Thursday, March 15, 2007

Are We A Denomination Or Are We A Convention?

Yesterday I was reading another blog when I came across a question my father asked in the comment section. The question, in my opinion, is an important one. How people answer it will reveal some of the basis for the various views Southern Baptists have regarding several current issues in the SBC. My father asked:

Is there a basic difference, or should there be, between what would be called a denomination and what we call a convention? Webster's defines 'denomination' as "A religious organization uniting local congregations into a single body." Webster's defines 'convention' as "An assembly of delegates or messengers convened for some purpose." In light of these definitions, are Southern Baptists part of a denomination or are we part of a convention? Is there a unique and important difference? Does this, or should this, play into any discussion about what the SBC holds to theologically? If, in fact, we have evolved from a convention into a denomination, is this good or bad?

This is a great question that is worthy of discussion. I would propose that those Southern Baptist conservatives who emphasize 'doctrinal accountablity,' 'theological conformity,' and 'hierarchial authority' are denominationally oriented and believe the SBC to be 'a single body.'

Whereas those conservatives who emphasize 'church autonomy,' 'soul liberty,' and 'kingdom unity' are convention oriented and believe the SBC to be conglomeration of independent, autonomous churches who must be given as much freedom as possible in order to maintain the spirit of cooperation for the purpose of missions and evangelism.

Could it be that some of the issues we face in the SBC are difficult to resolve because Southern Baptists have fundamentally different concepts of who we are?


Char said...


I need a research time out for this. Your Dad is a thinking man!

Would me being sure the SBC is a convention (with absolutely no real research, study and reflection on the matter) and you being sure (for speculation purposes only) the SBC is denomination change anything really? I know in theory, for thinkers, it matters what to call a thing.

At my feeling level, it seems like a lot of what is going on is:
some people want to control a lot of things; some other people are tired of feeling controlled -- especially about things which are, as you call them, third tier issues.

Thank you for this web-site. In between kids off to school, meals, volunteering, etc..., I enjoy thinking more deeply about some things and, sorry to admit it, chuckling at some interesting folks.

CB Scott said...

I think we are a bunch of nuts and if we are not careful the pigs are going to eat us:-)


Bill Scott said...

I tend to agree with your assertions concerning the differences in denomination vs. convention.

I would offer an observation as well. When we are observed from the outside (other denominations) we are are viewed as a denomination. I certainly remember when I wasn't a Southern Baptist. I and those in my fellowship referred to the SBC as the "Southern Baptists" and as a denomination.

Another observation is how an the individual believer views themselves. Are we merely Christians? Are we Baptists? Are we Southern Baptists? Or are we, as I believe, all three?

I believe that how a person views themselves as a believer will largely shape their view of being part of a denomination or a convention.

Anonymous said...


Good question.

Can a man with the "love language" of "quality time" be happily married for many years to a woman with the "love language" of "words of affirmation" (or some other combination)? Yes--but the relationship is made better quicker as each learns the "love language" of the other.

Are you "convention" or "denomination"?

David Troublefield

Bob Cleveland said...

Right on, bro. Or dad.

Having been in several other denominations, I can assure you that there's little, if any, difference in practice. Other than those few things certain people are working to negate.

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly concur with CB's insightful assessment. Posted on it today. :)

David Rogers said...


I agree that this is a key issue that underlies many of the discussions within the SBC. As such, this question lies at the root of many of the posts on my own blog.

I believe that biblical teaching on unity is at the level of the Universal Church (or the Body of Christ), the City church, and the local congregation (or New Testament "house church"), but never at the level of "denomination." An overstated emphasis on denominational unity and uniformity can also become an impediment to true biblical unity at the Universal Church, City church, and local congregation levels.

This is not to say that the SBC, in and of itself, is a bad thing, or has to necessarily be counter-productive in regards to biblical unity. It does mean, however, that the SBC should never be viewed as more than a tool, in the hands of local congregations, in unity with the various City churches, and the Body of Christ around the world, for effective work towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission. In order to be a more effective tool, agreement on doctrinal statements such as the BFM, can be helpful.

But whenever the SBC, in and of itself, is seen as representative of the Body of Christ as a whole, or as competing with our legitimate loyalty towards the entire Body of Christ, it becomes, in my opinion, not only a "denomination," but also a sect, and as such, contrary to the will of God for us as believers.

jasonk said...

When I was six, my family joined an SBC church. We had been United Methodist. We moved from a denomination to a convention, as one life-time member of the SBC told us. "We are not a denomination, we are a convention. There is a difference." Okay, I believed them. I was only six, so why not.
Thirty-two years later, when I went back to the UMC, I discovered that nobody else seemed to care what the SBC is, convention or denomination. The perception is that it's a denomination, and perception is reality. The reason the rest of the world has this perception is because the SBC forgot that they are not a denomination, and have been doing it wrong all these years. said...

One and all,

Great comments.

Kaylor said...

I always thought of the two words as being basically the same thing. But you make an excellent observation! There is an important difference between these two words that seems to often be lost, just as important issues are often being lost in Baptist life today.

Anonymous said...

Ah, you have stumbled onto the classic argument between a federation and a confederation.

The federation - the whole to be greater than the parts. (denomination)

The confederation - the parts greater than the whole. (convention)

Which should we be?

A federation allows a greater sense of unity and control in times of trouble and war.

A confederation allows greater diversity and freedom in times of peace...allowing for regions to develop their own sense of culture, etc.

But don't worry, this sort of debate has never caused any major issues....unless you count that Civil War thing a while back. But who really remembers that.

Anonymous said...

Since so many Conservatives are always bringing up history, it is clear that historically, we are a convention. That is what I've always been told, anyway. So, how does that affect the debate? If that is true, who are the ones who are trying to change things now?

Anonymous said...

What CB said. :-)


Scotte Hodel said...

It's a tough paradox to solve: if a centralized government becomes too intrusive, decentralized government (the convention) is proposed, but then when discipline is lost and people ask, "Oh, my, who will stop all of this?", a centralized government (denomination) is proposed.

How to classify the SBC? To my eye, it appears to be a hybrid. Churches are indeed autonomous, but there are pockets of centralization (NAMB, IMB, CP, etc.) where a single decision has to be made: include, or don't include, permit or don't permit, go or don't go. When those decisions run counter to the desires or convictions of their autonomous members, they have to make a judgement call: participate (i.e., compromise), act in parallel (e.g., mimic CP giving but exclude the benefactors you don't want), or withdraw.

We're seeing all of these in action over recent months.

My kids have started quoting one of my proverbs more frequently: This church thing would be a whole lot easier to deal with if it weren't made up of people.

Matt Snowden said...

David Rogers,

I appreciate your insightful comments and would love to see a post on the unity of "the city church." Thanks

Steve said...

You'uns do ask such good questions.

