May 2003

N.C. Baptists honored for century of action

May 9 2003 by Laura T. Rich , Graphics Editor

N.C. Baptists honored for century of action | Friday, May 9, 2003

Friday, May 9, 2003

N.C. Baptists honored for century of action

By Laura T. Rich Graphics Editor

Biblical Recorder editor emeritus Marse Grant was one of several N.C. Baptists honored for making a difference in state history. Grant shared recognition with former Recorder editor and U.S. Senator Josiah Bailey, evangelist Billy Graham, Campbell University president Norman Wiggins, Governor Max Gardner and former Wake Forest College (now university) president William Poteat.

The men were included in a volume featuring more than 160 persons who made an impact on the state during the last century.

The publication, titled The North Carolina Century: Tar Heels Who Made a Difference, contains profiles on pioneers in the areas of agriculture, engineering and architecture, art and literature, business, education, law, media, religion, public service, popular culture, social movements and sports.

Marse Grant

"If North Carolina awarded battle stars and Purple Hearts for combat in the political and religious arenas, Marse Grant ... would be one of the state's most decorated," wrote former Fayetteville Observer editor Charles Clay.

Grant served as editor of the Recorder from January 1960 to September 1982.

During the tumultuous decades of his editorship, the paper confronted both religious and social issues through diligent reporting and unflinching editorial work. Writing in early 1960, Grant took an early stand for desegregation. "God loves all people," he editorialized. "To think that He prefers one over the other because of the color of skin is inconsistent with the teachings of the Bible."

Grant also took issue with liquor-by-the-drink legislation that was introduced in the state legislature in the 1970s and worked to strengthen the state's drunken driving laws.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Grant was one of the earliest critics of the conservative shift in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

Josiah Bailey

Josiah Bailey succeeded his father as Recorder editor in 1895, when he was only 22 years old. He was an outspoken advocate of expanding the public school system and was also active in the temperance movement at the turn of the century.

In 1930, Bailey was elected to the U.S. Senate and served until his death in 1946. Jonathan Phillips wrote in his profile that in the Senate, Bailey was "committed to the supremacy of the individual over the state and local government over national government."

Friends and colleagues often called the deeply religious senator "Holy Joe."

Billy Graham

Evangelist Billy Graham is perhaps the most widely recognized N.C. Baptist. His crusades have placed him before untold numbers of listeners in more than 60 years of ministry.

Not immune to criticism, his profile tells that Graham was challenged over his early nationalism, support for the war in Vietnam and his association with Richard Nixon. The Watergate scandal shocked Graham, Frye Gaillard wrote, and he "emerged in the 1980s as a more reflective person."

But Graham's calling was the same. "He stood before the crowds in the great arenas of the world," Gaillard wrote, "and he called people forward, speaking in a voice that was gentle and sure: 'You come now.... It's important that you come...."

Norman A. Wiggins

Serving more than 30 years as Campbell University's third president, Norman A. Wiggins has molded the small junior college into a fully accredited university with respected undergraduate and renowned graduate programs in law, pharmacy, education, business and divinity.

Former News & Observer editorial writer J. Barlow Herget wrote in his profile of Wiggins, "He was hailed by admirers and critics as one of the state's true leaders of his time in higher education, especially among religious colleges and universities."

A dedicated Baptist, Wiggins told students when he became president in 1967 "To the extent permitted by our resources, we are choosing as our goal distinctive Christian Education of an optimum quality for all students."

William L. Poteat

William L. Poteat first strolled onto the campus of Wake Forest College in 1872 at the age of 15. For more than half a century, it was his home. Poteat served Wake Forest first as professor and eventually led the college as president.

Randal Hall wrote that Poteat served his state as "a leading liberal member of the Baptist State Convention, as a dedicated progressive social reformer and as a prominent voice opposing anti-evolution legislation during the 1920s."

Poteat was active in many reform groups in the early 20th century including the Anti-Saloon League, the SBC's Commission on Social Service and the Baptist State Convention's North Carolina Peace Society. "Beneath Poteat's seemingly varied reform objectives," wrote Hall, "ran a consistent current of desire to maintain a stable, moral society led by educated, benevolent Christians."

"Poteat's legacy is justifiably one of struggling for freedom of thought," Hall wrote. "Much of his importance rested in his indefatigable zeal to share his belief in the compatibility of science and religion."

