Did Baptist Moderates Win in San Antonio?

convention2.jpgDid the Southern Baptist moderates win in San Antonio? I think that some of them think that they did, and at least one person at the Associated Press agrees. The headline to the AP story says, “In victory for moderates, Southern Baptists reaffirm faith statement.” Here’s the relevant excerpt which includes comments from both Wade Burleson and Ben Cole:

Southern Baptists concerned about a rightward shift in the denomination claimed a significant victory Wednesday with the passage of a motion centered on Baptist identity. Some conservatives downplayed the vote’s importance and called the measure confusing.

In results announced Wednesday morning, “messengers,” or delegates, to the denomination’s annual meeting voted 58% to 42% to support a statement calling the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 the sufficient standard for establishing what makes a good Southern Baptist.

Backers of the statement said some conservatives have been setting additional litmus tests, in effect narrowing who is considered a Baptist in good standing. At stake is the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention nearly three decades after its “conservative resurgence” purged liberals over the issue of biblical infallibility.

“This would reaffirm the parameters of doctrinal cooperation for our denomination,” the Rev. Benjamin Cole of Arlington, Texas, who supported the motion, said Tuesday after the vote on the measure was taken.

Another architect of the measure, the Rev. Wade Burleson of Enid, Okla., called the result perhaps the most significant in the last decade at an annual meeting.

Baptists such as Cole and Burleson, pressing their case on blogs, have argued that some SBC conservatives have gone beyond the Baptist Faith and Message, overstepping that document’s reach to exclude some Southern Baptists — most recently, those who worship through the traditional Pentecostal practice of speaking in tongues. Some Baptists denounce the practice, and believe seminaries and other agencies should set standards that prevent the hiring of people who advocate speaking in tongues.

What do I think? I believe there are many things not mentioned within the BF&M that must be addressed in the hiring of professors and other leaders in the SBC. For example, the BF&M does not explicitly speak to the issue of divorce and remarriage, but the trustees and entity heads have to make a determination on this question, even though it is not in the confessional standard of the SBC.

Thus, the BF&M cannot be regarded as a maximum statement of those things believed by Southern Baptists, as if Southern Baptists have no convictions outside of those things articulated in the BF&M. The statement must be regarded as the bare minimum of those things that must be believed.


  • Mike Bird

    I’m reading the feeds and speeches from the SBC in SA and here’s how I see it. I don’t think anyone objects to the seminaries having narrower doctrinal parameters, it just means that the BFM 2000 is inclusive of SBC identity. If seminaries want to add to it, and exceed the BFM in an excluding way, fine, bring it before the SBC, and set forth your case. If SBTS wants to be Calvinistic fine, if SWBTS wants to be cessationist and dispensational, fine, just bring it to the convention first with a rationale. But it also means that other agencies such as the IMB better have darn good reason for forcing missionaries to adhere to quasi-Landmark views that one’s baptism is only authentic if the person who baptized you believes in eternal security. BTW Denny, do you support the IMB policy in that regard? Time to publically nail your colours to the wall dude! Luf. MB.

  • An Observer

    Interesting (telling) choice of words. Why does it always have to be a fight or a battle when the SBC gets together?

  • dennyrburk

    Dear Mike (in #1),

    You said that we were the “Baptist Taliban” last week. So maybe your skin is thick enough for me to tell you that you sound like the Aussie Inquisition this week. But you can put your torture devices away for now. There’s no need to “nail” me to any walls. I’m happy to oblige and to give you a plain answer on this subject. 🙂

    As far as the IMB policy is concerned, there is a great dispute on this side of the pond about whether it’s truly a landmark statement. Some think that it is, and some think that it is not.

    Whatever your opinion of that statement is, you can rest assured that I am not and never have been a Landmarker. I do not believe Landmarkism to be a biblical teaching, nor do I believe it to be a necessary implication of Baptist ecclesiology.

    Much luf,
    Denny Burk

    P.S. I still can’t get any e-mail through to you. Even your e-mail persecutes me!

