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[ # ] My History with Southern Baptists
January 18th, 2006 under Baptists, Christian Crap, Christianity, Politics, Walking Like Jesus

My friend Joe suggested that I provide everyone with the background of my struggles with Southern Baptists. I must first begin by stating that my faith in Christ is due to having been “raised” in Baptist churches. Thus, I have many wonderful Baptist friends that I thank God for every day. In fact, the last time I went to a convention, it was very emotional and exciting for me because of all the old friends I saw. So, I am deeply indebted to Southern Baptists. To quote one of my professors, “Most of my friends and all of my enemies are Southern Baptists.”

The struggle began when I was only six years old. I had been a “cradle roll” baby and had never known a Sunday that I hadn’t had vanilla wafers and cool-aid during Sunday School. The snow cones at VBS were great too! Unfortunately, my father quit his job at the munitions plant (making bombs and guns to send to Viet Nam) and took a job at Schlitz Brewery in Longview Texas. When the pastor and deacons came by to “confront” him about it, my dad sincerely asked a couple of questions. One was, “You mean to tell me that last week I was making stuff to send over seas and kill people and you were OK with that, but now that I’m making beer I’m unacceptable to you?” My dad had been raised by nuns so he hadn’t read all those Biblical passages that prohibit making beer. The second question was, “Didn’t Jesus himself make wine?”

Neither side was convinced by the other, so my family was officially “churched” as it was called back then. Sure, we could attend the church and should continue to pay our tithe, but we were no longer members of the church.

My dad quit going to church, but my mom continued to take us. When my older brother was “old enough” he quit going to church. He didn’t want to be a part of anything that said his dad was unworthy. Needless to say, the Baptist churches we did attend were the most moderate we could find. One pastor even asked my dad to take him and his brother on a tour of the Schlitz plant. It was fun because when we went to the brew house, the preacher’s wife asked how much of each ingredient was put in the brew kettle because she wanted to try this at home!

Although my experience in Baptist churches was mostly positive, there were those in every church that looked down on us because of my father’s vocation.

The next big problems came at seminary. I taught there during my doctoral work and though I know I made a positive impact on many of the students, there was always two or three, or an entire back row who challenged me in every class. I really don’t mind being challenged, the real problem is that some students began to question my commitment to Scripture, to the Christian tradition, and my faith itself. I constantly had former students who knew and loved me that would approach me in the student center and tell me that they had heard the following about me: I denied the trinity, I didn’t believe persons are sinners, I didn’t believe the Bible was inspired. There were many more, but these bothered me the most.

When the new BF & M came around, I talked openly with several others teaching at the institution who were Calvinists. I asked them about the statement on original sin. They disagreed with it, but signed it anyway. I had other problems with the document so I couldn’t sign it. Now, I’m the heretic! They’re just liars, but they have jobs! God Bless em’! Many other events happened there, but I don’t wish to hurt anyone that I love. Several of the profs that retired or asked to leave were my friends. They loved the Bible as much as any one I know. I heard all sorts of things said about them behind their backs. I worked at the seminary motel and would constantly have to “straighten out” some of the slanderous things the “extension students” would say about the profs. It was sickening.

I’ve gotten over the bitterness. It took a long time. Longer than it should have. But, I won’t stop speaking out against those things that my Baptist brothers and sisters do that are harmful to others and to the body of Christ. With Joe’s help and the help of others, I’ll try to do it in love.


Read the Comments

[ # 245 ] Comment from matthew61 [January 18, 2006, 7:17 am]

Thank you for sharing. Unfortantely it seems Christians and in this case Baptist seem to leave a legacy of bad feelings and hurt. I myself have been in the direct fire of a Baptist church, and that plays a lot into my thinking about church and theology. It has been three years, and I still get angry about it from time to time. I probably won’t ever “get over” it, but I certainly don’t want to forget about it either. It is a big part of who I am now. And I think the same goes with you.

I enjoy reading your blog keep it up.

[ # 246 ] Comment from Joe Kennedy [January 18, 2006, 7:18 am]

I should tell you some of the things I saw in my 2 years at a certain church not in New Orleans. Generally they were nice. Some were mean as junkyard dogs. I hear those are pretty vicious. Thanks for giving us some context. Believe me when I say I CAN identify with you. I don’t know a lot about teaching, but I’ve definitely seen people do horrible things. A professor recently talked to me about some of the stuff he’d seen as an interim. We blow it so often, man. I wish we didn’t. I appreciate that you were open with us. And I’m sorry about the Xavier thing. That’s got to be tough.

On a brighter note, I intend to visit Edgewater soon. (Know that if you ever went there as a student, there are great folks there now. I’m not sure what it was like in the past, but I’ve heard stories that have a lot to do with the word “dead”.) Feb. 5th I’ll be in town for the day. I have some folks I’m supposed to visit, but maybe I’ll get a chance to meet you soon.

Keep the faith.

