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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Baptist Covenant and President Jimmy Carter

Here’s my Recap of President Carter’s speech which you should watch HERE.

Carter was introduced as the husband of the most famous Baptist deacon in the world; President Carter cracked a smile and commented on it. He looked at the crowd and said that earlier in the day he was worried when he saw the big auditorium and its empty seats but he looked out tonight and thanked the crowd for filling the seats.

Carter proclaimed that this even, the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant was the most important of his religious life. After recounting an effort to unite Southern Baptists in the early 1990s that did not work, President Carter asked the crowd to please focus on unity and not criticize others

President Carter asked a series of questions and said that they had been used to divide Baptists. He asked the crowd to refrain from answering them as he asked them. They included: do you believe that women should be given equal opportunity in the church, including opportunities to be a deacon or pastor? Do you believe that women should be submissive? Do you believe that the world was created in 4004 BC? Do you believe that the world was created 15 million years ago? Do you believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to participate in the life of the Church? Do you believe that homosexual sin is so horrible that gays and lesbians should be excluded from the church?

Then Carter asked people to answer the next question? Do you believe that we are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ? The crowd said “yes.”

Carter’s point was that while he recognized that the first set of questions were important, that they were not as important as the question of our common salvation that unites us. We shouldn’t allow different interpretations of individual Scripture passages to divide us.

Carter said that the world’s picture of Christians is one of division. We need to change that and present a picture of unity around the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And now a few thoughts from my pops, Dr. Doug Weaver, Baptist Historian and professor of religion at Baylor University. BDW Sr. is the author of the upcoming book being released by Mercer University Press entitled In Search of The New Testament Church: A History of Baptists.

Each of the early speakers referred to the fact that this type Baptist wide meeting (different races, different geographical regions) had never occurred before. This is simply the most important reason for being here. To be part of a meeting that combines white and black Baptists, Baptists from the north and the south, and to see representatives from Baptist groups worldwide (Mexico, European Baptist Federation, BWA) was simply awe inspiring. To be a “child of the South” and not understand and not appreciate the significance of this kind event for the future is beyond my comprehension.

This meeting easily shows that being Baptist still has relevance in the 21st century. New types of cooperation are being developed; groundbreaking and barrier breaking progress is possible when the best of the Baptist tradition flourishes– freedom for the individual conscience, freedom for the local church to practice autonomy AND cooperation, freedom to affirm soul competency without being charged with hyper-individualism, freedom to practice community in a congregational worship setting that values the voice of each person and the corporate voice of the group as a body of Christ, freedom to advocate for religious liberty and the separation of church and state, freedom to be a Bible believing people who regard Jesus Christ as the ultimate criterion for interpreting Scripture, and freedom to accept the grace of God and receive salvation through Jesus Christ.

And All The Baptists Said? Amen.

For more commentary, see also:
New Baptist Covenant - Day 1
For God's Sakes Shut Up! - Recap
Bold Confessor - NBC, Day 1 (Check him out)
Mainstream Baptist - Strong Beginnings

Also, if you enjoy the quality of the pictures on my blog post - know that they did not come from my camera. I had the privilege of "borrowing" them from a girl taking pictures for BAPTIST PRESS!

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Blogger John D. Pierce said...

Thanks to father and son for capturing both the content and the significance of Pres. Carter's address and the gathering at hand.

3:45 AM

Blogger Melissa said...

Thanks for linking to me, BDW. The coverage of the NBC has been wonderful. Keep up the great reporting.

9:12 PM


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