Friday, November 16, 2007

The MBC—Southern Baptists’ Most Liberal State?

According to Baptist Press, messengers to this month’s Florida Baptist Convention “overwhelmingly” passed a by-law change requiring all trustee nominees to "agree to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages and using any other recreational drugs." It passed “with few dissenting votes.”

Southern Baptists of Texas also changed their bylaws, replacing the word “drunkenness” with “the use of alcohol as a beverage” stipulating that drinking is unacceptable for paid staff members and all elected offices of their convention.

These events underscore the problem of alcohol within the Missouri Baptist Convention. At its annual meeting, a resolution was proposed (the exact one approved at the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting) and was not even reported out of committee. A motion was made to by-pass the Resolution’s Committee unfortunate recommendation to squash the issue. When messengers finally voted on the Resolution, it barely passed 506-360 (58%/42%).

Florida and Texas can inscribe alcohol abstinence into their governing documents and Missouri can barely pass a resolution. Houston, Jeff City, we have a problem!

Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Students Against Destructive Decisions
US Surgeon General's Plea
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
The Marin Institute

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Confusingly Crazy: The Religious Right and the ’08 Election

By now, we’ve seen/heard it all.

Pat Robertson has backed Rudy Giuliani.

And to believe I backed Robertson in the ’88 Republican primary. Oh well, I worked for John Danforth’s Senatorial election too. My sins will some day catch up with me. I’ll only say—read this—and you’ll better understand his recent endorsement

Fred Thompson got NRL’s endorsement

And it came after the most convoluted diatribe defending abortion I’ve ever heard from a so-called “pro-lifer.” Dr. Wanda Franz, president of National Right to Life (NRL) said: "Since announcing his candidacy in September, Fred Thompson has run second only to pro-abortion candidate Rudy Giuliani for the Republican nomination in the overwhelming majority of national polls. As pro-lifers throughout the nation begin to unite behind his candidacy, he will be well positioned to win the nomination and the presidency."

Interestingly, NRL was livid when the McCain-Feingold bill passed Congress in 2002, severely limiting what pro-life groups could do in a presidential election. Anyone remember who the enthusiastic supporting Senator from Tennessee was?

See my previous blog entry on why I think NRL just sold its soul.

Mitt Romney gets the nod from a couple of heavy weights.

"You know I've looked at his work with the Olympics…I think he could make a good president." says conservation leader of Free Congress Foundation, Paul Weyrich. Yeah, Weyrich, I’m convinced. Getting that torch lit and burning for a couple of weeks certainly qualifies one for leader of the free world.

And conservative, fundamentalist Bob Jones also backed the Mormon from Massachusetts. I guess believing in the angel Moroni’s revelation to Joseph Smith isn’t that big of a disqualifer for evangelicals. Isn’t Jones buying into a moralist position?

And to shore up his ‘evangelical’ credentials, Romney intimated that he has the endorsement of Richard Land, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. This prompted a terse press release from Land out of his Nashville office:

“I have defended various candidates from time to time when I’ve felt that they have been unfairly or inaccurately criticized. At other times, I have been asked by the media for my assessment of a particular candidate’s chances or weaknesses and strengths. Neither defense nor assessment should be confused with endorsement. As a matter of policy, I have not endorsed, do not endorse and will not endorse candidates.”

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee snagged backing from Don Wildmon, president of American Family Association

"I feel that Governor Huckabee understands the needs of our country and has the ability to lead us in meeting those needs," Wildmon said. Also jumping on the Huckabee bandwagon: Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas Texas and well as Missouri activist and reformer, Pastor Scott Weldon.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Horton Hears It: Why Can’t Fred Thompson?

Dr. Seuss hardly meant to pontificate on America’s current abortion debate when he wrote some very poignant words in his story, Horton Hears A Who. In fact, Seuss wrote the story almost two decades before the Supreme Court’s doltish decision in Roe v. Wade.

Seuss fans will remember that Horton, an elephant from the Jungle of Nool, heard voices from a speck of dust. Horton’s friends ridiculed him and told him to discard the tiny speck, yet Horton replied:

"‘Should I put this speck down…..," Horton thought with alarm.
‘If I do, these small persons may come to great harm.
I can't put it down. And I won't. After all,
a person's a person. No matter how small.'"
In this past Sunday’s interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press, Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson began to opine on his views regarding abortion. You can watch it here.

The Senator was having some great difficulty embracing a fundamental ethic in pro-life thinking, vis-à-vis, “a person’s a person. No matter how small.”

Thompson was able to find great consternation that we may criminalize a young woman and/or her parents with a federal life amendment. In fact, he did such a fine job of keeping attention off of the small, innocent, developing baby one wonders if he was taking his talking points from a Planned Parenthood talking point memo.

In fact, after this interview, pro-life Americans will have great trouble embracing Fred Thompson as a sincere, pro-life politician.

When Russert asked Thompson whether he could run on the Republican Party’s 2004 platform regarding a human life amendment, the former Senator gave a curt and blunt reply: “No.”

Thompson then started with the mantra of how complex a federal life amendment would be, throwing in the necessary platitudes to appease his pro-life constituency, longing for the “pre-Roe v. Wade days”. His desire for those days, however, seems predicated upon an issue of federalism, rather than a life ethic. That is, Thompson wants the states to settle the issue. He seems content to allow some states to give abortion legal protection.

Time warp Fred Thompson to another arena of American history with a change of time and issue and you’ll see clearly what a moral lightweight he is. Can’t you hear him arguing in 1858 that slavery is morally wrong but that it is a matter for the states to decide? I for one am glad Abraham Lincoln took a decidedly different view. Lincoln knew slavery was so morally reprehensible that is must be outlawed. I wish Thompson embraced the moral reprehensibility of abortion.

Frankly, all “complexities” aside, anyone willing to allow abortion in any community in any county in any region of any state in America understands neither the pro-life ethic nor the horrendous brutality of abortion. Fred Thompson is playing both sides.

When Russert began to “call him out” the dancing began. As late as 1994, Fred Thompson didn’t know what every pro-lifer knows, what every seventh grade biology student knows and what every embryologist in the world knows: life begins at conception. And after watching this part of the interview several times and reading the transcript almost as much, I am still uncertain whether Thompson believes now in 2007 that life begins at conception. I know he has a “100 percent pro-life” voting record. But I do not know
a) whether Thompson believes life begins at conception; and if so
b) how he can justify allowing states to destroy innocent human life.

And while we are on the subject of Thompson and human life, Russert also asked some questions about the Terry Schiavo affair. Thompson was infuriatingly stupid saying “it was the same general end-of-life kind of consideration.” Anyone remotely familiar with the Terry Schiavo situation knows that precious woman was nowhere near the end of her life. Thompson’s most revealing moment came when he regretted Congress’s involvement saying: “It gave federal court jurisdiction. Federal court didn’t need jurisdiction, in my opinion.”

Terry Schiavo was sentenced to die by a Florida State Judge. Congress simply gave her the same right that convicted felons sentenced to death have—the right to federal court review. I wonder whether Thompson believes convicted murderers and rapists should also be deprived of this long-standing constitutional right?

Fred Thompson cannot be supported by serious minded, sincerely devoted pro-life persons unless he has a genuine epiphany within the next few months.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Ban Is On

The American Family Association has reported that America’s favorite cookie conglomerate, Mrs. Fields, is the first corporation to launch an assault against Christmas. According to the alert, Mrs. Fields has decided to intentionally not use the word “Christmas” in its seasonal product line.

And sure enough, my own search of their site yielded nothing except “holiday” products.

Mrs. Fields® Search: "Christmas"

Mrs. Fields Gifts Search Results:

Sorry, no records were found with the search parameters you provided.

Please try a new search now:

Incidentally, what “holy-day” are they promoting?

Go here to participate in AFA’s Christmas campaign. Celebrate Jesus! He’s the child who is the light of the world!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association Endorses Candidates for the MBC

  • Mike Green, DOM of the Twin Rivers Association, for a second term as President.
  • Jay Scribner, long-time pastor of FBC, Branson, now retired, for 1st Vice President.
  • Roger Moran, layman and member of FBC, Troy, for 2nd Vice President.
  • Jerry Williams, DOM of the Barry Baptist Association, for Recording Secretary.

    Some have said endorsements are not necessary; others have contended that the Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association (MBLA) needs to go away.

