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Southern Religion

‘Onward Christian Athletes’ isn’t about Brit Hume

Tom Krattenmaker says the takeaway from his book is:

Pro sports fans see a lot of religious expression in pro sports—players pointing up to God after a touchdown or home run, for example, or thanking and praising Jesus in post-game interviews—and that was my starting point for the research. As I began to dig into it I was struck by how much organization and strategy exists behind and under all of this. Not to say it’s secret or sinister or anything, because it’s not, but fans don’t realize how much work goes on behind the scenes by the Christian organizations that minister to athletes and leverage sports to reach the public with their evangelistic message.

Brit Hume merely called oblique attention to the issue, as Krattenmaker explains in a discussion of his book, Onward Christian Athletes: Turning Ballparks into Pulpits and Players into Preachers, at Religion Dispatches:

To get us started on the new decade, we had Fox News commentator Brit Hume reminding us of the other primarily objective of the faith-in-sports movement: to use athletes as poster men for the virtues of faith and as carriers of the evangelistic message. Recall what Hume said in his now-famous (infamous?) over-the-air faith pitch to Tiger. Not only would a full Christian conversion bring the fallen golf hero forgiveness and redemption, Hume said. It would make him “a great example” to the world.

Clearly, Krattenmaker’s isn’t another “how to evangelize” manual.

Interesting stuff, if a little convoluted. Read on.

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January 14, 2010 Posted by | Cultural | , , , | Comments Off on ‘Onward Christian Athletes’ isn’t about Brit Hume

Ugandan president to block gay genocide bill [Updates]

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told members of the National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) legislative caucus on Jan 13 that he was going to block the gay genocide bill. George Conger of Religious Intelligencer wrote:

“I [Museveni] told them that this bill was brought up by a private member and I have not even had time to discuss it with him. It is neither the government nor the NRM Party’s” bill, he told legislators, according to Ugandan press reports.

“This is a foreign policy issue and we have to discuss it in a manner that does not compromise our principles but also takes care of our foreign policy interests,” the president said.

Xan Rice of the Guardian reported today:

Uganda has indicated it will bow to international pressure and amend draconian anti-homosexual legislation that includes the death penalty for HIV-positive people convicted of having gay sex.

. . .

,p>The proposed law, which has been pushed by local evangelical preachers and vocally supported by senior government officials, also threatens life imprisonment for anyone convicted of gay sex.

While broadly supported domestically, the legislation has caused a storm of protest abroad and consternation from western donors who fund a large chunk of Uganda’s budget.

Updates

VOA says nothing has changed:

The Ugandan foreign minister denies the government is backing away from proposed anti-gay legislation because of foreign policy implications, saying the government is still discussing its position on the issue. Gay rights activists express caution over reports the president has backed away from the bill.

Jim Burroway foresees a move toward compromise legislation.

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Crime, Law, Religion | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ugandan president to block gay genocide bill [Updates]

Haiti’s ambassador debunks Robertson smear

Haiti’s Ambassador to the U.S. Raymond Joseph seized the initiative in a Rachel Maddow interview last night to rebuke Pat Robertson for his “pact with the devil” smear:

Robertson’s use of neo-Pentecostal vulnerability to the bizarre claims is well-explored by Richard Bartholomew.

Haitian pastor Jean R. Gelin, whom we mentioned earlier, sees the myth as historically false and has a well-considered view of the myth’s origin. For example:

It’s hard to know where the idea of a divine curse on Haiti following the purported satanic pact actually originated, whether from foreign missionaries or from local church leaders.

In his book Ripe Now – A Haitian congregation responds to the Great Commission, Haitian pastor Frantz Lacombe identified a ‘dependence mentality’ in the leadership of the Haitian church, which resulted from the way the Christian faith was brought to the country, historically and through various denominations. Apparently, this unfortunate manner of thinking, which tends to emulate the worldview and culture of North American and European Christian missionaries, has permeated the general philosophy of the Haitian church on many levels, including church planting, church management, music and even missionary activities.

