Vol. 6 No. 2
The Jesse Mercer Plaza
Mercer University, Macon Campus
Produced by The Center for Baptist
Studies, Mercer University
A Monthly EMagazine, Bridging Baptists
Yesterday and Today
Visit The Center for Baptist
Studies' Web Site at www.centerforbaptiststudies.org
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I Believe . . .
: Walter B. Shurden
History: The New North American Baptist Covenant and Its Celebration"
The Baptist Soapbox: Dan Ivins
the Saints Go Marching Out"
Baptists and Creation Care:
Nancy L. deClaisse-Walford
"The Bible and Creation Care"
Baptists and Public Policy:
"Christian Ethics and Justice"
BSB Book Review:
Marc A. Jolley
Faith and Politics: How the "Moral
Values" Debate Divides America and How to
Move Forward Together, by
Senator John Danforth
The World's Greatest Baptist Preachers:
Haddon Spurgeon: England's Greatest Baptist Preacher Ever"
In Response To . . .
: Bruce T. Gourley
"Turning Our Children Into God's Warriors"
Dates to Note
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History: The New North American Baptist Covenant and Its Celebration"
By Walter B. Shurden
I believe . . .
that “The New North American Baptist Covenant and
its Celebration” that is presently in the planning stage for early 2008 in
Atlanta, GA is one of the most exciting things that has happened in my
half-century of traipsing around the Baptist yard of America.
By now, most Baptists and
many other Christians are aware that “A New North American Baptist Covenant”
has been adopted by Baptist leaders representing an estimated twenty million
Baptists, and probably more. It all started with the majestic dream of
one of the good and prophetic Baptists of our time, evangelical President
Jimmy Carter. Without him, the Covenant would not be a possibility. President
Carter wisely chose Mercer President William D. Underwood to help him
spearhead the movement.
What is “The North
American Baptist Covenant Celebration?”
Foremost, it is a
“covenant,” a good biblical word.
It is a covenant
that eighteen Baptist leaders adopted on 10 April 2006 in Atlanta, GA at the
Carter Center “to speak and work together to create an authentic and
genuine prophetic Baptist voice in these complex times. They reaffirmed their
commitment to traditional Baptist values, including sharing the gospel of
Jesus Christ and its implications for public and private morality. They
specifically committed themselves to their obligations as Christians to
promote peace with justice, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the
homeless, care for the sick and the marginalized, welcome the strangers among
us, and promote religious liberty and respect for religious diversity.”
A second strategic
planning committee convened at the Carter Center on 13 June 2006. At this
meeting several significant developments occurred. One, the Covenant was
reaffirmed. Second, those present underscored the necessity of celebrating the
Covenant by crossing racial, ethnic, and gender barriers among Baptists.
Third, these Baptists wanted to project an image of Baptist unity among those
who represent prophetic and traditional moral values, especially themes of
religious liberty and equality in the service of Christ. Fourth, two
committees were appointed. The first, led by President William Underwood of
Mercer University, would seek to find a time and place for a Baptist
convocation that would be a massive Celebration of the North American Baptist
Covenant. Dr. Jimmy Allen was appointed chair of the Program Committee of the
The last meeting for the
Covenant planning celebration, now much publicized, met on 9 January 2007,
again at the Carter Center in Atlanta. President Bill Clinton was present to
endorse and affirm the Baptist Covenant and its celebration.
Why do I think that the
Covenant Celebration is one of the most exciting things that has happened in
my half century of traipsing around the Baptist yard of America?
First, it puts Baptists
on the road to healing. Tragic wounds have scarred the Baptist landscape over
the years. These wounds have divided white Baptists from white Baptists since
the mid-nineteenth century issue of slavery. White Baptists, North and South
and East and West, are now sitting around the same table talking to each
other, listening to each other, embracing each other.