[ # 247 ] Comment from D.R. Randle [January 18, 2006, 7:50 am]

Hey you skipped over the 3 years you spent teaching about 10 wonderful young men in Memphis, three of which have moved on to ministry. I know we all appreciated you back then.

[ # 248 ] Comment from Kevin [January 18, 2006, 8:46 am]

Joe,

I know that church well :)

Thanks for sharing your story Howie.

KB

[ # 249 ] Comment from howie [January 18, 2006, 10:17 am]

Thanks D.R.!
You gave me hell though!
Love you man!

[ # 250 ] Comment from Bruce Prescott [January 18, 2006, 11:03 pm]

Thanks for sharing this Howie.

Keep on speaking the truth in love.

[ # 251 ] Comment from howie [January 19, 2006, 12:45 am]

Thanks Bruce!

[ # 256 ] Comment from D.R. Randle [January 19, 2006, 10:22 am]

One point about Calvinism and the BF&M statement on original sin: as a Calvinist I don’t see anything there I would blatently disagree with, though I wish it were worded differently. I do think there is a big difference between nuanced understandings of free will and an outright rejection of the BF&M statement on women pastors. While I agree that one should be honest about disagreements on the BF&M, I have heard about discussions between trustees and potential staff members regarding such nuances (as well as with missionary appointments). In some cases it comes down to how one interprets the statements and how the particular trustees see this interpretation in light of the overall BF&M. Also, I do know of at least one professor at a Seminary who believes differently from the BF&M on several points, but kept his job because he agreed to teach in accordance with the BF&M and not to disagree with any of it publically. Did not some of this come into play in regards to some professors decisions to leave the SBC seminaries at which they were teaching?

[ # 257 ] Comment from howie [January 19, 2006, 9:26 pm]

D.R.
It saddens me the degree to which you will go to defend those guys.

[ # 258 ] Comment from D.R. Randle [January 20, 2006, 1:06 am]

Wait a minute, Howie. I am not defending anyone. I am simply putting trying to put into context some things that you made out to be “worst-case scenarios.” I think that while I may not be an expert on these things, you must admit that you are not either, and perspective must play a part in how we interpret the data. I think that your statement is an easy way out of actually interacting with my comments and I know you are better than that. You know as well as I do that dismissal is not a form of debate. I am looking forward to a much better response from you.

[ # 260 ] Comment from Marty [January 20, 2006, 10:54 am]

Keep on keeping on Howie. You are appreciated. Thanks for being here.

[ # 264 ] Comment from Jason Sampler [January 21, 2006, 1:24 am]

D.R.,

If Howie taught “10 wonderful young men” in Memphis, then how did you hear about the group? You certainly wouldn’t have been a part of it if one of the qualifications was that you had to be a ‘wonderful’ young man!

[ # 265 ] Comment from Jason Sampler [January 21, 2006, 1:43 am]

Bruce, kinda ‘convenient’ for you to post on other people’s blogs but reject others from interacting with you. Your post linking to this article disgusts me. Primarily, I take issue with the following quote:

“Howie explains the toxic environment of the SBC well. It’s probably healthier to take your chances with the environmental toxicity of post-Katrina New Orleans, than to endanger your spiritual health in the current atmosphere of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

First, you only have hatred to spew for the SBC. You go out of your way to point out problems. However, you have no authority (or direct knowledge) of the spiritual health of SBC churches. Don’t make blanket assumptions about which you have no first-hand knowledge. You may have been a member of an SBC church years ago, and been burned by the shift BACK to conservative theology, but you are proudly showing your ignorance of the situation currently. You honestly sicken me.

Second, I have a strong feeling you’ve never stepped foot in New Orleans, at least since Katrina flooded my city. You don’t know what its like to walk down the mud-caked streets and see home after home destroyed. To see people, including myself, lose everything they owned. How dare you use New Orleans for your theo-politically charged analogy against the SBC. Why don’t you open your blog back up so people can engage you and your (anything but mainstream, especially in Oklahoma) views. I’m tired of you hiding behind your blog and posting whatever you want with no one able to correct/reprove you when necessary.

(Howie, I’m sorry that I ‘hijacked’ this post to speak mostly against Bruce. I am sorry for your experiences. I do appreciate your honesty with the BFM. I don’t share your disagreements with the confession, but I’m a PhD student at the same seminary you were educated at and do the same adjunct teaching that you used to do. And believe me, the pay hasn’t gotten any better!!!)

[ # 266 ] Comment from Jason Sampler [January 21, 2006, 1:47 am]

Bruce, one final point that I failed to include. Does the SBC have problems? Yes. Are we toxic. No. But, again, thanks for your ‘unbiased’ commentary. We can all trust what you say, right???

[ # 273 ] Comment from howie [January 21, 2006, 10:46 am]

D.R. wrote–”Wait a minute, Howie. I am not defending anyone.”
Please!

“I am simply putting trying to put into context some things that you made out to be “worst-case scenarios.””
Never said they were “worst-case scenarios” just said this was my experience.

