Editorial: Understanding the Controversy -- By: Thomas R. Schreiner

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 07:1 (Spring 2003)
Article: Editorial: Understanding the Controversy
Author: Thomas R. Schreiner

Editorial: Understanding the Controversy

Thomas R. Schreiner

Thomas R. Schreiner is a professor of New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has also taught New Testament at Azusa Pacific University and Bethel Theological Seminary. He is the author of Romans in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament and co-author of The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance. His most recent book is Paul, the Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology. In addition, he is serving as the preaching pastor of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Barry Hankins’s fascinating Uneasy in Babylon explores the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. In this issue of the journal we interact both narrowly and broadly with Hankins’s work. Russell Moore both praises and criticizes the thesis advanced by Hankins. Moore maintains that devotion to the scriptures and the theology explicated therein explains the reaction of conservatives to moderates. Southern Baptists were not attempting to preserve a culture that was passing away but were contending for the faith handed over once for all to the saints (Jude 3). Greg Wills looks further back, examining what was happening in Southern Baptist seminaries, particularly Southern Seminary, in the last fifty years. He demonstrates that theological defection was not merely a problem in the: 70s, 80s, and 90s. The seminaries were bleeding significantly even in the 50s and 60s. The controversy that erupted in the 70s was brewing for some time before everything came to the surface. R. Albert Mohler, like Russell Moore, traces the history of the Southern Baptist controversy, setting it against the backdrop of American culture and the continuing shift toward liberalism in American churches. He reminds us afresh that the battle turned on the issue of faithfulness to the gospel.

Since this issue of the journal is devoted to the controversy among Southern Baptists, which has been brought to our attention once again by Barry Hankins, we extended an invitation to Dr. Hankins to write a response to the articles by Drs. Moore, Wills, and Mohler. Hankins naturally devotes his response especially to Moore since the latter’s article is a direct response to Hankins’s book. Hankins argues that Moore misunderstands his thesis, for, according to Hankins, culture and theology were inseparable in the recent controversy. He was not, Hankins claims, attempting to pit one over the other, nor to exalt one over the other. It is not the place here to enter into the debate in detail. We are grateful that Hankins so kindly agreed to contribute to our journal and join the discussion. He rightly points out that many of the theolog...

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