I wonder if the folks sitting in local congregations consider us to be a convention emphasising individuals as congregation members, while power brokers and their wannabes consider us a denomination, which might have more room for Big Thinking (and feather-bedding) at the top?

I wonder if we stopped being a convention when our higher-ups decided we always had to have a place for this guy and that guy because they were so good in a fight and proven loyal to insiders?

Do conventions have room for a Hershel Hobbs, a Roy Huneycutt, and a Russell Dilday, while denominations have people like Paige Patterson and Bob Reccord?

It's like this: Do sports have a Don Larsen and a Roberto Clemente while businesses have a Pete Rose and Barry Bonds?

Steve Austin
Hoptown KY

"He who has a glove, let him catch." :-)

Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...

I mentioned this very thing 5 months ago:

If the SBC were a denomination, then the denomination would run the entities.

If the SBC were a Convention, the entities would be governed by the Trustee system as elected by the Convention when it is in session.

We as Southern Baptist are a Convention not a Denomination. In fact, are articles of incorporation as a Convention state that we as a Convention only function this way during June. The remainder of the year, the Executive Committee serves and functions as the Convention.

Wade, I think you are right about the question. But when applying the answer, I am not sure that people will like the results. We do not have (as a Convention) as much "involvement" in the entities as we think in my opinion.

Why? Our focus was to be on Missions and funding the missions. The trustees are elected to handle the rest.

Anonymous said...

If this Convention question is so foundational to "who we are" then how did it/did not come up at the Baptist Identity Conference?

Marty Duren said...

It was addressed indirectly at the BIC. Speakers made reference to autonomy at each level and how it affects the "denomination."

Unknown said...

I made this comment over on David Rodgers blog a few weeks ago…

I think a large part of the problem within the SBC today is how we see ourselves…

When we start to think that the SBC is a Church or a Denomination (which it is not) then we naturally think that everyone should look exactly like I look, worship exactly like I worship, and believe exactly like I believe. However when we remember that the SBC is a Community of individuals (autonomous churches, local associations, state conventions, schools, etc.) then it is ok, and even to be expected, that no two will be exactly identical.

The SBC is a “Missions Organization”, and not a Church or a Denomination . If we could only get everyone to understand this perhaps much of the division and fighting would end.

Grace to all,

Anonymous said...


Southern Baptist=convention.

We are both, one within the other.

Our use of the word, "convention" is confusing because we use it for two different things; the overall name and the annual meeting. The term, "messenger" will never be used consistently correctly because pew people and press people alike must, it seems, use "delegate." We need a glossary that explains what Southern Baptists mean by the words we use. Should be simple enough, sort of like explaining what we believe. (BFM)

Today, SBCOuthouse has a denominational, (oops I meant convention) WOW! piece. Wade's new post is compatable in that both fellows are trying very hard to get us headed in the right direction as a more productive convention and denomination.

texasinafrica said...

Yes. Denominations have hierarchies; conventions have more democratically-governed associations. It seems pretty clear that many SBC leaders want to have a centralized, hierarchical authority in which it's clear who's in and who's out.

An observation I heard from a great Texas Baptist leader on this topic doesn't clarify anything, but it's food for thought. She pointed out that "denomination" is also a word we use for a unit of money.

Anonymous said...

I have been asking occasionally in the blogosphere about why we even have denominations, so I love the question and the post. I keep seeing a lot of D-words that seem more from the devil than from Deo. Distinctives, denominations, disunity... :)

Anyway, I wish we could all learn to play together well instead of keeping our toys to ourselves and saying "mine" all the time.

volfan007 said...

i agree with tim guthrie. good insight, tim.

and, what we all need to understand, imho, and i include myself, is that the seminaries and the imb and namb and all the other entities cannot be what we all want them to be. there's just no way that can happen. the leaders and the trustees have to manage them the way they feel led by the Lord, and they are probably gonna do things that a few, or some, or even many, dont think that they ought to do. or, some feel that they can do it better. and, if there are enough of us who believe that the trustees are not doing thier job, that things are not being done right,then we can take care of that at the sbc's every the cr did. because we are a convention.

i dont know about yall's churches, but in mine, we set the temperature at a certain degree....where we think the most wil be comfortable. guess what? you think that everyone's happy with that? do some think that they know better what the thermostat should be set on? do some get upset with it being so cold, or so hot? are thier some who feel they are being left out because the temp. is not where they like it? etc. but still, someone's got to set the temp. and decide whats best. dont they? even if there are some who dont like it.

i sure hope i'm making some sense with this so that some people in here wont start calling me dumb and silly again.:)


Bob Cleveland said...

What's in a name?

There seem to be two relevant factors. Make that three. The rules, what we say, and what we do. Who cares which we are? We ought to work on making the three factors at least similar.

Whoops. Maybe that's what we're doing here.

Carry on.

Professor X said...

Tim and Volfan:

You are both correct to an extent. Our function as a convention occurs primarily at an annual "convention" each year. The day to day functioning of the convention in the "off-periods" is left to the XComm. We are certainly not all going to like every decision made and there will be some that will view these decisions as too fundamental, and some would see them as too moderate.

However, our convention can only function at maximum efficiency if a truly representative BoT is in place at each conventional entity. For example, if the XComm members are all purposefully nominated because they hold a particular scriptural interpretation on certain "hot topics" then the committee does not fully reflect the broad convention. If any board of the conventional entities is manipulated from an outside group, or singular person, in order to reflect one aspect of the broader opinion in the convention as a whole then it does not properly reflect the members of the SBC.

When such an attempt is made to influence and narrow the doctrinal (please understand that this does not refer to top-tier doctrines vital to our faith i.e. deity of Christ, resurrection, etc.) spectrum of boards, committes, and leadership beyond what is the commonly accepted confessional statement (BF&M 2000) it is up to all of us to stand up against such influence. If we are to be a convention of autonomous churches joined together to impact the world for Christ then our conventional entities should reflect the spectrum of our churches, and not a narrowed cross-section. There are too many faithful supporters of the CP and the SBC as a whole being left out of the leadership matrix in this convention because of interpretational differences. This impacts the effectiveness of the convention as whole in a negative way, and shifts it from a conventional model to a denominational model.

Debbie Kaufman said...

In our church, if people complain it is too hot or too cold, the temperature is graciously adjusted accordingly. :)

Unknown said...

If the SBC is a Convention… then our structure (the trustee system) is just fine. We must however put some safe guards into practice that will break up the current consolidation of power and undue influence that now rest in the hands of a few (good men) , and prevent this from happening again in the future.

If the SBC is a Denomination… it is the most poorly constructed and dysfunctional Denomination in the World!

Tim & David… I agree with your comments today :-)

We create serious problems for ourselves when we allow any one man (insert name _________) to have such excessive influence within the Convention that they in effect control the BOT’s that the SBC has elected to govern the SBC Entities.

