A friend of mine who has previously served as a field supervisor for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary students taking supervised ministry won’t be doing so any longer.
In recent years, Southeastern has asked field supervisors to agree that their work with students would remain within the parameters of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message Statement, though they were not required to affirm the statement for their own life and work.
That has changed.
At a recent orientation session, my friend was told that he not only had to agree to work within the guidelines of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message statement, but he had to sign an affirmation that he supported it.
But that’s not all. He would also have been required to sign a statement indicating his support for the Abstract of Principles, the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, and the “Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.” Think that’s narrow enough?
The Abstract of Principles has been around since 1859, when it was drawn up as a guide for faculty at the then-new Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Baptist Faith and Message statement, first adopted in 1925 in an effort to placate J. Frank Norris and other fundamentalists during the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, was revised in 1963 and 2000. The latest version weakens traditional Baptist principles such as the priesthood of the believer, and specifies that only men can serve as pastors, among other things.
The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy grew from a conference of 200 conservative Christian leaders in 1978, who claimed a need to reaffirm biblical inerrancy in the face of perceived liberalism. Not coincidentally, this was the same period in which fundamentalist Baptist leaders were gearing up to take control of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The “Danvers Statement” was adopted in 1987 by the “Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,” which consists largely of people with close connections to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It attempts a response to the perceived danger of “feminist egalitarianism” by affirming a belief that husbands should be the final authority in their homes (albeit humbly), and that wives should submit to their husbands.
I don’t suggest that the folks at Southeastern don’t have the right to draw their lines of participation as narrowly and fearfully as they want to. In doing so, however, they exclude a number of capable, qualified, experienced ministers from the program, to the great detriment of their students.
Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Contributing Editor and Curriculum Writer at Good Faith Media.