Dominionism at Southwestern Baptist Seminary
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Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 10:01:03 AM EST
Ethics Daily has published a revealing report that "Seminary Speaker Advocates Christian Rule."  Shelby sharpe, general counsel for the Southern Baptists of Texas, spoke to a full house in a Southwestern Seminary chapel service on September 5th and, in effect, advocated that Christians takeover the government to influence the culture.

Southern Baptists of Texas is a convention of fundamentalist Baptists that have left the moderate Baptist General Convention of Texas. The national Southern Baptist Convention is closer to SBTC than BGCT and selects all its Texas leadership from the ranks of the SBTC.

Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas is the largest seminary in the world. It has trained more Christian ministers and missionaries than any other institution in history.

The only sign of dissent from Christian Reconstructionism in Sharpe's sermon was a quick disclaimer that "We're not going to bring in the millenial kingdom.  That's not going to happen."  Other than this short signal that his eschatology envisions a pre-millenial Dominionism and not a post-millenial Reconstructionism, everything else Sharpe had to say is indistinguishable from Christian Reconstructionist theocratic political ideology.

The radical political agenda espoused in Sharpe's address is not exceptional in Baptist pulpits these days.  It is unusual to find it so openly and forcefully avowed from the pulpit of a Southern Baptist institution.  

Readers ought to watch the video of the chapel service for themselves to see how persuasively this sermon was delivered and how favorably it was received.  Here's a link to the video.

Sorting out the different kinds of Baptists may be difficult for some readers.

Moderate Baptists are conservative when compared to most other Christians.  Most of them are now involved with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (Jimmy Carter Baptists) which was formed in 1990 after Fundamentalist Baptists (Jerry Falwell Baptists) took over the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Baptist General Convention of Texas is related to both CBF and the SBC.  The relations with the SBC are severly strained.

by Mainstream Baptist on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 10:32:46 AM EST

Having grown up in another wing of dominionism (neopente dominionism) I had never quite understood all the different kinds of Baptists and such--my husband (who was raised Southern Baptist and is about as far as you can get from it now) explained how a lot of it worked, denominational splits and such.

Still, it's useful backgrounder info to know--among other things, this can be useful to try to prevent other church hijackings.

by dogemperor on Fri Oct 06, 2006 at 02:33:49 PM EST

The Alliance of Baptists celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Originally formed in response to the Fundamentalist takeover of the SBC, it has grown into a diverse fellowship whose members include:

American Baptist Churches USA
American Baptist Mission -- Hong Kong
Associated Baptist Press
Association of Professional Chaplains
Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
Baptist Center for Ethics
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
Baptists Today
Baptist Women in Ministry
Baptist World Alliance
Brite Divinity School
Candler School of Theology Emory University
Christian Church, Disciples of Christ
Church World Service
Churches for Middle East Peace
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Duke Divinity School, Baptist House
Evangelical Church of Georgia
Furman University, Greenville, SC
Global Campaign for Rebuilding Palestinian Home
McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University
National Council of Churches USA
Progressive National Baptist Convention
Smyth and Helwys Publishing
Tapestry 2006
United Church of Christ
Wake Forest University Divinity School
World Council of Churches
Worldwide Faith News

Yes, you read that right; among the Alliance's members are the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ -- but that shouldn't be so surprising, since the two denominations are very similar to the historic mainstream ABC in their beliefs and practices. In fact, at one point (in the 1940s if I remember right), the ABC and the CC(DofC) gave some serious consideration to a merger.

(I'm a lifelong ABC'er myself, but when I lived in Louisville, KY in the early 80s, I tried a couple of relatively "moderate" SBC churches in the area and found them to be a very strange planet, so a small CC(DofC) church became my church home for those five years. When I moved back to the northeast, I joined an ABC church that became one of the Alliance's first non-SBC congregations.)

From the Alliance's Timeline:

Born in the white-heat controversy of the fundamentalist uprising that resulted in the capture of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Alliance within our first few years moved from acute grief to joyful anticipation.

What we at first counted an incalculable loss we came to see over time as unimagined gain. By the grace of God, our journey away from the old has become a pilgrimage toward the "new thing" Isaiah the prophet testified to centuries ago. For the Alliance of Baptists, that divine initiative has included a rediscovery of our deeper roots in the freedom movement that marked the beginnings of the Baptist denomination in the 17th century. And it has included the wonderful discovery that we are part of the larger church of Jesus Christ and the whole people of God.

Within the larger Baptist family specifically, the Alliance has ceased to be a regional body of casualties from the war of attrition over the Southern Baptist Convention. More and more every day, we are evolving instead into a broad-based movement of freedom-loving Baptists in all regions of the country, especially in places where the emerging crisis in the American Baptist Churches in the USA more and more resembles the SBC debacle of two decades ago. In January 2002, for example, we co-sponsored a special event in Oakland, CA, with the new Pacific Coast Baptist Association, formed in 2001 in the aftermath of the expulsion of four churches in northern California from their ABC/USA region over issues of congregational freedom.

Here are some more direct links to pages within the Alliance's website:

What We Believe
Our Covenant
Our Mission Statement

by anomalous4 on Thu Oct 05, 2006 at 09:50:23 AM EST

"[T]he emerging crisis in the American Baptist Churches in the USA more and more resembles the SBC debacle of two decades ago."

Having been away from the church for three years, I had no idea just how bad things had gotten. He's not exaggerating. This is some horrifying stuff.

My mom served an eight-year term on the General Board of the ABC/USA in the 1990s and remains very active in her regional association. In a recent e-mail, she wrote:

I went to the PBA [Pittsburgh Baptist Association] annual meeting that was held at FBC M [Mom's home church ----a4] yesterday. [...]

