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

Are We Southern Baptists Becoming a Benign Cult? The Danger of Casually Dismissing Scripture When Defining 'True' Christianity

I would like to illustrate from a fifty word quote from Missouri Baptist Convention interim Executive Director David Tolliver how we Southern Baptists - if we are not careful - could easily become a benign cult who blindly follow benign cult leaders. I use the term 'benign' in recognition of the many good things Southern Baptists do for the world in general - while at the same time acknowledging we may be losing the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ because we casually dismiss the Bible as our standard of faith and practice.

Last week the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board disfellowshipped from Journey Church and all church plants associated with the Acts 29 Network. Even though the controversy that led to this action revolved around a Bible study held in a brewery by Journey Church in St. Louis, all Acts 29 Network churches were deemed guilty by association and lost all their church planting funds from the Missouri Baptist Convention. David Tolliver, in opening his remarks stated the following:

“I understand that the Bible does not say, never says, ‘Thou shalt not drink,’” Tolliver said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It is also true to say that the Bible does not specifically refer to drinking as a sin. However … the only Christian position in this 21st century Show-Me State environment that we live in is total abstinence!

For the sake of the consciences of my weaker brethren who may read this, I will reiterate that I usually abstain from alcohol. I also understand the damage that drunkenness, which is a sin, can do to families. The point in this post is to simply show how we Southern Baptists seem to be becoming as extra-biblical as Mormons, as cultic as Jehovah's Witnesses, and as devoted to a religion and not Jesus Christ as Unitarians. By the way, all the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and Unitarians I know (and I know many of them) are really fine people in terms of character - they have just fallen short of the true gospel by emphasizing their extra-biblical regulations and morality through the demands placed upon them by their respective leadership. (i.e. 'holy underwear', 'no pledges of allegience or vows in court,' 'sacred writings and messages from prophets on par with the Bible,' etc . . . )

Robert Lifton describes eight signs of a cult in his book "Thought Reform & the Psychology of Totalism:"

Milieu control: control of the group environment and communication. (Dissent or disagreement within the group is not allowed).
Manipulation: Leaders are perceived as being chosen by God, history or some supernatural force. (There can be no questioning of God ordained authority in the leadership of the organization).
Purity demands: An us vs. them mentality is developed, in which cult members are the only pure and good. (Questioning the morality injunctions of leadership is questioning the integrity of the organization).
Confession: group confession and self-criticism is used in order to produce personal change. (The individual is never right, only the group).
Sacred Science: The cult's doctrines and ideology are considered sacred and must not be doubted or questioned. (To question is a sign of a lack of spirituality and discipline).
Loading the language: Conventional words and phrases are given special, in-group meanings. (Concepts such as 'holiness' and 'righteousness' are defined by group definitions).
Doctrine over person: Members are conditioned to feel guilt if they ever question group doctrine. One must conform to the "truth," as taught by the group. (A lack of conformity to group doctrine prompts questions of legitimacy and ultimately expulsion).
Dispensing of Existence: The group contains the elite; outsiders are evil, unsaved, and may not even have the right to exist.

Now, back to Dr. Tolliver's statement. This time I will give a blank and show you how Baptists, unless we speak out, will allow our Convention to drift toward becoming a benign cult rather than a platform for the expression of the life changing power and grace of Jesus Christ than can come to every believer.

"The Bible does not specifically refer to (1). _______________ as a sin. However … the only Christian position in this 21st century environment that we live in is (2). ________________"

Fill in the blank:

(1). drinking
(2). abstinence

(1). wearing pants to church
(2). women wear dresses.

(1). tongues
(2). cessationism

(1). the evangelist baptizing his converts upon profession of faith in Christ
(2). (that) only ordained, qualified Baptist church leaders or those they appoint must baptize.

(1). believing in election
(2). (that) God is trying to save everyone, and can't unless man chooses God.

(1). Women teaching men theology
(2). Only men can teach men the things of God

(1). amillenialism
(2). dispensationalism

(1). elder rule
(2). congregationalism

(1). reading the NIV
(2). using only authorized translations

I could go on, and on and on, and on and on. But I think you get the point. For those who get upset with this post raising the possibility that we Southern Baptists are in danger of becoming a benign cult, I point out three things:

(1). I say 'we' Southern Baptists. I am using a label for my family. I am a Southern Baptist, and my concern relates to my Convention. It is much different for family to make an observation than a stranger to do so.

(2). I am frankly ashamed that any Southern Baptist would be more concerned with my bringing up the possibility that we are becoming a 'benign cult' than he would with a statement from a Southern Baptist leader that a particular viewpoint is the 'only Christian position.' Further, it is disturbing that few are challenging the bizarre statement that this is 'only Christian position,' particularly since the position is obtained INDEPENDENT from Scripture (as acknowledged by the 'leader'). Even worse, for Southern Baptists to know that this position is the 'only' true Christian position requires special revelation from God to the group leader (or leaders) which is then passed on to us underlings. Finally, the center piece of cultic behavior, disassociation - from those who reject special revelation from the cult's leader - is seen in the unequivocal dictum from this Baptist group that if one does - or will not - hold to this special revelation position as 'gospel truth' then there will be banishment from the group(i.e. 'Journey Church,' and "The Acts 29 Network').

(3). The term 'benign' softens the word cult. Benign speaks of harmlessness - possibly powerlessness. The followers of David Koresh were in danger. The followers of any benign Baptist cult are not in danger of anything except religion without the power of the Spirit.

Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Unitarians are all good people with a religion that is powerless to transform lives and restore the souls of men and women with a desire to know God. God forbid that we become such a benign cult that our focus is more on the external standards of conduct and morality that exceed the Scripture than it is on the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When our convention begins to define and identify 'true Christianity' based upon the extra-biblical revelation of Southern Baptist leaders - revelation not found in the sufficient Word of God - we deserve the nomenclature 'benign cult.' By God's grace this trend will reverse - or we will die a slow, religious death.

