Preliminary review of the MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church Irving report
by Wm. Robert Johnston
updated 24 June 2001
Some specific inaccurate/misleading statements and flaws in reasoning (statements from the report are italicized):
- The report, or open letter, by Allen has a confrontational tone and is oriented towards stating the author's mind more than trying to persuade the addressee. As a result, the report fails to fully engage the opposing arguments on a rational level.
- The report concentrates on historical theology, much more so than other reports.
- The author is extremely concerned about loopholes in the BF&M regarding the doctrine of inerrancy, but dismissive of concerns about the loopholes regarding the doctrine of priesthood of the believer or the Lord's Day.
- Action taken at the recent BGCT convention to reduce drastically funding for our six seminaries and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC under the obvious guise "Texas needs it more" reflects a selfish fiscal attitude unbecoming of what was once one of the greatest and most generous state conventions in the SBC.
BGCT leaders have stated that the motivation of the changes was to increase resources for evangelization and ministry in Texas. If Allen is going to publicly charge that this is a "guise" and that this is "selfish", he needs to (1) provide profound evidence of dishonesty and (2) establish either that Texas evangelization and ministry is a selfish objective or that this evangelization and ministry is indeed a "guise" for another objective.
- ...the BGCT evinces a clear and undeniable break with historic Baptist theology and with the SBC.
The 2000 BF&M included a change to the language of the article on the Lord's Day which dropped language from both the 1925 and 1963 BF&M versions.
- These accusations have been increasingly shrill since the latest revision of the BFM. When I was growing up in Georgia, we had a saying: "If you throw a rock in a pack of dogs, the one that hollers is the one that got hit."
This illustrates the emotional language used in this report.
- Mullins was heavily influenced by Schleiermacher, the father of modern liberalism, in his anthropocentric individualism... We can forgive Mullins for his ecclesiological near-sightedness..."
While Allen is highly critical of Mullins, an October 2000 publication from the SBC Executive Board cites E. Y. Mullins among 13 individuals under the heading:
A Bible Heritage
We invite you to consider the convictions of these Southern Baptists. Their stand on Scripture and its treatment in our schools and lives is uncompromising. As we remember the way in which God has blessed the Convention through the years, we should keep her scriptural commitments in mind.
- The 2000 committee also replaced (a better word than "deleted") the "criterion" statement with a sentence more in keeping with the historic Baptist confessions of faith, including the 1925 confession. The claim that this replacement somehow converts the 2000 BFM "to the status of a creed" as you claim is completely erroneous. The sky is not falling.
Allen does not specify why "replaced" is a better word than "deleted"; given his strenuous disavowal of the "criterion" statement, it would seem that he would prefer the word "deleted" as the stronger rejection. Wade's claim (and that of others) regarding the "creedal" charge against the 2000 BF&M comes from elements besides the "criterion" statement, such as the newly inserted phrase claiming status as an "instrument of doctrinal accountability".
- It is an altogether different thing to manipulate and massage the truth through spin doctoring to justify your cause.
Some would suggest that the SBC has engaged in similar actions (examples include misleading statistics cited by NAMB President Hankins in a 2000 Executive Board publication and Baptist Press articles slanting moderate statements with partial quotations or paraphrases).
- I have watched, sometimes bemused and sometimes amused, for twenty-two years now as many of my Texas Baptist pastor friends have, with respect to the issues confronting our denomination, kept both feet firmly planted in mid-air. The days are drawing short for Texas Baptists who want to wear a Union blouse and Confederate pants on these issues. Sooner or later they are going to be shot from both sides.
Many Texas Baptists are disturbed by the politics and rhetoric on both sides of the controversy. These Baptists are here targeted by Allen (presumably in whatever color uniform he pictures his side to wear).
© 2001 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 24 June 2001.
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