Memo From SBC Headquarters

We’ve all heard it hundreds of times—SBC Headquarters is the local church and not some denominational agency. If this line is nothing more than a misleading notion humbly tossed out under the pretense of sounding spiritual, then we should stop saying things we do not really mean. However, if it is indeed true, since I represent one and only one such local church, I am compelled to submit this memo from my SBC Headquarters Branch to every Southern Baptist institution in general and to the ERLC in particular. It is our policy here at headquarters to extend great latitude toward our entity leaders as they appoint staff. However, since these organizations are funded by all Southern Baptists, it is certainly within our right to address the vetting process used in such leadership selection.

On September 11, 2013, Trustees of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention approved President Russell Moore’s appointment of five new staff members—Phillip Bethancourt, Joe Carter, Daniel Darling, Trillia Newbell and Daniel Patterson. Though not at all unqualified due to any lack of competence or character, most of these candidates should nevertheless have been disqualified in the vetting process due to their denominational affiliation—or lack thereof. Personally, I have nothing at all against these individuals. I do not even know them. I bear no animus or ill will in my heart toward them. I pray God will bless them and their families profoundly as they serve in His Kingdom.

To be clear, I do not advocate their removal from Southern Baptist office. Rather, I am simply asserting they should never have been hired in the first place and urging that we never do this again. In doing so, I stand on the principle that the leaders of a denominational organization should first of all be members. Before ever serving in elected public office, a politician should already be a citizen. Before one is ever made a teacher or a deacon at a church, one should already be a member of that church. Faithful Southern Baptists should select leaders who are already faithful Southern Baptists themselves. Unfortunately, on the day these five employees were hired, only two were even members of a Southern Baptist Church:

  Phillip Bethancourt   Southern Baptist   Highview Baptist
  Joe Carter   Non-Denominational   Grace Community
  Daniel Darling   Non-Denominational   Gages Lake Bible
  Trillia Newbell   Sovereign Grace   Cornerstone Church
  Daniel Patterson   Southern Baptist   Highview Baptist





Concerned that outside influencers might lead the SBC in directions more consistent with their own religious identity than ours, I contacted ERLC Trustee Board Chairman, Dr. Richard Piles, inquiring about one of the three candidates specifically. He assured me this man would join a Southern Baptist Church soon after his relocation. I trust that by now all of these appointees have joined our denomination. In future Southern Baptist vetting processes, let us insist upon membership as a prerequisite for leadership. For many years, we have frowned upon the practice of missionary dating  in our youth groups. Let us not experiment with the practice of missionary hiring  in our staffing decisions—adding to our SBC membership rolls by selecting leaders outside of our denomination and bringing them on board by starting them at the top.

One related concern with these candidates that simply cannot be overlooked is a disturbing juxtaposition discovered by placing their denominational affiliation side by side with their theological orientation—only two are Southern Baptists but all five are Calvinists, as evidenced by the clear connection in every single case with an organization known as the Gospel Coalition, whose confessional statement is unquestionably reformed.

At this point, Calvinists sometimes employ a fairly agile sidestep by insisting they are merely Amyraldists—four pointers whose view of the atonement disaffirms limited sufficiency  while preserving limited efficiency. However, the principal thrust of Calvinism remains in both of these varieties. Man’s depravity is still viewed as his total inability to exercise libertarian free will apart from his prior unconditional election by God. Those fortunate enough to receive this unconditional election are regenerated, after which they cannot possibly resist God’s grace and will therefore become believers. Of course, those souls so unfortunate that they do not receive God’s unconditional election must endure His equally irresistible wrath. Four point Calvinism may rescue one from Limited Atonement, but it fails to negate Calvinistic determinism. Frankly, it is fair to consider all five of these writers, speakers and participants in the Gospel Coalition to be Calvinists.

What conclusions are we to draw when a slate of five candidates for leadership in a Southern Baptist institution is 100% Calvinist but only 40% Southern Baptist? Such disparity appears to view being a Calvinist as mandatory  and being a Southern Baptist as optional. Here at headquarters, the only legitimate approach is precisely the opposite—being a Southern Baptist should be mandatory  while being a Calvinist should be optional. If a day ever comes when another slate of ERLC appointments is 100% Gospel Coalition and only 40% Southern Baptist, then let it be the day when this institution’s name has been formally changed to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Gospel Coalition.

If these leadership selections were to represent proportionally the theological commitments of all Southern Baptists who financially support the ERLC, then all five of them would have been Southern Baptists, while only one would have been a Calvinist. Twenty percent is a much more reasonable estimate of the Calvinistic influence in our convention than one hundred percent. Selecting a totally Calvinist slate both antagonizes and marginalizes the traditional Southern Baptist majority that serves as the financial base of the ERLC. I, for one, find myself extremely hard pressed to support financially any institution that so clearly values being a Calvinist more highly than being a Southern Baptist.

I am confident the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, along with every other Southern Baptist institution receiving this memo, is well versed in what happens when Americans feel yoked by a sense of taxation without representation, that nagging consciousness that we are placing money into the coffers of organizations in which we are afforded an ever diminishing degree of influence. Although our money is gladly received, our suggestions are ignored and our place at the table is removed. If future Southern Baptist leadership slates do not better represent the identity, culture and theology of the people actually paying the bills, then at some point—and we are getting very close—all the alienated Southern Baptists will finally tire of paying King George for his arrogant indifference, and will simply exercise their libertarian free will as they completely immerse their sweet tea in the harbor.


  1. Allen Calkins says

    I would have to in principle agree. If an organization is affiliated with a specific denomination then the leaders need to share that affiliation. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a church call an independent Baptist pastor who said he would be Southern Baptists and then led the church away from the SBC. People affiliate as they do for a reason. It may be fine for lower level staff to simply be Christian, especially if they have a passion and expertise in ‘the issues’. But executive staff in any SBC entity need to be SBC by personal choice and preference well PRIOR to employment consideration.

  2. Todd Benkert says

    It is funny to me that in just about every post that decries the over-representation of Calvinists, we count Amyraldists leaders and staff members as Calvinists. But when we count the number of Calvinists in the SBC membership or pastors, we only count the 5-point Calvinists. This makes the comparison skewed. There are either far more Calvinists in the SBC than you care to admit, or far less Calvinists in our leadership than you claim. Until we have an consistent definition of “Calvinist” in our counting, how can we make any such claims about representation?

    See my previous article:

    • Rick Patrick says


      Your observation explains my inclusion of paragraph six to argue that four pointers really are Calvinists. Such a view is identical to the one Eric Hankins shared in reply to Dr. Mohler’s question about who is a Calvinist at the 12:45 mark of their public conversation here:

      I do agree with you that we do not possess accurate information about the positions of Southern Baptists regarding Calvinism. Not only do the surveys we have done in the past utilize biased questions, but they focus only upon Pastors and not upon the laity. For now, I’m comfortable considering twenty percent to be a generous estimate when it includes all SBC laypersons.

      • Todd Benkert says

        I think that is an under-estimate, but as you say, we have no data to make such a claim. In any case, why does it matter in the case of the ERLC? And, if it’s really such a problem for you — why not tackle it on the front end (the election of the President and the slate of Trustees presented) instead of constant posts about too many Calvinists in leadership?

        • Rick Patrick says

          It matters in the case of the ERLC because of the principle I stated in the article that leaders should already be members. It is an issue of denominational identity, integrity and faithfulness. It prevents outsiders with no proven Southern Baptist record from influencing our denomination. In the present case, for example, one has to wonder if loyalties are greater to the SBC or to the Gospel Coalition. Turning that around, why should it matter to you if I insist that SBC leaders already be SBC members? There are many Southern Baptists who could have filled those positions admirably.

          By the way, I do pay attention to the appointment process, driven largely by the choice of the SBC President. I vote accordingly. In the democratic process, there are only two options for influence—vote and voice. Why should I set them against each other rather than fully utilizing both?

    • Gordon Moore says

      I agree on the issue of them not being SBC church members. However, I am trying to figure out how a person’s soteriology would adversly affect their leadership on the ERLC. I am curious if you would have this same concern had he chosen five “Traditional Baptists” to serve there.

      • Tarheel says

        Gordon, I and others have repeatedly asked th same question….it seems he’s not interested in answering it.

        • Tarheel says

          I also asked that if his concern was really about the new hires not being SBC members at time of thier hire….then why are 2 southern baptists included at all in his blog post at all?

          It’s pretty clear that presumed soteriology is the real briar in his shoe.

  3. William Thornton says

    While I have disagreed with Rick in the past over quota hiring for high level denominational positions, I believe he raises a legitimate point here and that these questions should be formally addressed to both the ERLC CEO and to the trustee chairman. While I am unwilling to insist that all executive level personnel for our entities be SBCers, I have some reservations along the same lines as Rick.

    When the people who pay the bills have legitimate questions they should be answered, not ignored.

    My humble opinion from the SBC hinterlands is that all high level hiring will receive scrutiny as to their Calvinistic beliefs and identifications and trustees and CEOs should know and expect this.

    On a more mundane matter, in this period of steady decline of the Cooperative Program has Moore expanded the executive level at the ERLC beyond that of his predecessor with multiple hires? Is this merely a result of budgetary shifting or has the ERLC increased secondary funding sources?

    The ERLC has been one of our least productive entities, IMO, such that some return to an arrangement with the Baptist Joint Committee is not unreasonable. My initial view of our new leader have been generally positive. I trust that his kinder, gentler, less acrimonious approach will show itself in his response to internal SBC criticism.

    Rick Patrick should be commended for his attention to this.

  4. Todd Benkert says

    Also, do “Calvinists” (however you define them) approach ethics and religious liberty in a way that is distinct from the “mainstream” Southern Baptist? Do you feel that the job of the ERLC and what you expect them to do will be affected in any way if your particular soteriology is not represented among its leadership? Do not all those in the range of views represented in the SBC share the same convictions about the Christian and the Social Order (BFM2000, article XV)?

    For me, I want the people who our trustees believe will best to the job of guiding us on the tough ethical issues of our day and represent us well before an increasingly secular world. I don’t care if they are all Calvinists or if none of them are Calvinists — as long as they lead us well.

    • Rick Patrick says

      I care much more about them being Southern Baptist than I care about their theology. Having said that, I do question why five individuals would share the same theology when it is the minority view in the SBC. We do not want to practice reverse discrimination theologically against the majority view in our denomination.

      I want trustees to pick the best SOUTHERN BAPTIST for the job, believing there will be no discernible loss in talent between the most qualified Gospel Coalitionist and the most qualified Southern Baptist.

      • Todd Benkert says

        I can see your point about non-SBC hires, though I am not as concerned about it as you. In any case, your arguments would get a more fair hearing and convince more people if you did not always have to bring the “Calvinist” angle into everything.

        • Rick Patrick says

          I realize that from your perspective I seem to be attacking Calvinism, but from my perspective, I am defending and promoting my own theological position of Traditionalism in the sense of the Mullins-Hobbs-Rogers theological tradition. I am merely articulating my personal convictions about theology and denominational matters.

          If I believe Traditionalists are paying the bills but not sitting at the table, it is fair for me to speak up. If you visit Connect 316, you will not only find resources available that articulate Traditionalism, but also a list of over 800 Southern Baptists who believe like I do. We are not seeking to introduce a “Calvinist” angle. John Piper has already done that. We are seeking to introduce a “Traditionalist” angle.

          • Todd Benkert says

            Traditionalists lead the three major SBC entities (IMB, NAMB, and EC). The past 10 SBC presidents have been non-Calvinists. How are traditionalists under-represented?

        • says

          Theology is an issue that is drevied from the exegesis of the text, hopegully done with irenci grace and absolute precision. Southern Baptist is not found in the text. Give me an honest, accurate and humble theologian every time.

  5. Tyler says

    1. Every time I read one of these I think “man, there are bigger problems to think about.”
    2. I think you might underestimate how many Calvinists there are in the SBC. I have been going to Swbts for 2 years now. I meet a five point Calvinist almost every day. I would say it is 50 50 here.

    • Rick Patrick says

      Fifty-fifty at SOUTHWESTERN? I beg to differ. I might believe such an estimate at SOUTHERN. My primary argument, however, does not so much concern the seminarians as the laypeople in our churches who are financially supporting the ERLC of the SBC.

