Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Great Commission Resurgence Debate

Probably the biggest news coming out of the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, Kentucky in a couple of weeks will be a vote regarding the Great Commission Resurgence Declaration. Whether or not an official motion for the Convention to affirm the GCRD will be made is yet to be seen, but I'm sure the debate will be a memorable one. I have signed the GCRD, but I recently received a sagacious comment from one of our finest IMB missionaries regarding the GCRD.

Ron West was appointed by the the International Mission Board in the 1970's. Ron served as a math teacher and coach before his IMB appointment and had just finished his Ph.D. in math before receiving his first assignment to the Far East. Ron taught math and coached in a missionary kid's school for a few years and then he taught math in a Chinese University in Taiwan where he did student evangelism and church planting. Being a teacher was a tremendous help in fulfilling his mission since the Chinese give a great deal of respect to teachers.

Ron also served in the National Guard before he was appointed as an IMB missionary. He was able to continue his U.S. Army Reserve service while in the IMB. Now days the IMB requires reservists to resign their commission before appointment, but Ron entered the IMB before there was such a rule. Ron retired from the reserves in 1999 after thirty years of service, retiring as a Colonel. In 2007 Ron was called back to active duty at Walter Reed, in Washington, D.C., where he served for one year. It was my privilege to meet Ron a couple of years ago. I have a great deal of respect for him, and when he writes something, I pay close attention. Recently he sent me a comment about the Great Commission Resurgence Declaration that I reproduce, with his permission, below:

Wade, you say that a Great Commission Resurgence is necessary and I have no problem with that. I would like to see us discuss the proposal by Johnny Hunt and Danny Akin for a Great Commission Resurgence that is going to be proposed at this year’s SBC meeting.

I could not sign the document for a number of reasons but most of all because I do not believe it has anything to do with a GCR. Reorganizing the SBC or combining the IMB and NAMB will not bring about a GCR. The SBC does not need to study the state conventions and associations. The state conventions and association need to study the SBC and determine if the SBC is fulfilling its mission.

For example, I believe that the SBC would more fully carryout the wishes of the churches, associations and state conventions if the trustees from each state were chosen by the state convention. What we have now is a system similar to what would happen in the US if the president were able to chose the senators and congressmen from each state whether the state supported him or not. Why don’t we have a blog devoted to discussing the GCR as proposed by Hunt and Akin.

There are a couple of great points that Ron makes in his comment:

(1). The way trustees are appointed in the SBC ought to change. State Conventions ought to appoint trustees.
(2). The churches, associations and state conventions ought to study national agencies and determine if they are fulfilling their mission rather than the other way around.

Let the debate begin.

In His Grace,



Robert Hutchinson said...

why the state conventions should not appoint trustees

first baptist church podunk, mo sends 5% of tithes and offerings to the baptist general convention of missouri and 5% directly to the sbc.

they do not send any money to the missouri baptist convention.

the sbc will not accept money sent to them from the baptist general convention of missouri.

what are the chances of a missouri baptist who is a member of first baptist church of podunk, mo being nominated by the mbc to serve as a trustee on an sbc agency?

Texan said...

Why are we always trying to reinvent the wheel? We have the basics--now just quit fighting, stop being jealous and backbiting, and fall in love with Jesus.

At actually does work if we will just do it...

Rex Ray said...

Robert Hutchinson,
About the same chance as any person in the BGCT has now.

But good point.

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


Just two quick observations:

1) Do we really want to make the goal of the GCR to be a change in structure that mimics Washington? (Although we all know how well that system works.) :)

2) Everything should be studied; associations, state conventions, SBC entities... everything should be reevaluated to see if we are doing it the best possible way. I believe this to be the desire of Dr. Hunt and Dr. Akin. However, this is only one point of ten points in the document. Let's not forget about the others.

Christiane said...

Sounds like, instead of a meeting of the 'Convention', you need to prayerfully call a 'Church Council' in the old way: all annointed Southern Baptist ministers coming together, as equals, in prayer in a council, not to argue, or disagree, but to pray for guidance, as a Community.

Believe me, if that happens, and those prayers are sincere, the Guidance will come.

Practical? Political? nope.
But it looks like what is needed is to build up a sense of community, as Southern Baptist pastors come together, seeking sincerely the leading of the Lord in how to help their Church.

A 'Council' of annointed ministers, humbly seeking God's Guidance, not coming in with their 'own' answers or 'pushing their own agendas'. Just praying for Guidance.

Some good would surely come. Remember, we are not left here alone.

Be 'impractical'. Stop the political and call a time-out to come together in community before God, to 'join' with humility in sincere prayer.
Give the Holy Spirit a chance.

Love, L's

Anonymous said...

"Sounds like, instead of a meeting of the 'Convention', you need to prayerfully call a 'Church Council' in the old way: all annointed Southern Baptist ministers coming together, as equals, in prayer in a council, not to argue, or disagree, but to pray for guidance, as a Community."

Blessed L's, I have been crying this for years....ok months....maybe a couple years...

I think I might join Ben Cole in washing my hand of all this crap. Southern Baptists are babies and power mongers. Sin hath gained control of the hearts of men. The GCRD has nothing to do with the Bible and everyhitng to do with a repositioning of power.

Who is not smart enough to see this?????????????????????

Let the debate begin?


Unknown said...

I am in complete agreement with Bro. West! In fact, maybe the churches should have more say in who trustees are and the have each state convention vote on them at their annual meetings.

The convention is not responsible for the GC as I understand it anyway, it is the responsibility of the local church. We have allowed 'outside agencies' and 'professionals' to make policy and carryout the GC while abdicating our individual responsibilities as Christians.

It is time Christians pick up the responsibility of Christ and become GC Christians and in turn we would see our churches become GC churches!

Michael Ruffin said...

"The way trustees are appointed in the SBC ought to change. State Conventions ought to appoint trustees."

This will never happen for many reasons, among which are these three:

1. It smacks of "connectionalism," which used to be a bad word in SBC life and which will be trotted out again when it suits leadership's purposes.

2. It moves control away from SBC leadership, which they will not tolerate.

3. It is too fair and makes too much sense.

(P.S. I seem to recall sitting in a big room in Dallas back in 1984 with a few thousand of my closest brothers and sisters when someone proposed substituting for the Committee on Nominations [I think that's what is was called] a slate consisting of state convention presidents and state WMU presidents, the selection of whom would have made our processes in that volatile time wiser and fairer. It was quashed [by the chair, not by vote of the people] and the rest, as they say, is history.)

Michael Ruffin said...


As an old saint once said while agreeing with the preacher's sermon, "You can sit down and shut up--you done spoke the truth!"

John Fariss said...

Amen to Brother West!

As one who hold an (apparently) minority view in the SBC on several issues, I have become very suspecious of the wording in SBC documents. Maybe I am just being paranoid (and remembering that being paranoid doesn't necessarily mean they aren't out to get you), but when I read, "A Commitment to Biblical Inerrancy and Sufficiency. We call upon all Southern Baptists to unite around a firm conviction in the full truthfulness and complete sufficiency of Christian Scripture in all matters of faith and practice," I fear that it is a step towards an inerrancy article in the next BF&M, and growing creedalism, as well as license for some to wield a heavy club in saying, "If you don't believe exactly the way I believe in all the things I say are important, you're outta' here!" When I read, "We call upon all Southern Baptists to affirm and expect a pastoral ministry that is characterized by faithful biblical preaching that teaches both the content of the Scriptures and the theology embedded in the Scriptures," I wonder if that is code for, "If you don't preach the style we say you should, you're outta' here!" When I read a heading that begins with, "Methodological Diversity that is Biblically Informed," I wonder if that could become, "If you try a methodology that isn't approved, you're outta here!" When I read, "We call upon all Southern Baptists, through our valued partnerships of SBC agencies, state conventions/institutions, and Baptist associations to evaluate our Convention structures and priorities so that we can maximize our energy and resources for the health of our local churches and the fulfillment of the Great Commission," I wonder if because that is perhaps the most tangible article, if it will not become the practical emphasis of powers that be to initiate agenda-driven changes under the guise, "We have a mandate." And when I read, "Too often we believe that children are a burden rather than a blessing and smaller families are more 'responsible' than large families. Too many believe that motherhood is not valuable as a woman’s unique and primary calling and is not as 'fulfilling' as other occupations," I find myself fearful that that it is a euphamism for "Birth control is sinful and women should stay barefoot, pregnant, and uneducated, because men are ordained to be in control" and the patriarchal and "quiverful" movements.

