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

On Caveats, Consistency and Good Compromise

There has been a particularly thoughtful dialogue over at SBC Outpost on a problem identified by Alan Cross as "Gnostic Creedalism Creeping into the SBC." Alan says,

There are voices of substantial weight in SBC life who are telling us that there is a “Clear Baptist Identity” beyond what is articulated in the BF&M. When we ask what it is, they tell us that it involves doctrine regarding the church, private prayer language, and baptism, among other things. It has shown up in actions taken by trustee boards of our entities. But, this “Clear Baptist Identity” is known as being absolute nowhere else in Baptist life, least of all in our confession of faith.

Dr. Greg Welty, a professor at Southwestern Seminary and one who believes that the BFM 2000 should serve as the minimum doctrinal standard of cooperation and that SBC agencies and institutions should have every right to add other doctrinal requisites as they please, responds to Alan's concerns by bringing yours truly into the conversation. Dr. Welty says,

Wade speaks of dividing up the BFM into “essentials” and “non-essentials”. But the BFM says in its own preamble that the doctrines contained within it “are doctrines we hold precious and as *essential* to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice”

Dr. Welty must be referring to the two minor points of doctrine in the BFM 2000 that I have publicly stated disagreement over. The BFM 2000 teaches 'closed communion' and I and my church both believe and practice 'modified open communion.' The BFM 2000 also teaches God does not condemn a human until that human being personally and actually sins, but I and my church congregation both teach and believe that condemnation comes to every human being because of the sin of one man (Adam) regardless of personal or actual sins. Personal sins only compound the judgment already in place.

I believe that the majority of Southern Baptists agree with me on the first caveat, and probably close to a majority of Southern Baptists agree with me on the second caveat. My point is simply that there is disagreement on these two minor doctrines among Southern Baptists. However, I believe these two disagreements illustrate the difference between a confession and a creed. You can't disagree with a creed and keep your denominational identity. But since Baptists are a confessional people, and the BFM 2000 is a confession, cooperation can occur in the midst of minor differences over doctrines that are not essential to the Christian faith or Baptist identity. The two tertiary doctrines I have identified in the BFM 2000 are examples of how not every doctrine in the BFM 2000 is an essential doctrine of the faith or Southern Baptist identity. I have a sneaking suspicion the majority of Southern Baptists would agree with me, because many of us are beginning to awaken to one of the major problems in our convention in recent years: Some Southern Baptists are attempting to make every doctrine an 'essential' doctrine and removing people who disagree. Even the BFM 2000 in its preamble states:

That the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience.

When I, or anyone else for that matter, expresses written caveats to the BFM 2000 on minor doctrines, we are displaying a clear Southern Baptist identity. :) But here is where the rub comes: What doctrines are to be considered 'minor' and 'who' is the ultimate final authority on the subject? Dr. Welty asks these same questions in a little more accusatory tone when he says to Alan:

You want the BFM to be a maximal standard, beyond which no one can go, but you can’t even manage to affirm it as a *minimal* standard! Which position shows less respect for the BFM? I’ll let you make that call. . . If you and others don’t come clean about these palpable inconsistencies in your position, it’s going to be hard to take your criticisms seriously.

In reading all the comments offered by Dr. Welty, I can't help but feel he must be confusing Alan Cross with me. Poor Alan. :)

Alan has never given any written caveats to the BFM 2000. I have. So, to me, it seems rather silly for Dr. Welty to ask Alan to 'come clean.' However, since Dr. Welty has used me as the example of someone who 'can't even manage to affirm the BFM 2000 as a *minimal* standard' I think I will answer his charge of 'inconsistency' and show how we as Southern Baptists can be very consistent in this matter of who the ultimate authority is regarding the doctrinal boundaries of cooperation.

The messengers of the SBC make the decision on who should serve as trustees of their insitutions, not fellow trustees (at least, that is the way it is supposed to work). If a trustee has caveats to the BFM 2000, then that trustee should make those known to the convention as a whole, and if the convention wishes for that person to continue to serve as a trustee, even with his stated caveats, then let them give their approval.

The same should be true of any board of trustees who wishes to go beyond the BFM 2000 in establishing doctrinal requisites for Southern Baptist cooperation.

By the way, the boards of trustees of SBC agencies and entities have already been advised by the convention to bring all doctrinal requisites beyond the BFM 2000 to the convention for approval. This is clearly what the Garner motion was all about -- and it passed by a 58% majority of voting messengers. I expect boards who take seriously the wishes of the convention to do just as the convention asked.

And by the way, I have absolutely no problem falling under the same rules. I should be brought before the convention. In fact, I predict I will be brought before the convention in two years when I am up for renomination as a trustee of the IMB. My written disagreements regarding two minor doctrines in the BFM 2000 are known, and will be made known. Let's see whether the convention votes to keep me as a trustee. If the convention determines I should serve, we will all know, by that one act, that the BFM 2000 is a confession, not a creed, and cooperation in the SBC is around the gospel and the essential doctrines of the faith with room for disagreement over minor doctrines.

I, of course, will abide by the convention's wishes since I am a duly elected trustee of the SBC. Likewise, every other duly elected trustee, and trustee boards as a whole, should also abide by the wishes of our convention. In light of the adoption of the Garner motion at the 2007 convention, every SBC board of trustees should make it their official practice to never implement doctrinal requisites that exceed the BFM 2000 without first getting convention approval.

That, Dr. Welty, is consistency. And I think you will find that a 'Clear Baptist Identity' will be discovered in the process. Baptists are people who affirm the essentials of the faith, but give freedom to disagree in areas of non-essentials, for we are a confessional people, not a creedal people.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

75 comments:

Tim Guthrie said...

Wade,
Wow, I am first this time. Your post contained the following statement made by you: "By the way, the boards of trustees of SBC agencies and entities have been advised by the convention to bring all doctrinal requisites beyond the BFM 2000 for convention approval. This is clearly what the Garner motion was all about -- and it passed by a 58% majority of voting messengers. I expect boards who take seriously the wishes of the convention to do just as the convention asked."

My question is this - if your presentation of the Garner motion says that the SBC adviced the Trustees to do something, how can this be in relation to Bylaw 26B of the SBC which says the following: "Procedure for Motions of Messengers Concerning Entities: Motions made by messengers dealing with internal operations or ministries of an entity shall be referred to the elected board of the entity for consideration and report to the constituency and to the next annual meeting of the Convention for action with the exception that the Committee on Order of Business may be instructed by a two-thirds vote to arrange for consideration at a subsequent session of the same Convention, subject to provision of Bylaw 21.

The convention can only refer - it cannot instruct.

Tim Guthrie said...

The boards were not asked by the convention to do anything. We affirmed the BFM2000 - how can you claim otherwise?

Jason Epps -- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA said...

Wade,

I feel almost embarassed for not having noticed what the BFM says about people being under condemnation only when they are "capable of moral action." Wow! That's a problem! Forgive the "green" question (I'm aloof on the blog thing these days), but does this mean that Calvinists should be excluded from SBC Life and missionary appointment? If people are excluded based on private prayer language (which is NOT condemned in the BFM), but are admitted in spite of their strong belief in the Reformed perspective of orignial sin (which IS, it seems like, condemned in the BFM), isn't that a bit inconsistent?

Blessings,
Jason Epps

P.S. Before anyone sends any "loving hate mail," please know that while I'm not a Calvinist myself, I would never advocate a Calvinist being excluded from missionary appointment. I simply desire to communicate my confusion regarding why someone can be admitted to appointment based on an issue that seems pretty clear in the BFM.

Wade Burleson said...

Tim,

To advise is not to instruct in my vocabulary.

I give advice all the time, but I don't instruct people to do anything.

The agencies do not have to do what the convention requests - but if I were the convention I would think seriously about putting people in trustee positions who remember who elected them.

Wade Burleson said...

Jason,

For the life of me I can't see why some Southern Baptists can't see what you are saying.

To me it is almost comical to watch the extents some will go to try to say the BFM 2000 is NOT saying a human being is only condemned when he 'actually' and 'personally' sins.

The BFM 2000 is CLEAR -- a person is not 'guilty' and 'condemned' before God UNTIL HE SINS.

I disagree with the BFM 2000 on this point of doctrine. I also do not believe that this doctrine is an ESSENTIAL of the faith. It is an important doctrine, but not ESSENTIAL TO BELIEVE in order to be Christian or Southern Baptist.

Let's cooperate around the essentials.

