Mainstream leader sends 'straightforward' letter to N.C. Baptists
February 15 2002 by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor

Mainstream leader sends 'straightforward' letter to N.C. Baptists | Friday, Feb. 15, 2002

Friday, Feb. 15, 2002

Mainstream leader sends 'straightforward' letter to N.C. Baptists

By Jimmy Allen BR Assistant Editor

The man widely credited with preserving Texas's state Baptist convention is becoming more active in North Carolina.

David Currie, a consultant to the Mainstream Baptist Network, sent a letter to 4,760 N.C. Baptists telling them the "evil" of fundamentalism can be defeated.

"Hear me clearly, you can win and you will win," Currie wrote. "It is very important to God's kingdom that you do win the battle for leadership of the North Carolina Baptist convention. You have wonderful institutions that need to remain free to follow God's leadership without having to answer to a bunch of Pharisees."

Currie said in an interview that he wrote the letter because he sensed a lot of disappointment in North Carolina following the November state convention. Two of the three candidates endorsed by Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina lost.

"The bottom line is I wanted to give an encouraging word, a very straightforward encouraging word," he said.

Currie, who said he considers himself a "true conservative," said in the letter that fundamentalism is a "perversion of the Gospel. Read the Bible. Jesus made this clear. If you as North Carolina Baptists can preserve your convention, then the resources and majority of the churches will be used to honor God. People who preach love, grace and redemption, not condemnation, will fill the pulpits. The real question is, 'What kind of preaching do you want your grandchildren hearing - Jerry Falwell type of preaching or Randall Lolley type of preaching?' That is what is at stake."

The letter also included an invitation to attend the Mainstream Baptist Network Convocation in Charlotte on Feb. 15-16 as well as specific ways for people to get involved - getting more names for Mainstream's mailing list, donating money and attending the state convention Nov. 11-13 in Winston-Salem.

Through his work with the Mainstream Baptist Network, Currie said he would accept every speaking invitation in North Carolina during 2002.

"I will work with North Carolina Mainstream as much and as often as they ask me," Currie wrote. "I refuse to allow Paige Patterson to run your state without expending every ounce of energy I possess!"

Patterson, who is mentioned three times in the letter, is out of the country and could not be reached for comment.

Another leader in the conservative movement in North Carolina said he doesn't appreciate what Currie said.

Bill Sanderson, president of Conservative Carolina Baptists, said he had read the letter and that he remembers it condemning the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

"If I were a Mainstream Baptist and I saw what he did to the Texas Baptist convention, I wouldn't want to follow his lead," Sanderson said about Currie. "I certainly don't want to see that happen (in North Carolina)."

Conservatives in Texas formed a new state convention in Texas after candidates they endorsed were defeated.

Currie said he didn't split the Texas convention. Fundamentalists split from the Baptist General Convention of Texas even though they could still give whatever amount of money to the SBC that they wanted, he said.

In the letter, Currie said he isn't opposed to shared leadership but noted that North Carolina will be a state convention practicing Baptist principles only if Mainstream Baptists are in leadership. "If you don't believe me, just look at Missouri, Georgia or Florida. You must win the convention and then you can be fair and include others."

Sanderson said Mainstream Baptists aren't willing to cooperate. "Our own General Board doesn't want to work together," he said. The make-up should be divided equally between conservatives and moderates, he said.

Currie said he has heard the 50-50 talk before. "Paige Patterson said that about the SBC twenty years ago," Currie said. Moderates were later excluded.

In the letter, Currie also talks about the influence of Patterson on the state convention. He said Patterson and his followers will fire people, institute creedalism, deny local church autonomy, take away giving options. "The only way you deal with Paige Patterson is for you to have more people at the convention than he does year after year. Eventually, he will form his own state convention."

Sanderson laughed when asked to describe the influence of Patterson on the state convention.

"Are you kidding? He doesn't have hardly any - not in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina," Sanderson said. He said moderates run the BSC. When asked about Patterson's influence on the CCB, Sanderson said: "Sure. We like minds ... are going to go that way."

Sanderson said Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where Patterson is the president, didn't have an impact at last November's convention. Students were in class, not at the convention, Sanderson said.

"He's blaming the wrong horse," Sanderson said.

People in North Carolina are smart, he said. They are reading the Bible and know they've been led astray in the past. He likes Jim Royston's focus on building new churches and winning souls. "That's doing the Great Commission."

He described the state convention as being on target. "It's moving back," he said. But like an aircraft carrier, the convention can't be turned quickly. "It's starting to turn and get itself on course."

Sanderson said the issue is whether or not the BSC is Southern Baptist. "We are," he said. "It's in the constitution. Our actions (having plans B and C) say we aren't."

He also doesn't consider himself an N.C. Baptist.

"I'm a Southern Baptist. Sure, I live in North Carolina. It doesn't make me a North Carolina Baptist. It makes me a Southern Baptist who lives in North Carolina. ... The state I live in doesn't make me Baptist. If I lived in Texas, I'd still be Southern Baptist."

Currie noted in his letter that the majority of people in any church do not understand what has happened in Baptist life, and they don't care to understand. "But you know and you care," he stated.

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2/15/2002 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments
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