However, Southern Baptist pastor Les Puryear had never heard of these men or their published writings until someone mentioned them both in the comment section Les' post entitled Dangerously Close to Antinomianism. After it was mentioned to Les, he went to the site where the professors' article “Will a Man Rob God?” is posted. Les read it and by his own written testimony Les was "shocked." What was he shocked about? I will let Les' words on his own blog on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 answer for him:
... "I am shocked by the prevalance of antinomianism in our convention!"
... "Andreas Kostenberger and David Croteau document does need to be addressed. I will say that I have somewhat shocked that professors at SEBTS and Liberty University would advise our churches not to teach tithing."
...."If (someone) goes beyond the boundaries of his local church and seeks to persuade others (that tithing is not biblical), that's when a response is warranted. Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention. You can rest assured that action is underway to address these issues at every level of the SBC."Notice, Les' objection is over the issue of "tithing"--nothing is mentioned about Kostenberger and Croteau denying the veracity and inerrancy of the Word of God. The stated issue for Les is the teaching of Kostenberger and Croteau on the subject of Old Covenant storehouse tithing and NOT their view over the nature of Scripture. Specifically, Les is expressing his consternation that seminary scholars are teaching something different than what he believes on the subject of tithing.
The next day, I received an email from someone very upset about Les Puryear calling for the removal from seminary faculty two professors who taught a view of tithing that was different than "the majority of Southern Baptists." I immediately called Les and then left this comment on his blog:
I received information this morning that you contacted the supervisors of a couple of men who are employed at one of our SBC seminaries. You expressed to a supervisor your disappointment that the professors do not teach "storehouse tithing." The person who contacted me indicated that you sought to bring about accountability by expressing a desire that these men be fired from their positions of service.
I have placed a phone call into your office to confirm if this is indeed true. Please feel free to delete this comment after you read it, but know that I am attempting to contact you to confirm the veracity of the information given me by my seminary source.
I think you know, Les, that if this is true, you will be doing the very thing that has caused me to speak up, and speak out, against the principles of certain individuals in the SBC. You will be demanding conformity on tertiery issues and threatening removal from fellowship and leadership those who do not conform to your particular (and some might say peculiar) interpretation of "storehouse" tithing. I can guarantee you that the sword you have drawn will be used to sever your own connection to SBC local churches because of your Calvinism, a system of thought deemed "peculiar" by many SBC leaders.
I look forward to hearing from you, but please know I will do everything within my power to stop men like you from accomplishing your goals of demanding conformity on tertiery issues.
In His Grace,
Shortly thereafter Les called and told me that he was NOT seeking the removal from faculty of these two men. He wanted to know what I knew and how I knew it. I told him that I would not tell him my source, but I vowed after the Klouda incident that I would do anything to protect our professors from ideologues who demanded everyone believe the same as they. I thanked Les in the following comment on his blog:
"Les, I appreciate knowing you were not seeking the firing of any professor for published papers that reflect a different view from yours regarding Christian stewardship."So, it's over, right?
No, it's not.
It was then that my source sent me the email Les' had sent to the supervisors of these two men. He told me that Les had been less than forthright with me because Les HAD called for the removal from faculty of these two men for teaching something contrary to storehouse tithing. You may read Les' email to the seminary supervisors in its entirety on Les' blog. Please notice, that in the email, Les only addresses the professors' views on tithing. Not once does he express a concern that these men do not "believe the Bible." Also, Les suggests that these men might need to be removed from seminary faculty for teaching a position on tithing that is not the view of most Southern Baptists. Again, nothing is written by Les' that he was concerned about the professors' possible "liberalism"--he only mentions their different interpretation on the subject of tithing. The email is clear. Les wanted the supervisors of these men to stop the professors from influencing other pastors with their interpretations of storehouse tithing and suggested it would be helpful to possibly remove them from their faculty positions.
It was after reading Les' email that I knew Les was not being forthright with me on the phone. I chose to publish the email to protect the professors. My rationale for publishing Les' email, sent to me by someone concerned for their livelihood, ministries and families was made clear on Baptist Life in a comment to Les after he chastised me for making his email public.
