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

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Getting Hitched!

Well, I'm a few days late with this announcement...

But as of 8something CST last Thursday the 24th, Big Daddy Weave had to officially change his Facebook status from "In a Relationship" to "Engaged."

As we South Georgians from the Sweet Onion City might say:

I'm getting hitched!

Her name is Alexis Cooper. She's blogged here a time or two before. Alexis is a Baylor and UT alum - an environmental studies major at Baylor with a graduate degree in Urban & Regional Planning from that school in Austin. She's a Baptist. A former Young Democrat. A Obama Supporter. She used to head the Texas Baptist Young Professional Network of the Christian Life Commission. But as of January 2008, she's employed by the Waco Chamber of Commerce.

The getting hitched will change to just hitched sometime next summer.

Until then, I'll be trying my darndest to persuade her to allow me to incorporate a little bit of the best of Athens, Georgia into the Waco ceremony :-)

And yes folks, in the background what you see is the bottom of my magnificent 52 inch Samsung Plasma w/ surround sound system which is crammed into my one-bedroom apt (a special Thank-You to Haley & Olson PC). That Samsung has me excited about the upcoming SEC season. With the aid of my Samsung and a trip to Athens, hopefully Alexis will have a real Between The Hedges experience and be cured of that losing tradition that is instilled into all whose favorite chant is Sic Em Bears....


Friday, April 25, 2008

George Truett on Baptism and Religious Liberty

I've been busy writing papers over the last week. One forthcoming paper analyzes David Gushee's "Emerging Evangelical Centrist" thesis and the concept of "substantive neutrality." The other paper which I presented earlier this week was entitled:

Where Did Baptists Come From? The Case For Anabaptist Influence on Baptist Origins

In that paper, I take a look at the writings of Winthrop Hudson, William Estep and Jason Lee. If you have not read Jason Lee's The Theology of John Smyth (Mercer University Press), check it out.

All that said, it was interesting trying to analyze how much influence 16th century Anabaptism and the Dutch Mennonites specifically had on Smyth's adoption of believer's baptism and his church-state views.

Speaking of believer's baptism and religious liberty, I'd like to share my favorite G.W. Truett quotes on those two subjects on this Friday. These lengthy quotes are taken from Truett's famous sermon, Baptists and Religious Liberty, delivered on the steps of the United States Capitol.

Truett on Baptism:
It follows, inevitably, that Baptists are unalterably opposed to every form of sponsorial religion. If I have fellow Christians in this presence today who are the protagonists of infant baptism, they will allow me to say frankly, and certainly I would say it in the most fraternal, Christian spirit, that to Baptists infant baptism is unthinkable from every viewpoint. First of all, Baptists do not find the slightest sanction for infant baptism in the Word of God. That fact, to Baptists, makes infant baptism a most serious question for the consideration of the whole Christian world. Nor is that all. As Baptists see it, infant baptism tends to ritualize Christianity and reduce it to lifeless forms. It tends also and inevitably, as Baptists see it, to secularizing of the church and to the blurring and blotting out of the line of demarcation between the church and the unsaved world....

Again, to Baptists, the New Testament teaches that salvation through Christ must precede membership in his church, and must precede the observance of the two ordinances in his church, namely, baptism and the Lord's Supper. These ordinances are for the saved and only for the saved. These two ordinances are not sacramental, but symbolic. They are teaching ordinances, portraying in symbol truths of immeasurable and everlasting moment to humanity. To trifle with these symbols, to pervert their forms and at the same time to pervert the truths they are designed to symbolize, is indeed a most serious matter. Without ceasing and without wavering, Baptists are, in conscience, compelled to contend that these two teaching ordinances shall be maintained in the churches just as they were placed there in the wisdom and authority of Christ. To change these two meaningful symbols is to change their scriptural intent and content, and thus pervert them, and we solemnly believe, to be the carriers of the most deadly heresies. By our loyalty to Christ, which we hold to be the supreme test of our friendship for him, we must unyeildingly contend for these two ordinances as they were originally given to Christ's churches.
Truett on Religious Liberty:
That utterance of Jesus, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's," is one of the most revolutionary and history-making utterances that ever fell from those lips divine. That utterance, once and for all, marked the divorcement of church and state. It marked a new era for the creeds and deeds of men. It was the sunrise gun of a new day, the echoes of which are to go on and on and on until in every land, whether great or small, the doctrine shall have absolute supremacy everywhere of a free church in a free state.