Second, it puts us on the
road to healing some sinful wounds in Baptist life. These are the wounds of
slavery itself, wounds that divided black Baptists from white Baptists since
before the nineteenth century. I cannot put into words the thrill of sitting
with black Baptists, names that I have known for some years, but who are now
becoming friends. One element of our conversation that I have most enjoyed is
the absence of playing to an audience. Deference is out. Honesty is in. People
are not afraid to say what they think, and others are not afraid to disagree.
Third, it puts Baptists
of North America on the road to integration of smaller ethnic groups into the
larger Baptist family. Japanese Baptists, Laotian Baptists, Korean Baptists
and Hispanic Baptists were all gathered around the table at the Carter Center
on Tuesday, 9 January 2007.
Fourth, it puts us on the
road to greater awareness of our Canadian and Mexican Baptist friends.
Fifth, and most
important, it puts us on the road to working together on issues that unite
rather than issues that divide. Those who signed the Covenant and who will be
part of its celebration are not a monolithic group. Like good Baptists, we
still differ on a number of issues. But we have decided to work in areas of
agreement, and most of these have to do with the hurt and suffering of
humankind. The best definition of “church” that I have ever heard is: “All who
love Christ in the service of all who suffer.” The North American Baptist
Covenant Celebration is not a “Church,” but the Covenant leaders certainly
plan to act in a churchly manner.
A word simply must be
said about what the “New North American Baptist Covenant Celebration” is NOT.
First, it is NOT an
effort to construct a new mammoth Baptist denomination in America. The NABC is
an informal Baptist network, not a new Baptist corporation. Baptists don’t
need a new Baptist Denominational Corporation in this country. We need
cooperation, not Corporation. We need to talk to each other. We need not tread
on each other’s turf, and we certainly do not need to tear up turf securely
planted. We need energy from each other. We do not need a phony Baptist
ecumenism, and we do not plan to have such.
Second, the NABC is NOT
an anti-SBC movement. It was not designed to embarrass the SBC. It was not
even designed to call attention to the SBC in any possible way. That the
Covenant represents some commitments lacking in fundamentalist SBC leadership
minds since 1979 has not been a major issue. Most of the Baptists involved in
the Covenant group have had very little, if any, historical relationship with
the SBC for over a century. Only the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship people, a
very small portion of the Covenant group, has had SBC relations within the
last 30 years.
Third, the North American
Baptist Covenant and its celebration in early 2008 is NOT an anti-Republican
movement to get a Democratic candidate elected president of the United States.
Indeed, the Covenant Baptists are looking for Republicans and Independents
that share the values of the Covenant itself. Unfortunately, a kind of
political conspiracy theory quickly developed in some suspicious minds that
this was an anti-SBC, anti-Republican movement. However, that talk has never
been uttered in any of the meetings that I have been in with the New Covenant
planning groups, and I have been present at every one of them, including some
of the subcommittee meetings. On the other hand, I have witnessed efforts to
include people of all political and theological stripes who can commit to the
Table Of Contents
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).
Climbing upon the Soapbox this month is Dan Ivins,
pastor of the First Baptist Church in America, founded by Roger Williams an
located in Providence, Rhode Island.
the Saints Go Marching Out"
By Dan Ivins
they didn’t teach me in seminary but I’ve spent a whole lot of time doing, is
not just attempting to instill faith, but trying to restore a damaged faith.
This has been true in every congregation of the Baptist stripe I’ve served in
the four corners of the country.
So many have
been hurt by their firsthand church experiences that a book was written by
William Hendricks entitled Exit Interviews: Why People are Leaving the Church.
He cites the annual defections, made up of ardent atheists, silent agnostics,
committed humanists, and various and sundry de-churched-but-still-believers
who seek a secular spirituality, far-removed from historical Christianity. The
number is pushing over two million worldwide.
evangelists on the tube try to reach the unchurched with their church growth
programs. But who’s doing anything about the dechurched and shrinking churches? I don’t see any quick fixes over the horizon. But I can envision
a gradual healing and recovery, if some of the braver ones would give us a
chance to decontaminate the scriptures and rework a theological understanding
of how good God is rather than how bad we are.
