October 2018

Hurricane Michael: Baptists preparing response

October 12 2018 by Brandon Elrod, NAMB

Southern Baptists are poised to respond after Hurricane Michael made landfall with sustained wind speeds just two miles per hour short of a Category 5 storm Oct. 10.
 

Photo by KEN CLOUD, Special to the Christian Index
Many South Georgia Baptists are reeling Oct. 11 after Hurricane Michael tore through the Florida Panhandle and through the heart of Georgia Wednesday, the Christian Index reported.

The storm took a direct shot to the Florida Panhandle near Mexico Beach, Fla. And it was the third strongest in recorded United States history, the strongest to hit the Continental U.S. in 14 years and the strongest ever to hit the Panhandle. Panama City, Fla., Mexico Beach and several towns in between have been decimated as they endured the brunt of Michael’s punch. Linda Albrecht, a Mexico Beach Councilwoman, told CNN.com, “It feels like a nightmare.” More than 350,000 lost power in Florida.
 
Baptists have identified potential locations that will host feeding and recovery teams in Florida: Tallahassee, Lynn Haven, Perry, Crawfordville and Spring Hill.
 
“The damage in twelve county areas has been devastating,” said Delton Beall, state director of Florida Baptist Disaster Relief. “Bay County has received the brunt of it. We are planning and staging a response, but Florida is still in a search and rescue phase. We continue to ask for Southern Baptists’ prayers.”
 
Search and rescue teams are going door-to-door in the hardest hit counties, and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams will not be allowed in until that process is complete.
 
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) provides national coordination and assistance in larger, multi-state responses for SBDR. NAMB president Kevin Ezell encouraged Southern Baptists to pray and prepare to serve in whatever way they can.
 
“I have told our Baptist leaders in Florida and Georgia that NAMB is here to support them and provide whatever they need,” Ezell said. “Hurricane Michael became an historic storm almost overnight. The survivors will need every prayer, dollar and helping hand that we can send them. Southern Baptists, we have an opportunity to send help, healing and the hope of the gospel to people who have lost everything.”
 
After pulverizing Florida, Hurricane Michael continued across the Southeast at hurricane strength through the night Wednesday until it reached Browndale, Ga., covering roughly 230 miles from where the storm made landfall with gale-force winds and several inches of rain.
 
Marshall Shepherd, director of the University of Georgia’s atmospheric sciences program and former president of the American Meteorological Society, called Hurricane Michael “a life-altering, society-altering situation,” according to The Verge.
 
“Storms of this magnitude and impact, the name is typically retired,” he said. “And I fully expect this to be the case for Michael.”
 
In Alabama and Georgia, around 150,000 residents are without power. SBDR teams in those states have identified potential locations in Dothan, Ala.; Bainbridge, Ga.; Donalsonville, Ga.; and Albany, Ga.
 
American Red Cross has asked SBDR to prepare to serve up to 30,000 meals a day. SBDR teams reported more than 2,000 volunteers are ready to go and serve with recovery and feeding units. Sixteen SBDR kitchens from 11 different Baptist state disaster relief teams are available. Those kitchens have the capacity to serve more than 200,000 meals per day if needed.
 
South Carolina and North Carolina, still recovering from Hurricane Florence, will see Michael roll through as a tropical storm from Thursday to Friday.
 
“Southern Baptists will send several hundred volunteers to serve those who have been ravaged by Hurricane Michael,” said Sam Porter, national director for disaster relief with NAMB. “Hundreds of volunteers will continue to serve people in the Carolinas and across the nation who have been affected by disasters.”
 
Porter mentioned SBDR teams are still helping flood survivors from Texas to Pennsylvania. Volunteers have been providing clean up after tornadoes hit Oklahoma and clearing ash following wildfires in the West.
 
David Melber, the president of Send Relief, which is NAMB’s compassion ministry arm, thanked Southern Baptists for their persistent disaster relief service, and urged SBDR volunteers to make plans to serve in the coming weeks and months.
 
“Hurricane Michael caused so much damage that people will need storm recovery help for the foreseeable future,” Melber said. “If volunteers are unable to serve in the immediate aftermath, the people of Georgia and Florida will still need assistance several weeks from now. I encourage you to make plans to be there.”
 
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is among the three largest providers of disaster relief assistance in the United States. Southern Baptist churches, associations and state conventions all partner to mobilize volunteers, resources and equipment to provide services. The North American Mission Board provides national coordination and assistance in larger, multi-state responses.
 
Visit namb.net/hurricane-relief to find ways to help Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/12/2018 10:20:30 AM by Brandon Elrod, NAMB | with 0 comments



Q&A: Mohler reflects on 25 years at Southern Seminary

October 12 2018 by SBTS Communications

On the occasion of his 25th anniversary as Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (SBTS) president, R. Albert Mohler Jr. sat down for a wide-ranging conversation about cultural challenges, theological education, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and his tenure as the ninth president of the SBC’s oldest seminary.
 

SBTS Photo by Freddy Sinarahua
R. Albert Mohler Jr. responds to the appreciation expressed during a special chapel service celebrating his 25 years as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“When I came here as a student, I definitely came wanting to do a Ph.D. I wanted to be, and felt called to be, a theologian and a preacher of the Word,” Mohler said. “I wanted to be deeply involved in apologetics. And I assumed that would be in the pastorate. But I knew that it could have meant service in higher education, mostly in the theological academy.”
 
Sitting in his office on the second floor of the seminary’s historic Norton Hall, Mohler described how, when he began as a student at the seminary in 1980, he immediately began learning about the life of the school at every level. And this brought him a growing awareness of “the role of institutions in serving the church and in shaping the theological future.”
 
The years that followed – years during which Mohler graduated with both master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees – were pivotal for the Southern Baptist Convention but also for the wider evangelical world.
 
“I cannot separate myself from the context,” he said. “It’s in the context of the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s in the context of big definitional moments within evangelicalism. I think this is a basic principle of God’s call: God’s will is also revealed in specific moments and urgent needs.”
 
Q: You said you came increasingly to appreciate the role of institutions in the life of the convention. Can you amplify that?
 
