Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Patrick Henry Colloquy for the SBC: "We Shall Grant Liberty, Or We Shall Be Given Death"

No man thinks more highly than I do of the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as the abilities of the very worthy men and women who compose our local Southern Baptist churches. Believers often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those Southern Baptists who view things differently if I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for pretense or ceremony. The question before our convention is one of serious consequences for our future. For my own part, I consider the issue as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the vigor of the debate. Forthright debate is the only way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and to fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, or worse, creating enemies of friends, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my God and of an act of disloyalty toward His kingdom, which I revere above all earthly honors or religious positions.

It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this wise for pastors engaged in a great and arduous struggle for the liberty wherein Christ has set us free? Are we to be counted in the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which shall bring about our destruction? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. We are in danger of exalting certain recent denominational traditions and Baptist shibboleths above the sacred Word of God.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of God’s word. I know of no way for judging any future course of action but by the sacred text. I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the leaders of our convention for the last ten years to justify the hopes of many that we are becoming a kinder, more focused convention with an aim toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission? Is it simply the proclamation that our convention is more missions oriented that convinces you? Words become simply a snare to your feet when you are led down paths that words have not constructed.

Ask yourselves how gracious proclamations of the desire to win the lost square with the repeated removal from ministry of those otherwise God-called and qualified Southern Baptist missionaries and leaders for tertiary issues which have nothing to do with the gospel. Are demands for conformity and separation for reasons of differences over tertiary issues necessary to a work of missions’ cooperation and world evangelism? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled followers of Jesus Christ and lovers of His Word that brute force must be called in to win back our alleged unity? Let us not deceive ourselves. Any attempt at bringing Baptists into subjugation over tertiary doctrinal matters is the last argument to which those who desire a creedal denomination resort. What does the effort to move our agencies beyond the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 mean, if its purpose be not to force us into spiritual submission and bondage? Can anyone rationally assign any other possible motive for it? Has the Southern Baptist Convention any enemy within her walls to call for all this accumulation of extra-biblical and extra-BFM 2000 demands for conformity? She has none. Any religious tradition or shibboleth that would bring Southern Baptists into a form of spiritual bondage is simply meant for those who live their lives free from the religious chains of man-made tradition.

Demands for tertiary doctrinal conformity are an effort to bind and rivet upon us those chains which Southern Baptist fundamentalism has taken so long forging. And what have we to oppose them? Shall we try argument? We have been trying that for the last two years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been rejected as troublemaking. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? Of course, and we shall never exhaust it, but I beseech you all that we not deceive ourselves. We have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have pleaded; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne of God, we have passed motions at the Southern Baptist Convention, and we have stood strong in the face of severe persecution at the hands of those who felt their positions threatened. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from many who see themselves as the doctrinal watchdogs and guardians of our convention. We must think carefully about indulging the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is but a little room for hope.

If we wish to be free-- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending as Southern Baptists--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged to exalt Christ, and evangelical cooperation around His Word, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious coming of our Lord Jesus Christ--we must redouble our efforts! I repeat it, to everyone, we must redouble our efforts! An appeal for participation at all levels of Southern Baptist life and an appeal to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us that we are weak, short in number, and unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we have totally lost our sense of mission, and when a denominational doctrinal watchdog shall be stationed in every church? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by looking solely at our individual churches and hugging the shadow of personal comforts, until our enemies shall have bound us into legalism and religious bondage hand and foot? We are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The thousands upon thousands of Southern Baptist pastors and people, armed in the holy cause of gospel liberty, and in such a convention as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which can be sent against us. Besides, we are not alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations and religious conventions, and Who will raise providential circumstances to aid us in our goal. He is zealous for the honor of His Son and His Son’s Bride, and shall not allow religious entity to subvert either. The struggle for the soul of our convention is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, we have no choice. If we were foolish enough to desire leave of the struggle, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but into spiritual submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Fort Worth and Louisville! The day of decision is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat, let it come.

It is in vain to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The next gale that sweeps from the north in Indianapolis will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that we wish? Liberty! What would they have? Bondage! Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! Victory in the struggle for the soul of our convention means that all Southern Baptists will be granted liberty in the non-essentials. Defeat means our certain death as a cooperating convention for the cause of Christ and the fulfillment of the Great Commission. In short, we shall grant liberty, or we shall be given death.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Wording, style, and major theme from Patrick Henry's speech at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia, on March 23, 1775.


Anonymous said...

Well done! The parallelism is extraordinary. I always appreciate your keen knowledge of history and ability to focus on the issues and while maintaining a very gracious attitude toward everyone, even those who do not return the attitude in kind.

Anonymous said...

Wade, AMEN AND AMEN! ! !

In His Grace and Peace,

T. D. Webb

Emily Hunter McGowin said...


I knew you were intelligent, articulate, charitable, and pious, but clearly I underestimated your creativity. Well done.

Grace and peace,


Anonymous said...

A classic.

Rex Ray said...

As great as this post is, the thoughts have lived with man throughout the ages. How many were burned at the stake because they practice the freedom of believing the Lord’s Supper was a symbol and not the actual flesh and blood of Christ?

C. M. Carroll’s ‘Trail of Blood records in the early 1600s, Governor Endicott of the Massachusetts Bay Colony telling Obediah Holmes (Baptist), “You have denied infants baptism, you deserve death.” Holmes was whipped so hard, blood filled his shoes and for two weeks, he could only sleep on his hands, elbows, and knees.