Where are the
grace places to assist the de-churched to change denial into reality,
bitterness into restoration, captivity into redemption? Where can people hear
the simple but profound stories of Jesus and allow them to do their work of
healing, restoring and resurrection?
The Bible is
not unfamiliar with religious wounding, as in the passion narratives. Somebody
joked once that God said to Job when he asked God “Why?” “I don’t know
Job…there’s just something about you that ticks me off!” But being wounded in
the name of God is no laughing matter.
life-giving words of scripture are viewed by many as toxic, not salvific―a
negative collection of judgments and damnation. So the Bible has to be
un-learned and re-learned from the damage caused by zealots claiming biblical
inerrancy who simply have not read it. Or else they would admit that even
the Bible argues with itself. If you take Jesus literally in the Fourth
Gospel, you’ll miss his meaning most of the time.
time he preached in Nazareth, he talked about part of his agenda as
“liberating the captives” (Luke 4:18). Properly so. Battered women
who’ve heard their pain justified with “wives, submit to your husbands”
(Eph. 5:22) could stand some biblical de-con, in the form of a healthy
understanding of gender and spirituality and equal submission. Or how about
some good ol’ grace for the gays, to balance the Levitical “abomination”
code? After all, if we’re living, we’re living in sin.
damaged faith is one of the most difficult journeys a person can make. We
better have something for such who frequent the fellowship. If any get enough
courage to give the church a second chance, they’ll need to encounter a solid
theology of thoughtful answers, radical acceptance, honesty, and authentic
community. None of this can happen without unconditional welcome. Anything
less will be quickly exposed as a sham by the wounded.
Realistically, many of the de-churched will never darken the doors again. The
damage is too deep. Hopefully, our churches can start planting seeds on the
journey. If so, we’ll be in good company: “Neither the one who plants nor
the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth…for we have
a common purpose…we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field,
God’s building” (I Cor. 3:7-9).
Table Of Contents
Baptists and Creation
This series focuses on Baptist responses to
environmental issues. Nancy L. deClaisse-Walford is
Associate Professor of Old
Testament and Biblical Languages at Mercer University's McAfee School of
Theology in Atlanta, Georgia. She is also the Managing Editor of the journal
Review and Expositor, and the President of the Southeast Region of the
National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion.
and Creation Care"
By Nancy L. deClaisse-Walford
I have spent the better part
of my career studying the book of Psalms. And so when the folks at
Baptist Studies Bulletin asked me to write an article on "The Bible and
Creation Care," my thoughts immediately went to the psalms, particularly the
psalms we label "creation psalms"—those that celebrate God's sovereignty
over the created world—Psalms 8, 19, 65, 104, and 148. Psalm 8 will be the
topic of this brief article. Psalm 8 is a masterfully-constructed creation
poem. Its words, combined with its structure, result in a powerful message
about humanity's role in the care of creation.
Psalm 8 is
located in the book of Psalms in a vast collection of psalms that, in their
superscriptions, are attributed to David. Psalm 8's superscription is, "To
the leader: according to the Git'tith [perhaps a kind of harp]. A Psalm of
nine brief verses begin with words of praise, "O Lord
our sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth," and
continue with words of awe at God's role in the world—over the heavens,
babes and infants, the works of God's hands, the moon and the stars (vv.
1b-3). The middle verses of the psalm (vv. 4-5) muse over the place of
humanity in creation. Verses 6-8 use language borrowed directly from
Genesis 1 to describe the role of humanity in creation. And the last verse
of the psalm repeats the opening words of praise.
In verses 1
and 9, which form an inclusio, the psalm singer calls on God using first
God's personal name—Yahweh—and second with a designation often used to
address kings in the Bible—'adon—translated in the NRSV as
"sovereign." The next word, "how," is the Hebrew word mah, a key to
understanding the message of the psalm.
