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    Friday, August 18, 2006

    Over at Burleson Central Station there is quite a discussion going on. The blog comments have turned into CBF vs. SBC spitting contest. This isn't Wade had intented. Our thoughts are fairly straight forward about many of our friends in the CBF.

    In my state, many of those who are active in the CBF are both theological and political liberals. We have sat with friends who openly state that most of the Old Testament is a fictionalized account of things that happened before Christ and that Paul was unoriginal and most likely inspired by Plato and Aristotle and not God.

    They have argued with us until they are blue in the face that supporting legalized abortion and voting Democratic is the true Christian position. They clamor on and on historic Baptist principles, and at a moments notice will get busy blasting my “backward” Reformed theology, while telling me I am in the wrong denomination.

    We're tired of the SBC being an extension of the GOP, sick of supposed “moral living” being substituted for righteousness, and fed up with the presence of pervasive legalism that ignores the very Bible we hold dear. That being said we also DO NOT approve of modern Anglican theology having a place in the SBC. We reckon there are a lot of people that feel the same way we do.

    posted by Arkansas Razorbaptist at 8/18/2006 07:27:00 PM


    Blogger Bart Barber said...

    Thanks, cousin.

    Friday, August 18, 2006 7:50:00 PM  
    Blogger Arkansas Razorbaptist said...

    You're welcome...you didn't think we were liberals did you:)

    Friday, August 18, 2006 7:57:00 PM  
    Anonymous JMW said...

    Wade's comments left me a little queasy -- I don't know any of the gentlemen he named, but I've known a few SBC liberals in my time. Most of them were upstanding citizens, polite to a fault. The problem was though we used the same words, what they meant by their words was something totally different from what I meant. Liberals have a well-established habit of sounding conservative by misappropriating our terminology.

    I'm reminded of a comment once made by an Arkansas state convention president who is now running for a bit more powerful presidency: "You could take all the liberals in the Arkansas Baptist convention and fit them in a booth at Waffle House." While cute and pithy, his statement was horribly wrong -- he let himself be convinced by superficial platitudes.

    The SBC's house deperately needed cleaning. It was messy, as any such human endeavor is bound to be, but I remain convinced that the SBC is better for it. Daniel Vestal, to name one, IMHO showed his true colors by whom he sided with and whom he condemned. Until he changes his tune, I'd rather he be in the PCUSA -- er, I mean the CBF -- than the SBC.

    Friday, August 18, 2006 9:20:00 PM  
    Blogger Arkansas Razorbaptist said...

    I didn't get queasy at all because we know Wade's heart. He may be one of the most gracious men we know. We would all be a lot better off if everyone, conservative and moderate alike, were to follow his lead. A lot could be accomplished in the Kingdom.

    Friday, August 18, 2006 10:48:00 PM  
    Blogger Bart Barber said...

    If I had thought you were liberal, I would have said so.

    You didn't think I was reluctant to share my opinion, did you? :-)

    Saturday, August 19, 2006 4:42:00 AM  
    Blogger Bryan Riley said...

    Perhaps it is a bit unfair for someone like me, of a younger generation, not to understand the queasiness some felt when they read Wade's post. Like ARB, when I read it, because I know Wade, had no concerns and rejoiced in the spirit of what he was writing. For those who lived through the politics of the SBC those many years ago, it probably caused great concern that Wade was calling the SBC back to something they feared greatly and thought they had overcome.

    ARB, what you wrote above is great.

    JMW, I like what you wrote about the necessesity of the house cleaning, and how it was messy (as a result of it being a human endeavor). We can praise God in this: even though it involved messiness and humanity, in the end, God intended all of it (the messiness and humanness of it) for good and in accordance with His purpose. In that, in spite of all the "wrong" that was done, by all the "sides" involved, God can be glorified!

    What concerns me is that it seems like we fear so much that someone may be liberal or fear the infamous "slippery slope" so much that we immediately jump to maligning anyone or anything that appears, from our viewpoint, to be heading that way. In my opinion, that is based on a lack of trust in God and on a fear of man.

