January 2002

Criswell remembered as larger-than-life pastor

January 18 2002 by Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press

Criswell remembered as larger-than-life pastor | Friday, Jan. 18, 2002

Friday, Jan. 18, 2002

Criswell remembered as larger-than-life pastor

By Mark Wingfield Associated Baptist Press DALLAS, Texas - Legendary Baptist preacher W.A. Criswell was remembered as a larger-than-life figure, evoking comparisons to the Apostle Paul, King David, Elijah and others, in eulogies Jan. 16 at First Baptist Church of Dallas. Criswell, pastor of the Dallas church for more than 50 years, died nearly a week earlier at age 92. For two days prior to the funeral, his body laid in state at Criswell College and First Baptist Church.

Thousands of people filled the sanctuary and overflow rooms at First Baptist Church and Criswell College, where the service was broadcast via closed-circuit TV.

In a highly unusual move, several miles of Dallas' North Central Expressway were closed after the funeral for a procession to Hillcrest Memorial Park for burial.

The two hour and 10 minute service featured six speakers: Richard Wells, president of Criswell College; Cliff Barrows of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls and a product of Criswell's ministry at the Dallas church; Paige Patterson, former longtime president of Criswell College and now president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina; O.S. Hawkins, former pastor of First Baptist Church and now president of the Southern Baptist Annuity Board; and Mac Brunson, current pastor of First Baptist Church.

Wells provided extensive biographical information about Criswell's life and ministry and read testimonies from family members and friends.

Barrows brought greetings from Graham, who has been a non-resident member of the church for years and was unable to travel to Texas for the service.

Jeffress testified to Criswell's influence on his own ministry and the ministry of thousands of other young pastors.

Patterson brought a bit of comic relief, sharing self-deprecating anecdotes related to his tenure with Criswell that elicited both laughter and tears. In the manner adult children sometimes tell stories on their parents, Patterson recounted how Criswell taught him to display proper decorum when seated on the platform during Sunday morning worship.

But more than anything, Patterson said, Criswell taught him how to weather life's storms.

"All your life you will be in a storm," he recalled Criswell advising him. "You can't do anything about that. All you can do is be certain you are in the center of God's will."

Hawkins spoke of Criswell's theological influence on the Southern Baptist Convention and beyond, calling Criswell "our standard bearer."

Brunson delivered a sermon based on the books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings, in which he called Criswell God's "defender of the faith." Brunson ended his sermon with a call to spiritual commitment, urging anyone listening who was not a Christian to make that commitment as the church choir sang Handel's "Hallelujah."

The congregation included a host of Baptist and local dignitaries, including the presidents of SBC seminaries, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, former Dallas Mavericks owner Don Carter, SBC President James Merritt and other SBC officials, Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Director Charles Wade, BGCT Executive Board Chairman Brian Harbour and other BGCT representatives.

Throughout the service, Criswell was portrayed in larger-than-life terms including "giant," "genius" and "visionary." But speakers constantly returned to the theme of Criswell's obsession with Bible study, preaching and evangelizing.

Brunson recalled his last visit with Criswell, which he said was about two weeks prior to his death. Criswell's mind was clouded by medicine, but his heart was still set on God, Brunson said.

Criswell did not recognize Brunson. But upon seeing him, Criswell asked: "Are you here for the revival?"

His answer, Brunson said, was, "I pray so."

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1/18/2002 12:00:00 AM by Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Judge orders halt to funding of 'faith-based' program

January 18 2002 by Robert Marus , Associated Baptist Press

Judge orders halt to funding of 'faith-based' program | Friday, Jan. 18, 2002

Friday, Jan. 18, 2002

Judge orders halt to funding of 'faith-based' program

By Robert Marus Associated Baptist Press MADISON, Wis. - Taxpayer funding of a program once touted by President Bush as an example of the kind of partnerships he hopes will flourish under his "faith-based" initiative has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. On Jan. 8, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb of Wisconsin ordered the state's Department of Workforce Development to discontinue the giving of direct grants to Faith Works - a Milwaukee addiction-recovery program for fathers.

The group has a specifically Christian mission and includes Bible study, prayer, religious counseling and a "faith-enhanced" Alcoholics Anonymous program among its treatment regimen.

President Bush touted the program during his 2000 presidential campaign as the kind of activity he would like to encourage. The program had been partially funded by block grants from the office of then-Gov. Tommy Thompson, who is now the head of Bush's Department of Health and Human Services.