A: I think many people alive today, and in particular younger people, fail to understand the important role played by institutions. One of the greatest roles of institutions is to accomplish the transfer of stewardship and conviction and mission from one generation to the next.
 
The history of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the history of Christianity, points to the endurance of such institutions. For example, Clark Kerr, who was chancellor of the University of California system, pointed out over a generation ago that if you were to go back to the 11th century, there are only three kinds of institutions that have existed from that period to now: the Catholic Church, the British Parliament and a handful of universities. If you look at the Southern Baptist Convention, you really can’t explain many of our churches without the support of institutions that have trained the pastors and provided much of the content of those ministries – and helped churches together both internally and in cooperation through almost 175 years.
 
Q: What does that relationship look like, between an institution like Southern Seminary and a local church?
 
A: We exist for the churches. Churches have turned to us for ministers. They’ve turned to us for theological assistance. They continue to turn to us for a deeper understanding of their own stewardship. Jesus Christ established the church, and as Baptists, we mean most importantly the local church. It’s to the church Christ promised, “Upon this rock I’ll build my church and the gates of hell shall prevail against it.
 
It is really clear that if you look at the history of Christianity, you can’t tell that story without the important role played by institutions – which by the way can be a role for good or for ill, for health or unhealth, which raises the stakes and makes this kind of stewardship all the more important.
 
Q: Your presidency roughly coincides with the internet boom, which represents only one of several seismic societal changes. Can you talk about some of those big changes that unfolded during the past 25 years?
 
A: The changes are very fundamental and you can see this wherever you look. If you look at the Fortune 500, there are names there that didn’t exist 25 years ago. The driving economic energy in this country is no longer automobile makers but high technology. We talk about life today, and that high-tech revolution is now taken for granted.
 
Southern Seminary may have had – at least we’ve been told – the very first website for a theological seminary. When a technology like that arrives, it means you’re in one of those few generations, like the Gutenberg generation, that sees the world change before its eyes. We’ve sought to use that kind of technology in the extension of our mission. The internet, for example, is so much a part of what we do now that we can’t imagine life without it.
 
Gains and losses, dangers and opportunities all are a part of this.
 
The global world has changed. When I arrived in 1993, it was in the glow of believing that democracy was in worldwide advance – the Soviet Union had broken apart, and we were entering a new age of peace and prosperity. American global leadership appeared unassailable. In higher education, there was a sense that we were experiencing the golden moment. Rising prosperity meant that almost anyone in America had access to some level of college education. Just about everywhere you looked, colleges and universities were building buildings, adding faculty and expanding programs. It’s a different world today.
 
When I came here as president in 1993, we were still in the age of the megachurch as the dominant model of aspiration and influence in American evangelicalism. Of course, many of those churches continue to have that influence. But the world has changed. The megachurch was particularly situated at a missiological moment for a culture that was in many ways at peak Christianity, peak church attendance and peak evangelical interest. But we’re in a situation now where the gospel-believing, Bible-preaching churches are on the other side of whiplash in the culture.
 
So you put all that together, and you look at the incredible changes generation by generation in expectations and identity, it is as if 25 years later we are in a fundamentally different world.
 
Q: What have these changes meant for Southern Seminary?
 
A: What has surprised me is that my job continually seems to get harder. Our mission as a seminary is more complex and more difficult to accomplish. I think it’s likely to get more that way with every passing year. This seminary and its denomination really came of age in the great day of denominational expansion. This is not that same age.
 
The denomination whose name we proudly bear has undergone, and is still undergoing, its own crisis of identity and generational change.
 
I am convinced that in God’s providence, one of the reasons why Southern Seminary is so strong in the present is because, just as all of these things were happening, we had to go through a great theological crisis that served to remind us why we exist and to clarify our convictions at just the right time. So while everyone else is having identity crises, that’s the one crisis we won’t have. Our identity and conviction questions, our mission as an institution – all that is settled. That’s given us enormous strength going into this challenging age.
 
Q: You’re a public leader; you speak and write and podcast. Before that, you hosted a national radio program. Where does that form of leadership come from?
 
A: On one level, I cannot not do this. I do this when I’m on vacation. I do this wherever I’m traveling in the world. I was doing this in high school and college, and as editor of The Christian Index. I’m seeking to define, to teach and to defend the inerrancy of scripture, the exclusivity of the gospel, the nature of confessional Christianity, and the truthfulness and the comprehensiveness of the Christian truth claim, applied to every dimension of life. That’s what I was doing. And when the trustees at Southern Seminary interviewed me, I remember one of the most gratifying aspects was when they said, “Don’t stop doing that.” And with every technological mechanism, I’ve tried to do that.
 
On another level, I had a rare opportunity when I was a young man to be invited by some of the most powerful conservative institutions in the United States into leadership development programs that allowed me to see firsthand what Peter Drucker defined as a massive, constant, multiphasic communication culture. The world is dotted with schools and seminaries and universities and institutions and institutes, and the school with the best argument wins. And that school has to make that argument loudly, constantly, multiphasically in every way possible.
 
The same thing was true in his own day for [Southern Seminary’s fourth president] E.Y. Mullins. James P. Boyce in his own day, too, but particularly E.Y. Mullins. And I think public argument is an essential part of the leadership and historic role of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: The presidents of this institution have often fulfilled, in their own generation, that kind of role. And when I understood the responsibility I was asked to take on, I was determined to try to represent, to the best of my ability, the very best of that tradition at Southern Seminary.
 
Q: In terms of theological education, what do you see coming? What might the future look like?
 
A: Wherever you find Christ’s church growing and thriving, you’re going to find the need for people to have more ministers, you’re going to find the need for more churches. A big challenge for us is that higher education has become so much more expensive. We’re in a culture that’s in open opposition to what we believe and what we teach. We’re in a day of declining institutional commitment on the part of many Christians. And we’re in a time of denominational transition. All that goes together to mean that our job is a lot more complicated than it was 25 years ago.
 
The great news is I don’t have to wake up in the morning and try to figure out what Southern Seminary’s mission is. The big story is continuity.
 
Q: Can you amplify what you mean by “denominational transition”?
 
