Monday, December 01, 2008

Three Years Later; That Which I Feared Is Come

It was in the fall of 2005, exactly three years ago, that the trustees of the International Mission Board established a doctrinal policy that exceeded the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message and excluded otherwise qualified Southern Baptists from serving on the mission field. I had a decision to make in November of 2005 that was not easy for me personally. I could either resign in protest over what I called at the time "the narrowing of the doctrinal parameters of Southern Baptist missions cooperation" or I could remain a trustee of the International Mission Board and begin a blog to make Southern Baptists aware of what was taking place in their missions organization. I chose the latter.

Ironically, the two new doctrinal policies at the IMB did not affect me personally. I have never had a "private prayer language," nor have I ever seen the need for one. Also, I was baptized "in a Southern Baptist church." I would qualify as a missionary under the two new doctrinal policies. However, I felt strongly that to exclude other Southern Baptists from the mission field over how they pray in private, especially when the 2000 BFM is silent on the matter, was an act that went beyond the appropriate authority of IMB trustees. In addition, for trustees to adopt a definition of baptism that places qualifications on the baptizer and the "church" doing the baptizing was historically a Landmark doctrine and practice, not Southern Baptist. Something had to be done to correct the error of the IMB trustee board. That error was not so much trustee leadership personally holding to cessationism or Landmark ecclesiology, for many Southern Baptists hold to these doctrines; rather, the error was those trustee leaders demanding ALL Southern Baptists believe like them by passing doctrinal policies that exclude those who disagree.

We trustees were never called to be the doctrinal watchdogs of the Southern Baptist Convention. Nor do we have the authority to establish a doctrinal basis for our coooperation as Southern Baptist churches, especially by implementing doctrinal demands that go beyond the 2000 BFM. The Garner Motion proves that the Southern Baptist Convention agrees with me on this issue. The IMB trustee leadership stepped eggregiously beyond their Convention given authority.

I have often been asked why I drew a line in the sand over the "private prayer language" and "baptism" policies. Most Southern Baptists have very little patience with what they believe to be a charismatic practice (praying in tongues in private), and even more Southern Baptists have little understanding of the dangers of Landmarkism. "Why", I was asked, "do you draw a line in the sand over these particular issues?" As most Southern Baptists know, trustee leadership was furious over my public opposition, particularly since hundreds of Southern Baptists were reading my blog and writing trustees and asking "What are you doing?" In order to avert attention from the real issue, trustee leaders sought to make me the issue, which led to very poorly thought through actions against me, including a motion for my removal (later rescinded), the adoption of a new policy that demanded all trustees "publicly support board approved policies that they cannot privately support" (in my opinion the worst policy ever be adopted by a Southern Baptist agency in the history of our Convention), and two eventual "censures" against me for violating this terrible "no dissent" policy. Why would I be willing to go through such an attack against me personally? Why would I put my family, my church, and my ministry in the line of fire, risking others accusing us of being "liberal" (which is ridiculous), or "troublemakers," or the like?

Because of what I saw coming.

I told a few people privately, and I told them three years ago, that if people didn't start drawing a line in the sand over attempts to narrow and constrict the doctrinal parameters of Southern Baptist cooperation, then we would eventually get to the place that Calvinists would be told they are no longer welcome in the SBC. Then, we would come to the place that those Southern Baptists who are not dispensational in their eschatology would be told they are not welcome. The only Southern Baptists that would eventually be left are those who would believe just exactly like those small, independent, separatist Landmark Southern Baptist churches and those who lead them. I remember what Jerry Falwell said when he joined the SBC, an act that drew heavy criticism from his fellow separatist, Landmark Baptist brothers - "I haven't changed, the SBC has changed."

Don't misunderstand. I welcome all Landmark, separatist churches and pastors to the SBC. I do not welcome, however, any attempt to make us all like you. I do not welcome any attempt to act as if Southern Baptist "orthodoxy" is "closed communion," or "ecclesiastical authority to baptize," or "cessationism," or a denial of the doctrines of grace, or a demand that everyone be dispensational. If I risk being called the troublemaker by exposing those who are seeking to EXCLUDE, so be it. It is the excluders who will destroy the Southern Baptist Convention, not those who expose them.

Bottom line, I knew that if a line in the sand was not drawn at some point, those who hold to Calvinism would be targeted next. Three years later, that which I feared has come upon us.

In 1995 the Oklahoma Baptist General Convention asked Dr. Herschel Hobbs and me to write articles that would be published in the Baptist Messenger that would show how Southern Baptists could disagree over what is commonly called "Calvinism," but still maintain fellowship, cooperation and a spirit of unity and love. Herschel and I were friends, and the Oklahoma state Baptist paper printed both articles, unedited, to show how Southern Baptists can take two differing positions on these doctrines, but not separate or point accusatory fingers.

This week I will publish both articles on this blog. On Wednesday, I will publish Dr. Herschel Hobbs article which advocates classical Arminianism with the exception that Herschel, like most Southern Baptists, affirms eternal security in contradistinction to Arminianism. On Friday, I will publish my view, which is different from Dr. Hobbs written interpretations of the Biblical doctrine of soteriology (salvation). Oklahoma is a place where Southern Baptists who disagree on the doctrines of grace can agree to cooperate and love one another in spite of our differences.