In verse 4,
the psalm singer muses over the place of humanity in creation, beginning with
the same Hebrew word we find in verses 1 and 9—mah. Most English
Bibles, though, translate mah in verse 4 as "what," obscuring the
connection between verses 1 and 9 and verse 4. The psalmist then names
humanity using first the word 'enosh, which comes from a root word meaning
"to be weak," and second with the term ben-'adam, translated in the
NRSV as "mortal." Ben-'adam recalls for the reader Genesis 2's story
of the creation of humanity out of the ground, the 'adamah in
The words of
Psalm 8 contrast the majestic sovereignty of God with the earthliness of
humanity. But the structure of the psalm suggests the two are inextricably
linked— God at the beginning and end of this creation psalm and humanity at
sovereign, how (mah) – Verse 1
What (mah) is humanity . . . mortals – Verse 4
sovereign, how (mah) – Verse 9
To what end?
What is humanity's role in creation? In verse 6, we read "You have
given them dominion over the works of your hands." The word translated
"dominion" in the NRSV is the Hebrew mashal, a word used to describe
the rule of a king. We might translate verse 6 as "You have caused them to
rule over the works of your hands." How does a king rule? Psalm 72, a
blessing for King Solomon, provides a good summary statement:
May he judge
your people with righteousness
And your poor with justice.
mountains yield prosperity for the people,
And the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend
the cause of the poor of the people,
Give deliverance to the needy,
And crush the oppressor.
. . . May he
be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
Like showers that water the earth.
In his days
may righteousness flourish
And peace abound, until the moon is no more. (72:2-4, 6-7)
The role of the king in the ancient Near East was to provide a place where
people could live in peace and safety; raise their animals and their crops;
be treated with justice and equity; and be cared for if they were unable to
care for themselves.
In Psalm 8, a
Psalm of David, the great king of ancient Israel sings of the sovereignty
of God over all creation, muses at the place of humanity in creation, and
acknowledges that God entrusts the care of creation to humanity in the same
way that God entrusts the care of God's people to the king: powerful words
of responsibility to David; powerful words of responsibility to humankind.
May we indeed "be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that
water the earth."
Table Of Contents
MILLER: STEWARDSHIP THEOLOGIAN
"Growing Generous Churches, Growing Generous
Mercer University, Macon,
April 16, 2007
The stewardship theologian for Mennonite
Mutual Aid of Goshen, Indiana, Miller is a graduate of Wilmington (Ohio)
College and Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary. He is the author of
the Herald Press books Firstfruits Living and Just in Time,
as well as The Power of Enough: Finding Contentment by Putting Stuff
in it Place. Miller travels extensively to help congregations
and individuals see their roles as stewards in being God's offering to a
The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University
Congregational Life, Cooperative
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Foundation
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of
The Conference is Free. Make Your
Plans to Attend!
Reservations and Information.
Baptists and Public Policy
Baptists and Public Policy:
Some Baptist groups, including the Alliance of
Baptists, Baptist Center for Ethics, Baptist Joint Committee on Religious
Liberty (BJCRL), and the Progressive National Baptist Convention, have long
been engaged in policy work. This series is designed to spark conversations
among a wider circle of Baptists who are now considering engaging in this kind
of activity. Melissa Rogers is visiting professor of religion and public
policy at Wake Forest University Divinity School, previously serving as
executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and as general
counsel to the BJCRL.
"Christian Ethics and Justice"
Baptists speak to policy issues such as poverty, AIDS, war, and the
environment? If so, how and why?
As I noted last month,
this series will approach these questions from several different directions.
This particular essay touches on Christian ethics and the concept of justice.
A core biblical teaching
is that Christians must care for the least of these. Jesus said we must feed
the hungry, welcome the stranger, and visit the sick and imprisoned. In
accordance with these commands, Christians shelter the homeless, visit
hospitals and jails, and assist immigrants and refugees. There is broad
recognition that these things are a vital part of a Christian’s duty.
