Friday, August 26, 2011


Another summer 2011 rerun. First run in 2006.

Someone said to me recently, in commenting/complimenting me on the position I've come to with regards to women in ministry, "Even our culture understands the value of women in leadership as evidenced by those now in political positions of authority and power. I'm glad to see you've come there too." [They were obviously referencing Condoleeza Rice and others of the Bush administration.] 

My thought about that is two-fold. First, I'm glad educated, qualified, and competent women are not being held back in our culture as has been the unfortunate practice in the past. I even believe in equal pay for those women doing a job that would be given to a man doing the same job. 

But the second part of my thought is that, were the scriptures to say differently than what our culture says on any subject, [where it is clear to me what the scripture says on that subject] I would opt for obedience to scripture regardless of what our culture says or thinks.

An example of this might be seen in what our culture says about any sincere religious belief system being as good for people in the long run as any other religious belief system. So, Muslim, Christian, Shinto, it doesn't matter. Being sincere matters. I'm sorry, but the scriptures speak clearly here. Jesus said, " I am the way, the Truth, the light, no man comes to the Father but by me." [John 14] I believe that... and my culture cannot/will not be able to set my standard there.

On the other side of the coin, someone said in a comment section I read, "We must not allow culture to set our view of women in ministry. We must be true to what Baptists have historically held to and our BF@M affirms as our Baptist identity." [The BF@M says only men shall pastor and Baptists have historically held that women could not be pastors or deacons and some Baptists won't allow a women to teach men in any capacity.] 

My thoughts about that are two-fold also. First, I'm grateful for our Baptist history and distinctives that are grounded on the text of scripture. But the second part of my thought is, were I to see the text of scripture differently than our history and tradition have said, I would have to opt for obedience to my understanding of the text regardless of Baptist history OR tradition. 

An example of this is the gifts of the Spirit. Historically, Baptist have been what would be termed "cessationists," by and large, in regards to many of the lesser gifts. I do not now [I once held that view] see the scriptures forbidding those gifts or them ceasing. I do see a regulation and warning about their use/misuse in First Corinthians, but the validity for them is there, IMHO. Since I see that textually, Baptist history/tradition cannot/ will not set my standard there.

So what I see in the current debate in Southern Baptist life from those who insist on a particular interpretation of lesser significant doctrines [non-salvific] because it's the "Baptist way," is the same danger I see from those in our culture that would insist that we be "culturally correct" to be acceptable. Both cultures, whether secular [world] or sacred [Baptist] must give way to our being able to "search the scriptures to see if those things be so." the Baptist way for me.

So how do we get along under the Baptist tent [regardless of its size] when we see some lesser doctrines differently? [Especially when you see good men/women on both sides.] Let me make a few suggestions for us all.

#1--BE OPEN--to people who think differently than do we about these minor/lesser issues. I love this quote..."Since no one of us, affected as we are by original sin, is perfectly pure in our desire for truth, no one of us is exempt from some degree of closed-mindedness." [Searching Together Winter 1985] "I think this means we must be open to at least "listen" to multiple sources in the Body of Christ if we are really going to have the thoughts of Christ on lesser issues." [Same Publication] No better statement can be found in my judgement.

#2--BE READY--to change if the evidence from the text begins to be seen in a new/different light. Things can/do escape our attention and, for us to grow, we must be ready to admit that fact. This means it is not a crime to continue to examine the text with new light and understanding. And if a person sees that new light and is helped by it, that is not weakness on his/her part but humility. This change because of new light does not rob one of being Southern Baptist, but rather, it verifies the uniqueness that is Baptist, namely, we're free to grow in our knowledge of the Word.

#3--BE WILLING--to grow in truth when presented with new light regardless of the source. If it comes from one who is insignificant in the Body, so be it. There is no such person as insignificant where the Body is concerned anyway is there! In fact, to a proud individual, others are insignificant and that one doesn't take what anyone else says seriously. To an humble person, because he/she loves people AND the truth, an ear will be given to insignificant voices in the Body. [Dare I say even blogging voices...]

What I've said here, were I willing to practice what I write, will not, in my opinion ruin my confidence in the integrity/nature of the scriptures or make me a "liberal". It will not diminish my joy and appreciation for the privilage of being a Baptist. It will simply enable me to be truly Christian and relate to others in the Body with deep respect. I don't have to get angry at someone who sees a lesser point of theology differently than do I and I don't have to be closed to what they are saying about it. I don't have to agree, but I certainly don't have to believe they/I are/am no longer truly Southern Baptist BECAUSE we disagree.

