After quiet guerrilla skirmishes for almost three days, the Southern Baptist Convention made a frontal attack on an old foe during the last day of its annual meeting in St. Louis last month.
The enemy—as seen by 2,672 of the nearly 5,000 messengers (delegates) who voted on ths issue—is theological liberalism that is infecting the denominational Sunday School Board’s Bible commentary. The messengers asked the board to find a new writer for the Broadman commentary section on Genesis, asserting that it had failed to carry out the convention’s instructions of a year ago at the Denver meeting. Action then called for withdrawal of the controversial volume and its rewriting “with due consideration to the conservative viewpoint.”
The motion to fire the Genesis commentary writer, British scholar G. Henton Davies, drew great interest and sparked turgid debate, but even that was mild compared to verbal sniping over the matter at the 1970 convention.
The St. Louis gathering marked several firsts in Southern Baptist annals: Official youth participation at a convention (so successful that thirty minutes were allotted for a similar youth presentation next year), a resolution urging legal abortion in certain cases (see June 18 issue, page 30), grappling with the moral aspects of the Viet Nam war, and a new sally into the social-justice arena through a battery of resolutions covering judicial and prison reform, public funds and non-public schools, integration, anti-Semitism, and consumer rights (the latter was referred for further study).
The Broadman brouhaha stemmed from Davies’s interpretation of Genesis 22. The principal of Regent’s Park College in Oxford wrote in the now-banned commentary (black-market copies sell for at least $40, contraband ...1
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