October 2012

Ancient Bibles, artifacts displayed at NOBTS

October 23 2012 by Gary D. Myers, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s (NOBTS) new Bible and archaeology museum occupies a small space, but heralds the powerful, timeless message of the Bible being handed down and preserved through the centuries.

“From Papyrus to Print: A Journey through the History of the Bible” explores how the Bible was written on papyrus and parchment, copied, preserved and ultimately printed in the language of common people. Ancient archaeological artifacts supplement the experience by offering a glimpse into daily life in biblical times.

“Part of the wonder of our Bible is that we have a long-term history over which it was written as well as when it was copied and printed,” said Bill Warren, director of the Haggard Center for New Testament Textual Studies at NOBTS. “When we pick up a Bible, we ought to have a sense of appreciation for the history behind it.”
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Photo by Boyd Guy

Katie Unsworth, right, a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary student, leads a museum tour for Stephon Daniels, left, and Dave Bolin of Gadsden, Ala.


“It’s not just another book. It is a God-inspired book. It is a book that many have struggled for with their very lives just so we can have copies,” Warren said. “It may seem low priced to us, but the real price is in the story.”

The museum, which opened in September, is the partial fulfillment of a decade-long dream. Before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, seminary trustees approved the construction on a new campus library. The proposed library included plans for two state-of-the-art museum and research areas – one for the Haggard Center and one for the seminary’s Center for Archaeological Research (CAR).

Following Katrina, campus restoration efforts and new housing took priority over the proposed library. Warren, along with Dennis Cole and Jim Parker, co-directors of CAR, kept the museum idea alive by merging the two concepts into one.

For last spring’s NOBTS Foundation Board meeting, Warren and Cole developed a temporary display in the John T. Christian Library. The display was a success, and when space adjacent to Haggard Center’s office in the Hardin Student Center became available, locating the Bible and archaeology museum there seemed perfect.

“From Papyrus to Print,” the central museum exhibit, tracks the transmission of the Bible, beginning with papyrus and ending with press-printed Bibles. The first display shows how papyrus was made and how ancient papyrus fragments look when they are discovered.

Old Testament display

The second section of the museum focuses on the Old Testament. Four Hebrew scrolls illustrate the use of real parchment, animal skin, as an early medium for manuscripts. The focal point of this section is the 400-year-old complete Esther scroll. Three other scroll portions date to the 1800s.

In addition to the original manuscripts, the museum uses professional-quality facsimile editions of important manuscripts. Facsimile copies utilize high-resolution, full color photographs of each page of the original document, preserving details and characteristics of the ancient manuscript. The Hebrew section features facsimiles of the two leading Hebrew manuscripts that serve as the basis for the Old Testament text in modern Bible translations.

Greek display

The third section, which focuses on the Greek Old and New Testament manuscripts, includes facsimiles of five major codices. The focal point of the Greek section is the Codex Vaticanus facsimile donated by Mary Wheeler Messer and her late husband, Thomas Messer Sr. This codex, dating to the early fourth century and kept at the Vatican, is one of the oldest and most complete manuscripts of the Old and New Testament Greek Bible.

Rather than using photographs, the Codex Vaticanus facsimile recreates the color, texture and imperfections of the original parchment with stunning detail, including the irregular shape and the imperfections of the original pages. Even the holes, stains and wrinkles are replicated.

The Greek section also includes a facsimile of the oldest complete Greek New Testament, Codex Siniaticus, which dates to the mid-300s, and a facsimile of Codex Bezae, a fifth century Greek-Latin codex of the Gospels and Acts.

The archaeology section is located in the center of the museum space adjacent to the Greek section, and includes a wide range of objects such as Chalcolithic period cups dating to 3500 B.C., and Byzantine period jugs and storage jars dating to 500 A.D. Holdings include zoomorphic vessels, clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform writing, Roman glass and numerous clay vessels for cooking and storage.

According to Cole, the museum captures the “everyday stuff of life from any given period. It gives you an idea of the types of things that were used, from your soup or stew bowl to your drinking cup to storage pottery. It gives you that visual representation of what it was like in biblical times.”

Two highlights among the artifacts are a clay household idol, reminiscent of the Genesis 31 story of Rachel stealing her father’s household idols, and an exceptional Late Bronze Age (1450-1250 B.C.) Cypriot “milk ware” bowl, illustrating the nature of early Mediterranean commerce. The bowls were crafted on the island of Cyprus and exported to places throughout the region, including Canaan. The NOBTS archaeology team excavating the ancient water system in Gezer, Israel, uncovered numerous “milk ware” shards.

