Moral Contradictions

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A couple of escapes, and a thought

Saturday night my wife and I went to a Richmond Braves game with my parents and her mom. While there my dad and I got to talk politics... he's a conservative who's mellowed somewhat, and my "coming-of-age" in politics seems to have helped influence that. Or it could be that I'm just full of myself and once I got older I was able to fully understand and appreciate his views.

As I sit here with sun-burned feet from a long day in Virginia Beach, I throw out my dad's theory concerning the Southern Baptist Convention:

He points to the 1976 Convention where they voted to evangelize the entire world by 2000. He believes that Satan took that opportunity to create the strife within the SBC and force moderates and conservatives to split and lose focus on God and the Great Commission.

Slightly related, while stuck in traffic before the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel today, I thought back to a comment that mischaracterized my description of why the CBF left the SBC. At least to me, the intent behind that comment was to portray the CBF as a group that just couldn't get their way and split. That's pretty true, but it seemed to carry a negative tone. All that to say, if I'm reading it right (I'm probably not), what would be said about the Conservatives leaving the Virginia and Texas conventions?

I'm of the simple belief that God's central weapon (the SBC and others like D. James Kennedy seem to relate to warrior terms) is love - not politics. I'm also of the simple belief that God is huge and that we humans cannot fully fathom His Majesty and Greatness within our pea-sized brains. I also believe that in the end, we are all equal before God - pastors, deacons, missionaries, laity, "bushmen" as Pat Roberts termed 'lesser people' in his latest book... we're all equal. Though pastors have some sway over their congregation, in the end, it's only a millioneth of a percent higher than everyone else compared to God. Thus I cringe when someone trys to say "this is the way and the only way" when they're not referring to the only way to get to Heaven is through following and believing in Jesus.

Ultimately, over 15-20 years were lost to politics. Sure good was done admist the turmoil, but every facet of the SBC was touched by power politics, which Jesus stayed away from (that whole "least of these/servant" talk). As the SBC continues to isolate itself from the rest of the Baptist world and arrogantly claim its interpretation of the Bible as the only way, what will happen to groups like the CBF and others who are struggling to find their identity? Will politics stay out as folks try to continue focusing on traditional Baptist principles and furthering God's Kingdom? Or will the SBC and other groups continue shooting shots across the bow at each other and further fall farther away from our common and great God?

I pray for all Baptists - that we can re-focus on historical Baptist principles, cease condemning each other for theological differences, no matter how great or small, stop speaking for God, and fellowship together all as Christians... and let God sort the goats and sheep in the end.

And you can find that in the Bible.


  • Let's hear from James Madison: "What influence in fact have
    Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many
    instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In
    no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of
    the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found
    in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to
    secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy." Madison
    objected to state-supported chaplains in Congress and to the exemption
    of churches from taxation. He wrote: "Religion and government will both
    exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."

    These founding fathers were a reflection of the American population.
    Having escaped from the state-established religions of Europe, only 7%
    of the people in the 13 colonies belonged to a church when the
    Declaration of Independence was signed.

    Among those who confuse Christianity with the founding of America, the
    rise of conservative Baptists is one of the more interesting
    developments. The Baptists believed God's authority came from the
    people, not the priesthood, and they had been persecuted for this
    belief. It was they -- the Baptists -- who were instrumental in
    securing the separation of church and state. They knew you can not have
    a "one-way wall" that lets religion into government but that does not
    let it out. They knew no religion is capable of handling political
    power without becoming corrupted by it. And, perhaps, they knew it was
    Christ himself who first proposed the separation of church and state:
    "Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto the Lord that which
    is the Lord's."

    In the last five years the Baptists have been taken over by a
    fundamentalist faction that insists authority comes from the Bible and
    that the individual must accept the interpretation of the Bible from a
    higher authority. These usurpers of the Baptist faith are those who
    insist they should meddle in the affairs of the government and it is for
    they who insist the government should meddle in the beliefs of

    The price of Liberty is constant vigilance, folks. Religious
    fundamentalism and zealous patriotism have always been the forces which
    require the greatest attention.
    as voltaire once said..

    By Blogger derailuer, at Tuesday, July 19, 2005 11:18:00 PM  

  • I was with you until toward the end. First and foremost, the conservative perversion and takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention started 25 years ago... today we're continuing to see the fruit bear from the seeds sown in the late 1970s.

    By and large you gave a good summary of Baptists and their role with separating church and state... you lost me at Voltaire, but I respect your opinion. Great evil can arise from religion (Crusades/Justification of slavery/September 11, 2001), but religion can and is often the impetus of great good. All too often bad things are done in the name of God.

    By Blogger Nathan, at Wednesday, July 20, 2005 6:30:00 PM  

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