June 30, 2008

Less Money Less Ministry

Adrian Rogers developed his "Pickles Have Souls" concept early in his ministry. He graduated from Stetson University in Deland, Florida and continued on to New Orleans Theological Seminary where he earned a bachelor of theology degree in 1958. He returned to Florida to pastor and was not happy with the condition of his alma mater. He pushed for the state convention to drop it's support for the school and though the measure failed to get passed it spiraled Adrian into the ideal that if a school would not preach what he deemed important, Bible inerrancy and morality, then the school's support could be cut off if it did not comply.

Traditionally, Baptists expected seminary professors to expose their students to various theological viewpoints. Baptist teachers were viewed as facilitators who guided students as they studied the scriptures and conscientiously formed their own theological convictions. This approach was in harmony with the traditional Baptist understanding that every believer has the right and responsibility to interpret the scriptures under the direct illumination of the Holy Spirit. It also acknowledged that every believer is accountable directly to God for conscientiously interpreting scripture, forming convictions, and living by them.

The Patterson-Pressler coalition expects seminary professors to indoctrinate their students to a very narrow theological viewpoint. Adrian Rogers (the first SBC president elected by the Patterson– Pressler coalition) said, “If we say pickles have souls, they (seminary professors) better teach that pickles have souls.” Seminary teachers who refused to comply were fired, sought employment elsewhere, or took early retirement. Their replacements are indoctrinators who have usurped the place of the Holy Spirit and now presume to make Southern Baptists accountable for living according to the interpretations and convictions of the Patterson-Pressler coalition.

This discussion is not meant to argue for or against the conservative resurgence but to state that money can be a usurpation of the work of the Holy Spirit. The spiritual agenda of the church is driven by market forces and it should not be that way.

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