Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Shouting and Shaming Is A Sign of Weakness

My dad used to give the illustration of a preacher he knew who underlined a point in the notes he used for his Sunday sermon and then added this comment in the margin (point is weak, shout louder).

It's refreshing to be around someone who is so confident in his position that he does not need to shout at, or shout down, others. By the way, in denominational life shouting does not always mean the increase of the decibal level (though that is often the case), "Christian" shouting is what I call "shaming." It is the intentional put down of a person who disagrees with you before hearing the basis for his disagreement. It is the marginalizing of a person because you can't answer him (not that you won't, but you can't), so you dismiss him as a heretic. It is the "didactic" approach to theology and Christian exegesis ("By gosh, that's what Baptists have always believed, and so do I, and if you don't you are a heretic"). It is a form of religious dictatorship.

Baptists have historically abstained from such an approach. In fact, even during the 18th Century when many European Baptists were moving into liberalism, universalism and Unitarianism, the greatest Baptist scholars in the history of our Baptist faith wrote inductively to prove their positions, and refrained from assuming anything.

A Modern Day Case Study: Inerrancy

Daniel B. Wallace has taught Greek and New Testament courses on a graduate school level since 1979. He has a Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary, and is currently professor of New Testament Studies at his alma mater.

Dr. Wallace is an inerrantist--- inductively. Josh McDowell says Dr. Wallace's writing on the subject of inerrancy is "top flight scholarship." To read Dr. Wallace's position on inerrancy is a lesson in scholarship, humility and the ability to avoid didactic reasoning. Thanks to Paul Littleton and my father for this link.

You can't help but read his article and sympathize with the character assassination that is currently taking place toward this fellow evangelical Baptist. He is being called on blogs a "liberal" and a "heretic." And yet, he is an inerrantist.

It seems that heresy among Baptists is now being defined in terms much narrower than it used to be. Years ago you could be considered a person who did not like to use the word "inerrancy" because it said more of the Bible than the Bible (according to those who held this view) said of itself. Yet back then, a non-inerrantists could be considered a brother in Christ, a fellow evangelical, and even one who held to a "high" and authoritative view of the Word of God.

Not anymore. Now, if you are an inerrantist, because you are one inductively (i.e. you don't assume inerrancy, you prove it, as does Dr. Wallace), you are considered a "heretic" in the eyes of some. Dr. Wallace's present day character assassination is an example of how good, solid, evangelical conservatives can be falsely maligned.

The Current Struggle In the SBC Is NOT Over Inerrancy

The struggle in the Southern Baptist Convention is no longer over inerrancy, but rather, it is over the same didactic approach to minor, non-essential doctrines of the faith (i.e. "Brother, you best believe this or you ain't one of us!"), and then shouting down fellow evangelical conservative Baptists who disagree. Or worse, attempting to remove them.

At first, we were told the resurgence was only going to remove those who did not believe the Bible to be the Word of God. Not many convention conservatives at the time allowed for the fact that some conservative evangelicals believe in the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God but refuse to use the term inerrant, for it says more about the Bible, according to them, than the Bible says about itself, as illustrated by Dr. Wallace's essay.

That is the past. Most people who struggle with using the Word "inerrancy" to define their view of the Bible have left the SBC. I use the word inerrancy all the time and have no problem with it. I believe the Bible is inerrant, but I am ahamed that we have labeled other evangelicals who do not use the word as heretics.

Now, there are those who wish to call me a heretic and marginalize me. I have issued some principled dissent on matters that are non-essential to the faith, and have raised concerns that we are seeing in some SBC agencies a creeping demand for conformity in the non-essentials, by those who take a didactic approach, and shout down those who dissent.

If we are not careful, we will rapidly become a convention that will so marginalize young, conservative, inductive exegetes that are now filling our pulpits that we will wake up one day and aske the question "Where did all the good SBC pastors go?"

There's no reason why we can't become a convention that promotes inductive study, exegetical and expositional preaching, and a gracious and kind spirit to those who disagree with our conclusions on the non-essentials. There may be a few SBC preachers and leaders who shout louder when their arguments are weak, but some of us are going to just need to get used to it, and remind everyone that we aren't going away as others have done.

Too much is at stake.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Mike Woodward said...

volfan said "if someone does not believe the clear, essential teachings of the bible,..."

Isn't this whole discussion over who decides what the "clear, essential teachings of the bible" are?

Bob Cleveland said...

I am somehow reminded of the story about protecting the caged lion.

When someone throws rocks at the lion, or pokes sticks, or shouts insults at him, one needn't defend the lion. One need only open the cage and let the lion out. The lion can defend himself.

So can The Lion.

Personally I enjoy hearing teachers and pastors who differ from what I believe. Not talking heresy, but I like talking to Presbyterians and Methodists about modes of baptism. Makes me affirm what I do believe, and what they believe doesn't bother me at all.

I don't shout or shame.

I dearly love to talk to Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons.

Besides, Mike's right and I'm so insecure that all I know to do is to say what I think and then let you think whatever you want.

volfan007 said...

why did you delete my comments? i attacked no one, personally. i didnt cuss anyone out. i didnt call you any names. so, why did you delete my comments?


Alycelee said...

Wade, If I were a member of your church I'm sure I would be shouting, however it would be a hearty amen.
To this post I say AMEN.
Kevin, I understand where you come from.
Sometimes it is more than I can stand, but I have hope. (was told I wear rose colored glasses)
God always used the remnent, so a majority is not necessary.
I do see and hear here a spirit of love and cooperation here among many men and women who truly want to serve God and one another.

