June 18, 2004

'Saved!' Review On the Mark

The Wall Street Journal has a great review of the new movie 'Saved!'. My favorite part, though, is the subtitle: 'A Movie Makes Fun of Evangelical Christians. This Took Courage?'

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This is an ALLY??

This article tells me that we need to keep a close eye on our Saudi "allies".

We jumped all over China about human rights violations and religious freedom, yet we spend a TON of money every year on Saudi oil, and don't even give things like this a second look. I haven't seen much mention of the story in any major media outlets -- maybe I haven't been paying attention, but I doubt it.

"What's happening to Mr. O'Connor is by no means unusual in Saudi Arabia, where respect for human rights is as rare as shade trees."

Mexico is fixed pretty good for oil, as I recall. AND they're a NAFTA member, so no big ole tarriffs importing from them. And I have a feeling that the Mexican economy could use a boost -- maybe cut down on the illegal immigration. They might apprciate American dollars more than the Saudis. And US oil companies wouldn't have to pay near as much in travel expenses.

And they don't kill Christians for their faith in Mexico. Someone needs to play some hardball with the Saudis.

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The Doubting Bishop

Is it just me, or is this really stupid. . .

Danish bishop states that he doesn't believe in God. Or heaven. Or eternal life. WAAAY back in 2003. The church does the logical thing and suspended him. He retracts his statement, and is reinstated. Then he says it again, and they suspend him again. Now he's shocked by the decision. He's fighting to keep his job -- and his parishoners are behind him, saying we have to respect differences of opinion.

Ah -- tolerance. Let's keep a bishop who doesn't even believe what he's supposed to be representing, because we have to tolerate different points of view about God, especially in church. He won't resign -- I guess working for a boss you don't believe in has some advantages:

Me: I'm not coming in to work today, boss. I'm going golfing.
Boss: No, I need you to . . .
Me: Great! Thanks! See ya' later!
Boss: Hey! I was talking there!
Me: Huh? Did you hear something? Must have been the wind. See, I don't believe in you anymore. You don't exist.
Boss: Then you're fired.
Me: See, that's the best part. I don't believe in you, so I can't hear you firing me. See you on Monday!

That's even better than working for yourself. I've worked for myself before, but I quit -- worst boss I ever had. Never gave me a day off or anything.

I seriously don't understand why the guy wants to keep working for a cause he has no faith in -- what's the point? The point is this: job security. In Denmark, Lutheran bishops are employed by the government, not the church. Think the government is going to fire a bishop? Doubt it, especially with his parishoners behind him. He's not going anywhere. And he doesn't need to put a lot of thought into his sermons -- or does he think that his non-existant god is actually going to speak through him? It doesn't matter much what he says -- no eternal life on the line for himself OR his parishoners. ANd the parishoners have to love having a bishop who doesn't keep bugging you about what God thinks about things, or what you should do to serve God, or things like that. Win-win situation short term.

Lose-lose situation for eternity. If man wasn't so short-sighted, the people in Denmark would realize this.

{edit} I forgot to link to the article. BBC News has it here. Christianity Today has had a few things about it, if memory serves me correctly.

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June 17, 2004

A Baptist by Any Other Name ...

This will probably be my last Convention-related post, but I wanted to adress a subject that has been getting surprisingly little coverage in the blogosphere -- at least the part of it that I've been reading.

The SBC had proposed a study to determine whether or not it should change it's name to reflect it's international diversity.

Baptist Press has a pretty good summary of the issues, along with quotes from just about everyone who spoke up, either for or against.

It's not a new issue. The Convention has looked at a name change before, and has decided not to do it. The main contention is from churches that are not in the South. There is some concern that evangelistic efforts are hindered because of the name of the denomination.

I tend to agree with the messenger who said, "... when I go and witness, I don't ask if they want to be a Southern Baptist. I ask if they want to know Christ."

The major problem with the discussion was that people thought the proposal was to change the name. It wasn't -- it was to study the possibility of maybe changing the name. The only person to address this issue was a sweet lady from Dayton, Ohio, who called the President to task for not having any idea of the cost of the study. Of course, she was ruled out of order.

