Month: May 2004

Lessons from conservative resurgence still fresh

1995 SBC restructuring and 2000 faith statement signaled maturity of theological movement.

They said it couldn’t be done. For that matter, it shouldn’t be done.

Former Southern Baptist Convention entity heads doubted the long-term impact of electing a conservative, Adrian Rogers, to the SBC presidency in 1979, writing it off as a political maneuver “loyal Southern Baptists” would reject.

Twenty-five years later many of the conservative challengers are leading SBC ministries, influenced by lessons learned amid the controversy between theological conservatives and moderates. Theological integrity was at the center of the reformation conservatives sought in the denomination. From hiring seminary faculty holding to a high view of Scripture to examining the doctrinal beliefs of missionaries serving at home and abroad, the priority of applying Bible-based convictions can’t be overstated in understanding the conservative resurgence.

Two recent developments?a restructuring of the denomination’s bureaucracy in 1995 and passage of a revised Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement in 2000?completed the reformation. The former reaffirmed the local church as the headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention. The latter clarified doctrinal guidelines in precise language on issues of biblical inerrancy, church officers and the traditional family?thus removing slack for doublespeak when stating one’s views on the nature of Scripture, for example.

IN TOUCH WITH GRASSROOTS

Every SBC entity leader elected after their trustee body gained a conservative majority recognized the importance of grassroots connection. “Having been part of the conservative resurgence from the beginning, I was very much aware of the fact that many of the agency heads had either purposely or unconsciously insulated themselves from a huge constituency within the convention,” said Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land. “They either ignored them or were unaware of them.”

He recalled a related conversation he had with former Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Duke McCall while the two were attending a Baptist World Alliance meeting early in Land’s tenure. Land quoted McCall as saying, “‘Well, there’s no question, we got so busy running the machinery of the convention that we lost touch with the rank and file.'”

Land determined the ethics entity would not lose touch, pledging the staff was “there to serve the local church.” He keeps a certain number of Sundays open in case smaller churches invite him to preach. “Bigger, multi-staff churches do more planning. By the time smaller churches invite you to preach you’re booked up.”

James T. Draper accepted a similar challenge when he followed Lloyd Elder as head of the Baptist Sunday School Board. The editor of the Indiana Baptist challenged Draper and department leaders to seek and accept chances to preach and worship in places like Gas City, Ind., or Goshen, Ark., so to “remember how gritty it can be in a small-town, single-staff church.” Within a few weeks, Draper accepted an invitation arranged by an Arkansas trustee of the Sunday School Board to preach at the church’s Goshen mission.

Draper also changed how the trustees interacted with Sunday School Board staff. “I inherited a debriefing session,” he explained, referring to a meeting his predecessor held with about 20 key administrators after each board meeting. Staff would be asked to share anything they’d heard trustees say about their work.

“Trustees had been told not to talk to staff and the staff had been told not to talk to trustees. I never saw so much smoke and mirrors in all my life. Why not just give straight answers?” Draper questioned. “Problems were pushed aside rather than being dealt with.” He immediately changed protocol to encourage interaction and problem solving between trustees and staff.

OTHER LESSONS LEARNED

SBC Executive Committee President Morris Chapman appealed to Southern Baptists to encourage understanding of time-honored principles of cooperation for God’s Kingdom expansion. “Our convention may be doctrinally pure, but without cooperation, without trusting one another, our convention shall cease to have the dynamic missions enterprise that reaches to the far corners of the earth.”

Chapman told a recent conference at Union University: “When those of us who participated in leadership roles in what has been called the Southern Baptist conservative resurgence gather for the silver anniversary celebration, it is something to celebrate. Our beloved Southern Baptist Convention was saved from theological and numerical decimation known to most mainline American denominations in the last half of the 20th century because of the conservative resurgence.”

He added that “thoughtful, aggressive, prayerful politics was integral to its success,” defining politics as the art of working with people. “However, one of the challenges we now face, in my opinion, is how to move beyond aggressive partisan politics to a model of denominational decision making that is more normative for Southern Baptists and more beneficial.”

