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BGCT pastor claims SBC leaders akin to ‘creedalists [who] put Jesus on the cross’

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (BP)–A pastor who nearly became executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas told 1,100 attendees at the Texas Baptist Committed annual breakfast that Southern Baptist Convention leaders are akin to the “fundamentalist creedalists [who] put Jesus on the cross.”

Phil Lineberger, pastor of Williams Trace Baptist Church in Sugar Land, went on to say that SBC leaders — like the Pharisees admonished by the apostle Paul in the Book of Galatians — “remain his [Jesus’] enemy” and that “Christ has no value to them.”

Lineberger, who accepted the BGCT’s executive director nomination last year before withdrawing only days later, is well-known for his support of the anti-SBC Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and one of its key political allies, Texas Baptists Committed.

“The most controlling thing our fundamentalist creedalist leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention can do is to make us believe that we have only one choice. But that is not God’s way,” Lineberger told the crowd, about 80 percent of whom were laypeople. “God has created us as free moral agents, giving us the free will to love and follow him or to reject him and go our own way.”

Lineberger’s inflammatory comments were well-received by an organization by the group, but received swift reaction.

Bill Streich, leader of the Texas Baptist Laymen’s Association, said, “Lineberger’s view affords an individual, at his or her convenience, the right to move outside the clear teaching of Scripture.”

Streich, of Wichita Falls, continued, “Similarly, the BGCT-supported Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs defends a ‘woman’s right to choose’ as a God-given right (i.e., ‘spiritual freedom’) even though God’s Word describes abortion in one way, that is, murder. The SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission acknowledges scriptural truth above the desires of the individual. For such conservatism, BGCT leaders have defunded the SBC’s ERLC.”

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press, “This kind of comment demonstrates a hostility toward truth and is a repudiation of the Baptist heritage that is both sad and breathtaking.

“The founders of the SBC were not creedalists in that they held the Bible alone as their ultimate authority, but they were ardent confessionalists who believed in the necessity of theological parameters.”

Lineberger said Baptists “did not invent the idea of spiritual freedom, but it is Baptists who have protected it. We have been on the forefront of protecting spiritual freedom.”

But that spiritual freedom is being threatened by the “21st century trap of creedalism,” Lineberger said. “We must say no to fundamentalist creedalists and yes to Jesus Christ.”

Mohler called Lineberger’s comments “a disguised effort to repudiate any theological boundaries and in this hostility they are setting a course that will lead to disaster. In the view of these people, anyone who believes that seminary professors should be expected to teach what our churches believe is a creedalist. And anyone who believes that the Bible is totally true is fundamentalist.”

Texas Baptists Committed have been actively involved in recruiting churches to affiliate with the CBF. They have offered $25,000 in grants to states willing to start organizations under the “Baptists Committed” and “Mainstream Baptists” names.

The Texas Baptist Committed breakfast was held Oct. 31 in Corpus Christi.

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  • Don Hinkle