Posted by: baptistthinker | November 5, 2011

Thoughts On Kevin DeYoung’s Recent Post On Men And Marriage

Kevin DeYoung recently blogged a little about the state of Christian men and marriage, and I’d like to offer my own thoughts as well on this. While Kevin did make some good points, he also made some really lousy ones(in my opinion) as well. This is just a bit of a response to a hot button topic.

Go to almost any church and you’ll meet mature, intelligent, attractive Christian women who want to get married and virtually no men to pursue them. These women are often in graduate programs and may have started a career already. But they aren’t feminists. They are eager to embrace the roles of wife and mother. Most of the women I’ve met don’t object to the being a helpmate. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of mates to go around.

What’s going on here? Why are there so many unmarried, college graduated, serious-about-Christ, committed-to-the-church, put-together young women who haven’t found a groom, and don’t see any possibilities on the horizon?

Well, for one thing, there’s a lot less Christian men in the church than there are Christian women. Let’s not forget that little factoid. Men, quite simply, aren’t going to church. Churches tend to cater to women. There are conferences for women, women’s bible studies, women’s retreats, women’s ministries, special events for women. Men’s ministries usually consist of the prayer and pancake breakfast, a wild game supper once every year or two, and possibly a men’s retreat every few years. Plus, men, “manly men”, just aren’t comfortable in church. Let’s face it, the soft, “I’m so in love with Jesus or my boyfriend/girlfriend-you-can’t-really-tell” music that has invaded Christian churches today just isn’t very manly. The men who are in church, are usually men who have grown up in church. It’s part of their culture, and they know their place. Men can’t be men, typically, within the church. As a result, there are far fewer men within the church. and that’s at least part of the reason that women aren’t able to find men in their church.

Maybe women have impossible standards. That is a distinct possibility in some circumstances. I’m sure there are guys reading this thinking to themselves, “I’ve pursued these young women, Kevin! And they pushed me over the edge of the horizon.” Some women may be expecting too much from Mr. Right. But in my experience this is not the main problem. Impossible standards? Not usually. Some standards? Absolutely.

In my experience Kevin, this is the main problem. I’m probably not the most attractive guy in the world, but I’m certainly not a three or four either. I don’t think anyway. I could be wrong. I’ve been in a number of churches in my life, and I’ve asked out some women…or girls…here and there. Usually, I get turned down. I usually find out that I’m stuck in the “friend zone”. Which, as any guy knows, once you get into the friend zone it’s easier to break out of the earth’s gravity pull than to get out of the friend zone. And let’s face it, in church, you’re kind of trained to “be friends” and “treat everybody like a brother or sister”. And so the cycle becomes self-repeating. Women say they are looking for men, but are they really? Ladies, are you really looking for a man? What is it exactly that you are looking for? Because us guys have no clue. We hear you say “I’m looking for a man”, but then when we ask you out, it’s “well, I’m just kind of content to be single right now”…two weeks later somebody better looking comes along and your contentedness flies out the window when he asks you out. Or, you say you’re looking for a man, but the guys you typically date are boys. Yeah, don’t think we don’t notice, we do. And we think to ourselves “Why is she out with him? What’s wrong with me? I’m a better man than that, I think. I actually go to church already, I’m planted in the Word, I’m working right alongside you in ministry. What’s wrong with me?”

First, the Christian men that are “good guys” could use a little–what’s the word I’m looking for–ambition. Every pastor has railed on video games at some point. But the problem is not really video games, it’s what gaming can (but doesn’t always) represent. It’s the picture of a 20something or 30something guy who doesn’t seem to want anything out of life. He may or may not have a job. He may or may not live with his parents. Those things are sometimes out of our control. There’s a difference between a down-on-his-luck fella charging hard to make something out of himself and a guy who seems content to watch movies, make enough to eat frozen pizzas in a one room apartment, play Madden, watch football 12 hours on Saturday, show up at church for an hour on Sunday and then go home to watch more football.

I think we need to be a bit more careful here Kevin, gaming is much more representative of things than you might think. I read a study recently(in the past year), that I can’t find for the life of me now that I need it, that puts a different spin on this. We live in a culture that is largely devoid of any sort of a clear definition of what it means to be a man. Hebrew boys begin their path to manhood at age 13. Once they hit that age, their life changes, and they focus more on becoming a man. Native American tribes had different rituals for boys to become men. Societies all across the world have had something, where a village would say “alright, these boys are now men once they do this or hit this age or whatnot”. Guys today don’t know what to do. We don’t have any really clear idea of what it means to be a man, and we aren’t taught anything. This is why guys tend to get involved in sports and video gaming. You get to progress through different levels, you can get achievements, you can accomplish something either in sports or video games that you can’t necessarily do in your everyday life outside of those things. Now, granted, this is no excuse for men spending all of their weekends gaming. But this study did explain a little why psychologically gaming made guys feel something that isn’t necessarily offered by society. Granted, gaming can become addictive. Or it can just be a little more than need be for a guy to participate in at times. I get that, I really do, and guys who spend all their time doing things like that are in the wrong. But ladies, aren’t there really some things that you do that guys just cannot identify with and like? Like, for example, spending all day at the mall or otherwise shopping. For stuff you don’t need. Really? And you think your boyfriend/husband really wants to spend all day shopping with you? Maybe some do, but guys just don’t see the point. Especially if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to buy.

I don’t think young women are expecting Mr. Right to be a corporate executive with two houses, three cars, and a personality like Dale Carnegie. They just want a guy with some substance. A guy with plans. A guy with some intellectual depth. A guy who can winsomely take initiative and lead a conversation. A guy with consistency. A guy who no longer works at his play and plays with his faith. A guy with a little desire to succeed in life. A guy they can imagine providing for a family, praying with the kids at bedtime, mowing the lawn on Saturday, and being eager to take everyone to church on Sunday. Where are the dudes that will grow into men?

And I think men…real men…want some women with substance. A woman who can discuss the Bible–and not Beth Moore’s interpretation of the Bible[sidenote: No Beth Moore in my home. There, I said it. Beth Moore and her moralism will not be allowed in my home. Ever.] I(yes, this is me speaking my own preferences here) want a woman who can engage in *intelligent conversation* about anything from politics, to history, to Scripture, to whatever. I love to read. I love to read classical literature, NOT THIS TWILIGHT GARBAGE THAT HAS INFECTED OUR CHURCHES LIKE THE PLAGUE. There, I got that off my chest. I want a woman who can read John MacArthur, RC Sproul, JI Packer, Mark Dever, John Bunyan, William Shakespeare, Adam Smith, Charles Dickens, and talk about those things with me. Where are the girls who grow into women and have some depth to them? I mean, seriously. I don’t want a woman who watches soaps like Grey’s Anatomy or Twilight and talks about those constantly. Gah!

The second issue is that we may simply not have enough men in the church. Maybe the biggest problem isn’t with nice Christian guys who lack ambition, maturity, and commitment. Maybe we have lots of these men in the church, but they’re all married and there aren’t enough of their brethren to go around. I don’t know which is the bigger problem, the lack of good men or the lack of men in general. It’s probably a combination of both. The church needs to train up the guys it has. And by “training” I don’t mean “clean ‘em up, plug ‘em in the singles ministry and start matching them up with a spouse.” I don’t believe most unmarried Christians are looking for a church community full of Yentas. But a church full of godly, involved, respectable, respected, grown up men? That’s a project worth undertaking.

Yep. Pretty much.

