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

Al Mohler: The Right Man for the Wrong Job?

I distinctly remember the first time I met Al Mohler. It was at the 1993 Southern Baptist Convention in Houston where Al was introduced as the newly elected President of Southern Theological Seminary. Al presented himself as he always does - erudite, well-spoken, and driven. Since 1993 several of Emmanuel's church members, both men and women, have walked the corridors of Norton Hall pursuing Masters' Degrees at the recommendation of their pastor.

This week Al Mohler allowed the release of a statement that he would be running for the office of President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Al is well known in the evangelical world, serving on the board of Focus on the Family, appearing often on secular television shows, and weighing in regularly on the political and social issues of our day. Al is ubiquitous, but before anyone suggests the 2008 SBC Presidential election is already decided, it must be remembered that Al publicly endorsed Ronnie Floyd prior to the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention, and it should be obvious from Floyd receiving only 24% of the vote at the convention that the influence of Al is not as great in the SBC as some might presume. There are three reasons why I predict Southern Baptists may not elect Al Mohler, and instead place someone - similar to a Frank Page - in the office of President at the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention in Indianopolis.

REASON NUMBER ONE Southern Baptists are now desiring gospel cooperation, not the separatism of Fundamentalism.

Many thousands of Southern Baptists, including me, were willing to 'battle for the Bible.' We are not willing to battle for additions to the Bible. While Al Mohler strongly believes that the gospel should not be compromised (as do we), and is sometimes critical of the emerging church movement (as are we), it is just as dangerous to demand conformity on matters that exceed the gospel. Some have expressed fear of Mohler's Calvinism, but it his Fundamentalism which should cause pause when it comes to electing Al as President. Whereas Al could argue Calvinism is based upon an interpretation of the sacred text, it is more difficult to deny his Fundamentalism is based on additions to the sacred text. For example, Al has called intentional childlessness moral rebellion. Chapter and verse from the sacred text are not used for such pontifical pronouncements, and we Southern Baptists should always quickly question moral standards that exceed the sufficient Scriptures. Further, when one's orthodoxy (doctrine) contradicts one's orthopraxy (practice or behavior), confusion arises. For instance, in arguing for the moral pronouncement that intentional childlessness is rebellion against God, Mohler writes:

To demand that marriage means sex--but not children--is to defraud the creator of His joy and pleasure in seeing the saints raising His children.

Last time I checked only outright Socinians and Open Theists - not orthodox Calvinists - believed God intends to create children but is defrauded by the saints. Orthodoxy would say that God is as sovereign over the means as He is the ends. Is it not possible that a soverereign God actually had a hand in inventing contraception? Most Calvinists I know would agree. But when Calvinism weds herself to Fundamentalism a conundrum is born.

However, the more compelling reason to reject Mohler's Fundamentalism is the dangerous view of authority. In a cooperating convention like ours the Southern Baptist Convention is THE highest authority. At last year's Southern Baptist Convention the messengers adopted the Garner Motion which affirmed the following statement regarding the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message:

We acknowledge that the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message is the only consensus statement of doctrinal beliefs approved by the Southern Baptist Convention and as such is sufficient in its current form to guide trustees in their establishment of policies and practices of entities of the Convention.

For those who doubt that the Convention knew what they were doing when they affirmed the Executive Committee statement by adopting the Garner Motion, I would encourage you to read the transcript of the entire debate PRIOR to the vote which affirmed the Garner Motion by a nearly 60% magority. Southern Baptists knew what they were doing. The Convention spoke.

But the next day Al Mohler said the Convention did not know what we were doing. When one man - or an oligarchy of men - refuses to follow the Convention's authority, the Convention no longer exists as an autonomous body. I have always worked under the premise that I will do what I am doing on the IMB until the convention speaks and says 'no more.' My authority flows not from the IMB Board of Trustees; my authority flows from the SBC. My ultimate authority is God and His Word, and if the Convention ever departs from either, then I must leave. But I will not leave until the Convention speaks. The danger is when a man thumbs his nose at the Convention's authority and continues to serve in contradiction to that Convention - all the while receiving funds from the Cooperative Program for his ministry. The tide of Fundamentalism - which washes away gospel cooperation by the perpetual demands to conform on tertiary issues - must be stemmed in the SBC. The very existence and identity of our Convention is at stake.

We also need a President who will focus on the gospel more than politics. We need a President who will focus more on that which unites us than that which separates us. We need a President who serves the Convention rather than a President who controls the Convention. We need a President in 2008 who will lead us into a gospel resurgence.

REASON NUMBER TWO: It is at best unwise, and at worst a conflict of interest, to have an entity President simultaneously serving as President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

It will be argued by some that Paige Patterson served as President of the SBC exactly ten years ago (1998-2000). It is no accident that the committee appointed (not nominated) by President Patterson to revise the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message included relatives and close friends. It is also no accident that a restrictive view of the role of women - a view reflected in the personal philosophy of then President Paige Patterson - eventually found its way into the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Though no major doctrinal confession in the history of any Baptist body since 1600 contained such a tertiary statement about women, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted this one - in no small part to the powers of appointment of the President.

Now, let's move to a modern example. Two years ago a majority of Southern Baptist seminary Presidents pushed hard for the implementation of an annual "Seminary Offering" similar to The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, including her Board officers, felt incredible pressure to acquiesce to the desires of the seminary Presidents. In the end, the Executive Committee, through the appointment of appropriate committees who independently studied the proposal, politely said "no" to such an offering.

Now, fastforward to 2008. Suppose Al Mohler is elected President of the Southern Baptist Convention. He will not only serve as the President of an entity, he will preside over the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. He will have appointment powers - including over any committee he wishes to form to reinvestigate a 'Seminary Offering." This potential conflict of interest is fastidiously avoided - by policy and bylaw - within the secular corporate world, and it SHOULD be banned by any non-profit religious organization, including the SBC.

One of the reasons that the Southern Baptist Convention in 2008 seems to be controlled by the top down, instead of the tried and true historic Baptist grassroots level of governance, is because too many Southern Baptist leaders in the past thirty years have never met a sycophant they would not promote. Truly great leaders gather people with opposing views around them so that their leadership iron will remain sharp by the fires of dissent and challenge. The oligarchy of leadership that has typified the SBC during the Conservative Resurgence must be broken for no other reason than the incestuous control of agencies and boards through the appointment of simple 'yes' men must be broken for the health of our agencies. Demands for absolute conformity in all things among Baptists is like inbreeding within a family. Soon, the children will be unable to think on their own - literally. And, even more tragic, those in charge of the family won't hesitate to remind the children they are too dumb to know what needs done.

REASON NUMBER THREE: The Southern Baptist Convention needs the leadership of a man who sets the example for generous giving through the Cooperative Program.

Mohler is a member of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, where he serves as a "teaching pastor" and a Sunday school teacher. The church contributes 3.3 percent of its $5 million in undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program and nothing to the SBC's two mission offerings according to Baptist Press (UPDATE: It seems that Highland did not accurately report their traditional mission giving to the ACP. See the church's clarification here. We commend Highland for their stated goals for traditional missions giving for 2008). The mission's giving of one's home church is more important than it might seem at first glance, and in the coming months and years I am quite positive that this issue will only grow in importance in the minds of those whom will chose who leads the SBC.

There already has been an announcement that two other men will be running for President. I know both men and believe them to have good motives and the best interest of the SBC at heart. Just like Al, they will do what they feel called to do.

I do believe, however, that there may very well be another candidate for President of the Southern Baptist Convention who will be right man for the right job. He may, or may not, be revealed until May - just a month prior to the SBC. It is even possible that this man will not even announce, and simply let his name be revealed at the SBC Convention. Regardless, Southern Baptists should continue to express their gratefulness for Al Mohler, but should give serious consideration to whether or not he is the right man for the wrong job.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

144 comments:

art rogers said...

Very articulate and pointed post, Wade. While some would, no doubt, debate whether or not Dr. Mohler is actually a fundamentalist, there is no doubt that his election is a conflict of interest. No good thing comes of such a position. Your example of the Seminary Offering is excellent.

As to the CP giving, I am unsure that it is Al Mohler's responsibility to determine the giving in his church, but for one who wishes to be the President of the SBC, nay even draws his livelihood from the offerings given to the CP, I would think that he would not want to partner with a church with such a distant position. That they give nothing to the missions offerings is a serious thing, in my mind.

Pastor Steve said...

Very, very well said.

Believe it or not, my mind was changed 180 degrees by simply reading your respectful, clear and articulate post.

Like Art, I'm not sure everyone will agree with your assessment of Al's Fundamentalism, but I hope they hear what I do when I read your writings - you are not CONDEMNING him for his Fundamentalism. You are simply CHALLENGING him in it.

True statemanship. True leadership. You ought to be the pastor nominated.

Ranger said...

Thanks for the very interesting post that was articulate and directed. You speak of another candidate as if you have knowledge, just as you did with David Rogers last year...that will surely pique the interests of many.

I'll be completely honest when I say that I think it's a shame that you so quickly have labeled Al Mohler as a fundamentalist. I think it was a shame in the eighties when many moderates were labeled as liberals in order to discredit them. Mohler may be more fundamentalist in some regards than you are, but as you know the label fundamentalist is extremely negative and often unnecessary. I believe this is one of those situations where it is unnecessary.

While making a case against Mohler's "fundamentalism" you make a good point. You say of Mohler, "when one man - or an oligarchy of men - refuses to follow the Convention's authority, the Convention no longer exists as an autonomous body." I completely agree with this statement, and Mohler's seminary "report" was very discouraging on a number of levels. Congregational polity is at the very heart of being a Baptist, and as such a true Baptist leader should follow the direction of the congregation even if they personally disagree.

With that said, congregational authority is why I disagree with your latter point in regards to Mohler and the CP giving at Highview Baptist Church. The BF&M says of the church that, "each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes." As a member of a Baptist church holding to congregational polity, Mohler only has one vote and their decisions in no way are representative of his personal support or lack of support for the cooperative program.

Even if Mohler was the pastor he would only be able to lead and set an example of giving, but ultimately the decision to give or not to give lies in the hands of the congregation. You set a wonderful example of giving at Emmanuel, and your church has followed your lead with strong giving to the cooperative program. It would be wrong for us to say that the congregation at Emmanuel only gives because of your leadership, and as such it would be wrong to say that Highland doesn't give because of a lack or leadership on the part of Mohler.

Ben Wheaton said...

Hi Wade, I'm a long-time reader, first-time poster.
Although I am not a Southern Baptist, I have read a good deal of Mohler's work, and I do not think that your contention that he is a fundamentalist holds up. Fundamentalists do not engage the culture (or at least not in a courteous fashion); Mohler does. I do not agree that his statement concerning children in marriage was evidence of fundamentalism. One may disagree with it, but I believe that it can be derived from Scripture without too much trouble. Certainly it should not be a matter of church discipline, but I don't think that Mohler was implying that it should.
Mohler may well not be the right man for the job; however, I have seen some rather brutal attacks against him in Southern Baptist blogs that are very inappropriate. You have always been courteous and reasonable (well, not always, but usually)--please don't stop now. I know that in a convention such as the SBC intra-denominational politics can get very nasty, but do you really want to contribute to this rather un-Christlike state of affairs?

Bart Barber said...

Wade,

Have you spoken with anyone at Highview Baptist Church regarding their missions giving?

Wade Burleson said...

Ben,

You make an excellent point that I do concede. I thank the Lord for the way Al does engage the culture.

My point is simiply that when he engages the culture that he does so on the teachings of the sufficient Scriptures and not pricniples that go beyond it.

Legalism may be a better word than Fundamentalism. It is all in the definitions.

By the way, Pastor Steve got it right above. I love Fundamentalists. I simply wish to challenge the extra biblicism. And NOT for them personally - for when they impose it universally.

In His Grace,

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Bart,

I read this (six sentence from the bottom of the article), with the source attributed to Baptist Press.

Bart Barber said...

All those words make for a very inefficient way of saying "No." :-)

Scott Shaffer said...

Wade,

Your comments disappoint me. Obviously you are free to support whomever you want but I don't see this post as very gracious, especially after I read in the ABP article, "Burleson said he does not oppose Mohler personally. "I appreciate what he has done for evangelicalism," Burleson said. "I have nothing negative to say about Al Mohler."

Yet in a derogatory tone you deemed him a Fundamentalist and in a comment you said legalist might be a better term. In both instances you have changed the definition of the words.

In the post you also imply that Mohler is a sycophant (or would appoint them), is a yes man (or would appoint them), would seek to control instead of serve the SBC, and would be more focused on politics than the gospel. Are there any other non-negative comments you want to make?

Bart Barber said...

I'll be releasing a post later today giving a thorough analysis of missions giving at Highview Baptist Church, Louisville. It will include source material directly from the church. It will also include analysis of their historical ACP data.

Do you think it would be helpful for me to include Emmanuel Enid's data for comparison's sake? From what I can tell, the approach of the two churches has been strikingly similar.

David said...

Bart:

You also know how to access ACP info of the SBC's congregations online. When you do so and view Highview's self-posted info for 2006, you will read "0" entered in the spaces marked for the AAEO and the LMCO (your congregation gave to each). The congregation's ACP entry for the same year for Total Mission Expenditures reads "$726,185"--14.29% of undesignated gifts of $5.08 million (the figure for your congregation is 16.71% of total undesignated offerings which are 1/10 of that of Highview's).

My point: Wade is correct, even if his source is a secondary one.

Dave Miller said...

I have a nephew at Southern. Thirty years ago, I would have been horrified by that, fearing that the false teachings of my college professors (Southern grads) would influence him to abandon truth.

Now, largely because of the influence of Al Mohler, I can rejoice that he is in a solid conservative seminary.

However, I have two specific reasons for not supporting his candidacy.

1) His response to the Garner motion last summer told me he has come to believe he is bigger than the convention. SBC employees need to be in submission to the expressed will of the SBC.

2) It is an unacceptable conflict of interest for a denominational agency head (or any other employee) to be president. My state convention would not allow it. I wish the SBC wouldn't.

So, while I appreciate Al Mohler, I would not vote for him.

Dan Paden said...

Hmmm. Interesting.

I note that you said you had four reasons, but I only see three. Did I miss something?

I had to laugh out when I read

Demands for absolute conformity in all things among Baptists is like inbreeding within a family. Soon, the children will be unable to think on their own - literally.

What do you mean, "soon?" We've been at that point for a long time, and frankly, it's worst with those who've been Southern Baptists for a long time. Try teaching a Sunday School class full of older adults and asking anything but multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank questions these days. I hate to say it, but by and large, they don't want to think, they just want to regurgitate what they've heard for decades, and then be congratulated on how well they did it.

David said...

Bart:

Saved you the effort.


Emmanuel-Enid:

Total Reciepts: $2.7 million

Undesignated: $2.1 million

Total Mission Expenditures: $573,614

Cooperative Program: $105,000

AAEO and LMCO: gave to both

Congregational Debt: $438,000

Average Worship/SS Attendance: 1245/831

Total Baptisms: 97 (other additions: 58)


NOTE: my congregation gives annually as it does to the CP as a part of our "good neighbor" commitment to other churches affilating with the SBC. We don't love the SBC--we love our fellow-believers who are the SBC, and we USE the resources we are providing to ourselves via our CP contributions through the SBC to be more effectively on-mission with the Lord Jesus Christ in this world (sentimentally attached to folks like you, and NOT to the religious non-profit organization given the name "Southern Baptist Convention"). I guess there is a point at which any SBC congregation can be considered "less 'good neighbor'" than other affiliating churches; to date, it appears that the smaller congregations among us--your included--are making greater "good neighbor" sacrifices than the bigger ones are (cf. widow's mite).

What would SBC life be like if all affiliating churches made like sacrifices in terms of percentage of undesignated reciepts and blood-sweat-tears? Just asking.

It's Saturday. There must be something better to do than this today . . .

Wade Burleson said...

Dan,

Typo. Thanks for the correction.

Dan. Thanks for the posting of the information.

Bart. I am not the one running for President of the SBC. I believe our church's five percent giving to the Cooperative Program disqualifies me.

In His Grace,

Wade

davidinflorida said...

Wade,

I`m definitely not in favor of "inbreeding", "dumb children" and "sycophants"

cameron coyle said...

straws...grasping...

David said...

comments . . . unnecessary . . . contributing little . . . what else you got?

Bart Barber said...

Wade,

Thanks for the disclosure, as far as it went, of Emmanuel Enid's figures. Before any level of CP giving would disqualify someone from running for SBC President, I would think that it would disqualify someone from criticizing someone else's level of CP giving, especially without performing any prior investigation of what and how they actually gave.

Personally, I believe that any candidate's personal beliefs about CP giving are fair game for consideration while choosing how to vote in Indianapolis. Do you know what would make a really good post? Somebody ought to contact Highview's pastor, interview him about his church's CP giving, and then ask him about Dr. Mohler's views of the CP and and actions Mohler has taken within the church to influence the church's CP giving. THAT would be a relevant, accurate, and well-researched post.

Any takers out there?

Bart Barber said...

As for proper Saturday activities, I ought to be out there working toward that 97 conversion number. Well done.

David said...

The issue for me: the conflict-of-interest part which Wade mentions in today's posting. That one shouldn't be hard for any of us to understand. It would seem that if Dr. Mohler is as bright as is suggested (and I'm sure that he is), then he understands this as well--and wouldn't permit his nomination for that reason. Again, there are--what?--something like 4 million other individuals attending SBC churches who are equally-qualified or better? This is not so hard . . .

David said...

Dr. Mohler should speak for himself regarding his personal views of CP giving, and why he chooses to affiliate with a congregation with a track record like the one he attends and serves. His pastor can be asked about Dr. Mohler's influence on the congregation, including any efforts to raise or lower the church's CP giving.

Maybe Dr. Mohler has spoken for himself (he maintains a blog, right?), and maybe his pastor already has described Dr. Mohler's influence (he keeps him employed as a teaching pastor, right?).

KevinB said...

It is unfortunate that we are throwing the "F" word around so soon.

I think Mohler's work with Together for the Gospel is highly commendable and should exempt him from such a label. Good grief, he had C.J. Mahaney preach from Southern pulpit.

As to the example given of his "fundamentalism". Quite frankly, everyone has strong opinions about some topic that they dont' have a pefect 1 verse justification for.

Anonymous said...

I live in Louisville and have always found Mohler's choice for a church home very strange. Highview is not Calvinist but it is the only Baptist 'mega' church in town.(But not nearly as big as the 'Christian mega church in town')

They have "satellite" churches and
are are growing by adding these campuses. I think Ezell is still the pastor of all the churches and downlinks his sermons. For a while he was driving to two locations every Sunday.

One church, a small church, on the wrong side of the tracks, was added a few years ago by offering to take it over. Many were against it but when the vote came, members had to be there so many showed up from hospital beds and nursing homes to vote! Highview won by a 12 vote margin. Those voting against went to a dying church down the road and it is now thriving. The Rick Warren style Hawaiian shirt guys came in and took over replacing the over 50's who were working in the church with the 20 year olds.

Such are the tactics to expand. I have heard that Highview is leaning toward 'elder rule' but right now it is pretty much pastor lead. It is to big to be congregation lead because of the sattilite churches. There is not really a Body of Christ feel to it.

One high level staffer at Highview, a well known former county judge,was on the University of Louisville Board when it voted to have same sex health benefits for employees. this person did not resign over the vote which was secret but passed.

Like I said, strange choice for a church when there are growing but smaller Calvinist churches in town. Highview is basically a 'seeker church' in the style of Willow Creek or Saddleback.

The point of this is-Mohler is not a fundamentalist when it comes to his choice of home church. He has gone seeker, Arminian, church growth movement.

Brent said...

Though Mohler has a teaching role at Highview, I disagree that his church's giving is a legitimate issue. When a man is the pastor of a church, he has much more influence over missions giving. The senior pastor of a church, if running for SBC President, deserves to have his church's mission giving examined. Not a Sunday School teacher.

This blog post is nothing but a hit piece. You give reasons why he "may not be" elected, but in reality you are giving reasons why "I don't want him to be" elected. I expect more transparency out of this blog.

Dave Miller said...

Theory:

My church runs over 300 on a very good Sunday morning (have hit 325 or so). We have a budget of nearly 400k. We give 12.5% to the cooperative program and give pretty well to Lottie and Annie.

Fact: Smaller and medium sized churches tend to give higher percentages to CP. Mega churches often give significant AMOUNTS, but lower percentages.

The Theory - churches like mine do not have enough money to do other significant acts with our missions giving, so we put all our eggs in the CP basket.

The CP lets a smaller Iowa church participate in a huge worldwide missions programs.

Bigger churches have enough money to do projects of their own, and tend to put resources into those. They can decide to support a missionary on their own or fund projects independently.

If my church doubled in size and budget, we might be tempted to start using some of our missions money to carry out projects we are led to do by ourselves.

The SBC tends to select mega-church pastors as its presidents, but very few of them will have a great track record of PERCENTAGE giving to CP.

I state this as a theory. It is based on a lifetime of observation, but is wholly without scientific research.

David said...

Dave Miller:

Your smaller congregation can contribute the same smallish CP percentage to the SBC but get the same big opportunities/access to resources that the bigger churches get--save for your congregation's conscience in regard to the matter, I suppose. Maybe your congregation--and all of ours--should make the mega-church choice: contribute less, demand more. Of course, then where would the SBC be--where it's actually headed anyway? Interesting dilemma we're creating for ourselves in the future by our CP choices now . . . The SBC's next president probably ought to understand that and do something about it, huh?


Brent:

How about "dialog piece" instead of "hit piece" until some actually "hitting" takes place? Otherwise, you are guilty of the same charges you toss around or lay on Wade.

davidinflorida said...

Anonymous Dave,

Since some of the comments here don`t meet up to your lofty expectations, why not start up your own BLOG instead?

Then, you could come out of the closet, identify yourself and manage your BLOG the way you like it, instead of whining here.

KevinB said...

I don't think your reasons are the most likely explanation for why Mohler could lose (though I doubt he will).

IMHO, it is more plausible that he "might" lose because of a coalition of
(1) anti-establishment folks and
(2) establishment folks who credit mohler with the rise of calvinism which they DESPISE.

David said...

David in Florida:

I didn't realize that this blog has 2 moderators--the owner of it and you. Interesting. Maybe I can start another blog as you suggest and it could be the third site that you moderate.

Or, you can add helpful information to the discussions at this site. Which option do you think would be easier on everyone all around? I vote for staying the current course here if Wade permits. But you can go back to your blogsite if you want, brother, where no whining--or probably much reading--takes place.

Bill Scott said...

Wade,
You made some good arguements concerning Mohler and why you feel he is not the man for the job of SBC President.

I have one issue with one of your assertions however, you said:

"Mohler is a member of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, where he serves as a "teaching pastor" and a Sunday school teacher. The church contributes 3.3 percent of its $5 million in undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program and nothing to the SBC's two mission offerings according to Baptist Press."

Does membership in an organization that has a contrarian policy of one sort or another reflect negatively the individual or the organization?

Let's spin it this way. You are a trustee of the IMB and it has developed divisive guidelines and policies over the last couple of years. Do these actions reflect negatively on you as an individual trustee? You have been very vocal in your opposition to these policies, guidelines and decisions. You are still, however, as stated in this post, a trustee appointed by the convention. But then again you are a member of the IMB. So are you part of the solution or the problem? I know your answer would be that you are part of the solution.

You assertion would only be valid if it is known that Dr. Mohler is the one responsible for boycotting the LMCO and AAEO. Could it be that he is a staff member of a church that voted to not participate in the offerings?

So that we can be certain, you under no circumstance will be running for the President of the SBC? A yes or no answer will suffice :-) There is no buttermilk or cornbread required.

Bill Scott

Steve said...

Whether or not Al Mohler was a Fundamentalist five minutes before the pivotal 1979 vote at the SBC meeting, I understand that he volunteered himself as same when the CR began gathering stovewood to burn Roy Honeycutt and Hershel Hobbs. If he lined up with the Fundamentalists then, let him be proud of being one now.
At San Antonio, it sure looked like he wanted himself to be spoken of in the same breath as Dr. Paige Patterson. He's obviously proud of finding jobs for his Fundamentalist acolytes, just like Dr. P.

Joel Rainey said...

Wade,
Its been a while, and I hope your family enjoyed a great holiday!

Like you, I have great admiration for Al Mohler; probably more so, given he was my seminary president, and like annonymous above, I have a great appreciation for the work he did in bringing Southern back to its roots. That said, I appreciate how you have expressed your reticence to a Mohler SBC presidency with much grace.

Personally, I'm simply not sure how I will vote this coming June, primarily because I have no idea who else will be a candidate, but I would like to respond to the points you make against Mohler:

1. Fundamentalism; I think he's "guilty as charged" and, just as I, would be proud to wear the label. I also believe you should look at some of his positions more closely. For example, I happen to personally agree with his position regarding "intentional childlessness," not based on a series of proof-texts, but rather, based upon what he and I both believe to be clear Scriptural principles that would lead one to conclude that Mohler is right on this point. I also believe you and others have the right to disagree (after all, this isn't in the BFM), but there is a difference between making a strong argument about something in which you passionately believe (which Mohler has done in regard to this issue) and claiming that those who disagree can't be a part of the SBC (which he hasn't done, at least not on this issue). That said, I would say his theological positions alone are not reason to deny him the Presidency. I disagree strongly with Frank Page's view of Calvinism, which he strongly states in his book of a few years ago, but he still got my vote.

2. View of Authority; You may have something here, although I will leave room for the possibility that he wasn't "thumbing his nose" at the churches, but instead, interpreting the Garner motion in a different way than you and I did.

3. Conflict of Interest; You nailed it, and I must admit that there is absolutely no way of escaping this one. Should I decide on another candidate, this would probably be the most compelling reason to do so. Plus, since we are a "convention of churches," I'm always more comfortable with a local church guy at the helm.

4. CP Giving; I'm not sure we should hold an individual church member responsible for the percentage his church gives to the CP. When I served two years ago appointing the committee on nominations, we were strongly encouraged by our committee chairman to select candidates whose church reached a base "threshhold" of at least 3%, and Highview is just above that mark. In the end, I'm not sure how much of a difference that will make. Personally, I think there is much more to this issue than simply how much money went to the CP. At the same time, $0 to Lottie and Annie is troubling, although again, I'm not so much troubled by Mohler in regard to this as I am by the church as a whole.

Since you know two others will be nominated, any idea on when the rest of us might know who they are? :)

Justa Believer said...

Questions:
If a Southern Baptist congregation does not make any special emphasis on the LMCO or AAEO, but an individual member of the church is aware of those offerings, could not that individual designate a gift to either offering? And if that individual did so, wouldn't the church pass it along, and the church's giving report would then indicate the amount of that gift?

Is it possible for an individual to contribute to either offering directly, rather than through their local congregation? If so, would there be any record of that individual's gift?

Wade Burleson said...

Bill Scott,

Yes.

Wade Burleson said...

Joel,

Well stated. Blessings to you and your family as well.

I agree with you to a point. My issue is not that Al believes that intentional childlessness is rebellion to God for himself and his wife - that is his God-given and soul-driven rightful conclusion to which he and Mary have arrived.

My issue with Al (and possibly you) is that Al or you would tell me - or my church member - or my sister - or my brother - or any other child of God that IF they were to choose to be intentionally childless that they would be in moral rebellion to God. The issue quite simply is that I resist anyone pronouncing something for another Christian that the Scripture does not clearly spell out as sin - and you would be hardpressed to identify intenional childlessness as sin for other people (again, if it is your conviction, for your life, then I affirm it as sin for you). This is fundamentally the difference between commandments from God and convictions of men. We fellowship around conformity to commandments from God, but division and separation arises when men demand conformity to their personal convictions by all others. Those who desire to do this will constantly seek to change the BFM and SBC agency policies to bring about such conformity.

If you wish to continue to press the issue of intentional childlessness on others - where do you stop?

If a young couple intends to be intentionally childless for five years and then the wife has cancer and unintentionally can't have kids in the later years of marriage, did she sin in the first five years?

Does that mean that anyone who intentionally prohibits the insemenation of his wife through the use of contraception is in moral rebellion against God?

Are contraceptions considered as evil and sinful as abortion?

If I desired to be Roman Catholic and submit to papal bulls based upon the opinions of someone who thought his convictions were on par with Scripture I would not be a Southern Baptist. The issue for me is that we do not need anyone in leadership who looks for ways to demand Convention conformity to his personal convictions

Thanks for writing Joel. I do wish you the best.

In His Grace,


Wade

Benjamin S. Cole said...

Justa Believer:

Yes. If Al Mohler had given one plug nickel to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering through his local church, that church is bound to forward that nickel the IMB. In such an instance, there would be a reported $.05 gift to the LMCO on the ACP.

Apparently no member of Highview Baptist Church contributed to the LMCO through the church's offering. Either that, or Highview's ACP is inaccurate.

If Al Mohler has given a gift directly to the LMCO by either forwarding it to the IMB in Richmond or the ExComm in Nashville directly, then there would be a record of that gift. Of course, such a record would not be a PUBLIC record unless Al Mohler chose to publicize his LMCO giving record.

BSC

Benjamin S. Cole said...

One more thing...

Robert Jeffress assures us that Al Mohler is able to "motivate Southern Baptists to unite around cooperation for global missions and evangelism."

I am confident that Al Mohler's personal commitment to missions and evangelism can be easily demonstrated by his giving record to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

I hope Al Mohler will put this issue to rest once and for all and disclose this pertinent information so that Southern Baptists don't have to listen to the dubious conjectures of anti-Mohlerites who go about fearmongering over his Calvinism.

Years ago, in 1989, SBC President Jerry Vines required that all entity leaders include a personal testimony of soul-winning in their reports to the annual convention. I hope Al Mohler will soon testify about how the Lord has burned a soulwinner's passion into the fabric of his own ministry.

BSC

Joel Rainey said...

Thanks for the reply Wade.

Regarding intentional childlessness, the points Mohler has made, as I have heard them, don't relate to wisely planning your family, and thus, the couple who waited five years in your illustration above, are not the "targets" of his position.

Also, my own practice in this regard would be to counsel a couple considering marriage, and challenge them concerning this issue if I discovered that either or both had no desire for children. Personally, I would not make this a public issue, or point out people individually. At least, that has been my practice. At the same time, children are a gift from the Lord, and I am compelled to ask why a couple would not desire one of God's greatest gifts.

Furthermore, in our own cultural context, this issue has more, I think, to do with materialism than anything else. My experience in ministry has been that couples who are reticent to have children are so because they would rather drive a nicer car and take exotic vacations than stay home with a baby. It is this attitude that I think needs confronting, albeit in a humble and confidential way.

Since your post doesn't relate to this, I'll shut up about it. But I just wanted to clarify where I'm coming from. I would never approve of a measure that would barr potential missionaries from service over this issue.

But again, I'm one of those "extremists" who thinks the BFM2000 is enough, and will subsequently help lead the SBC into radical charismatic and liberal eccumenical days! :)

Have a good weekend.

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks Joel.

You too.

Joel Rainey said...

Wade,
Although I'm finished talking about the issue here because the post needs to stay on point, I think we'd all have a lot of fun if you would write a post on this issue so everybody can chime in.

What fun that would be. :)

Wade Burleson said...

I'd be happy to do a point, counterpoint with you at some time - though after your clarifications in this stream I think we may find ourselves making the same points.

:)

Anonymous said...

Ben said,
"I am confident that Al Mohler's personal commitment to missions and evangelism can be easily demonstrated by his giving record to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering."

Ben, you have got to be kidding. An individuals personal commitment to missions and EV can be easily demonstrated by his giving to LM and AA? Sounds extrabiblical to me. Surely you and Wade do not really mean that--or do you?
Mike

art rogers said...

Imagine my lack of surprise when quoting self disclosed financial statements doesn't meet Bart Barber's level of acceptability. Imagine my further lack of astonishment when Bart postulates that a similar personal situation would disqualify Wade from even speaking about Al Mohler's church relationship and their giving or lack thereof - even though Wade is not running for President. Imagine my lack of perplexion as Bart focuses only on this issue, as if it were everything, and completely ignores the conflict of interest issue.

The conflict of interest issue is enough. It is inappropriate to be in a position to influence the appointment of your own Board. It is inappropriate to be in a position to influence for your own betterment the organization that you are supposed to serve, e.g. the Seminary Offering.

It is a fallacy to say, however, that the critique of Mohler's association with a church that gives in a particular way is disallowed because of any personal position of the one offering the critique. The truth of the statement is inherent, and not based on anything to do with Wade.

My church gives over 15% (CP+Association+LMCO/AAEO+church efforts). Am I allowed to critique the issue?

I can imagine that Bart will not be shocked to learn that I don't care whether he thinks I can or can't (or Wade can or can't).

As to the issue of intentional childlessness, I don't want to belabor a point that Wade seems ready to put to bed, but is not a good wife a gift from God as well? Many Scriptures reveal the value of a good and godly wife. Is it therefore a sin not to marry?