This long respected book that traces Baptists’ persecution back to Christ has been rejected by the present ‘Baptist powers that be’ because (in my opinion) Carroll wrote: “Great churches began to claim authority over smaller churches…their many elders began to lord it over God’s heritage (3 John 1:9).” This verse that Carroll referenced, says: “…does not admit my authority…” (Living Bible) Carroll implied the author was elder John and not apostle John.

Wade, I agree with you; “We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth.”

Bonham, Texas

Bob Cleveland said...

You DO "get it", don't you.....

Anonymous said...

Blah blah... liberry!
Blah blah... death!
Blah blah... sky is falling!
Blah blah...

Wade said...

I don't particularly appreciate anonymous posts, especially like those above. Though others (not me) have no way of knowing who you are - I trust in the privacy of your home and church your lack of courage will be convicting.

Alyce Faulkner said...

Wade, I feel like an infantry soldier being called to take the next hill. I have understood for some time now just what is at stake and the dangers we face. For those who will come and contend with you here (and we know there will be many) some actually believe you are simply stirring trouble. Some see you as the leader of a front intent on bringing down SBC as we know it and some just can't see at all. But the dangers you spoke of are indeed real. Grave dangers-there's no other kind.
Yes, the eloquence of this post was magnificent but the resounding call was to a spiritual battle, one not against flesh and blood, but spiritual strongholds.
Thank you Wade.

Bob Cleveland said...

To That Anonymous Commenter:

For quite a few missionaries and professors, the sky HAS fallen. If Wade (and others) hadn't been faithful to God's leading, neither you, nor countless others, would even know it.

You know what they say ... ignorance is bliss. For some.

Jeff Rogers said...

"Blah, Blah, Blah...the sky is falling, blah, blah, blah"????


Mock on brother, if you must. But most of the historic revivals/revolutions were as well mocked. It takes a thinking and perceptive man, called by God for a specific purpose to recognize when drastic measures are called for. Many in our pre-revolutionary history as a nation mocked the founding fathers such as my hero Patrick Henry. Withour whose vision and foresight the better part of this world would be subject to bondage and tyranny even today. But because men of God were willing to STAND against the bondage of chains politically we now have the freedom to debate these ecclesiatic matters freely without fear of jack boots storming our homes and imprisoning us and our leaders as they did John Bunyan,a nd many others. I am sure the tone of your mocking is not all too different than the mocking of those who ascribed the epithet "Imputed Nonsense" to those who preached the imputed righteosness of Christ. I am sure it is in the same tenor of the scoffing and persecution of the Roman Catholic Church at the time of the reformation against Luther and many others, even to the point of burning another hero of mine, Jan Huss, at the stake. These men stood for this same freedom that we have enjoyed and are steadily loosing in our churches. I stand with my good friend and Pastor Brother Wade, in his opposition to these encroachments and these outright power grabs. If the church refuses to stand for the truth and the freedom of our faith, it will not be long before the ability to stand for anything, ecclesiasitcal or political will even be available to us. We only need but look back to the freedom fighters of 1956 in, then communist, Hungary, how they had thrown out the russian despots only to flee and fail to stand when they came back with tanks and armour. The result, millions were oppressed for decades under the heel of soviet communism. Contrast that history to our own, starting with men like Patrick Henry, and ask yourself; "Just what is it I am scoffing at". You are scoffing at your own liberty...and that you do in vain.


gmay said...

That is some motivational piece. I thought you all were practically claiming victory with the Garner motion and three prominent leaders endorsing the outpost. This almost sounds like an effort to motivate the troops when morale is sinking.

While I believe you are overstating the case I do believe we must always be on guard for your warnings. As in any organization there will always need to be change and change is not without difficulty. I hang to some advice I was given in a reading and I apologize to the source for my memory has lapsed in that area. The advice is, "do not overestimate what can be done in a year and do not underestimate what can be done in 5 years.

No one should be surprised when the kind of accusations that you and the coalition have assailed result some backlash. Those who are in your crosshairs likely believe they are just as right as you believe you are right. The tone of this blog is both defensive and offensive. Those under attack will react in the same manner. Even if you are not successful in repealing the actions you have opposed, and even if you are unsuccessful in changing the BF&M so you will not have to sign with caveats, your effort has raised awareness and an attitude of suspicion. There is definitely a sense of nervousness among denominational employees. The last thing many of them desire is for their name to show up in a blog thrusting them into the political spotlight. As far as I know that you have not gone on record as wanting to change the BF&M, but if that is not your intention, given your convictions, I believe it should be your intention. If these are truly second tier issues, they should not be in the BF&M. If the BF&M is a consensus document, it should be just that, a consensus document. If our trustees and missionaries cannot sign it, it is not a consensus document.

In his book The 5th Discipline, Peter Senge outlines why most attempts to change organizations are more detrimental than productive. If he is correct, the efforts of your coalition, whether successful or unsuccessful, will do more harm to the convention than good. If you love the SBC as you say, I would highly encourage you to give Senge’s theory some consideration. It could change your tactics and end up with a better result. And results are really needed more than rhetoric and recognition.

Alyce Faulkner said...

you said on your blog, "I long for the man of God who can speak to us and our generation."
You just heard one-or did you?

DL said...

Wade, I don't think you're overstating the case. If you have, then Paul overstated his case in Galatians. The Galatians were tampering with the Gospel itself in demanding certain litmus test rules be followed. It's interesting that as the Galatians did this, their joy was suppressed, and their love grew cold. Is the SBC on the path to that, or are we already there?

Tom Bryant said...

Pastor Burleson,
I will put my name to this.

I guess that unless we see the issues as you do that we are now enemies of liberty ready to put people to death.

gmay said...


