It was somewhat expected by those in the know that J.D. Greear would be elected to serve as SBC President at the annual meeting in Dallas this week. I was still somewhat surprised by the 68% of ballots he received from messengers. While many were pleased with the announcement the reactions ranged from “Thank God” to talk of the downward spiral the SBC has been on for years. While I would make a good 3 1/2 point Calvinist at best I am going out on a limb and saying this choice will not seal our fate. Greear’s election is not the final nor any other nail in the coffin. Continue reading
Here is an article from The Christian Index on the Convention’s decision to repudiate the Confederate Flag. The Index also posted an editorial by Gerald Harris and my comments to that link on Facebook got a little lengthy. Nearly blog post in length. So, below is my take on the SBC resolution. By all means you are entitled to your opinion; mine is framed on the notion the Gospel is more dear to the heart of Christians than heritage, history, culture or national identity. The end game of all believers should be unity in Christ.
I have lived in Georgia most of my life (and in Kentucky the other years). I have always been a little leary of flying that flag. I understand my heritage, the nation’s history, and the origin story of the SBC. On this issue I land here: If you want to fly the flag on your front porch or on your personal vehicle, this is still a free country and you have every right. Shame on anyone that would desecrate or remove your flag regardless of ideology. But I think it is entirely fitting for our denomination, all our churches together with one voice, to say “WE no longer fly this flag.”
If I display the Confederate flag in support of history and heritage, it may be misunderstand as racism. Indeed some do fly that flag because they are racist, believing if the South would have won we’d have it made, and signifying certain individuals need to “know their place.” At the risk of being misunderstood, I do not fly that flag. In the shadow of the cross, there are no flags, no nations, no skin colors or any other thing that divides or distinguishes. We are covered by the blood. I am disheartened that some will choose the stars and bars of rebellion (it is the rebel flag we are talking about) rather than unity with fellow brothers and sisters, but such is the world we live in.
Palestine is petitioning the U.N. to create a Palestinian state. President Obama and former president Clinton agree that doing so at this time is a bad idea. Clinton however railed on the Obama White House last week that all the current problems with Israeli relations are the fault of Obama policies. Benjamin Netanyahu describes the U.S. is a friend of Israel, but Obama is in a delicate political position right now. Palestine would need the support of the U.N. Security Council to move forward, and the U.S. has said it will veto the measure if it comes to that. Obama’s political career needs for it to not come to that.
Southern Baptist Convention might seek a new name. Back in the late 80’s an SBC name change was handily defeated. “North American Baptist” was the proposal back in the day, implying a broader base than the South. I once heard an IMB missionary to Canada comment on the irony of planting Southern Baptist churches there. Since slavery is no longer the dividing issue (SBC denounced all historic ties to racism back in 1991) it begs the question of why all American Baptists could not re-unite. The answer is that SBC would never give up their organization, but we MUST beg the question.
Rob Bell is leaving Mars Hill Church. Bell went to the unlikeliest of places and practically did the impossible with Mars Hill. His recent book Love Wins seems to imply universal salvation, and has not been received well (to say the least) by some Christians. He said something about broadening his horizons by leaving, whatever that means. Rick Warren suggests the danger here is that leaders no longer have a community to keep them accountable. Bell could easily support himself without Mars Hill; selling books and DVD’s might be far more profitable than pastoring.