Should a Baptist University President be an Orthodox Christian?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rev. G, May 22, 2003.

  1. Rev. G

    Rev. G
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    This question is in relation to another thread that got sidetracked. It has to do with Kirby Godsey, president of Mercer University in GA. David Cooke wrote:

    In his book When We Talk About God, Let's Be Honest, Godsey declares the following:

    Christians seem to become remarkably troubled about whether Jesus is humankind's only savior. Is Jesus God's only word? The simple answer is "Of course not." But beyond a simple answer, the issue is largely a mistaken one. There are no right answers to wrong questions....For me as a Christian, Jesus is the defining revelation. This confession that lies at the center of my faith does not require an exclusivist position whereby I should feel compelled to deny every other person's claim to know God. I can say only that, for me, Jesus is the central event of history. I cannot speak for another (p. 133; cf. p. 119).

    So, Godsey denies the exclusivity of Christ as God's saving revelation. He also denies the full deity of the Lord Jesus:


    The deity of Christ can never be more than a confession of faith, and it shall never be less (p. 121).


    If these things don't bother you (HOW COULD THEY NOT?), then consider Godsey's advocating universalism:

    Jesus did not come to tell us how to be saved. Jesus came to tell us that we are saved (p. 144).

    Jesus came to say that we are saved. We are forgiven. God's forgiveness lies within us. We are loved. God's embracing love lies buried within us underneath a load of guilt and fear. No conditions, no prerequisites, no plans to follow--grace is not a conditional affirmation (p. 145).

    God's word of grace is that we are free. The announcement comes. Jesus himself is the announcement. Everyone who has lived in this awful state of being trapped has been set free (p. 155).

    Universalism has a very high view of God. God's grace and God's love are the ultimate realities revealed in Jesus (p. 202).

    We are like the wandering Israelites [who "longed for a golden calf that they could cherish"]. Jesus is our word. Like Israel, our first temptation is to make Jesus into an icon of devotion. We want to see God, touch God, clutch God, and make sure that God belongs to us. So, we make Jesus into an object of worship. Let us not make Jesus into a magic fetish. Jesus is God's speaking to us. Jesus is not God. Jesus is the Word of God. Jesus is the speaking of God (p. 128).


    He denies the omnipotence of God. If God is not omnipotent, then how can He be God?

    The notion that God is the all powerful, the high and mighty principal of heaven and earth should be laid aside....God does not abolish evil and suffering because God cannot abolish evil and suffering [think of what this does to our hope of heaven!]. "Cannot" may seem like a difficult word to use when we speak about God, but it is a word that we must have the courage to say if we speak honestly about God's suffering (p. 99).


    ________________________________________________

    So, my question for discussion is this - Should a Baptist University President be an Orthodox Christian?

    By the way, David, my God is bigger than any "fence" I could construct, but Godsey's god isn't - his god isn't even omnipotent.

    "Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work."
    - 2 John 9-11
     
  2. Dr. Bob

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    I would question the eternal salvation of a person who holds the views you've given. He has created God in his own postmodern image.

    Very sad. Not unexpected, but very, very sad. :(
     
  3. Hardsheller

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    Mercer U. would get no money from me If I lived in Ga.

    Kirby Godsey is an example of what happened in the SBC Convention. Men like him caused the Conservative Resurgence.
     
  4. Johnv

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    Something ain't right. Is there any possibility these are taken out of context? The only reason I ask is because I've seen sooo many example sof writing of other folks that have been taken out of context, that it begs me to ask the same in this case.
     
  5. Rev. G

    Rev. G
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    Johnv:

    Well, go pick up a copy of his book and find out for yourself. You will find out, nonetheless, that he did in fact state these things.
     
  6. Major B

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    The Mercer University case is is a long-standing and well-known case among SBC folks, John. The simple answer is that Christian colleges go one of two ways. If there is an iron-clad doctrinal document that cannot be seriously altered or abolished, the school will tend to be faithful longer, or it will have a chance at being recovered. The best example of this is the recovery of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. Having started as a very conservative school, succeeding generations saw a gradual doctrinal slide that resulted in the school being known as full of infidelity by the 1980s. As a result of the conservative reform movement within the SBC, a conservative university president was elected in 1993. But, how was he to get rid of liberal tenured professors? Well, the professors at Southern had long been required to annually sign the Abstract of Principles, a conservative doctrinal statement, and the liberal professors had done so. Since the same liberal professors had published numerous writings that contradicted the doctrine they claimed to believe in, it was possible to eliminate these dishonest men and replace them with Godly conservative professors.