None of the men I mentioned sought after such recognition. They were faithful to the task of speaking what they new to be the truth. Their legacy is not from the positions they held but the men they influenced and the way in which they influenced them.

Only time will tell if the men that Wade influences through his political affairs and personal relationships will be inspired to greater holiness and a stronger witness. My association with Wade comes from reading blogs. The reading of blogs committed to political purposes is not a good venue to allow discernment of spirituality although it can show lack of spirituality (this is not an accusation that Wade is lacking).

If my discernment of Wade is correct at all, I expect he is uncomfortable with the question you raise. If he is not, I am wrong and the answer to your question is no.

If you haven't had the privilege of hearing Ron Dunn preach, I would suggest you go to his website and purchase a few sermons or pick up one his books. His book Don't Just Sit There, Have Faith is tremendous. While you are there, check out the comments in his guest book and see what over 200 pastors have said about him after his death.

Knowing that Wade and his dad spent years in the Fort Worth area, my hunch is they were both influenced by both Dunn and Beasley. Anyone who knew these two would be reluctant to claim their mantles.

Sorry Wade, I hope this did not hijack your post.

Pastor Bob Farmer said...


"Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14b (NKJV)

I know- keep it up!


Anonymous said...


Which anonymous poster were you chastising, the one who complimented you or the one who criticized you? It seems that both would need equal rebuke, right? BTW keep those Trail of Blood quotes coming, there is a lot of great truth in that book.

Carl Duffy

Paul Burleson said...


To literally see yourself as an "enemy of liberty and ready to put people to death" or to think Wade is seeing you that way is a bit of a misunderstanding of the point of the post it would seem to me.

I would encourage you to view the words as "parabolic" in nature, [Taken from 'parabola' not 'parable.'] much as you would want the people you pastor to hear words like..."if your right hand offend pluck it off"... comparison in nature... not literal. In other words, an offense of such a nature needs dealing with drastically is the point made in that scriptural reference, hence the comparison to cutting off a hand.

Wade obviously believes the condition of our Convention is parabolic to what Patrick Henry faced in a different time and a different issue. Whether you agree with him or not or even if you think he's has overstated the comparison, you do a disservice to good communication by objecting in a literalistic fashion IMHO.

For what it's worth, I DO agree with the parabolic post and I DO believe our Convention is in grave danger and this is because I DO travel and experience Baptist life for myself. It is NOT because he is my son. [Though he is and the Burlesons couldn't be prouder of that fact. Excuse the personal note, please.] :)

Paul Burleson said...


I did know Ron Dunn quite well. In fact, Mary and I are in touch with Kay by phone frequently.

You are correct. No one wants his mantle. It was unique. In the New Covenant there are no great and lesser vessels. We all need each other and would do well to be true to our own calling and gifting.

Appreciation must go both ways in Kingdom living. Those in leadership or in tasks in full view of the rest of the Body are to be greatly appreciated. They, themselves, however, must be extremely careful to hold deep appreciation for those laboring in the shade of seeming insignificance. God often grows His greatest fruit in the shade and, in an eternal perspective, nothing is insignificant. That is the reason only eternity will give a true look at the measure of one's success or fruitfulness.

Being yourself and being faithful where you are is our greatest ministry and calling from the Lord of the harvest.

Tom Bryant said...

Brother Paul,
I always appreciate the spirit in which you write.

But posts of this kind are part of the problem that we are having. Although not by Pastor Burleson, we who disagree are called "gnostics" but "not in the doctrinal sense of the word." It's just being used parabolically"

We're called "spooky"

Then someone will write a disclaimer that we don't really mean this. It is, to use your word, "parabolic".

I'm not spooky. I'm not gnostic. I'm not out to take anyone liberty away. I am not out to give anyone death.

Maybe this post is parabolic. But it is also demeaning to Baptists like myself whose only lamp is the Word of God also.

Wayne Smith said...


I wish all Southern Baptist would put away all of this High and Mighty ways of thinking and come down to your way of thinking.
All Christians should want to serve the Lord, as we are called to be Servants. It is sad that men wants to put themselves above the Lord.

The MAN this SONG is ABOUT is the ONE we should Bow Down To.

The late S.M. Lockridge once presented an incredible message, describing our God and who He is. Though God can't be described with just words, this is as close as you can get this side of Heaven.


In His Name
Wayne Smith said...


I truly believe if your desire is to accept the Word of God as the sole sufficient authority for your life, and you give liberty and freedom to other believers who do not see eye to eye with you on interpretations of the sacred text, then you would should never be offended with what I have written, because you are the very type of person and leader I am saying we need in our convention.

In His Grace and Mercy,


Anonymous said...

I couldn't disagree more!
In the 60's it was "reefer madness" in this day and age(among Southern Baptists) it seems there is "liberty madness"(with no clear distinction on where the lines are and what is/is not permissable according to your plan). You talk about 'secondary' and 'tertiary' issues but never clearly distinquish them and what your 'foundation' is for determining what they are.
I believe your 'direction' is aberrant from most Christians and certainly most Southern Baptists. May your tribe decrease...
Presented as a measure of 'tough love'.

Scott Gordon said...

Wade and Paul,

I have just one observation (specific example) of a contradictory attitude being displayed here. You seem to want a 'strict constructionist' view of the BFM 2000...thus 'liberty' to issues not specifically addressed therein. That would require a literal and limited interpretation of that document (or 'post' as it were). Yet, when it comes to your post here, we are told to take it 'parabolically' rather than take it on face value as a declaration of war against those who would enslave us from Fort Worth and Louisville. Those slave owning, slave trade loving, imperialist overlords...Patterson and Mohler? Should they take your attack parabolically or personally?

Debbie Kaufman said...

Gmay: Oh to the contrary. Moral is high, at least on my part as I have already seen changes. I also know that one who narrows and keeps narrowing someday has nothing left to narrow as eventually the narrowing excludes too many, I on the other hand am free to serve Christ as He leads me no matter which way the pendulum swings.

Debbie Kaufman said...

To the last anonymous: I don't believe you are knowledgeable of the issues being discussed and you couldn't have read Wade's past posts or you would not have written what you have. Also when writing a post(which I had to read twice to believe what I was reading) it is much braver to sign your name, and it's ethical as well, that way you take full responsibility for what you write and are not afraid that someone you know will read it. That's not only Southern Baptist, that's Christian.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Wade" says, "Blah blah... liberry! . . ."

Is that "liberry", as in "untruthful or reclining fruit" . . . or "liberry", as in "a rume oar bildin' thet hez eh bench ov bukks"? ;^)

In His Grace and Peace,

T. D. Webb

DL said...

Do people post anonymously because they don't have time or want to take the effort to actually fill in their names, or because they don't want named?

It seems to me that ultimately the Gospel is the "line" by which we must measure fellowship or cooperation. We just differ on what is necessarily included in the Gospel. Scripture isn't as helpful as we'd hope since Paul says that "Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel" in 1 Cor. 1:17; and that giving to the poor is "flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ" in 2 Cor. 9:13. So on the one hand, baptism isn't the gospel, and Paul is glad he did so little of it in Corinth. On the other hand, Corinthian giving flows from the gospel, and will bring glory to God. Confused yet? May the conflict within the SBC be a result of finite minds, and not unloving hearts.

Old Codger said...

Excellent writing with a civil tone. The divisions in the past quarter century within both the SBC and Texas convention must give pause for thought. Simply ignoring facts don't change them or make them disappear. Keep on keeping on, Wade.

Tom Bryant said...

Pastor Burleson,
And if we disagree about the need in the SBC, I guess I am not one of the kind of people we need in the SBC?
And if I am offended by what you have written I am not really, in your words, accepting the Word of God as the sole sufficient authority for my life, and I don't give liberty and freedom to other believers who do not see eye to eye with me on interpretations of the sacred text.

I am seriously embarrassed by what some of those with whom I would probably agree have written. The anonymous posters do lack courage.

But, and I am sorry to see it this way, both you and they write the basically same kind of attack ads, you just write with more style.

Lin said...

As someone who just returned to an SBC church after 18 years, I have a totally different perspective.

I grew up in SBC churches (quite a few) and I must tell you, I have been stunned at the 'authoritarian' style and structure in many SBC churches now. Listening to many Baptist mega church preachers I have been dismayed to see so much of a focus on their 'authority' or 'anointing'. Gee, I thought all saints were anointed.

I have to ask..what happened to priesthood of believer' that was preached so much when I was younger? What has happened to drive a such a huge gap between pastor and laity? Could it be that so many churches have become just psuedo business orgainizations with the pastor as CEO?

Years ago, I cannot remember seeing so many SBC pastors and leaders getting rich and running their own non profit ministries on the side.

I say all of this to ponder if the SBC is even necessary? With technology we can support missionaries without armies of six figure VP's and middle managers to shuffle paper.

Seems to me the whole bureacracy has gone amuk with state associations and the convention. Seems to me the whole structure has outlived it's usefulness.

I came back to the SBC for one reason. Historically, Baptist have been independent in thought and action. We believed that all saints were anointed all believers 'preachers'. We believed that Jesus was the Head of the church...not the pastor/CEO. We believed in submitting to godly leaders not these rich CEO types.

Do I really need a Lifeway book to study or teach Matthew? I have the web crammed with commentaries and the like some of which are MUCH deeper than anything Lifeway puts out.

When you have everything from Rick Warren clones to an Al Mohler claiming a Baptist title, who can expect unity?

Just some thoughts from someone very dismayed to see what has happened to our independence. There are plenty of denominations for dumb sheep...SBC should not be one of them.

Scott Gordon said...


I don't get it. You want freedom but you appear to think that the SBC is too free...

When you have everything from Rick Warren clones to an Al Mohler claiming a Baptist title, who can expect unity?

So which is it? Is it unfettered freedom or is it unity?

Anonymous said...

I watch this conversation and dialogue from a distance with great sadness. I have made my thoughts known concerning the policy changes at the IMB. While I wholeheartedly believe these are important issues and ones we should fight for I wonder how many we will forever turn away from the kingdom as a result of the bloodshed. I wonder if this fight will only reep another generation much like those who are in leadership now. Seeming to desire only that which will keep them in power. Sad old men clinging to their legacy and their kingdom. What about God's? In what way are we clothing the naked? In what way are we feeding the hungry? In what way are we caring for the sick? You know the rest. Or have we forgotten the words of our Savior? I'm missing "write a big check to the Cooperative Program and shut your mouth" in that passage. Where is it? As this fight continues the SBC will continue to lose young men who would rather focus on the Kingdom than politics. I'm in aholding pattern right now.

Unknown said...


These are profound words for our times... perhaps they are even the most important words written in defense of Southern Baptist Principles in the last 100 years… If I may be so bold as to say it, God has raised a Prophet among us.

...keep your powder dry!

Grace to all,

Rex Ray said...

You told me once you did not believe as I. As the days go by, you are seeing the ‘real people’ that you thought at one time was 100% correct.

