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Southern Baptists, Social Issues, and Presidential Candidates
July 2nd, 2008 under Baptists, Christianity, Politics, Social Issues, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: none ]

Baptist Press, the official news outlet for Southern Baptists has weighed in on the presidential election. According to a recent poll by LifeWay Research, 80 percent of Southern Baptist pastors support McCain and 1 percent back Obama. Fifteen percent were undecided.

Another interesting article by Baptist Press identified the candidates’ positions on “five issues important to social conservatives.” These issues are: Judges, Abortion, Gay Marriage & Gay Rights, Embryonic Stem Cell Research, and Global Warming.

In regard to Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Baptist press describes it this way—“Both Obama and McCain support giving federal funding to embryonic stem cell research, which kills the tiny human beings.” OUCH!

I’m not too surprised about the “top five social issues” except for the long discussion on judges. I am a bit shocked that immigration isn’t on there. If pressed for my top five I’d have to say they are the following: poverty, health care, environmental issues, human rights, the war in Iraq. I might need to revise these a bit (Any suggestions?). Corporate greed and consumerism really bother me, but I doubt a presidential candidate can do anything about that.


Michelle Obama and American Pride
June 17th, 2008 under Baptists, Christianity, Peace, Politics. [ Comments: 2 ]

Recently, Michelle Obama has been criticized for saying that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country — and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”

Cindy McCain disagreed: “I don’t know about you, if you heard those words earlier. I’m very proud of my country.”

For the last eight years, the Bush administration has rammed down our throats that life is simple. “Either with us or against us.” “Support our troops.” “Dems are weak on defense.” etc. Unfortunately, Americans have fallen for this simplistic, talking point, sound byte, mentality. You can see this type of mentality in a recent comment on my blog. I mention Mark Gstohl’s fine article critiquing Southern Baptists (which BTW has also been picked up by EthicsDaily.com) and David asked why I have so much hatred toward Southern Baptists! Can’t a guy point out a few problems with his country or religious tradition without being accused of being a hater (see definition 3)?

Can’t someone be ashamed of some of our country’s actions or policies and still be patriotic? I think so. I’m ashamed that my kids live in a country that started a preemptive war. I grew up with the Viet Nam War crap, but this is ridiculous and un-Christian. I grew up in a country that didn’t torture (or at LEAST tried to hide it). My kids are watching a presidential candidate who has been a victim of torture who doesn’t even have the decency to vote against it!

Call me unpatriotic, but I’m ashamed of that. It would be a proud moment to see my fellow citizens to vote against such a heinous political coward that called his wife the “c” word! But I’m proud of the Baptist minister who called him on it! See David, I’m not a Baptist hater!


No we don’t like that kind of language John!

I think Michelle Obama has much more courage than Cindy McCain. Her honesty is refreshing! Speaking of honesty…have you seen the latest on Cindy? We should expect Bill Clinton to lie, but cookie recipes? Come on!


Mark Gstohl’s Take on Southern Baptist Convention
June 13th, 2008 under Baptists, Christian Crap, Christianity, ChristianWalk, Church and State, Hypocrisy, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: 4 ]

My friend Mark Gstohl has an article at Religion Dispatches Blog about the Southern Baptist resolution on Christmas.

That guy’s not only cool. He’s also pretty smart.


Southern Baptist VBS Material Demonstrates Poor Use of Scripture
June 8th, 2008 under Baptists. [ Comments: 11 ]

outriggerlogo.jpgThe VBS (Vacation Bible School) material from Southern Baptists includes a song where a Biblical text is taken way out of context and used incorrectly. The children’s minister at my church pointed this out to me yesterday. VBS begins tonight at my church. Thankfully, my minister was wise enough to omit this song from VBS this year because it can cause some real confusion.

The song, “The Word”, by Jeff Slaughter is about how the Bible is God’s word, it’s true, it’s good for teaching, etc. Unfortunately, the song begins by quoting the beginning of John’s Gospel (In the beginning was the Word). There, the Word is Jesus—not the Bible.

It’s a really bad use of the text, but then again–I’m kind of used to that from Southern Baptists! I’m sure that if I had more exposure to other denominations, I’d see it there too.