    Do we really believe God's word and His purpose will fail because of anything man can or will do? Will we let that fear cause us to stop being loving (and Christ-like) in our actions toward that person??

    When I was waking up to the fact that God had a different calling for me, He gave me these verses to remind me of how I was supposed to be living and to remind me of what I was without Him:

    5 This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. 7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. 8 He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." 9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? 10 "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve." (Jeremiah 17)

    Saturday, August 19, 2006 5:34:00 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What has gone on during the past 25 years or so of SBC life must surely grieve our Lord. I think the fact that many SBC folks really don't understand the true meaning of liberal, i.e. denies the deity of Jesus, His death, resurrection, power to save, etc. is representative of how provincial, self-centered, and uninformed we are as a whole. Many slanderously called liberals by Paige Patterson, Paul Pressler, and the Gang were far from being a true liberal. This whole thing was and is STILL about power and control. Perhaps as the old resurgers die out and the new wave of Wade Burlesons move in, we will see some reconciliation and movement in the right direction. I honestly don't think we would have had so FEW baptisms as a convention these past 25 years if the old "moderates" had continued to be in leadership. I believe the Lord is calling many to repent. When we do, then real change may begin to happen.


    Saturday, August 19, 2006 7:08:00 AM  
    Blogger Arkansas Razorbaptist said...

    Cousin Bart,

    We didn't know what you thought of us and we do know that you are opinionated:)and we celebrate that. Thanks for commenting.


    Our heart beats the same.

    Brother Dave,

    We're not really sure about some of the things you said. We can't go there, but you are right to say that a new generation maybe called to reconcile, not because of something caused by men, but because true conviction brought about by the Holy Spirit.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006 8:52:00 AM  
    Blogger Bryan Riley said...

    Tis encouraging, ARB. When I read some of the stuff out there i feel like my heart is bleeding rather than beating, though.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006 10:47:00 AM  
    Blogger Bart Barber said...

    As always, cousin, the pleasure is all mine.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006 12:47:00 PM  
    Anonymous JMW said...

    When I said Wade's comments left me "a little queasy", I didn't mean that to be an attack on Wade's character or doctrine. What I meant is this:

    Wade said in another post that we should pursue "a high view of the Word of God and the person of Christ, while at the same time allowing for differences in interpretation of the Bible." That's something that both (to randomly pick a name) Daniel Vestal and I can stand up and applaud. The problem is that the three of us have radically different notions of how much difference in interpretation is permissible within orthodox fellowship.

    IMHO, a man is not fit for leadership in a church or convention if he denies any of the cardinal doctrines of the faith. A man is not fit for leadership if he publicly and obviously subordinates the dictates of Scripture to his "conscience." And a man is not fit for leadership if he is willing to tolerate or will not discipline others who deny the cardinal doctrines or who subordinate Scripture to their consciences.

    It's that third bit where Daniel Vestal et al run into trouble. Before the resurgence, we had a number of John Shelby Spong wannabes in our seminaries, and the CBF crowd was perfectly content to leave them alone. That was not acceptable.

    I freely admit the argument for the resurgence was that of a slippery slope. But the subsequent demise of the CBF into outright heresy is a sure sign that the slippery slope was a real, impending danger. The key question, the question I'd like to see Wade address, is where we ought to draw the boundary lines for orthodox fellowship.

    In reality we all believe there ought to be such a boundary (I dare you to find a CBFer who would agree that a call of conscience to join the KKK trumps the teaching of Scripture). Let's figure out where those boundaries should be.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006 2:53:00 PM  
    Blogger Arkansas Razorbaptist said...

    "The key question, the question I'd like to see Wade address, is where we ought to draw the boundary lines for orthodox fellowship."

    Good question JMW, you should ask Wade and any others who have been involved in the dialouge.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006 3:26:00 PM  
    Blogger Bart Barber said...

    Personally, I think that orthodox fellowship should only be extended to fans of the Arkansas State University Indians.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006 6:10:00 PM  
    Blogger Bryan Riley said...