Paul said...

Bro. Bob,

The problem with your approach is that you can't control other people if you just sit around and let them think whatever they want to think.

I like how Dallas Willard reads Jesus' "casting pearls before swine" comment in the Sermon on the Mount. He says that the pearls are good things. Valuable things. Things that will enrich you. But they are not the things the swine need. The swine are hungry and want food. If you force your pearls on them they will turn and bite you because at least you are edible.

I think most of what we are seeing are people who are convinced that they possess pearls and are bound and determined that we are going to eat them whether we like them or not.

Good comments, Bob. And good post, Wade.

volfan007 said...

the essential teachings of the bible are those that we must believe to be a christian. the virgin birth, atoning death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus to name a few.

some non essential teachings that are clear, black and white teachings would be like 1 timothy 2:11-12. a woman should not teach a man doctrine. a woman should not rule over a man in the church. thus, the clear teaching is that a woman should not preach nor teach a man in the church. she should not be a minister, nor should she teach a ss class where men are present.

now, if some dont abide by this clear does not mean that they arent saved, but it does mean that they are following the clear teachings of the bible. something will suffer and hurt because of it. but, i would still call a woman teaching in a mixed class a christian.....she would just be wrong to be teaching in that class.

now, if someone denies the virgin birth, or they deny the physical resurrection of Jesus, then they are lost...they are false teachers if they are preaching in a church or teaching in a seminary.

but, if you believe in the mid trib rapture, and i believe in the pre trib rapture....well, thats a gray area....something thats not clearly spelled out in the bible. now, of course, i think i am right and you are wrong. but, its not something to break fellowship about.


Bob Cleveland said...


Let's take the case of women teaching (or exercising authority over) men. That happens to be my conviction, also. But let me say how that manifests itself.

First is that's what I'd teach when I address that scripture. I'd also state that others differ with that at present, and that the class member must appropriate the truth and applicability of that, for themselves. Something about priesthood of the believer, I think.

There's also the fact that Paul did refer to HIS not allowing a woman to teach, and I don't recall it being set forth in the manner of a command (which he did plenty of, so he knew how to say that).

The second manifestation is that I would not personally attend a class taught by a woman, or place myself in a position of being under a woman's authority (I'm not going to mention my wife here). I don't think I would make a big deal of it .. if I visited a church and was escorted into the SS class and sat down and a woman came in to teach, I don't think I'd get up and leave. Who I listen to has no bearing on my salvation and I'd want to be Christlike in that.

What I will not do is throw rocks at others about it. Faith is supposed to be personal, and I think I'd like to act like it.

irreverend fox said...


this is the mess that takes place when a denomination flys a banner that says "we're not a creedal people".

I say again, my JW friends would at least say (up front)that they agree with "No creed but Christ" or "our creed is the Bible". Those statments amount to saying NOTHING.

Having no set creed is madness. I'm not talking about some massive theological work. Let's just use the BF&M2000. I'd just, in as Christ like of a way as I could say, "If you want to work with us, recieve our funding and go in our name then sign this. If you don't then the door is that way. Go call the Episcopalians."

Such a thing would cut both ways cause we would then have a basis of fighting off both liberalism and leagalism with in our convention.

I'm too far out of the loop to understand why this is so difficult. Nobody has yet answered my question: What good is the BF&M2000? Why do we even have it?

Bryan Riley said...

Amen to Wade and amen to Bob on the Lion. Why do we make this about ourselves as though we could some how protect God's truth? God will take care of His business. That doesn't mean we can be lazy or not do or believe anything, but I am confident enough in Him that I need not shout or put down others who, in my opinion, may have a misunderstanding of the truth. I also am confident enough in myself, as a finite human mind, to know that I may have a wrong opinion that will change over time, as has already occurred as I've grown more in the image of my rabbi, Jesus Christ.

We learn so much from being parents. When I hear myself yelling at them or, worse yet, them imitating me by yelling amongst one another or at others, to prove their point(s), God reminds me of who I am and who HE is. I'm so thankful that He does.

Mike Woodward, you also hit on what I've been hinting at in some of my earlier comments.

Let's remember to magnify God in all these wonderful conversations. We are to be Christ to the world. May He forgive me (and I pray you as well) when I fail at that here.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RM said...

Great post! Of course you will castigated for having the courage to write it...

Not sure why we conservatives shout the battlecry of inerrancy when we don't obey it anyway... If we were serious about obeying the Word of God we wouldn't be treating our brothers like we do! I can only speak from the conservative side and viewpoint but there's enough there to keep us busy until Jesus returns. (Pan-millennial of course.)

For those who don't know what pan-millennial is, it means that the Lord is in control of His return and it will all pan out in the end.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Wade,

I do not often find myself in complete agreement with what you post, but I think this time I'm with you 100%. Thank you for these thoughts.

Love in Christ,


Kevin Bussey said...


I already feel marginalized. I try to hang out with other SBC pastors near me and I'm so different than they are. I had to bite my tongue recently (a little) as some were labeling Dr. Page a "moderate." I realized it would do no good to argue. I'm tempted to label myself but I will refrain.

Great post!

Bob Cleveland said...


I'll email you. said...

Volfan 007,

Feel free to repost what you said and I will leave it up.

I did not like the multiple times you used the word heretic in a comment that would begin this comment section --- it defeated the entire purpose of this post (my wife said it illustrated it :) ).

RKSOKC66 said...


