THE BAPTIST STUDIES BULLETIN
"A Monthly Emagazine Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today"
March 2002 Vol. 1 No. 3
Produced by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University
Walter B. Shurden, Executive Director and Editor, BSB
Greg Thompson, Baptist Studies Associate
Table of Contents:
I Believe . . . : By Walter B. Shurden
"Two Baptists of Charlotte . . . and the Jews"
The Baptist Soapbox:
Guy Sayles on Creedalism
A BSB Special: by Randall Paul
A Statement on Interreligious Diplomacy
The Baptist Library: Baptist Books:
Jeff B. Pool reviews a Baptist Classic and a Biography
The Baptist Stacks: Perusing Periodicals for Baptistiana:
Pam Durso reads the journals for you with Baptist eyes
Doug Weavers quotes for preaching and teaching
Q and A:
Of all the
personalities in Baptist history, who is your favorite?
guides you through Baptistville
"Two Baptists of Charlotte . . . and the Jews"
by Walter B. Shurden
I Believe . . .
that two Baptist giants of the twentieth century have been associated with Charlotte, NC. With similar roots, they interpreted the theological world in extremely contrasting ways. One was an evangelist, the other a pastor. One was theologically and politically conservative, the other theologically and politically liberal. One was known by Baptists throughout the world, the other better known outside Baptist life than inside it. One was a priest to presidents of the United States, although popular among the common people; the other was a prophet to culture, although he preached in a swanky section of Charlotte.
Both spoke about the Jews at about the same time, in the early '70s. One spoke in 1972 about Jews to the President of the United States in the Oval Office, the other in a 1970 Abingdon book called The Coming Faith. The first spoke ill of the Jews, saying that the Jews had a "stranglehold" on the media and that it "has got to be broken or the countrys going down the drain." The other, speaking poetically as he often did, spoke well of the Jews. "Incredible! I can hardly believe it myself," he said, "that atonement for our crimes, balm for our wounds, and release from our illusions all lie in the direction toward Judah."
The first was Dr. Billy Graham, world-renowned Baptist evangelist. The second was Dr. Carlyle Marney, pastor of Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte.
Dr. Billy Grahams catastrophically tragic remarks about the Jews in President Nixons presidential office in 1972 are among the saddest words yet to be released in the twenty-first century of American religious life. They are very, very sad words because they reflect how the best among us are vulnerable to the worst within us. They are very, very sad words because they soil the ministry of a very, very good man. What a travesty near the end of his remarkable ministry. How providential for him that one of his most oft-quoted scriptures was Romans 3:23: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
Dr. Carlyle Marneys amazingly prophetic book about the need for Christians to "turn now toward Judah" are among Baptists best words in the twentieth century, deserving of recovery in the twenty-first century. They are among Baptists very, very best words because they join Baptists to the root of their spiritual heritage and to the religious faith of Jesus of Nazareth.
Point one: Baptists really are not all the same!
Point two: Liberals get it right on the fundamentals of the faith, too.
Point three: Many of the Baptists I know best would second Dr. Marneys motion about "returning to Judah" and discovering the richness of Judaism. Likewise, they would repent of Dr. Grahams tragic words, confessing the poverty of our souls.
Point four: A plea to the Jews of Americaforgive Dr. Graham and all the rest of us who are vulnerable to the worst within us; remember Dr. Marney and all the rest of us who are working to recover the Jewish notion that the core of religion is to love God and neighbor.
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The Baptist Soapbox : Invited guests speak up and out on things Baptist (therefore, the views expressed in this space are not necessarily those of The Baptist Studies Bulletin, though sometimes they are).