    Yet, this is hardly the time to change courses. MBLA continues to show and prove itself devoted to the Lord, Biblical inerrancy and the Missouri Baptist Convention. This past year has been especially difficult in a couple of significant areas.

    The first was the firing of the Executive Director David Clippard. Several issues of significance kept being raised over the past several years. The Executive Board showed itself ineffective in dealing with them. Some members were very gracious, trying to avoid trouble and dissension at all costs; others were being willfully ignorant, adopting the ostrich-with-its-head-in-the sand approach. Yet, in the end, this year's president (MBLA endorsed -- Mike Green) took action to get to the truth of various allegations. Those issues proved so substantial that even faithful Clippard supporters could do nothing other than vote for his removal. No one can say that Green's leadership was a mean-spirited hatchet job. His gracious, yet truth centered leadership demonstrates that the MBLA endorsement last year was helpful to Missouri Baptists. Others, who could have been elected president would have taken a different course and Missouri Baptists could still be ensnared with corrupt leadership.

    The second is the uncovering of the influence of the emerging church, particularly with its pro-alcohol behavior. MBLA director Roger Moran has been tireless in exposing the errors of this movement. Immediately after Moran expressed concerns about the emergent/emerging church on the national level, a new political group calling itself "Save Our Convenion" (SOC) was formed. Many of the key leaders of SOC have ties with the emerging church movement. So, an MBLA endorsement means we can be sure those leaders will be vigilant in protecting the MBC from the errors of that movement.

    Far from being over, the battle over inerrancy is just now entering into a stage of application. It's one thing to say you believe the Bible; its another to live out the Bible's commands. I'm thankful for the service of the MBLA in endorsing candidates. These are wonderful men who will serve us well.

    Let's give them our vote and our whole-hearted support!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

They Did It

The Senate has approved the radical Reid/Kennedy amendment known as "hate crimes" legislation. President Bush has pledged to veto the legislation. Let's pray he does.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Hey Cloning Coaltion, Welcome to the Grassroots!

At the risk of turning my blog into commentary on Missouri’s cloning battle, I feel the need to highlight at least one recent event.

Here’s the latest propaganda from the Stowers Institute’s mouthpiece. Well, ok, I can’t link to it because it’s not yet posted as of this writing (I’ll get back to that in a moment). But for now, you can read it below:

For Immediate Release: September 5, 2007
Contact: Connie Farrow (314) 808-1158

3 strikes, you're out? Refiling of Amendment to Change Constitution to Criminalize Stem Cell Cures Shows Trouble with Anti-Cures Cause

“They’ve gotten the science wrong. They’ve gotten the law wrong. Why should we trust them to get cures right?”

Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures responded today as opponents of stem cell cures refiled their measure yet again, the third time in less than two weeks. Said Donn Rubin, chairman of Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, “In their zeal to repeal access to stem cell research and criminalize doctors who pursue desperately needed cures, opponents of stem cell research have trampled both basic science and basic law.

First their deceptive and far-reaching initiative would have excluded Missourians with common chromosomal abnormalities like Downs, Klinefelter and Turner syndromes from their definition of “human.” Then their “improved” initiative would have made their supporters’ e-mail addresses part of the public record, opening them up to spammers and scammers. They simply can’t get their act together. We shouldn’t trust anything they put on the ballot.”Added Rubin, "Whether it’s little errors or big ones, this initiatives supporters can’t get anything right. But no matter how many times they rewrite and refile their initiative, their intent is the same: to repeal the stem cell measure passed by voters 10 months ago.”

Thanks to Missouri’s passage of the Stem Cell Amendment last year, our constitution now guarantees equal access to stem cell research, treatment and cures allowed under federal law and available to other Americans. It also makes any attempt to clone a human being a felony crime, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The proposed initiative’s plan to redefine stem cell research as “cloning” is really a disguised attempt to repeal the stem cell guarantees established by voters.Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures promotes cures for diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes in Missouri. It is a grassroots coalition which includes more than 100 leading patient and medical organizations and more than 60,000 Missouri citizens.

### Paid for by Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, Lindsay Holwick, Treasurer

Well, Mr. Rubin, Ms. Farrow and Daddy-Warbucks-Stowers, welcome to Missouri’s pro-life grassroots movement. We do have trouble with starts, but we’re pretty great on finishes. Of course you know that, having spent $30 million on an advertising campaign to convince (deceive) Missourians that Amendment 2 was a good thing, only to almost lose the ballot measure.

Sure enough, we sometimes look foolish and are pretty unprofessional in a lot of ways. We’re folks who do our business around our children’s crayons and cookie crumbs. Our desks are usually our kitchen tables where we eat our meals and teach our values. Our suits are often sweats and a t-shirt. We can barely fund our grocery budgets.

We’re pro-life Missourians. We don’t produce 2,100 words of gobbledygook for a constitutional amendment. We’re direct, honest and to the point. That's why we've only used around 200 words. We can’t afford a cadre of national lawyers to ruminate over every nuance of every word of every sentence. We'll even listen to our opponents.

But in the end, we get things right. It may take some doing, but we get things right. And we’ll get this right. We’re not afraid of failing and we’re not afraid of losing.

In fact, in over 30 years of pro-life activism, we’ve lost more times than we’ve won. That’s why we’ll keep filing corrections with the Secretary of State. And that’s why we'll keep filing amendments, even if we lose this election. We’ll be back again and again and again. So keep up your provocative rhetoric. Your sarcasm and taunts highlighting our mistakes is predictable.

But for us pro-life Missourians, we’ll stay focused on the issue, if you don’t mind. Amendment 2 gave our state an entirely new and inaccurate definition of cloning. We’re telling our neighbors and our friends and our community acquaintances the truth. Cloning is now legal in Missouri. You really should see their faces when they hear that.


PS. Why wasn't your press release from yesterday posted on your website today, nearly 24 hours later? I like posting links. I'd think a $30 million organization would be a bit more about not getting things right!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cleaning the Blogfile

As a follow up to my entry yesterday about Missouri’s media bias on the matter of cloning, I remembered a recent article from Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, who comments on media bias on the national level. Read it here.

And for those who missed Dr. James Dobson’s commentary on how the brutality of abortion gets overlooked, especially in the recent coverage of Michael Vicks alleged dog abuse, go here and click on the audio button.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Can Missouri’s Press say C-L-O-N-I-N-G?

Missouri’s leading newspapers had some trouble reporting fairly the press conference held yesterday by Cures Without Cloning.

The Springfield News Leader headlined a story by Associated Press writer David Lieb: “Proposal seeks to ban type of cell research.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, also using Lieb’s piece bannered the article with “Cell transfer procedure is targeted.” And the Joplin Globe, also parroting the AP article used “New proposal seeks to ban certain embryonic stem-cell research.” Jason Rosenbaum of the Columbia Tribune (or more accurately, his editors) came pretty close to fairness with the headline “Stem cell research opponents launch cloning ban effort.” This effort is about cloning, though the Trib forget to qualify that it is "embryonic" stem cell research opponents want to ban.

But the fairness award on the issue of headlines, goes to Kit Wagar and the Kansas City Star. The article was titled “Cloning opponents seek initiative toward 2008 Missouri ballot.” Just when I thought Missouri reporters didn’t know the word “cloning” existed or that “cloning” is at the heart of the petition filed with the Secretary of State, a liberal newspaper restores my confidence in fairness.

If you remember anything at all in the next 14 months, remember this. This movement is about cloning.

David Lieb didn’t mention anything about the cloning process this petition seeks to ban calling it only “a particular research method.” Wagar and Rosenbaum both give details of this “particular research method” though they omit some significant information like the fact that nearly every objective scientist and credible scientific organization describes somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) as a cloning process.

For instance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) far from a radical right-wing organization of “anti-abortion” zealots has a glossary page defining terms including somatic cell nuclear transfer. The NIH definition reads:

Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT)—A technique that combines an enucleated egg (nucleus removed) and the nucleus of a somatic cell to make an embryo. SCNT is the scientific term for cloning. SCNT can be used for therapeutic or reproductive purposes, but the initial stage that combines an enucleated egg and a somatic cell nucleus is the same. See also therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning.

So, despite all the smoke and mirrors with which the good folks over at Stowers, Inc. want to mesmerize Missourians, and despite the complicit participation of Missouri’s media establishment in skewing the issue, it’s pretty simple. SCNT is cloning. Missouri, do you want cloning?