Dan Wallace was one of the main early contributors at
I used to look at his stuff all the time. Western Seminary and Dallas are more or less "sister schools" (many Western Profs are Dallas Grads). I first discovered when I was taking classes at Western. He had a feature called "Professor's Soapbox" over there which was excellent. I used to E-mail Dr. Wallace once and a while and he always took the time to reply with thoughtful comments.

I agree that we should not dismiss others views out of hand.

I am guilty of not having a fully orbed view regarding the use of the BF&M. I have been thinking about this over the last several days -- and I have uncovered not only an error on my part but also my position (regardless of whether it was right or wrong) was not even logically consistent.

Wade, I may be slow but I am coming around.

1. I agree that there needs to be some type of accountability for employees working at SBC agencies -- such as the IMB.

2. I agree that the BF&M is the primary instrument that -- for better or worse -- the SBC at large has used to codify its major doctrines and beliefs.

3. As I have said before some of the stuff in the BF&M is secondary stuff.

4. The main contention with the BF&M is in a subset of the secondary stuff which just happens to be stuff that was added in the 2000 version which was not in the 1963 version.

5. So Wade, I agree with you that missionaries should be able to choose whether they will conform to the 1963 BF&M or the 2000 BF&M (or any other orthodox statement) such as the New Hampshire confession.

My idea requiring missionaries to sign the 2000 BF&M to be employed -- while acknowledging myself that it was an imperfect document was causing me too dissonance. I was not being realistic in asserting that objectors to the 2000 BF&M had any realistic ability to change it.

Allowing the 1963 BF&M solves the "problem" since 90% (or more) of the people raising issues with the 2000 BF&M have no problems with the 1963 version.

I don't see any of "new" stuff in the 2000 BF&M as being a "hill to die on". I think the 2000 BF&M has caused as many (if not more) problems that it has solved. I say this as a guy that fully subscribes to BOTH documents.

Wade, I think your BLOG is very helpful in enabling me to hammer out positions in my own mind. Thank's for providing this sharpening stone.

I think even Solomon would have trouble trying to corral the various factions. However, I think BLOGS like this are shedding some light and while for some they only are a sounding board to allow them to vent on their calcified positions I think for most people the dialog helps us to reach out and cooperate while toning down the rhetoric. said...

Roger Simpson,

This inveterate blogger who writes voluminous posts says thanks. I often wish to quit blogging, but cannot, simply because of people like you who give evidence of thinking things through, and as a result, write thoughtful comments like your's above.

Writer said...


Even though you and I disagree and I have no problem challenging your statements, as I'm sure you have no problem challenging mine, I have never used the word "heretic" in association with you. "Moderate," yes, but "heretic," no.



volfan007 said...

wade, and mrs. burleson,

i would ask you to explain why it was wrong for me to call a heretic a heretic? why is it wrong to call a false teacher a false teacher....if they are one?

the bible calls false teachers false the book of jude.

so, i still cant figure out why you hid my post, and why you are saying that what i wrote was so bad? do yall not feel that there are heretics out there trying to infiltrate our churches and our schools? liberals always do that. they are devil inspired to do this. they love to tear up a church, or bring down a denomination. i guess yall dont feel that way.

anyhow, tell mrs. burleson that volfan says howdy.

volfan007(the college football season is upon us) said...

Volfan 007 and Les,

You are welcome to post on my blog, and I appreciate your comments, though both of you are right, we don't always agree.

I believe we are brothers desiring the same ends --- God glorified and sinners saved.

I might possibly suggest that you also blog yourselves. That way you both can write your views in greater detail.

RKSOKC66 said...

Prof. Wallace mentions that their are various levels of importance in the doctrines listed in any "confession" or "statement of belief".

An excellent treatment of this subject, which I believe bears on the BF&M, is Dr. James Sawyer's
"Hierarchy of Beliefs". Dr. Sawyer is a Theology Prof at Western Seminary.

Dave Miller said...

Where Do You Draw the Line?

I agree that shouting and shaming may be a sign of weakness (or bitterness, or whatever). However, standing firm is not the same as shouting and shaming. Scripture makes it clear that there are truths we should contend for - refuse to compromise.

The problem comes when we try to determine that line. Volfan certainly has a line far to the right of mine.

There is no doubt in my mind that most of those who were called "moderate" in the controversy were Bible-believing men who believed pretty much exactly what I believed. My dad (and your dad) have told me how solid some of these leaders are in their theology. It is unfair that they have been painted as liberals.

The issue was not their theology, but where they drew the line. They wanted to accept men (and women) into the SBC fold whose theology, in my mind, is clearly outside the fold. They believed the SBC should be a big tent - including men who did not believe in inerrancy.

I hope this does not sound like a caricature. I think that is an accurate view. The issue in the split was not what people believed, but where they drew the line.

That is still the issue. Where do we draw the line? Obviously, the IMB Bot majority draw the line one place. Wade, you draw it another.

Here's my line. I will include in the SBC fellowship any person of Baptist convictions who holds to inerrancy and agrees, at least in principle, with the BFM (1963 or 2000 - not a big issue to me). If someone holds to inerrancy but not to Baptist distinctives, they are still a brother, just not a Baptist brother.

I will fellowship with Mohlerists and Pattersonians. I will fellowship with those who have a private prayer language. I will fellowship with Amillennialists (and perhaps a preterist on my good days).

But if someone questions the absolute truthfulness of the Word, the blood atonement, salvation by grace through faith alone, or other fundamental doctrines, I will try to be tactful (neither shouting nor shaming) but I will not accept their participation in the SBC fold.