Now, anytime certain professors will try to say the BFM 2000 does not say what it clearly says . . . only because if they admit it says what it says, then they must also personally express disagreement with the BFM 2000 because they are reformed in their soteriology.

I can't understand why we all just can't see the BFM 2000 totally rules out a reformed view of condemnation - allow people to disagree -- and GO ON!

:)

We are getting there.

country baptist preacher said...

Jason,
I love the term, "loving hate mail." Ain't it the truth?!

All I can say, (sadly) is AMEN!

live in peace
cbp

Alan Cross said...

Wade,

That was interesting today. I kept wondering, "since when did I become Wade Burleson?" While you have a great life, I surely do not want all your enemies! :) But, I seem to be making enough of my own lately, unfortunately.

I probably disagree with you a bit over whether it is consistent to allow for caveats if you also say that the entities cannot go beyond the BF&M. I am fine with holding our entities to the BF&M, while also not allowing for caveats. But, to solve that, I floated a similar proposal in my response to Dr. Welty, except that I said that a dissenting trustee should be held accountable by the other trustees and an entity that wishes to go beyond the BF&M should be held accountable by the Convention. In other words, dissent or excess is possible, but it must be approved by the group that you are are accountable to. You are correct to state that each trustee is also accountable to the Convention because only the Convention can elect them and remove them. However, It would be difficult for every trustee to go before the Convention, it seems. Still, I think that the principle of accountability and approval of dissent or excess solves the dilemma for both individual trustees/professors/missionaries as well as for entities. Maybe there can be a review committee established for individuals made up of a cross section of the SBC and the entities can just get approval from the SBC?

Someone said that you have to change the Consitution and Bylaws for this to happen. Who wants to draw up the motion for next year? :)

Seriously, if someone can present a motion to the SBC in the mid 90's to reorganize all our entities and it be approved, then I think that someone can present a motion to do something like this. But, I guess that the motion to reorganize our entities came from within the power structure so it was appropriate.

Wade Burleson said...

Alan,

I think you are missing something. It may just be me, but help me out if I am misunderstanding.

You seem to think that the only consistent position is 'no caveats but nobody can go beyond the BFM 2000.' I personally believe you turn the BFM 2000 into a creed if you do that.

The singular consistent position that allows for the BFM 2000 to remain a confession is to get the CONVENTION to state whether or not dissent on a particular doctrine in the BFM 2000 (like closed communion or the innocency of a human being until he/she sins) is reason to bar a Southern Baptist from service. I think you will find the average Southern Baptist dropping his jaw and saying, "What! No way should disagreement over those doctrines mean disqualification from service." They only have to say that ONE time before the Nominating Committee says, "Okie Dokie - this is not an issue."

Likewise, when an entity wishes to go BEYOND the BFM 2000 they bring their doctrinal requisite before the entire convention for approval.

It's not that complicated.

It is a principle which I am seeking.

Nobody has the right to determine a 'Clear Southern Baptist Identity' except the convention.

If there are those who wish the BFM 2000 to be a minimum floor, I will be here saying it is a maximum floor. When they say to me, "But who in the world decides if 'caveats' are permitted?' I'll simply respond, "The same people who decide whether those doctrinal requisites you seek to establish that are beyond the BFM 2000 permitted - the convention!"

I think if you meditate a while on what I am saying it will make perfect sense and keep you from being forced into a creedal view of the BFM 2000.

NativeVermonter said...

If you haven’t listened to the Mike Corley Program it might be worth your time (you can find the radio show archives at oneplace.com) Mike has just left the SBC http://theexpositor.wordpress.com/ and is now with the PCA. It’s important to see specifically why folks are leaving and to hopefully learn and grow so we can stay 16—sorry I keep forgetting—6 million strong. For me, original sin is a pretty important doctrine but I can bend there in regards to the essentials. However, that is the beauty of the local church where we can say: “If you wish to serve here then we abide by the London Baptist Confession” (for example). I would leave my local fellowship if they denied or simply failed to teach the doctrine of original sin but I wouldn’t leave the SBC over it.

Darby Livingston said...

I think if you overlay your blog with the Founder's blog, you will come to the heart of the problem. Trustee boards and seminary presidents aren't going to trust a convention of unregenerate members, yet no one wants to address that problem either.

Jeff said...

Amen, and Amen!

Jeff said...

Ooops. Amen, and Amen to Wade's post. Not to Darby's. Is he suggesting that only the general convention members are the unregenerate ones? And I'm new to this--so please be gentle.

gmay said...

The bait has a hook in it!

Wade,
Several times you have baited the hook and as of yet, the trustees and the convention have wisely passed on biting. Surely nothing would suit your cause better than a nasty debate in Indianapolis as to your serving as a trustee. For the sake of the convention, I pray no one takes your bait.

Would you clarify your stance on the fate of aborted babies, infant deaths and young children who pass away at a very young age? Is it your belief in a reformed view, that only the elect of that group are saved? If so, then are all that die of the elect? If they are not elect, it would follow that aborted babies not of the elect are damned. I am not trying to state your position. I am seeking to understand your position.

You have stated that a majority of Southern Baptist share your view on one point and almost a majority on the other. You have defined your position as a reformed position. Are you delineating between a so called Calvinistic theology on these points and the reformed tradition?

I would like to see your response on these questions before commenting further on these issues.

You have stated that the convention is the place to debate the caveat issue. It is my belief that many Southern Baptist, if not most, believe and evidently to our error, that those nominations brought to us in the last 7 years were in agreement with the BF&M without caveat. It seems to me that if the convention really should take up the issue, it should be when the election is held. Perhaps all nominees who will sign only with caveats should be so revealed at the election that substitutes could be nominated. A removal on the convention floor is not a wise decision. It could be exercised when a person is elected and then changes views. To elect someone with caveats and then remove them lacks integrity. To present them as in full agreement with the BF&M knowing there will be caveats also lacks integrity.

Bob Cleveland said...

I think we have to decide on the importance of the SBC continuing its identity as a Convention, according to the BF&M (insert year) before we can really analyze all this.

In one way it's not all that big a deal. Almost without exception, what I'm hearing from the 25-35 age group to whom I minister is "Why all the arguing? What's this all about?" When I explain the goings-on, they express (or feign) interest, and (appear to) pay attention. But I'd have to say they just don't want to be involved.

They apparently feel no "connection" with the SBC.

On the other hand, whatever good the SBC has built is apt to go by the boards if it loses its identity. So the struggle may be about protecting the identity that only the strugglers care about.

I'm probably just old, but I find little reason for optimism. Perhaps judgment has already been passed on the SBC for lying about numbers, and God's chosen tool is those who are driving for change. If that's the case, read Habakkuk chapter one for what may be tragically analogous. If He'll use the Babylonians, He'll use anybody.

ellis said...

Wade:

Thanks for verbalizing much of what I have been feeling for the last 15 years.

Early in my ministry as a pastor (1 year out of seminary) a fellow pastor took me to lunch to try and "convert" me to the fundamentalist movement. At that time the "fight" was pretty much over and he just wanted me to get "on board" with the future of the SBC. I told him that I had a problem with the movement because I didn't see where it would end. "Innerancy" was the battle cry at that time ... but what would be next?? In my limited experience, the "spirit of fundamentalism" keeps adding litmus tests to fellowship and cooperation. I actually asked him ... "What's next? Women in ministry? Divorced deacons?" ... What was to stop the fundamentalist "spirit" from moving on from innerancy to a host of other "pet" issues? He assured me that it would stop at "innerancy" -- "It has all been about innerancy," he told me.

Sure.

Anyway ... I didn't join the movement, and I have never regretted it.

I want to thank you for fighting for what little freedom Southern Baptists have left. Don't give up. You have a lot of people praying for you.

ellis

Alan Cross said...

Wade,

I see your point and I think that you are right. We are basically saying the same thing when it comes to our solutions. You are not drifting into "gnosticism" as Dr. Welty accused because you are being up front about your disagreements and you are also submitting to the accoutability of the SBC, something that our trustee boards seem unwilling to do.

I have been okay with a consistent creedalism because I feel like we already have a creedalism in place, but it is subject to the secret whims of trustee boards. It is not even tied to our confession of faith. That really gets me and I think that it portrays a serious double standard. I have been willing to sacrifice the myth of confessionalism for the protection of a defined creedalism - you can't go below or beyond it. It seems that we say "confessionalism" in one breath, and then enforce a creed in the other, under the protection of a confession. Our entities are abusing their autonomy, which instead of functioning as a protection for the Convention, is functioning as an attitude of "they can do what they want."

