Elmer Towns serves as the Co-founder and Dean of the School of Religion at Liberty University. In the recent issue of Theology for Ministry (Vol. 3 No. 1), the theological journal of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, he has an article entitled, “What Should Southern Baptists Do with Calvinists?” (EDIT: thanks to Kenneth Fryer for the link) It appears just before my article entitled, “The Way We Were and Are Becoming Again: The Revival of the Doctrines of Grace in Southern Baptist Life.” This issue of the journal is dedicated to “Contemporary Movements in American Christianity” and Dr. Daryl Cornett, the editor, wanted to include contrasting views of Calvinism in the SBC. It is safe to say that he accomplished his goal.
I plan engage some of Dr. Towns’ thoughts in future posts as I have time. But as I read his article last week, I was struck by the following paragraph that gives his view from Liberty Mountain on what happened in the Conservative Resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention that publicly began in 1979. He quite obviously views it as a fundamentalist victory.
In the last twenty-five years Southern Baptists have fought the battle of perceived liberalism within its ranks and bureaucracy, and most would agree that the fundamentalists have won that battle. Beginning with the election of Adrian Rogers in 1979, one self-identified fundamentalist after another has become president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and in turn they have controlled the nomination and election process of the various boards and seminaries. In due time, boards mandated that liberal-leaning individuals were not nominated to positions, and fundamentalists turned the various boards and committees toward fundamentalism.