Thursday, October 21, 2004

Fundamentalist vs. Moderate Baptists

This is a response to a comment left by Julie Laney. But I thought others might find it interesting as well. I will be spending more time on each of these issues in the future.

Here are a few of my differences with the fundamentalists in the SBC. BTW, the fact that a takeover took place is not disputed by either side. The SBC celebrated the 25th anniversary at this years SBC Annual meeting.

Women in Ministy - I support women in ministry, beginning with Sunday School teachers and going all the way up to the pastor. Interestingly enough, there are now a number of CBF churches with co-pastors that are husband and wife. A church in Daytona Beach was kicked out their association for hiring co-pastors. The SBC has even stopped endorsing women chaplains. Without that endorsement, a chaplain cannot find employment. SBC seminaries have also started issuing "certificates" rather than degrees to women who complete the same course work as men. Our minister of music's father had to threaten to sue Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to get her an M.Div. rather than a "certificate." I plan to post my scriptural defense of women in ministry in the future.

The SBC, although they deny it, has become very creedal (a mandatory statement of faith.) Forcing missionaries, seminary professors, and, in some associations, church pastors and employees to sign the Baptist Faith and Message of 2000. Missionaries that wouldn't sign it were fired or forced to take early retirement if they didn't sign the BF&M. For a great comparison of the 1963 and 2000 versions, go to http://www.bgct.org/bfm/bfmcomp.pdf. They call the BF&M a "statement on doctrinal accountability," but a creed by any other name is still a creed. Firing a missionary with decades of excellent service because they will not a find a new man-made document is a sin, there is no other way to put it.

Fundamentalists typically exclude (and this is especially true of the SBC) anyone who doesn't agree with them completely. Seminary professors and even presidents were fired because they were teaching things that were not compatible with the new leaderships. Students were made into spies, and encouraged to record lectures of "suspected professors." The story of Russell Dilday is probably available by doing a Google search.

Separation of Church and state. The SBC was one of the founding bodies of the Baptist Joint committee on Public Affairs. This organization lobbies in Washington to ensure the separation of Church and state. There is a link in the links section if you would like to visit their website. The SBC no longer supports the BJCPA, and their support of the separation of church and state has eroded since the start of the takeover. Again, this is something I will post more about in the future.

The SBC is now all about control. They want to control the seminaries, control the missionaries, and even control the Bible (don't believe me, click here!) Last year the SBC pulled out of the Baptist World Alliance, another missions organization that SBC was a founding member. Two things contributed to their pull out, the admission of the CBF and the fact that they could no longer get their way in the BWA. As I said earlier, separating from "outsiders" is a characteristic of fundamentalism.

I do not agree with most of the changes made to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Take a look at the website listed above for a great comparison. Most moderate Baptists support the 1963 version.

The Mainstream Baptists site listed in the links section details many of the differences, and they are working on a timeline of the takeover, however it is not complete. There are several good books on the subject, if you are interested. There are books that detail the takeover from both sides of the issue.

Also, the book Fundamentalism by Fisher Humphreys and Phillip Wise is an excellent book on the subject.

Its getting late, and I have to go to a CBF Florida meeting tomorrow, so I will stop here for now. Have any questions, post a comment and I will be happy to answer them. I think discussion of these things is healthy and important for both sides of the issues. And I believe we can agree to disagree and still work together. That is what makes me different from the fundamentalists currently in control of the SBC.

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