They have not changed, but you are experience their ‘works’ with new eyes. Someday you may realize the conservative resurgence used ‘battle for the Bible’ and ‘liberal’ as scare tactics to gain control and dominance.

Bonham, Texas

Anonymous said...

Tom Bryant,

No one called anyone a "gnostic." I said that there was a gnostic type of creedalism that was emerging in the SBC. The creedalism was called gnostic because it was based on a supposed "clear Baptist Identity" that was never agreed to or formulated in any sense. Where do you go to find out that those who believe in a PPL or are baptized by immersion outside of Baptistic churches are unfit for missionary service? The BFM, our only consensus confession of faith? If not there, then where? It seems to be a belief system that is somewhat secret and elitist, because it does not find it's home in any agreement of Baptist belief.

"Gnostic" was an adjective for the type of creedalism being used, not for people. I certainly never called anyone a gnostic. Please show me where anyone has called anyone that. It described the form of creedalism, not individual people.

If I had called the creedalism "secret, hidden, and elitist", it would have meant the same thing.

I hope that this is clear. You can disagree if you like, but I am clearly telling you my intentions and the description of what I said and was trying to say.

Anonymous said...

Some of us commentators have gone ahead and anointed with the title "gnostic" those like Drs. Patterson and Mohler who insist that they have what amounts to a secret knowledge - that they know so much more about what makes a Baptist a Baptist that they no longer need to adhere to any document approved by the SBC, such as our confessional statement, the BF&M. The narrowing of our religious practice that results is being taken out of the hands of the convention by men who say, "Trust us - we just know!"

Their phrase of the day is "clear Baptist identity."

The problem is, many people we need to have serving the convention - as missionaries, as seminary professors, and so forth - are not allowed to serve God who fit the rules as we had all agreed, or thought we had.

So the question becomes, then, if our agencies are not doing what we as a convention have told them to do, is that a problem?

P.S.: Some of us come in as Anonymous simply because the Google blog software isn't stable enough to keep passwords straight. I've redone mine three times and it still can't be trusted.

Steve Austin
Hoptown, Ky.

Lin said...

"I don't get it. You want freedom but you appear to think that the SBC is too free..."

Sorry, I did not communicate well. Basically, I wonder if the SBC in it's current Byzantine structure is necessary in this day of technology.

"When you have everything from Rick Warren clones to an Al Mohler claiming a Baptist title, who can expect unity?

So which is it? Is it unfettered freedom or is it unity?"

There is only one unity and that is in Christ and His Word. Unity of 'relationships' or 'idenity, when such strong disagreement over doctine exists, is futile.

Anonymous said...


Is it disturbing to you that Rex Ray, a confessed moderate is becoming one of your biggest supporters? Says alot, doesn't it?

John B.

Paul Burleson said...


I'm sorry for being delayed in responding to you. I've been in a two day Board meeting with my ministry Board of twenty-five years. A great and gracious bunch of people. [Ten couples, two each rrom my last five pastorates, all serving as voting members of the Board.]

I'm sure the problem is on my end but I can't follow your logic comparing the BF@M with my comment about Wade's post, and I don't see a connectedness with slave trade lovers, slave owners and overlords and the war of Independence. Sorry. said...

John B.

Rex Ray is a Bible believing follower of Jesus Christ. He may be 'moderate' regarding some non-essentials of the gospel - compared to you - but I without hesitancy call him a brother in Christ and am glad he is a Southern Baptist.

Blessings to you,


P.S. Dad, Rachelle and I really enjoyed the board meeting. You have a sharp group of people on your board.

Jim Paslay said...


Rex Ray's comments about the conservative resurgence is an example of what I have been saying for months on your blog. Some who agree with you about the narrowing withing the convention are not on the same page. They are hitching their wagons to you much like moderates did with Winfred Moore and Richard Jackson in the 1980s. They knew they couldn't elect a leader that shared their views about Scripture, so they used conservatives to try and regain their control.

You accept the 2000 BF&M as a valid statement of faith for Southern Baptists, but Rex Ray considers it a creed and says a select committee rammed that document down our throats. We are still miles apart when it comes to Baptist history and what we battled for some 27 years ago.

I promise you there will not be unity within our convention at any price. Freedom without responsibility is not freedom. And freedom used as a license to believe whatever a person wants will not accomplish anything.

Challenge your readers to accept the 2000 BF&M as a statement of faith we can unite around and then let's get on with the missions and evangelism. But you won't even get that!

davidinflorida said...

Brother Wade,

So, are you going to stoke the fire of a revolution as did Patrick Henry and defeat the Imperialist, or are you going to die a slow death with little or no liberty?

Patrick Henry also had to deal with a house divided that didn`t want to stir the pot. Thank God he did what was right.

Notice how Pastor Brad stated that he is in a holding pattern a few comments ago. I believe that there are thousands of SBC members that are in that same holding pattern,( probably NOT a majority ) waiting patiently for a change in the right direction.

Is this your call to arms?

Bennett Willis said...

We have examples of how to stage a Baptist rebellion in the CR and the Missouri activities of recent years.

Hopefully you are trying for both a higher way and better result than those.

Does anyone remember the CR campaign point that they were left out of SBC affairs and just wanted "representation?" Somehow "closed to PPL" just does not have the emotional impact of "homosexual" and "inerrancy."

Bennnett Willis

Rex Ray said...

Ah, Jim Paslay—the ‘commando’,
I say “commando” because you attack, but you don’t stay around to answer questions.
Many times you only let silence answer my questions. Is it because of the Fifth Amendment?