Do I think that Dr. Akin and the others involved are this petty and sneaky? NO, that is not at all what I am suggesting. ACtually, there are some parts of this CGR document I like and can affirm--in fact, much of it, were it not for my paranoia. What I am suggesting is that among those Southern Baptists who hold to (again apparently) minority views, trust has to be built first before at least I am willing to jump on this bandwagon.

The value of this GCR document is another issue altogether. Is it more than another offering of the "program of the month club"? But again: trust building would go far in answering that question.


Roger D. Lee said...


I agree with much of the post. However, I do not believe the State Conventions should be choosing the trustees. My Baptist polity class in the 70's is dated but not out dated. I fear if the state conventions were to choose the trustees then the local church would be removed from the equation. I would agree that changes are needed to rehab the process but I would be against anything that would eliminate the local church.

It also seems the Resurgence will not do anything for the real issue, motivation. The structure of the SBC is only a conduit of the energy and activity at the local church level. If there is little "energy" then the conduit is empty. Just because the SBC may be a bloated organization it does not affect my witnessing to and making disciples on a daily basis.

I am a Southern Baptist by conviction and I do believe we support the finest mission sending agency. However, the sermons, speeches or documents by Hunt or Akin do not motivate me to share my faith and the reason for my hope. My motivation comes from the Great Commandment.

Thanks for listening.

Roger D. Lee

Lydia said...

That last time we restructured we ended up with Bob Reccord.

The problem is deeper.

Jonathan McGuire said...

As Michael Ruffin stated, the main problem with the proposal is "connectionalism" where the concern is a lack of autonomy of the SBC and the state conventions. I'd point folks to Hefley's classic series "The Truth in Crisis" for some historical context here. In vol. 3, page 29 (thanks amazon...I don't have this books at hand at the moment), there is a discussion of the events that Michael refers to (including the subsequent lawsuit that went right up the the Supreme Court).

The only reason that this path was attempted by moderates in 1984 was that they knew that the SBC's process of trustee selection (which had been utilized to great effect by those same moderates for decades) was turning against them. If what you propose today had been in place in the 80s, there would have been no conservative resurgence.

The answer is not in who selects trustees but in how these agencies are managed.

Given a leadership culture that is typical in the SBC (and modern Western mid to large corporations), I expect a great deal of discussion, highly animated exhortation, orchestrated fanfare surrounding the signing of yet another document, and very little measureable change. Unfortunately, much of leadership culture is dedicated to protecting those in leadership rather than being aimed at producing the most healthy and productive organization.

I expect that the market forces that are making so many of state and SBC agencies pay a price for inefficiency and poor management will ultimately force a large scale restructuring. Unfortunately, this default method is often the most painful one.

What we need to do is ask questions like,

"How many missionaries could be funded with the money that is current spent on X in Y agency?"

"Do our agency heads really need that many direct assistants?"

"How many seminaries are needed to meet the projected pulpit needs over the next generation?"

"How many trustees are needed to oversee each agency"

Again, as a convention, we can be proactive, ask these questions and take action now or we can be driven by the continual fall of CP giving later.

Doug Hibbard said...

I'm still trying to decide which is more disturbing to me as a Southern Baptist pastor:

That our denominational leadership would be suspected of having ulterior motives for suggesting we need to refocus on Biblical priorities; or:

That those suspicions cannot just be dismissed out of hand.

That's been part of my struggle with the GCRD the whole time. I 'signed' it (well, digitally), because I agree with the direct truth of the statements. Yet I am concerned for their application, and respect and understand the people that have shied away from it. (perhaps even more than I respect people who signed with publicized 'caveats' that draw attention to themselves)

Somehow, our SBC policies seem to have gotten away from taking direction from churches. We have the idea that the SBC, the Boards, all of the structure are 'autonomous.' That cannot mean they should be without accountability to the churches that fund and establish them. The IMB and NAMB exist to help churches fulfill the Great Commission, not as an ends to themselves. These boards are not responsible for the Great Commission. The churches and believers are, and the boards are there to help and facilitate that activity. As such, the 40,000+ churches that are involved in the SBC need to both know better what's going on and have a better say. Perhaps having the state conventions involved in trustee selection is good plan, but seeing the falling participation in state conventions doesn't reassure me of that.

But I see a good point in having churches be the instigators of evaluation. Of course, then you'll have to deal with some of us under-educated Arkies evaluating the processes of the greatly learned management of the SBC, which might be tough on the ego.

Or are we committed to the Word of God enough to put that part of us aside?

Jeff said...

To those who fear the local church would be left out of the formula---Are we in it now? I mean really in it! I don't think we are in it.

Michael Ruffin said...

Jeff makes a good point. The process of trustee selection is tightly controlled; I suspect that has been the case through both "moderate" and "conservative" periods. The local church has little and maybe nothing to do with it.

Ron said...

I just discovered this post and it is late at night here. I am going to be gone for the next two days so I am going to make a hurried comment since you were kind enough to put up a discussion on this issue at my request.
First let me set the record straight. When I arrived at Walter Reed our soldiers were being provided some of the best medical care available in the world and it was even better when I left. My role was very minor compared to our active duty soldiers who serve and defend our country year in and year out at great sacrifice.
The GCR and my call for electing trustees by the state convention are two separate issues but are connected only because I believe electing trustees at our state convention level would improve the quality of trustees and improve the work or our institutions.
I oppose the GCR document even though I mostly agree with the axioms. What concern me is the wording in between axioms and the history of study committees appointed by CR leaders. I believe it will become a vehicle to weaken our state conventions and increase the power of our SBC bureaucracy. If I have time later I will elaborate on that.
Several years ago I proposed a resolution at our Arkansas Baptist State Convention that we ask the SBC Executive Committee to look at ways to let the state conventions name the trustees from their states. It failed but it also angered the CR leaders in our state greatly. Here are some of the reasons I would like to see it happen.
State conventions already decide what percentage of CP funds they will send to the SBC. Why not also decide who will serve on the trustee boards that decide how the money is spent.
The CR leaders talk a lot about grass roots Southern Baptists. The state conventions are much closer to the grass roots than the SBC.
It would make it more difficult for one political group to control the SBC if the trustee elections were spread out to each state. This is the main reason the CR leaders object.
I notice that for several years in the first decade of the CR that the person we elected as state convention president ever year was different from the CR endorsed candidate. I also noticed the loser in most cases was serving on an SBC trustee board and the winner was not. That indicated to me that the trustees representing our state were no those that Arkansas Baptists wanted representing them on national boards.
During the year I lived in DC, I attended Capitol Hill Baptist Church. It is a great church and I benefited greatly from the preaching of Mark Dever. Although I did not join the church, I did attend the new members classes. The told us that they were not part of the DC Baptist Convention. However, if you will notice this year both members of the committee on committees from DC are members of Capitol Hill. Every year one or both members of the committee on committee and committee on nominations representing DC are from Capitol Hill and as a result an amazing number of trustees at SBC institutions are from that church. There is something wrong with that.
Both Texas and Virginia have divided conventions. In each case one convention provided most if not all of the trustees every year. That is not right. If we are going to accept their money we should let them provide their quota of trustees.
It is late and I have to go. If this post is still up in two days I will provide more reasons.
Ron West

Stephen said...

There must be a better way to administer the GC without tying it to another attempt at restrictive orthodoxy. When will the "leaders" of the SBC quit trying to redefine what it means to be a Baptist? At least Wade and Ron are trying to make it work more effectively.

Robert Hutchinson said...

another reason why the state conventions should not elect sbc trustees

election of trustees is an acknowledgment of authority over and a practice of authority over an institution.

the cooperation article of the bf&m '25, '63, '00 clearly states that individual baptist institutions have no authority over any other baptist institution.

"Christ's people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches."

each individual church that affiliates with the sbc, whether directly or through the cooperative program, elects from her membership persons to serve as messengers to the convention.

those messengers who come directly from the churches elect the officers of the convention and trustees of the agencies.

you can't get any more "grass roots" than that.

Jeff said...