O. Max Gardner

O. Max Gardner is familiar to Baptists as benefactor and namesake of Gardner-Webb University. Gardner served North Carolina in a variety of public offices and private industries, according to his profile by archivist Kim Anderson.

Elected to the state senate in 1910, Gardner's influence moved him into the position of lieutenant governor and, in 1928, governor.

Gardner's goals for North Carolina changed as the Great Depression settled into the state. Anderson writes that Gardner "reshaped state government to fit a reduced budget." His "Live-at-Home" program taught families to "grow it, can it, eat it, sew it, make it, wear it at home," and guided many North Carolinians through the depression's early years.

After his term as governor, Gardner moved to Washington, D.C. where his influence, as a close friend of President Roosevelt, continued.

Through it all, Gardner was a "man of immense faith" Anderson wrote. "He prayed aloud in the morning, as he told Miss Fay not long after their marriage, 'when he and the world had been renewed.'"

Other notable N.C. Baptists featured in the book for achievement in other areas include former UNC-Chapel Hill basketball coach Dean Smith, congressman Robert Doughton, Wake Forest basketball coach and pastor Horace "Bones" McKinney, musician and broadcaster Arthur Smith, long-time UNC president William Friday, UNC president and businessman Dick Spangler, founders of Appalachian State University Blanford and Dauphin Daugherty, UNC-Pembroke president English Jones, the furniture industry's Broyhill family, WRAL founder A.J. Fletcher, Wake Forest trustee and educational reformer Irving Carlyle, U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, former pastor of Myer's Park Baptist Church in Charlotte Carlyle Marney, former Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Graham, Piedmont Airlines founder Thomas Davis and physician and first director of the state Board of Health Watson Rankin.

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5/9/2003 12:00:00 AM by Laura T. Rich , Graphics Editor | with 0 comments

Confronting (in)consistency

May 2 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Confronting (in)consistency | Friday, May 2, 2003

Friday, May 2, 2003

Confronting (in)consistency

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

The recent expulsion of McGill Baptist Church from the Cabarrus Baptist Association is the latest reminder that Baptists have a split personality when it comes to our perception of sin.

There are regular sins, which don't seem to trouble us much, and there is homosexual sin, which sends us off the edge.

The kinds of offenses described in the Ten Commandments are present in every church I'm familiar with, sometimes in rather obvious fashion. We have members who routinely break the first commandment by putting the God of materialism before the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

We have members who fail to honor God through observing a "Sabbath" of worship and rest.

We have members who disrespect their parents on a daily basis, and make little or no attempt to hide it.

We have members who can lie to their families and to the government without blinking an eye.

We have members who covet, members who steal from their employer (or employees), members who cheat on their spouses and break promises meant to last forever.

Outside of reading the minutes from church business meetings back in the 1920s, I've never known of a church that gave any of those members the boot, and most of those were for dancing.

I've never known of an association or state convention that "withdrew fellowship" from a church for harboring such sinners, whether repentant or unrepentant.

But, if the perceived sin is related to homosexuality, we have a different set of rules.

There are indeed some biblical texts that describe homosexual acts as sin.

There are many, many more texts that describe heterosexual or non-sexually related activities as sinful and falling short of God's ideal.

But we react to people with a homosexual orientation in ways that we would not react to heterosexuals, though they may also be adulterers, drunkards, liars or materialists.

The Bible clearly says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Here is the issue: is it better to have homosexual sinners in the church where they can learn more of God and grow in grace, even as we hope heterosexual sinners will do? Or do we believe their gender orientation should exclude them from the church in ways that do not apply to other sinners?

I can't find one biblical text to support the idea that God's grace and love are limited by gender or by gender preference. The discrimination we show in our different approaches to heterosexual sinners and homosexual sinners is not based on scripture, but culture.

I'm aware that the current issue has to do with baptism, and the belief that new Christians should publicly repent of their sins as they declare allegiance to Christ.

But Christians are called to a life of continued repentance as God convicts us of our continued failings. Should not churches that harbor unrepentant members also be held to account?

Brian McLaren has pointed out that one problem of modern evangelicals is that we tend to make the starting line the finish line. We seem to think that those who are beginning their Christian walk must be perfect, rather than acknowledging that every believer faces a lifelong struggle to grow in grace.

Maybe that's one of the reasons we have so many inactive members who care nothing for a daily walk with Christ, but remain comfortably in our membership files. If we market salvation (and church membership) as little more than an easy ticket to heaven and the gateway to immediate spiritual perfection, we discount Christ's call for a lifetime of discipleship and growth.

