Vol. 6 No. 1




  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

         "Green Trumps Red and Blue"

The Baptist Soapbox: Jeff Haggray

         "To Love or Not to Be? That is the Question!"
Baptists and Creation Care: Kathy Myers

         "An Awakening to Creation Care"

Baptists and Public Policy: Melissa Rogers

         "Should Baptists Speak to Policy Issues?"

The World's Greatest Baptist Preachers: Geoff Pound

         "F. W. Boreham: Australia's Greatest Baptist Preacher Ever"
In Response To . . .
: Bruce T. Gourley

         "Baptists Who Can't Forgive Jesus"
Dates to Note

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I Believe

"Green Trumps Red and Blud"
By Walter B. Shurden

I believe . . .
that one of the most critical moral issues in the twenty first century for Christians is learning to love creation with all our hearts and souls and minds and strength and to protect it in God’s name. I have arrived at this ethical depot late, uninformed, and half-hearted. I confess that I live with all kinds of contradictions, even hypocrisies about green issues. But I have a sense that I am not alone. I sense in talking with others that my ignorance and my tepid commitments are pervasive in Baptist life.
          I recently sent a letter to twenty five friends who are Baptist preachers. I asked if they could send me a “Green Sermon” that they had preached within the past year or two that I could post on our web site. I heard from only three preachers out of the twenty five. One said, “I’ve alluded to it in a sermon, but I don’t have an entire sermon on it.” Another said, “I have made several references to the environment, but I have never preached a single sermon on it.” Another turned her cards face up with confession and repentance: “I am ashamed to say that I have never preached on this subject.” I join them. Neither have I, though I “allude” to it. “Alluding” is no longer enough.
          I would like to issue a challenge to all my Baptist preacher friends for 2007: preach an entire sermon soon on “The Care of Creation.” Urge your Sunday School classes, adults, young people, and children, to take this subject on for several weeks in their small groups. Devise a series for Wednesday night prayer meetings that will begin to intensify the concern of your people. As much as possible use people from within your church who have some expertise and passion for the subject. Develop specific “things to do” in your church, no matter how small, that can help us to love God by loving God’s handiwork.  
          I realize that anything green is a complicated and controversial subject, but I believe that it is gaining genuine traction in the lives of our people. We need to take advantage of the opportunity to intensify commitments.
          My wife and I had a little book that we can no longer find (is that a commentary?) called Fifty SimpleThings You Can Do to Save the Earth. I found reference to it on Amazon, however, so it is available. It is a very simple beginning, but it may provide ideas. Another good place to start is in Brian McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy, especially his chapter on “Why I am Green.”
          As you would expect, cyberspace is filled with resources. There are two sites that provide care-for-creation reflections for preaching on the lessons of the three-year lectionary cycle. The first, the Christian Ecology Link, is a multi-denominational organization from the United Kingdom for people concerned about the environment. They have provided Ecological Notes on the Common Worship Lectionary by Keith Innes. The second, the Environmental Stewardship Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota (MEESC), has collected environmental and earth-centered reflections, sermons, and commentaries on the lectionary readings. The best thing for all of us to do is to re-read the Bible through some green lenses.
          Here at BSB we will pitch in. For the next six months we will have a series of brief articles on “Creation Care.” We would genuinely appreciate hearing from you concerning what you and your church are doing to care for God’s creation. Let’s share with each other resources, strategies, preaching material, and educational approaches. Together we can make a difference.

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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 Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, Executive Director/Minister of the District Columbia Baptist Association.  The D.C. Baptist Association includes churches in D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia, and cooperates with American Baptist Churches USA, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Southern Baptist Convention, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Baptist World Alliance and other Baptist agencies.