Robert, This sounds good in theory, but my church has little say in who the trustees are. People gathered at conventions, and associational meeting and everything is basically rubber stamped.

Robert Hutchinson said...

brother jeff,

you said, " church has little say in who the trustees are."

i would submit to you that no church has any say in who the trustees are. again, just to be clear, churches have no authority over the convention and therefore have no say in who is elected as a convention officer or agency trustee.

when my church sends me as a messenger they do not tell me who to vote for for president or for trustee of new orleans seminary or anything else.

messengers do not speak for the churches.

messengers vote according to the dictates of their conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. messengers act as a priesthood and should act only under authority of the Lord Jesus.

in this way, the Lord is the one who is exercising authority over the convention.

same is true with the church, the association, and the state convention.

Jeff said...

Robert, I stand corrected but I still think the process (most of the time) is rubber stamped.

Christiane said...


Can you tell me under what authority that the Convention was established originally?

Thanks, if you can help. L's

Robert Hutchinson said...


you asked, if i could tell you "under what authority that the Convention was established originally?"

of course i can.

the convention was established under the authority of the great state of georgia.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia, in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same. That from and after the passing of this act, That William B. Johnson, Wilson Lumpkin, James B. Taylor, A. Docrey, R. B. C. Howell and others, their associates and successors, be and they are hereby incorporated and made a body politic by the name and style of the Southern Baptist Convention, with authority to receive, hold, possess, retain, and dispose of property, either real or personal, to sue and be sued, and to make all bylaws, rules, and regulations necessary to the transaction of their business, not inconsistent with the laws of this State or of the United States – said corporation being created for the purpose of eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the Baptist denomination of Christians, for the propagation of the gospel, any law, usage, or custom to the contrary not withstanding.

Approved, December 27th, 1845
(1845 Georgia Laws, Page 130, Paragraph 3)


Christiane said...


Thank you for helping me.
Love, L's

Robert Hutchinson said...

just a bit of humor there.

of course prior to state incorporation baptist men under the authority of and in obedience to the Lord Jesus established the southern baptist convention.

and established it as a means of fulfilling and being obedient to the Lord's command, "Go ye therefore..."

jeff and others,

it should be noted that in the beginning messengers to the convention came not only from churches but also from missionary societies and other religious bodies (such as state conventions).

i think in 1925 along with the cooperative program decision the convention voted to only seat messengers from churches.

if i recall correctly it was because the convention meetings were getting larger and larger.

notice how the opening paragraph of the sbc constitution reads with regards to messengers (my bold for emphasis):

"The messengers from missionary societies, churches, and other religious bodies of the Baptist denomination in various parts of the United States met in Augusta, Georgia, May 8, 1845, for the purpose of carrying into effect the benevolent intention of our constituents by organizing a plan for eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the denomination for the propagation of the gospel..." (SBC Constitution)

John Fariss said...

Dear Christine,

Robert told you, "the convention was established under the authority of the great state of georgia." He is correct in a legal and technical sense, very much the same as (I think) any church of any denomination has trustees who act for the church in legal matters.

However, in all the churches I am familiar with, the trustees act only at the behest of congregational authority, however that is determinated--congregationally for Baptists, through elders or a session for Presbyterians, and through appointed authority (i.e., pastor or priests) in hierachial denominations, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, etc.

I would answer that the SBC was formed by the authority of "messengers" sent to a gathering, almost a Council of like-minded Churches. In other words, the SBC was formed under the authority of Baptist church members who were appointed or elected by autonomous churches; furthermore, they were authorized to create a body, as the old Georgia statute says, for the "purpose of eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the Baptist denomination of Christians, for the propagation of the gospel." I have tried to phrase that carefully, because one bit of Baptist heritage is that we treasure is the autonomy of individual churches, thus no one church is under the authority of any other ecclesiasticical body. A Baptist church (typically) relates to three organizations or "bodies" on an equal footing: the local association (in many places, especially in the South, a single county); a state association or convention; and the national organization, the SBC. It is neither a connectional system (like Methodism) nor a hierachal one, in which either a bishop or a synod can tell a local church what to do or not do, nor does any body the church relates to--association, state convention, or national convention--own the local church's assets in trust.

Does this help, or just muddy the waters more?


Joe Blackmon said...

Allowing states to vote on who serves as a trustee would be a great way for y'all's Mainstream Resurrgence [(c) 2008 Joe Blackmon] to get started. That way, you could actually have a chance of getting people with Mainstream theological views (i.e. It's all good/Whatever floats your boat) in leadership positions and taking back the convention.

Christiane said...


It's me, L's

I'm sure glad you clarified your first note ROBERT, 'cause I read it and I was walking around my house thinking 'oh my goodness' in response!

I was a little bit shocked. :)

I was looking for a more scriptural or religious 'authority' to be mentioned, and the State of Georgia was actually quite a shock.

So thank you both ROBERT and JOHN for trying to help. I'm a little slow to sort out anything 'political' or 'organizational', so the waters are still a little bit muddy.

I will read carefully again, and I know that I may ask further questions and receive your very kind help. Thanks again to both of you. :) Love, L's

John Fariss said...

Joe, you're a troll. And a misinformed one at that.


Joe Blackmon said...

John Farris

Thank you. Your breath is minty fresh and you do a fabulous job making sure your socks are mated. I think I've got on one navy and one black now that I think about it.

Sheila said...

I agree with Ron that we do need to change the way in which trustees are chosen. Trustees are charged with the responsibility of oversight of the agencies that serve the churches that support them. It is no secret that the trustee selection process has been subject to manipulation. This kind of manipulation is never healthy, regardless of whose political ideology is in control.

In my state, many of the trustees (especially the more vocal ones) stem from a close circle of CR people. They are not respected in the general church population and are perceived as having tactics that are less-than-Christian. At the state convention each year, they bring a slew of motions and resolutions. The results are overwhelmingly opposed—they can muster no more than 12-15 votes (no exaggeration). And yet our churches are told that we should “trust” these trustees.

Yes, we need to change the way our trustees are selected in order to restore trust. The question is how. Joe Blackmon stated that he certainly does not trust the states to choose the trustees. And yet the state is in a much better position to know the theology, temperament, and intelligence of the nominees. Maybe the state does not need to select the trustees, but rather the representatives to the nominating committee (is that what it is called?). They could be selected by the messengers to the state convention, not by the President of the SBC.

That may or may not be viable, I really don’t know. But we cannot continue the status quo and expect to restore the trust that is missing.


Tom Kelley said...

John Farris,
There is already an inerrancy article in the BF&M. Article I. The Scriptures, says, "It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy." What more could be needed to convey inerrancy? I think it would be difficult (and disingenuous) to parse the words of the BFM to come up with something other than inerrancy.

Bojac said...

Bojac: 40 yrs pastoring baptist churches. One thing I have learned those who want to tell others what to do seem to end up as a trustee on one of our many boards. Well our churches revel in being automous not it seems our trustees want the board on which they serve to have the same privelige. No longer bottom up looked to for directions but top down.

Christiane said...

Sheila wrote this:
"In my state, many of the trustees (especially the more vocal ones) stem from a close circle of CR people. They are not respected in the general church population and are perceived as having tactics that are less-than-Christian"

When a trustee cannot be trusted to follow the laws of Christ, should that not immediately be cause to remove them from their position?

When 'less-than-Christian' tactics are used, does that not show a departure from a position of trust within the Church?

It has been said by some here that these trustees represent the authority of Jesus Christ. And yet, these trustees cannot be trusted in Sheila's state because of 'less-than-Christian' acts.
Apparently, this is a conflict.
Who is calling the shots for these CR trustees, that have departed from Christian ways?

Ron's case is much strengthened, if these 'trustees' are obeying 'another master' and not the Lord.

Who DO these 'trustees' answer to?
To whom are they accountable if they cause harm to someone by breaking the laws of Christ?

The politics of all this is very mysterious to me; but the ethics and the Christian morality involved is very clear.
The conflict lies between the desire to 'obey Christ' by following the 'authority' of 'trustees' who are not obeying Christ.

That is a REAL conflict. Wow. L's

John Fariss said...


If that means inerrancy, then:

1) Why does it not simply say so without dancing around it? I am no great fan of the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, but at least it comes out and calls it by name, as well as discusses conditions and cautions.