Baptists: Meeting the Holy Spirit Again for the First Time
by Guy Sayles, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Asheville, North Carolina
With apologies to Marcus Borg for shamelessly ripping-off his provocative book title, I wish that a better thinker than I would write a book for Baptists entitled something like Meeting the Holy Spirit Again for the First Time. I keep wondering what happened to our forebears robust confidence in the Spirits ability to "guide us into all truth" (John 16:13), their astonished recognition that the Spirit has "been poured out on all flesh" (Acts 2:17-18), and their grateful acknowledgment that the Spirits gifts are "allotted to each one individually as the Spirit chooses" (1 Corinthians 12:11).
Our forebears believed that enforced conformity to a creed was neither right nor necessary. It wasnt right, because any coercion of conscience is contrary to the ways of God whose greatest strength is the weakness of a cross; it wasnt necessary, because they trusted that the Holy Spirit would lead the community of faithand the individuals who comprised ittoward the truth. They believed that the Spirit would use the teaching, preaching, praying, debating, and differing of the community to guide it to the will and way of God for that time and place. They had confidence in what the Spirit would do with followers of Christ who gathered with open minds and open hearts around an open Bible.
Many Baptists these days seem to lack that trust in the Spirit. Why else would the Southern Baptist Convention feel the need to keep narrowing the boundaries of freedom with each successive revision of the Baptist Faith and Message? Why else would the International Mission and the North American Mission Boards require missionaries to sign that creedal statement? And why else, in congregation after congregation"moderate" and fundamentalist alikeare people fearful of honest conversation about significant differences in understanding on any number of contested issues?
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17). Perhaps a way back to authentic Christian and Baptist freedom is through "meeting the Holy Spirit again for the first time."
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A BSB Special: A reasoned call for interreligious dialogue by Randall Paul.
Introduction by Walter B. Shurden
We promised you in the first issue of BSB that we would "try hard to subjugate the Baptist instinct toward tribalism to an openness to our sisters and brothers from outside the Baptist tent and even from those good people outside the Christian tent."
"Sightings," originating from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School, can help most of us with our tribalism. "Sightings" contains articles, 500 to 750 words in length, seeking to illuminate and interpret the forces of faith in a religiously pluralistic society. If you want to sample "Sightings," and I encourage you to do so, write Jonathan Ebel, managing editor of "Sightings," at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Many of you, I am sure, arrived at this intellectual depot long before I. But in case you have not, write Mr. Ebel.
At "Sightings" for 12.13.01 I read a piece by non-Baptist Randall Paul that I thought sounded terribly Baptist. I am so impressed with what Paul wrote that BSB is reprinting it in full as a BSB Special for this issue. In 2000 Paul and others established an intriguing organization. Called "The Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy," it argues, among other things, that religious exclusivism is not arrogance but an authentic expression of conscience. The answer to religious conflicts, says Randall Paul, is not a phony ecumenism, (what Henlee Barnette once called a kind of "sloppy agape"), but a civility that builds respect and trust among people engaged in seemingly unresolvable religious conflicts.
For me, Pauls article represents some sanity that our mad, mad world desperately needs. It reminded me of early Baptists. Emerging from seventeenth century English Separatism with what they thought to be the absolute truth of God, Baptists wanted only to be free to place their beliefs alongside the beliefs of othersChristian and non-Christianwho could freely and passionately argue their case in the same free marketplace of ideas. Read Randall Pauls article below. See if you find any ancient Baptist ideas swimming around in this interreligious article.
"Contestare Ex Bone Fide, Contesting in Good Faith" by Randall Paul
Today, as throughout history, religious conflicts produce social strife. Many attempts to reduce or eliminate strife begin with the idea that religious exclusivism is the problem and ecumenism the answer. The Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy is a group that seeks to mediate religious conflicts while maintaining that belief in the superiority or exclusivity of one's religion is not an act of arrogance, but a sincere, acceptable expression of belief.
The foundation was established to provide ways to increase trust and good will between sincere believers, whose advocacy of their religion calls into question, implicitly or explicitly, the judgement of those of other faiths. It creates safe places for interreligious diplomats to forthrightly contest their differences, agreeing in advance to take no offence at their mutually exclusive claims of religious superiority. The foundation's motto, "Contestare ex bone fide," signifies a contest between religious witnesses who, in good faith, feel responsible to influence others to adopt their religion. The motto implies that opposing religious advocates should respect one another by fully speaking the truth -- including why they believe in the superiority of their religion.
