Christianity,  Theology/Bible

Unorthodox Baptists

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) is a splinter-group of moderate to liberal Southern Baptists who do not agree with the conservative orientation of the Southern Baptist Convention. In the past, CBF annual meetings have included worship services to “Mother God” and controversies over homosexuality.

One presenter at the most recent meeting of the CBF openly questioned the deity of Christ. According to David Roach of the Baptist Press, John Killinger said the following words at a CBF workshop in Memphis, Tennessee:

“Now we are reevaluating and we’re approaching everything with a humbler perspective and seeing God’s hand working in Christ, but not necessarily as the incarnate God in our midst. Now, that may be hard for you to hear depending on where you are coming from, but we can talk more about it. . .

“Doctrine isn’t the driving force to many people today [except] to the fundamentalists who insist on it. . . But doctrine is a thing of the past now religiously. . .

“There’s an altered view of Scripture and of the role of Christ. Christ is still Savior to most of us, but maybe in a slightly different way than before. . .

“I find from pastors a greater and greater reluctance to preach from the Gospel of John, which used to be the greatest pleasure for most preachers because John was so assertive about the incarnation and the role of Christ [versus] the tendency to go back to Mark and Matthew and Luke to see the more human side of Jesus, who was anointed at the time of His baptism to be the savior of Israel, but not necessarily to be the preexistent one that we find in John. . .

“Jesus Himself has had a lot of things said in His behalf that He never intended. This is one of the things that’s going on today in biblical studies — and I think is much more promising than some of the fundamentalists will allow — is that we are questioning whether Jesus Himself said this or whether an institutional church that grew up in Jesus’ wake said this. This was the purpose of the so-called Jesus Seminar. . .

“I’m just suggesting that I think we need to be a little less certain about what Jesus meant, what He was about, what His life and work were about. I think we’re reevaluating all that.”

If you are calling into question the deity of Christ, you are sub-Christian at best. The deity of Christ is one of those non-negotiable points that divides the sheep from the goats, but apparently the CBF thinks “soul freedom” is more important than drawing such distinctions.

This is just another reminder of why the conservative resurgence had to happen. Deadly liberalism was alive and well in the SBC, and it had to be dealt with. Would that the churches of the CBF might deal with it too.

“CBF presenter questions Christ’s deity” – by David Roach (Baptist Press)

“General Assembly Bible study series generates debate” – by Lance Wallace (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship)


  • Darius

    While I think this false teaching is extremely problematic (to say the least), at the same time, how much time should we spend on something that is so obviously heretical, it’s bordering on absurd? After all, any church that has gone this route is ultimately self-refuting and self-defeating, and will wither away to nearly nothing in only a few years (and history bears this out). Jesus as moral-teacher-but-not-savior is not something that sells very well; I think perhaps because there is a voice inside most people that understands that this wasn’t an option He left us.

  • Andrew

    You’re d–n right “soul freedom” is more important than specific doctrinal issues. While my being baptist means I support your right to care about doctrine, being Baptist is not first and foremost about doctrine, its about certain core issues, with “freedom of conscience” being about the most important.

    That’s why the fundamentalist resurgence in the SBC was so d–n horrible, because fundamentalists like you didn’t (and still don’t) understand what it means to really, authentically be “baptist.”

    Please, go back and bone up on your Thomas Helwys. And if you still care that much about everyone conforming to a certain doctrine, then forget being Baptist and become Presbyterian or Anglican. Leave the moderate and liberal baptists, the ones who are trying to actually live out what it means to be so historically, alone.

  • Darius

    When you think about it, it kinda makes the most sense… “That’s why the fundamentalist resurgence in the SBC was so deforestation horrible”

    You know, if Baptist equals pluralist, I probably should let my home church know. They’ve been operating for over a hundred years under the assumption that Baptist meant, in part, to adhere to Scripturally-based views of God and Jesus where the latter is the ONLY way, the ONLY truth, and the ONLY life. Silly them, it appears that Baptist actually refers to someone who weakly holds to some ambiguous gobbledly gook theology where Jesus is some dead guy who had some good things to say and only certain portions of certain Biblical books can be believed (as long as one agrees with them).