Another issue that disappointed me in reading the press coverage was the tipping of the hat to the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures (MCLC). I understand the need for a response from “the opposition” that adds balance to the story being reported. But the AP story gave only one quote to Cures Without Cloning chairwoman Dr. Lori Buffa. It was 45 words long. The AP also gave Donn Rubins, chief propagandist of Missouri’s pro-cloning movement a quote. His was 39 words in length, just 6 words fewer than the head of the organization that hosted the press conference.

Kit Wagar was the worst offender on this issue. The first direct quote from Buffa (23 words) was offset by quoting 3 opponents: party-crasher Dan Rice, who just happened to be “on his way” to the library, got 42 words of print media; while the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures got both its spokeswoman Connie Farrow (34 words) and its chairman Donn Rubins (29 words) quoted. Wagar did give another Buffa quote (27 words) toward the end of the report, bringing the total word count of direct quotations to 50-103. So much for holding a press conference!

The quackiest quote from all the print coverage had to come from Jason Rosenbaum’s piece quoting Connie Farrow, spokeswoman for MCLC, who said: “There’s never been a human life created that didn’t come from a womb.” Wesley Smith blogged on this quote saying “if given on a test, [it] would have caused her to flunk high school biology” and goes on to remind us many humans were created in a lab dish through in vitro fertilization, a truth the propagandists want to forget.

I had to smile at Kit Wagar’s description of Cures Without Cloning as “a fledgling political group.” It reminded me of a dialogue from the 1993 version of the movie Gettysburg between Union Calvary officers Col. William Gamble (played by Buck Taylor) and Gen. John Buford (played by western icon Sam Elliott). The dialogue goes as follows: (spanish speaking readers may want to access the movie clip here).

Buford: That's infantry, all right.
Gamble: At least a whole brigade.
Buford: Any sign of cavalry?
Gamble: Not a lick, sir.
Buford: That's strange. Infantry moving alone in enemy country, blind.
Gamble: Very strange, sir. What do you make of that?
Buford: He's headed this way.
Gamble: Sir?
Buford: Lee's turned. That's the main body.
Gamble: You think so? I thought they were going to Harrisburg. Buford: He was. That's too many troops to be a raiding party. There's power behind it.

Cures Without Cloning “a fledgling political group”? I think not. There’s power behind it.

No doubt the petition will be slowed by the Secretary of State and others of the political establishment. It was be mischaracterized by Missouri’s media, who are continuously dishonest about cloning. It will be assaulted by the progranda machine of Stowers Inc. But there’s power behind it. In poll after poll, Missourians are opposed to cloning. Soon, the measure will be on the 2008 ballot for Missourians to decide. Do we want legalized cloning?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A True Ban On Cloning

Today, officials of “Cures Without Cloning” a state-wide coalition of grassroots citizens and organizations have filed a petition with the Secretary of State to amend the Missouri constitution to prohibit the practice of human cloning. The chairman is Dr. Lori Buffa, a pediatrician from St. Peters, MO. She held a press conference that can be heard here.

Many Missourians are aware that Amendment 2, which passed last November by a slim majority (51%-49%), made cloning legal in Missouri. The amendment was a convoluted and tortuous 2,000+ word document. Now, Missourians have an opportunity to clearly weigh in. Do we want cloning enshrined and protected in our constitution?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Say what?

Following this Sunday’s dedication of Virginia Tech’s “April 16 Memorial” school officials have also planned a September 6 concert with music rapper NAS. The concert ironically, according to this press release, is intended “to help the university community move forward in the aftermath of the April tragedy at Virginia Tech.” You may remember that 23 year old English major Cho Seung-Hui, went on a rampage April 16 that killed 32 people and wounded 26 others.

The problem is that NAS, as do most rappers, sings violent and profane lyrics. So in an effort to move beyond violence and murder, Virginia Tech officials book someone to sing on, well, violence and murder?!?

According to the Washington Post,

Alicia Farrell, whose brother, Jarrett Lane, was one of the students killed by gunman Seung Hui Cho, said she believes there is a time and place for such music -- but not at a concert meant to commemorate the victims and comfort the survivors of the worst shooting in U.S. history. Cho, a senior from Fairfax County, killed 32 students and faculty members and himself.

"My issue is not with Nas or his lyrics in any other place, but this is an opportunity for healing in the community," Farrell, 26, said from her home in Richmond. "It's the most inappropriate thing I could imagine hearing at such an event.”

The university’s press release even described NAS as “hip hop’s conscience.” You click this link to decide…is this hip-hop’s conscience?

[Warning: I said RAP…if you’re culturally illiterate that means cursing, foul, profane language]

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The SBC and Women Pastors

I came across a news item today regarding the historic First Baptist Church of Decatur, Georgia calling Julie Pennington-Russell as its senior pastor. FBC Decatur, while leaning towards the liberal Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, still has ties with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The article from was headlined “Former SBC president reacts to Georgia church that called female as senior pastor”. Interestingly, that was none other than Paige Patterson. With a couple of clicks on the internet, I found this information and this controversy was a couple of months old. First Baptist voted June 17 and Dr. Al Mohler had blogged about this on June 5. It leaves me with a couple of impressions.

I fear the SBC has gotten a bit too acclimated to some perverse practices of theology. A woman serving as an overseer of Christ’s church is strictly forbidden in Scripture. 1 Timothy 3:1ff couldn’t be more clear that Christ vests the spiritual authority and care of His church in men.

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

We should be coming out of our seats, ready to give firm, loving discipline to a church that so clearly errs in obeying the Bible. Yet, this action seems to have gotten barely a yawn from our denomination. I believe if one of our churches just hired a homosexual pastor as some apostate denominations are doing, we’d have a virtual riot on our hands. Yet, this repugnant rebellion against the Sacred Record receives almost universal silence. Why?

First, we’ve become accustomed to receiving money from liberal, CBF churches. The reasoning would go something like this. Even though First Baptist, Decatur has a past history with the Southern Baptist Convention, and even though they contributes money to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program and thereby qualify to be defined as “a Southern Baptist church” they aren’t really Southern Baptist. The bulk of their money goes to the CBF, and I suppose they don’t send messengers to the annual meeting. So, let’s all keep the status quo—no harm, no foul.

But I contend there is harm. Even Paige Patterson, normally pit-bullian in his adherence to pristine theology, was summarized (perhaps erroneously) with a passive viewpoint. The article said Patterson “believes [FBC, Decatur] will eventually leave the denomination.” So, we’ll allow this errant church to continue to call itself Southern Baptist? We’ll wait for them to “eventually leave”? I’m all for showing them to the door.

Second, and much more concerning, we’ve become accustomed to women in spiritual leadership positions. While most Southern Baptists embrace 1 Timothy 3, many are weakening their application. We’ve made an unbiblical distinction between senior pastor and associate pastor. We’ve interpreted “bishop” or “overseer” to mean “senior pastor” only. Many churches will allow women to oversee the spiritual ministries of the congregation in worship (music ministers) or in leading teenagers or children (youth and/or children’s ministers). I think also, we’re tired of resisting evil and settle for far less than we should. After all, we’re not hiring homosexuals like the Episcopalians. That would be really bad! A woman pastor here and there, we can survive…so goes the conventional thinking (and there not really Southern Baptists anyway). As long as there are no gay men in our pulpits, we’re safe.

But we’re not safe. We have a holy God to face and His perfect Word to embrace. And this CBF-supporting, SBC-affiliated, Bible disobeying church represents a clear and present danger to our denomination.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Missouri’s Stem Cell Debate: Truce or Unconditional Surrender?

Former Missouri Senator John Danforth co-chaired the pro-cloning group Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures last year. They were the front organization of Jim and Virginia Stowers who bankrolled over 80% of the $30 million propaganda machine. Mr. Danforth wrote a rather surprising op-ed piece that appeared in Tuesday’s St. Louis Post Dispatch in which he called for a truce in Missouri’s trench wars. You can read it here.

Here is my response, sent today to the Post-Dispatch.

Mr. Danforth’s call for a truce should be rejected by Missouri’s pro-family leaders for several reasons.

