Mainstream gives strong reaction to 'takeover' plan
October 12 2001 by Steve DeVane and Jimmy Allen , BR staff

Mainstream gives strong reaction to 'takeover' plan | Friday, Oct. 12, 2001

Friday, Oct. 12, 2001

Mainstream gives strong reaction to 'takeover' plan

By Steve DeVane and Jimmy Allen BR staff FAYETTEVILLE - Several members of Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina (MBNC) reacted strongly to statements about a conservative takeover of the Baptist State Convention (BSC). The proposed takeover was mentioned during at least two of MBNC's seven "fall forums" held across the state Oct. 9 and Oct. 11.

About 70 people attended a meeting in Fayetteville on Oct. 9, and about 25 people were at a meeting in Raleigh.

Clarence Johnson, the head of a conservative laity group, told a group of pastors at a Conservative Carolina Baptists (CCB) meeting in Fayetteville on Sept. 20 that they could control the BSC if they could get 5,000 messengers to the annual meeting three years in a row. Two Fayetteville pastors also spoke in favor of fighting for control of the BSC at the CCB meeting.

"Do I want a takeover? Absolutely," Johnson said at the meeting.

David Crocker, pastor of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church in Fayetteville, said at the Mainstream meeting in Fayetteville that conservative talk of a takeover shows why MBNC must keep Jesus at the center of its priorities.

"Their boldness was shocking, but revealing," he said. "My question is 'Where was the Spirit of Jesus in that declaration?'"

Ed Beddingfield, pastor of First Baptist Church in Fayetteville which hosted the meeting, said Baptists should try to live out Jesus' prayer that his followers be one.

"It has already been announced that there is the intention to do in our state what has happened on the national level," he said. "We don't need to be in the business of excluding people or taking over or running people out."

At the Mainstream meeting in Raleigh, Mike Cogdill, dean of the Campbell University Divinity School, said MBNC should not endorse candidates who do not "separate themselves" from the proposed takeover.

The Mainstream meetings included a sermon or theme interpretation, an overview of MBNC's history and core values, and time for questions and answers.

In Fayetteville, Crocker preached about the centrality of Christ. He focused on a passage in Colossians 1, which says that in Jesus "all things hold together."

"Any way you put it, it comes out the same," Crocker said. "Christ is the center of church life and the believer's life."

Crocker said power brokers in churches and in denominations often tell Jesus to "step aside."

Jesus is the Lord of Scripture, Crocker said. He said it is disturbing that messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000 voted to leave out of the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) a statement that Jesus is the criterion by which scripture is interpreted.

"Whether or not they intended to, they said to Jesus, 'Step aside. We know best what the Book means,'" Crocker said.

Crocker said that if Jesus is not the center of church life, something or someone else will be. Church history contains many stories of creeds being substituted for Jesus' authority, he said.

"Creedalism is rearing its arrogant head in Baptist life," he said. "More and more, the Baptist Faith and Message is being used as a test for fellowship."

In Raleigh, Cogdill spoke on the same passage. He said Jesus is "all sufficient."

When Paul encountered a problem, he didn't keep quiet and "hope for the best," Cogdill said. And when Paul saw a problem, he either responded directly like he did to the church in Philippi or he lifted up a Christian truth and let its glory shine. The latter is the tactic used in the passage from Colossians, Cogdill said.

The divinity school dean described two points of the passage. One is that Christ is Lord of the universe. The second is that the church is the body of Christ.

"There is no ultimate terror for one who believes in Jesus," Cogdill said. And, he noted, "Jesus is the same every time we meet Him. He is reliable."

Cogdill said he hopes Mainstream Baptists take their stand on the all sufficiency of Jesus, and he suggested using the Pauline tactic of speaking a truth and then letting its glory shine.

Don Gordon, pastor of First Baptist Church in Mount Olive and head of MBNC's steering committee, said at the Fayetteville meeting that the centrality of Christ is the Mainstream's top core value.

Holding a Bible in his hand, Gordon said, "We love this and we believe it, but it becomes an idol when it is placed on equal footing or above Christ."

Gordon talked about the Bible again when he discussed MBNC's second core value - the voluntary nature of religion. He said that N.C. Baptists have never adopted a confession or creed.

"If we sign anything, let's sign the Bible," he said. "I'll sign any page of the Bible. I'll sign every page of the Bible, because I believe it."

Gordon said his group's third core value is the priority of the BSC. He pointed out that CCB gives priority to preserving a Southern Baptist heritage.

"We know that Carolina Conservatives want to take over the Baptist State Convention," he said.

Gordon said that for years the controversy in Baptist life has focused on loyalty to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) or the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). Members of MBNC can support either, as long as they back the BSC, he said.

"We affirm the right of churches to send mission dollars to the national body of their choice," he said.

MBNC's fourth core value is cooperation, Gordon said.

"Baptists who have made the biggest impact in the world were determined to work together," he said.

MBNC regrets that CCB suggested in its newsletter that churches exclude Campbell University and Gardner-Webb University from their Cooperative Program gifts, Gordon said. The two schools are "conservative by any reasonable standard," he said.

Ann Hiott, a member of the steering committee and a member of First Baptist Church in Raleigh, said at the Raleigh meeting that on mission trips there's no discussion about who's moderate and who's conservative.

The people on the trips are "just people serving Christ," she said.

Hiott talked about the spirit of cooperation among N.C. Baptists.

"We think most Baptists do want to cooperate," she said. "We believe moderates and conservatives do want to work together."

The participants prayed for Charles Page at both meetings. Page, a conservative endorsed by CCB and running for BSC president, withdrew when he learned that cancer had reoccurred in his body.

MBNC had endorsed both Page and Raymond Earp, a layman from Beaufort, for president. The fact MBNC had endorsed both candidates was an issue raised at the Raleigh meeting. One person stated that if two people are endorsed, people in the organization don't know for whom they should vote. Mainstream leaders said earlier they endorsed both candidates because they both affirmed Mainstream values.

Dan Day, pastor of host First Baptist Church, Raleigh, said he knows Mainstream was criticized for the double endorsement. "It did display a spirit of openness and non-contentiousness," he said.

Mainstream has endorsed current vice presidents Buddy Corbin and Larry Harper in their bids for re-election.

Bob Foy, a layman from Morrisville, recently announced he is running against Corbin for first vice president.

Foy has said that he hopes MBNC and CCB will endorse him, and that a prominent conservative has indicated that CCB will likely endorse him.

MBNC members in Raleigh took a straw poll on whether or not the group should interview more candidates. Only about half of those present voted, with all indicating they were against further interviews.

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10/12/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane and Jimmy Allen , BR staff | with 0 comments
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