  • Mack Roller

    This is not a moderate or Conservative issue, it is a polity issue. Anyone who tries to make it so needs lasik for being near sighted. Issues will come and go with perceived leadership changes but the real question is “how will we deal with these issues”. What do we have to fear by bringing major doctrinal decisions back to the SBC? Do we believe only a few elect have the right and the privilege to make these paramount decisions for the multitudes? No one wants to deal with day-to-day issues that our trustees have been authorized to deal with. But Southern Baptist have a right and a privilege to speak to major issues of doctrine. We have already agreed the BF&M 2000 stands as our doctrinal accountability, thus we should use it as our point of unity. Any entity limiting the participation of significant numbers of Southern Baptist Churches (see the Lifeway survey)should be brought back to the SBC for affirmation. If the BF&M is not “sufficient” for doctrinal accountability then we should hire back all of the IMB missionaries who were fired for not signing it. The document is good but not perfect. The document is in flux, let’s change it where needed but lets use it. We as SB must walk in unity around doctrinal accountability in order to reach the world. The motion presented and passed is to ensure doctrinal accountability not opening the door to moderate theology so we can get on with pleasing the King. This inerrantist and two time graduate of Criswell Bible College is proud of the direction this motion takes us.

  • Mike Bird


    1. I have recanted of my “Baptist Taliban” remarks. I admit the rhetoric was unhelpful. I think the CR did a godly job of removing truly liberal elements from the denomination and protecting the theological integrity of the SBC. But like I said, when you start telling me that people like Frank Page are the greatest threat to the SBC, then you’ve redrawn the theological battle lines in a way that is indicative of a turn towards fundamentalism. Just as we opposed liberalism, so too we must oppose fundamentalism or the gospel will be lost. That’s my gripe.

    2. On the IMB and Landmarkerism. I have read that there are proud card carrying Landmarkers on the IMB (if I’m wrong please correct me). Thus, I think the association is legitimate. Glad to see that we agree that the current policy is unbiblical. Note, I did not ask you if you were a Landmarker. I asked if you agree with the current IMB policy!

    3. To email me, make sure no blog addresses are in your email!


  • Jesse McMillan

    here is my question. In the organizational structure of the SBC, where does the “real” authority reside? I understand and agree that the BFM is not meant to be exhaustive, but who is it that draws the lines that are not directly covered in the BFM. the trustees of the seminary/board? the X-Comm? the convention?
    It seems that unless this is clearly defined, this entire debate is simply a power struggle of interpretations.

  • dennyrburk

    Dear Mike,

    1. I meant “Aussie Inquisition” to be received with tongue in cheek. I hope it came across that way. I don’t think Frank Page is the “greatest threat to the SBC.” Even though Baptist moderates named him as their candidate last year, I think he has disappointed them.

    2. I think the only thing that we have clearly agreed on is that Landmarkism is unbiblical.

    3. I just sent a test e-mail with no blog address. Did you get it?


  • Mike Bird


    When I said “you start telling me that Frank Page is the greatest threat …” I wasn’t talking about “you” personally (i.e. Denny Burk), I meant sources I have in the SBC who have told me that prominent men have said exactly that about Frank Page. Sorry for not making that clear. My fault.

  • Tripp Spangler

    IMO…this Convention was not even close to being a win for Baptist “moderates”. All one has to do is look at the election of Jim Richards and see that.

    The BFM resolution was just fat out confusing. Some who voted for that resolution were not doing so in order to endorse what has now became the “Burleson” spin. As Yarnell stated in the article, most of those who were voting for that resolution were simply affirming the Baptist Faith and Message and reaffirming trustees’ discretion in setting standards for hiring people.

    I do hope though that Southern Baptists will pay attention to how the Burleson coalition uses this vote and the spin they attach to it.

    IMO…Indy ’08 is going to be a very important convention. I think this issue will come up again…and I don’t believe people will be confused any more about it. I also believe the President election next year is going to show forth where the heart of this Convention truly lies.

    Let me be the first to urge the nomination of Dr. Mohler for that position. We truly need his leadership during these interesting times.

  • Rick Garner


    No one won or lost. It simply set a boundary. The adopted motion that I made and approved by the Convention simply states that the BF&M is sufficient to guide our entities, agencies, and seminaries. After next year most will have forgotten it. It does imply several things. First, that agencies, entities, and institutions cannot go beyond the BF&M in defining what it and is not a Baptist. Second, narrowing parameters must meet the litmus test of the BF&M.

