Monthly Archives: August 2005

Why it’s Weird to Be a Southern Baptist

I am from Maine. Born, bred, and steeped in Vacationland, as our license plates so eloquently sum up the homeland. I grew up in a Conservative Baptist church with little affiliation to outside bodies, and have since become a Southern Baptist. All of which is very interesting.

Things that make being a Southern Baptist a strange affair
1) The whole Disneyland boycott. I feel as though my more intellectual friends will simply laugh at me for it. Thankfully, most people my age didn’t seem to even notice it.
2) The Southern Baptist way of life. As one would expect them to be, many Southern Baptists carry with them a distinctly Southern flair. They are friendly, outgoing, not afraid to speak their mind, and less immediately concerned with the way others view them. All this in contradistinction to Northernism, which is reserved, polite, internal, and concerned with appearances.
3) The traditions. For example, Southern Baptists hold a massive Convention every year, a gathering that is part religious festival, part Christian Congress, part homecoming, and part potluck. An interesting combination, one in which I have yet to feel at home.

Things that make being a Southern Baptist a decidedly good thing
1) The seminary program. Southern Baptists originally pooled their money in part to set up seminaries at which young men could inexpensively prepare for the ministry. This was a brilliant, if simple, step. Now, lots of young guys who are somewhat like me can receive quality training for the cost of three weeks at a high-level secular institution.
2) The missions program. Southern Baptists currently have about 5,000 missionaries on the field. That’s an awesome number. I love the heart Southern Baptists have for missions.
3) The rising generation of young and able leaders. Dr. Mark Dever, Dr. Al Mohler, Dr. Russ Moore and others are emerging as leaders in the broader evangelical culture and teaching Christians how to think about themselves and others. This is a good thing. The church kind of fell silent in the mid-twentieth century on the broader culture and also failed to critique itself. That is now happening.

Those are some thoughts. I can’t say that I now listen to the Gaithers, and I may not ever hold an office, but for several key reasons I’m now happy to be a Southern Baptist. Just don’t ask me not to go to Disneyland.

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Why it’s Weird to Be a Southern Baptist

I am from Maine. Born, bred, and steeped in Vacationland, as our license plates so eloquently sum up the homeland. I grew up in a Conservative Baptist church with little affiliation to outside bodies, and have since become a Southern Baptist. All of which is very interesting.

Things that make being a Southern Baptist a strange affair
1) The whole Disneyland boycott. I feel as though my more intellectual friends will simply laugh at me for it. Thankfully, most people my age didn’t seem to even notice it.
2) The Southern Baptist way of life. As one would expect them to be, many Southern Baptists carry with them a distinctly Southern flair. They are friendly, outgoing, not afraid to speak their mind, and less immediately concerned with the way others view them. All this in contradistinction to Northernism, which is reserved, polite, internal, and concerned with appearances.
3) The traditions. For example, Southern Baptists hold a massive Convention every year, a gathering that is part religious festival, part Christian Congress, part homecoming, and part potluck. An interesting combination, one in which I have yet to feel at home.

Things that make being a Southern Baptist a decidedly good thing
1) The seminary program. Southern Baptists originally pooled their money in part to set up seminaries at which young men could inexpensively prepare for the ministry. This was a brilliant, if simple, step. Now, lots of young guys who are somewhat like me can receive quality training for the cost of three weeks at a high-level secular institution.
2) The missions program. Southern Baptists currently have about 5,000 missionaries on the field. That’s an awesome number. I love the heart Southern Baptists have for missions.
3) The rising generation of young and able leaders. Dr. Mark Dever, Dr. Al Mohler, Dr. Russ Moore and others are emerging as leaders in the broader evangelical culture and teaching Christians how to think about themselves and others. This is a good thing. The church kind of fell silent in the mid-twentieth century on the broader culture and also failed to critique itself. That is now happening.

Those are some thoughts. I can’t say that I now listen to the Gaithers, and I may not ever hold an office, but for several key reasons I’m now happy to be a Southern Baptist. Just don’t ask me not to go to Disneyland.

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Why it’s Weird to Be a Southern Baptist

I am from Maine. Born, bred, and steeped in Vacationland, as our license plates so eloquently sum up the homeland. I grew up in a Conservative Baptist church with little affiliation to outside bodies, and have since become a Southern Baptist. All of which is very interesting.