Is it also a Christian’s
duty to support just economic policies as a way of attacking poverty? Must
believers grapple with Christian ethics when confronting efforts to reform our
criminal justice and immigration systems? Does our faith call us to favor
policies that would end the scourge of AIDS?
My answer to these
questions is “yes.” The Bible speaks not only in terms of charity and mercy,
one-on-one acts of loving kindness, it also speaks in terms of justice.
Indeed, Baptist scholars Glen Stassen and David Gushee have noted that,
counting conservatively, the Greek and Hebrew words for justice appear 1,060
times in the Bible. For example, the prophet Micah says: “[W]hat does the Lord
require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly
with your God?” Jesus spent much of his earthly life confronting the unjust
power structures of his day. And the prophet Amos called for “justice [to]
roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
What does the biblical
concept of justice mean? Evangelical Ron Sider has explained that it isn’t
limited to retributive justice (punishment for wrongdoing) and procedural
justice (guarantees of fair process). It also encompasses the notion of just
economic structures―ones that provide
opportunity for all and safety nets for those unable to provide for
themselves. And the word “righteousness,” Sider says, includes “the norm of
the way things should be.” In these and other ways, the Biblical concept of
justice prompts us to challenge oppressive societal systems.
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. forcefully
expressed his beliefs about the essential role
justice plays in the Christian gospel. For example,
in 1962 King said to his congregation:
"Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and not
concerned about the city government that damns the soul, the economic
conditions that corrupt the soul, the slum conditions, the social evils that
cripple the soul, is a dry, dead, do-nothing religion in need of new blood."
None of this is to suggest that, if we truly care about
justice, there won’t be any differences among us on policy issues like the
ones mentioned here. For example, our hearts can care deeply for the poor,
even as our minds sometimes differ about which policy solutions would do the
most to help them. But, in my view, Christians should ask each other if we
are ministering to those within our reach as well as seeking justice in our
In future essays, I’ll
discuss other reasons I believe Baptists should be engaged in public policy
debate and some thoughts on how we should do so.
Table Of Contents
Special Book Review
BSB Book Review:
presents a review of Faith and Politics: How the "Moral Values" Debate
Divides America and How to Move Forward Together, by Senator John Danforth.
Marc A. Jolley is Director of Mercer University
Press in Macon, Georgia.
For those of us interested in
religion and politics, for those of us not afraid to speak about these twin
taboos at family gatherings, this year has seen a wealth of discussion and
published sources, including many books, on the topics we were warned not to
discuss. For Senator John Danforth, not discussing is part of the problem we
Danforth is a retired
three-term Republican senator from Missouri, a former ambassador to the UN,
and, most interestingly, an ordained Episcopal priest. His work in Sudan to
help bring an end to the twenty-year civil war is well noted. He is eminently qualified to
write a book on faith and politics.
Danforth states that recently
religion has been interjected into politics as a divisive force. Now, it’s not
all that recent, really. But he writes to protest the fact that Christianity
is not in its truest sense “divisive.” Blue and Red states, presidential
elections, and wedge issues have brought out the real sense of the Christian
Right. The Christian Right is an agenda-leaden group that uses wedge issues
(e.g., Terri Schiavo, abortion, judicial restraint, stem cell research, gay
marriage, family values) to push its agenda through the political arena. In
the Republican Party, they found a political force that not only needed their
support, but adopted the entire agenda.
The reason Danforth is speaking
out is that, in his words, the Christian Right has ruined the
Republican party. Danforth longs for the old days when Republicans stood for
good, honest issues and were not run over by the Christian freight train of
unchristian politics. He longs for the days when senators could argue on the
floor of the Senate and then go have dinner together and discuss their faith
spiritually and intelligently.
While the Christian Right is
dictating the Republican Party agenda, it is also trying to change
public policy. What can be done?
According to Danforth, and I
agree, those who oppose the supremely naďve idiocy of the Christian right need
to speak out. It is time that moderate American Christians stopped being
silent and began to speak out against the Christian Right. In the words of
Stanley Hauerwas, we need to take them on theologically.
