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Southern Religion

First, the SBC Repentance Resurgence required to elect a black president

Before the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) can experience a Great Commission Resurgence (GCR), it must repent “systemic, institutionalized, and historic negative attitudes toward women, races, and dissenters,” argued prominent African-American pastor SBC pastor Dwight McKissic. And elect pastor Fred Luter of Franklin Ave. Baptist Church in New Orleans the first African American President of the SBC.

In a March 30 blog entry, McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Tex., also recommended Troy Gramlin, Pastor of the Flamingo Road Baptist Church in South Florida, is to be nominated for president of the SBC Pastor’s Conference.

McKissic said some have erred in treating Gramlin’s view of women in the ministry as unbiblical. He challenged “Peter Lumpkins, Gramlin’s most vocal critic,” to debate Gramlin.

Founded in 1845 amid national debate over slavery and the role of slaveholders in the church, only after first undergoing a “Great Repentance Resurgence” can the SBC hope to undergo a Great Commission Resurgence, McKissic argued. It is a repentance McKissic clearly intends to sweep past the 1995 renunciation of racism and apology for past defense of slavery to deal more constructively with the role of women and others.

McKissic pointedly addressed the SBC leadership. He said:

The primary reason I’m addressing this subject is because I want to appeal to the patriarchs of our convention (Johnny Hunt, Paige Patterson, Al Mohler, Danny Akin, Ronnie Floyd, Frank Page, and others) to call a solemn assembly and invite Southern Baptists to pray, seek God’s face, repent and turn from our wicked ways.

And quoted Joel 1:13-15 to illuminate his point.

McKissic’s call for repentance comes amid turmoil over the fate of the GCR Task Force recommendations and a stinging if more parabolic criticism by outspoken Enid, OK, pastor Wade Burleson.

These are interesting times for current and would-be SBC leadership. And are destined to become progressively more so.

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April 1, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , | 1 Comment

Southern Baptist #GCR lacks local flavor

Recent critiques of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) progress report are raising serious doubts about the effort as discussion focuses on the need to revitalize local churches.

The report has been discussed, debated and analyzed since it was released in February. The task force continues to work with plans to release a final report in May that will be voted on at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in June.

The initial progress report included a proposal to add new terminology to SBC funding efforts that drew an official response from a state convention and questions from a state editor and others. Some observers said a plan to end cooperative agreements between the North American Mission Board and state conventions amounted to a death sentence for smaller state organizations. Other issues were raised as well.

Alan Quigley, pastor of South Main Baptist Church in Greenwood, S.C., says in effect that the GCRTF is a rhetorical trap:

I would not want to risk being on the side of failure to reach the world with the gospel; therefore the only option the report gives me is to accept it hook, line and sinker. However, the problem I have is, it’s a rotten strategy wrapped in sumptuous rhetoric that will make everyone sick.

John Elam, director of missions for the Northwestern Baptist Association in Woodward, Okla., calls the GCRTF proposals “denominational tinkering” In a post at MissioScapes, he writes:

I was one who hoped the strong words of Danny Akin in his axiom sermon would start a movement in the SBC toward gospel-centered, Christ-exalting ministry. I had hopes to see a movement toward participating truly in the Great Commission by living out the Great Commandment. I had hopes that leaders would rise up and point our convention of churches toward Christ, His commands and His commission with great humility and great zeal. I still hold some hope…but it is fading.

Elam notes the difference between the opening discussion in the task force’s report, which calls for “a renewed emphasis on the local church,” and the recommendations themselves, which “seem to be primarily concerned with the top level of cooperative life in the SBC.”

Alan Cross, pastor of Gateway Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., asserted on his Downshore Drift blog that the task force should “start their thinking with the local church in mind.” In a view shared by others who take issue with the report’s top-down approach, Cross says the task force members “got things backwards.”

“If they had started with the local church and worked their way up, they would be in a much better spot right now,” he said. “But, they went the way that the SBC has been going for the last 60 years and they took a top-down approach.”

Cross offers 10 “concrete proposals” on how to have a “real” Great Commission Resurgence. He says the plan should start with churches that are willing and working effectively:

The GCRTF will say that they cannot mandate anything to the local church. That is true. But, NAMB is autonomous as well, and that hasn’t stopped them from completely reorganizing NAMB in their recommendations. If the GCRTF used their SBC-given platform to put forward a plan like this, many local associations and state conventions would pick it up and begin to do it.

Paul Littleton, pastor of the Faith Baptist Church in Sapulpa, Okla., says the church can be the greatest potential weakness or strength.

