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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Follow-Up On Recent Broadway Baptist Controversy

Please see my original post on the latest controversy at Broadway Baptist Church here.

Below is a follow-up to that post.

Around 220 members have released a Response to the newly formed "Friends for the Future of Broadway" which I discussed in my previous blog.

Here's the letter posted from J.C. Baker's website:
We are deeply saddened about the letter mailed this week by a group calling themselves “Friends for the Future of Broadway.” Saddened because we fundamentally disagree with this course of action, but equally saddened because the letter sent by Robert Saul is replete with inaccuracies and things about our church and about our pastor that are just not true.

We believe the primary question is:

What type of church do we believe God wants Broadway to be?

There is room for discussion on this issue. There should be debate about this critically important question. There is not room, however, for actions that lead to mistrust and miscommunication in that discussion. This must cease. There is room for grace and love within our diversity. This must increase.

We are committed to the path of peace and harmony and goodwill. We ask you to join us in those high principles. We must not give up on a Broadway that reflects these values and principles.
On another note, I'd like to make a comment about one of the criticisms hurled at Broadway pastor Brett Younger.

Below is one reason given by the Friends group to "Vacate the Pulpit"
(d) Invitation to preach extended to a very controversial theologian
The Pastor extended an invitation to preach from the pulpit to a very controversial theologian, Dr. Marcus J. Borg, whose published theological views are well outside Broadway's own historical moderate Baptist heritage based on timeless core foundational doctrines of the Christian faith. While Broadway has always appreciated diverse theological perspectives, the pulpit has been considered the source of Christian proclamation. This invitation was extended while the members were still struggling with the church directory crisis created by the Pastor. The Pastor withdrew the invitation to preach from the pulpit, but only upon the strong objections of several church members.
According to a blogger who is a member at Broadway, the invitation to Marcus Borg to speak at Broadway Baptist was scheduled well over one year in advance and not during the church directory controversy as the Friends group claims.

The same blogger who took the latest episode of the Broadway controversy to the blogosphere had this to say about Borg:
First of all, I believe that outside of various primitive tribal enclaves, Dr. Borg's controversial theological views could now be classified as "Mainstream Protestant". Second, I don't believe that there's any such thing as a "historical moderate Baptist heritage". When Broadway and several other churches split off from the Southern Baptists, all sorts of jokes were made about "Moderate Baptist" being a contradiction in terms. (My Baptist heritage includes a lot of people healing cripples in the gospel tents of Mississippi.) Our "historic moderate Baptist heritage" is whatever we made up about twenty years ago. It's still a work in progress.
Outside of various primitive tribal enclaves? This guy is off his rocker but we'll let that go.

I read Marcus Borg regularly over at ON FAITH. Borg is an excellent writer and an incredible communicator. With that said, all will tell you that Broadway is a diverse church with multiple constituencies. It's not everyday that you find a CBF/Texas Baptist church with SBC seminary employees and gay couples as members!

However, Marcus Borg's theology is well outside of Broadway's moderate Baptist heritage. I don't see how a church that affirmed the 1963 version of the Baptist Faith & Message only 8 years ago could argue that Borg's theology is compatible with their own? How much in common could a church and its members share with liberal theologian Marcus Borg if they can't even figure out whether to allow gay couples to pose together and smile pretty for Olan Mills???

Borg is a well respected theologian. But he is a well respected liberal theologian who does not believe that Jesus Christ was bodily raised from the dead. Last time I checked, a denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ was not a position held by any "moderate Baptist."

Inviting Marcus Borg to fill the pulpit during the Easter season seems in poor taste.

But that's just the opinion of a young "moderate" Baptist who actually does take the Bible seriously but not always literally.



Anonymous Chuck said...

Amen. Preach on, Big Daddy.

2:51 PM

Blogger D.R. said...