    Not more than 2 minutes after the motion was approved, an agency head stated it would not change his course. A seminary President essentially reported that he is guided by it in addition to his other guides. He is not alone.

    What strikes me as profoundly tragic is that for the first time in the history of the SBC a vote for the BF&M 2000, (edited by Mohler, Patterson et al) was seen as the liberal vote.

    When did voting for doctrinal accountability from our only consensus confession statement become moderate?

    It is my hope that the conservative resurgence makes yet another needed course direction. I pray that we will steer away from the J. Frank Norris’ fractionalizing fundamentalism.

    Dr. Criswell had it right. He steered the SBC away from destructive Liberalism yet never toward a right-winged radicalism. The fighting fundamentalist can call themselves conservatives “but a skunk by any other name still stinks.”

    Rick Garner

  • Rick Garner


    Jim Richards is a good man. I love him. I appreciate his work. And I also think that he will continue to lead SBC in the future in a fine manner. My only concern is that he is the status quo.
    And, certainly he was assumed to win. It’s hard to lose in your own back yard.

    The convention in Indiana ’08 is not as important as you suggest. The resurgence will do a better job, it’s in Dr. Mohlers back yard and the candidate will be a real “cooperating” Southern Baptist this time.


  • Tripp Spangler


    I just disagree with some of your comments. I do not believe the majority of those who voted for your motion was trying to send a message “that agencies, entities, and institutions cannot go beyond the BF&M in defining what it and is not a Baptist. Second, narrowing parameters must meet the litmus test of the BF&M.”

    I challenge you to put forth a motion that says exactly that and see what happens. I have a feeling though that you know a resolution worded in such a fashion would have no chance on the floor of the Convention. Your motion was very vague and confusing. Hopefully, next year…we will be able to clear up that confusion.

    As for Jim Richards…he would have won regardless of where the Convention was held. The “spin” that he won only because it was in Texas is exactly that…spin.

    I also find it humorous that you and others are already trying to lower the expectations for Indy ’08. However, I do believe next year’s Convention will show forth the true course that Southern Baptists want to go in…minus the confusion and trickery that was part of this past Convention.

  • Rick Garner


    The motion “not resolution” is extremely clear. Southern Baptist people are not simpletons easily tricked.

    The motion is that the BF&M “is sufficient in its current form to guide trustees…” Seems pretty clear.

    And seriously, Jim is a fine man. Never meant to imply he could not win in any state.


  • Tripp Spangler


    Once again, the motion was very confusing. I think all the discussion that has taken place afterwards reveals that. Most people did not vote for the resolution with the interpretation you and others have given.

    Once again, I urge you to submit a motion next year that says what your interpretation is advocating. Let us agree here to clear up the confusion. Ok?

    Simply put forth a motion that calls on “agencies, entities, and institutions to not go beyond the BF&M in defining what it and is not a Baptist and that second, narrowing parameters must meet the litmus test of the BF&M.” Have an up and down vote on this.

    Till then, the motion that was passed at this year’s convention will accomplish nothing. It is too vague and is open to many different interpretations. All it has done is created confusion.

    I am sure you agree we need to clear up the confusion, correct?

  • Barry

    It is not as clear as you might like to think. I talked to numerous fellow messengers on Wed morning about it, and not one of them described it as you just have. Tripp is right; the language used was not perfectly clear. Messengers are not simpletons, but I am a seminary graduate and yet I had to read it a couple of times to make sure I understood it, and when I did I knew that not all of the 58% that voted for it understood it clearly. That was confirmed as I asked other messengers what they thought they were voting for. There was a lot of confusion. Whether you intended to be clear or not, it wasn’t clear to everyone.

    I was VERY pleased to see Mohler “hit it into the upper deck” on Wednesday morning. Did any other seminary report get interrupted over a dozen times for applause and a standing ovation at the end? He is such a statesman and dead right on this one.


