Thursday, April 05, 2007

Too Great A Temptation and Too Great A Story

I just finished reading for the third time Too Great a Temptation: The Seductive Power of America's Super Church, an autobiography of Dr. Joel Gregory's life and ministry, particularly his calling to, and short tenure at, First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas. Every time I read the book I come away with anecdotes that I must have missed before. For instance, when Dr. Gregory first took a role in national Southern Baptist politics, he was called on by Paige Patterson, Paul Pressler and others to give the presidential nominating speech for Ed Young.

Gregory writes of the events at the June 9-11, 1992 Southern Baptist Convention in Indianopolis on page 292

Thus came time for The Meeting. Each year on Monday night of the Southern Baptist Convention was The Meeting. Attendance was by invitation only. It was usually hosted in the presidential suite of the sitting president. Security was tight with the meeting often taking place on an elevator-keyed floor. This was the strategy meeting for the next day's election. The heroes of the conservative resurgence led the meeting. Adrian Rogers by force of personality usually became the unofficial chair. Around the room sat the major voices of the conservative wing of the Southern Baptist Convention. With three candidates seeking to lead the sixteen-million-member denomination amidst a thirteen-year-long war for control, certainty was not a guest at this gathering.

I was seated on a couch in the middle of thirty or so conservative powers, most of them friends of the years. I read to them my thoughts of a nominating speech for Ed Young the next day. It was not well received. Paige Patterson, Paul Pressler, Adrian Rogers, Bailey Smith, Jerry Vines, and Charles Stanley all began to submit their ideas for a better direction of thought in the speech. Then the second rank of younger leaders around the periphery of the room added their opinions. As I took notes on my lap-top, it began to look like a speech by committee. Since Ed was perceived by some as an elitist, some wanted to emphasize his populist roots in Mississippi. Others wanted to underscore his astonishing achievement at Second, Houston. Some said this, some that, and some something else. Finally, Adrian made the suggestion that since they had asked me to do it, they must have thought I had sense enough to write the speech. As usual, his wisdom carried the day. Dr. Charles Stanley of First Baptist, Atlanta, approached me as the meeting broke up. With his gaunt presence and basset-hound eyes, he laid his hand on my shoulder to say, "Joel, this may well be the most important speech of your life."

I was not sure if this was an affirmation or a warning. This was the second of three times in as many years that Charles would say something like that to me. During the Paige Patterson airport meeting described earlier, Charles told me something of the same ilk concerning my stand to save Paige's job. A year later and months after my resignation from the church, I presented the new candidate for the presidency of the Foreign Mission Board. Again, Charles informed me of the uniqueness of the moment.

For thirteen years the anointed candidate of the conservatives had won. NO one, but no one, wanted to be the nominee or the nominator who lost that election. The stakes were sky-high. If there was ever one conservative loss, the left wing of the denomination could gain momentum again. There was a domino theory that the whole Baptist civil war could reverse itself. Whether or not that was true, no one knew, and no one wanted to find out."

Fifteen years later the domino theory is being tested. The ordained candidate did not win last year. The first domino has fallen in the election of Frank Page. However, it is my personal belief that the Southern Baptist Convention will only become broader, more missions oriented, and less focused on the non-essentials through the election of Frank Page. We shall remain conservative. We are all conservative, Bible believing Christians. We all hold to the fundamentals of the faith as historical Baptists have always done, and we unite for the purpose of missions and evangelism.

I think the SBC in Greensboro, June 2006, a quarter of a century after the beginning of the 'conservative resurgence,' will go down as the beginning of a needed pendulum swing back toward a brand of irenic conservatism that focuses on missions and evangelism more than sectarian ideology and demands for conformity in the interpretation of tertiary doctrines.

San Antonio will only build on that trend.

And, contrary to what some might believe, the SBC will not reverse course - we will only slightly alter our direction toward a more important destination.

In His Grace,



Anonymous said...

where are you and Mr. Cole going to hold your "meeting?" can anyone come?

Kevin Bussey said...


That is a powerful excerpt. I wonder what Jesus would think about all of the political maneuvers of everyone involved? said...

Mr. Anonymous,

You can't come anonymously.


Anonymous said...

Wade - the politics and big shots in this convention are sickening. When will anyone stand up to expose these multi-millionaire power brokers? Frank Harber and Bob Reccord being the most recent examples. It seems the SBC mega-churches have a lot of gullible sheep willing to give without any accountability or transparency. Ultimately, I don't think it will be doctrine, on first or any other tier items, that bring down the SBC. It will be plain old-fashioned greed and corruption and scandal by the mega-church leaders and agency heads, that causes most people to finally leave. MS

Jim Paslay said...


