March 2016

PARENTING: Gender confusion & child abuse

March 31 2016 by Keith Collier, Southern Baptist TEXAN

Which of the following options would you define as “child abuse”?
 
A) a parent encourages a child to pursue desires that will cause irreparable physical, psychological and emotional damage.
 
B) a parent protects the child from these desires, despite the child’s insistence on what’s best.
 
The answer seems easy, but when it comes to the debate over treatment for gender-confused children, many medical professionals demonstrate competing worldviews that will prove disastrous for this generation.
 
The American College of Pediatricians (ACP), however, has released a startling article, “Gender Ideology Harms Children,” calling on educators and legislators “to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex.” The medical professionals highlight the dangers of puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones in gender-confused adolescents – treatments that pave the way for gender reassignment surgery as an adult – and conclude that encouraging children and parents to pursue such treatments is “child abuse.”
 
The nationwide ACP is a socially conservative medical association distinct from the larger American Academy of Pediatrics.
 
Key to the propositions in the pediatricians’ March 21 article is the biological fact that human sexuality is binary – male and female – and these genetic (XY and XX) markers are normal and healthy. Children with gender confusion, such as a boy believing he’s a girl or a girl wanting to be a boy, suffer from “an objective psychological problem [that] lies in the mind not the body,” these pediatricians say.
 
The ACP article condemns attempts to normalize transgender treatments, citing the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, which shows that as many as 98 percent of gender-confused boys and 88 percent of gender-confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty. Noting that suicide rates are 20 times higher among adults that use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery, the ACP asks, “What compassionate and reasonable person would condemn young children to this fate ...?”
 
The LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community likely will do everything it can to discredit these physicians and their claims. Certainly they cannot allow the massive surge in the acceptance of the transgender movement, popularized by last year’s media frenzy over Bruce Jenner’s “transformation” into Caitlyn Jenner, to lose steam. After all, don’t they hold the rights to the term “child abuse” in reference to parents who refuse to allow children to “be who they really are”? This claim shows just how skewed the term “child abuse” has become.
 
Make no mistake, this is about opposing ideologies.
 
The medical analysis of the American College of Pediatricians flies in the face of doctrine given to parents of children with gender dysphoria (the medical term for gender confusion) who are told they are abusive to force their kid to accept his or her biological sex.
 
Take, for example, the story of Mela Singleton, mother of 12-year-old “Evan” Singleton. She first noticed her daughter Evie’s desire to be a boy when she was just 2 years old. As a toddler, Evie rejected anything “stereotypically girly” and threw fits when people would refer to her as “she.” By age 7, Mela and her husband decided that Evie must have a boy brain with a girl body, so they acquiesced to their adolescent’s wishes, changed her name to Evan and gave her a boy’s haircut and clothing.
 
Two years later, “Evan” became the first patient in the Children Medical Center Dallas’ transgender program, absurdly called Genecis (GENder Education and Care, Interdisciplinary Support), the only pediatric clinic of its type in the Southwest and among the 40 such clinics nationwide.
 
“It’s my job as a parent to help him be his authentic self,” Mela says, adding that “it’s not about me; it’s about raising a child to be the best him that he can be.” Evan, whether conditioned by his parents or the Genecis program, simply wants transgender to be normalized, stating “it’s not that big of a deal.”
 
But what if “raising a child to be the best him that he can be” actually means raising him as a her, which is her God-given biological sex. That is, after all, what the data presented by American College of Pediatricians suggests.
 
Sadly, an over-idealized concept of individual freedom runs rampant in our culture, asking, “Who are you to refuse to let someone choose who they want to be?” My answer to that question is simply, “I’m the dad.”
 
As parents, we face difficult choices over what is best for our children all the time, and these decisions often come at the protest of our children, who think they know best.
 
What if my 5-year-old daughter, who has her dad’s sweet tooth, says she thinks M&M’s are the healthiest food for her and throws a fit when I place anything else in front of her? What if I acquiesce to her wishes and feed her only M&M’s because “that’s just who she is”? Or what if after she complained of a headache, I handed her a bottle of aspirin and encouraged her to eat as many as she wanted to make her feel better.
 
I’m pretty sure in both of these cases that Child Protective Services would be knocking at my door.
 
Let me be clear, gender dysphoria is a serious psychological disorder in children, and I would never encourage parents to ignore it or say “he’ll get over it.” Parents should patiently and prayerfully seek help but also be aware that recommendations they get from some doctors will go against God’s design for human sexuality.
 
At the same time, just because your daughter likes to skateboard or doesn’t like the color pink doesn’t mean she’s a boy trapped in a girl’s body. And just because your son is more effeminate, it does not mean you should pursue medical treatments that could jeopardize his health and his life.
 
Undoubtedly, this debate will rage on, but I appreciate physicians like those with the American College of Pediatricians who are willing to stand against the trends in psychology and medicine in order to more clearly identify the true definition of “child abuse.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Keith Collier is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN at texanonline.net, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. The article by the American College of Pediatricians can be accessed at www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/gender-ideology-harms-children.)
 

Related Story:

Pediatricians: Transgender kids need help, not new hormones

3/31/2016 11:51:40 AM by Keith Collier, Southern Baptist TEXAN | with 0 comments



Who is the Annie behind the Easter offering?

March 30 2016 by Keith Harper, SEBTS

On October 23, 1902, Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) Corresponding Secretary, Annie Armstrong wrote a letter to E.E. Bomar of the Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board). She apologized for an earlier letter that Bomar had found unclear, but noted, “I am not surprised that I occasionally become ‘kaflumexed’ as I am trying to do half a dozen things at one time – writing letters, getting out new literature, preparing for Annual Meeting, arranging to leave home for a trip to Virginia, making numerous addresses, visiting dress-maker, going to the dentist, and, and, and, and, etc.” Indeed. Annie Armstrong was a busy woman whose life revolved around WMU and Southern Baptist Missionary enterprises. Her boldness encouraged some and irked others.
 
