This is going to be a much thicker post than usual, but bear with me, because this is important. I wrote a few years ago about the CBF’s hiring policy and how it relates to the Baptist commitment to autonomy and soul freedom. This post came after the General Assembly in which the Illumination Project was first announced. Now, with rumblings of a new policy (which seems to have found a way to upset everyone, which is an achievement in and of itself) and a vote on Feb. 8, I wanted to share a paper I wrote on the subject last spring.
Whatever the new language says, I think the members of CBF have a responsibility to make it clear that the conversation is not yet over for those of us who want to see genuine change in CBF’s attitudes toward LGBTQ individuals. We need to make it clear that this is not just about a hiring policy. This is about the real risk CBF faces of losing my entire generation. And I know there seems to be a tendency to think that’s not truly the case, but I’m not exagerrating. At the moment, CBF stands to not only lose these people, but also risks giving the appearance that they won’t even miss them when they’re gone.
I have been a part of CBF my whole life. My better theological fit is the Alliance of Baptists, which has also been a home to me, but I have never felt ready to give up on CBF. My parents were there for the ripples that grew into the CBF. My sister and I spent our childhood thinking that General Assembly and summer vacations were the same thing. However flawed it may be, this organization is a home to me. Because of that, I want to continue pushing to help it become what I truly think it can be, as frustrating as that continues to be. We can be both cooperative and affirming, I truly believe that.
You’ll find my paper attached below. I know it’s a long read, but I would appreciate you taking the time to read it and think about what I’m saying. Circulate it around if you like. Whatever others might say, this is not about politics, this is a genuinely theological issue.
The Challenge of Being Cooperative: The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Organizational Policy on Homosexual Behavior Related to Personnel and Funding as it Pertains to Soul Freedom
(Tldr: The hiring policy doesn’t mesh with soul freedom)
Just passing along my latest piece for Baptist News Global, addressing recent sexual assault allegations against Paul Pressler. I invite you to check it out at the link below. While you’re on the BNG site, check out Bob Allen’s articles on the lawsuit, he’s been doing a great job covering this story and the somewhat muted response from Southern Baptist leadership.
“We, as a nation, are in need of not only repentance, but also a renewed commitment to actual change. There is a problem with masculinity in this country and the privileges men have come to assume are their birthright. Christianity isn’t immune; we’re part of the problem. Rather than presuming to possess the moral high ground, and constantly pointing the finger at those from the other side who are just as bad, or offering forgiveness before taking time to condemn acts of sexual abuse, it’s past time to actually accept the breadth of this problem and do something about it.”
Source: Roy Moore, Paul Pressler and morals
I recently had the privilege of preaching at Oakhurst Baptist Church in Atlanta for Religious Liberty Sunday. It was a great opportunity to revisit our Baptist heritage fighting for the separation of church and state and religious freedom for everyone, not just Baptists, and how that legacy has been forgotten by so many.
In the wake of a General Assembly in which progress is being celebrated on bettering the relationship of the CBF with the LGBTQ community, with the announcement of the Illumination project and the statement in the wake of Orlando, I want to feel some joy, but I can’t help but feel some sense of reservation. Everywhere I looked, I saw nametags showing solidarity with the LGBTQ community, and a statement making the rounds on social media rapidly garnered hundreds of names of individuals willing to take a stand while also showing they were committed to remaining with the CBF in this effort. It gives me hope, and I think we’re finally making moves in the right direction, but, I can’t celebrate, not yet. Three particular issues stand out to me in reflecting on the week.
Continue reading “Unable to Celebrate (yet)”
The book I’m looking at today is Reimagining Zion: A History of the Alliance of Baptists, by Andrew Gardner. This is the first book-length history of the Alliance of Baptists, and represents the fulfillment of a promise to Alan Neely made prior to his death by Mahan Siler that a history of the group would be completed.
The book is divided into three sections: Leaving Zion, Reimagining Zion, and Living Zion. Leaving Zion (Pt. 1) provides a broad historical overview of the Alliance of Baptists. This is done by first placing the Alliance within the context of Baptist history through an examination of the earliest Baptist movements. Particular emphasis is placed on the values and characteristics of those groups, whose identity as religious dissenters with a passion for liberty was central to the formation of the Alliance. The overview then turns to an examination of the Southern Baptist Convention and the string of controversies leading to the eventual decision to form the Southern Baptist Alliance in 1987. The discussion next focuses on the history of the Alliance since its formation and into the present day. Reimagining Zion (Pt. 2), presents a more in-depth look at the work and ministry of the Alliance since its founding. This is done through first examining the drafting of the Alliance Covenant. The seven chapters which follow each focus on a specific tenet addressed in the Covenant and the ways in which the Alliance has worked to embody these principles as an organization through descriptions of the group’s efforts in ecumenism, education, gender and sexual equality, social justice, religious liberty, and missions, to name a few. Finally, Living Zion (Pt. 3) turns to an ethnographic analysis of eight Alliance churches. Each chapter in this section presents a brief history of the church being addressed, a description of the congregational makeup and worship space, and an account of the worship experience at that church. This analysis, while brief, provides insight into the diverse congregational makeup of the Alliance.
Continue reading “Book Review: Reimagining Zion”
This week, in a Washington Post editorial, Russell Moore, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, explained why the current election cycle has led him to reject the label of “evangelical.” Given the way in which the term has been co-opted for political expediency, Moore has opted to distance himself from the term altogether, instead referring to himself as a “Gospel Christian.” While I appreciate what Moore is saying, and that is something I can rarely say, I also find myself somewhat frustrated. Continue reading “My Response to Russell Moore”
I’d like to take a few moments to talk to you about everyone’s favorite subject: heresy. It’s not a term we hear all that often anymore, but the meaning behind it still appears every once in a while. Christians in America today seem to spend half their time debating who’s right and who’s heretical. As Baptists, the idea of heresy should seem completely foreign to us. To accuse someone of heresy would be utterly hypocritical on our parts. Continue reading “Heretics On A Quest For Truth”