Moral Contradictions

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I have a simple question...

I've been catching up on my round of blogs lately - moving into a house and a wide array of church commitments has kept me quite busy - and I couldn't help but wonder:

When did Paul join the Trinity?

It seems like he took Jesus' place. I've seen reference in certain comments that Paul's writings shouldn't be discarded because they are "God-breathed". I agree - but I believe there's two categories of Scripture: Those that are God-breathed and those that are God-spoken.

The Gospels, to me, are God-spoken. Those who wrote each book physically interacted with Jesus - He spoke to them, He touched them, they shared meals together, etc. Our deity was physically present.

Paul, along with every other prophet and person in the Bible, experienced God (although Paul had an intense experience) - thus the texts that they wrote and were recorded about them are classified as God-breathed.

We all order passages and books of the Bible in significance. For example, I'd venture to say that most modern Christians eat pork, thus that part of the Bible has now taken a back-seat.

Since we routinely pray to Jesus, not Paul, please pardon me for my "moderate" or *gasp!* "liberal" belief that the Gospels hold a place of significance slightly higher than the rest of the Bible.

You know, that whole "CHRISTian" thing. Does this belief prevent me from fellowshipping with Southern Baptists?

15 Comments:

  • Amen!

    I could not have said it better myself.

    By Blogger runbdp, at Sunday, September 25, 2005 2:07:00 PM  

  • Nathan,

    I want to respond to your comments on Precott's blog about my attitude, but first let me respond to your post.

    1. Where do you get this idea that there are two types of Scripture? Those certainly don't seem to be categories imposed by the Biblical text itself. In fact, Jesus points to the inspiration of all Scripture coming through human writing, even His own words. In John 14, Jesus clearly points out that the Holy Spirit would be the means of bringing to remembrance what Jesus had said and in John 16, Jesus tells His disciples that though He has much more to tell them, "they can't handle the truth" right now. Instead, He will send the Holy Spirit to them. He will speak the words of Jesus to them, thus leading them into all truth. It has been universally recognized by the Church that the Scriptures of Paul and Peter and the other disciples outside of the Gospels were those truths. Thus, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to inspire those men to write what He could not tell them then.

    2. In trusting Jesus' words to be authoritative, you have also put your trust in the men who recorded those words about Him. Remember, the words of Jesus were likely not recorded until at least 25 years later and with John, some possibly 50 years later. But that is ok because Jesus promised in John 14 that the Holy Spirit would bring into remembrance His words. So you trust the words of men who were closest to Jesus to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the exact words to be written, but you don't trust many of those same men to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what Jesus instructed the Holy Spirit to have them write later on?

    3. Peter calls what Paul writes Scripture in 2 Peter 3. He also makes a point, as Jesus does that the OT was inspired and still poignant. Jesus, Himself, does not place His words above those of the prophets, but rather in the context of the prophets. Even his sayings, "You have heard, but I say . . ." are not contrary to the Scriptures, but rather contrary to how the Jews had manipulated those Scriptures to their own desired ends. He, Himself, notes that He did not come to abolish the Law, but rather to fulfill it. Also, Peter states in 2 Peter 1:20-21 that "no prophecy is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved BY the Holy Spirit spoke from God." Thus anything inspired by the Holy Spirit is the very words of God. The categories of God-breathed and God-spoken are thus the same. Incidentally, God-breathed is a play on the word pneuma, where we get the word Spirit. Thus the Spirit of God breathes on men who write. That breath is of God - No different than the breath of Jesus. That doesn't mean He doesn't use their personalities or situations, but that what is written is entirely trustworthy and as good as what God says. Same thing was true of emissaries of kings throughout history. What they spoke was actually the words of the King.

    4. The entire Bible is a revelation of Jesus Christ. From the beginning, God planned to send Christ to die. He knew what He was going to say and how people were going to react to it. He knew the quesitons men would ask following Jesus death and resurrection. Thus, He left us with a book that is harmonious, not contradictory, in order for us to know how to live.

    So what I think you have done is to put at odds what God does not.

    As to the comments about my attitude on Prescott's blog, I would like to know how I was rude? or UnChristlike? To call someone out for writing things that are not true or are accusatory without facts to back them up is not rude, it's appropriate. Also, I responded to Greek Shadow's "rules" not Bruce's weblog. I simply stated that those rules cannot apply to a weblog that advertised as the "official" one of mainstreambaptists.org. Go to the site and look for yourself. It says nothing about it being personal. Neither does the blurb on Ethics Daily. He claims to post true statements, not opinions. And in the last few months he has deleted on topic comments of those who disagree with him. He has slandered Baptists at times and not given them a chance to defend themselves. I simply take the time to point out that such articles should be evaluated and contradicted at times.

