Sunday, March 27, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
So, after such a hiatus, what prompted me to get the next installment of my Great Commission series recorded and posted? Well, as of my last little article, I had 666 posts on this blog, and I wanted to move on past that number!
So, here is my latest episode of my reflections on the Great Commission.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Yesterday through our local NPR station (listening to NPR is a regular form of espionage that I practice) I became acquainted with the story of Delsie Bailey. Ms. Bailey is a sophomore at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill who became pregnant in high school. She is a devout Christian and the daughter of an elder in her church. Although the blog of the organization with which she volunteers refers to her as "a huge proponent of using protection," as you will hear in the audio of the interview, her message to teens is to abstain. WARNING: Her story is the third feature on the audio, and you'll have to skip down past the halfway point to get to her poignant account.
But the best part of the story, in my estimation, has nothing to do with premarital sex or pregnancy out of wedlock. Ms. Bailey describes in the interview the day in which she stood before her 400-500 member congregation, admitted her sinfulness, and informed them of her pregnancy. Many would fear that she would face a barrage of judgmental condemnation, but you've got to hear her description of what happened next.
Maybe ignoring sin and its destruction in the lives of our fellow believers and church members isn't the loving thing to do at all. Maybe we deprive one another of something important that we all need when we cover up our failures.
Friday, March 18, 2011
I highly recommend the slides from Dr. Malcolm Yarnell's recent series on the Trinity. Several years ago Dr. James Leo Garrett startled me somewhat when he observed that Christians are writing very little and thinking very little about the Trinity—one of the central questions about the nature of God, with implications upon the gospel and every aspect of Christian living. The first and most persistent deviancies from biblical faith that Christians have rejected as damnable heresy are those that deny the Trinity. If we ignore Trinitarianism, our churches will eventually depart from the faith.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I write today in the context of an article by Brad Whitt and a response by Ed Stetzer (UPDATE: Peter Lumpkins has entered the conversation as well with this article, which actually was up before mine was). The general subject matter, although much is involved here, is the content of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference vis-à-vis the various demographics within (and semi-within) the Southern Baptist Convention.
Participating in the comment streams of these articles provided me with some insight as to how other people have perceived past speakers at various Southern Baptist conferences. Learning to understand other people's point of view, even when it does not produce agreement, always is helpful.
Dr. Stetzer's article expresses amazement that anyone could possibly believe that "traditional" (whatever that means) Southern Baptists are being marginalized. What I'd like to do in this article, as benignly as I know how, is to offer a way for him and for any who share his puzzlement to gain some insight.
First, I think it is not exactly on-target to analyze past pastors conferences as though they were evidence relevant to what Dr. Whitt has written. Traditionalists in Southern Baptist life may be a bit like conservatives in political life. Those who are not conservative will generally tolerate (while arguing with) most conservatives, but they will not tolerate a Clarence Thomas or a Sarah Palin. Being conservative is mildly irritating, but being a black conservative is traitorous and being a female conservative makes one deserving of caricature.
What is necessary, I think, to answer Dr. Whitt's post is some exemplar of any room for a YOUNG traditionalist like Brad Whitt to have a voice in national Southern Baptist life. Otherwise, it is possible that young non-traditionalists (again, whatever that means) are, instead of tolerant to diversity, merely patient.
Second, just as it is helpful for Dr. Stetzer to help somebody like me to understand what kinds of things can happen at SBC Pastors Conferences to marginalize and build ill-will among that group of methodologically diverse Southern Baptists who also happen to share with us a commitment to Southern Baptist ministries and theology, perhaps it would be helpful to give an example of the kind of thing that can happen at a conference to prod and provoke people like myself.
Fresh in my memory is an occasion at which a very young pastor of a large church was invited to speak at a Southern Baptist gathering. Here is a summary of his time at the microphone:
So, perhaps this will pull back the veil a bit and help those who were disturbed by Brad Whitt's post to gain some understanding of whence his angst arises. When I walk out of a speech like that, I don't feel congenial. Just writing about it some time after the fact, I still have to work at feeling congenial when I relive the moment.
But I'd like to feel congenial. I have no problem with methodological diversity that is truly nothing more than that. We have a pretty wide array of methodological diversity within our own congregation—a good bit more, I imagine, than does the speaker I mentioned above. Theology matters to me. Theology and methodology are not non-overlapping regions. Some methodology arises out of or reflects a church's theology. We've got things to work out as we go forward that are not easy. I know that. I believe that we can do it nonetheless.
It will help us to find a stable working relationship among our diverse churches if we hear less of these types of speeches at our conferences. It will also help if some acknowledgement is made of young Southern Baptists in the mold of Brad Whitt. It seems to me that the instance I gave above is not isolated and represents a phenomenon not acknowledged by Dr. Stetzer's analysis, which seemed to portray a convention in which traditionalists are judgmental toward non-traditionalists, who are tolerant and kind and sweet and celebrative of diversity. I'm suggesting that Brad Whitt has accurately noted a widespread (but not universal) non-traditionalist expectation that the death of ministries like Brad Whitt's and mine is merely a matter of time.