In that context, I would not be surprised if the satanic pact idea (followed by the divine curse message) was put together first by foreign missionaries and later on picked up by local leaders. On the other hand, it is equally possible that some Haitian church leaders developed the idea on their own using a theological framework borrowed from those same missionaries who subsequently propagated the message around the world. Either way, because of this message, Haiti has been portrayed as the country born out of Satan’s benevolence and goodwill toward mankind. Shouldn’t such a fantastic idea be tested for its historic validity and theological soundness? I invite you to take with me a closer and possibly different look at the available records.

Rather than attempt to blame the victims of a natural catastrophe for the nightmare which has befallen them.

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , | 1 Comment

Batholic ‘scandal’ over Toy [Addendum]

Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, lit out after Tony Cartledge in a recent blog, for having suggested that Crawford Howell Toy was a “hero.”

Mohler argues that Toy was a “heretic” because after being, driven from Southern, Toy moved on to teach at Harvard, where he left the Baptist church to worship with the Unitarians. Baptists regard Unitarian theology as heretical. Thus, Mohler says, Cartledge’s characterization was both “tragic and scandalous.”

What Cartledge actually wrote of Toy is:

Increasingly, I have also come to admire Crawford Toy, who was no less devoted to Christ, and who was willing to suffer rejection by Southern Baptists rather than surrender to the narrow-minded demand that he forgo scholarship and limit his teaching to popularly accepted notions.

There’s more than one way to be a hero.

Bruce Prescott, a thoughtful critic of Southern Baptist conservatives, concisely argues at Mainstream Baptist that Mohler is in no position to know the late Crawford Toy’s heart and calls Mohler to account for presuming to pass judgment (Matt 7:1) on Toy (and by implication, on Cartledge). Prescott continues:

For the record, I would not hesitate to call Toy a Baptist hero. Baptists began as defenders of “soul liberty” and “liberty of conscience.” Considering the way, in Toy’s experience, Baptists had abandoned that belief, it is not hard to comprehend what made Unitarianism appealing to him. Unitarians are unashamed and unflinching in their defense of “liberty of conscience.”

Liberty of conscience is indeed at the heart of this. Cartledge, an Associate Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School and former editor of the Biblical Recorder, has long been a thorn in the side of doctrinaire and increasingly doctrine-bound Southern Baptists like Mohler.

Years ago when Cartledge was given to expressing greater hope for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), he wrote well about the dangers of the SBC conservatives’ drift into Batholicism and Cathist thinking.

Now comes Mohler, using a variant of that often Roman Catholic term “scandal” and applying the heretic brand.

Addendum

Cartledge in that same blog deals with a bid by Southwestern Theological Seminary head Paige Patterson to appropriate the Lottie Moon heritage.

In a comment, Biblical Recorder Editor Norman Jameson points to a similar effort by Patterson and his allies to appropriate credit for Southeastern Theological Seminary.

In an Oct. 15, 2008, blog touching on Southeastern President Danny Akin’s introduction of Patterson for a chapel message at Southeastern, Jameson wrote:

“If it were not for Paige Patterson I would not be standing here today,” Akin said, acknowledging the mentor relationship. “And none of you would be here because you would not have wanted to attend a Southeastern Seminary the way it was,” before the changes wrought by Lewis Drummond and Patterson.

I did not attend Southeastern Seminary so I was not insulted for myself at that comment, but I felt slapped on behalf of many godly Christian men and women who attended and taught at Southeastern “the way it was” before Patterson. The list in North Carolina alone is huge.

Akin followed his comment with a short litany of the doldrums Southeastern endured before Patterson began his tenure. Enrollment had dropped to 580 students, he said, and it now serves 2,500, including a new Southeastern College. That is impressive growth.

With its clear focus, engaging leadership and development muscle some say Southeastern Seminary is becoming the epicenter of theological education among Southern Baptist Seminaries. Akin said “all the good things happening at Southeastern today are traced right back to (Patterson).”

Maybe it’s just my lens coloring it for me, but the statement about the low point and its context implied that Southeastern pre-Patterson was in the doldrums for some reason other than the convulsions of a Southern Baptist Convention adjusting to change and because trustees were undermining the leadership of Randall Lolley, president from 1974-87.

Southeastern’s own website credits significant growth during the Lolley years.

In his comment, Jameson suggested that those “notes of triumphalism have such a harsh clang they do not attract anyone to a continuing cause.” An understatement.

January 14, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , , | Comments Off on Batholic ‘scandal’ over Toy [Addendum]