Moral Contradictions

Monday, May 09, 2005

Dr. Richard Land double-speak on Baptist Excommunication

I was waiting for this. Dr. Richard Land, the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, commented on the controversy surrounding the East Waynesville Baptist Church in Waynesville, NC.
I don't know the particulars of the situation, but I certainly acknowledge the right of each local autonomous congregation to decide the requirements for membership in their church...However, I would also add that the right to determine membership does not always mean that it is exercised in a correct fashion. I believe it would never -- never -- be appropriate or acceptable for a local Baptist church to decide membership based upon how a person votes.

Okay, fair enough. Just your typical Baptist belief along with a strong condemnation of excising someone because of their beliefs.
I believe that preachers and pastors have a responsibility and an obligation to preach what the Bible says about moral, social public policy issues and to encourage people to vote, and when they vote, to vote their values, their beliefs and their convictions. But the decision about the candidate must remain part of the individual responsibility of the priesthood of all believers. A person's casting of a ballot should never be a cause for church discipline.

Okay, nothing too fantastic here that isn't out of place within the Southern Baptist Convention. We won't get into how SBC seminaries teach their students that as pastors they are the definite leader and authority within their church and their interpretation of the Bible is virtually infalliable... we'll save that for another day. However, at face value there isn't much here.

Dr. Land explains that even if someone voted against a constitutional marriage amendment that wouldn't be cause for a church to exercise discipline against that member. So far, so good... a church shouldn't punish their members for how they vote because that would be wrong! Right?

They need to be at church more than anybody else to hear why they need to change their mind..If you remove them from membership then you've lost the opportunity to share with them and to help them understand that they need to strongly support traditional marriage.

He then draws a distinction between living a "lifestyle that is clearly contradictory to Scripture" and making a decision to vote "that may be erroneous or [display] poor judgement".

Dr. Richard Land, from his seat at the right hand of God, concludes that "erroneous and poor judgment should never lead to being removed from church membership."

Essentially, Dr. Land weakly condemns the decision to kick the members out, but also condemns people who vote in a way that he doesn't agree with, such as the people who were excommunicated. Nice.



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