First, while I appreciate the tenor of his op-ed piece and his seeming understanding of our position, he does not truly comprehend the pro-life ethic. His proposal requires pro-life Missourians to allow what we believe to be immoral research to proceed. We are to comfort ourselves in that we wouldn’t be paying for it. Yet, our objection is not that we are paying for immoral research. We object that our state legally protects immoral research. Who pays for the destruction of embryonic human life is quite secondary to our anguish that embryonic human life is being destroyed. The “truce” sounds more like bribery. If we turn away and be silent, we won’t have to pay for it. But this we cannot do. Wherever human life is threatened, debased or destroyed, pro-life Missourians will accept no truce.

Second, protecting life is a legitimate government interest. Mr. Danforth’s “truce” is built upon a precept that whether or not embryonic life is human is a matter of religion. It is not. This is a scientific question and science has resoundly and unequivocally thundered that somatic cell nuclear transfer creates a living, human embryo. The cloned embryo must have some category. If it is not human, what is it? Animal? Plant? Mineral? And if the embryonic life is not human, why did the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, which Mr. Danforth co-chaired last year, write into the language of Amendment 2 an explicit prohibition of implantation into a woman’s uterus? Could it be they knew this embryo would continue more advanced human development? This matter is not just for religious persons as Mr. Danforth contends. This issue is for all Missourians who care about protecting the dignity of all humans, even at their tiniest, microscopic stage of development.

Third, the “truce” indicates vulnerability. It is akin to the Nazis offering the Allies a truce just before D-Day. Where was Mr. Danforth’s conciliatory “truce” last year? Amendment 2 was just barely approved by Missourians, even after Mr. Danforth’s coalition spent the largest amount of money in Missouri campaign history. Missouri’s pro-life organizations, with their modest budgets, simply needed more time. Since Amendment 2 has been approved, more Missourians now understand the dangers of human cloning and are poised to change the error of our ways. We continue to better understand that the hope for the cures of the diseases afflicting our family members and friends lies in adult stem cell research, not embryonic stem cell research. Missourians are now ready to stop cloning before it starts.

Mr. Danforth’s tone is a welcomed change from last year. But on this issue of research that destroys human embryos, no truce will ever be accepted.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lives of the Signers

America’s birth month is rapidly passing from the scene and I have not adequately addressed issues I had intended to address at the beginning of this month. Primarily, I thought I would highlight some books from my library that have been helpful in formulating my understanding of patriotism, the Christian heritage of our Founding Era, and exposing me to some incredible people and epics of a bygone age.

Chief among the “must-read” books relating to our War for Independence is a book now called Lives of the Signers. It was originally written by B.J. Lossing in 1848 and titled “Biographical Sketches of the Signers of the Declaration of American Independence: The Declaration Historically Considered; And a Sketch of the Leading Events Connected with the Adoption of the Articles of Confederation, and of the Federal Constitution.” Those of you accustomed to reading older books are well acquainted with such verbose titles. Title truncating is one of the few points of modern book marketing of which I am grateful.

This book gives a brief introduction of the men who “for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” mutually pledged “to each other [their] Lives, [their] Fortunes and [their] sacred Honor.”

Many Americans have a vague recollection of some of them. Benjamin Franklin from Pennsylvania would be the most prominent of the signers in the collective memory of Americans; John Adams of Massachusetts—future 2nd President and perhaps the greatest champion of the document; his cousin, Samuel Adams—organizer of Boston’s Sons of Liberty and often called the Father of the American Revolution because of his zeal. Thomas Jefferson, who actually wrote the document, would be almost universally recognized. John Hancock’s large signature has become an American catchphrase. As he signed with gigantic letters, he reportedly said, “There! His Majesty can now read my name without his spectacles!”

But few Americans have ever heard the names of Caesar Rodney, Charles Carroll, Carter Braxton, Arthur Middleton or any of the other signers, some of whom would pay dearly and suffer greatly before the War ended.

Lives of the Signers is a wonderful book to help Americans have “profound veneration for the men who were the prominent actors on that remarkable scene in the drama of the world’s history.” It gives only brief snapshots of the lives of these men, leaving us wanting to know more. But its brief exposure makes a great primer for someone wanting a cursory exposure to the history of American Independence.

Consider the life of signer Thomas Lynch, Jr, of South Carolina. He was a 30 year old young man afflicted by a serious disease. His physicians advised him to return to Europe, so about the time John Paul Jones was telling the British commander of the Serapis “I have not yet begun to fight!” (September, 1779), Lynch was sailing toward the West Indies with his precious wife. However, the ship, like so many of the day, became lost at sea. Lossing tells us, “Like a brilliant meteor, he beamed with splendor for a short period, and suddenly vanished forever.”

Signer Richard Stockton of New Jersey declined his election as Chief Justice of the State so he could more actively aid in the Revolutionary cause. When his family was in peril of capture, he returned home where he was betrayed by a Tory loyalist. He was beaten and deprived of adequate food and shelter by the British. “The hardships he endured shattered his constitution, and when he found himself almost a beggar, through the vandalism of the British in destroying his estate, and by the depreciation of the continental paper currency, he was seized with a despondency from which he never recovered.”

Concerning New Jersey signer John Hart, Lossing writes: “The signers of the Declaration everywhere were marked for vengeance, and when the enemy made their conquering descent upon New Jersey, Mr. Hart’s estate was among the first to feel the effects of the desolating inroad. The blight fell, not only upon his fortune, but upon his person, and he didn’t love to se the sunlight of Peace and Independence gladden the face of his country. He died in the year 1780 (the gloomiest period of the War of Independence), full of years and deserved honors.”

Lives of the Signers removes the mystique and romance from the signing of the Declaration of Independence. There was much more pain than pageantry from that event. And suffering would follow the celebration. American freedom did not come through oratory; it was achieved because people sacrificed their “lives…fortunes…and sacred honor.”

The book reminds us that great movements require great men; men who were willing to pay a price for their convictions in order for those convictions to be cherished and prevail. And that message is as relevant today as it was when they signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blogging is harder than you think. I prefer posts with well reasoned statements, seasoned with research. I haven’t posted in a very long time, partly because I’m biting my tongue on certain issues and partly because I just haven’t booked the time. But lest I lose the faithful readers I have accrued over the past year and a half, I feel compelled to offer some bit of sagacious verbage.

Two things stir in my heart today.

First, the Hindu prayer opening today’s Senate session by some chap from Nevada was given. Seems like Harry Reid is behind this and he [Reid] made a couple of goofy statements about the situation. The prayee was talking to some force inside the earth. Dumb me. I thought that’s where lava was located. This has had one of those heavy effects on me. I believe America abandoned God a long time ago, but this event was a sad reminder. It's kind of like when someone you dearly love dies and their birthday rolls around. You know they're gone, but that day is a grim reminder of the pain.

Anyway, three folks tried to interrupt the praying Hindu by praying out loud. Supposedly, they were Christians and I have mixed feelings about what they did. On one hand, it seems to reflect poorly on our faith; but on the other, it shows Christians aren’t spineless cowards who sit idly by while our country is shoved further from God.

And speaking of spineless, there are a couple of things to say about this week’s MBC Executive Board meeting. But since I’m still boiling and since those points require more time for blogging, they shall remain (for the moment) unstated.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Independence Now, Independence Forever!

"[This day] will be the most memorable epic in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty…with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more."

--John Adams to Abigail Adams on July 4, 1776

With fireworks tents popping up all over your local county, it is clear Americans understand the pomp of July 4. After 231 years, we still revel in the celebration of our independence. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, we imported $206.3 million in fireworks from China last year. John Adams didn’t say anything about hotdogs and potato salad, and most church belfries are rusted over or non-existent, but we’re following the advice of America’s great patriot with one glaring exception.

What was it he said? “…solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty”? We can’t even make sure the United States Senate is devoted to giving Him thanks (can you say “Ommmmmmmmm”?).

But Adams is right. July 4 marks a national holy day that is a commemoration of our Day of Deliverance. Victory over Great Britain was a gift from God. American Christians need not take our cues from our secular culture. Long before we ever ice down the watermelon or heat up the grill, let us bow our knees and thank Providence for His munificent dealings and kind disposition towards the United States of America. We have never been more undeserving of His continued blessings than we are now. May our voices not be silent on July 4. Let us praise God, the Author of Liberty.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Jewell's Perfidy Is Complete

Exactly when William Jewell College began to distance itself from Biblical faithfulness would be impossible to pinpoint. But as a graduate of this former Missouri Baptist institution, I experienced her embrace of neo-orthodoxy in countless ways.

