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

Monday, March 31, 2008

Marcus Cosby of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church

If you enjoy Black Preaching or "Soul Preaching" - check out the sermon archive of Marcus Cosby. The video quality is excellent!

Dr. Cosby is the senior pastor of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. Cosby is considered one of the premier preachers in America. Listen to one of his sermons and you'll agree.

Here's his biographical information and the mission statement of Wheeler Avenue which affiliates with the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc..

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Richard Land's Baptist Joint Committee Reunion

Check it out:

K. Hollyn Hollman, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee, and Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, will participate in a church-state forum at Campbellsville University on Tuesday, April 1.

The event, titled “Church and State and Religious Liberty Issues,” is sponsored by Campbellsville's Kentucky Heartland Institute on Public Policy.

Sounds like a must-see event. Let's hope Richard is on his best behavior because there's definitely no love lost between Sir Richard and the Baptist Joint Committee.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Controversial Jeremiah Wright Sermon Now Online

The transcript and audio from the controversial Jeremiah Wright sermon is now online.

Read here or listen here.

The text is based on Luke 19:37-44.

And it is titled God and Government (4/13/03)

Here's a snippet:

Governments fail. The government in this text comprised of Caesar, Cornelius, Pontus Pilot – Pontius Pilate – the Roman government failed. The British government used to rule from east to west. The British government had a Union Jack. She colonised Kenya, Guana, Nigeria, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Hong Kong. Her navies ruled the seven seas all the way down to the tip of Argentina in the Falklands, but the British failed. The Russian government failed. The Japanese government failed. The German government failed. And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian decent fairly, she failed. She put them on reservations.

When it came to treating her citizens of Japanese decent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps. When it came to treating her citizens of African decent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains. The government put them in slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton fields, put them in inferior schools, put them in substandard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education and locked them into position of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing “God Bless America.” No, no, no. Not “God Bless America”; God Damn America! That’s in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God Damn America for treating her citizen as less than human. God Damn America as long as she keeps trying to act like she is God and she is supreme! .....

When God says it, it’s done. God never fails. When God wills it, you better get out the way. ‘Cause God never fails. When God fixes it, oh believe me, it’s fixed. God never fails. Somebody right now, you think you can’t make it, but I want you to know you are more than a conqueror, through Christ you can do all things, through Christ who strengthens you. To the world, it looked like God has failed in God’s plan of salvation when the saviour that was sent by God was put to death on a Friday afternoon. It looked like God failed. But hallelujah, on Sunday morning the angels in Heaven were singing, “God never fails.”

You can’t put down what God raises up. God never fails. You can’t keep down what God wants up. God never fails. If God can get a three-day Jesus up out of a grave, what’s going on in your life that in anyway can’t match what God has already done? He’ll abides with you, he’ll reside in you, and he’ll preside over your problems if you take them to Him and leave them with Him. Don’t take them back – turn to your neighbour and say “stop taking your problems back.” Should we always bring our problems to the altar and then do we just them right on back to our seats? Turn and say “Stop taking them back!” God never fails. Turn and tell them “God never fails!” God never fails!

And a snippet that speaks to the belief that Wright is anti-white:

Long before there was a red, white and blue colonization, the Egyptian government was doing colonization. They colonized half the continent of Africa, they colonized parts of the Mediterranean. All colonizers ain't white. Turn to your neighbor and say "oppressors come in all colors." Hello, hello, hello."


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Religious Leaders Condemn Clinton's Attacks

A diverse group of religious leaders have released an open letter to Senator Hillary Clinton condemning her recent personal attacks on Barack Obama. You'll notice that at least two of the religious leaders are Baptists. Check it out:

Dear Senator Clinton:

We write to you as people of faith from many backgrounds who love our great country and are concerned with the present tenor of your campaign.

Today, you took a new and disquieting step when you decided that it would be to your political benefit to wade into the waters of the issues surrounding Senator Barack Obama and his former pastor. This crosses the line and brings us full force into the zone of the politics of personal destruction.

There are those among us who support Rev. Wright and believe his comments were deeply misconstrued. There are others among us who reject his words outright, even in context.

But across these lines, we stand together, White and Black, Protestant and Catholic, Christian and Jew.