    JMW uses "cardinal doctrines" here and others often say "essentials," but rarely does anyone define those terms. And, often if someone does attempt to define them, another solid Christian may have a different definition. Who should get to define what they are and what are they? There was once a Supreme Court justice who wrote that he couldn't really define obscenity but he knew it when he saw it. Is that what we're talking about?

    Saturday, August 19, 2006 6:10:00 PM  
    Anonymous JMW said...

    Bryan, I absolutely agree we need to do a better job of defining the "cardinal" doctrines, and do so in a way that is rational, coherent, and based on Scripture.

    It seems to me that the one absolutely clear boundary that the NT sets forth, without any doubt, is salvation by grace alone through faith alone. Anyone who teaches salvation by works in whatever form must be shunned and treated as a nonbeliever -- Paul says so explicitly.

    Second, the divinity, death and resurrection of Christ must be cardinal doctrines. Someone who refuses to accept these doctrine is not a Christian, no matter how loudly they may claim otherwise.

    I will also submit that the authority of Scripture must be a cardinal doctrine. Anyone who denies the inspiration and authority of Scripture has no rational or coherent basis for believing anything from Scripture. Therefore, the inspiration and authority of Scripture must be one of the boundaries -- which excludes at least some portion of the CBFers.

    Beyond these, what else would the rest of you define as cardinal doctrines without which true fellowship is not possible?

    Saturday, August 19, 2006 9:05:00 PM  
    Blogger Bart Barber said...

    OK, so none of the Arkansas folks here are going to react to my frivolous ASU-baiting....

    I guess I'll have to get SERIOUS like everyone else. :-)

    I'm just a little more nuanced than all of this. I've got a whole lot of different levels of fellowship and partnership. Can we fellowship and partner with one another? That depends...what are we trying to do together?

    Are we sponsoring an evangelistic crusade? Raising money to help the poor? Then I can fellowship in that with anyone who holds to orthodox Christianity (same God, same gospel, same scripture).

    Are we trying to change the culture together or address some wrong? Then I can fellowship and partner as Christians with those who, in addition to the above, agree with me on the cause in question. For abortion, that includes Roman Catholics, for example?

    Are we planting churches together? Then we need to agree on what a church is and how it ought to function, on how we are going to manage the fundraising and fundspending, and on who is going to select the church planters and how they will be supervised.

    Are we teaching theology together? Then we need to have a pretty substantial agreement as to the priorities and content of that theology. Which points of theology are the most important and what do we believe about them? Which are less important, and how much lattitude is there in teaching those points? To run a seminary together, we really need agreement in those areas.

    Are we lobbying the government together? Then we need some level of agreement on the issues that are important to us and the boundaries of propriety in that sort of activity.

    And the Southern Baptist Convention is involved in every last bit of that. And the more we try to do together, the more complex our fellowship becomes.

    And if we're going to endorse college athletics together, we have to support the Indians.

    Sunday, August 20, 2006 4:45:00 AM  
    Blogger Bryan Riley said...

    I like your definition and agree, but please remind me the verses where Paul writes that "anyone who teaches salvation by works in whatever form must be shunned and treated as a nonbeliever." Salvation by works is yet another form of making ourselves god.

    As to the divinity of Christ, His death and resurrection, I'd say Romans 10 makes this pretty essential.

    And, as to the word and its authority, well, if Christ is the word, which He is, John 1, then, yes, we should believe that. In fact, that is part of the reason why i cite a few of the scriptures that support what you wrote, because I think (maybe this is an overgeneralization done rashly in a blog) we might as well not write anything about our faith if we can't show the scriptural basis for it. (I'm saying that as a reminder to myself, not to you. I'm not trying to say that I thought you weren't basing your comment in scripture. Clearly you were.)

    Sunday, August 20, 2006 4:48:00 AM  
    Blogger Bryan Riley said...

    Bart, i love your last sentence, not because I'm an Indian, but because it drives your point home well. BUT, we are all Christians, right? And, really, as Christians, what did God call us to? I think that is the question we need to be asking.

    Your comment is great by the way and really is unassailable in what it says from my perspective, but...

