The uproar began over a message delivered by Dr. Dan Sweatt at the FBFI South Regional Fellowship in April. You can read details in my previous article, The IFB & Calvinism: Flashpoint!
First at the height of, and then later as the uproar over Sweatt’s message began to subside, two articles were published by Dr. Kevin Bauder (President, Central Baptist Theological Seminary). Both were posted at the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron blog. In order they were: Time to Speak Up & Nuff Said
Both articles contain remarks that many believe to be ill-timed, inflammatory criticisms of several historic Independent Fundamental Baptist preachers. In Time to Speak Up, Dr. Bob Jones. Jr. (among others) was targeted by Bauder.
Dr. John R. Rice was singled out for expanded criticism in Bauder’s second article.
In his Nuff Said article Bauder raised the issue of calls for his removal from the platform of the FBFI this summer. Dr. Bauder wrote,
“Fundamentalism is still home to quite a few people who were willing to burn incense to the emperors. Those people are very unhappy with the way things are going at the moment. They would like to see the FBFI leadership denounce me and a few others in no uncertain terms. Some would like me to be removed from the platform of the FBFI this summer. They have communicated their wishes to the leaders of the FBFI.”
I do not know which men Bauder had in mind above, but I am adding my name to the men who he states have been encouraging the FBFI leadership to excuse him from speaking at the upcoming FBFI 89th Annual Fellowship.
Through the two articles Bauder, of his own volition, made himself a lighting rod for controversy in the IFB community. He has become no less controversial than Dr. Sweatt from the other end of the controversy.
What are some reasons why Dr. Bauder should not be a featured speaker at the FBFI annual fellowship? Depending on whom you ask, those reasons might include, but not be limited to:
1) His rhetoric about Dr. Bob Jones Jr. has never been retracted. Dr. Bob Jr. was a big part of the FBF in yesteryear. Should an FBFI speaker be allowed to publicly (as one man noted to me) “throw Dr. Jones under the bus and nothing be done about it?” What message is sent when an open attack against Dr. Bob Jones is tolerated with no response or consequences whatsoever?
2) His comments about Dr. Rice were highly inflammatory as Missionary **John Himes expressed in the closed thread at the conservative evangelicalism Sharper Iron site. For example Himes wrote,
“Again, I am very disappointed at the language Bauder uses against his fellow fundamentalists, evidently chiefly against Rice: ‘pugilistic and bellicose,’ ‘alpha males,’ ‘the big boys,’ ‘bullies,’ ‘chieftains,’ etc. Is this the kind of language a fundamentalist leader should use?”Can anyone explain how Bauder’s remarks contribute to healing the rift in the IFB community and promotes reconciliation and growth? How are men edified when in Bauder’s last two articles we are treated to harsh criticisms of men who were Fundamentalist leaders in their generation? In the brochure for FBFI annual fellowship there are no message titles noted for each of the keynote speakers. What guarantees do we have that Bauder will refrain from a continuation these critical themes during his Wednesday morning address to the annual fellowship attendees?
The difference before us is that Sweatt’s message in April apparently took the FBFI membership by complete surprise. The reaction, however, was swift from the offended parties and the FBFI responded in an appropriate official manner. With Dr. Bauder, however, he has prior to the annual fellowship given a public offense and refuses to publicly discuss or retract his statements. Instead of being a calming influence Bauder reignited passions with stinging criticism and incendiary remarks in regard to men from our Fundamentalist heritage. In light of those remarks why should men not be just as troubled with Bauder retaining a platform presence at the annual fellowship as men who were offended by Dr. Sweatt’s remarks would be if he (Sweatt) were seated there as well?
With an opportunity before him to promote unity, healing and reconciliation in the IFB community Dr. Bauder chose to pursue a different tact. Instead he further polarized factions, alienated many and fueled further division among men in and around the FBFI. I can’t imagine a more unnecessary, unwise and ill-timed moment as this juncture in the chain of events for Bauder to publish sharp criticism of widely respected men from our own IFB heritage.