No candidate should use religion as a tool to divide the American people, as you have done today. By engaging in the politics of personal destruction your campaign runs the risk of turning people off from participating in the democratic process – and that hurts us all. We need this race to be about the values that are important to the American people.

We need to end the war and promote peace around the globe. America needs real leadership to address the housing crisis, a fighter who will help lift up our economy, and we need a leader in the White House who will tackle issues surrounding world wide climate change.

We urge you to join the debates over those issues instead of using valuable time making personal attacks that diminish both our democracy and our moral standing.


Dr. T. DeWitt Smith
Progressive National Baptist Convention*

Dr. Michael Battle
President Interdenominational Theological Seminary

Sr. Jamie T. Phelps, O.P., Ph.D.
New Orleans, LA

Rev. Dr. Stephen John Thurston
National Baptist Convention of America

The Rev. Milton Cole
West Des Moines, IA

Rabbi Moshe Weisblum, Ph.D.
Annapolis, MD

The Rev. Chuck Currie
Portland, OR

Rabbi Abie Ingber
Cincinnati, OH

Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery
Atlanta, GA

*Note: Affiliations are listed for informational purposes only. Individuals signed this letter in their personal capacities, and not on behalf of their house of worship, denomination or organization.

*Note 2: While some signers are Obama supporters, this is an independent letter that was not authored, organized or driven by the Obama campaign.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

The New Baptist Covenant Followup Meeting

Statement on March 12 New Baptist Covenant Followup Meeting

About 70 Baptists assembled at The Carter Center on March 12 to assess the hundreds of comments and suggestions that poured in following the New Baptist Covenant assembly in Atlanta. Almost of all of the participants represented conventions, associations, universities, or other organizations. They divided into 10 groups to discuss issues related to evangelism and nine other subjects.

After sharing their reports, there was a more general forum that addressed the long term status of the New Baptist Covenant. An earlier decision was reconfirmed that we would not form a separate official organization, but would continue to build upon the excitement and inspiration that was shared by more than 15,000 of us who attended the Atlanta assembly, and work harmoniously with other Baptists. There was a consensus that we would reconvene the New Baptist Covenant in 2011, in the historic Baptist pattern of triennial meetings. We will be as active as possible during the intervening years. To allow for more diversity, including women and young people, our original steering committee will be expanded from five to about a dozen members.

The possibility of convening at least five regional meetings in the next year as we expand participation in the New Baptist Covenant was explored, including special efforts to encourage participation among young people. Other local New Baptist Covenant gatherings are encouraged.

Expert counseling will be sought concerning how we can assist actively in such major social issues as global warming, health care, poverty, criminal justice, human rights, religious liberty, elimination of nuclear weapons, and peace in the Middle East and elsewhere. Representatives of other Baptist organizations that deploy domestic and foreign missionaries also will be invited for advice on expanded personal participation by individuals, church congregations, and with financial contributions.

In addition to suggestions for our group as a whole, an extensive list of specific recommendations is included below and published on our Website, www.NewBaptistCovenant.org, for church congregations and individual Baptists who desire to expand their Christian ministry by reaching out in their own immediate neighborhoods to other ethnic congregations ministering, in Jesus’ name, to the “poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the blind, and those who are bruised.”


Over the ensuing weeks following the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, hundreds of suggestions and ideas for future action have been generated through feedback from participants. Additional ideas and suggestions were generated during the March 12 follow-up meeting of more than 70 Baptist leaders at the Carter Center.

A sampling of that feedback has been organized into broad categories and is presented here for consideration by individuals, churches and Baptist organizations that have participated in the New Baptist Covenant.

1. Evangelism

  • The preeminent commitment of the New Baptist Covenant should always be winning souls to Christ – by word and example – locally and globally. This evangelistic effort should be persistent and well coordinated.

  • Be especially generous, individually and as congregations, in enhancing and supporting the ongoing mission work of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, African-American conventions, & other Baptist groups

  • Seek domestic and foreign mission projects suitable for individuals, such as providing health and dental care, immunizing the poor, building churches, and giving requested aid to missionary families.

2. Criminal justice

  • Enhance prisoner rehabilitation and work to reduce America’s extraordinary prison population – mostly poor, mentally ill, and minorities.

