting and following additional binding theological parameters beyond The Baptist Faith and Message

Bart has not addressed the disagreements between the two documents, but assumes employees of Southern have officially adopted (by signature) the BFM 2000.

They have not.

Bart Barber said...

I have not responded to your question about David because I do not favor situational ethics. I can speak about what is right and what is wrong simply by appeal to universal principles of integrity.

Bart Barber said...

Where's the part about people signing anything at SBTS? I guess I missed that.

The resolution specifically notes that the use of the BF&M at the institutions is determined by the trustees.

Wade Burleson said...


There are SIX (count them) SBC Seminaries . . .

There is ONE (count it) IMB . . .

The participation and cooperation in missions service and ministry among 46,000 SBC churches should be based upon the broadest of all confessional statements possible -- and we should refuse to demand conformity on tertiary doctrinal minutae.

Unlike seminary, there is no other IMB to which one can move.

Bart Barber said...

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message did not become the statement of faith of any of the various entities of the Southern Baptist Convention until it was adopted as such by the boards of trustees that govern the entities; and

Bart Barber said...


That's really not your decision to make, nor is it mine.

According to our polity, it is the decision of the IMB trustees (all of them).

Wade Burleson said...

Then this trustee says we ask for general affirmation and allow caveats on tertiary doctrines like closed communion, the condemnation of all men (including infants) through the fall of Adam, the Lord's Day, etc . . .

Wade Burleson said...

Here's the thing Bart, you can try to boot people out . . .

And I will try to keep people in . . .

And in the end . . .

I will win.


Bart Barber said...

In which case this nobody suggests that we drop the entire ruse of the BF&M and make it clear to the people paying for all of this that they are writing check with absolutely no doctrinal accountability in place.

Anonymous said...

. . . Again:

Any year's version of the Baptist Faith & Message (1925, 1963, or 2000) is REPRESENTATIVE of the personal theological persuasions of EVERY KIND OF BAPTIST ever walking on the planet Earth and CAN be the basis for the SBC's cooperation IF we will COOPERATE--which is the ACTUAL question. ONLY the Holy Bible itself FULLY exhausts the personal theological persuasions of any of us. Any of us can sign any of the three versions of the BF&M statement as REPRESENTING our personal theologies, though none of us should be able to sign them as fully representing them (we each surely are more knowledgeable than that).

Since, in the long-run, the perspective described above is EXACTLY where this dialog is going to conclude (watch and see, for as long as it takes--no Baptist can force another Baptist to believe something; if we're going to cooperate, we're GOING TO COMPROMISE on this matter--if we're NOT going to cooperate, let's be honest enough to say so today), why not permit now each SBC'er to choose the version of the BF&M statement to which he will adhere and everyone take two steps forward together doing evangelism and missions?

I'm ready to get started. How about all of you?

David Troublefield
Wichita Falls, TX

Bart Barber said...

You may well win. As I commented before, a commitment to honesty and integrity often means losing in the short term.

Wade Burleson said...


Ah, but don't you see, I believe it is MY position that has the integrity -- to love people, uphold the fundamentals of the faith, and resist the religious tendency to ADD to the sacred text.



Matt Brady said...


Thanks for clarifying, I just didn't see how the professors at these schools fit the quote you provided.

I still do not see how the son of a Southern Baptist hero fits, but why his relationship to his father matters enough for you to mention anyway is unclear to me. David is his own man with his own beliefs and is articulate enough to speak for himself without being covered by his father's lofty shadow.

Besides, it is not about what David believes or doesn't believe. It is not about what Bertha Smith believed or didn't believe. The question is what do Southern Baptists believe are essentials for cooperation. I think that is the purpose of the BFM.

Wade Burleson said...


Would you kindly respond to David Troublefield?

I have no problem at all with what he is saying, though the confessions say different things in tertiary doctrines.

They all agree in the essentials.

I'm interested, seriously interested, in your response to him.

Anonymous said...

Southern's website lists the BF&M along with the Abstract of Principles as their confesional statements.

The syllabus for Dr. Russell Moore's Systematic Theology class states "Your Professor holds without reservation to the doctrinal commitments of the Abstract of Principles (1859) and the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) accurately representing biblical truth." Dr. Moore never seemed alluded to the Abstract and the BF&M being in opposition.

Bart Barber said...


That's all well and good until you send people out to thousands of Southern Baptist churches to solicit their money, telling them that they can look to the BF&M to see the doctrinal standard by which the money is being used in the cause of the kingdom. Please note, the BF&M was adopted at the very same convention meeting that the Cooperative Program was adopted. The two go together.

When you solicit the money under those pretenses, and then quietly tell people, "but you really don't have to believe these things...", then you have solicited money under false pretenses, and that is not a practice with integrity.

Wade Burleson said...


Answer directly. Do you believe Bertha Smith, Jerry Rankin, and David Rogers should be missionaries for the IMB TODAY!

I realize Ms. Smith is gone, but I wonder if you would approve of her, with her view on the gifts, of Rankin with his private prayer language and David Rogers with his public disapproval of the BFM 2000 on a tertiary doctrinal issue.


How about you?

Wade Burleson said...


The fact that you can't see someone affirm the essentials of the BFM and allow them to express disagreement on tertiary doctrines is the problem we have in our convention.

We are setting it straight, and thanks to you and others, many more people are beginning to see the problem.


Bart Barber said...

I'm sorry, Wade. I didn't realize that David's comment was a part of my conversation with you.

Of course, I have many more beliefs than the BF&M. The problem with David's proposed solution is that it runs contrary to the clearly expressed repeated direction of the Southern Baptist Convention messengers and the trustees that they have elected to direct the entities.

Matt Brady said...


I have no intention of going through the employees of the IMB and determining who should and should not be employed. That job belongs to the duly elected trustees. I will state plainly that I think that all employees who are paid with Cooperative Program funds should adhere to the BFM and to the requirements as determined by that Board.

Bart Barber said...

And, I should add, as far as it speaks, I am in agreement with the BF&M.

Anonymous said...

I'll say it again: watch and see, for as long as it takes. We either will compromise in order to cooperate, or there will be no SBC as there has been in the past. There isn't one now.

Bart, do you or do you not want to cooperate with Wade in evangelism and missions? Wade, can you compromise with Bart and lead your church to do evangelism and missions with his?

David Troublefield

Bart Barber said...


The fact that you think God has endowed you to determine what are the essentials of this statement of faith and what are the "tertiary" issues is the problem in the SBC today.

Wade Burleson said...


Ask Dr. Nettles, Dr. Mohler and others if there is disagreement between the Abstract and the BFM 2000. They will tell you there is, but like me, they are not bothered by it.

These are human confessional documents and not infallible, and there is room in the SBC for people who hold to condemnation upon all men for Adam's one sin and people who hold that sinners are condemned for their personal sins only.

Nettles, Mohler and I hold to the former. Moore holds to the latter.

It is of no concern to me that the BFM 2000 teaches opposite of the Abstract on this position.

It bothers me that professors of our seminaries either don't see or acknowledge the discrepancies.

Just see that they differ and say "So what?" There is no discrepency on the essentials of the faith.

Anonymous said...

So are you saying that Dr. Moore does not believe in Original Sin?

Bart Barber said...

I'm willing to leave that responsibility in the hands of the messengers to the SBC annual meeting.

If there are tertiary issues in the BF&M, let's by all means take them out.

That's an honest approach.

Wade Burleson said...

But Dr. Barber,

Don't you see, you are doing that which you accuse me of doing.

You are telling me what is NOT a tertiary doctrine.

However, the difference between you and me is simple:

I will cooperate with you in the midst of our disagreement but I sense that you would seek to boot out those who disagree with you -- if not from total missions participation, at least from SBC leadership.

I would love for you to be a leader in the SBC in any capacity, but I do not wish your ideology to be the engine that drives our train or we will be booting out everybody that disagrees with you.

Paul Burleson said...


Thank you for your response.

I would simply say that "the promise of a lease is to fulfill the words ON a piece of paper TO the other person" which is precisely what a "confession of faith" is NOT.

But WHAT one IS promising to a BOT is that the document IS a general guide of my beliefs, not that one holds to each word ON the document TO the other party. [The BOT]

I'm fearful we ARE degenerating into the letter of things instead of the spirit and I'm not sure but that it is an apt illustration of what ails us as a Convention.

I will bow out now and let you younger guys hammer out the issues. Thanks for the dialogue.

Bart Barber said...

And brother, perhaps that is a way forward.

Draft a list of the tertiary things that are in there. Tertiary issues shouldn't be in an "instrument of doctrinal accountability."

Bring that list to the convention, and give us the specific items that you want to excise from the BF&M. Let's let the people decide. I am perfectly willing to live with the results.

Wade Burleson said...

Dr. Moore does not believe that an infant who dies in infancy is condemned already because of Adam's sin. Dr. Moore believes that infant must reach 'an age of accountability' when that infant becaomes morally accountable and sins himself in order to be condemned by God (consistent with the BFM 2000).

Mohler believes that all infants who die in infancy are condemened for Adam's sin, but God in his sovereign election has chosen to save His people (including those He has chosen who died in infancy) and gave His Son Christ to die for them, cleanse them, and reconcile them to Himself (consistent with the Abstract).

Matt Brady said...


Since you would love for Bart to be a leader in the SBC in any capacity, does that mean he is the one you will be endorsing for 1st VP ? :-)

Bart Barber said...

No, Wade, I am not telling you what is not a tertiary doctrine. I'm telling you what the Southern Baptist people have drafted as their terms of employment: their "instrument of doctrinal accountability."

Decide for yourself whether you agree with them or not. State any areas of disagreement openly. Let the chips fall where they may. Let's all walk away with our integrity intact.

Wade Burleson said...


We are getting there.

It doesn't happen overnight. People have to begin to understand that there is a difference between tertiary and primary doctrines.

People are beginning to understand.

Anonymous said...


Will anyone you know pack that convention with messengers who will vote to keep in any particular tertiary doctrines to which they are inclined? If so, doesn't that simply put matters back to the place where they are today? Where would the compromise be?--Again, if we are going to cooperate, we apparently are going to compromise. Unity is not uniformity; uniformity is not unity.

David Troublefield

Bart Barber said...


You know, I never seem to hear you speak of secondary doctrines. Why is that?

But, if your ultimate goal is to rewrite the BF&M, then I can respect that.

Also, it seems to me that, under such circumstances, you ought to be able to agree entirely with my resolution.

jack said...

Grace or Works?

If we embrace legalism and fundamentalism -- we embrace works: Preaching good; Preaching by women bad --- Calvinim good; Arminianism bad etc.

Instead let us agree to preach Jesus and him crucified --- and part compan on that which divides us. -Amen.

Wade Burleson said...


I have. Events of the last year show what the SBC is thinking. Thanks for the advice. I consider it wise.

Les Puryear said...


I'm thoroughly enjoying this conversation you and Bart are having about BFM2K. I have agreed with you up to this point that no SBC agency or institution should have the authjority to set doctrinal parameters beyond BFM2K because the SBC has adopted BFM2K at its statement of agreed-upon doctrinal beliefs.

That is why I oppose the two IMB extra-BFM2K doctrinal parameters limiting missionary appointment through examination of PPL and baptism.

