April 2003

Candidate for Mars Hill president faces opposition

April 29 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge and Steve DeVane , BR Staff

Candidate for Mars Hill president faces opposition | Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Candidate for Mars Hill president faces opposition

By Tony W. Cartledge and Steve DeVane BR Staff

Faculty, students and some alumni at Mars Hill College have expressed strong opposition to a prime candidate for school president.

Rick Brewer, vice president for planning and student affairs at Charleston Southern University (CSU) was brought to the campus April 22-23 for meetings with faculty, staff and students.

Brewer referred questions to Fred Pittillo, chairman of the Mars Hill trustees. Pittillo had earlier declined to comment on specifics of the search.

The meetings on campus, by several accounts, did not go well for Brewer.

Afterward, the faculty voted 72 to 0, with two abstentions, in favor of a resolution opposing his candidacy, according to faculty chair George Peery. "We believe Dr. Brewer is not a good fit for the position of president of Mars Hill College, and we recommend the search committee not proceed with his candidacy," the statement said.

The faculty requested the opportunity to interview other qualified candidates and said the current administration is operating effectively, so there is no need to rush.

The Student Government Association (SGA) also convened after Brewer met with students. After concerns were expressed, SGA president Chris Alley asked if the student senators would like to take an informal vote on whether they would like to have Brewer as president. Students expressed opposition to Brewer by a ratio of about ten to one, according to Derek Hodges, editor of The Hilltop, the campus newspaper.

Campus administrators and other staff members did not take a vote after their meeting with Brewer, but seemed to be more equally divided in their opinions, according to several accounts.

A group of 25 retired faculty and staff, college alumni and friends also met with Brewer and endorsed a statement that concludes, "We are strongly disappointed in the candidate and unanimously feel that he is not the best person for the position!" The statement cites Brewer's limited educational or leadership experience beyond Charleston Southern, and adds "We question whether a person whose training and experience have been almost totally associated with an institution as deeply conservative as CSU could provide strong leadership at an institution with a history of freedom and openness such as Mars Hill."

While he was at Mars Hill, several students asked Brewer about concerns that Charleston Southern appears to be more conservative than Mars Hill, according to The Hilltop. Brewer said he knows some people may be concerned that he'll try to make Mars Hill like CSU.

"I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't want to do that, because they're just simply two different types of schools," he said. "Both schools have pluses. Both are pluses. Both work."

Brewer said he would spend the first few years of his presidency learning about Mars Hill.

When asked if he would support a woman pastor, Brewer said that was a local church issue. When asked if he would support a woman as campus minister, Brewer said he would if she was the best candidate for the position.

Mars Hill fired Paula Clayton Dempsey as campus minister last year in what school officials said was a budget-cutting move. The school is currently interviewing candidates for campus chaplain, a similar position.

Brewer also told students that he would not ask faculty members to sign a faith statement unless directed to do so by the board. Mars Hill trustees decided in January that faculty and staff will not have to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message or any other such statement.

"I would not be in favor of signing some statement," Brewer said. "... That sounds creedalistic, and Baptists have historically not been creedal people."

In an interview with The Hilltop, Brewer described himself as a "centrist."

George Peery, faculty chair and member of the search committee, said the agreed-upon process had been violated.

Before any candidate was named, he said, the committee agreed on a process that ensured an opportunity for feedback. "The search committee agreed that it would meet following campus visits to receive feedback from the various constituencies on campus when Brewer came on campus. We stipulated that before the nomination would go before the executive committee, that we would meet and then send the nomination on to the executive committee. The search committee has not as of this morning (April 28) been called back into session."

That is significant, because an "informal meeting" of the trustees' executive committee had been called for 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 1. The executive committee has a regular meeting scheduled for May 8, and the full trustee board is scheduled to meet May 9.

Trustee Henry Crouch said he had been contacted and told that other trustees were invited to come and observe the meeting May 1, which was to be held at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute.

"It is peculiar that they are meeting, and that they are meeting at Fruitland," Peery said. "Do they fear coming on campus? ... Do they find this place inhospitable? It leads people to suspect strange things are going on."

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4/29/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge and Steve DeVane , BR Staff | with 0 comments



Church removed from association

April 29 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Church removed from association | Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Church removed from association

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

CONCORD - Cabarrus Baptist Association officially removed McGill Baptist Church in Concord during the association's bi-annual meeting on April 28. Messengers voted 250-11 with seven abstentions to withdraw fellowship from the church for baptizing two men believed to be gay.

