All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. -2 Timothy 3:16
From time to time on other blogs the issue of the Conservative Resurgence (CR) is debated. Occasionally those who are moderate or liberal will join the debate. I’ve made a number of comments. Sometimes I’ve given quotes related to questions and allegations.
I thought I’d give some of that information here.
Southern Baptists have historically believed in the inerrancy of the Bible. During the 1950s-1970s, though, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was slowly drifting into theological liberalism.
In 1979 conservatives, led by Judge Paul Pressler, Dr. Paige Patterson, Adrian Rogers and many others, began to elect conservative SBC presidents. Those presidents made conservative appointments that eventually resulted in conservative trustees in charge of our SBC seminaries, boards, and agencies. The primary issue during this battle was the inerrancy of the Bible. Conservatives believe all our SBC employees, seminary professors, and missionaries should believe in inerrancy.
This CR was successful and culminated in the adoption of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, the doctrinal statement of the SBC. Now all our missionaries and seminary professors are expected to be in agreement with this statement. A few questions, comments, and replies:
1. Is inerrancy in the Baptist Faith & Message 2000?
The word inerrancy is not there, but the concept is. It states, “all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.” That is a definition of inerrancy.
2. What is liberalism?
Conservative leaders gave an example of theological liberalism as someone who believes there are, or could be, errors in the Bible.
3. Were there really liberals in the SBC?
Yes. Two of many examples:
Dr. Jack Flanders of Baylor University coauthored the book, People of the Covenant. The book said:
“Daniel presents many historical problems. In fact, the number of historical inaccuracies has led Walter Harrelson to suspect the author to have misrepresented deliberately the historical events and notices in order to provide his readers with a subtle indication that he was actually writing in a much later period with quite a different historical enemy of God’s people in mind. Whether or not the errors are intentional, they illustrate that the author writes later than the events and redacts materials in light of his own purpose to inspire men of faith to endure temptation and hardship.”
(Quoted from A Hill On Which To Die by Paul Pressler. Emphasis mine.)
In short, Flanders believed the biblical book of Daniel had many errors.
“When the Bible speaks of science and historical detail, the Bible has some errors. Moderates do not believe the Bible is full of errors, but there are errors.”
-Dr. Cecil Sherman, By My Own Reckoning; 2008. Sherman was a moderate leader in the SBC and CBF.
4. What did moderate leaders do when confronted with clear evidence of liberalism?
They usually denied it, ignored it, changed the subject, or attacked the conservatives who presented the evidence.
Another tactic was to speak of the alleged liberal as a wonderful person. They would tell how he was saved and baptized in a creek. How as a boy he walked five miles barefoot to church. But the issue was not whether or not he was a good person, but whether he believed the Bible was completely true.
5. Have Southern Baptists historically believed in inerrancy?
Yes. Three of many examples:
Speaking of the Bible, “When these inspired declarations were written, they were absolutely infallible.”
-B. H. Carroll (1843-1914), founder of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (quoted from Baptists and the Bible).
Infallible means incapable of error. Conservatives have used it synonymously with the word inerrant.
In reference to the Bible, “Every single part of the whole is God-breathed. And a God of truth does not breathe error.”
-Herschel H. Hobbs, SBC president and chairman of the Baptist Faith & Message 1963 Committee (quoted from The Truth in Crises, vol. 1).
The Bible “in the original autographs, God’s revelation was perfect and without error, doctrinally, historically, scientifically, and philosophically.”
Motion clarifying the Baptist Faith & Message 1963 statement on Scripture. Presented at the 1979 SBC by Wayne Dehoney, agreed to by Larry Lewis, Adrian Rogers, Herschel H. Hobbs. The motion passed by a wide margin. -from books by Hefley and Pressler.
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, July 13, AD 2010.
Q & A on SBC Conservative Resurgence, part 2
Brief History of SBC Conservative Resurgence
Differences Between the 1963 and 2000 Baptist Faith and Message