The ordained candidate did not win in 1994 either. Fred Wolfe was the perceived choice by the former presidents but the messengers elected Dr. Jim Henry from Orlando, FBC. I was one of those messengers who didn't follow hook, line and sinker as some say we did all those years. We didn't get our marching orders from Patterson or Pressler either.

I went to Dr. Henry's church and listened to him preach the Sunday before the convention. I became convinced he was the man we need to lead our convention. The messengers elected him over Dr. Wolfe and the convention continued on the right path.

The supposed domino theory didn't happen in 1994 and it won't happen now unless we water down our view of God's Word.

Anonymous said...

Wade, your post this afternoon was "nothin' but net!". . A very much needed word through Brother Joel. Until Greensboro, I had not gone to a SBC Annual Meeting in a number of years, because I just could not understand how The God I love could be pleased with the political machinations that I observed at work in our Convention. I went to G'boro to support Frank Page, and came away feeling more optimistic about the Convention than I have in many years! God bless you, my friend! I'll see you in Edison, NJ in a few weeks!

Anonymous said...

Winfred Moore was my pastor at FBC-Amarillo during the mid-80s; NO ONE more biblically-conservative, nor a nicer guy.

Frank Page was my pastor at Gambrell Street Baptist Church-Ft Worth in the early-90s; "ditto" to all the compliments paid to him at this blogsite during the past many months--my family saw it "live and in person" at GSBC.

David Troublefield
Wichita Falls, TX

Kevin said...

Could anyone help me find this book at a reasonable price? Seems all the internet places want 45+ dollars on it.

Writer said...


Unfortunately not only does the "good ol' boy" network still exist, but the rule of megachurches (1000+) which currently comprise less than 10% of all SBC churches still dominates the nominations for SBC agencies and institutions.

My analysis of the Nominating Committee's report will be released in conjunction with the report release on April 19.



Anonymous said...

To anonymous and the sickening politics and power brokers...

"Time for a revolution *brother*, time for a revolution."

I'd say if your BMI is >= 31.1 and/or you have a Harley and/or you stand behind a pulpit and spew forth about anything remotely close to the sanctity of George W Bush... the revolution is coming for you.

RKSOKC66 said...

I too looked at Amazon to see about buying this book. It is evidently a peek inside the SBC machine of recent decades.

I was also shocked at the price of the book. The cheapest one I saw was $50. I wonder how much this book cost new? Could it be that the book is now "rare" and costs more used than it did new?

I was able to buy Dr. Dilday's book for less than $10. I picked up Paul Pressler's brand new for something like $20. This Joel Gregory book must be a real page turner.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Dr. Dave Holder said...

I have the book, and I could not put it down when I first read it. It is well written and a real page turner. Joel comes off a bit egotistical (i.e. saying that fellow seminary professors were jealous of his Mercedes he was able to buy with his honorariums) but is nonetheless fascinating.

Gary Snowden said...


Thanks for sharing the excerpt from Joel Gregory's book. I haven't read it but you certainly whetted my appetite to do so. The 1992 SBC convention meeting he describes in Indianapolis was and is the only one that I ever attended personally. My wife and I were invited to attend and represent the IMB (manning the display booth, visiting with messengers, etc.).

That was our first of three furloughs home from Argentina and I have to confess that it was the most eye-opening experience I'd ever had into the nature of SBC politics. We were eagerly anticipating hearing Dr. Keith Parks as he addressed the convention for the final time, having basically been forced out by the power-brokers for not playing by their rules.

He shared a powerful, probing message and dared to ask in the midst of it where we would be as a convention on the way to fulfilling the goals and objectives of Bold Mission Thrust if the convention had not gotten sidetracked into political fighting between conservatives and moderates. For those unfamiliar with Bold Mission Thrust, it was a sweeping and ambitious series of goals that the IMB announced in 1979--the same year that the conservative resurgence first mobilized messengers to vote for their hand-picked president.

When Dr. Parks dared to ask that question, the power-brokers rose enmasse and ceremoniously exited from the auditorium, with several doing so even from the platform where they were seated behind him. I've never witnessed anything so disgusting and disrespectful in my life. To add insult to injury, an IMB Board of Trustees member whom I had served with way back in college days on a summer beach project with Campus Crusade for Christ felt the need to come up to me afterwards and apologize that I had been forced to sit through "such junk" as he termed Dr. Parks' message.

Dr. Parks went on to do an outstanding job of helping CBF launch their Global Missions program and continued to utilize his keen missionary insights to help positively shape that organization's fledgling mission program. I look forward to being with Dr. Parks the weekend after this one as he will be one of the featured speakers at the 5th annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri. (We're the ones who aren't suing any Baptist institutions, investigating an executive director, scrutinizing the doctrines of every group that we partner with, or kicking out churches for not being exclusively aligned with us). Baptists in Missouri who would like to focus on helping churches share the gospel both at home and abroad rather than attacking fellow Baptists might want to pay a visit to our annual meeting at First Baptist Church Jefferson City on April 13-14. Information about the annual meeting is available at the BGCM website at

Anonymous said...