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What’s next for the SBC?

The next challenge to the vitality and even survival of the Southern Baptist Convention will come from within. The most recent challenge was an external threat. We have not only won the battle for the Bible, we have positioned our institutions to adequately address extra-biblical doctrine for this generation. The next challenge is more organic to our denomination and just as important.

I’m talking about an apparent disconnect between our denominational apparatus and emerging church leadership. Will tomorrow’s (actually today’s) Southern Baptists value the structure, institutions, and principles that have come to define our cooperative work? Are these things inherently worthy of the resources they will require? These questions hurt in the asking but we must understand that many successful pastors are asking them, in some cases have already answered them, and in many cases have “voted with their feet” by moving beyond our traditional structures.

Changes in the way contemporary churches respond to cooperative missions are evident in a couple of interesting trends. One is giving. While the last decade has seen year after year of record-breaking missions giving, the growth has been nominal and inadequate. In many of those years, a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for staff members coupled with obscene increases in health care costs far outstripped growth. At the same time church giving, membership, attendance, and the number of Southern Baptist churches has grown at a higher rate than CP and missions giving. The trend line for denominational support is negative.

A second trend is the rise of new options in missions support. The world is smaller in many ways and churches are plugging directly into partnerships, networks, and projects without a board or convention middle man. While giving through denominational channels has fallen behind rising costs, churches are not mindless of missions; they are finding new local or locally-controlled outlets for their missionary fervor. These networks are not always better options but they are seen as more responsive by some.

As for state conventions and denominational entities, we may be seen as slow-moving and elaborate. True or not, the perception among many is that we are old wineskins.

I’ve served three denominational entities in the past 20 years, each of them relatively innovative. I have worked alongside some amazing God-called men and women that I’m blessed to call friends. Still, I testify to the insidious lure of the bureaucratic mindset. Careerism and professionalism may tempt us to view our constituents as meddlesome amateurs. Administrative realities whisper that Baptist polity is inconvenient and messy?at least as long as the “right people” are leading the work anyway. Those who do not walk in our shoes are very sensitive to attitudes like these. It makes them mistrust us or worse, to consider us irrelevant.

The answer to this disconnect is not to nag churches about giving. It is not merely a matter of education either. The notion that people around us will agree with us if properly educated is patronizing. We’re wrong if we act as though only church leaders need to get their heads right. They can ignore us. We can’t ignore them.

Here are some things that seem relevant to the vitality of our cooperative work. Wiser heads than mine have had these thoughts but it is time to put a next step of renewal on the front burner.

Pastors, especially those in contemporary and large churches, be open-minded as you consider how you will do Great Commission work. Southern Baptists are big, slow moving, and complicated. This isn’t always bad. Large slow moving things are also not impetuous or blown by trendiness. Increasingly, a variety of tracks for training and resources is available through our entities. The seminaries also spend a lot of time trying to deliver ministry training in a convenient way. The agencies are trying to provide what you need. Be fair in your evaluation of their work.

Also consider the vine that nourished your ministry and likely that of your church. A large group of Southern Baptists probably pooled resources to pay for your education and to start your church. This brings with it a moral debt to those who come behind you and need similar help. Do your people know that your church is Southern Baptist? I’ve been a member of more than one church where the answer was mostly “no.” Do those who know have any idea why this might be a good thing? Your own understanding and even your commitment can be effectively magnified if you share these values with the people in your ministry.

SBTC Church Associate Minister Staff Retreat draws

The SBTC Church Associate Minister Staff Retreat drew about 275 associate ministers and their spouses to Grapevine May 6-8.

The purpose of the event was to provide a setting where ministers of various pastoral support positions could fellowship and share experiences and insights, said Ken Lasater, SBTC Church Ministry Support associate. This included breakout sessions for music ministers, youth ministers, children’s ministers and ministers of education, and a few other church staff positions, Lasater said.