    Let me give you one example and then I am done. If I were a homosexual and came across a weblog that claimed "facts" about homosexuality that I believed to be wrong and in which did not offer adequate explanations on and at times seemed slanderous toward homosexuals, shouldn't I be given a right to respond? I think Southern Baptists very often have been slandered. And as one I want a chance to respond. That is all. I appreciate you allowing me to post this and I hope you respond. My hope is not to argue with you, but to show you that Evangelicals like myself are not stupid or naive. I live in the midst of a tradition that is full of serious scholarship and creative thinking. Men like Charles Spurgeon, Johnathan Edwards, John Wesley, John Bunyan, Billy Graham, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and many, many others thought as I do about Christian Scripture.

    Thanks again for the chance to defend myself. I am sorry I took so much space up.

    Soli Deo Gloria,
    D.R.

    By Blogger D.R., at Sunday, September 25, 2005 8:40:00 PM  

  • Hey D.R....

    I thank you for your thoughtful response - my only concern was the fact that for all of your criticism of Dr. Prescott, your posts didn't seem to elevate the level of discourse or prove your point.

    As for how you view Scripture and how I view Scripture, I'll largely agree with you on most points and agree to disagree with you on others. I would defend my "two types" of Scripture thus: First of all, the words I use were very simple to explain my beliefs, as I'm not skilled in the art of explaining the vastness and complexities that compose God and His Majesty. Second of all, I would defend my very simple statement with the basic fact that Jesus says 'come follow me' and Paul says 'Go follow Jesus'.

    For point number two, I will again state that I worship Jesus and not Paul - hence the name Christian, not Paulian nor Biblian or anything else. Do I mean to belittle Paul or the rest of the Bible? Of course not - but I don't pretend to fully understand how the Holy Spirit works - all I know is that Jesus commands faith like a child, thus should there be anything that does seem to contradict itself between Jesus and Paul or any other part of the Bible, I'm going with Jesus.

    As for the rest of your response, I appreciate the time you took; yet I assure you I didn't really mean for it to trigger a deep theological discussion - merely I was pointing out the themes found in the anti-Prescott posts and other blogs I've recently read that seemed to have left Jesus out.

    Basically, what I was getting at was Paul repeatedly attributes all he did and his ministry to Jesus... he was Christ-centered. From what I've read, so many seem to be Paul-centered. I also fully understand your rebuttal about the timeline of the writing of the Gospels, yet still say those folks were physically there... we can go in circles over the context and purpose of Paul's letters and everything else theological. Paul's Pharisee training shines through as he gets very detailed and very legalistic (that whole women cover their heads thing), whereas Jesus came to fulfill the Law and simplified the Ten Commandments to 'love me and love your neighbor'... I really didn't see any love from either side within those comments.

    I'm not a theologian - I'm a Christian who is afraid we as Baptists are, to quote an intriguing post by you on your blog, missing the forest for the trees. I'm extremely saddened by the methods used to bring about the SBC conservative resurgence/fundamentalist takeover and how those politics continue to rip churches apart to this day all across the country... I could possibly agree with some of the goals, but not the means - thus I sit on the sidelines praying that we regain our focus on Christ's love and mission towards others, rather than turn off potential Christians by this bitter in-fighting or break fellowship over small differences blown way out of proportion in comparison to that given mission. (As a light-hearted aside, one of the reasons why the music minister at my home church, a man I respect very much, who happens to be a graduate of Southern, snarkily states that he doesn't want to go to heaven if there's committee meetings)

    That's where my comments and my blog comes from... when we stand before God, He is our only judge, and I truly believe our petty differences and opinions won't be worth a Canadian dime when we have to answer "Did you feed me? Did you clothe me? etc". I want to hear "Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" - that's what I'm focused on.

    Wow, I was really tired and ready for bed when I began this reply... now my brain is all revved up...

    For some reason, since I started reading Dr. Prescott's blog months ago, I never had a problem distinguishing that what was written was his personal views and not the official opinion of the Mainstream Baptists. Right under the title it says "The personal blog of Dr. Bruce Prescott..." - That was another cause of my post on his blog... I didn't quite know how confusion could arise regarding where the blog comes from. Thus I'm loathe to get in a grudge match on someone's personal blog out of respect - that's part of my reason for starting this blog, and the other is I did it once and felt horrible about it because yeah, it was disrespectful.

    Anyways, I do hope you continue to read my blog but I do hope comments here don't degenerate in tone like many threads I read over there with your name as the first comment. I pray I never write in a tone that would draw such a response nor do I wish to have a post drawn into that kind of unhealthy and unfocused discourse. I make observations - observations based in my simpleness. I don't speak for God nor do I have sufficient knowledge to even begin throwing myself into deep theological discussions where I know I'll drown. I've kinda been refocused on Christ and as far as I can tell, I'm in the process of rebuilding my faith on that foundation - slowly to make sure that my building isn't compromised or strays from that foundation.

    And wow, it's late and I don't think I made a lick of sense, but I'm hitting post anyways.... g'night.

    By Blogger Nathan, at Sunday, September 25, 2005 10:45:00 PM  

  • Nathan,

    Let me respond to some of what you said. At the end you said:

    "And wow. . . I don't think I made a lick of sense . . ."

