Kierkegaard on the poor…

This, from the book Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard.

Disclaimer: Reading a single syllable of Kierkegaard is certain to set your little boat adrift, either to the right side of the river in ecumenism, or down the middle in neo-orthodoxy, or to the left toward liberalism. As with Liberation Theology, thar be dragons aplenty. Enter ye, who must surely meet their fate:

Christ was not making a historical observation when he declared: The gospel is preached to the poor. The accent is on the gospel, that the gospel is for the poor. Here the word “poor” does not simply mean poverty but all who suffer, are unfortunate, wretched, wronged, oppressed, crippled, lame, leprous, demonic. The gospel is preached to them, that is, the gospel is for them. The gospel is good news for them. What good news? Not: money, health, status, and so on — no, this is not Christianity.

No, for the poor the gospel is the good news because to be unfortunate in this world (in such a way that one is abandoned by human sympathy, and the worldly zest for life even cruelly tries to make one’s misfortune into guilt) is a sign of God’s nearness. So it was originally; this is the gospel in the New Testament. It is preached for the poor, and it is preached by the poor who, if they in other respects were not suffering, would eventually suffer by proclaiming the gospel; since suffering is inseparable from following Christ, from telling the truth.

But soon there came a change. When preaching the gospel became a livelihood, even a lush livelihood, then the gospel became good news for the rich and for the mighty. For how else was the preacher to acquire and secure rank and dignity unless Christianity secured the best for all? Christianity thus ceased to be glad tidings for those who suffer, a message of hope that transfigures suffering into joy, but a guarantee for the enjoyment of life intensified and secured by by the hope of eternity.

The gospel no longer benefits the poor essentially. In fact, Christianity has now even become a downright injustice to those who suffer (although we are not always conscious of this, and certainly unwilling to admit to it). Today the gospel is preached to the rich, the powerful, who have discovered it to be advantageous. We are right back again to the very state original Christianity wanted to oppose. The rich and powerful not only get to keep everything, but their success becomes the mark of their piety, the sign of their relationship to God. And this prompts the old atrocity again — namely, the idea that the unfortunate, the poor are to blame for their condition; that it is because they are not pious enough, are not true Christians, that they are poor, whereas the rich have not only pleasure but piety as well. This is supposed to be Christianity. Compare it with the New Testament, and you will see that this is as far from that as possible.

SBCOutpost, Part Deux…

We just received the following press release in our email from Micah Fries, the new editor of

June 27, 2007

ST. JOSEPH, MO — On Monday, July 2, 2007, the online conversation concerning the future of the Southern Baptist Convention will move forward as a group of prominent bloggers merge their efforts to provide a forum for ministry ideas, missionary support, church revitalization, and denominational reform., previously administrated by Pastor Marty Duren of New Bethany Baptist Church in Buford, GA, will be launched as one of the premier sites for Southern Baptist news and commentary.

Little doubt exists that blogs have dominated the conversation in Southern Baptist life for the previous 18 months. At times, the conversation has engaged substantive issues of theology and ministry. At others, the dialogue has been shrill and divisive. With the launch of a newly reformatted blog, the chance for elevating the meaningful dialogue and limiting the intensity of contention will arrive for all Southern Baptists.

Intentionally designed as a bridge for the diverse constituencies of Southern Baptist life, will bring together denominational executives with rural pastors and church planters, missional pastors with traditional pastors, seminary theologians with Sunday School teachers, and field missionaries with their prayer partners. The day has passed for monopolies in news and information. will seek to supplement, not replace, the excellent coverage of Southern Baptist life already offered online through Baptist Press, Associated Baptist Press, and various Baptist state papers. is singularly unique, however, in the chance for reader interaction and commentary, offering a forum for the discussion about the future of culturally-informed, Christ-honoring witness and ministry paradigms for the Southern Baptist Convention. In addition to this unique format, will launch with the largest aggregate readership of any alternative news source dealing with Southern Baptist issues. The mission statement of is “to provide interactive, substantive, and reflective dialogue for Southern Baptist churchmen and women to participate in shaping the future of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

The stated intention of is to become the number one choice for discussion of Southern Baptist news and commentary, and the blog editors would like to encourage all Southern Baptist entities to include as a part of their regular schedule of recipients for all press releases, news updates, and other statements as they are released to major media sources by emailing


The taste of crow feathers…

The past year has taught us a few things about Southern Baptist life, not the least of which is the degree of schadenfreude that poisons our denominational well. We at Baptist Blogger have been encouraged along the way to keep the heat on some convention leaders, and not others. We’ve been told to back off some convention personalities, and to pursue others. Our readers have laughed or cringed depending on whether our blogtarget was a friend or enemy. Hero worship exists in Southern Baptist life, as well as the villification of one’s ideological opponent.