        • Rick Patrick says

          Fair enough, Tyler. And in the Southern Baptist Church I serve, fewer than 5% are Calvinists—even though the last two pastors and the last two interim pastors were Calvinists. Frankly, it’s much more popular in our youth groups, colleges and seminaries than it is in our SBC churches. Have a blessed day on the hill. I miss Southwestern.

          • Tyler says

            Just for the record, I have been incredibly blessed by my teachers and the staff at SWBTS. This has been one of the best experiences of my life. I could see why you would miss it.

        • says

          I am an SWBTS student as well–in my Apologetics course there were less than 5% reformed…Just because you had one class that was 50/50 (or over) does not mean that is the sway of SWBTS, or the makeup of the students. In the philosophical world that is committing the fallacy of “hasty generalization.”

  6. says

    I agree with Rick. This is nothing more than a continuation of what has been happening with SBC entity hires period. Today the “in club” for SBC entity hires is to belong to the calvinist tribe. It is what it is.

    The people in the pew are not aware of what is taking place and even those who are, have no idea of the immediate and long term impact this move will create in the SBC of tomorrow.

    Those who care about the immediate future of the SBC had better open their eyes and come to Baltimore. This is indeed a sad day for the SBC.

  7. says

    You have correctly asked a vital question about the recent hires at the ERLC. The vetting process of our entities in hiring people for lead positions is a trust with the Trustees of the entity and more so a trust with the people who make up the SBC. It is difficult to determine the actual beliefs of the men mentioned beyond that described in your post. Thus speculation on anyone’s part would be wrong. Yet their current/previous church affiliation is of importance in maintaining the SBC brand from the simple reality of their duties at the ERLC – they speak to world on behalf of the people of the SBC. Should those who speak for us be deep in who are?

    The above mentioned hires reinforce a question about being SBC that I am hearing more with each passing day – who in fact are we and who are we trying to become?

  8. Allen Calkins says

    I would be just as concerned for the same reason if NAMB started hiring AoG executives because of their Church Planting expertise or the Lifeway hired a person from Willow Creek to head up their Children’s division. If these are SBC entities then they need to be run and managed by people we know are committed to the SBC. This really is a big deal to me. And I believe it will become a big deal to the people in the pew if and when they become informed.

  9. says


    “I, for one, find myself extremely hard pressed to support financially any institution that so clearly values being a Calvinist more highly than being a Southern Baptist”

    Very well stated. I do not want to see funding go to the Baptist Joint Committee either.

    Also, to Todds question concerning the front end changes. Need we remind him that 3 of the 5 members of the search committee were from Capital Hill Baptist Church, whose pastor is a co-founder of the Gospel Coalition?

      • says


        Your “So What” response is something that reveals the nonchalant non-caring attitude for everything as long as Calvinism is the prevailing theological issue. However, I must correct my error there were only 2 members of the search committee from Capital Hills. But the fact still stands. The new President appointed 5 people from the Gospel Coalition network, three of which have no other connection to Southern Baptist. The co-founder of the Gospel Coalition is the pastor of two of the search committee members. Given the strong adherence to Elder-rule Calvinists possess and the absolute blind allegiance given to the “Teaching Elder” one has to admit this is a little too cozy of a relationship. And it is evident that the Gospel Coalition is the network that is positioned itself for a possible take-over of the SBC.

        • Todd Benkert says

          Would that we were indeed a “gospel” coalition rather than the fragmented lot that we seem to be

          • says


            I could not have agreed with you more back in 2008. However, now I cannot agree with you in your push. Why? In 2008 there were many things that claimed our attention and I even attended the “Building Bridges” conference at Ridgecrest trying to “build a bridge”. However, it became crystal clear that no bridge was being built. It became clear that those outside of leadership wanted those with the voice to remain quiet and let others speak.

            Well, now that has happened. Those with the microphone gladly said a day has come when we must allow others to speak. What has happened is the microphone is no longer being passed around. Those speaking for the SBC are no longer SBC. We are placing people in leadership that have no idea what it is to pastor let alone what it is to pastor an SBC church.

            The push back being experienced by those in leadership comes from those that have been pushed to the back and told to remain quiet. How does the leadership seem to respond? Just like you did in your last statement. “We have a lost world out there that needs the Gospel. Let’s get along so we can present the Gospel”. To which I have at times before said; “AMEN”. Only to find out when I am presenting the Gospel I am told we can no longer do it through a verbal way it has to be by giving sandwiches. Then we no longer give an invitation to Christ. Now we do not want to “pray a prayer” because we do not want to come across manipulative.

            Thus, my position about getting along to present the gospel is a simple one. It is within the Southern Baptist Convention that we “get along” in order to present the Gospel. I became a Southern Baptist because I believed the Southern Baptists, though flawed in many ways, were the closer to the NT church than any other denomination or non-denomination. Were others doing things to reach Christ? Certainly!! As a local church–the headquarters of the SBC–I could chose to cooperate with them or I could chose not to. As a denomination we are a “gospel coalition”. The fragmenting of this “gospel coalition” is not coming from within, it is coming from bringing those who have despised the SBC within her ranks and paying them to despise us publicly.

          • Todd Benkert says

            I just don’t see the problem with hiring from outside SBC life as long as they are willing to become SBC, affirm the BFM2000, and support our cooperative work. And we’re talking about ethics here not evangelism/missions. I look to the ERLC leadership and ask, (1) are they providing us with thoughtful, biblical answers to the relevant ethical questions of our day and (2) are they effectively representing the values of the SBC as they engage our increasingly secular society. Thus far, the answer to both of those questions under Dr. Moore’s tenure are a resounding “YES.” I do not care at all whether the new hires are coming directly from SBC churches or come from my particular sub-group within the SBC or were hired by a search committee with members from a church I don’t like.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Tim: You went to find out what was going on and to report back. The Building bridges conference was exactly what the name implied and the speakers there who were varied represented. Building Bridges.

        • Joe says

          “And it is evident that the Gospel Coalition is the network that is positioned itself for a possible take-over of the SBC.” #Facepalm

        • says

          Who in their right mind would want to take over the SBC? Seriously.

          The answer is no one, except for the “Traditionalists” who think that the SBC needs saving from some great unknown conspiracy- Calvinists, A29, now The Gospel Coalition. These guys just can’t get their bogeymen straight. It’s always someone coming to steal something that is “theirs.”

          I’m thankful that over the last decade as blogs have become more prevelant that the conspiracy theory blogs of the BI…née Traditionalists have waned in influence. Now when you visit their blogs it’s the same commenters over and over again an endless feedback loop of a couple of dozen people convinced they are right and “protecting” the poor, ignorant, huddled masses of the SBC from the bogeyman of the month.

          Here’s the truth. You guys are being left behind and it’s not because your theology is not Calvinist, it’s because you don’t know how to work with people who you disagree with. You just know how to attack. You only learned one lesson from the 70’s and that’s how to attack. So you invent enemies and controversies and spin conspiracy theories about takeovers. In so doing, you malign good men and women with Gospel motives and further and further isolate yourselves from people who could not only be Gospel partners, it friends.

          Isn’t it time to stop? Why not stop worrying so much about someone’s Baptist bonafides and instead considering what they are doing for the Kingdom? Why not stop asking is this person a Calvinist or a Traditionalist? Why not stop tracing the connections of people to see if they are of Mohler, or Patterson, or Dever, or Hunt? Instead can we simply ask if they are in Christ?

          Truth is, the day of denominational power in the US is coming to an end. Keep this up and you’ll find yourself in your little group with no one left standing with you,because they have all moved on together to work for the Kingdom. You will have “won” but the kingdom you rule will be useless for all the damage you have done.

          Wouldn’t it be better to simply get along?

          • Rick Patrick says

            You lost me at “Who in their right mind would want to take over the SBC?” I find that kind of cynicism unappealing. I believe there is much good in the SBC.

            You also misrepresent me if you think I believe in an unknown conspiracy, when in fact I believe in a known movement. It’s called New Calvinism, and all of the alleged bogeymen you mentioned are in fact involved in it.

            If we didn’t know how to work with people we disagree with, then why are we still in the convention working with people we disagree with? Part of working with someone is raising concerns when you have an issue and not just sweeping it under the rug. There is no shame in expressing a viewpoint if you feel, for example, that our hiring practices have become unbalanced.

            I was going to school, riding my bike and mowing yards in the 70’s. The only attacking I did was on the soccer field or the basketball court. You just don’t know me at all—although you think you do.

            Which people with gospel motives have I maligned? I disagreed with a candidate vetting process I consider inadequate since it did not address a denominational membership requirement.

            The people you want me to be “gospel partners” with are actually the ones who have excluded me from all of their clubs through theological discrimination—confessional statements much more narrow than the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

            The irony here is that Southern Baptists tolerate Calvinist groups, but Calvinist groups (like the Gospel Coalition, Nine Marks, Acts 29 and Founders) have drawn theological lines excluding the majority of Southern Baptists from membership. If Calvinist groups want to keep saying, “Let’s all work together for the Kingdom,” why don’t they drop their exclusive theological requirements and begin planting Traditionalist churches as well? I mean, it’s all for the sake of the Kingdom, right? The entire SBC is more inclusive of New Calvinism than New Calvinism is inclusive of the entire SBC.

            Is it time to stop asking questions about the leadership of our denomination and its institutions? No, I don’t think the time to stop will ever come. We must exercise stewardship of these resources as God gives us wisdom to do so. Again, you seem to want us to stop asking if a person is a Calvinist or a Traditionalist. Well, Matt Chandlers asks at Acts 29. Tom Ascol asks at Founders. And it appears to me that perhaps Russell Moore asks as well—or else in an odd coincidence he just happened to go five for five.

            I disagree with those who say denominationalism is going away. I rather think the pendulum will swing. Theology will become important again, and people will grow weary of trying to figure out the denomination of the Family Community Church.

            I do want to get along, Ryan. But part of that equation requires respect. And if the Southern Baptists in the pews supporting the ERLC believe we should be hiring people who are Southern Baptists to lead us, getting along might mean simply listening to them and seeing if there might be some godly wisdom in what they say.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Rick: What about Eric Hankins being invited to speak at Southern and dialoguing with Al Mohler? Also was he not part of the Calvinist committee along with other invites? It seems to me that the SBC leadership isn’t so much about Calvinist or non-Calvinist, but those who are willing to listen and dialogue. I must say I have been impressed with Eric even though I disagree totally with his theology and thinking.

          • Rick Patrick says

            What about it? I thought the conversation between Eric and Al was very cordial, except for the part where Al called Eric’s theology “deficient.” (He later admitted “deficient” was not a helpful word.)

            I’m not really sure what point you are making. Although I disagree with him in a number of areas, I am happy to partner with Southern Baptist Calvinists like Al Mohler. Southern may discriminate against Trads in its faculty, but at least they do accept us as students into the organization.

            My concerns with 9 Marks, TGC, Founders and Acts 29 are entirely different. These soteriologically exclusive groups have been built up within Southern Baptist life to provide ecclesiology training, a Bible conference, a historical appreciation society and a church planting network. Whenever the SBC partners with these groups, I am paying to support organizations that exclude me theologically.

  10. says

    Thanks Rick for a great article. Even as I read the comments I see that some want to focus on “Calvinism” rather than the point of your article. It has never made sense to me why and SBC entity would hire someone who was not SBC affiliated–there must be an underlying cause for this. Thanks for bringing this to us all.

  11. william thornton says

    Bigger fish to fry? Perhaps, but if considerable numbers of SBC pastors have concerns about the influence of Calvinism in our entities, and I think that point is true, then it will eventually show itself in those churches pulling back funding. Most pastors can make the case to his church for reduced Cooperative Program giving and find a receptive audience.

    It would not take much effort from our entity leaders and trustees to watch employment structure in this regard, thus defusing complaints such as Ricks in this article. Neither would it take much for them to respond promptly and forthrightly to questions like Rick’s.

    While I don’t see any success for a movement that replaces trustees through the SBC presidency elections, I do see further erosion of confidence in the allocation of Cooperative Program money. Here in GA some churches already are designating around some of the seminaries because they perceive an excessive Calvinistic bent.

  12. Bill Mac says

    I think these are fair criticisms.

    However I think it is ironic to insist that people be members before they are deacons or teachers and not apply that standard to pastors. I’m not saying you are wrong, but I think it points to a deficiency in how SBC churches acquire pastors.