I do hope that you take the Bible much more literally (whatever that really means) than does Borg. Not only does he reject the bodily resurrection of Christ, he also rejects much of the Gospels, especially the recorded words of Christ. In an interview with Homiletics Online, responding to a question about C.S. Lewis's famous "Jesus: Liar, Lunatic, or LORD?" arguement, Borg states,

...Lewis’ statement depends upon accepting John’s gospel as a historically factual account of how Jesus spoke: “I am the light of the world,” “Whoever has seen me has seen God,” “I and the Father are one.” Most mainstream scholars today would say that Jesus never made those claims for himself, that they are the post-Easter testimony or witness of the early church, and when one no longer thinks of Jesus making those claims for himself, then Lewis’ argument evaporates.

And lest one forget, Borg is the current Chair of the Jesus Seminar, a group that VOTES on what Jesus did or did not say in the NT. I have a hard time labeling him a scholar after that.

But I think something that should be considered further in your post is the comments made by the blogger who said, Our "historic moderate Baptist heritage" is whatever we made up about twenty years ago. It's still a work in progress.

One of the most difficult problems "moderate" Baptists will face is the slippery slope toward liberalism. When men like Borg are considered "mainstream", then you have to admit that already the ground has been laid for rejecting the foundational truths of the Bible and embracing a full-throated liberalism.

8:54 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...


I agree with your assessment of the Jesus Seminar.

I left the blogger alone. But, I think it's clear that he knows little about Baptist history and I wonder whether he has even read Borg. Borg = mainstream? Hardly.

10:58 PM

Anonymous David Lowrie said...


Thank you for speaking out on this issue. I was vaguely aware of Borg and his views, but I can see why his invitation to speak would be of grave concerns to many in the pews. Often our people are much more conservative than those who stand behind the pulpit. Their faith in God is not an intellectual accent, but rather an act of trust and dependence the Lord Jesus who is their Rock and Sustainer.

4:58 AM

Anonymous Howie Luvzus said...

Am I missing something here or just to lazy to read it to closely? Is the group using the Borg issue so that it can deal with the original issue?

9:18 AM

Blogger ElhananWinchester in Pinstripes said...

All this leads to a very important question: If Marcus Borg dies tonight, will he burn in hell because he does not believe in the bodily resurrection?

Don't cope out--none of this, "Who am I to say stuff?" Your various theologies do have various specific answers.

1:58 PM

Blogger D.R. said...


The question you ask comes down to other questions, like "Does Borg does know the Jesus Christ of the Bible, or does he believe in a Christ concocted in his head?" Or "Does he accept the faith once handed down from the saints?"

Or how about some other questions?

First, does Borg reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as explained by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15?

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Second, is Borg rejecting not just Paul's formula for salvation in 1 Cor. 15, but the Gospel preached throughout Acts and in the Early Church?

Acts 2:31
Acts 4:33
Acts 17:18
Acts 26:23

Third, does Borg reject Paul's argument regarding the priority of the bodily resurrection of Christ?

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

Forth, does Borg reject the conditions of salvation Paul clearly states in Romans 10?

But the righteousness based on faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'"(that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or "'Who will descend into the abyss?'"(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

And finally, Does Borg reject the entirety of the NT and Gospels, which bear witness to the resurrection of Christ?

So you decide Elhan - is Borg in Christ according to the Scriptures?

3:52 PM

Blogger Dr. Glenn Jonas said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:29 PM

Blogger Dr. Glenn Jonas said...

Thanks for the post Big Daddy. Borg is indeed a member of the Jesus Seminar and his views on Jesus are left of center certainly. However, he does communicate a very interesting notion of Jesus as a "spirit person" and Borg does describe having a very deep, abiding Christian faith though based on a very different understanding of Jesus. I have found Borg's work very helpful and thought-provoking, although I have not read all his books.

For what it is worth, he spoke a year or two ago at Myers Park Baptist Church where Stephen Shoemaker (former pastor at Broadway) is pastor. It is also Carlyle Marney's former pulpit and has a long history in the liberal tradition of Baptists in the South.

8:31 PM

Blogger ElhananWinchester in Pinstripes said...

It's really a very simple question. Will you answer it, d.r.? If Borg dies tonight, will he burn in hell forever and ever, since he doesn't believe in the bodily resurrection.

9:04 PM

Blogger D.R. said...

I believe I answered you Elhan. Scripture should be Borg's judge. What do the Scriptures say?