“I think that while I may not be an expert on these things, you must admit that you are not either, and perspective must play a part in how we interpret the data.”
I think I’m a pretty darn expert on what I experienced and what people said. Funny how Fundamentalists deny that “perspective” may have any affect on the Bible, but yet my context is so biased that I can’t understand what happened to me and what people said to me.

“I think that your statement is an easy way out of actually interacting with my comments and I know you are better than that. You know as well as I do that dismissal is not a form of debate. I am looking forward to a much better response from you.”
Debating you is pretty pointless because you don’t think I can be an “expert” on my experiences. I can never win a “debate” that uses misdirection to avoid my main points. Deal with the real issue and I’ll respond.

[ # 275 ] Comment from D.R. Randle [January 21, 2006, 3:19 pm]

Howie, I never said you weren’t an expert on what you experienced, but rather on the entire scope of the resurgence and on the particular issue of how the Baptist Faith and Message was used as a standard for doctrinal integrity. You made my point by emphasizing that this was your experience and thus does not necessarily reflect the entirety of the resurgence or the SBC at large. My original statements did not challenge your experience one bit, but rather presented a different perspective of what happened with those who disagreed with the BFM (particularly the Calvinists). You rejected my comments out of hand, without giving them any consideration. I don’t understand how your perspective cannot be challenged but mine is biased and unworthy of being addressed.

Also, I never misdirected. I commented on the core issues you were irritated about. I have never tried ot hide the fact that some conservatives were indeed guilty of being ungenerous, unloving, and unChristlike. Many were very wrong. But many were right and wanted to bring about the resurgence for good reasons. Excesses abounded on both sides. Ever heard of Molly Marshall?

As for you comments on the Bible, no conservative denies context doesn’t play a part, but I cannot agree with those who deny the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the deity of Christ and other core doctrines addressed in the BFM 1963, which is what began the resurgence. Those who did so and still signed the BFM are certainly liable for their actions as well. The so-called “witch hunt” for heresy began because of this dishonesty and brought suspicion upon everyone.

Howie, you know I love you man and I lament greatly the things that took place in your years at Seminary. I was not trying to suggest that your experiences were not legitimate, but rather that they were exactly that (your experiences), however, I disagreed that your issues with the Calvinists and the BFM were as cut and dry as you described them. From my study on the subject, including personal contact with many who have to sign the BFM today, as well as those who have presented issues to trustees in regards to their views on different articles in the BFM, I thought I should speak about it. I am sorry you were so offended by my comments. I am sorry that you think that you feel debating me is pointless. I think you and I are never going to see eye to eye on the denomination and we should not discuss it any more if we cannot do so respectfully. Your friendship means more to me than presenting my viewpoints.

[ # 277 ] Pingback from Howie Luvzus » Blog Archive » Karaoke and Christ [January 22, 2006, 6:42 am]

[...] She began several of her questions with, “You’re going to hate me for this, but…” I stopped her and assured her that as a Christian, I couldn’t hate her for asking questions! She told me about her struggles with Christians and I told her about getting kicked out of a Baptist church. We talked for a long time and I finally looked her in the eye and said, “—–, you’re OK. Trust me.” She protested, but I slammed my hand on the bar and said, “—–, as an ordained minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ I can tell you without reservation that God loves you and you’re OK!” [...]

[ # 326 ] Comment from Julie Li [February 3, 2006, 3:19 am]

Thanks for your comment at PYZCH. I find this thread facinating, having been through roughly the same deal with the Mormons forty years ago. Hang in there. It gets better.

I’m a Quaker now, and content. Wish I’d been born and raised one!

[ # 509 ] Comment from Abigail [April 8, 2006, 6:19 pm]

I too have been hurt by folks in a Baptist Church but I took the whole incident straight to God and he dealt with it in a style far beyond my imagination. Did you take yours to God?
We’re all sinners in this hotel world and that’s why obedience to the supernatural act of forgivness is required if we want to live a happy life.
All God wants us to do is to obey his commandments and that requires growing up.

[ # 945 ] Comment from Alice Clay [May 3, 2006, 12:27 am]

Hey Howie!

Popping in to say hello. It’s been awhile & I hope all is well.

I appreciate your story. I also struggled with the whole SBC issue.

Leaving it behind was the greatest & healthiest event of my life.

[ # 977 ] Comment from art jaggard [May 4, 2006, 10:17 pm]

Hello Howie!

I’m part of the moderate/conservative jetsom from the American Baptist Churches. It just seems to me that there are an awful lot of similarities. I am encouraged by things like the Memphis Agreement in SBC. It may take a while before we have something similar in the ABC.

Art Jaggard

[ # 4460 ] Comment from Kathy Fischer [August 24, 2006, 8:59 pm]

Just saw your blog as a result of BOOZOCRACY. As a New Orleanian brought up by an atheist and an ex-Catholic who only went to Sunday school with my brother a few times until we realized we could go to the drugstore instead and buy fountain cokes with our offering money, I wish to offer my perspective on your jousting with fundamentalists. Life would be dull without windmills.

Kathy

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