Kevin and others, For the book,
Google Joel Gregory Ministries. I just ordered a copy of "The Castle and the Wall." What a powerful convention sermon. Too bad it wasn't heeded.

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

With the political organization as tight, and as narrow, as it is described in Dr. Gregory's book, something tells me that, in the wake of Dr. Page's election, they are not going to go quietly.

Wonder which San Antonio hotel the meeting will be in this time around?

David Simpson said...

Great post about a sobering book. I recently re-read it, and had knots in my stomach at the accounts of the goings-on in mega-church settings.

I will definitely sell my copy for the first bid of $50! :)

Anonymous said...

It is always awesome to see God's word come to life... we simply cannot worship both God and Mammon. Which kingdom shall we serve? And before everyone cries out God, we all need to examine our words, what we hang on to, and how we invest all of our money (not just 10%).

OC Hands said...

If anyone is interested, the book can be found at the following location:
Prices range from $41.77 plus shipping at Half.books, to over $112.44 on Ebay.
Take your pick.

Jim Paslay said...

Gary Snowden said:

"We were eagerly anticipating hearing Dr. Keith Parks as he addressed the convention for the final time, having basically been forced out by the power-brokers for not playing by their rules."

Did the power-brokers force Dr. Parks to come out against Dr. Stanley in 1985? Did the power-brokers force Dr. Parks into accepting a CBF position and encouraging alternative funding to the CP and Lottie Moon? I think those and other decisions were made by Dr. Parks of his own free will. No one forced him to do anything!

Anonymous said...

Jim Paslay:

When I (biblical conservative, but conscious-voting--not party-line voting) resigned the MBC Executive Board in 2001 with 2 years remaining to serve--because of the law suits which obviously were on the horizon, with the poor leadership elected at that time--I wasn't forced out, but it felt that way just the same.

Don't miss the point, brother!

David Troublefield
Wichita Falls, TX

Gary Snowden said...

To respond to Jim Paslay's post with his suggestion that the power-brokers didn't force Dr. Parks to do anything, I'd say that his viewpoint is very naive at this juncture. In an interview of April 4, 2000 Dr. Parks reveals that in his opinion, the folks being appointed to the FMB's board of trustees after 1979 weren't there because of an interest in missions but because they were on-board with the political agenda of the conservative resurgence. Working day in and day out with a board that was hostile to his leadership ultimately led to Parks' resignation, like it did to so many other SBC agency heads at that time.

Clearly these power-brokers didn't force him to accept the position with CBF, but here is a man whose heart beats for missions and I'd maintain that when you deny him the opportunity to continue serving with the convention in which he was raised, educated, and had served so effectively, it was inevitable that he would find an avenue to express his ongoing commitment to international missions.

The current controversy regarding the two new policies at the IMB will doubtlessly have the same result unless the board of trustees votes to reverse its actions--those gifted and called by the Lord to international missions service will pursue other avenues of doing so apart from the IMB.

Unknown said...


I am looking forward to your full analysis of the Nominating Committee’s report… I hope it contains the following:

1)Educational Background of each Nominee (Degree & Institution)?

2)Size of Church where they serve or attend?

3)Previous Committee appointments?

4)% given to the C.P. by their Church?

5)Baptism, PPL, Divorce, and [Calvinist or Arminian]?

Grace to all,

Anonymous said...

Whatever side of this issue you are on, remember that the problem is the mega-church pastors. They have seemingly endless power and influence and wealth, which has led many to arrogance and brazenness in their lifestyle and in their decisions. I would love to see the SBC allow only pastors of small churches in small cities to be in leadership. Let the big boys stick to expanding their personal brand and wealth by writing their books, preaching at each others conferences and churches and hosting Holy Land trips and cruises, to earn their millions.

Anonymous said...

anon - I would just like to see the SBC publish the ranking of the pastors' salary packages and benefits like they publish lists of cooperative program giving and baptisms. How many mega-church pastors, and finance committe members, would be absolutely embarrassed and humiliated if these figures were made known? My guess is those humble pastors who are serving at great sacrifice would also be outraged and might not attend so many "conferences" and buy so many books, that keep making these guys even richer.

Anonymous said...

anon and MS - of course your suggestion will never happen. The only ones who could provide leadership to get those things dones are the big boys themselves and why would they ever want to ruffle the feathers of the goose that lays the golden eggs?

Kevin Bussey said...

