The Walking Dead/Night of the Living Evangelicals

Evangelicals actually denounced the GOP candidate this cycle, and yet the evangelical voting bloc elected Donald Trump. Trump had more support from white evangelicals than John McCain in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012. Trump garnered five times as much support from evangelicals as Clinton, with 78% of the white evangelical vote.

This isn’t an evangelical voting bloc, this is a zombie evangelical voting bloc. The heart and soul of the evangelical bloc, the actual evangelicals, have left. What remains is a group of angry white people who couch their anger in religious language about fighting for their faith. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission took a stand and called out Trump as antithetical to Christian values. Trump still won evangelicals by a commanding margin.

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Book Review: Reimagining Zion

51eVSlnaslL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_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.

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New Post at Baptist News Global: “The G.O.P. Created Donald Trump”

I had a new post up on BNG (who just completely overhauled their site, go check it out, it looks great) and wanted to pass it along. It’s particularly appropriate today as everyone heads to the polls for Super Tuesday. You can find the original here.

“The G.O.P. Created Donald Trump”

Thus read the headline in the New York Times opinion piece bemoaning the rise of the current Republican frontrunner for the presidency. The article was spot-on to an extent, with its discussion of Donald Trump’s success coming in part as a result of Nixon’s Southern Strategem.

The author is not alone in blaming the Republican establishment for Trump’s rise. However, I think it’s possible to be more specific in who helped foster our current state of Trumpism. The G.O.P. may have carved out the niche for Trump, but evangelicals provided the force to thrust him into his current position as a legitimate candidate. Continue reading “New Post at Baptist News Global: “The G.O.P. Created Donald Trump””

Heretics On A Quest For Truth

The_Burning_of_Master_John_RogersI’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”

“Religion” and Christianity

Screenshot 2015-10-20 19.02.30
The latter part of James 1 from Codex Sinaiticus

So, I’ve got a question for you: What is religion? I know that, for most of you, it probably doesn’t seem to be a hard question at all, you have a pretty good idea of what you think it means. As someone who just completed a degree in Religious Studies at Wake Forest, I can tell you that the only thing I personally know for certain about “religion” is that I have no idea what the word actually means (hence the quotes you’re going to see around the word through most of this discussion).

You see, here’s the thing that most people don’t really think about: the concept of “religion” as we know and love it is a construct. Some Christians balk at this, saying, “But wait, ‘religion’ is right there in the Bible! Look at James!” And they’re right, James 1.27 says it pretty clearly, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Says it right there, religion. Or, well, the NRSV, and most other English translations, say it right there. What’s interesting, well, to me at least, is to look at the Greek text behind this.
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Teaching Islam in Schools (or an Ode to Coach Landau)

So, I’m back. I forgot I had a blog for about three years, but I’m back. Why am I back? Well, let me tell you…

I love Sunday mornings. Sunday mornings are my chance to sit down with a cup of coffee and just read the paper in the quiet of my apartment. I get to catch up on the latest in politics or read up on the latest loss for my Braves/Titans/Demon Deacons. This is normally a quiet and almost meditative experience, giving me the chance to step away from technology and the world for a little bit and just slow down.

The quiet was shattered this morning as I found myself engaged in an argument with the paper in my hands. My anger was directed toward an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution titled “Lessons about Islam stir mixed feelings in parents.” School districts in Georgia have been teaching their students about religions, including Islam, as a part of the social studies curriculum, and some parents are not thrilled.
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The Power of Presence

So, this past Sunday I was the on-call chaplain at the hospital. The Sunday on-call, in addition to typical chaplain Imageduties, also leads two chapel services. So, naturally, I had to prepare a sermon. I more or less follow the Revised Common Lectionary; but, I am a Baptist after all, so I reserve the right to reject the establishment whenever I feel like it. So, I tweaked some parts of the reading and decided to do my sermon on Job 2. The Power of Presence. Good title, right? It was too bad there were no bulletins or anything, so nobody in the congregation saw the title unless they looked at where it was scrawled across the top of my notes. But, it didn’t really matter, because I never got to preach. I was halfway through the Psalm reading when my phone starts going off in my pocket. I was really hoping it was just one of my friends asking why I wasn’t at church. No such luck. I was needed in ICU to work a case that wound up lasting well into the afternoon. So, my sermon never saw the light of day, although, it really could be said that I practiced what I never got to preach. All the same, since I really kinda liked the message that I almost delivered, I thought I’d share a brief version of it here. Still a bit of a lengthy read, but stay with me. So, on to Job…
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