Wade, I have been watching as this series of blogs unfolded. I am trying to figure out where this movement is drawing the line. I know you don't speak for the whole movement, but you are certainly one of its visible leaders.

Where do you draw the line?

Writer said...


I do have a blog of my own. As a matter of fact you posted a comment or two on it.



Bryan Riley said...

Volfan, is it possible that someone could profess to believe all that you believe and still not have a relationship with Christ (to be a tare)?

Bryan Riley said...

Lest it be misinterpreted, I am not suggesting by my question that I think you are not a believer. I just meant the question truly as it was written to try to understand your opinion.

Bryan Riley said...

Looks like a litmus test has appeared.

What if someone were to say as follows:

I believe that those passages of scripture are literal and really occurred, but I also believe that I could be wrong about that and my faith is not challenged if someone else believes differently. My belief in an infinite and personal God is no less whether they were stories or facts/history. I have faith that God has the power and the character to cause any and all of the words of the bible to be true, but I also know that He could use stories, as Christ did, to illustrate truth.

Does that make someone moderate? Liberal? Conservative? Do such tags really communicate?

I suppose the answer to the above should be it depends on whether the scripture makes it plain that the events were written as historical facts or plain that it was written illustratively (as Christ sometimes did in parable form).

Anyone commenting??

Kevin Bussey said...

This is beginning to sound like the Pharisee praying that I'm glad I'm not like this sinner. It sounds like it is an argument as to who is more conservative than who and so on. The labels have to go! I'm a follower of Christ. Labels, I don't need no stinkin labels! :)

Bryan Riley said...

Micah Fries, at just posted about a great article by Mohler related to this and the last post's comments. The article is at He classifies things as first-order, second-order, and third-order truths.

Dave Miller said...

By the way, this is the only blogging community I read. So, at the risk of being inappropriate..


Jim Paslay said...

To Bryan,

I guess it would depend if a person is going to use his interpretation of the first 11 chapters of Genesis to decide that God didn't literally speak this world into existence, therefore evolution is the way to go. Also, if a person didn't believe that God literally established marriage as between a man and a woman in Genesis 1:24 then the end result would be that Adam and Eve along with Adam and Steve could get married and both be called marriage. And if Adam didn't literally sin against God, then you could just say that we need more education and social programs to solve our problems here in this country. And besides if Noah really didn't build an ark, then why in the world would Jesus mention Noah speaking about the end times. Can we not believe in Noah and still put our trust in Jesus's words if one is fable and other is supposed to be the truth?

Once you go down that road you have to pay too many tolls. I say whether a person believes that Genesis 1-11 is without error and should be taken literally says alot about what a person believes about the rest of Scripture. What do you think?

Bryan Riley said...

I would agree that Genesis is pretty critical. But I'd also say that it really isn't about me and I was just asking a question of the commenters in general, which, in fairness, you are now asking me a question. We all do well to remember that this is about God. And I definitely believe that God created the heavens and the earth. I'm a pretty literal interpreter of scripture, but I also realize that we all pick and choose what we decide is literal and what isn't. I've yet to meet the person who chooses to take the scripture literally that says pluck out your eye and cut off your hand (for an easy example). There are some things, as you point out, that are fundamental. What often is true, however, is that people who are less read than you or I may not understand this and really not know how to take being told they must not be a Christian or that they should go to some other church because they haven't realized some of those connections or been taught those. That is a good basis for teaching sound doctrine, of course, and, generally, that is one thing the SBC does very well. The problem comes when there are things that are not foundational that become for those in power, as Mohler categorizes things, first order or even second order to the point that we want to throw people out of churches for different beliefs over non-essential and interpretative issues of our faith in Christ Jesus, a faith that all believers share as brothers and sisters in One family.

Thank you, Jim, for taking me to task on this, because it is important to discuss such matters. I may not have answered well, but I tried to answer based on what I know and believe and am very open to learning more from Christians of greater understanding than I.

Paul said...

I believe Genesis 1-11 are historical, though I'm not necessarily a six-day creationist. I believe in an historical deluge and that Jonah was a real prophet who was really swallowed by a great fish. But belief in God the Creator doesn't hinge on Genesis 1-11, belief in heterosexual marriage doesn't depend on Genesis 1:24 and sin is well attested to in Scripture not only in Gen. 1-11 but in every other book of the Bible.

The slippery-slope argument implied in those questions is simply not there. To deny sin you have to deny a whole lot more than the fall. To deny heterosexual marriage you have to deny a whole lot more than one verse. Ralph Elliott was not a heretic because he didn't believe in the historicity of Genesis 1-11. Those are interpretive issues among people who believe the Bible has something valuable to say, but may differe in some of the details about just what it is that it is saying. said...


Go to my sermon site and click on the appropriate series.

My exposition of Genesis (the first eleven chapters with full outlines and audio), Jonah, and Exodus is located there.

Billy Graham falls into the category of people you mention and I would suggest he is conservative and evangelical.

Bryan Riley said...

Recently, one of my friends who also happens to be a pastor and seminary educated, commented on the fact that many of his church members are scared to comment because of the nature of the "professional" blogger. Although I am an attorney by trade, and an avid student of God's word, I can quickly be shown ignorant, in the proper sense of that word, by someone who can use the language of a theology student, a language most church members don't speak. So, I would just add to my occasional encouragement to commenters that you would be well served to be educational and patient with some of us. Although he and I have disagreed from time to time, Bart Barber has been very accommodating of me and sent me some great emails regarding his beliefs. I appreciate that.