I must admit to some confusion, however, on your point that BFM2K contains tertiary doctrine. Right or wrong, the BFM2K has been adopted as the SBC's statement of commonly held beliefs. If you are now going to break down BFM2K into essentials and non-essentials, then I believe we have a major potential for problems.

In the spirit of helping me understand, which parts of BFM2K would you deem to be "essential" and which parts are "non-essential"?



Bart Barber said...

Well, it's 10:30. I'm signing out. Thanks for the vigorous conversation.

Anonymous said...

I guess when I read the "WITHOUT RESERVATION" on Moore's syllabus I misunderstood. I also sat through the class and never got the fact that Moore didn't believe the two confessional statements were in opposition.

I suppose you have heard him and Dr. Mohler say that the documents disagree, right? Or perhaps you could hyperlink a document. I know I came to Southern because I thought every professor held to the Abstract and the BF&M and now your telling me that one of our best professors does not hold to the Abstract.

I will have trouble sleeping.

Wade Burleson said...

G Alford,

I am working on a professional presentation and recommendation for regional sites for the SBC, internet registration for video view and voting, and other things that will bring our one hundred sixty two year old convention into the technology age.

It will happen. The question is when.

G. Alford said...


So few Southern Baptist Churches are actually represented at the convention each year (on average only about ½ of one percent or 2,000 churches send messengers) that a coalition of a few hundred churches from any group could make a concerted effort to send their messengers and quite literally impose their will upon all the convention.

I know everyone is in love with the old convention system… and my expressed concerns that all Southern Baptist Churches be allowed to vote on their leadership continues to fall on deaf ears… but in my humble opinion in a time of such division within the SBC the old convention system puts all of the SBC in danger of being high jacked by one group or another.

But then this has never happened in the past now has it?

Grace to all,

Wade Burleson said...


Closed communion is a tertiary doctrine.

Infants being 'innocent' until they personally sin is a tertiary doctrine.

Those are the two I personally disagree with and have publicly made that known.

Those are my only two differences.

Wade Burleson said...

G Alford,

I'm also a prophet. :)

I answered your question before you asked it. :)

Wade Burleson said...


Don't lose any sleep.

Disagreement on tertiary doctrines is nothing to lose sleep over.

There is NO disagreement on the fundamentals.

Anonymous said...

I would like to hear the faculty at Southern say a disagreement exists between the Abstract and the BFM 2000.

Can you document a faculty member at either Southern or Southeastern saying the BFM and Abstract disagree.

Is Original Sin a tertiary dooctrine? Is Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism welcome in the SBC?

volfan007 said...

i will break thru the wall of mystery. ben cole is going to nominate david volfan007 worley as 1vp!!!!
cb scott will second the nomination. marty will make the motion that all nominations cease, and vote volfan007 by acclamation!!!

now, you all know.

david :)

ps. and pigs fly south for the winter.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous, ask Bart Barber those questions. Southern professors know where they stand. Some SWBTS professors are in conflict with the Abstract, but then again, they are not required to sign it.

Matt Brady said...

Oh now David, everyone knows that this blog is about encouraging inclusiveness. :-)

Wade Burleson said...

Amen Matt,

Glad you have seen the light!

I'm off to bed, everyone have a great Monday.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Dr. Barber and am I particularly concerned with SWBTS. I have moved my family great distances because of the theological convictions of the faculty at Southern. I have been here for two years and I have never heard a professor say that a conflict existed between the BFM 2000 and the Abstract. You have made a statement about the beliefs of the professors at Southern. I would like to see it documented.

Matt Brady said...


I've seen the light of your inclusiveness all along. The only question is just how far to the left that inclusiveness will go. You have to admit (well maybe YOU don't), Jimmy Carter is pretty far over there theologically :-)

Anonymous said...

http://www.sbts.edu/pdf/bfmexposition.pdf in this article an exposition of the BFM 2000 Daniel Block (then professor of O.T. at SBTS) stated "In accordance with the Biblical Perspective of the entire human race as united in descent from Adam, the guilt of Adam's sin falls on all, and estrangement from God in whose image we are made falls on all."

If you are right in asserting that the BFM and the Abstract disagree on this poin then Dr. Block has butchered the meaning of the BFM article.

Why would Dr. Mohler allow such a bad exposition of the BFM 2000 to remain on Southern's website?

Anonymous said...

Here you go again Wade!!! Please forgive me as I haven't read all the comments yet and someone may have already put you in your place sir, (i.e. Petey or Jack, etc...), but how can you continue these deceptions and lead the SBC down a path of...of...of...well, I am just too disgusted to even describe my hurt and anguish!!!

Please hear me and hear me well...a year and a half ago would have been Dec 10, 2005 - not 2006!!!


Oh, the deception just oozes from this post!!!



Jack Maddox said...


Who is Petey?




Anonymous said...

I had not realized that the wording of the 2000 BF&M called for closed communion until you brought it up. What an antiquated notion for the 21st century! Landmarkism is such a peculiar urge in a church that could still lose its leadership role in our fight for a lost world, as some SBCers have written.

No, I would never ask a trustee of an SBC agency to resign until such things they object to were cleansed from the current BF&M. One reason we have leaders is so we can have them argue such issues from positions of visibility.

Anything else would be akin to expecting the President's political opposition not to comment on international affairs so that "disagreement ends at the water's edge." It ain't gonna happen.

Steve Austin

Anonymous said...

If the BF&M 2000 could not be completely debated because time simply ran out, perhaps the question should have been put off until the following year. Perhaps revising our non-creedal creed (?) should be treated like a U.S. constitutional amendment, not in effect until enough churches/assns/state conv's approve of it.

How dare anyone use this as an employment requirement when it didn't all go through the consideration process the convention demands?

'Scuse me fer havin' a mind.

Layman Steve Austin

Anonymous said...

I agree with G. Alford:

5% (if the number of churches represented is 2000; during our lifetimes, this number probably is accurate annually) of the SBC never has been a "majority" of the SBC, even if those voting on an issue were a majority of the messengers present.

Also, while attending annual meetings of Baptists, I may have represented my congregation but, when it came time to cast a vote, I voted my own conscience before the Lord--not necessarily that of my congregation; so, again, not a "majority" of the SBC necessarily.

Additionally, after 1979--certainly after 2000--other true SBC'ers simply ceased attending the SBC's annual meeting. These folks are as biblically conservative as the great-grandmommas of anyone blogging here but are tired of the fight, or disagree in good conscience--so, again, not a "majority" of the SBC (at least, today's "SBC"; either I'm right about this, or recent criticism of LifeWay's research methods is wrong).

It's true: every cooperating SBC congregation has the opportunity to bring a full contingent of messengers to the annual meetings, and that those messengers can vote any way they choose; every SBC church also has the opportunity to do something else with its CP dollars. Who wants that?!

Baptists can be won over by valid arguments, but they can't be forced to believe something which otherwise violates their consciences (besides, some folks just aren't much fun to fellowship with--some of them appear to blog here regularly!). In the end, again: it will be a compromise about the BF&M statements which brings about our cooperation--or little cooperation, it appears, will be the result (cf. the tone of this blog string). Let's get started today.

"'Teacher,' said John, 'we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.' 'Do not stop him,' Jesus said. 'No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.'" (Mark 9:38-40, NIV)

Uniformity is not unity. Unity is not uniformity. Unity is unity; uniformity is uniformity.

David Troublefield

irreverend fox said...

The best way to sum up every post Wade has written "Grace and Truth to you" in a nutshell...the John 3:16 of this blog...

"Liberalism takes away from the sacred, sufficient Scriptures while Fundamentalism adds to the sacred, sufficient Scriptures. Both should be anathema in the SBC."

Bart Barber said...

Irreverend Fox,

The quote you highlighted is, indeed, inspirational prose. I, obviously, would choose another quote to synopsize Bro. Wade's movement:


Closed communion is a tertiary doctrine.

Infants being 'innocent' until they personally sin is a tertiary doctrine.

Those are the two I personally disagree with and have publicly made that known.

Those are my only two differences."

Now we can see..."tertiary doctrine" = "I personally disagree with"

ml said...

Bart, Are you aware that there is a prominent Southern Baptist Church responsible for influencing Southern Baptist Life and heavily involved with the IMB. One of their leaders is an IMB trustee. However, as I understand their church structure, I cannot imagine that they would agree with the BFM concerning the section on The Church as being democratic and consisting of pastors and deacons. In fact, any church that elevates lay elders to a prominent role of leadership would stand in contrast to the BFM. In case you are wondering who the church is? It is Mark Devers who is an one-going professor at SBTS and a vocal leader in the SBC. Does someone have to agree with EVERY aspect of the BFM? Then let's keep the standard the same for every one on every point. Call it a creed. Change our name to Southern Baptist Catholics and be honest about who we really are.

Bart Barber said...



Let's ask Dr. Dever whether he believes that his policy is contrary to the BF&M.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
WHAT! Jim Richards, the Executive Director of the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention (SBTC) has announced for the First Vice-President?

Wade, I thought you didn’t want the SBC to be run by ‘revolutionary militant FUNDAMENTALISTS’. I know you said you predicted someone else would run against him that you could “endorse wholeheartedly”, but I wish you had said more why Richards should not be elected.

Has Richards changed his mind about what he said: “Theological agreement will be the first foundation of the new Convention. [SBTC] Those who depart theologically will be IDENTIFIED and called to REPENT. To the FOES of SBTC, we say, we’re not in competition with you, but we’ve been CALLED to CONTRAST you.” (Baptist Standard 11-18-98)

“IDENTIFIED”? Henry II identified Paulicians (Baptist) by branding them on their foreheads. Most of their cloths were cut off and they perished from cold and hunger. (Trail of Blood)

Wade, do you think this type person will bring about cooperation in the SBC? Did God ‘call’ Conservatives to CONTRAST Moderates? Jesus said, “I demand that you love each other as much as I love you.”

One way of contrasting was brought out in their news journal, Plumbline October 1998, which offered no proof but stated the CBF had leaders that:
1. Denied deity of Christ, need for his death, and importance of his virgin birth.
2. Called for the ordination of gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons.
3. Proclaimed the Bible does not condemn all forms of homosexual behavior.
4. Referred to God as “mother.”
5. Defended the reproduction and distribution of child pornography.

Hey! I’d rather vote for the guy who said, “When pigs fly south.”

ml said...


If your criteria is that every article and aspect be agreed with


If Al Mohler does not agree with this statement: Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.

Then Al Mohler is not eligible to be president of our convention nor should he continue as President of one of our institutions.

Bart if it is all or nothing then it is no longer confessional but much more binding. Oh and ask Devers but what if his definition of democratic differs from someone elses? Hence the allowances of nuances within a confession are such that make it different from a creed. You are actually arguing my point rather well. Thank you. You have essentially invalidated your own resolution. BRAVO

Gary said...


Just as a historical note. SBTC did not exist in October of 1998. What the Plumbline said before the formation of our convention, and before Jim Richards was exec of the convention is not necessarily the stance of the convention.

Vote for someone else. Write someone in if animus demands but have a better reason.