Paul B.


Tom Parker said...


The issue of women in ministry in SB life is not going to go away. I think some think because "we" have the 2000 BF&M it is a done deal.

Scripture should and is open to interpretation and not just making it say what one wants it to.

Oh, BTW I am a "liberal" according to some because of my view of women in ministry.

Christiane said...

Good morning, Everyone

I once wrote a comment that Rex Ray thought was 'good words' about the 'place' of women and I'll share it,

"I think 'feminism' frees people to be themselves: men and women.
Everyone wins.

No more phony cultural and sexist roles. Just people.
Let the Good Lord assign the roles as He gives out the gifts and talents allotted to each human being. And let that human being develop those talents and be able to give back to this world what God intended for them to do.

Those 'limitations' on women were 'limitations' on men, too. They just didn't realize how horrible the fixed roles had limited their own lives and creativity.

So let the men distribute the loaves and fishes to feed the crowd. And let the women run to tell that 'Christ is risen', if that is what God asks of them to do.
We have been given a new role model to follow, only One, just One.
But a very good One.

It requires from each of us a new way to be."

Joe Blackmon said...

Can you believe that and be Baptist? Sure you can. Alliance of Baptist, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, etc. There are plenty of liberal Baptist groups out there. Thankfully, the Southern Baptist Convention is staunchly complimentarian, which is the only Biblical position to take. They have decided to not cowtow to culture. It's unfortunate that people can be members of the SBC and be egal's. Luckily, they'll never be allowed to serve in leadership positions once their beliefs become known.

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for stopping by. Your last statement fits a lot of us doesn't it!


Rex and I agree on your comment.


Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you sharing your view on things.

Tom Parker said...


I truly believe one day the SBC will have to apologize for their current position on Women in Ministry.

And for those that want folks like me to leave the SBC--it aint going to happen.

Joe Blackmon said...


As long as you're not permitted to sit at the adults table and you have to sit over there at the chidren's table and sulk, I'm fine with that. Put your money into the cooperative program like a good little boy but you're not going to get anything you want. You'll get what you get and don't pitch a fit. :-)

Actually, yes, I do want egal's to leave. Be very glad I'm not in a position to do anymore to you than has been done.

Paul Burleson said...


Here is my standard for comments on this blog...."Please note that I reserve the right to delete any comment which by my definition is deemed to be inappropriate such as being disrepectful of another or being mean-spirited or the use of bad language."

Please note that you've come very close to the line of being disrespectful and maybe even have crossed it. I will leave your comment up, but please comment about or concerning issues without disrespect and remember that a smiley face posted doesn't negate disrespect

Tom Parker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Burleson said...


I do...completely. Thanks.

Bob Cleveland said...

I'm really glad I grew up as a shy insecure kid. That molded the thought "but I could be wrong" into my DNA, as it were.

Oh that more folks on every side of those issues .. cessationism, women in ministry, etc .. would adopt the same attitude. At least on those issues in which the Bible is not explicit, as it's not on women in ministry and REALLY not on "cessationism".

Paul Burleson said...


70 words and a ton of wisdom. Thanks.

Tom Parker said...


I remember a time in SB life in which folks were allowed to have differing views but still cooperated together.

Paul Burleson said...


That was in the days when our fellowship was around the Lord Jesus and His work of the cross and empty tomb, ie, the gospel. Maybe those days will return. If not, you and I and others will do it anyway, right?

Joe Blackmon said...


There was never a time in SB where people were permitted to believe the Bible didn't say what it says and mean what it means. For years, prior to 1979, liberals were in power in the SBC. Most of them have been run out (a good thing and a God thing). Hence the CBF was born. It's unfortunate that churches and individuals that hold to CBF leanings are permitted to remain SBC.

Word verification--"narrwfndy" Narrow Fundy?? I like the sound of that.

Tom Parker said...


You said to me:"Tom,

That was in the days when our fellowship was around the Lord Jesus and His work of the cross and empty tomb, ie, the gospel. Maybe those days will return. If not, you and I and others will do it anyway, right? "

Absolutely you and I and others will do it any way.

I'm not into fighting other believers. Time is too short and time spent in fighting is wasted time.

I am always amazed at the minor issues that people want to make a major issue and they attempt to disfellowship these folks that do not agree with them 100%.