Let me give, out of the starting gate, the obligatory nod to my alma mater. Jewell is an incredible institution and I am mostly grateful for my experiences there, both through formal education and informal relationships and interactions. I won’t tick down the good things I could say about William Jewell college, not because they aren’t in my soul, but because I don’t have much time for this post.

William Jewell gave me more than a very excellent liberal-liberal arts education. Chief and foremost, at Jewell I met my incredible friend Scott Weldon, who remains a consistent and encouraging colleague. He and his wife Cheryl (also a Jewell alum) minister faithful and selflessly in Missouri for our Lord’s glory.

There is no doubt the school abounds with brilliance, excellence and so many other characteristics that make for a great institution. But at the most recent board meeting, trustees completed their perfidious path from Biblical truth with the adoption of a new mission statement:

“William Jewell College promises students an outstanding liberal arts education that cultivates leadership, service, and spiritual growth within a community inspired by Christian ideals and committed to open, rigorous intellectual pursuits.”
Evidently, the new mission statement had the unanimous support of both the faculty and the Student Senate, both giving their endorsements through resolutions passed during the spring semester. WJC’s mission statement was last reworked in 1997. The former statement read:

“The mission of William Jewell College is to provide students a liberal arts education of superior quality; to serve communities beyond the campus educationally, culturally, and socially; and to be an institution loyal to the ideals of Christ, demonstrating a Christian philosophy for the whole of life, and expressing the Missouri Baptist Heritage which is the foundation of the college.”
Most Missouri Baptists know the story behind the rift between William Jewell College and the Missouri Baptist Convention. Jewell was the state convention’s first educational institution. But conservatives have long been uncomfortable with the college’s progressively liberal and unbiblical viewpoints and teachings.

Jewell exasperated the tensions in February, 2003, when Administration officials allowed the vile play “The Vagina Monologues” to be performed on campus (by the way, the VMs made their way back to Jewell this past March, according to this press release). After this fiasco, Jewell was riddled with a series of issues uncovering a pro-homosexual agenda on the Liberty campus which culminated in an attempt to add “sexual orientation” to the Student Bill of Rights. Tim Perkins, a former teenage church member of mine, was Student Senate President at the time. Tim is a remarkable and doctrinally sound Christian who vetoed the attempt to enshrine immorality in Jewell’s Student Bill of Rights.

In a December 13, 2002 letter to WJC President David Salle regarding the Student Senate amendment, I wrote:

“This amendment is also a disingenuous and misdirected attempt to relate properly to homosexuals. While in a politically correct cultural climate, adding “sexual orientation” to an anti-discrimination paragraph may seem proper, but the true Christian ethic would be to lovingly relate the truth to homosexual persons. The average heterosexual male in America dies at 75. The average homosexual male in America dies at 41. Something about their behavior is terribly wrong. It is wrong Scripturally, morally and scientifically. Rather than accommodating their wrong choices of sexual expression, William Jewell would serve homosexuals better by setting a standard of appropriate and Biblical sexuality.”
Well, by the end of the October 2003 annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention, William Jewell College had been defunded. It took them just shy of 4 years to erase “the Missouri Baptist Heritage” pulling themselves further from “the foundation of the college.”

But the real sadness, and the point of this post is not to decry Jewell’s distance from the Missouri Baptist Convention, though it is somewhat related. The real sadness is that William Jewell College now openly acknowledges what Biblically astute graduates have known for several decades. Jewell is no longer “an institution loyal to the ideals of Christ.” Rather, Jewell is now simply “inspired by Christian ideals.” That is a huge shift, evidenced further by their change from “demonstrating a Christian philosophy for the whole of life” to being “committed to open, rigorous intellectual pursuits.”

I guess without $1 million a year from Missouri Baptists, WJC trustees have decided they no longer needed a smoke screen in their mission statement. Jewell’s perfidy is complete.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Just One Thought on the SBC Annual Meeting

Messenger registration for this year’s Southern Baptist Convention was dismal. Some 8,500 messengers registered, which was probably the lowest since the conservative resurgence began. I have an insight that might help us understand why.

The annual meeting has become a collage of preaching, music, information and business; with progressively less attention being given to business, which is after all, why “messengers” are there in the first place. “Attenders” can listen to the preaching and music, hear the reports, and watch the videos. They just can’t participate in the business of the convention.

In fact, only 55 minutes were allocated for “previously scheduled business” along with an equal amount of time (55 minutes) for disposition of resolutions. That alone should wake someone up. Resolutions are suppose to be “non-binding” and only express the mind of a particular gathered convention. Yet, convention leaders are scheduling as equal time for “business” and for “resolutions”. Excluding nominations and voting for officers and asking questions of entity heads, only 1 hour and 50 was scheduled for business during the approximately 16 hour meeting.

And no wonder. With all the “automatic referrals” and the “long-standing practice” messengers do virtually no business. The Wednesday evening agenda had “business” scheduled for 7:00-7:15 which wasn’t even used because there was no “business” to discuss. In fact, (someone help me with this since my memory is woefully short), wasn’t the Rick Garner BFM motion the ONLY motion that originated from the floor? And it in no way changed anything.

With the lock down of tight egalitarian control, we commoners can do very little to impact the direction of the SBC. So why bother trying? And if the convention isn’t about doing the business of the SBC but more about information and inspiration, most Southern Baptists will find cheaper and more alluring alternatives and will stop attending (as obviously they already are). We can attend preaching conferences of our choice, whether the preference is Founders or Emergent. And getting info about the institutions and agencies is usually a couple or key-clicks away. And CDs of the latest recording artist are a lot cheaper to purchase than plane tickets to the host city.

Many of the ruling intelligentsia may welcome the silence (or squashing) of the plebes. But it will come at a long-term price. This growing disconnect will translate into lower CP contributions over time. American colonists grew weary of shipping their taxes overseas and eventually embraced a “no taxation without representation” philosophy. It won’t be long before the SBC experiences the same.

I wish “the establishment” wouldn’t fear us so much. We’re not all of the Ben Cole type radicals, (though I’m not sure just how radical Ben really is). Last year, I presented two motions that would have allowed greater messenger participation (allowing a simple majority to override the Resolutions Committee or Committee on Order of Business rather than the current 2/3 majority). It is the only hope folks like Tom Ascol has for his resolution on church membership to be considered. The Resolutions Committee should allow it to be considered on the floor. For two years, they have refused to report it out. In my mind, this actually serves to benefit Tom’s position. It probably would have been voted down last year or even this year and the matter would have been put to rest (at least, to some degree); however, the committee’s refusal to allow a messenger from a cooperating church to have a moment of deliberative persuasion further alienates many from attending. And I can guarantee that 1/3 of the gathered messengers will always uphold a committee ruling anytime night or day—thwarting the will of the majority who have collectively paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to affect SBC life.

Anyway, convention leaders had better relax control and allow greater messenger participation or boost their exhibit hall budgets to give out more than just pens and mints; otherwise, they’ll soon be meeting in a church fellowship hall.

PS: The mints were stale and the pens were lousy. Thankfully, Olan Mills is still snapping free that's worth the trip!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

It's Better to Intervene

While I got on to a Missouri Baptist soapbox just a little bit last week in reacting to England’s Prime Minister’s comments from Sierra Leone, Tony Blair was quite the statesman with this insightful zinger:

"However ferocious the challenges are in this part of Africa, it's better to intervene and try to make a difference than stay out and try to cope with the consequences at a later time.”

The great enemy of change is apathy. Whether moral, political or spiritual—doing nothing is a great temptation to people who see things that need to be different. As God’s people, we are to engage our culture. Proverbs 3:27-28 says: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you.” Doing good and doing it immediately is a strong teaching of the Bible. It’s inherent in Jesus’ cultural mandate when He says “You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of world.”

The temptation is to sit things out. We've all got busy lives. But do we have noble engagments? If all my life is about working, mowing grass and making sure my kid is at baseball practice on time, am I not missing something essential.

Unbelief, homosexual marriage, cloning, biblical illiteracy, abortion, gambling, selfish ambition are just a bit on the issues facing us.
There are always ‘ferocious’ challenges. The sluggard of Proverbs 26 says he cannot go outside because “there is a lion in the street!” Many Christians have embraced this sluggardly spirit and don’t engage our world because they see the problems as “lion-sized”. I suppose that’s why the Alabama clergymen who wrote that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s attack on racism in their state was both “unwise and untimely.”