I had a major problem with not knowing the cost of the study. A budget should have been available for the messengers to look at. Writing a blank check to a Southern Baptist committee is probably the dumbest thing you can ever do, financially. But I want to address the idea of a name change.

Southern Baptist has nothing to do with location. Most everyone knows that by now. Southern Baptist is a brand name, just as Western Union and Southwestern Airlines are brand names. These latter two organizations are no longer regional, as they were when they were named -- and they haven't changed their names. Nobody thinks you can only send money through Western Union to Texas. Nobody thinks that Southwestern Air only flies west of the Mississippi. And people realize that there are Southern Baptists in every corner of the nation, if not the globe.

As far as connotations go, how long do you think it will take for the word to get out that the Southern Baptists have changed their name? Within a week, everyone who used to hate the SBC will now know that they need to hate the new name just as much.

A few years ago, the SBC decided to change the names of the Home Missions Board and the Foreign Missions Board to North American Mission Board and International Missions Board, respectively. They did this when I was a brand new Southern Baptist, so I figured that I would have no problems with the new names. Not so -- in fact, I still call them by their old names, and I had to think before typing the new names just now. Changing the name of the organization would do absolutely nothing but cost a LOT of money to change signs, letterhead, websites, legal documents, etc. It's a bad idea, and I'm glad it was defeated.

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Building Walls

We've come to believe that walls are not good things. We talk about tearing down walls between people, nations, etc. We talk about people who have built walls around themselves to shut out the world, and it's a bad thing. So this article in Baptist Press goes against the grain for most of us.

I was expecting a reaction to the decision to leave the BWA when I started reading it -- building walls between groups. But the walls that Pastor Steve Gains was taling about are the spiritual equivalent of the walls of Jerusalem that Nehemiah was sent back to build.

The walls of a city in ancient times were important to the survival of the city. They established where the city was, it's boundaries. We don't have many boundaries any more. The few that still exist do so only so that people have something to push -- we are a nation that loves to push boundaries, trying to find out exactly how far they go, and what the consequences are of crossing them.

In the name of tolerance, we are expected to condone every deviant behavior on the planet. But Christians are ridiculed, stereotyped, and marginalized in ways that would bring lawsuits from anyone else. We sit and do nothing. Our boundaries have been demolished.

We need to rebuild some of our walls. We need to establish lines that we will not cross, beliefs that we will not compromise. Maybe, indirectly, the message that Pastor Gaines delivered was about the split with the BWA. Because the Southern Baptists decided that there was a wall that they could not, in good conscience, tear down. The BWA was headed in a direction that the SBC didn't want to go, so they got off the ride. They attempted to change the course, with no success. The wall was not torn down.

There are walls that need to be demolished. Walls separating races, sexes, economic situations -- these are all walls that are not needed. But walls of doctrine, of statements of faith, of fundamentals -- these walls should remain. Too many people are willing to sacrifice these walls in the name of unity. Is there unity when basic principles of Christianity are rejected, or ignored? Perhaps there is unity there, but it is a unity that is not of Christ.

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We should pay attention to this one ...

Ok, I know that Holy Observer is satire. That doesn't mean that this article doesn't have an unfortunate ring of truth about it.

I've seen it happen WAY too many times. A tract for a tip. And I know too many people who actually are waitresses and waiters to believe it's not common.

This weekend, when you go out to eat for Father's Day, drop a 20%-er on the table. THEN, if you leave a tract, it might actually get read. And if you don't, maybe you'll make up for all the $1 tips that our brothers and sisters are leaving.

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June 16, 2004

This Week in Church History

June 13, 1757.

Pope Benedict XIV granted people throughout the world official permission to have the Bible in their own language.

Granted, the early church had Scripture in whatever tongue that was spoken. Syriac, Coptic, and Greek translations have been found dating very early in the history of the church. And vernacular Bibles had been around in "modern" times since before 1525, when such translations became ammunition for the Protestant Reformation.

Such "modern" translations were, however, condemned (sound familiar?). In 1408 the Council of Oxford condemned Wycliffe's efforts at spreading a vernacular English Bible. A hundred years later, William Tyndale had to flee England to make his own English translation.