Latin section

The Latin section of the museum focuses on the emergence of Latin as the church’s most common language. The section also marks the development of the printing press which revolutionized the distribution of Scripture.

Handwritten manuscripts from this time period often featured “illuminations,” colored drawings and ornaments along with the text. Warren calls the illuminated manuscript “the multi-media of its day.” The museum features two illuminated pages from 12th and 14th century Latin Psalters. The highlight in the Latin section is an original page from the Gutenberg Bible, the first Bible printed for mass distribution.

Early English Bibles

The last section of the museum focuses on early English Bibles, highlighted by the Geneva Bible (1562) and the 1617 edition of the King James Bible, its third printing.

According to Warren, part of the wonder of the Bible is the great price so many have paid to ensure that people have access to God’s Word in their own language.

“It wasn’t simply a heavy financial price, although Codex Siniaticus for example, probably would have been 15-to-20 years worth of wages for the average person,” Warren said. “The heavy price was paid by the loss of eyesight on the part of scribes. It was paid by some who literally gave their lives to defend the copies during times of persecution.”

“Others were killed simply for translating the Bible into the language of the common people. William Tyndale died for his role in translating the Bible into English,” Warren said.

The museum will be open during regular NOBTS office hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with trained guides available.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Gary D. Myers is director of public relations at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)
10/23/2012 2:33:57 PM by Gary D. Myers, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Pastors’ conference to ‘Preach the Word’

October 22 2012 by BR staff

While following biblical principles may not always be viewed as politically correct in today’s society, this year’s Pastors’ Conference will lead up to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting with the theme “Preach the Word.”
 
This year’s conference will be held Nov. 11-12 at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro.  The conference will begin at 6 p.m. on that Sunday, and it will wrap up the following day at 3 p.m. The theme for this year’s conference is based on 2 Timothy 4:2. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”
 
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“The Bible challenges us to preach the Word,” said Conference President Lee Pigg,
pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe. “[It] challenges us to be ready to preach the Word when it’s popular and when it’s not popular. We all understand today [that] we live in a time that it’s not popular to preach the Word. That passage goes on to say correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.”
 
Among this year’s featured speakers for the conference include the following:
• Greg Mathis, senior pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church, Hendersonville
• Bobby Welch, associate executive director, Tennessee Baptist Convention
• Joe Brown, former pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church, Charlotte
• Don Bouldin, interim pastor of First Baptist Church, Marshville
• Mike Whitson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Indian Trail
• Mac Brunson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla.
• Mark Harris, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Charlotte
Sermon topics that will coincide with this year’s conference theme include: preach the Word with urgency, passion, commitment, relevance, conviction, thanksgiving, and preach the Word with power.
 
The conference’s worship time will feature Tim Blankenbeckler, minister of worship for Hopewell Baptist and the church’s choir, and Lawndale’s associate pastor of music and worship Mark Walker and Lawndale’s choir. The conference also will include the gospel music group Bread of Life.
 
For more information and to find a complete schedule go to www.ncannualmeeting.org/preach.
10/22/2012 1:58:13 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments



‘Vote for biblical values,’ Billy Graham ad says

October 22 2012 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

MONTREAT, N.C. – Billy Graham, in a national advertising campaign launched Oct. 18, calls on Americans to “vote for biblical values” as they cast ballots in the upcoming election.

A full-page ad in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal and Friday’s USA Today featured the legendary evangelist’s picture beside a block of text stating:

“The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren and this great nation is crucial. As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel.

“I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.”

Graham’s name and signature followed the 100-word statement.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) said friends who support the ministry have contributed funds designated for the purchase of advertising space using Graham’s image to call for the support of candidates who support biblical values.

In addition to The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, the ads will appear in newspapers in as many as a dozen states over the next few weeks, according to a BGEA statement Oct. 18.
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“The number of states, papers and times the ads run will depend on the amount of funding provided and designated for this project of the BGEA,” the association said. “The ads intentionally do not mention any candidate, political party, or contest, urging instead for readers to cast votes for candidates – at all levels – based on their support for biblical values.”

The statement added that Graham “recently expressed a desire to publicly call America back to God and to prayer, and to draw attention to moral issues that are clearly addressed in the Bible and have increasingly become part of a national political dialog.”

Also on Thursday, news reports spotlighted the recent removal of a reference to Mormonism as a cult from the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

In a section of the website called Billy Graham’s “My Answer,” there had been the question, “What is a cult?” The answer was, “A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith,” according to CNN.com.

“Some of these groups are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritualists, Scientologists, and others,” the answer continued.