In behalf of our Baptist people I am compelled to say that forgetfulness of the principles that I have just enumerated, in our judgment, explains many of the religious ills that now afflict the world. All went well with the early churches in their earlier days. They were incomparably triumphant days for the Christian faith. Those early disciples of Jesus, without prestige and worldly power, yet aflame with the love of God and the passion of Christ, went out and shook the pagan Roman Empire from center to circumference, even in one brief generation. Christ's religion needs no prop of any kind from any worldly source, and to the degree that it is thus supported is a millstone hanged about its neck.
In a post-modern world that values relevancy, I'd say that much of what G.W. Truett had to say from those East Capitol steps almost 90 years ago is still relevant today. Preserving the best of The Baptist Story is indeed worth the fuss.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

EthicsDaily.com Launches The Green Bible.org

Check out EthicsDaily.com's new website - The Green Bible


TheGreenBible.org is now online. The site, from Baptist Center for Ethics and EthicsDaily.com, is a warehouse of information on the biblical mandate to care for the environment--and what people of faith can and should do.

Launched in concert with Earth Day, TheGreenBible.org already holds more than 40 articles from EthicsDaily.com, including editorials, reviews, columns and news stories and several videos.

One video contains remarks by BCE Executive Director Robert Parham, who introduced Al Gore at the New Baptist Covenant meeting on Jan. 31. Parham referred to Gore as a Baptist prophet on the issue of caring for God's creation. He also presented the former vice-president with a Green Bible.

"The Bible is God's green book," Parham said. "The green Bible gives us the responsibility to guard the garden. The green Bible calls us to love our neighbors. And my friends the only way we can love our neighbors across time is to leave them a decent place to live."

Another video features Gore's testimony on global warming before the House Energy & Science committees on March 21, 2007.

"I'm really grateful for TheGreenBible.org and all the resources it provides, which can help us as Christians connect our understanding of Bible, faith and creation and our role in stewardship with this very important moral, spiritual and environmental issue that's facing us today," says Joe Phelps, pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., in a video (housed at the site) about the launch of TheGreenBible.org.

TheGreenBible.org can help Christians "articulate the relationship of environmental justice to their faith," says Aidsand Wright-Riggins, executive director of National Ministries for American Baptist Churches USA, in the video. "There is a wealth of information there that connect this—more than simply ideology or philosophy, grounding it in theology and in scripture in ways that Christians are able to say this is an important issue to us."

More videos and articles will be posted as BCE and EthicsDaily.com continue to cover climate change as a top-tier moral issue.

"We hope the symbolism of the green Bible will capture the imagination of Baptists about the clear biblical call to care for the earth and the need to make the environment a top-tier moral concern," Parham said. "We think our Web page will raise the level of awareness and equip church leaders with timely news stories, provocative opinion pieces and practical resources."


Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Death of Denominations & the Future of the CBF

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) has a blog called The Fellowship Portal that has become very active lately. The Fellowship Portal lists ten featured bloggers.

One of the featured bloggers is Robert Prince. Prince is the pastor of First Baptist Church, Waynesville, North Carolina.

His post is entitled, The Death of Denominations and the Future of the CBF.

Check it out below and bookmark/subscribe to The Fellowship Portal.

Denominations have defined Protestant Christianity in America for most of its history. They’ve included Congregationalists, Methodists, Episcopals, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists. But about 40 years ago, these denominations began a steep decline. It started with more liberal denominations, but spread rapidly to moderate ones. For example, the United Methodist Church has lost about three million members over the last 40 years.

Conservative denominations like Southern Baptists have appeared to be immune to this decline. But this may not be the case. Statistics show that the average weekly worship attendance in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is about 6 million. That’s down from slightly more than 7 million in 1980.

Where have the people gone? Many have quit going to church entirely, many have gravitated to chuches of other denominations, and many appear to have migrated to non-denominational churches.

I’m challenged by the fact that when I talk to our high school and college-age students, I find that they find no attraction on any particular denomination or to the idea of a denomination. They feel that denominational distinctives are unimportant. I’ve also noticed that once they get out on their own, they tend to go to non-denominational churches, despite my best efforts to make good Baptists out of them!

What does all this mean to CBF? I remember when I attended one of the early gatherings of what would become the CBF there was a lot of discussion about what the group would be. Would it be a split-off denomination, a network within the SBC, or what? I must confess that I was one of those who wanted to see the CBF become a denomination.

