I was browsing the net for dates on the liberal infiltration of the SBC and I came across a very interesting site called, “Essential Christianity: Contending Earnestly for the Faith.” This site can be accessed by clicking here.
It appears to be written by Rev. Keith Sherlin from South Carolina in the early 2000’s. In looking at his writings on the web site, Sherlin appears to be of the reformed way, not that this matters in a discussion of liberalism in the SBC; well maybe it does. I will at least be quoting someone who understands calvinists because apparently he is one.
He makes some very interesting comments.
In 1961 Broadman Press published a book, The Message of Genesis, whereby Dr. Ralph Elliot taught Adam and Eve were not historical people. Years later when asked about the trouble over this book he stated that while in training at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary the professors taught them how to use “doublespeak” when talking. In this way the people could get by with error by saying such things in one way whereby it covered up what they really meant and believed. This is how these pastors made it into the regular churches. You may have had a liberal pastor and never known it because they used language to cover up what they truly believed! YOU MAY EVEN STILL BE SITTING UNDER A LIBERAL PASTOR! You had better check because many were professionally trained in how to disguise their views! Personally, of all of the errors, this one makes me the most upset. These people intentionally lied to intentionally DECEIVE good people!
He further notes:
Dr. Paige Patterson noted in one of my seminary lectures that the real problem in the SBC life has been mainly two errors: (1) The liberals who did not have enough integrity to tell people what they truly believed, and (2) The conservatives who did not have enough courage to stand up and oust the liberals and do something about it when liberalism surfaced. I have a sneaky suspicion that this will remain the life long struggle in the SBC.
Again he writes,
In 1969 Dr. W.A. Criswell, famous pastor of a 28,000 member SBC church, First Baptist Dallas, wrote a book entitled “Why I Preach the Bible is Literally True.” He in this book exposed liberalism that was growing in all of the seminaries and schools and even by default in the churches. Professors from all of the seminaries, especially Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he had received his Ph.D in theology, criticized the book and said such a view was outdated and terribly uneducated for someone with a Doctoral degree from Southern Seminary. (Imagine that.)
Sherlin goes on…
President Randall Lolley (1974-1988), who presided over Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary that was founded by liberals, believed and taught that the biblical writers erred but did not do so intentionally.
In 1972, a Midwestern Baptist Seminary professor Temp Sparkman wrote a book Being a Disciple and advocated for a form of universalism (everyone is related to God or will be eventually).
In 1977 Glenn Hinson of Southern Seminary published a work on Jesus Christ. In this book he said the temptation experiences of Christ were myths and that Christ did not physically arise from the grave but only spiritually.
The Adult Sunday School Quarterly raised questions in 1979 about the authority of Scripture. It questioned if Daniel actually wrote the book of Daniel. Keep in mind that this material spread through many of the churches that used this material. Combine that with people coming into the church from liberal arts colleges and universities, some from Baptist, some from other liberal denominational schools, and then even some from secular state colleges and universities, and you can see how this ideology was welcomed and embraced by many in the pew. You may even be sitting next to a member of the church today who does not believe the Bible is perfectly true and authoritative because of these liberal influences over the years.
Wait… there is more.
In 1982, in response to the conservative resurgence that was being led by Dr. Paige Patterson and other men who loved the Bible and believed everyone should believe and submit to the authority of the Bible, Dr. Russell Dilday, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote a book that did not endorse inerrancy and it adopted the idea that only the concepts of the Bible were inspired, not the actual words themselves.
Finally note this criticism of the liberals
Liberals speak a lot about unity but never define unity around biblical truth. Unity to the liberal mind is void and absent of the Bible. It in essence means they want “freedom from” authority. This is the unified theme of the liberals, it is not unity around biblical truth.
WOW… just WOW is all I can say.
Included in this article are direct references to Broadman Press, The Sunday School Board, Southern Seminary and Southeastern Seminary and Midwestern. He does mention some of the other seminaries as well as a host of state supported colleges in his article. And what do you know… the liberals wanted “unity”. Looks like somebody must be reading from the Liberal playbook here.
What is really very sad is one can take this article and place calvinism where liberalism is and the article would accurately portray many of the criticisms being made against calvinism today and even much the same places! Simply amazing.