By Nathan Akin
Southern Baptists were given a great gift in the Conservative Resurgence (CR) as we reaffirmed our commitment to Sola Scriptura. We were taught in the Resurgence an absolute commitment to the inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of the Scriptures. We are indebted to men like Patterson, Pressler, Criswell, Rogers, Vines, and many more for this work. This work is a grace gift to us younger SBC’ers, one that we dare not miss. There are many observable benefits of the CR. One of the most apparent is that there are 6 SBC Seminaries that affirm the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Scriptures.
I believe the CR has directly led to trends and current debates in Baptist life that some may view as curses and others as blessings. However, I see these trends and debates as the outworking of treating the Word of God as inerrant, sufficient, and authoritative. I would like to bring up three of these, though I believe there are others. The architects of the CR may or may not necessarily love all of these trends, but I believe these are directly linked to these leaders passing on a confidence that the Scriptures are sufficient! I believe we should be thankful for these current trends and debates when viewed through the lens of the debates we might be having had the CR never taken place.
We are excited to once again have Pastor David Platt on our lunch panel at this year’s SBC. At this event, we will discuss pressing issues facing the SBC, such as: engaging culture, mission, church planting, Calvinism, difficult ethical questions, and more… Early registration will soon be over so get your tickets today!!!
Written by Jon Akin. You can view part 1 of this post here.
What are we to make of all this? Let me make three observations:
1. People will continue to lose faith in the Baptist process
In all three cases, we have seen a process play out where these situations were reviewed, and in all three cases it seems that very little has changed, if anything. KBC leadership sat down with CU leadership to discuss some of the allegations floating around about liberalism. No change took place other than a tepid joint statement that all CU profs are Christians, believe God created the world, that those who believe the Bible is literally true are welcomed on the faculty, and that CU and the KBC are committed to good relations. This could be true of any number of explicitly liberal-leaning Christian colleges where evolution is affirmed and the Bible is not deemed inerrant. We see a similar theological situation at CN.
Specifically in the cases of CN and LC, we saw a process of investigation and accountability take place with no real or significant change. In the case of LC, the trustees hired an independent firm to investigate, they found the President acted inappropriately, and the board still exonerated him.
This has created the impression for some that those in key positions in the Baptist process lack the wherewithal to hold institutions and entities accountable. The Baptist system will only work if men and women with the courage of their convictions actually initiate change when it needs to take place. If people believe that the process will not change things when they need to be changed, then they will be jaded and lose confidence in the system.
Written by Jon Akin
In the last year, there have been disturbing events surrounding three Baptist state colleges/universities:
Exonerated moderate theology at Carson Newman (CN)
A subcommittee of the Tennessee Baptist Convention (TBC) exonerated CN as accountable to Baptist convictions in October of 2012 after a yearlong investigation. This is disturbing for 3 reasons:
First, the report gives the impression that evolutionary theory is taught without being critiqued as incompatible with Baptist convictions. Not one of the professors or students interviewed mentions evolution being critiqued as unbiblical. One might say, “It is being critiqued but that wasn’t mentioned in the report.” That would be a pretty big oversight when communicating with concerned Tennessee Baptists.
Second, the liberal historical-critical method of biblical interpretation, which has been overwhelmingly rejected by Southern Baptists convention-wide, is being taught as one acceptable method among others. One student said, “The professors never pushed liberal theories in class nor did they push conservative theories either. They just presented theories and allowed the student to make their own decision.” This isn’t good enough at a school funded by Cooperative Program (CP) dollars!
Third, this is part of a trend to not hold Tennessee Baptist institutions accountable. A similar investigation in 2005 of both CN and Belmont led to both schools being exonerated, and of Belmont it was said that students were being equipped for service for the Kingdom of God. This is troubling because it is obvious now that Belmont had no desire to be held accountable to Baptist convictions or practices, and yet the appropriate boards did not act. Belmont and the TBC severed ties in 2007 due to Belmont wanting to elect a self-perpetuating trustee board instead of a TBC-elected Board. Belmont will pay the TBC $11 million over the next 40 years. Since that separation, Belmont has publicly and quickly moved away from its Baptist heritage and roots. For example, in 2011 they added “sexual orientation” to the school’s nondiscrimination policy, and this was troubling because President Fisher said this “new policy simply reflects the school’s ‘long-standing practice,’” a long-standing practice that had not been called to account.
Baptist21 is excited once again to host a lunch panel at this year’s SBC. We will discuss pressing issues facing the SBC, such as: engaging culture, mission, church planting, Calvinism, difficult ethical questions, and more… Please plan to attend!
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