2) If you will research the history of this article, I think you will find that it has indeed been understood throughout its long history in several different ways. While I concede that inerrancy is a possible understanding, that was emphasized little if at all before the 1960s, and its main proclamation as that has been since 1979. Before that, it was understood (at least in many SBC circles) as an affirmation of the inspiration of the Bible and of its trustworthiness, without getting into its current usage. Something can be "totally true" on more than one level: literally, figuratively, analogously (pardon my spelling), and so on. Something can be "totally true" on one level and not on another. So if this article means inerrancy--it leaves so much open for interpretation, that to me it means very little. Nor does it address the issue of autographs verses copies verses translations, whgich I think is necessary to specify to have real meaning.

But really--my issue is not so much with inerancy itself as with a fear, maybe groundless, that it will be a step toward creedalism and away from the historic Baptist position of confession as a consensus document.


DL said...

All this talk of presidents and appointments is fascinating. Since I was a poli-sci major my pre-Christian existence, I think this quote from the apostle Paul fits the occasion: "To the victor belongs the spoils." Or was that Joe Blackmon? Or Andrew Jackson? Whatever.

Joe Blackmon said...

Actually, the funny thing is I live in Andrew Jackson's home state. Isn't it ironic?

Don'tcha think?

Tom Kelley said...

I think I understand your point, but still, I don't think there is any evidence that the words "truth with out any mixture of error" or "totally true" were ever intended to mean anything other than their face meaning of "without error", which is all that the word "inerrant" means. True, there are those who attach political and other significance to "inerrancy" (and whether or not someone is willing to affirm belief in it), but I was referring merely to the words of the confession and their plain meaning. It would add nothing, nor change the meaning of the BFM, to put the word inerrant into the document, as the current wording of the document already affirms the concept of inerrancy to anyone who isn't trying to play games with what the words mean.

But as to your concerns about creedalism -- I fear that has already come to pass, without adding a reference to inerrancy. At the start of the CR I would never have believed that Baptists would move from seeing the BFM as a non-binding confession of commonly held beliefs to using it an "instrument of doctrinal accountability" which people would be forced to sign. I don't know if that's what the architects of the CR had in mind from the start, but it wasn't what I believed the CR to be about at the time. Nonetheless, the BFM is being used as a binding creed; a very un-Baptist (and un-Christlike) thing to do.

Rex Ray said...

Tom Kelley,
The 1925 and the 1963 BFM has “…truth, without any MIXTURE of error, for its matter.”

The 2000 BFM has the same with the addition: “Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.”

Tom, if the BFM said, “…truth, without any error, for its matter”, then it would convey ‘inerrancy’ as you see inerrancy, BUT it has that word ‘mixture’.

Have you ever wondered why “mixture” is in all three BFM’s?

I’ve written on this subject many times, but maybe you have not heard the explanation given to me by Michel Whitehead the presiding lawyer for the SBC for many years. (Maybe he still is.)

At the 2004 SBC, I asked him what “without any mixture of error” meant because it was confusing to me.

Whitehead didn’t like it being there, and said, “That’s why WE added ‘Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy’ in the 2000 BFM.”

What I’m leading up to is that Whitehead doesn’t like nor does he believe in the word “mixture”, so his explanation of ‘mixture’ is that of a ‘reluctant witness’.

Whitehead said, “What ‘mixture’ means is that the truth of the Bible is true and the untruth of the Bible is not true.”

In my opinion, that means the lies of men and the devil are not true, the ignorance, false beliefs, and stupidity of men are not true even though they are in the Bible and may not be pointed out as such.

All Scripture is from the mouth of God, but even though untrue ‘facts’, opinions, beliefs, etc. are properly reported in the Bible, they are still untrue and are not Scripture.

Tom Kelley said...

Scripture is the written record of God's revelation. Not every word recorded is true and accurate, but the words are recorded truthfully and accurately. (For example, Rahab lied about the Israelite spies, but the Bible accurately records that she lied.) I think we agree on that.

A person may feel differently when they hear the phrase "without error" than when they hear "without mixture of error" or when they hear "inerrant" (due to inferences they draw from each phrase from personal experience or preference), but the phrases themseves are identical in actual meaning. They key concept conveyed by any of these terms is that everything that the Bible teaches to be true is true.

child of grace said...


Tom Kelley said...


Anonymous said...

Ron West said, "Reorganizing the SBC or combining the IMB and NAMB will not bring about a GCR."

"..Combining IMB and NAMB" REALLY catches my attention a lot more than discussion about GCR.

NAMB's Trustee Chairman, Tim Patterson, said that NAMB should merge with IMB! (Christian Index May 7, 2009)

The huge re-organization that IMB is currently going through could very easily accommodate such a merger.

For instance, IMB classifies communities of people from the same people group that have no Christians among them and live outside their home country as "unengaged people groups" if nobody is trying to reach them.

This results in the official list including peoples such as Liberians, Italians, Koreans and French as being "unengaged people groups".

They are among the more than 3,000 "unengaged people groups" listed because: they have communities of their people with no Christians living among them/ and they live outside their home countries/ and nobody is assigned to reach them.

So we have many "unengaged people groups" right there in the USA!

IMB's current re-structuring focuses on reaching these 3,400 "unengaged people groups" whether they live in their own countries or live abroad. However, we have not yet “heard” of any plans to have IMB missionaries assigned to the USA to reach "unengaged people groups" living there.

We know these agency heads dialogue and plan together so Tim Patterson's remarks are probably not made in a vacuum. Maybe he just let the cat out of the bag prematurely.

But since the NAMB Chairman himself suggests that it would be good to merge, should we anticipate Southern Baptists soon having only ONE GLOBAL MISSION BOARD?

Now THAT will be interesting!

Joe Blackmon said...

All Scripture is from the mouth of God, but even though untrue ‘facts’, opinions, beliefs, etc. are properly reported in the Bible, they are still untrue and are not Scripture.

Of course. So all that stuff from Paul about women not being pastors and homosexuality being sinful are just the untrue opinions of men and are not scripture, right?

Tongue planted firmly in cheek.

DL said...

"All Scripture is from the mouth of God, but even though untrue ‘facts’, opinions, beliefs, etc. are properly reported in the Bible, they are still untrue and are not Scripture."

Can someone explain this statement? What is the implication of this?

Joe Blackmon said...


I think it's a way for the Mainstreamers to be able to say "Of course homosexuality isn't a sin. That was just their opinion in ancient times and they wrote it in the Bible. God didn't inspire THAT so we don't have to pay attention to it." It's why they are so LIVID that the phrase about interpreting the Bible by Jesus Christ was taken out of the BFM because that phrase also allowed them to say "Jesus was too loving to call homosexuality sin so we can just ignore those parts".

They pretty much do that with anything in the Bible that they consider culturally irrelevant.

DL said...

I can handle differing reasonable interpretations of the Bible. I can't handle an attack on the Bible itself.

Kendall said...

I am on page 215 of Wade's book, Hardball Religion, and I have had a hard time putting it down. I thank the Lord for your stand and your book. It has been an eye opener to say the least.

I don't know the answer to electing trustees, but after reading Wade's book something needs to be changed.

Thank you Wade for your blog and involvement...

Rex Ray said...

Tom Kelley,
I see your point about Rahab and we agree on that. But I believe there is a difference between the Bible and Scripture.

Scripture is from the mouth of God, and God cannot tell a lie, but the Bible is like a camcorder…telling everything that happened and everything that was said or written by what the writers believed.

If two or more see or hear of a car wreck, their descriptions of the wreck will not be identical.

Jesus walked on the water: (Matthew 14:32-33) “When they had climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. You really are the Son of God!”

But (Mark 6:51-52) “Then he climbed into the boat and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.”

In a court of law, Matthew’s account would be accepted because Mark’s account was hearsay.

By definition of the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy Mark’s account would be labeled ‘an illusion’. (See page 9)

W.A. Criswell, hero of fundamentalists, published “The Criswell Study Bible”. Paige Patterson wrote the ‘forward’ which includes:

“Harmonization of apparent discrepancies and explanations of passages thought by some to contain error are afforded the reader.”

After Patterson preached at Prestonwood in Dallas, I asked him if all the ‘errors’ were explained or only some of them. He shouted to the crowd, “We got all of them!”