The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit arguing that the unrestricted grants from the governor's discretionary fund, as well as pay-for-service grants from the state's department of corrections, violated the religious-liberty clauses of the First Amendment.

The judge agreed that even though the Faith Works program has "secular purposes" that courts have said can qualify religiously sponsored organizations for public funds, religion permeates its content. The U.S. Supreme Court has said direct grants cannot go to "pervasively sectarian" programs unless safeguards are in place to ensure that government funds aren't used for religious indoctrination or proselytizing.

The judge disagreed with attorneys for Faith Works who argued that sufficient safeguards existed to separate the program's secular and religious components, citing in particular the potential for state funding of religious counselors.

"State money and private foundation money are deposited into the same bank account from which counselors' salaries are paid," she wrote in her judgment. "At any given time, it is not possible to trace the source of bank deposits, to determine that money from private grants has been earmarked to pay counselors' salaries or to determine that state funds are not being used to pay counseling staff."

Bush's "faith-based initiatives" plan has already passed in the House but stalled in the Senate late last year. It would make it easier for the government to offer direct grants to pervasively religious organizations.

It now appears that a watered-down Senate version of the bill may be introduced when the Senate returns to work Jan. 23. The Senate bill would be co-sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Rick Santorum (R-Penn.).

The Wisconsin judge did not rule on a second allegation in the lawsuit that grants to Faith Works by the Department of Corrections also violated the First Amendment. The judge said church-state conflicts were less clear with the corrections contract than in the governor's grants. She ordered a trial to determine whether the corrections program was also unconstitutional.

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1/18/2002 12:00:00 AM by Robert Marus , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Author promotes video as a useful vehicle of worship

January 11 2002 by Greg Warner , Associated Baptist Press

Author promotes video as a useful vehicle of worship | Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

Author promotes video as a useful vehicle of worship

By Greg Warner Associated Baptist Press DENVER - Sally Morgenthaler foresees a day when digital video will be used as frequently and naturally in worship services as the hymnal ever was. Making the visual element an integral part of worship is a passion for Morgenthaler, a popular speaker and author on worship.

Visual worship isn't just about cool gadgets or being culturally relevant, she said in an interview with the Christian lifestyle magazine FaithWorks. It's about giving Christians full-sensory freedom to experience the presence of God, and for most congregations it's a long way off.

While many churches already use multimedia in worship, it is most often to support a verbal message. Sermon outlines, song texts and movie clips are used as illustrations for the spoken sermon, which still is the main focus of worship.

But that limits the power of visual technology as a vehicle for the gospel message in its own right, Morgenthaler said.

Like other worship planners, Morgenthaler said she is "guilty of using (visual) resources to support the idea of Christ and not the person."

Instead of using video "just to stuff more information into people's heads," she said, "I want to use video to help people experience the person of God through Jesus Christ."

That distinction says volumes about a church's philosophy of worship, she said. A didactic, linear approach in worship is a "way to deliver a concept." A sensory, multimedia approach, in contrast, "invite you into the grand story."

Western Christians are so conditioned to present the gospel as a rational argument that they view other elements of worship as supplementing the sermon, Morgenthaler said. But that ignores the powerful role the visual can play in transformation.

Pictures not only tell stories with incredible emotional power, but they can even serve a liturgical purpose, she said. For example, a scripture passage about the constancy of God could be paired with a video of waves continually crashing on the shore. If used without verbal commentary, she said, the video functions "parallel to the passage, and it's not didactic." By adding a visual experience of constancy, the video expands the message of the scripture.

Morgenthaler, whose 1996 book, Worship Evangelism, is becoming a contemporary classic, is completing a new book, The Uncharted Now, which explores worship in the emerging culture.

While examples are rare, Morgenthaler said a new visual-worship resource from Highway Video is the type that can make video an integral part of worship.

Highway, based in the Silicon Valley, recently released Vibe Videos, a collection of short generic videos for worship. They are more poetic than didactic, visually expounding broad themes like water, sunlight, the Cross and worship symbols. They come in DVD or VHS formats, with or without subtle text that supports the theme. They can stand alone to create "ambiance." Or they can accompany live music, serve as an offertory, or enhance communion, all to add texture.

"They're more ethereal," said Joe Perez, a producer on Highway's three-man team. "They're kind of like visual wallpaper. The beauty is in the simplicity."

Javad Shadzi, Highway's marketing director, agrees with Morgenthaler about video's potential to be worship, not just support it. "The visual arts can communicate a point or the visual arts can be the experience," he said.