This is why I have great frustration with our convention (both national and state). On both levels, and Missouri in particular, we are engaging in a battle that is largely unnecessary. Something that should be a family squabble is becoming an all out war. We have lost sight of our common enemy. Our adversary continues to blind the hearts of unbelievers, taking them into eternal hell. He still deceives and entices both our policies and pleasures which too often reflect an antagonism towards godliness.

In a manner of speaking, this is not 1860, this is 1775. In 1860, America survived the carnage of the Civil War because we had no external enemy. But had those regional conflicts been primary during the mid-1770s (and they were present) we would never have defeated Great Britain and attained our independence.

Southern Baptists need to rediscover our enemy. He is not crushed and is far from defeated.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tony Blair on the MBC Controversy

I find some interesting parallels from British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s statements yesterday to his countrymen regarding his farewell tour of Africa to our current MBC controversy. Speaking at Lungi airport in Sierra Leone, Prime Minister Blair said:

“What I would say to cynics about Africa is just get across the balanced picture. Five years ago this country was being taken over by a gang of gangsters who were killing innocent people, raping women, despoiling the country. But today we have a situation where in three months time we will have an election. I don't say that is perfection, but I say it's…better than it was before. All I'm saying to cynics back home is if we care it might make a difference and making a difference is what politics should be about.”

If Blair were President of the Missouri Baptist Convention instead of the chief politician of America’s greatest ally, he might say:

“What I would say to cynics about the MBC is just get across the balanced picture. Seven years ago, this convention was being run by liberals who were weakening the spiritual integrity and biblical resolve of the convention. But today we have a situation where we have reclaimed the lost ground of past decades. I don’t say that is perfection, but I say it’s much better than it was before. All I’m saying to cynics across the MBC is if we care it might make a difference and making a difference is what being a Christian is about.”

Our convention is hardly perfect. But we need the balanced picture. And the balanced picture is that Roger Moran and the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association is no threat to the Missouri Baptist Convention. These leaders have greatly aided our convention. In fact, without Moran’s leadership, the MBC would still be in the clutches of liberals who would have taken this convention even further away from the truth’s of God’s perfect Word.

Instead of respecting Moran’s commitment, some leaders have rudely castigated him, taking the moniker of a secular newspaper and calling him a “powerbroker”. While Moran is fallible and it is understandable that some Missouri Baptists may disagree with him, the current mantra coming from a few voices is far from the Bible’s admonition to “Give…honor to whom honor is due” (Romans 13:7).

It’s strange how a British politician’s words yesterday, uttered on the other side of the world, can have such a surreal application in my mind.

But I’m hopeful that Missouri Baptists will agree, while our convention isn’t perfect, it’s a lot better than it was. I’m hopeful that Missouri Baptists will see the “balanced picture” and rebuff the newest movement that unnecessarily pits brother against brother, supposedly over who gets to “serve” on a board or commission. There is a better way. Let's find it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The “Good Ol’ Boy System” is a Reality

The newly formed “Save Our Convention” group within the Missouri Baptist Convention has some interesting behaviors that discredit their objectives. They are supposedly against any one group or person “controlling” the convention, but they are seeking to “control” the nomination process and the President’s privilege of appointments. They are supposedly against “power” and “powerbrokers” all the while organizing to gain power. They don’t like things kept “all in the family” even as they keep their campaign “all in the family”. And they decry ‘legalism’ and bemoan ‘narrow parameters’ even as they denied Missouri Baptist Convention President Mike Green the privilege of speaking at their recent meeting at First Baptist Church of Harvester. Sounds an awfully lot like Orwellian doublespeak to me.

Are we to believe this new group, if they succeed in seizing power—oops, strike that—if they are successful in attaining the convention’s delegated authority to enlist persons to influence and serve in various positions (yes, that’s much better), won’t be nominating their friends and compatriots for said positions?

I’d have only a small problem with this group if they’d be a bit more straightforward and say something like “we don’t like where we think the state convention is headed and feel the majority of our fellow Baptists currently serving should be replaced by others who share views closer to our own.” I could live with that a little better. This group has every right to band together to elect a President and nominate others who share their ideology and attempt to influence the direction of the Missouri Baptist Convention. But their current banter seems like a thinly veiled smoke screen and is incredibly disingenuous—“we hate powerbrokers, so we’re going to try to become the new powerbrokers.”

By the way, to speak of Roger Moran and the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association as “powerbrokers” is a bit of an overreach in my mind. Influencers, yes. Powerbrokers, no. These brothers ought to know better than to take their cues from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The bottom line is that if the “Save Our Convention” folks get enough Missouri Baptists to support them and their views, they’ll be putting “their people” into positions of influence. Missouri Baptists should know, we’ll only be trading one “political machine” for another. We will not be dismantling any “good ol’ boy” system. Nor should we.

That’s right, nor should we. The good-ole-boy system is simply someone recommending someone they know to a position of service. The alternative would be some type of Missouri Baptist lottery where someone draws a name out of the hat and recommends that person. Could you, reader, in good conscience recommend a stranger? We recommend our friends. People we trust and believe in. Colleagues we’ve worked with and developed relationships with. I can guarantee the “Save Our Convention” people will be recommending people they know and people who are committed to their same ideology, whatever it is.

I personally am a recipient of this system. I was a Missouri Baptist for 34 years and a Missouri Baptist pastor for 12 years before I was nominated to the commission I now serve. As the tent is broadened, and it has been broadened under Moran's influence, more Baptists are involved in convention decisions. I personally know of some life-long Missouri Baptists who are just now serving our state convention. They've taken no oath of loyalty to the MBLA and they aren't jihadists for a Moran crusade.

Consider blogging celebrities Wade Burleson and Ben Cole. Both are relentless critics of the SBC power structure. But when they were invited to a pow-wow with former president Jimmy Carter, who do you think they called up to tag along? (Hint: it wasn’t me and they didn’t flip through the pages of the SBC Annual for a random selection). That’s right, blogging buddy and partner in crime Marty Duren. Humm, could it be they have a little power group of their own? And wouldn’t it be more than a little irresponsible for them to have selected some stranger to accompany them? I can think of a couple of Republican goofballs who would have embarrassed them to no end.

The good-ole-boy system is a staple of American life. You can decry ‘politics’ all you want in Missouri Baptist life, but as long as we have elections there will be a political element. One of the reasons I hate the 2nd Vice-Presidential election at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is because I rarely know the nominee or the nominating speaker. I could be voting for some scoundrel for all I know—which is why I don’t vote for someone I don’t know anything about.

I’m digressing a bit. The “Save Our Convention” needs to be genuine. I’m not buying them becoming political because they hate politics. And I can’t believe they really want us all to get along, even if we don’t agree perfectly when they refuse the convention President Mike Green the privilege of speaking at their rally ostensibly because he doesn’t agree totally with their agenda. No, there’s a clear agenda here, and I’m left wondering what it is. More about that later.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pastor Jeff White’s Response to Pastor David McAlpin

[Some Missouri Baptists may be interested to read this response by Jeff White to David McAlpin's written objections that have been circulated throughout the convention and which McAlpin himself disseminated at the last Executive Board meeting. It was presented to the Ad-hoc Committe on Theological Review. I have edited it slightly.]


At the request of committee Chairman, Michael Knight, and for the official record of this committee, this is a written response to a 4 page paper presented by David McAlpin in the Ad-Hoc Theological Study Committee on March 15, 2007. It is my intention here to explain my actions, and correct several inaccuracies in McAlpin’s paper. While I have to mention names, it is not my intention to attack any person, but to address the issues. At the risk of being misunderstood, I think it is important to state upfront that I have no ill-feelings or malicious intent toward David McAlpin or Gary Smalley. I wish both of them and their respective ministries the very best. I have visited face-to-face with Smalley, and the meeting was polite, friendly, cordial, and pleasant. I would have no problem at all saying he seems like a very nice individual, who is ostensibly good. I also have no problem with any local autonomous church choosing to have him in to conduct a conference, because as I see it, that would be an issue between that church’s leadership and the Lord Jesus Christ. There are, however, several concerns I have with Smalley’s teachings, which in my opinion do not make him the best choice for use by the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). Some of these concerns I have expressed in previous committee meetings, which prompted McAlpin to write a paper containing statements about me that I disagree with.


