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Our dollars are great; your percentages are lousy

The Southern Baptist Convention‘s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force continues its pattern of answering questions with language that confuses and frustrates.

Ronnie Floyd, chairman of the task force, answered 12 questions after he spoke at the Illinois Baptist Pastors’ Conference, according to a report in Baptist Press.

Kevin Kerr, president of the Illinois Baptist State Association, asked the first question, according to the report. He wanted to know about the Cooperative Program commitment of churches represented on the task force which average less than 6 percent.

Floyd first deflected the question by saying that he didn’t appoint the task force, but was just asked to chair it. Then he repeated SBC president Johnny Hunt’s preferred answer to questions about CP commitment: “We don’t spend percentages, we spend dollars.”

Floyd then talked of how his church, First Baptist Church of Springdale, Ark., is increasing its gifts to the Cooperative Program 44 percent. That sounds good until you realize that the increase will still leave the church giving about 3 percent of its $14.8 million in undesignated offerings to CP.

Even more revealing is Floyd’s comment later about his belief that a lack of biblical stewardship is one of the underlying problems in the SBC.

“God tells individuals to tithe and honor Him with the first tenth and with offerings, but studies show the average evangelical gives 2.4 percent to all charities. How are we going to change the world with the Gospel when 98 cents of every dollar given stays in the churches and 98 cents of every dollar earned stays in the pocket of the member?”

So Floyd first asks Southern Baptists to ignore the low percentage his church gives to the Cooperative Program, then complains about the low percentage people give in general. Although we spect that the billions of dollars represented by the 2.4 percent evangelicals give to charities spends just like the money Floyd’s church sends to the SBC.

With reasoning like Floyd’s, one can expect the Great Commission desurgence to continue.

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November 20, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Religion, SBC | , , , , | 1 Comment

Who’s Foxy Loxy in this story?

The sky isn’t falling but you might want to keep a close eye on the wall of separation between church and state.

When news broke about a proposed Christian prison in Oklahoma, the leading proponent told the Tulsa World, “If Chicken Little doesn’t come to town, we’ll be open in 16 months.”

Bill Robinson, the founder of Corrections Concepts Inc., was referencing the childhood fable where a chicken that gets hit on the head with an acorn causes something of a panic by claiming that the sky is falling.

In this case, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which issued a warning about the prison, knows the difference between a nut and the atmosphere.

November 20, 2009 Posted by | Churches, History | , , , , , | Comments Off on Who’s Foxy Loxy in this story?

Christian Right call for civil disobedience [Update]

The Manhattan Declaration

Some 150 Christian leaders, mostly Religious Right protestants and conservative Roman Catholics, issued today a 4,700-word restatement of their opposition to abortion and gay marriage and support for religious freedoms and call for civil disobedience. They call their statement the Manhattan Declaration.

The group concludes with a reference to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and calling for civil disobedience in response to their causes:

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

Just as this morning’s sunrise is unique to today, it is an “unprecedented coalition,” as the Catholic News Agency asserts. CNS also says:

The Manhattan Declaration is the result of several months of dialogue among Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christian leaders culminating in a gathering of approximately 100 leaders in New York City on September 28, 2009.

Attendees considered an early draft of the “Manhattan Declaration, A Call of Christian Conscience,” but the document was entrusted to a drafting committee that included Dr. Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, Dr. Robert P. George of Princeton University, and renowned Evangelical leader Charles Colson.

The signatories explained that they speak now because in order “to defend principles of justice and the common good that are now under assault.”

Anyone who has closely followed the political battles over health care, gay marriage and abortion will recognize the themes and arguments of the document, all reflected in the associated Web site.

Signatories predictably include 15 Roman Catholic bishops, among them New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl; Focus on the Family founder James Dobson; National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson; Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; various other seminary leaders, professors and pastors.

More about this Manhattan Declaration later.

Update

With hyperventilating certainty about the future Chuck Colson declares the Manhattan Declaration “one of the most important documents produced by the American church, at least in my lifetime.”

November 20, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Scientology Australia accused of torture/forced abortions

Unhappy Scientology: Last month a French court convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud and fined it almost a million dollars. This week the Australian government is responding to the complaints of former members Down Under.

Australian Senator Nick Xenophon used parliamentary privilege to raise allegations of criminal misconduct and called of an examination of the Church of Scientology’s right to tax-exempt status, reported news.com.au.

BBC reported:

The Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has said he will consider calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the Church of Scientology.

Church of Scientology Australia president Reverend Vicki Dunstan responded:

The alleged incidents voiced in the Senate on Tuesday came from disgruntled former members with their own agendas to put forward and were used by Senator Xenophon for “his own political aspirations.”

Reports of and inquiries into serious incidents associated with the church date at least to 1965. Charges of coerced abortions lodged by former members are not isolated to Australia.

Events in Australia have taken on new urgency in part as a result of the efforts of anonymous (anonaustralia}, whose February protests there attracted wide attention there and online.

With pressure rising Down Under, the Australians are likely to go French on this and impose sanctions.

November 20, 2009 Posted by | Churches, WWW | | 1 Comment

Anglican leader pushes back at the pope

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams fired back Nov. 19, telling a conference in Rome that the Roman Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain women was a barrier to Christian unity.

Speaking at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University prior to his Saturday meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, Williams said, drawing a sharp contrast, “For many Anglicans, not ordaining women has a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptised men and baptised women.”

He went on to say that Anglican provinces that ordain women had retained rather than lost their Catholic holiness and sacramentalism.

Thus, he thoroughly defied one of the animating tensions which led Pope Benedict XVI to offer disaffected Anglicans a “Church within a Church” that would enable them to retain traditional Anglican practices within the Catholic faith.

Williams not only repudiated the notion that he might lead a reversal of direction in the Anglican ordination of women, he also described the pope’s historic offer as little more than an “imaginative pastoral response” which contributed little to ecumenical relations between the two churches.

Along the same lines, he also said:

It does not build in any formal recognition of existing ministries or methods of independent decision-making, but remains at the level of spiritual and liturgical culture.

As such, it is an imaginative pastoral response to the needs of some; but it does not break any fresh ecclesiological ground.

Not a model of ecumenism, indeed. The archbishop’s rose-colored glasses have been removed.

November 20, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , , | Comments Off on Anglican leader pushes back at the pope