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
Visit The Center for Baptist
Studies' Web Site at www.centerforbaptiststudies.org
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I Believe . . .
: Walter B. Shurden
Trumps Red and Blue"
The Baptist Soapbox: Jeff Haggray
Love or Not to Be? That is the Question!"
and Creation Care:
"An Awakening to Creation Care"
Baptists and Public Policy:
"Should Baptists Speak to Policy
The World's Greatest Baptist Preachers:
"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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"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
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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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
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
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
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?”
Table Of Contents
The Baptist Studies Bulletin
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Theological Book Network, Inc. provides quality academic books and
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Baptists and Creation
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.
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
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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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
Co-Sponsored by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University;
Congregational Life, Cooperative
Baptist Fellowship; CBF Foundation and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of
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
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
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
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.
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 legislation―it does not
encompass examining and discussing broad social and economic problems, for
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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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.
W. Boreham: Australia's Greatest Baptist Preacher Ever"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Contest guidelines available here.
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
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
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
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.
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
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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
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
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
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 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.
For a full calendar of Baptist events, visit the
Online Baptist Community Calendar.
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