Pastor Todd said...


The "new stuff" added in the 2000 BF&M were secondary to the main point of revising the statement of faith in the first place. Further, much of the "new stuff" addressed issues that were not issues in 1963 such as inclusivism and open theism. The major change, however, was the statement on the Bible. The 2000 BF&M changed the so-called criterion clause which had been used as a sort of loophole by (excuse the label) the moderates to introduce beliefs that those who hold to inerrancy would find objectionable. The fact that this was the major change is verified by the fact that virtually all the debate at the Orlando convention centered on this article (with the exception of one messenger who misunderstood the wording of the article on the Lord's Supper). It is hard to forget the messenger who in his argument against the new wording stated, "the Bible is just a book" and Dr. Mohler's repsonse which summed up the debate. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is what it all comes down to: Either the Bible is the word of God or it is merely a record of the word of God."

I agree that we need a greater level of respect and openness to fellow evangelical conservatives who disagree on non-essential issues. The problem is that many conservatives have been labeled as liberals because of differences of opinion on certain litmus test issues. To me a "conservative" should be defined by one's agreement on the essential issues on the one hand and one's view on the inerrancy and sufficiency of scripture on the other. A case in point: the role of women in ministry is not an essential issue (no one will go to hell because they believe or don't believe in women pastors). I am not an egalitarian, but to me there is a big difference between someone who says I disagree with you because I think (through prayerful reflection and careful exegesis) that the Bible supports an egalitarian view, and the person who says I disagree with you because Paul was wrong about women.

Jack Maddox said...

Wow...simply wow...I feel like I am back in the old BGCT wars of the early 90's....all the same rhetoric...the same code phrases...

yea....its Waco 1991 all over again!


Jeff Whitfield said...

It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry when I read these comments. Kevin, in the second comment, got it right, probably more than he realized, in saying we need to focus on winning people to Jesus without worrying about pleasing people. That is the needed eternal perspective.
I serve with the IMB well outside the American Bible Belt where the number of evangelical believers is between ½% to 2%. It is even less than that in many places around the world. There is not nearly the same level of power struggle, politics and arguing over theological minutia (although there is far too much American influence here too)because most believers recognize that the bigger problem is that the vast majority of the population(including their own family and friends)are dying and going to hell without Jesus.
Christians need each other. We are all sinners saved by grace. When we try to be the one who is always right or in power we miss out on the point of the Church. We have to be about the 2 Greatest Commandments as well as the Great Commission. I am convinced that not only are there no atheists in foxholes, there are no theological debates there either. This is when we turn to God and to each other. America, even the Bible Belt, is more of a foxhole today than you realize. We've got to get our focus back on the main thing or Satan wins. He's laughing now.

Bob Cleveland said...


God used the term "day" before the sun and moon were created. Then, after, when the 24-hour schedule was in place, He still said "day".

He said HE created all in six "days" and rested the seventh "day" and that WE were thus to rest on the seventh "day".

Either He was referring to 24 hours, or He's trying to confuse us.

Wait .. I think He said He doesn't do that.

Oh. OK.

Terry Hamblin said...

I would call myself a conservative evangelical who believes in both the inerrancy of Scripture and its sufficiency.

As a scientist who believes in a six-day creation and who thinks that survival of the fittest is fine for explaining variation within a species (even if it is a tautology) but that it certainly cannot explain the origin of species, I would, even so, hesitate to hang the label
"heretic" around the neck of someone who didn't agree with me.

Most Christians outside the United States have been brainwashed by the all-pervading secular humanism that rules the roost. It takes an Act of Enlightenment by the Holy Spirit to unblind them.

My enlightenment came when I was converted, because evolution had been a stumbling block to my conversion, but for many Christians it is a very peripheral issue. They tend to believe what they have been told. If they have to believe six impossible things before breakfast they go along with it. After all what could be more unbelievable to this mindset than a dead man coming back to life on the third day? After swallowing that camel they have no difficulty in accepting the gnat that believes both that God made the world in six days and that the professors who say we got here by evolution must be right. Of course they can't explain it, but whoever said you had to be a college professor to be a Christian?

What I am worried about is how difficult some people are making it for college professors to become Christians. There is a place for confrontation - we need to be confronted with our own sin and our need for a savior - but the aggressive approach taken by some against those within the evolutionist paradigm simply ends up with everyone rooting for the home team as if it were a football match.

Serious study of Scripture soon demonstrates that without Genesis 1-11 most of the Pauline explanation of the atonement becomes flawed. At least to my mind, but what do I know, I'm only a Professor of Medicine? said...


I agree with your post 100%, but even if I didn't we could be friends :).

irreverend fox said...


you said of Dr. Graham "I would suggest he is conservative"

I love you Wade, but you can't be serious. Maybe one could say, "I would suggest that he WAS a conservative"...but not that he is. Not now.

If Graham is a conservative then let's just all pack up our stuff and go home...cause it's over. If he is a conservative then what the heck is a liberal? An atheist?

I'm sure he is saved, that is obvious, by any human standard. But if we MUST use these qualifiers then let's not be silly about it. I would sooner call Rick Warren a conservative (if Warren is anything he's a conservative moderate) than I would Graham. At least Warren is clear that Jesus is the ONLY way, Graham has repeatedly flip flopped on that issue in recent years.

Bob Cleveland said...

Can I give my interpretation of inerrancy?


The Bible itself says the Holy Spirit guided all them guys in writing this stuff down. That's good enough for me.

