Both ideologies find it difficult to allow the freedom to express disagreement.
Or, to put it more bluntly, classical Liberalism wants only Liberals to be heard, and classical Fundamentalism wants only Fundamentalists to be heard. Adherents to both ideologies remind me of weak, insecure Chief Executive Officers who can't let their boards ever question their decisions--out of fear they may move in the wrong direction. Of course, the wrong direction is any direction opposite of the views of the CEO. Rather than being open to dissenting views, all dissent is ridiculed and stifled. Stifling and silencing opposing views is as prevalent in the university, institution, classroom or church controlled by classical Liberals as it is by those conrolled by classical Fundamentalists. Since classical Fundamentalism is the struggle within the SBC at this moment, allow me to show the danger of Fundamentalism silencing all dissenting views on various subject matters. We have seen Fundamentalists remove missionaries who disagree over the cessation of spiritual gifts, professors who disagree over women being able to teach men in a classroom setting, and a host of other examples of silencing and removing dissenting viewpoints in the SBC these last few years; but now the SBC is being given another example of the prevailing ideologists clamping down on any opposing view.
An Attempt to Remove Professors Who Do Not Teach Storehouse Tithing
An excellent biblical presentation on the Old Covenant practice of "storehouse tithing" is found in an article entitled “Will a Man Rob God?” This study on tithing in the Old and New Testaments by Andreas J. Kostenberger and David A. Croteau, who at the time the article was published served as professor and Ph.D. student respectively at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, is an excellent argument for pastors and teachers to cease their emphasis on "the tithe" and encouraging their members to give "cheerfully, generously, and regularly" as led by the Holy Spirit. Dr. Kostenberger remains a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. David A. Croteau is now a professor in the religion department at Liberty University.
I received information that Southern Baptist pastor Les Puryear, a small church pastor who ran for President of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2008, contacted the supervisors of these men at the respective seminaries where they are employed. I was told Les was seeking their termination for teaching giving and Christian stewardship in a manner contrary to "storehouse tithing" and the practice of the Jews in the Old Testament. I contacted Les to ask if this was true, and he both called and wrote a written response which he published in the comment section of his blog. He wrote:
-- "Thanks for your email. I returned your phone call as well but your assistant said you were in a staff meeting.I took Les at his word and thanked him for not seeking the termination of the professors who disagreed with his views on "storehouse tithing."
First, I don't know who your seminary contact is, but rest assured that I will raise the issue of private information being leaked to you, to seminary officials.
Second, your source is wrong. I have not asked for anyone to be fired, nor will I ask for anyone to be fired.
Third, I appreciate your concern with tertiary issues, however, I believe that this issue goes beyond tertiary and to a foundational issue of our convention and that is the role of Holy Scripture in the life of the Christian. That is the issue I am addressing. If you think the validity of scripture is a tertiary issue, then we have a true disconnect." --
But then, after my conversation with Les, I was given excerpts of the letter Les sent. Pay close attention to what Les writes to the seminary supervisors:
1) -- "It has come to my attention that one of your professors has written a document that is available online in which he states that the biblical command to tithe is no longer applicable."I will accept that Les didn't mean what it sounds like he meant. Asking the supervisors of the respective professors "is it helpful to keep this professor on faculty?" may not, at least technically, be a call for the professors' terminations. But let me turn the phrase around to maybe help Les understand the signficance of such a letter from the perspective of those who are being pressured to be silent about their beliefs in order to continue as seminary faculty members. Suppose one of the members of the church where Les pastors wrote to the chairman of his deacons and said the following:
2) "I do not believe that (professor’s name) position is the typical position among SBC pastors. My concern is the influence which (professor’s name) may have upon future pastors who may teach this unbiblical position."
3) "I am completely shocked and surprised that in the years following the Conservative Resurgence, (school name) would employ a professor who teaches that tithing is not necessary."
4) "… do you think it is helpful to the SBC to keep this professor on the faculty of (school name)?" --
"Do you think it is helpful to our church to keep Pastor Les on the payroll when he is publicly teaching (blank)?"
I would think that the impression given by the letter would be, "Les, stop teaching (blank) or you may be fired!" I honestly don't believe I am the only one who believes the letter Les sent is indicative of an inability for Fundamentalists to handle dissent. There are some people in the SBC who still don't seem to get the problem we are facing as a Convention. The struggle within the Southern Baptist Convention is no longer over the Bible. We are in as much trouble today as we were years ago when Southern Baptists were shouting "Liberalism! Liberalism! We must throw out the Liberals!" Though some doubt the extent of Liberalism within the SBC in the late 1970's, there can be no doubt the spread of Fundamentalism in the SBC in the early 2010's. We have substituted one ideology for another ideology--and the brother of the former has the same DNA.
Both can't stand dissent or disagreement.
Well, if we threw out adherents to the Liberal ideology in 1979, then we better get ready to throw out the adherents to the Fundamentalist ideology of the present or apologize for what was done to the people we Southern Baptists called "liberals" in the late 1970's.
In His Grace,