    • says

      Bill Mac,

      Most churches that ever looked at me as their pastor always looked at my previous church to make certain I was a member of that Southern Baptist church. There were some that did not care but those were ones I stopped speaking with.

  13. Jim Hedrick says

    I do not hear a requiem nor a reformation symphony in hearing the facts of hiring in our beloved institution. In fact it rings the memory bell in my head as to my observance of the same practice by Paige Patterson while he was president of SEBTS. I served as a trustee during part of his service term there. He nominated several non practicing Southern Baptists (sorry no data retrieved) yet I’ll lustrious Dr.s of Theology to teach in the revered halls in Wake Forrest. We the trustees voted them into the faculty.
    This is no new Calvinistic methodological ploy dear saints. Can we not trust one another without so much fearfulness. Presidents of great institutions often say “Trust me the new hires are under my tuteledge and care. They can be shaped,molded to be like us. ” Those words do sound like a don’t worry just be happy mantra to consciencious board members. That is far different than a requiem or symphony.Having experienced this kind of hiring on the academic SBC front in the not too distant past. I exhort my co laborers in the gospel to keep listening and praying for the ERLC. ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS. Christ is the Victor!

    • says


      I was a student from 1995 to 2000. For the life of me I cannot recall any theology professor that was hired that was not a member of a Southern Baptist Church prior to being hired. Maybe you could enlighten us.

      • Tarheel says


        I was looking too! Glad someone found it.

        I will await the blog concerning that travesty!

        Paige Patterson is a disloyal Southern Baptist for sure! (tongue planted firmly in cheek)

        Good catch, Mark!

      • Rick Patrick says


        When you write, “Seems all six were not SBC,” I hope you are not making the claim that all six of them fit in the “not SBC” category, but rather that “not all of the six were SBC.” I concur. It’s pretty clear to me that Catanzaro, Owens and McKinion are Southern Baptists—with McKinion quite likely a Calvinist. Godwin was a piano teacher and graduate of Southeastern Seminary who did serve a Baptist Church for 13 years. Immediately prior to her return to the seminary, she was indeed serving at a Disciples of Christ Church, and thus not SBC. Chok had pastored two churches in Hong Kong and was studying at DTS (during the same period I was) just before he was hired. Roughly one-third of the student body at DTS then was Southern Baptist, but there’s no way to tell about Chok. Dave Black claims to be a committed Baptist:

        Thus, it’s fair to say that ONE of these six hires was clearly not SBC, but she (1) taught piano, (2) graduated from the Baptist Seminary where she was asked to teach, and (3) had served previously for years on staff at a Southern Baptist Church. I can honestly say that if Moore’s slate had looked like Patterson’s, I might have overlooked Dr. Godwin’s unfortunate flirtation with the Disciples of Christ.

        • cb scott says


          I worked with each one of those mentioned in the article. All of them were and still are far more “Southern Baptist” than you or the guy from NC who calls himself Tarheel.

          You throwing such an accusation at Dr. Patterson is less that absurd. It is an illustration of your ignorance as to Dr. Patterson, Southeastern when he was president, and those people mentioned in the article.

          • Tarheel says

            For your information, sir…I’ve been southern baptist since I joined the church I attended upon my profession of faith and believers baptism by immersion in 1983.

            Since then I’ve been been a member of, and served pastoral roles in several and only Southern Baptist Churches…

            Are you saying that those who hold to reformed soteriology aren’t “real” southern baptists?

          • cb scott says

            I am saying, and rather plainly I might add, that the faculty hires by Dr. Patterson in ’98 are far more of a Southern Baptist persuasion than you or Mark.

          • cb scott says

            No. that statement shows that you were not there in the earliest meetings of the SBCV. That is what that statement shows.

            Let me ask you a question if you were there for the earliest meetings of the SBCV. Who wrote the original constitution and by-laws fort he SBCV? BTW, if you get the answer right, I will then know your true identity.

          • Tarheel says

            I was there, as a young college student in the early 90’s when the fellowship was started at a church in Lynchburg….I think it was Old Forest Road Baptist….I also was at Grove Ave baptist, 3 or 4 years later when we voted to create a new southern baptist convention.

            I think the author was Doyle Chauncey.

          • cb scott says

            Doyle Chauncey was the first elected exec. He was not the author of the original constitution and by-laws. Those earliest meetings were before your time.

            Therefore, I do not know your true identity. Had you have been in those earliest meetings and had known who wrote the original documents, I would have known you. However, I knew you were too young for you to have been there.

          • Tarheel says

            I was not, and did not claim to be a “founder father”… Lol.

            I just said I was there at early meetings, and I was.

          • Tarheel says


            Doyle is truly one sharp dude and he was there in those founding meetings, so I assumed he may have been involved in authorship.

            Who wrote it, I’d be interested to know.

          • Tarheel says

            Lol…I guess so, in that way I guess you are.

            I can say thank you for your faithfulness in that regard.

        • says

          Rick, I was asking Jim if this list and the other I posted may have been what he recalled. I did not make definitive statements either way. Seems you’re shifting the goal posts to suit your definitions of acceptability for SBC hiring. I suppose you’re entitled to make adjustments, but where does that leave us?

          Anyway, I do not necessarily disagree with you that SBC entities should hire those already in the denomination. I was just looking for evidence of Jim’s recollection. And, if correct, I was curious if you’d hold your standard consistently.

      • Rick Patrick says


        Caner, Lee and Nelson were clearly Baptist. McCraw, likely a Baptist too, was an English teacher returning to SEBTS where she taught previously.
        Possibly Sailhamer was not a Southern Baptist, although no information was available. He became President of the Evangelical Theological Society two years later, and is likely a Calvinist—Piper adores him—so I would think you might credit Patterson here for his openness. Again, this slate really does not look like the ERLC’s at all. If your game was to make me to say something bad about Dr. Patterson, then I’m afraid you are out of providence.

        • Tarheel says

          But do you KNOW they were SBC?

          If not, do you grant Patterson a deference you’re not willing to to grant Moore.

          Patterson hired and has hired many, many more as President of 2 seminaries than Moore has as president of ERLC…you jumped on Moore’s 60/40% ratio in the set of hires…..again…it appears you have a lack of confidence in Moore.

      • cb scott says

        Again, Mark, the hires in ’99 represent Southern Baptist convictions more so than you do, have or ever will.

  14. says

    Is your primary concern with them not being SBC in doctrine or experience with how the SBC is ran? If its doctrine (and I’m not speaking here of Calvinism but BFM) then I’d like to offer another option. There are many that are SBC in doctrine but because of various things aren’t by affiliation.

    Let me give an example. There is a man I know that came from an area with very few SBC churches. Therefore, he wasn’t formally SBC but when he went to church plant he found that doctrinally he lines up with the SBC. He found himself at home in the SBC and is stoked to be part of such a large missions sending agency.

    I know of at least one person on your ERLC list that has a similar experience. He’s happy and proud to be part of SBC. Not just as a rubber stamp to get a job but as if he’s finally found his home.

    I’m not intending this to be a nail in the coffin argument. Rick has some valid questions and concerns that I’m happy to hear how others answered. I just thought this point was missing in the conversation.

  15. says

    Rick, as a reformed SBC pastor I share your concern. If in fact all 5 are calvinistic then this seems unwise at best. You didn’t convince me they all were but I concede the possibility. But as to your later statement there should have been 5 SBC members and not more than 1 calvinist I think a bit over the top. Do we have to keep everything in “appropriate” percentages? I think not. There are many boards/committees etc. in SBC life with no calvinistic baptists.

    • says


      “There are many boards/committees etc. in SBC life with no calvinistic baptists.” Name those entity trustee boards that have not calvinistic baptists.

      Not trying to be confrontational. But for the life of me I cannot think of any trustee boards that do not have calvinistic baptists sitting on them. I honestly believe that Rick has some valid insight here. Adrian Rogers said; “If Southern Baptists said pigs fly then professors should teach pigs fly” (or something to that effect in the Peace Committee) Southern Baptists, on a majority, would line up more in the Mullins, Hobbs, Rogers theological perspective which is diametrically opposite of the Calvinism seen in the convention today. To begin taking entities and moving them theologically in a direction away from where the people in the pew are is akin to the way things were prior to 1979 minus the inerrancy of the scripture.

  16. Adam Blosser says

    Thanks for bringing this up, Rick. I consider myself a Calvinist when it comes to soteriology. However, I agree that we should be hiring Southern Baptists for high level positions within the SBC. I am not sure how high level the three positions referenced that were given to non-Southern Baptists are though. It seems that the two Southern Baptists you listed are much higher up the chain of command at the ERLC just from looking over their website. We would probably need more explanation concerning the specific responsibilities of these three individuals. Either way, I expect you are right that Dr. Moore could have found three duly qualified Southern Baptists to fill those positions whether Calvinists or not.

    This reminds me of something I recently read. I purchased a book entitled, “Exiled: Voices of the Southern Baptist Convention Holy War” because I discovered that the author of one of the chapters was previously the pastor of the church where I serve now. He tells of attending the 1990 convention in New Orleans where a non-Southern Baptist was elected as chair of the Nominating Committee. He claims that someone stood up to question the nomination and was basically shut down by the president and booed by the messengers as he walked away from the microphone. I hope that did not happen.

    I would also add that the Southern Baptist background for many of the professors at our seminaries across the soteriological spectrum is suspect. That probably has to be the case if we are going to provide the quality of theological education that we desire. An affirmation of the BF&M 2000 along with a willingness to join a SBC church is probably the strongest litmus test that we want to place.

    Nonetheless, entity heads do need to at least consider SBC background when hiring with an SBC background being the deciding factor when two candidates are similar in other qualifications. Thanks for the post.

  17. says

    I am in full agreement that the nominees should have all been active members of SBC churches. If they are active Southern Baptists and qualified to serve on the committee I wouldn’t care if one, none or all are Calvinist or Traditionalist or hybrid between the two positions. I don’t see their soteriology, assuming it doesn’t disagree with the BFM, having a detrimental effect on their ability to serve on this committee.

  18. Louis Cook says

    I think you should have broken this into two articles as the main point, to me, is being overshadowed by the Calvinism issue. The leadership of any and all SBC-funded entities should absolutely be believers and members of SBC churches. That is a truth that should be self-evident.
    On the second issue it seems that a day after MLK Day the ERLC has revealed their employment plan: non- Reformed need not apply. I believe Lifeway must have the same HR director.

  19. Ron F. Hale says


    Is it not amazing how much influence and power is concentrated in just two SBC congregations: 1). Highview gives us two new staff members of the ERLC (along with two already presidents of our SBC entities). 2). Capitol Hill – had how many of their members were on the presidential search team for the ERLC – was it one, two, or three?

    Shared leadership was once a golden principle in SBC life – not any more!

  20. John Wylie says


    I guess I just don’t get the fascination that some of our SBC leaders have with sovereign grace ministries. I would think after the scandals the thrill should be gone.

  21. says

    Rick, here’s another memo from SBC headquarters at New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, KY.

    1) I don’t think the Conservative Resurgence could have happened in our SBC entities if your rules were applied back then. How many practicing Southern Baptists had the degrees and experience necessary to teach in our seminaries that weren’t liberal?

    2) I think Brewton-Parker just hired a former Independent Baptist as their President. Since he affirms the BF&M2K, it doesn’t bother me that he came from an Independent Baptist influence (Although I have other concerns here.).

    3) Thus, the practice you’re coming against has happened throughout SBC history and is continuing to happen throughout the SBC. We might be able to call this practice “Traditional.”

    4) I’m glad when godly men and women come join the SBC, confess the BF&M2K, and are pro-SBC. I think it’s something to celebrate, not something to discourage or lament about.

    • Allen Calkins says

      I am as happy as anyone for those raised in another tradition to join the SBC. But I really do not believe it is too much to ask for executives in our SBC entities have SBC credentials a little stronger than their willingness to JOIN an SBC church after they move. SBC entities are funded by faithful SBC members who believe in the SBC enough to entrust us with their tithes and offerings. We deserve SBC leaders in our SBC entities. This has little to do with their theological perspective, so long as they affirm the BF&M.

