Irreconcilable Differences: A Revolution For The Soul Of The Southern Baptist Convention

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ryan S. Parsons (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
James Goff

Abstract: The Inerrancy Controversy (1979-1990) in the Southern Baptist Convention provides an important case study to consider the relationship of religion and politics. Contextualizing this controversy vis-à-vis several preceding Southern Baptist skirmishes, it appears to have had theological roots extending to the early 1960s. By the early 1970s, a faction of disaffected Southern Baptists began to decry the denominational leaderships’ ambiguous stances on abortion, women’s rights, and biblical inerrancy. From the mid to late 1970s, this faction evolved into an organized coalition, forged relationships with important figures in the blossoming Religious Right, and prepared to launch a strategic campaign to oust Southern Baptist leaders. During the coup d’état of the 1980s, the coalition rallied around adherence to the error-free nature and unquestionable authority of the Bible, which allowed them to mute any opposition. Thus, while the resistance fought strenuously for the freedom of interpretation, they failed to muster sufficient resources and organization to repel the new coalition. In the end, the denominational leadership undercut the resistance with two ill-fated proposals for peace. Consequently, the coalition seized power in 1990 and effectively redefined the denomination’s theology, polity, and relationship to the surrounding culture. At its core, the Inerrancy Controversy was a battle over what it meant to be Southern Baptist.

Additional Information

Parsons, R. (2016). Irreconcilable Differences: A Revolution For The Soul Of The Southern Baptist Convention. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2016
Religion, Politics, Southern Baptist Convention, Polity, Church

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