    Did He ask us to teach theology for example? Maybe some are called to that, but I can always best know God's will for me when He tells me to do something in His word. I know He told me that it really is all about Him and His glory. I also know He told me, through His prayer in John 17, that He wants me to be one with fellow believers, just as He is one with the Father, "so that the world may know" who He is. I'm not sure that to accomplish that we need to bicker about a lot of the things we bicker about. And, I really think it is important that we not get so caught up in our theological and denominational houses that we can't cooperate with people who may have a different take on a few things, especially when we ought to know that we aren't inerrant and when doing so clearly doesn't accomplish His purpose or mirror Christ. Even His disciples came from different religious persuasions within the Jewish faith.

    Sunday, August 20, 2006 4:57:00 AM  
    Blogger Arkansas Razorbaptist said...

    Cousin Bart,

    I didn't think you approved of beverage alcohol, but judging from you rampid support of the ASU you must be comsuming something. I know wasn't easy growing up in Northeast Arkansas, I mean watching Dick Clay report year after year that the Indians were going to get over the hump. WE know others who suffer from your disorder. :)

    How's that;)

    Sunday, August 20, 2006 7:02:00 AM  
    Blogger Bryan Riley said...

    I do have a question though... While we might agree that people should believe in salvation by grace through faith alone, and not works, as it discusses quite plainly in Ephesians 2, would you give people grace in misunderstanding this or in perhaps defining works differently? For example, a good friend, whom I believe is brother in Christ, happens to be a part of a denomination that believes that baptism is an essential part of salvation. His church teaches this based on their interpretation of scripture. They would not identify this as a work; rather, it is simply how they interpret what is taught in the NT. Would you disqualify that entire denomination for their belief regarding regenerative baptism? Ironically, if anyone does do that, then it is the very thing that, historically, people have taken issue with that denomination for doing.

    Sunday, August 20, 2006 7:05:00 AM  
    Blogger Bryan Riley said...

    Another thought I had is that some of the most evangelistic and passionate believers are those who are new Christians. They might not have a clue about the finer points of doctrine or may even misunderstand some things, but it wouldn't keep them from sharing the good news. They have the faith as little children, something Christ saw as necessary for all of us. Hmmm, I never saw Jesus talking about cardinal anything or essentials. He said follow me. Believe. Love. These are more challenging than anything we could think up.

    ARB, sorry I've written so much here; I am guilty last night and this morning of thinking out loud. I better go help get my kids ready or my wife is going to think I'm an infidel. :)

    Sunday, August 20, 2006 7:20:00 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Here's what a former Board member of SBTC says about all this:

    "I cringe when I remember listening to Jerry Johnson maliciously malign and slander a dear personal friend of mine because he "wasn't a real Southern Baptist" and now Jerry is a college President. I remember listening to Jack Graham rip apart preacher after preacher because they weren't supportive of "the cause" and now Jack is a past President of the SBC. I remember hearing Paige Patterson shred people into oblivion because they "wouldn't stay true under fire" and how "they wouldn't do as they were told" and now Paige is leading Southwestern Seminary. I remember hearing Miles Seaborn say the most ungodly things about BGCT leaders and Miles is still serving on influential boards. I remember Stan Coffee saying that Jim Richards wasn't hired to steal churches away from the BGCT and yet he still is on their board. Isn't it amazing the things we remember when we finally get away and get our perspective back...

    As I walk through the ruined lives of pastors, staff members, missionaries, denominational workers, and seminary professors the battle call of "inerrancy" has a false ring to it! If one truly believed in the inerrancy of God's Word they would obey it and destroying another believer is not obedience to God's Word."

    See sbobserver.blogspot.com


    Sunday, August 20, 2006 8:58:00 AM  
    Blogger Bart Barber said...

    ARB...Just what I was looking for. Persecution is good for the soul.

    Brian...We really substantially agree, I think. I'm about to say something to you that could very easily be misinterpreted. Try not to misinterpret it. I'm not trying to be harsh here.