  • Rick Garner

    “Minimum” argument.
    That is the beauty of the BFM2000.
    That is WHY we can cooperate. Of course we believe other things. We all have our own doctrinal preferences. That is also why both non-Calvinist Patterson can happily co-exist with Calvinist Mohler. But when doctrinal preferences go beyond our doctrinal consensus we no longer have grounds of cooperation.

    This line of logic is best stated by the SBTC Executive Director. The SBTC Evangelism department sent out a letter and a CD of Dr. Patterson challenging Calvinism. It set off a fire storm. Dr. Richards profoundly responded and skillfully extinguished this potential division with these words:

    “For over seven years it has been my privilege to explain to literally hundreds of churches the parameters of fellowship in the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. The Baptist Faith and Message Statement 2000 provides those parameters. It is a well-stated document that helps us to mark boundaries for our cooperation….The Baptist Faith & Message gives a lot of latitude for interpretations. The wording allows for interpretations relative to Calvinism, eschatology, and many other doctrinal positions. I have often said that it is broad enough for widely differing views to fit within the fellowship…The SBTC will not criticize doctrinal beliefs that are within the parameters of our statement of faith.”
    Excerpt from letter dated April 18, 2006, to the SBTC Churches.

    This line of leadership and logic should be followed by all of our Trustees. And indeed the SBC did request that. The “maximum” logic divide and separate Baptists and our participation within it based on tertiary preferential doctrines. For example, I’m not a Calvinist so should I support SEBTS and SWBTS and exclude SBTS? No. Dr. Richards is right. The BF&M 2000 mark our boundaries for cooperation.

  • Tripp Spangler


    I ask you again: Would be willing to assist others in Indy next year and help clear up the confusion that this BFM motion created this year?

    I am sure we can agree that confusion on this issue is something none of us want.

  • Boyd Luter


    My friend, and former Criswell College colleague, Rick Garner, informed me that I was supposed to speak to the question in your title for this post. So, I will momentarily.

    But, first: Denny, I recognize your name (though I didn’t know you had a blog), but don’t recall whether I’ve met you or not. I’m about to turn 58, so my memory for names and faces is not what it used to be. I left Criswell in 2003 and have not been back on campus but a couple of times since. And, at the College booth in San Antonio, the only people I saw that I recognized were Dr. and Mrs. Cooper and Jim Bryant.

    In my humble opinion, it is a completely false dichotomy to even ask this question because,
    unquestionably, the entire Southern Baptist Convention “won” because the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 “won.” Only if the vote had been to affirm the BFM1963 would your question even be worth the effort made to phrase it… but, of course, we’re talking about BFM2000 here, which, as Rick phrased it in S.A., truly “stands as the theological capstone of the Conservative Resurgence.”

    Think about it. If BFM2000 had not been affirmed as sufficient to guide all Convention-related entities in their guidelines and policies, that would mean that it is, instead, insufficient to do the job. And, if that were the case, we need to start writing another confession of faith for the denomination immediately that is a WHOLE LOT more detailed (and, if you’re going to be honest, a whole lot more potentially divisive), in order to make the next version of BFM “sufficient.”

    Also, just think about how silly the following proposition is: If–all you “grassy knoll” conspiracy lovers take note–it is somehow considered “moderate” to vote for the
    sufficiency of the BFM2000, then that could only that BFM2000 is a “moderate” document. And I say, Me genoito! May it never be!

    Instead, I affirmed the only consensus doctrinal statement of all Southern Baptists and one which I firmly believe aptly and “sufficiently” embodies the faith around which all conservative Southern Baptists are to do business, including the trustees (and administrators) of all SBC entities. And, in doing so, I am deeply grateful to stand with such distinguished conservatives as Drs. Frank Page, Morris Chapman and Criswell College graduate, Danny Akin, all of whom seemed to clearly grasp the intended meaning of my original resolution in 2006 in Greensboro, which was acted upon by the Executive Committee in February, 2007 (which body, I’ve been told, used the strongest wording within their scope of authority to get it across to the trustee boards), and then turned into a motion in San Antonio. My intent was nothing more or less than to get the entity trustees to face the fact that they remain fully accountable to the people-at-large of the SBC who elected them, instead of just making “loose cannon” de facto doctrinal decisions over and beyond BFM2000 for no other reason other than because they don’t have to answer (i.e.,accountably) to anyone.

