A Progressive Theo-Political Blog Bringing You The Best and Worst of Baptist Life.

Friday, December 19, 2008

We've Moved

I started this blog back in December 2004. Exactly 4 years later, I've decided to make the jump from Blogger to a Wordpress Self-Hosted blog. You can now find me exclusively at:


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Thursday, December 11, 2008

NAE Head Richard Cizik Resigns Over Statements

Here's the story from Christianity Today.

Richard Cizik resigned Wednesday night as vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) during a week of growing uproar over his comments that he is shifting his views on same-sex unions.

"Although he has subsequently expressed regret, apologized, and affirmed our values, there is a loss of trust in his credibility as a spokesperson among leaders and constituencies," Leith Anderson, president of the NAE wrote to board members today. Cizik did not return calls for comment.

Cizik was a true evangelical centrist. Truly unfortunate.


As a side note, I do wish Richard Land & Company would just shut up. During his tenure at the NAE, most of the criticism hurled at Cizik came from those outside of the NAE family. Cizik did not represent the "evangelical community." He represented the National Association of Evangelicals - an organization that has always been less dogmatic than the fundamentalists that masquerade as "evangelical leaders" on TV and Radio.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Jon Meacham Just Doesn't Get Religion

I can't say that I've ever been impressed by the theological insights of Jon Meacham. After his recent Newsweek editorial which comes in response to Lisa Miller's lousy cover story article on gay marriage, I'm left with the conclusion that Jon just doesn't Get Religion or at least Jon doesn't get traditional Christianity. Here's Meacham:
No matter what one thinks about gay rights—for, against or somewhere in between —this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism. Given the history of the making of the Scriptures and the millennia of critical attention scholars and others have given to the stories and injunctions that come to us in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament, to argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt—it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition.
First, as my readers now, I'm no fan of the Religious Right. Nor am I a theologically conservative Christian. Politically, I'm quite friendly to gay rights and civil marriage equality.

But Meacham's conclusion in the paragraph above is just downright offensive. Argument from the Bible is the worst kind of fundamentalism? What? Fundamentalists are not the only type of Christian who appeal to biblical authority. More than a few theological progressives and liberals throughout history and even today make arguments based on biblical injunctions on a regular basis especially in the political arena. Has Meacham not read Dr. King on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount or Walter Rauschenbusch on the Hebrew Prophets? Would Meacham argue that these great modern-day prophets are intellectually bankrupt because they too argued that "something is so because it is in the Bible" ?

To suggest that one is a fundamentalist simply because their argument invokes Scripture is just nonsense. Meacham doesn't seem to get religion nor does he seem to take religion very seriously. For Meacham, the Bible is simply a book - a book that offers no insight into how we should live our lives and deal with problems in the 21st century. And, if you disagree with Meacham's extremely low view of Scripture, you're an intellectually bankrupt fundamentalist.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Rick Warren Backs Assassination of Ahmadinejad

From The Washington Monthly:

WARREN ENDORSES HANNITY'S WARMONGERING.... Pastor Rick Warren has a reputation for being far more stable and grounded than religious right leaders and TV preachers like Pat Robertson, but it's worth remembering that he's not exactly a moderate.

Last night, on Fox News, Sean Hannity insisted that United States needs to "take out" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Warren said he agreed. Hannity asked, "Am I advocating something dark, evil or something righteous?" Warren responded, "Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped.... In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers."

Watch the clip and read the full transcript here.

Since this clip hit the blogosphere, Warren's people have claimed that Rick was simply citing Romans 13. I agree with Romans 13 that every person is "subject to the governing authorities." I also agree that the government has a duty to keep "law and order." This obviously means that those who break the law will face punishment. But that wasn't Warren's point. Warren was responding to Hannity's assertion that "We need to take [Ahmadinejad] out." Warren agreed to this assertion with his "YES" response. And then Warren defended Hannity's notion that we need to Assassinate the Iranian President by offering a theological thought or two. And who said that Rick Warren was an evangelical centrist???