Viktor Frankl taught that personal peace is not a tension-free state; it derives from continual striving for a goal worthy of the human spirit. However, decent people in families, communities or societies often disagree about the worthiness of their goals. From these disagreements, conflict results. Although compromise resolves many social conflicts, interreligious conflicts do not always allow compromise, nor are they always made better through improved understanding. The foundation aims neither to end such conflicts nor evade confronting serious differences. Instead, it fosters respect for the intelligence, integrity and good will of sincere religious or ideological opponents by building trustworthy diplomatic relations that sustain peaceful tension and useful cooperation.
Healthy relationships are based on a trust that abides unresolved conflicts. The key to peaceful interreligious relationships is found by facing intractable conflicts with honesty, patience and respect, not by ignoring, suppressing or eliminating opponents. While contentious disputations degrade dignity and foster hatred, forthright contestation can peacefully build dignity and trust. Those who have ethically engaged in serious conflicts know that an unexpected feeling of respectful trust can develop between adversaries who try with dignity and patience to persuade each other to change. If this could happen between religious opponents, it could improve our chances for a peaceful tension between contested religious superiorities. Participants could begin to sense the possibility -- and ethical necessity, if not divine mandate -- of bringing honestly conflicting witnesses to engage in continual contests of religious persuasion without expecting compromise or overarching harmony to resolve matters.
The foundation neither promotes nor opposes particular religions or ideologies, nor worldwide religious unions, multi-religious councils, parliaments, or ecumenical movements. Foundation members believe that human dignity is built on the power of respectful persuasion of conscience not on forces of coercion or violence. They acknowledge that tolerance of others' incorrect beliefs is a baseline requirement for civility, but they affirm that voluntary engagement in honest religious proselytizing is a higher form of social responsibility than tolerance. Foundation members often adamantly disagree about important religious and ideological beliefs and practices. They understand that mutual understanding sharpens as many differences as it dissolves. However, as religiously bilingual ambassadors, they accord trust and dignity to one another as they contest their differences by careful listening and forthright persuading.
Recently, in response to the perennial recourse to violence in the name of religion or ideology, the foundation has proposed that diverse religious and ideological leaders from around the world join in signing a minimal Declaration of Commitment to Promote and Defend Religious Conviction by Respectful Persuasion Not by Violence. (A copy of this one page declaration and its rationale is available on request by email to the foundation director at email@example.com or by phone at 801 763 1440.)
To help reduce ill will and harmful conflict in an era that will produce plenty of both, the foundation hopes to develop new interreligious space between political and sacred precincts where conversion contests between diverse religious and ideological beliefs, values, practices and authorities can appropriately occur. If humanity has agreed to conventions for violent war, surely it can agree to conventions for interreligious contests. Analogous models exist already in political diplomacy, legal trials, sporting contests, and marriage therapy.
Can contests of persuasion actually replace coercive conflicts as the preferred means for fervent believers (theists, atheists, agnostics) to engage their serious conflicts over the best way to live together? Can religious witnesses and counter-witnesses actually meet for patient mutual exchanges of criticism and appreciation, avoiding angry contention? Can the practice of forthrightly persuading others to change their ultimate beliefs be rehabilitated as an authentic, normal expression of human care? The answer, I hope, is yes. The cathedral stands firm under the peaceful tension of colliding arches aiming up to God.
Dr. Randall Paul organized the Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy in 2000. His books, Contesting Our Deepest Differences: A Theory for Improving Interreligious Conflicts, and Converting the Saints: A Study of American Religious Conflict, are due out in 2002.