  • Individuals and local congregations make regular visits to local prisons. Work with probationers and newly released prisoners, get to know their families, help with employment.

  • For some: oppose the death penalty, based on alternative sentences of life without parole and restitution. For others: help guarantee that no more innocent people are executed.

3. Poverty

  • Promote/support Baptist World Aid, CARE, and other groups that alleviate suffering from poverty.

  • Promote tax policies that help the poor and working class, and support a minimum wage level so that the salary of one fulltime worker raises the family above the poverty level.

  • Personally and as a congregation, visit neighborhood persons who are homeless, ill, or extremely poor. Every church should have a fund and an organized schedule for this purpose.

  • Each person volunteer one week per year to Habitat for Humanity or other similar organization that serves the poor.

  • Join together to clean up neighborhoods, work at shelters, repair homes, clear vacant lots for garden plots, etc.

4. Other faiths

  • Support international efforts for reconciliation among Christians and other major religions.

  • Locally, reach out to nearby congregations of different ethnic character. Cooperate as “sister churches” with joint worship services, exchanging pastors, combining choirs, etc.

5. Youth

  • Encourage formation of New Baptist Covenant organizations among young people, within churches and in nearby colleges and seminaries.

  • Encourage young Christians to participate in making church decisions.

7. Peacemaking

  • Study and follow Biblical principles of resolving disputes among local people.

8. Discrimination

  • Promote compliance with the Universal Declaration of human rights and provisions of the Geneva Convention. Condemn torture & support closing of Guantanamo prison. Combat all forms of human slavery. Publicly support oppressed people, i.e., Darfur, Burma, Palestine.

  • Protect and minister to the “strangers among you,” especially illegal & legal immigrants, both in local communities and in public policy.

  • Espouse full equality for women, who suffer almost universal discrimination, often supported by religious organizations.

  • Protect civil rights of gays and lesbians.

  • Break down barriers of race in all walks of life. Personally and as congregations, find ways to reach out to other ethnic groups.

9. Faith, Public policy

  • Work toward eliminating abortions; nurture pregnant mothers and babies.

  • Condemn filth and racism in public media.

10. Religious liberty, Church and state

  • Restore and strengthen the wall between church and state.

  • Support the work of the Baptist Joint Committee in promoting religious liberty.

  • Report all cases of abused Christians in other nations, and help protect them.

11. Environment, Global warming

  • Protect the environment, & support Al Gore’s climate change crusade, joining the New Baptist Covenant’s public endorsement of the Kyoto or Bali treaties and encouragement of the U.S. government to approve.

  • In homes and churches, take steps to save energy, shift to renewable sources, use recycle bins, and promote environmental quality. Churches become partners with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star Program.

12. Suggestions for Enhancing NBC effectiveness

  • Refrain from forming an official organization or convention. Never derogate other Christians, and continue reaching out to all other Baptists in a spirit of unity and love.

  • Widely publicize our statement of purpose, general goals, and specific commitments adopted at 3/12 meeting, and subsequently issue regular reports of progress. Continue seeking new ideas.

  • Utilize existing periodicals to promote our information and ideas, (such as Mainstream Baptists, Baptist World Alliance, the North American Baptist Fellowship, the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, Baptists Today, the Ministers & Missionaries Benefit Board, Baptist publishing houses and historical societies, Baptist colleges and seminaries, and Associated Baptist Press.)

  • Maintain a high quality and current Website and encourage Internet communication among our supporters.

  • Encourage local and regional NBC meetings.

  • Provide a list of churches that include supporters of the New Baptist Covenant.

  • Utilize specialists at seminaries to guide individual programs/projects adopted by NBC.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Daniel Vestal on Being Missional & Being Baptist

Recently Daniel Vestal, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, visited Calvary Baptist Church here in Waco and preached on "Being Missional and Being Baptist."

The CBF has posted a similar sermon by Vestal on the same subject here.

His conclusion:
Can you imagine the transformation that would take place in the world if Baptist churches discerned God’s mission in the world and discovered their participation in it? It would be revolutionary. Can you also imagine the energy that would take place in Baptist churches if they discovered and interpreted the Baptist vision for the 21st century in missional terms? It would be revolutionary. In Cooperative Baptist Fellowship we are working and praying for such transformation and energy.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Baptist Doofus of the Day Award

And with a kind and irenic spirit, we here at www.thebigdaddyweave.com nominate David Hankins, Executive-Director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, for this prestigious award.