I asked him about the difference in the accounts of the ruler’s daughter in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He whispered in my ear, “We got all we could.”

BTW, the Holman Bible has changed the text so now all three agree. (Matthew 9:18 vs. Mark 5:22-26, and Luke 8:42-52)

As wind separates chaff from grain, the Holy Spirit will teach what is Scripture and what is not Scripture recorded in the Bible.

As John Fariss quoted Ray Frank Robins, I don’t believe God has appointed any of us to be on the committee to tell Him what He did right or wrong in the Bible we have today.

God’s Word spoke the world into existence and not the Bible. We’re not to confuse the two

Christiane said...

Good Morning Everyone,

It's me, L's

My goodness, so much 'controversy' over the Holy Writings. How human we all are. :)

May I share some quotes which are meaningful to me:

Christ - The Unique Word of Sacred Scripture

"In order to reveal Himself to men, in the condescension of His goodness, God speaks to them in human words:
"Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of men,
are in every way like human language,
just as the Word of the Eternal Father,
when He took on Himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men.

Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, His One Utterance in Whom He expresses Himself completely:

You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture,
that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since He who was in the beginning, God with God,
has no need of separate syllables; for He is not subject to time."

"In the sacred books,
the Father who is in heaven
comes lovingly
to meet His children,
and talks with them."

May I share some thoughts:
That word 'inerrant', whatever it means, is not found in the Holy Writings and has been used by many as a club to cause ill-feelings and division.

Perhaps another word to describe the Holy Scriptures could be used that would be much more appropriate to the sacred nature of these writings?
The Holy Scriptures should be referred to, in an acceptable manner to ALL Christians, in the most reverent way humanly possible.
My opinion only?
Might be. Love, L's

John Fariss said...


We're not that far apart. In fact, I could be called an inerrantist who doesn't like the word inerrant. I don't like it (1) because of the political connotations it has acquired in the SBC, and (2) because I believe that in order to be intellectually defensible, it has to be qualified or limited. First it must be limited to matters of faith and practice--God did not inspire the Bible as a textbook of mathematics or geology or biology or political science, etc. Second it has to be limited only to the original autographs--of which we possess none. (And I am not suggesting that the Bible as we have it is full of errors, or even that any doctrine of the church is put into question.) Third, it must be understood in its original context, which means that it was written to be understood as relational truth, not as propositional truth in a post-Enlightenment sense. But when I add these restrictions, it just does not seem to me to be intellectually honest to still use the word "inerrant" because that word suggests an absolute, with no limitations.

It is the issue of someone else imposing their understanding of "inerrant" upon me or the church I serve, and doing so through aa document which in essewnce is a creed. And I agree completely with you there, and have said many times that the phrse "instrument of doctrinal accountability" changed the BF&M from its historic use as a concensus of opinion document to a binding creed.


Christiane said...


I found something interesting for you: it is a 'testimony' of the faithful recording of Holy Scripture, by the faithful transmission of 'apparent inconsistencies' exactly as they were in the original copies.

I would like to know your thoughts about this:

Here it is:

"The far most common type of objection is that of a paradox or perceived contradiction.
For example: "The book of Mark says Jesus was crucified at the third hour and John indicates his trial was still in progress during the sixth hour - a clear contradiction!".

A simple reading of the texts reveals that this truly is how the passages are worded.
So what is the answer?
As always, the answer is: study.

First, if the Bible were fictitious, subject to change, and a work of man, not of God, why would this contradiction have knowingly been left in the Bible?

Why was it not fixed hundreds of years ago?
Or yesterday?
The fact that no one did, and the original words were let stand, however paradoxical, is itself grand testimony to Scripture's fidelity."

Rex, I wonder if it ever occured to Paige Patterson that the man-made changes in the Holman Bible might be seen someday as 'proof' that the Word of God had been tampered with and its meaning changed to 'accomodate' lack of trust in the original documents, and that the Holman Bible might not be a faithful reproduction of God's Word as handed down?

I'm sure this thought never even entered the heads of those who so boldly changed the words and printed them as 'the Word of God' in the Holman Bible.
I guess they just wanted everything to be 'inerrant' so much; that they thought that the 'discrepancies' might NOT have been placed there for a reason: as a 'marker' to validate the transmission of the text faithfully, as close to verbatim, as possible.

Oh dear.

Love, L's

Joe Blackmon said...


WIth regards to the changes you mentioned in the Holman Bible, trust me, that translation isn't going to be around long enough or be taken seriously enough for anyone to debate that. Haa.

Christiane said...


It's me, your elephant-loving friend, L's :)

You sound down about all this.
That is my discernment here.
Joe, pray to the Lord and leave your worries and concerns in His Loving Hands.
All this turmoil will someday be healed by Him.
Don't stress over it. Just trust in Him to find a way to make it right again between Christians.
He will do this. You will see.
Try to be peaceful, my friend.

How are your eyes? You mentioned mis-matched sox. I thought "Gee, my husband does that. All the time, he does that.
So now I need to make an eye appointment for HIM !"

I am praying that God preserves your vision, Joe. Spare your eyes when you can.
I used to buy lots of 'books on tape' for my father, of blessed memory. He loved them.
I even bought him the Holy Scriptures recorded on tape.

God keep you from worry and stress, Joe. Much love, L's

Alan Paul said...

I sometimes wonder if the unhealthy obsession of some with the inerrancy issue is simply a mask for their own issues in trusting Christ at His word. A crutch so to speak to make them feel better about their being Christians in the first place. They need the Bible to be inerrant to qualify (or maybe verify is better) the trust they place in God. God is not controllable. He does as He pleases. And from what I have observed in my life and others', He doesn't sweat the seeming contradiction that is living the Christian life.

John Fariss said...

Good point Alan. When I put my counselor's hat on, I have wondered about that too.


Joe Blackmon said...


The mismatched socks was a joke.

I had surgery three weeks ago to reattach a detached retina. Everything healed like a charm and I'm good to go. I was out of work for about two weeks.

Per the doctor's instructions, reading and all might make my eyes tired but it won't cause any sort of complications with this surgery. Thanks for asking.

Rex Ray said...

As always it’s a joy to reply to you. I believe you’ve expressed the truth of the Bible when you said, “As always, the answer is: study.”

I believe some translations don’t like the way King James expressed Second Timothy 2:15: “STUDY to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Some are too lazy to study. They want the Bible to be like a math book with no conflicts. Maybe God wanted the Bible to be like it is to keep man from worshiping the messenger. “…no other Gods’ includes the Bible.

Back to Paul’s Scripture: “word of truth” means the Bible. So how does a person divide the Bible unless there’s truth and untruth recorded?

I’m off to work on a church.

Tom Kelley said...

Hi, Rex,
Your position is common among those on the theologically "moderate" side of the SBC controversy. I completely and vehemently reject that position, and I affirm that the Bible and Scripture are one and the same. But the fact that we disagree doesn't mean we aren't brothers in Christ, and my thinking you are wrong doesn't mean we can’t cooperate in spreading the gospel. However, I would not want your view taught as fact in the SBC seminaries, and for that reason I think the Conservative Resurgence did more good for the SBC overall than harm. That's not to minimize the harm that was done or the problems left in the wake; it's just my view on the matter overall. I'm sure you disagree, but I trust you do so with charity and grace.

Tom Kelley said...

Hi, John,
You’re right, we’re not that far apart. I prefer to stick to the denotative meaning of words rather than their connotative meanings, but I realize that the connotations are still there. Therefore I have no argument with someone’s personal preference in word choice. And I, too, would not want to see yet another “club” added to the BFM to be used beat people into submission to a “party line” or to a particular interpretation of Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Good discussion everyone. I agree with John Farris with regard to inerrancy. I believe it but with stipulations similar to his. I can't go as far as others, who believe that parts of the Bible are not scripture. What the Bible says about itself is that it is all God inspired. Of course, it includes accounts of people, particularly leaders, both pre and post Christ which seem to be there only to instruct us not to do likewise.

The problem with picking and choosing which parts of the Bible you accept as scripture is that we are left with no common, shared, necessary beliefs. Each of us could pick our favorites, and we would have millions of copies of Bibles like Thomas Jefferson's with large segments excluded because we don't like them. That just isn't an option I can go along with (sorry to burst your bubble, Joe, but I am not one of the go along to get along group you imagine post here).