If we can get the Convention to understand what is at stake and actually take a look at the articles of the BF&M, I think that they will respond the way that you say. How many SBC churches practice modified open communion? 25%? 35%? I imagine that the number is higher than anyone imagines. I have been in 6 SBC churches in my life from rural to urban, Southern to Western, traditional to contemporary, and they ALL practiced modified open communion, if I am remembering correctly. Also, several of them advocated the view that you are espousing regarding innocence and original sin.

I am NOT espousing an anything goes mentality. I think that there should be accountability. If trustees/professors/missionaries will submit their caveats before the convention, then what is the problem? If entities are willing to come before the convention to ask if they can go beyond the BF&M in an area, then what is the problem? In both cases, we are allowing for freedom with accountability. Why are people against that?

Maybe some want absolute power and no accountability. That is not what you are asking for. Why are others?

Christine said...

Hey there, Wade.

My family has recently moved to northern Oklahoma from Dallas. It has been quite enjoyable to be out of the midst of the strife.

However, I just wanted to delurk and say hi. I have quite an interesting existence. My parents work for the BGCT, yet I have been an assistant to two of the most prominent conservative (fundamentalist) pastors in the SBC. I have had many hours of frustration watching the complete inability to disagree on minor issues ... defeating our ability to serve and minister on the vital issues.

I'm now a pastor's wife, serving at the First Baptist in our sweet little town.

Anyway ... hello! I'm a regular reader.

Monte said...

Wade,

I know that I sound like a broken record, but again, you have just stated the very reasons why so many of us (missionaries) would not sign the 2000 BF&M. You see, we realized then that it was not being treated as a confession, but a creed. Some of our administrators argued that it was not being treated as a creed, but the thing which concerned us was the fact that we were being made to apply our signature to it. The red flag this raised was that this trend would not end here, but would continue on (just as it has). Some would ask me if there were parts of the 2000 BF&M I did not agree with. My standard answer was that I really didn't have to go that far. When we are mandated to apply our signature over and above our word, actions, and confessions (which,I might add, did not move contrary to the BF&M), the document moves from being a statement of confession to a creedal statement.

But you have clearly indicated the direction this entire conflict has taken, something of which so many of us could see in its inception. We were solid missionaries with missionary hearts and calls. But we would not become part of the precedent of the narrowing of doctrines in this Convention when we knew that ultimately, we would reach a place where we could not agree upon those doctrines we see as non-essential. It's a real dilemma. But I hope you and others will see that we weren't just trying to be difficult.

NativeVermonter said...

Gmay,

I be just a laymin, so me think C.H.S. should answer:

“Among the gross falsehoods which have been uttered against the Calvinist Proper is the wicked calumny [slander] that we hold the damnation of little infants. A baser lie was never uttered. There may have existed somewhere in some corner of the earth, a miscreant”--a criminal--“who would dare to say that there were infants in hell, but I have never met with him, nor have I met with a man who ever saw such a person! We say with regard to infants, Scripture saith but little, and therefore, where Scripture is confessedly scant, it is for no man to determine dogmatically, but I think I speak for the entire body or certainly with exceedingly few exceptions and those unknown to me when I say we hold that all infants who die are elect of God and are therefore saved! We look to this as being the means by which Christ shall see of the travail of his soul to a great degree and we do sometimes hope that thus the multitude of the saved shall be made to exceed the multitude of the lost. Whatever views our friends may hold upon the point, they are not necessarily connected with Calvinistic doctrine! I believe that the Lord Jesus who said, ‘Of such is the kingdom of heaven,’ doth daily and constantly receive into his loving arms, those tender ones who are only shown and then snatched away to heaven.”

Wade Burleson said...

Gmay,

My personal view is that those infants who die in infancy are in heaven because God chose them, Christ died for them and the Spirit regenerated them.

They are in heaven because of redemption - NOT their own innocency.

Again, I have no problem with cooperating in missions and evangelism with those who disagree and believe infants who die in infancy are in heaven because they are innocent or that some infants who die in infancy are condemened because Christ did not redeem them.

My point is that among Southern Baptists there are several views.

Wade Burleson said...

Christine,

Welcome to Oklahoma! Listen to His Voice in Stillwater, Ponca City or Enid every Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. on your way to Sunday School. KLVV is a great Christian radio station for northern Oklahoma (89.3)and our services are broadcast each Sunday (probably more accurate to say the sermon is broadcast).

Email me. I would love to know where your husband is pastor. Again, welcome to northern Oklahoma!

In His Grace,

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Gmay,

I would love to know where you go fishing. :) You obviously aren't paying attention to who is baiting whose hook. Tain't me! :)

The leadership of the board of trustees were the ones who recommended -- out of the blue -- that I be brought before the convention. I personally believe when they baited the hook and realized the size of fish they would catch - they then convinced those trustees who had followed their leadership with very little understanding of what was happening to join them in unanimously rescinding that initial proposed action of bringing me before the convention.

I'm simply saying to those who pulled out the poles, baited the hook, and threated to go fishing to buckle up and finish what you started. :)

I'm not the one who is afraid.

In His Grace,

Wade

Jim Paslay said...

Wade,

In reference to one of the missionaries stating that the 2000 BF&M was becoming a creedal statement and not a confessional statement, that could happen to any confessional statement. The fact of the matter is that the 2000 BF&M is a confessional statement about us as Southern Baptists. We are reminded in the document that it is not a creedal statement.

There was a push to have seminary professors in the 1980s to sign on to the 1963 BF&M. I believe the professors from Southern and Southeastern wouldn't sign because they had already signed the Abstract of Principles. I actually believe that there were professors who did not agree with the 1963 BF&M and that is why they refused to sign it.

I guess I will always scratch my head as to why missionaries and other denominational people refuse to sign on to the 2000 BF&M. Unless of course they do have problems with the document itself. I for one have no problems with the document and know it to be a confessional statement, regardless of whether someone tries to make it a creed!

irreverend fox said...

Wade,

I do not understand what is so confusing...for a year now I have tried to see "their" perspective...I don't get why this is so hard.

Then it hit me a month or two ago...this is not hard to understand at all...something other than clarity and consistency is causing this bottle neck.

With that...

I am over and out good buddy...10-4!

irreverend fox said...

oh...one more thing...I would like to personally thank all who took my request for LONG comments seriously.

I know I speak for myself and Wade when I say: "thank you for each and every 850 word comment...it is a joy reading each word!"

Please keep the long comment bombs coming! Nothing is more annoying than to the point comments!

country baptist preacher said...

CHRISTINE,

I spent many years in the red dirt and wind. It can be awesome and at times annoying.

Brownsville Station. wish I had a copy.

IF you don't shake up the Baptists in blackwell, nothing will. Love your site and the soundtrack. It was our motto in high school.

didn't see a place to email you so i post here this once.

grace
cbp

is the tatoo really real on you?

gmay said...

Main Entry: con·sen·sus
Pronunciation: k&n-'sen(t)-s&s
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Latin, from consentire
Date: 1843
1 a : general agreement : UNANIMITY the consensus of their opinion, based on reports...from the border -- John Hersey b : the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned 'the consensus was to go ahead'
2 : group solidarity in sentiment and belief
usage The phrase consensus of opinion, which is not actually redundant (see sense 1a; the sense that takes the phrase is slightly older), has been so often claimed to be a redundancy that many writers avoid it. You are safe in using consensus alone when it is clear you mean consensus of opinion, and most writers in fact do so.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade, your post and gmay's first comment brought to mind this question: did you make your caveats known to the convention before you were first elected as a trustee, or did you develop this position later?

AndyHigg said...

I realize that no one probably shares this opinion, but I wonder if someone (probably me!) should make a motion that any action to limit service beyond BFM 2000 should be endorsed by the convention.

I have support that this can be done from the rules of order of the convention and the precedent (i.e. the CP and BFM definitions from San Antonio)

gmay said...

Nativemother

Thanks for the CHS response, but I am more interested in Wade’s position since this dialogue begins with his views.

Wade thanks for your clarification on infants and condemnation. This also reveals where beliefs about repentance fit into your soteriology, repentance is not necessary for salvation since infants cannot repent but are elect.

If Calvinistic theology and reformed theology are synonymous, and if the LifeWay research is correct on the number of Southern Baptist espousing Calvinistic views, it would be a stretch to assume that the majority of Southern Baptists agree with your doctrine in this matter. Some could believe in election of all infants but if they hold to a differing view of election that would certainly change the terminology they would use.

