Ralph Elliott, Baptist theologian, dies

"In 1957, Elliott was the first faculty member elected to launch Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. There, he completed a book he started in his previous work at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a book published under the title The Message of Genesis .

Elliott took a symbolic rather than literal approach to Genesis by stressing its “theological and religious purpose.” He suggested alternative views on the Bible’s meaning about the creation of man, the global flood and the supernatural destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

That alarmed biblical literalists in the SBC, who believe the first 11 chapters of Genesis are literal historical accounts, including belief in a creation that happened in six literal, 24-hour-periods."

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Interesting story, and one of which I was not aware, although raised in an SBC church and now attend one that still goes by the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message.

The battles are still ongoing after a brief respite with the polarization of society being reflected in church politics.

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Interesting that there’s a mention of Sodom and Gomorrah there. I know it’s quite a controversial subject these days (for obvious reasons) but I personally view it as a symbolic tale. I think the Sodomites are clearly depicted as cartoonishly evil, so much so that there aren’t even any innocent babies living there. Everyone there is rotten to the core, and it’s plainly impossible as a literal historical narrative. And we ought to expect the Genesis author knew what he was writing.

The idea of making the biblical bad guys cartoonishly evil is quite common. It’s why the Canaanites are descendants of fallen angels and Haman is a descendent of the Amalekites.

In searching to see if the book is still available (it is) I saw a note of this book also, The end of the independence of Southern Baptist Convention churches, which mentioned “with a new chapter on the Ralph Elliott controversy.” Is the controversy mentioned the allegorical view of Genesis do you suppose?

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Yes, I believe so!

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