Here are the words:

In the beginning was the Word and It was with God and was God.
Before an eye had seen or ear had heard, there was the Word.
I know the Bible is God’s Word, His written promises to earth.
It is a lamp unto the feet of those who believe in its worth.
The Word is Perfect Truth. The Word is what I cling to.
Unbreakable, unshakeable Word of God.
I love the Word of God.
I know the Bible is God’s Word, His written promises to earth.
It is a lamp unto the feet of those who believe in its worth.
The Word is Perfect Truth. The Word is what I cling to.
Unbreakable, unshakeable Word of God.
I love the Word of God.
Page after page it teaches me day after day it speaks to me
and leads me in the ways of righteousness.
The Word is Perfect Truth. The Word is what I cling to.
Unbreakable, unshakeable Word of God.
I love the Word I love the Word of God.


Follow Jesus, You Maroons!
May 22nd, 2008 under Baptists, Christian Crap, Christianity, ChristianWalk, FoxNews, God, Hypocrisy, Racism, Rant, Social Issues, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: 3 ]

Woman at the WellWarning…this is a rant. I’m really ticked so there might be a few offensive phrases. See the picture on this post? It’s Jesus with the woman at the well. She was a Samaritan woman. Jews hated Samaritans. Jesus didn’t. He saw her as a human being. God’s kind of like that. You know, loving, not a racist, etc.

I’m flippin’ sick and tired of so called Christians making negative comments about “those Mexicans.” Five words: shut up you flippin’ moron! Read your Bible. Think a bit. Would Jesus be pissed about them coming here to “our” country? I don’t think so. In fact I know he wouldn’t. He’d tell you alleged Christians that you must, Jeez I know this will be a shock, love your neighbor. OK, they’re taking our jobs and costing us lots of money for providing their children with healthcare and education (Why is it that I usually hear this from old retired farts who don’t work anyway?) Let’s just pretend that these “Mexicans” are costing us lots of money and are our enemies.

Guess what? Take a look at your dusty old Bible again! Jesus says we’re supposed to love our enemies. Holy Crap! What to do? Why don’t you shut the heck up, think for a freakin’ minute, turn off Fox News and read the Gospels. Out loud. It’s really not that complex. Do you honestly believe that Jesus would be pissed about providing heathcare for children? We’re one of the richest countries in the world. If we really are a Christian nation (which we’re not) we should be glad to help those in need and not just those who have oil under them and are in need.

Why can’t you ignorant racist bigots realize that your ancestors were probably immigrants too? Of course that really shouldn’t matter if you’re a Christian because you’re supposed to LOVE them anyway. They are children of God, whether you like it or not. Their children are human-freaking-beings created in the image of God! Love them too!

In case you forgot. The Christian’s primary citizenry is the KINGDOM OF GOD not the United States. I know that makes me sound unpatriotic, but if I’ve got to chose someone or something to be obedient to it’s going to be Jesus. Not George Bush, that Hussein Obama guy you like to trash and certainly not that foul mouthed old fart that called his wife the “c” word. If following Jesus hurts the American economy then so be it. If it means I might have to, God forbid, make sacrifices like spending more money on others and less on myself I’ll gladly do it. Jesus’ sacrifice makes anything I do seem a bit lame anyway.

Sorry to break the news to you. If you’re going to follow Jesus, you’re going to have to love those “Mexicans” just like he does. If you’d like the scripture references email me at howie (dot) luvzus (at) gmail (dot) com. I didn’t provide them here because I didn’t want to waste your time and they should be a given anyway.

I wrote this because I love those “Mexicans” and hate to hear you trash them. They’re my brothers and sisters. I also wrote this because I love you too and it pains me to see you miss out on the opportunity to demonstrate God’s love to someone in need.

Now shut up and follow Jesus, you maroons!


Southern Baptists Aren’t Evangelicals
May 21st, 2008 under Baptists, Christian Crap, Christianity, ChristianWalk, Hypocrisy, Politics, Rant, Social Issues, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: none ]

foyvalentine_.jpgI remember the good old days in the Southern Baptist Convention. Although many of the moderate professors were rude and condescending toward fundamentalists, the tone of the SBC was a lot less negative in general. You can see that in the resolutions at the conventions prior to the Fundamentalist Takeover in 1979.