Men, you don’t have to be rich and you don’t have to climb corporate ladders. You don’t have to fix cars and grow a beard. But it’s time to take a little initiative–in the church, with your career, and with women. Stop circling around and start going somewhere. It’s probably a good idea to be more like your grandpa and less like Captain Jack Sparrow. Even less like Peter Pan. Show some godly ambition. Take some risks. Stop looking for play dates and–unless God is calling you to greater service through singleness–start looking for a wife.

Ok, I fully agree with this. I’ll gladly admit, I’ve been single far too long. Part of it has to do with my leaving behind the branch of the church that I did. I was born and raised a Fundamental Baptist. I went to a Fundamental Baptist college. I had very clear goals on what to do with my life. I was going to go to college, within a few years of starting college I was going to get married, and then graduate and go off into pastoral ministry. And then I left Fundamentalism. And for those of you who have never been Fundamental Baptists, you don’t know what that’s like. For one thing, you lose all your friends. Further, you lose your identity. You lose the girl you were pursuing. I also lost my goals, because I didn’t have a good, solid church in my area, and further, I didn’t know what the path to ministry was in other churches. Then I moved down South, and became paralyzed by the myriad of choices in churches. When I finally found one, and settled down in it, I discovered that I was pretty much the oldest single person in the singles group. And when you’re over 26, and most of the single girls are 18, 19, 20, you kind of find yourself at a disadvantage. And further, the single ladies that are closest to your age that are eligible, you just plain aren’t attracted to. And I know, I hear you already, “looks aren’t everything!!!!!!”, and I’m not looking for a ten. I’m just looking for somebody who meets my criteria, but who is also physically attractive to me. Because let’s face it, you can’t realistically have a good marriage if you’re just not physically attracted to the person at any point in the relationship. Come one now, let’s be real.

Men do need to be men, and give up some of their things in order to be the man they need to be for marriage. But so do ladies. We can’t put all the blame on men, especially since men…single men, make up a minority in the church.

Posted by: baptistthinker | November 3, 2011

Evangelist Sammy Nuckolls Arrested-Why It Needs To Be Discussed

I don’t usually make it a point to discuss issues of pastors being arrested on my blog. But in this case, I’m going to make an exception. Why? Because this guy lives in the town I live in, and I know people who are close to him. This is something that is deeply hurting people in our community.

The long and short of the story is, [All alleged by the police]Sammy Nuckolls was preaching at a revival in Gosnell, Arkansas just a week ago. He was staying in the home of a couple in the church he was preaching at. When the woman of the house went to use her shower, she noticed Sammy’s items on the sink, and one of the items was a large pen that was sticking out of his toiletries bag, that looked suspicious to her. She examined the pen, and discovered that it contained a USB port, and appeared to have a camera inside of it. She apparently then knocked the pen into the sink, and continued with her shower. After she got out of the shower, Nuckolls then entered the bathroom, collected his items, and went back into the room where he was staying. After Sammy left(presumably to go to the church), the woman and her husband searched Sammy’s belongings to find the pen, and then contacted the police. The police took Sammy in for questioning, and say that he admitted to purposely videotaping the woman, as well as two other women in my town. The police went through his laptop, and discovered several videos that appeared to have been taken of various women undressing(presumably in a bathroom, or bedroom) surreptitiously. Nuckolls was then placed under arrest, and posted $50,000 bond the next day. The Gosnell police department contacted the two women in our town who had been videotaped, and let them know of what had transpired. The Olive Branch police were then notified, and they began an investigation, and have apparently uncovered more videos going back years, all on Sammy’s computers. Victims are being identified, and there is at least one other town in Arkansas that is investigating the possibility of charges against Sammy Nuckolls as well.
Links:
Accused Voyeur Evangelist Faces Judge In Olive Branch
More Victims Of Peeping Preacher Surface
Traveling Evangelist Charged With Video Voyeurism
Police Report On The Arrest
Link to a Blog Post with considerably more links.

Sammy was a camp pastor for Lifeway’s Fuge camps. As of his arrest, Lifeway has scrubbed his profile from their site, and has explained their actions saying “In light of the legal allegations and evidence of moral failure, the desire of FUGE camps is to clearly communicate the immediate termination of Nuckolls and LifeWay’s zero tolerance acceptance.”

Now, many people that I have read after on Facebook, Twitter, various news sites, might prefer to stay silent mostly on this at this time. I think that’s the wrong approach to take now, especially as more and more details are coming out and more victims are being identified. Sammy Nuckolls has been conducting Bible studies in his home with young people, ranging from underage to 18 and up. It is important to note that the police have found NO videos with underage girls on them. Incredibly important to note that, because at least at this point, it says that Sammy had not fallen that deep. Not that this isn’t deep enough already, but let’s face it, we all would think of that as being significantly worse than simply videotaping adult women. But, people do need to be notified, and pastors need to tell their people “hey, this is what the police say he has done, because of this we recommend that the young people from our church do not go to his home for Bible studies.” I don’t expect that at this time Sammy is holding any Bible studies at his home, but if he continued to do so, it would be tragic if pastors failed to warn their flock of a man who is alleged to be preying upon women.

If the allegations against Sammy are true, that he admitted to the police that he videotaped women secretly while they were undressing, that he kept videos on his computers dating back years, then this is a very serious issue. It is gravely important, because this is a man who used a church office to prey upon women. He’s more than a porn addict, he’s a man who makes his own pornography by secretly videotaping women, while they think they are alone. These are women who place a certain amount of trust in him, because he holds a title that is deserving of respect. The churches who have used Sammy at their services, who have allowed their young people to go to his home for Bible studies, have a responsibility to their people to discuss this openly and honestly. They also need to be the first to step in and come alongside Sammy, to pray for him, to help his wife and child, and to also come alongside his victims and help them heal. We do not and should not abandon those who have been caught in sin who name the name of Christ. We should be praying earnestly for them, that the Gospel will be present in their life, and that by looking to Christ they will conquer their sins. But we shouldn’t stay silent on the matter and avoid discussing it. God’s glory is not made manifest in staying silent on the sin here. God’s glory is concealed and made less in the eyes of others by keeping quiet and discussing it only in backrooms. We must glorify God by showing a proper response to sin, by loving and caring for the victims, including Sammy’s wife, and by seeking to see Sammy restored. And if Sammy is unrepentant, he should be placed under church discipline by his church, and witnessed to by those who know him.

I have seen a number of responses to this already, on news sites, on Facebook, on Twitter. Many of the responses have been of the sort that say “he who is without sin can cast the first stone”, and “God sees all sin the same”. These responses are unhelpful at best, and a bit unbiblical as well. Yes, all sin is sin to God, it is an act of cosmic treason. But first and foremost, let’s recall that those who are teachers within the church must face harsher judgment before God(James 3), and they are to be rebuked before all(1 Timothy 5). Not all sins are totally equal in God’s eyes, except that all sin makes one worthy of eternal damnation. But God does indeed view some sins as more grievous. Only one sin is unforgivable however, and that is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. As for the statement “let him without sin cast the first stone”, that passage is not saying that we cannot judge the sins of others. We can. We are supposed to do so, according to Scripture. Not judging those without the church, but those within(1 Corinthians 5). The “we all sin, and all sin is the same” is simply an attempt to excuse sin. It goes to the “well, he’s no worse than you or me”, but that’s not the point that should be made on this. The point that SHOULD be made is “this is a grievous sin. We are all sinners, we have all offended God, and we are all accountable for our sin. None of us are innocent before God, but we can be made innocent through Jesus Christ if we repent and put our trust in Him alone for our salvation. Sammy is a sinner in need of the Gospel, and we must condemn his sin, but we should also pray for him that he will repent. And the same is true of you, you must also repent or perish.” The other response has been to say “well, let’s just not talk about it, let’s just pray.” This response has been not just unhelpful, but results in the unsaved wondering why Christians are inconsistent. After all, we talk quite often about how homosexuality is wrong, about how living together outside of marriage is wrong, about how adultery is wrong, and yet when it comes to ministers like Sammy Nuckolls being arrested, we want to stay quiet and tell people to just keep quiet about it and that we can’t judge or cast stones.