In His Grace,



Robert Hutchinson said...

just for clarity sake. the decision to defund came from a 28 to 10 vote by the mbc executive board not the entire convention.

at the october mbc an exact copy of the 2006 sbc resolution on alcohol was presented. with debate on both sides mirroring that of the 2006 sbc and it passed with 58% for and 42% against.

i imagine the move occurred in board because of the uncertainty of its passing if presented to the entire convention.

so again, only 28 missouri baptists who happen to serve on the executive board made this decision. 10 board members voted against it. hopefully, the public reaction to the decision will cause the board to recind the action. we'll see.

Anonymous said...

A prophet you are for such a time as this. This eighty year old Southern Baptist says 'Thank You Wade' for having the courage what nobody else will say, but 90% of Southern Baptists think.

Robert said...

Another brilliant piece, Wade.

But 'benign'?
When one of the powerhouses of world evangelization is going bad; when the return of a denomination to the Bible is turning into legalism, when fellow-believers are treated as foes, that strikes me as far from benign.

And among church planters, missionaries and pastors real people are becoming victims. I think the whole thing is moving nearer 'evil' than 'benign' though it's not there yet, and please God it never will be allowed to get there.

Rex Ray said...

I’m confused on fill in the blank.

Is ‘1’ good and ‘2’ bad? And if so, why is ‘elder rule’ better than ‘congregationalism’ rule?

The bottom line: should Baptist churches be democratic?

David said...

The MBC was an increasingly irrelevant state convention when I moved to Missouri in 1997; it was no less irrelevant in 2002 when I moved back to Texas, despite its wrangling to get control of the "liberals" and "moderates" (i.e., anyone not aligned with MBLA at the time) within its ranks; and, it appears no less irrelevant--but much more divided--in 2007. In the meantime, Missouri's population continues to grow and, I imagine, its residents still want to know why they ought to become Christians--especially Christians of the Baptist persuasion. The MBC struggles to answer that second question well, it seems. Maybe in 2008, . . .

David said...

. . . By the way, I served on the MBC executive board for 3 years, from 1998 to 2001--and saw first-hand what I describe above, the results of it, and who led it.

irreverend fox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
irreverend fox said...

brother Wade,

All of this is upsetting to me...it is not like the churches being disassociated with were advocating drinking…NAMB already forbids it and imposes an abstinence policy. When I was going through all the assessments the very FIRST question asked, before any of my theology, vision, skills or qualifications were discussed…I was asked “do you drink alcohol”. Had my wife or I said “yes”…that would have ended everything.

can't NAMB bypass the MBC and continue to fund those plants that they (NAMB) have already approved by dealing directly with their local association?


brother Tom Ascol has links and information on his blog that will direct any church or pastor who feels led to support those church plants who will be cut off in January. Let me speak up for these guys and say…Church planting is unbelievably difficult and would be impossible apart from the grace of God. Finances are ridiculously unrealistic to start with. The road blocks, obstacles, struggles, hardships and stress are amplified ten fold it seems…they usually start with no people, no money and no building and are told “go get um boy…we’ll be praying for ya!” which is fine…the missionary is called to such things. BUT FOR THE MBC TO PILE ON THESE GUYS WHO ARE JUST TRYING TO GAIN AS MANY PARTNERS AS POSSIBLE TO HELP IN THE EFFORT GREATER HARDSHIP, MORE STRESS AND THE FRUSTRATING SENSE OF BETRAYAL BY SUDDENLY CUTTING THEIR FUNDING IS AN OUTRAGE!

and they will answer to God for it.

Tom Parker said...

It boggles my mind how legalistic some people can be. The use of alcohol is just one of many factors that affect ones witness for the Lord.

Bob Cleveland said...

Benign? Depends on which (M-W Online) definition you pick.

(1:) of a gentle disposition : gracious.


(2 a:) showing kindness and gentleness (2 b:) favorable, wholesome.

I don't think so.

(3 a:) of a mild type or character that does not threaten health or life; especially : not becoming cancerous (3 b:) having no significant effect : harmless.

3 b; Well, one out of five is better than none, I guess.

Chris Johnson said...


I think you have brought to our attention a host of things that are symptoms of not knowing Christ or not knowing His Word.

The gospel, on the other hand, can never lose its power no matter what we do. God is sufficient and will not be controlled by the actions of men. Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Unitarians are not good people, and neither are we. Those in Christ are only redeemed and the only good in us is Christ alone.

I agree with you that we as Christians should not fear the few things you mentioned in the post, but it should be crystal clear and comforting to know that the power of the gospel is not in our control nor is it effected by us, it is the power of God unto salvation. We should be comforted that God has chosen to make it that way.


Wade Burleson said...


I use the term 'good' from a human perspective - not from an eternally moral or spiritual perspective - as the prophet uses it in 'your good works are like filthy rags in the eyes of God.'

I also believe the power of the gospel is never lost. It's just Convention's can lose the power of the gospel because the gospel itself is lost to them.



Bro. Aaron said...

I have been reading your blog for over for two years and have never commented. I have no blog account and frankly have felt inadaquate to contribute intellectually. I'm now ready to share with you my transformation over the past two years. I have seen you take incredible heat from opponents. I have read words of anger, slander, prejudice and bitterness directed toward you personally, but each and every time you come back with grace toward the person and an answer. Don't take this wrong. You are like my grandfathers old basement furnace. Everytime it got cold in the house we could hear it. Only later could we feel it. Hear it. Feel it. Hear it. Feel it.
I am beginning to feel it. I've come from a life-long Southern Baptist background. People have said I am a legalist and I have rejected it. People have said I am quick to anger over minor things and I've called them liberal. People have left my church because I demand conformity to everything I have said from the pulpit. I'm sixty years old and it is not easy to retool. But now I am retooling. I am beginning to understand the issues. You have taught me by your example that people can disagree with me and the Kingdom is not at stake. You have shown me how to be civil and gracous while never compromising on the truth. You are unafraid to say what needs to be said, but you make the person to whom it is said feel like a brother. Thanks for the regularity and consistency. You are teaching this old dog new tricks. My name is not really Aaron. One final thing that has to be removed is my pride, and frankly, I'm ashamed for people to know who I am because of I now realize how much have messed in ministry. Just a word of thanks today. I am renouncing my allegiance to the benign cult and pledging my future allegience to Jesus Christ and the sufficiency of His Word and the freedom of living in His grace.