Grace to all,

volfan007 said...


that is funny. lol.

when we see little old ladies in sweaters, and younger people fanning, how do we adjust the temp. accordingly?

also, debbie, you obviously are not the one who adjusts the temp. or the one who hears it from the ones not happy. :)


Paul Burleson said...


I think David IS making some sense here. We DO have the structure of Trustees to facilitate the work of different entities. We ARE to be able to TRUST them to have a handle on things.

But David here's the real "set the temperature" at a certain level BECAUSE I have the right to without having a desire to get input from those who pay the bills and to share the reasons for the settings, [best to do this before hand has been my Pastoral experience] not to get permission but to share openly with people who matter, is the responsible way of behaving as a leader.

It would seem to me that the Trustee system is broken when people serve multiple times, move from one BOT to another, have people with the same last name serving on different boards, and some serving ad-infinitum. Then, for decisions to be made without ANY information given to the bill payers before said decision and announce it as the standard because WE HAVE THE RIGHT, followed with a policy that trustees cannot/should not voice disagreement after the decision is made, makes my Baptist skin crawl.

Wade, maybe this is the reason for your request that the Executive Committee look into undue/unfair influence on the Trustee selection process. I won't put words in your mouth, but I AM stating the thoughts in my head. If we truly function as a Spirit-led Convention it will take ALL of us being wide-open with ALL of our decisions because we're ALL affected...especially the bill-payers. [Don't hear me say the "money" matters. It is a metaphor for the people with whom we have a sacred covenant for missions and ministry.]

I know none of this is easy. If we were IBM we could elect some one and say "have at it." If we are or are ONLY a denomination then we can turn it over to a district superintendent and say "have at it." But we're a Convention. There MUST be NO fiefdoms here.

Anonymous said...

Debbie -

I have to admit I chuckled a bit at that one too. Do you have a deacon in charge of thermostat duty? Because it would be a full time job.

David -

If you have to choose between making it cooler or warmer, go with cooler every time. There is something very gross about a bunch of sweaty men in suits, and quite offensive to the olfactory passages as well. Just provide lap blankets and shawls for the little ol' ladies (and some of us young ones too). This advice from one who lives in a constant state of "wish it were warmer" most of the time, but I don't complain. I would rather sacrifice and be a little chilled so that the men don't turn into neanderthals by the end of the worship hour.

Paul -

Back to the subject of the post. I agree with you that we need to be open in dealing with matters and allow the discussion to be open to everyone. The Spirit endwells ALL believers, and leads through us all.

volfan007 said...


dont we have the ability to kick the "bad trustees" out if we dont trust them to make the right decisions? and maybe, if they are not voted out, then maybe that means that the majority are satisfied with the way things are? that they like where the temp. is set? whether that sets well with us or not?

also, i agree with you...that every trustee...every baptist...has the right to voice his dissent. they have the right to say where they think that the temp. should be set. but, when the majority dont agree with him, do we have the right, or better put, should we, continue to rally our minority group around us as we lead the charge against the pastor to get the temp. set where we want it? or, should we bring a sweater with us to church because it's too cold in our opinion? or, should we start the warm sanctuary baptist church?


ps. maybe cb is right....maybe we're all just a bunch of nuts, and the hawgs are coming to get us. :)

volfan007 said...


that is very funny. lol. i agree. i would go with too cold anyday than to see men with those big, sweaty circles under thier arms.


Unknown said...


Amen, Amen, AMEN!!!

“The Trustee System is broken…” Or better yet it has been “Commandeered” to serve the few instead of the many…

robert prince said...

Basically, you identify the difference between so-called "conservatives" and "moderates" in the great SBC war. We were all conservatives. The difference was over the degree of freedom allowed by the churches and institutions. Patterson and Pressler were after doctrinal conformity everywhere in the convention, not just on the Bible, but also on issues like the role of women in the church.

You're learning the hard way what the fight was really about.

Before 1979, the glue that held the convention together was missions. Patterson and Pressler changed it to doctrinal conformity. Missions held us together and made us vital. Doctrinal conformity divided us and is now leading the convention to decline.

I feel that you would like to change the glue back to missions, but I'm afraid its too late. When you go down the road of doctrinal conformity, you keep drawing the lines closer and closer, excluding more and more. It's like a virus with which Patterson and Pressler infected the convention that won't die.

Robert Hutchinson said...

everybody grab their wallet and pull out a new crisp 10 dollar bill. no, i'm not taking up an offering. :)

your's got a '10' in all four corners? your's got president hamilton's portrait on it? your's got the seal of the united states federal reserve system left of hamilton? your's say 'u.s. treasury' on the back?

now that, is a denomination. and it's the job of the u.s. treasury to make sure they all look alike.

we are a convention consisting of messengers (not churches) who's work is to facilitate and elicit cooperation not conformity amongst Baptist people and Baptist general bodies.

Executive Committee report adopted at the 1928 Convention "which...included the longest and most detailed statement on relations between the Southern Convention and state conventions in the history of those relations."

All Baptist general bodies are voluntary organizations, established by individuals who wish to cooperate for some common end or ends in the kingdom of God. This Convention is not an ecclesiastical body composed of churches, nor a federal body composed of state conventions. Churches may seek to fulfill their obligation to extend Christ's kingdom by cooperating with this general organization, but always on a purely voluntary basis, and without surrendering in any way or degree their right of self-determination.

"The principle of cooperation between individuals and churches and general bodies in pursuit of great common ends is also a basic teaching of the gospel. In all cooperative endeavor the principle of autonomy or self-determination should be carefully conserved.

"There is no relation of superiority and inferiority among Baptist general bodies. All are equal. All make their appeal directly to individuals and churches. Each determines its own objectives--financial or otherwise--and allocates its own funds to the interests promoted by it. Each defines and fixes its own sphere of activities. But all is done with due consideration and regard for the functions of other Baptist bodies.

"The powers of Baptist general bodies are never legislative, but always advisory in their relations to churches, and to each other."

The report goes on to outline with greater detail the exact relationship of the Convention with the state conventions.

Barnes, W.W. The Souther Baptist Convention 1845-1953. (Broadman Press, 1954), 259-260.

Brian R. Giaquinto said...

I haven't had the time to look at all the comments, so forgive me if I am repeating someone else's sentiments.

Wade, this is the fundamental question that MUST be answered if we are to survive. Can denominational and conventional adherents peacefully coexist? The two ideologies tend to be polar opposites in theory and praxis. I liken this to Independent George and Relationship George (Seinfeld).

According to Blinky Kileen:
A confederation allows greater diversity and freedom in times of peace...allowing for regions to develop their own sense of culture, etc.

If this is true, then I remember the heart of Christ, "He has redeeemed FROM every tribe, tongue and nation"

Robert Hutchinson said...

i forgot to place quotation marks at the beginning of the first italicized paragraph which does begin the report.

Anonymous said...