This was the event’s second year. The retreat is open to all support staff members from SBTC churches, and will be held again in early May of 2005.

Out of this year’s retreatcame the formation offellowships in four areas of ministry: music, youth, education and children. These fellowshipshave a dual purpose of providing mutual support in ministry and establishing a mechanism whereby the minister’s own church staff can directly influence on the work of the state convention (as it applies to each specific ministry field).

Also developed during this year’s event was a list of church staff members who have volunteered to assist as a “point person” for SBTC ministries in regional areas of the state.

Texas pastor paved way for Southern Baptists

When Baptists think of pro-life movements, they may recall Southern Baptists for Life, an organization which began in 1983 by Southern Baptists such as Rudy Yakym, Kirk Shrewsbury and Larry Lewis.

But there was a precursor organization prior to the conservative resurgence that formed the night the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision was announced.

Bob Holbrook, who was in 1973 a 41-year-old pastor of First Baptist Church in Halletsville (halfway between Houston and San Antonio), recalls that on the night the Supreme Court decision was announced on the news, he turned to his wife and said “Baptists won’t stand for this decision.”

Holbrook did not know the Southern Baptist Convention had already passed a “middle-of-the-road” resolution, two years earlier in 1971, which affirmed both “a high view of the sanctity of human life, including fetal life” but also resolved that Southern Baptists should “work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and ? likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.”

For the next five years, Holbrook and a San Antonio geologist named Mo Turner worked to turn both the national and Texas conventions towards a true pro-life stand. Initially, Holbrook said he was amazed by the silence of most Baptist pastors and people on abortion, and also the papers, resolutions and pamphlets the conventions issued.

“It was extremely difficult because the CLC (Christian Life Commission) had presented a resolution which supported both the sanctity of human life and (the option of abortion) in the case of rape, incest and the mental health of a woman.”

Holbrook said that during those years, he did not make much headway in the state convention, and worked alongside Catholic organizations, which jubilantly received a Baptist right-to-life advocate. Southern Baptists had not publicly opposed abortion when Holbrook testified before Congress in 1973; he and other members of Baptists for Life were dismissed as a renegade minority. In fact, one senator had even been briefed that Holbrook was out of the mainstream of Southern Baptists.

Holbrook learned of the senator’s misinformed briefing and told the committee that despite the stands taken nationally by the Southern Baptist Convention, a sizeable number of Southern Baptist members and pastors like Holbrook were decidedly pro-life.

Holbrook never thought he was a minority among Southern Baptists. “I argued over and over that you could go anywhere in the Southern Baptist churches and 90 percent of the people would say that abortion is the killing of a human being. I knew that if we could get away from the leadership and ask the common people, they would answer the right way.”

However, in 1974 the Southern Baptist Convention again affirmed the 1971 “middle ground” resolution. Holbrook accused the CLC at that time of “condemning motherhood” in a paper describing the responsibility of parents to have no more than two children?similar to global population control initiatives at the time?and asking churches to avoid praising mothers with the most children, a common practice in typical Mother’s Day Sunday services. Holbrook’s group shared information about the CLC position in major newspapers just prior to Mother’s Day in 1976.

Louis Moore of Garland, Texas, former religion editor for the Houston Chronicle, remembered a lecture he received from a Baptist Press staff member who told him Holbrook was out of step with the vast majority of the Southern Baptist Convention. “He said Bob and those who agreed with him could hold their meetings in a phone booth.”

Holbrook said he was at the podium supporting a resolution that affirmed the unborn’s right to life at the 1976 convention. When someone asked from the floor if Southern Baptists condemned motherhood, Holbrook said the moderator got between Holbrook and the microphone and categorically denied the ads that Holbrook and the Baptists for Life had run nationally. After the speaker was through, Holbrook went back to the microphone, “I told the man and the convention that it was true.”

