Religion: Baptist Split

Officially, Southern Baptists take their Bible straight—as the literal message of God. But in the denomination's seminaries, many teachers accept the evidence of modern scholarship that the Bible, while spiritually as valid as ever, is historically of mixed accuracy. This view is hardly shocking to 20th century Presbyterians or Episcopalians, but to the arch-conservative literalists who control the Southern Baptist Convention it is about as welcome as incense at Wednesday evening prayer meeting.

Last June, alarmed at the cautiously nonfundamentalist approach of a book called The Message of Genesis by Baptist Ralph Elliott, the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirmed the church's faith in...

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