David Rogers, missionary for the International Mission Board and son of the late Adrian Rogers, wrote the first comment in response to Dr. Yarnell's article, articulating his personal disagreements with doctrines 4, 5 and 7. David then asked Malcolm Yarnell several questions including the following:
If I am unable to unequivocably embrace your 4th, 5th and 7th major points . . . does that mean that I am not truly a Baptist?
I chuckled when I read David's question. When a blue-blood Southern Baptist like David feels compelled to ask such a question, then the Baptist Identity initiative is definitely a fringe movement. Before Malcolm could respond to David Rogers' questions, I followed up with on of my own regarding the 4th doctrine of Baptist Identity which Dr. Yarnell defined as follows:
Baptists do not baptize apart from the local church, because baptism involves local church membership.
Dr. Yarnell called this doctrine, and the other six Baptist Identity doctrines he posits, 'bedrock convictions,' and he wrote that "cooperation must end where our bedrock convictions are compromised." Dr. Yarnell and Mr. Lumpkin (the owner of the blog), both believe that cooperation should end with anybody who disagrees with them on these so called 'bedrock convictions.' Though shocked at such extremism, I politely wrote the following in response to such thinking:
Believing David Rogers' questions to be very pertinent, I do not wish to distract from the time required to answer them. However, if I might add a couple of simple questions to his.
You wrote: "Baptists do not baptize apart from the local church, because baptism involves local church membership."
My questions: Into which local church was the Ethiopian eunuch baptized? Into which local church were the 3,000 at Pentecost baptized - having come to Jerusalem from all over the known world?
And, if you are unable to identify the local churches, is it possible that our early Baptist fathers were correct that baptism does not admit anyone into the local church? One such early Baptist wrote:
Baptism does not make a person a member of a church, or admit him into a visible church; persons must first be baptized, and then added to the church, as the three thousand converts were; a church has nothing to do with the baptism of any, but to be satisfied they are baptized before they are admitted into communion with it. John Gill
In light of your statements here, that the principles you put forth, including 'baptism involves local church membership,' are 'bedrock fundamentals' of Baptist Identity, will you at least admit that one of the principles you call bedrock is a departure from historic Baptist belief, and that if this is the case, then the new Baptist Identity movement, which is making tertiary issues 'bedrock fundamentals' is a movement that will ultimately separate, isolate, and disintegrate all cooperation - even among Baptists?
Malcolm Yarnell responded to my question with the following words:
Thank you so kindly for your enquiry, but because of recent history with regard to Southwestern Seminary and the International Mission Board, you probably understand if I choose not to interact with your queries regarding the membership of the first church of Jerusalem, or the use of a peculiar High Calvinist to construct Baptist ecclesiology or missiology . . .
I called Malcolm and left a message for him to call me on my cell regarding his response. He did not call me back. Malcolm's use of ad hominem variants, is precisely what happened at Southwestern Seminary and the International Mission Board. In other words, he illustrates the attitude of past trustee leadership at the IMB and current administration of SWBTS.
Let me illustrate:
When Dr. Klouda was removed from her position I made a trip to Fort Worth to privately speak to the administrators involved, including Dr. Patterson himself. I waited for three hours but was told he was unavailable to speak with me because of previous engagements. I left my cell phone number and forwarded a list of questions that I had regarding her removal. I emailed again, requesting a response to my questions. Nobody from SWBTS ever called me. Nobody from SWBTS answered my questions regarding Dr. Klouda's removal. Days later I published my post on Dr. Klouda. Rather than answer questions, those in charge at SWBTS have resorted to the ad hominem (attack the person) approach.
The same thing happened on the International Mission Board. When the new policies were proposed, I asked several questions, behind closed doors, and requested answers. Why are these policies needed? What precipitated the process to change the policies? Is there anecdotal field evidence that these policies are needed? How does our IMB administration feel about the policies? Nobody in trustee leadership would, or could, answer my questions. But several brought all kinds of personal attacks against me. It was only after six months of repeated refusals to answer my questions as a trustee that I posted Crusading Conservatives versus Cooperating Conservatives.
Dr. Yarnell seems to imply that the fault for problems at SWBTS and the IMB is me. I respectfully disagree. The fault for problems at both institutions lies at the feet of those in leadership who are either unwilling or incapable of answering legitimate, honest questions by fellow Southern Baptists and resort to ad hominem attacks to discredit or marginalize those who question them.
If proponents in the new Baptist Identity initiative of the Southern Baptist Convention wish to convince others that their beliefs are 'bedrock convictions' that should define cooperation among Baptists, then it would serve their purposes better to answer questions rather than attack the questioner.
In His Grace,