The sanctuary at Southside Baptist Church in Concord was filled to overflowing for the meeting.

Concord fire officials limited the number of people inside the church sanctuary to 290. About 30 others had to watch the proceedings by video in the church fellowship hall.

The Recorder and other members of the press were kept out of the entire meeting even though association officials had earlier told a Recorder representative that the paper would be welcome at most of the meeting, but would have to leave when removal of the church was being discussed.

It is believed to be the first time a N.C. Baptist association has met behind closed doors.

Randy Wadford, the association's director of missions, said Roberts Rules of Order called for the meeting to be closed because it was dealing with membership issues.

Reporters from three newspapers and three television stations waited outside the church sanctuary for the meeting to end. The entire meeting lasted more than two and a half hours. The closed portion lasted about an hour and 20 minutes.

Near the end of the closed session, about 10 members of McGill who were not allowed in because the church's limit of 10 messengers was already inside gathered on the church lawn to wait.

Steve Ayers, pastor of McGill, said the action was about fundamentalism, not Baptist heritage.

"The kingdom of God is about love. It's about God's grace. It's about showing that grace," he said. "When any church becomes so judgmental that they cannot accept people into the fellowship, it's sad."

Wadford said the move was not fundamentalism.

"This association has spent the last 10 years that I've been here in a positive light, moving ahead," he said, noting that the association has grown from 69 to 81 churches in that time.

"Our outreach is to everyone. No one in this building had a problem with homosexuals who would have come and joined any of our churches if the lifestyle had changed. The issue was lifestyle."

Wadford said the association would have taken similar action if a church baptized someone who continued to be an alcoholic.

"Sin is sin, if it's alcoholic, if it's adultery, if it's any other sin," he said.

Wadford said that when he was a pastor he would not allow a couple who were living together but not married to join his church unless they repented of their lifestyle.

Wadford said a homosexual person is welcome to attend association churches, but not join.

"Joining a Baptist church means a person has repented of their sin, accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord," he said.

Ayers said repentance is turning toward Christ.

"I'm not their judge, but I can tell you the people who joined our church are living a very Christ-like life," he said.

In a prepared statement, Wadford said the New Testament teaches that the homosexual lifestyle is contrary to God's will and plan for mankind.

"Therefore, Cabarrus Baptist Association must take a stand against any of our churches supporting or condoning this lifestyle," he said. "To allow individuals into the membership of a local church without evidence or testimony of true repentance (a turning away from the old way of living) is to condone the old lifestyle."

Ayers said the church would not ask people their sexual preference before allowing them to join the church.

"If we throw the sinners out, there's not a church that's going to be open next week," he said.

Ayers said the church believes the word of God.

"Yet we also understand that the Holy Spirit works within us and the Holy Spirit gives us the wonderful ability to recognize the leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives," he said. "McGill Baptist believes the word of God, we preach the word of God every Sunday, and our people live the word of God."

The association's constitution says the association "shall not maintain fellowship with any church that departs from Southern Baptist faith and practice and fails to maintain a spirit of cooperation with the Association," Wadford said.

"McGill Baptist Church has chosen to allow into its membership persons who continue to live a homosexual lifestyle, which is contrary to the teachings of Scripture," he said. "Therefore, the spirit of cooperation with the association has been broken and out of a heart of sadness and regret we must withdraw fellowship at this time."

Ayers said the issue was an emotional one.

"It seems to me that we have more of a problem with sexual sins than any other," he said. "I think the real problem is a problem of power. The sin of power is usually what's at the heart of it."

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4/29/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Association to try to remove church in closed meeting

April 25 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Association to try to remove church in closed meeting | Friday, April 25, 2003

Friday, April 25, 2003

Association to try to remove church in closed meeting

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

Cabarrus Baptist Association officials plan to close part of the association's bi-annual meeting on April 28 so messengers can consider whether to remove a church that baptized two men believed to be gay.

Randy Wadford, the associational missionary, declined to discuss the move to withdraw fellowship from one of the churches, but said he might release a statement after the meeting.

Steve Ayers, pastor at McGill Baptist Church, confirmed that the church had been notified that a motion would be made that the association withdraw fellowship from the church. The church was notified of the motion in a letter that it received by fax on April 23, he said.