Contemporary Southern Baptists usually associate Annie Armstrong with the annual offering for North American mission work that bears her name. However, she is far more important than this honor suggests. Armstrong played a crucial role in shaping the modern denomination. As Corresponding Secretary of WMU, she worked closely with state WMU workers and key denominational agency leaders. More than anyone else, Annie Armstrong shaped WMU’s contour in the early days and thereby shaped the modern denomination.
 
Born on July 11, 1850, Annie professed faith at age 19 and became a member of Seventh Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1871, however, she and some 117 others left Seventh Baptist to form Eutaw Place Baptist Church. She served her church in numerous capacities, especially those related to children and missionary enterprises. Not surprisingly, Armstrong quickly became a leader among Maryland women who wanted to promote missions. In 1888, concerned women formed the Woman’s Missionary Union, Auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The new organization tapped Annie Armstrong to be their first Corresponding Secretary, a role that allowed her organizational genius to blossom. As Corresponding Secretary of WMU, Armstrong controlled virtually every aspect of WMU’s work. Her capable leadership catapulted WMU into the forefront of Southern Baptist life.
 
As WMU’s “executive officer,” Armstrong faced monumental challenges. The WMU was born during a time of financial crisis. The American economy of the late nineteenth century experienced dramatic “booms” and “busts” and many Southerners faced hardship thanks to the region’s agriculturally centered economy. Southern Baptists supported missionary activity with their meager resources but denominational leaders faced serious financial problems. The FMB and HMB could scarcely maintain the missionary presence they had already established, much less fulfill any biblical mandate to “preach the gospel to every creature.” Despite the fact that many questioned whether or not women should wield ecclesiastical power, the WMU appeared to be a Godsend to the cash-strapped mission boards and Armstrong quickly proved her mettle.
 
Soon after WMU organized, H.A. Tupper, Corresponding Secretary for the FMB approached Armstrong with an urgent need. Lottie Moon had been serving as a Southern Baptist missionary in China since 1877 without a furlough. Moon suffered from numerous health related issues and needed to come home but she refused to leave until the Board could send someone to take her place. Tupper turned to Armstrong and in a matter of months WMU raised over $3,300, more than enough to meet the need.
 
If the initial offering for Lottie Moon gave Southern Baptist women confidence to expand their work, it also helped define Armstrong’s role as WMU’s leader. She understood that Moon’s offering exceeded anyone’s expectations and she used this early success to develop clear lines of communication between the WMU, FMB and the Home Mission Board. On a professional level, Armstrong looked to SBC board leaders as colleagues and advisors but on a personal level, she saw them as friends and confidants.
 
In addition to her work with the Southern Baptists mission boards, Armstrong worked closely with the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Southern Baptists made several attempts to establish their own publishing house before finally succeeding in 1891. Armstrong understood how influential this new venture could be. If Southern Baptists had their own press they could print and distribute literature that promoted their specific interests. She became a tireless advocate of Sunday School as a means of discipleship and promoting missions.
 
As WMU assumed its identity Armstrong integrated the organization’s mission impetus into Baptist life. Stated another way, Armstrong guaranteed that WMU would become a regular part of Southern Baptist life if for no other reason than the money it generated. In so doing, however, she also galvanized Southern Baptist activity around mission work. It would be going a bit too far to say that she organized Southern Baptist women for missions; the WMU was organized in 1888 and grew largely from works at the local and state levels. However, as Corresponding Secretary for WMU Armstrong focused the organization’s energies on one thing – mission work. Moreover, every woman in Southern Baptist life could participate in WMU activities if she so chose. Thus, WMU gave Baptist women a sense of identity through their participation, or sense of commonality through shared experience and a sense of empowerment through the results they achieved. For instance, in its first year WMU accounted for 18.14 percent of all missionary giving and between 1899 and 1906, WMU accounted for well over 30 percent of all missionary receipts.
 
If Armstrong mobilized women, she also fostered clear communication lines between the main Southern Baptist organizations. Turn-of-the-century Southern Baptists had no reliable mechanism to fund its entities. Consequently, each Southern Baptist entity competed with the other entities for money. Armstrong took a certain amount of pressure off of the agencies and as WMU flourished, the Boards looked to WMU for more support.
 
Annie Armstrong’s outspoken, sometimes blunt manner led to numerous conflicts ranging from complaints that WMU over-promoted home missions to using questionable fundraising methods. Her sundry squabbles eventually took their toll. In 1906, she stepped down as Corresponding Secretary of the Woman’s Missionary Union. Thanks largely to her, the SBC had ethos and network, not to mention the wherewithal, to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Keith Harper is professor of Baptist Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article first appeared at the Center for Great Commission Studies blog, thecgcs.org.)

3/30/2016 10:48:41 AM by Keith Harper, SEBTS | with 0 comments



How religious liberty dies

March 29 2016 by Alan Cross, SBC Voices

For background on the religious liberty implications of the South Carolina Anti-Refugee Bill, S997, I wrote about it here.
 
S997 just effectively passed the S.C. Senate by a vote of 39-6. Churches and religious organizations will be held civilly liable for any crime committed in the future by refugees that they helped place and support in South Carolina in the present. Six out of eight co-sponsors of the bill are Southern Baptists. They know not what they do. Or, they do and don’t care.
 