The removal came after the New Civil Rights Movement, a homosexual advocacy group, reported that the cult reference remained online even after Graham met with Romney last week in his Montreat, N.C., home and “all but endorsed” the Republican for president, according to Religion News Service.

Ken Barun, chief of staff for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, confirmed to CNN Oct. 16 that the page had been removed from the website.

“Our primary focus at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has always been promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Barun said. “We removed the information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”

The removal left people wondering whether Graham was softening his stance on Mormonism in order to support Romney, a Mormon, for president.

Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, last fall was in the news for calling Mormonism a cult backstage after introducing then-Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry at a Values Voters Summit.

In comments to Baptist Press Oct. 18, Jeffress reiterated his beliefs while also voicing support for Romney.

“I believe that Mormonism is a theological cult. It is a false religion that leads people away from the true God rather than toward the true God,” Jeffress said. “Although I am supporting Mitt Romney for president, I have still not changed my beliefs about Mormonism being a false religion.”

Jeffress explained how a person can both believe Mormonism is a cult and support a Mormon for president.

“I think that there is a reason in this election for choosing a non-Christian who embraces biblical positions such as the sanctity of life and of marriage over a professing Christian like Barack Obama who openly supports abortion and gay marriage,” Jeffress told Baptist Press.

“While it would be preferable to have a consistently conservative, biblical Christian running for office, that isn’t our choice this time around, and I think we have to choose the lesser of two evils,” Jeffress said.

Jeffress told The New York Times last fall that he believes Romney is a “good, moral person” and that he would endorse him over Obama.

“I’m going to advise people that it is much better to vote for a non-Christian who embraces biblical values than to vote for a professing Christian like Barack Obama who embraces unbiblical values,” Jeffress told The Times.

As part of the national advertising campaign, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is providing resources to help people spread the message. At billygraham.org, people can download and display one of two ads as well as share the page on Facebook and Twitter. Bulletin inserts also are available.

The ad, titled “Legacy,” is appearing in newspapers; a second ad, “Crossroads,” also is available for sharing.

“On November 6,” the Crossroads ad says, “the day before my 94th birthday, our nation will hold one of the most critical elections in my lifetime. We are at a crossroads and there are profound moral issues at stake.

“I strongly urge you to vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and woman, protect the sanctity of life, and defend our religious freedoms,” the ad says. “The Bible speaks clearly on these crucial issues. Please join me in praying for America, that we will turn our hearts back toward God.”

A. Larry Ross, a spokesperson for Graham, said the ads are consistent with the evangelist’s practice of remaining politically neutral.

“Against the backdrop of moral decline and a cultural shift in our nation that reflects timely issues, Mr. Graham’s quotation in the ad is an extension of his faithful preaching of a timeless message and strong stand on biblical values for more than six decades,” Ross said in a statement to Baptist Press.

Graham has been called America’s pastor and has prayed with every American president since Harry Truman.

Following his meeting with Romney Oct. 11, Graham issued a statement saying it was an honor to host the candidate in his home, “especially since I knew his late father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, whom I considered a friend.”

Graham said he has observed Mitt Romney’s career in business and politics, and what impresses him more than his success “are his values and strong moral convictions.”

“I appreciate his faithful commitment to his impressive family, particularly his wife Ann of 43 years and his five married sons,” said Graham, who prayed with Romney for his family and for the country.

Romney spokesman Rick Gorka said Graham told the candidate: “I’ll do all I can to help you. And you can quote me on that.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press.)
10/22/2012 1:46:07 PM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Believers learn keys to victory over sexual sin

October 22 2012 by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications

Recent statistics point to an unprecedented rise of pornography addiction in the United States, especially among pastors.   
 
By 2008, as many as 70-90 percent of men, 50 percent of pastors and 40 percent of women in the United States were addicted to pornography. The average boy is exposed to pornography by age eight and more than 50 percent of children in the United States are exposed by age 11.
 
Tyler Jones, pastor of Vintage 21 Church in Raleigh, shared these statistics during the recent Pursuit of More Conference at Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh. Other conference speakers included Stephen Davey, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Cary; Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Tony Merida, pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh; and Dwayne Milioni, pastor of Open Door Baptist Church.  
 
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The two-day conference featured plenary and break out sessions based on the conference theme: “Enslaved: Uncovering the Truth of Sexual Addiction.”
 
Converting Hearts Ministries, a non-profit organization that provides Christ-centered holistic recovery programs for men suffering from substance abuse and sexual addictions, sponsored the conference.

Jones pointed to the statistics as evidence that the impact of pornography addiction extends beyond the individual who routinely looks at pornography. He said it also impacts an individual’s relationship with family members and friends, and with God.     
 