My guess is that the majority of people who read and regularly comment here believe similarly, so Joe, the idea that Wade's blog buddies support a whatever floats your boat attitude about the Bible is simply wrong. It happens that some of us disagree with you on some points of interpretation. Because you can't effectively refute these interpretations from scripture or using reason (or at least you haven't in any comments I have seen), you choose to blow smoke by making false accusations.

I have found this to be a general strategy of CR stalwarts. I tried to have an objective discussion (in letters) with Dr. Patterson about the Bible's teachings on women as pastors, and he was quite cordial and willing to discuss until in one letter I asked several questions that I assume he could not answer. His next letter told me he would write a book one day and answer my questions and he was through discussing this with me. Hmm.

Joe Blackmon said...


Your assertion that I resort to "blowing smoke" because I can't debate mainstreamers is based on a faulty assumption--rather two.

1) That I care to defend what I believe against what Mainstreamers believe and
2) That I am responsible for defending what I believe.

Both of those assume that I care about changing anyone's mind. Not I, Sam-I-Am.

Anonymous said...


Whatever floats your boat!

Rex Ray said...

June 5, 2009
Tom Kelley,
Let’s see, you seem to ignore all questions and omit commenting on conflicting verses referred to in the Bible.

Is it because you have no answers? Is it because: ‘My mind is made up…don’t confuse me with the facts’?

Your “I completely and vehemently reject…” reminds me a weak argument being strengthen by strong words.

If you can’t explain why women are saved through child bearing (First Timothy 2:15) would you explain how “illusion’ works in the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy?

You said, “Your position is common among those on the theologically “moderate’ side of the SBC controversy.”

That’s news to me. Where did you get that information? I believe you’re using me to smear ‘moderates’. No one has ever told me they agreed with me on my views of the Bible. Hey! Could you give me a name or two…I could use some ‘cheering up’? :)

Ron said...

I would rather this blog be about the GCR than about states appointing their own trustees. It is true as someone said the CR will not allow that to happen as long as they control the SBC. In any case I want to give one more reason. Bart Barber will be elected to represent Texas, a state with two conventions, on the SWBTS board. He recently stated on his blog that, “It would be unlikely for anyone to have placed into my mouth a lower opinion than I actually hold regarding the BGCT. The entire situation puts me in the bitter-tasting situation of having somewhat wronged an institution that I dislike and owing it an apology.” Is it right to ask the BGCT to support a trustee that is representing them who says he dislikes them and has such a low opinion of them? It seems something is terribly wrong with the way we elect trustees.

Now about the GCR. I believe the true intent of the declaration was evident in the original GCR document. It contained a thinly veiled call for a revolution against our state conventions and a reference to our state conventions as bloated and inefficient bureaucracies with red tape a mile long. It then criticized associations, pastors who do not know how to preach and members who are ignorant. It is becoming a fad among certain churches to give money directly to the SBC entities and bypass the state conventions. I believe this declaration is an extension of that movement.

I think our national SBC missions programs benefit greatly from the ministry of our state conventions. Messengers from churches in our state conventions review their budgets every year and decide what formula to use in allocating CP funds for our state and to send to the SBC executive committee. We do not need SBC leaders advising us on how to allocate state CP funds.

If Johnny Hunt wants to be open I would ask he print the salary and benfits of every SBC entity President and if they have family members paid CP funds list those also. That would better let us know how our CP funds are spent on the national level.

After all has been said, I would support a committee to study the SBC if Johnny Hunt would appoint Wade Burleson, former Oklahoma State Convention President and IMB trustee, Randall Everett, BGCT Executive Director, and John Upton, BGAV, Executive Director and former missionary to Taiwan. I know all of these men and believe they would make a fair evaluation of changes that need to be made in CP spending and the trustee selection process. If Johnny Hunt is not afraid of change as he said, then he should appoint these men.

Ron West

Joe Blackmon said...

Back to Paul’s Scripture: “word of truth” means the Bible. So how does a person divide the Bible unless there’s truth and untruth recorded?

If Mainstreamer's who whold such aberant, un-Christian, heretical views of God's precious word as this are allowed to call themselves Southern Baptist then the claims that the convention has no more liberals who need to be purged is total bunk. Furthermore, the pain caused to any of the cancer that was excised in the CR wasn't aparently bad enough if it didn't drive off people like this as well. For all the things that people from the CR have done that I stand against (what happened to Dr. Klouda) I am thankful when I read Mainstream drivel as in the italics above that the CR happened--it just didn't go far enough. There's still plenty of liberalism to stamp out.

Christiane said...

Gentlemen, I need help to understand something.

If the conservative movement believed that the Bible was 'inerrantly' the Word of God;
then WHY did they take the liberty to make 'man-made' changes to parts of it (they called it 'fixing the errors'?) in their Holman Bible.

What am I not understanding here?

How can something be 'inerrant' and still need to be 'fixed'?

Very confusing is this.
It's like creating the Bible to fit their own image. Doesn't make any sense to me. L's

P.S. Also, may I ask, can the CR change the Bible anytime, like they did the Holman Bible? Like they change the 'BF&M' when they want to?

Joe Blackmon said...


I'm not really all that up on the Holman Christian Standard Bible, but I'm not sure it's really a product of the Conservative Resurrgence. At least, I don't think it is. I also am not really familiar with the changes you're mentioning but the cool thing is that with the abundance of bible translations and textual evidence for the New and Old Testament it wold be pretty hard for anyone to try to "slip one by" in a new translation and hoodwink people.

There are actually several good reviews and comparisons of the HCSB with other Bibles. Some folks like it. Personally, I'm not all that crazy about it but I'm an acocuntant so I use the NASB. Haa haa Get it? FASB, GASB, NASB? I thought it was funny.

Christiane said...


Thanks for answering.
BTW, I'm very pleased to hear that your surgery when well. I did pray and now I can thank God, who heals all of our hurts.

I got my info about the Holman from this blog: something from REX, I think, that had to do with Paige Patterson bragging that he had 'got all the errors' or 'as many as we could'.
REX can correct me, if I'm wrong, here.

I'm glad you made that joke 'cause it means you're feeling better.
I didn't 'get it' but that's because I'm not up on my acronyms.
If REX doesn't show up and clarify this, I will try to look the reference here on this blog.
Love, L's

Christiane said...



It is from REX and he is addressing Tom Kelley above.

Here is the quote from REX:
"W.A. Criswell, hero of fundamentalists, published “The Criswell Study Bible”. Paige Patterson wrote the ‘forward’ which includes:

“Harmonization of apparent discrepancies and explanations of passages thought by some to contain error are afforded the reader.”

After Patterson preached at Prestonwood in Dallas, I asked him if all the ‘errors’ were explained or only some of them. He shouted to the crowd, “We got all of them!”

I asked him about the difference in the accounts of the ruler’s daughter in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He whispered in my ear, “We got all we could.”

BTW, the Holman Bible has changed the text so now all three agree. (Matthew 9:18 vs. Mark 5:22-26, and Luke 8:42-52)"

It was posted as Friday, June 5th,
at 10:22 A.M.

Joe Blackmon said...

Thanks L's

Perhaps it's just that it's a Saturday afternoon, but I think Patterson's words related to the commentary not to the translation of the HCSB. I'm still pretty sure that the publication and translation of that particular Bible version had less to do with the CR and more to do with not wanting to pay royalties to use the NIV in Lifeway Sunday School materials.

Christiane said...


So like an accountant to see things in monetary terms. :)
(My daughter, the accountant, is just the same way.)
Thanks, Joe. Love, L's

Tom Kelley said...

I am simply attempting to clearly yet graciously disagree and not to debate you on this matter at this time. If you take that to indicate that I have no answers or can't explain my views, you are welcome to that conclusion, but you would be incorrect. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Tom Kelley said...

I believe that Joe is correct. When the decision was made to pursue the creation of the HCSB, a friend of mine was one of the editors. He told me at the time that one of the reasons for the HSCB was that the SBC wanted their own translation because they were spending a considerable amount of money for permission to use the NIV translation in their educational materials (since the NIV is copyrighted material).

