Southern Religion

Darwin’s theory indispensable to biotechnology developers

Creationism doesn’t help biologists, but Charles Darwin’s 150-year-old theory is an indispensable tool.

February 1, 2009 Posted by | Science | , , , | Comments Off on Darwin’s theory indispensable to biotechnology developers

‘Division like a cancer’ for Baptists, Carter tells New Baptist Covenant

Former President Jimmy Carter founded the New Baptist Covenant to promote unity among all Baptist denominations. In Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, speaking to some 1,200 people who packed the historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Carter said:



As we struggle with each other for authority or argue with one another about the interpretation of individual verses in the scripture, the arguments and even the animosities among Christians are like a cancer. . . . [Paul] made it vividly clear that to substitute any issue, no matter how important it was to us, for the good news of salvation, was an abomination.

Carter’s message was in marked contrast to the Southern Baptist Convention’s ongoing inquisitorial divisions — recalling that the group was founded in part to “counter the public image of Baptists as being predominantly tied to conservative political and cultural perspectives.”

Carter was addressing the first of five regional celebrations pursuing racial conciliation and cooperation on social issues.

Marv Knox wrote that the group “demonstrated racial, theological and geographic harmony as they prayed, sang, listened to sermons and attended workshops focusing on ministry to the people Jesus called ‘the least of these’ in society.”

William Underwood, president of Mercer University, said:

A fire is burning here at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. A fire that has not and will not be extinguished. The only question is, will the fire catch?

Actually, the reported intensity of the first regional meeting suggests to us that the message is catching.

February 1, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , | Comments Off on ‘Division like a cancer’ for Baptists, Carter tells New Baptist Covenant

‘Final solution’ began with bullets

The systematic slaughter of the Jews began with gunfire after Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. It was the first phase of the Nazi “Final Solution.”

Father Patrick Desbois documents in his book The Holocaust by Bullets how more than 2 million Jews were gunned down in towns and villages across Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

Read more here.

February 1, 2009 Posted by | anti-Semitism, Crime | , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Final solution’ began with bullets

Two victories for religious accommodation in appearance/dress and appearance for work

Howard M. Friedman writes:

. . . In Trenton, New Jersey, a federal jury awarded $10,000 in damages against United Parcel Service for failing to create an exception to its grooming guidelines to accommodate a Rastafarian employment applicant. . . .

. . . the Las Vegas, Nevada police department has settled a suit brought against it by an Orthodox Jewish detective who, under departmental dress rules, was prohibited from wearing a beard and head covering. . . .

Read it all here.

February 1, 2009 Posted by | Law | Comments Off on Two victories for religious accommodation in appearance/dress and appearance for work

Shaolin ‘action meditation’

Shaolin kung fu as “action meditation” is explored by PBS Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.

Shaolin is not “religious” in the sense of belief in deities, and many contemporary Shaolin masters express the opinion that people from any religious background can study and integrate Shaolin concepts.

Decide for yourself here.

February 1, 2009 Posted by | Cultural | , , | Comments Off on Shaolin ‘action meditation’

Comes the Inquisition: 2000 BF&M

Moves toward disfellowship of First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga., for calling a woman (Julie Pennington-Russell) as senior pastor have become the prevailing measure of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) descent to inquisitorial enforcement of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M).

The historic SBC tenet “We have no creed but the Bible” is dead, mourned Texas pastor Ken Coffee on Jan. 28. FBC Decatur’s prospective disfellowship and other actions mark the rise of the SBC’s BF&M 2000 to the status of creed. Coffee outlines the history of the BF&M 2000 inquisition, observing by way of pointed introduction:

Now, it should be noted here that Texas Baptists as a convention (BGCT) have never adopted the 2000 BF&M. Texas still uses the 1963 version, which some have called the finest such document ever written. One wonders why the SBC has not kicked the BGCT out for not adolpting the 2000 BF&M. Could it have anything to do with money?