I am nowhere close to being a mega church pastor. But I think they get a raw deal sometimes.

There are fine men who pastor mega churches and they are not in it for the money. I think jealousy creeps in and sometimes we throw darts at them. Some mega church pastors have a real burden for people. I don't think it is fair to lump them in together.

Rick Warren took time to write me a hand written note a few years back. Rick White at the People's Church in Franklin has been very helpful to me. Bob Reccord has taken time to counsel me. Johnny Hunt's church allowed my mission church to Baptize @ FBCW and meet with some of his staff for help.

Personally I have found the mega church pastors to be more helpful than the smaller church guys.

RKSOKC66 said...

I went over to the Joel Gregory website. The website says that an expanded edition of the book "Too Great a Temptation" is coming out in 2007. It will have a new prolog and epilog.

Jim Paslay said...

Before we castigate the former presidents during the Conservative Resurgence, a little history lesson might be in order.

Dr. James Hefley in his book "The Cconservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention" documents on pages 28-29 how a control group back in the early 1960s communicated to pick their next president. J.D. Grey, Ramsey Pollard, Carl Bates Wayne Dehoney, Hershel Hobbs and Mrs. R.L. Mathis were involved in a letter writing campaign to choose the next president of the SBC. They had the process so fine tuned that they had who would nominate and who would second the nomination. Also, it is documented that Winfred Moore from Amarillo, FBC was supporting the candidate chosen by the control group.

Let's not be naive. Political posturing and meetings such as the one described by Dr. Gregory goes on in most areas of life. Besides the meetings the night before the convention could not possibly sway enough messengers on such a short notice. Most candidates had already been identified in Baptist Press months before.

I welcome an emphasis in envangelism and missions, but it must be built on rock solid Biblical doctrine that presupposes a sure word from God, which is the Bible!

Writer said...

g. alford,

My analysis will be the distribution of nominations according to church size. If you wish to undertake other elements of analysis, then God bless you.


I have no malice nor jealousy for megachurch pastors. I also have no doubt that they are very qualified to fill any position to which they are nominated.

My issue is that to overload the nominations with folks from megachurches is problematic from a church size representative viewpoint.



Anonymous said...

Kevin - I am not saying that mega-church pastors in the past have not been helpful or faithful, they have. Many that you mentioned were first generation mega pastors, meaning they worked their way up to that status over many years of faithful service. Now, despite his counseling you, Bob Reccord is a great example of the mindset of many pastors. From what I have read on blogs from Bellevue and FBC Jax, those situations seem to have many of the same issues in that the new pastor operates under the same terms as Bob Reccord did. No accountability or transparency to the people who give the money.

Have you ever heard of God "calling" a Steve Gaines, or Mac Brunson, or Bob Reccord, to lead or pastor a small church in a small town? Interesting isn't it. He only calls those guys to churches with budgets of over a million dollars per month where they can live like kings and increase their own brand name and wealth.

Reminds me of a recent article about Salma Hayek. She stated she found her "soul-mate" and is to be married. It just so happens that her soul-mate turns out to also be a billionaire. What a coincidence, and lucky for her, that her soul-mate is a billionaire. Same for Gaines and Brunson, what a coincidence and blessing that almighty God "called" them to huge mega-churches where they could negotiate their own salaries, schedules, perks and benefits.

Kevin Bussey said...


Do you know Dr. Reccord? I do. The trash that has been said about him is not true. You are hiding behind a "Anonymous" tag and can say whatever you want. I wouldn't believe everything on a blog either. I have been wrong more times than I would like to admit.

How do you know Dr. Reccord, Brunson or Gaines don't have accountability. Have you talked with them yourself? I talked to Dr. Reccord last Friday and again on Tuesday. The man is one of the most humble people you will meet.

Before you start trashing a person hiding behind Anonymous get your facts straight.

Anonymous said...

What I want to see is a man of God who pastors a church of less than 1000 people get elected (or even nominated) as President. Does that ever happen? If not, why? Why do Southern Baptists think the only men fit to lead are mega church pastors?

Anonymous said...

1. Simply, most "mega-church" pastors start out in other than a "mega-church."
2. Casting all "mega-church" pastors in the same light is simplistic at least and at most it is highly prejudicial.
3. I agree with the other anon writer. If you haven't already done so, get your facts straight by reading all six volumes of James C. Hefley's "The Truth in Crisis" series--ending with "The Convservative Resurgence." For those of you around less than 20 years, it will make very informed observers and participants of you.
4. Forgive me for writing anonymously.

Anonymous said...