Foy Valentine, when asked if Southern Baptists considered themselves Evangelicals, said emphatically that “we don’t share their politics or their fussy fundamentalism.” He also condemned their “theological witch-hunts.” Ah, the good old days!

Recently, an Evangelical Manifesto was composed and signed by such Evangelical greats as, Mark Noll, Alvin Plantinga, Daniel L. Akin, Kay Arthur, Max Lucado, and Jim Wallace. There are many Southern Baptist pastors that also signed on.

However, Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was critical of the document. Surprise, surprise. Mohler is about the most negative commentator, other than me, that I’ve ever read. Here’s a brief summary of his concerns:

1. Al says it doesn’t condemn non-Christians enough!

“it leaves out the question of the exclusivity of salvation to those who have come to Christ by faith.” Al wants to make damn sure that any group he supports makes it very clear that certain folks (probably lots) are going to hell! This statement wasn’t clear enough for Al: “the only ground for our acceptance by God is what Jesus Christ did on the cross and what he is now doing through his risen life, whereby he exposed and reversed the course of human sin and violence, bore the penalty for our sins, credited us with his righteousness, redeemed us from the power of evil, reconciled us to God, and empowers us with his life ‘from above.'”mohler.jpg


2. Al also isn’t satisfied that Evangelicals don’t condemn other Christians!

Al writes, “Another complication on this score comes from the fact that Evangelicals are identified as ‘one of the great traditions that have developed within the Christian Church over the centuries.’ There is a sense in which this is true, of course, but relegating the Evangelical understanding of the Gospel to just one among many Christian traditions undercuts our witness and sows seeds of confusion.”

God forbid that someone might confuse an Evangelical with one of the pagan streams within Christianity!

3. Al says it’s not negative enough!

He writes, “Evangelicals sometimes have to make strong judgments, the authors assert, but only after clarifying that the “Good News” of the Gospel “is overwhelmingly positive, and is always positive before it is negative.” Further: “Evangelicals are for Someone and for something rather than against anyone or anything.”
This is a wonderful statement, and entirely true. Nevertheless, as a statement of public relations it will not get very far — not if any honest discussion or disclosure follows. As the authors recognize, to be for one principle is to oppose its opposite. Those holding to contrary principles will not be persuaded to cease stating that we are against their principles and aims.”

4. Al says civility is overrated!

Al asks, “Where does a commitment to civility meet its limits? Can one speak truthfully of the Gospel, and of the fact that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation, and be considered civil?”

Nope. Southern Baptists still aren’t Evangelicals. Unfortunately now that folks like Mohler are “in charge,” those fussy fundamentalists are too nice, civil, and liberal!


Baptist Pastor Threatened
May 15th, 2008 under Baptists, Christian Crap, Christianity, ChristianWalk, Church and State, Hypocrisy, Politics, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: 2 ]

cross1.jpgOnce again, Bruce Prescott alerted me to the following:

DeLand pastor gets threats after removing U.S. flag from church

A local church pastor who removed the U.S. flag from the church sanctuary has taken a leave of absence after receiving harassing and threatening notes — including one left in his hymnbook in the church, police and church officials said.

An investigation is ongoing into at least three notes sent to Rev. Sean Oliver Allen of First Baptist Church of DeLand, 725 N. Woodland Blvd., said DeLand police Lt. Pete Moon.

“We are looking at it criminally and working to determine if there is any criminal intent behind the letters,” Moon said.

Rev. Allen consulted with church elders and decided to take a four-week leave after receiving the latest note in the mailbox of his DeLand home on May 1, said Education Pastor John Long.

The note said, “Resign this Sunday or else,” according to a DeLand police report.

Here’s what I did…I wrote the following letter and sent it to ministers in the area:

I recently read an article about pastor Sean Allen of First Baptist Church of DeLand that stated that he had received threats for removing the American Flag and the Christian flag from the church sanctuary. Whether or not you agree with what Rev. Allen did, it would be a nice gesture for you to support him during this difficult time.

As an ordained Southern Baptist minister it pains me to see my brother being threatened. I’ve sent him an encouraging email. However, I think that you have a tremendous opportunity to show support to your brother in Christ. I humbly offer a few suggestions for you.