But Highway is not pushing the Vibe Videos as "liturgy" or stand-alone experience. "We are all for video being the experience too, but it's hard to mass produce that," Shadzi said. "The last thing we want to do is mass produce and sell spirituality.

"Generally, we have used video to supplement 'standard' teaching and worship, as opposed to Sally's approach of video being the content or teaching," he said. "Getting pastors to even supplement their teaching with a video is a big enough chore. ... But as more and more worship leaders experiment with video, that could quickly change."

The Vibe Videos are a new direction for Highway Video, which also produces on-the-street interviews, short dramas, thematic commentaries and music videos, all for use in worship and other group settings.

Highway, which started as a video team at Highway Community Church in Palo Alto, Calif., is one of a very few companies that are producing original video for worship, and trying to make a living at it.

"I have no talent other than just seeing the world funky," said Travis Reed, founder, president and producer, whose offbeat humor has been part of Highway's trademark. While quality production is important, they say, telling stories is where the real power of video lies. "We try not to get hung up on the technology - it's storytelling," Shadzi said.

Church media ministries tend to attract the techies, Shadzi added, but the storytellers are the ones who really need to be involved.

"The (medieval) church used to commission the greatest artists to tell its story," he said. Visual worship in part is about bringing art back into the church, he added, "because God created it and it works. It gives people a deeper connection."

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1/11/2002 12:00:00 AM by Greg Warner , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Christian soldiers going onward

January 11 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Christian soldiers going onward | Friday, Jan. 11, 2002
  • A two-star general who commands a warfare school leads a prayer breakfast and reminded the unit chaplain that he didn't work for the commander, he worked for the Lord.
  • A three-star general interviewing a staff sergeant for a position as his aide asked the soldier if he had any questions. The enlisted man said his only question was whether the general was a Christian because he couldn't take the job if the general wasn't a Christian.
  • A legal secretary who is a member of Village Baptist Church prayed for her boss, an Army lawyer at Fort Bragg. The lawyer later approached Frunzi and a chaplain, saying he was concerned about being "left behind." The lawyer had read one of the popular books from the series of that name. He became a Christian.
  • A Navy Seal who is chief of staff for Frunzi's unit said he can't start a day without prayer.

    "The word 'quit' is not in his vocabulary and I know prayer is the reason why," Frunzi said.

  • The top enlisted soldier in a Ranger unit gave up his spot in an airplane so the unit chaplain could jump into combat with his unit during a recent operation.
  • A lieutenant colonel gave his commander a Bible and a two-page letter telling about his Christian beliefs.

    "There are a growing number of Christians defending their country," Frunzi said. "All are men and women of action."

  • Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

    Christian soldiers going onward

    By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor FAYETTEVILLE - Christians are playing an active role in the military, an Army officer told N.C. Baptists attending the State Evangelism Conference on Jan. 7. Lt. Col. Bill Frunzi, the deputy director of logistics for Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, spoke about what God is doing in the military. Joint Special Operations Command oversees secretive special operations forces of the Army, Navy and Air Force that work together on counter-terrorism missions around the world.

    Frunzi is a member of Manna Church, a nondenominational congregation in Fayetteville. He received a standing ovation before and after his remarks.

    Bruce Martin, the pastor at Village Baptist Church in Fayetteville, introduced Frunzi. Village Baptist Church hosted the Evangelism Conference.

    Martin said he asked Frunzi to speak after Brig. Gen. Gary L. Harrell, the director of the Army's Joint Security Directorate in Tampa, Fla., had to cancel because he is in Afghanistan helping search for Osama bin Laden.

    Martin said Harrell was the on-site commander in Mogadishu, Somalia, during the operation portrayed in the movie, "Black Hawk Down." Eighteen Army soldiers were killed and more than 70 were wounded during a firefight Oct. 3-4, 1993.

    Also in Somalia at a later date, Harrell was involved in a mortar attack in which he was injured and several other soldiers were killed. The impact threw Harrell into the air.

    Back in Fayetteville, Harrell's daughter was in Sunday School at Lafayette Baptist Church. She interrupted her teacher and asked if they could pray for her dad.

    When Harrell came home it was determined that the Sunday School class was praying at the time of the attack.

    "God was protecting that man of war," Martin said.

    Frunzi said that while Harrell was commanding a Fort Bragg unit, he allowed the unit chaplain to "push the envelope" in sharing the gospel message with soldiers. The practice continued even after some complained about the chaplain talking openly about Jesus and using Army computers to spread the Christian message.