“The myth of pornography is that it doesn’t hurt others,” Jones said. “You can’t believe any longer that your hidden sin affects only you. It’s not just you in a room.”
 

Return to true worship

Jones said the first pornographic images people view are burned into their memories and are usually the source of recurring sexual temptations.   
 
“Because of that, the affects of sin are everywhere and temptation is constant, especially if you are a man,” he said. 
 
But the Christian can erase those images and overcome addiction to pornography through confession, repentance and worshipping Jesus Christ.
 
“Repentance renews our mind so that the images that you have crammed into your head don’t have to stay there,” Jones said. “It can change your heart and your mind from the images of brokenness to the magnitude of Jesus.”
 
In addition to confession and repentance, Jones told men to give wives and accountability partners complete access to their cell phones, computers and Internet passwords.
 
He also suggested that men find multiple accountability partners with other men who are willing to ask tough questions with the aim of maintaining true accountability.
 
In order to overcome pornography addiction, people must remember that they were created to worship God.
 
No one escapes the desire to worship, but all too often people replace worship of God with something such as pornography, which always leaves the worshipper unfulfilled.
 
“We primarily have a worship issue at hand when we talk about sexual addictions. We are worshipping something that we weren’t created to worship so it cannot possibly do what we want it to do,” Jones said. “When you worship Jesus you get the very thing that you were created for. When you worship Jesus it satiates your soul.”
 

Consider the consequences

Akin said sexual addiction in the church has reached a critical level and church leaders must come to grips with the growing problem.
 
“We are literally drowning in sexual perversion and sexual addiction,” he said. “It’s choking the life out of us and we ignore it and pretend it is not there only at our peril.”
 
Akin used Romans 12:1-2 to illustrate how believers can overcome sexual addiction with a conscious decision to surrender the mind, body and soul to Christ every day in recognition of His sovereign rule over all creation.
 
“Our sexuality should be pointing others as well as ourselves to the greatness, the glory, the wonder and the majesty of Christ,” he said. “If we are to give glory to God it is not something that is optional but something we must choose to do every day.” 
 
The battle for sexual purity must be won day-by-day, because yesterday’s victory does not guarantee victory today. “You must daily, moment by moment, be killing sin or sin will be killing you,” Akin said.
 
Akin reminded the audience that the stakes are high for believers when sexual temptation occurs and that too many people give in without considering everything at stake.
 
With that in mind, Akin suggested that a strategy for overcoming sexual sin is to ask God for a vision of its consequences.
 
“It will bring shame to the name of Jesus, and it will cause the world once more to laugh cynically at those who claim to have been radically altered and transformed by a great king named Jesus,” Akin said.
 
Sexual sin does irreparable harm to family members, especially a spouse and children.    
 
“You will break the heart of your mate. They will be crushed on the inside and will struggle to ever truly and with confidence trust you,” Akin said.
 
“You will lose forever the respect of your children.”   
 
When believers are tempted to pursue sexual sin, Akin said they should remember the cost and consider if it is worth a few tantalizing moments of sin. “See the end of sin as a tool for battle to win the victory.”
 
For more information visit convertinghearts.com.
10/22/2012 1:33:48 PM by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Gardner-Webb University gets ‘A’ in core curriculum

October 22 2012 by GWU Media Relations

An annual study on core curriculum requirements at over 1,000 colleges and universities from all over the United States has placed Gardner-Webb University (GWU) in Boiling Springs at the head of the class for the second year in a row. The university was among only 21 colleges – and the only school in the Carolinas – to earn an “A.”
 
“This national recognition of our curriculum, something we neither sought nor applied for, stands as a significant affirmation of our academic program,” said Ben Leslie, GWU provost and executive vice president. 
 
The 2012-2013 What Will They Learn? study, conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), ranks the core curriculum of all the major public and private colleges and universities in all 50 states.
 
The ranking places GWU in the top two percent in the nation, included with schools such as Pepperdine University (Malibu, Calif.) and Baylor University (Waco, Texas).
 
“More than anything else, it is a tribute to the Gardner-Webb faculty, who along with their predecessors, have expressed a deep commitment to a broad-based general education in the liberal arts for many years,” Leslie said.
 
“Not only does GWU’s general education curriculum conform to the criteria set forth by ACTA, but we actually exceed their expectations by requiring courses in arts, health and wellness, religion and communications.”
 
Gardner-Webb University is the only college in the Carolinas to earn an “A” in the ACTA study, which analyzes seven core subjects and rates universities accordingly. ACTA believes that composition, U.S. government/history, economics, literature, math, science, and foreign language components help students gain the knowledge and values necessary for responsible democratic citizenship. 
 
