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Southern Baptist Woes

By Wayne Jackson

religion, articles, christianity

There is a huge controversy stirring amongst the Southern Baptists these days. They have a maverick who is giving them a good deal of trouble. His name is R. Kirby Godsey. Godsey is the president of one of the Southern Baptist Church's largest colleges, Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. The professor has written a book titled: When We Talk About God ... Let's Be Honest. Therein he raises the issue: Was Jesus God? He answers it in the negative. He says that Jesus was neither a divine being nor was he a prophet. He argues that Christ came to point men toward God, but that he himself was not deity. He says the Christian faith is about "following Jesus," but "not worshiping him."

All of these notions, of course, flatly contradict the Bible. But what does Godsey care? He declares that the Bible is not an infallible book, God is not omnipotent, the doctrine of the "Trinity" is false, etc.

As suggested above, this has caused quite a maelstrom among Baptists. According to a recent article in The Nashville Tennessean (December, 25, 1996), Godsey has been chastised by Georgia Baptist officials. Many Baptist ministers have written letters castigating him for his false views, and, last September, Godsey's book was pulled from the shelves of all sixty-three Baptist book Stores.

Now the curious thing about all of that is this: none of these Baptist clergymen believes that Godsey can be lost for advocating these heretical notions. He can't get vile enough to "fall from grace." Charles Stanley, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, has argued that a child of God can completely abandon his faith (as Godsey has done), and still, he cannot lose his salvation (Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure?, Chapter 10). An apostate Baptist can get so rotten that his book is banned from Baptist book stores, but he won't be banned from heaven! If that isn't a fine mess. Apparently, according to this dogma, the Lord has lower standards than members of the Southern Baptist fellowship. Something is dreadfully wrong with the doctrine of once­saved, always­saved.

(Editor's note: Amen, brother Jackson, Amen. My question is: Do we have the same flaw in the brotherhood? There are those among "us" who say that because of grace we do not have to obey all of God's commands, and, besides, if we disobey, there is automatic, unconditional forgiveness. This boils down to once saved always saved - H. A. (Buster) Dobbs .)


Published April 1997