Slowly, Baptists for Life began to get more support from Southern Baptists. But at his relatively small church, Holbrook did not have even a full-time secretary to help distribute the Baptists For Life newsletter. Once a month in 1975-76, he was in other pulpits advancing his cause.

“My church was patient and supportive, but there was one time I had driven all night before coming home to preach 15 minutes before the service started.” He also recalls his young teenage daughter asking him why he was always leaving. Around 1977, he said he had to decide whether he w

Schools formed prior to conservative resurgence

Theological schools formed prior to conservative resurgence continue to serve Southern Baptists

Conservatives began several theological schools in the 1960s and 1970s, including Luther Rice Seminary, Mid-America Seminary and The Criswell College. All three have continued–even after Southern Baptist seminaries were reformed under conservative leadership.

A Baptist missionary by the same name provided the philosophical basis on which Luther Rice Seminary was built. “He believed in missions, cooperation between churches, Christian education, the authority of the Bible, the power of the Holy Spirit, and Bible preaching,” said LRS President James L. Flanagan on the school’s website.

The school was chartered in 1962 in Jacksonville, Fla., first utilizing a nontraditional, external educational format and received accreditation from Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. In 1991 LRS moved to Lithonia, Ga., offering bachelor, master of ministry, master of divinity and doctoral degrees. According to the website (www.lrs.edu), a fundamental premise of LRS is that all teaching and learning must submit to the authority of the Bible, God’s inerrant word.

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary’s Emeritus President, Gray Allison, told the TEXAN the Memphis-based seminary began as a place for students to come with the assurance that the faculty and staff would “believe all of the Bible was true all the way through.”

“At that time (of the founding of Mid-America) we didn’t have a seminary like that,” Allison said. Over the years, the enrollment has climbed and even though the Southern Baptist Convention has become more conservative, Mid-America is still meeting the needs of more than 500 students in Tennessee and also in New York, where a branch campus began in 1989 and has an enrollment of 59 students.

While not supported by the Cooperative Program, the requirements of Mid-America are that the faculty must be an active member of a local Southern Baptist church and every professor “have an open heart, an open door, and be a soul winner.” Students also are required to be active in ministry and winning souls.

During the first years of Mid-America, Allison recalled the seminary was criticized. “Our purpose was to get students prepared for Southern Baptist ministry. We’ve always stayed positive, not criticizing other seminaries. Over the years, we gradually won acceptance.”

Allison said the SBC conservative resurgence has been a positive for Mid-America. “The North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board, the Sunday School Board, now LifeWay, all want our graduates. We have a great relationship with the SBC entities.”

During the 1970s and 80s, Allison stated they experienced many transfers from other seminaries of students to Mid-America, students who wanted a strongly biblical theological education. The seminary has roots back to 1971 as “The School of the Prophets” in Louisiana, and relocated to Little Rock, Ark., where the name was changed to Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Classes began in 1972 with 28 students.

The seminary moved to Tennessee in 1975. Despite the theological change in the Southern Baptist landscape, Allison says the seminary is “still in the business to prepare Southern Baptist folks for the ministry.” Michael R. Spradlin is the current president of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. More information is available at the school’s website at www.mabts.edu.

W.A. Criswell, legendary pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, cast the vision for The Criswell College in 1969, proposing a place where people would be trained in the infallible word of God. Two years later it was born.

“The great preacher of the First Baptist Church of Dallas had a heart for preachers as well as for the word of God,” said Chancellor Mac Brunson, now pastor of First Baptist.

“The Criswell College stands today on the foundation of its founder with a commitment to excellency in the classroom, a dedication to the infallibility of the word of God, and a love for missions and evangelism,” Brunson wrote on the school’s website, www.criswell.edu.

“This College is literally a laboratory of conservative evangelicalism dealing with the original languages of Scripture, teaching biblical and church history with expertise and depth, guiding men and women through the gospels, the Old Testament and the New testament, all with a passion and preciseness. All of this and more is accomplished in a urban environment, connected to the most historic Baptist church in America.”

