Segments in this Video

Southern Baptist Internal Battle (02:33)


A man says the Southern Baptists returned to their conservative roots yesterday and calls this a major historical event. Others speak in opposition to the decision. The stakes are political, not just theological.

Unmediated Experience with Bible (02:17)

In the Southern Baptist church in which Moyers was brought up, no institution or doctrine came between the individual and God or the Bible, which each could interpret for himself. Local church self-government taught him democracy.

Baptists in American History (01:25)

Baptists suffered for their assertion of religious freedom. They lobbied for the Constitutional ban on religious tests, and for a Bill of Rights. They splintered frequently and took opposing sides in American political debates.

Southern Baptists (01:21)

Unlike other denominations, Southern Baptists have remained conservative and grown and spread to all fifty states. Today, a fundamentalist faction seeks to take over the denomination, making their reading of the Bible the test of truth.

Biblical Literalist Position (01:26)

W. A. Criswell preaches that the Bible is literally true. Once people adopt a figurative interpretation, they turn from the Bible to turn to things like psychology and sociology for truth, he says.

Literalism Versus Interpretive Freedom (02:05)

Criswell launched a movement to take over the Southern Baptist denomination for his views of Biblical interpretation. Moyers puts forward the Baptist idea that all are free to interpret the Scripture; Criswell says the Bible speaks for itself.

Biblical Inerrancy (01:17)

Criswell's disciples are coming to dominate Southern Baptism and hold that the Bible is inerrant. Moderates, in contrast, say only that the Bible contains no theological error.

Human Judgment and Bible (02:48)

Texas Judge Paul Pressler, political architect of the fundamentalist campaign to take over the Southern Baptists, says it is a mistake to place human rationalism above Scripture, making man the judge of Scripture.

Religious and Political Right Unite (03:23)

Reagan addresses the 1980 Religious Roundtable, saying all political questions have their answer in the Bible. The fundamentalist wing of Southern Baptism and the Republican Party became closely aligned.

Fundamentalist Takeover (01:56)

Fundamentalists out-organized moderates to win battles within the Southern Baptist denomination. They control committees that set positions that align with social conservative priorities.

Church and Politics (01:49)

Moderate Southern Baptist insider James Dunn says the Reagan White House wrote a resolution pushed through as a Southern Baptist position by fundamentalists.

Opposing Vouchers for Religious Schools (02:03)

Moderate Baptist lobbyist James Dunn opposes vouchers for religious schools because citizens have no control over their tax dollars when they go to a religious organization, and because money will come with controls.

Pressuring Lobbyist (02:21)

Fundamentalist Southern Baptists are trying to fire Dunn as a lobbyist because he will not try to overturn the Supreme Court school prayer and abortion decisions. Two fundamentalists talk about these issues.

Fundamentalism Versus Baptist Tradition (02:54)

Fundamentalists are trying to enforce acceptance of Biblical literalism on Southern Baptist professors and officials. Moderates regard this as departure from Baptist beliefs on freedom of soul and priesthood of all believers.

Opponent of Ordination of Women (02:38)

The issue of ordination of women divides Southern Baptists. A fundamentalist provides Scriptural grounds for opposing it.

Support for Ordination of Women (01:53)

Southern Baptist churches can ordain women if the congregation votes to do so, but only a tiny number do. One ordained woman denounces those opposed to women's ordination.

Women's Ordination (03:12)

A female ordained Southern Baptist minister and her congregation talk about attempts to prevent Southern Baptists from ordaining women.

Fundamentalists Take Over Southern Baptists (01:46)

Fundamentalists consolidated control of the Southern Baptist convention. They then made Southern Baptist lobbying efforts independent of those of the larger Baptist Church.

Fundamentalist Seminary Takeover Attempt (03:20)

Fundamentalists want to make professors at Southern Baptist seminaries swear loyalty to the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. The head of a seminary talks about what he thinks are the motives behind this campaign.

Threat to Academic Freedom (04:03)

A professor says he is theologically conservative and favors theological renewal, but opposes the fundamentalist attempt to take over seminaries as politicized and hostile to free thought.

Religious Conservative Agenda (02:33)

Judge Pressler says conservative Baptism can help Americans return to morality. He has worked to move Southern Baptism toward conservative political stances.

Religion and Politics (04:05)

Moyers asks Judge Pressler about the growing connection between religious and political right. Pressler accuses him of unfair questioning and makes a distinction between his political and religious involvement.

Moyers Denounces Politicization of Church (01:18)

Southern Baptist leaders are enrolling God in partisan politics. Making Biblical doctrine the test of political opinion is democratic heresy.

Sponsors & Credits: The Battle for the Bible (01:49)

Sponsors & Credits: The Battle for the Bible

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The Battle for the Bible

Part of the Series : God and Politics
DVD Price: $69.95
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A 10-year "holy war" among Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., is the subject of this program. The program examines how an effort to protect the Bible from the analysis of modern scholarship has escalated into a political crusade among fundamentalists to capture control of the denomination. "The stakes of this ‘holy war’ are not only theological," observes host Bill Moyers. "They are also political. The fundamentalist party wants to make one view of the Bible—their view—the truth. For Baptists, that’s radical. For America, it’s political dynamite, because how Baptists read the Bible affects their votes at the ballot box." (60 minutes)

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL5023

ISBN: 978-1-4213-5238-1

Copyright date: ©1994

Closed Captioned

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