Dr. Hobbs died several years ago. It is my prayer that the ability to cooperate with Southern Baptists who disagree on doctrinal issues didn't die with him. We cannot let the spirit and temperament that demands doctrinal conformity prevail in the SBC. I would much rather build bridges of understanding with those who disagree with me than allow those who disagree with me declare that people on the other side of them are not "orthodox" Southern Baptists and should be removed.

I cannot, I will not, be silent about the need for cooperation among Southern Baptists. Cooperation in the midst of doctrinal diversity is the fabric of who we are as Southern Baptists. It is, if you will, true Southern Baptist identity.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Joe Blackmon said...

Certainly, there has to be some doctrinal accountability in the SBC. Not everything that someone believes is "true" or "biblical". However, I agree with you that you can get the definition of who you're willing to cooperate with so narrow that you find yourself with few people with whom you will cooperate. I think the Bible is pretty clear that some differences in beliefs are not worth dividing over.

Good points. said...

Thanks Joe, we agree on the very point that keeps us in cooperation in spite of our disagreements.

Also, thanks for signing your name. I would encourage all others who comment to follow Joe's example and sign your name.

Anonymous comments are not helpful.

Gary said...


I look forward to your republishing both yours and Dr. Hobbs' comments. While I did not then and do not now agree 100% with either of you, I respect both of you and the ministry which you have and had.

I will make an observation regarding one remark you made in your post, however. You said "Oklahoma is a place where Southern Baptists who disagree on the doctrines of grace can agree to cooperate and love one another in spite of our differences". With respect to grace, that may very well be the case. I believe that in other areas of faith and practice, however, real and perceived differences will get you treated very differently, unless you are talking about Pastors and select church staff. Denominational staff are fair game when treading off the very narrow path which has been defined by the powers that be. A certain current resident of your fair city who spoke his reservations regarding the BFM 2000 and denominational politics was fired just short of retirement with all the deleterious fallout which goes along with that. That was hardly Christian, much less Baptistic.

Again, I look forward to your posts.

Gary Skaggs
Norman, OK said...


I have learned a great deal about my fellow conservatives over the past three years, much of which surprises me. Unfortunately, in some instances, like the one you mention, I have also been saddened.

Anonymous said...

Brother Wade,
Your beloved SBC truly is in crisis and I feel for you and those like you within its walls.

I hope there is a turning away from such legalism soon because it is hard, even from the outside, to watch the leadership of such a respected denomination sink so low by becoming so controlling and intolerant.

Galations 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

My hope and prayers are with you,
Mara R.

John Mann said...


To date, this is the most ridiculous post that your fingers have published. For Dr. Yarnell to disagree with a particular doctrine is not for him (or anybody else) to call for another's ouster from the SBC. Theology is developed in the forum of debate. Dr. Yarnell's point about Tom Ascol has little to do with his soteriology, rather, it focuses on his ecclesiology, a legitimate topic of debate. Your incessant manipulation of truth is nothing more than an emotive attempt to denigrate those with whom you disagree. In the field of debate, one must observe whether he is looking at that which is true or that which he only perceives to be true. I would encourage you to take another look. For the window through which you peer is nothing more than a mirror that reflects that which you most detest.

Anonymous said...

Brother Wade, what do you think is the number-one underlying contributing factor, or element, driving the division within and deterioration of the Southern Baptist denomination?

your friend,
John in Arizona

Anonymous said...


Not to offend you personally, yet your words are eloquently ridiculous.

Dr. Yarnell, whom I respect, seems to want to define ecclesiology for the whole SBC, not just debate it. The difference is as wide as the world.

Mark said...

John Mann,

I'm not sure if your blood pressure is elevated because your beloved Longhorns are out of the Big 12 Championship picture or physiological reasons. :)

I did not mention Dr. Yarnell in this post, but since you brought up his name, please interpret his words about Tom Ascol below for me:

On the basis of these three issues -- (Dr. Ascol's) deficient historiography, (Dr. Ascol's) unwillingness to affirm fully the churches' orthodoxy, and (Dr. Ascol's) overreaching view of authority--conservative Southern Baptists should be concerned that the Southern Baptist Convention may be facing a similar problem to that which it faced with Liberalism . . . Recent conversation with Dr. Ascol points to an alien doctrinal system of which the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention may want to become more aware.

To label "problems" or "issues" in Dr. Ascol's doctrinal interpretations as comparable to "liberal" problems is a blatant attempt to imply the SBC will need to deal with Dr. Ascol (and those who believe like him) as we "dealt" with the liberals.

You might consider a calmer approach to my posts John, for I will continue to point out such logic exhibited by Dr. Yarnell, and your harsh reactions are not helpful.

In His Grace,


RM said...

When I went to seminary (SWBTS) I had professors who spoke in tongues, some were Calvinists, some disavowed Calvinists, some drank beer, some didn't, some smoked and some didn't but we all loved Jesus and were all Southern Baptists.

Perhaps its time for these folks to calm down and get busy doing the work of the Kingdom. said...




irreverend fox said...


There is no way Calvinists are going to become excluded in SBC life and leadership. There are too many Calvinists (young planters especially) and those who take after Dr. Hobbs who will not stand for it. When Dr. Mohler begins taking public shots I’ll begin to get worried.

Bob Cleveland said...

John in Arizona,

I don't answer for Wade, but I'll give you my take. God is unhappy with the SBC.

