Pastor disagrees with attack on Confederacy
    July 17 2015 by Edward DeVries, The Villages, Fla.

    I am a Southern Baptist pastor and the direct descendant of godly Southern Baptist men who served honorably in the Army of the Confederate States of America. My ancestors did not own slaves, and they did not fight to maintain or perpetuate slavery. My great-grandfather, Macijah N. Lawrence, was a deacon in a Southern Baptist church, a Sunday school teacher and a soul-winner. He owned two very large farms which he and his family worked without the benefit of slave labor. He enlisted in the Confederate States Army because his homeland was invaded by an aggressive army from the North. He served honorably during the entire course of the war and was honorably discharged.
     
    Having surrendered in Texas and not having the money with which to travel by any other means he walked to Alabama to find his farm had been destroyed by the invading army, his farmland had been stolen by carpetbaggers, and his family was living by the charity of others. Fortunately, while serving in Texas, he had purchased some land. So he, his wife and their nine children walked all the way back to central Texas where he helped to plant a church as they built a new farm and a new home.
     
    During the war my grandfather served as the color sergeant in the 19th Texas Infantry. His job was to march at the front of the column, carrying the flag that Russell Moore, Al Mohler and others now vilify. It also meant that he was the primary target for enemy fire in battle. The fact that he survived the war is a miracle.
     
    I share this ancestry with my maternal grandfather who was a Southern Baptist pastor for 53 years. Hundreds of thousands of Southern Baptists share similar ancestry.
     
    In Exodus 20 we are commanded to honor our fathers. According to biblical genealogy our grandfathers and great grandfathers are considered our “fathers.” That is why our Lord was referred to as the “Son of David.”
     
    Perhaps Russell Moore, Alan Cross, Bill Leonard, Albert Mohler, Danny Akin and Doug Wilson do not share the ancestry common to the majority of Southern Baptists. Or perhaps they do and are simply choosing political correctness over the fifth commandment. In either case, I cannot sit quietly in my office as men with voices more prominent than mine slander the good name of my fathers who left me a godly heritage.
     
    Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children.” My confederate ancestors were good men. Among the many things that they left us was the King James Bible, the testimony of their Christian faith, a faithful adherence to the doctrines and practices once considered “distinctive” to Baptists, and the presentation of the gospel to their children who led us to our common salvation.
     
    I have another great-grandfather who was a chaplain in the Confederate army and a Methodist pastor. He preached the “one Lord” and the primary tenants of our “one faith,” even if he did not share our baptism. He, too, left a godly heritage.
     
    Most of the men who founded our Southern Baptist Convention were Confederate veterans. Those who were too old to serve were documented supporters of the Confederate States government.
     
    So the attack by our denominational leadership is not only an attack against my ancestors, it is also an attack against the men and women who birthed our denomination and established many of its critical institutions. It is a direct attack against the character and the godliness of our fathers and heroes in the faith.
     
    In Psalm 11:3 the question is asked, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” I simply cannot imagine why the leaders of our convention would be attacking the very foundation of our denomination by impugning the character, morality and patriotism of our denominational founders. Do they not realize that our denomination cannot withstand such an attack without being redefined so drastically that it may cease to be what it has always been? Maybe they do. If so, that is even scarier! I simply cannot allow the attack against my fathers by ancestry, or my fathers in the faith, both of whom were unashamedly Baptists, Confederates and Southern, to stand without an answer.
     
    Thirteen years ago I authored a book with 61 footnotes documenting that the flag my Confederate fathers bravely carried into the battle was not a symbol of slavery or hate. It was a symbol they selected from antiquity as a testimony of their Christian faith.
     
    In the few hours between when Amazon announced that they would remove all “Confederate” merchandise and the time when they removed the listing of my book, I sold 1,215 copies. I will give a copy, absolutely free, to anyone who visits my new website and requests it. The reason I am giving it away is because our history and heritage are under attack like never before. And sadly, the attack against our Southern Baptist ancestors is now coming from high-ranking Southern Baptists.
     
    How sad it is that I must work so hard to enable the rank and file of our Baptist churches to defend the heritage and the good name of our noble ancestors, against the slander of our own denominational leadership. The very least I can do is give anyone who requests it a copy of the book in the name of those who so bravely fought for their nation as they passed down to their children, and to us, the “faith once delivered unto the saints.”
     
    The website is at dixieheritage.weebly.com. (See YouTube video below.)
     
    While I think the actions committed by a domestic terrorist against our brethren at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were deplorable and unconscionable I do not believe that the proper response to them, by Southern Baptists or by anyone else, is to vilify the good name of our ancestors. Nor should we propagate lies about the banner under which many of them so bravely fought.
     
    Romans 12:21 tells us, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” To that end I am writing this letter hoping in some small measure to combat the lies about our ancestors and about our common history with truth.
     
    I believe that the motto of the Confederacy is most applicable: Deo Vindice, God will Vindicate!
     
