On Dr. Frank Page’s Leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention

I, along with the other bloggers for Strange BaptistFire, strongly disagree with statements Dr. Frank Page has made in the past concerning Reformed soteriology. I am saddened to have seen stacks of his book The Trouble With TULIP piled on a table at the Convention bookstore for the SBC annual meeting. I agree with Reformed Baptist apologist James White, who has done a thorough critique of The Trouble With TULIP, showing the arguments of this book to be both unbiblical and logically unsound.

Yet I must highly commend Dr. Page’s work as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. From the beginning of his tenure, Dr. Page has said that he would work with all conservative, evangelistic Southern Baptists, no matter if he personally disagreed with them. As far as I can tell, he has kept his word.

Dr. Page’s work in leading the SBC annual meeting was exemplary. At the typical SBC annual meeting about half of all statements and requests made from messengers on the Convention floor are automatically ruled out of order by the Convention President. In a way this is understandable, because the statements are technically out of order, and because at such a huge Convention with limited time, the proceedings cannot be side-tracked with too many out of order statements. And yet this year I never heard the words, “Out of order,” come out of President Page’s mouth. Dr. Page went out of his way to make each member of the Convention who had the opportunity to speak from the floor understand that they were truly a part of the deliberative process. This extended to carefully elucidating aspects of procedure to individuals that were clearly asking off-topic questions. One lady asked about a motion made years ago, and Dr. Page had the answer to her question posted in the next day’s bulletin. Another man who was new to the Convention asked about the procedure for when the outcome of motions and resolutions would be announced, and even though he was asking at a time when other business was being conducted, Dr. Page had him return to the microphone to make sure that his question was answered and understood.

The most entertaining example of Page’s leadership of the Convention meeting came from a heated debate concerning whether the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is to be understood as the only sufficient basis for instructing trustees on whom they should hire [I hope to write more on this debate in my next post]. At the end of the time scheduled for debate, Dr. Page announced that it was time for the vote. Feeling that more debate was in order, several messengers (myself included) began yelling, “No! No!” Dr. Page informed the messengers that if we wanted debate to continue, someone needed to make a motion from a microphone for time to be extended. A motion was made and passed, so five more minutes were given for debate. Then someone called for the vote to be taken and was seconded. Dr. Page explained to the messengers that we must vote on whether the vote was to be taken. We could vote “no” and keep the debate going, or vote “yes” and proceed to vote on the issue at hand. “Only,” Dr. Page admonished, “Don’t holler at me. I’ve got just a little bit of redneck in me, and you don’t want to start anything.” This was met with widespread laughter from the floor as we acknowledged that we should not have yelled earlier, and Dr. Page had been gracious to explain the rules carefully rather than merely enforce the necessary procedure.

The overall effect of Dr. Page’s leadership was that the messengers realized that people were more important to him than rules of how business is to be conducted. The business rules were put into place to serve the Convention, not to make messengers feel powerless. Dr. Page gets this and has worked to make common people from churches know that they are important to the processes of the Convention. I have it on good authority (from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Dean of the School of Theology, Russell Moore), that Dr. Page’s appointments have been sound individuals as well.

Next year in Indianapolis, we will vote on a new president of the SBC (Dr. Page was just voted in for a second one-year term, and SBC presidents can only serve two years in a row). I strongly urge all SBF readers who are Southern Baptists to be at the annual Convention and to continue to insure excellent (and even more theologically accurate than Dr. Page) leadership in the future.

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6 Comments on “On Dr. Frank Page’s Leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention”

  1. Rhett Kelley Says:

    I’m Sorry to hear that Dr. Page’s book was available… It’s a very sad volume indeed. I am, however, glad that Dr. Page is working out as a good President depsite his misunderstanding of Reformed Soteriology.

    RK

  2. David Krueger Says:

    I think it’s interesting that Dr. Page’s book was in such abundant supply considering it had been out of print for a number of years.

    So … was this a special printing just for this year’s SBC annual meeting?

  3. Gordan Says:

    As one who knows these things personally, “out of print” can mean either:

    A) it’s going to be hard to find anywhere, or

    B) there are many, many boxes stacked in your garage that you can’t get rid of.

    So, David, if the reality is B, then no one had to print more in order to have a bunch available. They just had to be dug out and dusted off.

  4. Arthur Sido Says:

    Since the annual convention is in Indy next year, and I live close enough to Indy to make it from N. Michigan, I will be there! If we can’t have a Reformed man as President, at least we can pray that there will be a man elected who will respect the right of Reformed Southern Baptists to hold and espouse those beliefs. While I don’t expect someone that I agree with 100% to be elected (unless they elect me!), I do expect that the many Reformed Southern Baptists will not be villified by the leadership of the SBC.


  5. Gordan – Perhaps he’s in the same situation as a friend of mine who I have played a couple of gigs with. He was selling his CDs at the show, and announced “It’s a million-seller: I have a million of them in my cellar.” 😛

  6. Gordan Says:

    Gary, that’s a good one. I’ll have to remember it. I’ve got a book that resembles that remark.


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