David Gushee did.

In The Future of Faith in American Politics (2008), Baptist ethicist David Gushee writes:
Rick Warren has become the most influential pastor in the United States. His two Purpose Driven books (on churches and personal life) have sold tens of millions of copies and created Warren disciples al over the American landscape. Tens of thousands stream into his Saddleback Church every weekend. He is constantly in the news. By now it is probably fair to say that if Billy Graham has a successor in American religious life, it is Rick Warren. Thus, it is no small matter that Warren has moved his ministry and his message squarely into the evangelical center.
No offensive to David Gushee, but if Rick Warren is considered a leader of the Evangelical Center - count me out. Guys like Warren give true centrists a bad name.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Council of Baptist Pastors Push Detroit Loan Deal

This is from the Detroit Free Press:

Automakers’ woes hit black community, Baptist pastors say


Minority auto suppliers are being disproportionately hurt by the auto industry implosion, and that is devastating Detroit’s African-American communities, the city’s influential Council of Baptist Pastors said today.

At a news conference in Hamtramck, Council President Rev. Dr. Oscar King called on Congress to approve a loan package for Detroit automakers, saying minority suppliers and the African-American communities that rely on them need the American auto industry to survive.

“This is not a gift. We are not asking for anything that is not ours,” King said of the federal assistance funds for the automakers. “Taxes go up to the federal government. We’re asking for a reasonable redistribution. Give us our money back so that we may use it to provide for the stability of this faltering economy.”

William Pickard, chairman and chief executive officer of Global Automotive Alliance LLC, a Detroit-based group of minority automotive suppliers, said minority suppliers have been hurt as the automakers and major suppliers have “stretched” their payments to companies lower down the chain.

“I suspect if you had 10 suppliers here, you would have at least 11 different scenarios,” Pickard said. “And indeed the Big 3 have stretched their suppliers, and I’m sure Tier 1 and Tier 2 have done the same thing. We probably were more highly leveraged as an industry than our white counterparts, so it affects us more, but throughout the spectrum, you are having delayed payments.”

Asked about yet more cutbacks to come as the Detroit automakers try to qualify for federal assistance, Pickard issued a dire prediction.
“I think the reduction will take on many different forms, but surely the smaller you are, the more vulnerable you are,” he said. “We all know there’s been a tremendous decrease in the number of suppliers. And I would say this time next year, we’ll probably lose another 20, 30%.”
The Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity was founded nearly fifty years ago with the purpose of "offering sound leadership in every field of community endeavor." Comprised of hundreds of Baptist pastors in the Detroit area, the Council of Baptist Pastors is regarded as a highly influential organization. On Thursday, December 4, the Council of Baptist Pastors along with Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders will convene in Detroit to discuss the economic crisis.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Rev. Dr. Ella Pearson Mitchell (1917-2008)

From American Baptist News Service:


VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/26/08) — Rev. Dr. Ella Pearson Mitchell, a distinguished religious educator, renowned preacher, and celebrated author, died November 19 in Atlanta, GA. She was 91.

Ella Pearson Mitchell was one half of an acclaimed ministry duo that included her husband of 64 years, Dr. Henry H. Mitchell. She was a pioneer in African-American preaching and religious education, and her reputation as a promoter and encourager of women in ministry, especially in the area of homiletics, earned her the title, “dean of African-American women preachers.” Outspoken on the subject, she once declared, “I am convinced that women were ordained to be in ministry from the very beginning of time.”

Dr. Mitchell compiled and edited six books featuring women and preaching. Most notable is her five-volume series, “Those Preaching Women,” begun in 1985. In 2008, Judson Press published Those Preaching Women: A Multicultural Collection, co-edited by Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Valerie Bridgeman Davis.

Ella and Henry Mitchell, known for their dialogues in the pulpit, published their sermons in Fire in the Well. They also wrote Together for Good: Lessons from Fifty-Five Years of Marriage (also Judson Press).