This is a relevant point. If it is a sin to be intentionally childless because we are standing in the way of raising God's children, then we are immediately taken to the point that to prohibit conception at anytime is sinful, because we stand in the way of raising the potential child of God. We are immediately at the Roman Catholic position on contraception.

Which is fine if that is where you are, but to proclaim such as the head of the SBC is considerably problematic for many reasons. I'll leave them all for another time, as I think most of the pertinent ones are obvious.

Benjamin S. Cole said...

Mike:

You must have recently stumbled across my writing style. Leaving people wondering what I mean is not a frequent indictment raised against my comments. So I'll let you linger and wrestle through what I meant.

I will, however, amplify my thoughts on this issue.

Of course you cannot tell if a man is concerned for missions and evangelism by the dollar amount of his gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Neither can you tell much about a man's commitment to evangelism by the passionate plea for soulwinning he makes on conference platforms or the endless "testimonies" he offers of leading some airplane passenger in the Sinner's Prayer.

I am of a mind that all such "standards" for adjudicating the suitability of any candidate for convention office are artificial and unproductive.

I'll take it one step further.

If I thought that electing another president to promote "missions and evangelism" was needed, I suppose I would propose that Al Mohler pledget to paint a tour bus and travel the country on a Million Baptism campaign, blowing shofarim all the way.

Whether or not Al Mohler has led one person to faith in Christ in the last twenty years, or twenty persons in the last one year is of no consequence to me. It is undeniable that Al Mohler is a great -- and I mean truly great -- seminary president.

Whether or not Al Mohler has given ten dollars or ten thousand dollars to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering doesn't matter to me either.

Whether or not Al Mohler has ever purchased a condom, spanked his children, drank a glass of wine, smoked a cigar, yelled at his wife, driven above the posted speed limit, flared his temper at professors, watched an R-rated movie, overeaten, or gossiped about his fellow denominational leaders is of no consequence to me in deciding how I shall vote in Indianapolis.

Mohler is a sinner who probably understands the nature and effect of sin better than those who would accuse him. If there are substantive reasons to deny Mohler the office to which he aspires, they will arise in time. If his ideological commitments are inconsistent with the direction of Southern Baptists, we shall know come June. He's written millions of words and spoken millions more. Most of them are available for public consumption. It doesn't appear that he's hiding much, though I readily confess that many of those charged with the responsibility to elect our next SBC president have little chance of understanding what Mohler says or the implications thereof.

Nevertheless, I am not convinced that electing Al Mohler would be harmful to the Southern Baptist Convention. Neither am I convinced that electing him would be helpful.

Lump me in with the mass of Southern Baptists who are watching and waiting, pondering and praying.

As for your statement about Wade's and my not believing something....

I wasn't aware that Wade had said anything at all about Mohler's giving to the LMCO? We do not, as you may know, always see things from the same perspective or share a resolve to address issues the same way.

BSC

Todd Benkert said...

While I disagree with your conclusions, I think it is legitimate to discuss points two and three. I believe, however, there are significant arguments to be made that will answer these objections. Your first point, however, is a complete mischaracterization of Mohler. While he does not need my defense, here are a few counter-points.

1. Mohler is not on a crusade against intentional childlessness, he has spoken and blogged a few times about it. His opinion may or may not be correct, but is neither extra-biblical nor fundamentalist. From reading his article “ Theological Triage,”* I surmise he would place this as a third level issue.

2. Mohler has proved himself as a bridge-builder both within the Convention and without. As merely two examples, his role in finding common ground in missions and evangelism between Calvinist and non-Calvinist Southern Baptists and his close friendship and co-founding of Together for the Gospel with Presbyterian Ligon Duncan and charismatic C.J. Mahaney (as well as Mark Dever) demonstrate his commitment toward both cooperation and evangelism.

3. Mohler is committed to both theological orthodoxy and Great Commission zeal. Any student at Southern can attest to this. In my favorite quote from his two inaugural addresses** is “To those of us on the faculty [of SBTS], if we are not driven to lead our students into evangelism, then we must teach somewhere else. Students, if you think evangelism is something you are called to do at some point in the future, rather than the present—or something that someone else is called to do—go study somewhere else. And beloved, if your theology does not issue a determination to see the glory of God in the salvation of the lost, and see that responsibility as a sacred privilege, then take your theology somewhere else.”

4. The Garner motion, to beat a long dead horse, was inherently flawed. While many who voted for the motion understood it the way it was framed in the debate, the language of the motion does not accomplish what you want. However anyone who voted understood it, the intended meaning of the motion is not explicit in its actual wording. Mohler’s report at the Convention was not a nose thumbing, but a statement (and to some, a reassurance) or how he would apply the motion.

5. Mohler consistently demonstrates graciousness and integrity. I aspire to be like him in this way.

6. Your final statement tells it all:

“We also need a President who will focus on the gospel more than politics. We need a President who will focus more on that which unites us than that which separates us. We need a President who serves the Convention rather than a President who controls the Convention. We need a President in 2008 who will lead us into a gospel resurgence.”

If we are to follow your advice here, then we should elect Mohler.
:-)

* http://www.albertmohler.com/commentary_read.php?cdate=2004-05-20
** http://www.albertmohler.com/documents/TwoInauguralAddresses.pdf

Anonymous said...

"As to the issue of intentional childlessness, I don't want to belabor a point that Wade seems ready to put to bed, but is not a good wife a gift from God as well? Many Scriptures reveal the value of a good and godly wife. Is it therefore a sin not to marry?"

Excellent point.

This piece by Mohler has been a big topic of conversation in many venues. One question that came up was that Mohler never states in the article if he is talking about Christians specifically or just the population in general. I would think the distinction would have been important to him.

but stating that people are not having children because they want nice cars and exotic vacations is painting with a very broad brush and insulting. I have missionary friends serving in a very dangerous country who have decided not to have children and plan to stay there planting churches in a very dangerous environment. I cannot even write them letters! I guess one could tell them they are in sin...but I agree with Wade that view is extra biblical.

This is where I think Mohler does us a disservice by warring with the popular culture too much. He does sound more like a Pope in these articles sometimes than a humble Christian servant. IMHO.

David said...

Joel:

The one former SBTS prof--a single-never-married person with no children--I know who apparently was present when similar comments were made by Dr. Mohler and who has spoken regarding them took the comments made by Al as both unbiblical and unnecessary. As that prof has like credentials and himself heard Dr. Mohler's statements, I have no reason not to give him the benefit of the doubt at this point.

Dr. Mohler surely reads this blog. Might he chime in to clarify and set all of us straight? I'm willing to hear from him. His defenders here could do all of us a favor and request Dr. Mohler's reply at this site.

As for Dr. Jeffress: I have the utmost respect for him and feel certain he has good reasons for being willing to nominate Dr. Mohler--though I disagree with those reasons.

RKSOKC66 said...

I think those who supported the Garner motion "understood" the motion in a more "specific" way that taking it for what it literally said. Personally, I am in total agreement with the "intended spirit" of the Garner motion. The problem is that the Garner motion did not really come out and say what its proponents understood it to say.

I think making any type of case regarding Mohler vis. a vis. the Garner motion is weak.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

ranger said...

Wade,
Would you please comment on how you see congregational authority as a reason one should not support Mohler for president (due to his disregard of conventional authority in regards to the Garner motion), yet you seemingly disregard congregational authority when discussing the CP giving at Highland and Emmanuel (because you said that you do not consider yourself qualified because your church only gives 5% to the CP)?

I'm with you in saying that Mohler, as an elected official, should submit to the congregational authority of the convention, just as you, as an elected official, have to submit to the trustees. Of course, as you have so eloquently written before, you are both free to have dissenting opinions in your words, yet your actions need to submit to the respective bodies that elected you, and ultimately to the churches that make up the convention that elected you as they submit to the authority of Christ.

With that said, you are a servant of Christ serving at Emmanuel; Mohler is a servant of Christ, serving at SBTS and Highland. As such, you may both be ardent supporters of CP giving and the LMCO, and yet be a leader in a church who does not give a high percentage to either. That's simply how congregational autority works, and why I do not personally believe that congregational CP giving should be the litmus test for the presidency of the SBC.

It's clear from things you have said in the past that you are a strong supporter of CP giving, despite your church only giving 5% to the CP. Couldn't the same be true of Mohler, and shouldn't we stop trying to hold individuals responsible for something that is not their individual responsibility?

On another note, as for those who are asking for Mohler to release all accounts of his personal giving to the LMCO, I think when we give, it's to be done in secret (as much as is possible) and the left hand shouldn't know what the right hand is doing. Therefore, to ask Mohler to lay before the world his record of giving would be asking too much.

ranger said...

By the way,
I'm not a Mohler supporter, and my arguments about congregational authority and CP giving are not because I am supporting him for SBC president.

I personally do not think any entity head should be president due to the obvious conflicts of interest. If Mohler were to step down from SBTS, then I would consider him to be a strong candidate for the position, but as the situation currently stands I would hope that the messengers from my church would not vote for him due to the conflict of interest.

Wade Burleson said...

Ranger,

You make a good point.

However, I stand by what I am saying. My church is EXTREMELY mission minded. We just happen to do it through traditional means (5%) and NON-traditional means.

I personally believe a man who has served the SBC, set an example of leading his church to give through traditional means (the CP), should have the honor of guiding the institution we call SBC.

By the way, I AM under congregational authority as a pastor. I am also one of the trustees who has authority OVER the IMB - but the authority is GIVEN to me by the SBC - and cannot be taken away without SBC approval, so it is incorrect to say I am under trustee authority. I am UNDER convention authority as a trustee. The Southern Baptist Convention elected me - not my fellow trustees. The Convention is my highest authority in terms of my trusteeship - and that is a bylaw principle of both the IMB and the SBC.

In His Grace,

Wade

art rogers said...

And still, no one makes a reasonable argument as to why Dr. Mohler should be put into a position that creates such an extreme conflict of interest...

I guess if we ignore it, it will go away?

Maybe if we focus on the other issues...

Or maybe not.

Ben, you're still single, aren't you? Sinner. Get thee a wife.

:)

Rex Ray said...

Todd Benkert,
Mohler may not need your defense, but he sure got it. And I might add a good job of it. He might do well to add you to his campaign team if he has one.

Mohler has never explained (that I know of) why he believes there’s too much freedom for Christians when the BFM 1963 had “priesthood of the believer”. Do you feel the same as him?

If so, would you mind telling why that freedom was bad and had to be eliminated by adding an ‘s’ to “believer” in the BFM 2000?

Thanks

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

I have heard that Highview is leaning toward 'elder rule' but right now it is pretty much pastor lead. It is to big to be congregation lead because of the sattilite churches. There is not really a Body of Christ feel to it.

Huh? Can you please explain what you mean by there is not a "Body of Christ" feel to it?

Anonymous said...

Huh? Can you please explain what you mean by there is not a "Body of Christ" feel to it?

05 January, 2008 22:49

4 locations/ one pastor.

Not a lot of input from the Body in a situation like that. Very disjointed. Can you imagine a congregational vote in that situation?

for some to say that Mohler is just a member and has no control over giving is very short sighted. He is the most well known member there and carries tons of weight.

RKSOKC66 said...

Rex:

I don't see why it is necessary to so finely parse words.

"Priesthood of the Believer" and "Priesthood of the Believers" is functionally equivalent.

Lets say holding to the idea of "Priesthood of the Believer" that on a scale of 1 to 10 the degree to which I am a "priest" is a 7.

Alternatively, lets say holding to the idea of "Priesthood of the Believers" that there are 10,000,000 other people in a group [such as the SBC] each of which is bound to God according to the "rules" for "priesthood". Given that God is calling the shots and setting up the rules, then all Christians must be "priests" according to the same set of parameters. Holding to "priesthood of the believers", means that all believers are operating in relation to God in a common the priesthood mechanism. So the degree that each or all of us is a priest is still "7".

Assuming the attributes that apply to the manner and extent that we are "priests" is ordained and fixed by God (and not adjustable based upon our own whims or any one else's) then I don't think it makes any difference whether or priesthood is described individually or in a group.

If you make a big deal about "priesthood of believer" vs. "priesthood of believers" then that is tantamount to acknowledging that God has a portfolio of various implementations of "priesthood" that he rolls out to each each one of us individually.

I think I'm right in my understanding that God interfaces with each of his Children using a consistent grid. He may used various modalities to reach us, but they are different manifestations of the same underlying theological archectecture.

Priesthood describes the extent that each of us has "ownership" or our end of the interface with God. I'd say, by definition, that what anyone else does is not relevant.

Roger K. Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Joel Rainey said...

Ben Cole said:

"Most of them are available for public consumption. It doesn't appear that he's hiding much, though I readily confess that many of those charged with the responsibility to elect our next SBC president have little chance of understanding what Mohler says or the implications thereof."

Now that is the funniest thing I've heard all night. Thanks Ben.

Also, it looks like you and I share the same "wait and see" attitude about all of this. I think ultimately it is wise, whether one is now inclined to vote for or against Mohler, to sit back. Indy is still six months away and a lot of water is going to roll under the bridge between now and then. Those who speak too loudly for or against may end up with a plate full of crow.

That said, I think Art raises to the very top the one unavoidable issue initially raised by Wade: that of whether an entity head serving as SBC President poses such a conflict of interest that it should not be allowed. Given the length of time between now and the next SBC, together with the tendency all of us have to focus on personality (I've already seen a few cheap pot shots sent in Mohler's direction since the announcement, as well as the attempt by Barber to obfuscate the real issue in the room), it might be best to keep his name out of it for now and simply discuss the question of conflict of interest. As I see it, Art is right: its the one issue brought up here that no one can deny is worthy of discussion

Rex Ray said...

David McLaughlin,
I didn’t write what you quoted, but here’s my take on “There is not a ‘Body of Christ’ feel to it.”

When the person in the pew hears:
1. My ushers
2. My deacons
3. I have candidates
4. You are free to go after prayer.
5. (After prayer) Dismissed!

Anonymous said...

When the person in the pew hears:
1. My ushers
2. My deacons
3. I have candidates
4. You are free to go after prayer.
5. (After prayer) Dismissed!

05 January, 2008 23:33

6. My Church.

Justa Believer said...

Thanks to those who responded to, and amplified on, my questions about giving to the LM and AA offerings. The information provided is helpful.

I admit that through those questions my intent was to bring forth the possibility that Al Mohler did not contribute to those offerings through his church. I think that is something worth considering, but I did not intend to imply that AA, LM, or CP giving by an individual's church should be viewed as a litmus test for the persons fitness to serve as an SBC officer. Each person must draw his own conclusions about that. Regardless of what it says about fitness for service as SBC president, I personally don't think it is fair to go so far as to equate the level of giving to those particular areas with a person's or church's missionary or evangelistic zeal.

I am with those who consider the potential for conflict of interest to be the greatest concern. But I doubt that issue will prevent Dr. Moehler him from being elected SBC President, given that other Seminary Presidents have been elected to that position in the past, and given the apparent acceptance of cronyism within the denominational leadership.

(I realize I might get blasted for the use of the term cronyism, but it is difficult to deny that the same few folks from the same few institutions and churches end up in denominational positions over and over -- a strange fact for a "bottom-up" led denomnination of 16 million + folks.)

Todd Benkert said...

Rex Ray,

I agree essentially with Mohler's interpretation of priesthood of believers, but reject your characterization of Mohler's belief as "there’s too much freedom for Christians."

Mohler is not anti-freedom. But he is pro-accountability. The concept of priesthood, he states, “does not mean that any person can hold any theological beliefs and continue to be a Baptist. Indeed, we believe that certain beliefs are necessary to Christianity and to Baptist identity.” The doctrine reminds us “that we need no human priest to represent us before God, for Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest.”*

He further commented, “It is not just that we stand alone; it is that we stand together -- and we stand together under the authority of God's Word."**

I personally am not troubled by use of the singular as long is it does not degenerate into a theological free-for-all. I have always understood the priesthood of the believer (or believers) to highlight our individual accountability before God and not the freedom to believe whatever we want to.

As for my defense of Mohler, I am concerned more that he be treated fairly than that you or Wade vote for him.

Blessings!

-- Todd

*http://www.cnn.com/chat/transcripts/2000/6/14/mohler/index.html
**http://www.sbcannualmeeting.org/sbc00/news.asp?ID=1927611428

kfgray said...

"The danger is when a man thumbs his nose at the Convention's authority and continues to serve in contradiction to that Convention - all the while receiving funds from the Cooperative Program for his ministry. The tide of Fundamentalism - which washes away gospel cooperation by the perpetual demands to conform on tertiary issues - must be stemmed in the SBC. The very existence and identity of our Convention is at stake."

