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

Monday, October 29, 2007

Massar Elected In Landslide Win Over Baptist Blogger

Baptist Blogger Lee Saunders of Deep In The Heart has been thumped badly by East Texas pastor Mike Massar in the race for 1st-VP of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Mike Massar - 967 (78.62%)
Lee Saunders - 267 (20.89%)

In a recent blog post, Lee Saunders has promised to bring forth a resolution against BGCT participation in what he has so eloquently described as the "National Baptist Covenant."

Saunders was nominated by David Montoya.

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Joy Fenner Elected President of BGCT

Joy Fenner was just elected President of BGCT making her the first female in Texas Baptist history to hold this position.

The total vote was:

Joy Fenner: 900 votes
David Lowrie: 840 votes

The Baptist Standard story is here.

Read here for background.

Disgruntled dissenter David Montoya is not unexpectedl disturbed at today's historic outcome. Over at his blog Spiritual Samurai, Montoya writes:

The shadow convention is alive and well in the BGCT. It is a good day because Joy is a wonderful person, it is bad because Texas Baptists will continue to get more of the same.

Charles Wade has won the day. Rejoice Otto. Rejoice Jon Becker. I will spend the rest of the convention in mourning.David Lowrie: 840 (48.5%)
Joy's election is good because she is wonderful but the outcome is bad because the "status quo" has prevailed? Montoya is making little sense these days. A majority of messengers to annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas cast their ballots for Joy Fenner and he whines about a "shadow convention." Blame your fellow messengers sitting among you, David.

Straw men are cheap and dishonest.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gator & Cocktails Makes For a Delectable Treat!

1980: Run Lindsay, Run

Buck Belue connects with Lindsay Scott for 93-yard touchdown pass to give the Dawgs a 26-21 lead and win over Florida kept alive the Dawgs successful quest for a national championship.

Larry Munson:
Florida in a stand-up five, they may or may not blitz. Belue ... third down on the eight. In trouble, he got a block behind him. Going to throw on the run. Complete on the 25. To the 30, Lindsay Scott 35, 40, Lindsay Scott 45, 50, 45, 40. …. Run Lindsay, 25, 20, 15, 10, Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott.2007: Meet Knowshon Moreno

#24 Tailback Knowshon rushes for 188 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead the Dawgs to a 42-30 victory over the defending national champion Florida Gators

Isn't it great to be a Georgia Bulldawg?


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Amarillo - A Texas Baptist Recipe For Disaster

Texas Baptists will converge in Amarillo next Monday and Tuesday for the Annual Meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. This years Annual Meeting will feature Purpose-Driven Pastor Rick Warren and a contentious election between the potential first female BGCT President, Joy Fenner, and West Texas pastor David Lowrie.

Fenner is running on a platform that would continue to emphasize missions and ministry.

Lowrie's platform is to bring the BGCT "back to the middle."

And now we meet Rick Davis.

Rick Davis is the pastor First Baptist Church, Brownwood, Texas. Rick is also a blogger. Some describe Rick as a "man of integrity." I've heard others use the word "disgruntled." I don't know Rick personally (though he's always been quite cordial to me) but whatever the case may be, Rick's blog is read by many Baptists across the great state of Texas.

Judging a persons influence is a tricky task. In terms of influence, a large readership may not mean much or it may mean everything. Who knows? But Rick Davis is a dissenter. He's been doing a great deal of dissenting over the past year. I'm reminded of the words of the late Foy Valentine - a great Texas Baptist indeed! Dr. Valentine once described the Baptist dissenter as "the outsider, who yaps at the outside...drinking a little whiskey, and privately just doing his own thing. They have some influence, to be sure, but it's really pretty peripheral."

Minus the whiskey reference, I suspect Foy's quote might sum up the influence of Dr. Rick Davis. But I could very well be wrong? Keeping that in mind, I'd like to point out that Rick recently endorsed a candidate to be the next President of the BGCT.