Rev. Dr. Nate Williams, Interim Area Minister for PBA, gave a "State of the Association" speech. It was very informative. One of the churches has threatened to pull out of PBA and ABC/USA, if churches in the association and denomination don't change their attitude about dealing with the homosexual issue. They want a hard line against it. Nate said he was sending a letter to them that they are no longer a part of PBA. Their pastor has pulled the church out of ABC/USA, which is against the Code of Ethics he signed when he became affiliated with ABC. Nate also said the issue is a dead issue in PBA. We will not spend any more time on it. [...]

ABC/USA has put a for sale sign on the "Holy Donut" [ABC/USA headquarters, so called because of its me it looks more like a huge white tire ----a4]. The homosexual issue has caused so much of a decline in the United Mission offerings that they can no longer afford to keep the building. [They've been renting out space for years. ----a4] It is an inefficient building to operate. The Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board rep said that we have more income from dead Baptists than we do alive ones now! ABC/USA is cutting way back on staff, program, and publicity also. It will not cease to exist as a denomination, but because of all the ruckus caused by those who are anti homosexual, they have succeeded in virtually destroying the denomination as we knew it. [...]

Because of the shake up in the denomination, it is not certain just what will happen with the General Board because it is so expensive to bring all those people together. It will certainly be smaller. They were making it smaller when I was on it.

One of the things she can't understand -- and the thing that probably worries her the most -- is the general apathy within the association and the denomination in general, which has certainly been a major factor in recent events. The only "activist" faction of any size within the ABC in the last decade or so has been the neoFundies, and the average Jack and Jill in the pews have sat on the side for the most part and watched things happen. Groups such as the Roger Williams Fellowship, the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, and the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists have always been small. I don't think most Baptists have ever even heard of the first two. (The third, of which my home church is a founding member, is another story, of course!)

My humble apologies for the inordinate length of these two posts. I probably should have made them a diary entry of my own. OTOH, they're entirely relevant to Bruce's post above, so there you have it.

by anomalous4 on Thu Oct 05, 2006 at 11:07:47 AM EST

During the period of the 80's (especially the late 80's) this would be the period that Rev. Al Mohler was hijacking the Southern Baptist Seminary here--and even then the SBC churches were starting to go hard dominionist thanks to Mohler and crew.  (Hence I'm not so surprised that things were a "different planet".)

(Yeah, I'm a native of the area, so I've gotten to see just how long the SBC's been infiltrated--as it is, it's bad enough now that the Southern Baptist Seminary's home church is one of the "Unholy Trinity" of big dominionist churches (along with Southeast Christian and the church I escaped from--and which Frank Simon is deacon at).

by dogemperor on Fri Oct 06, 2006 at 02:31:12 PM EST

from the beginning of '79 through mid-'85. The Christian bookstore near my home (which was only 3 or 4 miles from the seminary) passed out a flyer each year from the seminary listing all the graduate theses for the year. I watched as the subject matter slid off the cliff from Liberation Theology and the implications today of women's leadership in the early church to Dispensationalism and some very selective Biblical inerrancy. Scared the bleep out of me, pissed me off, and generally put a knot of Gordian proportions in my stomach.

Very Strange Planet indeed.

by anomalous4 on Fri Oct 06, 2006 at 04:42:29 PM EST

Being there in the Al Mohler upsurgance would indeed frighten anyone with a larger framework & not receptive to the fundie politicizing. However, as one scared much earlier & who'd rejected the anti-intellectualizing inherent in all, you MUST not think this sprung up overnight. Duke McCall was on the firing line going back to the '50s/'60s, but as an open targer, he also stood his ground & fired back: a real hero, whether you liked him or not. Ditto, for S. Stealey at Southeastern/Wake Forest. The two were targets of fundies constantly. I was at S'eastern '58-'60, & the heresy hunt there ended in four (4) professors terminated & there were sympathy resignations as well. Needless to say, my loyalties were with the terminated ones, & if I needed a seminal experience that made up my mind for me, that was it. Altho' the denomination itself may not have fallen to the fundamentalists until the early '80s, the flagship seminaries fell two decades earlier, & nothing would be the same thereafter. That sort of explains the nutcases who wind up in SBC executive roles: e.g., James Draper, et al.
  There's a 'For Sale' sign on the Holy Donut? I am at the other end of the county, but I will have to go & see for myself: sadly, of course, even if it no longer affects me. When Upper Merion Twp. declared ca. 40 acres of their campus not an aesthetic integral part but not necessary for religious usage & therefore taxable, that sell-off was the warning bell of shoals to come, it seems. It's not visible from the road or turnpike anymore & actually hard to find. What is happening to the ABC is somewhat similar to SBC decline & partly for similar reasons: sad.
  My sojourn in the ABC was after a 2 yr stint in Canada & lasted until 1971, when I transferred into the UCC. That's not without the same thrusts of late either. I'd really hate to be starting out in anything these days.
Arden C. Hander

by achbird65 on Mon Oct 09, 2006 at 03:26:47 PM EST
I was just a little Sunday-school kid singing "Jesus Loves Me" and thinking that was heavy theology when all that crapola started going down. I suspect my parents probably knew something about it -- certainly my dad would have, because he was in college preparing to go to seminary (he got his MDiv in 1967).

I heard about "Fundies" but really didn't have a frame of reference because I grew up on the Social Gospel side of the tracks (Dad worked as a community organizer after graduating from seminary), and the Fundamentalists were keeping quiet in public for the most part.

But I suppose I'm not completely surprised. It takes a long time for stuff like that to build up to a critical mass. I look at that long history and think, I hope to God it doesn't take another 50 years for the tide to turn.

by anomalous4 on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 12:12:55 AM EST

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