Has the Conservative Resurgence Gone Too Far?

It was announced today that David Rogers, the son of the late great Adrian Rogers, will run against Jim Richards for 1st Vice-President of the Southern Baptist Convention. And Sam Hodges of the Dallas Morning News reports that Rogers has joined the ranks of Southern Baptists who believe the conservative resurgence has gone too far. He writes:

“David Rogers is a foreign missionary, and has joined his mother – Adrian Rogers’ widow – in questioning what they see as an ever-narrowing definition of what’s acceptable in Baptist belief. That’s a windy way of saying they may think the conservative resurgence has gone a little too far.”

Rogers has already been enthusiastically endorsed by one vocal opponent of “narrowing” conservatism, Wade Burleson. And it looks like Ben Cole is hinting that he might throw his support in as well. Sam Hodges is right about one thing. This race has just turned interesting.

In the most recent issue of World Magazine, Dr. Albert Mohler considers this question, “Has the Conservative Resurgence gone too far” (HT: Scott Lamb). Here is how he responds:

“A generation that was playing Little League as the ‘Battle for the Bible’ raged now includes some who loudly claim that the Conservative Resurgence has gone too far.

“Not hardly. The incipient controversies of the present serve to remind Southern Baptists of what was at stake when we last met in San Antonio—and of where we would be if the Convention had headed in a very different direction. The issue of biblical inerrancy is as important today—and as in need of defining and defending—as it was then.

“Southern Baptists will do well to remember what every Texan remembers when reminded of the Alamo: There are some battles worth fighting, some stories worth remembering, and some causes that never die.”


  • Rick Garner


    Mohler’s comments are strange. The issues are not about inerrancy.

    But Mohler is right that some battles are worth fighting. The SBC should fight to pull away from destructive fundamentalist attitudes and leadership.

    It is welcome news to have a non political insider running for 1st VP. He has my vote.

  • Tripp Spangler

    Three cheers to Dr. Mohler! He understands all too well the dangers of what some are advocating in the Southern Baptist Convention.

    I pray that all Southern Baptists listen very carefully to what Mohler is saying.

  • Andrew

    I agree with Mohler. However, the beginning of his comments concern me because the way he sets up the issue is a way in which I’ve heard several “old-timers” set it up. Several of my heroes who fought the fight in the resurgence seem to devalue the opinions of those who were too young to participate (Mohler says they were still “playing little league”), but nonetheless hold the values of the conservative resurgence close to their hearts and would gladly fight and die over inerrancy, exclusitvity of salvation in christ alone, historical and scientific validity of scripture, etc. Those who have fought the fight should include the younger generation rather than isolate them by ‘disqualifying’ them because they are too young or didn’t participate in the battle. This is the type of attitude which excludes and isolates individuals and causes them to run to the “big tent” camp.

  • Paul

    “scientific validity of scripture”

    if we have actual, true, real SCIENTIFIC validity of scripture, I would love to know where to find out more about that.

