Oxford Baptist Underground

Originating From a Secret Bunker Dug By William Hosea Holcombe and J.B. Gambrell Somewhere Off the Square in Oxford, Mississippi

Tag Archives: Connect 316

The Whole Truth

At last year’s Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Eric Hankins spoke at the annual Connect 316 Banquet which was held in conjunction with the convention. See http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/loyal-opposition/.  While discussing Calvinism in general, Hankins at one point focused directly on Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Without any context, he told the audience that Mohler “said right to my face in front of a gathering in a lecture hall at Southern that he thought my soteriology was deficient.” At first blush, that sounds ominous.  But what Hankins did not convey is what Mohler said next. He [Mohler] explained,

“It is simply because I think my soteriology is ‘righter’ than yours, more correct, that’s why I hold to it. . . . I’m playing around just a little bit in order to say we have two people who disagree.  If you actually believe what you believe then you believe the point of disagreement is a deficiency in the other person’s thinking. In other words, you also believe that my soteriology is deficient.”

To which Hankins clearly responded, “Correct.”

So for the sake of full disclosure, Hankins likewise told the lecture hall at Southern that he thought Mohler’s soteriolgy was deficient.

Ergo, Mohler’s words take on a much more benign meaning in light of the full context.

To see the full Hankins/Mohler exchange, see  https://vimeo.com/78882127. The quotes above start at the 15:16 mark.

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Testing the Waters?

Back in November of 2016, Rick Patrick, executive director of a group called Connect 316, was allowed to speak in chapel at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Connect 316 is a group that has been promoting Eric Hankins’ Traditional Statement (hereafter called TS) within the Southern Baptist Convention since 2012. It is also important to note that Paige Patterson, the president of Southwestern, is one of less than .01% of all Southern Baptists who have actually signed on to the TS.

During Patrick’s talk, as you would expect, he promoted Connect 316 and by extension the TS (watch/listen here). He also attacked Calvinism, calling it a “Trojan horse.” Well okay. Southwestern is an institution of higher learning. In fairness, we would expect to hear from the other side, right?  No.  Instead, Dr. Patterson piled on with this:

“I know there are fair number of you who think you are a Calvinist, but understand there is a denomination which represents that view. It’s called Presbyterian.

“I have great respect for them. Many of them, the vast majority of them, are brothers in Christ, and I honor their position, but if I held that position I would become a Presbyterian. I would not remain a Baptist, because the Baptist position from the time of the Anabaptists, really from the time of the New Testament, is very different.”

After a firestorm ensued, Dr. Patterson kind of walked back his statement the next day. But this raises some serious questions. Here we have a man, Dr. Patterson, who was one of the main players, if not the main player, in the Conservative Resurgence back in the 1980s. This man knows how to play the political game (and yes it is definitely a political game) within the convention. Are we now supposed to believe that he naively invited Rick Patrick to Southwestern unaware of what was going to be said? Remember Dr. Patterson signed the TS. What was the motive for this chapel service?

A few years back, reputable people in the leadership of Louisiana College claimed that the TS was being pushed as the school’s doctrinal statement by none other than David Hankins, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention and Eric Hankins’ father. And Hankins might have been successful had it not been for all the other shenanigans going on at Louisiana College.  So for the moment, despite Hankins’ best efforts, the Baptist Faith and Message remains as Louisiana College’s official doctrinal statement.

But it makes one wonder, was this chapel service at Southwestern another testing of the waters to see if there is finally a climate to push something akin to the TS, but this time in Texas?  If so, I would guess the Connect 316ers are a little disappointed with the feedback.

P.S.  As an aside, for those who think they descend theologically from the Anabaptists, please understand there is a denomination which represents that view as well. It’s called the Mennonites.

Question: Who Hasn’t Signed the Traditional Statement? Answer: Almost All Southern Baptists

Despite having been circulated almost everywhere Southern Baptists congregate, the Traditional Statement certainly has not generated a groundswell of support.  As of today, May 3, 2014, signatures are still being solicited on the website Connect 316, yet the total number of signers is a meager 898.  If you believe there are 16 million Southern Baptists, that means over 99.99% have not signed the statement.  This in spite of the fact that supporters have been soliciting signatures for almost two years.

However, among the signers listed, a sizable number list Oxford, Mississippi as their hometown.  Yet all but one of those Oxford signers appear to come from four area churches – First Baptist, North Oxford Baptist, Yellow Leaf Baptist, and New Prospect Baptist.  Noticeably absent are names from the Anchor Baptist Church, which I believe is the largest Southern Baptist church in Lafayette County outside the Oxford city limits.  Their pastor, Gerald Shook, is the dean of Southern Baptist pastors in Lafayette County, having served there for over 30 years.  Why hasn’t he signed it? Surely he was/is aware of it.

I certainly don’t speak for Pastor Shook, but I’ve heard him preach on numerous occasions and strongly doubt he would be in agreement with the Traditional Statement, kind of like non-signer David Rogers (son of the legendary Adrian Rogers).  In fact, speaking of the Calvinist acronym TULIP, David Rogers has said:

I simultaneously affirm 4 1/2 points of TULIP and 3 1/2 points of the non-TULIP, all depending on which perspective you are looking at it from. I also read from and am edified by writers (and listen to speakers) from many different theological camps. I have been especially edified by some of the teaching from some of the Gospel Coalition folks. – See more at: Victims of Soteriological Dishonesty (comment section).

The point here is that whatever Southern Baptists believe, there is no evidence that any massive number adheres specifically to what’s contained in the Traditional Statement.  Rather, I suspect most have views that don’t correspond exactly to either the 5 points of Calvinism or the 10 Articles of the Traditional Statement but nevertheless fall neatly within the parameters of the Baptist Faith and Message.  At SBC Open Fourms, Ken Hammrick has posted a helpful chart showing this full spectrum of Southern Baptist soteriological views.  (By the way, I think this chart also shows why Calvinist-leaning Southern Baptists call their Traditionalist brothers Arminians, a label which the Traditionalists, of course, deny.)

Update:  As of April 18, 2015, the number of signatures stands at 973, which still means that 99.99% of Southern Baptists have not signed the Traditional Statement.

Another update:  As of February 28, 2018, the number of signatures is up to 1,311 – but that’s still less than .01% of all Southern Baptists.  If by collecting signatures Connect 316 is trying to prove that the Traditional Statement represents the views of most Southern Baptists (or even a large minority), the evidence simply is not there.