    The questions you are asking may very well determine whether you want to continue to be a Southern Baptist. The society method of organization (the one that Southern Baptists have rejected in their organization) provides for very simple, very uncluttered partnerships focused upon a limited set of tasks.

    Southern Baptists, on the other hand, have chosen to follow the convention system of organization, where we undertake a complex set of tasks through the same organization. This makes the partnership more complex, but it also yields some benefits for that complexity.

    I believe that the benefits of this method outweigh the drawbacks. Not everyone will reach that conclusion. But I do believe that the answer to that question helps to determine whether the Southern Baptist way is the best way for a particular person or church.

    Sunday, August 20, 2006 10:24:00 AM  
    Blogger Bart Barber said...

    Tricky Dicky Clay....Hadn't thought of him in years. :-)

    Sunday, August 20, 2006 10:26:00 AM  
    Blogger Bryan Riley said...

    Bart, no offense at all. I don't see why people get so up in arms in general about another's opinion. Help me understand though. What is it you are saying? Why would you conclude based on my comments that I should reconsider my denominational affiliation? Give me a little more meat to chew on with your advice.

    Sunday, August 20, 2006 11:49:00 AM  
    Blogger John said...

    Nail, meet hammer. That is right on the mark.

    I could not have said it better myself. That pretty much sums up 2006 in the Southern Baptist Convention.

    Sunday, August 20, 2006 12:58:00 PM  
    Blogger Bryan Riley said...

    Bart, I'm also now scratching my head about complex set of tasks. I'm not sure what Jesus did was that complex.

    Sunday, August 20, 2006 1:07:00 PM  
    Blogger Bart Barber said...

    Brian, what I'm saying is that the Southern Baptist Convention is merely a tool for churches to use. The basic nature of the SBC for 160 years is that the convention brings member churches together not to accomplish a single task, but into an open-ended partnership that can add or delete tasks as the membership sees fit. Since 1845, we've seen fit to add a lot of things into the mix.

    I think that Jesus' ministry was a lot more multifaceted than you are acknowledging in this comment series. Jesus performed theological education, including pretty intensive study for twelve individuals we all remember. Jesus packed an awful lot of activity into three short years. It convicts me just to think of what all He accomplished.

    Furthermore, Jesus commanded us to make disciples (which is what theological education is), to evangelize, to be salt and light to the community.

    To sum up what I'm saying, it is the nature of Southern Baptist life to join churches into this complex, multi-faceted partnership. With regard to my original comment, if I understood you correctly, you suggested that maybe we've embarked upon a partnership that tries to do too much. In my opinion, that is a valid and reasonable point of view. But it is a point of view that calls into question what is the essential nature of the Southern Baptist Convention. If I believed that it was wrong or foolish to be in that sort of a partnership, I would consider being something other than Southern Baptist.

    Monday, August 21, 2006 12:39:00 AM  
    Blogger Bryan Riley said...

    Ok, I think I now understand where you were coming from. What I was thinking when I made my comment, however, was that if we are creating manmade structures and those are becoming divisive tools within the body and barriers to unbelievers, then we should reexamine those. We also need to remember that our primary calling is not to understand the finer points of eschatology (simply as an example); instead, it is to tell the good news of Jesus. I think we out smart ourselves about the simplicity of God's good news, especially when you consider what Jesus said about being as little children.

    Nevertheless, I have often pondered the fact that Jesus was a rabbi and He did spend a great deal of time discipling those men in the Jewish tradition of doing so. Moreover, he did tell us to make disciples; so, I understand that concern. But, I also know Christ was infallible, and I am not. And, I often think of how He answered the disciples when they asked Him questions: with stories and with scripture.

    Finally, my main concern with your reaction to what I wrote is that you were, in effect, telling someone who hopes he is maturing in Christ, was hopefully being open, honest and thoughtful about his faith, and is a brother in Christ, to leave the SBC (albeit in a nice way). Now, I know you said I should consider it, but, really, how does that kind of statement ever come across? That is why I said "in effect." That seems foolish to me.

