Social Justice and the other threat to the Southern Baptist Convention

Quite felicitously, we encountered a longtime professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary this morning and launched into an unanticipated but much welcomed discussion about the issue of the Christian gospel and social justice. Based on that conversation and additional reading over the past few days, we are delaying publication of our reflections on the subject. The cake, so to speak, hasn’t set yet.

So stay tuned.  Tomorrow night, we will post our report from Heritage Week in Louisville, KY.

UPDATE:  We have had a day that would never end, and no time to write. Also, we have extended our stay in Louisville to continue our research. Apologies for another delay.

Research Day in Kentucky

B3EEF186-99A6-4BB8-93DA-D2212469F687Dr. Wayne Ward was a fascinating intellect and powerful preacher. Digging through his personal papers under the watchful eye of Billy Graham is going to make for a full, interesting day.
Stay tuned throughout the next few days to this post. We’ll be citing some of the more interesting finds and reproducing with permission — where appropriate — along the way.

April 21, 1980
Baptist Press
Patterson Group seeks Long Range Control of SBC
By Toby Druin

“Patterson said he would favor no changes in the 1963 statement of the Baptist Faith and Message and knew of no movement among his friends or followers to accomplish it.

“‘I wouldn’t change the 1963 statement myself,’ he said. ‘I am perfectly happy with it because, as you know, it says the Bible contains truth without mixture of error.’

“‘Whether you say inerrant or truth without mixture of error for its matter is inconsequential. In fact, our how deal is not the necessity for changing the statement of faith. Our whole concern is not to continue to make a mockery of it. Let’s admit what it means, which, of course, was done by both Herschel Hobbs and Wayne Dehoney at the Houston convention. They said what was meant by the writers.'”

May 1, 1981
The Denver Post
Inerrancy issue is “waning”
By Virginia Culver

“Explaining his personal beliefs, Dilday said, ‘The Bible is a book that reveals God and our relationship to him. But it is not a science or math or history book. I prefer saying the Bible is infallible and is the authority. It always tells the truth about God. It gives us the perfect revelation about God so we can know him personally and receive guidance for our lives.’

“‘But the Bible says the sun rises and sets. It doesn’t really, so in some cases the Bible isn’t exactly accurate. And we cannot prove the actual names and dates in the Bible, because we cannot go back to the original documents.’

“But the authority of the Bible doesn’t depend on inerrancy. To have to prove it is the word of God because it is inerrant is a false criterion. The Bible never misleads us in its message, but maybe in technicalities.'”

December 11, 1958
The Arkansas Baptist
New president says ‘gospel’ tie that binds Christian fellowship

“The single word that ties together the first year of Southwestern Seminary’s life with this year and the final years is the word ‘gospel,’ Dr. Robert Ernest Naylor declared in his inaugural address as he was installed as the 5th president of the seminary on Nov. 25.

“The gospel of Christ is the least common denominator for all believers and is the common ground on which Christians stand, the point at which our ministries are met, Dr. Naylor said.

“‘Our fellowship lies in the fact that we are all forgiven sinners,” Dr. Naylor continued. ‘We stand on even ground. There are no ruling classes; there is no superior race; there is no room for individual boasting; but we are all alike men and women of grace saved by our Lord Jesus.’

“There is a wonderful result of this new life. We now have fellowship of identification with the gospel enterprise by our acceptance of it. We face the supreme crisis of our sin when we hear the gospel and resolve it when we accept Jesus.’

“‘With the acceptance of Christ the crisis has become a compulsion. The gospel immediately ‘puts you in business’ when you receive it. You become a man or woman responsible with a new demand living within you . . .

“‘There is a fellowship of transformation found in our proclamation of the gospel. To handle the gospel, to teach the gospel, to preach to the gospel, is to partake in the gospel qualities. You cannot handle the Word of Life and ever be the same again. The dimensions of the gospel will become the dimensions of your own life . . .'”

IMG_1051The Kentucky Western Recorder
December 8, 1973
Theology Prof. Wayne Ward hits ‘self-appointed’ orthodoxy groups

“A seminary professor of Christian theology warned in a speech in Corpus Christi, Texas, that ‘self-appointed orthodoxy committees are the kiss of death.

“Wayne E. Ward of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, said he had been approached by a member of such a committee and told that if he (Ward) could not sign a statement of faith the committee was drafting, ‘then you’re gone.’

“Ward, addressing the messengers to the annual session of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, said self-appointed committees of orthodoxy have contributed to the decline of other Baptist groups, both in the United States and abroad.

“He said he had ‘gladly signed’ two ‘voluntary statements’ — the seminary’s own articles of faith and the Baptist Faith and Message statement passed by the Southern Baptist Convention. He stressed the voluntary nature of these statements, as contrasted with the coerced nature of statements drafted by the self-appointed committees.

“Committees of orthodoxy were just one of four ‘storm signals’ Ward sees on the radar screen of Southern Baptist life. The other three are the charismatic movement, the role of associations and conventions, and the preoccupation with ‘secondary issues.’

“Ward branded tactics of the self-appointed committees of orthodoxy as ‘unChristian, unBiblical, and unBaptistic.’

“‘This kind of Gestapo-like heresy-hunting committee is one of the most ominous things to appear among Southern Baptists,’ he declared.

“The committees of orthodoxy to which he apparently referred have sprung up in the aftermath of debate in recent years in Southern Baptist life over doctrinal positions.

“He said Southern Baptists must adhere to their traditional stance — ‘the Bible is the only rule of faith and practice!'”

April 6, 1983
The Baptist Standard
Chafin quits Graham post: Controversy factor
By Dan Martin, Baptist Press

. . . “[Billy] Graham, from his home in Montreat, N.C., ‘He (Chafin) has been absolutely marvelous; he is the best person we could possibly have gotten. He is a man of God; he believes the gospel; he loves the Lord. He has both an academic and a church background. Kenneth sort of made the job . . . it just grew with us.’

“‘There are rumors to the effect that (the resignation) had to do with the fight in the SBC,’ Graham said. “I have to admit that was a small factor, but not more than 20 percent …’

“…Chafin told Baptist Press: ‘It has not been any secret that the Fundamentalist people have tried to attack all of my relationships in the past several years – local church involvement, trusteeship at Southwestern Seminary and my relationship with Billy Graham…’

“…[Paige] Patterson added that while he regrets the resignation ‘for Ken’s sake . . . I would agree that this is the best thing that could happen for the Billy Graham schools simply because I do not think Ken Chafin is in broad agreement with the Graham theological position.’

“‘I also believe that Kenneth has probably lost whatever following he may have had at one time among conservative evangelicals. His rather intemperate statements have been one of the causes. It is not that he has been controversial; it is the way he carried on some of the controversy . . .’

” . . . Adrian Rogers, a leader in the inerrancy faction and a speaker on the schools of evangelism faculty on several occasions, praised the schools of evangelism and said: ‘In my estimation, Ken Chafin is a warm-hearted lover of souls. I thank God for that, and love him for that. While I do not agree with him at every point of theology, I count him a friend and a brother.'”