Like He was unhappy with King Saul, when He withdrew His Spirit, and the King went merrily on his way, not even noticing. The results show up bigtime in 1 Samuel 16:14.

That might explain it.

Anonymous said...

JOHN MANN: who is Robin Foster?

Robin Foster wrote this:

"It is quite possible that this political maneuvering is in full affect in the SBC. It seems that an all out assault is being employed that reflects what is going on in the secular world. Accusations are being made against certain people that seem to divert the focus off what the person actually said or did and paints a negative picture of who that person is. The most recent victim was Dr. Thomas White and his sermon in chapel on October 7th. I felt that David Worley’s assessment on Chicken Little and how the sky is falling was dead on in how Dr. White’s sermon was being manipulated.

In today’s world of blogs, there is a possibility of stating accusations without much of a defense against those accusations. For example, who is going to wade through hundreds of comments or find other blogs that challenge the claims that are made? For instance, it is still reported that Sheri Klouda was fired from Southwestern. That is a lie! She was not fired, terminated, or purposely released from employment. She willingly resigned after (according to court documents) Dr. Blaising offered her another position in the seminary that was part of what she felt called to do. Now when there is a post on the internet that claims she was fired and if someone was to come and read it, they would end up believing a lie."

Are these the kinds of writings YOU support?

Please, let us know.

Anonymous said...

did we leave 'holiness' out of the discussion?
why attack Malcom Yarnell and others for sounding the warning that they see possible problems ahead if we continue down this 'path'? Don't you want that kind of honest debate? If we agree with you are we ok?...but if we disagree(even strongly) now we're out of your 'camp'?
Seems like you're the 'kettle calling the pot black'..,.

Anonymous said...

Dear Wade,

I am not positive, but is that your family picture at the top of your post? If so, thank you for sharing with all of us. L's

Anonymous said...

Bro. Wade,

You wrote:
"I do not welcome any attempt to act as if Southern Baptist "orthodoxy" is "closed communion"

Here's the problem with your statement. Every Southern Baptist Confession of Faith (BF&M, New Hampshire, Abstract of Principles)
teaches closed communion. Every one of the founders of the SBC (without exception) taught closed communion. It wasn't until the post-WWII era that the most liberal Southern Baptist pastors began leading their churches to the open communion position. So from a historian's perspective you can say that restricted communion is a mark of Southern Baptist orthodoxy said...


That is our family picture from last week's Thanksgiving gathering!


Wade said...


The day closed communion (i.e. "not sharing communion with fellow Christians whose baptism is not in a Southern Baptist church") is considered "orthodox" by the SBC is the day I cease being a Southern Baptist.



Alan Paul said...

I think your words continue to fall deaf upon the ears of those already labeled "liberals" and pushed aside. It seems hypocritical to draw a line in the sand where you choose when the line should have been drawn before anyone was driven out by your convention's heavy-handed tactics (that by the way will continue because folks with ego and self-image issues are never satiated - they always need more power and control). This may seem like a weak and pollyanna thing to say and unrealistic to boot, but I can't help think of those many who would have gladly cooperated, but were unable to because they didn't lie when it came to their beliefs on tertiary issues. They are gone already and with no good reason. Just my opinion.

BTW: I remain surprised at your commitment to stick with the sinking ship that is the SBC - but I am also impressed that you have indeed, so far, been a man of your word.

peter lumpkins said...


I've missed you, Wade. You've been writing innocuously of late; nonetheless our Brother John Mann seems to have dialed the correct number.

Interestingly, in response to him, you cite a quote by Dr. Yarnell, and then offer your stellar conclusion:

"To label "problems" or "issues" in Dr. Ascol's doctrinal interpretations as comparable to "liberal" problems is a blatant attempt to imply the SBC will need to deal with Dr. Ascol (and those who believe like him) as we "dealt" with the liberals.(emphasis mine).

Did I miss anything here? I do not think so. I think you're indicting Dr. Yarnell with a ridiculous comparison.

What I do think is, you missed one of Dr. Ascol's responses to Dr. Yarnell. He wrote:


So you don't see yourself as a servant of SBC churches? Well, that explains a lot. And, by the way, it is exactly the same response I got from liberal professors at SBTS back in 1995.
(emphasis mine)

While you are requesting Brother John to "consider a calmer approach" to your posts while you happily "continue to point out such logic exhibited by Dr. Yarnell" while conveniently overlooking the same "such logic" by Dr. Ascol, cannot hardly be taken seriously, Wade.

Is this really the best you can do?

With that, I am...


p.s.: I am unsure if either comparison is illegitimate. Whether or not either/both comparison(s) is valid is another question.

Anonymous said...

From what I can tell, Southern Baptists do beleive in cooperation-it's called a program.

Tim G said...

Your post and comment to John Mann are over the line. I humbly ask you revise your remarks. No one anywhere is making the assumption or implying what you have implied.

NO ONE! You fail to realize that your deductions are not always accurate!

Please consider revising. You are not helping the situation.

Anonymous said...

Compromise without compromise is good.
But if the mission continues to narrow its perimeters, denying participation to those who are Calvinists or Dispensational,or even King James only,
then it is high time to look closely at it.
The only cure for Apostasy is Judgment.
Could it be that God's judgment is about to fall on The Convention/ said...

John in Arizona,

It is hard to pinpoint the exact cause, but I think it has to do with the spirit of some who see themselves as the guardians of truth, when God does a pretty good job of protecting it Himself. said...