First, mention this in Sunday’s sermon. Condemn the un-Christian attitude of a person that would issue an anonymous threat. Challenge your congregation to pray for Rev. Allen and the person(s) who threatened him. Pray for his congregation that they would seek to glorify Christ in all they do.

Next, consider an act of solidarity. The article clearly states why Allen chose to remove the flags. Any reasonable person could see why one might see having an American flag in a sanctuary could send a wrong signal. A Christian’s ultimate allegiance should be to Christ, not a country. Allen’s brave act should be honored. Christ’s obedience also resulted in persecution. This could be an opportunity to show that following Christ is not easy, and that doing the right thing sometimes is costly.

I appreciate you taking the time to read and consider my suggestions. May God continue to bless your ministry.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Let’s see how they respond!


A Recovering Baptist
May 5th, 2008 under Baptists, Christian Crap, Christianity, Hypocrisy, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: 5 ]

dexter.jpgI’ve been asked several times why I describe myself as a “recovering Baptist.” If you’re a recovering alcoholic that means that you’ve given up alcohol because it’s not been very helpful to you. In fact, it’s been very destructive. That description fits my experience as a Baptist. I could get all technical and say that I’m a small “b” Baptist via McClendon, but I’ll be less theological and more personal (though I’m not really sure those are separate enterprises.).

Many of you may know that when I was about five or six years old, my family was “churched” or kicked out of a Baptist Church in East Texas because my dad stopped working for a munitions company only to start working at a brewery. Since alcohol is sinful, the pastor and deacons took my family off the church roll. I was a cradle roll baby which meant that before I even attended a Baptist church, I was enrolled. Oh well…

Since we attended less conservative Baptist churches from then on, I was exposed to a less judgmental form of Baptist life. I did experience the oppressive pharisaical form of Baptist life when I was enrolled in a Baptist school in Memphis. It wasn’t too bad until High School, where the “Super Christians” were the popular kids and looked down on those of us who weren’t rich and good-looking and able to appear squeaky-clean.

This didn’t bother me too much because I learned early on that High School is meaningless and if that’s the high-point of your life you’re pretty pathetic. College was great! I attended a small private Catholic college and the brothers and other professors were really caring and interesting. I thrived there. It was wonderful to find persons who were committed Christians that weren’t complete jerks! Through the introduction of Catholic Social Teaching I learned that I was to make a difference in the world. As a Baptist, the only context for that understanding of life meant that I should become either a missionary or a pastor. That was so unfortunate. I spent a lot of wasted time feeling guilty.

After college I began to find my life as a business owner unfulfilled. I went to Seminary. I was so darn excited. I had sold my house, given away my dog, and moved my wife and kids 400 miles from the grandparents. What a wonderful time, living in a whole neighborhood surrounded by Baptist ministers!

Needless to say, I soon became a bit disappointed. However, I decided the best way to be a Baptist was to get a PhD, and teach Baptists how to follow Jesus without being jerks! During my PhD program I had the privilege of teaching at the seminary. I thought I had experienced narrow-minded fundamentalism in high school, but that wasn’t even close to the level of hatred I felt at the seminary. I met some of my best friends at the seminary and a few who still teach there are great friends, but the oppression there was stifling.

It seems that once again, I was on the outside looking in. I was labeled a “Liberal,” which is actually very funny, and the person I worked hard for for four years didn’t have the fortitude to go to bat for me. Once again I found myself at a Catholic institution. My colleagues not only respected me, but they embraced and valued my differences.

I still attend a Baptist church. But I do so knowing that if I really opened up and shared what I truly believe that I would be rejected there too. Sometimes I visit the seminary. I see friends there and former students that appreciate my ministry there. It sometimes makes me feel blessed. But other times, I feel like the lepers in the Old Testament. I feel like I should be yelling, “Unclean, unclean!” so that no one will be corrupted by my sinfulness.

That’s why I’m a recovering Baptist. I wanted so much to fit in and make a difference. I just can’t. I’m grateful for the blessings that I have. I only wish I could feel embraced by the tradition I grew up in.


