February 15, 2012

Genuine Integrity Demands a Simple Admission

Dr. Jeff Straub’s recent article1 lauding the commendable actions of two SBC pastors demands a closer look. On the surface, the article praises two apparently conservative SBC pastors, one for his public stand against state-sponsored gambling, and the other for his refusal to cooperate on a speaking platform with T.D. Jakes. No right-thinking fundamentalist would argue against the positions taken by these men. Their actions were Biblically astute and on that basis are commendable.

What troubles this reader, however, is the nagging feeling that Jeff Straub was attempting to convey more than mere admiration for stands well taken. His not-so-subtle mention that both of these pastors are entrenched in the SBC appears to lend tacit approval to the denominational organization. While one can debate the merits and demerits of the SBC, even tacit approval of a denominational machine is a definite departure from the position of Central Seminary’s founder, Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters.

This writer’s purpose is neither to condemn the SBC nor to question the sincerity of the good pastors whom Straub applauds for taking courageous, Biblical stands. Rather, this author’s purpose is to point out the continuing drift of an institution whose founder came to militantly oppose the associational compromise entrenched in the major Baptist denominations, southern and northern alike. Dr. Clearwaters was not one to speak well of the “denominational machine,” and if he had any positive comments to make about its ministerial members, he would certainly have qualified his statements with a warning concerning ecumenism, compromise, and new evangelicalism. Dr. Clearwaters, as I recall, was fond of promoting fundamentalist heroes. He was not being needlessly divisive or exclusive in this; rather, he was being consistent with his convictions. And he was being honest with his constituency.

Which leads us to another, shall we say, “elephant in the room.” Even more troubling than the leftward drift of some bell-weather fundamentalist institutions is their continual denial that change is taking place. The attempt to hold onto the “old guard” (and their money) while making significant changes, and then denying them, is completely disingenuous. In addition, the ongoing blather about “authentic fundamentalism” rings particularly hollow from those who have turned sharply to the left, but pretend they are staying the course.
Genuine integrity demands a simple admission from institutional leadership that they are moving away from the separatist principles of their founders.
Of course, I could be wrong about Dr. Straub. Maybe he really could not, in his own thinking, name one laudable separatist action taken by his independent Baptist brethren, past or present. While his default choices for approbation were not inherently wrong, they certainly indicate a shift in direction away from the separatism of Central Seminary’s honorable founder, Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters, a man both honest with his constituency and authentic in his convictions.

Pastor Marc Monte
Faith Baptist Church, Avon

1) Two Men Worth Commending, In the Nick of Time blog, February 10, 2012.

Additional Articles by Pastor Monte:

Kevin Bauder: It Won’t Fly With Us Who Know

Muddying the Clearwaters
Preserving the Separatist Impulse, 2 Thess. 3:6-15

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