Southern Baptists break with global network
Citing "a continual leftward drift" in the Baptist World Alliance, the Southern Baptist Convention yesterday overwhelmingly voted to withdraw from the international group.

A Southern Baptist committee said the BWA had taken anti-American stances, had become tolerant of liberal theology, and had wrongly accepted the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, an American group that has been critical of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Those accusations are a mystery to BWA general secretary Denton Lotz. Yes, that's brother-in-law of popular Bible teacher Anne Graham Lotz, Billy's daughter.

"We certainly are not liberal," Lotz says. "We're all conservative evangelicals."

But Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a member of the committee recommending the split, pointed to Baptist World Alliance's inclusion of American Baptist Churches, and that denomination's recent accepting of the membership of Evergreen Baptist Association. That group has two churches that accept practicing homosexuals.

To Patterson, being a member of an organization that has links to such churches, no matter how far removed, is a form of infidelity to Scripture.

"We can no longer afford in this particular day, when the press for 'gay marriage' is on, to be in an alliance of any kind with denominations which support 'gay marriage' in any form or fashion," he said.

Lotz notes that the American Baptist Convention has "a statement that says that homosexuality is inconsistent with the Christian lifestyle."

ABC General Secretary Roy Medley called Patterson's comments "completely outrageous. … To characterize American Baptist Churches USA as being in favor of gay marriage goes beyond the pale. ...

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Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's editorial director. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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