When we send the message that only one category of sinner is unacceptable in the churches, it gives the impression that other categories are okay.

That is a mixed message at best.

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5/2/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Legoland lessons

May 2 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Legoland lessons | Friday, May 2, 2003

Friday, May 2, 2003

Legoland lessons

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

I was delighted when the Baptist Communicators Association decided to hold its annual meeting in San Diego, Calif., because I had never been there. My six-year-old was even more pleased, because San Diego is only 30 miles from Legoland.

So, a business trip grew to incorporate a short family getaway, and it was worth the effort.

In some ways, Legoland is like other theme parks - there are several themed areas, each with rides, activities, restaurants and shows.

What's different about Legoland sits right in the middle, and is called "Miniland." There you find two acres of amazing recreations of well-known places, most on a 1/20 scale, made entirely of standard Lego bricks - millions of them.

There is a huge harbor complex that includes container ships and tanker ships, tugboats and sailboats, ferry boats and rowboats, all moving about the water or being loaded at the dock.

There is a re-creation of the French Quarter in New Orleans, complete with a moving Mardi Gras parade and a jazz funeral procession.

There are finely detailed replicates of the White House, the U.S. Capitol building, the Smithsonian castle, and other famous landmarks from Washington, D.C.

And, there is a recreation of the Manhattan skyline, complete with famous skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty, and a construction site where the World Trade Centers stood.

Music and other sound effects add to the impressive sense of realism. The models were imitations, to be sure, but they are good imitations.

They remind me of how believers are called to imitate Christ. We naturally feel smaller in a way, appropriately less than Christ. But, Jesus clearly taught that to follow Him means to model our lives after Him, to love as He loved so others will see Christ's presence in us.

Before we impress anyone else with our Christ-likeness, however, we have to do something with the self-centeredness that is so unlike Jesus.

We have to lego.

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5/2/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Association removes church for baptizing gay men

May 2 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Association removes church for baptizing gay men | Friday, May 2, 2003

Friday, May 2, 2003

Association removes church for baptizing gay men

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

CONCORD - Cabarrus Baptist Association officially removed McGill Baptist Church in Concord during the association's biannual 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 talks to members of the media while church member Carroll Trotter, left, looks on.
After the meeting, 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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5/2/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Horton, Davis to run as CCB candidates

May 2 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Horton, Davis to run as CCB candidates | Friday, May 2, 2003

Friday, May 2, 2003

Horton, Davis to run as CCB candidates

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

PLEASANT GARDEN - Conservative Carolina Baptists (CCB) officials announced April 24 that the group would endorse David Horton for president of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) and Brian Davis for BSC second vice president.

The announcement was made to about 80 people at a CCB rally at Pleasant Garden Baptist Church. About 15 more people came to the meeting later.

Horton is pastor of Gate City Baptist Church in Greensboro. Davis is pastor of First Baptist Church in East Flat Rock.

Horton will face David Hughes, pastor of First Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Davis has no announced competition.

CCB officials said a potential candidate for first vice president was still praying about whether to run. Raymond Earp, a layman from Beaufort, is the only announced candidate for that position.

Current BSC President Jerry Pereira and First Vice President Bob Foy will complete their second terms this year and are not eligible to run again.

Hughes and Earp have been endorsed by Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina.

David Horton, left, talks with Mark Corts following the CCB rally on April 24.
Horton and Hughes became good friends several years ago while working together on plans to share leadership among moderates and conservatives.

Horton is giving up a potential second term as BSC second vice president to run for president. He said in an interview after the CCB rally that he has been thinking about running for president since last year. He said that he's felt since early this year that God was leading him to run.

When asked if he was concerned about indications that moderate churches might lose interest in the BSC if their candidates lose in November, Horton said he doesn't know what moderate churches might do. He said he would ask moderate churches to look at his record of involvement in the BSC.

"I've had moderates say they trust me and see me as a person who's fair," he said.

Horton seemed to back off earlier indications that he supports all four of the BSC's giving plans. He said he would wait to see the recommendations from a committee that is studying Plan C recommends before making a statement.

"We can only do as a convention what the messengers direct," he said.

The committee is carrying out a request made at the last BSC meeting to look at whether Plan C violates the BSC constitution.

Plan C is the only one of the BSC's giving plans that contributes to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. A provision in the BSC constitution says one of its purposes is to "cooperate with the work of the Southern Baptist Convention."