The CBF has developed into a kind of quasi-denomination and mission society. While that frustrates people whose organizational model is the SBC, I’ve reversed my opinion and think that’s a good thing. Why become a denomination when the denomination is a model of the past? Though there are many things about the structure of CBF that are frustrating to those of us who grew up in the denominational model, I think it’s the form of the future: a partnership of Baptist churches, individual Baptists, Christian institutions, and outside denominational entities that continues Christ’s work.

The CBF has many challenges ahead. But I think it’s better equipped to deal with the future than many other groups.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Broadway Baptist Pastor Brett Younger To Resign


Embattled pastor of Broadway Baptist Church quits

April 17, 2008 Fort Worth, Texas

After months of controversy, and survival of an unprecedented 1/3 to 2/3 vote to vacate the pulpit, Brett Younger is resigning as pastor of Broadway Baptist Church. He is taking a position at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Brett Younger's last Sunday will be June 8.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has the story as well below:

FORT WORTH -- After surviving months of bitter infighting over the philosophical direction of his church, the Rev. Brett Younger, senior pastor at Broadway Baptist Church, is stepping down to work on the faculty of a divinity school in Atlanta.

Younger, 47, is going to work at McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta. Members of the church leadership were told about his resignation earlier this week. His last day at Broadway Baptist will be June 8.

"I am pleased at this opportunity to be part of an outstanding faculty," Younger said. "I feel like the Spirit is leading me to this new ministry. I am also sad at leaving Broadway."

Kathy Madeja, chairwoman of the deacon board, said Younger will announce his resignation to the congregation on Sunday and that her board will meet Monday to consider the next steps for hiring a new head pastor. Madeja had nothing but praise for Younger, who originally came to work at the church in 2001.

"Brett has worked tirelessly as the pastor of Broadway Baptist Church," Madeja said. "Brett and I have worked closely through some difficult times at Broadway. I have a great appreciation for his love of Broadway and its ministries."

Younger's announcement comes about a month after he survived a vote to "vacate the pulpit" after months of unrest over his leadership, including a debate over how to show gay members in a pictorial directory.

Broadway has a long history of being a leader in moderate Baptist circles. Near downtown, it has about 1,500 members.

Labels: ,

Southern Baptist Manual On Evangelizing Catholics

Courtesy of Baptist Press of the Southern Baptist Convention:
Southern Baptists are not disrespecting Catholics when they share the Gospel -– as they believe it -– with their Catholic friends, Davis said.

"We're not disrespecting them and while we obviously disagree with them, we're just being true to our own beliefs and faith," Davis said.

Davis offers these tips for evangelicals sharing their faith with Catholics:

-- be clear on your own Christian faith and what you believe.

-- become more informed on what Catholics believe.

-- develop a friendly relationship and get to know the person.

-- let them see Christ in you.

-- don't get sidetracked by the thorny issues and don't even make Catholicism the issue. Don't debate. Start with God, Jesus and the things Baptists and Catholics hold in common.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Pope & His Prada Shoes

Below are snippets from an excellent article from feminist theologian Mary Hunt on the Pope, his visit and those funny red Prada shoes.
Press coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States—his first as Pope—acts like a mirror reflecting the media’s complicated role in reporting religious news as a whole. What could be more television-friendly than the sights and sounds of institutional Catholicism? Its colorful costumes, ancient rituals, and contemporary savvy at getting its message out are a producer’s dream. If the kind of coverage in 2005 that accompanied the death of Pope John Paul II, and the election of his successor, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) is any indication, we can expect a great deal of air time and print space, very little if any critical analysis, and a lot of free press for the Roman Catholic Church. ......
Many such important issues, including the institution’s continued efforts to shape public policy on reproductive health, Catholic teachings against the death penalty, and Vatican financial dealings are obscured by the smoke and solemnity. We learn more from the press about the Pope’s red Prada shoes and designer sunglasses than about his criticism of the Iraq war. This time around in Washington, DC and New York City we hear about the “Pope-soap-on-a-rope” but not the people who work in Catholic schools for low wages. We see tee shirts for papal teddy bears, but no hint of the impact of the Vatican’s policy banning the use of condoms even for those who are HIV-infected. .......
Virtually nothing has changed in thirty years. Catholic women are not ordained, hence not involved in most church decision-making. The hierarchical structure has not changed one whit; if anything, power is even more concentrated. I suspect that this reality will not get much media attention during the papal visit. I am quite sure that no one who has the honor of welcoming this pope to his various venues will be granted such an unscripted opportunity to be candid. I am even more confident that few members of the press will notice.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

President Bush As The First Catholic President?

