Weekly column…

On Sunday, our church bulletin will include the following article:

This week I will be attending a conference at Union University in Jackson, TN, that promises to be a watershed moment in the life of our convention. Conceived in the mind of the university president,  David Dockery, the Baptist Identity Conference is gathering together groups from all perspectives across Southern Baptist life to try and answer some questions that keep surfacing for our convention.

I find it interesting that Baptists in America are about 400 years old — Southern Baptists are almost two centuries old — and we are still unsure what it means to be a Baptist. For some people, being Baptist is a matter of how they were raised. Their parents were Baptist; their grandparents were Baptist; and they’ve been in Baptist churches since they were negative nine-months old.

For others, being Baptist is a matter of conviction. I recall the first time I heard a deacon in my home church announce in a business meeting that “the Baptist faith” was “closer to the New Testament” than any other denomination. I remember thinking, “Either this guy has never read the New Testament, or he’s never been in a Baptist church.”

And truth be known, I’ve never been in a Baptist church that obeyed the New Testament on matters of discipline and doctrine more than Parkview Baptist Church.

I find myself less and less claiming the moniker of “Southern Baptist” when asked to identify my denominational affiliation. In some parts of our country, announcing that you are Southern Baptist is tantamount to wearing a swastika to Auschwitz on the Sabbath. Regrettably, Southern Baptists have been known for their bickering and politics more than their compassion for sinners in the past few decades.

But things are changing, at least on some levels.

This week Union University will host the old guard fundamentalists and the new guard evangelicals. The architects of the conservative resurgence will be in attendance, as will the newly elected president of the SBC, Frank Page of South Carolina.  In the midst of it all there will be a host of conference attendees trying to discover what the future of the Southern Baptist Convention will look like.

Lately, I’ve been trying to decide for myself what kind of Baptist I want to be. Do I want to be a Southern Baptist? A Texas Baptist? A Reformed Baptist or a Mainline Baptist? As I’ve thought about this question, I’ve arrived at the best answer I know.

I’m not any of those kinds of Baptist. If people ask me what kind of Baptist I am, I will proudly tell them that I’m a Parkview Baptist, and I’m pretty excited about that affiliation.

18 thoughts on “Weekly column…

  1. Do you have clue one how offensive the following comparison is to Jewish survivors of the Holocaust or to their children or to anyone who has a modicum of heart, sympathy, and empathy for the Jewish people? Or did you simply think it was a “cute” turn of phrase and that was all you cared about? Being clever and cute.

    “In some parts of our country, announcing that you are Southern Baptist is tantamount to wearing a swastika to Auschwitz on the Sabbath.”

    Bad form. Really bad form.

  2. Miss Amy Karen Downey of SWBTS:

    I have a suspicion that you understand very little about the Holocaust or the way that it has been represented or misrepresented as both a cause of counterviolence in Israel or literary metaphors in numerous media.

    I was not being cute. I was not being clever. I was making a point about the way Southern Baptists are perceived in some places. The fact that you were “offended,” which I doubt is sincere offense rather than pretense, demonstrates the degree to which my words are able to make people understand what I’m saying. No rational individual with a modicum of sense will construe anything I’ve written as commendation rather than condemnation of the atrocities of the Holocaust.

    Have fun working for the DMin office today. Keep up the good work, and try not to read blogs on Cooperative Program time. Methinks your president nurtures no favor toward those who frequent the blogosphere.


  3. Come to think of it, as I read the BF&M, that’s precisely how it’s supposed to be. Bet it’s a controversial position in the Hallowed Halls, though.

  4. As a new fan of Keifer Sutherland and 24, I am now convinced that BCS has an underground bunker with all of the techno savvy of CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit for the uninitiated).

    I am currently finishing season 5 and every “day” (season) involves the question of collateral damage at least once. When I read BCS’s reply I felt like the playground had just been nuked.

    Too funny.

    Now just how do we monitor CP time?

  5. I’ve noticed that the time stamp is about 6 hours off, so we appear to be on London time. Nevertheless, Miss Downey’s comment would have been made at 8:52am. Perhaps she doesn’t clock in until 9:00am. If she clocks in before that I’m quite certain that she is a person of integrity and will scribble out a check to the CP as reimbursement for her personal blogging time. Or perhaps with the enrollment declines at SWBTS she simply has more free time on her hands.