    Your post made plenty of sense and I appreciate the irenic tone and thoughful response. Thank you for your complements as well. I will go into more about blogging and exchange in a moment.

    "First of all, the words I use were very simple to explain my beliefs, as I'm not skilled in the art of explaining the vastness and complexities that compose God and His Majesty. Second of all, I would defend my very simple statement with the basic fact that Jesus says 'come follow me' and Paul says 'Go follow Jesus'."

    I appreciate simplicity. And I think that Occam's razor applies to theology as well as science. I appreciate your humiity here, as well. I too don't feel I am skilled in the complexity of God, but thankfully, I don't believe we have to in order to like Christlike lives. Honestly, though I don't understand your last statement. How does Paul's submission to Christ support the view that His words are somehow less authoritative, expecially in light of the argument that Paul's words according to Peter are Scripture and that all Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit as Jesus directs Him to do so?

    From now on I will abbreviate the paragraphs, but will be responding to them as a whole,

    "For point number two . . . I'm going with Jesus."

    I don’t think that worshipping Paul = holding that all Scripture is equal in its inspiration or importance. And for the record, I don’t think you are trying to belittle the Bible in any way. But I do think your position is problematic. In regard to Jesus contradicting Paul, I don’t see it. I do see people taking Jesus’ words to a degree where they force on them a contradiction with Paul. One example is Jesus and homosexuality. Because Jesus never uttered a word about homosexuality, many assume He would be fine with it since He is all about love. They reject Paul out of hand because they see his comments about the subject as unloving. However, that argumentation is actually coming from silence, not from a wrestling with the Biblical texts and a serious study of Scripture, which Jesus Himself declared to be authoritative. So I don’t see a need to choose between Jesus and Paul and I don’t see how they would conflict, especially if Jesus declared that the Holy Spirit speaks for Him and that the Holy Spirit moved the prophets of old and would move the apostles after His death.

    "As for the rest . . . have left Jesus out."

    While I realize you didn’t mean for it to trigger a discussion, I think your views deserve to be answered properly and fully. I don’t agree with your view and I think it is seriously problematic because of the lack of respect for other Scripture that it CAN lead to (though it may not). Also, it is a popular view that I don’t think people have seriously thought through and at times have adopted from others without serious reflection. I don’t know how you came to this position, but my hope is that I can challenge you to 1) not view Evangelicals like me as anti-intellectual or having not thought deeply through these things, as many would suggest and 2) to reconsider your position in light of better than the simple strawman arguments that unfortunately many have used. I want you to see that guys like me hold to our positions not because we want to leave out Christ, but rather because we think that the Gospels were never meant to stand on their own, but rather as a framework for the life of Jesus, whose words and deeds, according to the apostle John, would not be held in all the books in all the world. Thus, when I see others hold a position like yours, I feel it is THE Christian thing to do to discuss this with them in a civilized and irenic manner, which I hope I am doing here.

    "Basically, . . . from either side within those comments."

    I agree Paul was Christ-centered, which actually adds to the argument that we should accept what he says as authoritative. I still don’t see how that could lead to a position where Jesus is put in opposition to Paul in any aspect of what Scripture teaches. Jesus chose Him on the Damascus road to be the spokesman to the Gentiles and the theologian of the faith. He sent him to the desert to learn directly from the Holy Spirit and then inspired him via the Holy Spirit as he wrote his letters to the churches. Peter recognized this an affirmed that what He wrote was Scripture. Jesus words had to be recorded by a second party, but Paul’s words were recorded by himself. In both aspects, we have to trust the God that the Holy Spirit was the agent of that inspiration. I don’t see how the Holy Spirit’s words could be authoritative in one place and not in another. Consequently, Jesus affirmed that He didn’t speak anything unless it was directed by God. Your initial comment on the Trinity is problematic because the Holy Spirit is equal to Jesus and to the Father. Anything He says or inspires is just as authoritative because both He and Jesus speak for the Father (see also my blog entitled "The Holy Spirit and the Exclusivity of the Gospel"). As for the rebuttal you speak of, my position is that Jesus Himself said the Holy Spirit's work was to bring to remembrance all Jesus said and did. He noted that it was a miracle that the Scriptures would be inspired. The fact that much time passed is the situation which makes the miracle as such. The fact that they were there is true, but it makes it no less miraculous, especially in light of John, who wrote things that none of the other Gospel writers did. As for your view of Paul's Pharisaic upbringing coming out in his writing, I am not sure that is necessarily provable, but just an opinion. One reason why I think this is not the case can be proven in the example you brought up -- Paul's view of women. Something that often gets lost in examining that passage is that Paul is actually advocating a radical position of women's rights. You see in saying women had to have their heads covered he was giving them the right to worship along side of men and advocating their place in worship -- something that was very improper in Jewish law. So Paul wanted to free them from that (he did write that there is no distinction in Christ, whether Jew or Greek, male or female), however, in that culture is was important to distinguish men and women in worship because of the customs of idol worship. Additionally, Paul recognized God's design for men in leadership in the church and in the home. We can honor than in our culture in different ways, not by having women cover their head, since idol worship is no longer a concern, but by leading as men and helping women to be more fulfilled by leading them and being the men we are supposed to be (kind, gentle, and Christ-exalting).