According to a copy of the letter provided to the Recorder by Ayers, association leaders found out that the church accepted and baptized two men who are living "a homosexual lifestyle." The association leaders asked the church to go to the men and ask them if they have made a profession of faith, repented and turned from this lifestyle.

Ayers and other church leaders told the association that the church does not ask persons their sexual preference when they come for membership.

The association asked the church to withdraw from the association, but the church declined.

Church officials told association leaders that the issue was church autonomy, not homosexuality. The association's letter says the association's constitution affirms church autonomy and states that the association "has no authority over the churches, except of an advisory nature."

"The association is not trying to step in and dictate to your church," the letter said. "We, however, as an association do see the need for us to take a stand based on the Scriptures."

The association said in the letter that Romans 1:26-27 teaches that "the homosexual lifestyle is contrary to God's will and plan for mankind."

The association's ministry council and mutual care ministry team will make the motion, according to the letter.

Wadford said anyone who is not a messenger will have to leave the meeting when the issue comes up. He said representatives of the Biblical Recorder would not be allowed to ask messengers to keep the meeting open.

"Technically, you wouldn't have a platform to speak on," he said.

Wadford said a Recorder representative was welcome at the early part of the meeting. Association officials will hold a roll call to make sure no one but messengers are at the later part of the meeting, he said.

Roy J. Smith, former executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention, has been involved with N.C. Baptist life for about 50 years. He has heard of associational committees closing their meetings, but not an entire association.

"I have never heard of it," he said. "So far as I know this will be the first time an association has gone into executive session."

Unless a personnel matter is being discussed, Baptist meetings historically have been open, Smith said.

"Any time you're doing anything in secret you raise suspicions that everything is not above board," he said. "It sure makes me suspicious."

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4/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Missionary says BF&M misstates Bible's view of marriage

April 25 2003 by Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press

Missionary says BF&M misstates Bible's view of marriage | Friday, April 25, 2003

Friday, April 25, 2003

Missionary says BF&M misstates Bible's view of marriage

By Mark Wingfield Associated Baptist Press

The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) has it backward in describing the correlation between marriage and the union between Christ and the church, according to a veteran Southern Baptist missionary who has resigned.

Bill McCall and his wife, Judy, served 26 years in Togo with the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) International Mission Board (IMB). He has been a seminary professor.

Like at least 42 other IMB missionaries, the McCalls have resigned rather than sign an affirmation of the 2000 BF&M as required by IMB president Jerry Rankin.

"We're not trying to be combative," McCall said. "We just simply couldn't sign for reasons of integrity."

The professor's main reason for not signing is somewhat different than the explanations given by others who have not signed.

He cites the document's Article 18 on the family. The second sentence of that section states that marriage "is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church."

That states the biblical teaching in reverse, McCall said. "Does the Bible teach that marriage is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church? I checked all of the Bible references given and could not find this. In effect, Paul taught the Ephesians the opposite, that Christ's relationship with the church teaches what the marriage relationship should be like."

In Ephesians 5:22-32, verses cited by the SBC document, Paul "puts the emphasis on Christ and His love for the church," McCall said. "The emphasis in this teaching is the responsibility of the man to ensure that the marriage relationship be correct in God's sight. To state that marriage is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and his church reverses what the Bible states."

Marriage may offer a good metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the church if the marriage is good, McCall said, but Jesus offers a more perfect example for marriage. "Jesus always fulfills His responsibilities to the church; therefore He is a perfect example, always. Man is an imperfect example; Christ is the perfect example."

To test his reading of the passage, the professor copied the second paragraph of Article 18 from the 2000 BF&M and showed it to his third-year New Testament students in Togo without explaining the statement's origin. He asked the students to find biblical references to support the statement.

"When I asked them how it was coming, they were apparently troubled," he said. "Since they thought I had written the statements, they were reluctant to criticize them. When I explained that I had not written them, they were quite free in stating that they could not find any references to support this very part of the statements that had troubled me."

McCall said he could not in good conscience sign and pledge to teach in accordance with such a doctrinal statement.

"That does not mean that I question the need for accountability to our board," he said. "It does mean that if I find conflict between my accountability to the IMB and my accountability to the word of God, I must be accountable to God according to my understanding of His word and my conscience."

