LOUISVILLE, Ky. (ABP) – A Southern Baptist seminary president predicted that conversations about sexuality within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship are going to prove divisive for the moderate Baptist organization that split from the more conservative Southern Baptist Convention 20 years ago.
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in his daily podcast briefing March 2 that CBF moderator Colleen Burroughs’ recent call to “have a conversation” about the organization’s policy of not funding organizations that affirm homosexuality and against the intentional hiring of gays is a sign of things to come.
Burroughs, executive vice president of CBF-partner youth camping ministry Passport, told the CBF Coordinating Council Feb. 24 that she believes the policy adopted in 2000 is “divisive, unenforceable and probably not Baptist.”
“Now I’m not sure exactly what she means by the probably not Baptist, other than the fact that it requires a judgment to be made,” said Mohler, who took over as president of Southern Seminary in 1993, while Burroughs was a student at the SBC seminary located in Louisville, Ky.
“Try as you might to avoid making those judgments, every organization and every denomination eventually makes them,” Mohler said. “The choice is not whether they are made but on what basis, and whether there is consistency.”
Molher said the current CBF policy is “consistent with over 2,000 years of Christian teaching based upon the authority of the Bible as the word of God.”
Mohler said early reaction to Burroughs’ statement suggests “this is a likely matter of conflict for more moderate Baptists and their liberal friends going into the future.” He cited a Baptist Standard story quoting David Hardage, the new executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, reaffirming the state convention’s “strong biblical policy” that homosexual behavior is sinful.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see how this issue unfolds in the CBF,” Mohler said. He predicted that an upcoming [Baptist] Conference on Sexuality and Covenant co-sponsored by CBF and Mercer University “is likely just to be a start, the public start, of a very divisive conversation.”
“The issue of homosexuality is not going to trouble, at least in a divisive way, those who have a clear and very principled stand on the subject,” he said. “But if you try to stand in some kind of middle, some kind of artificial neutrality in which you have a policy that isn’t so clearly established upon biblical authority, well you’re going to find that it is a target of continual renegotiation and calls for change.”
“That is now happening in a very public way in the CBF, a promise no doubt of things to come,” he concluded.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.