      There are many para-church orgs and non-SBC seminaries with great leaders. But we do not need them to be part of the executive leadership in our SBC entities when there are plenty of qualified individuals out there with solid SBC credentials. Once again, executive level, not necessarily lower level management or staff.

          • Tarheel says


            The VP (Bethancourt) is southern Baptist? He is even delineated as such in the original post. As is the Chief of staff (Patterson).

            As for the 2 “non credentialed” southern Baptist…

            Ms. Newbell is a CONSULTANT for women;s ministries…hardly high level, one would think.

            Carter is director of communications….again…not sure that is an executive. May just be PR/ web design/ ect…

    • John Wylie says


      Dr. Caner has been a Southern Baptist for years and even the church he was a member of while he was the provost at Arlington Baptist College was affiliated with Southern Baptists of Texas. With all due respect, (and I do mean that) that is not even comparable.

        • Tarheel says

          My apologies…I did the search wrong. TRBC is listed as SBC….but only because they give a little to the CP, and I do mean little, see the SBCV book of reports for more info….so they could partner with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of VA as a feeder for students to LU.

          It could be argued that the connection is simply one of convenience….not one of ‘loyalty”.

          Is that going to be a standard for employment now too? Are TRBC members off limits to employment with our entities?

          • volfan007 says


            Thomas Rd. is a SB Church….even though they don’t meet your requirements for being a member in good standing, apparently. Just admit, Bro…you missed this one. Your point failed. Don’t try to justify it with a “yea, they’re SB’s, but they’re not good ones.”


          • Tarheel says

            LOL….that point failed and I admitted it already. No problem…I had forgotten that TRBC had for appearances and other reasons joined the SBCV several years back, and as I said I did the search wrong, I goofed.

            My overarching point was that if others can employ subjective standards of loyalty to the SBC…so can I.

            I’ve made other points, care to address those?

          • John Wylie says


            I appreciate your response. I would simply that it would be nice if an employee came from a church that was at least affiliate in some respect to Southern Baptists.

          • Tarheel says

            I am fine with that….hoping, wishing, thinking it should be so…

            But, others have suggested that it be an automatic disqualifier if one is not an SBC member…that is what I have a problem with.

            I trust Dr. Moore, so I am giving him the benefit of that trust…that he has hired well qualified staff members who affirm our doctrinal confession and are men and women of integrity.

            I have no reason to think he has done otherwise. Simply hiring a 3 people who were not SBCers at time of hire (and 2 of which are not executive positions) is not enough to cause me to question my trust for Dr. Moore and what he is doing at ERLC.

            Like others have said, he has not hired outside of orthodoxy. That would be a concern to me had that happened, but it hasn’t.

            Absent reason not to, and Moore to the point…I trust Dr. Moore. (see what I did there, LOL) 😉

          • cb scott says

            Again, I was there. I was part of the SBCV when Thomas Road was accepted. The reasons were far and away beyond what the guy from NC who calls himself Tarheel states. Again, his comment is another illustration of ignorance.

          • Tarheel says

            I too was there (and was there at the earliest meetings of the SBCV as well) guess who WAS NOT in any way….TRBC, or Jerry Falwell.

            Yes, thy joined later (it could certainly be argued as a mutually advantageous arrangement for both TRBC and the SBCV) ….but they’re involvement is tertiary at best, and if you ask people in leadership at TRBC, liberty University, etc. on the record if they’re “southern Baptst” and the answer will be “no”.

            As for CP contribution, which is a more like contribution than I “buy in”……TRBC’s annual budget, and undesignated receipts is certainly in the millions….See page 70 of the 2013 sbcv book of reports


            So if denominational loyalty is up to subjective reasoning as suggested here…I subjectively suggest that Caner was not a “true” SBCer while holding membership at TRBC.

          • cb scott says

            No. You were not there “in the earliest meetings of the SBCV.” In the earliest meetings of the SBCV we could have met in a phone booth.

  22. Tarheel says

    I can’t help but wonder if these nominees to these positions that have some in such an uproar would have garnered this attention had they not been Calvinists? Is that the ‘real’ rub?

    Does anyone have any numbers, names and positions of persons nominated or filling positions at SBC entities that are not Calvinists? I have never seen a blog post highlighting those…are there any?

    Excellent points Adam and Jared about professors and SBC college heads….

    I think so long as people affirm the BF&M2000 the fact that thy are faithfully attending gospel preaching churches that are not SBC, then they should not be disqualified (for that reason alone) from serving the Lord within the ERLC.

    Question; How many churches employ secretaries and bookkeepers who are not members of their church, or attending worship at a , gasp, church that is not SBC? These positions are certainly positions of importance within the local church.

    Another question….how many members of SBC churches hold denominational office and hardly ever darken the door of the church where that membership is registered?

  23. Tarheel says

    Second paragraph should read…

    Does anyone have any numbers, names and positions of persons nominated or filling positions at SBC entities who do not have “sufficient SBC credentials” and are NOT Calvinists? I have never seen a blog post highlighting those…are there any? –

  24. says

    I want to say a word about this post, then I am mostly going to stay out of the discussion.

    I always get criticism from folks when I publish posts like this (on either side, frankly). One side implies that SBC Voices is a Calvinist enclave (which is patently false and I have worked hard to make sure that it is not). The other side believes that I should not publish opinions such as Rick’s.

    Most blogs have a particular point-of-view. Some are Calvinist, others are anti-Calvinist, and others reflect one person’s POV. SBC Voices strives to be unique in that we give all sides (well, most sides) of issues.

    My unofficial motto is “All the Angles on the SBC.”

    For that reason, I publish a LOT of posts with which I personally disagree. And I have a LOT of disagreements with Rick and his viewpoint on this.

    However, this is not a “flame” post. Rick articulates a viewpoint. He talked to the BoT and makes a reasoned criticism. I am not in agreement with Rick on these issues, but I felt that the post was a reasonable presentation of a point.

    So, I hit publish. I usually have a few people who tell me, “I’m never coming back to SBC Voices again” after I publish a controversial post. If you want ONE POV, then there are certainly places that you can go to hear only that which you agree with. I do not want SBC Voices to be that place.

    I have turned down some posts in the past – both Calvinist and non-Calvinist/anti-Calvinist etc, because I felt that they were more heat than light. This post asks a question that is valid for discussion about the hiring practices of one of our entities.

    I hate this kind of thing, frankly. I’d rather publish theology and devotional posts and discuss those kinds of topics.

    But if we are going to be “SBC Voices” we cannot be “the SBC Voices Dave agrees with.”

  25. says

    One more thing – on Calvinism-related posts, there is a tendency for the discussion to turn nasty (often somewhere around 50 comments – we are nearing that). So, I have a quicker trigger finger to kill the discussion if it starts turning petty or pejorative.

  26. Dave Miller says

    A second “one more thing.”

    I am a huge fan of Dr. Russell Moore and think that his election to the ERLC is one of the best things that has happened to the SBC in quite a while (right up there with Dr. Frank Page’s selection).

  27. William Carpenter says

    Rick, I agree with you on the issue of SBC entities need to hire Southern Baptists. To me it is an issue of denominational loyalty. Merely affirming that you agree with the BF&M is not enough for me. I want to know that our leaders are loyal to the convention. Evidently these three are not, since they are not members of the convention, and if they later joined it was not for loyalty to the convention but opportunity for jobs.

    Also denominational loyalty and Baptist tradition is extremely important to the leadership of the ERLC as the biggest challenge our denomination will be facing in the near future is religious liberty. Baptists have a rich heritage of speaking out for religious liberty. I want to know that those who will be speaking for me understand and embrace that heritage.

    Concerning the Calvinism angle, I tend to disagree with you most of the time on this topic. However, this time your point is well taken. It is a problem when five hires are brought is and the strongest commonality is not their connection to the SBC but to Calvinist ministries. I will agree with you that leaders need to be asked if they’re loyalty is more to the SBC or these Calvinist organizations. If they’re Calvinist and loyal the SBC that is fine by me, but if they are more loyal to the other organizations, then those organizations are where they need to be. (BTW there should not be a litmus test concerning Calvinism/Traditionalism or affiliation with another organization, merely a demonstration of loyalty to the convention is what I want.)

  28. says


    It’s really good to see you over here at Voices. I’m thankful for the dialogue allowed here and believe that you have raised some very valid concerns. Thanks, brother!

    • Rick Patrick says


      Thanks for making me feel so welcome, even though some of my viewpoints address areas of controversy. I’m glad to serve in a convention where we may not always agree on every decision, but we all agree in our love for Jesus and desire to make Him known.

  29. Tarheel says

    William said,

    “I agree with you on the issue of SBC entities need to hire Southern Baptists. To me it is an issue of denominational loyalty. Merely affirming that you agree with the BF&M is not enough for me. I want to know that our leaders are loyal to the convention. Evidently these three are not, since they are not members of the convention, and if they later joined it was not for loyalty to the convention but opportunity for jobs”.

    I hope that you did not mean that as it came across….I know I often come across differently than I intend. If these people in question read that comment, they might take it as an attack against their character. That they are “for sale”, so to speak. I trust you did not mean it that way.

    How do y’all feel about this; Lets look at this another way…

    Let’s say a God honoring, biblically conservative, gospel preaching, people loving man submitted a resume to an SBC church search committee for an associate pastor position at a well respected church within the SBC denomination that had a well respected senior pastor.

    This candidate affirmed with passion the supremacy of scripture and the confesses alliance with the BFM2000, in addition he is highly qualified and personally known to the senior pastor as being a man of character and high capability. The man, however, is not a southern baptist.

    Would that senior pastor be suspect for hiring a man with whom he has a relationship and trusts? Would we assume the worst or make statements implying his (the Senior Pastor) disloyalty to the SBC? Would we imply that the Associate pastor is for sale?

    Are we saying that God’s calling to positions within the SBC entities cannot, or should not, be extended to those who are not ‘loyal” southern Baptists?

    Should we, at our entities, be more concerned with theological compatibility and positional capability or should we just limit ourselves to people who have a certain level of “SBC credentials” …which is of course subjective (who gets to determine that?)

    Also, the quota ideas presented in this comment stream (whether they be Calvinists, non Calvinists, or what) scare me to death. I hope we do not go that way.

    • William Carpenter says


      First off, I am not intending to say or imply that these individuals are “for sale.” Concerning the last sentence that you quoted above, I admit it is awkwardly worded and can be read as saying such. That is not my intention, and I apologize for my awkwardness.

      With that said, I stand by my statement concerning denominational loyalty. I am Southern Baptist because I believe in what we as Southern Baptists stand for. I am Southern Baptist because I believe in the way we as Southern Baptists work together for missions. My question is, if these individuals believed in the work of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the way we go about business, enough so that they must articulate and defend our position to the world, then why are they not Southern Baptist before taking the position. It is not sufficient to me that they are “willing” to become Southern Baptist or join a Southern Baptist church. If they believe in our position strongly enough to defend that position to the world, they ought to show that by identifying with Southern Baptists before taking an SBC position.

      Concerning your scenario, first off local churches are different than the denomination, and each church can determine their own qualifications for leaders. In our church, that associate pastor would not be considered. I have sat in interviews with candidates where the question was asked concerning whether the candidate belonged to a Southern Baptist church. Most of the time it never got to that point. When the resume indicated they were not active in a Southern Baptist church it was set aside. The senior pastor’s loyalty would not be questioned (and I am not questioning Moore’s loyalty), but he would be told that he needs to consider the denominational affiliation of candidates. Further, I would tell the candidate that if he believes in what we as Southern Baptists are doing, then he needs to join a Southern Baptist church and be active in its ministry.

      As far as SBC credentials, there is one credential that is not subjective: whether the person is a member of a Southern Baptist Church or not. That is the only credential I am asking for.

      • Tarheel says

        So are you saying that only southern baptist can adequately believe in and support the work of southern baptists?

        If they affirm our confession and the supremacy of scripture….is that not enough for consideration of employment (especially since 2 of the three non SBCers referenced in the post were not high level positions? Do you feel the same about all employees at the denominational offices, how about those who are employed at state conventions, and associations? Should they ALL too meet the minimum standard you are articulating?

        I ask again…how many high level denominational leaders are ‘members’ of SBC churches, but rarely darken the doors? Would that be a problem to you?

        • Tarheel says

          William said; “Merely affirming that you agree with the BF&M is not enough for me.”