"To Love or Not to Be? That is the Question!"
By Jeff Haggray

           I was meeting with Baptist colleagues recently when the table talk led to the usual request, “so tell us about the DC Baptist Convention.” I replied with my standard talking points: “We’re a 130 year old mission organization in the Nation’s Capitol that brings Baptists together across geographical, cultural, and ideological boundaries of Northern, Southern, Progressive, Cooperative, White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, conservative, moderate, liberal, and so on.  We figure if the Democrats and Republicans can model bipartisanship inside the Capitol—or even if they can’t—that at least, Baptists ought to embody and model unity and cooperation around shared missions across our self-made boundaries.” 
The most frequent responses that I get from others are, “Oh that’s a nice thought; so how’s it going?”  Or, “That must be a really tough job; Baptists don’t usually work together well, do they?”  Increasingly the response I’m getting is, “Are you for real?  Why would anybody want to do that?”  More troubling is the fact that the latter reaction usually comes from other Baptists, as in the case of the group I was mingling with recently.
           I’ve brushed off the various reactions across the years with some well-rehearsed sound bytes, like, “Well, as they say, it’s like herding cats!”  Or, “Well, I guess it’s that inside the Beltway thing, if we can sit across the aisles from each other at the Capitol, we ought to at least be able to sit across the aisles at church.”  My most frequent meaningless one-liner tends to be, “Well, I guess the Baptists who end up in DC are kind of different.”  Curiously, people tend to go along with that latter response better than the others.
           Lately, I’ve begun to feel a lot less affable, and a little more perturbed about the increasingly negative reactions of Baptists to the idea of cooperation with other Baptists whom they don’t like, as though cooperation is some kind of liberal-leaning, postmodern or New Age tendency.  And though it might be un-Baptist of me, I have not tended to respond by using scriptural defenses.  However, I’m now irritated enough that I’ve begun thinking about unity and cooperation in biblical ways, and its amazing the resources that emerge in the teachings of Jesus, such as, “Love one another as I have loved you;” or, “Father, make them one even as we are one.” Or, “by this the world will know that you are my disciples, by the love you have for one another.”  Considering all this, I am prompted to ask, “is it possible to truly be people of the Great Commission without giving a hoot about the Great Commandment?”  Or, “is it really possible for Baptists to neglect to love each other and also be Christians?”

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Baptists and Creation Care:  This series focuses on Baptist responses to environmental issues.  Kathy Myers is a member of First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.  A retired teacher, Kathy is a mother, grandmother and writer.  She credits her love of nature to her father.

"An Awakening to Creation Care"
By Kathy Myers

           “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
           During the most recent Advent season my local church, The First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, GA, asked me to write an Advent devotional about LOVE. I decided to write from what I suppose was a different approach because of a recent experience I had.   
           Last September the women of our church went on a retreat to Saint Simons Island, GA, and I’ve pondered our theme about the environment ever since. Indeed, I have come to realize that when John said “For God so loved the world…,” he does not mean to include only the humans in the world, but all of God’s creation, the plants, the animals of the forest, the rivers and the oceans too.  And when the writer of Genesis says that humans should have dominion over the creatures, is it possible that he meant we should be good stewards of God’s creation?
           When I was on Saint Simons Island in September I saw some of God’s creation up close.  I learned that the survival of the Red Knot (Calidris canutus), an Atlantic shorebird, depends on the survival of the horseshoe crab to complete its migration.  Without energy from the crab’s lipid rich eggs, the Red Knot cannot make the trip from Argentina to Canada.  I saw hundreds of tiny periwinkle snails attached to, and dependent on, the fragile marsh grass, Spartina, which can be damaged by pollution and development.
           Because of my Christian faith, I am keenly aware of the love of family.   Because of that love, and because of God’s love, I want to take care of the earth.  I want to care for the marsh and those tiny creatures in it.   I want my grandchildren to grow up and live in a world where there are birds on the seashore and snails on the marsh grass.  I want them to camp in green forests and canoe unpolluted rivers.  Because I love them, and because I love God, I want to do what I can to be Nature’s steward.
           “So God created humans in his own image, in the image of God created he them; male and female created he them.  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" (Genesis 1:27-28).
           I pray that Baptists may have an awakening to Creation Care.

