September 6, 2000
In a move that may be unprecedented in American religious life, public media advertising is being used to challenge changes to the doctrinal statement of a major religious denomination.
Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists are sponsoring public forums in twenty-four Oklahoma cities between September 7th and September 21st. The forums will discuss the recent changes to the Baptist Faith and Message doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention. Among those changes was the exclusion of women from being pastors of Southern Baptist congregations.
In addition to newspaper advertisements, publicity for the forums includes four sixty second radio ads that will air numerous times in twenty four Oklahoma cities. All of the advertisements highlight concerns that Mainstream Baptists around the country have with the changes in Baptist doctrine that were approved when the Southern Baptist Convention met in Orlando last June.
One of the radio spots indicates that Baptists are elevating the Bible above Jesus. It says, “Things sure have gotten turned around in Southern Baptist life. It used to be that Baptists put Jesus above everything. Now they put the Bible above everything – even Jesus. It used to be that Baptists believed that Jesus was the supreme revelation of God. Now they say the Bible is the supreme revelation of God. It used to be that Baptists put their faith in Jesus and let the Bible be their guide. Now they put their faith in the Bible and are letting a new creed be their guide. How did Southern Baptists get so turned around?”
A second radio ad contends that Baptists are surrendering their freedom to interpret the Bible. It says, “There used to be a joke that whenever you put two Baptists together in a Bible study, you’d get three interpretations. Southern Baptists used to laugh at that joke. It poked fun at what we call ‘soul competency’ – the belief that every Baptist had the God-given privilege and the awesome responsibility to interpret the Bible for himself. Southern Baptists don’t laugh at jokes about ‘soul competency’ any more. Did you know that the newly revised Baptist Faith and Message makes Baptists accountable to each other’s interpretations of the Bible? How did you lose the freedom to read and interpret the Bible for yourself? Why did Baptists replace the direct guidance of the God’s Spirit with the fallible interpretations of men?”
A third radio spot asks Baptists why they are making themselves accountable to a creed rather than to Christ. It says, “Once there was a time when Southern Baptists were opposed to creeds. We used to say, ‘Our only creed is the Bible.’ Not any more. In June Southern Baptists turned what used to be a confession of faith into a binding creed. Did you know that the new Baptist Faith and Message explicitly says it is an ‘instrument of doctrinal accountability’? Who are you accountable to? How did Baptists become accountable to anyone but Christ?”
The fourth radio ad highlights a theme that was also emphasized in the Mainstream organization’s print advertisements. It asks Baptists why they are abandoning their history and principles saying, “Southern Baptists have certainly produced some outstanding leaders. Men like Herschel Hobbs who pastored First Baptist Church in Oklahoma City for years. But, lately it seems that Baptists have been led by a different breed of men. In June our new leaders led Southern Baptists to revise the confession of faith that was written under the leadership of Herschel Hobbs in 1963. Did you know that one of those new leaders defended the recent changes to the Baptist Faith and Message by saying that in 1963 Baptists were theologically naïve? Do you really believe that Herschel Hobbs and his committee were theologically naïve? Do you think that Baptists need to be ‘enlightened’ by people who repudiate our history and principles?”
The radio spots were voiced by Dr. Bruce Prescott, Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists. Dr. Prescott also hosts the “Religious Talk” radio talk show that airs on The Ref KREF 1400 am each Sunday from 8:00 until 9:00 AM.
Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists is part of the network of Mainstream Baptists that was formed in April. Sister organizations include Arkansas Baptists Committed, The Baptist Heritage Council of Georgia, Mainstream Louisiana Baptists, Mainstream Missouri Baptists, Mainstream Tennessee Baptists, Texas Baptists Committed, and Virginia Baptists Committed.
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