  6. Miss Downey had a chill run down her spine when she read BSC’s comment, and it had nothing to do with the temperature in her office.

    Paul and Todd , you both are too funny. I am making a motion at this year’s convention that the 11th Commandment be added to the Bible:

    “No Southern Baptist, save security three zone IMB employees, shall ever post a comment in blogdom under a pseudonym.”

    It will save SBC employees from catching a soul cold because of the chill when they are discovered.

  7. Your blog is like a car wreck. I know I shouldn’t look… but I just can’t resist. Or it’s like that good looking blonde that’s walking…. I’m a pastor I better not finish my thoughts.

  8. Wade and Ben,

    I knew you were affirmative action, but you really do treat women just like men- you sure let miss jewishheart have it! Did you get that training from your arduous labors in the Word?

    Perhaps you missed this little nugget: 1 Cor 8:11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers [5] and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

    I have been unable to peruse the sermons of 1B Enid or Parkview- you guys have any sermons on the measures we take to maintain fellowship with brothers in Christ? Perhaps even the ones who offer offense to you? I am possibly going to choose this verse for a exegetical paper, so any help in this area would be greatly appreciated.

    I am excited about a possible contrasting series to the “Rules for Radicals” here. I suspect, in keeping with the title theme, it could be called the “Ways of Christians.” What an exciting contrast, say, the ethical demands of the Sermon on the Mount would provide to the worldly “Rules for Radicals!”

  9. As a member of Parkview, and one who will have the opportunity of reading this again in the Sunday bulletin, I was somewhat surprised by the number of comments here. So I read through the post five times over the last day just to make sure I was reading it right. People who know me know that I have a very sensitive spirit. Almost too much so for my own good at times.

    So I really tried to figure out why the comment Amy complained of would be offensive. The essence of the phrase was that the Nazis were horrible and some think of Southern Baptists in the same way. That is a severe indictment on Southern Baptists. However, I do not see how that is an insult to the Jews or the atrocities they went through under that regime. So after careful thought, and not just because he said so, I must agree that Ben’s statement in the post can not be rationally considered as anything but a condemnation of the Holocaust, not approval of it.

    Then I considered Colin’s complaint above. I know it was addressed to Wade and Ben, and I debated that I should stay out of the discussion, but hey, it’s a free world, and assuming this comment gets through the five stage Baptist Blogger comment approval process, I’ll put my two cents in.

    Knowing the above post would be in the Sunday Bulletin, this is the summary of what I read: 1. I will be out of town this week at a conference and this is what it is about. 2. I am glad that Parkview is following the New Testament on discipline and doctrine. 3. I hope that as Southern Baptists we will be able to sort out this identity crisis. 4. I am proud to be your pastor, and I would rather be here than anywhere. That folks, is the not-reading-between-the-lines, basic version that I saw and prompted my first comment here. I really expected to be the only one commenting on this post.

    Amy is clearly an educated woman at an institution of higher learning. I personally think she may have been reading too much into the post for something to take issue against. For Ben to have responded in any other way than his characteristic forthrightness with other bloggers here, it would have been an insult to her, as if she needed to be pampered just because she is a woman. But isn’t that what we are working against, the idea that women are weaker and need to be treated like little babies? So Colin is right that women are treated as equals here. And that is a sign of respect, not disrespect.

    As to the whole “Rules for Radicals” series. First of all I would note that it is clearly marked under the “Politics” not the “Religion” category of Baptist Blogger. I am beginning to see an alarming pattern of some people being afraid of any analogy in life at all. Since when has it become a crime to learn anything about the world from sources outside the Bible? It seems that Colin has gotten the impression that the Sunday fare at Parkview has abandoned the Bible and gone to the works of Alinsky instead. I can assure you this is not the case. In fact, Ben just recently finished a sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount as we have been progressing through the gospel of Matthew.

    Did anyone read anywhere on this blog that Ben has suggested we abandon the Bible to follow some earthly world system? I haven’t. What he has done with the “Rules for Radicals” is clearly set out before us that the SBC is indeed intrenched in politics, and that if we are going to be dealing with politics, these are some things we should be thinking about. I sense a real fear of the world and knowledge from some commenters.