Vernacular Bibles had the stigma of being associated with the growing Protestant "heresy". By 1528, the Bible could no longer be translated into French. Bible burnings were common events throughout Europe in the early 1500s. In much of the continent, posession of a Bible in your own language was illegal, usually punishable by death at the stake.

By about 1550, the Catholic Church began to turn around, thanks in large part to the Counter-Reformation. Vernacular Bibles were allowed, but only if they carried official Catholic annotations and explanations of the texts. It took until 1713 for the Pope to recognize that the Bible was, in fact, for everyone -- not just priests and scholars.

The Bible is for all of us. It's message can change lives. And it doesn't take a degree in theology to recognize the basic truths of God's Word.

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Award for "Most Unexpected Link on Christianity Today"

And the award goes to ...........

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition.

And I smile, because Monty Python has always been one of my guilty pleasures.

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Christian Carnival is Up!

Actually, it's probably been up a little while. I've been so wrapped up in my own blogging, and commenting on the ongoing controversy at this years SBC Convention, that I forgot to check my email and most of my blogroll!

He's done it in two parts, but the poor guy got 20 posts his first time hosting!! Head over to Belief Seeking Understanding and read some of these posts!

Maybe next week, I'll actually have something in it! If you're thinking about doing it, but haven't, I have noticed a big jump in hits when I have something in the Carnival -- and more than a couple new subscribers to my feed! I'm not running Jollyblogger numbers yet, but I'm working on it!

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An Actual NON SBC Post

I know everyone's happy!

Actually, I just wanted to link to this over at Jollyblogger. He hits on a lot of things that I've mentioned briefly before, and does it better than I do.

I also wanted to admit that I missed the Christian Carnival deadline yet again. This time, though, I'm not sure I had anything that I'd consider good enough to include. I've been slacking off a bit lately.

Finally, I'd ask everyone's prayers for me this evening as I preach at the Wednesday evening service at my church. If you're close to Greenup, KY tonight, stop on by Greenup First Baptist. Service starts at 7pm.

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SBC, Christians, and Public Schools

The resolution is being debated right now.

88% of young people raised in the church leave and never come back. Aparantly, that is totally the fault of public schools. Christian parents can aparantly only have anything to do with their kids' education if their kids are in private schools or homeschools. Funny -- my parents were very involved throughout my public education.

The law cannot keep Christian teachers from answering questions about their faith in school. The law cannot keep kids from praying in school. The law should not prevent kids from sharing their faith in the school -- when it does, we need to fight it. The law can only prevent forced participation in religious activities.

Parents are responsible for teaching their children. Parents need to be involved -- wherever their kids go to school. Many parents do not have the background, the time, or the ability to teach their kids themselves, and many more lack the resources to place their kids in private schools. Parents -- teach your kids. Teach them to share Christ in their schools. Teach them their rights as Christians in public schools. Fight for their rights in public schools. Teach them morality at home.

We talk about kids in high school not understanding or believing the fundamentals of the faith. Whose responsibility is that? The church and the parents. If kids don't understand the basics of Christianity, then I want to know what the youth leader is doing. I want to know what the parents are doing.

Disciple your kids. Train them. But if you want to make a difference in the lives of kids, Christian and non, get involved in public education. Make a difference.

If you are lead to homeschool your kids, I support you -- in fact, I am seriously thinking about doing the same. If you have your kids in private school, I commend you. If your kids are in public schools, I pray for you. I pary that you will have the strength to do as God would have you do, and that you will be involved in your child's education. Actually, I pray that reguardless of where you send your kids -- be involved in their education.

(BTW -- to one of the messengers who spoke: acid does not neutralize salt. Salt neutralizes acid.)

The ammendment failed. The resolution concerning the secularization of our culture passed, but without the 'pull out of public schools' ammendment.

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June 15, 2004

Why Did The SBC Leave the BWA?

Nicene Theology, Neo Theo(b)log, and MSNBC have commented on this so far -- I'll link to others as I find them, and edit this post.

I never thought I'd end up an SBC apologist. Even after I joind a Southern Baptist church, I didn't think I'd ever end up defending them. But I do. I'm one of the "resident SBC experts" on the Fundamentalist Forums. And I'm getting ready to jump into the fray again over the SBC vote to leave the Baptist World Alliance.