A: We’re undergoing the greatest period of transition in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. That’s quantifiable and real. There are big questions about who will lead where, what the future’s going to look like, what kind of character the Southern Baptist Convention is going to have, and how we are going to define our cooperative work together. There’s no way around those questions. There’s no minimizing how difficult some of these questions are going to be.
 
We should be thankful to be part of a denomination that’s still alive and kicking and convictional enough to ask and deal with these questions. We also can’t abstract that from the fact that the entire nation is in a very difficult and complicated identity moment. Both major political parties are trying to figure out who they are and in either case are markedly different than they were just five to 10 years ago.
 
I’m thankful we’re not in that kind of moment. Southern Baptists have regained a great opportunity and stewardship for the future. Our core theological convictions are settled. But what we’re also discovering is that beyond those core theological convictions, there are some questions that have to be answered.
 
Q: You said recently that, amid all these cultural challenges and transitions, you want the seminary to be characterized not by outrage, but by a confidence. What does that look like?
 
A: I hope to lead as president in a way that helps the Christians and the churches around us more joyously and confidently address real challenges to the gospel, to build Christianity to moral faithfulness. I hope that we operate without fear of confronting the enemy but also that we avoid making constant warfare our own aim. That means we operate with a minimum degree of outrage and a maximum degree of faithfulness.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/12/2018 10:20:14 AM by SBTS Communications | with 0 comments



ERLC conference focuses on ‘cross-shaped family’

October 12 2018 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The gospel’s centrality for the family was in the spotlight as the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) opened its fifth annual national conference Oct. 11.
 

ERLC photo

About 950 people are expected to gather for “The Cross-Shaped Family” Oct. 11-13 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. The conference is designed to help pastors, churches, spouses and parents think biblically about the family and the challenges to being a Christian family.
 
An understanding of the family begins “at the cross,” said Russell Moore, ERLC president and author of the new book The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home.
 
“We can be free to be family when we see how God designed families but also how these families point beyond our individual stories to the ultimate story of our lives – the gospel,” Moore said in an ERLC news release.
 
Moore hopes the conference will enable “Christians and churches to better understand how the cross informs what it means for us to be a family, and how our lives in our families are meant to drive us back to the cross,” he said.
 
Among the topics of the conference’s keynote addresses, short talks, panel discussions and breakout sessions will be: The gospel and marriage; Christ-centered parenting; God’s design for sex; sexual abuse; the gospel and broken families; godly leadership in the home; adoption; and the church as the family of God.
 
In addition to Moore, the speakers include:
 
– Ray Ortlund, lead pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville;
 
– Eric Mason, pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, Pa.;
 
– Beth Moore, Bible teacher and author;
 
– Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church in Dallas-Forth Worth;
 
– Jen Wilkin, Bible teacher and author;
 
– Sam Allberry, British pastor and speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
 
The sessions on the main stage will be live streamed for free at live.erlc.com.
 
The first ERLC National Conference, which was held in 2014, focused on applying the gospel to homosexuality and marriage, while the 2015 conference addressed the gospel and politics. The 2016 event addressed cultural engagement and gospel faithfulness. Last year, the conference was on gospel-centered parenting.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/12/2018 10:19:57 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



NOBTS trustee chairman appoints search committee

October 12 2018 by Gary D. Myers, NOBTS

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) trustee chairman Frank Cox announced the names for the 11-member presidential search committee Oct. 11 and called on Southern Baptists to pray through the search process.
 
“We ask that Southern Baptists pray for us as we seek God’s man to lead New Orleans Seminary into the next century of ministry here in New Orleans and surrounding regions,” Cox said.
 
The NOBTS bylaws call for the trustee chairman to appoint a committee with 11 voting members – including the board chairman, the immediate past chairman, one faculty member, one student and seven other board members.
 
The president search committee is as follows:
 
– Bryant Barnes, trustee; pastor, First Baptist Church, Columbia, Miss.;
 
– Jack Bell, trustee; pastor, First Baptist Church, Hornbeck, La.;
 
– Frank Cox, trustee chairman; pastor, North Metro Baptist Church, Lawrenceville, Ga.;
 
– John Foster, trustee; retired educator, New Orleans;
 
– David Leavell, trustee; pastor, First Baptist Church, Millington, Tenn.;
 
– Jackie Myers, trustee; education specialist, Sicily Island, La.;
 
– Gary Shows, trustee; pastor, Temple Baptist Church, Hattiesburg, Miss.;
 
– David Um, trustee; pastor, Antioch Baptist Church, Cambridge, Mass.;
 
– Dan Wilson, immediate past trustee chairman; professor of biblical studies, California Baptist University;
 
– Bo Rice, faculty representative; assistant professor of evangelism and preaching and dean of graduate studies at NOBTS; and
 
– Michael Wang, student representative; doctor of philosophy student at NOBTS.
 
“I have deliberately chosen a cross section from our board of trustees, seminary faculty and student body which represents our diversity in our ethnicity as well as demographically,” Cox said. “Each one chosen brings a wealth of experience that will strengthen the process.”
 
The NOBTS board of trustees approved a bylaw amendment at their Oct. 3 meeting that added two trustee alternates. The alternates will attend all the meetings but will not have a vote unless another search committee member withdraws from the committee. If a search committee member withdraws, Cox will appoint one of the alternates to serve as a voting member. The two alternates are Tony Lambert, pastor of Riverside Church in Denver, Colo., and Waylon Bailey, pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington, La.
 
The search committee will begin formal meetings in November. After the initial meeting, the committee will release a list of qualifications for the type of leader they are seeking and will establish an avenue by which Southern Baptists can recommend qualified individuals for consideration, Cox said.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Gary D. Myers is director of public relations for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/12/2018 10:19:34 AM by Gary D. Myers, NOBTS | with 0 comments



Gateway sees 8.2% growth, remembers key vote

October 12 2018 by Kathie Chute, Gateway Seminary

Enrollment increased 8.2 percent during the fall 2018 semester at Gateway Seminary’s new Southern California campus over the combined fall 2017 enrollment that included its former campus in Brea.
 

Gateway Seminary photo

Gateway President Jeff Iorg relayed the enrollment news to trustees during their Oct. 8-9 meeting in Portland, Ore.
 
