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Thursday
Jun262014

Conservative heritage

I was pleased to attend the recent SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) Annual Meeting in Baltimore. There were many encouraging reports, and President Fred Luter led the meeting with integrity and fairness. There were a couple of areas of concern. We were shown statistics demonstrating a 30-year decline in baptisms and other critical areas in our convention. I heard several men on the podium speak of a past conservative resurgence and return to inerrancy. 

I am thankful as an Arkansas Baptist we had no need for a conservative theological resurgence and we have always supported inerrancy. The same is true of the Foreign Mission Board (FMB) – now the International Mission Board (IMB) – where I served from 1978 to 2009. Our mission leaders and missionaries were theologically conservative and worthy of the support of our convention. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of many of the IMB trustees appointed by the leaders of the conservative political resurgence. I attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the 1970s and 1980s under presidents (Robert E.) Naylor and (Russell H.) Dilday, when it was our largest seminary and was also solidly conservative theologically in the finest tradition of our convention.  

It may be that these men making reports or those they associated with or their schools were not theologically conservative and opposed inerrancy since they refer to that situation so often. If so, I only wish they could have been Arkansas Baptists or have attended Southwestern when I did or been associated the FMB/IMB and our missionaries. The 30-year decline in our convention seems to coincide almost exactly with their rise to power. I am glad to see signs of a return to our conservative theological foundation under the recent leadership or past SBC President Fred Luter and pray it continues under Ronnie Floyd. 

Ron West
Little Rock

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