    Please advise,


  • Mike Bird

    1. My first mentor was a good and godly SBC man. He told me nostalgic stories about the CR and how the battle was won. He was also involved with the Founders movement in the SBC, but he had lived overseas and had a more informed and global perspective on things (not unlike David Rogers). I also have many friends (scholars and pastors) in the SBC, I am alarmed at what they tell me is going on, and what I see myself. So that’s my stakeholder interest.
    2. On the one hand we should thank God for the conservative resurgence (henceforth CR) since they took the fight to the liberals and won. And I’ve met some of those liberals who have since become Anglicans, United Methodist, or PCUSA. People who denied the exclusiveness of salvation in Christ, regarded the Bible as negotiable, and wanted to ordain active homosexual men to the ministry. They are gone, for good, I hope.
    3. On the other hand, I get the feeling that the CR are turning into the Baptist Taliban. Instead of securing an evangelical unity around shared baptist distinctives, they are demanding absolute conformity on every matter of doctrine and reducing eveything (and I mean “everything”) to inerrancy. They tolerate no other viewpoint other than their own. Consdider the following: the CR is quite happy for quasi-Land Markers to run the IMB, Paige Patterson tried to make Dwight McKissic persona non grata because he had a private prayer language, Russell Moore is telling SBTS seminary students that Evangelicals and Wheaton College are the new bad guys, and (from a reliable source) I have heard that CR leaders regard Frank Page as the greatest threat to all that the CR has worked for! You see my point, look who they are attacking now. They are not attacking Jack Spong or Dom Crossan, it is McKissic, Wheaton College, Burleson, and Page who are the new enemies of inerrancy and the SBC! With friends like the CR who the heck needs enemies?
    4. I agree with the CR that liberalism is not Christianity, and we must vigilantly ensure that it never again encroaches into our churches and institutions. But, we should also say that fundamentalism is not Christianity (pace Russell Moore).
    5. Al Mohler, God bless his little reformed socks, is right. We need to remember the past. We need to remember that godly men and women have always had to fight hard and pay a high price in the battle against slavery – racial or theological – something you guys in the south ought to know better than most! Brothers and sisters, I say unto you, do not let the CR or anyone enslave you to fundamentalism, it will kill the gospel, it will shame Christ.

    Solum Evangelium
    Sola Christo
    Mike Bird

  • Luke Britt

    There needs to be a separation of the Conservative Resurgence and the Al Mohlers and Russell Moore. This isn’t W.A. Criswell; these are different men fighting different wars, so to speak. I’m actually not in the loop (not sure I’d like to be) enough to discuss the ‘wars’ they are fighting, but I’m pretty sure some of them have to do with abortion and gay marriage.

  • Tripp Spangler

    Mike…to claim that some men who are leading our Convention are turning into the “Baptist Taliban” is completely out of line. I can not believe you would make such a comment.

    Men such as Page Patterson, Russell Moore, Al Mohler, etc. are NOTHING like the Taliban. To make such a claim is rather shocking. What is funny though is that this is a comment one would easily hear from some Baptist liberals. (Some, not all.)

    This is the problem with those in the Convention who believe the Convention needs to be “rescued” from itself. They sound very similar to the liberals. I realize you aren’t liberal, so you claim…but you seem to be using the exact same game plan that they do.

    Mike, I call upon you to retract your above statement. It is greatly offensive that you would group any of our Southern Baptist leaders with the Taliban.

    And btw…Luke, let me ask you a question. Do you believe it is the responsibility of Christians to stand against abortion and gay marriage? Or is this something we should “cooperate” with others on?

  • jeff miller


    I mentioned to you a long time ago that I did not think
    Christ gave us either the tools or the commission to build para-congregation institutions. What do you think of that idea?

    Your servant in Christ,

  • Jeff

    I find it strange that Calvinists like Mohler are supporting the Paige Patterson crowd. Once Paige Patterson and his cronies are finished with kicking all of the charismatics out of the SBC, then they will try to kick all the Calvinists out of the SBC. It is likely that Mohler will have to answer questions about his Calvinist views at this year’s SBC. This is a first step towards a purge of Calvinists from the SBC. That is why SBC Calvinists must support Wade Burleson and his coalition – by fighting for the inclusion of charismatics, they are also insuring the future inclusion of Calvinists.

  • Mike Bird

    1. I think you personify part of the problem by saying that I am sounding just like one of those liberals. Who are the liberals? Well, it used to be guys who denied Jesus’ resurrection or the authority of Scripture, etc. But in the SBC a new definition of liberal is rising: A liberal is now:(a) Someone who criticizes the CR; (b) Someone who fails to swear absolute fealty to the CR; or (c) Someone who votes for candidates like Frank Page who run against CR endorsed candidates in elections. Am I the only one bothered by this?
    2. Let me say that I am grateful for some of the good work that the CR has done (and I mean that), but when you demand the absolute allegiance of everyone, when you act with utter impunity, and denigrate all those who dare disagree with you, well, then Taliban is one analogy that comes to mind. Keep in mind that this is admittedly a hyperbolic caricature. I’m trying to be provocative not insulting. So Trippie, from now on I won’t call the CR the worst of the CR the “Baptist Taliban” if it offends you. Instead, I’ll call them the “Baptist Sith Lords” 😉 Long live the Evangelical Jedi of the SBC!

