Adrian Rogers, 'rising star of Memphis,' elected 35 years ago
I was not present (my first convention was 1982) but was a member of Bellevue in Memphis at the time, a seminary estudiante. It was a scintillating moment in church the Sunday following. I had little idea about the meaning of the event but, well, we all know now.
Here are a few exerpts from the BP story:
I think this is an unassailable truth. For many SBCers at the time the idea that we were paying for this stuff was the deal breaker.Rogers believed that some seminary administrators were being dishonest about what faculty members believed and that some faculty held views that were unacceptable to the Southern Baptists who funded them.
Wills explained that for much of the 20th century, seminary administrators tried to persuade the denomination that their professors were orthodox while at the same time trying to persuade professors to conceal their more objectionable views, revealing them only at strategic moments to sympathetic audiences. Southern Seminary professor Bill Hull, for example, was known to hide progressive views in book reviews on modern French or Belgian New Testament scholarship. "I often like to 'bury' such comments in material that will be read only by those who need to see it," Hull wrote in a 1966 letter to Southern Seminary President Duke McCall.
[C. R.] Daley, a moderate, said in a lecture at Southern Seminary five years later, "Some of us saw the rising star out of Memphis named Adrian Rogers -- in my mind the most brilliant of his group, the one who poses the gravest threat to the Southern Baptist Convention. It was obvious that he was to be the king. It was obvious to some of us that he wasn't the kind of king we wanted."
Adrian was clearly the most able of the CR leaders.
"I sincerely doubt ... that fundamentalism could have known its measure of success apart from Adrian Rogers," [Walter] Shurden wrote. "... No other fundamentalist could rival him as preacher, debater, or intransigent believer. When the leadership of the fundamentalists met for their strategy sessions, the press releases often read, 'Adrian Rogers presided.' He was by far fundamentalists' most capable leader and moderates' most formidable opponent."
It's hard to believe that it has been 35 years, almost two generations (part of BP's goal is, no doubt, to recount the story to SBC pastors who weren't around at the time) since this and over eight years since Adrian died.