    It was indeed a breath of fresh air to hear Dr. Akin’s clear understanding of what had just happened through the passing of the motion in S.A. In contrast, it was a very murky situation indeed to watch other seminary presidents react with apparent anger and selectively use words (e.g., I heard “guide” a lot, but the most important word in the XComm decision and the motion in S.A. was “sufficent,” which more or less disappeared in the remarks of some who were upset by the motion) to interpret the motion to say what they wanted it to, so that they could effectively ignore the clear will of the convened SBC (i.e., 57.5% to 42.5%).

    Denny, I assure you that I do not have a “moderate” bone in my body. My masters and Ph.D. degrees from Dallas Seminary, my two terms as Southwest regional President of the Evangelical Theological Society (as well as several national committee appointments) and my faculty service at such thoroughly evangelical, inerrancy-affirming schools as Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, Cedarville University and Criswell, as well as my current adjunct professor role at Liberty Seminary certainly attest to that. Anybody who knows me well knows that such an accusation would be nothing more or less than attacking the messenger (who is seeking nothing but accountability) when you can’t attack the message, which, in this case, is the BFM2000.

    I trust all is well at Criswell! I remember fondly almost everything while I was there, except the incredibly stressful and exhausting 14-15 hour days we had to put in for several months in regard to SACS reaccreditation back in 2002.

    Respectfully submitted in Christ,
    Boyd Luter

  • dennyrburk

    Dear Mac (#5) and Boyd (#22),

    I didn’t mean to say that everyone who supported this resolution was a moderate. I don’t think that for a moment. As a matter of fact, I sat next to Morris Chapman at dinner on Wednesday night. We got to visit for a long time about the motion, and I do believe he was in support of it. But no one could credibly argue that Chapman is a moderate.

    What I was pointing out is that the press was spinning this as a victory for “moderates.” That story appeared in the Associated Press (which got picked up on almost every news site on the planet), and the story linked the term “moderate” to Wade Burleson and Ben Cole. But I don’t think that for that reason all of the motion’s supporters are moderate. I’m sorry if I gave that impression.

    In my view, what was really at stake in the whole debate was whether or not the motion forbade entity heads and trustees from using their discretion in hiring and firing decisions when it comes to certain important issues not explicitly mentioned in the BF&M. My concern, frankly, is not so much with the tongues issue. In my mind, there are a myriad other issues that would make the “private prayer language” issue seem small.

    For instance, I want trustees and entity heads to be able to exclude snake-handlers from employment. Snake-handling is not in the BF&M, but I don’t think that fact should limit them from using their discretion (guided by the BF&M) in excluding such people. The list of issues such is this is virtually endless (e.g., being slain in the spirit, cross-dressing, etc.), and we can’t make a new faith statement every time one comes up. So that’s why I opposed the motion.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Denny Burk

  • Boyd Luter


    With all due respect to you (who was merely overreacting to an imbalanced secular news story), everyone should have done their research/homework before jumping on this motion. I used the word “accountability” very prominently in my Greensboro resolution, to which Dr. Chapman and the EC responded. It was obvious they were on board, but only have so much weight they can throw around to nudge the entity trustees to actually act with some responsibility to the rest of the SBC for their guidelines/policies.

    Please understand: I am not Charismatic, but I have a number of friends–very godly people–some associated with Criswell College, who are now cut off from service with the IMB that they might well have pursued. And, just look at how it happened. The IMB trustees said, “Trust us. We know what we’re doing. Don’t you know that 19 out of 20 (i.e., 95%) of SBC pastors are cessationists? We’re representing the vast majority of SBC pastors in our policy (become guideline).”

    Really. How trustworthy (i.e., worthy of trust and “loose cannon” doctrinal-based policy-making power) do those trustees now appear to be, given that the exegetical basis for their new guideline represents, according to Lifeway, less than 10% (i.e., 7% “semi-cessationists”) of SBC pastors? Even their hard-nosed cessationist bottom-line application represents less than half (43%) of SBC pastors. Since they said their approach would be representing the “vast majority” of the SBC, what are they going to do now?