Horton said he thinks the BSC General Board is close to having an equal number of conservatives and moderates. Balance there might be achieved this year, he said.

Conservatives have won at least two of the top three BSC offices seven of the last eight years, but some conservatives still say they want more representatives on the General Board.

Horton said most other BSC boards are "not close" to being balanced. He declined to name specific boards.

During his comments to the CCB members, Horton talked about the importance of Nov. 14, 1995 - the day Greg Mathis was elected BSC president. Horton nominated Mathis, whose election began a string of conservative victories in the BSC president's race that has not been broken.

"People have asked me, 'What could we expect of you if we elect you to be the president of the Baptist State Convention?'" he said. "You can expect the same kind of conservative leadership that we have seen from those men who have been elected since 1995."

Pereira, who was one of several speakers at the CCB meeting, spoke highly of Horton and Davis.

"I know these gentlemen personally," he said. "David is really the one who really started us with Greg Mathis, nominating him for president, people realizing the election of conservatives, that there are people who have a solid theology and a right spirit, the spirit of Christ."

Pereira called Horton a "man of God."

"I would be proud to see him as our next president of our North Carolina state Baptist convention," he said.

Brian Davis
Pereira said he worked with Davis on a tent crusade where 200 people were saved.

"Brian worked so hard in that tent crusade, winning people to faith in Jesus Christ, doing the hands on things he needs to do, standing on the word of God," Pereira said. "With Brian working together with David, I think we're going to have a glorious future together."

Horton said he is grateful to be a candidate.

"I stand here as a man who stands on a solid, firm foundation and that is the foundation of God's holy word," he said. "I do believe it to be His word without error."

Biblical inerrancy was the battle cry of conservatives as they gained control of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1980s.

"I'm thankful to be a Southern Baptist and I'm thankful to be a North Carolina Baptist, as well," Horton said. "I'm one of those that love the Southern Baptist Convention. Where on earth could you find a denomination that is accomplishing more good in our country or our world than the Southern Baptist Convention?"

Horton said there is "so much good" taking place in the BSC. He said he's been impressed with the workers at the Baptist building.

"I am especially thankful for Dr. Jim Royston," he said. "I stand with him in support of him for his vision for North Carolina Baptists."

Davis told CCB members that he has been greatly impacted by Mathis and by former BSC president Mac Brunson. Davis said he remembers Brunson challenging N.C. Baptists to go on a mission trip to Honduras.

"I had never been out of the nation on a mission trip," he said. "I could not believe the influence and the impact it had on my life and my church's life."

The church has since started a Hispanic church, Davis said.

"We have had our eyes opened in Honduras to the Hispanic population in our own community," he said.

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5/2/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Moran blasts CBF, says SBC needs more holiness

May 2 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Moran blasts CBF, says SBC needs more holiness | Friday, May 2, 2003

Friday, May 2, 2003

Moran blasts CBF, says SBC needs more holiness

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

PLEASANT GARDEN - As expected, a Baptist political activist from Missouri had harsh words for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and the Mainstream Baptists Network during a speech to N.C. Baptist conservatives on April 24.

Perhaps not as anticipated, Roger Moran also spoke out against the actions of some "conservative, Bible-believing Southern Baptists."

Moran is largely credited with helping shift the Missouri Baptist Convention in a decidedly conservative direction. He was the featured speaker at the Conservative Carolina Baptist (CCB) rally at Pleasant Garden Baptist Church.

Moran spent most of his speech on why he believes CBF and Mainstream Baptists are liberal. He said Paul was talking about groups like CBF when in Acts 20:30 he told the church in Ephesus, "Even from your own number men with arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them."

Earlier, Moran read the previous verse in which Paul says, "I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock."

CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal released a statement saying that Moran's accusations feed the "cynicism and mistrust that those in the world feel toward Christians."

"This kind of demeaning and abusive rhetoric is an insult to our missionaries who proclaim the gospel in some of the most difficult places in the world," Vestal said. "It hurts the chaplains, the seminary students, the church planters and the Baptist congregations who are a part of the CBF family."

Moran listed 22 "points of contrast" between CBF and the more conservative Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), then spent several minutes talking about how he believes Mainstream leaders are linked to groups he considers liberal.

CBF and Mainstream leaders have said that Moran uses guilt-by-association tactics and that the views of individual members do not necessarily reflect the views of the entire group. CBF has launched a Web site to respond to such accusations at

Toward the end of his speech, Moran changed the subject. He said he had the opportunity recently to talk to about 300 SBC leaders.

