Two preachers who have vocally opposed a controversial decision by officials at American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee, to invite a lesbian pastor to speak on campus, specifically took aim this week at a recent claim about the Bible that was made by the school's president, Dr. Forrest Harris.
Harris has publicly defended the college's invite to Bishop Yvette Flunder, a California-based preacher who is married to a woman, telling the Tennessean that he finds it “sad that people use religion and idolatry of the Bible to demoralize same-gender-loving people.”
When asked to explain what he meant by “idolatry of the Bible,” Harris offered up a definition that Pastor W. Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, and Pastor Randy Vaughn of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Port Arthur, Texas, both found "deeply disturbing and alarming."
"When people say [the Bible] is synonymous with God and the truth," Harris said. "We can’t be guided and dictated by a first-century worldview."
McKissic told TheBlaze that he was particularly surprised by the president's comments on the Bible, considering the National Baptist Convention's views on scripture.
"It is deeply disturbing and alarming for a Baptist college president, with our first article of faith being — we believe in the authority of scripture as an … eternal word of God — for him to dismiss what the scripture has to say," McKissic said. "That speaks volumes about the theological direction of that institution."
He also said that the school's board of trustees must immediately dismiss Harris, unless the board members agree with him. And if that's the case, McKissic said that the denomination should promptly dismiss the board.
"He is way out of line, out of step with Baptists," McKissic said of Harris. "And he has the college on a whole different page, and I believe he will be held accountable."
Vaughn agreed with these sentiments, claiming that Harris' statement about the Bible seems to dismiss what most pastors have been preaching as "totally irrelevant."
"The scripture is right, it is true … we don't hold ourselves to be better than anyone. We're all sinners," he said. "We've found our way to the cross. We stand today to believe that the Bible is right."
McKissic and Vaughn, both members of the National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors, a group that has vocally opposed Flunder's speech, also held a press conference on Tuesday to discuss the issue.
The group is also opposed to two additional "active proponents of same-sex marriage" who were invited this week to the American Baptist College campus — Pastor Delman Coates, who pushed for gay marriage in Maryland, and Alan Bosaek, who tried to persuade the South African Dutch Reformed Church to embrace same-sex nuptials.
The preachers believe that, by inviting these speakers, Harris and the school are in violation of denominational rules and regulations.
With American Baptist College refusing to disinvite Flunder, though, McKissic and Vaughn said that they hope to "stir up leadership" in an effort to see the denomination speak out against the school's actions and solidify "theological positioning" on the matter.
"We believe that the Bible establishes for us … what we believe to be God's word — that homosexuality… is a sin," Vaughn told TheBlaze.