Nevertheless, I will try again. You said, “…what we battled for some 27 years ago.”

If it was not for power and control that is building a wall of legalism that makes prisoners within, what was the SBC doing that you “battled” against?

If you say, ‘We got rid of the liberals’, what was the body count and who were they?

If you say, ‘We won for the Bible’, what was the SBC doing that did not honor the Bible?

If you say, ‘We put women in their place’, have you taken freedom from them to serve Christ?

Since there are fewer messengers attending the SBC, would you say the people are moving away from the SBC, or is the SBC moving away from the people?

In the past, Baptists have agreed our only creed is the Bible, and the BFM 2000 is not a creed until it was used to force God’s workers to sign it.

The devil could not remove over one hundred missionaries from the fields “white to harvest” until their own leaders demanded their paper signed.

These missionaries felt it more important to stand for freedom in Christ than bowing to the egos of man.
San R. Lee had been on the field for 24 years, but he chose to be fired by saying, “It may be that this will turn out to be he end of my missionary career, but I want you to know that if I go, I go as a true Baptist and a true servant of the SBC, but Christ first.”

Jim, if you answer only one question, would you tell why the Bible is not good enough to be our doctrinal guideline but the BFM 2000 is? In other words, how do you restore honor to the Bible by replacing it?

Bonham, Texas

Jim Paslay said...

To Rex Ray,

The "revisionist historian" who never met a statement of faith that he liked.

I have communicated with you before about this very subject, but you seem to have your mind made up, so it is hard to reason with you.

Most honest individuals within the SBC back in the 1ate 1970s will admit that there were theological problems within the convention. Even the Peace Committee, made up of conservatives and moderates alike, said so! Our convention was drifting more and more into neo-orthodoxy. A change was needed and did occur.

As for the comment about fewer people attending the conventions, I, myself, have not been to one since 1996. Most times it falls within our VBS and I consider it a priority. I have not been concerned about the convention because we settled the issue on the Scriptures.

In regards to the BF&M, I wonder if you supported the 1963 version? Were you aware that professors at some of our seminaries were asked to sign on to the 1963 version? Anything wrong with that? Or how about the 1925 version? How about the majority of missionaries who DID sign on to the 2000 BF&M, are they those funny-damn-mentalists that you keep warning us about?

By the way, a statement of faith does not and will never replace God's inerrant and infallible Word. Only revisionist historians like yourself will attempt that canard. One question for you, was the 1963 BF&M sufficient for you? Or is it too the work of the devil?

Anonymous said...

Remember the Europeans...years ago, saying their crime rate was going "down" while the US crime stats kept going up?
When we examined it, in the detail needed, we found that the Europeans had eliminated "secondary" and "tertiary" laws, like prostitution, drug use, gambling, minor assault, etc., etc., as "crimes"...and they would no longer have the police respond to those crimes, make reports or keep stats on them.
Well, the SBC "liberty" group is marching down that same path. If you "eliminate" the "secondary" and "tertiary" issues(by your unagreed definition) then you can come to the (wrong)conclusion that everything is "fine" "spiritual" "in agreement" and "unified"...all the while many are being distracted by issues that distort and hurt our witness.
Amazing that "liberty" has risen above living a life beyond reproach. That's no "liberty" at all...but an enslavement to the world's ways.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said,

Well, the SBC "liberty" group is marching down that same path. If you "eliminate" the "secondary" and "tertiary" issues(by your unagreed definition) then you can come to the (wrong)conclusion that everything is "fine" "spiritual" "in agreement" and "unified"...all the while many are being distracted by issues that distort and hurt our witness.
Amazing that "liberty" has risen above living a life beyond reproach. That's no "liberty" at all...but an enslavement to the world's ways.

Me - We're talking about allowing missionaries who have a PPL but promise not to be divisive over it and those who were baptized by immersion in churches that are not Southern Baptist. Your protestations are ridiculous and you are not even sticking to the discussion. No one is talking about becoming like the world or compromising over moral issues. That is really poor and needs to be challenged.

Rex Ray said...

Jim Paslay,
Surprise, surprise! You replied. As usual, your answers are not direct but would make a politician proud. Let’s analyze our statements to each other.

1. I called you a “commando”, and gave the reason that you don’t answer questions. You called me a “revisionist historian who never met a statement of faith that he liked.”

I can prove my reason by the many questions you never answered on Wade’s blog.
How do you prove yours?
How am I a “historian” when I never knew until 1997 there was any ‘friction’ in the SBC until my missionary son received an email asking him to have “a confidence and willingness to follow the wisdom and guidance of God-appointed leadership, whether we necessarily understand or agree”? (In 2000, that asking was changed to ‘forced.’)

How am I, “A revisionist historian who never met a statement of faith that he liked”, when I never knew what a BFM was until the uproar by the BGCT when the BFM 2000 was passed without Baptist churches knowing what was in it, or should I say what was removed from the old one?.

2. I asked for specifics what the SBC was doing 27 years ago that was bad—like the body count of ‘liberals’ or the acts that did not honor the Bible.

Your reply is a ‘snow job’ of “drifting into neo-orthodoxy”, and “theological problems.”
If the SBC was doing something bad, you would tell what they did—like firing missionaries or something like that. Does “theological problems” mean legalistic ideas of fundamentalists were being rejected?

You said, “…we settled the issue on the Scriptures.”
Again, you do not state facts, but put out propaganda.

3. Why don’t you put what I say in quotes instead of putting words in my mouth that I didn’t say?
Example: You wrote: “One question for you, was the 1963 BFM sufficient for you? Or is it too the work of the devil?”