    Frunzi told about the commander of a medical unit who publicly professed his love for the Lord during his promotion ceremony. The commander of Fort Bragg and other generals were at the ceremony, Frunzi said. He also gave the following examples of Christian faith in the military:

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    1/11/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



    Conservative leader, W.A. Criswell, dies

    January 11 2002 by Druin & Mark Wingfield , Texas Baptist Standard

    Conservative leader, W.A. Criswell, dies | Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

    Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

    Conservative leader, W.A. Criswell, dies

    By Toby Druin & Mark Wingfield Texas Baptist Standard DALLAS, Texas - Wallie Amos Criswell, legendary pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas for more than 50 years, died Jan. 10 at the home of longtime friend Jack Pogue. He was 92. Pogue was reading John 14 to Criswell when he breathed his last, said Paige Patterson, former president of Criswell College in Dallas, who now serves as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    Funeral services were scheduled for Jan. 16 at noon at First Baptist, where Criswell's stentorian voice called sinners to salvation, defended the Bible as God's inerrant word, blasted "modernism" and infidels, and challenged Christians to live more devoted lives.

    Criswell had been in ill health for several years, ever since fighting off colon cancer in 1998.

    The fiery preacher was arguably the best-known Baptist pastor in America in the latter half of the 20th century - second in recognition only to evangelist Billy Graham, whom Criswell enlisted as a long-distance member of the Dallas church years ago.

    He was the author of 54 books, including Why I Preach that the Bible is Literally True, a volume considered to have helped launch the conservative movement that shook the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1980s and '90s.

    In his trademark white suit, Criswell was seen in televised church services broadcast nationally, and his voice was heard on numerous radio programs as well.

    A little-known pastor from Oklahoma, Criswell in 1944 was called to succeed the legendary George W. Truett as pastor of the Dallas congregation. In a 1985 interview with the Dallas Morning News, Criswell recalled how he had a vivid dream in which the deceased Truett urged him to "go down and preach to my people."

    Nevertheless, Criswell initially declined an invitation to preach a sermon at the Dallas church, saying he was "nothing of the stature of Dr. Truett." His wife did not share his reservations, he said, explaining that she accepted the church's invitation for him.

    "There wasn't anything for me to do but come down here and preach," he said. A few weeks later, the church called him as pastor.

    During his tenure at First Baptist, the church increased in stature, influence, membership and funding. In its heyday, First Baptist was the largest congregation in the SBC, boasting nearly 30,000 members on roll, five blocks of property in downtown Dallas and nearly 30 mission congregations.

    Over the years, several U.S. presidents and would-be presidents made a point to visit the church when Criswell was preaching. When Gerald Ford visited the church in October 1976, he got a sermon on stewardship and an endorsement for his election, although Ford was running against Criswell's fellow Southern Baptist, Jimmy Carter. When the Republican Party re-nominated Ronald Reagan for president in Dallas in l984, Criswell closed the convention in prayer.

    In 1968, he was elected to the first of two one-year terms as president of the SBC, and he served on many boards of both the SBC and Baptist General Convention of Texas. He was a former trustee of the Baptist Standard, Baylor University, Baylor Medical Center, the SBC Annuity Board and Southern Baptist Sunday School Board.

    Criswell was best known in the pulpit of his own church and on the platform of the SBC, state conventions and evangelism conferences as simply a preacher of the gospel and defender of the Bible as God's inerrant word.

    When Criswell assumed the pastorate of First Baptist on Nov. 19, 1944, he was described in the Baptist Standard as "gifted, humble, deeply spiritual and has a passion for souls." At his first invitation, 58 people joined the church, 14 of them by profession of faith.

    A native of Oklahoma, Criswell grew up on a farm near Texline. His father was a cowboy and then a barber. Criswell's mother moved to Amarillo during his last two years of high school, so he could get a better education. He graduated from Amarillo High School in 1927 and then earned a bachelor's degree at Baylor University and master's and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    While attending Southern Seminary, he was pastor of two small churches and at one met and married his wife, Betty. They had one daughter, Mabel Ann. The Criswells later adopted their grandson, Chris, and raised him.

    Criswell's ministry took a turn in 1990, when the church called Joel Gregory as pastor and heir apparent to Criswell. That rocky relationship lasted only 21 months, ending with Gregory abruptly resigning. In 1992, Criswell was named pastor emeritus as the church called O.S. Hawkins as pastor. Criswell has continued to maintain a presence in the church, to the extent his health has permitted, through the current pastorate of Mac Brunson, former pastor of Green Street Baptist Church in High Point and former president of the Baptist State Convention.