Ok. I have been reading blogs without speaking long enough. Here's what my Minister of Custodial Engineering told me about adjusting the thermostat.

Take the key cover off of the thermostat. Stare at it for about 10 seconds. Place your fingers on the adjustment mechanism and hold it there for about 5 seconds. Stare at it again for about another 5 seconds. Turn to the person sitting nearest the thermostat and declare that it will be better in a few minutes.

Oddly enough nine times out of ten, it is better in just a few minutes. go figure!

Strider said...

Thanks Robert H. Good word from the past that we should not have forgotten. When I became a SB in 1975 folks were quick to tell this twelve year old boy that we were a 'convention' and not a denomination. Our Baptist heritage is steeped in autonomy and the Priesthood of the believer- not because we hate authority but because they felt that to be ruled by a man instead of by God was idolatry. We have forgotten this and it is a shame. The reason our trustee boards are not functioning as they ought is that they are full of men and women who are afraid of other men instead of fearing God alone. I could say more but I will shut up now before my boss has a heart-attack. See what I mean about fear?

Paul Burleson said...


We do [have the right to remove trustees] and that was done. [For the past twenty-five years.] And the problem is HOW it is being done. I'm addressing the heart of people who are in trust and the way new Trustees have been put in. God is as concerned with the means as the end, in fact, even more so.

We must address the means. [Means being how new trustees are put in.] It is the "being put in" that brings us to our problem in the failure of our Convention to serve ALL the people.

Bro. Robin said...

David and Dorcas

Stop that. I resemble that remark! :-)

Anonymous said...

One thing I learned is that normal poeple don't like change. they don't like questioning people who are in charge mainly becuase they don't care that much. The greatest thing we can do in the convention is make people care.
analogy: the temp is too low in church. person A is a hot person in charge. person B is just a pew sitter that doesn't contribute much to the church other than presence and money. person B is cold and has the sniffles. should person B talk to person A about the temp?

I suppose yes, if he/she cares but after all it is only an hour.
(that means it may not be worth the effort)

people go for the status quo because it's easy and it too much work to change it, especially if your not a pastor.

here's a challenge, see how many people in your church you can get to the blogosphere. see how many care enough to be activists.


RH Cowin said...

Accountability, Accountability, Accountability.

Yes, we are a Convention and the trustees have the RIGHT to act independant. However, they are still accountable to the convention and should act responsibly with that in mind.

When I was growing up I was told we were not Protestants because we were not formed in protest to anyone. We were not (then) a denomination.

Excellent question and many excellent responses.

Debbie Kaufman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Michael -

I'm not sure that is a fair analogy. I know my dad and friends care about me, but my dad and several of my friends don't often bother to read my blog at all. It just isn't a valid measurement of interest, it has to do more with a person's affinity to computers and technology.

The question is, how many people in the church care when the pastor brings up a topic that is being discussed on the blogs? I think you will find that number is much higher. Not everyone has to be an activist.

Among other things I post blogs and comment, a little old lady in the church cooks a meal for the pastor, another man handles the benevolence function for those who stop by the church with needs. I would say all of us care about the direction of the SBC but show forth evidence of it in different ways.

Not sure that is really on Wade's main point here. If not, I apologize for continuing on the rabbit trail.

Brian R. Giaquinto said...


Excellent comments. Apathy is a silent killer, but seems to reign in many Christians today. The attitude goes something like this: "As long as we can stay fat and happy; and as long as it doesn't effect my personal things - let someone else deal with it." Remember what Jesus said about the sin of Sodom?

Debbie Kaufman said...

Dorcas said: "Debbie -

I have to admit I chuckled a bit at that one too. Do you have a deacon in charge of thermostat duty? Because it would be a full time job"

I say: Hahah, I actually think that there should be a full time thermostat controller on duty at all times. My statement was wishful thinking, sarcasm which is why the smiley face. I probably should have put that in my statement. I also got us off the subject. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Debbie -

Whew. I'm glad you clarified that. I was about to call up my pastor and ask him why he couldn't be more like Wade. ;) "Debbie says Wade changes the temperature anytime someone asks ..." And so forth ... Ha! Good fun.

Wade -

I hear what you are saying about a convention is cooperation with Christian liberty, but on the other hand there are Bible verses that say we are many members of one body which does go toward how you have defined denomination as being a "single body." How would you say that aspect of "single body" ties into your concept of the convention?

Anonymous said...

I'm fine with trustees guiding the entities in our "Convention." But, here's a thought:

How about if there is some accountability?

How about if they not go beyond the BF&M, our only confessional statement?

How about if they not be bastions of cronyism?

How about if they be trustworthy?

If folks are starting to say that a big part of the problem is the trustees, I would have to agree completely.

Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...

Here is (to me) the question from the Post Question (man, we are a bunch of nuts :

If, as has been stated in the comments, we as a Convention are not a Denomination (and I do agree with this part of it)and our Trustee Stystem is right for the Convention application, then our focus should be on Missions 1ST. Most of the entities in the convention flow from this and wouold fit the idea. However, since we are a Missions Giving Convention and the entities are not "owned" by the convention, it is the Trustees who have ultimate responsibility for establishing procedures and operation guidelines not the messangers. That means the money to particular entities is really the only way to blow influence - that really works.

If we accept the Convention idea, then saying that we as Messangers or cooperating churches, are agreeing to fund such but without the Denominational structure, we really would have no other voice.

Do you see this? If we mix the two ideas (which I think some are doing) we really do and would have a mess.

Paul, Trustee systems can be corrupted. However, that is a natural liability for any organization using Trustees.

Don't know we could avoid that due to the Convention not being a Denomination. And, most Trustee run systems have our issues every 10 to 15 years - we are no different. I think some call it politics :)

Brian R. Giaquinto said...

To continue Dorcas' thought, how do we view binding resoultions in the NT, such as Acts 15, in light of a convention? At least from my understanding, the council (which included people other than the Apostles) declared a binding doctrinal statement that would affect Gentile missions and discipleship.

Alyce Faulkner said...

Tim, I actually agree with you and yes it is a 'political' side effect. I think you're right again about the trustee system. Perhaps if this system had not remained 'the same system' for so long and as Paul mentioned serving multiple times along with other issues, including the distinct possibility of nepotism being at play-it does seem this one is either broken or as expressed by many Baptist here 'suspect.' But as you mentioned, it's politics and therefore we can do something about it. I'm hopeful in dialog like this, that is exactly what is about to happen.

Anonymous said...

Let laity provide a solution to the temperature problem. Put up two or three themostats that do not control anything but they need an easy way to adjust. Let anyone adjust at their pleasure and everyone thinks they were part of the solution!

Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...

Alycelee said...
" is politics."

I agree with this added: Every structure known to man has politics from Political Parties, to church Denominations, and yes Conventions.

And, the politics are usually over Theology or Theology is used to motivate the political involvement.

