Monday, August 16, 2010

Keith Bruce, Ben Price, and the BGCT

In 1998 many Texas conservatives, frustrated at the moderate leadership of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), formed the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC). Since then, the SBTC and the Southern Baptist Texan have grown, the BGCT has had financial difficulties. During the last 10 years or so, the BGCT has had to lay off a number of their employees. Some of the layoffs have been public, some behind the scenes.

Recently I was especially sorry to see laid off Dr. Keith Bruce, Director of Institutional Relations, BGCT. I and my family have a very high opinion of Dr. Bruce. Let me explain.

About 1986 my dad, Joe Brumbelow, and I visited the Texas Baptist Historical Collection (TBHC), then housed at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

We have a journal and some documents left to dad by his uncle Ben Price. Ben Price was a circuit riding Texas Baptist preacher in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Joe Brumbelow never knew it, but after his death his older sister Myrtle told us that Ben Price had said that Joe would be a preacher and that was why he wanted to leave this material to him. Ben Price died in 1935 when Joe was five years old. Price’s journal dates back over 100 years. Of course, Joe Brumbelow did become a preacher and pastored for years.

Ben Rogers was then director of the TBHC. We showed the documents to Ben Rogers and he seemed very interested. He even mentioned that one of the brochures from about 1920 contained a photo of a preacher that he did not have. He said he would love to have a copy.

We told Rogers we did not want to give them to the TBHC, but we would be happy to leave them there and allow him to make copies of the documents. He later sent us a letter acknowledging the loan and itemizing most of the documents.

In 2006 dad had already gone on to be with the Lord. Ben Rogers was now working at Baylor University. My mother, Mrs. Joe E. (Bonnie) Brumbelow talked with me about getting the Ben Price / Brumbelow documents back.

I contacted the new director of the TBHC and he informed me the Price/Brumbelow documents had been gifted to them and we could not have them back. Over numerous emails, he never wavered in saying they were the property of TBHC. He even said they had a document to prove it; a document he never produced.

I contacted Ben Rogers and he said while he did not remember all the details he agreed that the documents should be returned to us and sent an email to TBHC to this effect. Still the TBHC director did not budge. At one point the said that if we would sign a document declaring the Price/Brumbelow documents were their property they would then loan them to us. The director bluntly told us the documents would be displayed in the new museum they planned to open.

Finally we wrote a statement telling how the TBHC had refused to return our property and had it notarized December 6, 2007. We sent the statement to Dr. Keith Bruce, Director of Institutional Relations, BGCT. Dr. Bruce seemed ready and willing to help us. After Keith Bruce got involved, the TBHC director apologized for what he had done.

To have our property returned we were required to sign a document absolving the TBHC of responsibility. We did not want to sign anything, but a lawyer friend told us if we did not plan to sue, we should go ahead and sign it. All we wanted was the return of our property.

I sent a letter to Dr. Bruce stating, “Having received your assurance that ‘release the Texas Baptist Historical Collection from any responsibility or liability related to these items’ is, ‘simply an acknowledgment- once you have the materials- that TBHC is no longer responsible / liable for them’ I am now ready to sign the statement below upon receipt of the Price / Brumbelow Documents.”

The documents were sent to us, and several days later we sent them the signed statement.

To make a long story short, Keith Bruce was instrumental in getting our property back; property that had been improperly held from us for months.

We’ve heard and read other good things about Dr. Keith Bruce. We've enjoyed reading his writing.  The BGCT will be poorer without him. I pray God’s blessing upon him and his family in the days ahead.

Note: Ben Price is mentioned in The Wit and Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow, Hannibal Books, p. 154-155.
Related Articles: 
Brief History of SBC Conservative Resurgence
Q & A on SBC Conservative Resurgence, part 1
Q & A on SBC Conservative Resurgence, part 2
Difference Between the 1963 and 2000 Baptist Faith and Message
Subscribe to the Southern Baptist Texan

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 16, AD 2010.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. -Psalm 119:160

6. Does inerrancy matter?

Conservatives hold that if you do not believe in inerrancy, you open yourselves up for all types of doctrinal deviation. The divinely inspired, inerrant Bible is our supreme rule of faith and practice.

Believe there are errors in the Bible, and then you have to pick out those errors. What is true and what is false? You then become the judge of the Bible, rather than the Bible judging you.