At least former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum thinks so!

"I don't think there's any question about it," said Sen. Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and a devout Catholic. "That's why I called him the first Catholic president; he's certainly much more Catholic than Kennedy."

Here's another snippet from the article entitled, Is George Bush Leading America's first truly Catholic Presidency?

WASHINGTON — Shortly after Pope Benedict XVI's election three years ago, President Bush huddled with a small circle of advisers and speechwriters in the Oval Office. As talk briefly turned to religion, the president mentioned reading one of the new pontiff's books about faith and culture in Western Europe.

Save one other soul, Bush was the only non-Catholic in the room, and it did not go unnoticed. Even the president laughed at the thought.

"I used to say that there are more Catholics on President Bush's speechwriting team than any Notre Dame starting lineup in the past half-century," said former Bush scribe William McGurn, a Catholic who was part of the meeting.

The 2005 West Wing meeting was just one indicator of how a Methodist president has surrounded himself with Roman Catholic intellectuals, speechwriters, professors, priests, bishops and politicians. These Catholics — and thus Catholic social teaching — have for the past eight years been shaping Bush's speeches, policies and legacy to a degree perhaps unprecedented in U.S. history.

In fact, with all due respect to John F. Kennedy, the nation's first and only Catholic president, some have begun to call the Bush White House the first truly Catholic presidency.

Interesting article. But if Bush's policies have been heavily shaped by Catholic Social Teaching - I'm not sure if that says anything positive about the Catholic Church....

Between the war and torture, I'm just not seeing how much in common Bush's policies have with CST....

Labels: ,

Sunday, April 13, 2008

David Gushee & Frank Page Question Sen. Obama

On Sunday night, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama participated in CNN's Compassion Forum held on the campus of Messiah College in Pennsylvania. John McCain - the Baptopalian - was a no show. You can read a summary of the shindig over at CNN.

You can also read the transcript here.

I'm posting the transcript of the questions posed to Senator Obama by both Frank Page of the Southern Baptist Convention and David Gushee of Mercer University.

DAVID P. GUSHEE, MERCER UNIVERSITY: Senator Obama, recently yet another disturbing memo emerged from the Justice Department. This one said that not even interrogation methods that, quote, "shock the conscience" would be considered torture nor would they be considered illegal if they had been authorized by the president.

Senator Obama, this kind of reasoning shocks the conscience of many millions of Americans and many millions of people of faith here and around the world. Is there justification for policies on the part of our nation that permit physical and mental cruelty toward those who are in our custody?

OBAMA: We have to be clear and unequivocal. We do not torture, period. We don't torture.


OBAMA: Our government does not torture. That should be our position. That should be our position. That will be my position as president. That includes, by the way, renditions. We don't farm out torture. We don't subcontract torture.


OBAMA: And the reason this is important is not only because torture does not end up yielding good information -- most intelligence officers agree with that. I met with a group -- a distinguished group of former generals who have made it their mission to travel around and talk to presidential candidates and to talk in forums about how this degrades the discipline and the ethos of our military.

It is very hard for us when kids, you know, 19, 20, 21, 22 are in Iraq having to make difficult decisions, life or death decisions every day, and are being asked essentially to restrain themselves and operate within the law.

And then to find out that our own government is not abiding by these same laws that we are asking them to defend? That is not acceptable. And so my position is going to be absolutely clear.

And it is also important for our long-term security to send a message to the world that we will lead not just with our military might but we are going to lead with our values and our ideals.

That we are not a nation...


OBAMA: ... that gives away our civil liberties simply because we're scared. And we're always at our worst when we're fearful. And one of the things that my religious faith allows me to do, hopefully, is not to operate out of fear.

Fear is a bad counsel and I want to operate out of hope and out of faith.

FRANK PAGE, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: Thank you, Senator Obama. Thank you for being here at Messiah College for the Compassion Forum. Southern Baptists have been very active for years in sub- Saharan Africa in the HIV/AIDS relief ministries. Sometimes orphan care, sometimes educational activities.