    "I'm not a theologian . . . committee meetings)"

    I recognize your concern about missing the forest for the trees, but I think that a dedication to the authority of Scripture is the cure, not the problem. Many do emphasize certain parts of the Bible to the exclusion of others. Conservatives aren't the only ones guilty of this. Liberals often throw out all of Jesus' teachings on hell on the basis of His own love. I don't understand how Jesus could have been more clear that it was real and that it was eternal, yet many miss it (or intentionally avoid and explain it away). I understand your concern over the methods used by conservatives, but there are two sides to every story. I recognize that what you have heard was probably bad, but remember that it was one sided as well. Have you ever read books about what happened from the other side? Did you know some in the SBC who were fired from seminaries were teaching that Jesus was not God and were mixing pagan teachings about the mother-god into Christianity? Did you know that many professors signed statements that they had no intention of keeping -- thus lying to the people who signed their checks. Many people talk about academic freedom, but what about the freedom of a denomination to ask people to have integrity and to teach according to standards they they agreed to when they were hired? So you see the problem was on both sides, liberals were lying and conservatives felt that they could act in a rude fashion because of it. In the end the "takeover" was worse because folks on both sides acted un-Christlike. That is our nature -- to be depraved. I pray as well that we recapture our mission, but relegating some Scripture above others is not the best way. Conservative made some mistakes -- a lot of mistakes -- and some of us younger ones don't want to make them again, but we can't go back and telling us how bad our predesessors are isn't the ways to encourage dialogue and unity. That is one of the biggest problems I have with guys like Prescott. I care about mission as well, heck we all do, but it's hard to carry it out if there is no unity on essentials of the Christian faith like the deity of Christ.

    Now, as for the Prescott issue, he has been a nemesis for a while. I started out months ago posting some comments where I asked him to clarify his statements about Southern Baptists, which were extremely rude and at times completely untrue. He basically disrespected me time after time. When I posted a statement by the convention that showed that what he was writing was false, he deleted it. He called it propaganda, though he himself, had misrepresented it in his article. Then it escalated during a debate we had on Intelligent Design (I wrote a blog on this that you can view on my site). He made several statements that were simply straw men of actual facts. I challenged his view of ID and he again disrespected me and began deleting my comments, saying they were off topic and that I was trolling. For a long time he deleted everything I wrote, whether on topic or not. The posts you saw were the first where he allowed comments, but again, he has threatened to delete them. I post on his site because he distorts facts and writes vitrolic words about Southern Baptists. I try to show that he is wrong not to be disrespectful, but to defend those who he will not let speak. I think his audience deserves better than he gives. And as for the personal nature of his blog, as I said, check out the mainstreambaptists.org website. It makes Prescott's blog look as if it is the official blog of the site. He claims that everything he writes is true, but he very often distorts the truth and attacks people. I simply feel it is right to call him out and show his readers that fact. I don't feel this is unChristlike because my motivation is not to denegrate anyone (if you notice I try not to attack his character, but rather what he writes), but rather to try to offer another perspective to people who are being inundated with half-truths and negative portrayals of Evangelicals. I mean think about it, if someone was constantly using the bully pulpit to denegrate people you love and an organization you love, wouldn't you want to say something? I have tried to do it with as much humility as I can, but my attitude is not alwaya as Christlike as I wish. I am a debater and I realize that is to my detriment at times.

    I appreciate your invitation to continue reading your blog and I invite you to come visit mine. I don't think comments here will be like those at Prescott's because you seem to have a humble attitude and one that indicates that you desire to learn and grow in Christ. I think you do want to evaluate based on facts and not strawmen. I see Christ in your words and I pray that you will continually seek Him. I appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with you and I hope we continue to do so. I would like to be a positive example of a conservative Christian who puts Christ first, but who sees the Bible as inerrant and the means to Godliness and holiness.

    Thanks again,
    Soli Deo Gloria,
    D.R.

    By Blogger D.R., at Monday, September 26, 2005 1:46:00 AM  

  • Okay D.R., you win due to the sheer fact that because I didn't intend to spark a discussion and I give you mad props for taking the time to reply - time that I simply do not have at this point (this entire comment took an hour to write b/c of everything else going on!). My original post was merely an observation followed by my very simplistic non-theologian theory. I appreciate you trying to correct where you believe I'm wrong, and I must concede again that it was very simplistic, yet I feel just as you spent an hour disproving my belief, I'm sure there are others who can spend that much time proving it. Such is the nature of the our shared faith as every person who approaches the Bible comes away with various interpretations. Since the Holy Spirit works in the oft-quoted mysterious ways, who truly and honestly knows the 100% correct interpretation of the Bible? Thus, in that light I welcome debate and discussion (when life isn't completely crazy) but not arguments, with an unspoken sentiment to respect each other's opinions. But for now, I just don't have time to run circles in a tangental debate that has no end.

