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

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Baptist Covenant in The New York Times

This past weekend over half-a-dozen articles were written in newspapers across the country on this week's Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant which is being held at the World Congress Center in the ATL from Wednesday - Friday.

Several of the articles either focused more on the Southern Baptist Convention or were riddled with factual errors. But there were at least two noteworthy articles that I'd like to point you to.....

The New York Times: A Baptist Coalition Aims For Moderate Image

For more than 150 years, Baptists in the United States have splintered along political, theological and racial lines. But this week, some of the country’s largest Baptist groups — representing about 20 million believers — will meet to try to mend the old fractures and, some leaders say, present a more diverse and moderate image of their faith than the one offered by the conservative Southern Baptist Convention.

....The meeting’s statement of shared purpose, known as its covenant, calls for Baptists to focus on their traditional values, like “sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ,” and to work together on social issues like fighting poverty. It does not create a new denomination.

“I would like to see a demonstration that Christians who have different backgrounds and different political and theological orientations and geographical locations can come together in the spirit of unity,” Mr. Carter said, “not just for Baptists, but for Christians all over the world.”

Sounds good, huh? Not so according to Richard Land, self-appointed spokesman for all things Baptist. Land declares:
“This is part of the continuing search for significance by those who lost in the struggle for control of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Mr. Land said.
Ah, Richard. Poke him in the belly and I bet Land will ooze arrogance. Without Fred Thompson in the picture to go Ga-Ga over, it seems that Mr. Land has nothing better to do than insult a group of fellow Baptists. At least Bill Harrell, chairman of the SBC Executive Committee, chose to take the higher road.

Speaking of Southern Baptists, be sure to check out Bruce Prescott's podcast interview with Rev. Ben Cole of Enid, Oklahoma. Cole, a young Southern Baptist leader and a former classmate of mine, will be attending the Celebration in Atlanta this week.

Of all the articles on the NBC that I've read, this snippet with a quote from Bill Leonard has to be my favorite.
But for it to work, many participants said, Baptists must first learn what it means to be a Baptist. Local church autonomy, freedom of conscience, the right to interpret the Bible for oneself, and the separation of church and state have historically been the hallmarks of Baptist faith, Leonard said.

"A good Baptist never expects anyone to agree with him or her completely, but should always demand that his or her voice be heard," Leonard said. A Baptist historian, he will be teaching a class on the distinctive Baptist touchstones at the conference.

Ain't that true. I know of at least a few Baptist churches that aren't quite sure of what it really means to be Baptist. Bill Leonard's class at the NBC on Baptist Distinctives would do us all some good.

See also by Big Daddy Weave:
The New Baptist Covenant Required Reading Series
Bloggin' At The New Baptist Covenant
David Gushee, Race & The New Baptist Covenant

Texas Baptist Delegation Headed to NBC Celebration
BGCT Presidents Support New Baptist Covenant
Texas Baptists and the New Baptist Covenant, Part 1
Texas Baptists and the New Baptist Covenant, Part 2
Canadian Baptists Support The New Baptist Covenant
Big Daddy Weave Makes West Coast News On NBC

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