Why I Withdrew From The Southern Baptist Convention
E. G. Cook
Former Pastor - Philadelphia Baptist Church
Birmingham , Alabama
 (Now In Glory)

   I am writing this in order that those of my friends who may be interested may know why I left the convention and joined an independent Baptist Church. For several years I have had my doubts concerning the soundness of the Southern Baptist program. But so long as my doubts were based upon hear say and isolated quotations from supposedly modernistic or liberalistic books, I continued to support the program. However, as the evidence continued to pile up and to come from many different sources, I began to seek hard, cold facts. I did not want to leave the church that had been so dear to me for a quarter of a century, many of whom were (and still are) as dear to me as my own life.
    I wrote to preachers like W. A. Criswell  of Dallas, Texas,  James U. Bulman of High Point, N. C., and others. Brother Criswell did what is usually termed "passing the buck." He very courteously referred me to James L. Sullivan executive secretary of the Sunday School Board, Nashville, Tennessee When I asked Mr. Sullivan for information concerning men like Frank Stagg. Dale Moody, Eric Rust Harold Tribble and others, he went to great length to convince me that these men had been grossly misquoted. And he almost did it. Had he not slipped up a time or two in his very lengthy letter, I might have never looked further for information. But, in response to my question concerning Harold Tribble saying
in court, under oath, that he believed Jesus had a human father, he told me I had my men mixed up. He said it was Nels Ferre who said Jesus had a human father. I already knew that Ferre says Jesus must have been the son of a German soldier, who was stationed in Pales tine, and an unfortunate Jewish girl who lived too near the military camp. I also knew that he says an eternal hell would make God a worse tyrant than Hitler.
    Now I knew that Sullivan knew of Ferre's infidelity, too. So I became very curious know why we Southern Baptists had paid this man $1200.00 to lecture that kind of stuff to our young preachers at Louisville for two weeks.
    I now became determined to know the facts. I first obtained a wire recorded lecture which Frank Stagg gave while actually teaching his class of young preachers at New Orleans. In this lecture, Stagg said four times that Jesus is not our mediator One time he said, 'There is no mediator there." Then be said, "Strictly speaking. Christ is not our mediator. Strictly speaking he Is not." Further on in his lecture he said, "Strictly speaking, Jesus is not our mediator." Then further on he said, 'There is no mediator."
    I next obtained, after several months of effort, the book, Nature And Man In Biblical Thought by Eric Rust, one of the most popular teachers in Louisville Seminary. I opened this book and on page 2 I read: "We can no longer treat the Bible as a purely super-natural book every word of which is divinely inspired."
    When I got to page 5 I read: "When we describe the Bible as the Word of God, therefore we are doing so only in a secondary sense."
    On reaching page 17 I found these words: "The Biblical science is not ours, and it needs to be corrected by our more exact knowledge." He must be smart if he has a more exact knowledge than God has.
    I read on to page 20 where I found these words: "The Old Testament begins with two myths of creation."
    And then on page 195 he says: "It is on the other grounds that we must reject the miracle." It is the miracle of our Lords changing the water into wine that he rejects.
    My dear Brother Sullivan, it is my honest opinion that if one were to quote those statements backward, they would still stink to high heaven.
    After reading some of this stuff I became came curious to know if he actually taught this infidelity there in the Seminary. So I ordered the April, 1959, issue of Review And Expositor, a publication by the faculty of the Louisville Seminary with the president, Duke McCall. as editor-in-chief. In this issue I found a lecture which had been given there in the Seminary by Rust. In this lecture, which was given on page 196: "Our modern science has made us very aware that we cannot take the Bible picture literally."
    Speaking concerning the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection he says on page 198: "They might he described as historical myth."
    Now I am convinced that Eric Rust teaches that the Bible, or at least part of it, is a myth. I am also convinced that Duke McCall, along with the trustees of the school and all other in places of authority in the convention, "like to have it so" or else they would do something about it.
    I would like to tell Brother Sullivan that if one were to quote Eric Rust, Frank Stagg and others of their stripe backward, their statements would still stink to high heaven; but he would not appreciate it, most likely.
    I know Theodore Clark was dismissed as a teacher at New Orleans Seminary recently, ostensibly because of the liberalistic teaching in his book Saved By His Life, and I must admit that when he denies the doctrines of eternal hell and immortality of the soul on page 176 of that book, he should have been dismissed. But what puzzles me about the whole situation is the fact that the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention ran a two third page ad in their official publication, The Baptist Program on page 31 of the January, 1960  issue, in which they highly recommended this book. They ended their ad with these words: "It is a book you will reread many times and each time find in it something new and helpful for your spiritual de development."
    May I ask, did they dismiss Theodore Clark in order to stop that kind of teaching or to protect it? If they wanted to stop that kind of teaching why did they keep the head of the Theology Department both of whom are worse than Clark?
    For lack of space I am giving only a sample of the many things which I KNOW are going on in the Southern Baptist Program. Books could be written on this subject and have, but I have just given you enough of what was sufficient to force me out of the convention.
    I know some wonderful Christians who feel they should remain in the Convention and fight the evils that exist in it. But according to my convictions, fighting to make wrong things right is freshly and altogether unscriptural. Nowhere in my Bible do I find justification for my staying in an evil thing and fighting it, but the other hand I find an abundance of admonition as to what actions I should take regarding such things.
    In 2 Corinthians 6:17 the Lord told me to "Come out from among them, and be ye separate."
    In 2 Timothy 3:5 our Lord, speaking concerning those who have a form of godliness but denying the power there of, says, "From such turn away."
    Then in Revelation 13:4 He says, 'Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins."
    In Galatians 1:8 Paul says, "But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him he accursed."
    My helping to pay Eric Rust's salary was a very poor way to let him be accursed.
    Then in 2 John 10-11 I read: "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your home neither bid him God speed:
for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
    I became afraid that if just wishing Eric Rust and Frank Stagg well would make me guilty of their infidel teaching, my helping to pay their salaries would be even worse.
    I trust my friends among Southern Baptists will remember me kindly, and that they will pray for me that I may at all times be found faithful to our Lord and His precious Word.

Return To Elder Cooks Page

Return To Baptist Authors

Return To PBC Home Page

Return To PBC Home