“A”-rated schools require at least six out of the seven core courses; “B” schools must offer four or five out of seven.
10/22/2012 1:24:20 PM by GWU Media Relations | with 0 comments



Trustees: SWBTS adds 2 faculty members

October 22 2012 by Keith Collier, Baptist Press

FORT WORTH, Texas – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (SWBTS) trustees elected two new faculty members, installed a professor to an academic chair and devoted time to prayer during their fall meeting, Oct. 17.

Trustees also toured the final construction stages of new student housing as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible exhibition at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus.

Michael Wilkinson was elected as assistant professor of Bible in the College at Southwestern. Wilkinson earned his Ph.D. (2011) and master of divinity (1990) from Southwestern and previously served as an associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Rockwall, Texas, from 2007-12 and at Central Baptist Church in Bryan, Texas, from 1993-2007.

Christopher Teichler was elected as associate professor of music theory and composition in the school of church music. Teichler earned his doctor of music (2006) and master of music (2002) degrees in composition at Northwestern University. Prior to coming to Southwestern, Teichler taught at DePaul University from 2008-12.
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SWBTS Photo/Matt Miller

Southwestern Seminary trustees Jonathan Leeman, Randy Martin, and Eddie Miller pray for faculty and administration during their fall meeting, Oct. 17.


Trustees approved the installation of David Robinson, professor of voice, to the James C. McKinney Chair of Church Music. Robinson, who has served as a voice professor at the seminary since 1985, holds a doctor of musical arts degree from Southwestern (1990).

Between reports from various subcommittees, chairman Hance Dilbeck led trustees in specific times of prayer. Huddled in groups of three or four, trustees prayed for God’s continued work through the seminary and for wisdom on behalf of the administration and faculty. Dilbeck is pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.

In other business, trustees accepted the audited financial statements for the seminary and its development foundation. They also approved the election of trustees for the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Development Foundation and the Southwestern Seminary Foundation.

(EDITOR’S NOTE  – Keith Collier is director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)
10/22/2012 1:16:54 PM by Keith Collier, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Abortion is the primary issue for 1 in 6 voters

October 19 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – Nearly one in 10 registered voters in America say they will only support pro-life candidates who share their position on abortion, a number that is larger than the corresponding data for pro-choice voters, according to a new Gallup poll.

Specifically, 9 percent of registered voters say they will only support pro-life candidates who oppose abortion while 7 percent of all registered voters say they will only back pro-choice candidates who support legalized abortion.
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All total, about one in six voters in America are single-issue voters on abortion.

Gallup’s Lydia Saad called it a “slight pro-life tilt, albeit one that could potentially benefit pro-life Republican candidate Mitt Romney.”
 
In fact, Gallup historical data shows the issue has benefited pro-life candidates in every presidential election dating back to 1996, with pro-lifers ahead by 2 percentage points in every election except for 2004, when 12 percent of voters said they’d support only pro-life candidates and 5 percent said they’d support only pro-choice ones. In 2008, the issue favored pro-lifers, 7 percent to 5 percent.

Two other questions on the survey also favored the pro-life community:
  • 27 percent of pro-lifers and 39 percent of pro-choicers say they don’t see abortion as a major issue.
  • 49 percent of pro-lifers but only 43 percent of pro-choicers say a “candidate’s position on abortion” is “one of many important factors” they consider.
Pro-choicers, Saad wrote, are more likely to vote for a candidate who disagrees with them.

“Making obvious overtures to abortion issue-voters could hurt Romney and Barack Obama with the broader electorate that may want to see the candidates focusing more single-mindedly on the economy,” Gallup’s Saad wrote. “It could also backfire by activating abortion voters on the other side to turn out for the opponent. However, it is likely that both candidates are using micro-targeting to find and appeal to these voters as part of a comprehensive campaign strategy to maximize support wherever it exists, particularly in swing states.”

The Sept. 24-27 survey was based on interviews with 1,446 adults.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)
10/19/2012 1:55:22 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Poll: Voters in both parties back abstinence ed

October 19 2012 by John Evans, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – A new national survey reveals widespread support for abstinence education across the political spectrum, with nearly 8 in 10 Democratic parents with school-aged children voicing their approval.

The survey commissioned by the National Abstinence Education Foundation (NAEF) shows a majority of parents from both political parties oppose President Obama’s efforts to eliminate all federal funding for abstinence programs.
 
“Although almost all of the polls are so close in the [presidential] election coming up on Nov. 6, if sex ed was on the ballot, abstinence education would win by a landslide,” said Valerie Huber, NAEF’s president. “I think that this survey showed that there is really unanimity among parents.”

