Sunday, January 22, 2006

Learning From Our Southern Cousins Before It's Too Late

After purging liberals from their ranks, Southern Baptist conservatives who won control of their denomination are now taking aim at each other according to Rachel Zoll, an AP Religion Writer (

She cites the Rev. Wade Burleson, a Baptist leader from Oklahoma, saying that fellow conservatives who crusaded to elect only leaders who believe in strict Biblical inerrancy are carrying their campaign too far, targeting Southern Baptists who disagree with them on other issues.

In an open letter to the SBC, Burleson objects to the exaltation of the denomination and its structures “over” the local congregation and to what he sees as advising missionary candidates to transfer membership to the “right” congregations.

In his letter, Burleson, a member of the board of the SBC International Mission Board, said: “The IMB should keep the main thing the main thing. We defeated the liberals 20 years ago, but I'm afraid the ugly head of legalism could be rising from the new SBC and it may be harder to defeat than liberalism.”

"Conservatives who loved the battles of decades past have fallen victim to a crusading mentality of bloodthirst," Burleson wrote. "Since all the liberals are gone, conservative crusaders are now killing fellow conservatives."

"Sadly, the Southern Baptist Convention is now moving toward a time when everyone must look the same, talk the same, act the same, believe the same on the nonessentials of the faith, or else you will be removed as `not one of us,'" he wrote in a Dec. 10 entry in his blog,

Burleson's postings may have already cost him a leadership role in the denomination. Trustees of the Southern Baptist international missionary agency took the first step this month toward ousting him from their board, accusing him of "broken trust" for writing about a meeting on his Web site.

His Barking Dog is not the place to debate whether or not Pastor Burleson or his denomination is in the right. But, his experience should serve as a cautionary tale for us in the ABC. As evangelicals within the ABCUSA fold contemplate withdrawing from the parent organization due to heterodox theology, we need to take heed to the dangers inherent in our actions. After crusading against the “liberals,” heaven protect us from becoming legalists in the process, exchanging one horrible heterodoxy for one equally dangerous.

[Not speaking officially]


Dougbeyer said...

A timely caution.
Conservatives are well known for shooting their own wounded.

Thanks, Dennis.


revdrron said...

One of the problems with purity is the desire to continue purging perceived sin.

D.J. Lower / KKairos said...

Are there any people being outed for being too legalistic? Although I suppose outing people for being too legalistic could be said to have some degree of legalism itself.