Please take this question in the right spirit. When you write on a blog, it is hard for people to know your heart. I am asking the question in order to clarify things in my mind.
Question: What is the difference between the secret meetings that were going on in the SBC by conservative leaders in the 80's and 90s and those who met in Memphis for the Memphis Declaration. In both meetings, no news reporters were allowed in the meeting - at least that is what we were told. Both meeting were by invitation only. Will someone please explain the difference - if there is a difference. I am simply trying to figure things out for myself - and not simply what someone else tells me.
Signed, An Honest Seeker

Also, for historical purposes, there was another Memphis Declaration meeting in Memphis on January 25, 1992 by Methodist leaders. It seems there is some similarity with the Baptist who also meet in Memphis. Read about the Methodist at:

Rex Ray said...

I cannot say anything more revealing than what Gary Swowden has said. Walking out when Keith Parks was pouring his heart out for missions and not theology was not the behavior Christians could do.

The same thing was done when the ‘Americans’ left the Baptist World Alliance; except they made a show of turning in their I.D. cards before they left.
They said they were going to leave if the CBF (Keith Parks) was accepted into the BWA.

To me that was the height of jealously and religious hatred. I asked a man once why he did not like the CBF—“They’re getting money that should be coming to us.”

To show the heart of Keith Parks, I’ll quote a letter by him printed in the Baptist Standard.

___International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin has precipitated an agonizing choice for many missionaries: Give up their historic Baptist convictions that "we have no creed but the Bible" or give up their calling (Feb. 4).
___Veteran missionaries who have been on the field for years "signed on" with the IMB under different requirements. They voluntarily expressed their theological beliefs but were not forced to sign a man-made creed. Their beliefs have not changed, the rules have!
___A confession becomes a creed when others determine the beliefs one is forced to sign.
___It has never been clearer that the fundamentalist leaders have changed the very nature of the Southern Baptist Convention. Our charter states that the "purpose of the Southern Baptist Convention is to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of Southern Baptists for the propagation of the gospel at home and abroad." Their highest priority is not missions. It is doctrinal conformity.
___This is a determinative time for all authentic Baptists, including Texas Baptists. Those of us serving on the BGCT Missions Review and Initiative Committee (the follow-up of last years' mission study committee) need the prayers of faithful Texas Baptists to determine how we can support missionaries who represent our convictions without maintaining agencies that have departed from them.
___We must not lose the very heart of the gospel and the distinctive missions commitment of our heritage. We must find a way to be true to both. The IMB no longer provides that option.
___ R. Keith Parks
___ Richardson, TX

Rex Ray

Jim Paslay said...

rzrbk said:

"anonymous, if you want people to get the facts don't tell them to read Hefley's books. They are books of fiction and make a mockery of truth."

Based on the above comments, you have either not read all of his books, or you have your head in the sand. James Hefley's books are well written, well documented and have been criticized by conservatives and moderates alike. Personally, I find your comments offensive and since Dr. Hefley has passed away, I will stand up for his truthfulness.

rzrbk also said:

"A better way to let people learn the facts about the conservative resurgence would be to read Russell Dilday's book Columns."

I will admit I have not read Dilday's book but to say that Dilday is a better source of truth than Dr. Hefley is laughable. It shows your bias and a lack of objectivity!

Unknown said...


The Memphis statement meeting was about as open as you can get. There was a reporter there the whole time with his laptop open(Don Hinkle from the Missouri paper)and at least two bloggers blogging the whole thing. The range of people at the meeting was about as diverse as the convention itself. There were pastors of churches of all sizes, lay people, missionaries and denomonational employees.

If there was a secret agenda at the meeting, it was the worst kept secret in history.

Rex Ray said...

Jim Paslay,
I have not read Hefley’s books and will not comment on them, but you seem to contradict yourself in saying, “James Hefley’s books are well written, well documented and have been criticized by conservatives and moderates alike.”

Being criticized by both sides would agree with Ron West.

Since you have not read Dilday’s book, I’d suggest you hold your laughter. His book is an eye opener. All six seminaries complained about the quality of their trustees.

One of Dilday’s, prefaced his statements, “I thank God I never attended a seminary” which always got several amen’s.

It became obvious that guys like him were appointed trustees because they would vote the ‘party ticket’ to get rid of Dilday not because he wasn’t a conservative but because he wasn’t “one of us.”

When Dilday asked why they fired him, the response: “We don’t have to have a reason; we got the vote” explains it all.

Jim, based on the comments made on Wade’s post, YOU saying Ron is bias is the biggest laugh of all.
Rex Ray

Kevin Bussey said...

It is amazing how bold people can be behind anonymous and fake names. Who would want to be a Christian the way some of you trash other believers.

