Thursday, October 20, 2005

McFadden's Take on the West Virginia Vote

News Analysis - Dennis E. McFadden

What do we make of the actions coming out of West Virginia?

For some time the region has been objectifying the West Virginia Baptists for Biblical Truth as an unrepresentative group. My contacts in WV tell me that the regional leadership considers them outside the mainstream theologically, temperamentally prickly and contrarian, and financially insignificant to the mission of the region. During the tenure of their movement, they have taken up positions oppositional to that of the regional leadership, including the new Executive Minister, Dr. David L. Carrico. Appearing to stand against the recently installed Executive during his honeymoon, when most people would want to give him the benefit of the doubt, doomed their chances of winning the vote in the annual gathering. This is unfortunate since, as Glenn Layne has suggested in his blog (, Jay Wolfe has been a stalwart for orthodoxy and a leader among West Virginians.

Valley Forge will misread the election returns, however, if they draw even faint comfort from the decision by the churches. For, as Pastor Allan has indicated, [see my post of yesterday-GL] the delegates turned down an attempt to affirm relationship with the ABCUSA by an even more decisive measure. Indeed, the West Virginia churches have embarked upon an examination of their relationship with Valley Forge. If they do not want to take up arms against their new leader, Dr. Carrico, and refuse to identify with those widely perceived (rightly or wrongly) to hail from the hard right end of the spectrum, they have even less attraction for Valley Forge. This represents a victory for the evangelical center of the ABCUSA.

While it may be unfortunate that circumstances have placed the WVBBT in a position appearing too far right for the comfort of the majority, Valley Forge's posture elicits even more discomfort and disagreement.
Following on the heels of the PSW initiative and the prospects for likely rejection of the IN/KY proposal coming before the General Board of the ABCUSA in Novemeber, further distancing from Valley Forge appears certain within West Virginia churches. Even if parliamentary moves are made to lock the IN/KY motion up in a protracted period of reconciliation of competing proposals, evangelicals in West Virginia and elsewhere will likely interpret this as a defeat for biblical authority and orthodoxy within the ABC.

As Pastor Allan put it in a characteristically understated West Virginia way, "But be sure that few are happy with the current direction of ABC-USA."
It wouold be an error for ABE members reading this blog to interpret the WV actions as a defeat for orthodoxy and biblical authority. We already knew from the previously published recommendations of the West Virginia board that they were proposing a year long process of reviewing their relationship with ABCUSA. Although PSW acted dramatically in their initiation of withdrawal, their process will stretch over the better part of a year as well. Constitutional fine points seldom comport well with bold and decisive "immediate" action.

I often find Dennis' analysis spot-on, and this is no exception. In the interest of transperancy, I had lunch with Dennis today at the retirement center he leads (with a number of other pastors, as part of a regular pastor's meeting).


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