Gary Ledbetter, SBTC

R. L. Vaughn said...

Anonymous wrote, "I had not realized that the wording of the 2000 BF&M called for closed communion until you brought it up."

I want to point out that this wording is not new to the 2000 BFM:

1925: "It [baptism] is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation and to the Lord's Supper, in which the members of the church, by the use of bread and wine, commemorate the dying love of Christ."

1963: "...it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper.

The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming."

2000: Same as 1963

(According to the comparison page on sbc.net)

Debbie said...

This just further proves that this is about control. There are some such as Bart etc. who are even trying to control the numbers of a survey for crying out loud and as they have with everything else trash and dismantle it when the numbers don't suit them. Come on guys, there are just some things that can't be controlled. Those who answered and the Lifeway survey are just two things.

Matt Brady said...


As I said to Bob, it is not about control. It is about being faithful. It is all right to disagree as to what being faithful means, but I think you wrongly accuse some people of being control freaks.

If you want to talk about some people trashing and dismantling things that don't suit them, I suggest that is what many are trying to do to the Conservative Resurgence, all the rhetoric notwithstanding.

blackhaw66 said...

Personally I do not like the BF&M. I think it makes secondary or even lesser doctrines first tier doctrines for Baptists. For instance I am not in favor of the women clause in the BF&M. I agree doctrinally with it but not with it being in the BF&M. Also I think the BF&M is sometimes too vagued and sometimes just wrong.

However that is why I could not in all honesty take a position that requires me to sign it. So I see Bart's take on this subject. One should not have objections to the BF&M and then sign it. That is acting like they agree with it and yet they really do not. That is lying.


It is common practie though for one to agree with most of a document like the BF&M but state in writing where they do not. They then must state why they disagree in certain areas and then the board accepts or rejects them based upon that full statement. For instance I know someone who left SWBTS to go to another seminary. He had to sign a document that he agree with another (more historic) confession. He did but he did have a few areas in which he stated that he disagreed in a statement. (I believe it was written). This person is a man of integrity and faith. I bring this situation up because it seems normative. One can sign off on a confession while disagreeing on secondary issues in the confession. Now they do have to publicly state their disagreement of thsoe issues and have good reasons as to why they do. But other denominations and institutions accept this as not lying and as a common practice. Why should the SBC and SWBTS not?

cheerfuldougg said...

Well said as usual. I hope that we are listening to with Spirit-filled "ears".

Wade Burleson said...

R.L. Vaughn,

I guarantee you many of our larger churches, including Spurgeon's Tabernacle, practiced restricted membership and open communion.

Reasoning? Our local church is comprised of members bonded together in covenant -- the universal church is composed of all the redeemed.

In heaven, will you share the marriage supper of the Lamb with people who were not 'members' of your local church?

If so, then why would you withhold fellowship and communion from them on earth? However, if they wished to become a 'covenant' member, then 'baptism is a prerequisite' to membership -- just as the BFM states.

Wade Burleson said...


Interesting comment. I agree.

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Anonymous,

You write to me quoting an exposition of the BFM 2000 by Daniel Block (then professor of O.T. at SBTS) where he stated "In accordance with the Biblical Perspective of the entire human race as united in descent from Adam, the guilt of Adam's sin falls on all, and estrangement from God in whose image we are made falls on all."

Then, Mr. Anonymous, you ask me, "If you are right in asserting that the BFM 2000 and the Abstract disagree on this point then Dr. Block has butchered the meaning of the BFM 2000 article.

Why would Dr. Mohler allow such a bad exposition of the BFM 2000 to remain on Southern's website?

Mr. Anonymous Sir, you misunderstand. Dr. Block got it RIGHT!

Now then, ask Dr. Barber if he believes infants who die infancy go to hell because of Adam's sin. If he says, 'no,' infants must reach an age of accountability and personally sin before condemnation happens (and quotes the BFM 2000 for support "Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation"), then he is disagreeing with Dr. Block's interpretation of the BFM 2000 and the clear teaching of the Abstract.

But, I will not seek Bart's removal from his position at SWBTS because he disagrees with Dr. Block's interpretation of the BFM 2000.

By the way, those who sign the Abstract, believe everyone is condemned to hell because of Adam's one sin (even infants who have never personally sinned), but Christ redeemed those the Father chose and gave to Him to reconcile at Calvary.

The Abstract (and I would say the Bible) teaches that a person is classified, consituted and condemned for the sin of one man (Adam) -- just as a sinner is classified, constituted and made righteous by the obedience of another Man (Jesus Christ).

The Abstract and BFM 2000 disagree on the cause of the moral depravity of every man (not to mention the cause of justification being God's free grace His elect) -- BUT I don't think we should make a big deal of this issue because SBC'rs should not separate over Calvinism vs. Arminianism. Uh, that is, unless you happen to believe Calvinism is heretical, and by the way, most Fundamentalists do.

I believe the SBC should accept both interpretations -- Dr. Block's and Dr. Barber's -- and will do all I can to insure the further narrowing of the parameters of cooperation STOPS.

By the way, the Abstract states, "God originally created man in His own image, and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors. "

The difference between the Abstract and the BFM 2000 is clear.

The Abstract teaches condemnation actually occurs because of Adam's sin, regardless of personal sins. The BFM 2000 states that condemnation doesn't occur until there are actual personal sins.

This is the difference between classic Calvinism and Semi-Pelagianism.

I guarantee you, Dr. Barber would not hold to Dr. Block's interpretation of the BFM 2000.

Regardless, I do not believe we should boot Dr. Barber out of SBC employment or leadership.

That's the difference between me and him. :)

I have written on this matter from a Biblical standpoint in a post
The Gospel in Genesis: Adam's Representation

By the way, lest anyone get too upset about all infants being condemned to hell for Adam's sin, I happen to believe God chose all infants who die in infancy, Christ died for all infants who die in infancy, the Spirit regenerates all infants who die in infancy, and all infants who die in infancy are in heaven . . .

Not because they are INNOCENT --

But because God REDEEMED them.

If, however, God chose not to redeem them, they would be in hell. Infants are not innocent until they personally sin, as the BFM 2000 states -- they are guilty because of Adam's sin.

"The wages of sin is death"


"The wages of innocence is death."

I'm not attempting to argue this point -- I don't care whether anyone agrees with me, Dr. Mohler, Dr. Block or anyone else who has signed the Abstract in the 100 years of the existence of Southern Seminary.

My point is that the Abstract and the BFM 2000 are in conflict. We must be careful that we don't narrow our confession to the point that we DEMAND one interpretation over another in a missions cooperating convention --- because good men, good churches and good pastors disagree on this issue.

ml said...

Wade, I agree and that was the intent of my statement about Mohler. It would be foolish to boot him based on his disagreement with the BFM. But it is the logical end of Barber's position. That was the point of my comments before. Now keep in mind I am all for doctrinal boundaries and believe they are essential in a relativistic era. However, there is a difference between the fundamentals of the faith and Fundamentalism. In the end, everyone who disagrees with Barber[?] or Patterson [?] becomes excluded. That is incredibly dangerous and rather cult-like.

Wade Burleson said...


Amen, and amen.

Others are beginning to see what you have been saying all along.

By the way, I agree with boundaries as well. They should just be as broad as possible for convention wide participation in missions.

Let churches narrow it more if they choose, but not the convention.

Debbie said...

Matt Brady: Faithful to what? The scriptures? I'm sorry but I disagree.It's about control.

beth said...

"Those who have broken away from the SBC and formed the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship should be encouraged to continue their mission efforts, and we Southern Baptists should be part of that encouragement. However, nobody is advocating for the reunion of the CBF and SBC -- it shouldn't happen."
If CBF would declare themselves to be a denomination rather than an organization, that would be immensely helpful.

Debbie said...

Matt said "If you want to talk about some people trashing and dismantling things that don't suit them, I suggest that is what many are trying to do to the Conservative Resurgence, all the rhetoric notwithstanding.'

This has nothing to do with the Conservative Regurgence. Trying to ride on this is simply ridiculous. These are not liberals that the latest exciting battle is against but those who are Conservative(as in Conservative Resuregance) that you and others are beating on. Who will it be after this battle? Fundamentalist against Fundamentalist? That may be all that is left.

Banjara Barnabas Project said...

Well said Wade. You even sent me to my dictionary to discover the meaning of "irenic!" So reading your blog is educational as well as informative, but it is not always irenic.

Wade Burleson said...


The posts are, but not always the comments!

Paul said...


Saying that a tertiary doctrine for Wade is one that he disagrees with is just inflammatory and a(n intentional?) mischaracterization. Since he has only objected to two points in the BF&M, your statement would have us all believe that Wade considers "an adequate system of Christian education" a primary doctrinal matter (along with "the organization of associations and conventions," opposition to the death penalty and an "all that is in their power" effort to end war - ostensibly including the war in Iraq, among other things).

Bart, are those primary matters for you? Are you doing all that is in your power to put an end to the war in Iraq? Do you oppose the death penalty? I'm assuming you are, since you have stated your unqualified support for the BF&M.

othoniel a valdes sr said...

I will vote for Dr.Richards and against your designated convention savior.
The SBC was here before you and will be here after you. Your view of its future is bleak because is not to your liking my view of its future is I don't know but I do look forward to been a part of it.
And if your candidate wins I will not loose any sleep over it because this to shall pass

Matt Brady said...


The events of the last year and half are not part of an "exciting" battle, they are part of a sad battle. Obviously I disagree with you as to what it is all about.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade, I'm not sure what your response to me has to do with my pointing out to an anonymous commenter that the BFM wording on communion is not new to the 2000 edition??? Do you disagree that it has been worded basically the same way for over 80 years?

If you mean to point out that some SBC churches have practiced and do practice open communion, I already know that and have no reason to argue the point [although I didn't know Spurgeon's Tabernacle was ever in the SBC ;-O ].

Debbie said...

Matt: I agree that it is sad. Very sad and not only sad but unnecessary. I have written on that many times, however it must be exciting to some who continue to want to battle over something. It's now our legacy. It's our reputation. It needs to stop and by stop I don't mean conform to a doctrinal purity.

Debbie said...

BTW Matt, I'm well aware what it's all about and I wrote that to you in my last comment to you.

Matt Brady said...


Duly noted. I am well aware that you think you are well aware of the situation of which many more will become aware next week. :-)

I am just noting my disagreement.

As for the SBC's reputation for doctrinal struggle, I agree. Baptists have indeed always been known for their tenacity in fighting for the maintenance of Biblical doctrine.

Anonymous said...

I think that it is very interesting that the "clique" and their "cheerleader" are all "in on" something that the rest of us are clearly not worthy of knowing.

Yes - I am speaking of you Wade, Ben, Marty, and Debbie. Your arrogance to the those you consider the unwashed masses is wearing a little thin, and could be in danger of backfiring on you.

Wade Burleson said...


My point is Baptists have disagreed over this issue for centuries. Disagreement over closed and open communion should not separate in fellowship or one view should not be the delineation of SBC leadership

Wade Burleson said...


I will take a cheerleader who signs her comments over an anonymous critic any day!


By the way, you are not unknown to me.


Anonymous said...

Oh - I do apologize I didn't write my name did I?


And how EXACTLY am I known to you?