    As the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 16:6, “I have a goodly heritage.” It is a gift given to me by my Confederate fathers who sacrificed much to live for Jesus and laid the foundations so that we too can serve Him in our Southern Baptist churches.

    7/17/2015 11:03:13 AM by Edward DeVries, The Villages, Fla. | with 7 comments
    Filed under: Confederate flag, Edward DeVries, letter to the editor




Comments
Russ Hale
If the Klan or any other hate group abuses or misuses something sacred or dear to another group, e.g. the Confederate battle flag to the point that it becomes offensive to others we should quietly put it away as to not offend our other brothers and sisters. I've heard that logic or reasoning used several times by many people. Then certainly we should stop reading and carrying our Bibles as these same hate groups carry and quote scripture, albeit out of context, but apparently that doesn't matter. Certainly our Bibles offend Jews and Muslims. Time to put the Bible where it belongs, in the back of a pew. Right?
8/3/2015 5:45:01 PM

Jon McCleese
Dr. DeVries,

My brother & compatriot, I thank you so much for the work you are doing to edify & strengthen the faithful, both in Biblical truth and in post-Biblical history.

To side with those calling for the Confederate Battle Flag to come down or those who call it a symbol of racism is to side with those who promote hate and lies. I think that the Lord will bless you for your work in telling this truth.

In closing, let me say that my prayers are with you, and I look forward to seeing more from you in the trying times to come.

Your Brother in Christ,
Jon McCleese
8/3/2015 11:18:21 AM

Don Reynolds
Ed DeVries needs to study American history and the meaning of Jesus's teachings more closely.
His notion about the “good name of [his] fathers who left [him] a godly heritage” is incorrect - what they left him about their support of the treasonous Confederacy and that flag was not godly, good or right.
7/21/2015 6:05:15 AM

Cody Cunningham
Mr. Welch,

I believe Christians should be willing to surrender any rights for the sake of other brothers and sisters, no matter how dear they are to us. That's the way of Christ, "Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:6–8). Christ came to die for rebellious mankind. We should be willing to give up a flag for others.
7/18/2015 8:37:29 AM

Jim Welch
Mr. Cunningham,

Regarding your statement, ". . . I think Mr. DeVries fails to consider how the Confederate flag affects our African American brothers and sisters. If that flag, or any flag, causes pain or significant division within the body of Christ, we should gladly be willing to do away with it for the sake of Christ." --------

Just because some extremist group has seized an emblem of what was a righteous cause and perverted that emblem as to cause "pain" for someone else is no reason for me to surrender what is dear to me.

I have seen pictures of the KKK marching with the American flag waving as they march.

It was the American flag that flew on slave ships based our New England that delivered tens of thousands of African slaves to the Americas that were bought by Northern slave traders and financed by Northern banks.

The St. Andrews Cross battle flag only flew for 4 years over the battlefields where our gallant ancestors fought.

How can it be demonized and the American flag not?

Am I to surrender my heritage because of the ignorance of some group because they have been fed lies?
7/17/2015 6:12:28 PM

alan davis
I would point out that the American Indian was slaughtered en masse by American soldiers under the banner of the U.S. flag, and that the murder of 60 million babies has been done in our life time under the protection of our U.S. flag and with the applause of the majority of our elected politicians.
Maybe we should focus on the holocaust we have going on right now. It's easy to talk about taking down a flag....but try stopping the killing.
7/17/2015 3:15:39 PM

Cody Cunningham
While I admire and agree with Mr. DeVries' desire to honor our earthly fathers and fathers in the faith, I disagree with his article on a few different issues.

First, I don't think it's right to deny how slavery motivated many to secede from the Union. For instance, slavery is the first issue mentioned in the secession statement of my home state, Mississippi. Sure, the reasons for the Civil War are multi-faceted, but I think Mr. DeVries must admit that slavery was, at least, part of the impetus for secession. The same goes for our own denomination. Missionary zeal was certainly a motivation for the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention, but so was Southern Baptists' desire to own slaves.

Along those same lines, I don't think DeVries takes into account how the flag became closely associated with the racism of the Civil Rights movement. It's impossible to discuss the perception of the Confederate flag without mentioning the period of the Civil Rights movement.

Second, DeVries seems to take any criticism of Confederate soldiers or our denomination as dishonoring them. Christianity is not about painting our ancestors, either biological or biblical, as perfect men and women. We can acknowledge that they were godly people, but not yet perfected people. The Bible itself shows this by not covering up the sins of Old Testament saints or the apostles. We can honestly assess the past, knowing that Christ's righteousness covered their sins. As those who cherish grace, we can and should be those who lovingly address the sins of the past.

Finally, I think Mr. DeVries fails to consider how the Confederate flag affects our African American brothers and sisters. If that flag, or any flag, causes pain or significant division within the body of Christ, we should gladly be willing to do away with it for the sake of Christ. If you're interested, I wrote an article discussing this final point. You can check it out at http://www.codycunningham.com/on-the-mississippi-flag/
7/17/2015 1:18:51 PM