Churches must find a way to deal with this in a mature, responsible, Biblical manner. Staying quiet and not addressing the issue will not make it go away. I don’t know how all the churches in this area who use Sammy Nuckolls have responded to this, but the silence so far has been deafening. Get it out in the opening, and shout it from the rooftops.

Posted by: baptistthinker | October 27, 2011

Evangelism and Preaching the Gospel

What exactly is evangelism? How is evangelism supposed to be done? Is it through preaching the Gospel and confrontation? Is it through building relationships with people? Yes. To both.

The reason for this post, is due to another blog post I made a few days ago. One person commented on my blog about “conversion”, and we sort of spun off on that for a bit, as it was at least a little relevant to the discussion. I’m going to post the entire conversation, and then add some thoughts and more detail from Scripture. The two characters in this conversation are Dr T and myself.

Dr T said:

However, none of that would be helpful at that moment. I would have to say that” the Jesus I follow is bigger than that. He walks beside you and meets you were you are. Fortunately, for me, he loves to much to leave me there. Most importantly, regardless of the reality of sin, You are a beloved Child of Christ. And as I am a beloved child of Christ as well, I will walk shoulder to shoulder with you in this. The most important commandment is Love your God with all your heart mind and soul, the second is the same, Love your neighbor as yourself. Love is Agape in this section, which means a whole love, a self sacrificial, complete love. When I am loving my neighbor, I am letting God shine through me and that creates a Namaste experience. (The God in me communes with the God in you.) Lets start there, the rest will come.”

And then:

agreed there isnt the ‘right’ answer, there is only the right motivation behind the answer. We are all Moses and stutter and have trouble with words. However, if the goal is relationship and conversation rather than conversion-God will aid in the reception.

Myself:

I don’t think the goal should ever be “relationship and conversation”. Those things should be a part of it, but our goal is always to preach Christ and Him crucified for the remission of sins.

Dr T:

Interesting, I would have to disagree. Without relationship and true conversation, then Christ becomes a weapon. Confrontation without Love is brutality. The great commission is to go make disciples (learners), so we are teachers, not preachers, right?

Myself:

So were Peter and Paul and the Apostles wrong to go and preach in the synagogues and town centers without building relationships first? I’m not against building relationships, but it is not primarily through relationships that conversion happens, but primarily through preaching the Gospel. The Great Commission is to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, to baptize them, and to then make disciples.

Dr T:

Fascinating, I think we see this very differently. I dont think we convert people at all, I think God does that. We also seem to read different versions of the Bible. sharing the Good News and preaching are different understandings of the original greek translation. Really irrelevant. Nothing can be done before loving God with all h,m,s and loving neighbor, right? Loving is relationship. sharing the Good News is conversation. Peter and Paul did have relationship in many of those environments, having been good Jewish men, and good persecutors of Christ (Paul). However, I thnk the most important thing is they spoke of their love for people and desire to be in community with them. They were most harsh on people who claimed to be followers of Jesus yet did not show that in their daily life. They had stopped relating and began reacting. Most of Pauls letters to churches spoke to this hypocritical life.
Thank you for you openness to discuss and for the conversation. I have learned alot, whether or not I agree. Good talk

So let’s take a look at what the Scriptures say, because that is what is most important.

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
(Mat 4:23 KJV)

This word “preaching” is often translated “proclaiming” in newer translations. It means “to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel): – preach (-er), proclaim, publish.”(Strong’s Concordance)

Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
(Act 8:4 KJV)

This is a different Greek word, which means “to announce good news (“evangelize”) especially the gospel:”(Strong’s Concordance)

So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
(Act 8:25 NASB)

So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
(Act 8:25 NASB)

On one of the days while He[my note: Jesus] was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him,
(Luk 20:1 NASB)

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
(1Co 1:21 NASB)

Over and over in Scripture, when the Apostles went to a new city, they would go into the synagogue or the town square, and begin preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And their message is and was inherently confrontational. The message of the Gospel must confront people with their sinfulness, in order to present the good news that Christ came to save them from their sins, and from God’s wrath. Look at Acts 2, Peter didn’t stop and start building relationships with people in order to tell them of Christ. He stood and preached the Gospel message, one that spoke condemnation to the hearers, but then presented them with the good news that salvation was available through Jesus Christ. This is the pattern we see over and over through the Scriptures. Whenever God has a message, He sends forth people to proclaim the message. And it’s through preaching that God ordains to send that message. Now, can one build relationships with people, and then present the Gospel to them? Well, yes. But our goal should be to present the Gospel, not to make a friend.

I also agree that it is not us who “saves an individual”, that’s the work of the Holy Spirit. We are to proclaim the Gospel, but God will ultimately draw the person to Himself and save them. Not us. We are simply messengers. God does all the work, we are simply to be faithful in presenting the Gospel clearly and accurately. Any form of “friendship” as Christians, that does not ultimately lead to the proclamation of the Gospel, is not friendship but hatred.

Posted by: baptistthinker | October 24, 2011

Christians and Homosexuality

Note: Because of the hot-button nature of this issue, I’m going to switch comments to need approval before being posted. I do not allow cursing on my blog, personal(ad hominem) attacks, trolling, topic-derailing, and otherwise obnoxious behavior is prohibited.

Over the past week, and several months in fact, there has been a bit of discussion among conservative Christians about our response to homosexuality, and how to converse with homosexuals, and how to properly respond to homosexuals about the Christian stance on this hot-button issue. There are several responses to the LGBT issue du jour, so I will quickly review them.
1. Homosexuality is a choice. This response says that homosexuals choose to be gay, and they can choose to become straight.
2. Homosexuality is genetic/the individual is born with it and it can’t be changed and is not a sin. This response is pretty much what it sounds like. Somewhere, inside the person, they are genetically or otherwise predisposed to be homosexual.
3. Homosexuality is not a choice, but is not exactly genetic either.

I’m sure there are other responses people have to this issue, but I think those are the main responses that we deal with regularly. Typically, the conservative Christian response is the first. The liberal Christian response is typically the second. And there tends to be a bit of flaming the other side whenever one side makes a stand on this issue. I’m primarily concerned with the conservative Christian response here.

Let me begin by saying, that the conservative Christian response is typically lacking. Lacking grace, lacking discernment, lacking love. I don’t believe that it is typically lacking Biblical truth. I am a conservative Christian. I believe that homosexual acts are sinful. I also think that conservative Christians have a tendency to miss the point. Most homosexual people that I’ve met, didn’t just wake up one day and say “hey, you know what? I think I like guys/girls now.” It’s something that many of them have struggled with, trying desperately to be normal, to be attracted to members of the opposite sex. And yet, they still find themselves attracted to members of the same sex. I believe that homosexual feelings are not a choice. I believe that they are a temptation that some people struggle with more than other sins. Some of us struggle with porn, with lying, with fornication, with lust, with stealing, and some of us with homosexual desires. As a result of the fall, we are all born sinners, and we all tend to have our own predispositions towards certain sins. And let’s be honest, Christians tend to be more against homosexuality than other sins. Now, conservative Christians do rightly point out that homosexual sex is indeed sinful, just as fornication, lust, adultery, theft, lying, and murder are all sins. But somehow we end up focusing entirely too much on homosexual sins rather than all sin. And that may be simply because it is very different than what we are used to.

