Charles Fuller, a Virginia pastor who chaired the Southern Baptist Convention’s Peace Committee, died July 28 in Roanoke, Va. He was 86.
Formed in 1985 in response to a motion at the SBC annual meeting, the Peace Committee was charged to “seek to determine the sources” of controversy amid the convention’s Conservative Resurgence and “make findings and recommendations.” Fuller was thought a natural fit to chair the 22-member group — which comprised conservatives, moderates and centrists — because he was theologically conservative and committed to the SBC but not part of the Conservative Resurgence’s “machinery,” as Fuller put it.
When asked to consider chairing the committee, Fuller told his wife Pat, “There is no way that I can come away from this a winner personally,” he recounted in a 1994 interview with the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives (SBHLA), presumably because moderates and conservatives alike were likely to criticize him.
“I remember she said to me, ‘Well maybe this is the contribution you are to make to Southern Baptists,'” Fuller said. “So I agreed to do it.”
SBHLA correspondence files contain numerous letters of concern Fuller received from individuals on both sides of the controversy.
Among the Peace Committee’s members were six men who served as SBC president at some point, including Fuller’s boyhood friend Adrian Rogers. Three other Peace Committee members were nominated for SBC president.
After 14 meetings over two years, the committee reported at the 1987 SBC annual meeting in St. Louis that “the primary source of the controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention is the Bible; more specifically, the ways in which the Bible is viewed.” “Political activities,” the Peace Committee stated, were a secondary factor in the conflict.
Peace Committee recommendations adopted by messengers included affirmation of a “high view of Scripture” as one of the “parameters for cooperation” within the convention and a request that “all organized political factions … discontinue the organized political activity.”
The committee voted to disband in 1988 following a final report to the convention that year.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., who has listened to the complete audio recordings of the Peace Committee’s meetings, said the tapes “reveal that Fuller served effectively as chairman, but was not a major participant in debates of highest controversy.”
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SOURCE: Baptist Press, David Roach