Messengers (delegates) to last summer’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) overwhelmingly approved a denominational peace plan. However, ongoing tensions between moderates and conservatives in the 14.6 million-member denomination are becoming increasingly evident.
New conservative majorities on committees and boards are having a dramatic impact on the denominational agencies they govern. Last month, the SBC’S Public Affairs Committee recommended severing 50-year-old ties between the denomination and the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs. And in Wake Forest, North Carolina, a volatile board of trustees meeting at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary resulted in the announced resignations of seminary president W. Randall Lolley and dean of faculty Morris Ashcraft.
Meeting last month for the first time with a conservative majority, the Southeastern Seminary board of trustees vowed that all new faculty members would be biblical inerrantists. Said Robert Crowley, the new board chairman: “We will hire faculty who believe that the Bible is without error. We’re now able to review people under consideration [for faculty appointments]—that’s brand new and our most significant action.”
Following the trustees’ meeting, Lolley announced his intention “to set into motion with the trustees the process of terminating” his presidency. Rod Byard, the seminary’s director of communications, said Lolley believes “his vision and the vision of the majority on the board of trustees are at variance with each other.” Under those circumstances, Byard said, Lolley felt he “could not fulfill his responsibilities as president.” ...1
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