This is unheard of. Churches have a biblical mandate to minister to these people. These are people fleeing violence and abuse. The two organizations placing them (World Relief and Lutheran Services) are religious organizations. Many of them are Christians fleeing religious persecution. The individual board members of religious organizations can also be sued, according to what I have been told.
 
This is a clear religious liberty violation and those who say they care about such things when it comes to cupcakes, but do not care about this are woefully uninformed at best. This is how liberty dies. And, this will do NOTHING to make South Carolina safer. It will only spread fear and make it impossible for churches to help refugees, which is the plan.
 
If the bill passes, I fully expect this to spread to Alabama and other southern states. Once the government starts telling churches they can be sued for something that someone they minister to might do in the future, it will create such a chilling effect on the ministry of the church that it will shut down a great deal of work. And, if this precedent stands, do you not think that others will try and apply this to other issues to limit the ministry of the church?
 
This isn’t coming from the Left. It is coming from the Right, and it is being motivated by fear.
 
The church is meant to be the bridge in society. Salt and light. The ones who step in and bring peace and help bring reconciliation. Blaming the church for the potential actions of someone that they tried to help but who refused the help and then turned to violence is a horrible move. Holding the church civilly liable for the actions of someone that they had no control over is only meant to spread fear. It is ironic that as we fight against terrorism (which is the spreading of paralyzing fear through the threat of violence), we can engage in the same basic acts by spreading fear to those who might try and do good if those they help then turn to violence. It is the same basic approach.
 
All over the “Bible-Belt South,” state laws are being drafted to make life miserable for refugees and immigrants so they will not want to come here. From 2011 with Alabama’s HB 56 and Georgia’s anti-immigrants laws, to what South Carolina is doing now, all of these laws in some way end up targeting the church and those who would minister to immigrants and refugees in Jesus’ name.
 
So many Christians do not notice the violation because they only think first about security. We are making a massive mistake here. This is how Jim Crow laws were developed – piece-by-piece until an unbreakable net was formed that separated people and caused massive devastation to individuals, families, churches and society.
 
I will not sit by and watch while it happens again.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Alan Cross is a pastor and author in Montgomery, Ala. This post first appeared at sbcvoices.net. Used by permission)
3/29/2016 9:23:35 AM by Alan Cross, SBC Voices | with 0 comments



The cross – far more than jewelry

March 25 2016 by Anthony Jordan

What would you think if people everywhere wore jewelry shaped or imprinted with an electric chair?
 
Think of it – beautiful and ornate jewelry made of gold or silver and adorned with diamonds or other precious stones. No, fine jewelry, beloved jewelry in the shape of an electric chair – the symbol of death to murderers – does not sound appealing at all.
 
Yet over these 2,000 years, the cross – the place of Roman execution for murderers and hardened criminals – has become the symbol of hope around the world. I am often astounded by those who wear a cross around their neck as adornment. The cross has become one of the most cherished forms in jewelry. Amazing!
 
What turned a cruel place of execution and death into a worldwide symbol of hope? I contend only one thing and one person – the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross of Golgotha. He alone changed a harsh, ugly, horrible symbol into a sign of love and hope.
 
For followers of Christ, the cross is much more than a sentimental, heartwarming symbol, and it is more than a piece of jewelry. The cross is the symbol of punishment, wrath and judgment against sin. It is the place where the Savior bled and died to pay the penalty for our sin. While hope springs from the cross, its dark reality of immeasurable physical, emotional and, above all, spiritual suffering cannot be missed.
 
The death of Christ is substitutionary atonement for sin and rebellion against a holy and righteous God. In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve there would be consequences of disobedience and rebellion. From the moment our parents (Adam and Eve) took the fruit, sin placed a mark on all of us. We are like our Genesis parents; we are marred by sin and rebellion against our God.
 
Jesus took the consequences of our sin. He took our death, wrath and judgment. God laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He who knew no sin became sin for us. Jesus gathered up the decrees and sin debt against us, and they were nailed to the cross.
 
The apostle John records that Jesus cried from the cross, “It is finished.” There are some powerful word pictures behind the original word translated “finished.” I give you only one: This original word was used in accounting to describe a bill that had been paid in full. Jesus drank the last dregs of the wrath of God against sin in our behalf. Stamped across our sin account in heaven is an eternal decree in regard to our debt – Paid In Full. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
 
Once and for all, Jesus took the sting from sin, death and hell for all who believe when He died on the cross. The operative word is “believe.” Ultimately, we receive forgiveness or bear the punishment for our own sins based on one simple reality – faith. Are we willing to put all our faith in Christ? To reject all other ways and to turn from our sin to trust wholly in Christ turns the cross from a symbol of hope to real hope. To reject Jesus and His death on the cross releases the wrath and judgment of God upon us. The reformers were right. Salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone.
 
For the world, wearing a cross around one’s neck stands for hope they do not understand or frankly care much about. They just know the cross is a feel-good symbol of love and hope. You can be a rebellious pagan and wear a cross, but for a follower of Christ, the cross represents the place of suffering and death of our Savior as a substitute for us. The cross is the place where our sin debt was paid in full.
 
I suggest the next time you see someone wearing a cross, ask them what that cross means to them. It may well be a conversation starter to give a witness of the true meaning of the cross.
 
And the next time you place a cross necklace around your neck, breathe a prayer of thanksgiving to your Savior for His great love and sacrifice. Because of Him, your symbol of hope is more than a symbol. You have hope that will not be denied. Eternity awaits and you will spend it in heaven. What a Savior!
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Anthony L. Jordan is executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. This article first appeared in the convention’s Baptist Messenger newsjournal, baptistmessenger.com).

3/25/2016 8:06:53 AM by Anthony Jordan | with 0 comments



Brussels, terror & Easter

March 24 2016 by Erich Bridges, IMB Correspondent

Once again, innocent blood stains the ground and fear fills the air in Europe.
 