One concern though: PP has not manipulated the Trustee process. The process is done in the convention through the Committee on Nominations. He does not hand pick. Now some may say he influences, but to say he picks is to accuse the ConN and the EC to be involved in the plot.

Could it be that the majority of the churches and messengers actually accept the status quo?

Are people willing to go after the ConN and the EC with equal force as they do PP?

And then - what would be the criteria of selecting replacments?

I ask not to raise an ugly issue, but rather to show that the Trustee system is what it is and I really don't think it is broken. I think it is the better of the systems that we see in the world.

You will never get rid of the politics as long as people, sin, and theology are issues. They are the tools of control - both sides.
Adopting a "tier" approach (first flown by Mohler) is and would be a horrible idea - it would further stir the political plot - moving issues up and down!
Bottom line - funding is the key to "getting attention" and that in and of itself is a bad issue.

Jim Paslay said...

robert prince said:

"We were all conservatives. The difference was over the degree of freedom allowed by the churches and institutions."

I find the statement about all being conservative laughable. I don't consider taking the first 11 Chapters of Genesis and treating them as fable a conservative position. I don't consider a Baptist professor named Robert Alley saying Jesus never claimed divinity a conservative position. I don't consider ordaining a woman into pastoral ministry a conservative position. I don't consider Foy Valentine identifying with the Religious Coaliton for Abortion Rights a conservative position. I don't consider James Dunn, head of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, being on the board for the People for the American Way a conservative position. Shall I continue?

One of the problems in 2007 is moderates attempting to revise history. There were theological problems and it mainly dealt with the inspiration and authority of Scripture. I submit to you it wasn't doctrinal conformity but doctrinal integrity.

I really don't see any end to the bickering and fussing as long as moderates claim that two men hijacked the convention. It is insulting to make such statements and you can only get by with that nonsense in Texas and east of the Mississippi. The rest know better.

I'm not a doctor but I suggest to those who agree with Prince's position to agree not to speak or write Patterson's or Pressler's name for a period of 3 months. Once the 3 months is up if the temptation arises to speak or write either of the two men's names, take two Prozac and go to bed.

Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...

jim paslay,

Well said. You have covered an issue that few have clearly articulated.

Anonymous said...


The question you ask in this post gets right to the heart of most of the problems we are talking about here. I have to admit, I tend to struggle back and forth on the convention vs. denomination models. It is the same, for me, with national governments. Sometimes I am happy with democracy in America being "the best system" out there, and at other times I long for a centralized (good) monarchy to set things straight.

Someone spoke of this very thing earlier in this comment string . . . and I feel it every time I see or hear something in the convention that I perceive to be wrong. It is in those times that I long for a more central, unified government for SBC life. I then look at the denominations that have a model like that and I cringe at the "lord-it-over-them" authority that the denominations produce.

I must be careful here. Both with SBC government, and in national governments there are problems on both sides. On the one hand there is a problem with one person (or group) having too much control, and on the other hand there is a problem with the masses tending toward "lawlessness" (for lack of a better term) for the sake of autonomy and freedom.

I don't think there is an easy answer. But I tend to agree, in the end, with C. S. Lewis who remark that democracy is not the best system because the people at large are good enough to rule themselves, but because no one man is good enough to rule himself (I am greatly paraphrasing-forgive me). The SBC exists as a "democratic" convention model, and it should function as one.

It is when I find myself getting weary of the lack of "theological unity" in the SBC that I remind myself that I would not want to be squeezed into Patterson's theological box. Patterson is not "good" enough to control the convention. But at the same time, people are prone to error. Which one is the better evil to live with. As of today, I am more ready to live with freedom, than a type of "Pattersonian" theological unity.

If the SBC would simply stick to what it was formed to be in Augusta, GA in 1845 (I think I have my facts correct there), i.e. a cooperation of autonomous churches coming together for the purpose of missions most of the problems we are having today would cease. No doubt there would still be problems. But the Bible addresses how they are to be handled, and God the Holy Spirit is the best ruler of all.

Great posts, and great comments by everyone (except for that anons).

Anonymous said...

Accountability. Enough cannot be said about its importance, especially in our convention. We need to be scrutinizing the policies and decisions of the Pattersons, as well as the (__________-fill in blank with the "other" side's name). The word of God must be called upon in regard to the men and women who lead in the SBC. Patterson himself seems to be accountable only to those who share the same perverted sense of "theological unity." More accountability!

volfan007 said...


thank you, dear bro. for that wisdom. i too have done something similar to that on occasion, and it really works.


volfan007 said...

jim palsay,

very good word. also, big daddy was asking me who was the prof. at southern in the 80's who wrote that anyone who believed in the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus was crass. i am 99% sure who it was, but do you remember 100%?
also, for those who lived back in those days, we heard much, much more coming out of the different sbc entities that were controlled by the liberal/moderates that would make a conservatives hair curl. things like jedp theory over moses authorship. things like evolution over creation. things like the supernatural working of God in judgement, etc. being explained as natural phenomena that the israelites just said was God doing it for judgement. and so forth.


docjoc said...

Certainly this is a key issue.

Many years ago while attending the Methodist Church they handed out a llttle booklet "What Methodists Believe".

How strange I thought. Instead if we are truly Protestants the Methodist Church should be taking a poll. Then they would find out "What Methodists (really) Believe".

Now over the many years since then I see the pattern repeat itself again and again among various Protestant groups.

Now, just like those Methodists, we have certain people telling us "What Baptists Believe".

The early church fathers had a similar problem. They decided they needed a very broad basic and not too narrow statment of what the various widely scattered Christians and Churches must believe.

We now call it the Apostles Creed.

Alyce Faulkner said...

Tim, Judge Pressler admits manipulating the system, along with PP when the CR began. It was the point. The result is: trustees answering to presidents instead of the other way around.

Well, we were in unity for a minute :) That's encouraging.

Charles R said...

David said, "for those who lived back in those days, we heard much, much more coming out of the different sbc entities that were controlled by the liberal/moderates that would make a conservatives hair curl"

...things like Saddam masterminded 9/11 and had WMD...and equally credible...

Jim Paslay said...

charles r. said:

...things like Saddam masterminded 9/11 and had WMD...and equally credible...

I can take your comments two ways. Either you are trying to be sarcastic or you are the first one to tie the conservative resurgence to 9/11. Considering some that post on this site have used images of Hitler and Satan to characterize leaders in the resurgence, I probably wouldn't be far fetched to come to the latter conclusion. But I will give you the benefit of the doubt and consider your comments a poor attempt to be humorous!

Charles R said...

Actually, jimbo, if you read what I wrote as literally as some like to read everything, I was blaming liberal/moderates moderates for 9/11 and saying that Roy Honeycutt hid nukes in the basement of Norton Hall...after all, he's the guy who declared jihad...I mean holy war, wasn't he??

Jim Paslay said...