Tim, I am having difficulty seeing how my comment to John Mann is "over the line." Particularly since I intentionally toned down what I wrote, John himself showed a great deal of disdain in what he wrote to me and you ignore his comment, and most of all, it is my blog and I establish the lines.


Request denied.


Wade said...


I would agree with you regarding Tom's comment and had not seen it. Thanks for pointing it out.

I can assure Tom Ascol that if he is attempting to place Malcolm Yarnell in the same class as theological liberals, he will have as much success as he would if he were to allege Atilla the Hun was a nun in Mother Teresa's convent.


Tain't likely.

Ramesh said...

I am showing the full comments Tom made ...
Tom said...

So you don't see yourself as a servant of SBC churches? Well, that explains a lot. And, by the way, it is exactly the same response I got from liberal professors at SBTS back in 1995. Timothy George's warning from 20+ years ago is sounding more and more prophetic: "The exchange of one set of bureaucrats for another doth not a reformation make."

Further, your reference to your church's practice is very evasive. You know as well as I do that you have not answered my question. Let me simplify it: Is your affirmation of regenerate church membership merely theoretical or do you actually practice it? Do all of your members even do the minimum of what regenerate people should do, such as show up at the gathering of the covenant community with regularity, unless providentially hindered? Do the majority? If not, what have you done to help your church correct this problem in all of your years of being a member?

I think the people who pay your salary (sorry if this reminder offends you) would be interested in knowing how deep your commitment to regenerate church membership really is. Such things are easy to talk about, but harder to implement. Or, as we used to say back when I lived in Texas, "talk is cheap."

Personally, I am weary of hearing folks boldly professing commitment to Baptist principles only to discover that their practice doesn't come close to their words.

Such empty profession undermines our credibility to a watching world. Those whose profession of regenerate church membership is only theoretical and who yet set themselves up as defenders of Baptist distinctives have forsaken any moral authority to be taken seriously.

10:01 AM, NOVEMBER 27, 2008

Anonymous said...


Your logic is faulty. Your conclusion is flawed. Tom Ascol is not associating Malcolm Yarnell with liberals, Tom Ascol is associating Malcolm Yarnell with a denominational bureaucracy that was similar to the bureaucracy that put a stranglehold on our convention prior to 1980.


Anonymous said...

Looking forward to the comparison papers. I always learn a great deal in comparison's for some reason.

The fact that Hobbs was a NON-calvinist will make for a great comparison as well.

It turns ugly so fast when ANTI-calvinists like Lumpkins, Yarnell, Allen, and others get involved. Dialogue stops which is unhealthy regardless of the topic.

I know that ANTI-calvinists hate being called ANTI-calvinists. But not as much as I hate the fact that they indeed are.

On a side note, even though it's a scary thought, I do agree with the comment above that booting the Calvinists out of the SBC will never come to pass.

For one thing, the missionary force would be impacted substantially.


Ramesh said...

David Allen responded to Tom Ascol. The header points he makes are as follows:

- The Charge of Anti-Calvinism
- The Charge of Condescension and Suspicions to Calvinize the SBC
- The Charge of Despising Calvinism
- The Charge Questioning SWBTS' Joint Sponsorship with Jerry Vines Ministries of J316C
- The Charge of False Accusations about Hyper-Calvinism
- Tom Ascol's Concluding Accusations

SBC & Calvinism: Three Events That Widened The Divide: A Rejoinder to Tom Ascol by David Allen

Tim G said...

I do hereby nominate you for Spin King of 2008!

John pointed out that you incorrectly leaped and implied something that was and is not true!

I hear the President is filling cabinet positions - you ought to apply! The spin is natural for you! :)

Anonymous said...


There's some information which may interest you at the end of the comment stream on the previous blog post.

Grace said...

Thanks Tim,

One man's crown is another man's thorn.


I shall bear your thorn proudly.

Wayne Smith said...


Satan Divides,
When a Brother or Sister in Jesus Christ is Denied Participating in the Lord’s Supper that is not what My Lord and Savior Died For. Dr Malcolm Yarnell seems to be helping the Enemy/Adversary .

Wayne Smith said...

Amen Wayne,

Thanks for signing your name.


I agree with you about anonymous comments. said...


Need to communicate with your friend via email. Trying to keep comments about the post only.

Thanks for your understanding.

Anonymous said...

Wade - you said, "The day closed communion (i.e. "not sharing communion with fellow Christians whose baptism is not in a Southern Baptist church") is considered "orthodox" by the SBC is the day I cease being a Southern Baptist."

Okay...maybe I'm misunderstanding the BF&M 2000 - but I understand it to take that position (though it doesn't use the word orthodox regarding this issue - it does, nevertheless, teach a form of closed communion - does it not?

Article VII states that baptism..."is prerequisite to
the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper."

Sounds like closed communion to me.

I certainly hope you could speak to this. Am I misunderstanding the what the BF&M2 is saying here...or are you holding to something other than what is in the BF&M2 on this point?

To be even more clear the BF&M2 defines itself what is meant by the term Baptism...a narrow definition according to Baptist ecclesiology. So it would seem that the above statement would allow people at the Lord's table who have had their baptism done in churches of like faith and practice but not in paedobaptist churches. This is certainly seemingly a closed communion model.