The March 22 airport and subway bombings in Brussels, claimed by the ISIS Islamic terror group, killed more than 30 people, wounded at least 170 – and traumatized a region still reeling from the November massacre in Paris, multiple bombings in NATO member Turkey and warnings of more attacks to come. (Regular ISIS – or Al Qaeda-inspired attacks continue to kill hundreds in the Middle East, Central and South Asia and Africa, with far less notice in Western media.)
 
The still-unfolding refugee crisis created by the Syrian civil war is straining European unity. The 28-nation European Union (EU), of which Brussels is the unofficial capital, is struggling to maintain stability as its members question whether the concept of Europe as an interconnected economic and political entity will survive the “long war” with Islamic terrorism.

 
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Fox News screen capture

Following the Brussels bombings, EU heads of state publicly vowed to fight terrorism with “all necessary means,” claiming the latest tragedy “only strengthens our resolve to defend European values and tolerance from the attacks of the intolerant.” But Europe’s modern tradition of essentially open borders and multicultural societies may not survive the current challenges from outside – and inside – the continent.
 
Back in the United States, meanwhile, police forces and federal agencies stepped up security at airports and transit hubs after the latest attacks.
 
“In the wake of these attacks, we here in the U.S. and our allies across Europe must be on alert for possible copycat attackers who activate in the wake of these bombings,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “[A]s we saw in San Bernardino, we are not immune from the threat at home, even if it is still more likely to come from home-grown radicals than ISIS fighters returning from Syria or Iraq.”
 
Some presidential candidates and other politicians already were calling for closed borders, stricter controls on immigrants and refugees, even temporary bans on all Muslims coming to the United States. After the Brussels attacks, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz proposed security “patrols” of Muslim neighborhoods in America.
 
So the questions arise again, the questions we have been asking since 9/11:
 
In an open society, what is the trade-off between liberty and security? When does “keep us free” yield to “keep us safe”? In an age of terror, will America’s tradition of welcoming newcomers crumble in the face of fear?
 
For followers of Christ, it’s more important than ever to separate the sociopolitical dimension of these questions from the spiritual dimension.
 
In order to survive and thrive, a nation state must defend itself from real threats to its security. That is one of the fundamental responsibilities of government. As American citizens, we all share that responsibility.
 
As citizens of the kingdom of God, however, we also have higher duties. To love God with all our hearts and minds tops the list. To love others as ourselves comes next. To proclaim His salvation through Jesus Christ to all people and nations is our daily command. We can’t obey it if we live in fear. Indeed, “fear not” is the most frequent directive in Scripture.
 
“The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is ‘Do not fear,’” writes Blue Like Jazz author Donald Miller. “It’s in there over 200 times. That means a couple of things, if you think about it. It means we are going to be afraid, and it means we shouldn’t let fear boss us around. Before I realized we were supposed to fight fear, I thought of fear as a subtle suggestion in our subconscious designed to keep us safe, or more important, keep us from getting humiliated. And I guess it serves that purpose. But fear isn’t only a guide to keep us safe; it’s also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.”
 
And a disobedient life. We cannot love the Lord if we fear or hate the world, because God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.
 
As we celebrate Easter, let’s remember the world in which Jesus Christ lived, died and rose again. The Israel of His day groaned under the boot of imperial Rome, an invading enemy it hated and feared. The people cried out for deliverance. Many looked for a political Messiah, a king to crush Israel’s foes and restore the glory of old.
 
Who came unto them instead? A suffering servant, who told them to forgive their tormentors, to love their enemies, and to walk the second mile with their oppressors. After His resurrection, Jesus Christ commanded them not to hunker down in Israel but to go into all the world – beginning with the dangerous, hostile, Roman-ruled world – to proclaim the gospel, to baptize and make disciples.
 
We live in an age of terror. That is a given. It’s unlikely to end anytime soon. How do we respond? In love, not fear, if we follow Christ.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erich Bridges, former IMB global correspondent, has written about missions and the international scene for more than 30 years.)

3/24/2016 12:09:52 PM by Erich Bridges, IMB Correspondent | with 0 comments



Let’s stop millennial bashing

March 23 2016 by Russell Moore, ERLC

The Internet lit up recently with outrage when a 20-something woman complained about how hard it was to live in San Francisco, because her job didn’t pay her enough. The post, directed toward the woman’s employer, Yelp, caused many to point out that millennials are, as a generation, lazy, self-obsessed and entitled.
 
The controversy caught my attention because I tend to hear similar things within the church directed toward millennial Christians. I don’t feel qualified to speak to the general group psychology of the entire generation of millennials, but I have spent most of my time for the past decade or so around millennial Christians, and I think the nasty caricatures of them are just not true.
 
Within the secular culture, the Chicago Tribune’s Rex Huppke has called for a halt to “Millennial bashing.” He rightly notes that every generation in recorded human history sees the next as spoiled, lazy and selfish. I agree. And every generation in church history tends to see the next as carnal, unorthodox, unevangelistic and uncommitted. But it’s just not so.
 
I know my impressions here are anecdotal, but so are the stereotypes on the other side. Are there lazy, entitled, narcissistic Christian millennials? Of course there are. But I see no evidence that there are any more of them than there are lazy, entitled, narcissistic Baby Boomers or Gen-Xers or any other age cohort. In many ways, I see just the opposite.
 
Most of the millennial-age gospel Christians I know are far more theologically rooted than their parents’ generation. Most of them are far more committed to reaching outside of Christian subcultures to share the gospel with people not like them. Would some of them rather discuss theology than evangelize? Yes, just as many in the last generation would rather discuss evangelism than evangelize.
 