I did not say the BFM is the work of the devil as you imply. I said, “The BFM 2000 is NOT a creed until it was used to force God’s workers to sign it.” That’s like saying a gun does not murder—it’s the one using the gun.

4. I asked you to explain “Why the Bible was not good enough to be our doctrinal guideline but the BFM 2000 is?”

Your answer: “A statement of faith does not and will never replace God’s inerrant and infallible Word. Only revisionist historians like yourself will attempt that canard.”

That’s the most political answer you’ve made. You don’t answer at all. In fact, you say I will attempt this. Do you deny our Baptist Literature has: “The 2000 statement of the BFM is our doctrinal guideline”?

I asked you to explain it, and you accuse me that I will do what the likes of you has already done.

I agree with you that VBS is more important than attending the SBC.

Yesterday, our pastor announced out of 72 attending VBS, there were 25 decisions made for Christ. (His son was one.) The Holy Spirit still works and always will. If man trusted Him more, we wouldn’t need so many rules.


Scott Gordon said...


No the confused analogy is on my end. Boy would my OBU history professors have my head for that one. Sorry about that.

My concern is that, as others have posted, this seems a call to arms with the use of a well crafted parody of an historical document which any American would likely jump to agree with without looking at the implications of the subject matter. It's like the new post regarding psychoheresy...if someone hadn't called Wade on the carpet for not having given the proper context to events at SBTS, he could have gotten away with branding that institution as suspect in its conservatism (even though he asserts that was not the point of his post). Its a problem of implication and a sort of negative, if even inadvertant, association.

As to Wade's post and the BFM...why must we accept a fluid interpretation of his remarks while he demands a literal interpretation of others? Why must we allow practices not expressly addressed in the BFM? As Dr. Mohler stated at the convention, if he had been a seminary president prior to 2000 he could not have fired or turned down a canidate for professor who was pro-gay or pro-abortion because it was not expressly addressed in the BFM.

Anyway, thanks.

Jim Paslay said...

Rex Ray,

One thing is for certain, however I answer your questions, you will not be satisfied. Your mind is already made up. Your analysis is definitely one-sided!

Your admittance that you didn't know anything until 1997 proves that you really don't understand what happened beginning in 1979. You've listened to all the BS (black slop in Texas) about the rabid fundamentalists who hijacked the convention. And I bet you even believe that Patterson and Pressler did it all by themselves.

Concerning the 2000 BF&M, if a church did not know anything about the revised BF&M, it was the pastor's responsibility to inform his church of convention business. The committee in charge of the 2000 BF&M did their job and did it well in my opinion.

The body count of moderates who left the convention can probably be accounted for in the CBF. Also, the true liberals that were in the convention left the SBC all together and went to more liberal mainline denominations. I sugggest you read James Hefley's books on the controversy in the SBC in order to be more informed.

I asked a question about the 1963 BF&M and you refused to answer it. So is it all right if I get on my high horse like you because you didn't answer MY question to MY satisfaction? Maybe I need to ask if you have ever read the 2000 BF&M in its entirety? And is it possible that you could be just a little bit biased with a missionary son that refused to sign the 2000 BF&M?

Finally, I do not deny that Lifeway literature has the 2000 BF&M as its doctrinal guideline. And I also will confirm that before 2000, the literature used the 1963 BF&M as a doctrinal guideline. I have no problem with it. And neither should you!

the tentmaker said...

Well done.
The fundamentalists successfully ran off the so-called liberals with the help of the so-called moderates. Now they are trying to drive out the so-called moderates. It's called divide and conquer. Perhaps if the moderates that aided in the overthrow of the liberals had had more foresight and stood up then for sola scriptura then there would be enough non-fundamentalists to win the day. The fundamentalists will succeed in driving out all those who disagree with them. Then they will devour eachother because of petty differences in dress, hair style, make and model automobile and other important doctrinal issues.

"Give me liberty or give me death?" That quote came from the days of the revolution. The colonies were seceeding from the British Commonwealth. Perhaps secession is what is needed in the SBC as well.

Rex Ray said...

Jim Paslay,
My, it’s interesting to see how you respond when you’re proven wrong. You said I was “The ‘revisionist historian’ who never met a statement of faith that he liked.” But did you say you had judged me wrong? No, you attack by saying, “Your admittance that you didn’t know anything until 1997 proves that you really don’t understand what happened beginning in 1979.”

How do you judge people without putting their words in quotes? Where did I say my son refused to sign the BFM 2000? Jerry Rankin told him, he would not have to sign. Then he told him if he refused to sign, he would NOT be fired. Rankin had to eat his promises because of the pressure put on him by people like you. My son left the mission field before he was ever told to sign. I have received 14 ‘Thank You Certificates’ from Rankin for volunteer construction projects. I wrote Rankin and thanked him for being a friend to my son. My son told me if I knew the whole story, I’d be on Rankin’s side.

I have read the controversy in the SBC by James Hefley. I have heard both sides, and your side comes up short.

Listen to your own words. You told Wade on July 27 18:52, “Challenge your readers to accept the 2000 BFM as a statement of faith we can unite around and THEN let’s get on with the missions and evangelism.”

It is easy to see from your statement that DOCTRINE is more important than missions and evangelism.

You have the same concept of Jim Richards (Now 2nd vice president of the SBC) when he was the Executive Director of the NEW convention of Texas. (SBCT) He stated: “Theological agreement will be the FIRST foundation of the new Convention…we’ve been CALLED to CONTRAST you [BGCT].”

