David R. Currie
A Rancher's Rumblings
July 24, 2007

Lately, I have tried to emphasize the positive and encouraging events that are happening in Baptist life. For many years, our focus was dominated by the urgent threat that Fundamentalism posed to the freedom of our convention, our churches, and our institutions. Now we are tempted to believe that the threat is gone—that we can move beyond the darkness of yesterday to focus on the bright hope of tomorrow.

After all, we have new opportunities on which to focus our time and energies—such as the global missions efforts of Texas Baptists and the growing ministries of our institutions. So Texas Baptists Committed has tried to focus on the future—what we are doing as Texas Baptists and how we are cooperating with other Baptists on exciting new initiatives like the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant in Atlanta next January 30 through February 1.

However, it would be naïve for us to believe that the battle is over. Folks, you can’t soar like an eagle if you act like an ostrich. It’s not an either-or proposition in which we choose to either be positive or keep our heads in the battle. No, it’s not either-or; it’s both‑and!

By all means, we must focus on the positive forces of freedom led by those who want to serve Jesus with us. These are exciting days to be Baptists, and we want to seize every opportunity that God is putting in front of us.

However, we must also recognize that the Fundamentalists haven’t given up on their plan to control every area of Baptist life. We must be ever alert to their presence—whether in the big seminary in Fort Worth or in the tiniest local church in your hometown.

This week, the reality hit home once again: that Fundamentalism—in all its destructiveness—still plays a large role in Texas Baptist life.


The first sign came in an email message from one of the sweetest ladies I have ever known. Her pastor is trying to prevent their church from giving a single penny to what he calls the “liberal BGCT.” When she asked to meet with him, he responded that the Lord told him to “stay away from those who cause divisions and are upsetting people’s faith.” He refused to meet with his own church member, all the while admonishing her that he was the one who was being loyal and true to Christ.

Shouldn’t we expect a pastor to model Jesus’ humility . . . welcome people in Jesus’ name rather than turn them away . . . love them rather than condemn them? I have no earthly idea what he finds “liberal” about the BGCT, but I do believe that a real Baptist church should be governed by its members—not the pastor. If they want to give to the BGCT or CBF, they should have that opportunity. If they want to give to the SBC or the SBT, they should likewise have that opportunity.

The second sign arrived on the same day that I received that lady’s email message. A long‑time TBC member called me to discuss what was happening in his church. The pastor had declared that the deacon’s role is to support the pastor and never question the pastor on anything. He said further that any church member who questioned the pastor on anything was being rebellious.

Wow! I assume that this man’s pastor has read what Paul wrote to Timothy about pastors and deacons, but I suggest that he go back and read it again, and then explain to his deacons and his church how he backs up his actions scripturally. In 1 Timothy 3, I hear Paul say that deacons are to “keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience” (v. 3). Sounds sort of like something we know as “priesthood of the believer,” doesn’t it? What it does not say is that the deacon is to “keep hold of the deep truths as defined by the pastor.” As for pastors, Paul says that they are to be “gentle, not quarrelsome” (v. 9).


Friends, Fundamentalism is alive and well in Texas. It may not be as visible as it once was, but be assured that its leaders and their supporters are working hard to take control of every church that is not alert to their activity.

We need to take a stand against the emotional and spiritual abuse practiced by any pastor who declares that members of his church must never question his authority and then acts to force his will upon his congregation.

As for our churches, they are faced with a choice. Will they focus on the law that condemns? Or will they instead embrace the grace and love of Jesus Christ, which redeems? We can’t have it both ways, folks. Where the law rules, there is no room for Jesus’ grace, BUT where Jesus’ grace reigns, the law has no power!

I close with one more tragic tale. This week, I received an email message from a retired minister from California. He said that he had no idea who I was or how he got on our email list, but he sure enjoyed these “Rumblings.” I replied to his letter by telling him who TBC is—our history, our mission, our people.

He responded with a telling indictment of the past 30 years of Baptist life. “I watched the battle from afar but had many friends sacrificed on the altar of stupidity.”

How sad, but oh how true.

I don’t want us to take our focus off of the wonderful things that are happening in Baptist life today. But I don’t want us to stick our heads in the sand like the ostrich, either. The eagle soars, but watch his eyes . . . eternally vigilant. That’s the price of liberty, my friends.