Who? David Lowrie.

Not exactly a shocker to say the least. Here's the endorsement:
So, today, squaring tiny shoulders, with grim determination, I personally endorse Dr. David Lowrie of First Baptist Church, Canyon, Texas, for president of the BGCT. I endorse him for two terms, in fact, because few of us were in the room when the decision was made BGCT presidents would take one term, not two.....

If apathy is the winner, all who might join us are the losers. We are now in need of a statesman who will reach out to all the bodies left rotating in the diminished Texas circle. Before the energy in the midst of the circle flames out forever, someone must emerge with a firm grasp of reality, beholden to none but the Center Flame and eager for forward movement.

We probably do not dare hope for peace in our time. The cold wars are the longest, for they are measured in influence rather than territory. No treaty is likely to hold when divided cultures live in close physical proximity with totally divergent philosophies and a bloody history.

In a follow-up post, Rick felt the need to defend Lowrie in a post entitled David Lowrie is not a Neo-Con, Right-Wing Fundamentalist who will seek to return us to the fell clutches of the SBC
David Lowrie is, has been and will be what we have said for years we wanted. He keeps focused on the main thing, is beholden to no group to the exclusion of all others and will hold out a hand to all of us, while holding a fist to none of us.

I have taken him on in this space about some of his early comments. He answered all the things I asked, not always to my liking, but in a mature, thoughtful manner. David is open to all of us.

David Lowrie is beholden to no group to the exclusion of all others? And will hold out a hand to all of us? Please. Is this the same David Lowrie who has promised to "stop the drift away from the SBC toward the CBF" because such as a drift has "undermined our effectiveness." Is this the same Davis Lowrie who honestly believes that Texas Baptists are left-leaning and need to "get back to a more centrist position" ??? Ridiculous.

Lowrie has yet to affirm BGCT-CBF cooperation. From all of his interviews and comments, Lowrie has not once affirmed such cooperation or spoken positively of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Why? Davis himself acknowledges that not all of Lowrie's answers have been satisfactory. So how exactly can we be assured that David Lowrie will not exclude any group of Texas Baptists?

We can't.

And I think that's why Rick Davis is forced to constantly defend Lowrie against charges that he's a right-winger, a funny-mentalist. David Lowrie is a hard pill to swallow. Given multiple chances and Lowrie can't even affirm existing relationships between the CBF and BGCT. And then there's the talk of PARITY. Moderates remember all too well a Baptist by the name of Paige Patterson who was clamoring for "PARITY" exactly 25 years ago. We all know how that ended.....

Moving on again....

With that said, I - Big Daddy Weave - offer my blog support for Joy Fenner. She's qualified and nobody contests that. She's a WMUer with a passion for missions and ministry. And it's about dang time that Texas Baptists elect a female as President of the BGCT. It's embarrassingly past time.

On a concluding note, if official BGCT participation in the New Baptist Covenant is taken to a floor vote - I hope Texas Baptists will affirm the NBC and proceed to make their hotel reservations in Atlanta. David Coffey of the Baptist World Alliance will be speaking on the 29th. Inviting the BWA President to speak at your Annual Meeting and then voting against the BWA's most important and historically significant North American project would be disastrous. Let's hope messengers to Amarillo have more sense than that.....

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Monday, October 22, 2007

A Time For Honesty: John McCain & Judicial Activism

Don Byrd of the Baptist Joint Committee's Blog from the Capital has posted a collection of quotes from the recent Values Voter Summit hosted by the Family Research Council. Check it out.

Here's a quote from John McCain:

My friends, if America stands for anything, it stands for the freedom to follow our own hearts, to determine our own relationship with God. Our Constitution did not establish a national religion, but neither did it banish any worship. Religious freedom does not require Americans to hide their faith from public view or that communities must refrain from publicly acknowledging the importance to them of faith.

