The admiration of liberal Baptists for Crawford Howell Toy should be a matter of both amazement and genuine concern. It is also a telling indication of how many of those identified as “moderates” in the Southern Baptist Convention controversy actually view the Bible. To celebrate Toy is to celebrate his beliefs about the Bible. Those beliefs were not heroic.
In his inaugural address as a professor at Southern Seminary, Toy argued that the Bible has both a human and a divine element. As his theological pilgrimage revealed, Toy would use this hermeneutical distinction in order to argue that the Bible contains nothing but truth in its divine element, even as its human element shows all the marks of human fallibility. The human element contains both errors and myths, but the Bible’s “religious thought is independent of this outward form.”
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.
The key issue is that Toy’s "understanding of the Bible left him completely vulnerable to every heresy and doctrinal aberration. Broadus rightly warned Toy of this danger at the time of his resignation."
The salient quotes would be that “To celebrate Toy is to celebrate his beliefs about the Bible…[his] understanding of the Bible left him completely vulnerable to every heresy and doctrinal aberration.”
Mohler rightly makes the connection between Toy’s view of the Bible and that of contemporary Baptist moderates and liberals and the dangers thereof. While I wouldn’t presume that all mod/libs have such views, I certainly heard not a few who did over the years. Applying this to Flick and Mark is not something I have done.
I still say that celebrating Toy against the backdrop of Lottie Moon is perplexing. I can only hope that Cartledge and other mod/libs recognize that something is wrong with Toy that colors his ‘heroic’ stance at SBTS and that which is wrong is gravely wrong and not to be celebrated.
I note that BDWeaver has Moon in his pantheon of heroes on his blog but not Toy. No doubt he gets it.