Since the existence and identity of the SBC is at stake, could you link to Dr. Mohler's comments on the Garner Motion? Without a link, it is hard to discern for ourselves whether Dr. Mohler has a "dangerous view of authority" and may represent a tide of Fundamentalism.

That's a very serious charge. I don't know Dr. Mohler. I only read his writings, which are usually well-grounded in Scripture, intelligent, reasonable and civil, rather than extra-Biblical.

Anonymous said...

"I realize I might get blasted for the use of the term cronyism, but it is difficult to deny that the same few folks from the same few institutions and churches end up in denominational positions over and over -- "

Take a good long look at the KBC to prove your own point.

Bryan Riley said...

I am much more impressed with 500+ thousand given to missions than any amount given to CP. That's to Emmanuel's credit. I also think that most of this is just a distraction from what we all need to be about. Why do we spend so much time politicking in one little subdivision of the body of Christ when there is a whole world out there needing to hear the gospel of the Kingdom?

Rex Ray said...

Roger Simpson,
You said, ‘Priesthood of the Believer’ and ‘Priesthood of the Believers’ is functionally equivalent.

If they are functionally equivalent, why was it changed?

Do you agree with Mohler or disagree with Mohler when he said in essence, ‘Priesthood of the believer leaves too much freedom for the individual’?

That was my question to start with.

I’d say on a scale of 1 to 10 the ‘Priesthood of the Believer’ is 10, while the “Priesthood of the Believers’ COULD BE zero.

A true story will explain what I’m trying to say:

An auto mechanic loved his job at the Baptist Village in Israel which was owned by the SBC.
Someone was needed to be trained to run a computer. He hated computers, but was TOLD he had to change jobs. His father was hired to replace him since he was ‘too old’ to learn computers.

If the mechanic had ‘priesthood of the believer’, then he could have said, “No”, and not have been fired. In a way his ‘priesthood’ was sacrificed and became zero for the good of the majority.

Roger, by your saying, “By definition, that what anyone else does is not relevant”, you would be describing ‘believer’ and not ‘believers’

Anonymous said...

Ben,
Perhaps you need to read a little closer when you say Wade did not say anything about LM.

Wade said, "Mohler is a member of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, where he serves as a "teaching pastor" and a Sunday school teacher. The church contributes 3.3 percent of its $5 million in undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program and nothing to the SBC's two mission offerings according to Baptist Press."

What will your criteria be for how you vote in Indy?

Mike

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

I guess what I am a bit confused about is that I understand "the Body of Christ" to be ALL believers, not just a local group.

The comment sounded to me like Highview could be said to have devolved to a group that did not resemble believers (If taken to an extreme that I did not think the writer was doing).

I thank you for the clarification, though I don't think "There is not really a Body of Christ feel to it" was a great choice of words.

And btw, I know squat about Highview. But I do think a group of different campuses under the umbrella of one church could have a "Body of Christ" feel to it, even if it is not the way I would "do" church. I dont think having a congregational vote would be all that difficult. We have national elections after all. I think sometimes we take traditions, even good ones, and give them an improperly elevated status. I think they are called sacred cows.

Rex Ray said...

Todd Benkert,
I like your attitude, but I’m afraid you have misunderstood what I wrote. I was not characterization Mohler’s belief. I’m sorry I didn’t make it clear I was quoting him.

He may have changed his mind by now, but in 2001 he wrote:

“Conservatives believe in the priesthood of the believers but not the priesthood of the believer, because it leaves too much freedom for the individual…conservatives are the party of truth while the moderates are the party of freedom.”

Everything you quoted him saying, I agree with except their may be a problem with “…stand together under the authority of God’s Word.”

You see, who determines God’s Word? Jesus said the Holy Spirit would teach us.
He didn’t say a small hand picked committee by one man could tell us to put an ‘s’ to believer or only a man could be a pastor.

I believe I have treated Mohler fairly, and he has my vote if there’s not someone better.

Dave Miller said...

Rex Ray, could you footnote that quote from Mohler? Like Reagan said, "Trust, but verify."

othoniel a valdes sr said...

Dr:Wade
Miracles do happen
I agree with you that Dr: Mohler should not be elected as president
because of Conflict of interest and I plan to vote for the other candidate if I am able to attend the convention.We need to change the SBC bylaws to keep this from happening in the future.

Todd Benkert said...

Rex Ray,

I would submit that submit that some in the moderate camp did in fact use the priesthood of the believer to broaden the SBC tent wide enough to accept dangerous doctrines such as inclusivism and open theism.

If the Holy Spirit leads us to erroneous doctrine, I would submit it is not the Holy Spirit. If priesthood of the believer means we must include false doctrine under the banner of Baptist, then by all means add an "s". I don't think adding an "s" means that individual Christians cannot read the Bible for themselves and be taught by the Spirit.

Thanks for clarifying the quote.

-- Todd

p.s. To all: I don't want to get in the business of defending everything Mohler has ever said. These who want to know what he believes and where he stands should read his public statements. For where he stands on orthodoxy, read his first convocation address "Don't Just Do Something, Stand There;" on evangelism and missions, his tenth year Convocation address "Don't Just Stand There, Do Something;" on doctrinal differences among believers, his commentary "A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity." These can be found at www.albertmohler.com.

As for working together with believers who differ on second and third level doctrines, I believe his record speaks for itself.

RRR said...

It's amazing to me that Southern Baptists would even consider allowing someone to run for President if they are currently in a paid office of the Southern Bapist Convention. It's surprising that our Convention by-laws even allow it.

It's also amazing to me that Southern Baptists would consider supporting anyone as our leader who does not have the integrity to recognize the impropriety of this conflict of interest. I believe that anyone with the integrity required to serve in such a position would permanently resign from their employment with the Southern Baptist Convention if they felt that God wanted them to serve, even one term, as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Where is our common sense?

Anonymous said...

I have been present on at least two occasions when Dr. Mohler openly and clearly voiced his opposition to women teaching men in SBC institutions. If we want to consider a candidate who will promote unity in the body and represent Southern Baptists as a whole, we should give pause before voting for a candidate who will widen further the rift among Southern Baptists on this issue.

Rex Ray said...

Dave Miller,
You want a footnote? We seem to always cross swords, but thanks for the opportunity to explain further.

First, do you trust the Baptist Standard? I do not believe Marv Knox would let falsehood be printed in it. If you don’t trust it, then check other publications or the records of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary assemblies. I don’t have the time or motivation to do so.

A letter to the Baptist Standard June 11, 2001:

PATCHED VEIL
What is it with the fundamentalists that they are so afraid of the word “freedom”?
First, SBTS President Al Mohler says they believe in the “priesthood of the believers” but not the “priesthood of the believer”, because it leaves too much freedom for the individual. Then he says the conservatives are the party of truth while the moderates are the party of freedom.
Now the trustees at SBTS want to cut out a verse, which refers to freedom, from the school’s official hymn.
Are there those who would try to patch up the veil in the temple, so that we could not go to God directly? God help us!
I. W. Sparkman, Kopperl, TX

Dave, I personally believe to have truth, we must have freedom. Christ said you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

Todd Benkert,
Thanks for the reply. I could pull a Dave Miller and asked for a footnote where moderates want to broaden the tent to accept inclusivism and open theism, but I won’t.

I consider myself a moderate (in my opinion, an old fashion conservative), but I don’t even know what ‘inclusivism’ and ‘open theism’ mean.

I didn’t ask you to defend what Mohler said; I asked if you agreed with it.

I agree the Holy Spirit will not lead us to erroneous doctrine, but I will ask you to defend how the ‘priesthood of the believer’ could lead to false doctrine.

I like Mohler’s first convocation address.

BTW, does the school hymn still have the verse that refers to ‘freedom’?

Thanks again.

Art Rogers,
Long time no see. Good to have you.

greg hicks said...

Dr. Mohler's address to the SBC in San Antonio that addresses the subject matter of the Garner Motion can be viewed at http://viewers.316networks.com/viewer/viewerbroadcast_odc.asp?networkid=3001187&setspeed=select&oid=6013184

Kerygma said...

Mohler was a moderate until it became politically advantageous to shift allegiance to the fundamenalists. His ambition is apparently not being adequately fed at SBTS. Many expect a run for national office in the coming decade.

greg.w.h said...

I tried Greg Hicks' link and it didn't quite work for me, so another way to get to Al's SBTS Report at the 2007 Annual Convention:

Click this link to bring up the 316 Networks viewer page for the 2007 SBC Annual Meeting (you get more control over the viewer if you use IE 6.0 or later, though it will work in Firefox.)

You may need to be patient for the viewer to load, but after it completes there should be a search box in the lower pane. Type in 'Albert Mohler' and it will bring up four different presentations. The bottom of the four was the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary report from the Wednesday Morning session of the 2007 Annual meeting.

Alternatively: click on Wednesday Morning and look through the videos that are available from that morning.

Greg Harvey

P.S. You can bookmark this SBC Annual Meeting link to get to the current annual meeting information to plan your trip to Indianapolis, IN. It also has an Archives tab for viewing portals to recent previous Annual Meetings.

Dave Miller said...

Rex Ray,

You know I have nothing but love for you. But I will point out that in your quote, the only words actually ascribed to Mohler are the words in quotes "priesthood of believers" and "priesthood of the believer".

The rest of it is the interpretation of Mohler's statement by someone who wrote a letter to the editor.


I don't know I. W. Sparkman of Kopperl, TX, so I don't want to cast aspersions.

However, you presented IW Sparkman's interpretation of Mohler's words as if they were Mohler's words themselves.

I would like to see Mohler's original words. Never trust a democrat to accurately portray a republican's words (or vice versa). these days, you can't even trust republicans to accurately portray other republicans' words. (I'm from Iowa).

However, now you may see why I wanted a footnote. You quoted Mr. Sparkman's letter to the editor as if it were Mohler's words.

And, even so, in spite of that, I still have nothing but love for you!!

Anonymous said...

As for working together with believers who differ on second and third level doctrines, I believe his record speaks for itself.

06 January, 2008 09:10

Ironically, his record consists of working together with those 'outside' the SBC, well. To include even those who practice infant baptism. Sadly, there is room in his tent for baptizing babies but not for women.

"Shortly after his term as President began, Mohler drafted a policy (which was ratified by the trustees) that the Seminary would only hire professors who believed that the Bible prohibits the ordination of women as preachers. Some women already in teaching positions at the Seminary, or who served outside the Seminary in a missionary capacity, were stripped of their posts."

Nice guy. Real humble Christian attitude. I hope their families did not suffer much. Great idea. Give him more power than he already has.

From:

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/bio/mohler.html

Lindon said...

"I believe that anyone with the integrity required to serve in such a position would permanently resign from their employment with the Southern Baptist Convention if they felt that God wanted them to serve, even one term, as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention."

I agree totally. Excellent point.

Lindon said...

Al Mohler Priesthood of Believer article here

Lindon said...

sorry, link not working. Here is url

http://www.baptiststandard.com/2000/7_17/pages/bfm_meaning.html

Lindon said...

http://www.baptiststandard.com/2000/7_17/pages/bfm_meaning.html

Talk about frustrating...part of the link keeps coming off.

From the article:

The same issue was addressed by a leading member of the revision committee during a news conference in Orlando. At that news conference, Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., explained the difference between the phrase "priesthood of the believer" as used in the 1963 statement and "priesthood of believers" as used in the 2000 statement.
___"Baptists believe in the priesthood of believers, but it is dangerous to say the priesthood of the believer," Mohler said. "It is not just that we stand alone; it is that we stand together--and we stand together under the authority of God's word."
___Henderson found irony in this explanation being given in a news conference after the vote was taken. This is not the interpretation he has understood to be the Southern Baptist position in the past, he said.
___"While I am content to stand before God under the authority of Scripture, I can do so whether I'm alone or in a crowd of all 15.8 million Southern Baptists," Henderson wrote. "While I appreciate the committee's efforts to at least partially restore a pair of key Baptist doctrines, I am confident it is not dangerous to be a lone priest/believer in the presence of Almighty God through the power of his Holy Spirit."
___Cartledge also asserted the last-minute insertion represented a departure from Baptist history rather than a reclaiming of it.
___"The paragraph uses the familiar words but gives them a carefully doctored spin that de-emphasizes individual freedom while magnifying the concept of accountability to an approved belief system.
___"'Priesthood of believers' is carefully couched in the plural only, subtly recasting 'the priesthood of the believer' to guard against claims of individual interpretation or revelation from God," he suggested.

Lindon said...

Another article quoting Mohler on Priesthood of Believer'S'. (read to the bottom paragraph:

http://www.sbcannualmeeting.org/sbc00/news.asp?ID=1927611428

Lindon said...

And even another article mentioning Preisthood and Mohler's explanation which sounds real good until you think about it long and hard and take it to it's logical conclusion which is the HOly Spirit cannot teach me ALONE. I need other 'priests'. that is basically what he is saying here not matter how one wants to spin it otherwise.

http://www.baptist2baptist.net/b2barticle.asp?ID=198

Todd Benkert said...

For a discussion of the priesthood of believer issue as it pertains to the conservative resurgence, I recommend chapter twenty of The Baptist Reformation by Jerry Sutton.

This chapter also provides the footnotes that Rex Ray graciously did not require of me :-)

Blessings!
-- Todd

RKSOKC66 said...

I still maintain that there is no difference between "priesthood of the believer" and "priesthood of the believers".

There is only one "high priest" and he is Jesus. Jesus' role as priest is the same whether we are discussing his role to each of us individually or whether we are discussing his role to a group of us corporately.

In my last comment, I was talking about the degree of our "priesthood" on a one-to-ten scale. I was using this as a numerical example to show that a person's priesthood remains invariant regardless of whether the context is as an individual or as a member of a group. I agree that it would be more accurate to say that Jesus is a "10" as the high priest and we all -- individually or corporately -- are zeros.

We don't have any kind of "priestly sacrifice" that is going to cut it with God.

I don't agree with the statement attributed to Dr. Mohler that says that "priesthood of believers" denotes one thing and "priesthood of the believer" denotes something else. I don't agree with any one who feels complelled to fuss about the variant wording of the 1963 vs. 2000 BF&M relative to either the single or plural usage of "believer" relative to "pristhood".

In summary, this whole argument about "priesthood of the believer" is a null argument. Jesus is the only "priest" no any of us either individually or as a group.

Stepping back, I think that the whole fuss about the 1963 vs. 2000 BF&M is mostly smoke rather than light. For me at least, the changes are no big deal. However, I'd have to admit that the stuff that was added to the 2000 BF&M -- especially the section on the role of women -- was unnecessary at best -- and at worst just served as a catalyst for controversy.

That said, I don't object to the 2000 BFM. However misguided its adoption may have been, I don't disagree with anything in it. I don't disagree with anything in the 1963 BF&M either.

I think we Baptists spend too much time arguing about stuff which is totally academic. Some of this stuff has little linkage to the real world.

Our local church baptized 12 people last month. I don't think any of them know or care about the nuanced discussion we have had regarding the role of the administrator of adult immersion baptism.

I don't think anyone in the pews cares a whit about "priesthood of the believer(s)" unless they know that these are code wods which are a proxy for some larger set of theological squabbles.

Roger K. Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Dave Miller said...

Rex Ray,

I did a little research. I still think the quote you referenced earlier is a slightly harsh view of what he said, but the facts are the facts. Mohler distinguishes the "believer" from "believers". He doesn't say (at least in that article) that he is against freedom, but he warns of the dangers of extreme individualism.

His comments, however, were not authoritative except as his opinions.

Darby Livingston said...

I don't understand how being a paid entity head is a conflict of interest with being SBC president any more than a paid vocational elder is a conflict of interest with sitting on the church's elder board. What am I missing? Isn't the SBC president elected by virtue of being an outstanding member of an SBC church?

Dave Miller said...

The New Testament teaches that we are a kingdom of priests. Each of us is a priest with direct access to God. We don't have to have any other priest make intercession for us than our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ.

But I have never liked the version of this doctrine I heard among some Baptists. "I can believe anything I want and do as I please" because of "the priesthood of the believers."

But the priests of the Old Testament never had the freedom to do or believe as they please. Those who "did as they pleased" were struck down by God's hand.

The priest had the privilege of coming into the presence of God, but he had to come in the exact way prescribed by God.

I think priesthood of the believer may have been twisted into a false doctrine by some in the Baptist tradition.

Yes, I am a priest. I have direct access to God through Jesus Christ. I do not need anyone to mediate between me and Christ (including Al Mohler, John Floyd or Dr. Patterson).

But that doesn't mean that I can do as I please, or that I am free to follow my own conscience wherever that leads.

The priest must be submissive to God and follow the procedures established by God carefully. He must be submissive to God in all things.

The priesthood of the believer is not an excuse to believe anything I want to believe or do anything I want to do.

