There are no such feelings in me at all.
On the contrary, there is a love for all my fellow Southern Baptists, but there remains in me a deep and abiding concern that unless Southern Baptists speak out against a loss of church autonomy, a growing centralized authority within our Convention, and a demand for ideological conformity, then the Southern Baptist Convention we know and love will continue to decline in numbers and effectiveness. We will only thrive as a Convention when we celebrate our differences, love one another enough to cooperate for bigger causes, and refuse to make our ideological differences personal.
A Reviewer of Hard Ball Religion Who Changed His Mind
Scott Bradley sent me an email yesterday and told me I could quote from it if I desired. Scott is a 43 year old Southern Baptist pastor in Missouri. He was a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary from '93 to '96. Scott and his wife Christy had three young kids during Seminary, and so Scott worked full time. He painted at Danny Akin's house a few times and believes Dr. Aiken is one of the greatest men in the SBC. He believes Dr. Paige Patterson has "skin like a rhino and a heart as big as Texas." Scott particularly loved Dr. Patterson's class on the church and got a kick out of his remarks concerning Richard Land's signing of the ECT document. Scott knows just a little about Dr. Keith Eitel, but what he knows of Dr. Eitel is impressive to him.. In short, Scott loved Southeastern and everything that it stood for under Dr. Patterson's leadership and continues to stand for today under the leadership of Dr. Akin, and he has fond feelings for Conservative Resurgence leadership.
Bill Curp, is a man that Scott admires as a hard working impartial, conservative Director of Mission and long-time former Missionary to Africa. Bill Curp, Scott's DOM, was an IMB trustee during my tenure, and Scott wrote and told me that he saw Bill the other day and told him that he was beginning to read Hardball Religion and "Wade Burleson would probably would not be happy with my review."
Scott wrote me yesterday and said that after reading the book he would be announcing his public reversal of his initial thoughts concerning Hard Ball Religion. Scott said that he understood the principles I was advocating, and "stood completely behind them." What is even more interesting is what Scott said next:
If I remain a Southern Baptist I can no longer remain silent. If I run from the SBC I am abandoning the greatest association of local churches that has ever existed, along with many of the most faithful rightly baptized believers in the world. Because you are reading this letter you should have no question about which option I chose. Though we are comparatively a small Southern Baptist church, the money that we give to the cooperative program gives us as loud a voice as the giants in our land. The question of church autonomy, limiting standards to the 2000 BFM, and a disclosure of all things SBC, should be vigorously debated and settled.Scott went on to write that he had predicted the day would come when "the SBC would struggle with which conservative view is the correct one."
He closes his email to me with an encouraging paragraph, words that confirm to me that at least one Southern Baptist has gotten the message after reading Hard Ball Religion:
One way or another these issues will be settled by the SBC, but (your book) has not discouraged me to leave or quit giving to the CP. To the contrary, it has ignited a fire in me to autonomously cooperate with other gospel preaching Southern Baptist Churches by giving more to the CP and challenging our people to see the world as God’s field that is ripe unto harvest.
Well stated Scott. I look forward to cooperating with you for the Kingdom's sake. The fields are ripe for harvest.
In His Grace,