This sounds a lot like what
Martin Luther King, Jr., meant when he stated that the white supporter of the
Civil Rights Movement who says nothing is a bigger problem than the bigot who
screams against African Americans.
For some reason, intelligent,
moderate Christians remain silent when a person on the Right speaks.
For John Danforth, the answer
lies the heart of Christianity. Christian belief is centered in the teachings
of Jesus and the New Testament. Thus, we should love our neighbor and our
enemy, and we should be reconcilers of the Gospel. He is right. Christians
should be peacemakers, but this does not mean we should keep our mouths shut.
Indeed, a peacemaker and reconciler must speak to be heard, and must act to be
Read this book. Then, speak up
and speak often.
Table Of Contents
Greatest Baptist Preachers:
This special biographical series reaches around
the globe in search of the greatest Baptist preachers. Here you will
meet preachers who have had a tremendous impact upon their respective
continents. This month's contributor is Dr. Nigel G. Wright, Principal of
Spurgeon's College in London.
"Charles Haddon Spurgeon:
England's Greatest Baptist Preacher Ever"
By Nigel Wright
Denominational loyalties aside, there would be general agreement amongst the
English that Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) ranks as their greatest
preacher. Notorious for the rustic and flamboyant style of his early years,
Spurgeon was a Victorian phenomenon who made a deep impact upon
London society. He left a lasting
legacy in the form of his vast body of writings and sermons, the Metropolitan
Tabernacle he had built in
South London, the many churches in whose
founding he played a significant part, the orphanage he established at
Stockwell and the Pastors’ College later to be known as Spurgeon’s College.
Spurgeon was an
heir to the Puritans. Born in Kelvedon, Essex into a family with deep
Independent (Congregational) roots, his father and grandfather were both
pastors. His early years were greatly influenced by his grandfather and at his
feet he imbibed the Puritan writings which were to remain his inspiration
throughout life. His voracious reading was assisted by a highly retentive
memory and this, allied to a striking and powerful voice, fuelled his magnetic
preaching at a time when preaching and preachers were very much in vogue. He
used to say that he preached ‘out of the overflow’ of his reading.
His early nurture
in Puritan theology came to a head with his conversion in Artillery Street
Primitive Methodist Chapel in
Colchester where he took refuge one night
from the snow. To the chagrin of his parents he quickly became persuaded of
believers’ baptism and was baptised. He began preaching whilst working in
Cambridge as a teaching assistant and soon
after, at the age of 16, became pastor of
Church which blossomed
under his ministry. At the age of 19 he was called to the historic
New Park Street church in
South London which within several years was
bursting at the seams. The building of the Metropolitan Tabernacle was soon to
follow and the preacher’s fame spread rapidly.
As well as an
astonishing memory Spurgeon had a keen eye for detail and was the master of
illustration, often making use of places and objects he observed in his
Europe. His preaching style rejected the
academic and stylised fashions of the day in favour of warm-hearted and homely
illustrations calculated to appeal to the English labouring and trading
classes with which he felt at home. It is significant that his two
London churches were situated
among the poor. If Spurgeon grew into a prosperous and portly member of the
middle classes who could associate with the powerful in the land, he never
lost his identification with ordinary people. They in turn were attracted to
him in large numbers.
assisted in his ministry by fellow pastors, including his brother James Archer
Spurgeon, and a number of secretaries. This enabled him to devote time to
preaching and writing. His sermons were taken down by a stenographer and
swiftly typeset so that the day after preaching he could correct the proofs,
add to and improve the sermon and see it being sold on the streets soon after.
His sermons were collected in the multi-volume New Park Street Pulpit
and the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit and have probably been
‘borrowed’ by multitudes of preachers.
terms, Spurgeon was not a progressive. He expressly disavowed any desire to
progress beyond the evangelical Calvinism which stood him and his preaching in
good stead throughout his life. Such an attitude brought him into controversy
from time to time, not least in the Baptist Union, which towards the end of
his life he abandoned. Illness and hard work took their toll of Spurgeon’s
health and he was to die at the early age of 56 in
France. When he
was buried the route was lined with thousands of mourners.