The BWA has, the SBC alleges, theological differences which make it necessary for the convention to withdraw fellowship. I have talked about separation before -- this is not the second, third, and fourth degree separation practiced by modern fundamentalists. This is Scriptural separation from organizations or individuals who differ on theological basics. Among the differences are:

  • Questioning the truthfulness of Scripture

  • Not affirming the necessity of a conscious faith in Christ for salvation

Other issues, such as promoting women preachers and the criticism of the SBC's foreign missions board, are minor things for me. The BWA has issued a statement affirming the necessity for Christ alone in salvation, but that is not binding on member groups. Nothing that I was able to find on the BWA web site addressed the concerns about Scripture at all. There is also concern about the membership of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) -- an offshoot of the SBC, made up of former SBC members who are upset with the conservative direction that the convention is taking.

After the SBC has fought for decades to eliminate theological liberals and moderates from the convention, it seems silly to me to expect the Southern Baptists to suddenly embrace fellowship with these same people. The vote to leave the BWA is a signal that the fight is over, and that there is no interest in the leadership of the convention to re-fight these battles in another forum. There is considerable ammounts of ill-will between the SBC and the CBF -- should we expect these two groups to work together?

Neo Theo(b)log quotes Alistair McGrath that "One of the purposes of doctrine is to divide." We need to make sure that the doctrine that we divide over is important. Faith in Christ as the sole means of salvation is such a doctrine. The infalibility of Scripture is such a doctrine. I would argue if ordination of women is sufficient for division, although I do not believe that it is biblical. I know that criticism of missions boards isn't grounds for separation -- it's not a doctrinal difference. But if someone was openly deriding the ministry that you were involved in, one of the most distinctive ministries that you offer, would you want to support them financially? Would you want to be associated with them?

Neither would the Southern Baptist Convention.

{edit} Take a look here for the Baptist Press story about the vote. The convention has been discussing it's differences with the BWA for a year, and hasn't been able to resolve things. This isn't a spur of the moment decision, folks. This is a 100 year association that has ended. That doesn't happen overnight.

For a non-American view of the subject, click here.

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'Under God' Stays

Because he doesn't have the right to speak for his daughter, Michael Newdow's case to eliminate the phrase 'Under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance has been thrown out by the US Supreme Court.

I wondered about this from the beginning. In fact, I seem to recall that the girl was reportedly not offended by the pledge -- her mother claimed at one point that the girl was, in fact, a Christian. In any case, he does not have custody of his daughter, so he cannot speak for her.

I wonder if this was the best ending to the case. I tend to agree with Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Thomas that the majority opinion dodged the issue. All that has to happen is for a custodial atheist to protest the pledge on behalf of his/her kid, and we're going to go through this all over again.

I also like what O'Connor said about the so-called 'heckler vote'. We won't get anything done if we are always having to worry about the protest of one person. Everything we do is bound to offend someone -- the Constitution doesn't give anyone the freedom from being offended.

If you want a legal opinion of this decision, take a look here. In fact, you might want to keep checking back there if you're interested in the issues the Supreme Court is ruling on.

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Watch the SBC Online!

Go here to view streaming video of the procedings!

I think this is a great resource not ONLY for Southern Baptists who didn't get to go (like me) but for people who don't know how the convention works and are curious.

I plan on going either next year or the year after. I was able to go to the convention in Atlanta, and it was fascinating to me -- that was my first year of being a Southern Baptist. That was when I learned that a lot I had been told before about the convention was wrong. Of course, I learned that some of what I had been told was right, and found things I didn't like that nobody had told me about.

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Study of Mark: Mark 3:6-12

Mark 3:7-12 ESV Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea ( and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. (9) And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, (10) for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. (11) And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God." (12) And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

Jesus knows what the Pharisees planned, and He knew that it wasn't His time yet, so He left. As usual, a crowd gathers, anxious to see miracles performed. And once again, He cautions unclean spirits to not make Him known.

As we will see later in the chapter, the thing Jesus thought would happen did. The Pharisees accused Him of being a tool of the devil. I think, though, that that is only one reason He wanted the secrecy at this point.