Wade,
I can appreciate your desire for accountability to be with the convention. My point is that I believe a fight on the floor of the convention is what you are fishing for and that would bring great publicity to your cause. Not a bad strategy, it is just my prayer that no one takes the bait. You would get the publicity for your cause and if you were removed as a trustee you would be the martyr to further the cause. Do we really need a few more internal martyrs? Is this really a strategy to accomplish the ends you desire with more cooperation or will it eventually create more division? I fear the latter. There are other strategies that could be pursued. I hope to post a possible strategy in a few weeks that could be uniting rather than dividing. If this one continues, I see a division coming even and especially among the reformed brethren.

Accountability begins with those who nominate the trustees. Let them publish a list of those nominees pointing out who agree with the “consensus” document and those who do not. If the convention decides to elect trustees who disagree with the “consensus” document, then let the convention do so knowing those who are in dissent.


If the FB&M is really a consensus statement, we should expect those who serve as trustees and employees to agree to the consensus statement. This is why I did not support the motion. I believe it opens up cans of worms that were better left alone. In the long run, it could cause a narrowing of the parameter you are seeking to relax. In order to work with integrity, our trustee boards would likely have to turn down any missionary candidate who is not of the consensus. If we are a group in solidarity in statement and belief, then this motion has set in place a requirement to agree to the consensus without caveat.

OC Hands said...

Wade,
Returning to the US after a career on the mission field,, my wife and I have
been on a steep learning curve trying to comprehend what has been going on in theSBC. For those who have spent all their lives in the US, I am sure it is difficult
to fathom the challenge that some of us face in returning to life in the US and the
SBC.
Both my grandfathers were Baptist preachers, and I grew up, was saved and called to full-time service in Southern Baptist Churches. I have always considered myself a “Southern Baptist,” not only because of what I was taught, but because my understanding of the Bible and experience in Southern Baptist churches convinced me that these churches followed the teachings of the Bible more closely than those of other denominations. What I see being described as “What it means to be a Southern Baptist” does not correspond to the churches that I have experienced through the years.
Reading through the posts on various blogs has helped me to see the issues a bit more clearly, and I have been very concerned and saddened with what I have read. It appears to me that there are some who love to draw lines in the sand, and judge others by whether they completely conform to their beliefs. Rather than finding common ground and working together cooperatively to share the gospel with the whole world, it seems that after identifying those who disagree with them as “the enemy” (my terminology) these folks immediately begin to find ways of proving their “enemies” wrong with the apparent goal of ousting these from the fellowship of Southern Baptists, branding them as liberals, or some other such derogatory classification. Some even go so far as to question their Christianity, attempting to use Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees to justify their words and actions.
It all seems to boil down to this—is it missions and evangelism that unite us, or is it doctrine. If it is the former, then the future for the SBC appears brighter as we find ways of working together to bring in the harvest that Jesus talked about.
But if it is the latter—then we will continue to find areas of disagreement, and will continue to point fingers and draw lines as well as accuse others and use derogatory names that will divide us. And, if this continues the SBC will continue to decline and become something with which I no longer want to be associated. No wonder that some of the younger pastors and leaders have chosen not to be a part of this controversial and combative organization.
However, I do continue to pray for our leaders, and believe that God will not allow this to continue.

Wade Burleson said...

RL Vaughan,

I have always expressed my disagreement with the BFM 2000 on the two minor doctrines and have told anyone who asked. I didn't think it was that big of deal, and it is obviousl that others don't either.

Wade Burleson said...

Gmay,

In no form or fashion do I wish a floor fight. I just wish Southern Baptists would be able to see the difference between essential doctrines and tertiery doctrines and agree to cooperate in spite of differences over tertiary matters.

irreverend fox said...

God has given me a particular passion to reach those caught up in cults and so I chase every pair of young men with white shirts and black ties I see walking around down the street if necessary�and I have spent countless hours with such ones in my home discussing the Trinity and salvation (primarily)�one thing I have notice in all my evangelistic work with the cults (JW�s, Mormon�s and even RC's)...is that there are no tertiary issues. everything is a "10" with them.

Just thought I�d share.

Debbie Kaufman said...

gmay: You are making up arguments and then arguing against them. None of what you have posted has been implied or said.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade, from your reply I understand you must mean that you developed this idea -- If a trustee has caveats to the BFM 2000, then that trustee should make those known to the convention as a whole -- at some point after you were elected a trustee. Is that correct?

Bennett Willis said...

06 July, 2007 14:03 post from Wade "they then convinced those trustees who had followed their leadership with very little understanding of what was happening"...
It sounds like Wade is saying (and personally I believe this) that even the trustees don't exercise much independent thinking (except on rare occasions). I remember reading about the vote regarding PPL by the Southwestern trustees and thinking that in years past you could not get a vote like that (basically 40 for the motion and Dr. McKissic against) on ANYTHING, let alone on something of this sort. At the risk of annoying Debbie again, I think this is really discouraging regarding the hope that we would have informed messengers. If trustees won't think, how can we expect the rest of us do it.

I am going to point out what to a layman seems pretty clear. We can fuss and work on doctrinal details but none of it is worth a pitcher of warm anything when judgement day rolls around. After the "pass/fail" thing, all the rest has better be at least tertiary or we are going to have a problem. Of course if we decided to honor this opinion, then we would not have all this fun. :)

Bennett Willis

Rick in Thailand said...

Wade,

Thanks always for your postings and for your service in being a much need accountability source. It is appreciated.

You mention "I believe that the majority of Southern Baptists agree with me on the first caveat, and probably close to a majority of Southern Baptists agree with me on the second caveat." I would offer a word of caution on using this type of dialogue about the beliefs of "the majority".

I personally believe that most Southern Baptist believe like "me" too, but I don't always agree with "you". We both can't be right! Ex. I do NOT believe that we inherit judgment for Adam's sin but we do inherit the consequences, i.e., same nature and tendency to sin. We are not judged for "our" sins until we make our own "decision". In the same light, I also do NOT agree with your position on predestination, saying that God predetermines who will be condemned. I believe He "knows" our decision in advance, but He chooses to let us choose then judges us according to our decision.

Your position on Adam's sin being passed down to his ancestors is consistent with your position on predestination and I think you could find a few verses of Scripture and interpret them to support your position. My position about Adam's sin and the basis for our judgment being solely according to choices we make as a result of our "free will" are also consistent with each other. I think my position is based on a whole lot of Scripture that is consistent with the sovereignty, grace and righteousness of God's character. (I wish I could lead you and Dr. Mohler to assume the same correct position as "me"! Just kidding! Just kidding! You can be wrong if you want to!! Just a joke.)

The only method we can determine what the majority believes is by taking polls and surveys but even these allow for manipulation due to the wording of the question. May I suggest that when we make reference to the position of the "majority" that we use vocabulary such as "maybe the majority" or "the majority might" or "the majority could believe like me" or "the SBC vote indicates that the majority believes"? Your choice of words do leave room for argument in saying that "I" believe and "probably". But like me, your conclusion on what the majority believes probably is based upon the observations you've made in your environment. Hope I'm not being too nick-picky. God bless you.
rrr

Michael said...

As far as I can tell, in the system the trustees don't actually trust the convention to tell them what they should do.
The only reason I can see why, is that the convention is made up of both pastors and laypeople.

The US government is set up like the convention(or vice versa) but it was set up that way to reduce corruption and "mob rule". However we as southern baptist endorse a derivative of "mob rule".
I think the convention is a (probably unintended) hypocrite.

we need to do something about this to increase the power of the convention over it's children.

to the parents out there here's a question. Would you continue to pay for everything your child needed with the understanding that if the child feels so inclined he/she will listen to you?

(we're talking grown mature children here, not little kids)
Some questions to think about...
Michael

Anonymous said...

In the mid 90's I knew a Gary May at the KC seminary. I wonder if the gmay on this blog is the same guy.

gmay said...

Anonymous
You are likely on target. I did attend MBTS in the late 90’s. Identify and let the reunion begin.

NativeVermonter said...

Brother Rick in Thailand,

While we would never serve our Lord together in a local fellowship because of theological differences, i.e., original sin, Doctrines of Grace, we do in fact serve Him in the same convention. And if one day the Convention decides that anyone who is of the Reformed Baptist ilk is no longer welcome then I simply tip my hat and bid them farwell.