The Brea location closed in July 2018, and its academic operations were moved to the new main campus in Ontario, Calif., about 24 miles from Brea.
 
“The consolidation of our programs in Southern California is now complete. We are delighted these changes have resulted in solid growth in our work in this region,” Iorg said.
 
The growth has had a positive impact on seminary finances, Iorg told trustees.
 
“For the first time since the seminary’s relocation, tuition revenue has exceeded budget projections,” Iorg said. The current budget is the first since the seminary’s move to not include any special revenue allocations or expense line items for transition.
 

‘Intentional’ training

 
Iorg described to trustees a “timely and intentional, not reactionary” response to training students and employees related to preventing sexual abuse and harassment.
 
“Gateway adopted a strategy more than a year ago to address these issues,” he said. “The seminary has implemented a three-pronged approach: a major conference in September 2018; training targeted for seminary employees; and curriculum changes mandating training for all students.”
 

Endowment, strategic planning

 
Trustees reviewed investment results and celebrated endowment growth resulting from the seminary’s land sale.
 
“We are grateful we have finished the transition and preserved significant resources to help ensure future success,” Iorg said. The Brea location is now under contract for sale. Proceeds from that sale will also be added to the seminary’s endowment.
 
The board also participated in a two-hour strategic planning workshop involving a preliminary report from the seminary’s strategic planning task force. The board spent time in prayer for the seminary’s future and for the five SBC entities currently searching for new presidents.
 

Historic vote remembered

 
Trustees also commemorated their historic vote five years ago to sell the seminary’s former campus in Mill Valley, Calif., and move to Southern California in addition to changing the name from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.
 
Ten trustees remain on the board from that meeting in Portland, Ore., including Milton Higgins who made the motion to sell the property. Higgins, president emeritus of the Baptist Foundation of California, was a student in the first class on the Mill Valley campus.
 
“It was the right decision at the right time,” Higgins told fellow trustees. “It was an honor to make the motion and now celebrate all God has done as a result of that board decision.”
 
“It’s the first time we have returned to Portland since that historic meeting,” Iorg said. “At that meeting, the board voted unanimously by secret ballot on the various recommendations necessary to complete the sale and rebranding. It was a sobering moment of unity and foresight by our board.”
 
Iorg recalled Steve Sheldon, then-chairman of the board, telling him, “There’s one more thing I want to say to you. This is [the board’s] decision and we will not waver. It will be you who takes the heat, but we will not waver in our support. We will stand with you no matter what.”
 
Trustee Keith Goeking of Missouri said the idea had been discussed in the two years between the time he joined the board in the fall of 2011 until the vote in the fall of 2013.
 
“The seminary’s mission is to shape leaders who advance God’s Kingdom around the world, not land development, so the decision was clear. After Dr. Iorg gave his presentation, he left the room,” Goeking recounted.
 
“Milton Higgins made the motion. Somebody seconded the motion. Nobody said anything for a moment. We prayed and then we voted – and the vote was unanimous. How often does that happen in Baptist life? The unity is what got me, and I still get chills when I think of a diverse group coming together and coming to the same conclusion.”
 
Gayle Fee of Nevada said the Portland meeting was her first as a trustee.
 
“I had fallen in love with the Mill Valley campus. It was so beautiful, so special,” Fee said. “But more than the campus, I fell in love with the seminary’s mission. To fulfill the mission, we had to forsake the campus. We were all united in the mission, and that’s what it came down to. We were focused on what God called us to do.”
 
Trustee Terry Turner of Texas said the decision was difficult because he lived in “concrete Dallas and it was such a blessing to be able to come to a beautiful campus that seemed like the Garden of Eden. For a little while, I actually fought the idea because you can’t pay for that kind of beauty. The thing that stood out the most was how prepped we were before the meeting. We spent time in prayer, and by the time we finished the decision was plain.”
 
Dale Griffin of Oklahoma just remembers the weight of the decision.
 
“The spirit of the Lord was moving in our hearts. We knew that if anyone in the convention had the information that we had, they would have made the same decision,” Griffin said.
 
Ralph Duke of Virginia described the 2013 vote as a miracle: “It had to be a God thing. I tell the Gateway story wherever I go, that God is still a miracle worker.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kathie Chute is director of communications for Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/12/2018 10:19:17 AM by Kathie Chute, Gateway Seminary | with 0 comments



Pastors weigh in on Trump’s job performance

October 12 2018 by Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends

A slim majority of pastors say they approve of the job President Donald Trump has done in the White House, according to a new study, but many are unsure.
 

Liberty University photo
President Donald Trump addresses the Class of 2017 at Liberty University's commencement.

A LifeWay Research study of Protestant senior pastors found 51 percent approve of how President Trump has handled the job, with 25 percent strongly approving. The study was conducted Aug. 29-Sept. 11.
 
“After almost two years of actions and statements from the White House, most pastors likely consider some positive and others negative,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.
 
“When asked to evaluate the president’s job performance with no neutral option, most pastors approve.”
 
Still, nearly 3 in 10 (28 percent) disapprove and another 20 percent say they aren’t sure.
 
Pastors were specifically prompted to evaluate the president’s job performance, McConnell said. There is no lack of data on President Trump, but many were still hesitant to give an opinion.
 
“Compared to the middle of President Obama’s first term, we see twice as many pastors say they’re undecided on President Trump’s job performance,” McConnell said.
 
In the lead-up to the 2010 midterm elections, a LifeWay Research survey found 30 percent of Protestant pastors approved of President Obama’s job performance. More than 6 in 10 (61 percent) disapproved and only 9 percent said they were not sure.
 
“There is no lack of information on what President Trump is doing or how he is doing it,” said McConnell, “so the undecided posture appears to be an unwillingness to identify with either of the political sides that have emerged in American politics.”
 
The hesitancy of pastors to take sides where Donald Trump is concerned stretches back to the presidential election.
 
Despite 52 percent of Protestant pastors identifying as a Republican and only 18 percent calling themselves a Democrat in the LifeWay Research survey prior to the November 2016 election, only 32 percent said they planned to vote for Trump. A full 40 percent said they were undecided, with 19 percent planning to vote for Hillary Clinton.
 