"One of the things I said was this, 'I am increasingly concerned and increasing convinced that as conservative, Bible-believing Southern Baptists, we have developed a multitude of programs, published reams of materials, spent millions upon millions of dollars to train and motivate our people so they could do in the flesh what you could not prevent them from doing if they were in the Spirit,'" he said.

Moran said conservatives are losing their "biblical understanding of the seriousness of sin."

"When conservative, Bible-believing Southern Baptists can sing along with secular music that trivializes and glorifies sin, then for what do we tell people Christ died and shed His blood?" he asked. "When conservative Bible-believing Southern Baptists can sit in front of a television and sit in a movie theater and constantly feed on the godless wickedness of this world, then have we not indeed forgotten that whichever nature we nurture will become dominant in our lives? And have we forgotten that when we feed the flesh it grows stronger?"

Moran said that everything that God expects from Christians flows from holiness.

"Evangelism and the making of disciples, that hard work of making disciples, is not the natural outgrowth of carnal Christianity even if our doctrine is sound," he said. "Our problem as Bible-believing, conservative Southern Baptists is not a lack of evangelism, our problem is a lack of commitment to holiness, purity, obedience, faithfulness, humility."

Moran said that although he's not a preacher or theologian, he still thinks he has the right answer to the problem.

"There's only one inhibitor to holiness, it's sin," he said. "To the degree to which Southern Baptists lose their biblical understanding of the seriousness of sin, to that same degree we will lose our zeal for evangelism and for the making of disciples, because sin blinds us to the things that matter most to God."

Moran said conservative Southern Baptists need to realize that "boldly proclaiming the truth of God's word is only half the equation."

"We are in desperate need of a passion and a commitment to live the truth that matches or even surpasses our passion for preaching," he said. "We are in desperate need of a passion for making disciples that matches or even surpasses our passion for counting baptisms."

Other speakers at the rally spoke against liberalism and in favor of CCB.

Emir F. Caner, assistant professor of church history and Anabaptist studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, talked about his background as a Muslim. He said when people ask him what it takes to lead a Muslim to Christ, he tells them it takes the same thing it takes to lead anyone to Christ - a bold preacher and an unconditionally loving congregation.

"A liberal will never lead anyone to Jesus Christ," he said. "Never."

He also spoke against what he called "a Dalmatian theology" where the Bible is inspired only in spots.

"The Bible is either absolute or it's obsolete," he said. "It's either all or nothing."

Jerry Pereira, president of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) and pastor of First Baptist Church of Swannanoa, said he is pleased with Jim Royston's vision for the BSC. He said he is thankful for people who influenced his ministry and said he is proud to call Mark Corts, retired pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and an influential N.C. Baptist conservative, his friend.

"I'm proud to call y'all my friends, too," he said. "I view us as a team working together to spread the good news of Jesus Christ across our state, across our country."

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5/2/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Mother's Day Offering brings hope

May 2 2003 by Lynn Hall , N.C. Baptist Hospital

Mother's Day Offering brings hope | Friday, May 2, 2003

Friday, May 2, 2003

Mother's Day Offering brings hope

By Lynn Hall N.C. Baptist Hospital

The nightmare began just two and a half weeks after Danny and Laurie Epperson's son was born.

Laurie noticed a lump under the arm of their five-year-old daughter, Haleigh.

"That's when everything changed - life changed," Laurie said.

Haleigh had cancer.

Forty-eight grueling weeks of chemotherapy and radiation followed.

At such times, financial issues aren't a top priority. Then, the first hospital bill arrives.

"At first, I was focused on Haleigh and not the money, but then the bills started coming in," said Laurie Epperson. "There's this serious illness, a new baby, and overwhelming bills to deal with all at the same time. It was very stressful."

Laurie had to leave her job to be with the kids.

"Haleigh had treatments to undergo every day, and we had gone from two incomes to one," she said. "It was hard enough to make ends meet, but then you add on the medical expenses."

This kind of emotional roller coaster creates burdens that no one should bear alone. Thanks to N.C. Baptists, the Eppersons weren't alone.

Because of generous gifts to the Mother's Day Offering, help was available that restored hope in the lives of the Epperson family.

When a letter arrived stating that the balance of Haleigh's bill at Baptist Hospital had been paid 'by compassionate and mission-minded N.C. Baptists in the name of Jesus Christ and His love,' the Epperson family rejoiced.