Below is a quote from an article on the net about Glenn Hinson, former professor at Southern back in the 1980s. I am not able to access my other sources right now, but Professor Hinson was who came to my mind when you asked.

Citations from Mr. Hinson's writings were critical ammunition for the conservative movement in the SBC. Mr. Hinson had argued that the birth narratives of the New Testament "are more theological interpretation than historical fact," that Jesus "may have contemplated becoming a follower of John," and that the four Gospels must be discounted because they were "embellished" by the early church. His radical views were enough to send grassroots Southern Baptists to the theological barricades.

"Embellished" is one of those words that liberal professors love because they accept redaction criticism as fact!

Anonymous said...

I think what David Rogers has written up toward the top is an amazing bit of wisdom that if we all could grasp we would begin to see the Body draw nearer to Him together. He has also posted on this at his blog, Love Each Stone.

volfan007 said...


thanks, bro. glenn hinson was the southern seminary prof. that i was thinking about.

charles, we conservatives never said anything about honeycutt hiding nukes in the basement. are you revealing some new info.?


Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...

You said manipulation - what I believe was said by the two men was getting men and women elected who believed in inerrancy etc. There is a difference between a ConN electing and the use of the word manipulation - I also know that influence could be used here as well.

I think manipulation is not really what they did. And yes, I was involved in using influence in the 90's to encourage people of Conservative Convictions to be elected. It was right then and right now - but it is not manipulation. Influence is used by whomever is "recommending" - either side!

I still you and I are close on this one :)

Debbie Kaufman said...

"Webster's defines 'denomination' as "A religious organization uniting local congregations into a single body." Webster's defines 'convention' as "An assembly of delegates or messengers convened for some purpose."

Looking at these definitions and going by them, it seems that we are a Convention who is slowly heading to being a Denomination. I say this in light of the recent policy changes in the IMB as well as the happenings at SWBTS as well as other things that have recently come to light. How is this being a Convention?

Debbie Kaufman said...

There have been comments concerning the interest of those in the pew. I agree and disagree that they are not interested. I think that they are not interested until an issue that is important to them rises up.

For example, I avoided SBC politics like the plague until missionaries were being turned down due to the recent new policies. It happened with candidates from our church. That was something that I could not as a church member tolerate, plus the fact that my minister as trustee, had charges put against him and he was being accused of things that simply were not true. I am not the only one that this caught off guard by any means, I am simply the only one feeling led to write about it.

Most people simply do not know what is going on behind closed doors. I didn't. Many ministers didn't, so they couldn't pass it on to their congregations.

Unknown said...


This is one of the most substantive discussions I have seen on the blogs. In my opinion, it is one of the key issues we face today. I do not think it is an understatment to say that the SBC could easily morph into denominationalism. If so, it will be much smaller and less effective than what was once our convention (IMHO). I know there will be some who will say that new policies do not necessarily equate a philisophical change. But let them work awhile, and see how many good conservative churches no longer feel included.

There are those who are fine with us being smaller and leaner. There are many who want us to be more cooperative and Kingdom oriented. Time will tell which of these two ideologies will prevail.

I am sure your remember the statement you and I heard with our own ears during a very important debate, "I think this whole 'autonomy of the local church' thing is overblown."

OC Hands said...

After serving 34 years as an IMB missionary, I must admit returning to the USA has been quite an adjustment. Since returning four years ago, my wife and I have been very interested and puzzled about the direction the SBC seems to be taking It has grieved us to see how divisive we have become, and how quickly we draw the lines to separate us from those with whom we disagree.
Reading the comments on the various blogs has really concerned us, as we see the inflammatory responses by some who disagree on certain issues. Finally, I think I have an understanding of how we can be so devoted to the Lord, yet so unforgiving and narrow in our views of other equally devoted Christians.
The key seems to me to be the lenses with which we view the world, other Baptists, other Christians, etc. With our natural eyes (speaking metaphorically) it seems that we should be able to see others as we see ourselves, and thus find it easier to relate to them. (Now you could read that spiritual eyes and it would probably make more sense.)
But what happens is that we put on our lenses (glasses) which represent our pre-conceived, even seriously thought out beliefs, and then everything and everyone we see or talk to or talk about is interpreted through those lenses. So, when a "conservative" sees a "moderate" to him, he is a "liberal" because of the lenses the conservative is wearing.
When a "moderate" sees a "conservative" he sees a "fundamentalist" becuase of the lenses he is wearing.
The same thing applies to how we view leaders. For those who are wearing the "conservative" lenses, their leaders can do no wrong, or even if they do, it is excusable.
But for those wearing the "moderate" (or other designation) lenses, the "conservative" leaders are open to criticism, judgment, etc, due to the lenses with which they veiw these leaders.
It is also very true in different cultures. That is why those who go as ambassadors of Christ must learn something of the language and culture of their target group in order to find a way to penetrate their prejudices and preconceived ideas about their own lives as well as foreigners.
With these lenses on, it is next to impossible for those wearing them to see any other view as credible or valid. Also, it is very difficult to absorb anything new about any subject because through these lenses they are viewed as foreign, not to be trusted, suspicious, etc.
The encouraging thing for us as we try to find our place in this society and in Baptist life is to see pastors and leaders like Wade who still hold on to their beliefs very solidly, yet are attempting to see things through other people's lenses.
The final challenge for me is to imagine what it will be like when we are all together in the throne room of the King, literally in heaven. What will we say to each other then? Will we still say "You were wrong then, and you're wrong now"? Or will we embrace each other as children of God should. Will we then look back and say to each other "You know that was a silly argument we had, it proved nothing but did alienate us from each other and was really not necessary."
I do believe we will have to answer for our actions and our conversations. Just a word from a retired missionary

JayLee said...

OC Hands,

Thank you for your words of encouragement. I am a "lifer" in SBC culture. It is hard for me to look beyond the lenses planted on my nose since birth. But with God's grace and instruction through people like you and Wade, I am learning.

David (volfan007)

I have a question for you but it's off topic for Wade's blog. Could you email me so I can bring it to you directly?

Debbie Kaufman said...

Rick Thompson said: "I am sure your remember the statement you and I heard with our own ears during a very important debate, "I think this whole 'autonomy of the local church' thing is overblown."

Oh really. MMM

Anonymous said...

From the time I started Sunbeams, through the whole Southern Baptist missions education structure, to a Baptist college and a Baptist seminary, a period of time that ran from about 1962 to 1989, I was taught that the Southern Baptist Convention was not a denomination, it was a convention, and it existed as such for the three, now two, days a year that it met. The whole concept of local church autonomy precludes theological conformity and doctrinal accountability which are enforced by a heirarchy in connectional denominational structures. The SBC has no way to enforce these things.