Politically divided pastors

 
Pastors’ opinions on President Trump’s performance highlight divisions among the group, which often fall along political lines.
 
African-American pastors are the least likely to approve of the president’s handling of the job. Only 4 percent approve of his performance, while 85 percent disapprove.
 

LifeWayResearch.com graphic

 

Outside of African-Americans, pastors are much more split. Slightly more than half of white pastors (54 percent) approve, along with slightly less than half of pastors of other ethnicities (47 percent).
 
“In 2016, only 6 percent of African-American pastors identified as Republican,” said McConnell, “and nothing in President Trump’s first two years has generated approval from African-American pastors beyond that level.”
 
Younger pastors are the least likely age group to approve of the president’s performance. Four in 10 (41 percent) of those 18 to 44 say he’s done a good job, while 56 percent of those 45 and older support President Trump’s job performance.
 
Those young pastors are also more likely to say they’re not sure about the president. A quarter are unsure, compared with 18 percent of pastors 55 to 64 and 16 percent of pastors 65 and older.
 
In 2016, pastors 18 to 44 were the least likely to identify with a political party and least likely to support Donald Trump as a candidate, McConnell said.
 
“They are less tied to traditional political identities and remain slow to express approval of President Trump.”
 
Pastors’ responses are also split across denominations. Pentecostals (86 percent) and Baptists (68 percent) are most likely to approve of the president’s performance.
 
Church of Christ pastors (55 percent) and Lutherans (41 percent) are more split, while few Presbyterian/Reformed (28 percent) and Methodists (25 percent) say they support the job President Trump has done.
 
Even in these denominational divides, the views of the president’s performance largely follow political leanings, McConnell noted.
 
In 2016, pastors in Pentecostal (76 percent) and Baptist (67 percent) churches were most likely to be Republicans. Pastors in Presbyterian/Reformed (29 percent) and Methodist (25 percent) churches were least likely to say they’re part of the GOP.
 
Other findings in 2018 include:
 
– Pastors of churches with less than 50 in attendance are the least likely to approve of President Trump’s job performance (42 percent).
 
– Pastors in the South (55 percent) and West (57 percent) are more likely to approve than those in the Northeast (40 percent).
 
– Male pastors (56 percent) are more likely to approve than female pastors (30 percent).
 
– Pastors with no college degree (71 percent) or a bachelor’s degree (67 percent) are more likely to approve than those with a master’s degree (41 percent) or a doctoral degree (52 percent).
 
– Self-identified evangelical pastors (63 percent) are more likely to approve than self-identified mainline pastors (41 percent).
 
“With the majority of Protestant pastors identifying as Republican, it is not surprising that a majority approve of President Trump in his first term,” McConnell said.
 
“Clearly, pastors’ political views factor in how they evaluate the president’s leadership and accomplishments in the first half of his term.”
 
For more information on this study, visit LifeWayResearch.com or view the complete survey report PDF.
 
LifeWay Research is a Nashville-based, evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect churches.
 

Methodology

 
The phone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors was conducted Aug. 29-Sept. 11, 2018. The calling list was a stratified random sample, drawn from a list of all Protestant churches. Quotas were used for church size. Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.2 percent. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.
 
Comparisons are made to phone surveys of 1,000 Protestant pastors conducted by LifeWay Research Aug. 22-Sept. 16, 2016 and Oct. 7-14, 2010 using the same methodology.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Earls is online editor of Facts & Trends and a writer for LifeWay Christian resources. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/12/2018 10:19:00 AM by Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends | with 0 comments



Mohler’s 25 years at Southern Seminary celebrated

October 11 2018 by SBTS Communications

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustees presented a resolution of appreciation to R. Albert Mohler Jr. to celebrate his 25th anniversary as president of the institution during a special chapel service Oct. 9.
 

Photo by Emil Handke
R. Albert Mohler Jr., as president of Southern Seminary for 25 years, appreciated by trustees for “unyielding commitment to God’s Word … zeal for the Great Commission … visionary and effective leadership.”

A sermon by Atlanta-area pastor James Merritt and reflections from Mohler, who became the seminary’s president in 1993, also were part of the celebration at the Louisville, Ky., campus.
 
Trustee vice chairman and North Carolina pastor Clint Pressley presented the resolution, reading the text to a filled-to-capacity Alumni Memorial Chapel. Mohler received the framed document alongside his wife Mary.
 
The resolution notes key milestones and qualities of Mohler’s presidency and concludes with these words: “Now Therefore Be It Resolved that the Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary express their appreciation to R. Albert Mohler Jr. for his unyielding commitment to God’s Word, his zeal for the Great Commission, and his twenty-five years of visionary and effective leadership of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.”
 
The full text of the resolution is included below.
 
Merritt, lead pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., preached from Nehemiah 6 recounting Nehemiah’s rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem after they had fallen into disrepair.
 
Merritt drew parallels from Nehemiah’s ministry to Mohler’s tenure as Southern Seminary’s president – specifically to his task in his earliest years of returning the seminary to the doctrinal fidelity established by its founders.
 

SBTS Photo by Freddy Sinarahua
R. Albert Mohler Jr. and his wife Mary receive a resolution of appreciation during an Oct. 9 special chapel service in recognition of his 25-year tenure as president of Southern Seminary.

Mohler became president amid theological controversy at the seminary over the inerrancy of the Bible. He was elected by the trustees to realign the Southern Baptist school with the confessional identity of its founders and the beliefs of Southern Baptists.
 
Merritt made three observations about leadership from the passage: Leaders must (1) hold strong convictions; (2) handle sinister criticism; and (3) have steadfast courage. For each, Merritt told stories from Mohler’s presidency that demonstrated how he exemplified those qualities.
 
“It took guts to rebuild the walls of a city at the threat of your life,” Merritt said. “It takes guts to rebuild the theological walls of a seminary when you are literally one David standing against the Goliaths of the media and the faculty and the student body and the community and public opinion.
 
“But one of the marks of a great leader is, when the battle is raging at its fiercest, great leaders don’t look for a place to run. Great leaders look for a place to stand.”
 
