Did 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 â€” 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.