Realizing of course that if I put a smiley face after everything it makes it all better.

David Rogers said...


In my latest post I respond to several of the issues you raise here.



Debbie said...

I'll gladly take the label of cheerleader, not only that but I am also a promoter. I am so glad that these issues are being brought out in the opening, I am even the dancer of the group, doing the dance of joy. I simply want others to do the dance of joy as well rather than the dance of conformity. :)

Greg Welty said...


While I appreciate the clarity, forthrightness, and thoughtfulness with which you express your thoughts in this post, I think your interactions with Bart Barber are a series of swings and misses.

First, you seek to discern, within the BFM 2000, a distinction between primary and tertiary doctrines. However, once one actually consults the preamble of the BFM 2000 -- and thus takes the document on its own terms -- it does not seem that your distinction can be maintained. This is the point Bart has been trying to get across. For instance, in agreement with the committees of 1925 and 1963, the preamble states that these confessions "constitute a consensus of opinion of some Baptist body, large or small, for the general instruction and guidance of our own people and others concerning those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us." These confessions of faith are adopted "as a witness to the world, and as instruments of doctrinal accountability." With the 1963 committee they identify and affirm "certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified... Thus this generation of Southern Baptists is in historic succession of intent and purpose as it endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us."

If indeed the BFM 2000 is an "instrument of doctrinal accountability," and if it is repeatedly set forth (by its own authors) as those articles "which are most surely held among us," then it seems wholly incompatible with these sentiments to state, as you do, that several doctrines in the BFM are "tertiary doctrines." Tertiary doctrines are not those things most surely held among us. Tertiary doctrines do not serve as an instrument of doctrinal accountability.

You apparently think that identifying such tertiary doctrines in the BFM is the way to bring about "consensus" in the SBC and to undergird present and future cooperation. I certainly share your desire for consensus and cooperation. The problem here, at least in part, is that the BFM is *already* a consensus document. As stated above in the preamble, confessions like the BFM "constitute a consensus of opinion of some Baptist body, large or small, for the general instruction and guidance of our own people and others concerning those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us." To give just one obvious example, there is no particular eschatological scheme taught in the BFM, beyond the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Simply by virtue of the fact that neither premillennialism nor amillennialism were included in the BFM, the convention through its committees has *already* rendered a judgment that these are tertiary doctrines. Not so for baptism as a prerequisite to the Lord's Supper, by way of contrast. The same can be said for whatever else managed to get into the BFM. By its own self-description, matters of primary and tertiary doctrine have already been settled.

Second, in your attempt to argue for a contradiction between the Abstract and the BFM, you do not seem to recognize the nature of a consensus document. The BFM is, by its own admission, "a consensus of opinion." Thus, "we do not regard them as complete statements of our faith, having any quality of finality or infallibility." Many statements in the BFM are true as far as they go, but they do not claim to say everything that could be said on the topic. There is a sanctified ambiguity in many of the formulations, such that differences over precise matters can be held by brethren with differing convictions, and yet the essential doctrine stated by the BFM can be affirmed by both. A classic example here is the controversy over the extent of and intent behind the atonement. The BFM says that Jesus "made provision for the redemption of men from sin" (II.B), and "that Christ died for man" (III). Clearly, those who believe that Jesus died to redeem the elect alone, and those who believe that Jesus died to redeem all without exception, have a clear disagreement, and yet *both* groups can sign up to the BFM's sentiments on the atonement. What the BFM says here is compatible with both views (and several more besides). In your attempt to make a distinction between the "essentials" in the BFM, and the "tertiary doctrines" in the BFM, you have lost sight of the fact that the BFM is *already* a document which enshrines the essentials, and it does so in its very choice of words. It *could* have been more detailed than it actually is, on a great many matters, but the authors (and subsequent revisers) made a deliberate choice to leave certain matters open. Nevertheless, by the same token, they chose to leave other matters closed. (For instance, someone who denied the substitutionary nature of Christ's death could not affirm the BFM's claim about "His substitutionary death on the cross" [II.B].)

Third, given the above, we clearly have the resources to deal with the particular dilemma you pose for Bart and others. What the BFM 2000 says about the Fall of Man, in part, is the following:

"Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation" (III).

You cite this as undeniably incompatible with the Abstract of Principles' claim that:

"God originally created man in His own image, and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors" (VI).

On your view, the Abstract teaches that man is "under condemnation" as a result of Adam's transgression, whereas the BFM allegedly denies this, and instead teaches that man is "under condemnation" as a result of his own exercise of his moral capacities.

Has it never occurred to you that *both* statements could easily be true? Why posit just *one* ground of condemnation? Could it not be that we are under condemnation due to the sin of our representative in the Garden of Eden, *and* we are under condemnation due to our own sins, our "actual" transgressions? Why think that one paragraph excludes the other?

As someone who wholeheartedly affirms paragraph VI of the Abstract, I have no problem also affirming paragraph III of the BFM. We are condemned for the sin of Adam, because in some sense (as I read Romans 5), we sinned in him. But, as countless texts of Scripture testify, we will be judged on the final day for our own sins committed in the body. So that is a ground for condemnation as well. So, I read the "under condemnation" of BFM III as referring to condemnation "for actual transgressions." When we actually sin in this life (as opposed to sinning in Adam), we become actual transgressors, and are under condemnation for our actual transgressions.

In short, what you need here is what you definitely do not have: a set of exclusionary clauses in the BFM and the Abstract to the effect that the ground of condemnation cited in one document excludes that cited in the other. Since you don't have this, I'm afraid you can't make your case for incompatibility.

What's going on here is exactly what's going on in the BFM paragraphs about the extent of the atonement. Saying that "Christ died for man" is entirely compatible with saying he died for some or for all. You already agree with this, do you not? Likewise, saying that men are "under condemnation" for the sin of Adam is entirely compatible with saying that they are under condemnation for actual transgressions.

Your problem here, really, is your overly divisive and near-fundamentalist orientation toward these two documents. You are seeing exclusion and division when really there is no need ;-) [Sorry for a little humor here; feel free to fire back in good will ;-)]

Of course, you may demur, and insist that there is a contradiction here. You might even come up with plausible arguments for such, despite my critique. Thankfully, believing that there *is* a contradiction between the Abstract and the BFM, is not itself an article of either the Abstract or the BFM. So reasonable men can disagree as to whether there is said contradiction, and can in good faith sign up to both documents (which is all that Bart's resolution is calling for in this respect, and as he has affirmed in the comments above). It is not a requirement of signing up to either document (or to both) to believe that there is some contradiction. So your private opinion on this matter does not represent the consensus opinion of the convention as expressed through its confessions. So, for the purposes of hiring and firing, convention entities can safely ignore your opinion here (after giving your claims the reflection that they deserve, of course). BTW, this applies to Tom Nettles' private opinion on the matter as well :-) In the end, matters pertaining to the compatibility of the documents are entrusted to the trustees who do or otherwise supervise the hiring. Thus, you certainly have your role to play at the IMB as a trustee, but that's neither here nor there with respect to the seminaries, as far as I can tell.

Please tell me where you think I have erred in the above. Your blog continues to be useful in making clear to all the various alternatives which are before us as a convention and as a body of believers. Thanks as well for having an open policy towards comments.

Debbie said...

The only thing that I am in on is that I've been there, done that and got the scars to prove it. :( Notice no smiley face on that statement.

Anonymous said...

After letting myself get sucked into this dispute over who is more holy (because that IS what this is all about) I have decided that you people are not good for my soul. SBC is not good for my soul. I apologize to everyone except Ben Cole who I still think is a big bully and a jerk

Ann Seely

Wade Burleson said...


You write, "The BFM is", by its own admission, "a consensus of opinion." Thus, "we do not regard them as complete statements of our faith, having any quality of finality or infallibility."

I couldn't agree more. That is why discrepancies between it and the Abstract do not bother me. Only those who pretend there is no disagreement miss the point you are making.

Wade Burleson said...


Thanks for letting others know who you are.

I agree, none of us are good for your soul, but I trust you know the One who is. :)

By the way, I agree with you about Ben. :)

Wade Burleson said...


I reread your comment, and I must say, it is one of the better written, more thoughtful comments of any I have received.

I say thank you, and would like to know where you teach as a professor in Ft. Worth.

I mean it when I say it is a well written comment. I have just one question for you, and I hope to prove my point once for all . . .

You write, "Has it never occurred to you that *both* statements (the Abstract and BFM 200)) could easily be true? (on the subject of condemnation). Why posit just *one* ground of condemnation? Could it not be that we are under condemnation due to the sin of our representative in the Garden of Eden, *and* we are under condemnation due to our own sins, our "actual" transgressions? Why think that one paragraph excludes the other?

Good point Dr. Welty. I have two questions relating to the above comment, accepting the vailidity of your statement . . .

If every human being is condemned for Adam's sin AND his own personal sins, then the person who does not grow old enough to sin personally and experientially, but dies in infancy, is that human being condemned by God for Adam's sin?

According to your statement above, you seem to believe the Baptist Faith and Message teaches that the infant is condemned EVEN THOUGH he has not personally sinned (though I am pointing out the BFM 2000 does not teach this, but I will accept your proposition that it does).

I would be interested to know if Dr. Barber believes this to be true, and if not, would you propose his removal as a professor from SWBTS for violating the primary doctrinal teaching of the BFM 2000?


Couldn't resist that second question.

Of course, I feel like we are arguing over how many angels can stand on a pin. I DON'T CARE!

My point is that when people start demanding conformity on every little nuance of a manmade confession you end up with the bizarre practice of people interpreting the confession (as you have done so quite eloquently here).

Let's keep our cooperation based the broad, general primary truths of Christ and salvation by grace though faith. I think it is healthy to debate secondary and tertiary doctrines, like the debate we are having here, but I think it is ludicrous to ban a Southern Baptist from leadership who holds to open communion, the five points of Calvinism, continuation of the gifts, and women teaching theology to men at seminaries. :)

The list keeps growing.

Stephen Pruett said...

Bart wrote, "Southern Baptist people have drafted as their terms of employment: their 'instrument of doctrinal accountability'." He also wrote that Wade favors a position with NO doctrinal accountability.

I believe both staements are incorrect. Southern Baptists did not vote on the BF& M as terms of employment. In fact, if I remember correctly, missionaries were told they would not have to endorse it to keep their positions. A tiny fraction of politically involved Southern Baptists voted for a confession of faith, which in its preamble states, "That we do not regard them as complete statements of our faith, having any quality of finality or infallibility" and "Baptists cherish and defend religious liberty, and deny the right of any secular or religious authority to impose a confession of faith upon a church or body of churches." Yet the BF&M 2000 is being treated as infallible enough to serve as a basis for firing people and it is being used to impose "religious authority" on a "body of churches" (as represented by the IMB).

As to the idea that not requiring absolute agreement on tertiary issues is equivalent to NO doctrinal standards, that is obviously incorrect. Removing tertiary issues from the BF&M or allowing rational disagreements on them would still leave clear statements on how Baptists view the fundamentals of the faith. It seems reasonable to me to expect agreement on the fundamentals as a requirement for service. However, this should not be the case on other issues. Of course, the IMB had guidelines on tongues and baptism that were working very well and respected the autonomy of the local church. Yet the BOT felt compelled to go further. As a layman, I can tell you that all the laymen I know would be really annoyed if they knew that some accepted for membership in our church on the basis of New Testament Baptism in a non-Baptist church could be rejected for missionary service. My pastor is about as conservative as they come, but he bases his determination of the validity of baptism on the scriptures and on a person by person basis.