Wade Burleson said...

Pastor 'Aaron,'

Thanks for your kind comment.

If you would really like to say thanks to me, then you and your church can join me and others who will be working toward replacing the church planters funding in Missouri.

Two years ago I made a promise that if I ever heard of Southern Baptists in genuine ministry being excluded for reasons other than those found in Scripture, I would no longer idly sit by and let it happen.

I do not know how it will occur, but I will be involved in raising funds to replace what these church plants have lost through this decision.

More details later.

Again, thanks fo the kind comment.

In His Grace,


Jack said...

It is astounding to me that a group that considers themselves "God's annointed" would give missionary pastors less than a month's notice that their funding is being yanked -- and do the deed right before Christmas no less.

One of these church planters explains the impact of this decision by these "Godly" christian (?) men thusly:

"..Our church will lose $12,000.00 in funding for 2008. This money will not affect our church budget, as our ministry budget is based of the giving pledges of our members. This is money that I am dependent on for my salary and it will definitely affect us with our second child due in February."

-So much for the SBC's "Family Values."

If you want to help this brother go to bchannibal.com and click "give."



irreverend fox said...

brother Wade,

can NAMB deal directly with the local association(s) to redirect that support?

these are plants NAMB has already approved.

Lin said...

"Manipulation: Leaders are perceived as being chosen by God, history or some supernatural force. (There can be no questioning of God ordained authority in the leadership of the organization)."

Many times they will use the term "God's anointed man".

All true believers are anointed. Read 1 John.

Hmmm... I have been accusing Romney of being in a cult. :o(

Wade Burleson said...


Your's is a question that I cannot answer, but needs answered.


Jim Shaver said...


That's an excellent question. We in Missouri are asking that same question of NAMB.

We have too many levels of bureauracy between the Church Planter and the Sources of Church Planting Funds.

Church Planters are busy planting churches. They don't need to be spending all their time jumping through denominational hoops.

irreverend fox said...

brothers Wade and Jim,

amen to all of that!

this, to me, is just another reason why questioning the need for state conventions is appropriate. why do we even have them? why can local associations deal directly with the CP?

maybe the MBC leadership has just started rolling a ball that might end up going in a direction they never intended…maybe the biting of ones nose off isn’t the best idea…

Tom said...

If you look at the truth of the matter, not just the Baptists, but Christendom in general is becoming about as revalent to truth and rightousnes as a Madonna Video.
December is the month for Santa Clause, and a thousand customs and practices adopted from pagandom, and "repainted".
When the Nations go to war, not only Baptists, but Methodists, Catholics, Jews meet on the battlefields of Earth to slaughter their bretheren, because their allegiance is no longer to the Christ...but to the nations.
There is NOTHING more basic than keeping oneself as a Christian without spot from the world, and that includes celebrating pagan hoidays with Jesus as the excuse to do so, and treason against God by allegiance to nations God will destroy at Armageddon. How many Baptists killed each other on the battlefields during WWII?
If it was just ONE, that is blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.
It is not so much that Southern Baptists are in danger of becoming a benign cult ... by allegiance to the nations they have shown they are NOT benign...the danger is that they will become totally irrelevant to God, (and lose their funding).

jasonk said...

I just watched the movie "Apocalypto." I am about to give away the ending, so if you don't want me to spoil it for you, well, don't read this.

The entire movie is about a man struggling against his enemies. In the end, they realize that they are not really enemies, that their enemies are coming from across the ocean. Problem is, by the time they realize it, most of them are already dead.

Then I read this post. Many people in the SBC think that the enemies are those who speak in tongues, or those who do not abstain from alcohol, or former adulterers, or anyone who is the slightest bit different than they. I hope that by the time we realize it, we have not already destroyed ourselves.

Thank you, Wade, for putting it down in writing.

Debbie Kaufman said...

jasonk: Good analogy.

Les Puryear said...


It appears to me that what you are really addressing is legalism. Would not "legalist" be a more accurate term of your "filling in the blanks" example than a "benign cult"?

I agree that we are going down a very slippery slope in the SBC. Many of our brethren are thowing out way too many "tests of fellowship" beyond our mutually agreed doctrine in BFM2K.



Jack said...


The more I read of the MBC’s assault against nine SBC church plants in their state the sicker I feel.

First, there is the declaration by the editor of their state paper that “In Missouri Baptist Convention life, next to Christ and His Word, there is no higher authority than the convention’s Executive Board.”

“(Baptists should) submit to the leadership of their denomination”, ecboes MBC Executive Director David Tolliver.

So much for the SBC existing to serve its churches, its pastors, and its members. We are all to blindly serve the convention in uniformity and conformity – even decisions which THEY ADMIT are not in accordance with the clear and consistent teachings of scripture.

“I understand that the Bible does not say, never says, ‘Thou shalt not drink,’” Tolliver says "It is also true to say that the Bible does not specifically refer to drinking as a sin. However … the only Christian position in this 21st century Show-Me State environment that we live in is total abstinence!”

"There is becoming more and more of an abuse of Christian liberty," board member Denny Marr says.

Tolliver – in a statement that sounds like something from The Sanhedrin – goes on to declare that the MBC stands ready to fight its churches’ “sinful outreach ministries.”

If, like me, the MBC pronouncements leave you relieved that you don’t live in Missouri, MBC Pathway editor Don Hinkle declares that “the Acts 29 debate is about to spread across the SBC.” –Wonderful. I am sure God will be glorified and non-Christians will be more receptive to us once that happens.