Today, on Twitter, David Platt said “Homosexuality & heterosexuality: We don’t always choose our temptations; we always choose our reactions.”

Allow me to present a blog I discovered some time ago, and that I sometimes read. It’s titled “Gay and Evangelical“. In his “Why the blog title?” he says “What is my message? Despite my primary attractions being towards members of the same sex, my obedience to God’s commands stem from fruit keeping in step with repentance (Luke 3:8). I do not use my sexual attractions to excuse or hide my sin. Instead, I address those sins with repentance before God and before those with whom I struggle in my sanctification. I am in a church, have served periodically with my gifts of worship leading, choir direction, music composition and arranging and am currently attending seminary (which takes up a great deal of time).” This fellow is somebody who apparently struggles with same sex attraction. But he fights against his attractions and is celibate. He also has an interesting blog post on the “Born This Way” argument.

I’d also like to introduce a couple arguments that comes from the “homosexuality is okay” side. Well, I guess Justin Lee wouldn’t exactly characterize his position that way, but this is how most conservative Christians would summarize this position. Justin Lee is the executive director of the Gay Christian Network. Recently, he was featured on the blog belonging to Rachel Held Evans, in her “Ask a…” series. Justin was featured as the “Ask a Gay Christian” representative. He definitely had some interesting things to say, some of them quite worth reading. He does take a position against the “I was born gay so it can’t be wrong to have a same sex relationship” argument, stating “That’s a terrible argument. As Christians, we believe that we have all kinds of inborn temptations and desires that are wrong for us to act on. Just because someone is born with a certain desire doesn’t mean it’s automatically okay for them to follow through on it.” However, Justin also has some things to say that I don’t agree with, and I think he’s a little dismissive of the passage in Leviticus that condemns homosexual actions by saying ‘we keep some of the OT today, and dismiss the rest'(paraphrased). Justin’s personal blog can be read here.

Trevin Wax, on his amazing blog, made a post a few days ago titled “How I Wish The Homosexuality Debate Would Go“. Here’s a few excerpts.
“Pastor: I think Jesus’ teaching on sexuality shows us that there is something wrong with all of us – something that can only be fixed by what Jesus did for us on the cross and in His resurrection. That said, I understand why people might think I am attacking them personally. Most people with same-sex desires believe they were born with these tendencies. That’s why they often see their attraction as going to the very core of who they are, and so they identify themselves with the “gay” label. So whenever someone questions their behavior or desires, they take it as an attack on the very core of their being. That’s usually not the intent of the person who disagrees with homosexual behavior. But that’s the way it is perceived. I understand that.”
“It only seems that way because you believe sexual desire reflects the core of one’s identity. It would help if you and others who agree with you would understand that in your putting pressure on me to accept homosexual behavior as normal and virtuous, you are going to the very core of my identity as a follower of Jesus. The label most important to me is “Christian.” My identity – in Christ – is central to who I am. So I could say the same thing and call you intolerant, bigoted, and hateful for trying to change a conviction that goes to the core of who I am as a Christian. I don’t say that because I don’t believe that’s your intention. But neither should you think it’s my intention to attack a homosexual person or cause them harm merely because I disagree.”

Also, this video was tweeted this morning, with the comment “Christian’s have to address the issue of homosexuality. Tell me…what would you have said in this instance?”

Posted by: baptistthinker | September 26, 2011

The New Pro-Life Movie: 180

WARNING: Posts containing curse words, incivility, hateful rhetoric, or pretty much anything else I don’t like, from anybody(Christian or not), will be deleted.

The new 180 movie was released yesterday(although it became available on YouTube yesterday, since it was 9/26 yesterday in New Zealand and other parts of the world). Much of the response I’ve seen from fellow believers has been positive. Responses from those without the church, however, has largely been against this movie. Responses range from polite disagreement(rare) to vitriolic hatred. There is a lot of anger about this movie from the “pro-choice” camp.

One of the primary objections to this movie, is that it’s a pro-life movie. It’s assumed that Pro-Life individuals are AGAINST women’s rights, and women’s health. It’s really a nonsensical argument, as more women are pro-life than men. But that’s beside the point. The point is, that human life is precious. Mankind is created in God’s image. God breathed his own breath into man, gave us a spirit and soul. God places a lot of value on human life. The Scriptures reflect this, when they talk about life being life even in the womb. Here are just a few verses that talk about God knowing us from the womb, and about forming us in the womb.

Psa 22:10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.
Psa 71:6 By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.
Psa 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Ecc 11:5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.
Isa 44:24 Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;
Isa 49:1 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
Isa 49:5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
Jer 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
Luk 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

So what we see, is God says that life begins in the womb. It doesn’t begin at birth, it begins before birth. People say that it’s just a glob of tissue, but is that all it is? Why does a pre-born baby have a beating heart? Why does it have blood? Why does it have bones, organs? Why does it look like a human? Why are those who are “pro-choice” against legislation that would require abortion doctors to show images of the baby to the mother? Have you ever looked at images of what a pre-born child looks like?

The second accusation against the 180 movie, is that it invokes “Godwin’s Law”. Godwin’s Law was a humorous observation made by a man named Mike Godwin. Basically, his law states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” In other words, the longer that you see an argument go on in an internet forum, the more likely you are to have somebody begin comparing somebody else’s beliefs to beliefs held by Nazi’s and Hitler. Now, Godwin’s Law is not a logical fallacy. While Godwin’s Law can sometimes be a from of the Reduction Ad Hitlerum fallacy(an informal logical fallacy), this is not always the case. In fact, comparing one’s beliefs to beliefs held by the Nazis or Hitler, is sometimes a very valid point. And I think that this is a case where this is a valid observation being made. Hitler and the Nazi Party essentially did not recognize Jews and non-whites as people. In fact, in Mein Kampf, Hitler states:

[T]he völkisch concept of the world recognizes that the primordial racial elements are of the greatest significance for mankind. In principle, the State is looked upon only as a means to an end and this end is the conservation of the racial characteristics of mankind. Therefore on the völkisch principle we cannot admit that one race is equal to another. By recognizing that they are different, the völkisch concept separates mankind into races of superior and inferior quality. On the basis of this recognition it feels bound in conformity with the eternal Will that dominates the universe, to postulate the victory of the better and stronger and the subordination of the inferior and weaker. And so it pays homage to the truth that the principle underlying all Nature’s operations is the aristocratic principle and it believes that this law holds good even down to the last individual organism. It selects individual values from the mass and thus operates as an organizing principle, whereas Marxism acts as a disintegrating solvent. The völkisch belief holds that humanity must have its ideals, because ideals are a necessary condition of human existence itself. But, on the other hand, it denies that an ethical ideal has the right to prevail if it endangers the existence of a race that is the standard-bearer of a higher ethical ideal. For in a world which would be composed of mongrels and negroids all ideals of human beauty and nobility and all hopes of an idealized future for our humanity would be lost forever.

–Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf Vol. 2 Ch. 1

 

While it is politically incorrect to call someone “sub-human” today, notice how pre-born children are said “to not be persons”. Notice how “pro-choice” people always say that the “fetus isn’t a person until it’s born”. Why? Because just like Nazi Germany did, if you can make out people to “not be persons” in the eyes of others, you can get them to tolerate what you’re doing. If it’s not a person, it’s okay to kill it. Of course, they don’t use terms like “kill” either. Of course, they will make claims that “science has shown that personhood does not begin at conception”. However, isn’t “personhood”, more of a question of philosophy, rather than science? Science can make a determination when life begins, but not a determination of when one becomes a person. Further, what makes one a “person”? Is it age? Quality of life? Health? Location? How do we decide what is human, and what isn’t? Well for those of us who are believers, Scripture makes it evident that personhood begins in the womb. At conception. For those who think women should have the right to kill their unborn child simply because it’s unwanted, they will say that personhood does not begin until birth. It’s much easier to kill something or someone that you don’t view as human, or as being a full person. It’s how Germans and Austrians were able to both passively and actively allow Jews to be killed. It’s how whites here in America were able to stand by and both passively and actively allow slavery. But this, this is slightly different. Because the persons being killed, aren’t usually seen by people other than the doctor. So it’s easier to forget they exist. Or to pretend that they don’t.

This little documentary was fairly well-done. But it did much more than just compare the Holocaust of Jews, Homosexuals, Christians, Catholics, and Communists, to the Holocaust of Babies(which, btw, is far more horrible in terms of sheer numbers and viciousness), it presents the Gospel.
As Ray Comfort goes on through this documentary, he makes sure to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to these people who are pro-abortion. This is the most important part of this movie, is that the Gospel is presented. And Ray Comfort, as usual, goes through the Law with the unbelievers, and presents to them their sinfulness, and the good news of what Christ has done. I strongly recommend this documentary to anybody and everybody. This issue is very important, perhaps the most important issue of our time. After watching this movie, I became convicted. Am I doing enough to help stop abortion? Am I reaching enough people? Am I doing enough to preach the Gospel, the most important deterrent to abortion? May God have mercy on us, if we stay silent.

Well, SBC President Bryant Wright has made a few folks upset, and excited others. Monday evening SBC President Bryant Wright has announced a task force, not funded by the convention, that will investigate whether or not a name change is needed. The Twitterverse popped to life with hundreds of SBC members taking to Twitter to tweet passionately about whether or not they supported such a move. The SBC Blogosphere quickly sprang into action as well, as SBC bloggers tackled the issue with gusto. Salvos have been fired from both sides of the issue, some adamantly declaring that the SBC should change it’s name, and others making it clear that the SBC without the name “Southern Baptist” is tantamount to heresy.

In all honesty, Saturday I was thinking about this very topic, and working on a blog post in my head about whether or not the SBC needed a name change. Monday, I still didn’t have the blog post written out, so I chose to sit back and watch what happened once the fireworks started. And it has been interesting to watch. I would love to sit and have a conversation about this issue with other Southern Baptists, and that’s why I’m writing this blog post. I realize that in blogging and tweeting, facial cues and body language can’t be read. Only the written word can be read. I’m going to probably make some strong statements, but if you could, please understand that while I would say these things in person, I would not be saying them with extreme force and hatred ringing in my voice. I would be talking with you respectfully, but with conviction and humility(to one degree or another, I hope). I don’t believe that I’m better than any of you, I’m just bringing a different perspective to the table. A perspective that yes, I feel strongly about, but that I don’t know is necessarily the correct one. I didn’t grow up Southern Baptist. I didn’t grow up in the South. I’m an outsider, who is now in the SBC. I love the Southern Baptist Convention. I personally grew up Independent Fundamental Baptist. I love the co-operation of SBC churches, I love the work the SBC has done in foreign missions. I love the way the SBC has stood strong for Biblical truth over the years.

As a Yankee who has moved to Southern Baptist country, I’ve posted some observations about the Bible Belt. I would personally, strongly encourage SBC Messengers to vote to change the name of the Southern Baptist Convention. Perhaps to something like Great Commission Baptist Convention, or the Cooperative Baptist Confession, or the Global Missionary Baptist Convention, or the International Baptist Convention. Where I grew up, there was one Southern Baptist church that I knew of in my area. And almost everybody I knew just looked strangely at the church, because we didn’t understand why a Southern Baptist Church would be in the Northeast. My home state of Delaware is right on the border of the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. I like to say that it’s the best of both worlds, with delicious foods from both regions. Delaware is also what I personally call the “Bible Belt of the Northeast”. There’s a significant amount of Protestants in that area, compared to states further North. Granted, a Protestant in the Northeast is significantly different than a Protestant in the Southeast. But let’s talk about some reasons why the SBC should strongly consider changing it’s name.Some of these I am admittedly stealing from this older blog post from a couple years ago.

1. The name “Southern Baptist Convention” wasn’t a good idea when it was first named. In fact, I’ll go further. The Southern Baptist Convention was began in sin. It started when Baptists in the South got a little upset that they couldn’t appoint missionaries who were slaveholders, because Northern Baptists refused to allow it to happen. Baptists, throughout North America, originally fought for the equal rights of men, and opposed slavery. Baptists welcomed slaves into their churches, and even ordained black slaves as ministers. But as slavery became culturally established in the South, Baptist ministers began to stop opposing slavery, and found ways to accommodate the wealthy gentry of the South by interpreting Scripture to condone slavery. In 1844, Basil Manly Sr, President of the University of Alabama, pastor, and plantation owner with 40 slaves, decided to lead a move against the position of Northern Baptists forbidding missionaries to be slaveholders. He drafted the Alabama Resolutions, and presented them at the Triennial Convention in Philadelphia(Baptists in the United States were largely united under the Triennial Convention at this time). These Resolutions included the demand that slaveholders be permitted to be appointed to denominational offices. The Resolutions failed. Baptists from the South then attempted to have a slaveholder appointed as a missionary by the Home Mission Society, and when he was rejected(as he held slaves and missionaries were not permitted to take servants with them), Southern Baptists interpreted this as a violation of their rights. The next year, the Southern Baptist Convention was founded. So let’s just say “Okay, maybe our convention was founded as a really bad idea. And maybe the name carries some negative baggage because of that.” This brings me to my next point.

2. There is some negative baggage associated with the name Southern Baptist. Particularly within the African-American community of the United States. And not just for slavery, but also for Jim Crow and segregation. Now, granted, not all African-American persons still hold a grudge against the SBC. Not all are aware of the history of the SBC. But some are. If  a name change would reduce that negative baggage, and make our convention have a broader appeal to more people, would that be enough of a reason to change the name of the Southern Baptist Convention? If not, why not? Granted, the SBC did issue an apology for racism 16 years or so ago. But would a name change be more helpful? This issue needs to be explored, as much as any other, as an important issue in the SBC name change controversy.

3. SBC church leaders outside the South will often hide the word “Southern”. It really isn’t, and I hate to use this word, “relevant” to people outside the South. Let’s face it, you slap “Southern Baptist Church” on a church sign in Massachussetts, and it’s going to be a bit of a turn-off at times. It’s hard enough to plant a Baptist church in the Northeast. The name “Southern” isn’t really helping.

3. Would our Southern Churches like to be known as “Northern Baptist”? Think about it. Would your church in south Mississippi like to be a part of the “Northern Baptist Convention”? Or would you like to move your churches denominational affiliation to the Korean Baptist Convention? Or how about changing your church to the state convention of Vermont, when your church is located in Florida?

4. Our denominational name is based on a geographical location, not on a Biblical vision or Biblical imperative.

5. Churches outside the Bible Belt South might consider joining us, if our name weren’t “Southern”.

6. There’s no good reason to keep the name Southern. Seriously. Can you think of one? Why should we retain “Southern”, when we’re trying to broaden our reach outside of the traditional “Bible Belt”. We’re planting churches in Vermont, Main, New York, Wyoming, California, and we’re keeping “Southern”? Seriously? Why? What good reason is there for that?