But we also are involved in a ministry called True Love Waits, which has been credited by the government of Uganda from lowering the AIDS infection rate there dramatically from 30 percent to 6 percent. But we also teach a part of that, that faith has a role in the issue of HIV/AIDS. Do you concur with that and would you elaborate on that, please.

BROWN: Can I just clarify, true love waits is an abstinence program.

PAGE: Abstinence based and faith based, yes.

OBAMA: Well first of all, congratulations to those who have been involved in that work. I think it's important work. And I think you may know my father came from this part of the world. I visited Kenya multiple times. I have been working with a group of grandmas who were helping AIDS orphans in Kenya.

OBAMA: Michelle and I, when we were traveling there, took an AIDS test before thousands of people to encourage the importance of them getting clear on what their status was and hopefully reducing infections.

And, by the way, this is an area where -- this doesn't happen very often, so everybody should take note -- where I compliment George Bush. I actually think that...


I actually think that the PEPFAR program is one of the success stories of this administration. We've seen a drastic increase in funding. And terrific work is being done between the CDC, the NIH, local AIDS organizations, NGOs.

My view is, is that we should use whatever the best approaches are, the scientifically sound approaches are, to reduce this devastating disease all across the world.

And part of that, I think, should be a strong education component and I think abstinence education is important. I also think that contraception is important; I also think that treatment is important; I also think that we have to do more to make antiviral drugs available to people who are in extreme poverty.

So I don't want to pluck out one facet of it. Now, that doesn't mean that non-for-profit groups can't focus on one thing while the government focuses on other things. I think we want to have a comprehensive approach.

I do think that -- and I've said this when I was in Kenya -- that there is a behavioral element to AIDS that has to be addressed. And if there is -- if there's promiscuity and we are pretending that that's not an issue in spreading AIDS, then we're missing part of the answer.

But I also think that -- keep in mind, women are far more likely to be infected now between the ages of 18 and 25 than are men. And that's why focusing, for example, on the status of women, empowering women, giving them microbicides, or other strategies that would allow them to protect themselves when they sometimes in certain situations may not be able to protect themselves from having unprotected sex, all those things are going to be just as important, as well.
Both good answers. Gushee's question reminds me of an excellent quote from his book. He wrote, "Many Christian conservatives of this generation have been unable to say no to torture because they are more conservative than Christian."

Perhaps that's President George W. Bush's problem as well.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

ABP Lands Interview with John McCain's Pastor

Greg Warner of the Associated Baptist Press has landed an exclusive interivew with John McCain's pastor, Dan Yeary of North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona.

Here's a snippet:

PHOENIX (ABP) -- John McCain has a deep and personal Christian commitment despite his reluctance to speak publicly about it, according to the man the presumptive GOP presidential nominee claims as his pastor.

Dan Yeary, pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church, described the Arizona senator and his wife, Cindy, as “very unobtrusive” people who don’t seek special attention when they are able to come to worship. “They come in the side door. They’re very pleasant. They talk to people. They’re very approachable.”........

Yeary has been reluctant to talk to the news media about the McCains or his relationship with them. He has turned down many media requests in order to protect his relationship with the family and their privacy. But he initiated an interview with Associated Baptist Press in an attempt to quell continued journalistic curiosity about McCain’s faith, saying he trusts the independent national news organization’s reputation for fairness.

I found this portion of the article quite interesting. Check it out:

Yeary, who has a reputation as a conciliator, carefully avoids hot-button religious issues that often dominate in politics. He said a recent article by the Reuters news agency that explored McCain’s faith mischaracterized the pastor’s position on homosexuality, making him sound like a “right-winger.”

“The reporter asked if I am accepting and affirming of homosexuality,” Yeary said. “I am accepting because we accept everyone. We accept all sinners. You’re a sinner, I’m a sinner. Are we accepting of their lifestyle? No, because it’s a biblical issue.”

The pastor is aware of a dozen or more gays who are members of North Phoenix Baptist. Yeary said he has told them they are welcome, but that he can’t “encourage their lifestyle.”

One can only wonder...will the same Southern Baptists who were hollering for Broadway Baptist Church of Fort Worth to be ousted from the SBC now holler for the 7,000 member North Phoenix to be ousted? After all, North Phoenix like Broadway has gay members.

Labels: , ,

Curtis Freeman on W.A. Criswell

Curtis Freeman, director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke Divinity School, has an interesting article in the Journal of Southern Religion that analyzes W.A. Criswell's "change of heart" on the issue of race. Read the article here.

