Monday, April 30, 2007

My Convention Service Debut

One of two things has happened: Either Dr. Frank Page has selected me to serve on this year's SBC Committee on Committees, or I have a long-lost brother named "Bert" whom I have somehow failed to meet in spite of attending the same church together! (find my misspelled name here) Bro. Benjamin S. Cole, known far and wide for his reluctance to put people on the spot, quizzed me about (among other things) whether I would make cessationism a "litmus test" for the exercise of my duties on the committee. I do have a litmus test, but cessationism is not it. I would be opposed to the deliberate stacking of convention entities with non-cessationists—our institutions ought not to depart from the beliefs of her people—but I do not find, for example, the situation on the SWBTS board (a tongues-speaking voice vastly overwhelmed by non-tongues-speaking voices) an unhealthy one. I am a supporter of the Conservative Resurgence. I favor the same litmus test that defines the Conservative Resurgence. Anecdotally, I have heard that a member of the SBC Executive Committee, when someone mentioned the Conservative Resurgence, replied with a bewildered look, "What's that?" I credit this person with the profound intelligence to know what he does not know. I periodically read things that make me wonder about whether a lot of people fail to grasp the nature of the Conservative Resurgence. The Southern Baptist people did not become more conservative during the Conservative Resurgence. I submit to you that the people of the Southern Baptist Convention have been conservative all along. The story of the SBC since Reconstruction has been one of periodic conflict between the consistently conservative Southern Baptist people and the increasingly non-conservative Southern Baptist employee pool. Yes, the SBC has had some liberal churches and some liberal members all along, but they have been a fringe element. The Toy controversy, the Evolution controversy (occurring around the time of the 1925 BF&M), the Elliott controversy, the Broadman Commentary controversy, and the Conservative Resurgence reveal a century-long pattern of aggressively-lefward-leaning denominational bureaucrats and educators being reigned in by a conservative Southern Baptist rank-and-file. Here's what happened in the Conservative Resurgence: the architects of the Resurgence asserted (successfully, as it turned out) a new standard for denominational leadership: No longer was it sufficient to be conservative personally; the people of the SBC required of their leadership that they be willing to fire other people who were not conservative. Thus, to say, "I support the Conservative Resurgence," is the equivalent of saying, "I think any non-conservative working for the SBC ought to work elsewhere for an institution that agrees with them, and I'm willing to fire them if necessary to make that happen." That is the heart of the Conservative Resurgence. I will concede that it is a harsh solution. Being fairly soft-hearted myself, I could not support it but for the fact that every other alternative was explored for a century, yet unsuccessfully. Diplomacy failed. It amounted to modernist SBC elites suffering through the occasional obligatory exercise of issuing empty "there, there"s in attempts to placate the conservative SBC plebians (in their view) while all continued as before. Another way to view the Conservative Resurgence litmus test is that Southern Baptists began to place into leadership only people who would not suffer such foolishness. As a genuine supporter of the Conservative Resurgence, I affirm the same litmus test.


gary ledbetter said...

Hey Bert,

That's my Ernie imatation. Anyway, your litmus test is a valid and fair one. My friend Mark Coppenger wrote a column once called "'Conserve' is a transitive verb," easily the best column with the word "verb" in the title I've ever read. His point is that to call oneself "conservative" without being willing to conserve something is less than honest. I've found that to be a very clarifying insight for SBC politics.


Steve Weaver said...

Thanks for serving! I'm glad you're on the committee!

Steve Young said...

I was just able to get some things put together and realized that we have met. My name is Stve Young and I pastor FBC in Waldron, AR. I have seen your name in several blogs, often times the only one holding up the same position I hold. (Hope you were easy on Warren Gasaway today.)

Anonymous said...

"I think any non-conservative working for the SBC ought to work elsewhere for an institution that agrees with them, and I'm willing to fire them if necessary to make that happen."

Wow. That seems like a very Christ-like attitude. ;)

A Simple Student @ SWBTS

Debbie said...

Bart said:The Southern Baptist people did not become more conservative during the Conservative Resurgence. I submit to you that the people of the Southern Baptist Convention have been conservative all along.

That's what we have been saying. I don't believe there is disagreement here, we are still conservative. But exclusion is leaning toward the Landmark view, a place that SB's should not be. WE cannot put all doctrine into a first priority mode. Also thank you for confirming that Wade Burleson is conservative. I appreciate that.

volfan007 said...

call you bubba,

i am so glad that you have this litmus test. it makes me feel better about our committees knowing that we have you and others like you watching out for the sbc. God bless you as you serve in this capacity.


volfan007 said...

i dont know what happened to my greeting, but only half of it went thru......oh well, what i said was...

bert, or bart, or why dont we just call you bubba,


Bart Barber said...

Gary, Steve Weaver, and David,

Thanks for the affirmation, gentlemen.

Bart Barber said...

Steve Young,

I recall the day well, recall our brief visit, and am honored to have you as an occasional visitor.

Warren got off easy today, but wait until next week—that's when the final is.


Bart Barber said...

SWBTS student,

Describe for me a situation in which you would think it Christlike to fire anyone.

Bart Barber said...


Every religious denomination on the planet excludes someone. Exclusion is merely a negative disparagement for the positive concept of defining what your group believes and stands for. I think you'll find it tough to tie that particularly to Landmarkism.

Les Puryear said...


May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you serve on this most important committee. I'll be praying for you.



Debbie said...

Bart, Bart, my friend, we have had this conversation enough for you to understand what I am referring to. I am really trying hard not to take up a lot of space on your blog. I could give explicit examples if asked but believe I do not have to. Surely you are not saying that others do it, so it's ok.

Debbie said...

By the way, I read your white paper and saw your first name is Christopher. Another little known fact at least by me.

Colin said...


This furthers the proof of Dr. Page's wisdom. I hope this debut is just the beginning.


Anonymous said...

There are many reasons why a person could and should be fired.

However, the point that I am making is that the ATTITUDE present in what you are saying is one that I cannot support.

For me being conservative does require "being willing to conserve something" (thnks G.L.), however, this does not give me the right or onus to do something towards someone else that is not right.

A Simple Student @ SWBTS

P.S. By the way, congratulations on your appointment. Having read your blog for a few months now, I know that you are a very thoughtful person. May God continue to give you wisdom in this new role.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Bert,

Just when I finally know someone important, I move to a non-SBC church. Aw, man! This would have been my big chance to become a big shot!

I'm glad to hear you're on that committee, and I am certain you will do great in the wisdom and power of the Lord.

Love in Christ,


Marty said...


We got TWO bloggers on committees. Yeah!

Ain't I bein' nice?

selahV said...

Bart: I like your litmus test. thanks for serving. selahV

kws said...


Congratulations on your appointment. I have never been more pleased to be from LCA:) Sorry you missed dinner Monday night, but your appointment was a topic of conversation. I know you will have many people giving you advice, but stick with your convictions.

Is Congregational polity part of your litmus test? NUK,NUK,NUK