Monday, December 05, 2005

Dialogue with an Executive Minister in the ABCUSA (Part 2)

Here are some reactions to the most recent response posted on the ABE Message Board by an ABC executive minister taking time to interact in that forum.


Thanks for your thorough and thoughtful responses. As they say, though, the devil is in the details.

The San Antonio meetings were determinative and decisive. To say that you were not there but that things look encouraging now would be like asking Mrs. Lincoln: "Other than 'that,' how did you like the play?" Dr. Salico made a VERY thorough case to the covenant partners in the GEC. It has been widely distributed and studied. He could not summon support for ANY of the proposals for which he advocated, even though he was clear regarding the consequences for continued PSW participation in the Covenant of Relationships if something meaningful did not flow from the meeting.

The events in the Biennial struck most of us on the right as a declaration of war on evangelicals. Tell me honestly that the Bill Herzog address to the Roger Williams Fellowship (and cheered by numerous VF leaders) was not an abusive attack on all evangelicals by implication and some by actual name.

It seems to me that when it is convenient, VF is quite capable of declaring in absolutist terms what is "Biblical," "moral," "right," and "consistent with the Gospel" even when large numbers of actual American Baptists disagree with the point. However, on an issue where we have supposedly voted and decided (overwhelmingly I might add), Dr. Medley continues to couch, accommodate, explain away, relativize, and temporize his words. Show me even one instance where he has boldly declared the traditional view to be biblical WITHOUT in the same speech, editorial, or article going out of his way to affirm the other side as well. He doesn't do that on other controversial issues where American Baptists are divided.

Calls to continue "dialog" would have been appropriate and sounded legitimate had they not been prefaced with decades of stonewalling on this subject and persistent rejection of the efforts of our representatives to mediate a compromise.

No, I do not believe that the motivations are fiscal -- by any of the parties. VF has always (at least during my 52 years) adopted a remnant theology that finds honor in upholding unpopular causes as ethically and theologically superior regardless of the consequences. Losing the PSW does more to offend the honor of VF than its pocketbook.

BTW - I was a "stay and fixit" guy until this year. But, the repeated rejection of even the most tepid of measures left me despairing that ANY hope remains. Jim, my opinions may be strong, but my credentials for working WITHIN the system are equally serious. A lifelong American Baptist, ten years on the MC Senate; almost a half dozen years on the Ministerial Leadership Commission (including nearly a half dozen on the executive committee), a quarter century on the standing regional ordination committee for PSW (including a dozen years as chair), a 500+ dissertation on ABC leadership with an enormous statistical study of the largest sample of ABC pastors ever conducted, and now serving as CEO of an ABC related institution with a nearly $13 million budget. These are not the hallmarks of a flake. My blood flows in institutional veins. But, sadly, enough is enough!

You are correct that the track record for splits has not been encouraging. I have kept pointing people to Joel Carpenter's "Revive Us Again" (Oxford, 1997) for a serious look at what separations have done among evangelicals during the 20th century. My only hope is that a "bless each other and move on" approach holds forth promise as against a "curse each other and tear the organization up" style of past separations.

Jim, I resonate with your pleas and your arguments. They echo my own words of past years. But, having seen the response the GEC made in San Antonio, "continuing dialog" is irrational.
We have two mindsets of what a real Baptist is all about: one group holding to sola scriptura as the organizing distinctive, the other clinging to a view of Christian experience (dating from 1905 and E.Y. Mullins) as the ultimate value.

Unless Roy has a major change of heart, he will not be able to lead us through this thicket. His own wife rendered testimony before her denomination's equivalent of the GB five years ago. She argued strongly for a view quite similar to our own AWAB positions. I would not expect any man to repudiate the position of the mother of his children in order to make a few conservatives happy. Roy is a kind and gentle man. He does not deserve to be slandered. But, neither can I support him in good conscience.

Thanks again for caring enough to interact with this message board.

Dennis E. McFadden

[Just my own opinions, not representing any PSW entity - about as out of place and power as a supralapsarian hyper-Calvinist at a Benny Hinn crusade.]

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