Judges should not legislate from the bench and actually restrict religious freedom by banning its expression in the public square. (Applause.) And I am proud to have played a role, and a major role, in the confirmation of Judges Alito, Roberts, and many others. (Applause.)

A Values-Voter Summit wouldn't be the same without at least a handful of references to judges who supposedly legislate from the bench. Ironically, the most egregious example of judicial activism in a religious liberty case came from the pen of Justice Antonin Scalia - a conservative if there every was one....

Scalia's majority opinion in Oregon v. Smith (1990) completely "gutted" the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. A wise Baptist church-state expert described Scalia's opinion as "an outburst of judicial activism unworthy of a conservative judge...Scalia gutted the free exercise clause from the First Amendment calling its application 'a legal luxury we can no longer afford.' And this is the same justice who had protested so loudly in the confirmation process that the Supreme Court should only interpret law?"

This most notable instance of "legislating from the bench" caused the ACLU and Americans United to join up with Concerned Women for America and the Traditional Values Coalition in order to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to restore pre-Smith free exercise rights. Talk about strange bedfellows!

But John McCain knows better. He himself voted to correct Justice Scalia's gross "outburst of judicial activism." Religious freedom has been restricted at the hands of McCain's fellow conservatives! It's just a wee-bit dishonest to continue this "blame the liberals" game that Republican politicians and righteous "values voters" play year in and year out.

Next time you hear a Republican like John McCain moaning an groaning about the need for strict-constructionist judges who won't "legislate from the bench," remember Antonin Scalia and Oregon v. Smith.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rudy Giuliani & Frank Page - An Ethical Case Study

Check out this EthicsDaily.com story:
The president of the Southern Baptist Convention says he offered to pray with Rudy Giuliani to accept Christ as his savior, but the Republican presidential candidate declined. Frank Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., recently told a group of ministers in Oklahoma the biggest surprise of his 16 months leading the nation's largest Protestant body is the contact it brings with politicians.

Page said he has "met with almost all the presidential candidates" and has pledged that his "singular purpose" in those meetings would be to "tell them about Jesus." "When I spent two solid hours in a private meeting with Rudy Giuliani, I shared Christ with him so much that at the end of that two hours I said, 'Rudy, I'm not going to leave this place unless I give you an opportunity to pray with me to receive Jesus as your savior. Would you do that with me Rudy?'" Page recounted.

"He said, 'No, Frank, I'm not ready to do that. My daddy knows Jesus like that, but I'm not ready for that.'"

Page said he gave the former New York mayor his cell phone number and invited him to call "any time, day or night."

"You just call me, and we'll talk about Jesus, Rudy," Page recalled the conversation. "You're a great leader, Rudy, and you may be the president of our country some day. But you'll never be the leader you need to be unless you have Jesus as the heart of who you are."
I'm not a pastor. Never been to seminary. But I am a Baptist. And I believe that Baptists desperately need ethics.

Pick up any book on ministerial ethics and it will tell you what Frank Page did was both inappropriate and unethical.

Would your pastor go visit a person, ask them to accept Jesus, and then from the pulpit report that the person had rejected the invitation? I don't think so.

It does not matter whether the person is the Mayor of New York or the Mayor of Hewitt, Texas. The conversation between Rudy G and Frank Page was of a very personal and private nature. As a Christian minister, Frank Page shouldn't have shared in a public setting the details of their private conversation. Surely he took a course in ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary?

I really wonder if Rudy G's conclusion is really the same as Frank Page's - that Rudy isn't a Christian??? After Frank Page's ethical breach, I must question his account and Rudy's understanding of the evangelical language that Page was using....

If Frank Page wants to be pastor to politicians like Billy Graham was perhaps he should take a lesson or two in ethics and confidentiality first?

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Monday, October 15, 2007

These Are Children For Crying Out Loud!