Over at Baptist Press, David Hankins responds to the signers of The Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change with this piece of drivel.

But here is the pertinent passage that qualifies Hankins to be the recipient of the Baptist Doofus Award:
Should Southern Baptists be more engaged with environmental issues? Any issue presented for action by the convention ought to pass at least two tests:

1) Is it a real and pressing problem? Is it right to shout "fire" in a crowded theatre? Only if there really is a fire. Otherwise, raising the alarm is the only real danger. Is climate change more important than, say, world hunger and economic stability in the third world?
I award David Hankins with the Baptist Doofus of the Day Award because only a doofus would imply that issues such as climate change and world hunger are not directly related. If one takes world hunger seriously, how can climate change be ignored? Changes in the climate cause droughts, floods and ultimately a decrease in the food supply. That's basic stuff that even 5th graders know, Jeff Foxworthy included!

Here's a passage from Southern Baptist ethicist David Gushee's new book that I recently read which relates directly to David Hankins odd belief that the issues of Climate Change and World Hunger can somehow be separated from one another:
World Vision in recent years has turned its attention to environmental issues, including global warming. In December 2006, David Schieman, U.S> director of World Vision's Africa programs declared, "World Vision's experience in field operations in Africa points to climate change as a major factor in reducing crops and livestock herds. Every farmer we talk to says there is either not enough rain, or it's very erratic, or both. They can't feed their families anymore and the situation is getting worse. Ten years ago that kind of concern {economic preservation} was associated with tree huggers,' but now we are all thinking much more in these terms and looking at ways to protect the land, trees and vegetation."
The conservative evangelical compassion ministry - World Vision - seems to even understand something that the highest ranking Baptist official in Louisiana does not. Environmental issues and Hunger issues are connected at the hip. We can't ignore one for the other. Baptists have to tackle both.


Friday, March 14, 2008

David Gushee On The Evangelical Left

In Chapter 3 of his new book - The Future of Faith in American Politics - Dr. David Gushee answers the question Who is the Evangelical Left?

Gushee argues that the most visible voices of the evangelical left include Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren and in the black evangelical community Jesse Jackson and Obery Hendricks. Gushee also lumps Jimmy Carter, Richard Pierard and Randall Balmer into the evangelical left.

Here's Gushee's description of the Evangelical Left:
The evangelical left generally reflects the heavily biblical methodology and theology of other evangelicals. Like most evangelicals, their primary source of authority is the Bible...For better or worse, they tend to move directly from their interpretation of biblical passages and motifs to moral exhortation and policy advocacy. They do not stray from the categories of orthodox Christian theology. They reflect the characteristic evangelical emphasis on evangelism and conversion to faith in Christ and they draw on evangelical piety by calling on their readers to "follow Jesus" in committed discipleship, iwth the particular lifestyle and ethical configurations that ocrrespond with their reading of the scriptures.

The evangelical left is left because it reads scripture and interprets the demands of Christian discipleship to require what in our contemporary and American and Christian contexts are considered left-leaning moral commitments. Characteristically, the evangelical left argues that the teachings of the Bible, especially the prophets and Jesus, require Christians to be concerned about poverty, war, racism, sexism, and the environment.
What's right with the Left?

According to Gushee, the E-left is best at stating what it is for, rather than what it is against. Gushee traces the origins of the E-left back to Dr. King. In his famous 1967 speech against the Vietnam War, Dr. King referred to poverty, racism and war as the "triple evils" of American society. These are the three issues that remain at the heart of the moral vision of the evangelical left.

So, what's wrong with the Left?

Gushee claims that te E-left seems reticent to take on the issues of abortion and homosexuality. He notes that Jim Wallis "never actually articulates a position on what the legal status of abortion should be...but there is no evidence in his writings that {Wallis} would support the overturning of Roe v. Wade." Gushee suggests that the leaders of the E-left do not take "fully seriously the sanctity of ALL human life, including those lives developing in the womb." "Evangelical left authors proclaim that they are pro-life, but this does not seem to cash out in a real significant way on the abortion issue." Gushee believes that such leaders as Wallis & McLaren may risk forfeiting their prophetic voice because they make every effort to steer clear of taking a definitive position on the homosexuality issue. Gushee also criticizes the leaders of the E-left for basically being closet pacifists who cloak their opposition to virtually every war in just-war language.