          Not trying to be snarky..but apparently, along with other stellar qualifications, that affirmation was enough for Dr. Moore to feel comfortable in nominating them, and for the trustees to approve them.

          You spoke of church autonomy and said it is different from our entities…I agree. But, the way the entities operate has not changed in many, many years….Presidents, at the advice and consent of the duly elected trustees, make these types of decisions.

          I fully expect someone will propose a resolution at the SBC in Baltimore to address this. We will see what happens with that.

      • says

        So you would have that person called to the ministry join a SBC church for X number of years before you would consider them for a position in your church? Even when they would affirm and agree with the BFM2000 in every detail? Simply put that is destructive to the church, and THAT is what is driving people away. Close-minded, arrogant, destructive ideas. I have a friend who was at Seminary at the same time I was, a SBC Seminary mind you. He was raised SBC his entire life. After graduating he was lead and offered the senior pastors position of a small non-denominational church in a rural town. Now he, and the church, are fully “baptist”. They are “congregational”. They are “missional”. In every way shape and form they, both the my friend and the church are in line with the core doctrines of the SBC. Suppose one day he feels led to leave that church and go somewhere else. Are you saying he cannot, and should not be allowed to be a SBC pastor, whether it is in your church, or your association, or any SBC affiliated church? Once again, if that is what you are saying, it is no wonder this denomination is going down the tubes with such destructive ideas. I truly hope that is not what you are saying.

      • William Carpenter says

        Tarheel says: “So are you saying that only southern baptist can adequately believe in and support the work of southern baptists?”
        Actually the point here is that they are not supporting the work of Southern Baptists. That is the issue. Do they support the work of the IMB, NAMB, our six seminaries, and the ERLC? If they are not, then the question needs to be raised as why not and that reflects when the leadership of our convention does not support its work. Yes, I realize that they might now join a SBC church, but why are we asking people to lead us who are not now supporting our work? Concerning whether you have to be Southern Baptist to believe in the doctrines affirmed in the BF&M, no you do not. There are plenty non-Southern Baptists who affirm what the BF&M says. To be exact there are probably many who don’t like Southern Baptist but agree with the views expressed in the BF&M, but they are not supporting the work of the SBC.

        Tarheel says: “Do you feel the same about all employees at the denominational offices…?”
        No, only the leaders. I expect that leaders will lead in the manner they have already demonstrated before they are called. Also, any leader will find it difficult to lead people to do something they have not already demonstrated that they are willing to do. In this case how can leaders call for support of SBC work when they have demonstrated previously that they do not support that work themselves.

        Tarheel says: “I ask again…how many high level denominational leaders are ‘members’ of SBC churches, but rarely darken the doors? Would that be a problem to you?”
        Yes it would. I said in my statements that they need to be that my encouragement to the candidate in your scenario needs to join an Southern Baptist church and be active in its ministry. In other words support the work of the church and its greater work of cooperation with Southern Baptists.

        SVMuschany says: “So you would have that person called to the ministry join a SBC church for X number of years before you would consider them for a position in your church?”
        I laid out no prescription for “X number of years” of service. As stated above, though, if I am asking him to lead in the church then he needs to demonstrate that he supports the churches ministry, including our support for SBC causes.

        Concerning your friend, any church can call him as its pastor. That is for the church to decide. If he were being considered for a position in the association or church I’m at, then I’m going to ask not just if he supports the core doctrines of the SBC, but the core work of the SBC also. Not everyone has to be Southern Baptist to support the doctrines that we affirm. I wholeheartedly support that there are churches that affirm these doctrines but are not Southern Baptist. They can affiliate or not affiliate as they wish. That is their right as a church. But being Southern Baptist is more than affirming our core doctrines, it isn’t less than that but it is more than that. Being Southern Baptist means affirming our work through the IMB, NAMB, our seminaries, and the ERLC. If a church does not affirm that work, even if they like the idea but they do not support it, then they are not affirming our core SBC identity. That is fine. But when I am considering a candidate to lead my church or my association, I am going to ask, “Why do you not support what we as Southern Baptists do, and since you do not support it why do you want to lead a Southern Baptist church/association?” Your friend may have a very good answer, and that would be taken into consideration, but I’m still going to the ask the question.

        • Tarheel says

          Does it not stand to reason that if they are not attending an SBC church, for whatever reason, that they would not financially support the IMB/NAMB?

          Does that mean that they do not admire, appreciate, and support what these entities do? I say not necessarily. Perhaps they do and “cannot wait’ to jump on board with it. Perhaps their perspective and ‘fresh eyes’ might help us do even better in ministry….we do not have the corner on missionary ministry, ya know.

          I would also tell you that there are members of my church who (a small number for sure, but they are here) while being SBCers, and giving faithfully to our church which turns around and gives 11% of all undesignated offerings to the CP, takes up LM offerings, offers and facilitates international mission experiences, and the like, these ‘faithful sbcers” do not truly support the concept of foreign missions…they think…despite being taught differently that “we should do nothing abroad until we do everything at home” to the exclusion of international missions.

          I only share that to demonstrate that while being a member of an SBC church carries with it certain assumptions regarding support of our entities…that is not always the case.

          I am saying that not every SBCer is “true blue” so to speak….and every “non SBCer” is on the other team or a hater.

        • says

          So given your caveats, a person has to join an SBC church as a layman before they can pastor or serve as a minister in one?

          That’s non-sensical if true and it means your pool of available people will be shrinking rapidly and diminishing in quality due to inbreeding.

          Can you please clarify your statement?

          • William Carpenter says

            Ryan, any church can call any pastor that they desire. I have said that twice (1st reply to Tarheel third paragraph, “…and each church can determine their own qualifications for leaders.” 2nd reply to Tarhell & Muschany fifth paragraph, “Concerning your friend, any church can call him as its pastor. That is for the church to decide.”). So for the fourth time, if a Southern Baptist church desires to call a non-SBC pastor that is their decision. However, if they called a Presbyterian pastor, they should not be surprised if he waffles on confessional-baptism and congregational polity. If they called a non-denomination pastor, they should not be surprised if he waffles on Southern Baptist identity. If they call an independent Baptist pastor, they should not be surprised if he waffles on cooperation and support for cooperative work. The way to demonstrate support for SBC causes is to by supporting SBC causes. Therefore in my church and my association I am going to ask you to show me your support for SBC causes more than just saying, “I support these causes.” If you say you support them but are not leading your church to support them, I’m going to ask, “Then why are you not currently supporting them.”

  30. says

    I am a 5 point Calvinist and i am glad that Rick gets to post not only his opinion but also a thought provocative piece.
    My opinion on whether God has Calvinists to run the SBC is that if it be His will, so be it. But if He has Traditionalists rise up and run it, so be it.

    May all the glory be His.

  31. Matt Svoboda says

    Note to Dr. Moore,

    Just want to say a big THANK YOU for your work and your role with the ERLC. I think your voice and your approach as a whole are exactly what the SBC needs in our current culture.

    Also, if the pushback from this juggernaut blog post gets so strong you are forced to fire one of your people and need to hire a Southern Baptist I will be happy to take your call! 😉

    • Todd Benkert says

      Ditto what Matt said — Love what you’re doing at the ERLC! (and Matt would indeed be a fine addition to your team)

    • Rick Patrick says

      Matt, Todd and Jared,

      Perhaps you will get your wish someday and Dr. Moore will indeed hire you, for you clearly possess the five primary qualifications necessary to conform with the candidate profile. :-)

        • Todd Benkert says

          My Five points:
          1. The Bible says that God chooses us
          2. The Bible says that we must choose God
          3. I choose not to place my particular soteriological view as part of my identity nor even near the top of what’s important to me
          4. I choose to be neither a Calvinazi nor Calviphobic
          5. I choose to obey the Great Commission and will partner with Arminians, Calvinists, and “Traditionalist” Baptists to do so both inside and outside the SBC

    • tom bryant says

      Who knows? Maybe Dr. Moore will want to hire a southern baptist to a southern baptist entity paid for by southern baptist dollars to represent southern baptist churches. So you might get that call.

  32. says

    I have nothing of value to add with a comment. That said, I find the argument interesting and look forward to seeing more, calm and respectful debate on this matter.

  33. Nick Horton says

    I’d rather have the right person for the job, who is faithful to the Bible, than someone that holds an SBC member card above all other considerations. I trust Dr. Moore and do not see a vast conspiracy in every corner with his hiring or his staff.

    Folks call the SBC a denomination because that’s convenient, but we’re unique. We’re Baptists, people. The local church reigns supreme, not SBC HQ in Nashville, or any of the parachurch organizations such as the ERLC. The denomination does not control our future, our theology, or our churches. They don’t control ANYthing. All our churches have liberty of belief and practice.

    All of you freely associate with the SBC and are under no compulsion to do so. You may just as freely disassociate. For instance, if the SBC again descends in to liberalism I have no problem leaving it. I support it only as long as I think it is the best vehicle to get the gospel to the nations. If they lose the gospel, they lose me.

    I don’t think any of that has happened. I think the Seminaries are run well and the ERLC is in great hands under Dr. Moore. I have hope for our future as a small eddy-pool in global Christianity, and hope for our global witness for the glory of God.

    I am thankful that I was welcomed in to the church on my credible profession of faith and my baptism, and not what I did before. I’m thankful that Christ welcomed me in to his family upon my repentance and faith and not my prior record. I’m also thankful that his gospel is not just for SBC folks, but for the lost of the whole world.

    • says

      As a Southern Baptist I have a problem with allowing those who may or may not hold to our Baptist distinctives being placed into prominent positions. The surest way to know if someone agrees with what us is if they are in a Southern Baptist affiliated church. Failure to be a Southern Baptist does not mean we can’t work together, but we should promote within our denomination in an effort to develop leaders who readily affirm what we claim to believe are the teachings/doctrines of Jesus Christ.

      This post is important at getting into what is a serious problem within the SBC—our cliquishness. While I did not like the liberal criticism of the conservative resurgence, there was one criticism that was sort of accurate. Specifically, that there was an effective SBC College of Cardinals that anointed the next conservative leader and selected leadership for the entities. It appears that this reasonable precaution of the past continues as despite the great breadth of talent within the entire SBC, we continue to see the same people given the microphone at event after event. I wonder if we did a better job of inclusion that perhaps there would be fewer incidents like this that appear to be where appointments are made with theological favoritism.

      That said, I enjoyed hearing Dr. Moore preach Sunday. I believe he will do a good job of leading, and is an important voice. I don’t think these questions should be considered dissatisfaction with Dr. Moore.

      • Tarheel says

        Alan, I posted the doctrinal statement of the church that the new ERLC VP for communications pastored …here it is again. He is the only non SBC person that Moore appointed to a high level position. (Darling)

        That statement certainly adheres to Southern Baptist distinctives.

        Two other appointees (Bethancourt and Patterson) were high level execs and they were in fact southern Baptists.

        The another gentlemen (Carter) and (Newbell) were not southern baptist at the time of appointment, but it seems they were appointed to positions that do not seem to be high level positions at all.

      • Nick Horton says

        Do you really think Dr. Moore, former Dean of the School of Theology of SBTS, SBC from the day of his new birth until now, is going to hire someone whom he could not cooperate with theologically? He’s not appointing Catholics and Lutherans to fill these positions.

        So yes, I view these posts as inherently distrustful of Dr. Moore’s actions. If his actions are the case study, how could I not conclude Rick doesn’t trust Dr. Moore? Why else cast doubts and take issue with who he has hired?

        I will allow that Rick may simply dislike his hiring practices. Seems odd to write such a big post because you don’t like who he hired yet trust him and by extension his staff. I dunno. What say you, Rick?

        • says

          Do we really know what these non-Baptists are?

          I submit that it is an open question. After all, didn’t one organization (Lifeway) recently hire someone that rejected a key baptist belief and said, “I am a baptistic guy attending a Presbyterian Church. Why? Because baptism was a fence that seemed more harmful than helpful.”

          That doesn’t sound very Baptist to me. After all, baptism is kind of central to how we Baptists organized ourselves–that only believers should get dunked.

          • Nick Horton says

            Not familiar with the Lifeway case nor is it related to Russell Moore and the ERLC in particular. My focus here is particular, not general.

            Do we really think Russell Moore is hiring those who are not in step with core Baptist beliefs and supportive of the SBC’s efforts?