History has shown that when a church, seminary, or denomination ceases to believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, it begins a slow (or rapid) decline into theological confusion and liberalism.  The first generation or two may remain fairly orthodox, future generations do not. 

7. Were small church pastors involved in the CR?

Some have said they weren’t. They were.

“Small-church and bi-vocational pastors. The backbone of the conservative movement was this group who acted as faithful servants of the Lord. These pastors had nothing personally to gain but gave of all they had because of their deep convictions. I know of some who would drive to SBC meetings, eating peanut butter sandwiches the entire trip and sleeping in their cars. These could afford neither meals in restaurants nor hotel rooms. Their dedication provided the margin of victory. Their praise will not be on this earth but before the throne of grace.” -Paul Pressler, A Hill On Which To Die, B&H; p. 284.

My dad is one of many, many examples of small church pastors who were actively involved in the Conservative Resurgence:

“Joe Brumbelow was proud to have been involved in the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). He and Bonnie attended each year’s convention, though for them to do so was a financial sacrifice…To Brother Joe this controversy was not just a fight among preachers. It was a very spiritual issue. He believed that if the SBC turned from its commitment to the truthfulness of Scripture, we also would lose the zeal to win people to the Lord. If we don’t believe in Hell, we do not have much need for a Savior.” -Wit and Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow, Hannibal Books; p. 34.

8. Some moderates have charged that in 1979 conservatives only won because of voter fraud.

The SBC Peace Committee was made up of moderates, conservatives, and those who were neutral in the CR. They investigated these allegations:
“The Committee investigated numerous charges of political malfeasance and voter irregularity. It heard a detailed report, complete with statistical analysis, on messenger participation at annual meetings, presented by the SBC Registration Secretary and Convention Manager, as well as the chairman of a special study committee appointed by the SBC Executive Committee. Although the reports included isolated instances of registration and ballot abuse, there was no evidence of widespread or organized misuse of the ballot by any political group and no evidence of massive voter irregularities related to annual meetings.”
-Report of the Southern Baptist Convention Peace Committee, June 16, 1987, St. Louis, Missouri.

9. Some moderates accuse conservatives of busing in large numbers of messengers to vote in the 1979 SBC in Houston.

First, if they are qualified messengers, why does it matter how they travel? Whether by bus, car, or plane?

Second, no evidence of this was ever produced. I’m sure some churches and groups came by bus. But most of this charge is a figment of liberal imagination. If it makes anyone feel better, I drove my car to the 1979 convention.

10. Conservatives have been accused of being uneducated and ignorant. They don’t understand the issues.

Some conservatives, just like some moderates and liberals, are uneducated or ignorant. A favorite tactic of some moderates and liberals, however, is to condemn any conservative who dares disagree with them, as ignorant and uneducated. Often included for good measure is that conservatives also lack integrity.

For starters, this is a very arrogant, condescending attitude. 

Dr. Paige Patterson and Judge Paul Pressler are highly educated and Christian men of integrity. If you hear otherwise, ask for specific examples. It usually boils down to the fact that the accuser just vehemently disagrees with them and the CR.

All six SBC seminaries are now filled with highly educated men and women who hold to the inerrancy of Scripture.

Another thought - a messenger does not have to have attended college and seminary to intelligently vote. One of the strengths of the SBC is that the common people can attend the annual meeting and vote their convictions. We do not need a convention run by the elites.

I freely acknowledge there are moderates and liberals who are well-educated and people of integrity; we just disagree on some issues. Why can’t some on their side agree to the same about conservative leaders? Let’s debate the issues, not just attack the intelligence and character of the other side.

11. Where can I learn more about the Conservative Resurgence?

1. The Baptist Reformation by Jerry Sutton, B&H (Broadman & Holman)

2. The Truth in Crises by James Hefley, Hannibal Books (several volumes; This series has been recommended by both sides.

3. A Hill on Which to Die by Paul Pressler, B&H.

4. Baptists and the Bible by Bush & Nettles; Moody Press; B&H.

5. Anatomy of a Reformation: The Southern Baptist Convention, 1978-2004 by Paige Patterson, SWBTS (

6.  Subscribe to the Southern Baptist Texan

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 11, AD 2010.

Related Articles:
Brief History of SBC Conservative Resurgence
Q & A on SBC Conservative Resurgence, part 1
Differences Between the 1963 and 2000 Baptist Faith and Message