Friday, April 25, 2008

The sky is falling!


The Ed Stetzer report in regard to Southern Baptist statistics for 2007 says that "Southern Baptists are in decline," and nothing seems to cheer the heart of Tom Ascol and his Flounders-Friendlies more than such "bad news." Surely, this can be of use to the Flounders as propaganda in their ongoing proselytizing enterprise.

Ascol and one of his friendlies, Nathan Finn, seem to have been overcome by a veritable ecstatic swoon over Stetzer's analysis. In fact, Ascol has even ventured to pronounce Finn to be some sort of a "prophet." "His insights are prophetic," Ascol proclaims on his latest blog.

One might wonder, however, why a prophet would not have enough insight to see the follies of the Flounders and to refer to those follies at the "Bridge to Nowhere" Conference last fall?

I recall, in my earliest days as a member of a Southern Baptist church in the 1950s, the SBC was apparently in far worse condition than it seems to be today. Neo-orthodoxy was the popular theology of that era, and it was "in the saddle" at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and other seminaries and colleges as well.

If you attended Union University in those days, you would hear Dr. R. C. Briggs and Dr. T. O. Hall deny the verbal inspiration of the Bible and the substitutionary atonement.

If you attended Southern Seminary, you would hear speakers on the order of Nels F. S. Ferre of Vanderbilt who offered the idea that Jesus might have been the son of a German soldier. You would read President Duke McCall's endorsement of Ferre's book in a Southern Baptist state paper where he said the book was "warm-spirited" and put forth "profound new insights."

If you attended New Orleans Seminary, you would hear the likes of Frank Stagg teach that "Jesus is not our mediator."

If you attended Southeastern Seminary, you would hear Dr. E. A. McDowell proclaim that "we are now in the millennium."

At Southern again, Eric Rust would tell you that the Bible must be corrected by modern science, that where the Bible is in error, "We shall accept unreservedly the facts of modern science."

At Southern, you would also be privileged to hear guest lecturers such as Robert J. McCracken, successor of Harry Emerson Fosdick, at the liberal Riverside Church of New York where Fosdick was known to reject the Virgin Birth and the substitutionary Atonement.

At Southern, you would also bask in the teachings of Dr. Dale Moody, who studied theology in Europe under Emil Brunner, the noted Neo-orthodox scholar, and you would learn that eternal security is not true.

And if you dared to speak up about such things, you were immediately branded as "uncooperative" and "disloyal" to the SBC.

Like John Ross (no kin), a good preacher-friend of mine who attended Union University and in the classroom took issue with Dr. R. C. Briggs' teachings, you might lose your pastorate after you were "reported" to R. C. Newman, the Assassinational Missionary in the Association, who used his denominational powers to influence the church to "vote you out" as pastor.

Not only was near infidelity reigning in the schools, SBC members reportedly ranked 40th in per-member gifts, compared to other denominations. In fact, statistics revealed that they averaged less than $1.00 per Sunday in giving for "all causes."

As for gifts to missions, in a letter to me from the office of Dr. Cauthen of the Foreign Mission Board, I was informed that for foreign missions Southern Baptists averaged giving a little more than 3-cents per Sunday, or $1.67 for the year.

The denominatonal leaders of that time would tell you such novelties as the Cooperative Program is "the arm of God," and is "the Holy Spirit's way of doing missions," and that you "blasphemed" the Holy Spirit if you criticized the Program.

As for statistics in those days, Dr. Duke McCall "warned" Southern Baptist in an article in the state papers entitled, "Storm Warnings." McCall noted that offerings, baptisms, ordinations, student entrollments at seminaries, and missionary volunteers "have declined."

McCall said, "Spiritual pride has blinded Southern Baptists to the warning flags that are clear throughout our denomination . . . We have a good machine, it is just that we are running out of gas."

Those were the days! O, for the "good ole days"!

And just to think, Southern Baptist churches somehow managed to stay alive and even get professions of faith from so many of those fellows who lead the "conservative resurgence" and perhaps from many who are part of the "Flounders" movement!

Will wonders ever cease?


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