Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Am I a Fundamentalist?

I recently read a post by the head of the Mainstream Baptists in Oklahoma, Dr. Bruce Prescott, where he called me a "Fundamentalist Baptist Pastor." In his own blog entitled The Fundamentals of Hate, Dr. Prescott says, "While Burelson (sic) calls for conservatives to sheath their swords, he continues to use the sabre-rattling rhetoric that draws them out. Burleson still talks about hating "liberalism," and now he's added hating "legalism" and "Fundamentalism." The thread tying these all together is a heart that still condones "hate." That's what's killing the SBC. Hatemongering and the rhetoric of warfare always leads to division and death."

I think Dr. Prescott needs to read my blog a little more carefully. I am arguing that we in the Southern Baptist Convention should "cooperate" with our brothers in Christ, and not exclude them, because of differing interpretations of the Word of God. I am insisting that there does not need to be any more fighting.

In addition, I agree with Dr. Prescott, that we (the Fundamentalists) should love our liberal friends. Just because we want no part of liberal theology does not mean we should hate those who do. It may surprise Dr. Prescott to know that I enjoy the company of two men who are liberal in their theology. I call them friends, and they consider me a friend as well. The love of Christ overflows in my heart to people regardless of their doctrinal position.

The same goes for my argument against what I am calling "Fundamentalism within the Southern Baptist Convention." To hate the methodology of the SBC Fundamentalists ("you cannot serve if you don't interpret the Word of God as I do"), is not to hate the Fundamentalists themselves. I don't. In fact, some of the godliest, nicest men and women I have ever met are insisting on a narrow interpretation of "tongues" and "baptism." I don't hate them at all. I do despise their methodology of excluding conservatives who don't agree with their interpretation of the Sacred Text.

In summary, to hate the methodology of Fundamentalism, or to hate the theology of liberalism, does not, and should not mean you hate the person behind either.

So . . .

Does it bother me that Dr. Prescott thinks I hate him or any other person with "liberal" theology? Of course it does. I don't hate Dr. Prescott. In fact, Dr. Prescott, whom I have never met, may actually be surprised that I am an easy going guy who enjoys the company of people of all persuasions.

But it particularly bothers me that anyone would think I "hate" anybody within the SBC.

My word. These are my brothers and sisters whom I respect deeply, even those who disagree with me on the IMB new policies.

Frankly, when I am called a "Fundamentalist" by someone who left the SBC over the inerrancy of Scripture, and a "Liberal" by a person who fought the battle for the Bible and now is leading the effort to conservative conformity, as has happened to me in the past two months, then it very well may be that my theology is "fundamental" and my methodology is "liberal."

Maybe that's how it should be.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Stephen Morse said...

Wade, I appreciate your message. Fundamental in doctrine, liberal in love!
In Christ, my Rock;
Soli Deo Gloria

Micah Fries said...

Wade, you have echoed my sentiments exactly. Thank goodness for pastors who are solid, biblically, but understand the necessity of "liberal" methodology in order to reach an ever-changing world. We continue to pray for you and look forward to being a part as we try and steer our convention towards genuine freedom in Christ.

Kevin Bussey said...

I like your quote also. I remember a professor @ SWBTS saying a Fundamentalist was a Evangelical who is angry. I think there are more of us who think like you in the SBC we just aren't politicians!

Anonymous said...

Nice post! One of my best friends is very conservative, but I don't consider him to be a Fundamentalist because he doesn't look down on others and label others as "Liberal."

I do not consider you a Fundamentalist because you also are able to love others with different theologies.

Take care!

Howie Luvzus

Anonymous said...

I used to be a southern baptist and even went to your father's church - Southcliff.

As a Calvinist I left because I figured that when the Fundies tossed out the liberals, Calvinists would be next.

I was wrong, I forgot that the fundies would need SOMEONE who could read theology at least to keep the seminaries open!