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin is one of the many Criswell graduates serving in a leadership role within the Southern Baptist Convention.

“The entire theological playing field was laid out before me, but again and again I was shown why it is the word of God and truth that will stand forever,” Akin said. “I will never be able to repay the debt I owe to The Criswell College.”

The school progressed from a night institute begun in 1971 to a college offering diploma, associate, bachelor and master’s level studies, preparing students for the pastorate, missions, evangelism, Christian education, communications, your ministry, worship leadership, women’s ministry, or other related Christian ministries.

TCC Academic Affairs Vice President James Bryant was involved in Criswell Bible Institute as founding dean and returned two years ago. He questions whether any Southern Baptist-related college or seminary can affirm that all of their professors believe and teach according to three convictions that are true of The Criswell College–belief in the stated full inerrancy of the Bible, belief in the premillennial return of Christ and belief in the primacy of missions and evangelism.

“Those who require professors to sign The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 are not signing anything that uses the word inerrancy,” Bryant noted. “The eschatological article of the BF&M in the 1925 statement, the 1963 statement, as well as the 2000 statement is in no sense premillennial,” he added, making TCC unique among Southern Baptists, whose views vary on the particulars of the end times.

Bryant added, “While other institutions may claim belief in the primacy of missions and evangelism, I am not sure any other college requires a cross-cultural mission trip of each student before graduation. I also doubt that any other college or seminary requires students to do ministry weekly and report on it.”

Another aspect of the Dallas school’s uniqueness lies in its commitment to the biblical studies model even for non-ministerial students. “We still require all students to take Greek, Hebrew, two semesters of Old Testament, two of New Testament and three semesters of systematic theology. This may be the only Southern Baptist-related college where non-ministerial students are going to be proficient in those subjects.”

TCC Executive Vice President and Provost Lamar Cooper said the school stands among a small minority of theologically conservative colleges in the Southern Baptist Convention. While the seminaries have changed direction since the resurgence began to take hold, Southern Baptist colleges typically have not, he said, since college trustee boards are not accountable to the SBC and in many cases not to the state conventions.

“While that is the political reality, it is part of the reason that there has been no substantive theological shift in most of the Baptist colleges.” Cooper said.

Cooper points to another issue that sets TCC apart. “The commitment of the college has been to provide a broad-based biblical and theological education. All students in all programs must earn a biblical studies major even if the focal major is evangelism, missions, counseling, humanities, worship leadership, youth ministry or pastoral ministries.”

Cooper said this includes nine hours each in Old and New Testament, three hours of spiritual foundation, nine hours of systematic theology, three hours each of church history, evangelism, missions, philosophy, hermeneutics, six hours each of Hebrew and Greek, and nine hours in humanities, including The Ancient World, The Roman World, and the Postmodern World.

“In effect, we have created a double major for all areas–one in biblical studies and the second in a chosen area of focus.” Cooper said, “We believe this is not only great for vocational ministry but for those going into other vocations as well. Those receiving this foundation will make better doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, etc. They will have a unique and profound Christian worldview,” he insisted, anticipating their contributions to the cause of Christ, their families, churches, communities, denomination and world.

With newly installed TCC President Jerry Johnson committed to training a new generation of leaders, Cooper said the school will continue on the same course. “In short, we are going to keep on doing what we have been doing for 34 years, only better.”

 

SBTC seeks to develop volunteer chaplaincy network

Chaplains needed to fill gap left by defunding

of chaplains in some organizations.TC Melton, SBTC area coordinator

What could be better than watching your favorite driver race around the track at Texas Motor Speedway, with the fumes from burning rubber filling your nostrils and the roar of car engines blasting your eardrums?

Sam Montgomery can think of a few things.

He and his wife frequently spend time at the speedway north of Fort Worth, but not in the stands or on a pit crew. Montgomery works with Race Play Ministries, an outreach stationed behind the stands at Texas Motor Speedway that works with those in and out of the driver’s seat.