    However, if doctrinal fidelity is not insured, "academic freedom" will result in a gradual destruction of the ideological base of any school. Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Temple, and many more, were all founded by evangelical or fundamentalist groups for the education of men of God. Today, these schools are the leading "lights" of the satanic darkness of this world.
     
  7. NarrowWay

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    Rev. G,

    The question is just what constitutes an orthodox Baptist. I've been a Baptist my whole life and I've always understood that the doctrines of soul freedom and Priesthood of the Believer were (and still are) integral to the Baptist faith. Yet it seems that recently these cherished ideals are being trampled by those in power in the SBS.

    Do you believe in these concepts? That being said, I do think that there is a line that needs to be drawn for the leadership of Baptist Seminaries and Colleges. Certainly we would require them to accept the fact that Christ died for them and that the only way to salvation is through Him. We would want him to support missions especially looking at opportunities within his own institution (Baptist Student Union, etc.). Probably it needs to be decided that the President of a Baptist school needs to be held to a higher standard just as ministers and teachers are. To my knowledge that standard hasn't been defined and these situations are being handled on an ad hoc basis.
     
  8. Jim1999

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    "soul freedom and the priesthood of all believers" is not a stand alone doctrine. It is integrally linked with certain fundamentals of faith and understanding of God's word. They are never quoted alone, but always coupled with the eternality of God's word, the means of salvation and the essence of God and His eternal attributes.

    The priesthood of believers and the right to interpret the word of God as we are led by the Holy Spirit simply assures our freedom to access God aside from the assistance of another man or person, and interpretative liberty is just that, we have the right to interpret God's word, providing we use the proper means of understanding; the basic principles of hermeneutics.

    When a person slides away from the basic Baptist distinctives, they essentially cease to be Baptist.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  9. Dr. Bob

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    Well said, Jim, well said. That is the missing ingredient for folks who claim soul liberty as a mantra for heterodoxy. Thanks!
     
  10. Major B

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    From the earliest beginnings of what became "baptist" churches, several things have been standard; one of them is that baptists have always had doctrinal statements. I have several books full of them, most particularly "Baptist Confessions of Faith," by Lumpkin (Judson Press, 1959, revised 1969). This book contains 436 pages of historical Baptist confessions. To say we are not creedal is ridiculous. Soul competency does not mean we have no standards of belief.
     
  11. baptistteacher

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    Amen, Bro. Jim!
    And Dr. Bob, and Major B!

    While the Priesthood of the Believer / Soul Liberty is one of the Baptist Distinctives, it is only one of them, and this alone does not a Baptist make. They are a unified set, not a pick-and-choose. They are called "Baptist Distinctives" for a reason - they help to define what it means to be a Baptist.

    A Christian has soul-liberty, and may choose beliefs others than those which characterize the Baptists.

    They should then do what is right, and use another name than Baptist, one which describes/aligns with their beliefs.
     
  12. Rev. G

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    1) The original question had to do with whether or not one was an ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN, not an "orthodox Baptist." An orthodox Christian affirms the full deity / full humanity of the Lord Jesus, believes in the exclusivity of the Lrod Jesus as Savior, etc.

    2) The doctrine of "soul freedom," also known as "soul competency," originated with Mullins. Prior to Mullins you don't read of this doctrine.

    3) "Priesthood of the Believer" is NOT the actual orthodox Protestant doctrine. It is actually the doctrine of the priesthood of believerS (note plurality). The first to really advocate this doctrine in a defined manner was Luther. This doctrine, historically (until recently, anyway) has never meant that an individual could "just believe anything," or that there are no parameters for Christian doctrine. Nonetheless, this is a Protestant tenet, not a uniquely Baptist one.

    4) What has distinguished Baptists from other Protestants / Evangelicals? What makes us unique? Is it the priesthood of believers? No. It is our view of the sacred ordinances, baptism in particular, and of church polity.
     
  13. NarrowWay

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    So exactly what constitutes an "orthodox Baptist?"
     