    Don’t you see how this debacle could have been avoided if they had just brought the issue to the SBC meeting for debate and a vote? Yes, the outcome might be disputed, just as some are choosing to do with the motion voted on Tuesday night. But, at least it would not have been the laughable–if not so sad–mess of a handful of trustees who reflect the views of less than a tenth of SBC pastors still trying to claim credibility in laying out policies over and beyond the BFM2000.

    And, why not bring each issue to the SBC as a possible amendment? The Pattersons thought it was important enough to add “The Family” plank to BFM1963 in 1998, then “amend” pretty much the whole BFM again two years later, to what we are working with now. So, there is major looming precedent, ironically from those who probably would oppose the amending process suggested by Morris Chapman in his address.

    By the way, I’m not excited about the amending every year option, either. But, if it is the only way to get the entity trustees (and, after the heated words of some honchos in S.A., apparently some administrators) to wake up and show some restraint and accountability outside the bounds of BFM2000, it may well have to be done.


  • Steve Hayes

    Wow, Rick Garner, Boyd Luter, Mack Roller, Barry and Denny!! Man, this post really brought everyone out of the wood work!!

    As a former student of Dr. Luter, and a friend of Denny, Mack and Barry, I have only one thing to say: I’m glad I don’t have to go through this silly stuff any more. I still enjoy hearing what went on at the Convention, but I don’t miss the constant spin and continual bickering over issues that should be at the most common sense, and at the least friendly disagreements and discussions. It seems that every Baptist issue is like an epic Civil War battle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful for the Baptist heritage that I grew up with, and I have great appreciation for Baptist efforts domestically and, especially, abroad. I am blessed to have many Baptist brothers and sisters, but I’m relieved that I no longer have to exist in such a polarized denomination. Don’t you guys get tired of everything being such an ordeal? Isn’t it emotionally draining?

    I’m really not trying to stir you guys up or make Baptists out to be bad, but I honestly feel such a weight lifted off of me now that I’m at an independant Bible church and not a Baptist. The theology is basically the same, but I don’t have to deal with those blasted Baptist politics. Man, what a relief!

  • dennyrburk

    Dear Boyd,

    My initial impression of the motion was that it was aimed at preventing entity heads and trustees from exercising their discretion about certain issues not mentioned in the BF&M. Do you think that my impression was wrong? Maybe I came away with the wrong interpretation of the motion. Dr. Mohler, after all, did endorse the motion during his report as a “sufficient guide.”

    Let me throw out a case study, and you tell me how the motion should be applied in this situation. Suppose a professor at an SBC seminary comes to the conclusion that the longer ending of Mark is authentic. He also becomes convinced that snake-handling should therefore be a regular part of his devotion and worship to the Lord. As a result, he begins to practice and to teach snake-handling in worship.

    How would this motion guide the seminary President in any personnel decisions he may have to make in response to this situation?


  • dennyrburk

    Dear Mac,

    I was re-reading your #5, and I just wanted to say that I have no problem with the tongues-issue being brought to a vote before the convention. The people in the pews should always be able to speak through their messengers. Let’s just hope it’s in English. 🙂

    You said: “If the BF&M is not ‘sufficient’ for doctrinal accountability then we should hire back all of the IMB missionaries who were fired for not signing it.”

    I thought those people didn’t sign it either because there was something in the BF&M that they disagreed with or because they were opposed in principle to accountability to a doctrinal standard. Why would we hire back people who disagree with the BF&M as a doctrinal standard? Don’t we all agree that the BF&M is at least a minimum requirement for service in the SBC?

    Thanks, brother.


  • Tripp Spangler


    Thanks for not answering my question.

    I will never understand why some in this convention enjoy causing conflict and confusion.

    I for one urge that we clear up this confusion in Indy and move on to more important matters.

  • Rick Garner


    You ask me to “Simply put forth a motion that calls on “agencies, entities, and institutions to not go beyond the BF&M in defining what it and is not a Baptist and that second, narrowing parameters must meet the litmus test of the BF&M.” Have an up and down vote on this.”

    I cannot do that because I am a Baptist. That would make the BF&M2000 a creed. However on the other hand as a consensus confession I and the SBC have no problem stating that it is a “sufficient guide”.

