Missouri CBF pastor criticizes MBC
By Bob Baysinger
May 11, 2004
SPRINGFIELD – Michael Olmsted, a leading voice for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) in Missouri, says Missouri Baptists “have no connections with the Jesus … from the Bible.”
In a harshly-worded letter addressed to David Clippard, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) executive director, Olmsted charged that Clippard and the MBC are out of touch with reality, suggesting that the Convention and its leaders have no compassion for the hungry, the prisoner and the naked.
“The reality is that you and your zealous supports (sic) are more interested in power and control than kingdom work because your words and actions have no connection with the Jesus we know from the Bible,” Olmsted said in his April 22 letter.
Olmsted’s church – University Heights Baptist Church, Springfield – hosted the CBF of Missouri General Assembly last April. He also signed the amicus brief prepared by attorney Bart Tichenor in defense of the five renegade entities now in a legal battle with the MBC. Olmstead is a former national CBF Coordinating Council member. His wife, Nan, is on the Baptist General Convention of Missouri’s board of directors and five lay members of University Heights have also served on the Missouri CBF Coordinating Council in recent years.
Olmsted told Clippard that University Heights has been sending contributions directly to the five breakaway agencies – Word & Way, Missouri Baptist Foundation, The Baptist Home, Windermere Baptist Conference Center and Missouri Baptist College – since the Convention voted to escrow monies from the agencies.
“We pray for those faithful servants of Christ whose commitment to serve has continued in spite of harassment,” Olmsted wrote. “We have no intention of supporting your mean-spirited attitudes and actions that shame our gracious Savior.”
Olmsted’s letter was written in response to an April 16 letter Clippard sent to all Missouri Baptist pastors, including Olmsted. Clippard closed his letter, telling churches that “I believe the greatest days for our convention are still ahead of us; and I believe the greatest churches of our convention are yet to be planted.”
Olmstead responded, “You expect us to believe that all is well in the MBC, that ‘kingdom’ work is being done? Surely you are out of touch with reality!”
Clippard said he was surprised by Olmsted’s criticism, considering the fact that Olmsted and others in the CBF have criticized Missouri Baptist conservatives for being mean-spirited.
“They criticize the MBC for using Cooperative Program money to fund the lawsuit, yet they admittedly send money direct to the institutions to fund the lawsuit,” Clippard said. “It seems rather hypocritical to me.
“We tell people where every penny has been spent, but they haven’t revealed anything about how much they have spent for legal fees and or where they are getting the money.”
Clippard said Olmsted argues that the MBC never did “own” the five institutions. “Yet they want MBC money with no accountability,” Clippard said.
“Grand Canyon College in Arizona is a good example of what happens to a Baptist institution when there is no accountability. The college voted to go self-perpetuating several years ago with no accountability to Baptists in Arizona. It was recently announced that the college was sold to secular interests in California. We don’t want that to happen to the Baptist institutions in Missouri.”
Olmsted described present conditions in Missouri Baptist life as a “religious war.”
“I have no interest in this ongoing religious war, not in debating with people who slander fellow believers,” Olmsted said. He did not identify whom he felt had been slandered.
“My joy comes from seeing people come to Christ, helping children at risk, providing a home for the elderly and being the presence of Christ in a world that promotes division and suffering,” Olmstead wrote.
“I grieve that you have wasted a million dollars on a needless lawsuit, a million dollars that could have brought hope to thousands. On that last day Jesus will not ask, ‘Did you win your lawsuit?’ He will say, ‘When you fed the hungry … when you visited the prisoner … when you clothed the naked … you were actually helping Me.’
“May your eyes and heart be opened.”
Olmsted’s recent criticism of the MBC is not the Springfield pastor’s first round of attacks. After leading his church out of the Southern Baptist Convention several years ago, Olmsted posted a list of critical statements on the University Height’s Web page.
Olmsted has been especially critical of the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2000 Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement.
“We do not agree with the new statement of faith adopted by the SBC because it is seriously flawed,” Olmsted said. “They have removed a key statement that was contained in the 1963 document: ‘The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.’
“But the problem is more than the deletion of those words; it is their vehement treatment of the Bible as a perfect document that should be treated almost as holy as God. There is a vast difference between the person of God and a translation of his written Word … the Bible is not to be worshipped.”
Colleges founded by Baptists now secular
The following is a list of some colleges and universities that were founded by Baptists, but turned secular because there was no accountability, allowing trustees to do as they please and make off with billions of dollars that had been invested in the schools by Baptists. Many others like Missouri Baptist College and Shorter College in Georgia are in danger of taking the same path.
University of Chicago
Wake Forrest University
University of Richmond
Grand Canyon College