  • CH

    So what is “soul-freedom” anyway? I find it almost hysterical, and must fight the urge to mock in a very snarky way, the way these guys blur the lines of belief and then ask us to believe what they say. Such self-refuting nonsense!

    But anyway, I agree with Darius, they are so obviously heretical that they warrent little attention. We can follow Paul’s advice and kick their butts to the curb and get on with preaching the true Gospel.

  • JB

    I am JB and have been since before you were born. Find a different handle or I will stick a fork in the webbing of your toes!

  • Truth Unites.. and Divides

    Denny: “If you are calling into question the deity of Christ, you are sub-Christian at best.”

    What’s “at worst”, Denny? 😉

    Denny: “Deadly liberalism was alive and well in the SBC, and it had to be dealt with.”


    (1) Unfortunately, Deadly liberalism is alive and well in denominations and churches throughout the country, not just the SBC.

    (2) The doctrine of egalitarianism is an example of deadly liberalism.

    P.S. I do not want this thread to derail into the off-topic discussion of egalitarianism. There are other active threads on denny’s blog for that topic.

    I just wanted to give a specific example of deadly liberalism.

  • Todd Pruitt

    This is an innevitable slide for the CBF. Did anyone NOT see this coming? Once you do away with the authority of Scripture then everything else becomes permissible. Killenger has been a universalist for a lot of years now. No one can claim they did not know what Killenger believes. He has been writing about it for a long time.

    I don’t know quite what to make of angry Andrew. I never knew that “soul freedom,” historically speaking, was more important to Baptists than God’s Word. I know doctrine doesn’t matter in the CBF. I just wasn’t aware that caring about what the Bible says wasn’t “Baptist.” Has Adrew notified Boyce, Dagg, and Manley about this?

  • Truth Unites.. and Divides

    “The doctrine of egalitarianism is an example of deadly liberalism.”

    Oops. On review, I now see that Denny already did so in his comment: “In the past, CBF annual meetings have included worship services to “Mother God””….

  • Nathan


    Your assertion that maintaining liberty of conscience, even at the expense of confessional doctrine, I believe is a very incorrect understanding of Baptist identity. This is what the Moderates assumed in the 1980-90s, and it is simply rewriting history. Tom Nettles and Russ Bush show this in “Baptists and the Bible”, and Nettles even more thorough in his three volume “The Baptists”.

    It is true that liberty of conscience is one of the core values that make us Baptists, but we have always been a confessional people as well (see the Second London Confession and The Philadelphia Association). These confessions historically uphold the deity of Christ and inspiration of Scripture, two seemingly unimportant things to many, but when we drop these we cease to be Baptists historically and Christians altogether.

  • Rick

    Point of Clarification

    Killinger is not a CBF’er.

    I think the better question is “why would CBF have Killinger as a speaker?”

  • Scott

    Denying the deity of Christ is deadly liberalism. Allowing a woman to preach is NOT. TUAD, get a grip and loosen up. Your perspective is flawed, unreasonable, and deadly to the vitality of the church. Quit harping on the issue and let it go. Seriously, let it go! I don’t think any egalitarian worth their weight in salt would condone worship of the Mother goddess, be it Isis, Osiris, or the creatures in the new Indy Jones flick. That’s symptomatic of another problem all together, namely ultra-radical feminism. You are a parody and exemplify all that is wrong in evangelicalism today. Should I call it DEADLY FUNDAMENTALISM.

  • Truth Unites.. and Divides

    Sorry to everyone, but I want to respond to Scott’s comment: “I don’t think any egalitarian worth their weight in salt would condone worship of the Mother goddess…”

    Look at what these egalitarian leaders said (and who are frequently held to be worth their weight in salt by their fellow egalitarians):

    “We may speak of God as Father or as Mother.” – Mimi Haddad, CBE president (Mimi Haddad, What Language Shall We Use), CBE website.