The FBFI’s official response Speak the Truth in Love to the tumultuous discussion and disagreement that followed the message by Dr. Sweatt included the following statement,
“We must honor our biblical responsibility to use speech that edifies and displays Christ-like love. We must demonstrate an unwavering commitment to humble integrity. Caricatures and personal attacks do not honor the Lord or advance His work. Neither pulpit nor keyboard exempt us from these biblical obligations.”Dr. Bauder’s criticisms of Dr. Jones and Dr. Rice was not speech that edifies. It was not a display of Christ-like love. Bauder’s tone was not the sound of humble integrity. The caricatures of Jones and Rice, while barely skirting personal attacks, certainly did not honor the Lord or those men. It is irrefutable that the speech with which Dr. Bauder described Drs. Jones and Rice is antithetical to what the FBFI leadership called for.
How does Kevin Bauder’s rhetoric about Fundamentalists of yesteryear serve in the best interest of the FBFI and a potential healing of the widening fracture in the broader IFB community?
Kevin Bauder’s recent actions justify calls for his being relieved from any speaking assignments at this year’s FBFI annual fellowship. That action will be a strong signal to any man, regardless of stature and/or theological pedigree, that there will be no tolerance for any man who intends to follow Bauder’s example and tone, which at present is contributing to the polarization of the IFB community.
Unless Dr. Bauder retracts his inflammatory rhetoric in regard to Dr. Bob Jones, Jr. and Dr. John R. Rice, men are justified in calling on the FBFI leadership to remove him from the platform for the upcoming annual fellowship. To reiterate from above: In light of Dr. Bauder’s Time to Speak Up and Nuff Said men are completely justified to be just as disturbed by his being given a platform presence at the FBFI annual fellowship as men who object to Dr. Sweatt’s remarks at the FBFI South Regional Fellowship would be if Dr. Sweatt were to be featured.
In the best interest of balance and encouraging all FBFI members toward, “speech that edifies” and “an unwavering commitment to humble integrity” I am joining other men in calling on the FBFI leadership to prayerfully consider removing Dr. Kevin Bauder from the platform for the upcoming annual fellowship.
UPDATE: Kevin Bauder has (incredibly) fanned the flames and accelerated the controversy by publishing yet another article at his own site, which SI has also republished and enthusiastically supports. Over the weekend I may be posting details in the thread of this article.
Please continue to- Kevin Bauder: Even More Than “Nuff Said” For His Removal From the National Platform of the FBFI Annual Fellowship
**Brother Himes is the grandson of Dr. John R. Rice.
NOTE: For more commentary on this subject, see the Appendix entry that appears at the beginning of this thread.
I was at the FBFI Annual Fellowship in 2009. During the Q&A Symposium fears that Kevin Bauder might once again launch another unprovoked attack against historic Fundamentalism were realized.
Toward the end of the Q&A Bauder dodged a direct question put to him by symposium moderator Dr. John Dr. Vaughn about the conservative evangelicals, which was the subject of the Q&A. His dodge extended to an open attempt to besmirch Bob Jones University for its having hosted various candidates for political office.
Bauder just could not let his three previous attacks on the legacy of Dr. Bob Jones, Jr. and John R. Rice be “Nuff said.”
The irony is that current BJU president Stephen Jones was ill and, therefore, could not appear in the Symposium as scheduled. So, Bauder lowered the crosshairs on the most recognized personality from BJU that was available to him on the panel: Dr Mark Minnick.
Dr. Minnick was obviously uncomfortable with Bauder ambushing him with criticism of BJU administration decisions and calling on him to explain it. Dr. Minnick graciously tried to leave the discussion for the BJU administration to answer since he (Minnick) it not a BJU administrator and cannot speak for the administration, but Bauder kept up the pressure.
IMO Bauder, with that final performance, gave all the reason necessary to ensure he should never again be given a platform presence at an FBFI sponsored event.