    That is the exact concern others have been addressing in the blogosphere. "If you don't think like me, then, well, why don't you go think some where else." When, what I was trying to say is that why can't we think beyond our little group and be in unity with the entire Body of Christ, particularly with respect to the Great Commission? Unity in Christ, the kind that will glorify the Father, will never be get rid of all believers who think differently until the ones who are left can all be unified.

    What happened to JMW?

    Monday, August 21, 2006 5:27:00 AM  
    Blogger Bart Barber said...


    Let me attempt an analogy. I considered my comment to be similar to Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street directing the woman to the place to get the best roller skates. In my view being or not being within the SBC is not the same as being or not being in unity with me...being or not being in the family.

    The convention is a tool. If you buy your VBS material from a different vendor than I do, we can still be in unity with one another. If you shop at Target and Costco, while I, like all good Arkansans, limit myself to stores founded by Sam Walton, we can still be in unity with one another. If I use the SBC for my church's missions involvement while you use another method, we can still be in unity with one another.

    Also, I must emphasize that I was not telling you to leave the SBC, nor do I have the desire for you to leave the SBC. Instead, I'm merely trying to be objective about what are good reasons to be a part of the SBC. You expressed a level of discontent with what seemed to me to be deeper than just some present policy of the SBC. Your concerns, if I interpreted them correctly, went to the heart of what the SBC is. If someone held those concerns in an extremely deep and passionate manner, then such a person would probably be much happier working within the society method. But your desire to work within the SBC may be stronger than the reservations you may hold about the convention method. If so, great!

    It was an awkward and touchy thing to say. Thanks for helping me to learn how to say such things without appearing to say more than I really wanted to say.

    Monday, August 21, 2006 7:58:00 AM  
    Blogger Rzrbk said...


    I have also enjoyed reading Wade’s blog on Back to the Past. Those who are making it a CBF versus SBC fight are missing the point. Wade is trying to get people to look at the definition of liberal, conservative, etc. and see that they have been misused for political purposes. He points out how some who were attacked in the early stages of the conservative resurgence were just as conservative as those who were leading the charge from the conservative resurgence side. The attacks were made to destroy anyone who would be in the way of their political takeover.

    I have hoped your blog could serve the same role in Arkansas as Wade’s has in the SBC of shining the light of truth on the carnal political activity taking place in the name of the conservative resurgence. Most of what Wade has written I have written in letters to the editor of the Arkansas Baptist through the years but that is a slow way to influence people and does not have the impact of a blog. A letter to the editor can only be 250 words and you can only write one every 3 months. A blog can be instantaneous and you can complete you thoughts and ideas. I hope you will keep on blogging on issues involving Arkansas Baptists.

    Much of what Wade writes about the people involved in the SBC in 1985 and later years correspond to what was happenng in Arkansas. I can remember when Joe Atchison sent out letters to resurgence leaders in Arkansas listing the enemies whom he called moderates and later liberals. Mike Huckabee was one on his list who dared to defy their organization. Later that year Mike Huckabee defeated Atchison’s candidate for state convention president, Ronnie Floyd, by a 65% to 35% margin. That is a good idea of how out of touch with the true theological conservatives of Arkansas that Atchison and Floyd and the resurgence party have been. They achieve their goals by intimidation and slander.

    It is true that CBF is very small in Arkansas. Your statement that CBF members in Arkansas are liberal seems a little out of balance. I admit I only know one person in Arkansas that is involved in CBF but he is as conservative theologically as those leading the resurgence effort in Arkansas. Wade has also pointed out that many of the people identified with CBF nationally, including its leader Dan Vestal, are as conservative theologically as Paige Patterson. I suspect those you mention would not have any influence in the Arkansas Baptist Convention even if CBF did not exist and probably have little leadership role in CBF.
    Ron West

    Monday, August 21, 2006 12:00:00 PM  
    Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

    Your depiction of the good folks of the CBF is a wee-bit off base...

    Perhaps you should NAME NAMES instead of painting a false such a false picture. We're Great Commission Christians too.

    Did you by chance sign the Memphis Declaration??

    Thursday, August 24, 2006 5:37:00 PM  

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