    Interviewed on his 50th anniversary at the church in 1994, Criswell laughed at the mention of retirement and said his role of raising money for Criswell College was his idea of retirement. He earlier had said he desired to be called to heaven while preaching in the pulpit at First Baptist.

    "Wouldn't that be a glorious place from which to ascend into heaven?" he asked.

    The highlight of his ministry, he said, was his election as SBC president and the church's selection of him to succeed Truett.

    If he had his ministerial career to live over again, he said, he would change his priorities from God first, then the church and family to God first, then the family and then the church.

    Criswell was mourned by prominent figures throughout Baptist life.

    "It is almost impossible to evaluate the life and ministry of W.A. Criswell," said Billy Graham. "He had a multiplicity of gifts. He had one of the most loving hearts I have ever known. His devotion to Scripture inspired thousands of young clergy from many denominations. His preaching was electric in its power."

    Patterson, former SBC president and an architect of the conservative movement within the SBC, said Criswell was a magnificent preacher who helped bring about an emphasis on expository sermons.

    "Dr. C. will be remembered as one of the most innovative and courageous pastors of our generation," he said.

    Patterson said Criswell deserves much of the credit for the conservative shift in the SBC.

    "The old adage is Dr. Criswell preached the crusade and others carried it out," Patterson said. "That's pretty accurate. He was definitely my inspiration and that of many others.

    "Probably, I could not have done what I did if I'd been at any other church," said Patterson, who was associate pastor of First Baptist for 17 years.

    Bill Leonard, now dean of Wake Forest University Divinity School in Winston-Salem, told Religion News Service (RNS) that some of Criswell's harsh rhetoric helped propel the conservatives to work to regain control of the nation's largest Protestant denomination.

    "It was powerful and heavy," said Leonard. "He referred to moderates as skunks.... He referred to civil rights activists as infidels. He referred to people who believed in the separation of church and state as infidels."

    Leonard said Criswell later spoke more supportively of integration but maintained his conservative biblical stances.

    Joining Leonard on opposite sides of the battle with Criswell was Daniel Vestal, now coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, an Atlanta-based organization that grew as moderates left the Southern Baptist Convention.

    "Now that he (Criswell) is in glory, I believe he appreciates the fact that the body of Christ is far greater then he had imagined," Vestal told RNS. "It includes a lot of folk that he didn't want to have much to do with while on earth and, knowing him as I did, I imagine he's smiling about it and enjoying it."

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

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    1/11/2002 12:00:00 AM by Druin & Mark Wingfield , Texas Baptist Standard | with 0 comments



    NAMB leader sees D.C. as unique

    January 11 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

    NAMB leader sees D.C. as unique | Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

    Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

    NAMB leader sees D.C. as unique

    By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor FAYETTEVILLE - The North American Mission Board's (NAMB) concerns with the District of Columbia Baptist Convention (DCBC) do not extend to other state conventions, the head of NAMB said. But NAMB President Bob Reccord left open the possibility that NAMB will deal with issues it feels need to be addressed. He spoke in an interview with the Recorder Jan. 7 shortly after he spoke at the State Evangelism Conference.

    NAMB, an agency of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), informed DCBC of its concerns in an Oct. 24 letter. NAMB annually provides DCBC with $475,000, about a third of DCBC's budget.

    The DCBC receives about twice what the DCBC's churches give to the SBC through the Cooperative Program. Most state conventions give the SBC much more than they receive from NAMB.

    NAMB said it wanted a NAMB representative to supervise DCBC employees partially or totally funded by NAMB. The proposal also said DCBC should not promote cultural festivals that include non-Christian religious groups, should not print articles in its newspaper that "denigrate the SBC and its leadership nor any of it agencies," should have speakers at its meetings that "reflect the theological tenets of the SBC," and should follow the biblical pattern of Matthew 18 when criticizing the SBC.

    The SBC has taken a decidedly conservative shift theologically since 1979. Some state conventions have followed the rightward move, but others have resisted.

    Reccord said that he knows of no other theological concerns with state Baptist conventions similar to those NAMB has expressed with the DCBC.

    "This is a unique situation," he said. "This (DCBC) is the only triply aligned convention in the United States in Southern Baptist life."

    The DCBC is aligned with the SBC, the American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., and the Progressive National Baptist Convention. NAMB's proposal took issue with the American Baptists' stances on abortion, homosexuality and women pastors.

    While no other state convention with SBC connections is related to those two groups, three state conventions, including the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, allow their churches to give money to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF).