Rev. Joel Hunter, a former United Methodist pastor who earlier this year resigned from his pending presidency of the Christian Coalition of America has weighed in on the fight in Congress to override Bush's SCHIP veto.

In a recent sermon, the Orlando-based megachurch pastor makes an emotional plea on behalf of God's children. Listen to Rev. Hunter here. Below is an excerpt:
"There are people in this country - Children - and I hear these arguments all the time about these dirty filthy immigrants, these illegal immigrants who come into this country. And they are getting all these benefits because their kids get sick enough to get into an emergency and go to an emergency room.

And somehow those children don't deserve care because they come from another country and they are not like us and maybe they don't believe what we do and maybe they don't speak the same language we do. And we want to deny those children healthcare? God would say "what are you doing?"

I don't believe health care is a right. But I believe healthcare is the test of our character as a nation. And I believe that any nation that does not take care of the children among us is not much of a nation, is not much of a people, is certainly not much of a Christian......

And I gotta tell ya, what are we doing?!? These are children for crying out loud! God would say - there are 100,000 in the city who don't know their right hand from their left, and you would ignore them and not give them what they need because they don't happen to have what you have. If you're a nation that don't take care of your own children, you're not much of a nation, as a matter of a fact you're not much of a people, let alone much of a Christian. These are Children!

Here's what we have to understand. We gotta know that God cares for the vulnerable. This is a message to us all. We are to love the ones that we might not love naturally but God does. We are to love according to his standards not according to ours. And I know I may have just made some of you really mad. But I don't care. It's what the word of God says and I will always tell you what the word of God says. Pray with me."
Rev. Joel Hunter is one conservative evangelical that has my respect.

Unfortunately, many of his fellow pro-life conservative evangelical friends are united against SCHIP. The Baptist ethics agency that made war and torture cool again has also come out in support of Bush's veto. Surprise Surprise! I guess pouring hundreds of billions into Iraq is more POSH than providing millions of children with freakin health care!

And that my friends is the definition of Christian social concern. And unfortunately from a group that bears the name Baptist.

So while I'm embarrassed by Baptists like Richard Land and Barrett Duke, I thank God for Methodists like Joel Hunter.....

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Back When Southern Baptists Were Still Baptists....

Those are the words of the highly esteemed historian Dr. Martin E Marty.

Check out his latest column at Christian Century entitled Baptists in the Kitchen
In 1958, during a trifaith "Religious Emphasis Week" at the University of Arkansas, I hung out at the Sigma Nu house. One morning some Baptist Sigma Nu brothers were walking with me as I went by the Lutheran campus chapel. I stopped. "You want to go in there?" they asked. Yes, I wanted to see a majestic figure of Christ on the cross sculpted by Harriet Youngman Reinhardt. Once these friendly iconoclasts got over the shock of dealing with an iconodule who favored a carved corpus, one said: "You wouldn't want to go there. That's Lutheran!" "So am I," I responded, and he said: "You know, I never met one of them before!"

Back when Southern Baptists were still Baptist, I was invited to Southwestern Seminary, the "largest seminary in the world," and was impressed by its worship, classes and faculty. Since then, I've been a guest on many southern college and university campuses and have stayed at Baptist-dominated sororities and in faculty homes. While the southern style of hospitality and cuisine may not be to everyone's taste, this Midwesterner ate it up. The "sisters" and spouses in these places had manners that shamed mine; their grooming and garb reflected a culture that produces Miss Americas. A few of these women were pastors, some were destined to become pastors, and still others would marry pastors. They lacked neither grace nor graces, and the last thing they needed were "home economics" courses.

But their superiors have decided otherwise, at least at Southwestern. Pop culture, pagan pluralism or the presence of non-"cradle Baptist" converts must have led to some loss of the good old manners, mores and recipes. Maybe some of the new women are married to male seminarians who have grown slovenly. Worst of all, in the eyes of new Southern Baptist leadership, many of the women have been called to ordained ministry, which is a no-no. The need for women's submission to their husbands must have been what prompted Southwestern leaders to introduce a "new, women-only academic program in homemaking" (emphasis mine), a 23-hour concentration that counts toward a B.A. in humanities and a life as a pastor's wife.