Things that make being a Southern Baptist a strange affair
1) The whole Disneyland boycott. I feel as though my more intellectual friends will simply laugh at me for it. Thankfully, most people my age didn’t seem to even notice it.
2) The Southern Baptist way of life. As one would expect them to be, many Southern Baptists carry with them a distinctly Southern flair. They are friendly, outgoing, not afraid to speak their mind, and less immediately concerned with the way others view them. All this in contradistinction to Northernism, which is reserved, polite, internal, and concerned with appearances.
3) The traditions. For example, Southern Baptists hold a massive Convention every year, a gathering that is part religious festival, part Christian Congress, part homecoming, and part potluck. An interesting combination, one in which I have yet to feel at home.

Things that make being a Southern Baptist a decidedly good thing
1) The seminary program. Southern Baptists originally pooled their money in part to set up seminaries at which young men could inexpensively prepare for the ministry. This was a brilliant, if simple, step. Now, lots of young guys who are somewhat like me can receive quality training for the cost of three weeks at a high-level secular institution.
2) The missions program. Southern Baptists currently have about 5,000 missionaries on the field. That’s an awesome number. I love the heart Southern Baptists have for missions.
3) The rising generation of young and able leaders. Dr. Mark Dever, Dr. Al Mohler, Dr. Russ Moore and others are emerging as leaders in the broader evangelical culture and teaching Christians how to think about themselves and others. This is a good thing. The church kind of fell silent in the mid-twentieth century on the broader culture and also failed to critique itself. That is now happening.

Those are some thoughts. I can’t say that I now listen to the Gaithers, and I may not ever hold an office, but for several key reasons I’m now happy to be a Southern Baptist. Just don’t ask me not to go to Disneyland.

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A Powerful Sermon on Religious Liberalism

One of the titanic figures of Southern Baptist history is a diminuitive man who packed a powerful pulpit punch. Wallie Amos Criswell, or W.A. as he came to be known, was for half a decade the pastor of Dallas’s First Baptist Church, one of the cornerstone churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. Interestingly, of all the churches in America, it is the congregation that Billy Graham denoted his own many years ago, though he rarely attended services there. Criswell entered the FBC pulpit after George Truett, another SBC giant, passed away in the early 1940s. Over the next five decades, Criswell crafted a ministerial career marked by expository preaching, progressive administration, and Convention influence. Sometimes controversial, often polemical, always notable, Criswell stands as an example to conservative Christian pastors in many respects, chief among them his fiery love for preaching the Word. I don’t agree with everything Criswell did or stood for, but it is hard not to appreciate his faithfulness to the ministerial task.

Criswell gave a number of seminal sermons in his career, but none are more powerful than “Whether We Live or Die,” the capstone sermon of the 1985 Southern Baptist Convention. Given at a time of thunderstorm conflict, Criswell struck a major blow for the conservative cause by sketching out the course a liberal denomination would travel. The way, said Criswell in his powerful bass, was that of death. There would be no deviation; nothing would deter those who have lost the Scripture as their guide from their plunge. You can listen to the sermon on the Criswell Foundation’s website. A point of particular interest to me from the message is Criswell’s narration of the story of Crawford Howell Toy. Toy was a Southern Seminary professor in the 1870s who imbibed elements of liberalism into his theology. His story is a tragic one, as all are that involve the taking of poison, however small the dose. The video is a bit shaky, the setting may be foreign, but the message is piercingly clear: stay the course on the narrow way. Nothing less than everything is at stake.

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Back to the Dugout With You, Frist

Those keeping an eye on political headlines recently will have seen the news that Bill Frist, Senate majority leader, is pondering a run for president in 2008. Frist is a talented man, with a medical degree, popularity among his peers, and ability to speak with eloquence and clarity. But a president, at least a president of the United States, he is not. He can be president of the Rotary Club, and that will be just fine with many. But president of America? I think not.

Why do I say this with the confidence I do? Because Frist’s views do not line up with a key group of voters in Republican circles: evangelical Christians. He’s just come out in support of stem cell research, a move that has put him directly in the ire stream of evangelicals, who are currently fighting with every shard of tooth and wit to prevent the practice. Strike one. He also failed to keep fellow Republicans from breaking out of party lines on the judicial filibuster issue. Seven “escaped,” making their own power move and leaving Frist looking inept as a leader. Strike two. Despite these events, Frist seems to think that he will garner the evangelical vote in 2008. As an evangelical, I think that I have some insight into how they think. Let me say this about my fellow “fish-heads.” We do not forget easily, and we do not tolerate violations of the conservative social code. Frist is kidding himself if he doesn’t think many evangelicals have written him off altogether with his position on stem cells and his leadership missteps. These are high stakes games, and in the culture wars, every action matters, and every inch covers a mile. The lesson? Sometimes, friends, you don’t need a third strike to call someone out.