On the whole, though, I find the millennial generation’s grasp of gospel Christianity far better than what we’ve seen in a long time. They tend to be better at articulating a Christian vision of life, because they’ve had to do so all their lives, never able to count on a pseudo-Christian culture to do pre-evangelism for them.
 
One of the gripes I often hear is that millennials tend to avoid taking counsel from their elders. This is seen as evidence of their self-obsession. I have seen some millennials chafe when the only interaction they have from past generations is criticism of how they’re doing everything wrong. But I hardly see millennials eschewing guidance from those older. As a matter of fact, I see them begging for such guidance.
 
When I taught preaching class at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary I would go around the room the first day of class and ask students to tell me what preacher had had the most influence on their own preaching. I was stunned when not one of these students mentioned someone he had actually known, choosing instead famous preachers they had heard on podcasts. I chalked this up to the next generation’s consumerism and individualism and celebrity focus. I was wrong.
 
When I talked to the students, I found that their reliance on these faraway voices was not because they had rejected flesh-and-blood mentoring but because they’d never found it, and didn’t know how to. As a matter of fact, the No. 1 question I get from millennial Christians is how they can find mentors. We cannot refuse to put the hard work in of mentoring younger men and women, and then lambaste them because we don’t like the way they carry out their ministries. That’s not only counter-productive, it’s also, well, lazy, entitled and self-obsessed.
 
Is it a temptation for every generation to ignore the wisdom of the past, as Rehoboam did (1 Kings 12:8)? Certainly. But it’s also a perpetual temptation for older generations to react to the younger with envy, seeing in them a sign of coming irrelevance and mortality. It is much easier, like Saul, to throw spears at the next generation than it is, like Paul, to pour one’s life into the next generation.
 
Let’s stop the millennial bashing, in public and in private. Let’s thank God that he has given us a vibrant, gospel-focused, Christ-following next generation. We can have lots of differing opinions on the finer details of eschatology, but, when it comes to the more immediate future, we should all be pro-millennial.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Russell Moore is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. This column first appeared on Russell Moore’s blog at russellmoore.com.)

3/23/2016 10:49:51 AM by Russell Moore, ERLC | with 0 comments



Introducing Our 2016 SBC Committee on Resolutions

March 21 2016 by Ronnie Floyd, SBC President

As President of the Southern Baptist Convention, one of my major tasks is to appoint the 2016 Committee on Resolutions. From now through Tuesday, June 14, this committee will work diligently.
 
This is not an easy assignment for these ten Southern Baptists. They will arrive the Wednesday before our convention and begin their detailed responsibilities together on Thursday morning. Before this time, they will work via conference calls and email exchanges.
 

A Challenging Process

There are by-law requirements that must be adhered to in making these appointments. Additionally, with the plethora of Southern Baptists to choose from to serve on this committee, it is like putting together a complicated puzzle. It is a challenging process.
 

Introducing The Chairman and Vice-Chairman

Stephen Rummage, Senior Pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., will serve as the Chairman. Rummage is a recognized leader in ministry, academics, and Baptist denominational life. He previously was professor of preaching and director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C., and continues to teach on a visiting basis at several institutions. Rummage earned his master of divinity degree from SEBTS and his doctor of philosophy from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a committed pastor who prioritizes evangelism in his church.
 
Jason Duesing, provost and associate professor of Historical Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., will serve as our vice-chairman. He earned his master of divinity from SEBTS and his doctor of philosophy from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Duesing is highly recognized as an outstanding theologian in our convention. Duesing is a member of Antioch Bible Baptist Church in Gladstone, Mo.
 
Both of these men served on our Committee of Resolutions last year. I appointed them then due to my personal respect and admiration for their strong commitment to the Word of God and the work of Southern Baptists. They will serve our convention in this capacity in an excellent manner.
 

The Additional Eight Members on Our Resolutions Committee

Assisting Rummage and Duesing in their assignment will be eight additional members. As a team of ten persons, these gifted, unique individuals from all of Baptist life will work together to bring resolutions to our convention for approval.
 
Kelvin Cochran – Kelvin is the chief strategic officer at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga. He is an author, public speaker, former administrator of the United States Fire Administration, and the former fire chief of Atlanta Fire Department. He is a champion for biblical marriage and religious liberty.
 
Linda Cooper – Linda is the national president of the Woman’s Missionary Union. She has had the important task of naming the search committee who will identify the next executive director for this key missions organization. Linda is committed to serving others and sharing the gospel across her community, America and the world. She currently serves on the Executive Committee (EC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and is a member of Forest Park Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Ky.
 
Mark Harris – Harris is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte, N.C. He was a founding member of “Vote for Marriage NC,” which helped pass the North Carolina Marriage Protection Amendment in 2012. He has held positions of leadership in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and the SBC. Harris was a 2014 candidate for the United States Senate from the state of North Carolina.
 
Brad Jurkovich – Jurkovich is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church Bossier City in Shreveport, La. He has served in churches in Arkansas and Texas. Jurkovich is a gifted communicator of God’s Truth, compelled by a vision to reach the world for Christ.
 
Shannon Royce – Shannon Royce is the chief of staff and chief operating officer at the Family Research Council in Washington D.C. She has served in various pro-family organizations as a public policy advocate and has served two U.S. Senators as a policy advisor and counsel. From 1999-2003, Shannon also served as director of government relations and legislative counsel for the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. In 2013, she was a pivotal leader and contributor to the SBC Consultation on Mental Health Issues. She earned her juris doctorate from George Washington University and is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. She is a member of Colombia Baptist Church in Falls Church, Va.
 