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The Baptist Library: Baptist Books: Notes of books, past and present, by and about Baptists, by Dr. Jeff B. Pool, Special Assistant to the President, Director of Baptist Studies, and Professor of Theology, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas.
Freedom and Its Contradictions in Baptist Life
Rogers, James A. Richard Furman: Life and Legacy. Baptists: History, Literature, Theology, Hymns Series. Edited by Walter B. Shurden. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2001. Pp. xxxv + 335.
James A. Rogers has published an excellent biography of Richard Furman, a major leader in the emergence of Baptists in North America. The great-great-grandson of Richard Furman, Alester Garden Furman, Jr., provided the financial support for this study with a gift to Furman University specifically for this purpose. Rogers rightly draws attention to Furman's significance in Baptist history as attested by his roles as the first president of both the first national Baptist convention (Triennial Convention) and the first Baptist state convention (South Carolina State Baptist Convention) in the U.S.
With this biography of one major Baptist leader, Rogers illustrates many of the tensions and even contradictions that remain in contemporary Baptist communities and individuals. For example, an ardent advocate of freedom, Furman strongly supported the eighteenth-century revolution in North America, commonly known as "the American Revolution" (for which the British army hunted him), but also argued forcefully and on the basis of extensive biblical support for the institution of slavery, even owning slaves himself. The author has included several examples of Furman's writing as appendices to the book. As an historical study, this book has the potential to encourage its Baptist readers to meditate critically on the contradictions in, as well as contemporary cultural influence upon, their own Baptist Christian perspectives, assumptions, biases, and self-contradictions.
One of the Most Important Published Advocacies for Religious Liberty in Human History
Williams, Roger. The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience. Edited by Richard Groves. Vol. 1. Classics of Religious Liberty Series. Baptists: History, Literature, Theology, Hymns Series. Edited by Walter B. Shurden. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2001. xxxv + 283 pp.
This book, first published in England because presses in colonial North America refused to publish it, appeared in 1644. The history of this book's reception began with its condemnation and burning by the British Parliament. Williams' Bloudy Tenent represents one of the earliest arguments for religious liberty in both Europe and North America. Roger Williams advocated, in the mid-seventeenth century, freedom for all persons to participate in any religious community (even Islamic or Jewish) or to hold any religious perspective (or even none at all) without persecution of any kind.
Williams advocated this radical perspective before the English colonies in North America became the United States, at a time when the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony persecuted all persons who held dissenting religious opinions. As Edwin Gausted notes in his "Historical Introduction" to the book, although no one burns the book any longer, in modern times the book has been "just ignored." Richard Groves' excellent edition of Williams' Bloudy Tenent has made it impossible to ignore any longer one of the most important published advocacies for religious liberty in human history. This book serves to remind all of its readers, especially its Baptist readers, that advocates of religious liberty first had to win religious liberty within the Christian churches themselves. At no other time, has this knowledge proven more significant and valuable for Baptists, especially for Baptists in the Southern Baptist Convention.
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The Baptist Stacks: Perusing Periodicals for Baptistiana: Notes of journal articles: what they say, dont say, almost say, and mis-say about Baptists. Dr. Pam Durso is Assistant Professor of Church History and Baptist Heritage at Campbell University's Divinity School at Buies Creek, North Carolina.
The Holy Roller With a Ph.D.
Timothy George, "The Baptist Pope" Christianity Today (March 11, 2002), 54-57.
On January 10, 2002, the "most famous Baptist pastor in the world" died, and in the months since the death of W. A. Criswell, numerous news stories have been written about this remarkable Baptist leader, and glowing eulogies have been spoken by his many Baptist followers. Christianity Today called upon Timothy George to provide an overview of Criswells ninety-two years of life and of his ministry at First Baptist Church of Dallas. George responded by offering a portrait of Wally Amos Criswell as a "Holy Roller with a Ph.D.," as the "Baptist Pope," and as an "Unpredictable Servant." While Georges eulogy of Criswell tends to focus on Criswells "tender, pastoral side" and tones down some of his more strident words and aggressive tendencies, the article offers insight into the life of an unforgettable Baptist preacher.