I have asked before, and not received a reasonable answer, how will we know when to stop once we have started using tertiary issues as criteria for service? Eventually someone will get around to Calvinism (which is accepted by a much smaller percentage of Pastors than PPL), or eschatology, or silence of women in all church-related positions, or 24 hour creation days, or strict cessationism (not just for PPL), or .... well you get the idea.

Is there anyone out there who holds the majority position on all these issues? I would guess that the majority of SBC members and pastors do not agree on all of them. Take a look at those folks who do, because that may be all there is to the SBC in a few years, if we continue down the same path.

blackhaw66 said...

Dr. Welty,

What about those who believe that items such as the woman's clause (whatever it is officially called) are not first tier or doctrines or doctrines of consensus or ones that should be required in order to be a Baptist. Can one sign the BF&M? Do you think that the woman's clause really reflects a consensus of Baptist believers who think it is a doctrine that cannot be disagreed upon? What I am trying to say is that many, like me, believe in what the confession states but not that it should be in BF&M as a doctrine that must be believed in order for Baptist fellowship in the SBC. From who I speak to this is more in line of what Baptists believe than requiring everyone to sign a document that states that they much teach a certain way about women in ministry and the home.

So what do you say to one who has an onest disagreement with the BF&M in how it includes doctrines that are not only not a consensus and not important enough to be in a document like BF&M?

G. Alford said...

Greg Welty,

If indeed the BFM 2000 is an "instrument of doctrinal accountability," and if it is repeatedly set forth (by its own authors) as those articles "which are most surely held among us,"

With such a small fraction of the SBC actually represented at any convention (including the one where the BFM200 was adopted) the above statement in the preamble is presumptuous at best…

No one… Not the IMB, the X-Com, SWBTS, or anyone else in the SBC can truly say what articles are first tier, second tier, or third tier… and no one in the SBC can say these are the things “which are most surely held among us.” Because no one has every ask “ALL” the churches of the SBC to approve anything…

The majority of SBC churches may indeed believe every article of the BFM 2000, I’m not saying they don’t, but what I am saying is that no one knows.

Grace to all,

blackhaw66 said...

g. Alford,

As you probably have read I do not like all of what is in the BF&M 2000. However doesn't the SBC and the SBC convention work by churches sending ambassadors that represent whole churches or organizations within the SBC. And aren't all SBC affiliated churches invited to participate by sending these ambassadors? So isn't it correct that a large group of the SBC was in fact represented? Again I do not like their decision and I do not think it really represents a consensus in some areas of the BF&M but I do not think it is fair to state that most of the SBC was excluded. it is not like all members of SBC church could or would all go to the convention every year. Or that even a majority woul or could.

Paul said...

Did the messengers who adopted the 2000 BF&M really understand that it would thereafter be used as a means of disqualifying people for denominational/missionary service? Did those messengers really mean to bind everyone by the statement on Education and The Christian and the Social Order in the same manner that they might hold those same people to the statements on God and Salvation?

And what does that say about our theology when we hold views of Education on par with our views of the Trinity?

One more question that hopefully Dr. Barber or Dr. Welty or Matt can answer: How would you define a Fundamentalist? I know that people don't like that term, so please tell me what that term means so that I know what it is that you would object to if someone were to call you that. I've seen people object to Wade calling others Fundamentalists. What is the objection?

G. Alford said...


Yes, all are invited to the dance… the only problem is that many cannot afford a new dress in which to attend. Do we really expect a small church of 100 members in Alaska, California, New York, or even Florida to send messengers to the convention in Texas?

By the time you add up all the cost to attend the convention (travel, hotel, meals, and time off from work) it could amount to several thousand dollars for each of these small and often struggling churches… This is a “Poll Tax” that many simply cannot afford each year.

In fact the number of churches that send messengers to the convention each year is indeed only a fraction of all the SBC churches. Last year only 2,000 of the 45,000 SBC churches were represented… you do the math; the percentage is extremely low! (2,000 / 45,000 = .0444)

And it is not like the SBC does not have the address to each and every SBC church… a simple mailing to each church with a place beside each article to mark “Approve” or “Disapprove” would settle this matter once and for all.

Grace to all,

R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade, as I mentioned, I don't disagree with you on the fact that SBC churches are not agreed on open/closed communion. I posted for information to "anonymous" on the history of the BF&M wording -- IOW, it is not something new in 2000. But since you mention the issue further, I do have a few more thoughts.

I personally think there is a lot of baggage and misinformation surrounding the Lord's Supper issue, and so prefer to usually speak in terms of unrestricted and restricted rather than open, close and closed. Related to participants, there are two basic types of communion, restricted and unrestricted. Unrestricted means there are absolutely no restrictions placed on who can take communion (Lord's Supper). It is seldom advocated in theory -- since all Christian denominations seem to acknowledge that it is for God's people and at least ideally restricted to them. But sometimes unrestricted communion is put into practice, based on the belief that the church/pastor has no right to determine who can participate. The practice is usually something like this -- the elements of bread and wine are offered to all, putting the onus of participation entirely on the communicant. This is practiced by Campbell/Restoration Movement churches in our area, and I assume it is practiced by some Baptists. Restricted means there are some restrictions; that is, requirements that must be met before one participates in communion -- salvation, baptism, church membership, godly walk, or some combination of the foregoing prerequisites. It is my opinion that the BF&M supports a communion restricted to baptized believers, with some vagueness as to whether they must be members of the church observing the ordinance (that is what folks around here mean by "closed communion"). It is my further opinion that the BF&M was intended to be deliberately vague on the church membership point (I am open to historical data that shows otherwise). Associations whose churches are agreed on closed communion usually write their communion statements with more specificity than the BF&M. For examples:

ABA Doctrinal Statement
Art. 18 "...The Lord's Supper is a memorial ordinance, restricted to the members of the church observing the ordinance."

BMAA Doctrinal Statement
Art. X. D. "Baptism is...prerequisite to church membership and participation in the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is the sacred sharing of the bread of communion and the cup of blessing by the assembled church as a memorial to the crucified body and shed blood of Jesus Christ. Both ordinances must be administered by the authority of a New Testament church."

blackhaw66 said...

G. Alford,

okay good point. But what is your suggestion to change this situation? It probably does need to change yet I do not know exactly how it should be done to meet the needs of both the churches and the SBC itself.


Bart Barber said...

For whatever it is worth to everyone, the Fort Worth Zoo was lovely this morning.

Wade, have I published some sort of Systematic Theology while I wasn't looking? You seem to know an awful lot about the intricate details of what I beleive. :-)

Dr. Welty makes my point so well, I think I'll just load up the kids and go back to the zoo, or maybe Chuck E. Cheese (a.k.a. Las Vegas for toddlers).

Colin said...


You did very good to avoid acknowledging or addressing Dr. Welty's points about doctrinal tiers in the confessions. We certainly would like a good interaction to his well worded comment.

I am curious, also, as to your innuendo as to where Dr. Welty is employed. Is your "IP Tracking" broken, did you forget all the good professor's former comments on this blog, or did you not click on the hyperlinked web page on his profile? I say bone up, brother. We're a week out, time to put on some pants.

G. Alford said...


Wow… me fix the SBC…

I’m not sure I would know where to start… But I am sure we have some very competent Southern Baptist Statesmen (the one’s who’s blog we are now on comes to mind) who are even as we discuss this working on some excellent solutions to better allow each and every Southern Baptist Church to participate fully in the life of the convention…

Grace to all,

Wade Burleson said...



I'm not sure the meaning of your last comment.



Wade Burleson said...


Good thoughts. I actually agree with your assessment.

My point is simply that disagreement with 'closed' communion should not exclude anyone from leadership.

blackhaw66 said...

G. Alford,

i was was not so much asking you and you alone to fix the SBC but just to offer a possible solution or maybe some possible solutions.

I am in the middle of this argument. I can see Wade and his argument. In fact I gre with a lot of it. However I can also see Bart Barber's and Dr. Welty's also. I am not sure exactly where the problem lies (partially because I do not know enough about hte politics of the SBC) but I can see the points on both sides. I would like to hear back from Dr. Welty sometime about my concern about someone sort of like me whose major concern is that the BF&M has gone too far in assigning some non 1st tier doctrines that status. I hope he is able to reply.


Greg Welty said...


You say that "discrepancies between it [the BFM] and the Abstract do not bother me."

I was under the impression that this alleged discrepancy bothers you very much. Indeed, it bothers you so much, you've already devoted an entire post to the alleged discrepancy between BFM III and Abstract VI. In addition, you brought up the issue again in this very comment thread, using it as a foundation for launching a *reductio ad absurdum* of Bart's view. Therefore, I'd say it ranks fairly high on your significance-scale, as you find it particularly useful for making broader points about consensus and cooperation. You make these points quite vigorously and bluntly. So I find it curious that you'd want to minimize the alleged discrepancy all of a sudden.

You say that "Only those who pretend there is no disagreement miss the point you are making." I've read this statement several times, and I can't make heads or tails of it. (I'm sure the problem is with me!) "The point" I have argued is that there is no discrepancy, so why would those who pretend there is no discrepancy miss my point that there is no discrepancy? You must be making some subtle point I haven't glommed onto yet.

You ask where I teach as a professor in Ft. Worth. Well, I think there's a link to my faculty webpage in my Blogger profile. I'm an assistant prof of philosophy of religion at SWBTS, and I'm embarking on my fifth year of teaching full-time here. If you really need to verify this, just send me an email at my faculty address on the webpage, and I'd be happy to ping you. I reserve the right to bow out of chronologically-onerous debates, of course :-)

You say that according to my statement, I "seem to believe the Baptist Faith and Message teaches that the infant is condemned EVEN THOUGH he has not personally sinned." Could you show me how my remarks even remotely imply this? For starters, the BFM isn't even addressing the matter of infants in section III; rather, it's speaking of those who "are capable of moral action." On my view, as I thought I explained clearly (but perhaps I didn't; if not, the fault is probably mine), the BFM III teaches that we are condemned for those actual transgressions we commit with our own moral capacity. It remains silent, however, on whether there are any additional grounds for condemnation (such as that specified in Abstract VI). So no, I don't believe that the BFM teaches that infants are condemned *even though* they have not personally sinned. (That's what the Abstract implies pretty clearly, though.) Rather, the BFM teaches that men are condemned on the basis of their personal sin. Did I not make that clear? I'm sorry if I didn't. My point is that these two grounds of condemnation, taught by the respective documents, are not in conflict with each other, as you seem to assume.

As for Bart, I think he is agreed with me that the BFM doesn't teach a thing about infants, much less that they are condemned apart from personal sin. As far as I know, then, he subscribes to BFM III perfectly well. If I had to submit a guess, it would be that he and I would part ways on Abstract VI, with him denying and me affirming. But that's neither here nor there, as far as I can tell, with respect to employment matters. We're at SWBTS, not SBTS.

You say: "My point is that when people start demanding conformity on every little nuance of a manmade confession you end up with the bizarre practice of people *interpreting* the confession (as you have done so quite eloquently here). [emphasis yours]"

I'm afraid that interpreting the confession is not some "bizarre" practice, but is as normal as the noonday sun. It is a text, is it not? Do not texts need to be interpreted? Indeed, when I was hired as a prof back in 2003, both Drs. Hemphill and Blaising quizzed me on nearly every section of the BFM. They wanted to know not just that I affirmed the sections, but what *I* believed those sections to teach. Providing my own interpretation of the BFM was a prerequisite for my being hired. I'm very grateful for that. I'm glad that, for instance, I have the assurance that I'm joined in ministry here with NT profs who not only believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but that that resurrection was something more than "he rose within my heart" :-)

It seems to me that the very thing you find distasteful about the role the BFM specifies for itself in the preamble, is in fact unavoidable. Let's say we go with your view. Let's say we whittle down the BFM to a set of "essentials" (or *recognize within* the BFM a set of "essentials"), where these are defined by *you*. All that's given us is a suitably reduced set of doctrines with which you are comfortable for the purpose of cooperation. Now, that's wonderful, but all it's going to take is a son-of-Burleson in the sweet by-and-by to rise up and say, with respect to *that* document of essentials, "Hey, wait a minute! Should we really be requiring *that* doctrine? I know people who are sincere Christians, but they disagree with me about this. This document of alleged essentials isn't really the essentials at all. There are tertiary doctrines here. Let me name them..." And so we're back at the beginning. The long and short of it is that any believer can *always* say, of *any* document, that it contains more than what he deems "essential" for cooperation.

What stops this infinite regress, and its associated ecclesiastical futility, is for the convention to *render a judgment* -- fallible though it may be -- as to the bare minimum for cooperation. As the preamble says, citing in part the 1963 committee:

"Our living faith is established upon eternal truths. 'Thus this generation of Southern Baptists is in historic succession of intent and purpose as it endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us.'"

You might think the BFM 2000 is sadly *not* a statement of "those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us." For (in your view) it contains things that are not so sure to everyone. It "goes too far," in Blackhaw66's words. But if that's the case, certainly you are aware that there are already mechanisms in place to address the situation as you see fit. You seek to persuade others by any lawful means of your point of view, and you seek a revision of the BFM at the convention level, on the assumption that what a previous "generation of Southern Baptists" believed to be essential is no longer representative of your own generation. That is your right. But I'm afraid that's the route that should be taken. It just doesn't seem credible to me to present the BFM as a mixture of essential and tertiary doctrines. For the purpose of cooperation, the document on its own terms is pretty clear here, as I've tried to bring out.

Thanks for the interaction. There are a few more comments out there for me to consider, but dinner and three sons beckons :-)


Though we've differed on some issues, I must admit that you'v held your ground well on this string of comments. This conversation is essential and I believe the people will rise up and speak at this convention. We've defeated liberalsim and now it's time to defeat legalism (or as one mentor of mine put it "cookie cutter christianity".

The difficulty is in coming to an agreement on what is "legalism". Just as there was a struggle to define "liberalism".

Anonymous said...

The original post stated:

There are no more classic liberals in the SBC . . .

That may be technically true.

But in a practical sense, every time you open the paper, turn on the TV or radio, or go on the internet, liberalism is rearing it's ugly head, whether in the form of ordinary visual pornography or verbal pornography, like the Democrats this past weekend attacking our President for defending our nation against those who hate our freedoms and faith and seek to destroy it, or coming from people who have strayed from the truth, like Jimmy Carter, who has spent so much time listening to liberal propaganda that some of it sank in.

Our vigil against liberalism must be 24/7.

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks Chris.

Pastor Chuck Bryce said...

Gary Ledbetter, SBTC

Thanks for correcting/clarifying someone's error on the SBCT stance. Our church is considering cooperating with the SBCT.

As a helpful insight for us, and many others on this blog, would you mind telling us, in your own personal opinion, not necessarily an official SBCT statement, the answer to these questions:

What is your opinion of the narrowing of the parameters for service beyond the scope of the BFM2K? Do you believe that adding doctrinal positions beyond the BFM2K is a reasonable action for an SBC entity or is it a dangerous move toward legalism?

I would greatly respect and appreciate your input. Take as much lattitude in answering as you like. Rephrase the questions if you like but give me a big picture of how you see these issues.

Chuck Bryce
Dacus Baptist Church

Wade Burleson said...


You write, "I was under the impression that this alleged discrepancy bothers you very much. Indeed, it bothers you so much, you've already devoted an entire post to the alleged discrepancy between BFM III and Abstract VI. In addition, you brought up the issue again in this very comment thread, using it as a foundation for launching a *reductio ad absurdum* of Bart's view. Therefore, I'd say it ranks fairly high on your significance-scale, as you find it particularly useful for making broader points about consensus and cooperation"

Ah, Greg, you must not know me well! It is no big deal to me, but you, Bart and other SWBTS are proving to others that it is a huge deal to you.




Wade Burleson said...


Great questions!

I look forward to the responses as much as you.

Debbie said...

Anonymous: You said "Our vigil against liberalism must be 24/7", That's the problem I think, that is what produces a let's "nip it in the bud"(Dr. Barney Fife)mentality which then produces what issues we are up against today. Senator Joe McCarthy had that attitude in the famous McCarthy senate hearings as well as when we put all Japanese into concentration camps just in case.

Now you may cite those examples as extreme, but when someone is fired from the SBC that sir is a hurtful and damaging thing no different than the above and if we do that now, it would be for a "just in case" and we should be on guard 24/7. IOW I disagree.

Anonymous said...

One final question just for my own curiosity.

Would it be OK with you if a Semi-Pelagian taught at Southern?

Mike Ruffin said...

IMHO, we're fiddling while Rome burns. In other words, it makes a lot of difference to a starving child in Darfur or to a lost soul in Augusta or to a victim of oppression in the Middle East whether or not we apply the BFM correctly.

On the other hand, it just might make all the difference in the world (or the next) to them whether or not we work together with any and all who profess Christ as Savior to take the good news of Jesus Christ to them.

Bart Barber said...


I think our problem in the "you think it is a big deal...no YOU think it is a big deal" is in the undefined antecedent of the pronoun it. Let me make an attempt toward good communication.

You think that some contradiction exists between the two documents. We think that no contradiction actually exists between the two. That question, whether the documents contradict, seems to be a big deal to you, because you are the only person I know of in the SBC who ever asserts it, and you have done so multiple times.

On the other hand, assuming that there is a contradiction (which I do not accept), that would be no big deal to you but would indeed be a big deal to me. For any person or institution to hold opposite positions simultaneously is insane. Insanity is a big deal.

Of course, it is a non-issue, because the two documents do not contradict. My assertion of that fact is the point that is a big deal for you, if I read you correctly.

...on the way out the door for visitation.

davidinflorida said...

They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47....

no FM, no Boards, no Convention, no seminaries, no theologians.

Anonymous said...

Debbie said:

Senator Joe McCarthy had that attitude in the famous McCarthy Senate hearings as well as when we put all Japanese into concentration camps just in case.

Anonymous replies.

But thanks to great Americans and good conservatives like Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon, we got Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss, cleaned out the State department, and eventually defeated godless communism.

And in WW II, we had no incidents on the West Coast as we feared.

Experience shows that in the long run, vigilance pays off.

Wade Burleson said...

Dr. Barber,

Dr. Nettles of Southern disagrees with your assessment and I think you may be seriously surprised (like you seemingly were surprised about the outcome of the Lifeway survey) at the number of Southern employees who see inconsistency, if not downright disagreement, between the two documents on the fall of man.

Of course, if you admit this, your belief in an inerrant BFM 2000 and the 'accountability' it should bring collapses.

Have a great evening.



Anonymous said...


To go along with your rational that--To affirm that you agree with the document in order to obtain a position of service, although you actually do not agree with the document, is (to put a fine point on it) lying--then let me encourage you to think about something.

Dr. Patterson once had to sign a historical Southern Baptist document called the Abstract of Princples.

A document that states "The Lord's Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be administered with the elements of bread and wine..."

wine, my brother

A document that states "Election is God's eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life, not because of foreseen merit in them, but of His mere mercy in Christ...

"mere" mercy, my brother

A document that states "Election is God's eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life...in consequence of which choice they are called, justified and glorified.

"called", by brother (and if authorial intent is taken into consideration, my suspician is that you know exactly what call this is talking about)

Did Dr. Patterson believe these things all the while he was president of Southeastern Seminary?

Wade Burleson said...


You ask if I would be bothered if a semi-Pelagian taught at Southern? I guess my only response would be Semi-Pelagians not only taught at Southern, some even became President at Southern (i.e. E.Y. Mullins). It is of no concern to me, even though I adhere personally to the Abstract.

Anonymous said...

What are the Professors names who see a conflict between the Abstract and BFM 2000?

Wade Burleson said...

Well, Mr. Anonymous, I am as interested in giving you names as you are giving me your name. :)

OC Hands said...

At the risk of distracting some from this discussion, I would like to encourage you to visit Guy Muse's blog and rejoice with him over new churches being started. You may visit here:

or here:

Viewing the results of faithful mission service always inspires me. Let's give thanks to the Lord for faithful servants like Guy and Linda Muse.

Wade Burleson said...

A Confession should be for the purpose of setting the minimum boundaries for gospel cooperation.

We don't need to tighten our major convention confessions beyond those issues that unite us in gospel ministry and gospel proclamation.

OC Hands said...

Sorry I am not able to fix the links :-{

Wade Burleson said...

OC Hands,

Thanks for the reminder of what is important.

I wish this is all we would talk about, but some seem to wish to focus on non-essentials by banning certain interpretations that don't conform to their ideology.

Our missions funding mechanism is called the Cooperative Program not the Conformity Program.

I think progress is being made to understand the difference.

Anonymous said...

I am not the one putting words in the mouths of denominational employees. I'm just an interested student.

So help me understand you think it is a mistake for an entity to adopt a confessional statement as strict as the Abstract?

What would be enough? The Apostles Creed, Nicea or Chalcedon? Is it appropriate to make a statement saying Baptism should be by immersion as opposed to effusion?

Wade Burleson said...


When it is a confession that is the basis for BROAD cooperation, keep it BROAD.

If it is a seminary, and there are SIX from which to choose in the SBC, tighten the insitutional confession as tight as your heart desires -- people can always go to another seminary. But when you tighten the general confession, you force people to other Baptist denominations.

Greg Welty said...

I don't know, Wade. It's just... weird. I've offered an argument that the BFM and Abstract of Principles are compatible. I've directly addressed your contention that there's some sort of a problem here. I gave details. Do you have anything to say in response? Anything at all? It's clear that both documents give a ground for condemnation (Abstract: our sin in Adam; BFM: our actual transgressions). What isn't clear at all is how this constitutes contradiction. Your stance that there is said contradiction is the centerpiece of your continuing challenge to Bart. The fact that you decline to interact with the arguments you've been given is, well, mystifying. Isn't it a tad bit over-reverent of you to simply invoke the worthy name of Nettles and just move on? ;-)

And your reply as to how and for whom all this is a "big deal" is likewise mystifying to me. I guess I'm not grasping some subtle form of argument in which you are engaged. I plainly explained my position on this. It is allegedly "no big deal" to you, and yet you repeatedly bring up the issue when convenient. It's, I guess, *sort of* an interesting issue to me, but when I state my case on how the matter can be easily resolved, you decline to respond.