Southern Baptists in Oklahoma Stand for Homophobia
April 7th, 2008 under Baptists, Christian Crap, Christianity, homosexuality. [ Comments: 2 ]

Sally KernAlso via Bruce, Baptist Press reported the following:

Hundreds rallied at the Oklahoma state capitol April 2 to show their support for Republican state Rep. Sally Kern, a Southern Baptist whose comments about homosexuality have drawn nationwide attention and even death treats.

The controversy began around March 7 when the Victory Fund, an organization dedicated to seeing homosexuals elected to public office at all levels, posted a video on YouTube with audio sound bytes of one of Kern’s speeches where she stated her biblical views on homosexuality to about 20-30 Republicans. It has since been viewed more than 1 million times.

Supporters chanted “Sally! Sally! Sally!” and speakers stood in front of a sign reading, “We Stand With Sally Kern.” Nearly 2,000 were in attendance, according to one estimate.

“This is not about me,” Kern said at the rally, which spilled over from the first floor rotunda to the building’s second and third floors. She is the wife of Olivet Baptist Church pastor Steven Kern in Oklahoma City. “It’s about the church having the right to speak out for the redeeming love of Jesus Christ Who died to set us all free from sin. The Lord gave me a verse I’ve been claiming. Philippians 1:12, ‘I want you to know that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel.'”

Two things worth noting.
1. Hey Baptist Press! Her “biblical views” aren’t really what got her in trouble here!
When Sally was “stating her biblical views on homosexuality,” she said that as a “Matter of fact, studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades. So it’s the death nell to this country. I honestly think it’s the biggest threat that our nation has — even more so than terrorism, or Islam, which I think is a big threat, OK? Because what’s happening now, they’re going after, in schools, two year olds!”

2. Hey Sally! You weren’t talking about redeeming love and you haven’t advanced the gospel. Moron.


Southern Baptist Leader Supports the Confederate Flag
April 7th, 2008 under Baptists, Christian Crap, Christianity, Racism. [ Comments: none ]

Confederate FlagFrom Ethics Daily via Bruce Prescott:

The editor of the Missouri Baptist Convention’s in-house publication, “The Pathway,” has strongly defended the controversial Confederate battle flag and aggressively attacked those who challenge it.
In his book Embattled Banner: A Reasonable Defense of the Confederate Battle Flag, Don Hinkle called himself “an unReconstructed Confederate” and dismissed critics of the flag as “a small group of malcontents and bigots.”

MBC interim Executive Director David Tolliver, recently condemned the flag in a column in The Pathway because it “represents hate” and “depicts deep-rooted racial bigotry and hatred.” As a result, Tolliver argued that Christians should not fly the flag. Meanwhile, a Web site run by his organization is promoting Hinkle’s decade-old book defending that very symbol.

Hinkle argued in his book that the flag is actually a Christian symbol because it features St. Andrew’s Cross and because the Confederate Constitution acknowledged God while the U.S. Constitution does not. His book even included a photo of the flag flying next to the Christian flag.

Rather than seeing the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of hate, Hinkle asserted that it is the “anti-flag minority” who are trying to “bully” the South through “character assassination.” He also accused critics of using “petty politics based on distortion and bigotry.”

Hinkle claimed that many of critics of the Confederate flag are actually also opposed to the American flag. He suggested that this movement would result in “feeding the Constitution to a shredder” and remove American historical artifacts “like what the Communists did to rewrite Russian history after the fall of the Czar.”

Hinkle even compared the NAACP to the KKK and asserted that it was “closer to becoming just another hate group.” He claimed the NAACP’s opposition to the Confederate flag was an attempt to “whip blacks into an emotional tizzy.”

He argued that since many African-Americans fought for the Confederacy, “there is no reason why blacks shouldn’t view the Confederate battle flag with as much pride as anyone if they so choose.” He claimed that the slaves who fought for the Confederacy did so because most slave owners “took good care of them.” He insisted that critics of slavery “wrongfully apply today’s moral to a world that was vastly different.”

“Many white Southerners were trying to figure out a way to end the ‘peculiar institution’ when the intolerant abolitionists went nuts over the issue,” Hinkle wrote.

A critic of Poole’s work noted that that “Hinkle insists on condemning Lincoln to hellfire.” Hinkle gleefully suggested that Lincoln is in Hell, which he sees as justified punishment for a man that waged war against the South.


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