    The CBF was formed in 1991 as a missions and ministry alternative to the SBC. SBC leaders have criticized CBF and the SBC's Baptist Press often publishes articles critical of CBF.

    When asked about state conventions with ties to CBF, Reccord said, "You know, the only way we would be responding to anything from any other (state convention) is if it arises. Anywhere along the journey if things arise that we feel need to be addressed we'll address them, but only at that time."

    Reccord said BSC officials need not worry about getting a similar proposal.

    "I praise God for (BSC Executive Director-treasurer) Jim Royston," he said. "I've known him for a number of years to be a man of incredible ethics and tremendous integrity."

    Reccord said NAMB is in "open communication" with DCBC about its concerns. He wouldn't say what might happen if the DCBC decided against NAMB's proposal.

    "We'll just have to walk through the process and see where each step takes us," he said.

    Reccord said the proposal was not a mandate or ultimatum.

    "In fact, ... we started out the proposal saying we are seeking to find a win-win method of strengthening the partnership," he said. "That's kind of hard to get to an ultimatum from that kind of wording."

    DCBC officials have reacted strongly to the proposal. Jeffrey Haggray, the DCBC executive director, has said it "offends fundamental principles of Baptist polity such as autonomy, priesthood of all believers and soul freedom."

    In the Dec. 6 issue of the Capital Baptist, the DCBC newspaper, Haggray said the proposal would "surrender the direction and control" of DCBC programs to Reccord and would turn the DCBC into "the only NAMB-run state convention in the nation."

    In the interview with the Recorder, Reccord said the proposal is not a threat to DCBC's autonomy.

    "The (DCBC) has the full autonomy to decide what they will do, how they will do it and when they are going to do it," he said. "That's totally in their autonomy.

    "We wouldn't even want to even begin to insinuate a desire to control that. That's not our job."

    Reccord called autonomy "a real key part of Southern Baptist life."

    "In the same way we wouldn't want anybody infringing on the North American Mission Board's autonomy," he said.

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    1/11/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



    On sharing the Christian faith - with Muslims?

    January 11 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    On sharing the Christian faith - with Muslims? | Friday, Jan. 11, 2002
  • Pray - It is important to pray for Muslims, he said, that God will reveal Himself to them. He noted that many Muslims who come to Christ do so after witnessing a miraculous event or having a dream in which they believe God sent a message. Christians can pray specifically that God will reveal Himself in these ways, he said.
  • Build relationships - It is important to build relationships with Muslim neighbors or business people, he said. Relationships take time, but "a little kindness can go a long way," he said. Christians can find ways to be helpful to Muslim neighbors from overseas by offering courses in English as a second language, or in taking the effort to help them acclimate to a new culture and find their way around.

    Christians can build on common ground with Muslims, who share many of the same values: a love for family, high morals and respect for God.

    Believers should be careful of cultural taboos that could cause unintended offense, he said. Strict Muslims only eat food that is halal, the Muslim equivalent of kosher. One should be aware of this when inviting a Muslim friend to dinner, he said. Muslims also tend to be more concerned with modesty in dress: even children wear long pants instead of shorts. Prospective witnesses should be careful that their attire does not cause unwanted offense, he said.

  • Provide scriptures - It is important to steer Muslims, like others who do not know Christ, to the scriptures, he said. The Koran recognizes the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) and the Injil (the New Testament) as holy writings, but most have not read them. Providing a copy of the scriptures, preferably in the person's language of origin, is important. The "Jesus film," which is also available in many languages, can also be effective, he said. Learning and sharing the testimonies of other Muslims who have accepted Christ is also helpful, he said.
  • Plan for discipleship - Believers should remember that conversion is only the beginning of the Christian journey, and take responsibility for nurturing new believers, he said. Conversion to Christianity can lead to severe consequences for many Muslims, who may be disowned by their families or shunned by their ethnic community. "You might need to become family to them," he said.
  • The Nation of Islam - The speaker noted that witnessing to members of the "Nation of Islam" has added challenges. The Nation of Islam is an American group founded in the 1930s, sometimes referred to as "black Muslims." The sect gains many of its converts in prison, and people who come to it are often familiar with Christianity but have rejected it as the "white man's religion."
  • For more information - A number of helpful resources are available to assist Christians who wish to share their faith with Muslims. Among these are a new resource kit called "The Cross and the Crescent," available from the North American Mission Board.
  • Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

    On sharing the Christian faith - with Muslims?