The Dallas Morning News reports that the program is aimed at helping establish what Southwestern's president calls "biblical family and gender roles." He adds: "We are moving against the tide in order to establish family and gender roles as described in God's word."

Because this is a "women-only" curricular track, one is tempted to shout "discrimination" and call in the feds. Yet the separation-of-church-and-state ethos would protect the seminary from legal enforcement. Only God's inspired word in the Bible should count. And precisely here is where one worries about the Bible sources and these Baptists. The seminary courses are on clothing construction, textile design and meal preparation. In the Bible these tasks were as much part of the family and gender roles of men as of women.

Bible-believing Baptists have to ask: How do we square Matthew 6:25-26 with a 23-hour course on "taking thought for what you should wear" or "eat and drink"? What about the resurrected male Jesus cooking fish and baking bread for the disciples on the beach at the sea of Tiberias (John 21: 9-14)? How about the apostle Paul, who made a living as a tentmaker? From what I know about (us) male ministers today, I'd say that if we cannot cook like Jesus, if we cannot sew like Paul, then it's we who need homemaking lessons. How about men-only or mixed gender courses? They'd be inspired, even biblical.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Bush The Universalist

That's the title of Terry Mattingly's latest post over at GetReligion.

Mattingly writes:
The media have written extensively, if poorly, about Bush’s faith. There was that New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story about Bush’s faith. And countless others which we’ve all read over the past decade.

And yet when President Bush celebrates other religions or otherwise expresses his universalism — which he has done repeatedly — the media barely notice. In an Oct. 4 interview with Al Arabiya, President Bush said

Well, first of all, I believe in an almighty God, and I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God. That’s what I believe. I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace.

Mattingly wonders if the media ignores Bush's universalism (pluralism?) "because it doesn't fit with their preconceived notion of Bush as an evangelical extremist."

Fascinating stuff, check it out.

Back in late July, I wrote a post entitled Universalist Addresses Southern Baptist Convention.

What amazes me (well, not really) is the way Southern Baptist leaders treat Presidents when they talk theology. Jimmy Carter gets labeled a heretic by Al Mohler & Company. Yet, folks like Richard Land give Bush's unambiguous theological statements a pass. After Bush's interview with Charlie Gibson back in 2003, Richard told Baptist Press that the President was "simply mistaken" and that "we should always remember that he is commander in chief, not theologian in chief." Instead of calling Bush a heretic - Southern Baptists invite him to speak year after year to their annual meeting!

Ah the inconsistency of fundamentalists....

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

SBC To Reunite With The Baptist World Alliance???

Check out John Pierce's latest post at Baptists Today Blogs.

Recently, John sat down with Neville Callam, the new General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance. Read what was said:
Of his many open and interesting responses to my questions, I was intrigued by one in particular. Callum expects the Southern Baptists to return to the century-old fellowship they helped found.

“I entertain the view that in due time members of the Southern Baptist Convention, the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, are going to recognize the lack they have brought upon themselves by having withdrawn from the Baptist World Alliance,” Callam told me. “I am convinced that in due time, God’s time, the Southern Baptist Convention is going to want to return to … the Baptist World Alliance.”
Those familiar with the story know that the now-fundamentalist-controlled SBC withdrew from involvement in and support for BWA after the more moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was admitted into the BWA in 2003......

An effort by current Southern Baptist leaders to build international relationships apart from, and possibly in competition with the BWA, is “a transient effort, a fleeting moment that’s going to come and going to pass,” said Callam.
“God must want Baptists of the world to be together, not to be segregated in various entities sometimes giving the impression of being at war or in competition with each other,” Callam added.

