Bill Leonard: Double-edged Grace: Up Close (and at a Distance)

Over the years I’ve learned a lot from Appalachian serpent-handlers. They are what we call “hot gospellers” who “get saved hard,” the ultimate biblical literalists, see Mark chapter 16. They’re not crazy, but they are rather weird. They taught me this: For serpent handlers, the sacrament is alive, and it can kill you. Every time you go to worship it is a matter of life and death.

Why Dale Moody blew up his career

MoodyI am passing along my latest opinion piece for Baptist News Global.

Dale Moody was a professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary between 1947 and 1983.  If you are familiar with W.A. Criswell you will have a pretty good notion of Moody’s speaking style.  He was brash.  He was an inveterate name-dropper (and he had so many names to drop).  Moreover, he claimed to believe the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

The comparisons end there.  Unlike Criswell, Moody embraced the theory of biological evolution and had no trouble believing that the earth was every bit as ancient as the scientific community claimed.  His conservative theology notwithstanding, Moody had kissed dispensational eschatology (think “Left Behind”) and fundamentalism goodbye.

In the early 1980s, Moody sacrificed his career over the Southern Baptist doctrine of eternal security, popularly known as “once saved, always saved.”  No one could understand why the popular preacher and teacher would challenge one of the pillars of Southern Baptist orthodoxy.

In this piece, I argue that Moody’s crusade against “once saved, always saved” anticipated the clergy sexual abuse currently roiling the Southern Baptist Convention.