    Again, it is not unclear.
    What did they vote on “The BF&M2000”
    What were they asked “A suffienct Guide”
    Who was invloved “Agencies of the SBC”

    Its’ simple to me.

    The motion should have the opposite effect of conflict. No one should be excluded because they do not meet the “extra” unwritten criteria beyond the BF&M 2000. (Think about the censureship of SWBTS Trustee Dwight McKissic.)


  • Tripp Spangler


    I must admit. Your side really has pulled a fast one on the Southern Baptist Convention. In your first post you said:

    “The adopted motion that I made and approved by the Convention simply states that the BF&M is sufficient to guide our entities, agencies, and seminaries. After next year most will have forgotten it. It does imply several things. First, that agencies, entities, and institutions cannot go beyond the BF&M in defining what it and is not a Baptist. Second, narrowing parameters must meet the litmus test of the BF&M.”

    In this statement you give us what you and others wanted the motion to “imply”. When I encouraged you to then put forward the implication as a motion, you respond with:

    “I cannot do that because I am a Baptist. That would make the BF&M2000 a creed.”

    Now explain something to me. If your implication from the motion makes the BF&M2000 a creed, and this is something you can’t accept as a Baptist….then why are you still pushing the implication upon the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention?

  • Rick Garner

    We never implied that the BF&M is a creed. That’s what Hadaway (sp) said in speaking against the motion.

    We said it is “sufficient in its current form to GUIDE trustees….”


  • Tripp Spangler


    Once again, I am just repeating what you have said on this comment thread.

    You said that the motion you put forward implied the following points:

    “First, that agencies, entities, and institutions cannot go beyond the BF&M in defining what it and is not a Baptist. Second, narrowing parameters must meet the litmus test of the BF&M.”

    You then said, when I asked you to submit the above wording as a motion…that you could not do so. The reason you gave was this:

    “I cannot do that because I am a Baptist. That would make the BF&M2000 a creed.”

    Therefore, according to your OWN WORDS…the implications you are trying to give your motion makes the BFM2000 a creed.

    It is very clear what you have said. Either we are to accept your stated implications…or reject your stated implications.

    Which one is it?

  • Boyd Luter


    (And greetings to Steve Hayes! Long time, no see!)

    In brief answer to your scenario: I don’t think the motion itself could do any more than instruct the entity trustees that, in Xcomm’s carefully considered opinion (since this was the XComm conclusion in February, which was reported out, then turned into a motion by Rick Garner), it is a VERY, VERY BAD IDEA for trustees to be adding anything that has the force of doctrine to BFM2000 on the sly/through the side door by calling it a “guideline” or a “policy,” when it is clearly a doctrinal addition with practical ramifications.

    Now, for anyone who was actually present (and awake or listening) when Morris Chapman was giving his courageous “Leading by Example” address, Morris laid out two ways XComm thinks things should be handled. (But, first, I’m going to explain what XComm received from me in my 2006 resolution as how to handle that sort of things): 1) If an entity BoT passes a guideline/policy outside the pale of BFM2000, then it would go automatically to the SBC the next June for a vote up or down (and, if it’s voted down, it would be removed as an entity guideline or policy). This is what I championed in my resolution in Greensboro, which led to the motion in S.A.; 2) If the trustees actually were to choose to exercise restraint (Wow! What a concept!), they would isolate the key doctrinal issue outside BFM2000 and ask the SBC to debate and vote on it the next year in the form of a proposed amendment to BFM2000; or 3) After they passed it, they would submit it to the SBC for debate and a vote the next June before they ever put it on their books. That would show great respect for the SBC at large. In my reading of his message, #2 appears to be the approach that Morris Chapman (and, presumably, the bulk of XComm) favors.

    For whatever it’s worth,

    PS- Denny et al, regretfully, I just don’t have the time to be doing this. I’ve come back on here twice just because I was told by somebody who read the blogging comments that I should. But, I would respectfully request that anyone who cares to ask me a question or say “Hi” just email me ( or call me (830-515-3701). I do hope, though, that, as a directly involved source on some of what happened in both Greensboro and S.A., I have been able to provide some insight.