Convention=big tent
local fellowship=small tent
All those purchased by the Blood=His Tent

Amen?
John from slumping Cardinal Nation

Anonymous said...

FROM SBC OUTPOST:

Ben Macklin Says:
July 5th, 2007 at 9:28 pm
Goodness folks -

Creeds have been important to define the boundaries of heresy throughout the history of the church. You all know that. The question is this: Is the BFM a creed that defines heresy, or a statement that defines associational cooperation?

Campbellites were (are) heretical for asserting an aberrant form of regeneration, denying the efficacy of the Holy Spirit in conversion, and emphasizing the cognitive aspects of conversion to such an extent that they believed that people need only apprehend the power of God that was assumed to be locked in the pages of Bibles.

Campbellites clearly could not affirm the BFM because they would have “no creed but the Bible,” and their interpretations of that Bible contradicted the 1833, 1855 New Hampshire Confession of Faith, and the 1925, 63, and 2K BFM.

However, Presbyterians could also not affirm the BFM for various reasons, but no one is calling them heretics (are they). Their beliefs do not fall outside the bounds of orthodoxy (surely you wouldn’t call them heretics).

It seems as though the PPL affirmers and the wine-bibbers are within the fellowship of Southern Baptists since the BFM addresses neither issue. And unless someone is saying that affirming a PPL or wine-bibbing is heretical (and I don’t believe they are) then were do these issues fall in the panorama of beliefs?

Are wine-bibbing and PPL issues that define the limits of fellowship? If that’s the case then let’s vote up or down in the BFM.

Are the issues that need to define the bounds of heresy? If so, then lets argue it out as a motion to declare these things heresy.

If these issues neither define fellowship or heresy . . . then drop it and move on!

The current state of affairs is this: a small group of people are adding to the definition of fellowship since those affirming PPL, wine drinking, etc., are not allowed to participate (though their money is accepted).

There is now a boundary of working fellowship beyond the boundaries of the BFM. The boundary of fellowship needs to be written in a convention-wide document.

Ben Macklin




I thought this was a great post.
Ron

Wade Burleson said...

Vaughn,

The nominating committee serves the convention in bringing nominees to the convention. I believe the nominating committee can act 'on behalf of the convention as a whole' and if there are a couple of minor disagreements with the BFM (closed communion, etc . . .) the nominating committee can choose to elect people to fill positions at their discretion - or if unsure - ask the convention. From my understanding, this is exactly how they operate now, because I have always been up front about my minor disagreements with the BFM 2000 even before I was elected.

Wade Burleson said...

Ben Macklin is the reason I shall remain a Southern Baptist. :)

Wade Burleson said...

Rick,

No caution needed. I agree. Whether the majority or the minority agree with me is irrelevant since my point is we ought to be able to cooperate with each other regardless of our views on this subject.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Bennett: Let me put it to you this way, I know what was being said, I knew the issues and I am always informed. I have no desire to be on a committee or any other climb up the ladder and I think I was born an independent thinker. I could name right off the top of my head others who think on their own, the writers of SBCOutpost for example, Wade, Alycelee, Lee Saunders and I could keep going. I just see your argument as having no merit. Messengers are not idiots or mindless robots.

Rick in Thailand said...

Nativevermonter,
I'm glad we're all in this convention because I believe we are all much on the same base and love Jesus. That's a formidable force for our enemy to deal with seeing that we're on God's side and I believe we're all earnestly to serve Him as He would want. I sure wouldn't want you, Wade or these other SBers who write in to go anywhere!
rick

Lin said...

"Would you clarify your stance on the fate of aborted babies, infant deaths and young children who pass away at a very young age? "

That is like asking what happened to the babies when the flood came and only Noah and family were saved.

BTW: Born in sin is NOT an essential doctrine? Am I missing something?

Tim Guthrie said...

Wade,
Would you accept the following statement:

"A baby is born with a sin nature but if that baby dies, is the baby in heaven because of redemption or because of innocense of willful sin?"

Under your belief, could God chose not to allow a baby into heaven?

Bob Cleveland said...

Is there something inherently wrong with saying what the Bible DOES say about infants, and simply trusting in God? Do we have to figure it out in advance?

Wade Burleson said...

Tim,

In my view, to say a human being is in heaven because they are personally innocent is a denial of Scripture itself.

The wages of 'sin' is death.

Innocency before God would mean the absence of physcial death - which is a judgment for sin.

Babies die. They are sinners and judged for sin because of the sin of one man - Adam.

Of course, the good news is just as we are condemned by the actions of one man, we are saved by the actions of another Man.

Tim, I happen to believe God has chosen to redeem all infants who die in infancy through the work of His Son, but if He chooses not to redeem them all, your argument is with Him, not me.

Anonymous said...

Tim - What do you think about your question?

Is it possible there is a "loophole" on getting on that narrow way to heaven?

Could it be that abortion is a guarantee to getting to heaven?

If so, I think we would be idiots to not abort our babies.

Does that statement shock you? Why does it shock you? Why would we allow them a potential 70 or 80 years of life on earth if it means that they may spend eternity in hell if they don't make the "right decision" later in life?

That would be the ultimate act of poor parenting, wouldn't it?

I think the greater shock would be risking someones eternal fate for the sake of giving them 80 years of even a very happy, healthy life on earth.

This is all so silly to me and it is a huge problem that the synergistic folks have.

You see Tim, here is the problem you have with reformed theology. You get "stuck" with issues like this and then you ride a wave of emotion (i.e. babies dieing) that scripture is not clear about simply to muddy the water...hoping no one sees the inconsistency in your thinking.

Babies get to Heaven the same way everyone else gets to Heaven Tim...because God granted them mercy instead of justice.

I don't see you reading this and saying to yourself, "Wow! Reformed theology really is biblical! I think I'll believe it!"

But know this: It's so much easier to rest in the redeeming act of Christ instead of trying to figure out all the actions and inactions of man.

By the way, if it makes you feel better, I do believe babies who die in infancy are of the elect...but I can't base it on scripture. And neither can you. I do know that God is in control. He is the author and finisher of our faith, and He will do the right thing, everytime, without error.

God Bless.

SL1M

Greg Welty said...

Wade,

You seem to have missed the point completely in this post. Sorry, brother, but that is how I see it. You're not addressing the "inconsistency" I was talking about over at SBC Outpost, and you have instead defended yourself from a kind of "inconsistency" I was not talking about. I'm quite familiar with the boilerplate you regularly dish out here when these general issues come up, but you're not addressing my actual argument. Confidence of exposition is not sufficient for relevance, I'm afraid.

Perhaps my most recent comment at SBC Outpost will clarify things further for you.

Do I have to repeat, *ad nauseum*, that I do not believe you are inconsistent for having caveats to the BFM? If those were the circumstances under which you were appointed, then everything is above board. Again, *that's not what I'm talking about*.

What I'm talking about is the inconsistent application of the charge of "creeping Gnostic creedalism" in the SBC. You have come up with a list of essential doctrines for SBC cooperation. These are a subset of what is found in the BFM. But in doing so, you are drawing a line that the convention as a whole has not drawn. The convention has not given explicit *approval* to where you have drawn the line within the BFM. Likewise, you believe that trustees have the discretion to appoint missionaries who have caveats to various doctrines in the BFM. Once again, when they do so, these trustees are drawing a line that the convention as a whole has not drawn. Apparently, the trustees have this discretion, despite the fact that CP dollars are going to the IMB and other entities, and to missionaries and other employees. On your view, trustees do *not* have to get specific convention approval for where they "draw the line" here. They just get to draw the line, and that is that.

But if trustees draw doctrinal lines beyond the BFM, you go *volte-face*: they suddenly have to get convention approval, or else be guilty of creeping Gnostic creedalism. So on your view, churches contributing to the CP have no assurance that entity employees actually believe the BFM! Rather, all they have assurance of is that the trustees will hold the employees to *some* doctrinal standard or other, but the trustees get to decide this on a case-by-case basis, and that is that. As long as said trustees (such as yourself) *believe* that some doctrines in the BFM are non-essential, then *for them* and their entity work and appointments those doctrines are non-essential.

None of this is answered by your continual bleating that you would love to be put on trial by the convention. Saying this over and over again, with the martyr's gleam in your eye, doesn't make your larger position about trustee discretion a consistent position.

This is the fundamental inconsistency in your position: you want the trustees to have doctrinal discretion, except when you don't want them to have it. You want the trustees to get convention approval for deviations from the BFM, unless they don't need it because they have a Gnostic insight into essentials and non-essentials. On your view, apparently, trustees are free to delete *belief in the Trinity* from their list of essential doctrines for missionary candidates to believe, and they don't need convention approval to do it! But they have to come to the convention for approval on PPL? Are you kidding me? Which issue is more important?!

You keep on wanting accountability for trustees, but that accountability is already there. Here's how it goes:

(1) Trustees can appoint entity employees who believe something less than the BFM. They have the discretion to denote some doctrines in the BFM as "non-essential," for the sake of their entity work.
(2) Trustees can preclude entity employees who don't submit to doctrinal guidelines beyond the BFM. They have the discretion to denote some doctrines outside the BFM as "essential," for the sake of their entity work.
(3) If the messengers disapprove of (1), they can get rid of the trustees, and appoint new ones.
(4) If the messengers disapprove of (2), they can get rid of the trustees, and appoint new ones.

Notice that *any* deviation from the BFM, in *any* direction (broader or narrower), is ultimately accountable to the messengers. And this accountability is *already* built into the system.

You think that (2) gets us trustees who are unaccountable. In doing so, you overlook (4).

You think that (1) is permissible but (2) is impermissible, on the grounds that the latter gets us unaccountable trustees. But if that were the case, then (1) would be impermissible as well. Thus, you're inconsistent.

You *may* think that (4) doesn't get us enough teeth with respect to accountability. But to be consistent, you'd have to think the same about (3). Do you?

I submit to you that (1)-(4) is the consistent position on this topic. You already believe half of it ((1) and (3)), and in doing so, you can have no principled objection to their parallel: (2) and (4). If you do, I'd like to see it.

BTW, in (1)-(4), the *messengers* retain the ultimate authority. Thus, my position gets the benefits you explicitly advertise for your position, but with none of the inconsistencies :-)

You say to Alan: "You seem to think that the only consistent position is 'no caveats but nobody can go beyond the BFM 2000.' I personally believe you turn the BFM 2000 into a creed if you do that." But Wade, you yourself have offered a list of "essentials" for SBC cooperation. Are you not saying, with respect to *that* list you have provided, that there can be no caveats? If so, then you've just turned your list of essentials into a creed. But if someone can have caveats with respect to your list of essentials, then in what reasonable sense is it a list of *essentials*? I've asked you this question several times now, but you never answer. Either you believe there are essentials for SBC life, or you do not. If the former, then that list is *ipso facto* a creed, on your understanding of "creed". If the latter (if you believe there are no essentials for SBC life), then, well, I'll pray for you :-)

You say, "it seems rather silly for Dr. Welty to ask Alan to 'come clean,'" since it's you and not he who has caveats. Obviously, I'm not asking Alan to "come clean" *about his caveats*, since he doesn't have any. I was asking him to "come clean about these palpable inconsistencies in [his] position," i.e., *about his inconsistent charge of Gnostic creedalism*. If you don't know the difference between these two things, then I'm afraid I can't help you.

Finally, you conveniently avoid my critique of your stance on the EC statement:

[[[
The irony is that the recent EC statement actually *removes* the possibility of caveats. If the BFM is sufficient to guide in doctrinal decisions, then there can be no caveats. To allow caveats is to say, "the BFM guides me here, but I'm going to ignore it." There goes the EC statement, in the rubbish bin.
]]]

The fact that you continue to ignore this point, though I have made it several times now, is nothing new, of course.

Alan,

You say this to Wade:

[[[
I see your point and I think that you are right. We are basically saying the same thing when it comes to our solutions. You are not drifting into "gnosticism" as Dr. Welty accused because you are being up front about your disagreements and you are also submitting to the accoutability of the SBC, something that our trustee boards seem unwilling to do.
]]]

This is almost comical. At SBC Outpost, I gave you the link to my comment where I repeatedly show that trustees are *already* accountable to the SBC (and I've argued this yet again, above). If Wade is being "up front" about his convictions, then certainly the IMB is being "up front" about theirs. After all, their guidelines are publicly available, not secret. If the messengers don't like what they've done, they can recall them, and appoint new ones. The idea that Wade is submitting to SBC accountability but the trustees are not is just ridiculous. You guys have to studiously ignore the mechanisms that are already in place, in order to give plausibility to your position. It's like you're wearing a blindfold or something.

Alan Cross said...

Greg,

You said regarding the trustees, "If the messengers don't like what they've done, they can recall them, and appoint new ones."

How do we do this? Do we replace all of them? Is there a record of their voting practices? How do we know how they voted? Do we clear the whole Board? In some cases (SWBTS), we cannot even get minutes of the public sessions of trustee meetings. How are we to recall trustees? They have this written in, but it is entirely unworkable and has actually never happened. It has never even been attempted until Wade Burleson and Dwight McKissic showed up. And that was an attempt by the trustees, not the Convention. Your "accountability" is no accountability at all. Our only defense is to do what the CR did and win presidential elections for 10 years in a row. For a Convention that supposedly cares about the defense of truth, that is a pretty sorry form of government. If our consensus statement of faith does not act as a protection against rogue trustee boards developing new restrictions on denominational service, and there is no desire to have these decisions be reviewed by the Convention, then I can only conclude that power, instead of truth, is the desire of some who have worked their way into control.

The fact that you have never disputed my argument about a gnostic creedalism, but you have only sought to show that it goes both ways, leads me to believe that you agree with me. As far as any inconsistencies go, I am fine with correcting those. But, I am not alright with giving our trustee boards carte blanche permission to go beyond our confession of faith without review by the Convention. Why is that so deplorable to some people?

country baptist preacher said...

Once before I stated that my mother had a very interesting saying.

Remember, this is a woman with just a high school education who took in homeless (with 6 of her own children to raise) a woman who played piano in church for 40 years, who grew a 5 acre garden to help the poor, etc.

In the church I was raised, women were not allowed to speak in the sanctuary, shave, or wear make-up.

We would be cautious of a Bible School preacher and almost never allow a SEMINARY GRADUATE.

Momma said most were over educated idiots and twisted the Word of God and ruined it for power.

Let me say about infants. GOD CAN DO WHAT HE WANTS, WITH WHO HE WANTS, HOWEVER HE WANTS, WHENEVER HE WANTS.
ALL ELSE IS OPINION.

However, he did teach the Psamist His ways while the infant nursed at his mother.

He did let Kavid know that his son was with Him.

He did call Jerimiah BEFORE THE WOMB.

I cannot find anywhere He plainly condemned an infant to hell but I can find examples of infants with Him,

He doesn't care what the uneducated or the over educated think.

Someone posted earlier "after the guilty/not guilty verdict at the Throne, nothing matters."

Wade, hang in there, Our Lord knows your heart.

Grace
CBP

country baptist preacher said...

OOOOps!

that should be DAVID, not KAVID

cbp

Wade Burleson said...

Greg,

I realize you are a professor at Southwestern Theological Seminary, and I understand you have very strong convictions, but I ask you to reflect on these statements you make to me in your above comment . . .

"I'm quite familiar with the boilerplate you regularly dish out"

"Do I have to repeat, *ad nauseum* . . .

"None of this is answered by your continual bleating that you would love to be put on trial by the convention"

"If you don't know the difference between these two things, then I'm afraid I can't help you."

"It's like you're wearing a blindfold or something."

Dr. Welty, I find that when someone begins to use shaming language it is either because they feel themselves inadequate, embarrassed, or angry. I'm not sure where you fall in this spectrum, but take it from someone who spends a great deal of time counseling people who are attempting to work through conflict:

Shaming another person does not a friend make.

Blessings,

Wade

R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade, thanks very much for your explanation. The statement to which I referred from your post -- If a trustee has caveats to the BFM 2000, then that trustee should make those known to the convention as a whole -- sounded to me very much like you were stating that any caveats should be presented to the entire convention before the convention votes for the trustee. Thanks for clarifying that you believe the nominating committee has the discretion to make this decision without bringing it before the entire convention.

Stephen Pruett said...

Greg said, "This is the fundamental inconsistency in your position: you want the trustees to have doctrinal discretion, except when you don't want them to have it." It seems to me that much of this paragraph misrepresents Wade's comments. I do not recall him proposing gnostic understanding of what is essential and what is not.