          • Tarheel says

            “Do we really think Russell Moore is hiring those who are not in step with core Baptist beliefs and supportive of the SBC’s efforts?”

            The answer for me is an emphatic, of course not!

            I would like to see others answer that question as well, as I think it hits on the heart of the matter.

          • says

            And in this particular instance the fact these people are not Southern Baptists speaks loudly.

            The problem is that we aren’t sure what it tells us.

            It really doesn’t matter if these people affirm everything we affirm as Southern Baptists. They have chosen to be outside our way of doing things. That says something about them and their view of us (or at least most of us.)

          • Todd Benkert says

            Correction, all five of the persons mentioned in the post are (present tense) Southern Baptists.

          • says

            Present tense point is well taken. However, that doesn’t change the fact they weren’t before employment. I’m not sure that makes me feel any better about how they felt about us.

          • Todd Benkert says

            How they felt about us? I really don’t understand your point at all. The Christian world does not revolve around the SBC. A person being a part of an non-SBC church or denomination says nothing about how they felt about us, it says something about how they felt about the church or denomination to which they belonged. The fact that they have now become a part of us should tell you exactly how they feel about us. They like us enough to join us!

          • says

            The world may not revolve around the SBC, but supporting it does give me an expectation that the people who represent me are going to at least reflect my beliefs. Do these people? Maybe. Maybe not.

            The fact they waited to join an SBC congregation until after they were offered/started a job is not exactly comforting to this rank-and-file Southern Baptist.

            And you are right. Their choice of church/denomination outside the SBC tells us they preferred that choice over our way of doing church…before they got a job in the SBC.

          • says

            Alan would you say that God would not call a person to a ministry outside of the SBC? What happens when that person who is called into one ministry, then through like calling, moves onto a ministry in the SBC? How in any way does that calling demonstrate anything close to that person not “preferring” how things are done in the SBC. I don’t know about you, but i follow GOD first, not a man made denomination.

          • Todd Benkert says

            In the general order of things, people join churches not denominations. Before I was SBC, I did not sit around thinking I prefer my denomination’s way of doing things more than the SBC’s way. I didn’t think of the SBC at all. I didn’t even know there was an SBC. But as a college student, I joined a church. And in joining a church, learned that I was part of a denomination which I grew to love and in which I have now served for 24 years.

            Now the way that these individuals have come to be SBC is not the norm. But I sincerely doubt that their previous affiliations were made with any thought at all to the SBC or any preference against our way of doing things. Part of accepting their position with the ERLC was in fact accepting the Baptist way, affirming Baptist theology, and becoming a part of us. I welcome them with open arms. I hope more will follow.

        • Joe Blackmon says

          I remember one of his first interviews after his appointment quoted Moore as saying something along the lines of we need to be friendlier toward moderate Baptists and look for ways to cooperate where we can. After that statement, I wrote him off entirely.

          • Dave Miller says

            If that is the case, that would be unfortunate. He is a bright spot among SBC’s younger leaders.

          • Tarheel says

            Provided that is a direct quote, Joe…

            Being friendly is a turn off to you? Its very biblical.

            I would also ask you to notice that he said “cooperate where we can”

            That does not mean acquiescence or compromise….it means cooperate when that is not required.

            I will be friendly to the Jehovah’s witness when he comes to my door at 9am on Saturday morning…I will help a Mormon build a house with Habitat for Humanity, but I ain’t having either of them preach at my church, or go on an evangelistic mission trip with me.

        • Rick Patrick says

          I don’t know that it’s a matter of trusting or not trusting Dr. Moore. I simply disagree with him on the issue of whether or not it is a deal breaker if a candidate for a Southern Baptist denominational post is not even a Southern Baptist on their hire date. I say it should be a deal breaker.

          You wrote: “you don’t like who he hired…” Not quite. I specifically said it was not about them at all. I don’t know them. I wish them well. They are probably really nice people. It’s not a matter of “like.” It’s a matter of “Southern Baptist membership.” It is a principle I would like to see applied in such situations.

          • Tarheel says


            Do you trust Dr. Moore to make wise hiring decisions in his position or not? It’s a straightforward question.

          • Tarheel says

            ..and if not, why? Has he given you reason to not trust that he is acting wisely, appropriately and for the good of the ERLC and the SBC?

          • Tarheel says

            One more straightforward question…

            if it is ONLY about “SBC MEMBERSHIP” as you mentioned…then why are the two VP’s are ARE Southern Baptist members included in your post at all?

          • Rick Patrick says


            I may disagree with Moore’s philosophy of cultural engagement, which he calls convictional kindness, because I think it creates a fair measure of confusion when compared with confrontational clarity. The lost world does not give us credit for our kindness, and the media believes we have backed off our engagement. We are not sounding the trumpet as clearly as we might.

            Nevertheless, I do generally trust Dr. Moore. Although his politics are slightly left of mine, he is certainly smart and articulate. Unfortunately, he is not at all infallible or incapable of making a bad decision. Thus, my post questions his vetting policy, but not his character. There is no point in making it a personal attack or a matter of trust. There are people I trust with my life that I would still hold accountable if I felt they were doing something unwise.

            My post simply addressed the entire slate of five candidates appointed on September 11th. As such, Dr. Moore’s 100% Gospel Coalition slate at least gets credit for being 40% Southern Baptist. Take away the two SBC appointments and the contrast only gets worse—the slate of three is 100% Gospel Coalition and 0% SBC.

  34. Joel says

    Rick, what is this “Missionary Dating” of which you negatively speak in the OP? Are we not allowed to date outside the tent of the SBC? I’ve never heard of that, and if so it surprises me.

    • says

      I’m fairly certain that term applies to dating non-Christians in an attempt to get them to God. Something that usually results in compromised morals and a tainted Christian witness.

    • Rick Patrick says

      You know what missionary dating is—dating a lost person, which is to say someone OUTSIDE the Body of Christ, hoping that by your relationship with them they will be converted and thus become INSIDE the Body of Christ. Similarly, the metaphor intended in the expression “missionary hiring” is suggestive of selecting a person OUTSIDE the SBC so that by accepting your job offer they will become INSIDE the SBC.

      One is about dating. The other is about hiring. One is about their salvation. The other is about their denomination.

      Every metaphor breaks down when pushed too far. In this case, that would mean suggesting anything more than an OUTSIDE to INSIDE application—in other words, claiming “missionary dating” applies to other denominations or “missionary hiring” applies to the lost. Believe me, if I thought any of these three candidates were actually lost, I WOULD be calling for their removal from office! But that’s not the case here. I believe they are saved, but were simply OUTSIDE our denomination at the time of their hiring.

      • Joel says

        Okay, that makes sense. I’m 33 years old, and have never heard the term before, so I wasn’t quite sure what you meant but it. In that case, I am fully anti-missionary dating as well… though my single cousin who is a missionary might be a bit chapped with me. 😉

  35. says

    Hey Rick,

    Speaking as a 5 point Calvinist (who would probably be a 7 pointer if there were 7 points), and a non-SBC guy, I largely agree with your concern that people elected to leadership positions within an organization should be an involved part of that organization, Calvinist or not.

    I liked the “unqualified” vs. “disqualified” comment – that was good. These men are no more or less capable than other men, and that comment bears that out. But it seems as if there were no (or very few) pre-requisites given for the positions they were being evaluated for?

    We had a belief that if anyone sought a leadership role in the church, they needed to be members – and I think that’s wise.

    On the flip side, “denominational loyalty” is a sticky subject that can easily be turned into something not so good (something like “us 4 and no more” kinds of attitudes.) Even when I was involved with a denominational church, my concern was more for the body of Christ than any denomination – it just so happened that the denomination I was in aligned very closely with my beliefs.

    A cautionary anecdote – it’s been my experience that well intentioned people get stuck in a rut of denominationalism. They begin to think that their denomination is not just “a set of beliefs that I agree with and practice” but is “we do what the bible says, and anything else is wrong.” “Where stands it written” was the filter through which my previous denomination saw things, but they extended that to issues of practice and called it orthodoxy.

    For example – the new member process. That became a sacred cow that was VERY hard to tip in favor of a no less biblical but more practical/edifying approach. As elders, we were actually giving the congregation MORE control over the membership process, but since there was no vote (rather, there was a two month process of communication with and consultation from the congregation, at the end of which, the elders would compile the information and decide without a congregational vote), the congregation was immediately skeptical and pretty much didn’t listen to the discussion – they made their mind up, and even said “That’s not how we do things” (even though in the history of my service at that church, I never saw anyone who sought membership being “no-voted” at any congregational meeting.)

    All that to say – I agree with pre-requisites and filtering candidates, but I’d be careful about becoming “us 4 and no more”. It’s a fine line for sure…


  36. Rick Mang says

    “Of course, those souls so unfortunate that they do not receive God’s unconditional election must endure His equally irresistible wrath.”

    I find it incredible that anyone thinks that unrepentant sinners are “unfortunate” because they receive the wrath of God.


    • volfan007 says


      Unfortunate because they have no hope of salvation, whatsoever. They are predetermined for doom in Hell….with no real opportunity for salvation.

      I believe that’s what Rick would say. Maybe.


  37. Joe Blackmon says

    I think I’m a Calvinist-I say think because I don’t hate Vegi-tales (“Where is my hairbrush”….), I don’t support C.J. Mahaney, and there isn’t one tenet of Calvinism I would lift my pinky toe to defend and I think debating them is pretty stupid.

    But, I totally agree with Rick’s concern that folks that were not even Southern Baptists were hired for these positions. Not that I think Southern Baptists are the only ones going to heaven and not that I think I can’t learn from folks outside the SBC, but to me it is weird to hire non-SBC’s to a demoninational office.

  38. Dave Miller says

    At the request of the person who made the original comment, I deleted a series of comments. I appreciate his willingness to allow me to do so.

  39. Dean says

    It would be interesting to see exactly what the process was for hiring these individuals. Were they acquaintances of Dr. Moore who were offered a position? Did they reply to an advertisement of the job openings? That information would be interesting and might clearly indicate the credentials that led to their hiring. Whatever their credentials or reason for their hiring I will trust Dr. Moore though it disappoints me he can’t hire within the SBC.

    Some in this thread have been critical of denominational leaders, i.e. Vance Pitman, for allowing some to lead worship in our meetings who in the past have been associated with an unorthodox view of the Trinity. These worship leaders have affirmed the BF&M but still are not qualified to lead worship in a single meeting in the eyes of some.

    It is apparent that often what is unacceptable in those who are not of our tribe is indeed acceptable in those who are of our tribe.

      • Dean says

        Tarheel, I was attempting to communicate that some who are not SB have been hired by Dr Moore and that is defended by some. However, some of those same individuals who are defending this practice have stated that people who have affirmed should not lead in worship at an SBC event. It appears to demonstrate tribalism is still thriving among us.

        • Tarheel says

          Might that be because, none of the Moore new hires are even accused of being unorthodox or being associated with unorthodox churches, while there was a reasonable amount of concern about the home church of the worship leader in question (where he was associate pastor)….therefore the situations are not comparable?

          • Dean says

            I’m comparing the two situations only in the aspect of confessional affirmation. If confessional affirmation is one’s standard for employment then confessional affirmation is sufficient to sing a set at a meeting in Texas.

            By the way, I am consistent on this matter, I think the SBC should employ SBC members, we should have SBC leaders leading our worship and I would prefer SBC pastors/preachers speak at our denominational meetings.

          • Tarheel says

            I’m consistent too, I have no problem with either (non SBC preachers at denominational events, or hires at th ERLC) so long as baptist distinctives and orthodoxy, as delineated in the BFM, are not violated.

            I happen to think that God blesses and utilizes people outside of the SBC too, and we’d be foolish to refuse to avail ourselves to them and thier ministry out of some false sense of “loyalty/denominational snobbery”.

  40. Tom Jefferson says

    Jumping in late here, and I certainly didn’t take the time all the comments above . . . but if I may weigh in ;

    what concerns me is the continued strong handed influence that Dr Mohler has over the SBC.
    – Danny Aiken at SEBTS was at Southern, right-hand man of Mohler right before being named President.
    -Jason Allen, right-hand man of Al Mohler before being named President of Mid-Western
    -Thom Rainer, president of Lifeway, a Mohler-man before the appointment.
    – Russ Moore at ERLC, Mohler’s right-hand before moving to Washington.
    -Kevin Ezell, again close friend and pastor to Mohler in Louisville before going to NAMB

    Who do you think “runs” the SBC?

