First, they intimidated one of the participants enough to secure his withdrawal from the meeting. It was no accident that the Florida Baptist Witness broke the story that former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister, would no longer participate in the Atlanta Celebration.
Second, they got SBC President Frank Page to issue a statement that would discount the friendly overtures that both former Presidents Carter and Clinton made toward Page after his election as President of the SBC.
Third, they got their propagandists at Baptist Press to spin a story from Page's statement that left the impression Page was attacking Carter, Clinton, Underwood and all the others organizers of the New Baptist Covenant for creating "a smokescreen for a leftwing liberal agenda."
Robert Parham and Aaron Weaver wrote hardhitting essays in response to the reported attacks by Frank Page. Brian Kaylor wrote an insightful essay that concluded that Page had become the same kind of "mad conservative" he denounced when he was elected as President of the SBC. SBC Bloggers Wade Burleson and Ben Cole wrote essays that defended Page and challenged Baptist Press for distorting his comments. Burleson wrote:
"It does seem to me that Dr. Page's comments, as delivered by Baptist Press, sound like they may have been written by someone other than Frank. They are not quite as irenic as his usual words."He noted that,
"the headline on the Baptist Press article with Page's remarks within the first hour of posting from Page Rebukes New Covenant to Page Responds to Carter. I'm wondering who put the first title up, and who called and requested the second?"Cole offered a meticulous comparison of Frank Page's statement and of the Baptist Press report. Here are some of his conclusions:
1. Frank Page did not say that Presidents Clinton and Carter are motivated by a leftwing liberal agenda in this New Baptist Covenant, as Baptist Press suggests. He did say he would not be a part of such an effort, if indeed one existed. That is a far cry from the way BP characterized his comments.I'll withhold judgment as to what Frank Page said and intended. Burleson says he intends to ask him himself. I'm eager to hear what Page has to say to Burleson.
2. Frank Page acknowledged that some of the Covenant participants are themselves guilty of negativity and critical spirits. He did not, however, suggest that such perceptions were insurmountable for Christians who seek to work together.
3. Frank Page did not suggest that Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Bill Underwood believe a false gospel, or have succumbed to a social gospel. He merely reinforced his own belief that the Gospel is primarily concerned with overcoming men’s separation from God, without denying its social implications.