Incidently, I'm not saying I agree with the BF&M2 at this point if that is what it's proposing.

Anonymous said...


Nice picture.

I nominate you and your family for "Most Photogenic in the SBC."

But I read this post and kept waiting to see what shoe dropped. What big event occurred this week.

Then, there was nothing.

I am with Irreverend Fox on this one. There is no "there" there.

There are way too many people on each side of the debate over various points of theology (depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace, limited atonement, close or open communion) for this thing to go anywhere.

I see this as a theologians' debate, which is significant. I do not see this debate as charting an immediate course for the future. Which ever side wins the hearts and minds of people in the SBC over the next 5 to 10 years will have a greater influence in the SBC programming and such over the next 25 to 30 years. But neither side is going to exclude the other from participation or even leadership in many instances.

Malcolm Yarnell is my friend, as are Al Mohler and Mark Dever. I would work in any ministry at any time with any of these guys. I love them all in Christ. I know that they would welcome me, even though I may disagree with them on some of the hot button issues mentioned here.

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate your desire to be diligent. And I appreciate the theological points.

I am just not that worried about this debate resulting in an SBC Armageddon (sp?).

Louis said...


I hope you are right. I just don't plan to sit around unti the shoe drops like it did on the two doctrinal policies at the IMB.

By then, it was too late.


Anonymous said...

Dear Wade,

Yes, I am aware that something happened. I did not read some of the entries so I'm not sure about the details, however, because apparently some deletions were made before I saw the entries.

I will absolutely follow your advice. I hold your advice in the highest regard.

Thank you for your note.

With sincere respect, L's said...

Thanks L.

It was not your comments that were the problem. I appreciate your understanding.

Anonymous said...

I was a member of FBC-Amarillo during the 1980's when Dr. Hobbs was invited to preach there--by a senior pastor who was "draw the line in the sand over SBC Fundamentalism" before Wade was "draw the line in the sand over SBC Fundamentalism". My pastor was made fun of and called all kinds of names for his convictions/stance, but he probably would have invited Wade to preach at the church's sacred desk--as long as Wade didn't try to force the congregation to believe what he said (were that to happen, if the senior pastor didn't show Wade the door, the congregation probably would have!).

Full circle here? I'm glad someone else's eyes were opened; in another 100 years, 33 more people will have seen the light . . .


Anonymous said...

. . . And most of the anonymous comments I've read at this blogsite since its beginning have been helpful, though not all of the anonymous posters have seemed to be.

Few children post any comments here; let those who believe they truly need to post their comments anonymously. When those folks can, they say who they are. I was one of them.

David Troublefield
Wichita Falls, TX

Anonymous said...


Where in the NT does it require a definition of closed communion that says we must refuse communion to someone not baptized in a SB church?

I'm with Wade (and more, importantly, the NT): the day this becomes official SBC dogma is the day that the world will truly be turned upside down and I will no longer be a Southern Baptist.


Anonymous said...

Peter and John,

If you do not see sinister implications in Dr. Yarnell's statements, I would suggest that you are inexplicably ignoring SBC history and current tendencies of some SBC leaders. If Dr. Yarnell did not mean that it might be necessary to treat Dr. Ascol the way "liberals" were treated in the past, why did he bring up the elimination of liberals? He made that comparison, not Wade.

Many of us who are life long SBCers have had a difficult time believing our leaders would actually eliminate "enemies" and define enemies on the basis of disagreement over tertiary, disputable doctrinal issues.

However, this has happened frequently in the past few years (the IMB's policy changes followed by their policy to prevent legitimate dissent; the firing of Dr. Klouda over a questionable interpretation of the role of women in the workplace-a seminary is not a church and we are not talking about women as pastors here; taking Dr. McKissic's sermon off the SWBTS web site because he dared express disagreement with the powers that be; firing missionaries and seminary professors over minor issues in the B F & M 2000 which they could not fully affirm, even though they were hired under the 1963 version which they did affirm; using the B F & M as a "tool of accountability" after promising it would not be used that way; Changing the B F & M based on a report by a handpicked committee with no effort to represent the diversity within the SBC and based on the vote of less than 0.025% of Baptists at the annual meeting after minimal time for debate, with no debate of the issue of women as pastors or questions about any further implications of that rule; A "white paper" by leaders of one SBC entity overtly critical of the President of another SBC entity). This is a partial list, but I think it suggests a trend.

Paying attention to the lessons of history and extrapolating historical events and current trends to predict future outcomes is not spin; it is attempting to learn from history and to avoid mistakes of the past.

I can only speak for myself, but I will not keep quiet when anyone states that another Baptist is not "orthodox". The LifeWay poll on private prayer language demonstrates that orthodoxy is an extremely problematical term in the SBC, particularly when it is based on differences over tertiary doctrines. Soteriology is not tertiary, but Calvinists can affirm precisely the same confession of faith with regard to salvation as non-5 pointers, so this difference is not worth breaking fellowship. However, when a prominent seminary professor compares a calvinist leader in the SBC to liberals of the past, it is not a stretch to think calvinists may soon be treated like liberals were. Most Southern Baptists were quiet when liberals who weren't really liberal were fired and when missionaries who weren't liberal or teaching a private prayer language were fired. Calling attention to statement's like Dr. Yarnell's is a reasonable way to prevent this from happening again.

Anonymous said...