This is where we Baptists face our greatest challenge. Our greatest challenge is not figuring out how we will turn NAMB into something we can finally be proud of. It is not in revamping the IMB or revitalizing (or doing away with) the ERLC. Our greatest challenge is in figuring out how we can move a significant number of our 45,000 churches from conflicted, inbred, inwardly focused, self-serving and self-preserving social gatherings to loving, reaching, kingdom-focused, other-serving, world-preserving outposts alive with and for the mission of God. I’m not saying all of our churches are that way. Many are.

Littleton suggests that task force member pour their “considerable influence” into their churches and other churches.

“If the local church really is where it all begins and ends, then give us something tangible in your recommendations for the local church,” he said. “If you’re going to recommend the restructuring of entities then gear the restructuring to best assist the local church.”

Cross said the problem in the SBC is not primarily a funding crisis, but is instead a “vision crisis.”

Every local church has to go it alone. What if we partnered and networked a bit? What if the entities of the SBC lined up BEHIND the local church and helped us? What if the church really did become the frontlines of SBC mission work and every member of every SBC church was considered a missionary because they were directly engaging in the mission of God? What if we flipped everything around?

Can the task force write a report that will start such a turnaround? Doubtful. A good beginning will be careful consideration of suggestions from local leaders who minister in areas where any great commitment to the Great Commission will begin.

April 1, 2010 Posted by | Churches, SBC | | Comments Off on Southern Baptist #GCR lacks local flavor

Understanding that obsession with the Pope

E.D. Kain writes at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen:

I think it is entirely an aesthetic obsession which motivates Benedict’s fiercest critics. Let’s face it, unlike the charismatic John Paul II, Benedict has a somewhat sinister look about him. He has aged in such a way as to make him look less the cuddly grandpa and more the evil villain; he bears an uncanny resemblance to Emperor Palpatine.

April 1, 2010 Posted by | Pope Benedict XVI | Comments Off on Understanding that obsession with the Pope

Pope Paul VI Knew Five Decades Ago

The correct and authoritative recommendation was made in an Aug. 27, 1963 letter to then-Pope Paul VI from the head of the New Mexico-based Servants of the Holy Paraclete, which was founded to treat priests dealing with challenges such as alcoholism, substance abuse and sexuality. The Rev. Gerald M.C. Fitzgerald recommended to the pope that pedophile priests be removed from the ministry.

Forever.

Indeed, he later developed a plan for isolating such priests on an island, where they could live out their lives in some dignity without harming others.

Anthony DeMarco, a plaintiff attorney in Los Angeles, released the letter Wednesday. It was obtained by plaintiffs in Kentucky who are attempting to sue the Vatican for negligence in allegedly failing to alert police or the public about priests who molested children.

Even if Tod Tamberg, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, is correct in arguing that the pope probably never saw the letter, it is clear that the letter gives written form to ideas that Pope Paul VI and Fitzgerald had discussed when they met. At the time Fitzgerald had two decades’ experience working with problem priests and warned against leaving sexually abusive priests in the ministry.

The letter to Pope Paul VI was not the only one Fitzgerald wrote to church officials. In 1957, Fitzgerald wrote to Archbishop Edwin V. Byrne of Santa Fe, his ecclesiastical sponsor and co-founder of the Paracletes:

“May I beg your Excellency to concur and approve of what I consider a very vital decision on our part – that we will not offer hospitality to men who have seduced or attempted to seduce little boys or girls. These men Your Excellency are devils and the wrath of God is upon them and if I were a bishops I would tremble when I failed to report them to Rome for involuntary laicization. … It is for this class of rattlesnake I have always wished the island retreat – but even an island is too good for these vipers of whom the Gentle master said – it were better they had not been born – this is an indirect way of saying damned, is it not? When I see the Holy Father I am going to speak of this class to his Holiness.”

DeMarco said, “It [the letter to Pope Paul VI] shows without a shadow of a doubt that … how pervasive the problem was was communicated to the pope. He was able to share with him their knowledge of how pervasive this problems was, how destructive this problem was.”

Whether plaintiffs in this case are successful in their effort to bring action directly against the Pope or not, the days of persuasive basic denial are over.

The letter tells us that the well-documented recommendations of the Roman Catholic Church’s expert on such matters were communicated directly to then-Pope Paul VI almost five decades ago

Had those recommendations been heeded, so much of the devastation brought to the lives of the young by serial clerical abusers would never have occurred at all. Victims known and unknown, counted and uncounted, would have had real childhoods and would have grown up whole.

April 1, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, children | , , | Comments Off on Pope Paul VI Knew Five Decades Ago

An unholy, noncatholic, sex row

The Revealer tells of the uproar in India over a sex tape featuring Nithyananda Swami. He frolicked his way to a resignation.

April 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment