Fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell has entered the theological controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention, urging the denomination to sever ties with universities he considers liberal. Falwell’s comments, in an interview with editors of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, drew immediate criticism from several Southern Baptist leaders, including James T. Draper of Euless, Texas, the president of the convention. Although Falwell is a Baptist and lives in the South, he is not a Southern Baptist. His Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, is an independent congregation.
Liberalism in the Southern Baptist Convention has become one of the fundamentalist leader’s latest targets. The February issue of his Fundamentalist Journal contains several articles on the subject, including one, “Liberalism Brews Within the Southern Baptist Convention,” by William A. Powell, Sr., editor of the independent Southern Baptist Journal, which has publicized any sign of liberal teaching in the denomination’s seminaries for the past decade.
In his interview with the Fort Worth newspaper, Falwell said he felt churches “ought to dissolve connections with those schools that no longer support them theologically.” He singled out Baylor University in Waco, Texas, as one school that should no longer get Southern Baptist support. With regard to the denomination’s six seminaries, Falwell said “hard-handed” actions should be taken to remove liberal influences from them.
In response to Mr. Falwell’s comments, Draper said, “I think it was a generalization, and any generalization goes too far. In every school we have some very fine conservative teachers. We have some at Baylor and we have others there that aren’t as conservative as we would like them ...1
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