The goal of leadership, Merritt said, is not worldly success, but faithfulness to God’s call. He concluded his sermon with this encouragement to Mohler:
 
“Dr. Mohler, the God that conceived you, the God that created you, the God that converted you, and the God who called you to this great work will one day – without question or doubt – say to you, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ And when He does, I will be on the front row saying, ‘Amen.’”
 

‘Faithful Southern Baptists’

 
Following Merritt’s sermon, Mohler expressed his gratitude that, like Nehemiah and the wall of Jerusalem, he did not build the seminary but, rather, helped repair the work already done by faithful Southern Baptists before him.
 
“I’m so thankful that we didn’t have to go back and start on uncultivated land and with not one stone upon a stone – we could rebuild a wall that faithful Southern Baptists had built for so many generations,” Mohler said. “The wall did need to be rebuilt. It was, like Jerusalem, not what it had been. Its defenses were down and there was rubble that was an insult to the glory of God. But I want to say with humility: it was not our charge to build a wall that had never existed but to rather rebuild a wall.”
 
Mohler also thanked those who played significant roles in his work as president during the past 25 years. He specifically honored his wife Mary and former senior vice presidents David S. Dockery, Danny Akin and Russell Moore.
 
Video of the chapel service will be available at equip.sbts.edu. The seminary’s faculty also adopted a resolution in Mohler’s honor during an Oct. 8 anniversary banquet.
 

Text of trustee resolution

 
Full text of the resolution adopted by the Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:
 
Whereas, R. Albert Mohler Jr. was elected as the ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on March 26, 1993, and inaugurated on October 15, 1993; and
 
Whereas, Dr. Mohler has restored Southern Seminary to the Founders’ commitment of a confessional institution committed to scriptural fidelity, adherence to the Abstract of Principles, and steadfast allegiance to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and its confession of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message; and
 
Whereas, under Dr. Mohler’s leadership Southern Seminary, with over 5,500 students enrolled, now has the largest enrollment of all Association of Theological Schools’ accredited seminaries; and
 
Whereas, there are presently more students training for pastoral ministry at Southern Seminary than has been documented at any one time, in any one place in the history of the Christian church; and
 
Whereas, during Dr. Mohler’s twenty-five-year tenure as president of Southern Seminary, degrees have been conferred to over 11,000 students – pastors, missionaries, and gospel leaders serving churches throughout the United States and taking the gospel to the unreached on every inhabited continent; and
 
Whereas, under Dr. Mohler’s leadership, Southern Seminary is financially sound because of a three-hundred-percent growth in budget, a forty-million-dollar increase in endowment funds, and a renovation of its campus facilities that contributes to the highest quality residential experience; and
 
Whereas, in an age when many seminaries are being forced to close, Southern Seminary continues to thrive because Dr. Mohler has demonstrated innovative leadership as Southern Seminary has embraced new delivery methods of online learning while maintaining the residential experience as the gold standard for theological education; and
 
Whereas, Dr. Mohler has been an exemplary ambassador for Southern Seminary in the public square as he has modeled faithful cultural engagement from a biblical worldview through published works, mainstream media appearances, conferences, lectures, and his own digital platforms; and
 
Whereas, Mary Mohler, Dr. Mohler’s wife and ministry partner since 1983, has made an incalculable investment in Southern Seminary through her founding in 1997 of the Seminary Wives Institute, training over 2,500 wives of students to better equip them for their unique roles as ministry partners to their husbands; and
 
Whereas, the Mohlers have raised two children, Katie and Christopher, on Southern Seminary’s campus; Katie is now the faithful wife to Riley and loving mother to Benjamin Miller and Henry Albert; and Christopher, in May of 2015, graduated from Boyce College, becoming the first child of a seminary president to graduate from the school; and
 
Whereas, Dr. Mohler continues to lead Southern Seminary and Boyce College as the premier institution for the training of pastors, missionaries, and church leaders; equip Christians around the world to think through theological and cultural issues from a biblical worldview; and be a trusted voice for evangelicals in the public square.
 
Now Therefore Be It Resolved that the Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary express their appreciation to R. Albert Mohler Jr. for his unyielding commitment to God’s Word, his zeal for the Great Commission, and his twenty-five years of visionary and effective leadership of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by the communications staff of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.

10/11/2018 11:50:54 AM by SBTS Communications | with 0 comments



David Platt: ‘Church leaders, what is success?’

October 11 2018 by Marilyn Stewart, NOBTS

David Platt posed a question he called “critical” for church leaders to answer in a Founders’ Day chapel message at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS).
 

NOBTS photo by Chandler McCall
Faithfulness to God is the key to success, David Platt says in concluding New Orleans Seminary’s yearlong centennial celebration.

“What is success for you?” Platt asked. “How do you define success in your role as a leader in the church?”
 
Platt, former president of the SBC International Mission Board who has moved to a northern Virginia pastorate, spoke at a special evening service marking the conclusion of the New Orleans Seminary’s yearlong centennial celebration. The service followed NOBTS President Chuck Kelley’s announcement that morning of his retirement at the end of the academic year, July 31, 2019.
 
Kelley first delivered his news to the board of trustees as they met for their annual fall meeting on campus. During the 11 a.m. Founders’ Day chapel service, he made the announcement public.
 
Platt, an NOBTS alumnus and former faculty member, began the evening message by saying he sensed God’s urging to change directions with his sermon after hearing of Kelley’s announcement.
 
Turning to Kelley, Platt said, “I stand in a long line of men and women who are indebted to God’s grace in your life. Thousands of men and women who have walked the halls of this seminary have been shaped by your life and leadership, by your love for God, your love for His church, your love for this city and your love for the lost.”
 
At the end, Platt tied the impact of Kelley’s ministry to the question he posed at the start. Noting that the chapel audience was filled with church leaders, he drew from 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 to underscore the importance of defining success correctly.
 
Pointing to the text, Platt stated that church leaders are “servants of Christ” and “stewards of the gospel,” and he asked what success meant in light of those tasks.
 
“Is success seeing a certain number of people come to Christ? Is it a certain number of baptisms? Is it a certain number of disciples made?” Platt asked, listing other possible indicators of success as church growth, reaching an unreached people group or church multiplication. 
 
“I propose to you tonight that success is none of the above,” Platt said. “God requires one thing of you … that you be found faithful. That’s it. Faithfulness.”
 
