Thursday, January 18, 2007

The New Baptist Covenant

Paul, being Catholic, asked what this whole thing is about. The answer is politics of course, both national and denominational.
Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have proposed the establishment of a broadly inclusive alternative Baptist movement to counter what they called a negative image of Baptists and to address poverty, the environment and global conflicts.
How broadly inclusive is it?
About 80 leaders of 40 moderate Baptist organizations claiming to represent 20 million Baptists in the United States, Canada and Mexico met at the Carter Center for the announcement. Leaders from the Southern Baptist Convention were not invited to attend.
Conservatives have a pretty strong hold on the Southern Baptist Convention right now. That would have me dancing with glee if it weren't for the fact that these folks are probably way to the right of me. The kind of folks LawDog might call "Shia Baptists". They are not the sort of people who react well to people dancing with joy at the suffering of others, but mostly because it involves dancing. In comparison, my Baptist church actually holds an annual dinner and dance for us young folks. (Coming up on February 3rd!) I suppose it's a good thing my church belongs to the Baptist General Conference.

So I'll admit that the conservatives aren't necessarily doing good things with the convention. There have been concerns with new restrictive rules governing SBC supported missionaries for instance. There was talk of pushing some type of formal creed onto some other SBC supported groups. And of course they're treating the Calvinists well. That last one was sarcastic by the way.

Of course this new organization isn't actually about those problems. It's about spreading peace, love, and understanding. But not the Peace of Christ, Love of God, or Understanding of Eternal Salvation. No, then we wouldn't be respecting people's beliefs. No this would mostly be through handout programs which will barely allude to the person of Christ, even by name. Oh and loud political statements which probably don't respect Romans 13 very much.

Now don't get me wrong, stewardship of the environment and feeding the hungry are important things. But they should not exist in a vacuum. Christ didn't just feed the hungry, he did it to show who his Father was. It was a means of leading people to him and therefore to God. Christians need to follow that example. I have a great fear that this group, like most liberal religious groups, will have aims that are deeply political and shallowly spiritual.

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