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

Pre-Greensboro SBC (GOOD OLE’ BOY)Leadership Policy:
“If ya ain’t got yur own tv shooe and have 4 wurshup survuzes evure Sundy, dont hava $4.5 milliun bugdet, an give MOor then .00000001% to the Copertive Progrem, dont suport da repulbicin parte, dont luv Gorg Busc, and yur not kin to Paje Patursen, den ya can’t surv in the SBC . . . anoder thang . . . if yur a fiv-punt Calvnst and buddys wit dat rascel, Tom Ascol . . . den ya onle dreemin . . . we aint kiddn eder!!!!”

Praise God that policy ended with Frank Paige’s election.
Yes, brethren, the best days in the SBC are YET to COME!!!


chadwick said...

OPPS . . . I meant Frank "there isn't an 'I'"in Page.

Anonymous said...

I've been out of the States for a few years now and haven't kept up with Joel Gregory. Glad to hear he's back on the "straight and narrow."

Dr. Gregory was at Travis Ave. BC in Fort Worth when my husband was in seminary there. All I really remember about him was one Sunday morning while getting ready for church we were listening to the radio and heard him preach. I remember literally stopping in my tracks to listen to his voice. It sounded like black velvet to me. I will always remember Dr. Gregory as the man with the incredible sounding voice. I don't think I ever saw him so I only remember how I loved to listen to his voice.

OC Hands said...

Very interesting!!! We were at SWBTS during at least a portion of Joel Gregory's tenure at Gambrell St. (One of many furloughs spent working on a degree)And we were also impressed with his preaching as well as his voice. He came to "sit" with my wife while I had surgery. Not much conversation as she reported it. Our son attended Travis Ave while he was pastor there. So we have some good memories of his ministry in Ft. Worth.

Later, after he moved to FBC Dallas, we learned of his involvement with his secretary, and his resignation. We thought then and still do--what a shame and a waste. But ability, even with the gift of preaching, does not exempt or excuse a man from immoral behavior.

It should be a lesson to all of us to maintain vigilance against "all appearances of evil." And, it should encourage us to pray for all our spiritual leaders, no matter on which side of the theological spectrum you find yourself. These men need our prayers.

Jim Paslay said...

To Rex Ray,

I believe I directed my comments to Ron West. Is this take up for Ron day? Surely he doesn't need you to help defend his offending words.

Rex said:

"Being criticized by both sides would agree with Ron West."

Actually, that is where you are wrong. Hefley's books were criticized and praised by both conservatives and moderates. His books were well-written, well-researched and balanced. If his books had been one-sided and full of distortions as Ron implied, there would have been an entirely different response.

And if you don't mind I'll go ahead and laugh at the idea that Dr. Dilday would be a balanced individual in the controversy. He showed his true colors at the 1984 convention and began to align himself with the moderate faction. He continued to be one of the more political agency heads up until he was dismissed. In my opinion, Southwestern's board had several incidents that warranted his removal before his dismissal. And I will be the first to admit that his firing was handled very badly!

Finally, It gives me great joy to know that I have put laughter in your day! I can sleep peacefully now!

Anonymous said...

I need some help here I always thought the "fight" was over inerrancy. How did politics and power get into this issue? Tom

Anonymous said...

Colin, you said, "Why is it exactly that meetings such as the ones described here are wrong?"

I would suggest that they are wrong because they circumvent the congretational polity that is presented as the method of governance of the SBC (thus by their very nature such meetings promote deception). They are wrong because they very likely quench the Spirit; political plans based on political motives do not leave much room to follow the quiet urging of the Holy Spirit. They are wrong because they are not part of the open process by which nominations should be conducted. They are wrong because they give us Soviet style elections with only one real candidate, the one "blessed" by the leaders. They are wrong because they place power in the hands of a group not properly elected or appointed for that purpose. They are wrong because they do not foster divergent opinions, which are needed to correct errors, maintain a proper sense of humility, and properly reflect the extremely diverse range of opinions represented within the SBC. They are wrong because the participants are not accountable to the people who pay the bills (as you might be able to tell, I am a layman, and I am doggone tired of a system that does not permit genuine discussions and disagreements and genuinely contested elections, when the process is partly funded by funds I gave assuming they would be used properly).

There are more reasons, these are just the ones that came to mind quickly.

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

Jim Paslay,
You said, “Is this take up for Ron day? Surely he doesn’t need you to help defend his offending words.”

Him not needing any help is the most correct words you wrote as shown in his reply to you. I wonder if you will try to answer his thought provoking questions.
Rex Ray

Anonymous said...

Wade’s post is on the power of politics. “Inerrancy” was the code word for one side to be accepted as “one of us”; as it made the Bible a political football.
Rex Ray

PS For some reason, my TruthOfActs will not accept my password.

Anonymous said...

Ron West,

I was offended by your first post because of words like "books of fiction" and "mockery of the truth" being attributed to Hefley's books. You have slandered a good man and his works.