I think there was a "paradigm shift" in the way Southern Baptists see themselves when missions education objectives were slowly crowded out of the discipleship ministry of the majority of our churches. The task of teaching our church members about how churches relate to the convention was included in the missions education programs like R.A.'s, G.A.'s, Pioneers, Acteens and such. They are still there, but the number of individuals enrolled in and participating in those programs is minimal. Churches replaced them wholesale with AWANA or just dropped them because of the difficulty of getting volunteers, fitting them into the schedule and getting kids to come. The problem is that no other discipleship structure in the church picked them up. Where do we teach our church members about their congregation's investment in the SBC?

BTW, the wisdom and experience that is a regular feature of your Dad's blog makes me wonder why he hasn't been tapped to provide leadership somewhere in the SBC. If we had about a dozen leaders like him scattered around, I think the ride would be a lot smoother.

Anonymous said...

OC Hands,

Those are great words. Thank you.

I do have a question, though. Sometimes I think it isn't so bad to have lenses that make it difficult to relate to a culture, because then we find in our weakness that we absolutely must depend on Him completely and not be comfortable with our ability to relate. So, for someone like me, who has been more in the shorter term of mission work, it keeps me dependent. I think it is incredible when someone is long term and becomes immersed in a culture, but I also think God uses short termers powerfully when they give themselves to Him.

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

I'm late to the party on this one--been dealing with a teething baby all week. But this is a good question, and I've been pondering it as I've walked the floor with the little one the last few nights. So, for what it's worth, here are my thoughts:

To be honest, I'm not sure that Webster's definition of denomination is the best one. American Heritage Dictionary defines "denomination" as an "organized group of religious organizations." The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology has a similar definition (under "denominationalism) but adds that denominations have a common heritage that usually includes doctrinal or experiential or organizationl emphases. EDT also notes that modern denominations "have usually evolved into considerable diversity." All that is a pretty accurate description of Southern Baptists.

Of course, there is no doubt that when it comes to governance we function as a convention. One of the interesting things I learned in church history is that religious groups tend to reflect the society in which they emerged in terms of their governance and structure. Our convention structure with the historic emphasis on church autonomy and congregational polity reflects the democratic nation in which we emerged.

While labels are important, I don't think that the distinction between denomination and convention is really that big of a issue. What is an issue is the question of how we handle diversity and dissent within our Baptist family. As Baptists, we agree on some pretty big things that define us as both denomination and convention--the recognition that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, Trinitarian theology, believer's baptism, the authority of Scripture, congregational church structure, and a passion for missions. The things we disagree on, when compared to other denominations and true "liberal" theologians are really small potatoes.

The questions that in my view define much of our current conflit are 1) how much diversity of belief, and on what topics, is permissible for our cooperation; and 2) who gets to make those rules and under what conditions. These questions are complicated by the fact that we now live in a culture in which true dialogue is almost non-existent. To a large degree, we have lost the ability to listen, preferring instead to call names and attempt to shout out opposing viewpoints. Instead of reasoning through issues, as a nation we tend to gravitate to the "you're only right if you agree with me" way of looking at things. As Baptists, we too often conform to our combative culture instead of to the Christlike values of humility, patience, forbearance, and love. And I'm preaching to myself here as much as to anyone. Perhaps where we need to begin is by praying for all hearts to be humble.

Leigh Ann

Big Daddy Weave said...


A fable is defined as a deliberately false or improbable account. Big difference between a parable and a fable. You deliberately misrepresent our view of Genesis with such a statement. After all, don't some inerrantists hold that those first 11 chapters contain "parabolic elements" ? Moving on..

Yea, Alley was liberal. But last time I checked the University of Richmond wasn't a Southern Baptist insitution? Of course there were Southern Baptists liberals but were they part of the machine/bureaucracy that is the SBC?

Jim, not all conservative evangelicals get bent out of shape about women in ministry. But you know this...

Yea, Foy signed A Call to Concern in 1977. Only a few years before Foy signed on with RCAR, the beloved W.A. Criswell was publically voicing his support of Roe and full-fledged abortion rights.

Dr. Dunn, a friend and mentor, served on the board of People for the American Way as an effort to fight for religious liberty. PFAW (at the time) had brought together a very diverse group of conservative and liberal religious and corporate leaders who were all very concerned about the New Religious Right (1981). Most of the board members were Catholic leaders and well-known Catholic scholars - not exactly a liberal board.

Interestingly, some SBCers flipped out when Dunn worked with PFAW on issues pertaining to religious liberty but those same SBCers don't complain one bit when Richard Land partners with the liberal National Council of Churches and the same-sex marriage endorsing Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism!

Big Daddy Weave said...


Glenn Hinson never made such a statement (physical resurrection of Jesus was crass). Per publishers request, Hinson did write a "biography" of Jesus that included only what historians could prove or be reasonable sure of as historians. Thus, Hinson summarized the major conclusions of "historical Jesus" research at that time. But Hinson noted that the tools of historiography did not allow him as a historian to affirm Jesus' resurrection, although as a believer he could and did affirm Jesus' resurrection. His argument was about what historians can reasonably assert (i.e. limits of historiography) not an argument over the resurrection itself...

OC Hands said...

Thanks for your comments. As to your opinion about short term service, you wrote
"Sometimes I think it isn't so bad to have lenses that make it difficult to relate to a culture, because then we find in our weakness that we absolutely must depend on Him completely and not be comfortable with our ability to relate. I also think God uses short termers powerfully when they give themselves to Him"

It is true that God uses us in whatever time frame we give ourselves to him. But to deliberately close your eyes to the culture of the people you are trying to reach is not a good strategy, in my opinion. That would be like trying to preach a sermon to help the people in your church without making an attempt to get to know them. Of course, God can and does reveal some of these things to the speaker. B
But wouldn't it be better to know more about your target group, understand more about their challenges as Christians, feel their pain? That's exactly what Jesus did when he became like us. He learned the language of His people, studied the books about their religion, learned the stories that people told. To be sure, He was able to see and know some things that He had not learned, but he became one of us in order to make us like Him. This does not mean that He became so much like us that he sinned. But he was and is able to understand our weaknesses and our frailty in order to help us become more like Him.
I congratulate you for your missions service, no matter how long or short the term might be.
Blessings said...

Leigh Ann,

A great comment.

volfan007 said...

big daddy,

i read the quote out of the book. a book that i dont have on me. i am almost certain that it was from a book that hinson wrote.


Jim Paslay said...

big daddy weave,

Your comments about James Dunn won't wash. He joined PFAW because he identified with them in their efforts to combat the so called "Religious Right." He has a warped view of the First Amendment as do other moderates. The term "separation of church and state" has been used by secularists to quelch religious expression in this country. And unfortunately people like Dunn have chimed in as well.

big daddy, can you in nutshell describe what you believe about the first 11 chapter of Genesis? The first book of the Bible is so foundational to what we believe as Baptists. I would be interested in your comments.

Liam Madden said...