::Dave steps back, waiting for Rex Ray to respond::

he's only chasing safety said...

I was at work Friday at Media Services on Southern's campus when I was told that Mohler was nominated for president of the SBC. I swallowed and politely replied "Oh really?"

I know I'm in the minority here in saying this, but I hope that he doesn't get elected as president this Summer (for just about every reason that's already been given).

I think he's a fantastic president for Southern Seminary (and a real nice guy!) but he does not need to be at the head of the SBC . . . for now anyway. Let's let some of the many other strong men in our convention step up and take the reigns.

Anonymous said...

Wade
You have had a lot of opinion express on your post about Al Mohler. But no one has talked about his strong view on Calvinism?
1.As President of SBC could he appoint a committee to change the 2000 BF&M. to lean more to his view on Calvinism?
2.As President will he use the office to promote his view on Calvinism when he is being interview by the news organization?
3.As President will he appoint only those trustees who agree with his view on Calvinism?
Old Gray Fox

Steve Young said...

I do not have a problem with Dr. Mohler at all. I am glad he is at Southern. I am glad he often speaks for Evangelicals because he does it very well. I personally believe him to be extremely qualified to serve as President of the SBC - Except - I want the SBC leader to be a Cooperative Program, SBC missions supporting, pastor. Not necessarily a mega church pastor, but a pastor. I believe that our convention focus will be best served though a pastor. I believe Bobby Welch and Frank Page to have done great jobs, and I want to find the next in that line.
Steve Young

Lindon said...

His comments, however, were not authoritative except as his opinions.

06 January, 2008 17:15

Huh? The 's' was NOT added to the BF&M?

Lin said...

"Yes, I am a priest. I have direct access to God through Jesus Christ. I do not need anyone to mediate between me and Christ (including Al Mohler, John Floyd or Dr. Patterson). "

Even Baptist women? :o)

But the bottom line is what you said above. We have no pope. We can go directly to Christ. So why the 's'? Because we may believe things that do not jive with Al's interpretation, like PPL, etc?

Todd Benkert said...

Here's one more reference. The 1988 resolution on Priesthood of the believer recognized that "The doctrine of the priesthood of the believer has been used to justify wrongly the attitude that a Christian may believe whatever he so chooses and still be considered a loyal Southern Baptist".

You can find the full text of the resolution at http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=872

RRR said...

Darby Livingston said...
"I don't understand how being a paid entity head is a conflict of interest with being SBC president any more than a paid vocational elder is a conflict of interest with sitting on the church's elder board. What am I missing? Isn't the SBC president elected by virtue of being an outstanding member of an SBC church?"
06 January, 2008 17:19

Darby,
I do believe that I have been out of circulation from Southern Baptist churches so long that I am not aware of how they may have changed the way Southern Baptist churches operate. I wasn't even aware that Southern Baptist churches HAD "paid elders" on a "church's elder board".

Just shows how out of touch one becomes when living in other countries for long periods. I never planted a church like that anywhere.

G. Alford said...

Ray Rex, (and all others who are hyper-ventilating over the “priesthood of the believers” change to the BFM)

Did Dr. Mohler impose this change upon the Convention by himself alone, and against the will of the Convention itself? Or was Dr. Mohler simply one member of a Committee made up of a wide spectrum of Southern Baptist that presented these “proposed changes” to the Convention, and was it not actually the Convention that changed the BFM by approving the proposals of this Committee?

Really, all this sounds to me like a lot of crying over spilt milk… you Liberals… Ops I mean Moderates lost; get over it… The Convention has spoken, not Dr. Mohler…

Grace Always,

kfgray said...

Speaking for the simple-minded, and those new to the Baptist church: "priesthood of the believer" can be confusing. I asked for it's Bible source and got a Reformation/Martin Luther historical-traditional response, which I already knew from history. So I looked up priesthood through the Bible, particularly:

"As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-- 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ....9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

I know it's not that simple and there is a lot of history. But doesn't priesthood in the Bible usually refer to a communal body, as these verses do? (Except Jesus' high priesthood). Like the body of Christ analogy?

So I understand that Mr. Mohler's comment may have gone against the grain, but I hope it was based on the Bible and not politics.

Rex Ray said...

Dave Miller,
In reference to the letter written to the Baptist Standard, you conclude it did not convey the thoughts of Mohler because the quotes were in the wrong place.

Picky—picky. Must a person have quote marks around something to convey what a person says? Sure it’s better, but what if the letter writer hadn’t used quotes anywhere?

In fact, his first sentence says: What is it with the fundamentalists that they are so afraid of the word “freedom”?

He shouldn’t have used quote marks around ‘freedom’ should he? He used those quote marks for the same reason he put them around ‘priesthood of believers’ and ‘priesthood of believer’.

So don’t conclude the writer did not accurately convey what was said by Mohler.
That’s criticizing the speck in a person’s writing by reasoning that has a beam in it.

Consistent with the letter, Lindon quotes from a news Orlando conference in 2000 of Mohler saying; “Baptist believe in the priesthood of believers, but it is dangerous to say the priesthood of the believer.”

And consistent with the letter, Russell Dilday, quotes from the Baptist Press, March 22, 2001, Mohler’s conference at Southern Seminary in February where Mohler attempted to simplify the divisions in the SBC by saying the two camps are the ‘truth party’ vs. the ‘liberty party’—the first emphasizes the authority and inerrancy of Scripture while the second emphasizes personal autonomy.

So it doesn’t take a wild imagination that a few months later Mohler combined the two statements and said exactly what the letter writer said he said.

More later…

Todd,
I’ve read Sutton’s book…it’s good.

I’d really like to know if the SBTS school hymn still has the verse that refers to freedom. Could you help me out?

Thanks

Roger,
You remind me of someone in ‘no-man’s land’, yelling there’s nothing to fight about. Better watch it, or both sides may shoot at you.

Louis said...

I am very favorable to Dr. Mohler becoming President of the SBC.

Here are my thoughts.

The President of the SBC really does 2 things.

First, he makes appointments.

Doing a good job of that depends on a strong personal background, including a knowledge of the SBC past, having a strong vision for the SBC's future, and knowing good people in the various states to appoint.

Dr. Mohler's past is impressive. He also has a very good understanding of the SBC's past.

He was a stellar student at Samford and Southern, and has excelled at every job he has been in.

Dr. Mohler received training in the very place that current and former SBC moderates, liberals (or whatever name one chooses to use) saw as their home. He came to his own theological convictions and rejected that which most of us consider theological error. Dr. Honeycutt said that Dr. Mohler was one of the smartest students to ever attend Southern.

Mohler served as editor of the Christian Index (the Georgia Convention's paper). He understands how state conventions work. As editor he covered those discouraging Mercer University years and watched as the leadership of that school essentially renounced the Christian faith (if you know nothing of this, read the book written by Mercer's President).

His educational experience at Samford and Southern and his work experience in Georgia will help him immensely in appointments.

He has been the chief executive at the SBC flagship seminary for several years now. He as 33 (I think) when he was appointed President. He was younger than most of the faculty and much of the student body.

He was vehemently attacked during his early years as President by persons who did not want change at the school. The stakes were incredibly high, and he hung in there. He was hung in effigy on the campus. He and his family received death threats. I know very few people in life that could have taken on that challenge and been as successful as he has been.

By any measure - enrollment, giving, faculty acquisition etc., what has happened at Southern has been incredible.

Dr. Mohler has worked with trustees now for several years. He knows by experience how trustees can be valuable to the work of the SBC institutions and how the life experiences and knowledge of trustees is critical to their performance.

When Dr. Mohler appoints members to the committees that he is responsible to appoint, he will naturally find and know people who have the wisdom and experience to make good selections to the committees that they will appoint. People who don't have the background of someone like Dr. Mohler would be more likely to pick friends, affable people, or to randomly pick people "on both sides" of whatever the issue de jour may be. Those are terrible ways to make appointment decisions.

Dr. Mohler also understands the history of the SBC. I can think of no person in the SBC who is in a strategic leadership position that has read more about the history of the SBC than Dr. Mohler. Again, he also lived it. I do not think that everyone who serves as President of the SBC had to be in the conservative resurgence. However, I do think that having the right perspective on it is an absolute necessity.

Dr. Mohler also played a pivotal role in the SBC reorganization. He was involved in the discussions and plan to revitalize and reorganize the SBC agencies.

So, Dr. Mohler has an excellent background and experience and knowledge that will help him make good appointments.

Dr. Moher also has a strong vision for the SBC's future. This is primarily reflected in his personal commitments and in the commitments of the institution that he leads.

He is theologically intentional, but practical also. Southern reflects Mohler's strengths. Southern is theological. More young people are trying to go to Southern for this very reason. It is interesting to see how young people react positively to Al Mohler. Why wouldn't we want someone to be SBC President to whom our young champions look with admiration that a someone who would bring a "who's that?" reaction?

Also, the seminary has a very high level of practical or ministry involvement, particularly participation in missions projects. Southern is not turning out eggheads. Most of the Southern grads I know are as hot for souls and the mission field as they are for an engaging theological text. This bodes well for the SBC.

These two strengths - theological sophistication and a practical love for God and our fellow man are going to be the things that make the SBC effective.

Mohler's level of engagement with the culture will also have an effect on the SBC. Mohler is well read. He has read, and may have met, many of the leading authors today in various fields that touch on theology, ethics, business leadership, and world and national political developments. The effectiveness of the SBC, at least at some level, will be determined by how we engage with our culture and how the gospel can be brought to bear in these realms. To do that, we have to know and understand trends in the areas. The SBC is often behind in understanding, and therefore responding, to these areas. Having someone like Mohler as President will raise the bar, and set the SBC on a course of being a leader among denominations in understanding and ministering to the world around us. He is likely to appoint people who are more knowledgeable, rather than less.

Finally, Al Mohler is well known and knows many people across the convention in many states. He preaches all over the country, in all types of settings and churches. Very few people who will run for the SBC will have the nationwide personal contacts that Mohler will have. This will help the appointment process.

The second thing that the SBC President does is represent the SBC to the nation and the world.

We have had Presidents in the past who were not good at this. We all remember, at one time or another, waiting anxiously as some SBC President opened his mouth to respond to a reporter or to engage on a televised panel discussion.

Mohler is better than anyone that I can think of in SBC life at this. He doesn't sound like a hick. Our standards are still too low in this regard.

Mohler is also an obviously substantive person, and this is immediately noticeable when he opens his mouth.

I cannot think of any person in my years in watching and being involved in the SBC that makes a better public impression than Al Mohler. This is true not only on TV and radio, but in person as well.

I have taken colleagues (I am a lawyer) to hear Mohler speak. Some of these people have no Baptist or evangelical background. To a person, these people have always come away being impressed with how articulate Mohler is.

Electing this type of a person should be an absolute requirement for the SBC. God loves, and I love, all people and pastors ministering for the Lord. But that doesn't mean they are all equally gifted to be the spokesman for the SBC.

I don't know anyone in SBC life who can express himself more clearly and with more erudition than Al Mohler.

Now, to briefly address Wade's criticisms:

1. Fundamentalist?

Of course, I recently heard some CBF people describe the Greensboro political issues in the SBC as a fight between fundamentalists - old ones (Ronnie Floyd et al) and young ones (Wade and Ben). So, whether one is a fundamentalist is often in the eye of the beholder.

In Mohler's case, this is a real stretch. I read the blog carefully, and if the best evidence is there, you better take another crack at it. Addressing the issues is fine, but there is a lack of careful analysis if the conclusion is Mohler is a fundamentalist.

2. Conflict of Interest?

This is one that I really don't understand. Given the history of the SBC that goes back a long way.

There is no real legal impediment here. It's just as though someone announced "Conflict of Interest", and we are all supposed to stop.

Also, on history - weren't Boyce, Sampey and Mullins - all Southern Presidents - President of the SBC as well?

The fact that Mohler is the head of an SBC institution and would also be SBC President does bring up interesting points of connection. But I know of nothing in the SBC Constitution or Bylaws that prohibits this. Also, as mentioned, SBC history doesn't prohibit it either.

And actually, the fact that Mohler is KNOWN to be President of Southern is actually quite helpful. What people like Wade fear is that the SBC President would somehow use his powers to benefit himself.

Remember, it's the train you didn't see that get you. The real problem with conflicts of interest are those that are not disclosed. Say, there was an SBC president who wanted to be the future President of LifeWay, or he was particularly close the President of a non-SBC seminary that wanted affiliation or at least to limit the benefits the SBC schools got. That's the sort of conflict to worry about.

I actually think a seminary offering is a great idea. The fact that we don't have one is probably a reflection on how education in the SBC is really not seen as a priority. But at any rate, don't you think that if Mohler proposed that again or pushed that as President of the SBC, that it would be harder not easier to get that done?

3. Generosity and CP Giving?

Aren't some of the statements in the blog, and especially the comments, a little judgmental? We should be very careful before we make judgments about a person or even a church.

I agree with all of the comments about how Dr. Mohler doesn't control his church.

I also believe that we are going down a very legalistic road if we make too big a deal about how much of a percentage churches give to the CP.

Each church has its own history, temperament and mission. Most members get to vote on these things. It is very hard get inside the culture of these churches without being there.

I am old enough to remember when the leading moderate churches used to criticize Dr. Rogers and other conservatives for not giving enough to the CP, and they used to propose that churches that did not give a certain percentage should not be allowed to seat messengers. I think that's why Jerry Vines got so exercised in Greensboro when a proposal like that came up.

To me, that's legalism, pure and simple.

It's fine to point it out, but I have yet to be convinced that some of our Presidents who were from churches with lower CP giving did a worse job of being SBC President than those who were from higher CP giving.

I understand that this issue might motivate some. But for me, it's a race to the bottom to see who is most loyal, who is most "with the program" etc.

Others have asked why Dr. Mohler would join the church that he is in. I know nothing about this church, but know that church selection, especially for denominational employees, is a multifaceted decision.

There is a large church in the Nashville area (where I live) that has gone to an elder form of government. They call them Trustees, but they function as elders. And - there are men and women on that board. All of the deacons are men, but the deacons play the biblical role of service and don't govern the church. The elders govern the church.

What's interesting is that this large church is becoming sort of the default church to join if one is an SBC or LifeWay executive - sort of like the way First Baptist Nashville used to be. It has conservative and moderate leaders in it, and it has women elders! Go figure.

At any rate, I would not disqualify those people from serving in the SBC because of their church membership. I would look to the individual and what they espoused.

Good luck.


Louis

One Salient Oversight said...

May I also point out that Al Mohler supports torture?

Under certain circumstances, most morally sensitive persons would surely allow interrogators to yell at prisoners and to use psychological intimidation, sleep deprivation, and the removal of creature comforts for purposes of obtaining vital information. In increasingly serious cases, most would likely allow some use of pharmaceuticals and more intensive and manipulative psychological techniques. In the most extreme of conceivable cases, most would also allow the use of far more serious mechanisms of coercion – even what we would all agree should be labeled as torture.

(snip)

I would argue that we cannot condone torture by codifying a list of exceptional situations in which techniques of torture might be legitimately used. At the same time, I would also argue that we cannot deny that there could exist circumstances in which such uses of torture might be made necessary.

Todd Benkert said...

Rex Ray,

The Seminary Hymn "Soldiers of Christ, In Truth Arrayed," as far as I know, does not contain a verse about freedom. You can find it in the Baptist Hymnal #315.

Blessings!
-- Todd

Karen in OK said...

This may have already been explained in this lengthy discussion. Bro. Wade, if your church's 5% giving to the CP disqualifies you to run for President of the SBC, how did it not disqualify you to be President of the BGC of OK? Has your church's giving or your opinion changed since then?

Darby Livingston said...

"I wasn't even aware that Southern Baptist churches HAD "paid elders" on a "church's elder board"."

Oh yeah, Southern Baptist churches are becoming more biblical all the time. :)

RRR said...

Darby,

One day when we retire and return home we'll no doubt find many things different than when we left. But we'll try to be open in considering whether the changes are good, and, as you say, biblical. Blessings to you.

Gary said...

Regarding the SBTS Hymn and "freedom", just 'google'the first line and you will get all you want to know about it. If there was a verse added which included the WORD 'freedom' ever associated with this, then it has since been removed. I *can* dig 'freedom' as a concept out of verse two - a sermon I've heard preached many times.

The original 4 stanza hymn is below.

Soldiers of Christ is Truth Arrayed

Soldiers of Christ, in truth arrayed,
A world in ruins needs your aid:
A world by sin destroyed and dead;
A world for which the Savior bled.

His Gospel to the lost proclaim,
Good news for all in Jesus’ Name;
Let light upon the darkness break
That sinners from their death may wake.