Titled Parents Speak Out, the survey indicates broad support for a Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) approach to sex education, which provides medically accurate information about contraceptives – including their limitations – within a framework that emphasizes delaying sexual activity until marriage.

The NAEF, in releasing the finding Oct. 9, voiced surprise “at how widespread the support was among all the major demographics that were studied in this survey.”

Its key findings:

– Support for SRA abstinence education transcends party lines.

The survey found that 87 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats support abstinence education, with overwhelming majorities voicing approval of SRA education’s major tenets, which include, among other things: Encouraging renewed abstinence for the sexually active; providing contraceptive information within an abstinence context; providing information on Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs); informing students of the limitations of condoms; and alerting them to the emotional consequences of sex.

“Republicans and Democrats support the way that Abstinence Education addresses key topics,” the study said. “They want sex education to place a priority on encouraging teens to avoid sex in order to avoid all sexual risk.”

– Parents support how the SRA approach discusses condom information.

The survey found that 90 percent of parents want their children to learn about the limitations of condom effectiveness, information that is not shared in a typical Sexual Risk Reduction (SRR) program, also known as “comprehensive” sex education. Parents felt so strongly about this subject, the study noted, they scored it higher than any other question.

– Most parents want their children to wait until marriage for sex.

Overall, 78 percent of parents want their children to delay engaging in sex until marriage. That includes 73 percent of whites, 77 percent of Hispanics and 87 percent of African Americans.

“Despite the fact that abstinence education critics insist that ‘abstinence until marriage’ is outdated, parents do not agree,” the study said.

– Majorities of Democrats and Republicans oppose President Obama’s efforts to eliminate all federal funding for SRA abstinence education.

The survey found that 58 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans oppose the president’s actions regarding SRA funding. When informed that SRR “comprehensive” programs receive 16 times more funding than SRA abstinence education, about two-thirds of parents in both parties supported moving toward more equal funding.

– Support for SRA abstinence education is stronger among women.

Although overwhelming majorities of both men and women expressed support for teaching the basic tenets of abstinence education, women support each of the tenets more strongly than men.

– African American parents are the most supportive of SRA abstinence education’s essential tenets.

Given the high rates of pregnancy and STDs among African American teens, the study notes that teen sexual activity seems to be of high concern to African American parents. Nearly 9 in 10 African American parents want their children to wait until marriage for sex, a higher level of support than parents in general. African American parents also voice more support for each of SRA’s tenets than parents overall.

One African American parent told the survey, “I have been very opposed to sex education classes, the way they are being taught, because I do not feel it teaches enough about abstinence or the consequences behind it. So I am strongly in support of more funding and more education that focuses on [abstinence] education.”

– Most parents believe homosexual youth can benefit from abstinence education.

The survey notes that although few programs directed toward homosexual teens focus on SRA, 85 percent of parents believe all youth – including homosexual youth – can benefit from skills that help delay sex.

Huber says the results of the survey, which are based on interviews with 1,683 likely voters with children ages 9 to 16, should be a wakeup call to policy makers across the country.

“I think that this survey shows that overall, there’s not a lot of disagreement here,” Huber said, “and that the truth is, the current national sex education policy is clearly out of step with what parents want.”

The survey offers a number of public policy recommendations regarding sex education, including:
  • Primary emphasis on SRA Abstinence Education programs in federal sex education policy.
  • More equality in funding between SRR “Comprehensive” Sex Education and SRA Abstinence Education programs.
  • Eliminate the false sense of security that teens acquire in “safe” sex messaging by mandating that medically accurate information be given regarding the limitations on protection offered by condoms and other contraceptive methods.
  • End the censorship and discriminatory practices in sex education against at-risk populations.
  • Provide all youth, including gay teens, with skills to delay sex.
  • Share with teens the social science research of the advantages to waiting until marriage before engaging in sex.
Huber said parents can view a clear presentation of the survey’s results at www.whattheytoldus.org, where they can also sign an open letter to Congress urging changes in sex education.

“[V]irtually every priority in current sex education policy needs to be changed,” Huber said, “not just because parents support it, but because it’s in the best health interests of our young people.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – John Evans is a writer in Houston.)
10/19/2012 1:50:13 PM by John Evans, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



TobyMac, Lecrae break ground for Christian R&B

October 19 2012 by Aaron Earls, Baptist Press

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Christian hip hop artists TobyMac and Lecrae are turning heads in the music industry and seeking to parlay the success of their latest albums into impact on the culture at large.

