Recently, while doing research on another subject, I came across a statement Paige Patterson made to faculty of Truett-McConnell College on October 31, 2011. Dr. Patterson was present when faculty at Truett-McConnell were requested to sign the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. After observing each faculty member place his John Hancock on the 2000 BFM, Patterson said, "Better be dead, better never be remembered on this earth, than to fail to be true to that document which you have signed. May God bless you as you serve and teach in line with that which you have confessed. Hold to it, and someday you will hear, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
Patterson's statement illustrates the dilemma the Southern Baptist Convention has created for herself. On the one hand, we Southern Baptists have successfully walled-off 'theological liberalism' from influencing our future direction, but on the other hand we have loosed an even worse demon among us. When a man-made document (2000 BFM), filled with possible fallible interpretations of the sacred and inspired text, is demanded by SBC leaders to be placed on equal footing with--and given equal authority to--holy Scripture, then we have a massive theological problem. John Leland, a Baptist forefather and an astute 18th century theologian himself, said, "Uninspired, fallible men make their own opinions tests of orthodoxy, and use their own systems as Procrustes used his iron bedstead, to stretch and measure the consciences of all other by. Supposing it was right for a man to bind his own consccience, yet surely it is very iniquitous to bind the consciences of his children--to make fetters for them before they are born, is very cruel."
Amen, John Leland. Amen.