Is the new general secretary hopeful? Naïve? Realistic? Patient? Who knows.
I go with naively optimistic. Last I checked the men who pushed for BWA withdrawal are still in power. So my question is for Southern Baptists - how many of you desire a return to the BWA. Better yet, how many believe that a return to the BWA is even a possibility in your lifetime?

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Macho Man" Mark Driscoll as Pastor Provocateur

Emerging Church leader Mark "The Cussing Pastor" Driscoll has been getting a good deal of play from the media lately. Recently, Christianity Today profiled Mark Driscoll in an article appropriately entitled Pastor Provocateur.

Here's a quote:
Driscoll "comes off as a smart-aleck former frat boy," according to The Seattle Times. Guilty as charged. If he hasn't offended you, you've never read his books or listened to his sermons. On any given Sunday at Mars Hill, it's possible that a visiting fire marshal will get saved. But it's just as likely that a guest will flip him off before walking out.
And just last week the Mars Hill pastor spoke at the "Convergent Conference" held at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Emergent Village has provided an excellent roundup of the conference. The infamous Roger Moran has even offered a few thoughts on Driscoll and the Emerging Church Movement. On the Baptist seminary's campus, Driscoll had this to say (as reported by Baptist Press):
Driscoll also noted the position of Rob Bell, a pastor that he does not know personally but whose writings, including "Velvet Elvis," he has read. Noting that Bell has called into question the virgin birth, Driscoll said, "The question that begs to be answered is, 'Do we lose anything if we lose the virgin birth of Jesus Christ?' ...

"To the Lord Jesus, [such doubt] is insulting," Driscoll said. "First of all, Mary said that she was a virgin. If she was really a lying whore, that does change the story. Because if the lying whore raises a young boy who says He is God, why believe the extravagant claims of the child of a lying whore? Following the resurrection, Jesus' mother Mary was with the disciples worshipping Him as God as part of the early church. Why would we believe the testimony of the resurrection of Jesus from a lying whore?
I have never downloaded a Driscoll sermon. I only know Mark Driscoll through Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz where he is described as Mark "The Cussing Pastor." So, I decided to check out Pastor Provocateur.

Driscoll doesn't disappoint. He's offensive In the following clips you'll find a short clip on "The Chick-i-Fied Church" and a 8 minute bigoted rant.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The End Of The Religious Right?

After reading this article, Southern Baptist historian and blogger extraordinaire Nathan Finn seems to think so. He writes:
I am an historian, not a prophet. Nevertheless, I have been predicting this move for years–in blog posts, private conversations, and class lectures. I understand their frustration–it stinks to get empty promises from politicians who secretly (and some not-so-secretly) think you are a whack job. But this is a dumb move, albeit one that I think is inevitable. Make no mistake about it: if Dobson and company move forward with their ill-conceived plan to run a third party candidate, it will be the end of the Religious Right. And if that happens, Southern Baptists may actually have to listen to expository sermons, pass resolutions calling for integrity in church membership statistics, and generally focus on the gospel at our annual meetings. We won’t know what to do with ourselves.

One can only dream that Dr. Finn is correct. But who has time for such wishful thinking? Journalists, bloggers, and authors have predicted the "end of the Religious Right" for years now. Same song, different verse.

I do wonder why Finn and others consider such a move to be so ill-conceived? I commend Dobson and Perkins for trying to be principled. Both have built their careers on the pro-life movement. Opposition to abortion-rights is the cornerstone from which their entire political ideology and strategy has emerged. Randall Balmer would most likely disagree and cite his Abortion Myth thesis. However, for the sake of this discussion, I'm willing to dismiss that notion. So kudos to Dobson for showing a wee-bit of consistency. Why is it ill-conceived when any person chooses to stand on principle rather than selling out to what may be more politically expedient? If my own personal career was built on demonizing pro-choice Christians, wouldn't that make me a first class hypocrite if I turned around and supported a pro-choice candidate?

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