And yes, there are clear lines of demarcation between the two.

Along the way, we’ve had a few moments of regret, forcing us to contemplate the removal of a post. So far, We’ve only taken down one post, and that because it was crude not because it was cruel. We’ve had some time in recent weeks to reflect on the weight of responsibility that we at Baptist Blogger have as one of the most widely read dissident blogs in denominational life. Today, we owe some apologies.

But before we get to those, let us be very clear. While our blog will not publicly pursue Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and its First Couple with the intensity and regularity of the previous twelve months, we will continue our efforts to press for an accreditation review and justice for Sheri Klouda. We do not retract any syllable written about these issues or personalities, and our book will explore even more.

Second, we will not apologize for shaming our grammatically incompetent brethren. Words are the chariots that ferry the legions of men’s thoughts. If one wishes to communicate his ideas with any credibility, it is necessary for those ideas to be conveyed with clarity, literacy, and precision — at least if men would attempt to articulate those ideas in the comment threads on our blog. Incidentally, there are a number of commenters who owe us for having corrected a plurality of grammatical faux pas.

Third, we cannot apologize for accusations of intellectual arrogance. We at Baptist Blogger realize that God Almighty could remove at any moment our cerebral excellence, but we rather enjoy it while it lasts. Often, we have discovered, charges of arrogance are offered by men with various insecurities about their having wasted opportunities for scholarly pursuits. We cannot, and we will not, own responsibility for the slothful torpor of our harshest critics.

Now, for the apologies.

First, we owe an apology to Ronnie Floyd. Last year, in the heat of convention politics, we exploited an opportunity to cast unnecessary and excessive aspersions upon his character and ministry. First Baptist Church of Springdale is a great church with a good pastor. We regret having posted as we did for purposes less than noble. In honesty, our pursuit of Ronnie Floyd had very little to do with him, and much more to do with the explosive anger we experienced when denominational leaders used their institutional resources to endorse his candidacy. Our primary desire was to bust up the college of cardinals, not to harm the candidate whom they had proffered. The election in Greensboro was, for us, more about defeating Paige Patterson than about defeating Ronnie Floyd. We deeply regret that Pastor Floyd got caught in the crosshairs, and we will take an opportunity very soon to make restitution.

Second, we owe an apology to Claude Thomas. The former pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless, TX, deserved no rehashing of the circumstance of his departure on our blog. At the time, our efforts were to expose the blatant hypocrisy of Southwestern’s president more than a difficult season of Thomas’ ministry. Not only did our posting documentation related to FBC Euless hurt Pastor Thomas, but his sons — all of whom are in ministry — were needlessly brought into the injury. For this, we are truly remorseful.

Third, we owe an apology to Parkview Baptist Church. While we have made every effort to meet all of our ministry objectives, we have too often failed to make visits that were needed, prepare sermons that were fresh, and pray as they deserved. In January of this year, Parkview’s membership affirmed unanimously their pastor’s efforts in the current denominational crisis after having heard more than an hour of the documentation currently in our possession. Their affirmation, however, was followed by my personal commitment to refocus on church ministry as soon as the San Antonio convention. Their patience has compensated for my distraction. Their prayers have supplemented my prayerlessness. Their encouragement has kept me afloat.

Fourth, we owe an apology to lost people in Arlington, TX. Their eternal destinies and immortal souls are of infinitely greater importance than the passing pettiness of Southern Baptist fracases. I have only baptized two persons this year, and I have only led four to Christ. The city of Arlington is increasingly rife with crime, gang violence, economic disparity, AIDS, and moral degradation. Any pastor whose ministry is more consumed with the nonsense that occurs fifteen miles away on a seminary campus or hundreds of miles away at convention headquarters than he is with the lostness of those living within a stone’s throw of his church office is in dire need of immediate repentance and grace.

Fifth, we owe an apology to three young, beautiful ladies who’ve had the kind hearts to date — at different intervals, mind you — a very intense person who denied them the attention and interest they deserved. They tolerated a man whose conversation was too often steered toward issues completely uninteresting and superfluous. I spoke when I should have listened. I cancelled when I could have gone. I returned phonecalls from Wade Burleson, Dwight McKissic, Marty Duren, Art Rogers, and a host of others before I returned theirs. If singleness be my curse, then I owe it to my own carelessness and selfishness. This, too, will change.