If you are relieved that you are not affiliated with Acts 29, there is this to chew on from Mr. Hinkle:
“Did the MBC Executive Board speak out against Willow Creek or Saddleback? No, because that particular board — in the 1990s — was so liberal they would accept almost anything as long as it gave money. That is another reason a conservative resurgence was needed and is still underway, and, as Al Mohler has rightly pointed out, will not end until Jesus returns.”

-Is the SBC going after those affiliated with Willow Creek and Saddleback next?

Finally, I leave you with a statement by Mr. Hinkle with which I can all agree: “(The MBC vote to defund Acts 29-affiliated SBC churches) “was Southern Baptists acting like Southern Baptists.”

THAT is the crux of the problem:

Too many of us are more interested in acting like “Southern Baptists” than Christians.

As our leaders continue to demonstrate, there IS a difference.

May God have mercy on the SBC --- and on all of us if we allow these UN-Christian acts to be done with our contributions and in our names (and more importantly in HIS name).

Steve said...

This cultic super-legalism always seems to start with the thought that the Bible just wasn't holy enough. It also seems to begin in the heart of people who are very satisfied with their knowledge of God and have judged most other people as just not measuring up. Lord keep me from ever acting like that!

Jay said...

your welcome

Benji Ramsaur said...

bro. Aaron,

I think your comment is one of the most meaningful comments I have ever read on a blog.

Thank you so much for sharing



Chris Johnson said...


Thanks for the clarification...


Only By His Grace said...

Pastor, "Aaron,"

Thank you for your honesty. I have been there and done that. I was an older student at OBU on a golf scholarship if you count twenty-two as old.

My best friends were arch-conservatives. I could name names; I won't. I thought preaching was sending my people down a twenty foot razor blade into a pool of alcohol. I was encouraged by remarks like, "If it doesn't step on my toes, you haven't preached the Word."

At OBU we met every Friday as a reading discussion group to discuss the top seller of the week: about fifteen students and fifteen professors: Dean Neptune, Mr. Prichard, Dr. Allen Johnson, Dr. Katherine Rader, Dr. Jim Hurley, Dr. Holt, Mr. Mitchell and Dr. Timberlake. How those men loved this ignorant street moron and lovingly showed me that you can preach every word of the Holy Scriptures and preach them lovingly; how you can disagree and fight for what you believe without being hateful. I tremble in fear to think were I would be if God had allowed me to persist in my narrow minded ignorance. God placed those men and women in my life, and I still thank Him for doing it.

Again, Pastor "Aaron," thank you for your open honesty.

Phil in Norman.

David said...


It'd be more alarming if it weren't real. Welcome to the SBC as it actually is, Brother-I-Suppose.

In the time you have, help out--K?

Wade Burleson said...


I sometimes have time to answer questions - not all the time. Definitely not enough to answer yours.


shadrach said...

This is not in the midst of this converstaion, but is relevant. Wade, I recently read your transcript of the Garner Motion debate and have a question: what do you define as being 'doctrinal?'

I think we need some common terminology on which to discuss this stuff.

Anonymous said...

This is pure insanity. It is wrong. It is HERESY, plain and simple.

“I understand that the Bible does not say, never says, ‘Thou shalt not drink,’” Tolliver said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It is also true to say that the Bible does not specifically refer to drinking as a sin. However … the only Christian position in this 21st century Show-Me State environment that we live in is total abstinence!”

How can you derive a CHRISTIAN position APART from Scripture? YOU CAN'T!!!!! You can only arrive at a position like that from vain imaginings or human traditions. Colossians 2 tells us to disavow that type of teaching as false doctrine. This makes the ridiculous discussion about TBN and Dwight McKissic on some of the other blogs look like child's play.

There is nothing Baptist about the Executive Board of the MBC. Baptists are Biblical. They are not. By the way, abstinance of alcohol is a fine position to uphold. There are lots of practical reasons for it. Just don't say that it is the "Christian" position if the Bible does not advocate it.

Anonymous said...

The previous comment was by Alan Cross. I am not getting the hang of this new blogger method of posting. Sorry.

Wade Burleson said...

There are three levels of doctrine

Christian doctrine - Primary

Baptist distinctives - Secondary (believer's baptism by immersion, autonomy of the local church, etc . . . )

Tertiary doctrines (private prayer languages, etc . . . )


greg.w.h said...

Rex commented:

I’m confused on fill in the blank.

Is ‘1’ good and ‘2’ bad? And if so, why is ‘elder rule’ better than ‘congregationalism’ rule?

The bottom line: should Baptist churches be democratic?

Wade's presentation is designed to examine the logical construction used by Tolliver to justify his legalism. It has faint hints of two other comments on logic I've heard:

1. In formal logic (if A then B), should A be false, then B is permitted to be either true OR false. People sometimes assume that if A is false, then B must ALSO be false.

2. In math, division by zero is not permitted, as such there is a pretty well known proof that purports to prove 1=0 that has a division by zero in the proof.

David starts with a true statement about the Bible not commanding presumably virtuous behavior, and follows with an almost complete non-sequiter. As another example:

"Given the Bible doesn't specifically forbid trimming a man's toenails, men should see pedicurists regularly."

Wade's specific comparison between elder leadership and congregational polity was just one of many comparisons designed to show the non-sequiter nature of Tolliver's (il)logical construction.

Greg Harvey

othoniel a valdes s said...

The prophet has spoken the SBC is now moving in the same direction as the mormons,jehovah witnessess ,unitarians ,parlamentarians and all the arians .

othoniel a valdes sr said...

But as SBC baptist move in the direction of the cults we can all rejoice that we will be viewed as outstanding moral persons with no brains of our own and as sheep that follow blindly what a deal ,what a future I can wait

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

"Given the Bible doesn't specifically forbid trimming a man's toenails, men should see pedicurists regularly."


Joel Rainey said...


Great points. Thanks for addressing this regrettable situation. Hopefully, the more attention it gets, the less chance of it happening in other states.

As a DOM, I have always worked through my state convention to get to NAMB because NAMBs policy (unless it has recently changed) is that they work directly with the states.