TobyMac’s latest, “Eye On It,” became the first Christian album in 15 years, and only the third ever, to top the Billboard 200 chart of bestselling albums. It was No. 1 for the week of Sept. 15, and the album sold 69,000 copies in its opening week.

While the former member of the Christian rock group dcTalk was grabbing the top spot on Billboard, another artist, Lecrae, became the first Christian hip hop artist to secure the bestselling slot on iTunes’ Hip Hop/Rap and Top Album charts.

Lecrae’s “Gravity” actually held the top two spots on the hip hop charts as the deluxe version debuted at No. 1 and the regular version peaked at the second position.
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TobyMac


Lecrae’s opening week was even better than TobyMac’s in raw numbers. Gravity pulled in more than 72,000 sales, easily the biggest sales week ever for a Christian rap album.

Alvin Reid, professor of evangelism and student ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, doesn’t normally listen to rap but has become a fan of Lecrae because of the artist’s ability and desire to communicate Christ to the urban culture.

“When you listen to his lyrics,” Reid said, “you hear something you do not hear nearly enough in mainstream Christian radio – theology and conviction without apology about things like the exclusivity of the gospel, urgency to spread it and even theological concepts from ecclesiology to depravity.”

Lecrae (whose last name is Moore) earned two Dove Awards this year, one for rap/hip hop song of the year and another for rap/hip hop album of the year. Fifteen years ago, WORLD on Campus said, Lecrae was far more likely to earn prison sentences.

“Raised in south Houston by a single mom, [Lecrae] Moore never met his drug-addicted dad,” the collegiate-oriented website of WORLD magazine reported. “By 16 he was on drugs, in street fights, and on a gang list. His friends nicknamed him Crazy ‘Crae and his mom, despairing for her son, urged him to read the Bible – but he ripped out the pages and stomped them. Feeling empty, he turned to alcohol, sex, and dealing drugs.

“When Moore was 17 a police officer pulled him over and, while cuffing him for drug possession, spotted on the back seat a Bible that Moore’s grandma had given him. Moore, seeking a way out, promised to live by the Book,” WORLD recounted. After some struggling, his life turned around.

TobyMac, meanwhile, has been a regular on the Christian music scene since his days with dcTalk, selling 11 million albums and winning five Grammy awards.

This is not his first appearance on the Billboard 200. Eye On It is his ninth album on the chart and third in the top 10. As part of dcTalk, he had four more hit albums.
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Lecrae


Eye On It brings listeners a sense of the artist’s personal Christian life.

“We’re all struggling,” TobyMac said in a news release by True Artist Management. “We’re struggling to mend relationships, to love people well, and to love God. But the gift of walking this life of faith is that you can make it right each day. You can turn and start over, determined, with your eye on it.”

For Lecrae, Gravity is another part of his mission to bring the gospel to urban youth. The success of the album is a means to an end.

“It’s surreal,” he said in an interview with Rapzilla. “The mission is never to be ranked high for being ranked high’s sake.

“The mission is to garner attention, to fan flames so people can catch wind of a movement that exists beyond Lecrae and really begin to understand the truth that we are consistently and constantly rallying around,” Lecrae said.

For TobyMac, Eye On It, which features Lecrae on the track “Forgiveness,” is a labor of love that he hopes will bring enjoyment and inspiration to listeners. Overall, his desire is for his albums to “point people to something deeper, something more hopeful.”

Similarly, Lecrae, who was saved as a 19-year-old immersed in the hip hop culture of the inner city, is “passionate about transforming culture” with the message of Christ.

Influenced by the writings of Chuck Colson and Francis Schaeffer, Lecrae said, “I’m not afraid to step into culture. I’ve been doing that since I’ve been a Christian. It’s called being a missionary.”

For Lecrae, an Atlanta resident, that means producing quality music with a redeeming message. “As one who wants to impact culture and make good art, your craft has to be done well,” Lecrae said.

In order to proclaim his message to his intended audience, Lecrae realizes he first has to be there and be ministering in a culturally relevant manner.

“We have to show up,” Lecrae said, “and provide an alternative to the reality for them.”

TobyMac agrees that Christians must be operating in the culture in order to see Christ-centered change happen.

“Gospel or Christian artists are an important part of society, and our voice needs to be heard for all the right reasons,” TobyMac said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Earls is a writer in Wake Forest, N.C.)

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Flame’s hip hop strengthened by seminary
10/19/2012 1:38:08 PM by Aaron Earls, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Flame’s hip hop strengthened by seminary

October 19 2012 by Whitney Jones, Baptist Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Grammy, four-time Dove Award and two-time Stellar Award nominee, hip hop artist Flame credits his time at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with strengthening the theology in his chart-topping songs.