But, I don’t think it will happen. Not any time soon anyway. Why? Because many Southern Baptists are highly resistant to change. And the name “Southern Baptist” is deeply entrenched within the hearts and minds of many, many Southern Baptists. In many cases, they grew up in Southern Baptist churches. They’ve been surrounded by Southern Baptists their entire life. They live in, and were raised in, the South. It is their identity. And right there, is possibly part of the problem. Is it possible that many of my brothers and sisters have found more identity in being a Southern(emphasis on Southern) Baptist than they have found in Jesus Christ. Now, I’m not alleging that they aren’t saved, or that they are without Christ. I’m saying that they have, because of geographical and cultural reasons, placed their identity more in a denominational identity than in finding their identity in Christ. It has become an idol. And idols need to be broken eventually. I’m also not saying that we shouldn’t fight to retain the Baptist identity. I’m very strongly a Baptist. The Baptist denomination, I believe, most closely resembles the New Testament church. So let’s keep Baptist. But let’s drop “Southern”. I don’t see a need to keep the name “Southern”.

Am I wrong? Is my thinking way out in left field? Is there some reason that I don’t know of, why we should keep the name Southern Baptist Convention?

Here’s some more blog posts by others on this topic.

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Link 4

Link 5

Link 6

 

 

Posted by: baptistthinker | September 17, 2011

Love and Alzheimer’s and Pat Robertson

A couple of days ago, Pat Robertson made some statements on Alzheimer’s, that were particularly troubling to me. I say “to me”, because my grandfather on my father’s side had this disease. I remember him receiving the diagnosis when I was around 12 or 13 years old. I didn’t understand much about it at that time, I only knew that grandpa was acting strangely. He and grandma would sit out in front of their house on nice evenings, and suddenly grandpa would stand up, grab his lawn chair, and tell grandma he was going home. And he’d proceed to wander around the neighborhood. Grandma was deaf, and lipread, and she would have to fire up the TTY machine, and call us via an operator who would read what she was writing and tell us what grandma was saying. And we’d drive over to their neighborhood, and convince grandpa to go back to the house. I remember, at church, grandpa would forget people’s names. Even mine. And I didn’t understand why, other than “the disease was making it happen”. After a while, on Sunday evenings, I would have to stay at grandma’s house and watch grandpa, so she could go to church. Or I’d have to go over during the week, and watch him, so she could go shopping. After a while, grandpa no longer knew who I was. He’d talk to me, and say “hey boy, go do this”. He’d mistake the recliner for a car, and start trying to work on it and get the motor running. Or he’d think he was back in the war, and he’d wander around the house “looking for blood and steel”. When I got my driver’s license, I’d drive over to grandma’s, and pick her up to take her shopping, while my younger brothers stayed with grandpa.

Grandpa’s disease caused him to forget everybody. Eventually, due partly to an overdose of his medication by the doctor, grandpa became largely bedridden. I remember grandma would shave his face, and comb his hair. She’d change his diaper. She never complained. She would sit with him, and tell him about her day. He usually didn’t hear her. Or recognize her. I’d see grandma cry sometimes. She missed him, greatly. The Mother’s Day before he died, my father and aunts were taking grandma to Mother’s Day lunch, and I was supposed to stay with grandpa. And grandma went into the room where grandpa lay, as she always did. And she said “the kids are taking me to lunch, I’ll be back.” And for the first time in a long time, grandpa looked up at her with recognition in his eyes, and he said “Can I come too?” And grandma cried. Lunch was put on hold, because grandma couldn’t compose herself to go out. When grandpa died, I think a part of her died as well. Shortly after, it was discovered that she had cancer. She had put so much into caring for grandpa, that she hadn’t been to the doctor much in years. Shortly after finding out she had cancer, about nine months, grandma passed away.

When I think of Alzheimer’s, I automatically think of love. Because that was what my grandmother modeled for me. She loved grandpa so much. She cared for him, every day. She didn’t complain, she just did what she felt was her duty. She was a Christian woman, in love with a man she had been with for years. I simply can’t understand, how you can love someone for so long, and then decide to abandon them because they have Alzheimer’s. There is a right way, and a wrong way, to deal with a spouse having Alzheimer’s. Pat Robertson has told us the wrong way. My grandmother chose the right way. And the man you will hear in this next video, also chose the right way.

This country song, reminds me of my grandmother. It illustrates so much what she went through, during all those years.

Posted by: baptistthinker | September 9, 2011

Racism and the Gospel Part II

When I moved down South, I found myself overwhelmed by the amount of churches here in Mississippi and the greater Memphis area(let’s face it, there are more churches on my drive to my church than were in my entire town back home). I began visiting different churches. I remember visiting one church, and I was standing around talking with one of the deacons and a couple of the assistant pastors. I remember the little son(maybe four years old) of one of those pastors who came up to stand by his dad. His dad looked down at him and said “Boy, you tell these fellas that joke I taught you.” And this little kid proceeded to tell a couple of jokes that contained the “N” word. Just a couple of weeks ago, a young black adult who I am friends with on Facebook, posted that she had been told “she needed to stop going to a white church, she didn’t belong there”. I’ve noticed that in our churches, we all tend to stick with our own ethnic groups. We have Korean churches, AME churches, Missionary Baptist churches, Southern Baptist(typically white churches, but there’s a change growing in Southern Baptist churches, our church is developing a mix), Fundamental Baptist churches(typically white), etc, etc. Now, it can be said that this came about because white Americans weren’t willing to share their churches with black Americans, and a need arose for churches in black communities. And that’s a valid point. But how long can we continue this way? Is the Gospel being properly proclaimed in a church made up entirely of one ethnic group, when the surrounding community is a mix of ethnicities? As somebody who spends a lot of time in different neighborhoods around my town/city, I know of several churches, where they don’t properly reflect the part of town in which they find themselves. Isn’t there a problem there? When we get to heaven, we are going to find believers of every tribe and tongue. We should work on getting used to that down here on earth, working together with one another for the Gospel, showing the lost world how the Gospel can impact lives and change the hearts and minds of believers. How the Gospel can bring a man who at one point hated black people, and made him one day join together with black believers to impact a community for the Gospel. Because that’s what the Gospel does. It’s so powerful that it can change you from being a hater of God and your fellow man, to loving God and that same man you hated just a short time before. It takes a heart of stone, and turns it into a heart of flesh. This is the promise of God, that He will take those in opposition to Him, and make them His friends. We tend to look at racism as one of those unforgivable sins, where people just can’t change. But I will tell you, I have changed. Or rather, God has changed me, I couldn’t have changed on my own. God moved, and He moved me. Who I was before, is not who I am today.

But let me ask, how can we properly illustrate the Gospel and it’s power, when most of our churches are homogeneous? If our church is all black, or all white, or all Latino, or all Korean, and the community in which we find ourselves is a mixture of all of those ethnic groups, are we properly displaying the power of the Gospel? Or are we making it our own little club, where we hang out with people who look like us, talk like us, and think like us? Look at the early church! It was made up of Jews and Gentiles, sitting together at the Lord’s table! Yes, there were fights! Yes, there was dissension! But they worked through that, for the glory of God. We learned about God’s care for both Jews and Greeks. We learned that God doesn’t make any distinction between the two, because of Christ. And that is the way it ought to be in our own churches! We ought to be able to display to the unsaved world that both black families and white families can sit under the same pastors and praise the same God. We ought to see Asian believers next to Latino believers, worshiping God with outstretched hands. We ought to see men and women of different ethnic backgrounds coming together to give the Gospel to a lost and dying world. And yet, we stay cooped up in our separate churches. We give the Gospel to a black man, and then tell him to go to the black church down the street. We give the Gospel to a white man, but God forbid he come to our church. We tell the Latino family that just accepted Christ “hey, you can go to this church twenty miles away where they speak Spanish.” How on earth does this reflect the Gospel? How are we showing the love of Christ to a world that needs Him in doing this?