I'll not let what does or does not seem to "work" change my view of scripture. Having said that, I also maintain that not every promise made to anyone anytime in the Bible applies to everyone all the time, either. So a lot of what some folks refer to as the "name it & claim it" stuff is misguided, IMO.

That also necessitates (big gasp here) interpreting what the Bible says. SO? You have to interpret John 3:16, too (what does world mean, anyway?) Well, maybe the Holy Ghost, Who guided the writing anyway, will lend a hand there.

Hope so. If He doesn't, it'll all be gibberish to me.

Being a simple sort, I don't know if that's inductive or deductive. Maybe it's neither.

Alycelee said...

Wade, would you consider shouting and shaming the equal to recruiting?
I have a dear brother I've known for 30 years who is actively recruiting me to become a 5 pointer.
I just can't go there. (3 perhaps, however even if I went 4, 5 I would never designate myself by any name other than Christian)
Here's what I've noticed.
Those who recruit for the "doctrines of grace" seem to display little of it.
Not intended to make anyone mad, just an observation-looking at the fruit.
BTW- I so enjoy Bob Clevelands post

SigPres said...

Way back in 1985, before I had even graduated from seminary, I had several friends who, though grieved about the fact that many biblically solid evangelicals were leaving the SBC, were relieved when moderate leaders announced they would no longer continue to mount their campaign to get messengers to the SBC to continue to fight for leadership positions in the SBC. They felt that, with moderates bowing out, the fighting would be over.

At that time, I said that the fighting would never be over because even among those who were agreeable to using the term "inerrancy and infallibility" in their description of the Bible, there were differences of interpretation on a whole host of other issues. I've encountered seminary professors, pastors and other church leaders who have no problem with the term "inerrancy" or "infallibility," who still disagree over the historicity of Genesis 1-11, various degrees of Calvinist or Arminian theology, pre, mid or post tribulationists, futurists, amillenials, preterists, postmillenials, premillenials or historical premillenials, Christ criterionists, on and on. In addition, there is a whole host of new issues which have come along since then, including the worship style debates and the use of spiritual gifts like healing or tongues and interpretation.

Mike Woodward was exactly right when he said, "Isn't this whole discussion over who decides what the 'clear, essential teachings of the Bible' are?"

The differences of opinion begin over the question of defining what "inerrancy" is. But the issue is really, very simply, one of control. Who has control over who gets hired to teach in the seminaries and serve on the mission field? Adherence and advocacy for a specific orthodoxy that is labelled "conservative, evangelical" is simply a means to gain and maintain control over those other things.

Back in 1985, when the current small group of leaders solidified their control over the ability to hire professors, send missionaries, manage the agencies and institutions and distribute the budget, I said that there would be another similar battle on the horizon when that particular group either died off or made enough people mad at their tactics to force a change. Both of those things were inevitable, given the diversity of opinion over theology that exists, and will continue to exist in a denomination made up of independent, autonomous, free churches in a free state.

I hoped that, perhaps, this time around, our behavior would be a little more in line with what our inerrant, infallible Bible teaches.

Greg P said...

Let's not forget that it's a sin to mishandle God's word and those who do so should be exhorted to repent of their error. If one is instructed, to rightly divide the truth (2 Timothy 2:15), dividing the truth *wrongly* is sinful.

Far too many posts here want to classify people like Billy Graham as conservative and evangelical without regard to their failure to believe what the Bible says at many points. Being wrong about inerrancy is not just a failure, it is the product of a sinful mind not understanding the clear teaching of the Biblical text, and is a sign of failure to be submissive to God's word (especially when one has studied the issue furiously).

There's no reason to doubt that Billy Graham is truly a Christian, and there's no reason to doubt that he sincerely believes what he believes. But sincere belief in a falsehood about the Bible is sin, and it is dead serious.

I won't go into detail about the mess of a church the rest of my family is at which is being pastored by a "moderate" Truett grad, but let's just say I don't have much hope for them hearing the true gospel there based upon what he peaches. Failure to confirm Biblical inerrancy in a strict and true sense almost inevitably leads to failure to teach the Bible with authority or to handle the text with any care.

So it does matter. And while we shouldn't label them as "heretics" without thinking about it, we are quite right to point out how immensely dangerous their teaching is to *everyone else*, particularly as the teaching of the truth becomes weakened through every generation of that kind of system.

Greg P said...


One should not fall into the trap of believing that historical evidence is the primary verification for a belief in inerrancy. It may be the first step along the way as something that removes objections, but only the Spirit of God can convince of inerrancy.

In other words, all the arguments in the world can only take us so far, but only the Holy Spirit can get us "over the hump", so to speak, to believing in inerrancy.

Why? Because external historical evidence simply does not exist to confirm every little detail of the Bible.

Inerrancy is finally a step of *faith* based upon the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. We are as dead to believing this doctrine as we are to believing the gospel. We could give all kinds of reasons for why we came to believe in inerrancy, but at the end of the day, the only sufficient and logical answer is "By God's amazing grace, I just do." said...


I believe it is impossible for any human being to recruit another to believe the doctrines of grace.

So, I would agree with you. Resist the recruitment (and I am a five pointer :) ).


An excellent post.

Wise and well said. said...


I just saw your question.

An inductive approach to inerrancy can come to the conclusion that the Bible is positively without error (the conclusion I have reached).

But the inductivist does not beat over the brow others who have yet to arrive at that conclusion.

The dedcutive inerrantist starts by assuming inerrancy and all who refuse to avow inerrancy as heretics.