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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; CBF Foundation and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia

The Conference is Free.  Make Your Plans to Attend!
Reservations and Information.



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.

"Should Baptists Speak to Policy Issues?"
By Melissa Rogers

          Should Baptists speak to policy issues such as poverty, AIDS, war, and the environment? If so, how and why?
          These are timely and important questions. This series of essays will approach them from several different directions.
          Given Baptists’ deep regard for the religious liberty guarantees of the U.S. Constitution, one appropriate place to start is to consider what the Constitution has to say about the involvement of religious people and groups in public policy debate.  So let me begin by briefly describing some of the legal rights we have and then move on to explore how we might exercise those freedoms responsibly.
          Religious individuals and organizations have the same freedom as non-religious individuals and organizations to engage in public policy debate.  As the U.S. Supreme Court said in 1970:  “Adherents of particular faiths and individual churches frequently take strong positions on public issues . . . . Of course, churches as much as secular bodies and private citizens have that right.”  From a legal standpoint, therefore, private individuals and organizations are free to participate in policy debate whether they are motivated to do so, in whole or in part, by their faith, self-interest or any other source of inspiration.  When they argue for the adoption of a particular policy, these individuals and organizations are as free to cite a verse from the book of Micah as they are to cite a finding from a think tank report.
The constitutional restrictions have to do with the government’s actions, not those attributable to private citizens and groups.  When the state acts, the predominant purpose and primary effect of those actions must be non-religious in nature.  Now the mere fact that a law coincides with religious tenets does not mean it violates the Constitution.  For example, just because various religious teachings oppose stealing does not mean that the government may not enact laws prohibiting larceny.  But in cases where “openly available data supported a commonsense conclusion that a religious objective permeated the government’s action,” courts have struck down the state’s actions as unconstitutional, and properly so.  (Let me note here that while this constitutional requirement doesn’t restrain actions attributable to private citizens and groups, I will argue in a later part of this series that this principle should inform Baptist engagement in policy debate.)
          In addition to the Constitution, certain restrictions apply to groups that wish to qualify for and maintain tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  These restrictions apply to actions attributable to 501(c)(3) organizations rather than to persons acting in their individual capacities.  If a religious organization wishes to be tax-exempt under this provision, then it, like all other religious and non-religious 501(c)(3) organizations, may not become involved in campaign activity for or against candidates for elective public office, and it may only do an insubstantial amount of lobbying.  Lobbying means attempting to influence legislationit does not encompass examining and discussing broad social and economic problems, for example.
          The legal restrictions in this area are fairly minimal, creating wide latitude for religious people to engage in public policy debate.  In subsequent essays, I’ll consider some ways in which Christian ethics and Baptist principles seek to mediate the intersection of religious activism and public policy.

Melissa also authors a blog dedicated to monitoring and analyzing issues at the intersection of religion and public office.

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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. Geoff Pound, former Principal and Acting Warden of Whitley College in Australia, an institution owned by the Baptist Union of Victoria and affiliated with the University of Melbourne.