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A Powerful Video: "Can I Live"

I had heard some about rapper Nick Cannon’s “Can I Live” video recently in the press, but hadn’t seen the video until today. The video portrays an adult man, played by Nick Cannon, going back in time to talk to his mother, who is pregnant with Nick and contemplating an abortion. It’s a true story, and it’s powerful. Here’s the link to the site. You’ll note the need for Windows Media Player or Quicktime to watch the video.

The media has chafed a bit at the video. The Boston Globe called for Cannon, who calls himself neither pro-choice or pro-life, to out himself as a pro-lifer and own up to his propagandizing ways. Cannon has not done so. I find the Globe‘s response fascinating, because it speaks as if one cannot make art without making a political statement and in fact be trying, first and foremost, to make a political statement. Cannon’s song could well be made with intention to spread the pro-life message. But it is also entirely possible that he made the video to thank his mother for giving him life, and have that sentiment unattached to some greater political motive. Shame on the Globe for crying “disingenuous” on Cannon. I suppose that shows just how un-neutral much of the media is. The hue and cry about the video can go on, or it can die, which it likely will in short order. All the while, I’m enjoying this song, and thanking the Lord that, as with Nick Cannon, He let me live.

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On Flying

If you are a loyal consumed reader, then you’ve noticed that the posting has been sporadic of late. I’m predicting that this has caused you some distress, that you’ve perhaps had to retreat to a quiet place, maybe do some breathing exercises, perhaps consume massive amounts of food that is bad for you. I understand all that; in fact, I think I’ve done all of the preceding lately. I retreated to a quiet place, being Maine; consumed massive amounts of food while at home, including Mom’s fabulous spaghetti and her delightful blueberry cake; and done–okay, so I haven’t done any breathing exercises. I could have if I wanted to, though.

Actually, wait a minute. I’ve flown four times in the last month. It’s been a little crazy. And during those flights, I did some breathing exercises, albeit very restrained ones. I inhaled air to keep my ears from popping. So there you go. That said, I found that though these exercises brought me some measure of comfort, they did little to affect my greater reality, namely, that I was on a huge beast of burden, my life in the hands of a couple of strangers, my actions directed by their commands. That reality is a sobering one, as much so as the pre-flight safety “instructions” are amusing. Why are they amusing, you ask? Because the attendants do very funny things with their hands and arms that I cannot follow. For example, I’m glad the planes I flew on didn’t go down, cause I certainly wasn’t ready to manipulate the oxygen-provider thingy. The attendant demonstrated the needed action so quickly the naked eye didn’t follow. I also enjoy the drafting of passengers to help in case the emergency exits were needed. Actual exchange between stewardess and passenger: “Are you able and willing to serve if needed, sir? Yes, able and willing.” Reminiscent of a commander sturdying his troops in the moment of battle, the attendant revealed her iron resolve to fulfill emergency exit protocol. Then she handed out little pretzels, and wouldn’t give me a granola bar. Hmmph. Neither willing, nor able, I suppose.

The last thing I’ll mention about my recent flying experience relates to the landing of planes. At that moment, when the Southwest puddle-jumper bounces on the tarmac, one is reminded that the plane is not an organic entity, dispensing little pretzels and smiles at a button’s pressing. Rather, the plane is a metallic animal, foreign, unpredictable, capable of killing you. Kind of like the tiger at the zoo. It looks nice, and calm, and then–BOOM–you’re without an appendage. On planes, mortality is your constant seat companion. That’s cool, cause whenever God wants me to go, I’m able and willing to go. That is one pledge that I can definitely keep.

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On the Wedding of One’s Sister

I’ve now been a part of three weddings this summer. Let me say this right off. It’s a weird thing to have your close friends married off. There are numerous levels of weirdness to that event. Your friend, who you’ve goofed off with, cried with, argued with…married? Hitched? Tied up? Odd. All that pales, however, to seeing your sister walk the aisle. Especially your little sister. It was truly an interesting experience today as my only sibling, Rachel, married Lester Burgess.

Interesting first because I always thought as the older brother that I would get married first. I’m now 24, and she’s not even 21, and so I assumed that marriage would happen for me before her. That assumption, however, proved erroneous.