10:25 AM

Blogger ElhananWinchester in Pinstripes said...

d.r., I don't think you did answer me. I asked a question, you responded with a long series of quotes, that ended with a question, and now you've stated, "I believe that I did answer you," followed by a question. It seems to me that you are comfortable doing theology in broad categories, but not exploring specific applications.

So I ask you to own the implications of your theology by answering the question, "Will Marcus Borg burn in hell if he dies tonight?" We know what he thinks and believes--he has stated that in his many fine books.

Perhaps that is a bit abstract since he is not dead, although I am glad to give you my answer (when I get yours--remember, I asked first)

Maybe this is better, since it is not hypothetical--Are Martin Buber and Abraham Heschel burning in hell, at this moment?

2:49 PM

Blogger D.R. said...


You are missing my point here. And I am not uncomfortable making specific applications of my theology. All you have to do is answer this question and you will have yours:

What do those Scriptures teach regarding the Gospel and the bodily resurrection of Christ?

So are you unwilling or unable to answer this question?

8:17 PM

Blogger ElhananWinchester in Pinstripes said...

1. I don't get your point. What is your point?
2. I am unwilling to answer your question until you answer mine--does Borg fry or fly? Yes or no?

You have really hurt my feelings by not answering my question. I thought we were friends and that you had more respect for me than that. I see what I really mean to you and that hurts. Real bad. I have a stomach ache now.

10:07 AM

Blogger D.R. said...

My point is this Elhan,

Scripture speaks clearly on the issue of the bodily resurrection of Christ and it's necessity for salvation. Earlier you said that I "you responded with a long series of quotes." That is inaccurate. I responded with Scripture - clear passages by the Biblical writers and apostles that note the priority of the bodily resurrection of Christ.

Did you read those passages? Isn't it clear from the Scriptures what the Bible teaches about salvation and the bodily resurrection of Christ?

You're asking me for my personal OPINION. I am giving you Scripture that answers your question. My OPINION doesn't matter - Scripture does. And I have no right to an opinion - I am bound by Christ to believe His Word, not assert that which is my opinion or speculation.

So, that is why I asked, what does Scripture say? What say you? Do you believe Scripture or do you reject it?

Finally, I will take the last paragraph as sarcasm, since I find it difficult to have a friendship with someone who is not willing to publicly identify himself.

Matthew 21:23-27

12:34 PM

Blogger The Whited Sepulchre said...

Big Daddy W. and D.R. ,
I've read all the Borg I can get my hands on.
And yes, the people at The Jesus Seminary vote.
Just like scriptural canon was decided on by a ....vote.
And Dr. Borg's views are indeed left of center (as Dr. Jonas pointed out). This area is known as Mainstream Protestant.

And please, please, please, answer Mr. Pinstripe's question. If Marcus Borg dies tonight, is God going to torture him forever?

Dr. Glenn Jonas,
Didn't I turn you on to Bruce Springsteen about 20 years ago? At Spanish Gates Apartments in Fort Worth? It's good to see you chiming in on this ! ! ! And do you think that if Marcus Borg dies tonight, God will torture him forever?

8:36 PM

Blogger The Whited Sepulchre said...

Big Daddy....
I meant to write Jesus "Seminar", not "Seminary"....

Fruedian slip. Probably because of seeing Dr. Glenn Jonas in your comment field ! ! !

8:43 PM

Blogger The Whited Sepulchre said...

This has been an amazing comment thread, in that it still generates multiple hits per week for my site.

D.R. and Big Daddy, I can't believe that Mr. Pinstripe's question doesn't continue to bother you, and that you can't answer it.

1) Why do you place so much confidence in the votes of The Council of Hippo, but so little confidence in the votes of The Jesus Seminar?

2) Marcus Borg doesn't believe in the Atonement theory. He doesn't believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. He doesn't believe that anybody can die to save people he never met. You guys are apparently making careers out of advocating a theology that is centered around the answer to this question....If Marcus Borg dies while holding those beliefs, is he going to Hell?

You're embarrassed by the answer you're supposed to give, aren't you. (Hint: You should be.)

8:18 PM


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