"F. W. Boreham: Australia's Greatest Baptist Preacher Ever"
By Geoff Pound

          In 1936 the Australian Baptist preacher, F. W. Boreham, was introduced to a conference of pastors in the United Kingdom with this tribute: “His name is on all our lips, his books are on all our shelves and his illustrations are in all our sermons!” This preacher, with the unlikely name of “Boreham,” had become well known in the Antipodes through his pulpit ministry and as an editorialist. His international popularity had flourished through his magazine contributions and
fifty-five books.
          Dr. Frank Boreham was one of the leading preachers and Christian writers in the first half of the twentieth century. In the second half of last century, well known preachers such as
Billy Graham, Ravi Zacharias (USA) and Gordon Moyes (Australia) have frequently expressed their indebtedness to the writings of F. W. Boreham.
          Frank William Boreham was born in Kent, England in 1871. He served as a clerk in Tunbridge Wells and after securing a new job in London he came under the influence of F. B. Meyer. He got his first lessons as a preacher by proclaiming the word of God in the open air on the Clapham Common where he quickly learned the importance of attracting the attention of his hearers and the indispensable element of preaching with conviction. News of his preaching efforts caught the ear of C. H. Spurgeon and Boreham became the last student to be interviewed and received into Spurgeon’s College by the old preacher.
          After training at Spurgeon’s College (1892-1894) F. W. Boreham had three pastorates in Mosgiel Baptist Church (Otago), New Zealand (1894-1906), Hobart Baptist Tabernacle, (Tasmania) Australia (1906-1916) and Armadale, (Melbourne) Australia (1916-1928). During his retirement, Boreham was an itinerant preacher in Australia, the USA, Canada and Great Britain. He preached to packed midweek lunch hour services at Scots’ Church in the heart of Melbourne from 1936-1956. In 1953 he was awarded the OBE by Queen Elizabeth for his services as a preacher and an essayist. F. W. Boreham died in May 1959 and the memories of his preaching ministry have been kept alive through various Heritage Centers in Melbourne, including
Whitley College.
          As a seminary student Boreham became a good preacher by listening to the top preachers of his day including Dwight L Moody, Charles Haddon Spurgeon and Joseph Parker. Boreham attended the British House of Commons to listen to the way politicians would get their point across. When he became a pastor in New Zealand, he would frequently visit the Dunedin Law Courts to study the way eminent barrister, A. C. Hanlon, won his cases.
          Despite completing a seminary course at Spurgeon’s College in London, three months after he commenced his first pastorate F. W. Boreham felt completely inadequate. At the suggestion of his mentor, J. J. Doke, Frank Boreham commenced the practice of buying and reading at least one substantial book every week and. from this discipline he found ample ideas and illustrations for his weekly preaching and writing.
          Boreham was a wordsmith who adopted storytelling as his major preaching form. He discovered the power of biographical preaching in his most popular and evangelistic series in which he would tell the story of the conversion of a famous character from history and expound the crucial biblical text that was instrumental in their conversion.
F. W. Boreham’s current popularity is evidenced by the brisk trade in his books, the rise of several Boreham heritage centres and numerous web sites such as The Official F. W. Boreham Blogsite.

Other helpful references include:
Boreham, Frank William in Australian Dictionary of Biography
* Christian History Institute, March 28, 1911

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The Baptist History and Heritage Society Announces
The Sixth Annual Baptist Heritage Preaching Contest

The Baptist History and Heritage Society is now accepting submissions for the Sixth Annual Baptist Heritage Preaching Contest. Sermon manuscripts must be submitted by February 20, 2007. Contest awards include: $400 for first place, $300 for second place, and $200 for third place. For more information, contact Pamela R. Durso at or 615-371-7937. Contest guidelines available here.


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. 