A must read on what these debates are doing to some, and I would probably imagine many:

Cynthia Kunsman said...

How many different camps are there in the SBC that are currently vying for power?

(I've come up with a few, Calvinists, anti-Calvinists, the privately charismatic and those who are very concerned with women. And these groups aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Did I get that much right?)


Was there always this much drama like there is now and what on earth set this off? Or does it just now cycle faster because of the internet? I know that there are always groups and factions when you have a loosely affliliated groups that will be a source of conflict, but I guess I'm wondering if it's always been this bad. (I'm going to guess "no" since Pastor Wade was apparently unaware that some of these things had progressed to a point that he identifies as "too late.")

Are there specific events that set these things off? I'm just curious to see if there have been similar trends in other churches and denominations I've attended. I'm trying to figure out if it's just a trend of the times or a trend limited only to the SBC. My impression is that it is not.

There seems to be a comprehensive trend toward an acceptance if not a desire for sacredtotalism (if not Romanism) in many different evangelical Christian denominations. I never knew of anything like this 20 or 30 years ago, but it seems pandemic now in many different evangelical churches.

Are there common threads?

Cynthia Kunsman said...

Steven Pruett wrote: I can only speak for myself, but I will not keep quiet when anyone states that another Baptist is not "orthodox".

Look, I don't know if many Baptists even know what the term means. I started a thread over on Sharper Iron several months ago, asking people about what the proper terminology to use would be, as someone once tore me apart over the word "orthodox" and "heresy." They told me that orthodox was an antiquated term that no one used anymore.

Anonymous said...


I saw it coming too, which is why I fought against this. I once asked a very prominent SBC Calvinist why he did not oppose the IMB BoT over the ppl thing. I respect him a great deal, but I was confused as to why he was silent on that issue. I understand that his focus was limited to Calvinism, but I thought that it was an important issue. He told me that he didn't get involved because he didn't agree with ppl himself. I told him that was not the point. I was not a Calvinist, but I would fight tooth and nail to defend his right to fully participate in the SBC. We should have all defended the missionaries with a ppl.

It is not about what you personally adhere to. It is about principle. We should not just care about our own positions, but about the principle of being able to work together, even amongst those who disagree on tertiary issues. Now, they are going after the Calvinists. I'll defend them as well. I just wish that more of them would have cared about the issues 3 years ago. Things might have been different.

Anonymous said...

GARY said "Where in the NT does it require a definition of closed communion that says we must refuse communion to someone not baptized in a SB church? "

It says in the new Yarnell-Patterson Edition:

'Feed my lambs, but only if they have been baptized in a Southern Baptist Church'

Feed my lambs, but only if they have been baptized in a Southern Baptist Church

'Feed my lambs, but only if they have been baptized in a Southern Baptist Church'

'Feed my sheep, but only if they have been baptized in a Southern Baptist Church'

Wait til you see their translation of the OT.

Oh, and then there's:

'Do this in memory of Me but only in a Southern Baptist Church'

I'm not making this up. It's already being practiced by some.

Cynthia Kunsman said...

Hi again Alan Cross,

You wrote: It is not about what you personally adhere to. It is about principle. We should not just care about our own positions, but about the principle of being able to work together, even amongst those who disagree on tertiary issues.

This reminds me of something that I said to a secular humanist who took me for a liberty hating Christian and labelled me a fascist. I told him that though I did not share his beliefs, as an American, I would fight and die to defend his right to believe whatever fool-crazy thing he wants to believe. He seemed truly shocked. He was loosing the argument as I "took off the roof," so he resorted to name calling, thinking he could rattle me. He did not know how to respond to me after that.

And I'm reminded of what Bob Cleveland wrote here, referencing the WWII era poem: "then they came for me..."

America borrowed from Samuel Rutherford who derived his beliefs about the Rule of Law as opposed to the Rule of the whims and fancies of the king from the Word of God. There's no clause in the Word that gives one license to place "I am of Apollos" or "I am of Paul" above being in Christ through one's profession of faith in Him.

I spoke to a Jehovah's Witness the other day who allowed me to pray for her. I don't know who she was praying to as she listened along or who she thought I was praying to, but I knew that I was praying to the one and only YHWH. I also remember praying for a Jewish woman years ago, and I kept saying the Name of Jesus because I was so moved with compassion because of her illness. She was so sweet and said to go ahead and "pray to my Jesus," so I did. She didn't seem to mind at all. And working hospice, it was rare in my experience to find an AIDS patient that would turn down a prayer. I guess some would find these prayers questionable.

Why does so much of this discussion conjure up images of medieval monks who were afraid to sully themselves through contact with the dregs of humanity, as if holiness was a temporal quality that worked from the outside to the inside, instead of shining forth from the inner man to be manifested by good fruit?

Anonymous said...

Dear Cindy,

It's me, L's

I don't know if you realized that the first hospitals were run mostly by monks and nuns in the Middle Ages.

Here is some info on this:

'In the middle ages, the lion's share of the almshouses, lazar (leper) houses, and hospitals were founded by Saints and Abbots, or under the supervision of monasteries, and were staffed and managed by the monks and nuns who founded them. Lay persons (knights and dukes) might also found and administer hospitals. In that case, they, too, were acting upon what they felt was a Christian moral obligation to care for the sick.