To begin with, McAlpin’s paper’s title is misleading. At no time have I accused Gary Smalley or the Smalley Relationship Center of “heresy”. I have repeatedly stated that we “might be” (those are my exact words) dealing with doctrine which is unbiblical. At no point in time have I categorically stated that we are absolutely dealing with false doctrine or heresy. Giving the benefit of a doubt to ministries we partner with in the MBC, is precisely why I asked for other godly people to serve on a committee to look into these issues. I did not want to make the call by myself, but wanted input from others. Further, the motion I made which resulted in the Ad-Hoc Theological Study Committee coming into existence at the annual meeting of the MBC on November 1, 2006, never mentioned Smalley or his ministry by name. This was deliberately done to avoid slandering him in any way, and to give him the benefit of a doubt. Counting myself, I believe there are at least 4 of our 5 committee members who will state I have not slandered anyone or accused anyone of heresy that they know of. I have questioned the theological accuracy of various statements in books that have been published and put into the public domain by various individuals. But, I have slandered no one, nor have I attacked anyone’s sincerity, character, or morality. If someone publishes material and places it in the public domain, they should fully expect to have their material read, studied, discussed, reviewed, analyzed, critiqued, evaluated, and assessed, etc, by various people from time to time. This is all I have done. For McAlpin to say and/or put in writing that I have falsely accused someone of something, when I have not, is to falsely accuse and slander me.

McAlpin alleges he offered “repeated requests” for copies of web pages I had from Smalley’s website. Actually, as I remember it, only once at the end of the committee meeting on March 1, 2007 did McAlpin ask for those items. As has been noted by committee Chairman Michael Knight, the committee never officially asked for those items. In response to McAlpin’s request, I agreed I would try to get those items to him in the future as I was able. Our next meeting was only two weeks away on March 15, 2007 the day McAlpin presented his paper against me. During that two week interval, since my ministry at my church comes before my convention work, and since I was incredibly busy with some family and personal issues, that period was not long enough for me to get the materials to McAlpin. At that point it was a matter of me being too busy, not one of me being unwilling to cooperate.

My concerns with Smalley “possibly” being a Universalist were not based on Smalley’s Statement of Faith, which McAlpin discusses. Although it is interesting to note that in Smalley’s Statement of Faith, in article #14, Smalley does not say what the “everlasting separation from God” is he believes in or where it is at.

McAlpin insists I did not make known to the committee the book’s title with which I was concerned. This is incorrect. In the first meeting the committee had, I specified it was Chapter 2 of Smalley’s work, The DNA of Relationships. Again, other committee members, besides McAlpin, should be able to verify this.

In a footnote at the bottom of page 1, McAlpin says the Smalley “event was reported on at each Executive Board meeting from the inception”. To the best of my recollection, I believe this is inaccurate. McAlpin has not served on the Executive Board as far as I know, but I had served on it for 5 years prior to this situation. I never remember the specifics of the Smalley event being discussed in the plenary sessions of the Executive Board, let alone at “each” meeting. I’m sure it is likely the Smalley event was discussed in detail in the [Family Ministries Workgroup], but since I’ve never been a part of that workgroup, I cannot speak authoritatively to that. If the Smalley event was discussed in the plenary sessions of the Executive Board, it was rare and brief at best, or may have occurred on a rare occasion when I was absent.

On page 2, McAlpin states, “White admitted that both Smalley and his pastor affirmed strongly. . . the certainty of damnation for those who reject Christ”. This is not totally correct. In the meeting with Smalley, he was asked if he believed in a “literal, burning hell, where people who have rejected Christ spend eternity?” His response, after an awkward inordinate pause, was “Well, I believe whatever the Bible says about it.” That response hardly qualifies as a strong doctrinal affirmation in my opinion.

Again on page 2, McAlpin tries to explain Smalley’s statements in The DNA of Relationships (chapter 2) by using Acts 17:28-29. It should be noted that it is McAlpin using Acts 17, not Smalley. Smalley actually uses very little Scripture in most of his writings. From this, two things should be noted: first, if what Smalley means is that God is our Creator, then he should have simply said that and used a different analogy than that of the father/child relationship. This is especially true in light of the potential confusion this could cause an unbeliever reading Smalley’s book. The Bible is abundantly clear that before salvation we are of our “Father the Devil” (John 8:44), and are “sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2) and “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3), but not children of God. And, second of all, I don’t totally agree with McAlpin’s treatment of Acts 17:28-29. In that passage, which points out the utter absurdity of idolatry, all the Apostle Paul is doing is using the pantheistic Athenian philosophers’ own logic against them, which was expressed by the words of the pagan Greek poet Aratus. Paul is basically saying to them, that if they think they are “God’s offspring”, then that means God existed before them, and if God existed before them, then they cannot make a god after them in the form of an idol to worship and it be the true God. Paul stops short of taking this very limited analogy to the point of saying “God is their Father”.

Assuming Smalley is not a Universalist, which he may not be, does not automatically mean he is correct in all the rest of his teachings and should be used by the MBC. Over the course of his career, he has used in an affirming way psychological terms and concepts such as self-esteem, self-love, self-image, and right brain/left brain theory, etc. This mixing of psychological concepts with Bible verses when counseling others is in practice inconsistent with a sufficient view of Scripture. If Scripture is sufficient, then by definition, it does not need to be augmented. In an email from Smalley to me dated August 6, 2006 he writes, “I have also come to appreciate and respect the field of psychology as much as the field of cardiology and urology" (see the attached photocopy of this email). He goes on to say in that email he reveres Scripture more than psychology. All of us who are saved think it’s great he reveres the Bible. But, the difference between Smalley and the position I am advocating is this: I have no respect for psychology, since it is a man-made human philosophy and not a science, and I would not use any of it to counsel someone. I would use Scripture alone, since the Bible claims to be totally sufficient for counseling and for producing sanctification in the lives of God’s people (see Psalm 19:7-11; Luke 16:30-31; 2 Corinthians 9:8; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3-4). This is why I have repeatedly stated that Smalley is not the problem he is only a symptom of the problem. The real issue in the MBC is the sufficiency and perspicuity of Scripture. The Bible indicates we are to “esteem one another”, not ourselves (see Philippians 2:3). And, that we are to “love one another”, not ourselves (see Luke 14:25-27; 2 Timothy 3:1-5). The Bible assumes we love ourselves automatically by nature, because we are born sinful and total depraved (see Matthew 22:35-40; Ephesians 5:29). We are never commanded in Scripture to love ourselves. But, we are commanded in Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” And, we are also commanded to “deny” ourselves (Luke 9:23).

On Page 3, McAlpin gives a list of people who endorse Smalley’s ministry, as if those individuals are infallible. They are not. It does not prove anything substantial for someone to affirm another’s ministry. It only matters if God and His Word affirm someone. There are many popular speakers today who can draw huge crowds, people like Joel Osteen, T. D. Jakes, and Joyce Myers, just to mention a few. But I would not want the MBC to invite these individuals to speak either, or to use or promote any of their materials. Furthermore, there are other people in the Christian community who have had issues with Smalley. For example, Martin and Deidre Bobgan, as well as Albert Dager have all stated their various concerns, so I am not alone.

On Page 4, McAlpin suggests I didn’t follow Matthew 18 in dealing with this issue. This is incorrect. I went to the person in charge of the MBC/Smalley event, Joe Ulveling. I was assured by him that Jim Austin and David Clippard knew what was going on, and that he would report everything back to them. The impression I got from Joe was that Austin and Clippard were supporting Joe’s position and he was representing them. In an email, Joe encouraged me to contact Smalley, which I did via email. I was later invited by Smalley to a sit down visit with him. That meeting included Smalley, his Pastor, Pastor Justin Nelson (who is my Co-Pastor), and me. Initially, I approached Don Hinkle about running an article in the Pathway which would present some of my concerns with Smalley. Hinkle wisely encouraged me to talk to Joe Ulveling instead. After much thought, I decided that was the more biblical approach to take.

McAlpin alleges that I called into question Smalley’s salvation, but this is also incorrect. I have called into question whether or not Smalley relies exclusively on Scripture to provide counseling to people, but not his conversion. It is interesting to note, however, that in Article #1 of Smalley’s Statement of Faith, which covers his beliefs concerning the Bible, he does not use the words “sufficient” or “sufficiency”. I have raised this question because his quoting of psychologists, and his use of therapeutic language in most of his books, far out numbers his quotes of respected Bible teachers or actual Scriptures. Sometimes the problem is not with what someone says it is with what they do not say.