Morning and evening sow the seed,
God’s grace the effort shall succeed.
Seedtimes of tears have oft been found
With sheaves of joy and plenty crowned.

We meet to part, but part to meet
When earthly labors are complete,
To join in yet more blest employ,
In an eternal world of joy.


Gary

RKSOKC66 said...

Rex:

Rex, there may well be something to "fight about". But it is not about parsing the meaning of certain theological "code words".

Regarding Dr. Mohler. I don't see any supposed "conflict of interest" as a major issue. However, I think that times like these call for a president that has a "calming" influence not a "polarizing" one. We don't need someone who is the smartest guy on the block.

I think the main role is to reduce the degree to which the SBC is splintering into "camps" so the focus can be on evangelism. Other things such as being a media spokesman for the SBC are secondary.

I am only aware of two candidates that have surfaced so far. Dr. Mohler and the Seminary Professor / Pastor from San Franciso. For me, the jury is still out regarding the next president.

No matter who the president is, his tenure is going to be unnecessarily turbulent if he is seen as being on some particular "side" in the SBC landscape.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Rex Ray said...

To anonymous lawyer Lewis,
You said, “I do not think everyone who serves as President of the SBC had to be in the conservative resurgence. However, I do think that having the right perspective on it is an absolute necessity.”

In other words, you’d agree with Patterson telling Russell Dilday, “You’re conservative alright, but you’re not one of us.”

Except for Frank Page, the “one of us” has been running the SBC for a long time, and you can see what a mess it’s in.

We already have a “one of us” as vice-president, and you think a more authoritarian President would create less legalism? You sound like America, at one time, being in love with a certain ‘liberator’ of Cuba.

In Dilday’s ‘An Analysis of the BFM 2000’ (Baptist Standard June 4, 2001), he writes”

“Al Mohler, a major voice, if not the primary composer, on the revision committee [BFM 2000], has recently raised concerns about the historic Baptist convictions called ‘soul competency’ and ‘priesthood of the believer’. He warned that soul competency serves as an acid dissolving religious authority, congregationalism, confessionalism, and mutual theological accountability. (Southern Seminary Magazine, June, 2000).”

Dilday continues: “Following this line of thought, BFM 2000 originally deleted the following references to these doctrines in the BFM 1963:
Baptist emphasize the soul’s competency before God, freedom of religion, and the priesthood of the believer. However, this emphasis should not be interpreted to mean that there is an absence of certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified.

After growing criticism of this deletion, the following reinsertion was made less than an hour before the report was brought to the convention for approval:
We honor the principles of soul competency and the priesthood of believers, affirming together both our liberty in Christ and our accountability to each other under the Word of God.

Dilday: The singular form, ‘priesthood of believer’ had been changed to ‘priesthood of believers’. This in essence rejects the historical Baptist emphasis of the priesthood of each individual believer (singular), replacing it with a more Reformed doctrine of the priesthood of believers (plural).”

Dilday quotes a Baptist editor: “While I am content to stand before God under the authority of Scripture, I can do so whether I’m alone or in a crowd of all 15.8 million Southern Baptists. While I appreciate the committee’s efforts to at least partially restore a pair of key Baptist doctrines, I am confident it is not dangerous to be a lone priest/believer in the presence of the Almighty God through the power of his Holy Spirit (Baptist Standard, July 17, 2000).”

Rex Ray said...

Dave Miller,
You said: “Dave steps back, waiting for Rex Ray to respond::”

Sometimes, you are really funny!
Am I supposed to disagree with you saying, “The priesthood of the believer is not an excuse to believe anything I want to believe or do anything I want to do”?

I couldn’t agree with you more. With this we are united, but what do you think of some statements that Mohler made in the references by Lindon? Such as:

“There is no higher authority than Scripture. You can’t claim the Holy Spirit is higher authority than Scripture. The Holy Spirit inspired the Scripture.”

Mohler’s reasoning seems to come from him saying, “By what authority did Paul declare a gospel that displays redemption? By the authority of the Scriptures. That is our authority as well.”

Did Mohler forget that Paul was not saved by reading Scripture, but when he met Jesus?

Paul wrote: “I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:12)

So, Dave, was Paul’s source for his message higher or lower than Scripture?

Rex steps back, waiting for Dave Miller to respond::

Rex Ray said...

Dave,
One more quote from Mohler, “How would you judge a truth claim made by someone who said, ‘The Holy Spirit told me this’ except by the Scripture?”

To answer his question, are you thinking of the same person as me?

Roger,
Your saying, “I think that times like these call for a president that has a ‘calming’ influence not a ‘polarizing’ one…the main role is to reduce the degree to which the SBC is splintering into ‘camps’ so the focus can be on evangelism” portrays great wisdom.

Thanks

Gary and Todd,
Thanks for giving the school song. If a verse was added to the song that included ‘freedom’, then I believe the Trustees did well in removing it to keep the original the original.

Many translations of the Bible have removed well sounding words because they were added by scribes etc. and not the original.

Bart Barber said...

If I might take a moment to reply to Art Rogers's rant.

He said: "Imagine my further lack of astonishment when Bart postulates that a similar personal situation would disqualify Wade from even speaking about Al Mohler's church relationship and their giving or lack thereof - even though Wade is not running for President."

I did not say that Emmanuel Enid's giving disqualifies Wade from speaking about Highview's CP giving. Rather, I said that low CP giving ought to disqualify someone from criticizing other people's CP giving BEFORE it would disqualify him from serving as SBC President. I do not believe that Emmanuel Enid's giving level disqualifies Wade from running for SBC President, from serving as BGCO President (and apparently he concurs somehow at this point???), OR from critiquing other people's CP giving.

Considering the tone of his comment, I doubt that Art is that interested in accuracy at this point, but I was more puzzled regarding the inconsistency of saying:

SBC President: Disqualified by 5% giving.
BGCO President: NOT disqualified by 5% giving.
Criticizing other people: NOT disqualified by 5% giving.

I just happen to think that disqualification for pointing out the specks in other people's eyes comes ahead of the other two, at whatever level they come.

Todd Benkert said...

FYI,

Dr. Hershael York has just posted "A Statement from Highview Baptist Church" concerning their mission giving, including amounts given to AAEO and LMCO in 2007.

http://hershaelyork.blogspot.com/

This should clear up the matter of Highview's missions giving.

Blessings!
-- Todd

Rex Ray said...

Russell Dilday list 12 troubling factors in the BFM 2000:

1. The deletion of the Christocentric criterion for interpretation of Scripture. [In my (Rex) limited vocabulary that means ‘Interpreting the Bible through the eyes of Jesus.’]
2. The diminishing of the doctrines of soul competency and priesthood of the believer.
3. The trend toward creedalism.
4. The diminishing of the doctrine of autonomy and freedom of the local church under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
5. The trend toward Calvinism and mistrust of personal Christian experience.
6. The trend shifting Baptist identity from its Anabaptist, free church tradition to a reformed evangelical identity.
7. The narrow interpretation of the role of women in marriage.
8. The narrow interpretation of the role of women in the church.
9. The ‘Pandora’s box’ concern – a fear of repeated future revisions to include favorite opinions.
10. The trend toward including a catalogue of specific sins.
11. The false accusation of neo-orthodoxy.
12. Inconsistency.

On factor 5, Dilday wrote: “Since Al Mohler, leading shaper of the BFM 2000, claims to be a Calvinist, it is easy to suspect that some of the changes have more to do with Calvinistic theology than Baptist history. It appears to be an effort to redirect SBC theology to what Mohler calls the Calvinism of the original founders of Southern Seminary.
When Mohler was asked in a Texas meeting in September, 2000 if he were a ‘five-point Calvinist’, he replied:

“I will fly my colors boldly. If you ask me if I’m a Calvinist, I’m going to have to answer yes, but that is not the first, second, third or even fourth term I would use.” He said his beliefs are better described as in the Reformed tradition. “Ever Christian, every Baptist has to believe in predestination, he said, There’s not a person in this room who doesn’t believe in limited atonement – as opposed to universalism…The difference is in how it is limited…”

“In the same meeting Page Patterson said he and Mohler hold opposing views on the doctrines of election and predestination and he in fact finds no Biblical basis for the position Mohler embraces…I’d rather have Dr. Mohler hanging around my seminary than someone who had doubts about the Scriptures” (Baptist Standard, Internet news release, November 12, 2000, p. 4).”

Dave Miller,
Sorry if I’m picking on you, but if Mohler becomes President, does that mean “Every Christian, every Baptist has to believe in predestination”?

art rogers said...

Bart? Rant? Nice ad hominem/mischaracterization of what I wrote.

Again, your attempt to reframe my statement neither detracts from the truth of my point - most of which you ignored, I can only assume because you can't really defend a position opposite.

Let me address your current missive first and then I'll give you the cliff notes version of what I've said.

This is what you ACTUALLY said, with some context:

Before any level of CP giving would disqualify someone from running for SBC President, I would think that it would disqualify someone from criticizing someone else's level of CP giving, especially without performing any prior investigation of what and how they actually gave. (emphasis mine)

It seems pretty obvious that you are insinuating that Wade shouldn't have written critically about the giving record as disclosed by Highview. Clearly, you intended to slight Wade's article and to now pretend that it was some contextless assessment of crticisim triage comes off pretty disingenuous.

Here are my salient points:

The numbers were self disclosed.

Wade has every right to evaluate them and formulate then express an opinion as to how the numbers relate tied to them.

The opinion stands on its own merits. Picking Wade apart does not make the opinion inaccurate. To do so is a logical fallacy and I suspect you know that quite well.

I don't think the giving is that big a deal, as I doubt he had much to do with the budget.

The conflict of interest is inescapable and I believe it disqualifies him.

Peculiar doctrines also matter, though they still pale in comparison with the conflict of interest issue.

(end of summary)

That said, let me further clarify.

I have yet to rant. The tone of my comment was slight sarcasm. You usually enjoy sarcasm. I even used it on your behalf... "I can imagine that Bart will not be shocked to learn that I don't care whether he thinks I can or can't (or Wade can or can't)."

Be careful who you accuse of not being interested in accuracy. That is a clear assault on my character. While I have often suspected and was even convinced that you were twisting things to suit your argument by intentionally misrepresenting particular situations, I have never publicly accused you of such.

Think you know my heart so well?

I suggest you keep to the issues and deal with the arguments at hand and quit maligning my character.

art rogers said...

I'm sorry. I meant to add that what I was trying to communicate with the whole Imagine my lack of surprise... style of writing was that:

I am not surprised that you, Bart, didn't like the post and would look for some rationale that would allow you to imply that Wade was wrong to write it.

What can I say? Is anyone much surprised at this?

CB Scott said...

It would not matter if Dr. Mohler had given $300,601.00 of his personal finances to Lottie or her little sister Annie it will still be a bad thing for him to become president of the SBC.

I do hope he has another ego check and backs down from this terrible mistake he is making to place his hat in the ring.

cb

Dave Miller said...

Rex Ray,

RE: your first letter - The letter in the Baptist Standard was, in my opinion, a caricature of Mohler's view, not an accurate portrayal of it. My point with you was that you quoted someone else's interpretation of what Mohler said as if it was actually what Mohler said.

Personally, I don't care whether you call it priesthood of the believer or believers. I think the doctrine has become kind of silly. The biblical doctrine is simple - we have access to God through Jesus Christ and need no other intermediary.

I think that both the traditional Baptist doctrine and the newer version risk becoming perversions of the biblical doctrine. I believe in the priesthood of believers and the believer - as it is presented in the Bible, not as it was presented in Baptist history.

Like the priests of the OT, we can worship God and carry out his service, but we do not have freedom to "do as we please."

So, to me, the whole argument is a moot point. But I would guess that my concerns may be at the heart of the change from singular to plural, judging from some of the comments that have been made.

As to your last letter - to be honest, I am fully supportive of almost every one of those points that Dilday listed as concerns. I am glad that he is no longer president of SWBTS, though it may not have been handled the right way. I am glad we turned back to inerrancy and that we sharpened the BF&M to prevent some of the abuses of the 1963 version.

The convention was drifting fast toward liberal theology. Some leaders were not liberal themselves, but they supported and protected those who taught doctrines unacceptable to Southern Baptist.

I supported the conservative resurgence and was mildly pleased with BF&M 2000 because it dealt with some of the passages that liberal/moderates twisted to justify their false doctrines.

The most notable of those was the interpreting scripture by Jesus thing. That was used to justify more nonsense than I can enumerate.

I am not a novice in this stuff. I am a graduate of an SBC school which undermined every doctrine we hold precious (including the blood atonement of Christ) and did so while taking Southern Baptist offerings to do so. I graduated from an SBC seminary in which my preaching professor was a vocal advocate of the idea of a Bible with mistakes.

I saw this stuff firsthand. We were headed down the path that Methodists, Presbyterians and other mainline denominations followed into spiritual compromise. I was glad we stood up and stopped it.

But, Mohler and others now are going too far. To hold the line on inerrancy, on the exclusivity of Christ, on sound Biblical doctrine - I support. To start demanding conformity on issues like those that have come up recently goes beyond what I can support.

I feel a little betrayed by the Mohlers and Pattersons. I supported the conservative movement because I wanted to return the SBC to sound doctrine and practice. I did not vote for the CR so that Paige and Al and John Floyd and Tom Hatley and others could make the SBC their personal fiefdom - making the SBC tow the line on their personal opinions and agendas.

I can tell you one more thing while I am venting. I am no longer willing to carry water for anyone else. I stood with Paige and the Judge and Adrian and Bailey and Jerry, even when I didn't like some of their rhetoric or tactics. I was a loyal soldier because I believed the cause was just and right, and that if we did nothing, the SBC would be just another useless liberal denomination.

But my days of carrying water, of being a loyal soldier, are over. I will continue to support basic conservative principles, but I won't be a loyal member of any group - not the fundamentalist group or Wade's group (as loosely formed as it is) or any other group that forms. I will not support a political movement blindly ever again.

I feel the leaders of the conservative movement have betrayed loyal soldiers like me. I believe that what they are doing is a perversion of the noble purposes of the conservative movement. I believe that having turned the direction of the convention back to the Bible and to orthodoxy, some of them got a little crazed with power and have become control-mongers. And I am committed to never being a soldier in anyone's cause (except the cause of Christ himself) ever again.

Sorry, I am on a new medication and it makes me cranky.

RKSOKC66 said...

Dave Miller:

I probably say too much on these blogs. My comments betray my lack of theological knowledge and show me up for who I really am -- just a dumb guy in the pew who is not nuanced in the wordsmithing of theological catch phrases.

So I was not going to say anything. However, your comments ring such a loud bell with me I just had to speak up.

I have not been down the same road as you I have never been close to the apparatus of the SBC. However, to the extent to which I'm able to observe the SBC from out in the pews, I totally agree with your assessment of the CR. It was needed but it has gone on to become a exclusive club. I'm not painting all who were involved in the CR or supported it with this broad brush. But as a general observation, I think the CR has been morphed into a movement that has served to increase the extent to which a minority of leaders in the SBC are able to put their own stamp on the convention apparatus.
As time passes the apparatus is becoming more and more detached from the constituency which ostensibly supports it.

Lin said...

"Like the priests of the OT, we can worship God and carry out his service, but we do not have freedom to "do as we please." "

I keep hearing this phrase over and over...we do not have the freedom to do as we please.

I don't get it as it pertains to the Holy Priesthood. If I am really saved, the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin and keeps me on the narrow road. If I am growing in holiness, I won't be doing as my flesh pleases.

The phrase really bothers me...it is as if the powers that be want to be the ones that want to tell us what things are not scriptural and we are 'doing as we please' if we do not follow. That is where I think this phrase is really leading us...as with the infamous 's' that goes along with it.

I believe in 'inerrancy', too. But I disagree with Mohler's interpretations of some scriptures and definitly with his orthopraxy. It looks to me he is heading down the road of Patriarchy.

Bart Barber said...

RKSOKC66,

You suggest that the leaders of the Resurgence have formed an exclusive apparatus that controls (puts its stamp) on convention operations.

Yet this very post postulates that Patterson, Mohler, Akin, et al, are without the influence, despite all their efforts in two decades of trying, to be capable of bringing to a vote at the SBC annual meeting a proposal to have an annual seminary offering (thus, electing Mohler is danger because it would confer some sort of power that these men do not have?).

Which is it?

RKSOKC66 said...

Bart Barber:

I don't know a thing about any "seminary offering" so I can't respond about it.

My point is related to the fact that I am seeing more "narrowing of parameters" as time progresses.

I think some of the changes to the 2000 BF&M -- whether one agrees or disagrees with them -- could fairly be seen as being more explicit about stuff that was previously left unstated -- such as the statement on family and women.

