Vol. 3, No. 3     July 2000    Editor:  Bruce Prescott

Land Flirts With Unpardonable Sin

by Dr. Bruce Prescott

At the SBC meeting in Orlando, Dr. Charles Wade, Executive Director of the Texas Baptist Convention, made a motion to amend the proposed BFM revision by reinserting paragraphs from the prologue of the 1963 BFM that had been deleted from the 2000 BFM. Central to the deleted paragraphs is the affirmation that “The sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is Jesus Christ.”

Committee member Richard Land, Director of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, responded by saying, "All of us believe in the lordship of Jesus Christ. But we believe the only Jesus Christ we can know is the Jesus Christ revealed in Scripture. I fully believe that a demonic spirit could come and sit on the foot of my bed tonight and say, 'Richard, I am Jesus. I want to tell you everybody is going to heaven and you don't have to worry about it any more. But that would be wrong. ... Why? Because Scripture stands in judgment of my experience, not my experience in judgment of Scripture."

Dr. Land’s analogy is more than unfortunate, it flirts with the unpardonable sin. No Baptist that I know has ever had a vision of a demonic Jesus saying everyone is going to heaven. I do know some women whom I believe the Spirit of God has called to serve as senior pastors. To insinuate that those who believe God calls women to serve as pastors are listening to a “demonic spirit” is to risk speaking against the Holy Spirit. “Whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come.” (Matt. 12:32)

Dr. Land would be wise to read the book of Acts and pay attention to chapters 10 through 15. In the first century the great debate was whether Gentiles could have direct relationship with God without adhering to the letter of the law. “Certain ones of the sect of the Pharisees” said it was “necessary to circumcise them, and to direct them to observe the law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5) The early church did not conclude with Dr. Land that “Scripture stands in judgment of my experience." On the contrary, the early church considered experiential evidence of Holy Spirit as a witness from God Himself. Peter said, “God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us.”

The SBC should have followed the example of the early church and weighed the witness of the Holy Spirit to see whether God calls women to be pastors.

I agree with David Currie.  I too am glad that the 2000 BFM committee was not around in the first century.  If they had, everyone would think they have to convert to Judaism to be saved.



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