Moral Contradictions

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Biblical questions

In pre-reformation years, lay Catholics were not allowed to read the Bible for themselves did not have very many opportunities to hold the Catholic Church accountable (thanks Sophrosyne!). The printing press revolutionized the world, and quickly after Martin Luther starting asking his questions, his writings formed the most popular books.

One result of Rome controlling the interpretation of the Bible was the allowance of secret and unbiblical practices to flourish without question. If you questioned the Church, you were questioning God. Stake burnings were a powerful silencing tool.

In Southern Baptist life, why have blogs come under fire from leadership? It's simple - no, it really is. In a convention that prides itself on democracy, blogs have allowed those outside of power an effective tool to pose questions and disseminate opinions amongst the laity.

Proof of this incredible effect can be see by the election of Dr. Frank Page as President in June of this year. Inconsistencies were noted, the "party" line was questioned, and business-as-usual received a violent wake-up call. Bloggers can now quickly coalesce together to shine light in previously dark corners, showing all the world what they find.

Are blogs like the modern printing press? That can definitely be debated, yet the view here acknowledges similar results and reactions. The "dissenters" become emboldened and more organized, while the establishment are afraid and condemn the technology. These are generalizations, as there are those within the institution that blog, and there are bloggers who disagree with the folks who helped elect Dr. Page.

What happens from here within the SBC is unknown, except for what is known: self-appointed watchdogs versus a resisting establishment always creates fireworks. Adding faith and southern culture will make it all the more interesting.

How do moderate Baptist bloggers, such as myself, respond? Personally I act as an interested spectator. I try to refrain from commenting as it's not my struggle.

One thing to remember is that moderate bloggers do not share the same stimuli for starting blogs and organizing online. The SBC bloggers share a common desire for accountability - what do (or can) moderate bloggers unite around?

As tempting as it is to bash "the other side", we cannot identify ourselves by what we are against but what we are for. Watching the SBC bloggers has taught me that we actually share quite a bit in common, but the differences we do have are definitely stark.

Eliminating poverty is one idea that has been proposed. What else? Part of Moral Contradictions' focus is to identify the logical inconsistencies arising when faith intersects politics - there's plenty of room for more on that subject.

Next week I start school and this blog will change. I'm working on a project to help increase moderate Baptists' presence on the web. The Mainstream Baptists group blog has been started and seems to be off to a great start.

What now for you?


  • You know, there are still reasons of accountability, even amongst the moderates. Here in Texas, we have our own skuttle-butts. We want to be above reproach. We don't want to be like the fundamentalists, and tend to get a particular pleasure from the fundamentalists fumbles. But, when we become blind to our own possible problems, it makes the fall so much more terrible. Moderates always tended to take the high road from what I can tell. Well, what happens when we fall into the ditch? I'm afraid that we in the BGCT, have taken a plunge. :(


    By Blogger Tim, at Thursday, August 31, 2006 12:21:00 AM  

  • Tim,

    I would definitely be interested in reading more about what you're referring to - as you said, so much press and attention has gone to what's going on in the SBC, but there has to be other things going on in the moderate world. I know in Virginia there are some things that have gone on in the last few years that shouldn't. Unfortunately I don't know enough about it to really write about it.

    One thing I've observed in a local church setting, in reaction to over-accountability in the SBC, is a complete lack of accountability. Accountability equated with guilting people into service and coming to church. There has to be a fine-line, but where is it?

    By Blogger Nathan, at Thursday, August 31, 2006 11:23:00 AM  

  • Great blog and post. However, I did want to point out the inaccurate depiction of the Catholic Church at the beginning of your post. It is worth noting that Bishop Fulton Sheen once eloquently said: “few people in America hate the Catholic religion, but there are many who hate what they mistakenly believe is the Catholic religion—and that if what they hate really were the Catholic religion, Catholics would hate it too.” Your claim that the Catholic Church maintained a general prohibition against the Bible being read by the laity is a good example of the mistaken beliefs Sheen cites.

    I am sure we won’t agree on the merits of Catholicism and its teaching but we should be able to agree on basic history… and there is much available to investigate your claim. I think if you do so you will find that while the Church teaches that the reading the Bible is not necessary for salvation (an obvious view founded in Scripture since Christ saved many before the Bible was penned)… the Church never outright banned Bible reading. It did place restrictions and prohibitions on the reading of versions deemed to be heretical or corrupt (we see this most clearly at the Council of Trent in 1546-1563). There an Index Commission was setup to help ensure that heresy was not spread but NEVER was the authoritative, accurate (in the view of the Catholic Church, obviously) Bible ever banned. This is now developed into the current discipline known as “Officiorum ac Munerum”. I hope you can at least see the logic behind prohibiting the spread of what is viewed as corrupt texts of Scripture (this is similar to the Church’s battle to protect Christ’s teaching and word by fighting the heresies in the previous generations—the “Gospel of Judas”, etc). Just thought I’d add my two cents and clear up what I believe is an inaccurate depiction of the Catholic faith. I enjoy reading your blog!

    By Blogger Sophrosyne, at Thursday, August 31, 2006 11:29:00 AM  

  • Sophrosyne, thank you for your insight - I definitely will investigate more and check my sources, as I'm definitely fallible.

    We can agree, however, that before the printing press the Bible was largely out of the hands of the general population. Illiteracy plus lack of availability allowed clergy excesses, which were held to account once the Bible was more popular... hence the comparison with blogs shining light in the dark places of the Baptist world.

    I look forward to cracking open my Hans Kung book as a starter to second your account and learn more. Thanks!

    By Blogger Nathan, at Thursday, August 31, 2006 12:44:00 PM  

  • Nathan,

    Yep, I think you're right. There definately is a lack of accountability in the moderate world. I believe that part of this is our great desire to trust each other. I also believe that this came out of the struggle with the fundamentalists. They were the bad guys. They were the liars and cheaters, committing character assassination. Moderates were supposed to be above that...and thus far I haven't seen any proof to the contrary. Moderates did hold themselves to a higher ethical standard the the Patterson/Pressler crowd. Those guys really were/are evil. But, since so many people "fought" together, developing strong bonds; they just can't believe that one of their own would make a huge/bad mistakes. That is what is going on in the BGCT right now. Some people just can't/won't believe that financial misdeeds were committed. That is the scariest part for me. There is a blind trust, an unwillingness to even contemplate it. In that is a huge lack of accountability. And, I get a huge guilt trip for even askign about the possibility.


    By Blogger Tim, at Thursday, August 31, 2006 10:01:00 PM  

  • In regards to blogging, I would agree that is similar to the printing press. Because it makes it sooo much easier to write and publish. Simply type and click and the button and the whole world can see your writings. It is also similar to the time when people used to publish pamplets, and distribute those as writings and sources of debate. I believe that blogging is beginning to change a lot of things.

    By Blogger Matthew61, at Wednesday, September 06, 2006 6:29:00 PM  

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