"Baptists Who Can't Forgive Jesus"
By Bruce T. Gourley

           In 2005 Baptists worldwide, under the umbrella of the Baptist World Alliance, joined together in agreement on the clearest, most visible and most oft-repeated themes throughout the Bible and the life and teachings of Jesus: God’s redemptive love for the poor, sick, oppressed, downtrodden and marginalized members of society.  Last week, leaders of Baptist organizations throughout the United States, meeting in Atlanta, jointly affirmed the clearest, most visible and most oft-repeated themes throughout the Bible and the life and teachings of Jesus: God’s redemptive love for the poor, sick, oppressed, downtrodden and marginalized members of society. 
           However, a handful of prominent Baptists were quick to criticize both meetings, dismissing the central teachings of scripture and Jesus as nothing more than liberalism.  Russ Moore, dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, scoffed at last week’s
New Baptist Covenant gathering, charging that focusing on the central biblical themes affirmed by Baptist leaders at the Atlanta meeting is an unacceptable “alternative to Southern Baptist conservatism.”  Southern Baptist leader Richard Land indignantly declared that the “vast majority” of Southern Baptists are not in agreement with emphasizing the central biblical themes embraced by the Covenant gathering.
           Although I often find myself in disagreement with both Moore and Land, I must admit that this time I believe they are at least somewhat correct in their above assessments.  Moore is perceptive to note that their brand of Baptist conservatism stands in opposition to the overriding biblical theme, and Jesus’ embodiment, of God’s redemption of humanity expressed in social justice.  And Land is at least partially on target when he asserts that many Southern Baptists oppose the overriding biblical theme, and Jesus’ embodiment, of redemption expressed in social justice (although certainly not the “vast majority”).  Rather than focusing on the central themes of scripture, Land has repeatedly pointed to a basic list of propositional “views” which he is convinced all true Baptists hold to: anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, pro-Israel, pro-Bush and pro-Iraq War.  He seems oblivious that he is
swapping timeless biblical truth for contemporary myopic relativism
           And yet there is a larger issue behind some conservatives' rejection of the central biblical theme of God’s redemptive work through Christ expressed in social justice.  Why do Baptists like Moore and Land have difficulty embracing the whole of the Bible and of Jesus?  Stated quite simply, much of the Bible, and of Jesus, is liberal.  And to today’s Baptist conservatives who allow political ideology to shape the nature of their faith, liberalism is unacceptable and must be opposed at all costs.  Indeed, liberalism is the unpardonable sin. 
           Thus, Baptist conservatives whose faith is fueled by political ideology are unable to embrace the liberal message of the Bible or forgive the liberal Jesus.  Instead, they are consigned to holding the Bible and Jesus at arm’s length while vehemently denying the liberalness inherent in both.  Scripture is useful only if it can be co-opted for a conservative agenda.  Jesus is no longer an acceptable criterion for interpreting Scripture. 
           Yet while an inability to forgive Jesus poses a terrible dilemma for politically-oriented conservative Baptists, a willingness to walk in the footsteps of Jesus may be the most pressing issue facing moderate Baptists today.  The New Baptist Covenant gathering represents an opportunity to move beyond talking and actively participate in the stream of the redemptive work of God through the ages, embodied in Christ and expressed in the scriptural marriage of God’s redemptive love and social justice.  Tens of thousands of children starve to death daily; tens of thousands die each day from simple, curable diseases; poverty grips hundreds of millions; loneliness, helplessness, hopelessness and isolation imprison the souls of untold millions; hatred, warfare, famine and pestilence plague much of the world; and global warming increasingly endangers our planet and threatens our future survival.  In the face of all these afflictions and horrors, the Jesus of the Bible offers redemption to humanity, one life at a time, delivered by those who dare follow him into the midst of the afflictions and horrors.

Visit Bruce's personal website at

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Recommended Online Reading for Informed Baptists
Compiled by Bruce Gourley

One Nation Under God? Thoughtful Discussion Needed on Issue of When, Where, How We Pray
by Bill Leonard

"As a historian and an 'old-time' Baptist, I confess some ambivalence over various issues raised by controversies surrounding the role of religion in the American public square."  Read Leonard's well-reasoned insights into a decades-old perplexing issue in American life.

America's Holy Warriors
by Chris Hedge

Hedge's well-researched new volume is the latest to warn of theocratic impulses within the Religious Right.  Yet Hedge goes further in charging that "the radical Christian Right is coming dangerously close to its goal of taking over the country’s military and law enforcement."  Not everyone agrees.

Carbon Offsets: The New Indulgence?
by Elizabeth Musselman

A theologian questions the ethics of carbon offsets in the business community.  From Martin Marty's "Sightings."

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.

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

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