In the article, Freeman challenges Russell Moore's contention that liberals don't deserve the credit that they receive for leading the charge for civil rights for African-Americans.

Here's a snippet:

Commenting on the changing views of segregationists like Criswell, historian Andrew Manis states that civil rights was the one and only instance in which liberals in the SBC won the war. Baptist theologian Russell Moore disputes this widely shared claim that credits liberals with the advances in civil rights over the obstructionism of conservatives. Instead, Moore maintains that conservative evangelical religion, not the liberal social gospel, was responsible for overcoming segregation. Moore contends that Southern Baptist progressives have been falsely given credit for crucifying Jim Crow. Contrary to the consensus view represented by scholars like Manis that stresses liberal political pressure, Moore contends that “Jim Crow was . . . drowned, in a baptistery,” adding that conservatives only “needed theological liberals to remind us of what we said we believed.” Progressives who advocated for civil rights played a role in defeating segregation, but Moore holds that because they realized the theological bankruptcy of the social gospel, liberals adopted the strategy of shaming conservatives with the message of born again religion until conservatives came to see segregation as a repudiation of the gospel. Liberals, he continues, “appealed not to America’s reason, but to America’s conscience” by issuing a call to evangelical and revivalist notions of individual conversion and churchmanship: “It is to our own shame that we ignored our own doctrines to advance racial pride. And it is to our further shame that, in so many cases, we needed theological liberals to remind us of what we said we believed.”15

Moore’s implication, that appeals to conscience are conservative but that challenges based
in reason are liberal, over-generalizes. Progressive voices in the SBC like Porter Routh and Clifton Allen who led the way in drafting the 1968 “Statement Concerning the Crisis in Our Nation” over the objections of conservative evangelicals were not rationalistic liberals merely borrowing conservative evangelical language in the sense Moore ascribes. Nor does his remarkable claim square with the history of aggressive and residual white supremacy that was endorsed by conservative Southern Baptists like Criswell who distinguished between the evangelical gospel of soul salvation, which they affirmed, and the social gospel of soup and soap, which they despised. Just in case anyone might be left wondering what could possibly lead someone to such a radical revisionist interpretation of civil rights, Moore has a simple answer. He was concerned that liberals were continuing the same strategy by putting pressure on contemporary evangelicals “to accept new movements—from feminism to homosexual liberation and beyond—as the legitimate heirs of the civil rights movement.”16 In his rush to counter new liberal advances, Moore conjectures that as conservatives were victorious over liberals in the Baptist battles, so they must also have bested liberals in the race battles. Given that from 1956 to 1979 Criswell was a definitive voice of conservative evangelical theology, his altered views on race provide a case study to test Moore’s argument.

Labels: ,

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Black Baptist Leaders Release Religious Liberty Statement

From Sam Hodges of the Dallas Morning News:

Leaders of three major black Baptist denominations have released the following statement through the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty:

This is a joint statement of the presidents of three of the predominantly African-American Baptist denominations that relate to the Baptist Joint Committee, which is composed of 15 Baptist bodies. The groups included in the statement are the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., the National Baptist Convention of America, and the National Missionary Baptist Convention. The Baptist Joint Committee is a 71-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based religious liberty organization that works to defend and extend God-given religious liberty for all, furthering the Baptist heritage that champions the principle that religion must be freely exercised, neither advanced nor inhibited by government.

Can politics still benefit from prophetic preaching?

Statement on the attacks on the pulpit and the ban on a religious test for
The Office of President of the United States
Released on April 4, 2008, 40 Years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

During the 2008 race for the nomination for president of the United States, we have seen efforts to malign candidates that cross the line of fair campaigning and understanding a candidate's biography. Attacks on candidates based on their church membership threaten one of our treasured constitutional commitments - religious freedom, which includes the freedom to worship and the prohibition on any religious test for qualification for public office.

In a recent conversation with Dr. Gardner C. Taylor, president emeritus of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., in the wake of attacks based on select sermons by Sen. Barak Obama's pastor, Dr. Taylor emphasized the importance of our commitment as Baptist presidents of four major African-American conventions. We have long supported religious freedom, the freedom of the pulpit and the ban on a religious test for qualifying for the office of president of the Untied States. The following statement reflects the views of our Baptist faith community, in general, and our views as religious leaders of three of the major African-American National Baptist Conventions, in particular.