Platt pointed out that the biblical text says nothing about the leader being “clever, creative, innovative, strategic, brilliant, slick or strong.” He then added, “not even fruitful.”
 
Because fruitfulness is not the requirement the apostle Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 4:2, indicators such as church growth, baptisms or reaching the lost cannot define success, Platt said.
 
“One requirement is given,” Platt reiterated. “Faithfulness.”
 

Threats to faithfulness

 
Reminding the audience that an “adversary is at work” to hinder believers, Platt outlined several threats to faithfulness that Paul addresses.
 
– Underestimating the power of God and overestimating the power of man hinders a believer’s faithfulness, Platt said.
 
“We too often speak in dismal terms about how hard it is to reach this or that kind of person in our culture today or in cultures around the world,” Platt said. “We will not be faithful church leaders if we talk more about how hard the ground is than we talk about how great our God is. We must not underestimate the power of God.”
 
Platt pointed to Isaiah 6 where God warned the prophet that no one would listen and reminded the chapel audience that “no amount of action on Isaiah’s part would change that, which is why we don’t judge success by fruitfulness.”
 
– When God’s holiness is trivialized and when man’s praise is sought after, success is hindered, Platt said. “We are guilty of taking sin so lightly and in the process treating God’s holiness so carelessly,” he said.
 
Pointing to himself, Platt said that being “consumed” by what others think is easy to do in leadership. “Faithfulness means anchoring our confidence, anchoring our hearts completely in the Christ-bought, ultimate approval and unqualified acceptance of God Himself,” he said.
 
– Holding too loosely to God’s truth and holding too tightly to our lives also can interfere with a believer’s faithfulness, Platt said. He told of an NOBTS alum who, with his wife and children, served an unreached nomadic people in Africa. The man returned home for a crash course in dentistry in order to make an opportunity for the gospel. When forced out of the country, the family moved to a war-torn region. Today, the couple ministers to refugees in the “hottest, remotest, hardest and poorest” of places where “they’ve seen such horrors,” Platt said.
 
Platt warned against giving in to the “tantalizing temptation to twist God’s Word in an attempt to make our sermons more palatable and our strategies more successful – we must not do it.”
 
In conclusion, Platt thanked Kelley for modeling a biblical understanding of success and thanked him for his faithfulness in loving the church, the lost and in faithfully leading the seminary.
 
“Success is holding loosely to our lives in this world, spending it however God wants to spend it for the spread of His gospel and the glory of His name, no matter what that costs us,” Platt said.
 
One day all will stand before God and give account not only of their lives, but of their leadership in the church, he reminded.
 
“So, on that day, what do you want to hear?” Platt asked. “Not well-done good and clever servant; not well-done good and popular servant; not well-done good and prestigious servant. May God say to you and me on that day well-done good and faithful servant.”
 
Videos of Platt’s sermon and Kelley’s “Walk through the Presidents” presentation on Oct. 2 are available in the archives section of nobts.edu/chapel.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marilyn Stewart is assistant director of public relations at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/11/2018 11:50:31 AM by Marilyn Stewart, NOBTS | with 0 comments



In NYC, trustees deepen their church planting vision

October 11 2018 by Brandon Elrod, NAMB

As the No. 7 New York City subway line rises from underground in Queens, N.Y., passengers then find themselves riding above one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the world.
 

NAMB photo by Hayley Catt
Church planting missionary Joseph Biswas shares his vision for growing his Bengali-speaking church in Queens, N.Y., with a group of North American Mission Board trustees and staff. An estimated 800 languages are spoken in the borough.

In the school system alone, 176 languages are spoken among an estimated 800 languages spoken in Queens.
 
A group of North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustees and staff exited the subway to meet church planting missionaries Adam Bishop, Silvanus Bhandari and Joseph Biswas on the aptly-named Diversity Plaza in the Queens neighborhood of Jackson Heights.
 
That part of the city recently received a facelift, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Queens the city’s “most diverse borough” when he attended the plaza’s groundbreaking in 2017.
 
Walking around the neighborhood with the church planting missionaries Oct. 2, trustees gained a better vision for their mission.
 
“To be able to see the diversity,” said Stephen Spurgin, retired pastor of First Baptist Church in Miamisburg, Ohio, “reading about it is one thing, but seeing it, experiencing it, is another. It will help me to pray more efficiently – more fervently – for their needs and what they’re dealing with.”
 
Bishop and his wife Erin grew up in the United States and answered the call to go to the nations by ministering in New York City.
 
“Our church is Jackson Heights Community church,” Bishop shared with the trustees. “I’ve been here almost four years. Me and three other guys planted the church.” They currently meet in a Pakistani-owned Muslim restaurant where the group shared a traditional meal.
 
“They’re very open to our church being here,” Bishop said. “They’re very supportive of us. The owners are devout Muslims, but they love that we love our community.”
 

Seeking South Asians

 
Bhandari is from Nepal and Biswas from Bangladesh. Both felt called to Queens to reach South Asians who had immigrated to the city.
 
“My wife [Elano] and I came to New York about three and a half years ago,” Bhandari said. “God called me and my wife to come to New York to reach our Nepali-speaking Hindu and Buddhist people.... Nepal is a small country, but a lot of people, 70,000 Nepali-speaking people, live in metro New York,” with a dense population in Queens.
 

NAMB photo by Hayley Catt
A group of North American Mission Board trustees and staff visit the New York City borough of Queens to get a feel for the neighborhood where several church planting missionaries live and minister an array of cultures that have converged in its neighborhoods.

Global Mission Nepali Church, which Bhandari began in 2016, has seen several people come to faith in Christ, with around 30 people now attending worship – many from a Hindu or Buddhist background.
 
When Bhandari and his wife came to New York as new immigrants, they had zero credit history and little means to establish themselves. He told trustees of his gratitude for the myriad ways NAMB supported him and his wife, including missionary housing in Brooklyn that helped them find their footing in New York.
 
“We are truly grateful for that mission house,” Bhandari said. “We thank you so much for having that prepared for the missionaries, and we are so grateful for your financial support, prayer, encouragement, the gift cards, books, the handwritten cards, which is a huge, huge encouragement to me and my wife and to our team.”
 