Dan Ariail, "Jimmy Carter: The Courage of Christian Integrity," The Whitsitt Journal 8:1 (Spring 2001), 1, 2-7.
Over the years, there have been varied responses by Baptists to Jimmy Carter. Some Baptists absolutely despise Carter. Other Baptists see Carter as a great hero. Dan Ariail, Jimmy Carters pastor since 1982, falls into the latter category of Baptists. Ariails admiration for his most famous parishioner shines through in this article, which briefly recounts Carters years in the White House and shares a few personal stories from Carters life. Ariail portrays Carter as a president who had the courage to tell the truth, to do the right thing, and to treat persons with dignity and respect. Ariail concludes that in the years since serving in the White House, Carter has continued to demonstrate that he is a man of Christian courage and a Baptist of whom Baptists can be proud.
Paul Simmons, A Conversation Between James Madison and George W. Bush Christian Ethics Today 8:1 (February 2002), 11-13.
In March of 2001, NPR carried a "debate" written by Paul Simmons. This "debate" between an apparition of James Madison and President George W. Bush has been published in the most recent Christian Ethics Today. Using a creative and humorous presentation style, Simmons takes on President Bush and his faith-based initiative legislation. "Jim" Madison questions, prods, and critiques Bushs plan, but "Jim" is unable to persuade Bush to reconsider the program and is saddened by the prospect of having to tell Thomas Jefferson about this failure. Besides making us laugh, Simmons highlights the key arguments against faith-based initiatives and helps to put this new presidential plan into a historical context.
A Progressive President
Edward Gilbreath, "The Forgotten Founder," Christianity Today (March 11, 2002), 66-68.
Most Baptists, if they even know anything about the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC), think that the origin of this convention can be traced to a disagreement among the members of the National Baptist Convention about the civil rights movement and that Martin Luther King, Jr. was the founder of PNBC. The truth, however, is that the convention grew out of a disagreement over presidential tenure, and the credit for organizing this convention in 1961 belongs to L. Venchael Booth. Edward Gilbreaths article introduces us to Venchael Booth and to Booths vision for the church, which is refreshingly honest and still "progressive."
A. Roy Medley, "As One Who Serves," In Mission (Winter 2002), http://www.abc-usa.org/inmissn/wint02/wint02b.htm
In November 2001, A. Roy Medley was elected as General Secretary of American Baptist Churches, USA. Following his election, Medley addressed the General Board. His sermon, "As One Who Serves," was reprinted in the American Baptist In Mission magazine and is now accessible on the internet at http://www.abc-usa.org/inmissn/wint02/wint02b.htm. Medleys sermon is one that every Baptist minister would do well to readespecially his introduction in which he stated:
"We lead by serving. Servant-hood and servitude are often confused, but they are not the same. Servitude is imposed; Servanthood is embraced. Servitude enslaves; Servanthood emancipates. Servitude denigrates; Servanthood uplifts. Servitude crushes; Servanthood fulfills. Servitude despairs; Servanthood rejoices!!
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Baptist Bits: Anecdotes from the Baptist archives with relevance for preaching and teaching today, by Dr. Doug Weaver, Chair, Division of Religion and Philosophy and Barney Averitt Professor of Christianity, Brewton-Parker College, Mt. Vernon, GA.
The Union of Church and State
John Leland (1754-1841), the radical proponent of religious liberty in colonial America, knew firsthand the evils of the union of church and state. His warning still rings true: "Uninspired, fallible men make their own opinions tests of orthodoxy, and use their own systems, as Procrustes used his iron bedstead, to stretch and measure the consciences of all others by. Where no toleration is granted to non-conformists, either ignorance and superstition prevail, or persecution rages."
Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918) was an American Baptist who taught church history at Colgate-Rochester Divinity School during the first part of the twentieth century. Known as the "father of the social gospel," Rauschenbusch spoke to the issue, "Why I am a Baptist." He emphasized that Baptists "set spiritual experience boldly to the front as the one great thing in religion." What did "thing" mean? Rauschenbusch continued, "We are an evangelistic body. We summon all men to conscious repentance from sin We ask a man: have you put your faith in Christ If anyone desires to enter our churches we ask for evidence of such experience and we ask for nothing else. We do not ask him to recite a creed or catechism. The most simple and heartfelt the testimony is, the better we like it. If it is glib and wordy, we distrust it."
In 1962, Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) delivered an address before the National Press Club. In speaking to the issue of civil rights, King said that there is no such thing as partial freedom. Kings words speak to any situation where the shackles of bondage wreak havoc: "We have come to the day when a piece of freedom is not enough for us as human beings nor for the nations of which we are part. We have been given pieces, but unlike bread, a slice of which does not diminish hunger, a piece of liberty no longer suffices. Freedom is like life. You cannot be given life in installments. You cannot be given breath but no body, nor a heart but no blood vessels. Freedom is one thingyou have it all, or you are not free."
Love Your Neighbor
Clarence Jordan (1912-1969), the twentieth century Baptist social prophet for race relations, once saw a tombstone that read: "Here lies J. H. S. In his lifetime he killed 99 Indians and lived in the blessed hope of making it 100 until he fell asleep in the arms of Jesus." Jordans commentary still speaks to Baptists and others in the "Southern Zion":
Now you could kill 99 Indians in Mississippi and fall asleep in the arms of Jesus and be buried in the Baptist cemetery. But if you killed one white man in Mississippi, you fell asleep in the noose We learned to limit our love to our own race, to our own people, and we think its not murder beyond that.
Confessions and the Local Church
S. G. Hillyer (1809-1900) was a prominent Georgia Baptist pastor and professor at Mercer University in the nineteenth century. In the book Reminiscences of Georgia Baptists (1902), Hillyer described the relationship of confessions to the Bible in the life of local churches. He said, "The Baptists of Georgia, from the very beginning of their development in this State, acknowledged no authority in matters of 'faith and of practice,'" except the Scriptures. It is true, each church had what was called its abstract of principles or its confession of faith. But this abstract, or confession, was adopted by each church, as an independent body, for itself, and it was held to be valid only so far as its subscribers believed it to be in harmony with the Bible. In controversies with their opponents, Baptists never appeal to the confessions found in their church records, but directly and exclusively to the inspired Word. And so did our fathers of the long ago. They were loyal to the Scriptures as they understood them.
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Q and A:
We ask in one sentence, you tell in four sentences.
Question for April 2002: Out of all the personalities in Baptist History, who is your favorite and why? Send your answer to: <Thompson_MG@Mercer.edu> by 8 April 2002.
Here is what a few of you told us about Februarys question: "What is your opinion about the International Mission Board of the SBC requiring missionaries to subscribe to the 2000 version of "A Statement of the Baptist Faith and Message?"
Dr. Bill Hendricks, former theology professor at Southern, Southwestern, and Golden Gate:
"The tighter the screw is turned the quicker the machine wears out. A faith statement becomes a creed when it becomes a requirement for employment. Where will the next changes go? The missionaries were called and committed; now they are confined."
Dr. Gene Wilder, pastor of First Baptist Church in Fitzgerald, GA wrote:
"The International Mission Board's new dictum is disconcerting but not surprising. Doctrinal uniformity has been the goal of fundamentalists since the inception of the so-called 'conservative resurgence.' Will the international community really come closer to the Kingdom of God when people from every nation become carbon copies of Pressler and Patterson? I think not!"