In addition, the fundamental inconsistency you cite is not an inconsistency. The only situation in which I have seen support for discretion is on disagreements on non-essentials that would not affect the individual's ability to teach orthodox Christian doctrine with an entirely Baptist flavor. The comment about the trinity is a straw man. I have not seens a single disagreement from anyone on any of the Baptist Blogs with regard to essentials such as this. We agree on essentials. The only caveat is a few matters that some would regard as essential and others would not. My view on this is that if the Trustees cannot effectively refute every point of a biblical analysis leading to the opposing view on a non-essential matter, they should not use this to exclude someone from service. To do so raises a fallible interpretation of scripture above the scriptural imperative of love and unity among believers, which reads like it is intended to be the chief hallmark of believers in my Bible.

Please keep in mind that the origin of this whole issue is the exclusion of people who are conservative, orthodox Baptists from service on the basis of one doctrine which apparently is not accepted by 50% of Baptist pastors. Something seems very wrong with this situation to me. Do you think it is OK and this continual narrowing trend in which a small group decide that which is acceptably Baptist and that which is not is a good thing? Where do you see it ending?

In the course of addressing this issue, the role of B F & M became important, and the only way within the B F & M framework to maintain standards and accountability and prevent narrowing by a small group is to instruct trustees not to go beyond the B F & M without consulting the convention.

It is not inconsistent on the other hand to recognize that there are a few non-essentials in the B F & M about which many Baptists disagree and which are rationally disputable from scripture. This is a consistent position to prevent further narrowing based on non-essentials in the B F & M which has not previously been used to fire people but now has been used for this purpose.

You keep stating that the B F & M preamble claims that all issues considered in the document are baptist essentials. Of course, the preamble also indicates that the document is fallible. Could the writers be wrong about all of these things being essentials? I surely hope so. Otherwise my pastor should dissociate our church from the SBC, because we practice (with the overwhelming support of the congregation and lay leadership) modified open communion.

It could be argued that we should just change the B F & M to address such issues, but we all know that from a logistic point of view this would be very difficult and slow. In the meantime, trustees should use reasonable discretion to NOT exclude persons on the basis of disputable matters like this. This is by no means an open door to pick any doctrinal standard to ignore. I just don't see such a thing as a danger at all in the current climate. If it did happen, couldn't it be corrected? It could, and I believe it would (based on the actions of the IMB staff and trustees to deal effectively with rare problems of this type on the field. Unfortunately, we seem absolutely unwilling to correct decisions that I believe were very wrong to exlude real brother and sisters from service that had been their calling and dream.

I understand the desire for an absolutist adherence to unassailable standards. However, we must recognize that no document written by men without the direct intervention of God (as in the Bible) is unassailable. A small degree of rational flexibility is not a slippery slope to liberalism. It reflects a biblically mandated sense of humility and it places the biblical priorities of love, unity, and invovling everyone in service in their proper place of priority. Otherwise, I believe we are in real danger of falling into legalism in which our real priorities become our INTERPRETATIONS of scripture and forcing others to adhere to them.

One more time I want to make it clear I have not seen any debate among Southern Baptist on essentials. These are so clear in scripture that different interpretations are clearly inconsistent with the obvious meaning of the relevant passages. Thus, I do not put any essential in the category of prioritizing our INTERPRETATION over the priorities specified by scripture. However, PPL, Authority of baptizer, closed communion, the mode of salvation (or damnation) of infants, etc, etc, etc. are both not essential and rationally disputable among conservative inerrantists. If we continue to let and encourage these things to divide us, we are nuts, and we deserve the oblivion to which it will lead.


Your

CB Scott said...

Maybe Dr. Welty is suffering from GWC. (Get Wade Complex)

Seems like he has it really bad. Of course, that's just me thinking out loud.

cb

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Vaughan,

That may be the case as it is now, but I am saying if there are those who complain that it is inconsistent for the Nominating Committee to approve caveats on minor doctrines in the BFM 2000 but not allow trustees to mandate conformity to doctrines that EXCEED the BFM 2000 - bring them both before the convention.

Wade Burleson said...

Of course, one could argue that a person with caveats on minor doctrines in the BFM is not EXCLUDING anyone from service, but ADDITIONS TO the BFM 2000 and demands for conformity EXCLUDE many otherwise qualified Southern Baptists from service - so those who wish to ADD and EXCLUDE should come before the convention and the Nominating should not have to do so.

That's my view.

:)

Greg Welty said...

Wade,

I'd like to say you just "gave me the finger" in your 'reply' above, that you "remind me of a little boy who fights for a toy," that you don't have "a modicum of sensibility," that you are "a cancer growing among our ranks," that "I can't help but laugh" at what you say, and that you "should be ashamed".

But I think that kind of language has been used on your blog enough, don't you think? :-)

I'm so sorry I'm not up to *your* standards.

How you can be so brazen in your hypocrisy, the Lord knows.

Or, as you might put it, "I am stunned at the hypocrisy" of your comment.

So I'll simply say: goodbye.

Anonymous said...

Dr Welty

It is this attitude that caused me to leave a SBC seminary and will keep me from returning to ANY SBC seminary.

It is this attitude and arrogance that is the main reason we have went from 40,000 messangers to 8,000.

Why don't you address the real issues instead of attacking all the time. ISSUES LIKE:

Was Southeastern really ran into the red financially? Is SW in the red? Where is the money?? Was it spent on missions, or outreach or food for the hungry, or on high living? Who is responsible? Is there really a 501C3 being operated at SW for a slush fund? How bad is the enrollment down? WHY? ?

Why aren't all SBC salaries made public? Why isn't every dime of spending accounted for? Why are records of trustee votes not public? What is your camp afraid of? What are you hiding?

Why. for so many years, is slander, half truth, attacking christians, and arrogance accepted and even encouraged (your post proves it)

Why are lives destroyed and careers ruined in the name of "we know our rights?"

I could go on and on, but I know that your camp doesn't care what I think and you don't care what anyone who gets in your way thinks.

God knows, that is right.

Someday you WILL care what He thinks.

God knows you and your heart and He does hear and see all.

May He have mercy

anonymous to protect my family

Rick in Thailand said...

I wonder why "Anonymous" went "Anonymus" on his/her reply to Dr. Welty's aggressive (?) message to Wade? "Anonymus" said it was to "protect his/her family". Is there some kind of Mafia or something out there?!!

I'm sure that it's apparent to everyone that Dr. Welty lost control, and that's sad. What if a curious lost person happened upon this blog site and read that sort of language directed toward another brother in Christ that loves and serves the same Lord and is also led by the Holy Spirit?

Would you believe that the reason given by some Thai Buddhists who work around missionaries as to why they will never become "Christians" is because they too often witness how "Christians" behave toward each other. Even "Buddhists" seldom behave like that toward each other!!!!

It's said that Ghandi said that he might consider becoming a "Christian" if he could find one.

No matter what issue is debated, the war is lost even if the battle is won when we disobey one of the two most basic and important commandments:"Love one another". What a sad, sad testament some of these messages portray.

rick

Anonymous said...

After reading your last comment, Dr. Welty, it's no wonder why enrollment at your school continues to decrease. I can now point prospective students to your comments on this blog and that should help cement their decision to go to other schools who have teachers who know how to control their anger better than you. If this is the way you react on a blog, Katie bar the door if someone ticked you off in person!

Before you say 'goodbye' for good, could you at least answer the questions put to you? Could you do that much? The questions about SEBTS being run in the red...the one about the slush fund at SWBTS (I think this is the Patmos Evangelistic Slush Fund), etc.

Much thanks,
Steve

Anonymous said...

Rick in Thailand:
You asked: "Is there some kind of Mafia or something out there?!!"

I would not use the word "Mafia" but there can be no denial there is a very tight organization working to completely take over the SBC. Why not? It is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and they don't have to answer to anyone (but God someday).

So many lives have been destroyed. Some of the same ones who claim to believe in "inerrancy" sometime carry on their business as if there is no Bible at all.

Didn't the Apostle Paul say the gentiles (who did not believe in Jesus) were acting more like Christians than those who claimed they did believe in Jesus?

The Buddhists are right. The fighting is hurting the spread of the gospel. Even Atheist believe all they have to do is wait and the SBC will collapse.

Many pastors (including myself) spend a good amount of time trying to do damage control. I personally know of so many people who have had their lives and careers intentionally destroyed.
Look at Dr Klouda and how it has been justified.

THEY WILL NOT ANSWER THE QUESTIONS I POSED. THEY KNOW BETTER.



I looked at your site. It is wonderful what you and your wife are doing.