If I'm correct, this means if the state convention isn't on board with it, the chances of seeing NAMB dollars are pretty slim.

Hope this helps clarify and answer your question.

johnMark said...

Good post, Wade.

I wrote on this topic before the motion was passed. Rod Albert who was mentioned in the news article on this issue even commented on my blog. He said a few things, but hasn't been back. Too many hypotheticals when arguing for his type of position.

I believe the article I linked to The Bible Doctrine of the Separated Life by Johannes G. Vos is the correct position. Though many may think Vos is hard to take on this.

I'm as conservative as they come Calvinist and all. Yet I think we need to stop trying to control and make certain items pet "sins" that aren't really sins.

We have so much freedom in Christ that we don't know what to do so we try to lock ourselves back up again only to our detriment.


G. Alford said...


I got the very “sick” feeling of watching a great ship slowly sink as I read your comments...

Some of you may not like what I am about to say... so if you are Conservative Resurgence “Kool-Aid drinker” you might want to just skip to the next comment now...

The Conservative Resurgence (which I am guilty of supporting for many years) has “Morphed” into a life threating cancer... it is no longer a Conservative Resurgence, but it is now a “Fundamentalist Resurgence”... and it is eating away at the life of the SBC.

If these actions by State Conventions and BOT's, that are a direct assault on the Autonomy of the local Church, are not confronted and corrected in a short time there will not be a Southern Baptist “Convention”... there will be a Southern Baptist “Church”.


When you put it all together, (and yes one could go on, and on, and on, and on...) it is quite scary... How did we all go from being “Conservatives” to being “Fundamentalist” so fast? It truly is a steep and slippery slope we are on.

Grace Always,

Bill Scott said...

Do you know if we will be moving to Utah, South America or Southern California when we reach full blown cult status?

Utah is either beautiful or desolate. There are terrible extremes there. If we go there can we pick some place near the mountains. Salt flats are so boring.

South America is a big place. Can we pick some place in Patagonia. Guyana is so hot after all.

Let's see...SOCAL is so crowded. There are earthquakes, fires and floods. Let's just scratch SOCAL off the list.

Of course there is rumor that our Holy City will in Forth Worth. We won't have a Holy See. I have heard that the will be called the Holy Pee. The Pee is taken from the first initial of his first name. That makes sense to me I guess.

Alycelee said...

Perhaps we should all subscribe to the Word & Way?

shadrach said...

Wade, thanks for answering my question, but it does bring up another. If drinking is a tertiary concern and not covered by the Garner Motion, then the MBC has the right to make this declaration, correct?

I am not saying it is the right thing to do and I can hardly believe that anyone (I am hoping there has been some misquoting) would directly disobey scripture by adding to it in a very pharisical manner. But it is the entity's right to add statements of belief not covered in the BF&M as long as they are not 'doctrinal' issues (according to my understanding of the Garner Motion). This would be the same issue as with the SBC of TX.

And one other question: where in 'doctrinal' issues do we put things like not causing others to stumble or keeping the purity of our witness? They are clearly supported by scripture, but are not aimed at specific issues, but rather used to help guide Christian Living.

Again, I think this declaration was worded in the worst manner possible, but am just trying to get to some root issues.

Wade Burleson said...


MBC has a right to make any motion they desire, including preachers must abstain from wearing pink tutus (a bizarre example I read this week).

The issue is not 'can' MBC make laws that exclude otherwise qualified Southern Baptists from service, but should they?

By the way, the Garner Motion stated that the BFM is the sufficient 'doctrinal' standard of cooperation. There is a very good argument that abstinence has nothing to do with doctrine, but behavior and thus is nowhere found on the triage chart (primary, secondary, tertiary) levels of doctrine.

Anonymous said...

You said, "There are 3 levels of doctrine...etc."

Where is the Scripture to support this position? (Chapter and verse please.) Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Mt. 4:4b

The honest thing for you to say is that, IN YOUR OPINION, there are 3 level of doctrine. Truth is every word in Scripture is equally important or God would not have given us the whole of the Scripture. Please take care to differentiate between God's Word and your opinion.

Dr. Jim Roebuck

irreverend fox said...

brother Joel,

I hope that can change...I would suggest that such a change would have a tremendously positive effect. The SBC would become far more efficient by eliminating the crazy amount of duplicated ministries we have in our current system.

Other than disaster relief ministries and church camps, I don't see why we either need or even desire any state convention. All great, wise, gifted and spiritual men and women...but I would suggest they would all be more effective in local associational work throughout the states.

Robert said...

Dr Jim,

That's a strange post. I have never seen anyone argue that every word of Scripture is equally important. And as Scripture does not all, by its own self-definition, proceed from the mouth of God, your proof-text is not to the point at all.

Can you explain yourself better?

Robert said...

Just to clarify that - all Scripture (though God-breathed) is not bread in the terms you describe is it?(e.g. Job's comforters, Satan's tempting words, reports of foreign commanders etc.) Therefore the principle of different levels is surely inherent throughout the text.

Dave Miller said...

Dr. Roebuck,

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul explains the two basic facts of the gospel (death/resurrection). He says "these doctrines are of first importance."

Doesn't that imply that if there are doctrines of first importance, there must be others of second importance, or even third?

All scripture is inspired and inerrant, but does anyone think it is equal in value?

Let's you and me split a Bible. I'll take Psalm 23 and Romans 8. You can have the genealogies of 1 Chronicles. All scripture is equal, right? I'll take the gospel of John. You can have the discussion of infectious skin disease and mildew out of Leviticus.

Inspiration (ie. inerrancy) does not require that all doctrine be viewed as of equal importance. That would be absurd.

Anonymous said...


Probably the best way to answer your question is with another question. Since you've chosen to believe only portions of Scriptures as God breathed (even though God's Word clearly teaches otherwise), who are you going to ELECT (how do you Calvinistic TULIP lovers like that :)) to decide which part is Bible and which part is not?