Charles R. Lott, a layman from Hendersonville, Tennessee wrote:
"I am not and neither should anyone else, including SBC missionaries, be surprised at the action of the IMB. SBC Missionaries are employees of the SBC, and having them subscribe to the 2000 BFM is consistent with similar actions taken previously with other employees. I am saddened that some SBC missionaries who do not agree with the 2000 BFM will have to leave their work or be dishonest about their beliefs. I hope and pray those who have the courage to stand up for their beliefs and refuse to sign, will be able to find employment through CBF or another organization based on similar beliefs."
Dr. Ron McClung, Pastor, Haddock Baptist Church, Haddock, Georgia, wrote:
"While I am disappointed by IMB's decision, I am not surprised. As a former missionary (1983-1992), I have spoken with several missionaries. Most of the ones I have spoken with, while they may disagree with the document, will not allow it to distract them from focusng on their assigned task. I believe most will sign it, not because they necessarily agree with it but because either retirement is too close or they refuse to be diverted from their work."
Dr. Gary Furr, Pastor, Vestavia Hills Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama, wrote:
"The decision to require missionaries to subscribe to the BFM 2000 and the aftermath to follow show us some interesting realities. First, it is clear that this statement does not represent a consensus of belief, as good doctrinal statements should, nor is it a very good confession to guide us. Second, while I am not offended by a board having the right to require agreement with a statement, the place to do it is during hiring, not twenty or thirty years down the road--it amounts to a violation of covenant. Unless the real agenda is to force certain people to leave (which seems to be the case), then it implies that the IMB staff and board members do not have the spiritual depth, competence, and discernment to evaluate individuals but must have a "contract" full of fine print to do it. A sad day in Baptist life, but not surprising."
Dr. Fred Anderson, Executive Director, The Virginia Baptist Historical Society wrote:
"Like our spiritual ancestors I have an aversion-as natural among Baptists as breathing-to signing any human-devised creed. In 1783 Virginia Baptists adopted the Philadelphia Confession with the understanding that `to prevent its usurping a tyrannical power over the consciences of any, we do not mean that every person is to be bound to the strict observance of everything therein contained nor do we mean to make it any respect superior or equal to the scriptures. Two centuries ago John Leland explained: `Why this Virgin Mary between the souls of men and the Scriptures. I question whether there now is, or ever was, a body of men, who should cooly compose a creed of faith... but upon examining it once a year, would annually see cause to alter parts of it. Shall human creeds then, mixed at least with imperfection, be made a standard to measure the conscience by? I would not write a creed of any length and bind myself to live or die by it for the price of my head. In 1945 John Ellyson, the black president of Virginia Union University, was asked by a Baptist convention to sign its Statement of Principles and he sought advice from his white friend, the respected Baptist historian Garnett Ryland, who responded: 'While ready at all times to state my faith in my own words, I share the Baptist aversion to having some other person impose his form of words on me.'"
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Baptistville: Goings-On Among Baptists
Conferences and Lectures:
The Baptist History and Heritage Society will hold its June 20-22, 2002, annual meeting at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, TN. The theme will be "Baptist Diversity." Contact Charles Deweese for more information <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Dr. William E. Hull will lead a one-day conference on Tuesday, April 9, at Mercer University, Macon, GA. Topic: "'Left Behind' Theology and Baptist Life." Sponsor: The Center for Baptist Studies of Mercer University. Contact: Greg Thompson @ 478 301 5467 or <Thompson_MG@Mercer.edu> .
Drs. Rollin Armour, Robert G. Gardner, and Doug Weaver will lead a one-day conference on Friday, May 3, at Mercer University, Macon, GA. Topic: "How to Write a Good Local Church History." Sponsor: The Center for Baptist Studies of Mercer University. Contact: Greg Thompson @ 478 301 5467 or <Thompson_MG@Mercer.edu>.
Annual meeting of the General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Fort Worth, TX, June 26-29, 2002.
Nineteenth annual Baptist Women in Ministry meeting, Thursday, June 27, 2002, Broadway Baptist Church, Fort Worth, TX. Contact Kim Snyder at <email@example.com> .
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