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									THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL

MEMPHIS, SATURDAY, JUNE 13,1987

N

ers ac ents strength of convictions
SBC leader favored for re-election
.

By Penni Crabtree
Staff Reporter

A football helmet and a stuffed toy bulldog decorate Southern Baptist Convention President Rev. Adrian Rogers' study. The toys are telling adornments for a man who most Southern Baptists believe will be re-elected 1'uesday as leader oJ the nation's largest Protestant denomination. The helmet, sent to Mr. Rogers last year by a friend, came with the attached note: "Adrian, strap that under your chin and go for it." The bulldog, a gift from his wife, Joyce, was offered as a joke after 'a quote from one of Mr. Rogers' critics appeared in The New York Times. "Rogers is a strong-willed person and very inflexible," Southern Seminary professor Kenneth Chafin told reporters last year. "He doesn't listen and he doesn't learn. He already knows. When he gets something in his teeth, he's like a pit bull with a steel bar in his mouth." The 55-year-oldex-college football star and pastor of self-confessed steely conviction regards his toys with a benign eye. "I suppose Chafin was referring to my qualities of tenacity," saic Mr. Rogers, smiling wryly, "I don't think a mar ought to wave away his convictions and on convictional matters I don't intend to change. I don't respect anyone who doesn't live by his convictions." . Convictions - and the foundation-shaking
'I don't intend to change."

of conservative candidate wins should send a clear signal to moderates that Southern Baptists want to hold on to their roots, which are firmly changes that occur when they clash - has been planted in a literal interpretation of the Bible. the theine of a nine-year feud between Southern "We're not trying to force our. beliefs on them Baptist fundamentalists and moderates who are (moderates), we give them every right to believe battling for control of the 14.3million-member de- what they want, or to believe nothing at all," Mr. nomination,' Rogers said. "We're not into mind control or out to An estimated 25,000 delegates to next week's con- dictate to anyone. venti on/ called messengers, will gather in St. "But Southern Baptists have a right to speak, Louis Tuesday through Thursday to test those con- and have spoken as to what they believe theologiflieting convictions. • " ally about 1J1e Bible. They have a right to set paraFundamentalists, who have held a comfortable. meters for those who teach in their schools and voting majority since 1979,believe that SBC ad- they have set parameters. And we need to recogministrators are too liberal and have strayed from nize that," he said. a strict, literal interpretation of the Bible. Mr. Rogers said he was "mildly optimistic" that Moderates believe that fundamentalists are try- Southern Baptists will find some relief in a proing to impose a narrow creed on a denomination posed "Peace Report" that will be presented to the that has long cherished the individual's right to convention Tuesday by the SBCPeace Committee. interpret scripture as God inspires. The 22-member committee, on which Mr. Rogers And central to the conflict is the election of the serves, was appointed by the convention in 1985to SBCpresident. seek out the sources of the internal conflict and Since 1979,fundamentalists have elected conseIf offer recommendations. vative candidates who have appointed like-mindThe report has not been released, but Mr. Rogers I ed people to the SBCCommittee on Committees. said it will be something most Southern Baptists That board has nominated members to another can live with. key board, which in turn appoints people to the "There won't be any overt surprises," he said. "I SBC's20agencies. wouldn't say it's weighted toward the conservaIf this year's convention goes as it has in past tive side, but it's weighted toward the majority years, Mr. Rogers, who is the incumbent candidat side of the convention. The majority side and conand favorite of the fundamentalist faction, will a - servative side, from my estimation, would be the most certainly be elected to a third one-year ter , same - but I'm not talking politics. church observers say. '~Idon't think we can negotiate convictions, but Mr. Rogers, who dismisses the term fundame we've all had to be conciliatory. I'm mildly optitalist as "pejorative," said that the past eight yea mistic." ,
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