"Your email, Les, was only made public after you denied to me privately, both by phone and in a written email that you published on your blog, that you DID NOT seek the termination of SBC professors who believed differently than you on "storehouse tithing."Of course, Les is now saying his only motive in writing the email to the seminary supervisors is his concern that these men possibly didn't believe the Bible and we Southern Baptists are in danger of homosexuals and abortionists overtaking the SBC if we were to let men like this continue to be on the faculty of our seminaries. He now says he was only checking out to see whether or not his concern over these men's liberal denials of the sacred text was a legitimate concern. It was my making public his email that stopped his ability to have his concerns addressed. He never, not ever, wanted these men removed for teaching something different on the subject of tithing. The issue, to him, was something bigger.
My source, after reading the denial on your blog, wrote to me and said you were being less than forthright. He then provided the email, cited Mal 3 and the locusts that destroyed the crops of Israel and included an observation that you were seeking to take away the income of these men while ensuring your own. One of the professors is about to publish a book on the subject, based upon his own dissertation paper while at SEBTS.
Frankly, Les, after reading the email from my source it became evident that:
(1). You were not honest with me.
(2). You were trying to "sound the alarm" in the SBC by seeking the termination of professors who believed differently than what you allege "the majority of Southern Baptists" believe.
(3). Your doctrinal dogma on Old Covenant "storehouse tithing" is not even in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
(4). The secret, behind closed doors pressure is precisely what I saw happen at the International Mission Board on tertiary doctrinal issues that eventually became post de facto policy in the SBC--backdooring the demands for doctrinal conformity through the individual SBC agencies and not through a convention wide change in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
(5). The only way those types of things can be stopped is to make public what is happening.
I realize that the issue for you is the publishing of the email you wrote to administrators at seminaries. Please know that I have sources in every agency of the Southern Baptist Convention. Many of these folks are flat out scared. They are afraid to excercise their God-given spiritual gifts and mental acumen to publish scholarly pieces that may reflect different and nuanced views from the Fundamentalist establishment. They are concerned that nobody has their back or will protect them if they get in a pinch with Fundamentalist leadership. Many of them are leaving looking elsewhere to serve, and the scholarship drain at our institutions can be almost audibly heard. That is why these folks contact me. I don't ask for it. They seek me out. They know I know how to handle folks like you. I do not mind my character or my integrity being attacked for a greater cause.
The greater cause is to stop the unbelievable demands for doctrinal conformity that is causing our Southern Baptist Convention to out Mormon the Mormons and out Jehovah Witness the Jehovah Witnesses. When we get to where we are exegeting the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 to figure out the original intent of the authors on "storehouse tithing," we have abandoned sola sciptura and have turned the BFM into The Pearl of Great Price or the Watchtower Magazine. And further, when we seek to remove scholarly and published professors from their faculty positions for disagreeing even with the majority of Southern Baptists, we have sacrificed our true freedoms for intellectual pursuit at the altar of creedal Fundamentalism. I will do everything within my power to not let that occur in the SBC while I pastor a church that cooperates under the SBC umbrella.
Hopefully, this little episode will keep you from ever again seeking to intimidate Southern Baptists who view things differently in a private and secret manner while at the same time denying publicly what others involved in the intimidation know to be true"
Hmm. I submit Les words for Southern Baptists to read. My take on it is that Les, like most ideologues, doesn't know how to fellowship with Christians who believe differently than he on tertiary doctrinal issues. The exposure of him calling for the removal of SBC seminary faculty members over interpretative differences on tithing seems to have embarrassed Les. Though this has historically been the tactic by ideologues in the SBC who wish doctrinal conformity within the SBC, I think Les has been awakened to the fact that it won't work anymore.
I have grown accustomed to attacks directed at me personally. Without hesitation, I say that I love Les as a brother in Christ and fellow minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want only the best for him and his church. However, when he or anyone else takes upon himself the task of demanding doctrinal conformity in the SBC on all tertiery matters, they will have to answer to those of us who have had enough. Les, in my opinion, has learned a lesson. I do not believe he will ever again ask for the removal of someone in SBC leadership and ministry who disagrees with him on the subject of tithing.
Mission accomplished. It is definitely a little mission in the big scheme of things, but our Southern Baptist Convention will never become truly cooperative and tolerant of differing interpretations of the sacred text without small steps like this one.
In His Grace,