Despite this painful decision, the McCalls contend they have no anger.

"We are not mad at anyone," he said. "We still pray for and support our missionaries. ... God's task has not changed, but our place and opportunities for service have changed."

(EDITOR'S NOTE - Steve DeVane contributed to this story.)

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4/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



WMU promotes 'restorative justice'

April 25 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

WMU promotes 'restorative justice' | Friday, April 25, 2003

Friday, April 25, 2003

WMU promotes 'restorative justice'

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

Most people call it "prison ministry." The N.C. Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) calls it "restorative justice," a reminder that incarceration is not just about punishment. True justice, in the biblical sense, also seeks the restoration of wrongdoers and their victims alike.

Showing compassion to women in the prison system is nothing new for N.C. WMU, which has sponsored an annual retreat for inmates at Camp Mundo Vista for more than 20 years, and a camp for inmates' children called "Camp Angel Tree." During the Christmas season each year, women across the state collect toiletry items that are packed into distinctive red boxes and delivered to inmates in four of the state's five major correctional institutions for women. Local projects include activities for youthful offenders and suitcases or duffel bags containing toys and comfort items for children who must go into foster care when their mothers go to jail.

The N.C. WMU recently began a two-year special emphasis on restorative justice, during which WMU members will learn more about mission needs and be encouraged to get involved in local opportunities. Participants at the annual "Missions Extravaganza" contributed to a special offering to support particular projects.

On April 17, WMU leaders met in Cary to present checks for more than $13,000 to prison representatives for three special projects promoted at the two "Missions Extravaganza" meetings this spring.

Margaret Harding, adult women's specialist with N.C. WMU, oversees the restorative justice emphasis, which she said "educates and equips God's people to meet the needs of victims, offenders, law enforcement and communities, resulting in biblical change in the criminal justice system."

Those affected by crime cannot be restored to a sense of peace, Harding said, unless "God's people get involved in bringing Christ to those hurt by the evil of crime."

Brenda Jarra, superintendent of the North Piedmont Correctional Center for Women, accepted a check for $6,000 for the facility's REACH program, headed by social worker Rhonda Robertson. REACH stands for REndering Access to her CHildren, Robertson said. The funds will purchase furnishings and equipment for a supervised visitation center and playground where inmates can visit with their children.

Jarra said she tells inmates that prison is much like a waiting room. "You decide what to do while you're waiting," she said. "When the wait is over, you decide whether you leave with God or without Him."

George Sweat, executive secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, accepted another $6,000 for the department's RINGS program. Sweat, who said the number of incarcerated youth is at an all time low, said he is convinced that a "forgiveness model" is needed. "There is no doubt in my mind that God is opening doors for us," he said.

RINGS (Responsibility, Individual, Neighbor, God and Service) is designed to help at-risk youth learn more about their faith and spiritual growth. The program provides Bible study materials, a T-shirt and a jacket for those completing the program. Chaplain Chris Houston, who works at the C.E. Dillon Youth Development Center in Butner, said RINGS "is a last attempt" to help youth avoid joining the adult prison population.

N.C. WMU president Caroline Jones also presented a $1,500 check to Marla Cates, chaplain at Raleigh Correctional Center for Women, and program supervisor Marcia Barnes. The money will be put in a discretionary fund to help prepare women for release by securing identification cards, transportation for jobs, housing deposits, and other needs.

Ruby Fulbright, executive director for N.C. WMU, said "Project Help" emphases such as restorative justice and the previous focus on literacy are making a difference. "Many women are looking for their part in God's plan," she said. "Through these emphases they often find their niche."

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4/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



Stop and smell the culverts

April 25 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Stop and smell the culverts | Friday, April 25, 2003

Friday, April 25, 2003

Stop and smell the culverts

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

I am by nature a rather task-oriented person, especially when it comes to things I don't especially enjoy - like jogging. I want to get my heart pumping, keep my legs moving, and generally get my full 45-50 minute's worth in so I can move on to the 10 minutes of stretching my physical therapist expects and the 15 minutes of ice on the hip that my doctor wants so I can finally take a shower and tackle the next thing on my agenda. Since I usually run late at night, the next thing is usually spelled with a lot of z's.

I take the dog with me so she can get out of the yard, but she has her own agenda, and it's not a steady trot.

She loves to run, but she also wants to stop and stick her nose into every driveway culvert or hole in the ground to see what critters are stirring.

