Something deeply disturbing recently appeared at EthicsDaily.com, the Web site for the Baptist Center for Ethics. Tony Cartledge, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School and former editor of the Biblical Recorder, recently contributed an article that makes the astounding claim that both Lottie Moon and Crawford H. Toy should be considered “Baptist heroes.”
The article is breathtaking in its argument — that a man who abandoned the Christian faith was “no less devoted to Christ” than Southern Baptists’ most famous missionary.
In other words, Toy became what Christians throughout all the centuries of church history and in all the major traditions of the Christian Church would rightly identify as a heretic. He abandoned faith in the deity of Christ and abandoned the Christian faith. Yet, moderates in the SBC controversy often celebrated Crawford Toy as a hero and as a theological martyr for academic scholarship. Tony Cartledge continues this tradition by expressing his admiration for Crawford Toy, going so far as to claim that he “was no less devoted to Christ” than Lottie Moon. “There’s more than one way to be a hero,” Cartledge concluded.
While I enjoy some of Tony Cartledge's blog articles, he missed the mark badly on this one. If he was knowledgable about Toy and really believes what he wrote, the only explanation I can find for his calling Toy a hero is that it is useful to do so as a slap against the Conservative Resurgence and Paige Patterson. That is, you are a hero to the mod/libs if you buck the conservative powers-that-be even if you deny the faith. A Harvard Unitarians is worth more than an orthodox Baptist. Brilliant scholar? Sure. Hero? No.
As I said in Stephen's topic below on the same subject, I don't see how to rehabilitate Toy's reputation in light of the fact that he turned first Unitarian and then nothing. Cartledge likes to dig around and do archaeology pieces. Maybe he has dug up something new on Toy and Lottie Moon that makes him a hero.