I personally rarely use the word "evangelical" to describe myself (more on that in a later post) but as a Jimmy Carter-kinda Baptist my theology would likely place me in the E-left camp. First, I appreciate that Gushee acknowledges that these evangelicals like Campolo do root their faith in the authority of the Bible. And we do believe that social justice and evangelism are but two sides of the same coin.

Unfortunately, those in the E-left may have allowed the Right to claim the abortion issue for themselves. That's a dialogue that more left-leaning evangelicals need to be having. How can we reduce the abortion rate? Thankfully, some evangelical and Catholic Democrats in Congress have already moved forward on that issue.

Gushee chides the E-left for not pushing to overturn Roe. But perhaps overturning Roe v. Wade is not the solution - if such a solution was even possible or practical. Is it even reasonable to believe that Gushee can work to overturn Roe and meet his other objectives? The types of originalist Supreme Court justices that would need to be appointed to overturn Roe would likely (VERY LIKELY) not be sympathetic to Gushee's more liberal social justice concerns!

I do agree with Gushee that Wallis & McLaren risk forfeiting the opportunity to speak prophetically by more or less avoiding the homosexuality issue. Pardon the sexist language, but these guys need to "man-up" and be more open and honest about what they really believe. Some have done so but others have not.

My next post will focus on The Emerging Evangelical Center. I also have a few church-state concerns to address.

This is post #3 in a series on David Gushee & The Emerging Evangelical Center

Dialoguing With David Gushee, Part 1
The New Evangelicalism & The Evangelical Centrist

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Southern Methodist University Plans For Bush Library

A recent article in the Dallas Morning News announced that Southern Methodist University had released its plans for the George W. Bush Presidential Library. The 143 page agreement between SMU and the Bush Library Foundation highlights that the library will include:

The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction and looks like a disaster.

The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you can't remember anything you see or hear.

The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't have to even show up.

The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.

The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.

The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room (which no one has been able to find).

The Iraq War Room. After you complete your first tour, they make you go back for a
second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth tour.

The Dick Cheney Room, in an undisclosed location, complete with shooting gallery.

The K-Street Project Gift Shop - Where you can buy (or just steal) an election.

The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.

There are no plans yet on where in the library to put the President's book. The problem is where to store the crayons.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dialoguing With David Gushee, Part 1

"Just as many Christian liberals of a previous generation were unable to say no to abortion-on-demand because they were more liberal than Christian, many Christian conservatives of this generation have been unable to say no to torture because they are more conservative than Christian." - David Gushee
Randall Balmer, Professor of American Religious History at Columbia University, writes that David Gushee's new book, The Future of Faith in American Politics, "challenges Jim Hightower's famous maxim that the only things in the middle of the road are yellow stripes and dead armadillos. Gushee offers here a cogent and balanced agenda for evangelical activism, a most welcome addition to this important conversation."

I agree with Balmer. Thus far, The Future of Faith in American Politics, is one of the best books on evangelicals that I have ever read. And as a graduate student in the field of Church-State studies, I have read more than a handful of books on the subject of evangelicals and American politics! If you plan to read one such book in the upcoming months, do yourself a favor and put down Jim Wallis' The Great Awakening and pick up David Gushee's The Future of Faith in American Politics. I'm reading both and frankly Wallis won't tell you anything that you don't already know. Gushee's a real scholar (with a well-developed thesis) and his contribution is quite unique. Check him out.

The following is my attempt to dialogue with the first two chapters of Gushee's book.

On the first page of Chapter 1, Gushee states that the purpose of The Future of Faith in American Politics is to stake a claim to an emerging evangelical center in American public life and to describe the moral witness of that evangelical center by contrasting it with its right-leaning and left-leaning alternatives." Throughout the book, Gushee argues that among the 60 to 80 million evangelicals living in America, one can identify a political center which he describes as "increasingly vibrant" that "promises to plan an increasingly significant role within evangelical Christianity and in the United States."

