Culture,  Politics,  Theology/Bible

Southern Baptists Taking a Hit in the Wall Street Journal?

John Wilson writes in today’s Wall Street Journal
about Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton’s “New Baptist Covenant.” I am happy to read that Wilson is not too keen on this new coalition of “above the fray” Baptists (a.k.a., moderate and liberal Baptists). Even though the former Presidents are Baptists, it still takes a lot of chutzpah for two politicians to pose as the new uniters of Christendom, especially when the big meeting is set to take place in 2008 right in time for the Presidential primaries. The whole thing smells more of politics than of piety. So I share Wilson’s low estimation of the so-called “New Baptist Covenant.”

I am surprised, however, how Wilson chooses to characterize the leaders of the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention. Wilson is the editor of Books & Culture and an editor-at-large at Christianity Today, so he is no stranger to the various strands of evangelical believers in the U.S. Yet he still chooses to describe Southern Baptist conservatives as “commissars,” “hard-liners,” and “hyper-conservatives.” Why is Wilson adopting the rhetoric of the SBC’s critics in describing SBC leaders? Has CT taken the side of SBC moderates?

“Jimmy Carter’s Siren Song” – Wall Street Journal (


  • Mike Bird

    1. Some of us fear that the conservative resurgence in the SBC is now turning into the Baptist Taliban.
    2. Some of us think that the IMB expulsions of PPL missionaries and the treatment of Dr. Kourda is symptomatic of neo-fundamentalist tendencies emerging in the SBC.
    3. Some within the SBC want to separate from Evangelicalism and have very few nice things to say about us Evangelicals (e.g. Russ Moore said SBCers need to be “DTed” from Evangelicalism!).

    I wouldn’t use Wilson’s language myself, but I understand where he is coming from.

    In Christ

  • Brian W

    I’m wondering if anyone ever ascribes the labels “hyper” or “hardliner” to themselves? I doubt it. We all tend to privilege our context so “those people over there” are the “ultras,” the “commissars.”

    So I’m wondering what the conservative SBCers (or any other conservative folks, for that matter) will do when they look to their right and all they see is the Flat Earth Society (and a few others) and when they look to their left, there’s everybody else?

    Something I did when I was confronted with similar charges was evaluate, “where do I really stand? Am I staying true to the Biblical witness? What philosophical/existential presuppositions do I hold that would lead me away from accurate views of this lived world?” It’s been good for my mind and soul.

  • jb

    Ah, nothing smells more like “Baptist success” then the leadership co-mingling provided by two Presidents who’s combined legacies have been less than stellar to this point.

    Where do you stand on Sola Scriptura guys? Oh, you don’t stand on the very word of Scripture?

    Well best to you as you attempt to cobble together a “baptist” franchise that would appear to mirror the Democratic Party.

  • Mark Kelly

    Conversations like this could use a little more nuance when it comes to talking about “Southern Baptists.” There is a lot of diversity in our ranks. To talk about us or our leaders as if we are a monolith is indulging in stereotype.

    There are some, it is true, who want to exclude anyone who does not agree with them on every point. Aristocractic leaders of the old SBC excluded “ignorant country preachers.” Some of the new generation exclude people who don’t vote like they are told. Anyone who thinks that spirit characterizes “the conservative resurgence” in its entirety is simply not paying attention.

    The rank and file of this denomination and the vast majority of its elected leaders love Jesus, respect the Bible, want to keep this country from sliding the rest of the way into the pit, and are suspicious of politicians and their ulterior motives.

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