In Hefley's book Vol 5 he gives the details of an incident here in Oklahoma that happened in the Enon Association. I asked a pastor from that association to read Hefley's account of what happened. He said that Hefley was right on in his facts and that he actually went easy on the individual who was causing the problems. If you can show me documentation where Hefley got it wrong, I'm willing to listen.

I was a seminary student at Southwestern from 1982-1986 and saw first hand some of the events that took place. Dr. Dilday made his position very well know by his convention sermon at Kansas City in 1984. He was one of the most political agency heads during the controversy. I believe it was Daniel Vestal who said he considered denominational politics immoral, but I remember Johnny Baugh paying $26,000 to try and elect Daniel Vestal in 1989.

Your comments about slanderous remarks and political activities goes both ways. My wife was a messenger at Dallas in 1985 and she was appalled by the actions of moderates sitting around her. Cursing and name calling was just a sample of the rude behavior.

Finally concerning the quotes from individuals that offended you, I would be offended by Mohler's and Wilson's comments as well. But you seriously misquoted Dr. Draper. He said he would consider escrowing CP receipts at his church if agency heads continued to politic against sitting presidents within the convention (examples: Randall Lolley, Russell Dilday, and Keith Parks).

Offensive remarks and politics came from BOTH sides. Something I have been emphasizing for some time on this blog!

Jim Paslay

Anonymous said...

To whomever made a reference to Joel Gregory having become involved with his secretary: That was a scurrillous, never-proven charge that he, to this day, denies ever happened. Much malicious and false gossip was spread about Dr. Gregory after he left First Baptist Dallas.

Mark R.

Jim Paslay said...

To Ron West:

All I know is that Draper's comments before the 1985 Dallas convention stirred up a hornet's nest among the denominational editors. The quote from Draper they were reporting was this:

"If the agency heads don't cease their attacks on the conservative movement, my church might start putting CP money in escrow."

You say he said something else. But I don't find any reporting on the comments you heard. But I do find references to the above quote. I think what you are saying he said to you would have caused a greater stir.

Your original post claims that you know of several things in Hefley's first book that were untrue. I would be very interested in some proof of those claims. And if I don't have to buy Dilday's book, I would be willing to read it.

Anonymous said...

After reviewing more about James Hefley's books, let me make this suggestion. If the books are filled with untruths--then one would have to ask why they are so still sought after and used as the basis for many other works about that time period? Also, for those enamoured of BLOGS and the internet--remember, in Hefley's time, there was no such thing as Google--and he simply, with his BIAS being TRUTH-TELLING, assimilated facts, information and interviews from a variety of state papers, Baptist Press (the old-timers) and other sources, to create what reads like a modern day blog. The indexes and DOCUMENTATION are extensive.

As for James Hefley working as the writer in residence at an unnamed Missouri college, it is well-known the school was Hannibal LaGrange College where he taught a popular writing for publications class for years and where he founded the Mark Twain Writer's Conference and Hannibal Books (a very small publishing company). He was a part time instructor for HLG and wrote his books. He was hired by Larry Lewis who went on to become the president of the old Home Mission Board. I know of no other SBC LEADERS at HLG now or then who told him what to do. It is my impression he was well-liked by most everyone he met and I had never heard, outside of Caroly Weatherford Crumpler (the former WMU head who objected in Indianapolis at a Mainstream Baptist meeting-- to his brief mention about her church which had women deacons), anyone say anything remotely distasteful about the man or his work.

James' Ph.D. was in mass communications and he was known for his commitment to telling, at the time, "the other side of the story" of the SBC struggle with as much objectivity and clarity as possible. He was not unlike a blogger except he didn't have the opportunity to sit at home and cast stones--he was busy gathering information. His extensive list of colleagues in both secular and religious journalism respected his intense and thorough work on SBC issues as well as many others. The book co-authored by James and his wife, Marti, "By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century" won a Gold Medallion Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association in 1980.

Enough said. Opine away--but please don't slander people--especially ones who can no longer defend themselves.

Jim Paslay said...


Well said! I appreciate your comments!

Anonymous said...

Jim Paslay,
I believe you’re right about Hefley’s third volume (“The Truth in Crisis”). I just read the chapter ‘Showdown at Southeastern Seminary’.

It sounds like truth in a blow by blow account of what happened. Very much like what happened in Dilday’s book on what happened at Southwestern. When fundamentalists got the majority of votes on the trustee board, things changed.

At Southeastern, the moderate president that did not believe in inerrancy, resigned. At Southwestern, the conservative president that believed in inerrancy was fired.
Rex Ray

cherigrace said...