She wants to sniff every mailbox post, rock or tuft of grass big enough to invite a boy dog to lift his leg on the way through.

I thought neutering might dim her fascination with pheromones, but she seems to find some secret doggy message in every drip, drop and spatter of spoor.

You'd be surprised how strongly a 12-pound dog can pull when she plants all four feet. The added resistance on the leash keeps my heart rate going, even when my feet are barely moving.

But I don't run every day. On the other days we walk, and I let the pooch stop and sniff to her heart's content.

While she vacuums all the ground-level smells, I become alert for a hint of honeysuckles, the scent of rain on the way, or the fresh fragrance of new-mown grass.

Running may build up the body, but an olfactory adventure can be good for the soul.

It's amazing what you can learn from a dog.

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4/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



The Jesus faith and message

April 25 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

The Jesus faith and message | Friday, April 25, 2003

Friday, April 25, 2003

The Jesus faith and message

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

A recent letter from International Mission Board (IMB) president Jerry Rankin gave a few remaining holdout missionaries an ultimatum that finally spelled out what most folks have assumed all along - that failing to sign a statement affirming the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) has consequences, and the consequences are spelled t-e-r-m-i-n-a-t-i-o-n.

IMB officials have insisted for more than a year that missionaries who refused to sign were simply choosing to no longer be employed by the IMB, so they weren't really terminated.

I don't want to pick on the IMB - the North American Mission Board, the six Southern Baptist seminaries, and most other SBC entities also require many of their program workers to affirm the doctrinal statement if they desire continued employment. It's just that Baptists have such a deep-seated admiration for our veteran "foreign" missionaries that we get really misty-eyed when they get the ax.

Employees of the various Baptist bodies have generally been told that their affirmation of the 2000 BF&M is essential for maintaining the integrity of their institutions and their accountability to the churches.

There are others who think issues of integrity and accountability go far deeper than a bit of ink soaking into the paper at the bottom of a form.

What does it prove to have missionaries and other convention employees sign on the dotted line? Does it guarantee they really believe or agree to conduct themselves in accord with the doctrinal positions their signature affirms?

Most people who have signed papers for a home mortgage, a hospital stay, or a software license agreement have almost certainly signed documents they didn't fully read or understand, but they knew the signature was necessary.

Knowing that missionaries and other denominational employees have written their name at the bottom of a form gives me no confidence at all that they are any more accountable or fit for their position.

What I want to know is whether God has called them to the task.

What I want to know is if they love God with all their hearts and love others as themselves.

As Malcolm Tolbert shows eloquently and often in his new book, Shaping the Church, God's desire from Genesis 1 onward has been to create a community of people who love God with all their being and love their neighbors as themselves.

Our human penchants for sinful rebellion on the one hand or religious rule-making on the other have persistently fostered division rather than community building among those who would serve God.

In a world caught between lawlessness and legalism, Jesus proclaimed love.

The gospels contain accounts of how Jesus gave His own reinterpretation of Old Testament law. They tell us how Jesus spoke of God's kingdom breaking into the world in ways not previously conceived.

And, they include brief summaries of what Jesus taught.

When Jesus summarizes His teaching, Christians should pay attention.

In Matthew 27:37-40, Jesus summed up God's expectations of humankind as expressed in the Hebrew scriptures: "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

John's gospel records Jesus' summation of what He expected of those who would experience redemption and follow him: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

That's what I want to know about missionaries, about pastors, about denominational employees, about Christians in general.

I don't want to know if they affirm a long list of specific doctrinal positions favored by those who currently have the most votes.

I want to know if they are being accountable to the clear and simple teaching of Jesus.

Do they love God with all their hearts?

Do they love one another as Jesus loved them?

Those are the questions that matter, and their answers are written in a person's life and blood, not on a form for the file.

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4/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



Family Bible Study lesson for May 11: Making Peace in My Family

April 25 2003 by Crate Jones , Genesis 13:1-2, 5-18

Family Bible Study lesson for May 11: Making Peace in My Family | Friday, April 25, 2003

Friday, April 25, 2003

Family Bible Study lesson for May 11: Making Peace in My Family

By Crate Jones Genesis 13:1-2, 5-18

Abram (later known as Abraham) and his family were on their way back from Egypt where they had lived because of the famine in Canaan. While in Egypt, he had accumulated great wealth, which would play a role in family problems.