Rolland Slade – Slade is the senior pastor of Meridian Southern Baptist Church in El Cajon, Calif. He currently serves on the EC. This is Slade’s second year on the Committee on Resolutions.
 
Jim Smith – Jim is the vice president of Communications for the National Religious Broadcasters in Washington D.C. Prior to his role at the NRB, he served as the executive editor and chief spokesman of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. From 1989-1995, he was director of government relations for the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Committee, and was the primary ERLC staff member who related to the Resolutions Committee. Jim also served as a member of the SBC Resolutions Committee in 1996. Finally, from 2001-2013, Jim was executive editor of Florida Baptist Witness. He is a member of Ninth & O Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.
 
Mat Staver – Mat is the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, an international nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family. He is chairman of Liberty Counsel Action, Salt & Light Council, Freedom Federation, President of Covenant Journey, Christians in Defense of Israel, and Liberty Relief International, a humanitarian ministry to persecuted Christians. He serves on the boards of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference-CONEL, the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition and The Timothy Plan, a family of Mutual Funds listed on the New York and Tel Aviv Stock Exchanges. He is the former vice president of Liberty University and dean and professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law. He has argued landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court; over 230 legal opinions; author of eight scholarly law review publications, 10 books and hundreds of articles. Mat is a member of the First Baptist Church of Orlando, Fla.
 
I am thankful for these ten persons who will serve our Lord and all Southern Baptists in this significant task. We have worked diligently to put together this gifted committee that will represent our convention in the highest manner.
 

The Process for Submitting Resolutions

The procedure for submitting resolutions is as follows according to Bylaw 20:

  • Proposed resolutions may be submitted as early as April 15 but no later than 15 days prior to the SBC annual meeting, giving the Committee on Resolutions a two-week period in which to consider submissions. This year’s cut-off date is June 1. Resolutions may not be submitted during the annual meeting.

  • Proposed resolutions should preferably be submitted by e-mail through the resolutions submission page at sbc.net/resolutions/submit or mailed to the Committee on Resolutions in care of the SBC Executive Committee, 901 Commerce St., Nashville, TN 37203. Proposed resolutions must be typewritten, titled, dated, and include complete contact information for the person and his or her church. The submission form on the web page will be available beginning April 15.

  • Proposed resolutions must be accompanied by a Credentials for Resolutions Submittal form (downloadable at sbc.net/resolutions/submit), or by a letter on church letterhead, either of which must be signed by the pastor or other church officer from a church qualified to send a messenger to the SBC annual meeting, certifying that the individual submitting the resolution is a member in good standing.

  • No person will be allowed to submit more than three resolutions per year.

  • The Committee on Resolutions submits to the Convention only those resolutions the committee recommends for adoption. Such resolutions may be based upon proposals received by the committee or may originate with the committee.

  • If a properly submitted resolution is not presented by the Committee on Resolutions to the messengers at the SBC annual meeting, a two-thirds vote is required to bring the proposed resolution to the convention floor for consideration.

Join Me in Praying for These Leaders and for Our 2016 Convention Experience

Please pray for these ten persons who will be serving our convention in this important purpose. Additionally, pray daily for our upcoming meeting in St. Louis.
 
Registration is now open for our convention meeting. Your church can register its messengers at sbcannualmeeting.net/sbc16/PreRegistration.asp. All Southern Baptists can attend this meeting; however, only registered messengers have voting privileges. If your church’s slate of messengers is complete, don’t let that keep you from attending. It is our desire to have as many of our Southern Baptist family present as possible.

3/21/2016 11:49:52 AM by Ronnie Floyd, SBC President | with 0 comments



Three reflections on political correctness and cultural conversation

March 21 2016 by Steven Harris, ERLC

I recently saw an internet meme with an image of a 2-foot-tall book with several thousand pages. On it was the caption, “Things People Find Offensive: 2016 Edition.” I would have found the image funny had it not been for the fact that its message was painfully true.
 
Okay. Truth be told, I still found it funny. However, many people aren’t laughingand understandably soas one wrong public statement or tweet can land you quarantined in the politically incorrect hall of shame. And once there, you’d probably be shamed some more while undergoing a public crash course on what you should’ve said if you had any common sense. More than likely, you’d eventually be “farewelled” from relevance, and maybe even fired from your job.
 
That’s tough stuff. I get it. So what is political correctness, exactly?
 
Settling on a singular, succinct definition has been a difficult task. For the average evangelical frustrated by the current state of affairs, to be politically correct probably means something like the following: adherence to language, policies or measures which are intended not to offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in societyparticularly, marginalized and minority groups.
 
Simple enough? Absolutely not!
 
It is undeniable that, for a whole host of reasons, our current cultural conversation is in a state of crisis. From university campuses to political campaigns to the public square, we find ourselves seemingly incapable of amicable exchange. To be sure, the situation is a bit more complex than a mere call for civility. Many a monograph and popular-level article have been written in an attempt to trace the historical development of what is now our PC society. While some choose to highlight the genealogy of an economic Marxism gone cultural, others focus their analysis on the state of affairs on college campusesone piece in particular having diagnosed the problem as a coddling of collegiate minds. I think perspectives such as these offer interesting insights that need to be seriously considered as we contend for a more sensibly sensitive society.
 
However, I think that evangelical Christians would do well to be mindful of a few things as we seek to engage.
 

There are two extremes to be avoided, not one

I often hear Christians decry political correctness in favor of a climate where they can “say whatever they feel/want.” Every time I hear that phraseor a derivative of ittwo thoughts come to mind: first, a question, “what exactly is it that you want to say?” and, second, I’m reminded that the goal of a distinctly Christian dialect has never been unbridled speech.
 