Table Of Contents
Response To ...
In Response to . . . :
The Associate Director of the Center for Baptist
Studies, Bruce previously served as a campus minister and professor of Church
History. In addition, he is an Internet entrepreneur and photographer,
and is ABD in his doctoral studies in American History at Auburn University.
"Turning Our Children Into
By Bruce T. Gourley
For years the Religious Right has warned Christians of the dangers of
liberalism and “secular humanism” in American society. Now some on the
Religious Right want your children to march off to war to save America by
turning the nation into a theocracy.
theocrats (also known as Reconstructionists or Dominionists), democracy is an
enemy. Betty Fischer, director of Kids in Ministry International and founder
and director of Kids on Fire summer camp in North Dakota, declared in the
Jesus Camp documentary that democracy is a
problem because it "treats everyone as equals.” Therein is the fundamental
reason why Christian theocrats are striving to turn America into a theocracy:
the belief that (certain) Christians should receive preferential treatment
in America and control the system of laws. This is the only way to
vanquish pluralism and “secular humanism.”
Who exactly are
these Christians that would replace democracy with theocracy? The ideological
founders and leaders of the movement include(d)
Rousas J. Rushdooney,
Francis A. Schaeffer and
American Vision, led by Demar, is a leading
Christian theocratic organization. Demar and other theocrats use terminology
such as “Biblical Worldview” or “Christian Worldview” to express their goals
of turning America into a theocracy. This spring, the Southern Baptist
Convention's LifeWay is hosting a Gary Demar "Worldview Super Conference"
the Next Generation to Capture the Future."
theocrats are increasingly recruiting children to fight their war against
democracy. In the Jesus Camp documentary, the children at the Kids on
Fire summer camp are forced to smash ceramic cups with hammers to represent
their commitment to destroying America’s democratic legal system in order to
replace it with theocratic laws. Repeatedly called the chosen generation, the
children are told they will take over America for God. And in Georgia, the
Georgia Home Education Association (GHEA) is
featuring Gary Demar at their upcoming 2007 annual conference as they train
the children to be “little patriots.”
schooling and homeschooling are vital tools for Christian theocrats. Demar’s
American Vision offers an
extensive line of homeschool resouces that are very
popular in the Christian homeschool movement and Christian schools, including
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a
leading national homeschool, and blatantly theocratic, organization that
it’s time for homeschooled children to take back America”
for God. The militantly-minded HSLDA aligned with Marilyn Musgrove (R-CO),
sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, to sponsor legislation (H.R. 3753 /
S 1691) that would direct the Department of Defense to obtain homeschool
records of children for the purpose of “recruitment
into the armed forces. In addition, the
Homeschool division of the Southern Baptist Convention's Lifeway is
affiliated with HSLDA.
Farris, the founder of HSLDA whose books are sold by LifeWay, wants control of Christian children from
elementary school through the teenage years and beyond. He is also the
Patrick Henry College, a Christian college for
homeschoolers located near Washington D.C. and devoted to promoting a
theocratic agenda by transforming the U.S. government to “adhere
to principles of biblical morality.” The HSLDA, in
addition, is the founder of
Joshua Generation Ministries,
a theocratic organization which recruits young people aged 11 to 19 to “become
a force in the civic and political arenas” and banish pluralism and secular
humanism from America: “We believe His promise that one of us can put a
thousand to flight and two can put ten thousands to flight.”
