The lead-off speaker to this year's FBFI Annual Fellowship is Clarence Sexton, president of Crown College and pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. The "Statement of Faith" pages of both the college and the church state the following:
The ScripturesI disagree with the conclusions of these statements that the Masoretic Text and the Received Text are the only texts of the original languages that we "accept and use." I similarly disagree that the KJV is the only English translation we should accept and use. But I disagree most vehemently that these conclusions should be incorporated in a "Statement of Faith." Ironically, these statements of faith are internally contradictory since their final sentence says, "The Bible is our sole authority for faith and practice." Although the inescapable implication of these statements is that Sexton does believe the Bible teaches the KJV is the only translation we should accept, I'm having a hard time imagining that he would affirm such an indefensible notion.
We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Bible, “as it is in truth, the Word of God...” (I Thessalonians 2:13). We believe in verbal, plenary inspiration in the original writings, and God's preservation of His pure words to every generation (II Timothy 3:16, Psalms 12:6-8). The Masoretic Text of the Old Testament and the Received Text of the New Testament (Textus Receptus) are those texts of the original languages we accept and use; the King James Version of the Bible is the only English version we accept and use. The Bible is our sole authority for faith and practice.
Sexton can believe what he wants. I'm sure the statements are legally constituted, and Baptist polity would surely affirm the right of his church to determine what it believes without outside interference or imposition. But I must admit I'm surprised that the FBFI wouldn't see a major problem here. I can't imagine that we squirrelly bloggers do more investigation than the people doing the inviting. But I likewise can't imagine that the thoughtful leaders within the FBFI would not recognize the obvious problems with Sexton's implicit (at the very least) claims that the Bible affirms his conclusions on texts and translations.
So I have no idea what dynamics led the FBFI to extend a keynote invitation to Sexton, just as I have no idea what dynamics have led other fundamentalist institutions to continue to extend speaking invitations to other leaders of institutions that propagate KJVO theology. But as a first-hand witness of some of the back-room fundamentalist machinations over conference speakers from outside the traditionally accepted parameters of the movement, I'll have to admit that the kind of toleration the FBFI has demonstrated for those within the traditional parameters doesn't get any less frustrating as I get older.
Here's hoping better days are ahead.