Also, there have been attempts (at least as of the present time largely successful) to put new litmus tests in place for the recruitment for missionaries. I think the requirement to have missionaries "sign off" on the BF&M is a "recent" innovation. As Wade and others rightly point out, the hurdles for prospective missionaries regarding the exact administrator of immersion baptism and the anti-PPL requirement are recent innovations.

I guess the SBC has never been void of spiritual debate. However, I think in the last decade the heat on the debate has been turned up again. Maybe the Internet and blogging has something to do with it. However, in my opinion it is more likely the result of the CR machinery having reached critical mass.

Roger K. Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Todd Benkert said...

Roger,

I believe the internet has indeed refueled debate. My only hope is that you and others will not be influenced by the cynicism of the blogosphere. I too have a healthy concern about the narrowing of doctrinal parameters in the Convention. However, the continued ad hominem attacks, conspiracy theories, mischaracterizations, assumptions of motive, accusations of cronyism, and general mean-spiritedness of some bloggers has obstructed opportunities for open, honest debate and has all but destroyed the possibility of seeing the desired changes in policy come to pass. The Convention would be well served if we would debate in a more biblical manner.

As for Dr. Mohler, one may disagree with his interpretation on a whole host of issues and that still will not mean that he is--as has been suggested on this blog post and comment stream--unbiblical, a separatist, a Fundamentalist (in the bad sense), divisive, a control-monger, a legalist, or “heading down the road of Patriarchy.” In his public statements, his actions, his partnerships in missions and evangelism, and his leadership both at SBTS and in various Convention roles, Dr. Mohler demonstrates that these descriptions are simply not accurate. In fact, I believe Mohler would make an outstanding SBC president who can unite our Convention around our common cause of the gospel.

Blessings!
-- Todd

Dave Miller said...

Lin, when the CR was at its heights, the moderates in power used the "Priesthood of Believers" argument to try to stymy every attempt to enforce doctrinal standards. Whenever a professor's theology and teaching was challenged, they would accuse conservatives of creedalism or appeal to the priesthood of believers to justify their right to teach and believe whatever they wanted to teach and believe.

Because we are not creedal, and because we believed in the priesthood of believers and soul competancy, we were not supposed to hold professors accountable to doctrinal standards.

So, that is why I worded it as I did. I think priesthood of believers and soul competancy were used as defenses for heresy. That is probably why the powers that be wanted to change the BF&M to deal with some of those abuses.

Rex Ray said...

Dave Miller,
Warning! This may give your medicine some competition in making you cranky.

You said, “The letter in the Baptist Standard was, in my opinion, a caricature of Mohler’s view.”

You could have said, misrepresentation, exaggeration, false impression, falsification, distortion, inaccurate representation, or ludicrous, and without ever failing a course in my 5 years of college, I could have understood your meaning. But you chose to use “caricature”.

I had to use the dictionary. Why did you use a word that probably most of your congregation does not understand?
I would really like to know.

Why are you obsessed in insisting the letter did not portray the truth of what Mohler said? Did you accept Lindon quoting Mohler saying, “…it is dangerous to say the priesthood of the believer”?

Dilday also quoted Mohler: “It is dangerous to say the priesthood of the believer. (Biblical Recorder, July 29, 2000, p.3)”

Dave wouldn’t you agree that ‘dangerous’ is worse than saying, ‘it leaves too much freedom for the individual’? So if you believe “dangerous” why won’t you believe “too much freedom”?

You said you didn’t know Sparkman. Maybe another letter from her to the Baptist Standard will convince you that she is not the type to ‘caricature’ things. But warning: there are no quotes in her letter.

Wooing another's wife April 8, 2002
___I am a widow in my 80th year, and I'm so distressed over what has happened in our beloved convention.
___The letter written by SBC Executive Committee President Morris Chapman and sent to churches in Texas to suggest they decrease the amount given to the Baptist General Convention of Texas and also to persuade them to join the rival convention reminded me of a man trying to woo a wife away from a faithful husband and not caring at all how she also would be deserting all her many children--ministries of the BGCT.
___I'm so convinced the takeover by the fundamentalists has come about because the average person in the pew is either blissfully unaware or uncaring about what is really happening.
___ W.I. Sparkman
___ Kopperl, TX

For verification of her letters, you can read them in the Archives of the Baptist Standard.

Dave, if this is such a big deal with you, I will email my friend, Marv Knox (editor of Baptist Standard) and ask him to give the reference where Sparkman got her information.

Todd Benkert said...

Btw, when I say "not accurate" above, I mean not even remotely true.

art rogers said...

There ya go Bart.

Find something else to argue about rather than deal with the assault on my character, the faults in your argument or the points in mine.

Obfuscation, changing the topic, ignoring points you can't refute. These will not win an election.

Lin said...

"In fact, I believe Mohler would make an outstanding SBC president who can unite our Convention around our common cause of the gospel."

Except for women. Except for those who have a PPL. Except for non- cessationist.

Tim Greer said...

Rex Ray said...
Russell Dilday list 12 troubling factors in the BFM 2000:

1. The deletion of the Christocentric criterion for interpretation of Scripture. [In my (Rex) limited vocabulary that means ‘Interpreting the Bible through the eyes of Jesus.’]

(whatever that means)

2. The diminishing of the doctrines of soul competency and priesthood of the believer.

No question in my mind that this is the case. See the recent posts concerning who can baptize for further info.

3. The trend toward creedalism.

Without doubt.

4. The diminishing of the doctrine of autonomy and freedom of the local church under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Right again.

5. The trend toward Calvinism and mistrust of personal Christian experience.

For Calvinism, see next item. Personal experience must dovetail with Scripture. What "God says" must agree with what God has already said.


6. The trend shifting Baptist identity from its Anabaptist, free church tradition to a reformed evangelical identity.

"Free church" and "reformed" are not parallel. "Free church" should be juxtaposed with "presbyterian" or "elder led." As to shifting away from our tradition and toward Calvinism, it would be a shift back to our roots. John Bunyan, Andrew Fuller, John Gill, and Charles Spurgeon were all Calvinists/reformed theologians and they stand at the beginning of our Baptist tradition.

7. The narrow interpretation of the role of women in marriage.

Yes.

8. The narrow interpretation of the role of women in the church.

A greivous sin.

9. The ‘Pandora’s box’ concern – a fear of repeated future revisions to include favorite opinions.

Logical fallacy.

10. The trend toward including a catalogue of specific sins.

Not surprising in the current climate of rampant legalism.

11. The false accusation of neo-orthodoxy.
12. Inconsistency.

Flash! This just in .... Inconsistency in the SBC...

Jon L. Estes said...

If young pastors do not get on board as did the young pastors of the 70's and 80's and continue to support the convention by:
1 - Leading their churches to be true SB's
2 - Leading their churches to support the CP in a strong way
3 - Attend the annual convention, when there is not a crisis subject
...Does it really matter who is elected?

These young pastors will be the first wave of ministers leading their churches to emotionally detach from the SBC. The next wave will lead them to support what cause they believe in and an emotionally detached church will not look to the CP as the best option (extravagant salaries, abuse of power, scandal, wasted monies...).

For this reason, we need a young minister who has not and does not depend upon the SBC for a living but believes in his heart the SBC is the convention God will use to reach our world.

We don't need a statesman or a fool. We need a vibrant man of God who leads his church to be missional, who has no interest in TV spots or book deals. Someone who does not want a SBC job down the road but wants to live the rest of his life leading a local church, loving his family, touching his community.

By the third wave, we might be waving good bye.

HisbyGrace said...

I never cease to be amazed at all the hoopla over what goes on in the SBC. To read the comments on this and other blogs one would get the impression that the Kingdom of God itself hangs upon what does or doesn't happen in the denomination, ie: who is president, who runs what, who gives what and how much. It reminds me of a group of teenage girls at a slumber party having a "slam" session. One of the main concerns seems to be the issue of unity. Has the SBC ever been completely unified? It would seem that from its history such would not be the case. As for conflict of interest, cronyism, sycophants, etc, hasn't there been more than one (Paige Patterson) seminary president who also served as SBC president simultaneously? As for the cronyism/sycophant issue, is this something new to the SBC? I would venture a guess that those who oppose Dr. Mohler would have no complaint if their man exercised a little of that. But aside from all that, the thing that amazes me most is how quickly and thoroughly a man's character has a chainsaw taken to it, when someone finds a point(s) of disagreement. I have no problem with honest disagreement, but when that disagreement degenerates into assignment of motives, derogatory labels, character assassinations and the like, I think that's just plain wrong. That's not aimed at anyone in particular..I'll just say like I heard an old preacher once say, "If you're phone's ringin, answer it". Frankly I don't think it matters who is president as far as division in the SBC is concerned. The CR didn't end it. No one else has successfully ended it to this point. I don't think Al Mohler or anyone else will have any more success on that point.

Stephen Pruett said...

Louis, I do not agree with all of your points, but you offer a calm well-reasoned discussion that I very much admire. I hope you will comment more often. I would suggest that the problem with conflict of interest, though it has not been recognized as such historically in the SBC, is real.

The President of a Seminary could use the office of President of the SBC to promote an agenda that would favor his seminary or put into place initiatives that seminary leaders, but not necessarily others, view as important. This in no way suggests that Dr. Mohler would act in an unethical manner; I am sure he would only act in ways that he believed in the best interest of the SBC. However, it is very likely that his agenda for his and other seminaries is something he regards as best for the SBC and he could use the office of President of the SBC to promote that agenda, instead of taking a broader view of acting in the overall best interest of the SBC. I suggest the SBC should not allow entity heads to serve simultaneously as President of the SBC.

Also, I do not think it is legalistic to not favor candidates whose churches do not contribute substantially to the CP. The President of the SBC should be the number one salesman and cheerleader to encourage CP giving. If his own church gives meagerly, he is not in a very strong position to make a compelling appeal to other churches to increase their CP giving. I think it is sad that the percentage of CP giving by many SBC megachurches is so low. Have we been wrong all these years to conclude that many churches pooling their resources can be much more effective in world wide evangelism that single churches acting independently? If not, SBC leadership needs to demonstrate the importance of CP giving by past actions as well as by statements made when running for President.

Lee said...

If you're the president of one of the six SBC seminaries, your choice of a church should most definitely be influenced by what it gives to the Cooperative Program, especially when your moderate predecessors went to churches that gave double digit percentages.

Anonymous said...

Stephen:

Thanks for your comments and compliment. Same to you.

I believe that I am right about the first 2 reasons why a conflict of interest argument is not particularly strong.

One, it has no basis in the organizational design of the SBC. The legal documents drafted in the creation and operation of the SBC do not prevent the President of a Seminary from being SBC President. Our founders and people who set things up and served for several decades before us probably saw this issue more clearly than we do.

Two, the history of the SBC shows that SBC messengers have been willing to elect agency heads many times. So, it's consistent with our history. And, as I said, I think that all these men served with distinction.

Three, I cannot imagine a scenario where a conflict of interest has any real meaning.

On appointments, the President appoints the Committee on Committees (I think). That's it. Then, that committee appoints a committee on Boards. Then, that committee appoints Trustees. So any appointment process is 2 committees down the line. It is very far removed from the actual appointments.

When it comes to actual appointments, the process is really interesting. The people from the various states on the Committee on Boards (I think the name may have changed) usually run traps in the states where the nominees come from. They call pastors and friends and try to find good candidates. There's always a likelihood that there are several good candidates in a state that can fill a position. Then it boils down to friends, prominence and other factors that might impress that particular committee.

One time, my name was considered for a position on the Sunday School Board (at least that's what the person from the Committee on Boards told me). Well, I didn't make the cut. Another couple of guys were appointed. They were great. Had nothing to do with me, and it certainly had nothing to do with the SBC President who appointed a Committee on Committees upstream from the Trustee appointments. All the horse trading and jockying was on the Committee on Boards.

The Committee of Boards isn't beholden to the SBC President and he has absolutely no power over them. If I remember correctly, the actual trustee appointments come a couple of years later than the term of the SBC President because of the way things are staggered.

So, the influence is so diffuse and removed and the process so indirect that I am not concerned at all about it. Also, since the convention has to approve all trustees anyway, it seems to me that any bad apples can be identified and removed.

This is probably why a conflict of interest argument hasn't either been made or really gone very far over the years.

The other scenarios that have been mentioned to argue conflict of interests have been the Executive Committee meeting itself and the SBC President "promoting" things that might benefit him and not the convention.

I have observed my share of SBC Executive Committee meetings. I would describe them as long boring sessions punctuated every once in a while by an interesting or absurd debate.

The guys who have the most influence at those meeting are the Executive Committee staff (Chapman and staff) and the Chairman of the Committee. The SBC President looks like a Fifth wheel at these things. I believe he is an "ex-officio" member. He can't vote, and he really doesn't say much. The SBC President has no official role. He does not draft the agenda for these meetings.

The other scenario is that the President of the SBC might promote something that would benefit his agency to the detriment of the SBC.

The Convention sermon and the SBC President's traveling around don't really give him the kind of power that would be needed to enact changes that would benefit his agency.

Again, I think that if the SBC President did something like that, it would be so obvious, it would be poorly received.

In Mohler's case, he is influential by virtue of his Blog, Radio Show and conferences and meetings that he does that are all separate from the SBC Presidency.

The SBC Presidency is such a figure head position (aside from the appointments) that I don't believe having any seminary President as President of the SBC would benefit that particular seminary.

But, at any rate, we all have different feelings about these things and we can all vote our consciences and go forward after that.

I can't promise that I would vote for Dr. Mohler.
I am, however, impressed with his resume, background and accomplishments, and most particularly his ability to articulate the Gospel in SBC and non-SBC circles. Electing Dr. Mohler will be the first time in a long time that the larger evangelical world will recognize the SBC President as a leader outside our own denomination.

Anonymous said...

Stephen:

Forgot to address your other point - CP giving.

We have not been wrong to pool our money all these years. CP is a good thing. (Of course, the SBC existed for 80 years (1845-1925) without the CP).

It's just that a percentage that a church gives is a complicated matter that is controlled by lots of moving parts in a church, depending on their age, culture, financial situation and other ministries.

The legalism that I was referring to was reflected in a motion or resolution a couple of years ago that would have required churches to give a certain percentage to CP. That is the motion that Dr. Vines spoke against.

Probably one's feelings about this depends a lot on background and culture.

We helped start a church 15 years ago. It doesn't have Baptist in the name, even though we have given to the SBC since day one. We give much of our money directly to the SBC, rather than through the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

Like many churches today, there are many of our members who are involved in local women's shelters, ethnic ministries and other ministries that don't fall under the CP.

Our church is growing at a good rate, and we have made significant inroads in various communities that might have been closed to traditional Baptist Churches. As an example, we have about 600 attending, and of those, we probably have 30 medical doctors. We have made great inroads at the local medical school. Many of the med students who attend are not from SBC backgrounds and come from all parts of the country.

We give 10% of all our receipts to missions.

We go and lead at IMB regional mission meetings around the globe because our pastor is such a good speaker and our music is really good (one of the benefits of being in Nashville - every other person in the pew has cut an album!) and the missionaries often ask for us. We have sent a large percentage of people (compared to our size) to the mission field, but short term and career.

Of the 10% that we give, some of it is given to the local ministries that are not strictly Baptist (e.g Rescue mission, local Kurdish ministry, Samali Bantu ministry etc). Some is given to support our work to go and minister to the IMB missionaries. And the money that does go to the SBC is sent part to the state and part directly to Nashville.

I would hope that my pastor would be able to serve the SBC some day on a board. I am concerned, however, that a very strict approach on CP would cause the SBC to lose an opportunity to have a good, young leader on their board. Our church might also perceive it as a slap in the face if we were told we could not participate in the leadership of the SBC unless we reached the 10% mark.

Also, because we are a young congregation, we build our first building just 2 years ago. A lot of our resources went into constructing the building.

On the other hand, there may be many churches in Nashville that have been around forever. They are Baptist in all their programming and culture. They may be dying or in declining situations. Their buildings are paid for. Their pastors may not really be that effective, but they have jumped through all of the denominational hoops. They are "company men", as they used to say. And, they may boast an 10% or more in CP contribution.

I can think of situations like that now. And without being unkind, can say that I would not want many of those pastors being leaders on any SBC boards. I do not see them as real leaders in the community, and they are not leadership material, in my opinion.

But it would be ashamed if the pastors selected to go to SBC boards were from churches that passed the test of CP giving but were really not the best in leadership material. And it would be ashamed to shut out churches that truly are leading in a community just because their CP giving may be lower.