As Baptists we believe in the freedom of religion, the right to worship where one chooses and the right listen to whomever we please preach the Gospel. We also believe in liberty of conscience and the right of the individual to interpret Holy Scripture. We cannot now, or ever, allow the influence of negative media coverage, and insensitive critics to misrepresent the fundamental freedom of choosing one's church and worshiping, by trying to make it relevant to one's right to occupy office as an elected official. It is one thing to challenge a particular statement, but quite another to challenge the qualifications of a candidate running for office by continually bombarding the reading, watching and listening public by singling out a house of worship and denouncing the freedom of speech inherent in prophetic preaching. We now share our opposition to how some of the media are reporting on the suitability of a candidate for political office based on an attack on a religious community.

By questioning and challenging a candidate's religious affiliations, religious associations and views on the Scriptures as a test for suitability for elected office, especially the office of president, we run the risk of violating the words and spirit of our Constitution. According to Article II of the U.S. Constitution, Section 1: President and Vice President, Clause 5: Qualifications for Office, that there three things and three things only that qualify any America who wants to become the President and Vice President of the United States: (1) those persons must be a natural born citizen of the United States; (2) they are to be at least 35 years old; (3) inhabitants of the United States at least fourteen years (there is an assumption that the President and Vice Presidents respectively, shall be of sound body and mind). Nothing has been stated, suggested, or hinted at in the Constitution regarding race, religion, choice of a pastor, or local house of worship where one hears instructions from God's Word. Indeed, Article VI of the Constitution bans any religious test for public office.

Freedom-loving Americans should go to the polls in this presidential election cycle and vote for our president and vice president (and all other political offices up for a vote) based on what the Constitution of the United States says are the qualifications, and the evaluation of the candidate's policy positions.

Most recently, we have crossed into the negative campaign territory when Sen. Obama came under attack for being a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Ill., under the spiritual leadership of Trinity's Senior Pastor Dr. Jeremiah Wright. Where Sens. Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barak Obama or any other candidate worships, how they interpret sacred Scripture, who they listen to preach the Good News of the Gospel, and their choice of denominational affiliation should not be at issue. They have the right to be members of any congregation of faith, worship where they choose, and listen to whomever they desire preach, without these things being used against them to take them out of the running for political office.

The Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., the National Baptist Convention of America, the National Missionary Baptist Convention, and other people in the faith community, regardless to religious persuasion and practice, condemn the idea that Senator Sens. Clinton, McCain and Obama, are not eligible for office unless they pass a religious test for office.

Freedom of religion, freedom of worship, freedom to hear whomever a person chooses is a fundamental right of all Americans. Attempts to make a candidate's religious affiliation relevant to the candidate's fitness for office should be viewed with skepticism.

The Rev. Dr. T. DeWitt Smith, Jr., President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.

The Rev. Dr. William J. Thurston, President of the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.

The Rev. Dr. C. C. Robertson, President of the National Missionary Baptist Convention, Inc.

Labels: ,

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Missour Baptist Editor Supports Confederate Flag

Some stuff is hard to believe.

This article about Missouri Baptist editor Don Hinkle is an example of that "stuff"

More later.

Missouri Baptist Editor Supports Confederate Flag by Brian Kaylor

A snippet:
Hinkle also described slavery as "the misfortunate of blacks" and claimed that Reconstruction actually produced greater injustices than slavery or Jim Crow laws.

"The only connection I can see between Jim Crow and the war, much less the flag, is that it may have been the white Southerners' way of retaliating against some blacks who took advantage of them during the most corrupt and disgraceful period in our nation's history, Reconstruction," Hinkle asserted. "Such wrongful retaliation occurs whenever the majority regains control after the minority has abused the majority."


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Women In Ministry Conference Or Hot Cookies?

Ok, so BDW has been busy the last few weeks. I've got 2 papers to write, a few books to read, a Final Exam to take and most importantly a thesis to finish. I have, however, made much progress on the thesis front. The words of James Dunn have been flying from my pen!

But on Monday (after a long night of thesisizing), I got up and went to the SECOND semi-annual Women In Ministry Conference held at Truett Seminary on the campus of Baylor University and hosted by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The theme of the conference was "And Your Sons AND Daughters Will Prophesy!" The purpose of the conference is as follows:
Women in Ministry Conference is designed for Ministry students (undergraduate and graduate) from Texas Baptist universities and seminaries, as well as Texas Baptist men and women who are interested in Women in Ministry. The conference will encourage, support, and connect women who sense a call to vocational ministry, and offer a venue for women and men to learn more about working together in ministry.
I had the privilege of hearing BGCT President Joy Fenner speak and then hear Amelia Fulbright Howard, daughter of Ruby Fulbright who is the state WMU director in North Carolina.