I guess I see your point: 'There's a lot at stake if there's a contradiction here! You could end up firing all the profs at Southern! Don't you care about that? What about the CHILDREN? I hope you can sleep well at night!' Well, OK. But you could say that about just anybody in the SBC. I mean, if there's an internal contradiction in the BFM (or in, ahem, the set of essential doctrines contained within the BFM), then I guess we're *all* in trouble. So what? What matters is whether he who asserts can prove. And I don't think you've come close to doing that, for the reasons I've given.

Ah, well, I get what I pay for :-)

Greg Welty said...

Wade, you wrote:

"If it is a seminary, and there are SIX from which to choose in the SBC, tighten the insitutional confession as tight as your heart desires -- people can always go to another seminary."

This is a bit unrealistic, is it not? I regularly encounter students who are simply too poor to pick up stakes and move to another city. The nearest seminary to which they can commute is their only real option.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Burleson your last statement helps me.

Wade Burleson said...

Dr. Welty,

Our church helps our members attend the seminary of their choice. We sent one to Louisville last Friday, have two at SWBTS, and would help our members attend any seminary of their choice.

By the way, the insitutional confessions and known soteriological views of the faculty have played a role in choices of several of our members. And, as you know, there are differences in each insitution.

Wade Burleson said...


You have yet to answer my question. A simple 'yes' or 'no' will suffice.

Does the BFM 2000 teach that when an infant dies in infancy without committing any personal sin, the condemnation and judgment of God falls on that infant for the sin of Adam?

Respectfully Greg, I ask you to answer "yes," or "no."


Wade Burleson said...

I'm waiting . . .

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

Soory I've been out of pocket and missed your little conversation. Know also the definition you left behind for me to consider only complicates things.

It is yet another definiton of F/fundamentalist: "A Fundamentalist is one who will separate in fellowship and cooperation with a fellow evangelical over tertiary doctrinal or ethical issues."

A few posts back, a Fundamentalist possessed 7 characteristics. Now he/she only possesses one. And even in this post, you've added the descriptive "classic."

Wade, for the life of me, I simply do not know how you come up with so many descriptions of the same phenomenon and expect someone to take your analysis seriously.

Sometimes it appears these posts are the work of a team of people, attempting to stay spot on, but inevitably their varying ideologies bleed through. Perhaps some of your posts could qualify for a Redaction Criticism seminar.

Maybe it's just me. My age, I guess.

Nonetheless, I am wondering if anyone can produce just one scholarly treatise that will speak of "classic" Fundamentalism as other than the historic fundamentalism during the first quarter of the 20th century. Most of us in the SBC would embrace, in broad terms, Classic Fundamentalism.

Yet in this post "classic Fundamentalism" is repeatedly mangled in with Fundamentalist ideology. I just don't get it.

In addition, Wade, you insist that "under no circumstances would I ever be in favor of removing classic Fundamentalists from the SBC." My question is why not? By your own words you emphatically "[believe] their views to be just as dangerous as liberal views to the advancement of the true gospel of Jesus Christ."

That's the very reason, Wade, it is blatantly contradictory to conclude as do you "let me say as clearly as I can that I welcome all Fundamentalists in the SBC -- but I will do everything I can to insure that Fundamentalism as a philosophy does not drive the train."

First, some of us would like to know how is it that you can welcome those who embrace views that are just as "dangerous as liberal views to the advancement of the true gospel of Jesus Christ."

If the Gospel is threatened by ANY GROUP, what the heck are we doing allowing them to drink from our well? From my perspective, it is unmitigated nonsense to, in the name of cooperation, tolerate, within our fellowship, ANY who, in reality, truly threatens the advancement of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Period.

For our sakes, could you please give us reasons why we ought to embrace those that threaten the Gospel's advancement? I'm all ears.

Secondly, Wade, you insist to the "nth" degree that "I will do everything I can to insure that Fundamentalism as a philosophy does not drive the train."

My last question is, could you please explain, Wade, how barring Fundamentalists--those who embrace the idea of Fundamentalism--a place at the table is different from the charge you level now against the current SBC leadership from allegedly barring those with PPLs a place at the table? Both embrace ideas--the one, Fundamentalism & the other, PPL--yet you argue for one's presence and not the other.

The kicker is, the present SBC leadership, it could be argued, is humorously alot like you, Wade. The difference is, you think Fundamentalism is a danger to the advancement of the Gospel. They, however, think perhaps PPLs are a danger to the advancement of the Gospel.

Go figure. :^(

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


G. Alford said...


I think that much progress could be made in healing the SBC by NOT narrowing the parameters of cooperation like some seek to do… But instead increasing the level of cooperation by fully and directly including all Southern Baptist and all Southern Baptist Churches in the life of the Convention…

Grace to all,

Wade Burleson said...


The reason Fundamentalist ideology should not drive our train is PRECISELY because they desire to boot people out of missions service and ministry cooperation.

Your usual logic has failed you this time, quite miserably.

I wish Fundamentalists to serve on the mission field with everyone else. But Fundamentalists wish to exclude people with a private prayer language from serving with them on the mission field.

If you can't see the difference between the two I will never be able to help you my dear brother . . .

But I'll still cooperate with you :)



RKSOKC66 said...


Dr. Welty has not answered. However, even a dumb layman like me can answer this.

The answer is NO.

The BF&M 2000 -- in Section "III Man" says that sin happens by "free choice" and that a person has to be "capable of moral judgment" to sin. Infants don't have "free choice" or any other kind of choice regarding sin. Also, they are not "capable of moral judgment".

I don't see how anyone could possibly answer your question "YES".

I don't know if the BF&M 2K is correct or not. But assuming it is correct then infants can't sin.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…

Gary Ledbetter of SBTC, how can you say, “The SBTC did not exist in October 1998”?

Ronnie Yarber, SBTC administrative director said: “Although the constitutional convention November 10 [1998] will mark the official launch of the new convention, it has been in operation since January. We’re 10 months old. The baby’s learning to walk well. Then it will run and produce.”

Gary, do you know what Yarber meant when he said the baby's learning to walk and will run and produce?

I known you won’t admit it, but the “baby” was going all over Texas meeting in churches and inviting others to attend to ‘learn’ why they should withdraw from the old convention and join the new.

The “baby” produced the lies and slander of the Plumbline for evidence. It got so bad the old convention formed a committee with a motto of saying, “Enough is enough” in trying to counter the slander by the new convention.

The Baptist Standard printed a letter of mine saying:

How can we show love for our Christian brother by Moderates telling Conservatives, ‘I’m sorry my nose got blood on your fist’ when they’re really thinking: ‘Enough is enough!’?

So, the bottom line of your “historical note” is much like the untruth shown by the SBTC in trying to eliminate the old convention.

I noticed you did NOT defend the statements of the Executive Director of the SBTC, Jim Richards which reflected the stance of the convention.

Anonymous said...

Gene Bridges: Where are you? Can you bring balance to Greg Welty's several comments here? Please advise--thanks!

David Troublefield
Wichita Falls, TX

Wade Burleson said...


Thank you, sir, for answering my question to Dr. Welty. You have concluded, as have I, that anyone with a modicum of reading comprehension understands that you are absolutely correct.

The answer to my question to Dr. Welty is . . .


The BFM 2000 does not teach that an infant is condemned for Adam's sin.

However, the Abstract does.

This is no big deal to me, but the reason Bart and Greg will not answer this question is because once they admit the BFM 2000 contains a contradiction to what the Abstract states, then you have leaders in the SBC, and two SBC confessions, that disagree on a minor point of doctrine.

If that is the case, then there is 'instant' proof that SBC'rs with differing views on tertiary issues, and different allegiences to confessions (SWBTS to the BFM 2000, and SBTS and SEBTS to the Abstract), CAN STILL COOPERATE IN THE AREA OF MISSIONS AND BOTH BE CONSIDERED CONSERVATIVE, EVANGELICAL SOUTHERN BAPTISTS even though they disagree with tertiary doctrines -- we all agree on the essentials of the faith.

That's what I have been saying for a year and a half.

peter lumpkins said...


To simply pronounce someone's logic a miserable failure is not the same, of course, as demonstrating it so. It is though the usual practise of politicians. Why I am shocked you would use it, my brother. But then again...

And, of course, I do not recall ever asking for your assistance. But maybe I missed something.

I trust you possess a good evening. With that, I am...


Wade Burleson said...

The same to you Peter. Have a great evening.

By the way, we are even steven as they say!

You never asked for my assistance, and I never asked you for your comments.

However, I'm sure, just as I have thanked you for your comments, you will one day thank me for my assistance.


Anonymous said...

Greg Welty,

The intent of an Abstract of Principles or similar thing in hiring seminary faculty should be to aid in assuring a faculty with a certain compatibility of belief with the core beliefs of the denomination. It is difficult, if not impossible, to craft a comprehensive document that is without error (in an absolute sense) or to EXACTLY fit the present beliefs of a vast number of people. This, I think, is Wade's point.

Therefore, such documents should not be used as litmus tests without allowance for a person to explain how he/she differs with it to the best of their present understanding, and for allowance to be made for reasonable explanations. When one accepts this, the intuitively absurd notion that the entire Southern Seminary faculty should properly be fired for some such discovered infraction easily follows.

My proof of an "error" in the 2000 BFM is in the section on the church where it implies one mark of a New Testament church is one that operates "through democratic processes." I am all for democratic processes, of course. I just don't think that the first century churches operated through democratic processes in any sense like we understand the term today.

R. Grannemann

CB Scott said...

Any theological document produced from the minds of humans is going to be lacking in some area.

Only the Scripture is without error.

We debated this last year. Brad Reynolds was among those involved.

Surely no seminary faculty of this present time would say anything other than Scripture is without error.

Tripp said...

I have read for some time now the thoughts of Mr. Burleson. While I believe that he has the best interest of the Convention in mind, I must say that some of what he says concerns me.

I have always found the term "cooperation" to be a loosely defined word. Mr. Burleston likes to use the term "conservative cooperation". In this, he implys that conservatives need to have a spirit of "cooperation" instead of a spirit of "conformity". (As if conformity is a bad word.)

I have always found though that those calling for cooperation usually want that cooperation to exist in the manner they define and with the perimeters they set. For example, Mr. Burleston says he is willing to work with Fundamentalists. Yet, in the next sentence he defines how those Fundamentalists must act if they want his "cooperation".

Mr. Burleston thus is left setting the rules when it comes to how the cooperation will work. In my opinion, that isn't cooperation at all. Instead, it is a smokescreen for the agenda Mr. Burleston wishes to have accomplished.

I am all for cooperation as long as cooperation doesn't take precedent over truth. Unity at the expense of truth is not unity at all.

Wade Burleson said...

R. Granneman,

Nobody has said it better. Thanks.

Wade Burleson said...