Those Baptists still left in the camp that allow for various differences must remain strong and stay in the SBC.

That is the only hope that things will ever change for the better in the SBC.

Paul Burleson said...


"The Bible says what it says and means what it means." my mantra. It is the finding out what it means that demands the Holy Spirit, humility, research, and openness to discover the proper meaning. All these because of our finite minds. May we all live with a baptism of each.


I travel in a preaching ministry to SBC churches of every size and location in our Convention and can assure you that there are MANY who still exhibit that spirit. I hold several pastor's conferences annually and find many/most do not agree on all of the non-salvific issues but do have a genuine spirit of fellowship.

I don't know where the Convention is going as an entity or what the future holds for her structures, but true baptists will always fellowship around the gospel.

Joe Blackmon said...


The real hope for the SBC would be for people and churches to be told "This is what you BETTER believe. If you don't, you will be dealt with."

It just so happens that many egals (not most, many) get the gospel wrong as well. They're the same group say muslims will be in heaven on account of their nicey-ness and that God will save them through Christ without them consciouisly trusting Christ. Their the same people that say calling homosexuality a sin is bigoted because "...Paul was stating his opinion. Christ would NEVER have been that exclusive." Their the same people that say the Bible CONTAINS the word of God rather than it IS the word of God.

In other words, they're people who don't matter.

Tom Parker said...


You said:"but true baptists will always fellowship around the gospel."

Amen, brother!!

I agree with you that there is still quite a bit of this in the SB world.

It just does not get the necessary press.

Paul Burleson said...

It doesn't! but what really matters is what is known by the Father and what will be shown that day to be the heart of the matter. I guess we will all find out the truth about a lot of things at that day.

Aussie John said...


Very fine article, which makes clear Biblical sense.

When I read, or hear the words of people, I seek grace with Scriptural truth, which I always find in what you write.

When these two appear together, there is a strong indication of reality of that persons certain kinship with our Lord,Jesus Christ through the ministry of His Holy Spirit in genuine conversion.

In other words, I have never found a lack of graciousness in those who are genuinely recipients of the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ, regardless of their denominational attachments.

As we all know, love is a fruit of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit as genuine believers grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I'd like to quote Albert Barnes, a sound Reformed man, as he writes regarding 1 Cor. 13: "This chapter is a continuation of the subject commenced in chapter 12. In that chapter Paul had introduced the subject of the various endowments which the Holy Spirit confers on Christians, and had shown that these endowments, however various they were, were conferred in such a manner as best to promote the edification and welfare of the church. In the close of that chapter (1Cor 12:31) he had said that it was lawful for them to desire the most eminent of the gifts conferred by the Spirit; and yet says that THERE WAS ONE ENDOWMENT THAT WAS MORE VALUABLE THAN ALL OTHERS, and that might be obtained by all, and that he proposed to recommend to them. That was Love; sold to illustrate its nature, excellency, and power, is the design of this exquisitely beautiful and tender chapter. In doing this, he dwells particularly on three points or views of the excellency of love; and the chapter may be regarded as consisting of three portions.

I. The excellency of love above the power of speaking THE LANGUAGES OF MEN and of angels; above the power of understanding all mysteries; above all faith, even of the highest kind; and above the virtue of giving all one's goods to feed the poor, or one's body to be burned. ALL THESE ENDOWMENTS WOULD BE VALUELESS WITHOUT LOVE. 1Cor 13:1-3.

The emphasis is mine.

Of one thing I'm certain the only thing which will remain in glory, is love towards our Savior and those whom He has chosen and gathered together.

I think there might be a few surprises as to whom we meet:)

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

An apropos summary of what is really important when writing or discussing any issue but especially eternal issues. Thank you very much for joining in from "down under."

Tom Parker said...

Aussie John:

Without love we would not have much to offer others. Even when we disagree about theological issues we must never quit loving people.

Anonymous said...

Joe, long time no see, but you seem to be the same old Joe, beating the same old drum that ex-president of the SBC, and present President of the IMB, Tom Eliff, told the new president, Paige Patterson:
“”All barnacles and parasites had been removed from the ship of Zion.”

