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The Price of Theological Fidelity
From the Report to the Executive Committee, September 18, 2000

When you look at the landscape of theological education across America, and you look over the last couple of centuries, it is one tragedy after another. When you consider what has happened in denomination after denomination, control and accountability have been forfeited and lost in terms of the seminaries. Once that happens, inevitably those institutions become the instruments of ruin for the denominations they serve. I am thankful that Southern Baptists are the contrary in example.

Theological fidelity is worth the price, and indeed beyond compare, when considering the cost of forfeiting that responsibility. There are some who would have you to think that those who teach on our faculties are rebels who are constrained by the chains of a repressive confession of faith. There are those who would imply that the seminaries have a difficult time finding those who are willing to teach within the parameters of what Southern Baptists believe and would expect their theology professors and seminary professors to believe.

That is hardly the case. We would not hire them if they so existed. We're glad to tell you that there are godly scholars who would not teach anywhere but in an institution that stood by these convictions and made this accountability plain. They teach not because they have been constrained to teach, but because they have been called by God to teach. They want to stand where we so publicly stand as a convention and we as Southern Seminary are proud to stand with you in mission.

We know who we are. In identity, we belong to you. In conviction, we have a currency far more precious than gold. In focus, in spirit, and accountability, we know where our priorities must be.

Much attention has been given to a so-called study committee that came to visit your seminaries. A study committee that forfeited and declined the opportunity to actually meet with the faculty and meet with students. We want to invite not just any state convention that would wish to know more about us, but any Southern Baptist, to come and visit our campuses, sit in our chapel services, sit in the classroom, hear what is taught, meet our students, feel their passion. See the evangelism on their hearts, see the Great Commission in their eyes, see the love for the Scripture as they hold it in their hands, see their passion to serve the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe the more Southern Baptists come to know, the more generous will be their support, the more eager will be their excitement.

Recently a group of historians collaborated on a book with an interesting premise, and that is "What If?" What if certain things had happened differently? What if Napoleon had won at Waterloo? What if D-Day had failed? What if Washington had not been able to get his troops back across the Delaware? What if the South had won the Civil War? Historians call this the paradox of counter-factuals. History could have been different.

It's interesting to look back and think, "what if?" It's far more tragic to look back and see, in so many cases, what did happen.

If the Lord should tarry, I believe Baptists will look back to this day, this year, this time, and if they see Baptists who pull back from the Cooperative Program, if they see Baptists who do not want a part in this, they will see great tragedy. I believe there is the danger that some Baptists will find themselves on the wrong side of history. More importantly than that, I fear they will find themselves on the wrong side of truth. If their concern really is as they have articulated it, they'll find themselves on the wrong side of accountability. If they really are only concerned with training the Baptists of their convention in their state, they will find themselves on the wrong side of the Great Commission.

By God's grace, may Southern Baptists be found standing, where before God's Word, we know we ought to stand and may by God's grace, we stand together. Thank you and God bless you.

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November 2000 Edition
Volume 9, Issue 2
November 2000