If efforts of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention are fruitful, more volunteers will be dispatched to serve in ministries like the Montgomerys’ and in traditional venues such as hospitals and governmental organizations.

At the speedway, the Montgomerys conduct Bible studies for 50-60 children at a time, praying with the drivers before they race and handing out numerous Bibles and tracts to passersby. The Montgomerys are involved in a non-traditional chaplaincy, but in places where chaplains have been most used?police and fire departments and prisons, for example?the need sometimes outpaces the availability of volunteers or the funding for paid chaplains.

“Because of financial cutbacks, many vocational chaplains are being eliminated from the payrolls,” said T.C. Melton, formerly the SBTC volunteer chaplaincy consultant and now the SBTC’s West Texas area coordinator. “Our state prison system has cut back on salaried chaplains. Some hospitals, including Baptist hospitals, are letting some chaplains go.”

Consequently, Melton explained, there is an increasing need and urgency for volunteer chaplains to fill the gaps.

At Abilene Regional Medical Center, where Melton has served, volunteer chaplains work to visit every new patient admitted to the hospital, comfort surgery patients before their scheduled operations, and give special attention to long-term patients, especially those with terminal illnesses.

“We are on call for any emergencies where a chaplain would be needed,” Melton said. “We, of course, minister to a lot of family members of patients ? as well as to hospital employees. No two days are alike in a hospital ministry.”

Likewise, there are no two volunteer chaplaincy ministries alike. Between 70?80 percent of the people in Texas have little or no meaningful connection to a church. Melton explained that most Baptist churches take time to care for their own people who are in need, especially the “active” members, but often don’t recognize the needs of people in their community or even their own neighbors.

There are people entering hospitals and prisons who are unchurched and have never received any spiritual or religious guidance. It is common to find a patient or inmate left alone to face the most serious issues, with no one to stand beside them.

Volunteer chaplains often provide the only religious reference point for some people. Many hospital chaplains lead in religious services for special occasions such as the National Day of Prayer, memorial services for hospital personnel who have passed away, and Sunday worship services.

Dwaine Clower, director of missions for the Cross Timbers Baptist Association, utilizes four chaplains in his area. Every one is unique is his ministerial approach; he gathers a team of faithful volunteers who are dedicated to serve in each ministry.

Chaplain George Taff has worked in prison ministry for many years and ministers to adults and youths who have been detained. Taff uses three regular volunteers, and several others in his “Glorified Prison Ministry.”

Shift to pro-life ethic shows change

Before conservatives led, SBC agencies advanced pro-choice position, supported pro-choice Baptist lobbyists.

The contrast between the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979 and 2004 is well-illustrated by the shift in Southern Baptist leaders and their views on abortion.

In 1979, the SBC’s abortion stance was murky, with the convention’s Christian Life Commission (CLC) defending abortion rights and calling it a complex moral decision in CLC literature. Today, an unmistakable pro-life ethic is advanced by the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (formerly the CLC), by the six Southern Baptist seminaries, in LifeWay Christian Resources materials and through the pro-life ministries supported by the North American Mission Board.

Twenty-five years ago a generation of Southern Baptists responded to the warning of theologian Francis Schaeffer as he predicted a low view of Scripture would naturally lead to a disregard for the sanctity of life.

Within the Southern Baptist denomination, the opposite perspective was advocated as:

• several Southern Baptist ethics professors and the CLC head signed a declaration by the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights.

• a CLC pamphlet (right) described abortion as a moral dilemma and absolutist abortion views as immoral.

• CLC leaders opposed a Sanctity of Life Sunday.

• a CLC staffer sought to water down attention to a “pro-life ethic” concerning abortion by including it in a list of other concerns, namely world hunger, world peace, underemployment, justice and nuclear disarmament.

In an informal presentation to an ERLC board meeting held several years ago, Baptist historian Jerry Sutton related lessons he learned while researching for his book “The Baptist Reformation.”