What does the world see when they look at your church? Maybe your church is in a community where everybody is white, or everybody is black, or everybody is Latino or Asian. But if you live in any sort of major town in the United States, probably not. Maybe you should consider doing outreach into those neighborhoods of the people you don’t trust, or that you’re a little scared of deep inside. If you have a problem with bringing black people into your congregation, maybe you should stop and consider the Gospel for a moment. If you have a problem asking your white friend to come into your church, maybe you need to examine the Gospel a little closer. Or maybe you need to look at your church more carefully and find out if they have a grasp on the Gospel. Remember, the Gospel points us to a redeemer, a Savior for all mankind. Not just the Jews, or the white people, or the black people, or any other ethnic group. No, He’s the Savior of the world, redeeming for Himself people from every tribe and nation. When you think your ethnic group superior to another, you are making yourself an idol. You are worshiping a god made in your own image, something to be repented of today. Now is the time for repentance. Find those areas of prejudice in your heart, and ask God to help you. Root them out, with the Scriptures, with the Gospel. And let God be glorified with what happens as a result.

Posted by: baptistthinker | September 9, 2011

Racism And The Gospel And A Personal Testimony

Warning: Portions of this are extremely personal. I haven’t talked much about this facet of my former life, because it’s a topic that makes people uncomfortable. Everybody likes to think “I’m not a racist”. But in reality, many of us, both black and white, Latino and Asian, have racist thoughts and prejudices. Maybe you’re not one of those people. That’s great. I’m really, truly, thrilled that you have never known that sort of prejudice. Maybe you only laugh at racist jokes, or just get uncomfortable around people of other ethnic backgrounds than your own. Maybe you look at a white man or black man, and decide you can’t trust him, based only on your past experiences. Consider, friend, that you just might be a racist. Portions of this may make you uncomfortable. Understand that I’m not trying to hurt your feelings, or make you uncomfortable. But I want you to understand that the Gospel of Christ is antithetical to racism.

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
(Gal 3:26-29 ESV)
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
(Col 3:8-11 ESV)

I love the above verses, because they talk about how in Christ, we are all one. There is neither Jew nor Greek, circumcised or uncircumcised. These verses also dispel the notions of racism. Paul wrote these verses, I believe, thinking on the subject of racism at least a little. Jews often thought themselves the better, because they were the circumcised, the chosen of God. Greeks and other Gentiles were lesser people, on account of not being Jewish. In fact, if you look at the story of Jesus and the Woman at the Well, you’ll see that this story directly addresses racism. The Jews hated the Samaritans, who were  descendants of Jewish and Gentile ancestors. As the Jews were forbidden by God to marry with those outside the Israelite faith, this was highly taboo, especially to those who were “pure Jews”.

Before we go much further, I want to stop and define racism. Racism is the belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race(source). There are different forms of racism present in the world. Some are more explicit, like those who quite simply hate people of other skin tones and state their opinion vocally(the Neo-Nazis, KKK, Nation of Islam). Then there are those who maybe tell a racist joke among friends now and then. Or who look at people of a different skin tone and judge them simply for being that skin tone, and assume “they’re all just like ______”.

Here are some soul-searching questions each of us should ask ourselves, when we think “well, I’m not a racist. Those KKK members, now they are racist. But not me.”
-Do I have less compassion on illegal immigrants because they look differently and speak another language?
-Am I reluctant to adopt a child of a different skin color?
-Do I make judgments about a person’s intelligence, abilities, etc. based on their ethnicity?
-Do I frown upon marriages that are ‘interracial’?
-Would I hesitate submitting to a pastor with a different color skin?
-Do I tolerate humor that ridicules other nationalities?
-If I boarded an airplane and discovered my seating assignment was next to an Arab man, would I treat that person with any less respect?
-Would I be willing to incorporate into our worship service styles of music that represent other cultures?
-Is my conception of Jesus that of a (insert your own race here)?
-Do I ignore the painful discrimination that people of another skin color have experienced in the past or present? (“weeping with those who weep,” Rom. 12:15)
-Would I be willing to give my life to share Christ with people of another ethnic heritage?(Source)

I grew up in the Northeast, in Delaware. My mom was a southern girl, and my dad a Yankee from Massachusetts. I wasn’t brought up to hate anybody. I attended church every Sunday and Wednesday, and every Revival and Special Meeting. My dad would now and then tell jokes about people of all ethnic backgrounds, including our own. I played with all the kids on our street, both black and white. But I remember, that fairly often, my toys and bikes would get stolen by the older black kids down the street. I remember one day, our new bikes we had gotten for Christmas were stolen. That night, the mothers of these two older black kids came walking down the street, towing their sons and our bikes. I remember my dad standing on the front porch, lecturing these boys. Dad had taken them to church now and then, and had bought them shoes and school supplies from time to time as they were poorer than we were(and we were poor). These events, along with others in our neighborhood(the local crackhouse, the woman getting her throat slit down the street), began to solidify an opinion in my mind about black people. I thought to myself “they’re all thieves.” Gradually, as I got older as a teenager, this opinion began to form more and more into “The entire black race is degenerate. All black Americans should be shipped back to Africa, and let’s see if they can do as well as they can here. That will teach them to be ungrateful.”

I didn’t know anything about Martin Luther King Jr as a young man. I confess, I still don’t know much about him, although I am learning more about his accomplishments and life. Our school, a private school run by my church, didn’t celebrate MLK day until after I graduated, and even then, it was an optional holiday. We didn’t celebrate MLK day for the reason(as I understand it, from overhearing teachers talking about it) that “MLK was a whoremonger and Communist”. As a young man, I had become fascinated with Civil War History, particularly with the Confederacy. Not entirely over the issue of slavery, as I was against slavery. Mostly. However, I did hold the opinion that many descendants of Confederates in the South still hold, that is that “slavery was not as bad as it’s made out to be by liberal historians”. I cited, as evidence for this, the fact that many slaves chose to remain in the employ of their master. There are many things that I realize now I had failed to take into consideration that would account for this fact. I certainly didn’t understand the de-humanization of people that is inherent in the type of slavery held to by the slave-owners in America, and I doubt I would have cared. I didn’t understand the condition known as Stockholm Syndrome, and I didn’t understand the “normalcy bias” that is inherent in humanity. But these are topics for another day.

As I got closer to 18, I was becoming more radical in my mind about these things. My next door neighbor was a man who read militia magazines(if you remember the 90’s, you’ll remember that militia groups and survivalists were considered to be somewhat of a threat to the security of the United States, although most of them actually weren’t), and would sometimes let me read a stack of them. As I read them, I began to discover that there were websites for these groups. I sometimes got on the internet at my grandmother’s or at the library, and would look different sites up. Outwardly, I was still quite normal, although I had become somewhat of an advocate for the Confederacy in the Civil War. I had a Confederate Flag put on my class ring. I would say “It’s heritage, not hate”. But in my heart, I knew there was that part of me that was burning with hatred. I had a Confederate flag on my belt buckle, that I wore mostly to taunt people. I was moving further down a path that would just continue to lead to destruction.