    Solum Evangelium
    Mike Bird

  • Bart Barber

    JB, I appreciate your comment more than you’ll ever know. Not because I echo the sentiments—not at all. Every time I pick up the New Testament and read it, I come away even more of a Baptist.

    No, the thing that really encouraged me about your comment was the fact that you realize and acknowledge that you are not a Baptist. Unfortunately, many non-Baptists (especially those who happen to draw a Baptist paycheck) are not quite so forthcoming in their self-identification.

    I’ll bet those views make me Taliban in somebody’s eyes.

  • Tripp Spangler

    I disagree with your thoughts. I don’t ever see Dr. Patterson and others seeking to “kick out the Calvinists”. Dr. Patterson and Dr. Mohler from all that I know are very good friends. They had a very informative discussion last year at the Convention and showed that while they disagree on the five points of Calvinism, they have no problems working together.

    In my opinion, the issue of Calvinism and charismatics gifts are two completely different issues. Historically, Baptists have been Calvinists. i.e. Charles Spurgeon, numerous Baptist confessions. Historically though, Baptists have tended away from charismatic leanings. There is a difference here.

    Mike…I never said you were a liberal. What I said was you “sounded” like a liberal. You are using the exact same arguments and words that the liberals used and still use. You posts continue to be a great example of this.

    This “new group” that Dr. Mohler is speaking of loves to cause conflict and division. That is what bothers me. I don’t have a problem with individuals expressing concerns…but I do have a problem when it becomes personal and terms like “Taliban” “Sith Lords” are used to describe others.

  • Mike Bird

    1. Neither I nor my SBC friends love to cause conflicts and division in the SBC. Burleson isn’t out to make chaos. But when guys in the CR try to liquidate from the denomination the clauset charismatics like McKissic, then someone has to stand up and say, “Oh no you don’t!”
    2. What is the cause of conflict here? Denying inerrancy – no! Page and Burleson believe in it earnestly. The cause of conflict is rather refusing to obey the leaders of the CR on everything! They are defining a liberal as someone who refuses to yield to their point of view. Is this not alarming? Some of us do not want to be enslaved to fundamentalism and we have every right to object when someone tries to push it on us! Long life the Evangelical Jedi of the SBC!!

    Solum Evangelium
    Mike Bird

  • Mike Bird

    A prayer for the SBC:

    “May the God of Heaven give us wisdom to hold on to the faith delivered to the saints, to confute error, to faithfully preach the gospel of grace, to seek the unity of Spirit, to expound the whole counsel of God, to put no stumbling block in our brothers or sisters way, to love truth, to hate evil, to show love in our speech and actions towards others, to be devoted entirely to Christ and His Kingdom, and to pursue the things that make for peace and mutual encouragement. Amen”

  • Tripp Spangler


    I am still working through my feelings on all of this.

    What I am simply saying here though is that I have no problem with you expressing your objections and opinions. Just keep them on issue and avoid the personal attacks. They do not help your arguments. Comparing leaders to the “Taliban” does not strengthen your argument.

  • Andrew

    I guess I should define better what I said.


    What I mean by scientific validity is that the claims of Genesis 1-11 are actually true. Miracles actually happened. The claims to truth in the scientific realm that scripture makes are actually true.


    I meant ‘die’ figuratively, playing off od Pressler’s “A hill on which to die” theme. in otherwords, these are issues on which i will not compromise.

  • Paul


    Time is used figuratively in the Bible constantly. Why would we suddenly want to believe that science is wrong and our interpretation of a 4000 year old book is right?

    I have no doubt that God created the Earth, the sun, the stars and every piece of grass upon this little rock. However, if a thousand years is like a day, and a day like a thousand years, why couldn’t that be the case here?

    The smartest thing that any congregation could do would be not to worry about Genesis so much and start focusing on living by the Sermon on the Mount. I mean, we’d have to forget about senseless wars for oil and all, but we’d be a much better church for it.

