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


Walter B. Shurden, Executive Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin

Bruce T. Gourley, Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin

Wil Platt, Associate Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin


Visit The Center for Baptist Studies' Web Site at

Table of Contents



I Believe . . . : Walter B. Shurden

         "Living History: The New North American Baptist Covenant and Its Celebration"

The Baptist Soapbox: Dan Ivins

         "When the Saints Go Marching Out"
Baptists and Creation Care: Nancy L. deClaisse-Walford

         "The Bible and Creation Care"

Baptists and Public Policy: Melissa Rogers

         "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: Nigel Wright

         "Charles 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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I Believe

"Living 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 future Celebration.
          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 Covenant.

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Baptist Soapbox

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.

"When the Saints Go Marching Out"
Dan Ivins

            Something 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. 
            Oodles of 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.
            Sadly, the 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.
            The first 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. 
            Restoring a 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).

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Baptists and Creation Care:  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.

"The Bible 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 David."
            The psalm's 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 Hebrew. 
            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 its center.
            Yahweh, our sovereign, how (mah) – Verse 1
                    What (mah) is humanity . . . mortals – Verse 4
            Yahweh, our 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.
            May the 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."

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"Growing Generous Churches, Growing Generous Christians"
Mercer University, Macon, Georgia
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 lost world.

Co-Sponsored by:
 The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University
Congregational Life, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Foundation
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia

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"
By Melissa Rogers

          Should 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 structuresones 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 world. 
          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.

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Special Book Review BSB Book Review: 

BSB 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 face today.
         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 effective.
         Read this book. Then, speak up and speak often.

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The World's 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 Waterbeach Baptist Church which blossomed under his ministry. At the age of 19 he was called to the historic New Park Street church in Southwark, 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 travels in 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.
           Spurgeon was 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.
           In theological 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 Mentone, France. When he was buried the route was lined with thousands of mourners.

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In 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 God's Warriors"
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.
           To Christian 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 recently-released
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 Gary DeMar
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" entitled "Training the Next Generation to Capture the Future."
           Alarmingly, the 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.”
            Christian 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 the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a leading national homeschool, and blatantly theocratic, organization that proclaims “now 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 and enlistment” into the armed forces.  In addition, the Homeschool division of the Southern Baptist Convention's Lifeway is affiliated with HSLDA.
            Michael P. 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 founder of
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.”
            Joshua 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.”
            In short, 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, Georgia. 

Click here or more information on Christian theocracy/nationalism.  You may also visit Bruce's personal website at

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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 University

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

Dates to Note

February 19-20, 2007, Self Preaching Lectures, McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta, Georgia.  Speaker: Tom Long.  For more information, email Diane Frazier.

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 Convocation, "Voices of Hope: Why I am Still a Baptist."  Dallas, Texas.  The featured 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: "African Americans in Baptist History." For more information, visit the BHHS web site.

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 Christ." Click here for more information, including registration.

For a full calendar of Baptist events, visit the Online Baptist Community Calendar.

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