Christians had a Moral Obligation to Care for the Sick:
In the middle ages, piety meant that Christians cared for the sick, taking on the task as a sacred, moral duty. Because the "leper" and the sick, the poor, the wanderer, the pilgrim, and the insane were beloved of Christ, so they should be beloved of all Christians. Priors and Abbots founded hospitals as part of this sacred duty.'

Try to imagine the work of Mother Theresa and you will begin to understand that the care of the sick and the dying is considered a sacred service to God in my religion.

My father recieved his last hospice care from a nurse on the morning of the day he dies. She was also able to administer the sacrament of communion to my father because she was a Catholic Eucharistic minister as well as a nurse.

My religion has a long history of caring for the sick and the dying.
Works of mercy are considered to be a sacred form of prayer and service to the Kingdom of God in the name of Our Lord.

Anonymous said...

Saint Anthony – the father of monasticism, acted thus, determined not to abandon his connections with the Church. His cooperation with the Church was a good example for monks to emulate. During the wave of oppression that was instigated by Maximinus (305-318), he left his cell and went to Alexandria in the intention of suffering a martyr's death for the sake of Christ. There he visited confessing prisoners, comforting them and encouraging them to remain firm in their faith unto death. When the followers of Arius killed the Church Fathers and believers in a great wave of persecution, Saint Anthony visited Alexandria a second time in 355 to defend the faith, to comfort the confessors, to visit the prisoners, and to exhort them to remain firm in their faith. This brought him much suffering.
Mor Aphrem (Saint Ephraem Syrus) for his part founded a church choir composed of young girls from Edessa, which sang works that he had both written and put to music, and which served to strengthen Christian doctrine and refute heresy. The beginnings of orderly liturgical life in the Syrian Church is regarded as being his work.
It should also be mentioned that when famine broke out in Edessa in the winter of 372/373, when many of the inhabitants died of hunger, Mor Aphrem visited wealthy citizens of the city, collected alms from them and distributed them among the poor. Furthermore, he established houses in which he set up 1300 beds. They served as hostels for the old and infirm under his personal care.
When the plague broke out, Mor Aphrem undertook the care and comfort of the patients himself until he, too, fell victim to the plague, dying on 9th June 373.

'I have built a church in my soul'

Anonymous said...

CINDY wrote,

"And working hospice, it was rare in my experience to find an AIDS patient that would turn down a prayer. I guess some would find these prayers questionable."

Dear lady, you do the same work that Christian saints of old did. You are working with the modern day lepers: victims of AIDS. God bless you for ever and ever. L's

Cynthia Kunsman said...

I did not say "ALL MONKS," but I do appreciate these examples offered here of those who served the Lord without cares or concerns for their own well-being in their service to the ill.

That is one of the things I am most proud of regarding my training: I trained with the Sisters of Mercy, an order that was essentially established to train nurses. The school I attended was small -- no more than 300 ladies lived in the single dorm, and since I was 17 when I headed off to the campus, it was also a safer environment with a mostly female population (as opposed to a huge state college or what my husband calls a "party school").

But my Pentecostal congregation had a huge problem with Catholics, and every Sunday that I returned home, I would have to explain to several people why I was going to an evil Catholic school --also noting that there were no accredited nursing programs at any Christian colleges (that we could afford), etc. My next viable choice was Penn State where I would have been a grain of sand in a secular sea.

Anyway, I am quite proud of the fact that Catherine Mcauley who was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1778 who would later give her family wealth to endow an order for the training of nurses for the care of the sick, founding the order of the Sisters of Mercy. (They even note that she flirted with Protestantism, but she decided that she had a better chance of doing more good with the Catholic church, though some argue -- likely some unruly Protestant -- that it was for practical reasons only that she remained a Catholic, so as to secure that a school of nursing would be established.)

And many of the Sisters of Mercy on my campus spoke in tongues, so I was quite right at home. So I have all kinds of strikes against me in the SBC nowadays, no doubt. And I played guitar and sang in the folk mass, and they left me take communion there -- so long as I was baptized in the name of Jesus, they told me. (I don't know what the new pope would have to say, but they were quite Vatican II there at the time.)

Anonymous said...

Dear Cindy,

Thank you for sharing with me.

You wrote: " And I played guitar and sang in the folk mass, and they left me take communion there -- so long as I was baptized in the name of Jesus, they told me. "

Of course they let you receive communion: no one would ever be turned away in my Church, although the 'formal rules' may request otherwise. If someone comes to receive, they are fed.:)

Even in the Protestant faith, there must be some sense that Jesus is present among the congregation and that the memorial to Him is a blessing for all present.

My father, of blessed memory, lived in a Catholic assisted-living facility on the grounds of a parish Church near us. The pastoral counselor there was Methodist and helped my father go through pangs of grief when my mother passed away. This minister, Keith, had an all-faith service after Mass in the Terrace Room on Wednesday mornings. My father would recieve communion at Mass and then stay for Keith's all-faith service and receive communion there also. I was thrilled. :)

Playing guitar at mass? Dear Cindy, the lead guitarist at my university Newman Club (Catholic Student Union), was JEWISH. She was great. And she was a dear friend to all of us and we loved her. She shared her God-given gift of music with us and we were grateful to have her there as one among us.

People create so many barriers and for what reasons? Thank God, we cannot divide Jesus up.

You would be welcomed at my Church anytime and I think I would be comfortable and honored to pray in your Churce with you, who in hospice work, serves Our Lord's dying with a such a good Christian heart.