Your “This is what you BETTER believe. If you don’t, you will be dealt with” is about the same as Jim Richards, executive director of SBTC (new convention of Texas), and 1st Vice-president of the SBC in 2007 said:

“Theological agreement will be the first foundation of the new Convention. Those who depart theologically will be identified and called to repent. To the foes of SBTC, we say, we’re not in competition with you, but we’ve been called to contrast you.” (Baptist Standard 11-18-98)

Wonder if Richards’ “identified” and your “dealt with” and “don’t matter” would be how Anabaptists were treated in the 1500’s when their foreheads were branded and they either starved or froze because they were not allowed to receive food and their cloths were cut away.

I believe my comment will make your day because I think you like high-jacking post with your questionable comments that show a lack of love.
Rex Ray

Paul Burleson said...


Your comment does an astute comparison between two comments from two different people with this...

“This is what you BETTER believe. If you don’t, you will be dealt with.”...and this...“Theological agreement will be the first foundation of the new Convention. Those who depart theologically will be identified and called to repent. To the foes of SBTC, we say, we’re not in competition with you, but we’ve been called to contrast you.” (Baptist Standard 11-18-98)

I appreciate the fact that you are dealing with words spoken. I join you in believing they are not words that should be spoken, believed or promoted.

You are also something of an historian. Thanks for the factual context you presented for the comparison.

There will be those who disagree with your view on this, I happen to agree with you as I said, but they won't be able to disagree with you because of any disrespecting of the people who said the comments. They have their right to say them and you exercised your right to disagree respectfully. Well done IMHO.

Tom Parker said...


Good to see your comment here. You know that many mighty fine people were removed from the SBC because of this "new philosophy". I would argue the heart and soul of the SBC was removed and not barnacles and parasites.

The CR run a muck ruined a great denomination.

It is not going to get any better because the infighting will never stop.

Tom Parker said...

Rex Ray:

"ex-president of the SBC, and present President of the IMB, Tom Eliff, told the new president, Paige Patterson:
“”All barnacles and parasites had been removed from the ship of Zion.”

Is it not incredible that fellow believers were spoken of as barnacles and parasites.

It is a window into the hearts of folks like him.

Is the SBC better of now than in 1979, in my opinion it is an easy no.

Anonymous said...

Tom, you’re right about the decline of the SBC.

The ‘top down rule’ that’s been expressed on Paul’s blog was put in ‘nicer words’ by an email to all our missionaries (my son was one) in 1997 by the IMB president:

“ We are preparing a revolutionary redesign of the way we are organized…the guidance and anointing of God will require a significant shift in attitudes…a confidence and willingness to follow the wisdom and guidance of God-appointed leadership, whether we necessarily understand or agree.”

Missionaries were changed into employees, and “God-appointed” changed into ‘appointed God’ by the forced signing of the BFM 2000.

Missionaries’ call from God took second place to the egos of men.

The SBC will continue to die a slow death because they changed the glue of missions that held Baptists together to doctrine.

Whose influence besides the devil has drowned witches, burned Christians, and fired missionaries—all in the name of God?

Anonymous said...

My son was told since he was ‘grandfathered’, he would not have to sign the BFM.
Then he was told if he did not sign, he would not be fired.
Both statements by the IMB president wilted under pressure of ‘higher-ups’.

I believe ‘part’ of the following letter printed by Texas Baptist Committed in April 2002 expressed the feelings of many fired missionaries.
Before he was fired, a missionary in Africa for 24 years, Stan R. Lee, wrote his regional leader why he could not sign the BFM.

“I fully respect the authority of the IMB. My allegiance is to God’s Holy Word and that alone. To pledge to any other document outside God’s Holy Word violates my beliefs as a Baptist and my integrity before God.

…reminds me of the golden image Nebuchadnezzar created. I think this pagan king’s objective was essentially the same as those who are pressing this issue…dominance. He wanted control. He wanted power over his people.

It is immaterial to me whether I serve Christ in Rwanda or in Texas as long as I know within my heart that I am pleasing to Him. It may be that this will turn out to be the end of my missionary career, but I want you to know that if I go, I go as a true Baptist and a true servant of the SBC, but Christ first. ALL FOR CHRIST!”

Some may wonder why I become grouchy if anyone says they will lead us to accept the BFM 2000 that’s praised in our church literature as “our doctrinal guideline”.

I’ve been a Southern Baptist for 69 years, but I’m holding on with my fingernails.
Rex Ray

JLTan said...

IMHO, a problem is with our understanding of which truths in Scripture to hold as absolute and unchanging as the mind of God, and which truths can be contextualised with culture and era.

The Church does both; our understanding of honouring the Sabbath is another example of this theological struggle.