  • Courtney Tarter


    I wonder how you can come to the understanding that it would be “the smartest thing for a congregation” to not be worried about Genesis. We can’t believe and live the Sermon on the Mount unless we first believe Genesis. Genesis is foundational to congregational life, if for no other reason that when we teach our children in Sunday School that God created the earth in six literal days we are telling them the truth. The Sermon on the Mount, and all other teachings for that matter, will be subject to scrutiny if we buckle on the truth of the Creation account.

    When we start getting technical about what portions of Scripture we believe, then we run the risk of losing our right to say we believe in the sufficiency of God’s Word.

    Thank you for allowing me to enter your discussion.


  • Paul


    there’s nothing technical about what I’m saying.

    Please answer me this question: if time is a figurative concept in other points of the Bible, why is it completely unacceptable to believe that it is here?

    What proof, using the scientific method, without the help of philosophy, do we have to prove that the world was created in six literal days?

  • jeff miller


    I thought science was measurement and interpretation. Do you really think science can “tell us” the world was not created in six days?

    Jeff M.

  • Paul


    possibly not. However, with dance moves like that, you should be on TV.

    The question was where is the scientific proof that shows that the earth WAS created in six days.

    Can you answer that one?

  • Open24Hours

    Re: “Can you answer that one?”

    Where is the scientific proof that shows Adam had a belly button? Or didn’t have one?

    Why has the discussion careened off in this direction? I interpret the first person who mentioned the “scientific validity of scripture” to be saying the Bible does not present anything scientifically bogus, like the spontaneous generation of flies from trash. That’s all. Why press on as if debunking that statement is a hill worth dying on?

  • rf2r2

    Paul said,

    The question was where is the scientific proof that shows that the earth WAS created in six days.

    Science is the observation of data and the formulation of conclusions from that data. Conclusions are statements of probability and not fact because all data is not available to the scientist. Saying the burden of proof is on literalists to prove a six-day creation is absurd since science cannot tell us the truth about the formation of the universe – only probabilities based on a comparatively small amount of data.

    Literalists are standing on the very same data as their opponents, only they are interpreting it differently – I fail to see how dissention from the prevailing philosophies of fallen man concerning the formation of our world is bad either for christians or for science. I for one enjoy discussion and welcome the opportunity to re-examine all that I thought was concrete about the formation of the universe.

  • Bryan L

    Why when it comes to an issue like evolution and the view of scientist on the origins of life, must we dismiss their views as the opinion of fallen man, as if that matters? How come no one ever recognizes or admits that their interpretation of Genesis is the opinion of fallen man? No, instead their interpretation some how carries inerrant status.

    Sure I realize science is going to say that things happen naturally without any reference to God, and they are going to look for natural explanations to mysteries in our world and universe, but what do you want them to say whenever they can’t explain something? God did it? Please explain to me how science would work when it has to be a slave to a particular interpretation of the Bible.

    Bryan L

  • Bryan L


    In response to Paul’s question “…where is the scientific proof that shows that the earth WAS created in six days?”
    you said, “Conclusions are statements of probability and not fact because all data is not available to the scientist. Saying the burden of proof is on literalists to prove a six-day creation is absurd since science cannot tell us the truth about the formation of the universe – only probabilities based on a comparatively small amount of data.”

    It seems like you kind of side stepped the question. Even if scientists only have a small amount of data to go on, still what part of that data supports the literalists view of a six day creation. Are you admitting that none of the data supports a six day creation?

    Bryan L

  • Jeff


    This is a typical example of how the conservative resurgence is treating Calvinists:

    Conservative resurgence leaders have become tyrants who are trying to persecute everybody who is a not a landmarkist, dispensational, legalistic Arminian.

    That is why true Calvinists must support Wade Burleson and his coalition!

  • Tripp Spangler


    I hear what you are saying. Question: How do the well-known Calvinist leaders, such as Mohler, etc…view the Burleston coalition? Do you consider Mohler part of the CR leadership?