Few have said it worse. :) Wink.

Thanks anyway.

Jack Maddox said...


Your misrepresentation of the heart of Jim Richards is about as far off as you have ever been my friend. I have sat and talked with Jim. He is very aware of much of the abuses in rhetoric (not unlike your own) that was spewed by many conservatives in those early days. With the ministry of Jim Richards as our ExD all of that came to an end by his own edict. It is very strict SBTC policy not to decry or even speak against our sister convention in Texas. We will clarify our differences as they apply to doctrinal accountability, but we do not attack or demean the BGCT. Can the same thing be said of the BGCT?

Regardless of your personal rant and opinion of Dr. Richards I rather doubt you know him at all. He is the consonant Christian gentleman, Baptist statesman, and friend to preachers, church's and Southern Baptists alike. I challenge you; again I say I challenge you to find one time he has spoken with the degree of shrillness and un Christ like rhetoric that you have shown him. I rather doubt that you can. In fact, you will not find anywhere that an unkind word from a SBTC official is used towards the BGCT in any official capacity. To claim otherwise is simply dishonest.

by the way Rex...are you a member of FBC Ector? If you are I am proud to know that your church is a member of the SBTC! So if you are, and if you are not I apologize, why are you a member of a church that cooperates with the likes of Jim Richards. Again, if you are not a member of your towns FBC then I will gladly wipe the egg from my face.

However, my above challenge stands.


peter lumpkins said...

Daer Wade,

Good morning. I trust your night well. As for asking for my comment, Wade, I thought you had an open invitation to me to comment here as long and as much as I please. I can copy/paste it for you if you like.

And know I thank you for that too. Your bud Ben won't let me comment at all (he thinks my ears are too long) and Marty got ticked Saturday at me and strongly suggested I go away.

As for me one day thanking you for what you are doing in the convention, I doubt that. The SBC has been pillaged enough. I cannot imagine that day will come when I am thankful it is pillaged even more. Nor am I interested in going back to Egypt for garlic and onions which, if I understand your position, Wade, is precisely what we'll be doing.

The pre-79 convention was headed toward a quasi-Christianish denomination. What you appear to be prescribing is a quasi-evangelicalish denomination. My own hope is we will be an historic Baptist denomination of believers.

Now if you would answer the questions I posed to you, rather than slickly get us side-tracked, I would appreciate it.

Grace. With that, I am...


Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
Jack Maddox…
A CHALLENGE? Is that swords or pistols? I never was good with a sword, and last week I missed a varmint at 10 yards with a shotgun but I did hit my barn.

I would suggest using lots of soap for egg removal on face as I belong to New Zion Baptist Church (BGCT) where I was a charter member in 1944.

I graduated from Ector High School in 1950, and have many friends and kinsmen at FBC Ector. They helped build our new church and even built a 37’ climbing wall in our gym. I chose one of their members to help remodel Tokyo Baptist Church in Japan, and also tape and bed 3 houses for the SBC. We have worked together on several local churches.

BTW, this member gave me the October Plumbline that was passed out by the SBTC at a local church meeting.
He believed no Christian would promote pornography and asked for proof. They replied they had proof but never produced any.
Ector church was persuaded to join them. Their pastor (no longer there) was raised as an ‘independent’ Baptist, and announce I would not be welcomed as a member since I put 8 pages I had written on their windshields in 1999. (I gave the same article to Patterson.)

Jack, I admire your standing up for Jim Richards that you believe in.
It is true that I do not know the man. All I know is what he said. If he has changed his mind and the ways that the SBTC has operated, then that is good also, but how about an apology?
How about telling their churches that they left the BGCT by believing falsehood?

It seems like my twin brother squirting water through his teeth into my face and then yelling, “Peace! Let’s have peace!”

You say, “He is very aware of much of the abuses in rhetoric that was spewed by many conservatives in those early days.”

Jack, do you know how long the abuse of untruth will last? Two years ago our pastor left for a larger church, and the question was asked if our church wanted to look for a pastor from the SBTC or the BGCT.
One member said he did not want one from a convention that backed homosexuality. He was told that neither convention was for that, but do you think that changed his mind?

You say, “Again I say I challenge you to find one time he has spoken with the degree of shrillness and un Christ like rhetoric that you have shown him.”

Let’s see now. I quoted what he said, and you said I showed him “shrillness and un Christ like rhetoric.” Looks to me like you are codenaming his words to be shrillness and un-Christ like rhetoric.

Jack, I know that I’m a ‘black sheep’ on Wade’s blog, but I’ll tell you black sheep bleed just like white sheep.

Wade Burleson said...

Ah, Peter, good morning to you as well. Of course you are free to comment here. It is implied, but as you know I never specifically offered to you a personal invitation to comment, just as you never specifically offered me a request for assistance -- but both are honored and accepted.

Blessings, to you.

Now, I am on my way to Bible study to disciple about forty men I have won to Christ over the years. Therefore, I will leave you with just two links that sums up the philosopy of Fundamentalism and the reason it should not drive the train of the SBC.

Independent Fundamentalism and the SBC

Why Fundamentalism Must Be Defined in the SBC

Have a great day!


Bart Barber said...

"Inerrant BFM" ?????

Reading the comments, I learn that somehow I believe in an inerrant BF&M and an infallible Paige Patterson!

Folks, those aren't just red herrings; those represent the kind of libelous labeling that is the recourse of those with weak arguments. The Bible alone among writings is inerrant; God alone is good and infallible. While we're speaking about lying, anyone who says that I believe otherwise is lying about me and owes me an apology.

I believe simply this: To feign agreement with a statement of faith with which you do not actually agree merely in order to obtain a job or hold a position amounts to the prostitution of one's faith and the deception of one's brothers.

The only relevance of this whole discussion about the Abstract and the BF&M is this: Dr. Welty has ended once-and-for-all the discussion about whether it is possible to agree with both documents. He agrees with both documents; therefore, it is possible. I will leave each reader to evaluate Dr. Welty's rationale—I find it quite cogent.

Is it possible to choose to interpret both documents in such a way as to make them contradict? Wade, you have demonstrated once-and-for-all that such an interpretation is also possible.

But these are the decisions of conscience. As such, they have nothing to do with my resolution, which says absolutely nothing about any particular vein of construing any confessional documents. Rather, it merely highlights two critical facts:

1. Our entities, for as long as we have had entities, have had binding theological parameters beyond the Baptist Faith and Message.

2. However one interprets these parameters, to feign agreement to obtain a position and then proclaim disagreement once secure in your position is dishonesty.

That is the point of the resolution. All else is subterfuge to take the discussion away from those points.

Wade Burleson said...

Bart, you said,

The Bible alone among writings is inerrant; God alone is good and infallible

But these are the decisions of conscience

Careful now, you are beginning to sound like me. :)


Wade Burleson said...

One other thing Bart, could you point out one person, just one, who 'feigns' agreement with the BFM to get a position?

I am happily pointing out to you several people by name who disagree with minor doctrines of the BFM (closed communion, the innocency of infants, etc . . .), but yet you have refused to point out one person who disagrees with the major doctrines of the BFM, but acts as if they do to obtain a position?

:) Think hard.

If you can't, then like what I said to those on the IMB who wish to pass new policies without any anecdotal evidence of a problem, what is the purpose?

It would seem to me the purpose is to exalt a confessional document on par with the inerrant Scripture.

God forbid.

Without allowing people to affirm the major, essential doctrines of the BFM, while expressing disagreement with 'closed communion,' and 'the innocency of infants,' you make a confession a creed -- and you cease being Baptist.



Anonymous said...


I never said that you believed Dr. Patterson was infallible. I asked you a question. If Patterson agreed with everything in the Abstract while president then please let us know.

My concern is consistency. Is there going to be one rule for someone like Burleson and another rule for someone like Patterson in relation to signing documents that they cannot agree to every jot and tittle of?

Burleson doesn't agree with everything in the BF&M 2000. And I seriously doubt Patterson believed all of the Abstract while president of Southeastern.

Yes, I know the two documents are different. But I am talking about principle.

Is there going to be a club for Burleson's head, but a pat on the back for people like Patterson?

Bart Barber said...


My resolution contains no caveats. It is merely a consistent expression of principles that apply equally to all.

Earlier in this comment stream I asserted that I did not know whether Wade Burleson has ever violated these principles. I now assert that I likewise do not know whether Dr. Patterson has ever done so.

I am not a fan of situation ethics. I authored the proposed resolution based upon principles, not personalities. I think that the SBC should evaluate the resolution based upon the same methodology.

Bart Barber said...


It is my privilege to sound just like you in all of those areas where you speak the truth. One of the truly unfortunate aspects of the past couple of years is the fact that you have campaigned and I have responded regarding disproportionately those areas in which we disagree.

Perhaps I can illustrate my understanding of the role of the BF&M in this manner—one with which most church-going folk ought to be able to relate.

The Pastor Job Description at First Baptist Church of Farmersville is not an inerrant document. I do not elevate it to some position equivalent to scripture. I do not consider myself bound to agree with it or to follow it. It has no hold upon my conscience.

But, it does indeed constitute a part of the terms of employment between me and the people of First Baptist Church of Farmersville. Although I have perfect liberty to disagree with the document, should I choose to exercise that liberty, I am under obligation to acknowledge that I have abrograted my agreement with the church. Such a disagreement may have consequences upon our relationship. Nevertheless, may God grant me the courage to be honest with them about my convictions and rest in His providence for the outcome.

Bart Barber said...


Why the resolution? I will give no list of names. I am on no witch hunt. The reason for my resolution is simple—another resolution giving a different interpretation of the role of the BF&M has been asserted this year. I believe it to be a poor conception of the role of this document. I have advanced a document articulating what I believe to be a better view. It is really just that simple.

Amy Downey said...

I read the post and I have read all 198 comments. I write this with a great deal of trepidation because I know that I could possibly be villified but after reading everything the following memory popped into my head.

On March 9, 1994, I was a 2nd semester student at SWBTS. I was aware of the controversy but was naive enough to hope for the best. Russell Dilday was fired at around noon that day. At about 2 p.m. the worst excuse for a meeting with students and the press was held. Everyone behaved horribly -- students, trustees, faculty, press.

But what stands out to me the most is the response that the chairman of the trustees gave to a student who asked why were the students not given a voice in the decision. Mr. Pulley responded by saying, "We know what is best for you."

Reading through Wade's responses(dare I write the word smug?), to Bart and others this same memory came to my mind. Why? It is because a self-proclaimed group has seemingly decided that they will save the SBC from itself. (Quick side note -- please do not make a comparison to 1979 as this is a completely different animal)

Please note that I believe that some changes are needed in the SBC. More than just lip service to the cause of Jewish evangelism is for me one of the primary issues. However, I am not comfortable with a small group, including someone with a personal and mean-spirited vendetta, leading this charge.

This is simply my opinion and I am sure that Wade would fight for my right to express it fully and without repercussions. Correct, Wade?

Bart Barber said...


<Feeble Attempt at Humor>
Villify you? You are the coveted independent! Partisans on all sides will fête you incessantly until somebody has your vote for San Antonio. :-)

Now seriously, what's your favorite restaurant?
</Feeble Attempt at Humor>

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