The biblical witness is clear. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart,” warns James, “this person’s religion is worthless” (Ja. 1:26). Likewise the apostle Paul instructs, “let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).
 
While censored speech is certainly problematic, unsanctified speech is just as poisonous; our outrage should be against both. Far from saying whatever we feel, Christians are called to “walk in wisdom toward outsiders,” and to “let [our] speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6).
 

Clarity and thoughtfulness are helpful

While I suggested previously that civility alone would not remedy the problem, it certainly helps. Arguably, one of the things that our PC culture has forced evangelicals to do is to reflect a level of clarity in our public square commentary that, prior to this moment, we felt little pressure to do. Previously, we could not only count on interlocutors to be charitable in their listening, but we could assume their familiarity with, and even partiality to, our rhetoric and reasoning. Indeed, times have changed. And, ironically, many of our efforts to avoid giving offense and being misunderstoodalbeit painstaking and frustrating at timehave resulted in fresh and helpful articulations of some of our most deeply held convictions and their resultant sociopolitical implications.
 
Yet, I believe that there is more that we can do. As we rightly critique political correctness, we have to be careful to not subsume too much under its heading. Sometimes I fear that what many evangelicals label as the outlandish demands of the PC culture are often challenges to simply be a little more thoughtful, culturally aware and historically informed. For instance, it is possible to discuss the immigration issue in such a way where concern for the rule of law can be expressed and the decency and dignity of our image-bearing neighbors can be affirmed. Similarly, to seldom acknowledge racial offenses is as equally problematic as seeing them everywhere. As one former presidential candidate recently noted, there is a difference between giving into political correctness and simply seeking to be correct.
 
I think a Pauline principle can be instructive here as we think about how our Great Commission task dovetails with a call to be winsome with our words. “I have become all things to all people,” Paul says, “that by all means I might save some.” This is the point, after all. Why should we lean into a run amok PC culture rather than retreat? It is ultimately a question of what our predominant evangelical posture will be. Will we simply be mad, or will we be on mission?
 

Challenges remain, but they, too, are gospel opportunities

With all that has been said it yet needs to be made clear that serious challenges are on the horizon. Evangelicals who hold to a biblical sexual ethic, for example, will continue to face increasing criticism, ostracization and threats to religious liberty. When the culture embraces and affirms that which the scriptures clearly condemn, we must obey God rather than men. And we must realize that such conviction will come with a costa cost that we have hopefully already counted.
 
And yet, how we steward can bring disrepute to what we steward. Yes, right is right, but there is such a thing as being wrong-right. Now more than ever, Christians need to evidence an understanding of that. Elsewhere, Russell Moore has expressed that the sexual revolution will inevitably yield its own refugees. The Lord’s church must be readywith both its gospel-fidelity and Christ-like character bearing witnessto receive these individuals with words of grace and truth. Our only offense should be the offense of the gospel.
 
Ultimately, a run amok political correctness can be neither satisfied nor sustained. While being deeply sensitive to injustices, racial and otherwise, I must admit that I find it troubling how an uncritical culture of offendedness is being fashioned. It seems that the status of “offended” is legitimized simply by virtue of it being claimed. And the offender is mandated to do penance to the degree dictated without question or qualification. These kinds of transactions set awful precedents for public square interaction.
 
Nevertheless, it is important that we, as evangelicals, realize our dual role in such a chaotic PC cultureadvocate and herald. Advocate because we have come to know the one who is just, and therefore we deplore injustice wherever it may be found. Herald because the one who is just is also justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. And, speaking of offense, we’ve all offended him.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Steven Harris serves as the Director of Advocacy, working out of the ERLC’s Washington office.)

3/21/2016 11:40:02 AM by Steven Harris, ERLC | with 0 comments



Nine reasons gossip is destructive to a church

March 18 2016 by Chuck Lawless, Guest Column

It’s both a verb and a noun. We’ve certainly all heard it, and perhaps we’ve all done it. Maybe we’ve even been the butt of it.
 
“It” is gossip – and it’s destructive to a church. Here’s why:

  1.  It’s evil. How else would you describe an act that’s so often included among lists of sinful acts in scripture (Rom 1:29, 2 Cor 12:20, 1 Tim 5:13)? In fact, “gossip” is sometimes included as a marker of lostness – not Christianity.

  2. It’s idolatrous. Gossips love having information, even if it’s wrong and harmful. They even get angry if others have information they don’t have. Having “the dirt” becomes their god – and that’s idolatry.

  3. It’s self-centered. Those who gossip put themselves in the middle of everything. And, if they’re not in the middle, they talk about those who are so they draw attention back to themselves.

  4. It’s divisive. Talking about other people behind their backs never promotes unity, especially when the conversations take place in the back room or the parking lot.

  5. It’s often deceptive. Sometimes the “reported” information is cloaked in a prayer request (“now I don’t want to spread rumors, but we need to pray for _________ because ________”). That’s gossip, and it’s a lie to call it anything else.

  6. It harms reputations. It takes only one rumor to harm a brother or sister, and it’s tough to recover once the rumor’s out. We only weaken the family of God through gossip.

  7. It destroys trust. Here’s where gossips are often so focused on spreading their news that they miss their own foolishness. Gossips may be trying to hurt others, but what they prove is only that they themselves are completely untrustworthy.

  8. It indicates hypocrisy in the church. James puts it this way: the tongue is a “world of unrighteousness” (3:6), a “restless evil, full of deadly poison” (3:8). When the same tongue blesses God and curses others – including through gossip – hypocrisy is in the room (3:10-12).

  9. It risks God’s judgment. Jesus told us that we’ll answer for every word we say (Matthew 12:36-37). Gossips who continue in their pattern (and most gossips do) are inviting judgment – and judgment on one member affects the entire church.