I would like to thank the gentlemen on this site who have defended James Hefley, his character, and position. There was a comment that "he can no longer defend himself" so he should not be criticized.
Jim Hefley was my father and I can assure you- he wouldn't have defended himself anyway. He never did. When the books came out there was much criticism of him in paper and from persons he knew; this would upset my mother, but Dad would always say, "Well, God bless them. Everyone has a right to their opinion." He was the kindest, most gentle, and most humble person I ever knew; and I would state this were he my father or not.
My father was my hero because he exemplified the life of Christ. I was 39 years old when he died; and in those 39 years I can honestly say I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. It hurts me that another Christian would say these things about him (insinuating his motive was profit for the books)
The statement that he "profited from supporting the conservative resurgence party line" is so untrue. My father's only concern throughout his life was doing what he felt the Lord wanted him to do and doing what he thought was right; he told me many times "The only important thing, Cheri, is doing God's will and loving others. Nothing else is as important as it seems to be."
He often gave up lucrative assignments if he felt there was even the slightest hint of unethical behavior on the part of the person who, for example, wanted a biography written.
I have never known anyone who cared less about money than my dad, other than wishing to provide for his wife and children. My mother would fuss at him because several people never paid him for books he wrote; and he refused to sue or slander these people or make it known publicly, but stated he would leave it to the Lord and pray for them; his forgiveness was unwavering and absolute.
My father constantly stated the importance of research and unbiased truth-telling; he felt the Lord's assignment to him was to author and preach, and he took those responsibilities extremely seriously. I'm certain he wasn't infallible, but would never have written anything he "assumed" and did not believe with all his heart to be true.
Thank you for allowing me to ventilate a bit. It is hurtful to read these things about the best Dad any girl could have; and the best person I have yet to know.
"Turning the other cheek" and "loving thy neighbor" was something he actually lived.
We all know as Christians how few of us (I include myself!) actually walk the walk as we should.
Again, thank you so much to the gentlemen who wrote in his defense; this meant a lot to me.
Cheri Hefley Grubbs

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting your "first-hand" account about your father's character. All of the banter, seems to have dried up after your post.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said......"I would just like to see the SBC publish the ranking of the pastors' salary packages and benefits like they publish lists of cooperative program giving and baptisms. How many mega-church pastors, and finance committe members, would be absolutely embarrassed and humiliated if these figures were made known?"

They wouldn't be embarrassed at all. They'd tell anyone who had a problem with it the same thing they'd tell anyone in their church who wants to educate themselves on how things are done by asking a simple question.

Their attitudes would be, "How dare you question anything we do here. Go find another church that's more to your liking. There's the door, and don't let it hit you on the way out."

We aren't talking about a retail business where 'customer satisfaction' is a priority in order to complete with other businesses. Lucky are those who can treat layperson's like dirt and still keep their doors open and protect their power domains.

Just look at the webpages of any church of any size. Look at the number of people on staff these days....friends of friends who get inside leads to every job opening based on who they know. They have a secretary for every pastor and a scrubber for every toilet. I'd love to find a church that's 100% volunteer without having to convert to Mormanism. If everyone in the church volunteered 4 hours per week, they wouldn't have to pool as much offering to pay full-time salaries to 15 'specialized' pastors who each put in 15 hours/week. Nice work if you can get it. People don't want to volunteer, they'd rather pay someone else to do it, so I let them. I give enough to help pay the utility bills for my share of space in a chair, and let others pay the bloated salaries, all in the spirit of their individual liberty and how they choose to spend their own money.

I've recently found myself thinking 'paid church leadership has done me more harm than good' but had to alter that some. While true if taken literally, it implies they've done SOME good. They haven't done me ANY good. I can find plenty of on-line sermons to aid in studying the Bible with. I'm in church these days to fellowship with like-minded believers, not be preached to by what seems to be an ever-increasing boatload number of hypocrites. I realize that most laypersons would agree, if you don't like something, leave. And that's exactly what most people do, with churches having huge turnover around the fringes of the institutional faithful to show for it. Like voters who keep electing corrupt, big-spending, debt-loving incumbent politicians, they keep the power brokers in office. It's time to walk with your feet and vote with your pocketbook and stop whining. Capiche?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 'Mark R.' said....

"To whomever made a reference to Joel Gregory having become involved with his secretary: That was a scurrillous, never-proven charge that he, to this day, denies ever happened."

I agree that until you prove it, it's just accusation. As with any court case, unless the accused fesses up, it's proven by such things as BELIEVABLE testimony of a witness (i.e. the secretary herself), combined perhaps with credit card receipts to Motel 6 or trips to Cancun.

I've been waiting for years to hear or read about a denial. I can't even find an article on him where the interviewer even asked him point blank about it.


Still waiting