Generation Ministries is now forming local chapters referred to as “GenJ”
clubs. Earlier this month churches in Morgan County, Georgia, received
promotional materials for “BLT (Building Leaders for Tomorrow) the GenJ Club
of Morgan County.” The theocratic agenda is not even disguised in these
materials. Holding up Puritan leader John Winthrop as a role model and hero,
the literature proudly proclaims, “Generation Joshua wants America to be a
perpetual city on a hill …. Generation Joshua trains the newest generation of
young people to be effective leaders today in order to change government
policies tomorrow ... to give young people a vision for taking America back to
its Judeo-Christian foundations.”
some prominent leaders and organizations spearheading the Christian homeschool
movement want to turn our children into God’s warriors. As the flyer for
Joshua Generation reveals, they are not content to recruit homeschooled
children only. They want to draft the youth in our churches to fight in the
army of their God. We must educate ourselves and be diligent in protecting
our children and youth from the hungry grasp of today’s Christian theocrats.
Notes: For a listing of
state homeschooling organizations affiliated with the theocratic Home School
Legal Defense Association,
click here. On March 9 Bruce will be leading a
workshop entitled "Responding to Christian Nationalism" at the upcoming spring
Georgia Cooperative Baptist
Fellowship meeting at Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain,
Click here or more information on Christian theocracy/nationalism.
You may also visit Bruce's personal website
Table Of Contents
Recommended Online Reading
for Informed Baptists
Compiled by Bruce Gourley
The Danger of a 'Chosen' Nation
by Oliver "Buzz" Thomas
"Israel holds a
sacred place in the words of the Old Testament. But does Christian doctrine
give that country a free pass at the expense of peace in the Middle East?"
Baptists and Human
Rights from a United Nations Perspective
by David F. D'Amico
Brief historical summary of Baptist involvement in the struggle for human
rights through the United Nations.
The Latest News
Regarding the Religious Right
Compiled by the Center for Religion, Ethics, and Social Policy at Cornell
An excellent compilation of recent news chronicling the latest developments
related to America's Religious Right. This site also includes further
resources for those concerned about the blurring between church and state.
Dates to Note
February 19-20, 2007, Self Preaching Lectures,
McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta, Georgia. Speaker: Tom Long.
For more information, email
February 20-21, 2007, Harry Vaughan Smith
Lectures, Mercer University, Macon, Georgia. Speaker:
Dr. Renita J. Weems.
Click here for more information.
February 23-24, 2007, Mainstream Baptist Network
"Voices of Hope: Why I am Still a Baptist." Dallas, Texas.
speakers will be Bill Underwood, President of Mercer University, Macon, GA;
Tyrone Pitts, General Secretary of the Progressive National Baptist
Convention, Inc.; Scott Walker, pastor, First Bapitst Church, Waco, Texas;
Suzii Paynter, Director, Christian Life Commission, Baptist General Convention
of Texas; and Joe Lewis, Pastor, Virginia.
Click here for more information.
February 26-27, 2007, The Walter and Kay Shurden
Lectures on Religious Liberty and Separation of Church and State,
Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, Tennessee. Speaker:
Dr. James Dunn.
March 5-7, 2007, True Survivor VII,
Scarritt-Bennett Center, Nashville, Tennessee.
For more information click here.
March 19-20, 2007, Urban Mission Workshop, McAfee
School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia. Click
here for more information and to register.
April 20, 2007, Judson-Rice Award Dinner honoring
Dr. Wayne Flynt, Birmingham, Alabama, Wynfrey Hotel.
For more information
and registration click here.
June 7-9, 2007, Baptist History and Heritage
Society (BHHS) Annual Meeting, Campbellsville, Kentucky. Theme:
Americans in Baptist History." For more information,
visit the BHHS web
June 27, 2007, Pre-CBF Annual Conference,
Christian Ethics Today (CET), Hyatt Grand Hotel in D.C. Theme: "The
Minister and Politics: Being Prophetic Without Being Partisan."
Speakers: Jim Wallis, Greg Boyd, Melissa Rogers and Tony Campolo. Go to
the CET site
for more information.
June 28-29, 2007, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
General Assembly, Washington D.C. Theme: "Free to Be the Presence of
Click here for more information, including registration.
For a full calendar of Baptist events, visit the
Online Baptist Community Calendar.
Table Of Contents
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