I may have mentioned in my earlier blog that Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley and Jerry Vines (I believe) were all criticized for their level of CP giving when compared to their opponents. Rogers was called an "independent." Bellevue is heavily involved in Mid America and has lots of their own missions programs. And yet, I think the SBC would have been robbed of one of its most storied, effective and beloved leaders if the CP test had been rigorously enforced, as is now being encouraged.

So, I get what you are saying and I appreciate it. It just seems to me that the SBC, its churches and the giving patterns of churches are getting more complex, not less, and that we are going to see more of that in the future. I think that Dr. Chapman and others have commented on this. Should we recognize this, and make room for it, or should we punish or shun these congregations, or keep them from leadership?

I want to see the SBC tent grow and convince more churches to get involved and see the benefit and blessing of denominational life. But if we insist on a rigid programmed response to CP, and limit leadership or argue over percentages (10% vs. 7% vs. 5%), our future will be a restricted one.

Denominational life (in all denominations) is at an all time low. Churches are starting all the time. It's just that a large percentage of them are non-denominational. Many of these churches are often baptistic in theology, but not in program. They just run their own missions programs.

What would be great is if these young leaders who are starting these churches could see the benefits of being in a denomination and catch a vision for becoming part of the SBC. Our church, and churches like ours, could play a role in that. But if these young churches come to the SBC and see these rigid giving requirements, it is going to turn them off even more than an overly rigid doctrinal system.

Again, my viewpoint is affected, I admit, by my history. I think that the SBC has so much to offer, and churches really do benefit from being in community and ministry together.

A doctrinal confession makes sense to me, and most evangelicals I know could readily buy into the BF&M 2000 (most people who object have a long SBC history and there is a lot of inside baseball type objections that the uninitiated would not normally bring up).

An overly programmed and rigid approach to ministry and giving levels is a losing approach, in my opinion.

So, I don't oppose high levels of CP giving. I just don't want to see it become a test of fellowship or leadership.

Those are my thoughts, for whatever they are worth.

Rex Ray said...

After a few days of looking and nothing was posted I thought Wade had closed his post down, so I quit looking. But surprise—surprise!

Greg Glford,
Your comment of 7 days ago (Jan. 6, 23:03) was addressed to me and others that “hyper-ventilated over the ‘priesthood of the believers’ change to the BFM.
You said, “All this sounds to me like a lot of crying over spilt milk…you Liberals…Ops I mean Moderates lost; get over it…The Convention has spoken, not Dr. Mohler…”

In my opinion, the “milk” wasn’t split; it was changed to poison. That poison will lead Baptist down the same road that early Christians took in being ‘legalists’ that led to Catholics with their world of rules.

We’ve already seen rules that removed from the mission field over 100 God-called long time Baptist Missionaries. We see more petty rules that reject missionary applicants because the ‘wrong person’ baptized them, and others rejected because they didn’t pray to God in the ‘accepted way.’ Sounds like Pharisees complaining that the disciples didn’t wash their hands in the accepted way.

“Mohler would unite or Convention around our common cause of the gospel.”

Lin (Jan. 8, 12:51) replied to that statement, “Except for women. Except for those who have a PPL. Except for non-cessationist.”
I might add, except “you Liberals…Ops I mean moderates”

Lin,
I like your statement, “If I am really saved, the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin and keeps me on the narrow road.”

Lin, it seems to me, the powers of the Conservative Resurgence don’t trust the Holy Spirit to do his job, so they built a wall of rules to keep sin out, but that wall makes prisoners within.

Tim Greer,
You seem to agree with most of Dilday’s troubling factors in the BFM 2000. He explains each one in his paper.
Since you said, “(whatever that means)” about the first factor, I’ll copy-paste Dilday’s explanation:

1. The deletion of the Christocentric criterion for interpretation of Scripture.
BFM 1963 says,” the criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ."
BFM 2000 substitutes, "All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is himself the focus of divine revelation."

BFM 2000 also deleted from BFM 1963, "Baptists are a people who profess a living faith. This faith is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. Therefore, the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is Jesus Christ whose will is revealed in the Holy Scriptures."

This seems to many to be a serious rejection of a very important hermeneutical principle. Baptists (and most evangelicals) have valued what is called the theological principal of Biblical interpretation. This principle teaches that the Bible is a book of faith, not just history or philosophy. Therefore, the Bible cannot be fully understood from the outside by grammar, logic, rhetoric, and history alone. It must be understood from its center – Jesus Christ. This Biblical center yields itself best to those who have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ and who are indwelt by the Spirit of God. Because of this personal relationship with Jesus, the believer knows personally the author of Scripture and has the promise of illumination from the indwelling Christ.

This theological principle, expressed in the Christocentric language of BFM 1963, "The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ," declares that the guiding key to Biblical interpretation is Jesus Christ. Through Him as a criterion, or standard, the Bible becomes unified, self-consistent and coherent. Jesus said, "The Scriptures … bear witness to me" (John 5:39). Therefore, we are to interpret the Old Testament and the rest of the Bible in the light of the life and teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, illuminated by our own direct experience with the living Christ. It is through Jesus as the criterion that we interpret the Old Testament prophecies, the ceremonial, civil, dietary, and moral laws of the Old Testament. As Martin Luther insisted, the Bible is always to be understood from its center – its heart – its Christ.

The intentional deletion of this Christological principal of Biblical interpretation is, to many, the most serious flaw in BFM 2000. It appears to elevate the Bible above Jesus and to weaken the idea that He is Lord of the Bible. Critics have responded:

"This amounts to nothing less than idolatry." It is pure bibliolatry." "I’ll bow down to King Jesus, but I will never bow down to King James."
(Quotes from article in Biblical Recorder, July 29, 2000, p. 11)

The committee defended its deletion in their press release of June 5, 2000: "This statement (Jesus is the criterion) was controversial because some have used it to drive a wedge between the incarnate word and the written word and to deny the truthfulness of certain passages." Ken Hemphill calls the Christocentric language "a loophole to avoid the plain teaching of certain Biblical texts which persists among moderates…. it is used by some unprincipled Baptist scholars to ignore difficult texts which they did not believe to reflect the character of Jesus" (Baptist Standard, February 26, 2001, p. 3).

But surely this crucial Christological principle treasured by Baptists over the years should not be abandoned just because some misguided interpreters are said to have abused it.

Reflecting on this change, an editorial in Christianity Today says, "BFM 2000 is poorer without the rich Christocentric language of the earlier statement. Jesus Christ is surely the center of Scripture as well as its Lord. One can affirm this while also welcoming the clear affirmation of the Bible as God’s infallible, revealed word"
(August 7, 2000, p. 36).

John Fariss said...

Well said Rex! And by the way: I remember Dr. Hemphill et al complaining that certain people misused the statement that Jesus Christ is the criteria for interpretation. But two things: one, I never heard him or others give concrete examples of this, just the boogey-man (or straw man perhaps) of anonymous, mean, old unnamed liberals, and two, even IF there are scattered examples (and in our 15 million, clear my throat, Southern Baptists, there are likely to be some), that does not excuse throwing the baby out with the bath-water!
John Fariss

Rex Ray said...

John Farris,
Thanks for the nice words. I believe you hit the nail on the head when you implied the BFM 2000 “threw the baby out with the bath water.”

Dave Miller,
You said a new medication makes you cranky, but I believe you state some good thoughts while on it. They are so good; I am going to repeat them:

“I will not support a political movement blindly again. I feel the leaders of the conservative movement have betrayed loyal soldiers like me. I believe that what they are doing is a perversion of the noble purposes of the conservative movement. I believe that having turned the direction of the convention back to the Bible and to orthodoxy, some of them got a little crazed with power and have become control-mongers. And I am committed to never being a soldier in anyone’s cause (except the cause of Christ himself) ever again.” (07 Jan. 20:24)

Dave, while I like what you wrote, I disagree WHEN “some of them got a little crazed with power and have become control-mongers.”

Just as leopards don’t change their spots, I believe the “some” have always been that way, and their ‘battle for the Bible’ made it a political football as a smokescreen to hide their ambition for a ‘takeover’ of the SBC.

It’s true some professors were out in ‘left field’ with their ideas about the Bible, but like John Farris said the baby got thrown out with the bath water.

In reference to your feeling of being a “betrayed loyal soldier”, I’ll repeat a poem that maybe some have not heard.

Soldiers Down
By Ann Rinker and Rex Ray 2-2-04

Please, SBC Leaders, don’t reject BWA
We’ve loved 99 years. Will you now abscond?
47,000,000 Baptist hearts that lift up Jesus.
Will they become wounded soldiers down?

Persecution from enemies, yes,
But from our own astounds!
You said BWA had drifted left.
Innocent soldiers down.

You accused them of downplaying Jesus;
No evidence could be found.
Your untruth against BWA exposed you.
Should you yourselves be down?

You screamed, “Liberal”, but one falsely accused
Yelled in your ear, so bound,
“Repent and turn from your wicked ways!”
One soldier still not down.

Christ warned, “Teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”
Does His concern, so profound,
Expose “BF&M is our doctrinal guideline”,
Demanding unsigned soldiers down?

You claim your interpretation is God.
Your BF&M is renown.
Others must bow to this decree or become
Condemned soldiers down.

Your name “conservatives” is only a camouflage.
Your creed a mandatory crown!
Anyone questioning fundamentalists is labeled
Despised Moderate soldiers down.

Please, Lord, unite our hearts to lift up Jesus.
This prayer should resound.
“Fire unsigned missionaries!” makes Jesus cry,
Betrayed soldiers down.

You’re only content when you dominate.
You say you don’t want to hound.
But when God speaks to some a different way,
More loyal soldiers down.

You agree with Muslims: “No women over men!”
Though their witness has abound.
Christian women who answered God’s call
Became women soldiers down.

Sorry, BWA, our leaders plan to leave.
You see why moderates frown.
Pray for leaders without a paper-god
Or you’ll join soldiers down.

“It’s only politics…Not my concern.”
This fable has been around.
Awake, dear brother, or you’ll become
Another soldier down.

Anonymous said...

Wow, talk about paranoid! I don't understand what the charge of conflict of interest with Mohler is about. After all we have had seminary presidents who served consecutively as SBC president and seminary president and it did not destroy the SBC.

Just a history lesson for those who don’t know.
E.Y. Mullins and John R. Sampey both served as SBC president while president of SBTS.
L. R. Scarborough served as SBC president while president of SWBTS.

William W. Hamilton Sr. served as SBC president while president of NOBTS.

Needless to say, I think it is grasping at straws to say that Al Mohler should be disqualified to serve as SBC president because he is currently president of SBTS.

Oklahoma Joe

Anonymous said...

Oops! Forgot about Page Patterson. He was president at SEBTS while SBC president. And despite what people might think about him personally. He did not kill the denomination while president.

Oklahoma Joe

Anonymous said...

HIGHVIEW’S MISSIONS GIVING
January 7, 2008

Highview Baptist Church has received numerous inquiries from around the world about our giving to missions and missions-related causes, and we are more than happy to address those questions.

As a church, we are committed to The Southern Baptist Convention and to its mission of reaching people for Jesus Christ in our community, our state, our country, and all over the word. Being “Great Commission Focused” is one of our core values. Our church has a history of missions-related giving and of sending career missionaries and volunteers to the field. We are more excited and more committed to missions now than at any time in our church’s history.

In the wake of various erroneous news reports, we do think it’s important that we clear up any misunderstanding about Highview’s contribution to the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong missions offerings.

In 2006, Highview gave a total of $724,984 to missions. In the Associated Church Profile (ACP) we submitted to the SBC in 2006, we simply chose not to specifically categorize our missions giving. Frankly, at the time, we did not think such categorization was necessary to promote our church.

In 2007, we gave $836,681 dollars to missions. Last year, we did specifically categorize our contribution in the ACP report. Highview gave $64,158 to the Lottie Moon fund and $13,752 to Annie Armstrong.

As for our Cooperative Program giving, Highview has chosen to give the majority of our cooperative funds directly to the SBC instead of funneling the funds through the Kentucky Baptist Convention. The reason is simple: The KBC retains 64% of those funds, and we want to ensure that more of our dollars went directly to evangelism, missions and other programs that Highview supports.

Highview Baptist Church understands that some of the questions about our missions giving come following the announcement that one of our teaching pastors, Dr. Albert Mohler, will be nominated for the presidency of the SBC. We are proud to have Dr. Mohler and his family as active members of our church.

Our giving, our going, our praying, and our serving has always been out of a desire to make Jesus’ name famous all over the world.

Missions and evangelism are at the core of Highview Baptist Church, so in the wake of some misinformation, we thought it necessary to set the record straight. To that end, we are attaching our 2008 plan for missions giving, which our congregation unanimously approved in November of 2007.

NEWS RELEASE

Highview Baptist Church

Phone: 502.239.7711
Fax: 502.239.3353
7711 Fegenbush Lane
Louisville, KY 40228

http://www.highview.org


Investment Plan

2008 GOAL: To INVEST over $1 Million in Missions

Expenditures are proposed and will be
determined by offerings to Million to Missions.
LOCAL
A Woman’s Choice Resource Center 24,000
Southern Seminary
Mentoring/Intern Program 150,000
Prison Ministry 42,000
Media Outreach 20,000
R.O.C.K. 5,000
Fern Creek/Highview United Ministries 5,000
Fellowship of Christian Athletes 5,000
Sunrise Children’s Services 5,000
Shield of Faith 2,600
Long Run Baptist Association 1,200
Campus Missions
Spencer 50,000
Indiana 50,000
Hispanic 50,000
TOTAL LOCAL MISSIONS 409,800

NATIONAL
Cooperative Program (See International Missions)
Through the North American Mission Board a percentage of Cooperative Program funds goes to North America Missions.

Church Plants
New York City | The Gallery Church 50,000
Philadelphia 25,000
Indianapolis 25,000
Atlanta 25,000
Cleveland 25,000

Mission Trip Supplements 20,000
THIRST Student Mission
Trip Supplement 25,000
Eastern Ky Mission Trip 5,000
TOTAL NATIONAL MISSIONS 200,000
INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS
Cooperative Program 400,000
Supports
Over 5,000 international missionaries through
the International Mission Board
Over 5,000 national missionaries
Disaster relief
Our six Southern Baptist Seminaries
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
International Mission Board
Lottie Moon Offering 100,000
International Mission Trips 100,000
1. North Africa
2. Zambia
3. India
4. Guatemala
5. Vietnam
Bible Distribution 25,000
Gideons 10,000
Muslim Bible Day 10,000
Wycliffe Bible Translators 5,000
Highview Missionary House 5,000
Adoption Ministry 10,000
Orphan Ministry (Children from Afar) 10,000
Vietnam Ministry (Norman Coe) 10,000
Turkey 10,000
TOTAL INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS 670,000
TOTAL MISSIONS $1,279,800

Anonymous said...

Anonmymous Comment:
I am not a Southern Baptist, nor a Baptist, although my grandmother of blessed memory, Lucy Mabel Ausbon of Plymouth, N.C. was the niece of a Baptist minister. So, it is with this heritage and with the knowledge of my dear grandmother's love of Jesus, that I should like to comment on the "need" for a "Baptist Faith and Message". Why not simply use the words, teachings, and example of Our Lord Jesus for your guide? If this is not enough to unite you, then there are no words that will. No wonder the SBC has had so much difficulty and strife internally. In memory of my grandmother, I ask you to consider a return to the basics of your Christian faith as taught by Jesus. There is no room for all this SBC commotion. You don't have the time. Jesus needs you to go out and serve the sick, handicapped, poor, and, yes, the rejected of your communities. In short, keep it simple. He did.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old thread but I was A LONG TIME member of Highview Baptist Church and their Missions giving changed when Kevin Ezell became Pastor.I left and joined Highland Park however yesterday I I sat through a 60yr anniversary at Highview. I wanted to see old friends and acquaintances and sadly there were few! of I heard Mohlar say he had been at Highview 20yrs its been 30+ . I can only assume he wanted to distance himself from being there when William Hancock was there because he "fell" and had an extramarital affair which he confessed to the Church in 1995. Sadly in that Anniversary service yesterday no one even uttered Bill Hancock's name. Even though he is who grew that Church he served it the longest of any pastor, 25yrs AND Even though he was Al Mohlers staunchest supporter in his bid for the Presidency of SBTC. The great "Conservative Takeover" as it were. I also distinctly remember Mr Mohler stating "God does not hear the prayers of a Jew" at which time I whispered "you are a lost man". I loved Highview at a time, a different time a time when it was about community and the Gospel and not about how far everyone can climb from its pulpit! I do believe, Bro Kevin Smith is a breath of fresh air from what I heard in the few moments from him yesterday. But Dr Mohler 20yrs??? I might have to watch it again on TV just to make sure senility has not set in but I am fairly certain its been more than 30!