  • rf2r2

    Bryan L. said,
    Are you admitting that none of the data supports a six day creation?

    No. I personally have heard compelling arguments from many camps, but none of them can provide proof (which is the same reason the cosmological arguments for the existence of god are bunk) one way or the other. At the end of the day I sit on a mountain of data and make a decision about its meaning based on faith… just like you and everybody else.

  • rf2r2

    Bryan L. said,
    Why when it comes to an issue like evolution and the view of scientist on the origins of life, must we dismiss their views as the opinion of fallen man, as if that matters?

    I never dismissed their opinion. I pointed out that dissention is not a bad thing and dissention from the views of men who do not know god or themselves certainly is not going to hurt anyone. As a christian I have a unique view on the data of life, and I think it worthwhile to promulgate that view when possible.

  • Luke Britt

    To Tripp (#8),

    I think that we must deal with these issues and all issues through the proclamation and incarnation of the gospel. Gay marriage is not worthy of pickets and angry arguments, but is worthy of the proclamation and incarnation of the gospel. This may be awkward for some in that you will actually have to love homosexuals. (The same goes for abortion.)

    The only weapon Christians have against any political or social issue is the gospel. We cannot persuade men to certain allegiances or socio-political worldviews, but we can proclaim the gospel and incarnate the gospel in a way that changes minds and transforms lives.

  • Tripp Spangler


    Proclamation of the Gospel is essential. Proclamation that homosexuality and abortion are sins is also essential.

    I agree that “pickets and angry arguments” are not helpful. BUT, both the local church and the SBC should proclaim loudly that homosexuality and abortion are wrong and should not be accepted by Christians.

    Notice…I am saying proclamation against homosexuality…not homosexuals. Love should be shown to all people, regardless of what sin(s) they wrestle with.

    Yet, we still need to proclaim the truth…regardless of what political party it helps or hurts.

    Your logic worries me somewhat because it seems that you don’t want that proclamation labeling abortion and homosexuality what it is…sin.

  • Jeff

    >>> How do the well-known Calvinist leaders, such as Mohler, etc…view the Burleston coalition? Do you consider Mohler part of the CR leadership?

    Burleson himself is a Calvinist. Tom Ascol signed the Memphis Declaration and expressed support for the Burleson coalition.

    The World Magazine article was the first time Mohler said anything about the present battles. Mohler has become more of a “culture warrior” than a Calvinist (and so has Russell Moore as well). Mohler and Moore don’t like the Burleson coaltion, because the Burlesonites are more interested in missional engagement with a lost and dying culture instead of the culture wars that Mohler and Moore want to fight.

    I support almost everything that the Conservative Resurgence leaders did from 1979-2004. In that last three years, however, the CR leaders have turned from fighting liberals to fighting against fellow conservatives. The CR leaders have begun trying to exclude Calvinists, Charismatics, and conservative emerging church guys, and they are trying to impose legalism and Landmarkism on all Southern Baptists.

  • Tripp Spangler


    I love how it is the CR leaders who have “turned to fighting against fellow conservatives”…and not the Burleson coalition. While I have not made up my mind yet regarding all that the Burleston coalition stands for…IMO…it is that coalition that is seems to be taking the fight to fellow conservatives.

    I am very skeptical of the view that the Burleson coalition is perfect and has the best interests of the Convention in mind while the CR leadership are the “bad guys”…the “Baptist Taliban”…and are out to impose “legalism” on all Southern Baptists.

    Perhaps…just perhaps…BOTH sides need to calm down the rhetoic some. We are all conservative Baptists and we need to stop fighting each other.

    I just don’t share the opinion that the CR leaders are out to get everyone who disagrees with them. I will say this though…in my limited time in the SBC blogging world, it appears that the Burleson coalition are the ones who want everyone to agree with them. If you don’t…you get branded a “fundamentalist” and “divisive”.

  • Kris

    gee, it seems all of us just keep eating from the same tree of knowledge of good and evil that our original parents (who didn’t have belly buttons 🙂 ate from and think we see everything.

