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Georgia report calls Godsey doctrinal views ‘heretical’

ATLANTA (BP)–A special Georgia Baptist committee commissioned to look at the doctrinal views of Mercer University President R. Kirby Godsey has concluded his views “deviate significantly from historic Baptist doctrine and are, in fact, considered heretical.”
The “Price Committee,” so-called because it is chaired by Nelson Price, pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga., will present its report to the Georgia Baptist Convention’s executive committee Sept. 9. The Price Committee was created in December 1996 in response to the continued concern of members of the executive committee about Godsey’s book “When We Talk About God … Let’s Be Honest,” according to the Sept. 4 issue of The Christian Index, newsjournal of the state convention.
The executive committee named seven pastors to the study committee which included Frank Cox, president of the state convention, Oscar Cope, chairman of the executive committee, and J. Robert White, state executive director.
Characterizing Godsey as a “word craftsman” in his responses to the committee’s probes, the report said, “Unfortunately … he has masterfully doublespoken in many instances.” His responses, the report said, also contain numerous affirmations which most evangelical Christian can embrace.
“A careful reading of both the questions and his responses will reveal they are often long convoluted statements unrelated to the questions. On occasion these are attractive comments, but they leave the question unaddressed. This further confuses the issue,” the report said.
In summary, the report found the three sources Godsey provided — his book, an interview and his written responses — “to be often inconsistent.”
Among the references most disturbing, the report said, were passages dealing with the authority of Scripture, the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement, salvation, and universalism.
“The committee’s opinion is that Dr. Godsey’s book and his written answers to these questions dramatically deviate from orthodoxy. That being true, it is our opinion that it is punctuated with heresy. At best the book is written in a reckless fashion so that it misrepresents the truth. The answers provided by Dr. Godsey represent a more cautious and more conservative response than the committee heard in the interview or read in the book. It is the committee’s opinion that Dr. Godsey has thus failed his spiritual fiduciary responsibility as leader of Georgia Baptists’ largest institution,” the report concludes.
The publication last year of Godsey’s book generated enormous controversy in Georgia and in Baptist circles outside the state. It is unclear what the state executive committee will do when it meets Sept. 9 to consider the findings in the report but Mercer University trustees already have voted publicly to support the embattled president.

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  • Herb Hollinger