    I will agree with and answer your statement that the Gospels cannot stand alone, just as Paul's Epistles or the OT can't. However, I think we, as a church, often lose focus that one day we will stand alone before Jesus and answer for our actions - we won't get a say on how anyone else is judged... In that light, I look to Jesus' words first, and then pursue what the rest of the Bible says. I do not mean to misconstrue Scripture at all or diminish any part of it, it's just if I read "eye for an eye" and then "love your enemies", I'm going with the latter (or at least I'd like to think I would).

    I respect your passion, your thoughtfulness, and your debating skills (this blog is giving me a crash course on do's and don'ts...) but I'm slow to jump in a debate with no physical judge where each side is convinced they're right. At the end of the day, what is accomplished? I do welcome comments on my observations of the various news articles and other blogs I quote on here, and I look forward to reading your blog and hearing from your perspective.

    Hope you got some sleep last night... :)

    Godspeed,
    Nathan

    By Blogger Nathan, at Monday, September 26, 2005 1:06:00 PM  

  • I understand your desire not to debate this further. I appreciate your complements, but I want to be clear that I feel that I am a failure if I don't make you think deeper and reconsider your position even more. I was a bit depressed reading your statement "I feel just as you spent an hour disproving my belief, I'm sure there are others who can spend that much time proving it." It bothered me because it signals to me a lack of desire to go forth from this and dig deep and challenge what you have been taught. Now I don't say that to belittle you in any way, for my whole purpose is to exhort you and to spur you on to deeper thoughts about our great God and His Word. Great men like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, William Carey, and Hudson Taylor did the same. I pray we will all strive to follow that model of drinking deeply at the fountain of our Saviour.

    So I will leave you with one story, but I hope it will not be the last time we discuss. I have enjoyed it. Now the story of my own journey. I got so sick of the SBC in college that I was ready to leave it, much of it because my college was SBC, but run like any other secular campus. I moved toward rejecting the authority of Scripture and toward views like open theism. I decided I wanted nothing to do with the pastorate or ministry, but I did want to do counseling ministry. So I graduated, depressed and unsure of what was next. I decided to go to seminary at Mid-America in Memphis (which was a big mistake, because the legalism there only made me angrier at the SBC) because it was near home and because I didn't want to stay out of school for very long. I thought about transfering to Fuller Theological Seminary or a secular school. But for some reason God changed my heart regarding ministry through some great church experiences I was having in "Emergent" style churches. So I decided God was calling me to college ministry. I saw that New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was starting a degree in college ministry and while I was skeptical, it was cheap and a starting point. So off I went. I dreaded one class upon arrival -- Systematic Theology. I had no care for theology, expecially the systematic kind -- practical was more my cup of tea. But I figured I should get it out of the way, so I took it first. As I went in arms flalling, I realized that my Sys Theo prof was not like I had thought. He was reasonably humble, he gave detailed answers to complex questions and he seemed never to have a harsh word for those who disagreed. Instead he focused on their argument and often took them to task using the whole of Scripture. In the midst of that class I was also in other classes like Apologetics where I had to learn to assess worldviews and think clearly. Those profs were similar, more interested in engaging the arguments than building strawmen. So now I had a conflict -- what I saw modeled at NOBTS and what I saw lived out in SBC churches. Since that time I have realized that there is a huge gap that exists between the younger generation and the older generation. Much of the hatred and bitterness and even the sadness it directed toward those who came before us, something we can't fix or change. But we are something different, something bolder, more intellectually sound, and more able to dialogue without accusing. It bothers me to see old school tactics used by anyone whether it is Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist, or Bruce Prescott of Mainstream Baptists. Either way, something has to give. I want you to see Nathan that you don't have to give up your integrity to agree with views conservative hold to -- heck I agree with a lot of your politics and your views, but you have to be willing to be challenged and that is what I hope I have done, and done so with grace. I comment on the Bruce Prescott site for guys like you Nathan, who are only seeing one side or who haven't seen enough of my side. Trust me, if I didn't deeply care, it sure wouldn't be worth it to me. So I don't know if you are willing, but I challenge you to read someone that has opened up to me a world of deep love for Christ with intellectual vigor, who shows Christlikeness in all he does, but still engages those who he feels do not line up with the Bible. I have never heard a bad word about this guy from liberals or conservatives and that is John Piper. I challenge you to read Pleasures of God by Piper and see if it appeals to you in any way. I would be willing to send you my copy if you would like it.

    So thanks again Nathan for listening to me ramble. I hope are conversations are grace-filled and God-exalting and as much of an encouragement to you as they are to me.