Answer this question for me now?

How did a person become a follower of Christ prior to the completion of the cannon? Was it possible to be a genuine, orthodox believer without the Bible in existance? If so, then it seems to me it is possible to be a genuine orthodox beliver in Jesus Christ while you grapple with the understanding the context, interpretation and application of the sacred text.

volfan007 said...

if you deny the historicity and the accuracy of genesis 1-11, then you dont believe the bible...plain and simple.

if you deny the miracles of the bible, and try to ascribe them to natural phenomena, then you dont believe the bible...plain and simple.

those who do not believe the bible are not conservative, and i would have a really hard time calling them a christian.

is that being ugly? am i being divisive? am i a meany? call me what you will....condemn me if you want to...hide my post for being too truthful and blunt...but, when people start denying the clear teachings of the bible...denying the miracles....denying genesis 1-11....believing evolution over creation....then i have to say that you are what you are....liberal is one word that comes to mind....false teacher(if you are in the church and trying to spread these false teachings) also comes to mind....

listen, to deny some of these things as being real...or to deny some of these people as being real people....would be calling Jesus either ignorant or a liar. Jesus talks of these miracles and ot personalities as if they were real and really happened. are you who deny these things calling Jesus a liar, or ignorant?

and lee,

it was not about power for 99% of the conservatives who fought for the conservative was about doctrine and was about love for the Lord and His was about love for the sbc.

from lovable, huggable, kind, considerate, conservative,


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wayne Smith said...


Within the group of so-called Christians I see two (2) Camps of people, those that truly Love the Lord (Priority) and those that love Politics (Priority). We all need to pray and search our hearts. ADRIAN ROGERS in his book (Kingdom Authority) says that we are to Surrender ALL. Most churches have that great Song in their Hymnals. There is no way, but by Jesus Christ to be a child of God. So my question to all is, Who is the Lord of Your Life?

A Brother in Christ

PS; David Rogers (Adrian Rogers Son) is asking for unity in Christ on his Blog (Below) and could use a little support from his Brothers and Sisters.

volfan007 said...


God could do the miracles anyway He wanted to do them. but, where i have trouble is when people say that this miracle or that miracle can be seen in just a plain, ole, natural occurence that the bible attributes to God. i am sure that the Lord shook the earth...earthquake. i am sure that God used the rain and springs, etc. to cause the flood. but, this were not just natural occurences that some bible writer ascribed to the work of God, or a miracle.

i have heard skeptics and liberals say many times that the judgements of God....the miraculous events...were nothing more than natural occurences that some bible writer called a miracle. thats what i have trouble with, not with the fact that God could cause floods and earthquakes.

which did you mean? which did the tv program mean?

from a kinder, gentler,


Wayne Smith said...

Greg P
Said this and a whole lot more above and such a young man.

2Ti 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2Ti 2:15 -
Study to show thyself approved unto God - Endeavour so to cultivate and improve thy heart and mind, that thou mayest not be a reproach to him from whom thou professest to receive thy commission.


A Brother in Christ

David Rogers said...


Don't you just hate the irreversibility of the comment page?

I'm sure you meant to type in:

Unknown said...

On Daniel Wallace, I just read his paper. It is a great perspective from a biblical studies scholar. However, it would be helpful for someone to read William Dembski’s essay entitled, “The Task of Apologetics” in Unapologetic Apologetics by Dembski and Richards to get the gist of Wallace’s worldview or paradigm perspective.
Wallace’s entire argument is based on this statement: “How do you know that the Gospel writers got the words of Jesus right in the first place?” I think that’s an excellent question. I would use the criteria of authenticity to argue that he indeed held to a high view of the text.”
It strikes me as odd that a man would defer to the judgments of other men to determine the method in which God delivered and preserved His words to us. In other words, if God made man to know revelation, and the man recorded all he could remember, then he would naturally err in some areas. Compounding that propensity for error would be the one that the scholars employing the criteria of authenticity would naturally be guilty of—for it is a relative and inexact science anyway, isn’t it?
Conversely, if God gave man revelation, then guided His writing through the man’s will and faculties, then it would be without error (or infallible, which means the same thing as inerrant until recently). If the Bible was delivered by God directly through man, and is in error, then He is in error (or fallible). If God delivered man a revelation, whereupon the man recorded all he could with human limitation, then the Bible is fallible, and the argument of it being sufficient for faith and practice would be null, for there would be no manner in which to determine which is truth and which is error.

Isn't this logical, saying nothing of salvation- or core essential issues?

Jim Paslay said...

To Bryan,

It was not my intention to take you to task, I can get a little zealous in my posts at times.

What you brought up in your post has been a concern of mine for years. I think it was W.A. Criswell who commented on those who didn't accept the inerrancy of Scripture. He basically said they claimed that only spots in the Bible were inspired and that they wanted to pick out the spots. The neo-orthodox approach to Scripture says that the Bible "contains" the Word of God. That is a totally different animal than "is" the Word of God.

For those who still think that the conservative resurgence was nothing but politics, I have a question. What caused all of the major East coast divinity schools like Harvard and Yale to go from Bible colleges to institutions that are bastions of liberalism? It was the introduction of higher criticism that led to suspect and outright disdain of the Word of God.

When the course correction took place in our convention, many professors from Southern and Southeastern went to other denominational schools. Why? Because they could not accept the Baptist Faith & Message view of Scripture.