So, what do we do? If you’re a gossip, stop talking. If you like to hear gossip, you’re also guilty. Stop listening. And, if gossips continue to talk and create turmoil, it’s only loving to confront them and call them to repentance. To do anything less is to give the enemy a foothold in your church.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Chuck Lawless is dean and vice-president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

3/18/2016 11:18:39 AM by Chuck Lawless, Guest Column | with 0 comments



What the Bible is & why it matters

March 17 2016 by Jason K. Allen, MBTS

I was in front of a group of Christians fielding questions about the nature of scripture recently – what the Bible is and why it matters. I was struck by how many in the group, though they believed and appreciated the Bible, lacked sufficient grounding in the holy scriptures. They did not really grasp what the Bible is and why it matters. Do you?
 
While most Americans grant the Bible unique status, and most churchgoers think of it – to some degree – as a book from God, confessional evangelicals believe the Bible is much more than that. We believe it is God’s Word.
 
The Bible is unlike any other book – it is God’s written revelation to man. By it, we can know God and truly know ourselves. More importantly, by it we can know Christ and the way of salvation.
 
The sad reality is that many who serve churches and fill pulpits do not believe the scriptures, and the sadder reality is many who sit under their ministries are not equipped to detect it.
 
Exactly how should we think of the Bible? In what way is it unique? How should Christians view the Bible? Let us look at five ways that helpfully describe the nature of scripture.
 

The inspiration of scripture

Drawn from 2 Timothy 3:16, where the apostle Paul states, “All scripture is inspired of God,” inspiration literally means “God breathed out the holy scriptures.” They come from His innermost being. Operationally, it means God superintended the authors of scripture in such a way that the words themselves, not just the authors, were inspired.
 
Inspiration is the most common and historic descriptor for the Bible, but it has proven to be an insufficient one. Historically, inspiration also implied truthfulness and authority and functioned as a catchall descriptor for the Bible as God’s Word.
 
Liberal theologians commandeered the term and severed it from its original usage. Their practice of “using our vocabulary, but not our dictionary” left an insufficient doctrine of inspiration, where the authors – much like Shakespeare or Bach – might be inspired, but not the text itself.
 
Confessing evangelicals understand inspiration to be both verbal and plenary. Verbal means the words – not just the author or the sentiments behind the words – are inspired, while plenary means all of the words of scripture, not just a subset. Literally, each and every word of the Bible is fully inspired of God.
 

The infallibility of scripture

As the word inspiration became insufficiently clear in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, “infallibility” entered the confessing church’s lexicon. Infallibility means the Word of God accomplishes all it intends and is incapable of error or untruth. Thus, the Bible is infallible.
 
By the second half of the 20th century, infallibility, like inspiration, had been weakened of its original force. This hollowed-out version of infallibility became something much narrower: The Bible was infallible in matters of faith and practice, thus implying the Bible may not be true when it spoke to more technical, less spiritual matters like science, historical records or genealogies. Another more forceful and unambiguous term became necessary, hence the word “inerrancy.”
 

The inerrancy of scripture

Now, in the 21st century, the most robust designation for the Bible is “inerrancy.” Inerrancy asserts the original manuscripts were without error, real or perceived. Inerrancy applies to the entire Bible, including scientific references and historical accounts. Though the Bible is not primarily a book of science or history, when it does reference such matters it does so truthfully. In its original usage, infallibility meant the Bible, in theory, could have no errors. Inerrancy means that the Bible indeed has no errors.
 
Inerrancy does not mean there are no challenging texts, apparent contradictions or human mistakes in translation. Rather, it points all the way upstream and asserts that the Bible’s original sources and texts were error-free in every way. In fact, inerrancy holds up even in light of modern scholarship, when textual variants and other ambiguities of transmission are taken into consideration.
 
Inerrancy became the delineating issue in the controversy within the Southern Baptist Convention in the last quarter of the 20th century, and it remains the most defining and clarifying referent to the nature of scripture. Inerrancy is built on this simple logic: If the Bible is errant at any point, it may be inaccurate at any point. For a more thorough explanation of the doctrine of inerrancy, consult the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.
 

The authority of scripture

As God’s revelation to man, the Bible comes with binding authority. From how to live the Christian life, to doctrines we must embrace, to how the church should order itself, Holy scripture is an authoritative Word, requiring Christians to obey.
 
The Bible’s self-attestation assumes this. Throughout scripture, those who believe and live the Bible are affirmed as wise, faithful and genuine followers of Christ.[1]
 
As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell – and great was its fall.”[2]
 

The sufficiency of scripture

Finally, as the living Word of God, the Bible is sufficient for Christian ministry and living. As Paul reminded Timothy, since the Holy scriptures are inspired of God, the Bible itself makes us “adequate, equipped for every good work.”[3]
 
Christians need not look to second blessings, mystical experiences or other human authority. We have a more certain and more powerful word, the Word of God.
 
Each one of these aspects of God’s Word are interlinked and interdependent. They form five links in the chain of God’s revelation to man. Only an inspired book can be infallible and inerrant, and a book that owns these three strengths is authoritative and sufficient.
 
The Bible is truly unlike any other book. It is God’s written self-disclosure to humanity. As such, we must read it, study it, teach it and live it.
 
[1] Hebrews 4:12, Psalm 19:7-11, John 8:31-32, Joshua 1:8, 2 Timothy 3:16-17
 
[2] Matthew 7:24-27.
 
[3] 2 Timothy 3:17.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jason K. Allen is president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. This column first appeared at his website, jasonkallen.com.)

3/17/2016 11:26:15 AM by Jason K. Allen, MBTS | with 0 comments



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