As to the comments Rex made, he was referring to two different things: The Criswell Study Bible, and the HCSB. The former is a commentary that includes both the text of the Bible and explanatory comments, and Rex was saying that Patterson claimed that the comments attempted to harmonize the differences in various accounts. Then Rex followed up with a comment about the HSCB (a differtent item, not connected to the Criswell Study Bible), wherein Rex caimed that the translators "changed the text" to make the different passages agree.

I'm not that familiar with the HSCB, but, like Joe, I consider it unliey that the HSCDB translators would blatenty try to sneak in textual changes. I think it is more likely there are textual variants for those particular passages in the various existing copies of the biblical manuscripts in the original Greek, and the HCSB translators chose to go with the variants that were most similar for each passage. Just a guess, and I could be wrong, but that seems more likely to me than them just randomly choosing to modify the text.

Christiane said...


I'm sure that when any Protestant group undertakes a new 'translation' of the Bible, that, of course, they would want access to the BEST of the earliest original manuscripts.

I know that there are copies of these manuscripts, of course.
I also know that many of the original, most ancient manuscripts known to exist, are safely kept in places like the British Museum, and the Vatican Archives Library.
I am also aware that there are ancient manuscripts kept in little-known monasteries of the Eastern Catholic rites. The Greek Orthodox Church also guards some very ancient treasured manuscripts of Scripture. So there are many of the oldest known primary sources available for scholars to study.

I suppose that Greek is preferred over Latin, but I am also not certain of that, for referencing against. Some of the Early Church Fathers also quoted from Scripture in their letters and their sermons, so we have their tractates, also as a type of reference.

The concept of 'fixing errors' kind of threw me, because I am not aware that any man has the 'authority' to change or re-write the scriptures as they have been handed down.

Many feel that 'mistakes' or 'discrepancies' are made in 'translations'. We can see different translations of scripture that do not even seem to carry the same message, so this may be true, I'm afraid.

The thought of anyone 'tampering' with the Scriptures for their own agenda is abhorent to me. I'm sure that you feel the same.
Thanks, Tom, for your help. Love, L's

Tom Kelley said...

Yes, I do feel the same.

Joe Blackmon said...


Most Bible Translators would use something like the Nsetle-Aland or USB collection of the Greek Manuscripts which (if I understand correctly) is a collection that is based on different Greek texts and includes information about textual variants (I think). They probably would not go to an actual anciet copy from the Vatican or anywhere else because the New Testament text they use already incorporates that.

Also, I've read that about 95% of the New Testament text is the same no matter what textual tradition you're looking at. Some of the 5% difference is spelling or word order I think. I can't think of any textual variant that would change one doctrine of Christianity. Now, I'm probably oversimplifying quite a bit here because I'm not textual scholar but I have stayed in a Holiday Inn Express. Here is a link to a website with some information on the New Testament text.

Christiane said...

Thanks JOE for the reference,

BTW, that library, the Vatican Archives, has manuscripts that go back to the times of the Early Church Fathers, so scholars from any religion can and do get permission to enter the Archives and view the materials, although under supervision, as the manuscripts are very frail.
It is not a 'Catholic' resource only, but is maintained by my Church for all in the wider Christian Community, as a part of the treasure of our common Christian heritage.

I am going to enjoy looking at your resource.

My brother got to study Latin AND Greek in prep school. I only studied Latin. He joined his wife's religion , so as to raise their family in the Church together. He is a Greek-literate Methodist. :)

Thanks again. Love, L's

(go easy on your eyes, you are probably still healing some)

John Wallace said...

It's disturbing but not surprising that Danny Akins motives are being impugned. Anybody who tries to tell the SBC that she's functioning inefficiently is going to be suspected of having some ulterior motive, of trying to centralize more power in the hands of the elitists. Sadly, this is where we've come. Yet the substance of Akin's axioms are right. There is room to debate the trustee appointment processes and nothing in the GCR document precludes this discussion.

Rex Ray said...

This was in the Dallas Morning News four years ago. Has anyone heard if the ‘study’ has been completed?


Dallas Morning News Friday, March 11, 2005
For oldest Bible, a divine new look.
Once texts are digitally reunited, public can see and interpret changes. by Tod Robberson…Europe Bureau

LONDON---Is the Bible the infallible word of God or a text doctored by calligrapher, priest and politicians to satisfy their own earthly motivations?
Evidence suggesting the latter is contained on the pages of the world’s oldest Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus. The ancient Greek Bible, written between the first and fourth centuries, has been divided since the mid-1800s after visitors from Russia and Western Europe removed sections of it from a desert monastery in Egypt.
But on Thursday, experts from Britain, Germany, Russia, Egypt and the United States launched a four-year project to digitally reunite the fragile texts and make them available to anyone with the click of a mouse.
“The codex is so special as a foundation document and a unique icon to Christianity,” said John Tuck, head of British Collections at the
British Library in London. Unification of the manuscript, even digitally, “is a blockbuster in scholarship.”
Only a privileged few have ever been allowed to handle the original manuscripts. Scholars need access to determine, among other things, how far the modern Bible has veered in interpretation from the codex. Parts of the project announced Thursday will include Christian texts written as few as 45 years after the death of Jesus Christ.
The manuscripts are so delicate that only four scholars have been granted access in the last 19 years to sections of the text housed in London, said Scot McKendrick, head of medieval and earlier manuscripts at the British Library in London.
But researchers and the general public will be able to examine the digitized texts in minute detail. Historical and explanatory notations will accompany the digitized texts so that viewers can trace how changes were made and, more important, why.
“Obviously, the way the editing works…is exceedingly interesting. What is process leading to this or that correction? Whether it was merely editorial, or if they were following a theological led” in altering the message, Mr. McKendrick said.
Altered book
Ray Bruce, a film director who is producing a documentary on the project cited the Book of Mark as an example of how much the modern Bible has been altered from the codex. In the codex, he said, the Book of Mark ends at Chapter 16, Verse 8, with the discovery the Christ’s tomb was empty.
But more modern versions contain additionally 12 verses with the testimony from Mary Magdalene and 11 apostles referring to the resurrection of Jesus.

Rex Ray said...

Post would only allow so many words, so here is the rest of the Dallas Morning News story.

“It shows how much this is a dynamic process of editing and adaptation,” he said, but also raises questions about the influence man has had on texts regarded by Christians as divinely inspired.
Researchers and plunderers have particularly coveted the codex because the texts were written so soon after the life of Jesus, and they are the largest and longest-surviving biblical manuscript in existence, including both the Old and New Testaments. In addition, the codex contains two Christian texts written around A.D. 65, the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas.
Sections removed
Until the mid-1800s, the complete codex was housed inside St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, Egypt. But the texts were broken up when visitors bribed, cajoled or deceived monks into letting certain sections be removed for further examination in Russia, Britain, and Germany.
“They were never returned,” said Greek Orthodox Archbishop Damianos of Sinai. “The monastery felt a great injustice was done.”
He said the disappearance of the texts led to upheaval in the monastery, and because of lingering resentment, the monks at St. Catherine’s had been “a bit reluctant to respond positively” when asked to participate in the current project.
In particular, he singled out Britain for criticism because of what he described as the underhanded manner in which it obtained its texts and its longtime refusal to return them. Nevertheless, he said the monastery agreed to join the digitization project.
Other parts of the manuscript that had been taken to Russia disappeared after the 1918 Bolshevik Revolution and were feared lost forever. They did not reappear until the mid-1940s and are now kept at the National Library of Russian St. Petersburg.
Going high-tech
Mr. Mckendrick said the codex was originally produced on high-grade papyrus with the state-of-the-art ink and pens---the best available at the time.
Similarly, the new digitization project will use some of today’s most advanced technology, he added. “So in a sense, we’ll be matching fourth century cutting-edge technology with cutting-edge 21st century technology.”

Rex Ray said...

Joe Blackmon,
You seem to have the same problem as Tom Kelley; that is; instead of answering questions you just use slanderous adjectives such as “aberrant, un-Christian, heretical views”.

You said, “There’s still plenty of liberalism to stamp out.”

Well, that is a step up from being burned at the stake. I guess you haven’t read Wade’s latest post: “It’s nice to be nice.”

It’s almost funny how nice you were to L’s when she asked you ‘my question’ of why did the Holman have the girl alive when all other translations have her dead?

You told her, “I also am not really familiar with the changes you’re mentioning, but…it would be pretty hard for anyone to try to slip one by in a new translation and hoodwink people.”