When I went off to Bible college, I was going to train to be a pastor. I thought, that whenever I finally set out on my own away from my parents, I could find some sort of militia group where I could be the chaplain(something similar to the Klan, although I didn’t want to join the Klan because I didn’t want to change my political party affiliation to a Democrat). I had a couple of groups in mind at the time, and even thought of starting my own. College was also a place where I found a few like-minded people. Fellow students who’d use slurs for black people, or Asian people, or Latino people. And the scary thing is, we didn’t see a contradiction between our faith, and our hate. Our Bible college, forbade dating between black students and white students. Now, between a white student and a Latino? No problem. White student and Asian? No problem. Black student and black student? No problem. Black students were only able to date other black students. White students could date whoever they wanted. I remember one Latino, from Brazil I think, who had very dark skin tone. He got called into the office one day, because he was dating a white girl, and the faculty thought he was black. Once it was discovered that he wasn’t a black student, he was told “well, just stick with dating Latino girls. We don’t want to give the school a bad testimony.” Interracial dating between white and black students is/was very highly looked down on in our circles. Of course, this college also forbade married couples younger than 40 from touching on campus, “to avoid giving the school a bad testimony by making people think that we allow dating students to touch one another”. But, this school also has a large bus ministry that goes into the inner-city of Chicago to pick up kids for church on Sundays. There is or was(not sure if it continues now) a “10% rule”, which was “no more than 10% of your bus on any given Sunday can contain black children.” The alleged reason for this, was because the black children and the Latino children would get into fights, being from different gangs and gang turfs. There were, I believe, two Sundays out there, where we did a big push in neighborhoods with large amounts of black children, where we would bring those children to church. But that was rare.

We used certain Scripture verses to justify our racism. Like Genesis 9:20-29(we used this to justify the existence of slavery in America, that the sons of Ham were the “black people groups”, and thus under judgment from God, and this is why slavery was okay); Exodus 34:13-16, Deuteronomy 7:1-4(used to justify our stance against inter-racial marriages). And I would hold firmly to these Scriptures to justify my own prejudices and hatred. I have since learned that these interpretations of Scripture are deeply flawed, but again, that’s a topic for another day.

And then one day, something happened at college. During a chapel service, God moved me in a profound way. I suddenly realized, sitting in my seat, that I wasn’t saved. That I didn’t actually know Christ. I remember sitting in my seat, with tears flowing down my cheeks, under so much conviction of sin that I thought my heart would break in two. I got saved that day. But my racism didn’t stop right away. To one extent it did, and that is, the intensity of my hatred began to die down. My desire to join some sort of racist group just kind of faded away into nothingness. I don’t remember when. I just know that I no longer desired that. I no longer wanted to ship everybody that wasn’t white out of the country. But I still felt resentment whenever I saw an interracial couple. I still felt fear when I walked into a room where it was just me and a black man. I laughed at jokes about other racial groups. I still didn’t grasp the problems inherent in American-style slavery and viewed it as a minor issue, the very anti-biblical, anti-God, anti-human nature of it. I still didn’t grasp that holding prejudices against a different ethnic group was not just wrong, but was a sin both against man and God. Man is made in the image of God, and so to hate one man because he was different than me, is to hate the image of God. To have a prejudice against somebody made in God’s image because of his skin tone, is quite frankly, stupid.

But as I began to grow in the faith, I began to learn different things that began to change my outlook on this issue. I knew already that all men come from Adam. So essentially, we are all of one race. We are of one blood. We are one people, separated by ethnicity, tribe, tongue, and sometimes religion. When we approach our ideas of “races” based on the idea that we are biologically different from one another, we are bound to eventually come to a conclusion that one “race” must be superior to another. This is foolish for the Christian to believe however, because we are all of Adam. That means we are all brothers. So in the very broad scope of humanity, we discover that we are all brothers. But then, those of us who are believers, we are also bound together by Christ. A few years ago, Thabiti Anyabwile preached a sermon on this at the Together 4 the Gospel conference. Tim Challies did a brief overview of that sermon here.

 

Posted by: baptistthinker | April 12, 2011

20/20 And The IFB Culture

Last Friday, ABC’s 20/20 did a special on IFB’dom, and the culture surrounding it. It barely scratched the surface, and did do a little bit of broadbrushing. But as a former IFB, who has seen many different camps of IFB’dom, it seemed to be fairly accurate reporting for people without any experience in IFB’dom. If you want to check out the special, click here.

The predictable spin has already been put out by many IFB’s. Cries of “my church isn’t like that”, or “IFB isn’t a denomination, we can’t all be held accountable for that church’s actions”, or “these girls are lying! lying!”. The first two are fairly easy to deal with. Yes, every IFB church is autonomous. No, they are not “Independent”. The IFB culture has many “camps” or ‘networks’ that IFB churches tend to run in, and there’s a lot of “group-think” in these circles. These churches tend to think alike, they do the same things, they go to the same conferences, have one another preach at special events, etc. It’s much like the SBC, except on a weirder scale. It’s hard to demonstrate how these networks work, and how they interlace. Many IFB churches will network based on college(Hyles-Anderson, Fairhaven, West Coast Baptist, Pensacola), others network based on Fundamentalist Publications(Sword of the Lord, Revival Fires), some network based on personalities(Jack Hyles, Bob Gray(TX), Peter Ruckman, Gail Riplinger), and most will network based on more than one of those. And within those circles, there tends to be a lot of similar thinking based on those schools/personalities/publications. For example, those within the Ruckman camp are more likely to have a favorable outlook on divorced pastors in the pulpit, while those in the Hyles-Anderson network are highly likely to believe that the pastor is the ultimate authority in a Christian’s life. So no, there really is no way to claim complete independence for the IFB movement.
Now, on several Fundamental Baptist websites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, there has been a lot of defense of Chuck Phelps, the pastor who forced a fifteen year old rape victim(Statutory rape is still rape, Chuck, even if she was “willing”, which she disputes). Some people say that this girl “seduced” the man who raped her, there is a claim that even her own mother thinks she is a liar(note: her mother married a convicted kid toucher, Tina’s Stepfather). Some IFB’s have even claimed that since the Bible doesn’t give a minimum age for marriage, there is no sin in having sexual relations with a 14, 15, 16 year old child. In fact, one man who has said this, who is an “administrator/editor” of a large Fundamental Baptist forum/website, had some startling statements to make.

We don’t separate from brothers because of their beliefs about things that Scripture does not reveal. The Bible does not reveal an age at which absolutely no one is capable of consent to sexual relationship. It doesn’t even reveal information from which we can infer such an age.
We could make some kind of wisdom case if some pastor was claiming that 3 yr olds can consent. But it’s not all obvious that a 3 yr old and a 15 year old are in the same category.
Either way, we have no biblical case for what is, in reality, a consensus among social scientists.
So, if we believe in Christian liberty in any sense, we have to grant that believers must comply fully with the law in these matters but are free to form their own beliefs about what is sin or is not sin, or who is capable of sinning in what ways under what circumstances.

Really Aaron Blumer? Really? We “could make a wisdom case”? So really, you have no problem with pedophilic relations? It is absolutely disturbing that anyone would make these comments.

While not every IFB church covers up abuse, most of them aren’t willing to separate from churches/pastors that do/have covered up abuse. In fact, in all the years I’ve been an IFB, or have associated with IFB’s, I’ve never known an IFB church to handle a claim of sexual misconduct/sexual molestation/abuse in a legal, Biblical manner. Not one. But I can name several off the top of my head, that have covered up abuse, that have ignored immorality, and that don’t ever try to make things right.
Here’s a couple of links to some good blog posts on the 20/20 show.
Bob Bixby
Stuff Fundies Like

And here, is Jack Schaap’s odd and disturbing response to the 20/20 special that featured a few clips of him preaching.

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