God Bless you always. It is a holy thing to bring comfort to the dying. Love, L's

Ramesh said...

James White answers David Allen's accusations:

Today on the Dividing Line: More on the John 3:16 Conference

"I addressed the new article posted by David Allen on Peter Lumpkin's blog at the end of the program. Here's that portion:"

Unfortunately, James White posted a video and there is no transcript of the audio.

Anonymous said...


It's me, L's

Thank you for you invitation yesterday to go over to the other blog site: there was a problem with me as there is no way to write and 'save' on that site as Anonymous and my husband does not wish for me to use an E-mail address.

But thank you for thinking of me.

I have trouble understanding the complexities of Calvinism and I think you may have made much more progress than I have. Everytime I think I understand, I get muddled again. It IS a very complex doctrine and apparently not everyone agrees on it as any kind of consensus.

I love how you are a 'peace-maker' and I wondered about your back-ground and religious training as a young person. You have what we call in my faith a 'contemplative' spirit, which is sensitive to the wonders of the mysteries of faith.
That is why I think you find the writings of the Christian mystics meaningful, as I do. Very beautiful they are to me, and evocative of the Spirit of the Christ. :)

I'm glad I have a chance to read what you write on this blog. I always find it encouraging and illuminating. :) L's

mike fox said...


i'm a recent graduate of an SBC seminary. although I am not a 5-pointer, many of my closest friends are. i've seen calvinists mock those who aren't, and non-calvinists ridicule the 5-pointers. i'm trying not to use the term "arminian," because i don't think there are really too many full-fledged arminians walking around in SBC life (most don't accept that we can go in and out of salvation).

but, i've seen plenty of calvinists and non-calvinists work together and accept each other as brethren. i really hope the divide is not as great as you have described it, but i'm limited to a midwest/southern demographic as far as what i've seen.

as far a acceptance, i really want to agree with you . . . but then you mention the private prayer language. i think this one is on such thin ice scripturally that i don't know if we can wink at it and let it slide.

paul's letters echo the sentiment that false teachings must be exposed and dealt with. private prayer language? since when is any gift for "private" use. gifts are for the church

still, i see where you're coming from, and in the spirit of fairness i'm trying to withold my final conlusions about prayer language until i've heard multiple perspectives on it. but, aren't there going to be some things that are just out of bounds, no matter how sweet the person is who comes out and advocates it?

Cynthia Kunsman said...

Mike Fox,

I grew up in a Pentecostal church, and I started speaking in tongues at age 8. I don't do so much at all anymore, and I now attend a liturgical church. I do however awaken from sleep speaking in words I do not understand, and my husband says that I often speak it in my sleep outloud in my sleep, and I often pray for specific people, too. I never remember doing this.

I'm very interested in how the brain works and the monumental advances made in brain imaging in just the past 10 or 15 years, much of which has been pioneered by a graduate from the first class of MDs from Oral Roberts University. I've also studied the findings of the secular neurophysiologists as well.

There is a type of "spiritual personality" that shares many common traits with those who have a high degree of activity in the temporal lobes of the brain. Just like some people have big ears or noses, etc, some people are wired differently with certain areas of the brain more naturally active than others. So physiologically, people with more active Right temporal lobes are more predisposed to have this ability or tendency, and this affects personality (or vice versa).

So as a person who has looked at this issue from many perspectives and from both an experiential and an objective view, I don't know what it means or why it happens. It might be learned, it might not be learned. And I was a child when this started for me, and though I don't engage in it purposefully anymore, I still attach it to prayer in my dreams and it has become a subconscious (or unconscious) aspect of my life.

From a Pentecostal perspective, I would describe it in this way. As I'm sure you know, Paul differentiates tongues without interpretation (that which edifies the believer's spirit beyond our ability to understand) from tongues which are meant as a prophetic communication. The litmus test for the one that is prophetic is this: there is an interpretation of the message in the language of the people.

And if you can find the Scripture reference that clearly states that the gifts of the spirit including words of knowledge and such have ceased, I hope that someone will point this out to me and explain their reasoning for the cessation of the gifts. I've never read or heard a cogent argument, only the opinions of others who project their presuppositions into their arguments.

But I would not say that the argument for tongues is poorly supported in Scripture. I would say that the assertion that the operation of spiritual gifts has ceased or ever ceased. That does not give license to experiential Christianity that lacks substance, nor does it give license to exploitation of people through imitating spiritual gifts or making them out to be much more than they are.

I'm curious to hear Pastor Wade weigh in on how he would explain the Scriptural support for this belief that falls within the pale of orthodoxy, because it is found in the Word. How we put that into perspective as believers varies greatly, and as someone who has been on many points on the continuum about this, I can't even explain what it is or what it does, but I do know that Paul did provide support for it, or it would not be practiced in Pentecostal churches that do teach sola scriptura. I reject fideism, but that still does not help me understand it beyond what Paul tells us of it: private tongues edify the believer.

I hope that helps, as you did ask for multiple perspectives. ;)

Morris Brooks said...


If you will watch the video of the Q & A at the John 3:16 conference you will see David Allen stating that the big issue for the next 7-8 years in the SBC will be Calvinsim. It is not a non-issue and will only get more vitriolic.


Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment nearer the top......"When Dr. Mohler starts taking public shots, I will be worried."