    Has the CR gone to far? of course! Have the liberals gone to far? of course! Will this so called coalition go to far? of course!

    Will the human race go to far here on earth again? of course it will?

    You think Jesus gives a hoot if calvinism, reformed, liberal, conservative, landmarky, baptist, anybaptist, pentycostal, evanjellycal, orthydoxy, and charymatic is anything? The things I see Him denouncing is self-righteousness and blind people who think they can see.

    Have I gone to far? of course!

  • Grosey

    Dear Mike,
    As your friend and as one who has a great interest in your continuing maturity in Christ, I would ask you to think a little more carefully about your comments. I feel they are somewhat unjust.

  • cb scott

    The CR has not gone too far. That is very evident. In some ways it did not go far enough.

    The problem is simple. Some of the leaders in the CR have gone very astray from the primary goal of the CR.


  • Mike Bird

    Rodger that. I will always respect your opinion. Your were an instrumental in my coming to Christ afterall! I will try tone down the rhetoric from now on if it only injures others. But I feel that certain persons in the CR are redrawing the theological battle lines and touting charismatics like McKissic, others like Burleson, and even Wheaton College as the bad guys. I will not be silent! In conscience and conviction I cannot. For the love of Christ and his church I will not. If my friends need a junior biblical scholar to help them in the struggle against Fundamentalism (as a perversion of the gopsel), I will answer the call.

  • Grosey

    Brother Mike,
    🙂 you may have been in the infantry when you were converted, but at the moment what’s needed is the engineers! Lay up your weapons and seek to build on what is there, rather than make casualties.
    Hope things are well with you bro.. we just had a cyclone in Newcastle, and I understand my car has floated off down the creek.

  • Gayle

    I have just read the previous 41 posts. The words of Matt Redman come to mind:
    “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about you, all about you, Jesus. I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it, when it’s all about you; it’s all about you, Jesus.”

    Having become a born-again Christian at nine, I have sat in pews and led musically in worship for the past fifty-two years in churches from the heart of conservative Tennessee, to “let’s split the Convention” Texas, and to “Let’s just keep out of it all” Louisiana. My response to the comments on this blog is for us all to check out the hill on which we are prepared to die. Does it align with the motivation of the One who DID die on THE HILL? His motivation was to restore fellowship between a holy God and each, individual fallen man as well as to redeem each soul to live in the presence of that holy God. If our hill is not THAT hill, then we should vacate that hill and run as fast as we can to THE HILL.

    I know theological debate gives rise to understanding and wisdom and action. It can purge out impurities and render principles of gold. There will always be debate on differences of interpretations because finite minds burn with questions, hunger for truth, and desire to be “right.” However, what is the divine purpose in the SBC?

    I heard parts of the debate featuring Dr. Mohler on KCBI yesterday. He and his worthy opponent stressed the imperative that the differences in beliefs about tongues not divide the fellowship in the church. How can that play out? Are we in the pews to watch the sparring of our theologians and not come away confused and maybe even disillusioned at times? Someone once said, “Keep the main thing the main thing.” I pray we as a denomination migrate to that concept. Surely in our heart of hearts, we all truly want just the wheat, not the chaff compromising its quality.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have answers; I still trust those gifted and called by God to rightly divide the word of truth. My heart’s desire is to serve Him without all this confusion at my home base.

    I will end this blog comment so that all you intellectuals may feel free to blast my simplistic, layman perspective. Don’t bother to throw theological jargon at me in a heap, because you know I won’t be able to decipher it; hence, you will then become some kind of “victor.” In simple terms I can understand, tell me how the Cooperative Program’s purpose can continue to be fulfilled with such deep roots of controversy.

    I don’t believe we should put blinders on to avoid the heresies that prophetically and systematically crop up, but I do believe we should be very careful with labeling and categorizing that sets up walls between believers. Why build walls in cases where we agree that these people are born-again Christians in whose hearts the Holy Spirit resides? Can we agree to disagree on variances of interpretations and still present a united evangelistic thrust upon a lost and dying world? The world must see that we have rock-solid answers, not bickering and hostility.

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