Secondly because it is an interesting thing to see displays of affection from one’s sister when you’re not used to that sort of thing from her. I don’t have much else to say about this. It’s just all very odd and weird. What happened to the little girl who used to cut the hair off her Barbies? Who would play Home Run Derby with me–and beat me? Who would rub her hair on the back seat of the car to make it staticky on the way to skiing? Now she’s all grown up, and married, and…affectionate. Ewwww. It’s only slightly weirder than seeing parental displays of affection. Phew.

Thirdly because, well, just because. She’s my sister! Her room sits empty now. She’s not going to come in at night and talk to me about life. She’s not going to take shopping trips to the mall with me. She’s not going to talk to me for hours on end about girls, helping me to figure out the intricate psychology of the feminine mind. Such knowledge leaves me with the feeling you get when you stand still and feel like the entire world is rushing past you. How is everything going so fast? What happened to the littleness of my little sister? Who stole away the life I used to know?

But of course, all this quickly passes, as I know that none of this is by accident, that this is all part of growing up and seeing God work life out in its weirdness and complexity. That’s a good thing, even if it leaves me with a little sadness, alot of good memories, and an empty room beside mine.

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On the Wedding of One’s Sister

I’ve now been a part of three weddings this summer. Let me say this right off. It’s a weird thing to have your close friends married off. There are numerous levels of weirdness to that event. Your friend, who you’ve goofed off with, cried with, argued with…married? Hitched? Tied up? Odd. All that pales, however, to seeing your sister walk the aisle. Especially your little sister. It was truly an interesting experience today as my only sibling, Rachel, married Lester Burgess.

Interesting first because I always thought as the older brother that I would get married first. I’m now 24, and she’s not even 21, and so I assumed that marriage would happen for me before her. That assumption, however, proved erroneous.

Secondly because it is an interesting thing to see displays of affection from one’s sister when you’re not used to that sort of thing from her. I don’t have much else to say about this. It’s just all very odd and weird. What happened to the little girl who used to cut the hair off her Barbies? Who would play Home Run Derby with me–and beat me? Who would rub her hair on the back seat of the car to make it staticky on the way to skiing? Now she’s all grown up, and married, and…affectionate. Ewwww. It’s only slightly weirder than seeing parental displays of affection. Phew.

Thirdly because, well, just because. She’s my sister! Her room sits empty now. She’s not going to come in at night and talk to me about life. She’s not going to take shopping trips to the mall with me. She’s not going to talk to me for hours on end about girls, helping me to figure out the intricate psychology of the feminine mind. Such knowledge leaves me with the feeling you get when you stand still and feel like the entire world is rushing past you. How is everything going so fast? What happened to the littleness of my little sister? Who stole away the life I used to know?

But of course, all this quickly passes, as I know that none of this is by accident, that this is all part of growing up and seeing God work life out in its weirdness and complexity. That’s a good thing, even if it leaves me with a little sadness, alot of good memories, and an empty room beside mine.

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Filed under Uncategorized

On the Wedding of One’s Sister

I’ve now been a part of three weddings this summer. Let me say this right off. It’s a weird thing to have your close friends married off. There are numerous levels of weirdness to that event. Your friend, who you’ve goofed off with, cried with, argued with…married? Hitched? Tied up? Odd. All that pales, however, to seeing your sister walk the aisle. Especially your little sister. It was truly an interesting experience today as my only sibling, Rachel, married Lester Burgess.

Interesting first because I always thought as the older brother that I would get married first. I’m now 24, and she’s not even 21, and so I assumed that marriage would happen for me before her. That assumption, however, proved erroneous.

Secondly because it is an interesting thing to see displays of affection from one’s sister when you’re not used to that sort of thing from her. I don’t have much else to say about this. It’s just all very odd and weird. What happened to the little girl who used to cut the hair off her Barbies? Who would play Home Run Derby with me–and beat me? Who would rub her hair on the back seat of the car to make it staticky on the way to skiing? Now she’s all grown up, and married, and…affectionate. Ewwww. It’s only slightly weirder than seeing parental displays of affection. Phew.

Thirdly because, well, just because. She’s my sister! Her room sits empty now. She’s not going to come in at night and talk to me about life. She’s not going to take shopping trips to the mall with me. She’s not going to talk to me for hours on end about girls, helping me to figure out the intricate psychology of the feminine mind. Such knowledge leaves me with the feeling you get when you stand still and feel like the entire world is rushing past you. How is everything going so fast? What happened to the littleness of my little sister? Who stole away the life I used to know?

But of course, all this quickly passes, as I know that none of this is by accident, that this is all part of growing up and seeing God work life out in its weirdness and complexity. That’s a good thing, even if it leaves me with a little sadness, alot of good memories, and an empty room beside mine.

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