A longtime member of American Baptist Churches USA, Dr. Mitchell served as president of the Board of Educational Ministries from 1959 to 1973.

Longtime friend and fellow American Baptist Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III, executive director of National Ministries, said of her passing, “Dr. Ella Mitchell is a true Christian ‘shero’ of our time. She and Henry modeled black church ministerial leadership for a generation of African-American preachers. She certainly helped to shape my identity as a preacher, reminding me of my roots in the black church. Ella Mitchell also represented hope that women, and African American women in particular, could respond affirmatively to the call of God on their lives. Their overwhelming response is her legacy.”

Dr. Mitchell broke down many barriers, achieving a number of “firsts” for women in ministry. She was the first female dean of Sisters Chapel, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA, and the first woman to preach at Hampton Ministerial Conference, Hampton, VA. She earned a doctor of ministry degree from Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, CA.

Dr. Mitchell was the second African-American woman to graduate from New York’s Union Theological Seminary, which honored Drs. Ella and Henry Mitchell in February with their 2008 Trailblazer award, given to distinguished black graduates.

As an educator, she taught Religious Education at Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (now American Baptist Seminary of the West), Berkeley, CA, and served as associate professor of Christian Education, Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, Richmond, VA. She also taught Homiletics as visiting professor at Atlanta’s Interdenominational Theological Center from 1988-2001.

Dr. Mitchell’s passing has been received by colleagues, friends and admirers with a mixture of sadness and fond remembrances of her more than 60 years in ministry. Continue reading here.

The funeral will be held Tuesday, December 2nd at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where Dr. Ella Pearson Mitchell and her husband Dr. Henry Mitchell have been members for many years.

According to a tribute published in Monday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dr. Ella Pearson Mitchell became an ordained minister in 1978 shortly after the death of her mother, who had been opposed to the idea. She was ordained at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, California and preached at churches around the country, including Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist.

For more, see Pam Durso's 2005 Baptist Studies Bulletin article on Dr. Ella Pearson Mitchell.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

A Southern Baptist War on the Catholic Church "Cult"

Meet Jim Smyrl

Jim Smyrl is the "Executive-Pastor of Education" at the 28,000-member First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida. FBC Jacksonville is the third-largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest megachurches in America. As Executive -Pastor of Education, Smyrl is no lowly staff member. He's been dubbed "Second in Command" at FBC as Pastor Mac Brunson's "right-hand man."

Over on the Official Blog of FBC Jacksonville, has announced a series of upcoming posts on the "Catholic Cult."

Here's the announcement:
This series will examine the cultish nature of Catholicism. The primary reasons we are unwilling to consider Catholicism as a cult include: we have good friends that are Catholics, the history of the Catholicism makes it difficult to perceive them as a cult since most people view cults as quick up starts with a charismatic leader, and the lack of understanding of the one true grid by which to measure the validity of a movement.
Today, Monday - November 24, Smyrl posted the first installment in this "Catholic Cult" series.

Here's a snippet:
Why even address the issue of Catholicism? Doesn’t such a critical view of a particular religious group bring greater division among moral people in a society? Won’t I have a difficult time witnessing to Catholics if we refer to them as a cult? All are questions that represent a myriad of interrogatives that will no doubt be leveled against this series. However, isn’t it the historical precedence of evangelicals, coming from a biblical mandate (I John 4:1-3), to examine the culture, even religious groups, under the light of Scripture? And how will you ever lead a Catholic out of his sin and into the only sufficient grace of Christ if you do not clearly point out his sin? Surely we do not believe that we can lead anyone to Christ by generalizing or minimizing his sin.
Smyrl concludes his post by laying the foundation for his definition of a cult, based on a four-criteria test cult test. Read the rest here.

This isn't the first time that Smyrl has referred to the Catholic Church as a Cult. On November 14, Smyrl described a Catholic Priest from South Carolina as a "Cult Leader."

Not really sure how a reasonable, educated person responds to kooks like Smyrl.

But, we'll keep an eye on his Catholic Cult blog series throughout the week.

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