“I discovered that complaining is worthless,” he said, citing a variety of complaints by conservatives over neo-orthodox theology advanced by Broadman’s publishing of “The Message of Genesis” by Ralph Elliott and the “Broadman Commentary.” More fire came when an associate editor of Playboy was invited to speak at a CLC workshop. “We don’t like Foy Valentine (CLC president) being a card-carrying member of the ACLU,” said Sutton, refering to the CLC’s pro-choice activism. “We don’t like that. And you know you can complain all day long.”

Drawing a lesson from the years of complaining, Sutton said, “You know something, complaining was worthless. It still is. You have to organize to do something.”

When the SBC lacked a pro-life response to the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, individual Southern Baptists decided to do more than complain. Texas Baptist Bob Holbrook began speaking out on the issue, even testifying before Congress that the opposition of the SBC-funded Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs to an amendment protecting unborn life did not represent the views of grassroots Southern Baptists. (See related article on Holbrook’s Baptists for Life organization below.)

Years later an organization called Southern Baptists for Life offered another voice in contrast to the CLC and BJCPA. Indiana layman Rudy Yakym said the Southern Baptists for Life movement began during a “March to Life” rally in 1984 in Washington, D.C. “A group of us Baptists met at a platform behind the Washington Monument,” Yakym recalled recently in a telephone interview. “Those were the times than tried men’s souls,” Yakym said, adding that pro-life Southern Baptists “took a lot of bullets and from a spiritual aspect, it was very vicious.”

One of the articles Yakym remembers reading in a CLC publication compared an unborn child’s reaction to an abortion to that of a plant’s stress when harvested. “It was pathetic. The article discounted fetal pain, saying it was akin to a plant’s reaction.” He described pamphlets on abortion as being more like material from Planned Parenthood than the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

The alternative voice known as Southern Baptists for Life formed in 1984 with Gary Crum serving as president and well-known pastors Jimmy Draper and Larry Lewis on the advisory board. The ministry offered resources to inform local Southern Baptist churches on the issues

What’s changed since last Indianapolis meeting?

Southern Baptist messengers will meet in Indianapolis June 15-16 for the convention’s annual meeting. When the SBC met in Indianapolis 12 years ago, Foreign Mission Board President Keith Parks raised five questions in the context of criticizing those involved in the conservative resurgence. Here are his questions in 1992 followed by answers based on this year’s Book of Reports.

Parks: Has the controversy accelerated fulfilling our purpose of sharing the gospel with all the world?

• By examining the IMB strategy implemented after a conservative-led trustee board elected new leadership, some indication of the effectiveness of conservative resurgence values can be seen. The five-year evaluation of Strategic Directions for the 21st Century revealed that the number of people groups engaged by IMB personnel has more than doubled to 1,371, with 146 unreached people groups engaged with the gospel for the first time in 2003.

Parks: Do we have more commitment to pray?

• Prayer support for Southern Baptist missionaries intensified as local churches and individual Southern Baptists were sent regular prayer updates electronically. A total of 42,024 have asked the IMB to send them those requests weekly.

Parks: Are there more of us giving more generously?

• Lottie Moon Christmas Offering receipts have grown from $78.6 million in 1992 to $133 million projected for this year.

Parks: Are there increasing numbers of men and women eager to give their lives as international missionaries?

• The missionary count has grown from 3,906 in 1992 to 5,375 this year.

Parks: Is our witness more effective in the world?

• Overseas baptisms have grown from 233,334 to 510,357 in just over a decade. New churches planted overseas have grown from 1,576 to 16,721 in the same timeframe.

TEXAN examines conservative theological resurgence

Special report identifies forces that shaped movement and how conservatives caused the unprecedented.

Twenty-five years ago, Adrian Rogers’ election as Southern Baptist Convention president marked a turn unprecedented in Christian history. The nation’s largest non-Catholic religious body?once fragmented between an overwhelmingly conservative core and moderate-to-liberal leaders in many SBC institutions?made a theological course correction.

