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Fundamentalists vs. Moderates: the unsuccessful battle continues

Nov. 21, 1997

Fundamentalists vs. Moderates; the unsuccessful battle continues

'Liberals today call themselves moderate. A skunk by any other name still stinks.'

And so are the words of Dr. W.A. Criswell. The former pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas leaves no question of his affiliation.

He is a fundamentalist, plain and simple. What's scarier than that? He's proud of it.

Then there's Dr. Charles Wade, former president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

'Southern Baptist leaders will have our support if they will focus on missions and evangelism ... but they will drive more and more Texas Baptists away if they focus on requiring conformity as a condition of cooperation,' Wade said in his presidential address earlier this month at the BGCT's annual meeting.

He's a moderate, plain and simple. What's scarier than that? He's proud of it.

These two men are leaders in their camps. Whichever camp we're in, we do this. We become so proud of identifying ourselves with fundamentalists or moderates we forget our true purpose.

We're so concerned about who is right, about who is a true Baptist and about the internal strife, that we forget one of the main purposes of a Christian of any denomination. Evangelism has gone by the wayside as Baptists nationally and statewide look to blame others and point fingers.

Moderates blame fundamentalists for the decline of mission work in the Southern Baptist Convention. Fundamentalists blame moderates for wanting women in the ministry.

Moderates embrace more of the 'you-do-it-your-way; I'll-do-it-mine' approach. Fundamentalists are notorious for the 'my-way-or-the-highway' approach.

And once again, Criswell says it best.

'Like sin and the devil, we shall have the so-called moderates among us. I am praying that as time goes on, our fundamental, Bible-believing people will become so numerous and so dedicated until the voices of the moderates subside into an indistinguishable whisper.'

No one is right in this argument. It's not who's closer to God and who's not. Certainly, as Baptists, we've turned it into that. We've made it a race with a winner and a loser.

But God isn't a fundamentalist. He isn't a moderate either.

Instead, he is the God of the billions of people who are dying as we stand by and try to decide if God is a fundamentalist or moderate.

And that's it. Plain and simple.

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