Despite McAlpin’s recollection of our first committee meeting, at no time have I berated Clippard, though I have asked him pointed and tough questions at times. Everyone besides McAlpin on the Ad-Hoc Theological Study Committee, I believe, will testify to this.

McAlpin has falsely accused me repeatedly of slander and character assassination, simply because I’ve attempted to hold people accountable. In my opinion, McAlpin has actually made this situation with Smalley worse through his personal attacks on me, which I have had to respond to, and which will not allow our committee to move off of this subject and on to other important issues. He has even circulated his paper against me around the state of Missouri and at a recent MBC Executive Board meeting (even to some non-Executive Board individuals), thus creating more negative publicity for Smalley. At the top of the paper he recently circulated at the Baptist Building, he wrote in hand-print at the top, “Ad-Hoc Theological Study Committee”, which gave a misleading impression to people that his paper was from the committee, instead of personally from him. It seems as though McAlpin wants to circumvent the work of this committee, and present his case in the court of public opinion.

It has never been my intention for this committee to have an up-or-down vote on which of the para-church organizations we want to do business with. It has been my intention that this committee would look at the theology related to those ministries, and from that, come up with a policy statement which would serve as a guideline for our MBC staff to follow in the future. It is my desire that the MBC would be known as a state convention that is, above all else, committed to glorifying God through biblical and theological excellence. For this to happen, though, the standard of expectation must be raised to a new level from where it currently is. It is not enough for us to verbally affirm the inerrancy of the Bible; we must also practically affirm the sufficiency of it. This is precisely why this committee is needed. Unfortunately, it seems like McAlpin does not think so. It is perfectly fine for any committee member to disagree or offer a differing opinion, but it is not alright to try to undermine a convention process. From day one of our Ad-Hoc Theological Study Committee, rather than attacking the issues, McAlpin has tried to stop, subvert and sidetrack the entire work of this committee by attacks that are personal and political. One has to question who put him up to this, and also, whether it is ethically right for him to stay on a committee he obviously thinks does not have a need or right to exist. It would appear, in my opinion, McAlpin might not want to be a working part of this committee.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Blunt Signal Tax Money for Cloning Research

I agree with my state senator Chuck Graham on very little. Senator Graham is a committed liberal. He is not a fair weather politician. He is not the least bit accommodating of my values or viewpoints. That’s why I found his discontinuance of opposition against Dr. Bob Onder's nomination to the Life Sciences Research Board troubling. Onder is a board member of Missourians Against Human Cloning, a group founded by various pro-life organizations and leaders to oppose Amendment 2. Senator Graham has been tenacious in supporting Embryonic Stem Cell Rearch and Cloning in every way imaginable. His position of filibustering a MOHELA plan was not helped when MU representatives backed a compromise to get money with restrictions against life science research.

Senator Graham, after all, is part of Missouri’s minority party, and frankly was outgunned and outmaneuvered by Republican strong-handing. Republicans had signaled they would bypass MU and Columbia would lose money, Graham’s Columbia coalition wavered. My major beef with the MOHELA plan is that it uses public money to pave a foundation for cloning research. Senator Graham understood that as well, only he was on the other side of my viewpoint, wanting the money for cloning research. In March, he led a Democratic filibuster. In May, he signaled he would not oppose the plan, largely because Governor Matt Blunt was going to include funding for life science research in next year’s budget. Senator Graham was kind enough to supply me with a copy of Governor Blunt’s letter.

The Governor has signaled what pro-life leaders in Missouri have maintained throughout the Amendment 2 (pro-cloning) debate—that Missouri tax money would soon be used to fund this research that many Missourians consider immoral. The Governor has signaled he is ready to release the money. With Democratic zeal for it and Republican infatuation with the business leaders associated with it, pro-life Missourians have few protectors in Missouri government.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell Dead

The death of Dr. Jerry Falwell marks the closure of a legacy. Liberty University’s Chancellor and Senior Pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church reportedly was found unconscious at his office and pronounced dead at Liberty General Hospital at 12:40 pm.

While I did not always agree with Dr. Falwell (only few Americans did) and thought someone of his stature should have more cultivated refinery, tact and skillful diplomacy, he was an amazing man and a good servant of our Lord.

On the downside, Dr. Falwell never met an issue he didn’t like. Some people think him opinionated. I think it was a lack of Biblical wisdom. One should never speak to every issue. Most recently, he referred to Calvinism as heresy, something even ardently strident Arminians refrain from doing. In secular politics, I remember him marching in lockstep with President Bush in supporting Harriet Miers for Supreme Court Justice which would have been a huge mistake. She was a liberal waiting to metamorphicize.

On the upside, Dr. Falwell was an incredible visionary. The Moral Majority and the sprawling empire of Liberty Mountain are two notable achievements. When I stepped down as president of Moral Majority in 1987, he said: “I shudder to think where the country would be right now if the religious right had not evolved.”

Dr. Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said:

“Our grief at our loss of his witness, energy and giftedness for the kingdom is mitigated by the fact that he is now with his Savior for eternity. Dr. Falwell’s home-going leaves an enormous gap in the leadership ranks of evangelical Christianity in America and around the world. He will be greatly missed. Our hearts and prayers go out to his church members and the entire Liberty family, including professors, alumni and students, as well as his immediate family. We pray for them in this time of loss, as well as our loss of this true giant of the faith.”

And now the warrior can rest.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy

Maybe you’ve heard a bit from the first Republican Presidential Debate hosted by MSNBC at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

The most notable part of the debate was former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s answer regarding abortion. Here’s the first exchange:

Moderator: We now go to the next segment. We're going to talk about values. Let's go down the line on this just like they did with the Democrats last week on some of these trickier calls, but they do have clear answers. Starting with you, Governor, would the day that Roe v. Wade is repealed be a good day for America.

Romney: Absolutely.

Moderator: Senator?

Brownback (?): It would be a glorious day of human liberty and freedom.

Moderator: Governor?

Gilmore (?): Yes, it was wrongly decided.

Moderator: Governor?

Huckabee (?): Most certainly.

Moderator: Congressman?

Hunter (?): Yes.

Moderator: Governor?

(Unknown): Yes.

Moderator: Senator?

A repeal.


Giuliani: It would be OK.

Moderator: OK to repeal?

Giuliani: It would be OK to repeal. It would be also if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as precedent and I think a judge has to make that decision.

Moderator: Would it be OK if they didn't repeal it?

Giuliani: I think the court has to make that decision and then the country can deal with it. We're a federalist system of government and states can make their own decisions.

Moderator: Congressman?

Tancredo (?): After 40 million dead because we have aborted them in this country, I would say that that would be the greatest day in this country's history when that, in fact, is overturned.


This might be a good time to remark that debate moderators (in this case MSNBC Hardball’s host Chris Matthews) often go beyond their role to moderate a debate and try to create a debate, or a least to help bolster ratings through controversial statements.

In any event, Giuliani was the most least-excited candidate on the prospects of Roe v. Wade being overturned. Matthews came back to Giuliani and few moments later:

Let me go back to Governor -- Mayor Giuliani, because I want to give you a chance on this. You became very well known for standing up against the use of public funds for what many people considered indecent exhibits at the Brooklyn museum and places like that.
Why do you support the use of public funds for abortion?

Giuliani: I don't. I support the Hyde amendment. I hate abortion. I wish people didn't have abortions.

Moderator: So you're not for funding at all?

Giuliani: I believe that the Hyde amendment should remain the law. States should make their decision. Some states decide to do it. Most states decide not to do it. And I think that's the appropriate way to have this decided.

Moderator: Should New York, when you were mayor of New York, should they have been paying for -- the state should have been paying for...

Giuliani: That's a decision New York made a long time ago. And New York...

Moderator: And where were you on that?

Giuliani: I supported it in New York, but I think, in other places, people can come to a different decision.

Moderator: Thank you.


Classic politician double-speak and flip-flop. As Mayor of New York, Giuliani supported public funding for abortions. As President candidate, Giuliani supports states deciding whether to support abortion with public money.

So, at the heart of the matter, Giuliani hasn’t really changed. He believed and still believes that public money can be used for abortion and that private citizens who have a conviction against the killing procedure will just have to live with it were their state to decide to fund it.

Thanks, but no thanks, Rudy.