It seems you also agree with him about the BGCT when you said, “You’ve listened to all the BS (black slop in Texas) about the rabid fundamentalists who hijacked the convention. And I bet you even believe that Patterson and Pressler did it all by themselves.”

What’s the matter, Jim, do you feel slighted that Patterson and Pressler got all the credit? Remember Paul wrote: “It takes only one wrong person to infect all the others.” (Galatians 5:9 Living)

You said, “True liberals that were in the convention left the SBC all together and went to a more liberal mainline denomination.” I asked for their names, but you did not name even one.

I’m sorry I did not answer your question if the 1963 BFM was sufficient for me. It is very sufficient for me.

You concluded that I REFUSED to answer.

I asked you to “tell why the Bible is not good enough to be our doctrinal guideline but the BFM 2000 is? Your answer was, “I do not deny that Lifeway literature has the 2000 BFM as its doctrinal guideline.”

You call that an answer? What part of English do you not understand?
You also misquote what Lifeway says—“The 2000 statement of The Baptist Faith and Message is OUR doctrinal guideline.” (Not “its doctrinal guideline.”)

Now I have always thought of “OUR” as the SBC since the first of the statement comes from the BFM. If it only refers to Lifeway, then I’m wrong and I’ll apologize. Would you enlighten me on this?
Rankin told me we could not have the Bible as our doctrinal guideline because the Church of Christ already claimed that.

You said, “I also will confirm that before 2000, the literature USED the 1963 BFM as a doctrinal guideline.”
In my opinion, using something for doctrine is a lot different than stating it is your doctrine.

You said, “Concerning the 2000 BFM, if a church did not know anything about the revised BFM, it was the pastor’s responsibility to inform his church of Convention business.”

I think this is the most absurd thing you’ve said. How could pastors find out anything about “Convention business” when the BFM meetings were in secret?

The 1963 BFM committee meetings were public and they welcomed suggestions. It also was a large committee made up of all the presidents of the State conventions. It was very different from the 15 hand picked friends of the President of the SBC—Patterson. I’ll bet nothing was put in the BFM that he didn’t approve, and I could rightly name it the ‘Pope BFM 2000.’

Rex Ray
Bonham, Texas said...


In two years of commenting, I award your comment as one of the most bizarre, illogical comments ever to appear at Grace and Truth.

You said, "if someone hadn't called Wade on the carpet for not having given the proper context to events at SBTS, he could have gotten away with branding that institution as suspect in its conservatism"

You must be kidding.

Seriously, you must be kidding.

Jim Paslay said...

Rex Ray,

My, My, did I touch a nerve or what? If my comments are in YOUR opinion an attack, what would you call your latest response? Good thing I am north of the border!

Since you are always right on every issue, I will limit my remarks on the 2000 BF&M which you love to hate!

At the 1999 SBC in Atlanta, the messengers overwhelmingly instructed the President of the convention, Paige Patterson, to select a special committee to look at a revision of our BF&M. He did so and you see their faces on under BF&M.

In May of 2000, the report was presented and the media gave ample press coverage to it. There was even a time of response given to the committee before the convention in Orlando in June, 2000. The 1963 committee did their work in the same amount of time and presented their report in 1963. There was no conspiracy to keep things secret. Contrary to moderate Texas Baptists, Dr. Patterson did his job well in selecting this committee and the committee did a tremendous job!

I quote the words of Dr. Rogers who was the chairman of the 2000 BF&M committee, "We don't have the right, the authority or the power to limit anybody," Rogers noted. "We would resist that. What we are stating is what we believe mainstream Baptists believe. ... It is not a creed. It is a statement of what most of us believe."

Did you get that, Ray? It is not a creed! And it doesn't replace God's inerrant and infallible Word!

Rex Ray said...

Jim Paslay,
Thanks for saying I’m always right on every issue. Even my own mother wouldn’t have said that, but it did get you out trying to answer some hard issues—didn’t it?

You seem desperate to teach me something though when you said, “Did you get that, Ray? It’s not a creed!”

You were referring to Adrian Rogers saying the 2000 BFM.was not a creed.

I’m afraid you have fallen into the habit of doing more talking than listening as my comments on July 29, 08:34 and July 30, 09:51 stated and I quote: “The BFM 2000 is NOT a creed until it was used to force God’s workers to sign it.”

Do you agree with Webster? “Creed: A brief AUTHORITATIVE formula of religious belief.”

The 2000 BFM is a “formula of religious belief” and therefore is NOT a creed. When it was used AUTHORITATIVE to force missionaries and others to sign it, it became a creed.

You said, “There was no conspiracy to keep things secret.” Did I say there was a “conspiracy”?

You have a way with words that make me look like I’m telling an untruth. You have yet to put anything I’ve said in quotes even though I’ve asked you.

Do you deny Patterson’s committee met behind ‘closed doors’? Do you deny they said, “We can’t tell you, but you’ll like it”?

You keep saying the committee did a tremendous job. TREMENDOUS JOB OF WHAT?

1. They took away individual priesthood of the believer, by adding “S” to “believer” because they said it was too dangerous to give the individual too much freedom. (Individual priesthood born at Calvary, but pronounced dead in 2000.)
2. They took away autonomy of the church by limiting who could be its pastor.
3. They took away “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.” In layman’s words, that means ‘they took away interpreting the Bible through the eyes of Jesus.’
4. They changed “…a church is…committed to His teachings…” to “a church is…governed by His laws…” That “governed” is scary; if committees can interpret Scripture into laws, the churches will be “governed” and will no longer be autonomous.

Rex Ray,
Bonham, Texas