    Soli Deo Gloria,
    D.R. Randle

    By Blogger D.R., at Tuesday, September 27, 2005 2:27:00 AM  

  • D.R.,

    Again, I truly appreciate your sincerity and I'm sorry if I seemed dismissive - I was partially distracted at work (need boots at all? :) ) and I didn't fully reflect on what you wrote. I will take your recommendation to read John Piper to heart and look his work up.

    As many encouraging signs exist from our younger generation, within our age group I have encountered some (in person and on this blog) who walk lockstep with the older generation, influenced by their Seminary teaching, proving that the conservatives met and proved their goals of taking over the schools. I am encouraged by your experience and testimony. However, I do contend, as I know you realize, the older generation is still around, still very influential, and unfortunately, is still quoted in national newspapers.

    You can probably find bits and pieces of where I come from throughout the blog, but I was raised in a SBC church. When I was born the pastor had already been there nearly 20 years, and 23 years later, he's still there. He was able to squelch many of the denominational battles that took place and the church "rode out the storm" - thus I was completely ignorant as to what happened until a few years ago. The church is now a vibrant suburbian fellowship - yet I pray that the battles that weren't allowed will stay out when the pastor decides to retire.

    Where my wife serves, the music minister attended Southeastern in the late 80s and even finished two years of schooling, before being too threatened and unwelcome. All the female students received nasty handwritten letters saying something to the effect of "you shouldn't be here". My wife has female classmates where they were severely harassed by the church in which they served. I also have a family member that works at a prominent SBC institution and boy, the stories they can tell!

    Like I said before, your testimony is very encouraging. I am an observer by nature and I can't help but see the disconnect between the official SBC lines that make me cringe when I read them in the press and folks like you. I do have to remember that the Albert Mohlers and the Richard Lands don't speak for all SBC'ers, but it sure seems like it. It seems to be more exclusive rather than inclusive (note I said "seems", my favorite observational word)... which is why I respect the CBF's mission of putting their head down to focus on the SBC's original focus, missions and education - and leaving God to be the final judge. I can see why the SBC wanted to do what it did, but like before, I don't agree with the methods used and I think they've gone too far. The church my wife and I are at is a CBF/SBC hybrid, the first time I've encountered that, and I'm taking notes and won't fully be able to digest the dynamics there for awhile as compared to other models of churches.

    I still have a lot of growing left, a lot of observing left, and that was another reason for me starting this blog - so I can hash stuff out. Thank you for your two cents (well, more like 10 cents :) ) and your sincerity. Again I apologize for being dismissive before, but I'll look for that Piper book and check it out.

    Nathan :)

    By Blogger Nathan, at Tuesday, September 27, 2005 9:12:00 AM  

  • What was the quotation from Adlai Stevenson? "I find Paul appealing, and Peale appalling."

    By Blogger James Young, at Tuesday, September 27, 2005 12:33:00 PM  

  • Wow! a lot has been going on in the blogging world since I've been gone. I didn't have access to the internet at my aunt's so now I am catching up. I see D.R.'s been busy setting everyone straight again. hehe

    All is well including my cats. Whew! I put out enough food for a month..it was almost gone. I think every cat in the neighborhood came inside and feasted. We were in that 20 hour traffic you all saw on TV. It was just a minor inconvenience and I'd do it again in a New York minute should we be threatened with a catagory 5 hurricane. Had a nice long visit with family.

    Now to comment on your post. You said:

    "You know, that whole "CHRISTian" thing. Does this belief prevent me from fellowshipping with Southern Baptists?"

    It hasn't kept me from fellowshipping, but it has caused me to seek refuge in another denomination. I grew up Southern Baptist and we used to be proud of that diversity that Herschel Hobbs spoke so eloquently of in the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message. But our new SBC leaders tell us that Hobbs was "duped". We didn't used to have to cross our t's and dot our i's the same. Now if we don't, we are corrected, the error of our ways is explained in long preachy tirades and we're invited to see the light and come to the realization that we too have been "duped". I want no part of it and so I have moved on. You keep Christ in the forefront, Nathan. You're doing a great job with your blog. I always look forward to reading. One of these days, when the time is right, I'm going to start blogging. I think it will be very theraputic.

    By Blogger Marty, at Tuesday, September 27, 2005 11:42:00 PM  

  • Marty,

    Good to hear that everything is well (and that your cats survived - albeit a few pounds heavier now!).

    I like the expression that "Not everyone in heaven is Baptist, and not all Baptists go to heaven". I was brought up with the appreciation that the Southern Baptist Convention cast a wide net, first in the many types of people in that tent, but also the ramifications of being a convention and not a "Church". However, when very un-Baptist practices were established (sign the 2000 Creed or you can't be a missionary/pastor/etc) and condemnation "seemed" to trump fellowship. I understand not all SBC churches are like that, like my home church, but so did those in the forefront of the fundamentalist takeover. Thus everything comes from the top down, and I don't want to repeat the same battles that have been fought over the last 25 years. Thus, I call myself a "Virginia Baptist" more than identifying with the SBC or CBF... I'll go to any Baptist church who won't shut me out and who has the correct focus on God, and not petty issues.