Flame – whose actual name is Marcus Gray – was introduced to Southern by happenstance when he and a friend took a road trip from St. Louis for a conference at the seminary in Louisville, Ky. That visit is where Flame met R. Albert Mohler Jr., Southern’s president, who made quite an impression on him.

"We really enjoyed the preliminary session and the breakout sessions, and Dr. Mohler just meshed well with the prospective students, the conference attendees," Flame said. "[We] got a chance to sit with him, and it was like, ‘Wow. This guy’s really intelligent.... He’s very witty, funny, but focused on Christ and centered around the cross and the gospel.’"

Little did Flame know that God would pull him back to the seminary.

His wife landed an internship in Louisville during a time when he was trying to further his education. Because his visit to Southern Seminary left such an impression, his wife looked online and suggested Southern’s undergraduate program at Boyce College. So Flame transferred from Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis and moved with his wife to Louisville.

Since graduating from Boyce, Flame has continued his studies at Southern Seminary in biblical counseling. But he has been doing much more than just hitting the books.

Earlier this year, Flame released his sixth rap album, aptly named "The 6th." In it he uses rap music, which usually is associated with sex, gangs and violence, to teach others about the gospel.
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Marcus Gray


"It’s my sixth album but it’s also a deeper meaning," he said. "Obviously God created both male and female on the sixth day.... I wanted to talk about us. It’s really an album focused on anthropology, the study of man, and thinking about our strengths, our weaknesses, our personalities, our flaws, our accomplishments, and ultimately pointing towards God’s original purpose for us."

The 6th debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s gospel albums chart in March, claimed the No. 2 spot on the Christian albums chart and was No. 8 on the Rap albums chart. It immediately shot to No. 1 on iTunes’ Hip-Hop chart.

Flame said his purpose for rapping also was something that drew him to Southern Seminary: showing the relevance of the Bible.

Although he had been using music to spread the gospel in prisons, juvenile detention centers and the streets of St. Louis before attending Boyce and Southern Seminary, Flame said his mentors in Louisville helped him better communicate the Word in his music.

"They’ve really helped me catapult the gospel message, but also in particular the way it fleshes out in rap music reaching the hip hop culture," he said. "So I would just say that they strengthened something that I was already developing for myself."

Flame acknowledged that rap music is not traditionally known for being Christian, but he said that because hip hop has roots in the Islamic faith some of his listeners are more open to listen about religion in general. Even so, apathy and a lack of commitment to any religion are obstacles he faces when trying to reach out to fans of rap.

He continues to try to break down barriers with his music, gain their respect and most importantly share with them the story of Jesus Christ.

"Our generation really values pleasure and fun and just kind of checking out and having a good time, and that makes it sometimes difficult to talk about weightier issues," he said. "But thank God we have the music that plays a role in making that connection with people."

Flame’s music did not always proclaim the gospel. As a teenager his material consisted of benign topics –- staying in school, hanging out with friends. But then he began to run with an older, tougher crowd.

"I was torn between trying to fit in, trying to be normal and do what was regular in my neighborhood and then at the same time having the conscience that said, ‘Hey, this is wrong. You shouldn’t do this. You shouldn’t taste this. You shouldn’t say this, shouldn’t feel this.’ But then I resisted God’s will." Flame said. "I fought Him, and He allowed me to get in a lot of trouble."

He even had to change schools at 16 and on the way home from his orientation, a terrible car accident involving an 18-wheeler and more than 10 cars changed his life. Shortly after the accident he asked his grandmother why this had happened, and she told him God was trying to get his attention. Just a few weeks later, she died and Flame was devastated.

After about a month of resistance, Flame finally went back to church where he better understood the gospel message.

"[God] understood where I was, but He was calling me to submit and just surrender to Him and have life and become a new creature, a new creation, and that message finally resonated with me and settled in my soul," he said. "And I remember just crying like a baby, asking God to forgive me for my sins, forgive me for my wrongs.

"He saved me. I was 16, and He took away most of my vices instantly. Like the major hang ups in my life, I completely lost the desire for them, and I just started going Jesus crazy after that."

Flame’s passion for Jesus has not fizzled since then. He continues to reach out not just in the United States but all around the world with his music and with an acting debut this year. Flame was part of the original play "From This Day Forward," which aired in May on GMC (formerly the Gospel Music Channel).

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Whitney Jones is a writer with Baptist Press.)


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TobyMac, Lecrae break ground for Christian R&B
10/19/2012 1:32:51 PM by Whitney Jones, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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