How would you feel if an organization(any organization) worth hundreds of millions of dollars decided they wanted you out and were willing to get it done no matter how much money it cost or who it hurt?

You wouldn't be the first.....or the last

anonymous TO PROTECT MY FAMILY

Anonymous said...

Dr. Welty,

Your comments and the "tone of voice" you used in your comments is exactly why, as a graduate of SWBTS in the early 70"s, I would not set foot on the campus today.

I sat under some of the most Godly men AND WOMEN a student could ever be blessed with as teachers. They had humility and a REAL servants heart. Sadly, all of them have retired or had passed away.

I would recommend several books for you to read. You seem to have an anger control problem and a very unloving spirit. Maybe something in these books could help you see yourself as other see you.

They are OVERCOMING HURTS AND ANGER, Dr.Dwight Carlson; THE SUBTLE POWER OF SPIRITUAL ABUSE, Johnson and Van Vonderen; HEALING SPIRITUAL ABUSE, Ken Blue and my favorite, WHEN BAD CHRISTIANS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE,Dave Burchett.

These are good books for everyone to read, including, pastors and people in leadership positions. You could be abused and really realize it OR, you could be abusing and not realize it.

Just some food for thought dr.welty...

ANIMBM

Rick in Thailand said...

Dear Anonymous,

Believe me, I sympthasize with you and understand your perception of things. My wife and I were late bloomers in answering God's call to serve as full time ministers and went to a SB seminary back in 1984. (That tells you that we're getting old!)

We came from a very small, country SB church and had no idea that there was some kind of war being waged in the Convention until we went to seminary. Wow! Did we ever walk into a hornet's nest!!

Today reminds me a lot of those days with the same dynamics though perhaps not yet as intense as it was then.

In 1984-87, we were broken hearted at seminary as we saw and heard vicious, destructive language and methods being used on both sides of the camp to gain or maintain control of the Convention and its institutions.

There was plenty of collateral damage. We saw some wonderful professors who we loved and considered to be quite conservative in their theology, leave SB acadameia and go to other non-denominational seminaries to teach. Often,they were not forced out so much because they were "liberal" in their theology, but more because they were labeled and targeted as not being compliant with the rhetoric of the dominant force taking over. In war, objectivity is not seriously valued.

The methods of the "right" were vicious, but we were also amazed at the lack of faith and actual ridicule of Scripture that some of the faculty and student-aids for professors had at the seminary! Many were actually laughing at miracles in the Bible saying they were absurd and teaching some events portrayed as literally happeing in Scripture as being allegorical.

In one seminary study sesion, there was a very cynical student-aid leading the session. He laughed about the Old Testament miracle of a donkey talking and an axe floating on water and the sun backing up. I remember one fellow student, a grown lady, saying in despair and desperation, "I just don't know WHAT to believe any more!!!"

The situation was indeed out of control in its cynicism toward Scripture and their very liberal position. It was a mess and a correction was needed.

My wife and I refused to get involved in the fighting, but I concluded that the "take over" from the liberals (they also were NOT going to give up control of the seminaries or even allow the opposing side a seat at the teaching table) was needed in order to swing things back toward the "right".

But it was a bloody war and it seemed apparent to me that Satan was using the methods of warfare implemented by both sides to his glory. There were secret tapings of lectures, misrepresentation of statements, secret meetings and many destructive verbal attacks.

I believe that there is a strong element of pride, some control issues and misguided intentions then and now. But I prefer to believe that those on both sides who seek control are doing it because, in their minds, no matter how misguided they may be, they think they are doing it to God's glory. That's not an excuse, of course, but it helps me have what I hope is a Christ-like acceptance of fellow believers.

I think there are often spiritual midgets involved, those in whom the Spirit of Christ is difficult to find in the manner in which they function. But I have not given up on thinking that He is in there somewhere trying to prevail and help them grow.

Dr. Welty's comments obviously portray a lack of the humility, selflessness, loving, gentle and emphathetic character of Christ. I certainly don't know him personally and he no doubt could teach me a whole lot about the Bible and God. I prefer to think that he was just caught up in the heat of the argument and maybe he was hurt because his position had been challenged. I prefer to think that he felt miserable after venting his anger and maybe defying the Spirit of Christ in him that was screaming as he was writing his post, "NO! NO! DON'T WRITE THAT!!"

I too, sometimes get so bent on passionately defending "my" position on an issue that I hurt and offend my brothers in Christ in the process. It ain't worth it!

You mentioned,"How would you feel if an organization(any organization) worth hundreds of millions of dollars decided they wanted you out and were willing to get it done no matter how much money it cost or who it hurt?"

I do know that this is possible. At some point, leaders may think that a person needs to be out of their position due to their destructiveness or their being counter-productive to God's mission. It may justify the use of money and effort to extract them.

But I hope I will continue serving God faithfully in the great task for which He has called me until such time that I'm forced out by circumstances.

There could come a day when I felt I could no longer serve with a particular church or organization, but I hope not. It it occurs, it will be due to one of two reasons.
The paradox is; I could not serve in an organization that insisted I compromise in the manner in which I believe God intends me to serve. Also, I will not serve in a manner that I know is inconsistent with the intent of the leadership and policies of that church or organization.

We praise God for these years for being allowed to plant churches and the freedom to follow the Holy Spirit's leading in the way we do it. Our mission organization has been the ultimate mission-sending organization in the world and has truly been blessed by God for it's sincere struggle to proclaim the Gospel in a manner that God would approve. Southern Baptists have proven through their reaching the Lottie Moon Offering goals that they are more committed to proclaiming the Gospel now than they ever have been. Tens of thousands of Southern Baptists are sacrificing vacation and huge amounts of their personal money to personally serve as volunteers in foreign lands. This is great news in which Southern Baptists should be proud and celebrating.

We must stay focused on "the main thing". We can't allow Satan to distract us into these political frays to the point that we quit.

I praise God for you, Anonymous, and your passion for protecting what is a treasure of an institution, the SBC. I sure hope you will not let up but not get too discouraged or bitter about those with opposing positions and that you will try to continue to give the "other side" the benefit of doubt and pray for them. They are as passionate about their position as we are ours. I do believe that the majority of those that may have positions which oppose mine are sincerely seeking to serve God and be used by Him. By far, the majority of them don't want the Convention's money, and I believe that they are as sincere as we are but have a different position.

We on different sides need to have a picnic together!

Sorry for the lengthy response and writing a more personal message than may be appropriate, but I don't think too many are still looking at posts on this particular issue any more.
rick

Karen in OK said...

Here's my problem.
I don't like what either Dr. Welty said or a number of things that Bro. Wade has said.
Did any of the last responders notice that Dr. Welty was quoting Bro. Wade numerous times?

Scott said...

I doubt they noticed Dr. Welty was quoting Wade's comments in previous posts. Frankly, I was surprised Wade got a free pass on his comment about Dr Mohler "giving us the finger" etc. I found that comment to be crass and offensive. But, it is his blog afterall...

Anonymous said...

Free pass? Do you read this blog, or just the comments section?

My recollection is that Wade realized his poor judgement (perhaps with some help from others, I don't remember) in using that metaphor and changed it promptly.

It's good to know that this thread is now done and no one will see your accusation and believe it as truth.

Go read the next post.

R. L. Vaughn said...

I had thought to mention something on the order of Karen in OK's post, but decided against it. But since Karen posted, I changed my mind.

IMO, Greg Welty's post was ill-advised at best -- especially in bringing up the "finger" comment for which Brother Burleson had apologized and removed from his post. Nevertheless, it seems disingenuous to criticize Greg and not criticize the one who made the comments that Greg put in quotation marks.

Anonymous said...

When folks on the right or left think they know it all, all the time, they become dangerous.

I don't believe Brother Wade is dangerous. I believe him. I can't say that about very many leaders.


WHEN LEADERS (ordained or not) BECOME SELF RIGHTEOUS, THEY BEGAN TO THINK THEY ARE INFALLIBLE. WHEN THEY THINK THEY ARE INFALLIBLE, THEY BECOME LITTLE KINGS. WHEN THEY BECOME LITTLE KINGS THEN THEY CAN PRETTY MUCH DO WHATEVER THEY WANT AS LONG AS THEY CAN SWING A VOTE. WHEN THEY CAN SWING A VOTE THEY BECOME CALLUS, WHEN THEY BECOME CALLUS THEY DESTROY LIVES. THEN, THEY ARE THE WOLVES CHRIST WARNED US ABOUT