Anxiously awaiting your "in-depth" theological discourse, ;)

Dr. Jim Roebuck

David Richardson said...

Some of our Baptist brothers and sisters love to pounce on those who indulge in alcohol, but NEVER, EVER pounce on this who overeat or gossip. It seems to me that some circles pick one or two "BIG sins" and ignore the plank in their own eyes.

davidinflorida said...


Now that David Tolliver and the MBC has shed some churches that he helps fund due to thelogical differences, maybe he can allow the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka in the MBC.

Although they are from a different states, they both detest the use of alcohol.

Bryan Riley said...

I wish I understood why it is biblical at all to maintain a secondary tier...

Fantastic post.

His said...

Dr. Roebuck:

In Christian love I would ask you to lay down your sword and fellowship with your fellow Christians here:

Jesus himself was asked “Which is the greatest commandment?” and answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

Surely you would not equate, say – the importance of instructions within the Book of Haggai with The Great Commission, would you- brother?

We should be able to debate the meaning and importance of the many words of God, his disciples and apostles within the book he had given us – as well as being able to agree as to the heart of his instructions to us --- the clear and consistent teachings of God & Christ, can we not?

Blessings to you and yours in the Oklahoma Panhandle this Christmas Season!


Anonymous said...

I remember a post you wrote about a family you had dinner with an asked them "where is the wine?" You went on to say you had wine with the family and if I'm not mistaken, led them to Christ later. If you abstain from alcohol, why did you write in a previous post that you drank wine with this family? Just curious

Anonymous said...


Thank you so much for the Christian Spirit I sense in your post. I find that lacking in most of these posts, and it touched my heart.

I understand that we don't agree on all things, and I am for agreeing to disagree. Praise God for His grace that enables diversity of thought to intersect with Christian kindness. Blessings to you, my Brother.

Merry Christmas and God bless!

Dr. Jim Roebuck

Bob Cleveland said...

All this stuff reminds me of the old joke I heard (one of many about baptists & booze), while I was a Presbyterian.

Baptists vote dry but drink wet.

Only in this case, they preach priesthood of the believer but deny it in practice.

Stephen Pruett said...

Dr. Roebuck, Perhaps you misunderstood Robert's post? He wrote that all scripture is God breathed, yet you accused him of claiming some is not. He notes that it is not all "bread" because it includes a great deal of realistic description of evil. This is not equivalent to writing that it is not God breathed. Thus, your question is moot.

Back to the topic of this thread, are you sure you would be on the "right" side of all the dichotomous doctrines listed? Well if you aren't I hope you don't want to work for the SBC or state associations, because they seem determined to enforce conformity. Sooner or later, they will pick a doctrine on which you do not agree and your church will be disfellowshiped or you will be fired or excluded from service. Unless Wade and others are successful in stemming this tide, the SBC in 20 years will be two guys with a list of 500 things on which you must agree to be a Southern Baptist. Who knows, maybe you will be one of them?

Jack said...

Thank You, Dr. Roebuck:

I am as guilty (even more so) as any on this site and others of not extending the grace I have been granted to fellow Christians.

Occasionally I am able to follow Christ's teachings- and for that I am grateful.

In His Name,


Wade Burleson said...


Read for yourself

Only By His Grace said...

Right after I was converted, I "stumbled" on to Donald Grey Barnhouse. I had never been to church in my life until the Sunday night God saved me. I ended up buying Barnhouse's ten set commentary on Romans one volume at a time as they would come to the OK City Baptist Book Store. If you know anything about Barnhouse, he served as a pastor in France for a few years. In one of his volumes on Romans, I believe it is the fifth one, he uses a similar experience you used in the article about the lady with the wine cellar.

To answer your question at the end of your article, "What is wrong?" I will answer, "Absolutely nothing." Does it mean I could do that? Probably not. I am an alcoholic in my forty-seventh year of sobriety, BUT God did not put me in your situation. He put you in it and you handled it correctly.

As most preachers in the pulpit for a long time, I could write a book on legalism- smoking, chewing, alcohol, TV, movies, women wearing pants, hair touching the ears, women cutting their hair, women wearing make up, mean wearing short sleeve shirts showing the naked limbs, manufactured sugar, caffeine in any form, any work on Sunday, betting a dollar a nine in a golf match, "mixed bathing" (I never had a problem with this since I always take a bath by myself.), rock and roll music, bands in church, not eating fish on Friday, wearing beards, not wearing beards (my wife doesn't mind this one because she shaves before she comes to bed every night.).

Phil in Norman.

Scott Gordon said...

It's an interesting thing to me that those who pride themselves in peaceable speech now refer to fellow SBs in MO as cultists even in so far as to allign them with Westboro.

Boy is this going to help your reputation in spreading the good-news of your ecumenical reform...lambast all those who disagree with you as lost, heathen cultists.

I am impressed.

BUT, before the 'yeah, but what about the strength of my argument' protests begin...

Let those who detest the slippery slope and the straw man refrain from such. Those who do those things and play with matches usually end up with severe consequences.

As to my soon to be brethren in the MOBapt Convention, I must admit some ignorance as to the full intent and doctrine and practice of the 29ers. I am also reminded of Dr. Akin's words of caution for us all in readily jumping into partnerships with just this type of group and others like them.

Is Acts 29 accountable to anyone? Whether denominational affiliation or local church structure? This is the primary question I have...Oh, and when did we need to accept worldliness as our primary means of evangelistic methodology? (Yes, we could all debate the usefulness of alcohol...but not for now).

Sola Gratia!

David said...


I don't disagree with all that your posting immediately above mentions--I do think, though, that the MBC and its elected leadership have proven themselves since 1998 at least NOT to be the best spokesmen on living-out the Bible both in a heathen world and among fellow-believers (again, saw and heard it for myself for 3 years while serving on the MBC executive board).

Better examples for being and doing "church" must be available among the remaining state Baptist conventions. I'd suggest looking to them.

jasonk said...

Do you agree with the MBC's firing of Dave Clippard?
I'm not sure, but I think you will fit right in up there. Best wishes.