    “We must resist the implication that God is masculine or that Scripture sanctions patriarchy.” – Mimi Haddad, CBE president (Mimi Haddad, What Language Shall We Use), CBE website.

    “…there is a good Biblical reason, then, to speak of God as both Father and Mother, both ‘she’ and ‘he’.” – Richard and Catherine Kroeger, CBE authors; “Women Elders…Called by God?” (Catherine Kroeger is one of the founders of CBE; this particular article where she advocates calling God “mother” can be found at: ; See: Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, Wayne Grudem, Multnomah Publishers, p. 511), CBE website.

    “I think that if you want to in your personal devotions address God as ‘Mother’ I don’t have a problem with that.” – T.J. Ostrander, CBE speaker, (tape# ACF290: “Sophia Wisdom of God or Goddess of Wisdom” sold via the CBE website.

    “I believe it is important to call God, ‘Mother’ as well as ‘Father’ in public worship.” – Paul R. Smith, CBE author (Paul R. Smith, Is it Okay to Call God Mother, p.1), CBE website.

    “We sing the words of John W. Peterson in worshipful praise, ‘Shepherd of love you knew I had lost my way…’ Would it be worse or blasphemous, to sing something like ‘Mother of love…’? Both are figures of speech. But because of our fear of taking on the trappings of radical feminism or goddess worship, we dare not sing those words—except perhaps in our closets of prayer.” I – Ruth Tucker, CBE author (Ruth Tucker, Women in the Maze, 20-21; See Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, Wayne Grudem, Multnomah Publishers, p. 509-513), CBE website.

    “God, our Mother, we thank you that you love us so much to want the best for us. Thank you for trusting us enough to let us do things on our own…Stay near to us and help us to become all that we can be. Amen.” – Jann Aldredge-Clanton, CBE author (Clanton’s book: God, A Word for Girls and Boys, p. 23), CBE website.

    “In the past, CBF annual meetings have included worship services to “Mother God” and controversies over homosexuality.” – links posted by Denny.

    Egalitarianism is an example of Deadly Liberalism.

    Let’s agree to disagree Scott.


  • GregF

    John Killinger’s comments are to be expected. Within 21st century Christianity (“the computer age”) there is no consensus concerning the major doctrines of the faith. It is, thus, understandable that a pastor would be “moved from a belief in doctrines” since there are many variations to choose from with only personal opinion as the arbiter of truth.

    What then is the pastor to do on Sunday morning? If, for example, he wanted to preach on the relationship of Law and Gospel should he speak from a Lutheran, Reformed, or Dispensational perspective? (A trip to the local Christian book store will give him references for all of them.)

    So… what is left for the pastor? Using the Bible to create sermons around the “quest for self-fulfillment” theme is the safe alternative.

    As proof of this lack of consensus I offer the titles of a number of books published by Zondervan, InterVarsity, and B&H since the mid-1980’s:

    -Perspectives on the Doctrine of God: Four Views
    -The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views
    -Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World
    -Predestination and Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom
    -Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views
    -Perspectives on Election: Five Views
    -Four Views on Eternal Security
    -Five Views on Sanctification
    -Five Views on Law and Gospel
    -Who Runs the Church?: 4 Views on Church Government

    All of these conflicting views are steeped in Bible verses so how is one to decide which view is THE biblical view? (Every view claims to be the correct interpretation.) The smart pastor will side step the question and go straight for the self-fulfillment sermon.

    This does, of course, beg-the-question as to what Jesus is being presented on Sunday morning. Is He the Second Person of the Trinity, or is he just a great psychologist?


  • Paul

    My thoughts on people like Andrew or the CBF is that they should just become Buddhists.

    Seriously. If you’re going to deny the divinity of Christ, then what’s making you a “Christian” anyway? If you don’t want to follow the commandments laid out for you first by Moses and then by Jesus, then what’s making you “Christian” anyway?

    At that point, you’re not “Christian.” At best, you’re moral. That’s it. At which point, become a buddhist, follow the eightfold path and you’ll be just as moral. But then you don’t have to worry about all of those commandments and the inconvenience of following them.

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