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor FAYETTEVILLE - Christian believers have a responsibility to share their faith with everyone and should not leave Muslims out of the equation, an International Mission Board (IMB) representative told participants in a breakout session during the annual Baptist State Convention Evangelism Conference. The conference leader did not wish to be identified by name because he has served previously in a "closed country" in South Asia. Public identification as a missionary could jeopardize his return.

    The conference leader reviewed the central Muslim beliefs as found in the "five pillars of Islam," and suggested a variety of ways that Christian believers can reach out to Muslims in their own communities.

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    1/11/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



    Been 'googled' lately?

    January 11 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    Been 'googled' lately? | Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

    Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

    Been 'googled' lately?

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor I "googled" myself a few days back, just to see what would happen. "Googling" has nothing to do with Barney Google of the funny papers, but is a term coined by frequent users of google.com, arguably the best search engine on the Internet. You can type in your name (with quotation marks around it), and Google will bring up a list of references where your name appears in Web documents.

    Some salesmen "google" prospective clients to learn more about them. I've heard of folks who've been set up on blind dates googling their date to look for common interests (and maybe a picture).

    It's not a bad way to spend part of a snowy day.

    When I typed in "Tony Cartledge," Google brought up 128 references. When I typed it as "Tony W. Cartledge," it brought up 591 more.

    Most of the "hits" were predictable - Biblical Recorder articles, online booksellers, other state Baptist papers. I discovered that I have been quoted in online publications ranging from the North Carolina Insider to the Memphis Flyer, from anti-lottery sites to others I don't care to be associated with.

    I learned that a search for "autonomy" on the Merriam Webster site brings up an article I wrote, and that my book on Hebrew vows is cited in the new Dictionary of Classical Hebrew.

    I also came across three other Tony Cartledges - one who has a talk radio show in Newcastle, England; another who was born in the same English town (Derby) that my Quaker ancestors left in the 1670's, and yet another who played guitar for "The Sweeney," an early eighties cover band from Ballarat, Australia.

    It's amazing - and a little unsettling - to learn how much an anonymous computer program knows about me and my distant kin.

    And yet, even the massive Google database falls far short of our heavenly father's knowledge, which includes (so the Bible says) a running tally of the rapidly diminishing number of hairs on my head.

    What a concept.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    1/11/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



    Being prepared

    January 11 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    Being prepared | Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

    Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

    Being prepared

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor I like to be prepared. Don't you? When the cold weather and snow arrived in early January, our family was prepared. We had two snow shovels in hand, our pantry was stocked, and a new set of gas logs burned cheerily in the fireplace as we awaited the first flake.

    When a speaking assignment comes up at one of our fine churches, I like to be prepared. Worshipers who make the effort to attend church deserve to hear a sound sermon based on careful study of scripture and thoughtful application to current needs. There are times, I believe, when the Spirit moves and adds new insight during the preaching of a sermon, but only the most irresponsible preacher/teacher/speaker would stand before a group of listening people without proper preparation.

    When it's time to begin some job around the house, materials have to be gathered, time set aside, things set in order. Few things are more frustrating than running out of paint after the stores have closed, or getting a strip of wallpaper up before realizing that there's not a sharp razor blade or X-acto knife in the house.

    Only those who have gone through a wedding can fully appreciate the amount of planning and preparation that goes into that event. Wars have been fought with less preparation than the average wedding.

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know how important it is to be prepared, but rocket scientists know it better than most people. There are no handy hardware stores in outer space, so the most vital systems on rockets, spacecraft and satellites must be built in duplicate or triplicate. That requires some serious thinking ahead.

    Thinking ahead is also necessary when it comes to financial planning for retirement. Most of us look forward to some manner or measure of retirement, but also know it doesn't happen automatically. Living above the bare subsistence level in retirement will require disciplined saving and careful investment of funds long before age 65.

    But what about post-retirement planning?

    Death eventually comes to all of us, sometimes prior to retirement. Have we prepared for that?

    Preparing for death is a multi-faceted proposition.

    Spiritual preparation is important, of course. We need to develop a relationship with God that we can trust to continue even beyond the grave. Christians believe that relationship comes through an acceptance of God's grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. It is not something to be put off for tomorrow. We need to be prepared today.

    Another aspect of preparing for death is emotional. It is natural, perhaps, for us to fear death and not want to talk about it. But it is also natural to expect death. Those who learn to accept and even embrace the reality of death are more likely to get the most from life.

    A final aspect of preparing for death has to do with estate planning. There are few things we can do that are more considerate and helpful to surviving children, family or friends than to carefully plan what is to become of our estate.