Even absent attack on an entire association, current enforcement of the theologically flawed BF&M 2000 as creed is “absurd,” and could tear apart what remains of the SBC, warns Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson.

Burleson wrote:

The FORCED acceptance of the BFM 2000, by threatening to “disfellowship” from those churches who don’t agree with every single one of its tenets, is patently absurd. Those who push “disfellowship” from churches that disagree with a portion of the BFM 2000 will destroy our convention if they are allowed to succeed. The SBC will have to eventually disfellowship from over 25,000 Southern Baptist churches. That is the number of SBC churches, at least according to one seminary professor, that have expressed disagreement with the BFM 2000 in either church practice or church doctrine in areas other than women pastors.

Burleson identifies “closed communion” as a BF&M 2000 doctrine with which “most Southern Baptist churches and pastors disagree.” And throws down the gauntlet on that issue himself. For on that and other issues, he refuses to join those who have have “elevated a creed above the Bible!

Lost amid the confused enforcement of BF&M 2000 as a creed, Ms. Pennington-Russell wrote in her Jan. 23 newsletter to her congregation, is the fundamental purpose of the church:

May God save us from the deadly notion that this church exists to provide goods and services for eligible “members.” If anything, the witness of Scripture shows us that the church exists for the sake of the world. We exist to worship God and invest ourselves in bringing Christ’s kingdom on earth. We exist to discern and to do God’s will in an ever-changing world. We exist to follow Jesus into gospel adventures of all kinds in collaboration with all of God’s people, whatever their denominational preferences or doctrinal stances.

There is no bedrock Baptist justification for the distraction from core church mission by BF&M “bullying,” Burleson argues. It is “ungodly, unbaptistic and ridiculous” and “must stop.” And stopping it, as with stopping bullies on a school playground, is a matter of confronting the bullies. In this case, a matter of confronting the bullies with the truth.

For as Coffee explains, “the BF&M was intended to be nothing more than a guide to churches to help them understand whether or not they wanted to be included in the fellowship of churches we call the denomination. It was never intended as a document for excluding churches. No church that would say they disagree with most points of the BF&M would want to cooperate with the denomination.”

February 1, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Anonymous blogging FBC Jacksonville pastor’s power

Anonymous blogs can if well-handled hold an institution accountable, somewhat the way a good newspaper does, by getting facts out.

On Dec. 8, 2008, we held FBC Jax Watchdog up as an example of how it’s done. Not done perfectly. But done well.

Today, we checked back by, and they still appear to be doing the report, document and comment process we found earlier.

Looking at church bylaw changes, what they found is, just stated plain, startling. For example:

In the previous by-laws, there was no distinction between how discipline was to be carried out by different positions in the church – that is there were just “members” – and all “members” are to bring about reconciliation in accordance with Matthew 5:23-24 and 18:15-16. Any “member” who is accused of wrongdoing worthy of discipline would be investigated by the Deacons. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that all “members” are equal in this case – whether it be senior pastor, associate pastor, secretary, or layman – all must seek scripture reconciliation followed by Deacon investigation and report to the church. All persons including the pastor could be investigated and subjected to church discipline by the deacons.

Not so any more.

In the new bylaws, there are two distinct processes defined for church discipline: one for the pastor and other clergy, and one for everybody else. If a member has a grievance against the pastor he/she must seek reconciliation through Matthew 18, and still if no resolution is reached, and the church agrees, mediation with the Florida Baptist Convention will be used. Sounds reasonable, but the end result is this: the pastor is not accountable to any lay body for misdeeds he may commit! Its the offended party seeking reconciliation, and then arbitration with an outside body IF the church approves it.

Drop by and read that post all the way through if you have time. Indeed, read the series. If you’ve ever served as a deacon or an elder, anywhere, it isn’t difficult reading.

BTW: Is that typical of big Baptist churches are run these days?

February 1, 2009 Posted by | WWW | , , , , , | 4 Comments