    As always, thank you for your thoughts and compliments - you are always welcome here and I'll be the first to read your blog should you decide to start one. :)

    By Blogger Nathan, at Wednesday, September 28, 2005 11:16:00 PM  

  • Nathan, please allow me to give you another perspective on the "takeover/resurgence".

    1. As a denomination and not a church, all denominational employees are subject to those who pay their salaries. Seminary profs and the employees of the SBC entities must conform to the standards set up by the denomination. They are not an equal opportunity employer. Thus, the denomination, by vote and representation exercises its will over its entities by hiring and firing based on the precidents set up the denomination, as voted on by its members.
    2. As such, the members of the SBC can call the employees of the SBC to account for all they teach and believe. Any one who does not conform to the standards set up by the members of the denomination is subject to censure.
    3. The structure of the SBC has always been that the President had the power to appoint trustees who in turn appoint the trustees for the entities of the SBC. Those trustees evaluate the employees of the entities based on the BF&M and any other confession signed by those employees upon their hiring.
    4. During the resurgence, some of the conservatives saw that the rules already set up by the SBC could be used to censure those who were teaching unBiblical views like that Christ was not God in the flesh and did not rise from the dead. Thus, they began by securing the Presidency of the SBC in 1979. From there moderates (and some liberals) were filtered out of the trustee roles. As the trustee committees began becoming more conservative, the trustees evaluated many of the statements made by prof and employees of the SBC. Many were determined to be outside of the bounds of the BF&M. In the case of Southern Seminary, many were signing statements that they had no intention of upholding. And while they were truly confessions, they were told by the convention upon hire that they were expected to teach according to those principles (the original intent of the BF&M 1925, to bring together all Baptists under a single confession that all could agree to). When confronted, many of those teaching contrary to the confessions, refused to repent and stop teaching those things. Thus, they were in violation of their contracts as seminary profs or entity employees. Thus many were asked to leave. And many left on their own when told they had to actually teach according to the statements they signed.
    5. During this time folks on both sides said some things that were very unChristlike. At one now famous sit-in, one professor prayed that the God-woman would strike the hand of those who had fed them (the conservative administrators had just had pizzas delivered to those students involved in the sit-in). And many conservatives started rumors about their moderate counterparts about their personal lives. So both sides did things that were unChristlike.
    6. In the end the conservatives won out and the moderates and liberals were forced out. But all of it was done by democratic practices that were established long before the takeover. No rules were changed and the vast majority of the SBC agreed with the firing of those who would not agree to conform to the BF&M. It was the SBC reps who voted to change the BF&M in 1999 and 2000, not the Executive Committee or the presidents of the entities. Thus it was the power of the people of the SBC.
    7. I recognize that many things were done by conservatives that were inappropriate, but in the end, the churches that felt the effects in their own congregations were not told to do so by the convention, they were merely reacting to what their own members were going through personally. Everyone takes sides, even church members. I don't try to defend everything done, but I do want to make sure that villianizing one side to the exclusion of the other doesn't do that time justice. Both sides had right arguments and both sides had wrong arguments. The conservatives merely had the democratic process in their favor and now enjoy the majority in the convention. Had the liberals had the chance, they likely would have done the same thing. After all, they blocked many, many potential conservative teaching appointees to Southern Seminary before and during the resurgence. They did it by means of a simple majority. Only when the trustees appointed conservative administrators did the tide begin to turn. And almost every single prof was given the chance to repent of their teachings and not be asked to leave. Some actually took that opportunity and stayed, at least for a while, working alongside of the conservatives. They just had to agree not to teach anything that was against the BF&M. And many would not do that.
    8. I wish that things would have gone different, as well as many other conservatives, but in the end, we have to live with the results and quit villianizing one another. We have to discuss our differences and learn from our mistakes. Forgiveness works both ways, not just for winners or losers.

    So, Nathan I hope you see that not all conservatives are jerks and that not all moderates or liberals are faultless. I am sorry that all of this has caused great problems in individual congregations, but I think it is safe to conclude that the motivations of many, many people were pure (on both sides). Christians have deep convictions and should. We each have to evaluate our beliefs and hold them up to the testimony of Scripture to determine their validity. Christlikeness begins with believing the right things and trickles down to our behavior. What we really believe is what will determine how we act. Conservatives believed that the Bible was inerrant, that theology was uncompromisable, and that it was dishonest to sign statements that you neither agreed with nor would choose to abide by. Liberals believed that academic freedom should trump any confessional statement, that Jesus loves all people equally and thus is not as interested in their sexual orientation or their theological beliefs, and that the SBC should not have the right to control the actions and beliefs of their employees. One side had to win out. Sometimes I wish it hadn't been mine, but I can't change that. I can only love people and treat them as I feel Christ would. I have to engage them when I feel they are wrong since I believe theology is important, but I also must do it in love and thoroughly out of respect to their deep held beliefs.