In a special six-page report in this issue, News Editor Tammi Ledbetter led a reporting team in recounting the central events and personalities that drove what is now called the “conservative resurgence.”

The crux issue that sparked the resurgence was biblical inerrancy. Related issues, such as the abortion-rights stance of the SBC ethics agency, prompted more change.

Today, the former Christian Life Commission (now the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission), under a conservative president, is strongly pro-life. Conservative presidents and faculty committed to Scriptural inerrancy and biblical orthodoxy lead seminaries today?a shift that has rejuvenated seminary enrollments.

For those unfamiliar with these events, enjoy the read. For those familiar, we think it’s worth a reminder. The report begins on Page 6.

TEXAN examines conservative theological resurgence at 25 years

Most SBC entity heads stay true

Conservative Larry Lewis implemented crisis pregnancy network as HMB president.

Writer Joni Hannigan compiled a list of the Southern Baptist Convention entity heads serving in 1979 through the subsequent years of the conservative resurgence, detailing their work then and now.

Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board)

Keith Parks (1980-1992)

Parks was seen as “apolitical” until 1985 when he wrote to SBC foreign missionaries and told them he could not support the re-election of conservative Charles Stanley as SBC president. In 1990, Parks wrote an open letter printed in Baptist Press which said: “Many Southern Baptists are feeling grief, but it would be a great tragedy for Southern Baptists to revert to an independent church approach for supporting missions and other causes of common concern.” Parks retired from the board Oct. 31, 1992 and the next day became the head of the Baptist Cooperative Mission Program.

Parks served as the coordinator of Global Missions & Ministries for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship from 1992-1999. In 2002, Parks was inducted into the Mainstream Hall of Fame, a listing by Mainstream Baptists of those opposing “the legalism of SBC conservatism.”

In 2004, Parks served as chairman of a Mission Review and Initiatives sub-committee for the Baptist General Convention of Texas in helping to set up a funding source for missionaries unwilling to affirm the 2000 BF&M. Parks acknowledged a lingering question: “Is this a missions-sending organization?” He answered, “We don’t know. It’s not at this point. Whatever you want it to be, it will become.”

Christian Life Commission

(preceded the Ethics & Religious

Liberty Commission)

Foy Valentine (1971-1986)

Valentine led the SBC in 1971 to approve an abortion rights resolution. Later, Valentine opposed a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion on demand and in 1977 was a national sponsor of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights. He retired from the CLC in 1985 for medical reasons, but received a salary until 1988.

Valentine wrote a book on ethics published in 2003 by Smith & Helwys, and is the founding editor of A Journal of Christian Ethics, a website established in 2000. He is a lecturer at the Hardin-Simmons University Logsdon School of Theology in Texas. Valentine formerly headed the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor. He is a trustee for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Home Mission Board

(now the North American

Mission Board)

Bill Tanner (1976-1987)

Tanner led the HMB when there was a minority of conservative trustees who began in the mid-1980s to ask for doctrinal integrity, stricter staff accountability and pro-life policies. When the appointment of an ordained woman to a student ministry role prompted the personnel committee to vote against her recommendation, Tanner pled for restraint, convincing the board to approve the appointment. He left the HMB in 1987 to become the executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

Larry Lewis (1987-1996)

Lewis prioritized increased church planting, evangelistic outreach resulting in more baptisms and expanding the North American mission force to a level of 5,000 by the year 2000. He expected HMB staff to be active soul winners, reformed the Interfaith Witness Department from an emphasis on dialogue to understanding other faiths in order to share the gospel with their adherents.

Lewis demonstrated great support for the Cooperative Program and instituted pro-life initiatives at the board. He questioned some aspects of the Southern Baptist Convention restructuring process and retired in 1996, joining California-based Mission America Coalition and planting a Southern Baptist church.

Baptist Sunday School Board