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

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 July 9, 2016, the Connect 316 link above now says “The requested page cannot be found.”  Although the exact reason for its removal is unknown, it would be fair to conclude, based on the paltry number of signers, that the site failed miserably in its intent.  It in no way demonstrated that a majority or even a large minority of Southern Baptists agreed with the Traditional Statement in toto.