The president and dean of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, faced with plans of fundamentalist trustees to curtail academic freedom at the school, announced this week that they will resign.

"I cannot fan into a flame a vision which I believe to be contradictory to the dream which formed Southeastern in 1951 and which has nourished me as a student and alumnus of the school," President W. Randall Lolley told a stunned student body at the close of the regular chapel service Thursday.

Lolley and Dean Morris Ashcraft will continue to serve until they are replaced. Ashcraft said that while he is stepping down as dean, he will continue teaching theology at the school, on the outskirts of Raleigh, N.C.

The resignations are the latest developments in the long and bitter battle in the Southern Baptist Convention between fundamentalists and moderates for control of denominational institutions.

The resignations came less than a week after the school's board of trustees, meeting for the first time with a fundamentalist majority, replaced moderate officers of the board with a full slate of fundamentalists. The trustees also instituted new procedures designed to further the objective of the fundamentalist majority to replace moderate professors with persons pledged to teach Biblical inerrancy.

This week's resignations mean that the replacement process will now begin at the top.

The Rev. Robert Crowley of Rockville, newly elected president of the trustees, said Lolley's replacement "would be someone who holds the inerrantist viewpoint."

He said his "vision" for the school, one of six operated by the Southern Baptist Convention, is "that we become a conservative seminary that is mission-minded."

The Rev. Mark Caldwell of College Park, a member of the board, called the resignations "acts of honor" in the face of demands by the fundamentalist majority on the board and its insistence on "the insidious doctrine of inerrancy."

The doctrine of biblical inerrancy, which has become the watchword of fundamentalist forces in the SBC, calls for a literal interpretation of the Bible, that Adam and Eve were real people, that events detailed in the Bible were actual historical occurrences.

Under the banner of biblical inerrancy, fundamentalist forces in the SBC have staged an eight-year crusade for control of denominational institutions, boards and agencies.

Caldwell, speaking to a gathering of moderates at his University Baptist Church Thursday night, called the battle "the most dangerous threat in Southern Baptist history."

"It is time to stop the fundamentalists before the entire denominaton lies in ruins around our feet, until we are overrun and pillaged by the forces of obscurantism, ignorance and biblical illiteracy," he said.

The developments at Southeastern are the latest in series of recent eruptions of the fundamentalist-moderate controversy in a number of areas:Earlier this week, the 120-church Shelby {County} Baptist Association in Memphis expelled the local Prescott Memorial church for calling a woman pastor.

Georgia Baptists are in turmoil over a widely circulated open letter from a fundamentalist leader charging the president of Baptist-related Mercer University, the Rev. R. Kirby Godsey, with multiple counts of heresy and accusations of rampant immorality at the school. The letter, sent by lay Baptist mortgage broker Lee Roberts, demands that the Georgia Baptist Convention discontinue its $2 million annual contribution to the school.

The Southern Baptist Public Affairs Committee has demanded that the denomination discontinue support of and participation in the interdenominatonal Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, despite votes against such a move by three successive national meetings of the denomination.

The Joint Committee, a 51-year-old Washington-based agency of nine Baptist bodies, has long been the target of fundamentalists, largely because of the pan-Baptist body's refusal to support such New Right agenda items as school prayer and anti-abortion legislation.

But a special SBC committee earlier this year worked out an agreement, overwhelmingly approved by the denomination's policy-making convention in June, for continued participation.

The SBC public affairs committee's decision to withdraw came after the Joint Committee head, the Rev. James Dunn, denied requests to make available copies of all correspondence of the agency's professional staff for the past three years and expense accounts for the past five years.

"It is a question of accountability when they say we can't have all the information we request," said Albert Lee Smith of Birmingham in defending the move to sever ties.

But Dunn charged that the group was "determinted to destroy the jointness of the Joint Committee."

Though the SBC, by far the largest of the Baptist bodies participating in the Joint Committee, had contributed more than 70 percent of the agency's budget, Dunn said he was confident that the amount could be made up from special contributions from local congregations or state conventions dismayed by current trends in the denomination.

"A lot of folks are eager now to send a message," he said.

At Southeastern Seminary, students and faculty gathered yesterday morning for a forum to discuss their plight. Faculty member Richard Hester said the students expressed "grief and a feeling of shock" over the resignations.

But among the faculty, he continued, "there is a sense of unity and resolve that I have never seen before."

As a faculty, he said, "we do not intend to give up our academic freedom; we do not intende to give up our . . . tradition of quality education."

As a result of the events of this week, he said, "the faculty is freed up from intimidation. None of the usual tactics of the fundamentalists work any more, because there's nothing we've got to lose."