    That's where a "Last Will and Testament" comes in, but good estate planning goes beyond just filling in the blanks of a generic will.

    Did you know, for example, that you can leave all or part of your estate to your children - and to worthy causes such as your church or our fine retirement homes, children's homes, colleges and other institutions?

    It sounds like magic, but it works. You can't have your cake and eat it, too, but you can give away your estate, and leave it to your children, too.

    To learn more about this concept and other responsible estate planning information, contact the N.C. Baptist Foundation at (800) 521-7334 or (919) 380-7334 in the Raleigh area. They're not the Boy Scouts, but they know all about the motto "Be Prepared." That is their job, and they will be happy to help you.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    1/11/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



    Family Bible Study lesson for Jan. 27: Useless to Useful

    January 11 2002 by Lisa Horton , Philemon 8-21

    Family Bible Study lesson for Jan. 27: Useless to Useful | Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

    Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

    Family Bible Study lesson for Jan. 27: Useless to Useful

    By Lisa Horton Philemon 8-21 One day a young man was brought before Alexander the Great on charges of cowardice during a battle. Having a fierce hatred for cowardly behavior, Alexander's face turned red with anger. But as he looked at the handsome youth standing before him, his face softened with compassion. "What is your name young man?" Alexander asked.

    The young man answered softly, "Alexander, sir."

    "What did you say?" snapped the general.

    "My name is Alexander, sir," answered the youth.

    Filled with rage, Alexander the Great stormed at the young man. "Change your conduct, young man, or change your name!"

    Useful (Philemon 8-11) Onesimus had been given a good name. His name meant "useful" and "beneficial." However, prior to becoming a Christian, Onesimus was not living up to his name. As a matter of fact, he was useless (v. 11). Onesimus had wronged his master, Philemon, possibly by robbing him, and then he had fled. As a runaway slave, Onesimus was considered a criminal and could be punished by death.

    In God's great providence, Onesimus fled to Rome where he came into contact with the Apostle Paul. It was a divine appointment. While in chains, Paul led Onesimus to faith in Christ. Although still a slave, Onesimus was now free in Christ.

    Charles Dickens said, "No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else."

    As a new believer, Onesimus helped lighten Paul's burden while in prison. He, who had been of no use, had become useful and helpful. Onesimus' behavior now matched his name.

    Paul wrote a personal letter to his friend, Philemon, informing him of Onesimus' miraculous transformation. He urged Philemon to put his Christianity into action by forgiving Onesimus and accepting him back as a brother in Christ.

    Valued (Philemon 12-16) Philemon, a member of the church at Colosse, was undoubtedly a good Christian man. The church met in his home and Paul described him as a dear friend and partner. He was known for his faith in the Lord and his love for all the saints. Although Philemon was a man of great Christian character, he had not been able to change Onesimus' heart.

    Jesus is the only one who can change a person's heart and create a beautiful masterpiece out of a shattered life.

    Agostino d'Antonio, a sculptor of Florence, Italy, worked diligently on a large piece of marble but could do nothing with it. Other sculptors also tried and gave up. The stone was discarded and laid on a rubbish heap for 40 years. Then Michelangelo saw the piece of marble and had it brought to his studio. He took the worthless stone and carved it into "David" - one of the world's masterpieces of sculpture.

    Jesus, the master sculptor, transformed Onesimus and gave value to him whom others had given up on.

    Isn't it amazing how God can take a worthless, sinful life, wash it in the blood of Jesus Christ, and make it valuable in the kingdom of God!

    Welcomed (Philemon 17-21) Although Philemon had every right to punish Onesimus, Paul appealed to him on the basis of love to welcome Onesimus back, not merely as a slave, but as a brother in Christ. Philemon's response would require radical forgiveness - a forgiveness that would not only release Onesimus from his offense but would also restore the broken fellowship. Philemon had experienced the love of God and the forgiveness of sin. Now it was his responsibility to pass that love and forgiveness on to Onesimus.

    Ephesians 4:32 says to "be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Philemon's actions would be a significant example of genuine Christianity to this newborn believer. His willingness to forgive and forget could set the tone for Onesimus' spiritual growth.

    Amy Carmichael said, "If I say, 'Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,' as though the God, who twice a day washes all the sands on all the shores of all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

    One glimpse at Calvary reminds us of Jesus' love and the enormous price He paid for our forgiveness. Have we experienced Calvary love? If so, let us be eager to offer love and forgiveness to others!

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    1/11/2002 12:00:00 AM by Lisa Horton , Philemon 8-21 | with 0 comments



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