The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), the policy entity of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), is currently hosting its annual Leadership Summit in Nashville, Tennessee. Reportedly, over 500 Southern Baptist pastors and church leaders are gathered to discuss what the gospel means for racial reconciliation.
Critics and spectators may have been caught off guard by remarks made during the opening session. Dr. Russell Moore, President of the ERLC, began his keynote address by the acknowledging "the complicity of the SBC in the wicked sin of slavery and the relative silence of the SBC against the wicked sin of segregation in this country."
Dr. Moore's also noted this year marks the 20th anniversary of the SBC's 1994 resolution denouncing its contribution to slavery and segregation. "I can't help but notice that sitting here is the driving force behind that resolution, my predecessor, Dr. Richard Land," said Dr. Moore as he encouraged the audience to applaud Dr. Richard Land's courage in the face of hostility. He continued, "[In 1994] it took a lot of courage when there was a trustee on the board of the entity that I now lead who was a segregationist. And this president stood up to all of that and said we need to remember the gospel of Jesus Christ." more >>
Robert P. George says the sexual revolution is hurting lower income Americans of all races, not just black communities, with family disintegration contributing to poverty.
In his analysis of the state of American families, George referred to a 1965 government report by the-late politician and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan who believed the crisis befalling the African-American community was due, in part, to the lack of a family structure, which leads to "juvenile delinquency and adult crime."
Moynihan's conclusions about the need for strong families in both the African-American community and America overall "were hard pills to swallow," George said, speaking about the legacy and importance of Moynihan's report on Thursday, at the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's Leadership Summit in Nashville, Tennessee, that discussed the need for a Gospel-centered approach to racial reconciliation. more >>
John M. Perkins, a civil rights leader and father of the racial reconciliation movement, criticized pastor Creflo Dollar's former fundraising campaign for a new $65 million private jet as "evil," "heresy," and "exploitation," as he explained the damage prosperity preachers have done to black communities.
Perkins, founder of the Christian Community Development Association, was being interviewed by Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, at ERLC's conference on "The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation," which takes place Thursday and Friday in Nashville.
"The solution [to the damage racism has done to blacks is] God's people, with moral values, confronting and discipling people," Perkins said. more >>
The last few weeks have seen a lot of commentary on pastors leading the same-sex "affirmation movement." Church leaders like the infamous unorthodox author and speaker Rob Bell, evangelicals Stan Mitchell of Gracepointe Church in Franklin, Tennessee, and Danny Cortez of New Heart Community Church of La Mirada, California are just a few of the movement's leading affirmation pastors.
So when a pastor takes a public stand to say, "I have a deep pastoral concern that Christians and churches are flinching all across our culture" it makes us ooh and aah a bit in wonder and admiration. This was the reaction to Dr. David' Platt's keynote address at the annual National Religious Broadcaster's Convention held in Nashville, Tennessee last week. What should be the norm for Christian leadership is increasingly becoming the exception.
Platt, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board and author of the books Radical and A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture, began his address by pointing out the hypocrisy of Christians who advocate for less controversial social issues while avoiding others like life, morality and marriage altogether. "We are passionate against poverty and slavery, injustice that we should stand against, but issues that don't bring us into conflict with culture around us. Yet on issues like abortion or so-called same-sex marriage, issues that are much more contentious in the culture around us, instead of being passionate, we are strangely passive." more >>
As a child growing up in a Southern Baptist church, I learned my place in American culture through rapture movies. These films—based on a pop-dispensationalist reading of prophecy—pictured a time when the church would be suddenly ripped from the earth, sailing through the air to be with the invisible (to the viewer) Jesus Christ. These films would always then picture the panic of those who were "left behind" and depict the societal chaos that would emerge once the "salt and light" of the culture had disappeared. We never considered that if such a rapture were to happen, American culture might be relieved to be rid of us.
Historian Rick Perlstein notes the "culture wars" that ignited in the 1960s and 1970s were really about dueling secular prophecy charts. "What one side saw as liberation, the other side saw as apocalypse," and vice-versa, he writes. It's hard to argue with his thesis. The scenes of LSD-intoxicated college students frolicking nude in the mud of the Woodstock Festival in New York would seem horrifying to the salt-of-the-earth folk in Middle America for whom "the dawning of the Age of Aquarius" would seem like a threat. At the same time, Merle Haggard's counter-revolutionary anthem would have the same effect, in reverse. The words, "We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee," must seem like hell, if you're in Woodstock.
From Majority to Minority more >>
Baptists have long been champions of religious freedom, recounted mega church pastor Rick Warren and Southern Baptist spokesman Russell Moore, in a panel moderated by Judge Ken Starr, president of Baptist affiliated Baylor University.
Last week's symposium on "Proselytism and Development" was hosted by Georgetown University's Berkley Center, whose Religious Freedom Project is directed by IRD board member Thomas Farr.
Early champions of religious liberty included Rhode Island colony founder Roger Williams and Baptist clergy like John Leland who influenced Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. more >>