Randall Lolley, former president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, was honored Feb. 1 at a breakfast co-sponsored by the Mainstream Baptist Network, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina, and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.
The recognition marked the 20th anniversary of Lolley’s decision to resign as president rather than carry out the agenda of fundamentalist-leaning trustees who gained a majority of the board in 1987.
David Key, director of the Baptist studies program at Candler, said Lolley had stood in the tradition of William Whitsett, who resigned as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1899, “over the heresy of Landmarkism.”
“Lolley resigned in the face of the heresy of fundamentalism,” Key said.
Larry Hovis, coordinator of CBFNC, gave Lolley much of the credit for sparking the moderate movement that took shape as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and created 16 new divinity schools, including four in North Carolina. He announced that CBFNC is creating a “Randall and Lou Lolley Fund for Theological Education” to assist students attending those schools.
Lolley, who was unable to attend, sent a statement expressing gratitude “beyond words” for the recognition “for those of us who did what any genuine Baptist would have done.”
The decision to resign rather than capitulate “was a no-brainer,” he said, “requiring no heroism at all.”