By the way, those who call themselves moderate wouldn't sign the 1963 Baptist Faith & Message when asked. Now they continue to throw a fit about the 2000 BF&M. And they really don't like that family amendment. Why? Because it identifies Southern Baptists as people who believe in the sanctity of human life ethic. Then of course we had the audacity to quote Scripture and say that a woman should submit to her husband as to the Lord and that the husband ought to love his wife as Christ loved the church.

Could it be that the reason why some have a problem with the 2000 BF&M is because they really have a problem with the authority of Scripture? Hmmm....

RKSOKC66 said...

A lot of this argument is going over my head.

To me "inerrancy" is a basic tenet of orthodox Christianity. If a person does not subcribe at a fundamental level to the concept that the Bible is "inerrant" there is no way anyone could construct a framework that would get you there.

Any human reasoning you might do to either "prove" or "disprove" inerrancy just would not be conclusive -- because stripped away of any facade -- it would really be circular reasoning of just conjecture.

I completely support the study of apologetics which demonstrates the complete agreement between science and the Bible. But I still don't think even the most articulate apologetic argument will convince anyone that the Bible is inerrant.

However, the whole tradition that I come from supports the idea of studying the Bible "inductively" --i.e. looking at a number of Bible passages to develop overall picture on a given theme -- such as "missions" etc. Induction doesn't work unless the myriad of data points in your inductive chain are known to be "correct" (i.e. inerrant text). Otherwise your conclusion -- no matter how logical -- is built on a house of cards and is useless.

I think for me the logical precidence is:

(1) The Bible is inerrant (ground level foundational truth that is not derived either deductively or inductively)

(2) Based upon #2 all other stuff about Christianity is derived inductively.

With both points #1 and #2 the Holy Spirit illuminates the way. I don't know if illumination is "induction" or "deduction".

RKSOKC66 said...


After going back over the comments here I see that I am basically restating what you have already said without giving you proper attibution.

Given what you said, maybe my immediately previous post is redundant.

SigPres said...


If the conservative resurgence itself was about theology, and not about power, then the leadership, instead of reserving the highest paying, most powerful denominational positions for themselves, but would have shared them a lot more freely with the 99% of conservatives who supported them. They would not have employed unbiblical, unchristlike political methods in gaining power or holding on to it. They would not now be resorting to those same political methods to deal with perceived threats or dissent.

I believe the Bible is inerrant, that Genesis 1-11 is historically accurate, that the miracles happened, that Jesus is the divine Son of God whose death on the cross paid the penalty for my sin and that he rose from the dead victorious over sin and death.

But if I believe those things, then I must also believe the Bible's principles regarding how to treat others, how to handle disagreements with others, and how to conduct myself as a servant-leader following the example of Christ. Prying the denomination out of the hands of Christians who might have been a bit more tolerant, or who differ from those views, does not justify abandoning Biblical principles to get the job done. said...

Good grief Lee.

I am handing off my blog to you.

Another great comment.

Wayne Smith said...

Lee Saunders

Said what needs to be addressed in the SBC to bring Honor and Glory to GOD.

A Brother in Christ

Wayne Smith said...

David Rogers,

Sorry for the mixup and I don't know how to reverse the HTML.

Jerry Grace's Blog is light Hearted and a good witness in our lives.

A Brother in Christ

Bryan Riley said...

Yes, Lee, thanks. As someone who is really apolitical within the SBC and doesn't appreciate all the finer distinctions of the history or arguments, your comments illuminate quite clearly the issues. Please write more. Words of wisdom seem to be an endangered species in many corners of the blogosphere.

Stephen Pruett said...

volfan007 said, "if you deny the historicity and the accuracy of genesis 1-11, then you dont believe the bible...plain and simple." I believe in the historicity and accuracy of this passage, but I may interpret it differently than volfan. For example, year or era can be a proper literal interpretation for the word "yom" (and era or at least period of time is clearly its meaning in 2:5). The key events in Chapter 2 are clearly described. To paraphrase, God made man, found no helper suitable for him, made animals, found none of them suitable, then made woman. Some say the animals had already been produced and God just brought them by to be named, but the scripture says God saw it was not good for the man to be alone so he formed the animals. Of course, this sequence of events is different from the sequence described in Chapter 1. In Chapter 1, there were days before the sun was created, and plants before the sun was created. God knew this would be contrary to all our experience. Was he just trying to fool us? I know God tests His own sometimes, but I don't think that is one of the purposes of the Bible. I bring all of this up to point out that Genesis demands interpretation. I believe the words that are written are exactly what God intended and that they are inerrant and I speculate that God did this to indicate to us that Genesis may not be intended as a chronological, scientific account. Historically accurate? Yes. Easy to interpret and understand? No. Amenable to only one interpretation? No. I suppose I have a sneaking suspicion that what volfan really means is: if you do not accept my interpretation of the historicity and inerrancy of Genesis, you don't believe the Bible. Hopefully I'm wrong. However, if I am not wrong, I will refuse to concede that my interpretation is any more liberal or moderate than anyone elses's. In fact, I think our sensitivity about these words is a reeal danger sign that many in the SBC are more concerned with whether an interpretation is viewed in our own little internal culture as conservative than whether it represents the best possible objective exegesis.

Bryan Riley said...

And, when we take that point of view that concerns Stephen Pruett (and me), we are saying nothing less than that we are infallible and inerrant in our interpretation and pronouncements regarding the bible and have elected ourselves god, pope, etc.

Bob Cleveland said...

The question I sometimes raise is:

1) What authority do we have over the Bible?

2) What authority does the Bible have over us?

I guess that's two. Oh well.