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Patterson, on Fox, faults BWA for 'continual drift to the left'
Wednesday, Jun 16, 2004
By Gregory Tomlin

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--Southern Baptists intend to continue their involvement with Baptists around the world but not in association with the Baptist World Alliance, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson said June 16.

Patterson told FOX News analyst Linda Vester on the "DaySide" television news program that Southern Baptists decided to withdraw from the fellowship because of "the continual drift to the left on the part of the BWA."

A former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Patterson was a member of the Southern Baptist Convention's BWA Study Committee that recommended that the 16-million-member denomination withdraw from the world fellowship.

Patterson told Vester that all people have the right to believe as they wish but that the SBC could not in good conscience continue to support the BWA.

"Southern Baptists have been known through the years as the people who most promote religious liberty," Patterson said. "We support that for the BWA also and for all people everywhere in the world. Everyone ought to be totally free, and a part of that freedom is the freedom to associate with whomever you wish.

"When you no longer can give your assent to the way a movement is going, then the only smart thing to do is to separate yourself from it. That's part of what it means to have religious liberty," Patterson said to the applause of the DaySide audience.

More than 8,000 messengers were registered at the June 15 session of the SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis when the SBC's exit was approved from the 99-year-old Baptist organization that Southern Baptists played a key role in founding.

Patterson told Vester that, in addition to theological liberalism, the BWA had become anti-American. He said a resolution at last year's BWA General Council meeting was anti-American and against the effort to depose Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. He said he objected to the resolution because Americans had no opportunity to speak against the resolution.

"We don't really object to anything someone wants to say against America," Patterson said. "That's their right also. We believe in the right of freedom of expression for all people. However, there should at least be given an opportunity for rebuttal."

Lotz, who appeared on the DaySide program opposite Patterson, categorically denied the assertion of a leftward drift in the BWA. He also said that the organization is not anti-American.

He said the BWA is an inclusive group comprised of evangelical Baptists from all over the world. "We belong together because we belong to Christ. ... We represent a very diverse group all over the world," Lotz said.

Lotz said that the real reason Southern Baptists voted to withdraw from the world fellowship was because of the resurgence of conservative theology and the emergence of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a group that broke with the SBC in 1992.

"The real issue is not being discussed," Lotz said. "For 25 years they have had a conservative resurgence. A group of moderates withdrew that was called the CBF. They formed their own convention. Last year in Brazil we accepted them as members."

The BWA initially rejected the CBF's application in 2001 and 2002 because the group still declared itself a fellowship and not a denomination separate from the SBC. According to BWA bylaws, the CBF had to declare itself a separate entity to obtain membership. In 2003, the BWA reversed its view and put the question before members of the General Council. The CBF was accepted, prompting SBC leaders to say that the BWA had traded 44,000 cooperating SBC churches for 150 CBF churches.

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