B.D. Weave,

I'm glad you're on hand to keep resurgence loyalistas straight on their Baptist history of the last 25 years or so. I have, on my bookshelf to my left, Glenn Hinson's excellent THE EARLY CHURCH. There is nothing unorthodox in it, and it would make a good reference work for any Southern Baptist preacher. I had a chance to study church history with Hinson about 3 years ago when he was doing a guest spot at the McAfee School of Theology here in Atlanta. Hinson is just one more conservative Baptist who was labeled a moderate because he wouldn't go along with the attack and control tactics of the resurgence.

Anonymous said...

What's in a name? "Nothing......Everything" (as said by Saladin to Balian in the movie "Kingdom of Heaven(2005) when asked by Balian, "What is Jerusalem worth?")

So to is the debate over what we are to be called, for it is indeed worth the end of the day. But at the beginning and the is worth EVERYTHING. g. alford wrote the following quote about what we as the SBC are:

"a cooperation of autonomous churches coming together for the purpose of missions"

I certainly hope not sir. That might be what the BWA or the CBF is, but the Southern Baptist Convention is not that loosely defined. In fact, here is the last line of the 1845 Georgia Charter: "...said corporation being created for the purpose of eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the Baptist denomination of Christians, for the propagation of the gospel, any law, usage, or custom to the contrary not withstanding." Add to this a host of resolutions and several editions of the BF&M and you have a rather narrow view of who we are and what our purpose is. In short, we are a coalition of likeminded churches who seek to fulfill the great commission in a spirit of cooperation and for the purpose of obedience and Kingdom growth.

We are a convention for the purpose of congregational governance. We are a denomination for the purpose of theological, spiritual and moral clarity. To show to the world that "this" is what we believe, that "This" is in Whom we believe. God's Word (and our interpretation thereof), and God (in three persons), respectively.

Unfortunately, our postmodern society has been overrun by "thinkers." On the surface this would not appear to be a bad thing, but as I have noticed in the emerging community, et al, that thinking, and not praying and meditating on the Word of God, can often lead to "thinking" a way out of biblical salvation doctrine and to a more univeral approach to said doctrine. "Jesus loves everyone 'just the way they are.'" True in one sense, damnable in the other.

That my friends is why we are Baptists. And if you don't like it??? Well, that is why we are a convention. :)

Overly Proud Young SBC'er,


Jim Paslay said...

william madden said:

"Hinson is just one more conservative Baptist who was labeled a moderate because he wouldn't go along with the attack and control tactics of the resurgence."

I admit I don't have all of sources in front of me but the following quote from Hinson doesn't sound like a conservative to me; "the four Gospels must be discounted because they were "embellished" by the early church." Hinson's comments concerning the Gospels proves he accepts redation criticism as a valid tool for interpreting Scripture. Let's cut to the chase, do you consider former Professor of Ethics Paul Simmons a conservative as well?

I will admit there was some name-calling in the 1980's but there were legimate theological problems. To say there were none is to be disingenuous. Moderate professors have always hid behind saying the Bible is authoritative all the while questioning the miracle passages and casting doubt on God's Word. You can't have it both ways!

Liam Madden said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Liam Madden said...


You should read Hinson's THE EARLY CHURCH. There's nothing unorthodox or liberal in its contents.

Moreover, the very fact that the gospels differ in their content and structure makes redaction critcism a valid field of study for any seminarian. To redact, simply means to edit--to include or leave out--. Clearly, the gospel writers did redact. If they didn't, all four gospels would be exactly the same. But of course, they're not.

Your opinions about Hinson appear to be a result of the conservative resurgence smear machine in action, whose tactic was to print some unsubstantiated allegations about someone who isn't a die-hard resurgence supporter and repeat the false information enough until everyone thinks its true.

Hinson is a great scholar with over 400 academic publications. He also was a colleague of Geza Vermes, translator of the Dead Sea scrolls and one of the few modern biblical scholars conversant in Aramaic.

It's a shame that a man with Hinson's knowledge and reverence for scripture was pushed out of SBC life by a bunch of ignorant and comparatively illiterate yahoos.

Jim Paslay said...

william madden,

Your comments about redaction criticism is simple at best. To use the word "embellishment" is to question the actual author of the book. In his book "Jesus Christ", Hinson questions the objectivity of the Gospel writers and states on page 66 "with regard to the healing and miracle narratives, that undoubtedly some embellishments did occur." In other words someone later came in and added some more to the story.

william, is that what you believe about the Scriptures that God has given us? Redaction criticism cast doubts on the accuracy of the Scriptures and the trustworthiness of it as well. That is why Hinson and others who taught at Southern had no problem with multiple Isaiahs in the writing of the Old Testament book.

What is shameful is people who continue to act as though we had no theological problems at our seminaries. If Hinson was a typical Baptist professor, then no wonder there were outcries from the pews concerning liberalism being taught in our seminaries. You can have diversity on the non-essentials but you can't survive as a denomination with people questioning the very foundation of what we believe as Baptists.

volfan007 said...


amen and amen.


Liam Madden said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Liam Madden said...


Nice to see you in the blogosphere again. I understand your concerns about liberalism, but based on my own experience studying with Glenn Hinson, I don't think he's liberal. I just think that the academic world is different than the pulpit. Academics have to look at issues from a variety of angles and encourage their students to do the same. Preachers need to be certain about what they're preaching, and try to keep things as straightforward as possible. I was always taught that it wouldn't weaken my faith to ask hard questions about the Bible. I think good teachers like Glenn Hinson help the process of faith formation by challenging students to discover what they truly believe about the Bible. Don't you think that's a good thing?

hopelesslyhuman said...

Because we are a convention, I don't see the trustee system as the problem. It is particular trustees of certain agencies that I see as the problem. The Convention needs a simple way to remove trustees whom we no longer trust to act in the SBC's best interest and replace them with trustees we can trust.

Some folks seem to be of the opinion "trust the trustees" regardless of what they do - sorry, I don't trust some of the recent past and current trustees because from my perspective, they have not acted in a trustworthy manner. They have treated convention entities as their own and enacted policies that were not wise. They have not acted as stewards with a fiduciary responsibility to the entire SBC.

Frankly, I'd like to go to sleep at night without giving a seconds thought to what the IMB and SWBTS trustees did today. Despite what some have called it, that is not apathy - it is simply that I have enough responsibilty on my plate to attend to, and that is why we have trustees - so someone we trust is paying attention to the agencies for all of us. But the actions of the IMB trustees and SWBTS trustees (or in some cases lack of action) over the last year or so have resulted in a backlash from a sizable percentage of the SBC - and many of us simply no longer trust them.

We need a simpler means of holding those we trust (the trustees) accountable for violations of that trust. We need a means of making actionable the words of Jesus in Luke 16:2 - "Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer."

volfan007 said...


what you are advocating is in place already in sbc life. it's called electing the sbc president. he has much power to change things.