    I know it is hard to discern exactly what it means to be “in the world, but not of it,” nevertheless, I think there is some danger in an isolationism that demands the Bible provide all knowledge for existing in the world. Be sure to understand me clearly here. I believe the Bible is sufficient for knowledge of God and is the divinely inspired Word of God. What I am saying here is not putting down the Bible in any way. Rather, I want to ask … does the Bible provide the formula for medicines that we take each day to heal our bodies? Does it tell us how to build an airplane? Does it even tell us how to build computers that we are now using to write on blogs? Of course not, God has given men and women the intellect to develop knowledge in these areas. In the same way, to gain political knowledge from other sources than the Bible is not wrong, and I think that Colin’s one-to-one comparison fails in this regard.

    Okay, this comment has gotten long. Surely, I shall be scolded and told to write my own post about it if I have this much to say.

  10. Colin,

    I am delighted the SBC has as intelligent and competent women as Dorcas and Amy. I mean it. We are better off as a convention because of them.

    There is no need to protect Amy. She has enough spunk on her own, and her comment proves she can think for herself. Dorcas writes brilliantly as well.

    I would suggest that your comment is more an attack on Ben and me than a defense of the women. I do not believe the women need any defense because their capabilities speak for themselves. Further, I have a great respect for Amy. She challenged Ben’s comment and placed herself in the arena of engagement and is quite able to handle herself without a cyber knight. I think you might need to lighten up just a bit.

    But, that’s just my opinion. I would be interested to hear Amy’s perspective.

  11. WW,

    You can see it how you want to see it. She used a moniker, which is, I suspect, still ok to do in respect to the New Testament. Then, she was rebutted with her full name, place of work, and a potential rebuke of misusing her time. Did that speak to the issue she addressed?

    Quiz: (fill in the blanks)

    “I would suggest that your comment is more an attack on ____________ than a defense of __________. I do not believe ___________ need[s] any defense because [her] capabilities speak for themselves. Further, I have a great respect for ____________. She ___________ and placed herself in the arena of engagement and is quite able to handle herself without a cyber knight. I think you might need to lighten up just a bit.”

    (Answers below)

    1) Paige Patterson, SBC
    2) Dr. Klouda
    3) Dr. Klouda
    4) Dr. Klouda
    5) Entered academia

  12. Ben and Wade:

    Are you proud of your treatment of Amy? I rather think you should both be ashamed.

    Ben, as a matter of fact, using the Holocaust in rhetoric is way overdone. It is bad form as a writer. I was not as offended by your comment as Amy was, but really–comparing people’s loathing for Southern Baptists to Jewish loathing for the Nazis who murdered their grandparents. That’s not even good hyperbole.

    Then your response was so smug: “I have a suspicion you know very little about the Holocaust.” Well, how on earth would you have the omniscience to know what Amy does or does not know about the Holocaust? Do you think that highly of your intellect that you can know what other people know.

    As a matter of fact, Amy is someone who loves the Jewish people and has taken time to learn Jewish history. I have no doubt, Ben, that you have too. But your rudeness knows no bounds.

    Wade, I thought better of you. Why would you join in teasing a woman about blogging at work, when as evidence shows, she was not?

    I am asking you both to do the right thing, apologize, and get on with your otherwise righteous task of calling Baptists to love and glorifying God. Ironically, this particular posting does not display the love you have a vision for.

    Derek Leman

  13. Sigh.

    I wish communication could be better via black print on white paper. The issue for me with Amy is the anonymous bashing of the post’s author. When people know they are known, in most cases, their words are tempered. That is the sole issue for me.

    Colin, I appreciate your quiz. It gives me insight into your motives. Derek, I cannot apologize for calling people into making their statements in the light of day, particularly when the anonymous commentor is chastising someone. Stepping out from behind an anonymous moniker is the right thing to do and Ben just helped Amy do what she could not do for herself. As to other issues, Ben can speak for himself – quite well I might add.

  14. WW,

    I will assume that your apology on your blog came after this defense. As to my motives, I was angered at what I read, pure and simple. It was unnecessary, uncalled for, unworthy of Christian character, and part and parcel of the MO that is routinely displayed in the current controversy. You don’t have to assume anything with me, I will tell you in black and white terms.

    I thought the quiz was clever. It had zero to do with motive, all to do with word play. But, that might be tending toward conceit.

    I pray God’s richest blessings on you both.

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