On his journey toward the Negev, he had built an altar to the Lord near a place called Bethel (House of God) and called on the name of the Lord. Upon reaching his destination, he went back to Bethel and again called on the name of the Lord.

For us, it's like going back to the place where we met Jesus and renewing our vows. I recall going back to my home church and standing in the empty baptistry where I was baptized at age nine. It was a time of remembering and reaching up to God.

Abram's close relationship with God made a difference in his relationship with his family. It will with ours, too.

Demonstrate generosity Genesis 13:1-2,5-9 Abram and nephew Lot had so many sheep, cattle and tents that the land could not support them all. Strife broke out between Lot's and Abram's herdsmen - a range war in the making. Trouble was brewing - a family split was on the way.

As Barney Fife would say, "nip it in the bud!" So Abram called for a truce: "Let's not quarrel, we're kinfolk, and the land is big enough for both of us. You go your way and I'll go mine."

He was seeking a peaceful solution to a sticky situation. He did from his heart what the Psalmist would later write: "Depart from evil, do good, seek peace and pursue it" (Psalm 34:14).

Abram showed a spirit of generosity; we can show a generosity of love. "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Eph. 4:32). This should be written over every church and home entrance.

Seeing the generous love and forgiveness Jesus demonstrated on the cross, how dare we withhold these from one another.

Reject selfishness Genesis 13:10-13 A selfish person is someone who always fishes for self. Abram had tried to build "a bridge over troubled water" by offering Lot first choice of the land. His response to the generous offer was "me, first."

When parting time came, Lot chose for himself what looked to be the best land. "The whole plain of the Jordan was well watered," (v.11) so in that direction he went. Unwittingly, he pitched his tent near the wicked city of Sodom.

It's difficult for a self-centered person to admit being wrong at times. There's a story about a young lady who married a man named Wright. Afterwards, she learned his first name was "Always." In family life, no one is always right.

Selfishness is sIn - with a capital "I" in the middle.

I have seen families nearly destroyed by alcohol, gambling, immorality, uncontrolled temper, dishonesty and other types of ungodliness. Always at the center is a person who demands his or her own way.

When selfish people humble themselves at the cross, they become a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17).

Rely on the Lord Genesis 13:14-18 The Lord reaffirmed His promise of blessing to Abram because he worshipped and walked in obedience. God will do the same for us.

Even Christian families go through "troubled waters." Honest confession, forgiveness and God's love works wonders.

A farmer was plowing in a hot summer field. His small daughter thought he would like a drink of water. She drew a bucket full of cool spring water, put a dipper in and walked across the field.

Her daddy drank several dipper's full and said, "My, daughter, that's the best water I ever tasted."

She replied, "Aw, Dad, it's just plain ole spring water."

He said, "I know, girl; but when you tote it, it gets the taste of love in it."

It's love that turns a house into a home and makes family members friends.

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4/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by Crate Jones , Genesis 13:1-2, 5-18 | with 0 comments



Formations lesson for May 11: The Virtue of Quietness

April 25 2003 by David Stratton , 1 Timothy 2:1-12

Formations lesson for May 11: The Virtue of Quietness | Friday, April 25, 2003

Friday, April 25, 2003

Formations lesson for May 11: The Virtue of Quietness

By David Stratton 1 Timothy 2:1-12

I confess that I missed it until now. For years I devoted so much energy to reconciling my view of the role of women in the church with the apparent teaching of a portion of this passage that I missed a wonderful lesson in these verses. If we are not careful in our rush to defend our approaches to this passage we may miss a good word about effectively translating the good news into the culture in which we find ourselves.

Salvation offered to all As Paul continues his instruction to his co-worker, Timothy, we find in verse 1 a word translated "therefore" or "then" which connects these verses to the preceding passage. In chapter 1 Paul exhorted Timothy to deal with unhealthy teaching among Christians in Ephesus. So, in our passage, the apostle becomes more specific in advising Timothy concerning a specific problem among Christians in a specific area.

Although verse 1 mentions prayer, William D. Mounce points out that prayer is the "stage" on which Paul proclaims the message of "the universal offer of salvation to all people" (Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 46, p. 76). Four times in verses 1-7 Paul uses a term translated "all" or "everyone" : (1) prayer for everyone in verse 1, (2) prayer for "all who are in high positions" in verse 2, (3) God's desire for "everyone to be saved" in verse 4, and (4) that Christ "gave Himself a ransom for all" in verse 6.