My girlfriend Alexis Cooper jotted down the following for me about the event:
There are many different ways to approach the topic of Women in Ministry. If you are a woman minister, you can defend your right to preach, Biblically. OR you can preach biblically.

Amelia Fulbright Howard, ordained Baptist minister from Austin, TX, did the latter on Monday afternoon. She didn't defend her call to preach, but instead looked to Scripture to bring a message to other women ministers about the challenges of being both a woman and a minister.

Her message was one of hope to ministers who sometimes forget the importance of self-care when ministering to others. While love is risky, and may involve pain, she said, pain and suffering is not the end goal, it is the risk taken when taking up one's cross. Howard reminded us that we follow the resurrected Christ, and we cannot understand the meaning of the crucifixion until we accept the gift of the resurrection.

Perhaps some of her ideas were radical- it may have made the men in attendance (about 40%) uncomfortable to hear words such as 'oppression' used in the context of female experience. But for women who have been silenced by their culture, their family, and their religious experience, it was a word that rang true. The sermon was not about being a victim, but how to more fully serve Christ as a woman minister. The whole conference, and the worship service the night before, was entirely about rejoicing together in being a part of God's creation, trusting that when God calls, you answer (whether you are a woman or a man).

This sermon didn't make headlines. This conference didn't make headlines. Perhaps women (and men) meeting together to worship and encourage faithfulness to God's call isn't newsworthy in Baptist life. Perhaps Baptist news sources are afraid of what happens if people find out about that Baptist women have been called to preach and DO IT WELL. Maybe, if Baptists are allowed to hear the Holy Spirit in action, much like the events in the 2nd chapter of Acts, their world will be changed.
Not to sidetrack from Amelia's excellent message as relayed by Alexis. But I want to follow up on Alexis's last paragraph. The ONLY second Women In Ministry conference hosted by the BGCT featured words/messages from George Mason, BGCT President Joy Fenner and many Texas Baptist seminary professors. The conference began Sunday night and ended Monday night. I think it's safe to say that enough time has elapsed that this story ain't getting covered.

As of Thursday morning, no Baptist media outlet here in Texas has covered the rather historic (and always important) event. No mention of the WIM conference on the official blog of the BGCT. That blog has posts that highlight April as "Camp Appreciation Month" and "Homemade Cookies" but no mention of the women who preached at the Paul Powell Chapel on Sunday and Monday.

You'll find more mention of "homemade cookies" on the website of the Texas Baptist Standard. But no mention of BGCT President affirming the calling of an ordained female minister. Check out the Texas Baptist Communication website of the BGCT. No women preaching. But daggumit you'll find more mention of "homemade cookies." You'll also see a couple shirtless fellas known as "Beach Reachers." Kudos to them! But again, no women.

Why? Why does this important and historic occasion not get covered by the Communications Department of the BGCT? I'm curious. Cookies for the Troops and Beach Reachers get lots of attention but women preaching at the flagship Texas Baptist university at an event hosted by the BGCT (don't forget that) receives absolutely no attention from the kind folks in the Baptist Building. I know a few people who are a little peeved to say the least.

In a recent op-ed over at the Baptist Standard, the now former interim Executive Director Wm. Jan Daehnert wrote about the "overwhelming need for all Texas Baptist leaders to continue welcoming those who align with the Southern Baptist Convention." He concluded his column with this sign off - "Welcome, Texas Baptists and Southern Baptists, Welcome."

Perhaps the question should be asked - Are the Women Preachers among us Welcome as well? Or has the PR-arm of the BGCT decided to avoid the reality of an increasing number of Texas Baptist women who are trying to answer their specific call to ministry. And when the BGCT apparently decides that sending homemade cookies to the troops is more newsworthy than only the second Women In Ministry conference EVER - then what does that say? What message does that send to these Texas Baptist women???

How are we going to break that stupid Glass Ceiling as long as Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are more important than women preaching the Gospel, trying to smash and shatter that stupid Glass Ceiling?

Labels: ,

eXTReMe Tracker