Thoughts on Moderate Baptist Intellectual Life

So, I just went off on a bit of a Twitter rant.  I honestly didn’t mean to, but once I got started, I couldn’t stop.

This all came about because I pulled a book off the shelf to check something.  The book in question, Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism, has, as an appendix, the text of the Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern, signed in 1973.  I wasn’t all that interested in the text of the statement; after all, you can find the text online.  But what the book has is a list of all of the initial signatories (I’m actually working on something about the statement and its signatories; it is quite the list.).

Today I saw a name that I had never seen before, that of Foy Valentine.  Valentine was the head of the Christian Life Commission of the SBC from 1960 until 1988 when, in the middle of the SBC Conservative/Moderate controversy, the SBC pulled funding for the Baptist Joint Committee and relaunched the CLC as what is now the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.  In that time, Valentine was a voice in the SBC for racial justice and reconciliation.  Additionally, he was a longtime trustee of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

My point here is that Valentine was important.  His teacher, T.B. Maston, was also the major professor for James Dunn (the head of the BJC that over saw that organization’s transition into the organization it is today, after the cessation of SBC funds).  Maston, Valentine, Dunn, and of course others all provided the intellectual underpinnings for what came to be known as the Moderate Movement.

As I express below, I am fearful that we are going to lose some of our identity and distinctiveness if we don’t reclaim our intellectual (and theological) roots and traditions.
(BTW, I don’t really know how to embed tweets into WordPress, so I am not sure that this is going to work.  If you have a problem reading/following the thread, let me know and I’ll fix it, somehow.)


This should, in no way, be seen as a final and authoritative statement as to the state of intellectual and theological life within the Moderate Movement (and in particular the CBF), but I hope that we can, maybe with this, maybe with something else, begin a conversation about reclaiming a robust theological, ethical, and intellectual identity.

I feel like what we have to offer is too important to not have this conversation.

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