    • Tarheel says

      Well years ago arguments similar to the one you just articulated were being made concerning another;

      He was active in the CR and was unquestionably “running the SBC”
      He was named President of an SBC seminary
      He was elected president of the SBC twice
      He’s served on Almost every specially appointed committee in the last 40 years.
      He’s now ascended to the presidency of another Seminary.

      How did/do you feel about that guy being so powerful?

        • Tarheel says

          Me too! Theyre both godly, intelligent, faithful men who’ve honored the Lord and served our denomination well. They’re unquestionably affirming of the BFM and as demonstrated in the comments – great leaders and developers of people.

          I only brought that up to make the point that certain people appearing to be “running the SBC” is nothing new, and, so long as they’re as described in this comment above, not a bad thing.

          I honor and respect Dr. Patterson, I don’t see eye to eye with him on all points of soteriology but that’s OK. I don’t fear him, or his beliefs…nor do I seek to “control his influence”.

  41. Adam Blosser says

    Or maybe Dr. Mohler tends to be able to attract gifted leaders to Southern where their gifts become evident to others resulting in their promotion to other positions in the SBC.

  42. Allen Calkins says

    It is frustrating to those who are not in the reformed camp to feel that a great many gifted and qualified SBC leaders are having to sit on the sidelines without any consideration by those in positions capable of appointing executive staff simply because their theology is not ‘reformed’ enough to pass the Reformed leaders litmus test. It is not unlike the situation that birthed the SBC, Northern state soundly abolitionist Baptists refusing to even consider Southern Baptist candidates for mission appointment because of their possible support of slavery. BUT The Northern dominated mission board was certainly glad to keep taking their money. It was not a fair and reasonable arrangement then and it is not one now either. There is no need for theological quotas. But there certainly is need for inclusion. This mentality trickles down to the State Conventions too. It is tiresome being asked for more CP money and mission offering money from SBC leaders who really are not interested in what most Baptists think or what our desires might be for the SBC because our theology is not 100% in line with their narrow views.

  43. dr. james willingham says

    Dear Rick: I agree that the appointments should have been SBC. However, me thinks thee protesteth too much. I note that you write for another blog which does not like Calvinists and makes no bones about it. Such an attitude is even evident in your remarks above. One gets the feeling that if your group was totally in charge, they would immediately vet every Calvinist and not with a view to acceptance. It follows, therefore, that you would have to dig up the first President of the Southern Baptist Convention, William B. Johnson, and the first President of the Southern Baptist Seminary, James Petigru Boyce, and vet them with a view to rejection. In fact, you and the folks of that other blog might well decide to do as our Catholic Colleagues did back in the long ago; they dug up the bones of John Wickcliffe, burned them, and them dumped them in a river which flowed to the sea, spreading his doctrine all the more. O yes, and you would need to dig up, if you followed their example, the bones of all the Presidents of the SBC down to the 20th century. Of course, that would not be very many as at least two served for as much as 12 years in one case and 19 years in another case, if my memory has not failed me. Not all of us are blank as to the failure of some of our Brethren, but the folks of your camp make it exceedingly difficult to feel any welcome there. I know. I tried to write a commendatory note re: Dr. Hankins visit to SBTS and was basically told no, due to my following a system and personalities. I was even accused of histrionics, but I rather suspect that it was hysterics at my constant references to the facts. In any case, that had nothing to do with the Dr. Hankins visit and my commendation. Still, I was required to agree that I would not take any such approach, and what Baptist would agree to not be free to acknowledge what he or she believes. I would not dream of doing that to the freest free willer, I ever met. In fact, the only person I would restrain is the person out to do bodily harm and the person bent on being hateful and the use of inappropriate language.

    • Rick Patrick says

      Dr. Willingham,

      Someday I hope we meet face to face, perhaps with a keyboard nearby, so I can introduce you to my good friend, the RETURN key, who by God’s grace and for His glory, separates my thoughts into paragraphs. :-)

      I disagree with your assertion that Traditionalists DISLIKE Calvinists. I think we simply DISAGREE with Calvinists. Furthermore, we need to give each other space to promote our own theologies. I do not at all view this situation as you having a theology, Calvinism, that I oppose. That is so one sided. I can almost hear Carly Simon singing, “You’re so vain, you probably think this theology is about you.” As I see it, you have a theology, Calvinism, that you promote, while I have a theology, Traditionalism, that I promote.

      The tricky thing is this—as we each promote our own views, the views themselves happen to be in sharp conflict. That doesn’t mean I’m “playing a Calvinist angle” as someone has suggested, or that I “dislike Calvinism.” Just being who I am and believing what I believe and expressing my Traditionalist theology and defending the rights of Traditionalists in our convention will sound to many Calvinists like I am against them. Rest assured, as Calvinists promote their agenda, we feel the same way.

      I have had more than enough of the narrow perspective that only the Calvinist side has a theology—and that Calvinists are FOR it while Traditionalists are AGAINST it. That’s just not right. Both sides have a theology. Both sides have every right to promote it. As they do so, because the two theologies are in tension with one another, there will unfortunately be conflict. But neither side should shoulder the blame. And yes, I believe we can work together if we listen to each other’s concerns.

      • dr. james willingham says

        Dear Brother Patrick: My Brother-in-law is a Traditionalist as to theology, and I submitted the issues to him. His response with reference to my comments, etc., regarding the blog editor was, “What part of blog does that fellow not understand.” As to why we have a more lenient position with reference to theological differences (cf. allowances for differences on the issue of the atonement and the Union of Separate and Regular Baptists in 1787), which position I have supported these many years. I do believe in letting a man preach and/or write what he believes, so long as he is not hateful, using curse words, or some such form of ungodliness. That he might disagree and say so in strong language (like I despise that viewpoint for the following reasons, etc., and does not add that I despise the advocate of it), I can accept such differences. However, when it comes to letting people go or refusing to hire due to there theological positions vis-à-vis the original agreements, then I really have problems. Just think of the fellows who lost their jobs in certain schools within the past two years. Not all Traditionalists dislike Calvinists as I have indicated in my opening statement, and not all Calvinists dislike Traditionalists which same I assert with reference to myself. But what I do not like is the nit-picky attitude of that blog for which you write that seems not to care for my recital of facts, and, believe you me, I cite only a few, usually repeatedly, in the hopes that they might be learned. However, having taught Baptist history in a seminary extension class, and having done years of research in the subject, including writing a thesis in Intellectual History based on that research, I have to wonder where you and your folks are going. Dr. Frank Page’s committee had given me hope, and at first I thought the other blog was on the way to working together. Then I got the rather harsh note to the contrary. Immediately, I checked with a source (mentioned above) that I considered able to give me an objective understanding. Other sources were e emphatically in the negative, especially in view of my not using hateful language, a thing I will not do. My heart is really hurting over this matter. I had thought we were moving beyond clashing and to the point where one could freely express his views and understandings. Apparently, I was wrong. It almost leads me to think that the Traditionalists think they have the numbers now and are, therefore, moving to get rid of these they regard as their foes. I pray I am wrong on that perception.

      • dr. james willingham says

        Dear Brother Patrick: My Brother-in-law is a Traditionalist as to theology, and I submitted the issues to him. His response with reference to my comments, etc., regarding the blog editor was, “What part of blog does that fellow not understand.” As to why we have a more lenient position with reference to theological differences (cf. allowances for differences on the issue of the atonement and the Union of Separate and Regular Baptists in 1787), which position I have supported these many years. I do believe in letting a man preach and/or write what he believes, so long as he is not hateful, using curse words, or some such form of ungodliness. That he might disagree and say so in strong language (like I despise that viewpoint for the following reasons, etc., and does not add that I despise the advocate of it), I can accept such differences. However, when it comes to letting people go or refusing to hire due to there theological positions vis-à-vis the original agreements, then I really have problems. Just think of the fellows who lost their jobs in certain schools within the past two years. Not all Traditionalists dislike Calvinists as I have indicated in my opening statement, and not all Calvinists dislike Traditionalists which same I assert with reference to myself. But what I do not like is the nit-picky attitude of that blog for which you write that seems not to care for my recital of facts, and, believe you me, I cite only a few, usually repeatedly, in the hopes that they might be learned. However, having taught Baptist history in a seminary extension class, and having done years of research in the subject, including writing a thesis in Intellectual History based on that research, I have to wonder where you and your folks are going. Dr. Frank Page’s committee had given me hope, and at first I thought the other blog was on the way to working together. Then I got the rather harsh note to the contrary. Immediately, I checked with a source (mentioned above) that I considered able to give me an objective understanding. Other sources were e emphatically in the negative, especially in view of my not using hateful language, a thing I will not do. My heart is really hurting over this matter. I had thought we were moving beyond clashing and to the point where one could freely express his views and understandings. Apparently, I was wrong. It almost leads me to think that the Traditionalists think they have the numbers now and are, therefore, moving to get rid of these they regard as their foes. I pray I am wrong on that perception.

  44. says

    Maybe the fault should lie with the SBC churches that accepted them former non-SBCers into membership.

    SBC church: What brings you to join our local fellowship?

    Entity hire: Well, the ERLC offered me a job. One of the conditions for employment was that I be a member of an SBC church. So, here I am!

    SBC church:….

  45. Tarheel says

    Since confessional affirmation is not enough…

    Maybe we should have all future/potential ERLC sign, in ther blood, or better yet, the blood of their spouses and children, an undying and unwavering allegiance to the SBC.

    Not Christ, not the Kingdom, not the Gospel, but the denomination.

    Maybe CB and Rick can prepare the documents for all SB churches.


    • cb scott says

      Since we true Southern Baptists believe that all people have to have a personal relationship with Christ and no one can stand in for another, I think that the signature in one’s own blood should suffice. No need to bring our families into it. Unless, of course they desire to do so of their own free will.

  46. Louis says

    I have no problem with Rick writing this article. I am glad Dave posted it.

    My reaction to this is 1) on the so-called “Calvinism” front, so long as these employees subscribe to the BFM, I have no problem with them.

    On the question of Calvinism in the SBC I ask self identifed Trads who are concerned about the state of Calvinists in the SBC on blogs and elsewhere to what they attribute the Calvinists’ success. It usually gets back to Mohler and connections, or something like that. I disagree. The trajectory of the SBC at present and the success of the Calvinists is about more than that. I believe until the Trads figure out how to have influence, this is going to continue.

    I also find the entire discussion of who is a Calvinist and how many of them there are very unappealing. I understand that it is an important topic to many people. But to me it is “small ball” and will remain so.

    I also really don’t like being counted, or not-counted, on someone’s team by other people. I don’t think that most people find that appealing or persuasive.

    The Trads count me as a Calvinist, I guess. The Calvinists don’t count me on their team.

    2) On the question of SBC membership, this is a legitimate concern, but one that really rests within the discretion of the Trustees and the Executive leadership.

    Again, if the person agrees with the BFM, they have met the doctrinal test in my book.

    On the affiliation question, that is often more delicate than simple association. I don’t know anyone who doubts Russell Moore’s SBC credentials.

    Usually, executive leadership hires people they know and like and whom they believe are competent to do the job.

    There are some non-SBSers with whom I would be completely comfortable. They belong within the evangelical family, and agree to become SBC as a condition of employment. They really are SBC in conviction and all ways but due to their backgrounds and personal connections, they may not have been SBC.

    I have no problem with this type person being hired. Just like the people Paige Patterson hired who are discussed above. We do not want to get in a situation where we are so limited that we can only hire people in the SBC.

    But I agree that there are other people who, despite being in the larger evangelical family, do not care for the SBC. They will join an SBC church and take an SBC paycheck, but will hold their nose while doing so. And these types often do have a desire to move the agency out of the SBC.

    I do not want people like that working in positions of high leadership in SBC agencies.

    We will look to the chief executive in these agencies and the trustees that oversee them to make sure that the agencies are true to the people that pay them.

  47. Louis says

    Also, I forgot my third point.

    3) Under no circumstances should the SBC ever get caught up with the Baptist Joint Committee.