So, what are the characteristics of an "evangelical centrist"? Here are a few:

Gushee writes that centrist evangelicals are concerned about the deterioration and deinstitutionalization of marriage. Centrist evangelicals oppose abortion-on-demand and Roe v. Wade. Centrist evangelicals oppose the creation-for-destruction of embryos for their stem cells and are uneasy about the harvesting of stem cells from already existing embryos. Centrist evangelicals oppose euthanasia-on-demand and "seek a full and open national debate on the best way to rewrite laws related to abortion that might respect the dignity of all affected by this tragic practice."

Before arguing for an "emerging evangelical center," Gushee offers a descriptive look into the world of the "evangelical right" whose activist community is built around a network of independent but interconnected churches and parachurch organizations customarily built around charismatic leaders. Organizational members of the evangelical right community include Don Wildmon's American Family Association, Beverly LaHaye's Disturbed Women of America, Phyliss Schlafly's Eagle Forum, Tony Perkins' Family Research Council, James Dobson's Focus on the Family and Richard Land's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (plus several others).

Gushee offers a brief but informative overview of each of the leading "evangelical right" organizations and their leaders. What Gushee does with this one chapter overview of the Christian Right is much more helpful and useful than what Clyde Wilcox's Onward Christian Soldiers? (3rd ed) does in over 200 pages.

Interestingly, Gushee notes that Richard Land's ERLC is set apart from many of the other conservative activist groups due to the ERLC's willingness to address traditionally "left" concerns such as race, human rights, and world hunger. Although this may be true to an extent, clearly Land spends much more time flirting with Presidential candidates than he does lobbying the government to give a slice or two of bread to the world. Gushee claims that Land's recent book, The Divided States of America?, is a move toward the centrist evangelicalism that The Future of Faith in American Politics advocates. While Land does indeed distinguish himself from the hard-right Dobson/Kennedy types in his book, I definitely wouldn't describe his approach to religion in the public square as "centrist" or moving in that direction.

In his critique of the "evangelical right," Gushee explains that he "refuses to demonize the evangelical right." I don't advocate demonizing either. But in our criticisms, we shouldn't come across as SOFT. At times Gushee plays too nice with the evangelical right. And sometimes he takes off the gloves. See below:
"I am claiming that the most important thing that is wrong with the evangelical right is that it has given up its fundamental allegiance to Jesus Christ in aligning itself so tightly with the Republican Party....it is impossible both to represent 'the church' and to function as a bloc within a national political party."
In addition to shacking up with the GOP, Gushee notes that the second fundamental problem with the evangelical right is the narrowness of its agenda. Gushee argues that it is when the evangelical right tackles issues other than abortion and gay marriage (i.e. tax cuts for the rich and hating on the U.N.) that they are most transparently partisan.

The third primary problem that Gushee has with the evangelical right is their "mood of angry nostalgia." He writes:
"As a fellow evangelical, speaking within the family, I would begin by saying that neither nostalgia nor anger is the mood most appropriate or constructive for a Christian stance toward culture. We should look forward rather than backward, both because there is no way that twenty-first century American society will ever turn the clock back to the 1950s and because the politics of nostalgia does not prepare us well to engage the realities of the moment."
If only certain Southern Baptist leaders would heed the advice of this self-described "Southern Baptist ethicist".....

My next post will tackle Gushee's chapter on the Evangelical Left.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Southern Baptist Environment & Climate Initiative

Check out this new website called Southern Baptist Environment & Climate Initiative


Here's the Greeting:
Welcome to the home of the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative (SBECI). This ministry began as a simple conviction that Southern Baptists sould be actively involved in creation care, but it has now become a promising vision for Southern Baptist Stewardship.

You certainly do not need this website to tell you that creation care issues are some of the most pressing of our day. In the past, these conversations have been largely abandoned by evangelical Christians. But today, both younger and more established Southern Baptists are excited to produce a unified moral voice on these issues.
And snippets from the Declaration:
We have recently engaged in study, reflection and prayer related to the challenges presented by environmental and climate change issues. These things have not always been treated with pressing concern as major issues. Indeed, some of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that these are real problems that deserve our attention. But now we have seen and heard enough to be persuaded that these issues are among the current era’s challenges that require a unified moral voice.