We do not know the exact content of the false teaching in Ephesus. Yet Paul's emphasis on the universal offer of salvation indicates the heresy involved some sort of exclusion of those God meant to save. In chapter 1 we were reminded that Christ came to save sinners of whom Paul identified himself as the foremost (1:15). The false teaching in Ephesus somehow puts up barriers between sinners and the "one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human " (1:5, NRSV).

Tear down the wall Beginning in verse 8 Paul explores more specific ways to bring down the barriers that false teaching in the church had put before sinners. In that regard he taught men to lift up hands in prayer. However, more than this specific practice of prayer, the apostle desired that men be holy by restraining their anger and their arguments (v. 8).

Paul wanted women to dress modestly and he did not want them teaching or having authority over men. Rather, females were to learn quietness and submission. Paul was addressing a local situation in Ephesus and his injunctions against women teaching and having authority over men and wearing gold and braided hair were never meant to be universal prohibitions for all places and times. The appeal to the creation account in verses 13-14 is an illustration of his teaching, not the foundation for it.

Many resources are available for in-depth study of the controversial aspects of this passage. Beyond the debate about two of these verses is an important thread that runs throughout the passage. Part of the problem at Ephesus was that some false teaching in the church put a wall between sinners and Christ. Paul wanted Timothy to lead the church to tear down that wall so the good news could be translated effectively to the people in Ephesus.

Intolerance outshines love In Revelation 2 Jesus told the believers in Ephesus that He knew they could not "tolerate evildoers" but He was concerned that they had "abandoned the love (they) had at first" (vs. 2; 4, NRSV).

Is this a description of essentially the same problem that Paul noticed? Were the Christians at Ephesus burning bridges toward sinners rather than building them? Did their intolerance toward sinners outshine their love for them?

Perhaps the problem of several thousand years ago in Ephesus is not so far removed from our churches today. The specifics may have changed but the difficulty of effectively translating the good news to our culture remains. Too often we burn bridges to sinners when we are called to build them. Too often our intolerance outshines our love.

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4/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by David Stratton , 1 Timothy 2:1-12 | with 0 comments



Fate of Southwestern profs unclear after trustee meeting

April 17 2003 by Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press

Fate of Southwestern profs unclear after trustee meeting | Thursday, April 17, 2003

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Fate of Southwestern profs unclear after trustee meeting

By Mark Wingfield Associated Baptist Press

FORT WORTH, Texas - The fate of two church history professors believed to be under fire from trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary remained unclear at the conclusion of the trustees' spring meeting April 8.

For weeks leading up to the trustee meeting, rumors swirled around the Fort Worth campus and beyond that Karen Bullock and Stephen Stookey, both associate professors of church history, were being forced off the faculty.

Both were due for tenure review, meaning the administration could recommend them to the trustee board for tenure approval. Both reportedly had been told prior to the board meeting that they would not be recommended to receive tenure and should seek other employment.

In many academic institutions, failure to receive tenure equates to an invitation to leave.

Word of the professors' plight has sparked intense concern among some students. To demonstrate their concern, a small group of students walked out of the April 8 chapel service while trustee Chairman Mike Dean spoke to students about the resignation of President Ken Hemphill.

"We love you, Dr. Bullock! We love you, Dr. Stookey!" the students shouted as they exited.

One of those protesters was Wendy Owens, a second-year master of arts in theology student who has studied with both Stookey and Bullock.

Owens said she and other students "find it hard to believe" that these two professors have been found unacceptable by seminary trustees or administrators.

"They are two teachers students really like and students can relate to really well," she said.

Owens, who earned an undergraduate degree in history at Wheaton College, said Bullock is "the best classroom teacher" she's ever experienced.

Both Bullock and Stookey, she said, presented scholarly and challenging material without appearing to deviate in any way from the theological parameters set by the seminary and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Both professors reportedly have signed the required affirmation of the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message, unlike other professors who refused and were forced to leave.

"Dr. Bullock, when women students go in to talk to her, they get from her that women need to be submissive, need to be gentle," Owens said. "If (seminary officials) don't want her to be a role model, who do they want to be our role models? The only thing I can conclude is that they don't want (women) to have any role models because they don't want us in the School of Theology."