Anonymous said...


You just said in this post you abstain from alcohol. In the link you provided you stated that you led this man to Christ and drank wine with his family and no one at the table "had more than two glasses of wine." I'm confused. Do you abstain or not? I really don't care one way or the other what you do and realize drinking is not specifically condemned in Scripture, but if you totally abstain from alcohol is this a new position you have adopted since that post or what? I don't get it. Thanks for your clarification

Larry Hamblen, FBC Coronado said...

Wade, yes, SBC is now expressing cultic tendencies of exclusivism. Like our Landmark brothers who take Landmarkism to its logical end, Baptist Bridism is next!

The SBC does not hold the great commission franchise. It never has and never will. Baptist bridism is equivalent to the Jehovah's Witnesses' 144,000 interpretation, and the SBC is pressing such exclusiveness.

What in the world does God do with Christians who don't have SBC baptism?

Marc Backes said...

I'll address Scott Gordon a few above me here:

There were nine churches affected by the decision last Monday and I am the church planting intern at one of them.

I'm also in the process (early as it may be) of planting a church in Missouri affiliated with Acts29.

Let me give some perspective. Our church in Ozark, MO is an MBC / A29 church. Our roots go pretty deep into Baptist soil. Our lead pastor is the son of a Baptist preacher from Arkansas and our worship pastor served at a very conservative MBC church in Springfield, MO. All of elder council come from Baptist roots.

And yet we were deemed un-biblical because we won't teach that abstinence from alcohol is the only Scriptural option.

Not only that, but now my opportunity to receive funding from the convention that our church affiliates with and gives CP dollars to has vanished.

No one has contacted our church. No one has interviewed our pastor or our elders. No one has emailed us to ask us any questions. Simply because we affiliate with A29 (who happens to have I believe the best church planter assessment process you could come up with) we are branded as "outlaws" so to speak.

I've written about this over on my blog a little bit. But I want everyone to be real clear. We didn't leave, we were kicked out. Our own DOM has never once engaged us to find out more about how the A29 affiliation works in our church. And yet I suspect, he voted for the motion.

Interesting days ahead...stay tuned...

Wade Burleson said...


I personally abstain except when drinking a glass of wine could open the door to lead a woman and her husband to Christ because their image and understanding of a 'Baptist' and 'the gospel' is warped by a misunderstanding of Scripture, true Christianity, and the power of Jesus Christ to give life - real life to a soul in need of a relationship with God.

Hope that answers your rhetorical question.


othoniel a valdes sr said...

your response about drinking the wine sounds like situational ethics

Wade Burleson said...


If drinking a glass of wine were a sin, it would be situational ethics.

If drinking a glass of wine is not a sin, but drunkenness is, and one usually abstains from drinking a glass of wine because of weaker brothers in the Southern Baptist Convention, but will choose to drink one when a Roman Catholic in need of a relationship with Jesus Christ - and not religion - needs to be open to the messenger of the of the gospel who is a Baptist preacher, then it is not situational ethics but 'I have become all things to all people in order that I might win some."


Anonymous said...


So I guess next time I go to the gas station, I'll pick up a 40 oz. of beer and sit with him, drink a little bit and give him the gospel. Or better yet, I'll pick up some crack, go to the projects and smoke a little over the Gospel. The logic doesn't follow. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

i'm curious as to how your belief in drinking alcoholic beverages at times lines up with the June 14, 2006 SBC resolution that read, "resolved, that we urge that no one be elected to serve as a trustee or member of any entity or committee of the Southern Baptist Convention that is a user of alcoholic beverages." (from www.sbc.net) I was wondering how you could serve as an IMB trustee, yet support this resolution passed by the SBC messengers in Greensboro? I personally don't have a problem with your beliefs, you are free to believe as you choose, but when you represent SB's to the IMB but do not support resolutions by the messengers, how can that be right?

Wade Burleson said...


Sign your name.

I have already publicly stated for the weak brethren I will abstain from the use of alcohol while an IMB trustee, and have done so.

My beliefs don't change.

Wade Burleson said...


If you smoke crack at a gas station and share Jesus, I will personally arrest you.

Then, you can share Jesus with the men in your cell block. To compare smoking crack with drinking a beer is not only illogical, it is stupid. One is illegal, the other is not.

BeReady said...

Here is one question I would like answered on the alcohol issue....where do they draw the line? Is it a permissible to take liquid Nyquil(R)? Six ounces of Nyquil contains more alcohol than a twelve ounce beer. If it's permissible to take Nyquil when I have a cold, is it permissible for me to have a "hot toddie"? (For those of you who may not know what a "hot toddie" is, it's a homemade cold remedy that my grandma used to make. It consists of honey, water, lemon juice and bourbon whiskey mixed together and warmed up)
If it's permissible to take Nyquil (or a "hot toddie") when I have a cold, is it permissible to drink a glass of wine (in the privacy of your own home) to relax before you go to bed? I grew up in a home where alcohol flowed freely (no it wasn't Baptist, though I am Baptist now). I have seen the terrible results of alcoholism first hand. Abstinence is the best bet. However, I can't find one shred of Biblical text that would prohibit a person over the age of 21 from having a beer or glass of wine in the privacy of their own home. But back to my original question...could I be disqualified from serving on a Trustee board because I take Nyquil?

Please understand I'm asking this as a sincere question. I'm not trying to be sarcastic or disrespectful.

Bryan E. Ready

Anonymous said...

When I was in Seminary and the "liberals" were being pushed out by not signing a document. I said then that we are becoming a heirarchical system. We are trying to create cookie cutter pastors and churches. It is now continuing on a whole different level. I just want to know... Are we autonomous or not? Apparently we are as long as we give the correct amount to CP, agree with the leadership, never question and are good little boys and girls. I became SB as a college student and Pastor a SB church now.
POWER is the issue. The conservative resurgence was a good move back to the Bible, however I think the leaders of that think now they are the point.
YUCK. Not a proud time to be SB.