Jews at the time of Christ were not able to understand His mission. They were waiting for a conquering Messiah, who would overthrow the Romans and free Israel from tyranny. Even the disciples thought He was going to set up His kingdom right then and there -- even after the ressurrection, they were wondering when He was going to establish the Kingdom. They didn't understand the idea of a suffering Messiah.

Christ took the next three years to explain things to them. He tried through parable, through example, through stragiht-out preaching and teaching, to get them to understand the nature of the Kingdom of God.

2000 years later, and we still don't quite understand it. Books are written about it, theologians argue about when, where, and how it will be established. The only thing we can agree on is that it will happen. And the best lesson we can learn from this is that we can't understand it all.

We're never going to totally understand everything about God. We can believe in Him, we can love Him, we can worship Him, we can study His Word and learn as much as we can about Him, but only in Heaven are we actually going to fully understand God.

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Pick Your Denomination

Based on the answer to ONE QUESTION, the survey decided that I was better suited for a Reformed Baptist church. The question was pretty poorly worded, but that dumped Southern Baptist (my actual denomination) down to fourth.

Maybe someone should tell them about the Founders.

  • My #1 result for the SelectSmart.com selector, Christian Denomination Selector, is Reformed Baptist

  • My #4 result for the SelectSmart.com selector, Christian Denomination Selector, is Southern Baptist

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  • June 14, 2004

    David Cloud, Inerrancy, and Rebecca

    I read a lot about the KJVO controversy. I've got a ton (almost literally) of books on the history of the English Bible, Bible translation, the history of the canon, etc. I've read David Cloud. I usually end up getting mad before I finish an article, so I was very happy to read Rebecca's thorough fisking of Cloud.

    She does an outstanding job of showing Cloud's logical leaps, and his total mischaracterization of Dr. Daniel Wallace's views on inspiration. Get on over there and read it -- you'll learn something.

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    Christian Carnival is Coming!!

    This coming Wednesday is the next Christian Carnival, and will be hosted at Belief Seeking Understanding. If you have a blog, this will be a great way to get read, and possibly pick up readers in the process or highlight your favorite post from the past week.

    To enter is simple. First, you post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Then, do the following:

    email Douglas at


    Provide the following:

    Title of your Blog
    URL of your Blog
    Title of your post
    URL linking to that post
    Description of the post

    Cut off date is Tuesday by 12 Midnight EST

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    June 13, 2004

    ACLU and the LA Seal

    Just when I was thinking that the ACLU might have gotten it's act together.

    I've posted twice about the ACLU doing something FOR Christians, rather than TOO Christians. I was starting to think that they'd gotten religion or something, but they haven't.

    This story has been blogged about quite a bit -- if you've been living in a cave with no Internet access, check this out, or you can find it here. Post 7 or 8 at Free Republic has a picture of the seal. If you look closely, you can see the cross, middle right. That's what the fuss is all about.

    Of course, the big picture of a pagan goddess right in the middle of the seal. Maybe we should complain about that. I'm waiting, as are others, for the ACLU to go after the name of the city/county -- after all, angels are religious figures, and many might be offended by the endorsement of a specific religious system over those who do not believe in angels. And what about all the 'San's in California? Are we going to see a wholesale name-change in California?

    I don't even see this as the ACLU 'going after' Christians. I kinda agree with Ed Brayton that this is silliness on both sides of the debate. Unfortunately, the city caved in.

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    June 11, 2004

    The Quest. . . .

    We need a new Reagan.

    I'd been thinking this as I watched the service tonight. And I got the idea from Ron, when he talked about his dad not wearing his faith on his sleeve. That made me think.

    After I got over being irritated that he'd politicize his eulogy, I realized he was right. And I think that's what makes me uncomfortable about Bush. He talks a lot about his faith, and does what he wants to. Reagan didn't say much about his faith, and yet it lead him and influenced what he did.

    Bush is accused of this all the time, of course. But people who actually understand evangelical theology know that very little of what he's doing can be tied to his faith. I have no doubt that his faith is strong -- stronger than his father's, perhapse. But rather than giving lip service, he should stop talking and start doing.

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