  14. NarrowWay

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    The meaning of the doctrine was "Priesthood of the Believer (note the singular). I'll have to look up the original statement but if one talks about the plural form you're actually saying the same thing except that it pertains, individually, to each one of all believers. Priesthood of believers as a group doesn't fit with the Baptist concept of the term. I would take that to mean that the body of believers, whether it be a local church, a local association, a convention, etc. stands between the individual and God therefore performing collectively the same function as the priest in a Roman Catholic Church, exactly what this belief stands against.
     
  15. Major B

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    Whether you go singular or plural, the priesthood of the believer(s) was NEVER intended to allow "anything goes" theology. All of the reformers, including the early baptistic groups, wrote and published doctrinal statements to distinguish themselves fromt the truly heretical groups such as the Socinians. The doctrine of the priesthood of the believer, in its original form, must be seen in the light of the sacerdotal system of Rome; under the Roman church, the believer had to approach God through human mediators, where the priesthood of the believer sees Christ as the only mediator between God and men (1 Tim 2:5), and He is our high priest (Heb 4:14-16, etc.), and that we are a priesthood collectively (1 Pet 2:9) and priests individually (Rev 1:6, 5:10).

    However, none of that means that we have the liberty to chart our own course doctrinally. The sciptures themselves contain several partial doctrinal statements (e.g. 1 Cor 15:1-11), as well as numerous anathemas and warnings against false teachers (1 John 4:1-6, 2:18-23, 2 John 7-11, Gal 1:6-9, Titus 1:9-11, etc.). Indeed it was the "apostle of love" who prefaced his teaching on love with the following anathemas:

    1 John 2:18-23 "Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also."

    1 John 4:1-6 "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. 6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error."


    The central focus of this string was, from the beginning whether or not a president of a Baptist institution could teach doctrines that would have earned him anathemas from the apostles and still properly do his job. I think the answer is obvious.

    As for the perverse teaching of "soul competency," (and its present form is degenerate even when compared to the off-center ideas of Mullins), no member of a church or of an association or convention of churches should be allowed to publicly publish and teach doctrines that are destructive and false. And, anyone in leadership who teaches heresies such as these should be ashamed to continue to claim to represent the group of which he or she is a part.

    2 Pet 2:1-2 "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed."
     
  16. NarrowWay

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    Your little singular/plural thing was just a dodge, correct? Certainly, I'd acknowledge that there are a core set of beliefs that all christians hold. I didn't intend to say that this persept allowed for blatently non-christian beliefs. I'm sorry if I confused you. Beyond these core beliefs, which I think we would all agree upon, there are other areas of the scripture that each individual has the right and responsibility to interpret for themselves. That's the point I was trying to make.
     
  17. Major B

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    Actually, there seemed to be some question about the singular/plural thing among some posters here....

    It is true that there are some things about which we may allowably disagree, and none of them are with reference to doctrine or religious practice.

    Rom 14:1-3 "Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him." (see also 1 Cor 8)

    The doubtful things have to do with dietary laws and holy days, not with doctrine, religious practice, or major lifestyle choices.
     
  18. NarrowWay

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    Major,

    I'm not certain that there isn't disagreement about doctrine or religious practice. I suppose it depends on who "we" constitutes. For instance, there's a major disagreement among Baptists today about Calvinism. My personal view is that both sides are partially correct since both are supported by scripture. BTW, I still don't understand how Priesthood of Believers (collectively) can be justified.
     
  19. Major B

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    In 1 Pet 2:9, "you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation..." , "...you..." is humeis, which is a second person plural pronoun.
     
  20. NarrowWay

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    I agree with the author of this statement. What do you find so perverse about soul competency?

    Soul competency and the priesthood of all believers are two separate things, but in Baptist history, they are twins. When Baptists speak of the competency of the soul, they are referring to the belief that when it comes to our relationship with God, all are competent to make their own decisions without interference from someone else. Spiritual decisions cannot be delegated to someone else or passed on to someone else through the genes.

    Along with soul competency, Baptists have also stood for the priesthood of every believer. When in the gospel of Matthew the crucifixion is described and we are told that at that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51), Baptists have taken that symbolism to mean that there is no longer a need for a high priest who alone can enter the holy of holies. Every believer is to be a priest with equal access to the presence of God.
     

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