We believe our current denominational engagement with these issues have often been too timid, failing to produce a unified moral voice. Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless and ill-informed. We can do better. To abandon these issues to the secular world is to shirk from our responsibility to be salt and light. The time for timidity regarding God’s creation is no more.

Therefore, we offer these four statements for consideration, beginning with our fellow Southern Baptists, and urge all to follow by taking appropriate actions. May we find ourselves united as we contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. Laus Deo!

Read the 4 statements here.

See the list of signatories here (original) and here (recent).

They include: Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Seminary; David Dockery, President of Union University; Ronnie Floyd, Pastor of First Baptist Springdale, Arkansas; Timothy George, President of Beeson Divinity School; Jack Graham, Pastor of Prestonwood BC and former SBC President; Johnny Hunt, Pastor of FBC Woodstock, Georgia; James Merrit, former SBC President, Frank Page, President of the SBC;

And many more...

My friend Nathan Finn, a Professor at Southeastern, has blogged about the website and Declaration here. He writes:
As you may know, last year the SBC voted to affirm what I believe is a rather pitiful resolution On Global Warming. I was not impressed. Thankfully, I am not the only SBC conservative who thinks there is something to the threat of global climate change and the need to be better stewards of God’s creation. A group of forty-four Southern Baptists, including current SBC president Frank Page and a number of my colleagues, have signed a statement titled “A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change.” The statement can be found at a new website called the Southern Baptist Environment & Climate Initiative. There is also a place to add your signature to the document. I signed it about ten minutes ago.

I am thrilled that some Southern Baptists want to engage this issue more holistically (and biblically) than is the tendency among many ideological conservatives. Be sure to also check out the document “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action,” a document drafted in 2006 that was also signed by several SBC leaders and that I publicly endorsed on my blog.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

BDW Endorses Bill Wagner For SBC President

Yea, right. But he does seem to be an improvement over his opponent - Frank Cox - who embodies what it means to be a Georgia Baptist Fundamentalist.

A few observations concerning Bill Wagner & his campaign to be the next President of the SBC.

1. Dude has his own campaign website (is that a first in Baptist Life?)

2. The website is NICE.

3. At the top of his resume, Wagner notes that his "health is excellent." Is that a slap in the face to former Presidential candidate Dr. Albert Mohler? Or perhaps Wagner is just conceding that he's John McCain old but yet healthy as a horse?

4. The fella wants to improve the image of the SBC. God knows they need it.

5. Wants to appoint more minorities to SBC boards. Amen. When your highest ranking African-American employee in Nashville is the head janitor - ya need a little diversity!

6. Wants to rebuild relationships with Baptist Conventions and leaders from around the world. This implies that those relationships were broken when SBC severed ties with the Baptist World Alliance. At least Wagner understands that Baptist isolationism is the Fundamentalist Way.

7. He has a blog.

8. Identifies "Homosexuals" as one of the six-fastest growing "World Movements." After pulling my chin off my keyboard, I remembered that this guy is indeed a Southern Baptist!

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

See Dick Apologize..........Apologize Dick Apologize

Earlier in the week, EthicsDaily.com broke the story about Richard Land's use of a Yiddish slur directed towards a Jewish United States Senator. The following day, well-known historian Randall Balmer called for Land's resignation.

Now, Richard Land has issued what looks sorta like an apology. Read for yourself:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--It has come to my attention in the last 48 hours that some people were offended by my reference to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as a "schmuck" during the Criswell Lecture Series at Criswell College, Jan. 29-31. In reviewing these criticisms I have learned some consider the word crude, if not obscene. I apologize for my ignorance of that fact. If I had known that, I would never have used the word. I always attempt to avoid crude and offensive language as a matter of conviction.

As Jeffrey Weiss of The Dallas Morning News has pointed out, the idiom means "jerk," which was my intended usage. I truly apologize to anyone offended by my use of a word they perceived to be crude or obscene. I used the word "schmuck" in my reference to Senator Schumer solely in an attempt to employ a word that alliterated with Schumer's name and describe my perception of his behavior during the confirmation hearings for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito -- nothing more!