I believe you have time to read Matthew 9:18 in the Holman and see it has the girl alive when all other translations have her dead.

But you don’t want to read it because you want to stay “hoodwinked” in believing all Bible verses says the same thing. That way you can keep “stamping” the ‘liberals’.

Tom Kelley said,

“I’m not that familiar with the Holman, but like Joe, I consider it unlikely the Holman translators would blatantly try to sneak in textual changes. I think it is more likely there are textual variants for those particular passages in the various existing copies of the biblical manuscripts in the original Greek…just a guess, and I could be wrong…”

Again, why don’t you take L’s advice and STUDY?

Its funny how you said, “…wherein Rex claimed that the translators ‘changed the text’ to make the different passages agree.”

Were do you get the word “claimed”? Is it not obvious the translators changed the girl from dead to alive?

In this account, there are two other differences when comparing Matthew to Mark and Luke. One is Matthew has the ruler having ‘great faith’ while the others have Jesus having ‘great faith’.

I doubt that neither of you have the desire to study for the third difference. Hint: Holman didn’t ‘fix’ this difference.

BTW, Here are two examples of how the Criswell Bible explained ‘discrepancies’:

1. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.” (Ecclesiastes 1:5)

It’s clear this verse is saying the sun goes around the earth, but Criswell’s explanation says:

“1:5-7 These verses show the harmony of Scripture and the sciences.”

2. “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.”

Notes: “7:14 “…God still honors the marriage for the sake of the believing partner. In a ritualistic sense, the believer’s ‘cleanness’ overpowers the unbeliever’s ‘uncleanness’, and the relationship may continue. Of course, the non-Christian still needs to be saved. Thus ‘sanctification’ does not refer to the personal standing of the unbelieving partner but to sanctity of the marriage.”

Why didn’t Criswell use older manuscripts that say “…could be sanctified?

I believe Criswell and his twenty editors were knowledgeable about older manuscripts, but they had rather switch what was sanctified than admit the King James manuscript had an error.

You want to know how Criswell explained Matthew 9:18 “My daughter is even now dead”?

He skipped it. Like Patterson said, “We got all we could.”

Christiane said...


This is the website you want:

Parts of the Codex have ALREADY been released and the Project is due to be completed in July of this year.

Our Scripture Scholars are going to have something to feast on. :)

Try the site and it shows you a list of what is available now.

Love, L's

P.S. I know why those desert monks in Egypt were so upset when
sections of the Codex were not returned to them: they feel a sense of mission to preserve something of most sacred value.
Hopefully, when all scholars have finished their work, the codices will be returned once more to the care of these monks.

After all, they have shown great responsibility to guard something of sacred value for all of Christianity. Let the manuscripts be returned once more to their loving care. Love, L's

Rex Ray said...

For the reference:

For the progress on reproducing the ‘oldest Bible’.

Since the United States is involved, I hope the C/R people don’t have their finger in the pie trying to make it ‘perfect’.

Tom Kelley said...

Since you seem so concerned to know the truth about the translation of Matt 9:18 in the HCSB, I looked up the Matthew, Mark, and Luke passages in Greek and various translations. To be brief, below are the transliterated Greek phrases and their literal translations:

Matthew 9:18 - arti eteleuthsen- "just now has come to the end"

Mark 5:23 - esxatwv exei - "at the point of death has it"

Luke 8:42 auth apeqnh|sken "she was dying"

All three employ different phrases, each indicating being at or near the end of life. The Matthew passage is, as you indicated, typically translated to indicate that the girl has already died, but the original, when transated literally, is not that direct. The phrase, "has come to the end" could indicate either that death has already taken place or that it is imminent. Looks like the HCSB translators went with the translation that most closely matched the parallel passages. Feel free to draw whatever conclusions you wish.

Rex Ray said...

Tom Kelley,
Rather than argue “your” interpretation of the Greek on Matthew 9:18, the question arises:

Why didn’t Paige Patterson, Criswell, and the other twenty PhD’s reach your simple conclusion and explain?

If they’d agreed with you, Patterson wouldn’t have had to tell me, “We got all we could.”

Thanks for the lesson in Greek.

Tom Kelley said...

I didn't give my interpretation of Matt 9:18, I just provided the literal meanings of the Greek words and then speculated as to one possible reason that the HSCB translators translated it as they did. I can't speak for Patterson or Criswell, and I don't know what they would have to do with it, as they aren't listed among the HCSB translators, editors, or reviewers.

Rex Ray said...

I think you are missing the point. The 'Criswell bunch' worked with the Criswell Bible.

They surely knew the Greek. So why didn't they ?used the 'Holman interpretation' of the Greek insteaded of skipping the discrepancy in the King James?

Tom Kelley said...

Sorry, I can be slow sometimes, and I'm still not sure if I am getting what you are saying. So let me back up and summarize to get this all clear in my head, and please tell me if I am not getting any of this right.

The Criswell Study Bible is basically commentary notes together with the KJV, which was published back in the 80s. But the discrepency in the KJV between the Matthew 9:18 passage and the parallel passages in Mark and Luke was not discussed in the Criswell Bible notes. When asked about this, Patterson said "we got all (of the discrepencies) we could."

Then we have the HCSB, a separate effort from the Criswell Bible, led by totally different people, a couple of decades later. In the HCSB, there is no discrepancy between the Matthew, Mark, and Luke passages. You thought this might be due to an attemot to gloss over the discrepancy, but I said it is possible (just my guess) that it was due to different translations of the Greek.

So, now you are asking, "If the discrepancy can be explained on the basis of translation, why didn't the writers of the Criswell Bible notes just say so, instead of not addressing the discrepancy?"

If I have all that right, here is my answer: I don't know. It could be that when he said "we got all we could", Patterson meant they had dealt with all the issues they had time and room to cover. Or it could be that they had never noticed that particular discrepancy. Or it could be that they just didn't think it was an important discrepancy to discuss. Or it could be that they didn't want to call the KJV translation into question in the study notes, knowing how some folks feel about the KJV. Or it could be that they felt that the KJV translation was correct, and they were aware of the discrepancy, but they just couldn't figure out how to reconcile them, so they skipped over the matter.

Those are all just guesses on my part. But my point is that it doesn't seem likely to me that anyone was attempting to cover up the discrepancy, when there are plenty of other reasonable explanations.

Rex Ray said...

I believe you are correct when you said:

"Or it could be that they didn't want to call the KJV translation into quest some folks feel about the KJV."

I'm staying with my wife at a hospital, and this computer is acting up. Must be Baptists.:)

Hope she will be released tomorow.

Write more later.

Tom Kelley said...

Hope your wife is doing okay. My mom is on the hospital right now, also.

Rex Ray said...

Well, it’s much later, but things are not going good. My wife had a dangerous low amount of sodium which causes confusion and bad balance as well as feeling weak and exhausted.

The doctor believes it was caused by one of her four blood pressure medicines which he stopped.

She has lost confidence and wants me close by. I had to stop ‘taping & bedding’ on a church 18 miles away that I had half done after three weeks.

She is also taking a new medicine to ‘prevent or slow’ Alzheimer’s.

What hurts most is she cries a lot.

Back to the subject of Matthew 9:18.

I believe the Holman translation of that verse is correct and all others are wrong, and the Criswell’s bunch knew it but skipped the verse rather than admit King James was wrong.

To show how far they would ‘stretch’ truth their explanation of (1 Corinthians 7:14) is a hoot.

“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean: but now are they holy.”

Tom, correct me if I’m wrong, but the older translations have “could be sanctified” instead of “is sanctified”.

Rather than admit the King James was wrong, their notes:

“…God still honors the marriage for the sake of the believing partner. In a ritualistic sense, the believer’ ‘cleanness’ overpowers the unbeliever’s ‘uncleanness’, and the relationship may continue. Of course, the non-Christian still needs to be saved. Thus ‘sanctification’ does not refer to the personal standing of the unbelieving partner but to sanctity of the marriage.”

Tom, I believe those that ‘have to believe/see’ inerrancy are kin to doubting Thomas in ‘having to believe/see’ the wounds of Jesus.

If one word is ‘wrong’ they say ‘throw the Bible out the window’, but I’ll say with Jesus, “Blessed are those that have not seen…” and stand with Job in saying, “Though he slay me, yet I’ll trust him.”