    I hope you understand my persepective better by me writing this and I hope you don't feel that I am in any way saying your feelings are wrong. I know you and others were hurt, but I don't want you to think conservatives either don't care or had motivations that were not steeped in at least some pure motives.

    Thanks again for listening.
    Soli Deo Gloria.

    By Blogger D.R., at Friday, September 30, 2005 1:04:00 AM  

  • Thanks D.R. - I'm well aware of your side of the takeover/resurgence, but we can't put behind us what is still playing out today. I'm also aware of parts that you glossed over or left out and I really don't feel like hashing it all out at this point. I'm still reading up on each side's story and trying to find the truth - not the propaganda or each side's Talking Points.

    Stay Tuned.

    By Blogger Nathan, at Friday, September 30, 2005 11:28:00 AM  

  • Well, since I think you may be referring to something I posted over at Prescott's blog, let me make a summary comment here, ask a question, and make another peripheral comment.

    Summary: I firmly believe that all scripture is God-breathed--and I think your distinction between God-breathed and God-spoken is interesting, but wrong--no scripture takes a backseat to any other.

    Qualification: Now practically speaking, I do this all the time: for example, I don't read the endless geneaologies in the OT. In that sense they "take a back seat" to scriptures more relevant to my life context. At the same time, I want to affirm that those geneaologies are no less inspired, no less God-"spoken" than anything Jesus said or did.

    (OK, that was really more than a summary comment...)

    Now the question: how would you justify the distinction you made? Notice that I'm not saying that Paul is as important a person as Jesus. No one in the universe is more important than Him. What I'm saying is that all scripture exists on an level plane of worth and importance. You don't agree; I get that. But I'm just curious as to how you arrived at your position?

    Finally, I really don't understand the joke you made about Paul joining the Trinity. No one suggested anything of the sort. I realize that was a joke on your part, but it seems like a misrepresentation to suggest that folks (like myself) affirm the equality of all scripture are in some sense "deifying" the NT (or OT) writers that God chose to use. (I'm all for tension-breaking humor; don't get me wrong. I just that it was sort of an egregious misstatement about the position I hold to...even if it was in fun)

    God bless.

    By Blogger cks, at Friday, October 14, 2005 10:00:00 AM  

  • cks... I think I'm taken a little too literally at times, and at worst, I don't spell out all of my beliefs within one post. That being said, the original post was quick and dirty and I probably should have spent more time. I will give some credit to D.R. hounding me because I spent more time thinking about the subject instead of writing about it and moving on.

    The intent of the post stems from my observation that it "seems" like some prefer to go to the Bible with a "what would Paul say" attitude with Jesus' teaching's ignored, or at best, placed in the proverbial backseat.

    I believe all Scripture is God-breathed... I think some folks focus too much on the terms and not enough time listening to one another (*cough* biblical inerrancy mess fought out in the SBC *cough*). Like you said, all Scripture being equal, there are those passages that we hold in higher regard than others - that regard can change depending on the circumstance. If my Spirit needs lifting, I may turn to Psalms first as opposed to Leviticus.

    In most circumstances, if I have a question about something, I'll flip to the Gospels first and see what Jesus said. Then I'll flip to Paul's letters and Proverbs and other places. But I compare what I found from Jesus' teachings with the other teachings and I'll come out with a complete and well-rounded answer. If there's a time when Paul and Jesus seem contradictory or Paul is silent or said very little about the issue, I'll take Jesus' teachings to heart.

    My post seemed superficial because you're right, it was done in humor. With bracelets of "WWJD" and us being called "Christians" and all, it just seemed like there were folks making comments in the vein of "forget the J, WWPD?"

    I have to admit, I normally forget about posts and move on once I publish them... since D.R. took great offense and decided to preach to me instead of listening, I've given some more thought to this... I think the crux of the misunderstanding here is I didn't explain myself well... and there are some folks here who take things a bit too literally or get too obsessed with the printed words and don't seek the deeper meaning or misunderstood intent. I am guilty of this at times as well. Thank you for calling me on it and for giving me another chance to respond.

    By Blogger Nathan, at Friday, October 14, 2005 11:14:00 AM  

  • I appreciate your response, Nathan. I guess my basic disagreement with your position relates to your statement: "If there's a time when Paul and Jesus seem contradictory...."

    I know that some people see issues with regard to seeming "contradictions" (though I'm curious as to which you refer to), but I guess my take would be that the Bible speaks a unified, non-contradictory message throughout. And if it doesn't seem like it sometimes, the problem's with me, not the Bible. (But then again you wrote seem not are so maybe we're in the same chapter if not exactly on the same page.)

    I'm sure you've heard all that before, but for what it's worth...

    cks

    By Blogger cks, at Friday, October 14, 2005 4:34:00 PM  

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