  • Mack Roller


    I never thought for a moment that you implied that the motion was either moderate or conservative but stating the prevailing thought of the day for clarification. Thanks for doing that.

    My point in bringing up the fired “M’s” is to demonstrate that the BF&M has teeth and stands for doctrinal accountability in some cases but not in others, in minimum but not maximum.

    Here’s the problem, and I’m not sure how to fix it:
    We are told the BF&M is broad enough for many to come under one tent. What is meant is we can accept CP $ from many different churches because they can sign the BF&M. We are told latter that those same churches can give big bucks but their members cannot serve with one of the agencies. The same standard to be Southern Baptist should be the same standard to serve in Southern Baptist institutions or agencies. It’s like being kissed when you give your money but stabbed in the back when you want to serve.

    I want to be confident that when my son or daughter surrenders to missions they will have an opportunity to serve as a SBC Missionary without being rejected because some group of trustees determines a 5-pointer or a A-miller or a post-tribber or someone not baptized in the “right kind” of waters just doesn’t have what it takes. I want to know that if criteria’s change over major doctrines, the convention has a say. Should we just set back and let trustees rule and make decisions without some type of accountability? If Dr. Patterson taught me anything it was to run as fast as you can from anyone who says “Baptist should just trust Baptist”.

    Let me know now what changes will be made by backroom subcommittees. Let me know what theological mood NAMB or LifeWay will be in in 35 years. I would rather the entire SBC approved new criteria than a small minority trying to guess what the millions desire or just wanting to implement pet doctrines.

    I want Doctrinal Accountability that starts and stops with the convention. I’m not sure how to get it, but I know we have demanded the question. The xcom report is very simple. The motion by Garner is simple and easy to understand. The implications are extremely and terribly difficult.

    The real issue gets real simple for me: If our members who can sign the BF&M can’t serve with or for SBC agencies or institutions then our CP $ will go somewhere else. Since I have been the pastor of FBC Fairfield we have given over a million to missions. Don’t take our money if we can’t serve. Simple enough for me..

    Please know I’m not speaking directly to you Denny or anyone else, I’m just venting. Thanks for the opportunity.

    mack roller

  • Tim Guthrie

    Here is how Dr. Page summed up the motion (or rather confused it:))

    “”One reporter asked Page if he was saying that “when the BF&M is silent on a subject” that an entity “should not take action in any way that goes beyond the BF&M.””No, that’s not what I said,” Page said. “I said in doctrinal parameters I think they need to be very careful in moving past them. We do respect the trustee system and if they do, they do have that right. I simply said I urge them not to go beyond doctrinal parameters. There are multitudes of issues that trustees have to deal with as regarding personnel, regarding issues of all kinds that may not be directly doctrinal at all.”

    Thus the motion does nothing!

  • Colin

    Hasn’t it been established already that this is Ben Cole’s motion? His thoughts in this thread would be valuable in deciphering the intent and the “innocuous” effect.

  • R. L. Vaughn

    Dr. Luter, if I understand you correctly, the now “infamous” Cole/Garner motion originates with your 2006 resolution, and your intent was to address (and hopefully restrict) trustee doctrinal decisions such as the IMB praying in tongues and baptism guidelines. Is that correct?

    Further you indicate that the wording was the strongest wording within the Executive Committee’s scope of authority “to get it across to the trustee boards.” I am assuming, and I think correctly so, that it would have been within the authority of the 2007 assembled messengers to use stronger (and clearer) language to spell out the message intended to be sent to the trustees. What reason did the submitters/movers have to not change the wording to match the intent?

  • James

    I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but I’m noticing it with more and more frequency…. naming fellow inerrantists as “moderates” and even as “liberals.” If those in SBC leadership are successful in ridding the denomination of the Charismatics and Calvinists and other “Moderates,” then who will become the new targets?

    Yesterday I read of a pastor in India who was attacked by a mob of Hindu extremists. As he was being beaten he screamed out in agony, yet at the same time he prayed for their forgiveness. He has received threats stating that if he returns to his home that he and his family will be killed and his house and church building will be destroyed. So, what are we SBCers, with our prosperity and freedom, doing to help this brother? Nothing, we’re too busy “protecting the denomination from liberalism.”

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