For now, whatever concerns seminary administrators or trustees have with the two professors remain publicly unidentified. Neither trustee chairman Dean nor Provost Craig Blaising would answer questions about the matter during interviews with the Texas Baptist Standard and other media outlets April 8.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, in its April 9 issue, reported on the alleged ouster of the two professors.

Contrary to what many on campus anticipated, Blaising indicated trustees had taken no action on the matter during their April 7-8 meeting in Fort Worth. Asked specifically about the two professors' status, he responded that was a matter of tenure review, a confidential matter that remained "in process."

Dean likewise declined to address a specific question about the professors.

The only reference to tenure review in the sessions of the trustee meeting open to the press was to an overall review of the tenure-granting process. The matter apparently had been discussed in closed-door committee sessions and was pushed through the plenary session on a "consent agenda" with an unidentified number of other "routine" items.

According to one business summary sheet provided to reporters, the trustees will finalize an overhaul of the tenure process at their fall meeting.

Whether this overhaul relates in any way to the status of Stookey and Bullock was not stated.

Dean did say, however, when pressed by a reporter, that if the seminary administration chooses not to recommend a professor for tenure, that decision would not have to come before trustees. Trustees would review a tenure case, he said, only if the administration recommends a professor be granted tenure.

Asked if it were his understanding that a faculty member bypassed for tenure would be expected to leave, he responded that was the commonly accepted practice at many educational institutions, including Southwestern.

Both Stookey and Bullock declined to comment on their employment status because, each said, they had not been told the final disposition of their cases.

However, multiple seminary sources confirmed that it is widely understood by faculty and staff that both Stookey and Bullock have been encouraged to resign and have been told they may teach at Southwestern only one more year if they don't resign.

"No one around here is happy about this," explained one seminary source, who asked not to be named, echoing off-the-record statements made by others as well.

By some accounts, Bullock incurred the wrath of some trustees with a chapel address she gave at Southwestern March 20, 2002. In that address, she drew from Romans 12 to discuss the Apostle Paul confronting "viruses in the church."

Those viruses that have attacked the church from the beginning, she said, are trying to be God rather than obeying God and trying to control people rather than loving people.

Although not specifically drawing a parallel between troubles in the ancient church at Rome with controversies in the Southern Baptist Convention, some in the audience made such connections.

She mentioned viruses in the church that cause people to desire to control others rather than serve them, "persons who became victims of a mindset that enforced compliance, used coercion and treated people as objects to support the agendas of a few in the name of God."

She called on Christians to "celebrate our diversity" rather than emphasizing differences.

Bullock concluded her address with a prayer that God would help Christians build bridges and embrace each other and that God would "heal us as individuals and as a denomination."

Stookey reportedly has come under scrutiny for two articles published in the Southwestern Journal of Theology in 1999. Both address historical problems with claims made by advocates of a "Christian America" ideology.

In the lengthy articles, Stookey used an analysis of historical records to demonstrate that some advocates of America being founded as an explicitly "Christian" nation misrepresent the positions, writings or statements of some of the founding fathers. For example, while one prominent speaker on the "Christian America" circuit proclaims that 52 of the 55 framers of the United States Constitution were orthodox Christians, the historical evidence suggests otherwise, Stookey wrote.

"In reality, the founders were a varied collection of orthodox Christians, nominal church attenders, Christian moralists, Deists and nonbelievers," Stookey reported.

Stookey's articles specifically challenge the historical accuracy of statements made by David Barton, one of the foremost advocates of a "Christian America" perspective.

Barton is a popular writer and speaker among many Southern Baptists who support Religious Right causes.

All this leaves students baffled, however, according to Owens.

"Most people cannot even comprehend what the issues might be," she said. "So there's lots of speculation. The truth is that both these professors are the kind that cannot be bought, bribed or threatened. Because they can't be controlled, they are threatening to some people."

If both Stookey and Bullock were to leave the seminary faculty, the church history department would be severely strained for faculty. Currently, the department has five full-time faculty - Stookey, Bullock, Leon McBeth, Paul Gritz and Jim Spivey. McBeth, a veteran teacher who has achieved the rank of distinguished professor, is retiring. That means Gritz and Spivey would be the two remaining professors in church history.

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4/17/2003 12:00:00 AM by Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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