However, I am deeply offended that anyone would interpret my remarks as anti-Semitic. My entire Christian life I have been taught, and believe, that the Jews are God's chosen people. I have said on dozens of occasions in public that anti-Semitism is the most irrational of prejudices for a Christian, since Jesus our Savior was Himself a Jew. My entire public ministry I have denounced anti-Semitism, and I have sought to combat it wherever and whenever I have encountered it. Anyone who knows me knows this to be true. Once again, as Jeffrey Weis commented, "Elevating a relatively harmless insult into an accusation of anti-Semitism devalues real attacks on Jews and Judaism."

Anti-Semitism is far too dangerous and virulent in our world to tolerate the luxury of such a trivialization going unchallenged.
Further reading: SBC Leader Pleads Ignorance of Jewish Slur


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

New Voice Media: A Voice for Historic & Progressive Baptists

Check out this new Baptist media venture:


Here's the description:
Historic and progressive Baptists have lost their voice -- drowned out by the noise of reactionary conservatism and the theology of exclusion. Younger Baptists, discouraged by negative rhetoric and apathy, have stayed on the sidelines.

It's time for the nation's 17-to-20 million non-fundamentalist Baptists to be heard.

New Voice Media Group is a strategic alliance of Baptist communications organizations to provide a "multimedia platform" for historic and progressive Baptists and other global Christians.

What will New Voice Media do?
  • Create a cooperative network of communication partners.
  • Develop a state-of-the-art "multimedia platform" to disseminate news, features, opinion and information.
  • Create an online gathering place for historic and progressive Baptists and other global Christians to share ideas.

New Voice Media Group gives Baptists the tools to come together around their shared vision -- grace-based ministry, biblical faith, cooperation without conformity, and soul freedom without compromise.

New Voice equips them to:
  • Become stronger Christians
  • Nurture families and healthy congregations
  • Transform their communities
  • Reflect the presence of Christ in the world

New Voice Media Group was launched in 2007 by four founding partners -- Associated Baptist Press, the Baptist Standard of Texas, Word&Way of Missouri and the Religious Herald of Virginia.


Monday, March 03, 2008


"If the Clintons were the bridge to the 21st century, Obama IS the 21st century."

-U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX)


Sunday, March 02, 2008

David Gushee & Centrist Evangelicalism, Part 1

Church-State expert Melissa Rogers has written two must read blog posts.

In the first post - Baptists and Other Evangelicals - Rogers responds to a quote from David Gushee in a recent ABP article. Gushee declared that:
"Most moderate Baptists are center or center-left evangelicals, they just don't know it,' Gushee said. 'I want to help moderate Baptists reclaim the term 'evangelical' and re-associate with other evangelicals who are kindred spirits, if they only knew it.'"
And Rogers responds:

I agree that Baptists are well-served when we re-connect with other evangelicals where those connections have frayed (and when we establish new connections). I'm attending Ron Sider's upcoming conference for precisely that reason. We have a good deal in common with those who not only share our faith but who also stand firm against partisan spins on the gospel, political power plays (both inside and outside religious circles), and take-no-prisoner tactics and attitudes. We can easily fold into some of the efforts of these kinds of non-Baptist evangelicals, and it would be a good thing if we did so.

But I also think it's important for Baptists to articulate our own voices on some public issues. Why? Because I believe our voices are in some ways distinctive from the voices of non-Baptist evangelicals. For example, Baptists traditionally have been careful to defend both the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment. The work of the Baptist Joint Committee is the best example of that commitment. Our commitment in this area hasn't been limited to working on church-state issues, however. Rather, it has influenced the ways in which we talk about our engagement in public issues as a general matter. It also has led us to encourage policy solutions in other areas (say, for example, in overcoming poverty) that attack problems in effective ways without engaging the government in promoting or subsidizing religious activities. Some other evangelicals do these things as well, but it's a real marker of traditional Baptists, and I think this kind of perspective can make a valuable contribution to our current conversation about religion's role in American society.

In the second post, Rogers offers snippets from Gushee's latest op-ed on "centrist evangelicalism" and then provides a few interesting thoughts. Check it out.

Last week, I wrote a post about this so-called "Emerging Evangelical Center" of which Gushee champions. Needless to say, I'm skeptical (read the post). Over the next week or two, I will blog more about this "New Evangelicalism" as I read through Gushee's new book, The Future of Faith in American Politics: The Public Witness of the Evangelical Center.


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