June 19, 2002
ST. LOUIS — Southern Baptists believe in the inspired, inerrant Word of God and that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, the president of the Missouri Baptist Convention told listeners during a call-in talk show on KMOX radio in St. Louis June 10.
In response to a question from KMOX "Live" host Larry Connors concerning whether Southern Baptists could change their stance in the future on the moral issues of the day, Bob Curtis, pastor of Ballwin Baptist Church, Ballwin, said if it is in the form of a resolution then "yes," it could change since resolutions reflect the views of a given convention meeting at any one time.
"But if you are talking about doctrinal parameters, we believe the Bible is God’s inspired, inerrant Word and we have the Baptist Faith & Message that helps to put that in capsule form – although it’s not a creed, but rather a good guide to help us keep balanced parameters," Curtis said.
"So if you are talking about doctrinal issues, for example, like what does it take for a person to be connected to God, we make it very clear that the Bible teaches that Christ is the only way. In fact, Jesus said in John 6:14 that, ‘I am the way, the Truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.’ So we don’t even debate among ourselves those kinds of issues."
Curtis was asked to appear on the show in conjunction with St. Louis hosting the SBC’s annual meeting June 11-12. Interestingly all of the questions posed by Connors and callers were about SBC positions on doctrinal or moral issues and none dealt with the white-hot controversy of moderates seizing $100 million worth of Missouri Baptist Convention entities by trustees voting to give themselves sole authority in picking their successors, thus removing Missouri Baptist churches from the trustee selection process.
For example, Connors quizzed Curtis about the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message’s revised article on the family calling for "wives to graciously submit to their husbands" that was overwhelmingly passed by messengers two years ago.
"When you talk about submitting to a husband, in the context of Ephesians 5, there is a double issue there," Curtis explained. "If you look at the passage it speaks more to the husband’s responsibility toward loving his wife unconditionally. That is the standard we look too."
He said the idea of a woman "graciously submitting" to her husband is often misunderstood in the secular realm.
"Submit is not the idea that is popularized by many secularists of our day that a woman is to be nothing more than a doormat. Women serve in leadership positions in the church and serve as great missionaries. It’s more of the standard of the mutual responsibility that God has set forth in the institution of marriage that husbands love their wives unconditionally and in response to that the wife is going to come along the side of her husband and be submissive from the standpoint of him being the established head of the home, spiritually speaking."
Connors then asked what should a woman do if her husband is living outside the will of God?
"God’s Word says that a wife’s ultimate accountability – as is the case with all of us – is to God. So it’s better to obey God rather than man.
"So I would counsel, that if a woman in my church were married to a man who was asking her to do things contrary to Scripture, then I would have no qualms about sharing with her – and with him – that from a Scriptural standpoint, he is out of line for asking her to do those sorts of things."
He said such behavior by a husband would demonstrate a lack of love toward the wife and she would not be obligated to be obedient in such an instance.
Citing I Timothy 3, Curtis affirmed that the office of pastor is reserved strictly for men and that complaints about the SBC’s International Mission Board asking its missionaries to affirm the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message are without merit.
"We’ve always asked our missionaries to affirm whatever Baptist Faith & Message we had at the time, whether it was the 1925, 1963, or 2000 version," he noted. "So that’s a strawman’s argument."
Connors asked him to explain Southern Baptists’ views on homosexuality.
"We do not believe that homosexuality is a lifestyle God designed or ordained," Curtis answered. "It has nothing to do with hatred. There are other people who live other lifestyles that we believe are sinful. Our desire and prayer is that we lovingly share truth with such people and ask God to change their hearts and change their lives so they can be fulfilled and have the abundant life that Jesus talked about."
Curtis took several questions from listeners during the one-hour interview. He affirmed that Southern Baptists are strongly pro-life when it comes to abortion and euthanasia and that pastors should always proclaim the truth of God’s Word in a loving manner.
"I don’t think there’s a Sunday that goes by that a minister preaches a message that doesn’t confront somebody about something in his or her life," he said. "So we just have to lovingly continue to preach what we believe the Bible teaches and let the Holy Spirit do His work."
Connors asked if Southern Baptists could ever suffer from the same homosexual and sexual abuse problems facing the Roman Catholic Church.
"In any circle, sin can happen," Curtis responded. "If I’m out of the will of God for one instant, I can do anything (sinful). Man’s bent is toward disobedience to God."
When asked by a caller if Calvinism was growing in the SBC, Curtis acknowledged that Southern Baptists have – "at the root" – always been Calvinists, but then quoted the great Calvinist Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon: ‘When it comes to the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man I never try to reconcile friends.’"