Biswas said he began his journey “very alone” before he met a Southern Baptist pastor who connected him with NAMB, and after five years of working to start Evangelical Bengali Church, he and his wife Rozi are joined by 60 regular members.
 
“When I came, my dream was not to stay in this country. When I saw a hundred thousand people – it’s like Bangladesh everywhere [in Queens] – God whispered in my heart, ‘Why not start it from here? Because if you can transform one life here, they will transform their community,’” Biswas said of his native nation.
 
Biswas described how the lack of religious freedom in Bangladesh has made it difficult to share the Christian faith there.
 
“We are not free to share our faith with other faiths, with other people,” he said. “But [in the United States], we have rights: freedom of speech, freedom of religion.”
 
Biswas embraces that freedom as a challenge to share the gospel with as many people as possible.
 
“Our goal is, for 2019, we would like to share the Good News with 20,000 Bengali people,” he said in explaining his vision. “My heart is all the time to go, share Good News very honestly, and [God’s] job is to transform peoples’ lives.”
 
Typically, all of NAMB’s trustees travel and meet church planters together during their fall meetings. The logistics of getting large groups of people around New York City, however, required the trustees to split up and visit different boroughs.
 

NAMB photo by Hayley Catt
North American Mission Board church planting catalyst Jeremiah Brinkman shares with a group of NAMB trustees and staff about church planting missionary work in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, N.Y.

Along with the group that traveled to Queens, trustees visited catalysts and church planters in Brooklyn, Manhattan and New Jersey.
 
“I absolutely love coming on the tours as a trustee, getting to see boots on the ground, what people are doing,” said Erin Bounds, a member of North Valley Baptist Church in Odenville, Ala. “It puts so much more meaning to the decisions we’re able to make. They aren’t just decisions on paper. It’s actually real people, real souls.”
 
As the tour of Queens began winding down, Bounds’ smart watch buzzed her wrist with a calendar notification. She couldn’t help but smile at the timing and shared the bit of serendipity with the group.
 
Her scheduled prayer time for that evening was for the people and church planters in Jackson Heights.
 
See the Biblical Recorder’s related story.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/11/2018 11:50:13 AM by Brandon Elrod, NAMB | with 0 comments



‘Gosnell’ helps uncover ‘horrors of abortion’

October 11 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A trio of forthcoming movies hailed by pro-life activists – led by “Gosnell” opening Oct. 12 – could influence Americans’ thinking on abortion, critics say.
 

Christians “have been behind the curve, and we’re just now starting to realize the importance” of promoting the sanctity of unborn life through film, Christian filmmaker and media consultant Phil Cooke told Baptist Press. Gosnell’s potential impact is indicated by “just how furious people on the other side, the pro-abortion people, have been in trying to stop the movie, trying to reduce its credibility, trying to not get it aired in theaters.”
 
Gosnell, produced by Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, tells the true story of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who is serving three consecutive life sentences for murdering three infants born alive after abortion attempts and committing involuntary manslaughter of a woman during a botched abortion.
 
Set for 2019 release are “Unplanned,” the story of Abby Johnson, a Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life champion, and “Roe v. Wade,” which relates the backstory behind the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
 
Gosnell’s release, by and large, has not been covered in mainstream media outlets. That reality is “the result of both malign neglect and active suppression of inconvenient truths,” conservative commentator Michelle Malkin wrote in a National Review article.
 
Facebook and NPR have refused to run paid advertising for Gosnell, and crowdsourcing website Kickstarter banned Gosnell’s producers from using the platform to raise money, according to media reports.
 
Nevertheless, Gosnell (rated PG-13 for realistic language and violent images) is “a must-watch for anyone who wants to understand the controversy over abortion in America,” Christian film critic Michael Foust told BP.
 
“It does a great job spotlighting a group of heroic pro-choice prosecutors who did what was right in bringing the case,” said Foust, who covers entertainment for several Baptist state papers. “But it also does something more important by educating the public about abortion procedures and abortion laws.
 
“Yes, what Kermit Gosnell did was illegal and horrific – snipping the spinal cords of babies – but let’s not forget that second- and third-trimester abortions take place in clinics every day in the U.S.,” Foust said in written comments. “They remain legal. Doctors ensure the procedure’s legality by killing the unborn baby in the womb: injecting potassium chloride to stop its heart, suctioning out its brain and then ripping it apart limb by limb. There is a legal difference between what Kermit Gosnell did and what abortionists do, but there is no moral difference.”
 
Gosnell could, Foust said, “help change hearts and minds.”
 
“America once was a book culture,” Foust said. “We persuaded one another through the printed word. That is no longer the case. Today, Americans develop their beliefs and worldview through mass media – movies, television and even YouTube videos. The pro-life movement has had great success winning hearts and minds through the art of mass media persuasion, and it would be foolish not to continue.”
 
Roe v. Wade began filming earlier this year, according to media reports, and reportedly has had crew members resign over the film’s pro-life content. Unplanned co-writers and co-directors Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon – who also co-wrote “God’s Not Dead” – told The Hollywood Reporter they are preparing for opposition as the film nears release.
 
Despite such pushback, pro-life filmmakers should continue to share life-affirming stories, said Cooke, author of The Way Back: How Christians Blew Our Credibility and How We Get It Back.
 
“You get this drip, drip, drip in our culture today of” news reports and entertainment suggesting that “even up to the last minute, abortion should happen,” Cooke said. With “the accumulation” of such media content, “there’s no wonder we see the direction in our culture heading the way it is.”
 
Pro-life stories, Cooke said, can help stem the cultural tide.
 
A story “is something that may not dawn on you right away,” Cooke said. “It may not be a revelation like a teaching moment. But an hour, a day, a week later, suddenly that story goes off in your head and you realize, ‘I get it.’ When that happens, it’s so powerful.”
 
Other pro-life films recommended by Foust and Cooke include “Bella,” the story of a young woman who decides against abortion through a friend’s intervention; “October Baby,” the story of a young adult who learns she survived a failed abortion attempt as an infant; and “Crescendo,” a short movie that tells how Beethoven nearly was aborted.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

10/11/2018 11:49:58 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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