    And as a broader matter, the SBC should not get in arrangements where it funds a large percentage of a group’s budget, but has only a small voice in its decisions.

    That applies to the Baptist Joint Committee, the Baptist World Alliance or other affiliation groups.

    These affiliations have never worked out well for the SBC.

    The SBC can put its name or influence along with other entities to a group having a particular agenda item because that is a singular act with a limited purpose and limited duration. And even then, the SBC should not fund the thing beyond its proportional representation.

  48. Tarheel says

    It’s not unusual or wrong to hire people who are known to and trusted by the President of an entity or institution….this is what Dr. Moore has done. If the hires in question were not sufficently qualified or not sufficiently committed to SB distinctives, I assume (and trust) that that trustees would have bucked it.

    In fact, as the duly elected (and I might add tremendously celebrated accoss the denomination) new president of the ERLC, Dr. Moore should be given deference to build his team as he sees fit. There’s a check and balance, aside from his unquestioned integrity, in the trustees.

    This is why it’s important to elect and appoint men and women of high and unquestioned character, honesty, truthfulness to the office of President. That’s been done here, with Dr. Moore, so I’m willing to trust his judgement…especially when checked by the trustees.

    • Tarheel says

      I trust Dr. Moore in this situation because he’s demonstrated to me through the entirety of his public ministry that he’s worthy of it.

  49. Doug Hibbard says

    I would make this observation on point:

    The IMB requires a potential missionary candidate to have been a member, in good standing, of a Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated church for 3 years before appointment. That is actually longer than it was when I was in seminary–it was 2 years then.

    So, we as Southern Baptists do have one entity with a policy: no matter your calling, competency, or theology, you must be a member of an SBC church for a minimum length of time before you can go around the world to share the Gospel on our behalf with our funding.

    How you would relate that to hiring by other entities is up to you. Obviously, every entity is free to do whatever they want, unless and until we elect trustees of a different mindset.

  50. Tarheel says

    I see your point, Doug….but I think I might argue that the sending out of Southern Baptist Missionaries is a little different than a president of an entity hiring his executive team….

    I am wondering if a president of IMB has the same ‘rule’ when hiring his administrative team, as they do with regard to sending out missionaries?

    • Dave Miller says

      I’m not sure that there are rules, but hiring in the IMB is generally from the pool of missionaries (at least it used to be) (except for business/administrative staff, etc).

    • Doug Hibbard says

      There is a difference in “executive team” and “administrative team.”

      My point is this: there are several comments that indicate any demand for a time of membership in the SBC is unreasonable or that Rick is wrong for questioning ERLC’s decision. Yet we do this in IMB and have for many, many years–

      So which is it? Or does one entity get a pass?

      Is it unreasonable for an SBC entity to require employees, especially those who will speak publicly on its behalf, to be SBC church members before being employed by that entity?

      If it is unreasonable, then the IMB is wrong. If it is not unreasonable, then Rick’s got a point.

      Some commenters have been pretty adamant that it’s wrong to expect such a thing, so I’m curious to see when they pressure the IMB to change the rules. I’m not certain, but NAMB formerly had a rule similar to IMB’s rule, but that was again back in seminary and it was 2 years, not 3.

      It just seems odd that we would require people passionate enough about sharing the Gospel that they will go to the ends of the earth to join the SBC before hiring them, when we don’t expect the same of those who wish to work for a lobbying agency.

      • Tarheel says

        But his real beef is clearly not as you have indicated – as his original post that is critical of the 5 new hires by the ERLC includes 2 Southern Baptists.

        Also, of the three that were not SBC at the time of hiring…two of their positions are hardly high level…they are more like team members than they are executives.

        I have repeatably asked him why he included 2 southern baptists in a post he now purports to be about lack of membership identity. I also asked for which SB distinctives Mr. Darling does not affirm as he has embraced the BFM2000 and the website of the non denom. church he pastored shows articles of faith that are very much in line with each of the articles in the BF&M.


        I contend had these hires not been presumed to be Calvinists…we would not be commenting here as he would have never posted it.

        I think the “membership’ thing is a convenient hedge to hide behind…

        Basically Moore only hired one non SBC member to an executive position (Mr. Darling)….and if I remember correctly Rick has been assured that the one he called the Trustee chair about (I am betting it was Darling that he called about) will be joining an SBC church upon his relocation.

        • volfan007 says


          To be fair to Rick, I believe he did bring out the fact that their Calvinism played a part in what he wrote; that they all seemed to be coming from one, theological group. I believe he said that both things…hiring Non SB’s and that all seemed to be Reformed…was something that concerned him. Of course, 2 fellas even came from the same Church.

          Sorry to interrupt yall’s conversation.


          • Tarheel says

            LOL, its a group conversation, sir.

            Yes, he did do that…I just feel that the real issue is more about thier theology than anything else.

            In other words, it seems that the SBC member thing is just “another” reason to attack (for lack of a better term at the moment) the rascally Calvinists.

          • Volfan007 says


            Maybe you weren’t around for the Baptist Identity discussions? Back before the Calvinists discussions?

          • volfan007 says


            CB is right…..those discussions may be a little too much for you.

            Villa Rica and Poncho and the rest of the gang were riding hard thru those discussions. And, some people disappeared into the swamps of Florida, as well as in a few hollers in the TN hills. It got a little rough.


          • cb scott says


            What should be a matter of repentance and of whom have you determined has need of repentance for their part therein?

          • Dave Miller says

            The way that Christians spoke to and about other Christians was not, in my opinion, honoring to the Lord or edifying to the church.

          • Bart Barber says

            Dave Miller said, “The way that Christians spoke to and about other Christians was not, in my opinion, honoring to the Lord or edifying to the church.”

            For my part, I always tried to be respectful of other Christians in those discussions. It was the non-Baptists I was tough on sometimes.


          • Tarheel says

            “For my part, I always tried to be respectful of other Christians in those discussions. It was the non-Baptists I was tough on sometimes.”

            Hahaha….I see what you did there, Bart. 😉

          • Todd Benkert says

            those discussions caused me to take a hiatus from blogging… I was finding them wearying to my soul

          • cb scott says

            Well Gentlemen,

            Obviously, I take a far different position from some of you in this comment thread and take that position unashamedly.

            I believe that the preservation of a convictional “Baptist Identity” is a worthy hill on which to die.

            Therefore, it is my conviction that Rick Patrick’s concerns, as presented in this post, have merit. It is just a simple fact that should be obvious to anyone who understands who we are as Southern Baptists. Those who occupy certain positions in out convention structure should be dyed in the wool, card carrying, Southern Baptists and nothing “less.” (Notice the emphasis on the word “less.” It is absolutely intentional.)

            Anyone who works at the ERLC whose position mandates writing or speaking to the concerns of the constituency of the SBC should be a hardcore Southern Baptist and nothing “less.” (Again, notice the emphasis on the word “less.”)

        • Rick Patrick says


          Any clear reading of my OP indicates that I share two concerns, not one. I use four paragraphs and a chart to address the denominational issue. Then I use five paragraphs to address the theological one. I also view all three VP positions, the Director of Communications, and the primary Women’s Initiatives Consultant as being very significant positions, but then I consider both communication and women to be important.

          You seem to be put out by the “repeatedly” comment and the “crickets” remark, but I answered you in what is now comment 144: “My post simply addressed the entire slate of five candidates appointed on September 11th. As such, Dr. Moore’s 100% Gospel Coalition slate at least gets credit for being 40% Southern Baptist. Take away the two SBC appointments and the contrast only gets worse—the slate of three is 100% Gospel Coalition and 0% SBC.”

          My point is that if one only focused on the three, it would (1) make things look even worse, and (2) fail to consider the entirety of the appointment slate that day.

          • Tarheel says

            Well, that your way of looking at it. Here’s a differing view.

            Of the three VP’s two were SB. Soteriology is irrelevant….unless you want to add doctrine beyond the commonly agreed upon confession known as the BFM2000 to the qualifications list. It’s fine I guess if you do….but I contend that subjective standard might cause more problems than find solutions in the long run.

            The one VP appointment, Mr. Darling, we’ve been told has affirmed the BFM2000, pastored a “Baptistic” non denominational church and will join a SB church upon his relocation. I ask again…please demonstrate where the doctrinal statement of the church he pastored does not line up adequately with the BFM. I contend that can’t be done.

            As for the other two..who seem to be more “staff” level, or “team” level than the other 3…

            A director is different animal, and assumingly much lower on the rung of ERLC’s leadership ladder than VP’s. Sure it’s not a sluff position but it’s not “high level” either.

            A consultant is typically, in most business structures, not a decision maker at all….they Advise, make recommendations, observations and the like….sure they have influence, but they’re typically not decision makers.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Soteriology is not irrelevant when one of two acceptable SBC forms is more consistently observed than SBC membership. It’s not irrelevant to TGC, 9M, Founders and others whose views–more narrow than the BFM–exclude most Southern Baptists. Soteriology is relevant when only one type of Southern Baptist–yours–appears to be qualified for leadership.

            Regarding Dan’s non-SBC church having theology compatible with the SBC, I never argued otherwise. The family next door may share my theology (or politics or taste in movies or whatever) but that does not mean we belong to the same family.

          • Tarheel says

            “The family next door may share my theology (or politics or taste in movies or whatever) but that does not mean we belong to the same family.”

            True enough, but certainly you would not look down on and condemn that family because they are not connected the family you view as the only right and valid one (yours), would you?

  51. Tarheel says

    No, I do not think that ERLC executives (even the President) should be considered missionaries in the same sense as “career missionaries.”

    In a sense we all are as all believers are ambassadors of Christ, and in that sense are missionaries. All believers are called to proclaim (preach) the gospel to the world and in that sense are “preachers”.

    Surely we would not impose a requirement that all ambassadors and preachers of the Gospel be Southern Baptists, would we?

    • Rick Patrick says


      I grant your point about the tea—that bit of poetic license was designed as a nod to our Southern Baptist culture, along with the reference to its complete immersion.

  52. Louis says

    Todd’s question is not totally out of line.

    I remember a lot of Moderates back in the CR days questioning people’s backgrounds. If one went to a Southern Baptist Church, but had attended Liberty – that person was not as SBC as a person who was a member of and SBC church and had attended Baylor.

    This affiliation thing is a slippery slope.

    Even if we pass such a rule, what’s to stop potential hires from joining an SBC church 6 months before they get hired? 1 year? 2 months?

    • cb scott says

      “Even if we pass such a rule, what’s to stop potential hires from joining an SBC church 6 months before they get hired? 1 year? 2 months?”

      Vetting, Louis, Vetting. We should do a better job of vetting our hires and most definitely, our trustees.

      We should allow no “caveat” signatures whatsoever — if you know what I mean, and I am sure you do.

      • cb scott says

        There was a time, as you remember, I am sure, that the vetting process was rather lengthy — more like an interrogation. Those were the good ole days.

        • Louis says


          I am with you on that.

          I would be glad to work for free for any hiring committee or the committee on nominations to direct the vetting process.

          That is the key to future of the Convention agencies.

          We cannot get on “auto pilot” for this stuff.

          Appreciate you very much!

          • cb scott says

            I appreciate you, Louis. I always enjoy reading what you write. I do hope to someday buy your lunch. Maybe Baltimore?

  53. Louis says

    I also will weigh in on the missionary thing.

    In my opinion, the SBC needs to be very protective of its missionary funding and sending operation.

    The evangelical world is full of people wanting to go to the mission field who are looking for a source of funding. If they want to go with the SBC, in my opinion, they should get in the line, do the education and programming etc. The IMB would be flooded with applicants if we opened up the career missionary slots to non-SBC people.

    People who are offered support executive positions, such as the ones listed in this post, are usually friends or co-workers of the person who is hired to be the executive. I have concerns, as stated above, but I believe my concerns in this area can be adequately addressed by Executive and trustee oversight.

    Although he hasn’t asked me for advice, nor will he, I suspect that Moore’s leadership on the ERLC will focus on some of the same things that Land focused on – Pro-life, Religious Freedom, healthy sexuality and marriage, Hunger and will be enhanced by an even greater focus on Adoption, Orphan Care, Human Trafficking.

    I suspect that alcohol consumption and gambling will not receive much emphasis.

    But I see the Convention as a whole going in that direction anyway.

    So I do not see any loss of SBC identity in these hires.