Tim Greer said...

I couldn't agree more with your post. The SBC is in serious danger from within. I think a great many SBC leaders have forgotten who we are and where we came from. Men like Bunyan, Fuller and Spurgeon carved out the Baptist tradition through blood, sweat and tears. Today, I doubt they would be admitted for membership in a Southern Baptist church. Martin Luther certainly wouldn't be. It's sadly hilarious to me that Luther couldn't join the same SBC choirs that sing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," which he wrote, because he drank the beer his wife brewed at home.

If orthodox Christianity is going to reach the coming generation, it's the Acts 29 guys who are going to do it. Legalism verging on cultism has got to go.


shadrach said...

Wade, I know the church is autonomous and that each believer has the 'right' to do almost anything, but the question is where do things like maintaining the purity of your witness and not causing others to stumble fall into your levels of doctrine.

Now all of this has become a slippery issue. Drinking is a sin if it destroys your witness or causes another to stumble. Gossiping is 'worse' because it is spoken against directly and not indirectly. If fact we should all be striving for absolute purity in Christ, but I'm not the one who can tell you what that is.

The issue is, we shoudl be engaging our culture as salt and light. That means we are set apart and called out to make a difference in our areas of influence. We do not become drinkers for drinkers and punks for punks or white collars for the white collars. We become the image of Christ, who remaining himself went into various elements of society, not with judgement, but with love. We are who God has created us. Now, how do you take that person and reach your Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, etc.?

I personally don't see room for drinking in that question, but that is not an authoritative word, just my interpretation of scripture telling me to be pure.

Wade Burleson said...


I wholeheartedly affirm your view for how you are to live as salt and light, and would not, in any form or fashion wish to dissuade you.

Nor would I desire you to demand I conform to your view for fellowship among each other since the Spirit moves on the hearts of his people in unique and diverse manners.

In His Grace,


ml said...

Wade, I am glad to see you are still commenting here. I wanted to make a couple of thoughts that are missed sometimes. Righteousness is not monitoring behavior. Our righteousness is Christ who empowers us to operate from integrity and gain discernment about such behaviors as defined by scripture contra some group norm. I am not sure if you have put the two together or not, but according to Peter Wagner [I know his name is immediately dismissed by some] there is a connection between cessationism and the clericalism you are describing here. We Baptists believe in the priesthood of all believers but not the ministry of all believers. Ministry, baptisms, Lord’s Supper, Preaching, is limited to a select professional few. Wagner maintains that this tendency is driven by cessationism. Let me refer you to C. Peter Wagner, Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts, 10-11. This tendency toward clericalism is at the root of what you are discussing here especially in the light of other topics commonly discussed on your blog forum--Landmarkism, Hierarchicalism, etc. He has helped me make a connection even though I would consider myself a limited cessationist. Which is kind of funny because it doesn’t matter what we consider ourselves since God is not really interested in our counsel on how we think he should operate [Romans 11:33-36].

David said...

Some among us can't be gotten out of the marina--where they sit, gripe, and do all sorts of non-fishing things as long as it doesn't include drinking alcohol in any form. Others among us are seldom seen inside the marina, as they're busy fishing the deep waters using as bait what the rest of us catch while casting from shore.

In 2008, let's all learn to fish all over the lake, to take catches from any depth. And, let's drag any naysayers out of the marina--it'll be good for them to see some real action again! I'm pretty sure they'll fall in love with fishing once more.

shadrach said...

Wade, only the first part of that was aimed directly at you: asking the question of where purity and not causing others to stumble fall into the doctrinal levels. The rest was just a general comment.

Like I said, and you have repeatedly affirmed, we should not demand other christians follow our interpretations of non-essential doctrines; we should just fellowship with everyone we can and be about God's calling to the nations.

Planter said...

I am planting a church in 2008. I quit drinking many years ago - but I am willing to drink a beer once in a while if you will support my church plant financially. The Lord definitely works in mysterious ways.
With You In Christ

BrotherPhil said...

I am a Southern Baptist Seminary trained minister of the Gospel. I am the son of a Southern Baptist Seminary trained Southern Baptist Pastor. My brother is a Southern Baptist pastor, as is one of my brothers in law. The other one is in the Air Force and has been a deacon in most of the Southern Baptist churches his family have attended during his 20+ years in the military.
I say all of that to let you know that I am from "the inside." But, I'm also not an insider. When the resurgence began, 1979, I was in the 9th grade. I went to the New Orleans and the Houston conventions, as well as Atlanta and Dallas. I paid attention. I listened. I was discouraged back then, that some of the leaders were more or less head-hunting than seeking righteousness.
All of that time, I have remained active in my membership and ministry in Southern Baptist churches. And not because of my SB heritage. I went to Seminary late in life, and found it hard to fit in... both with the younger students and with the professors, some of which were my age. Why?
Because I found it necessary to agree on the principles and not disagree with the non-essentials. I graduated from the ONE seminary that (supposedly) tried to stay out of all of the controversy. Yet, everywhere I turned (in the late 90's), the campus was as covered with the controversy as it was years later with sludge after the terrible storm.
One day, Southern Baptists will look up and see the pendulum swinging back the other direction.... I hope you, and I, and others will be able to catch it and stop (or at least slow down) the swing which carries the convention from influential to benign. It will require exactly what you have diagnosed... a focus on Christ and not on convention politics.

Robin Edgar said...

Here`s a "good Unitarian" for your viewing pleasure. . .

Anonymous said...

I dont know about Unitarians but there are over 10 million LDS followers and over 10 million Jehovah's Witnesses..... you have to believe how you believe.. your "defining" characteristics could also be applied to Augusta National Golf Club, the US Soccer Federation, FIFA, or the local Credit Union down the Street... remember thousands of Israelites saw God personally part the Red Sea and within a short time later they were fighting like kids.... How much time did Jesus spend trying to save Judas? on the night of his Death was he lamenting the decision to choose Judas as an Apostle? One day this will all be past