"It was so overwhelming to me that people who did not even know us, didn't know Haleigh, could open their hearts up so much for somebody," Laurie said. "It was almost like an angel had come in and lifted up this huge burden off of us."

The Eppersons could barely think of anything positive during their dark days after Haleigh was diagnosed.

"We lost sight of the good things for a time," Laurie said.

Now, that's changed. She said they feel overwhelmed by the good that exists in the world - the kindness and generosity of complete strangers.

The Eppersons expressed their appreciation to N.C. Baptists.

"We thank all of you for being so caring and giving," Laurie said. "You've reminded us to look at life every day in a new hopeful way."

While her parents were working to deal with what each new day brought, Haleigh was carrying on like a trooper.

"She was amazing," said Laurie. "She never asked 'why me,' but instead accepted this as something she had to go through and prayed."

"I wasn't having fun because it wasn't that fun to have cancer," Haleigh said. "I just didn't feel like having cancer and I prayed to God every night that I wanted to feel better. And now I don't have cancer anymore. I'm glad."

Laurie Epperson's eyes filled with tears as she talked about her daughter's courage. "She's been our rock, very strong, very brave, even during all of the painful treatments. You'd think we'd be her rock, but it's the other way around."

When Haleigh was born, her parents selected her name because in Greek it means "hero." Laurie Epperson said she didn't realize in 1996 how true that would be. "And now I know. She is my hero."

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5/2/2003 12:00:00 AM by Lynn Hall , N.C. Baptist Hospital | with 0 comments

Family Bible Study lesson for May 18: Giving Unselfishly to God's Work

May 2 2003 by Crate Jones , Acts 4:32-5:11

Family Bible Study lesson for May 18: Giving Unselfishly to God's Work | Friday, May 2, 2003

Friday, May 2, 2003

Family Bible Study lesson for May 18: Giving Unselfishly to God's Work

By Crate Jones Acts 4:32-5:11

"The touchiest nerve in the body is the one that runs from the brain to the pocketbook."

In my first church out of seminary, I saw two opposing views about giving. A lady member advised me to let up talking so much about tithing; it was upsetting some of the people.

In contrast, a tithing young man said, "When he preaches on tithing, I just sit back and grin."

Give voluntarily Acts 4:32-37 "Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7).

The early church experienced what happens when believers respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The spirit was exemplified through them.

They did not claim ownership of their possessions, but voluntarily "laid them at the apostle's feet" to be used for the good of all, according to the need.

God was blessing them: "With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all" (v.33). God's love was at work.

I heard of a man who trusted Christ as his Savior. When baptized, he kept his wallet in his pocket. He said: "I want it to be baptized, too."

Compare that with the man who, by mistake, dropped his car keys instead of coins in the Lottie Moon offering. He went post-haste to the counting room to retrieve them.

Give without duplicity Acts 5:1-4 Duplicity means, "secretly acting one way and publicly another." Jesus used a clearer word: hypocrisy.

Barnabas sold a field he owned and gave the whole amount to the church.

Ananis and his wife, Sapphira, sold a piece of property. With his wife's approval, he took his cut off the top and gave the reminder to the church. As a family, they sought to appear more generous than they really were - pretense.

I once had a church member who always complained about the church meeting the budget. He gave the impression of being a large contributor. One day I asked him: "Are you doing your part?" He dropped his head and replied, "I'm going to do better."

The account of Ananis and Sapphira is a tragedy with serious consequences. Satan filled Ananis' heart and he lied to the Holy Spirit. God knew what he had done, and Peter confronted him with his sin. It was a deliberate choice. He thought he was just lying to men; but in reality he was lying to God (v.4).

God is neither deaf, dumb nor blind. To say, "I'm not hurting anybody but myself" is as false as saying pewter is silver. All sin is against God.

Give out of reverence to God Acts 5:5-11 God's judgment fell on Ananis. When he realized he had sinned against God, he fell down and died. Sapphira suffered the same fate. Divine judgment on sin is a reality.

Jesus became sin for us on the cross that through Him, our sins can be forgiven. It's wise to take our sins to Him.

Tithing can be a duty, a habit or an act of worship. Only the latter expresses the attitude of the soul in the presence of God.

In the early 1960s, Harriett and I were Spirit-impressed to elevate our mode of giving.

A conviction began to rise in our hearts. God was saying, "Pray each payday over the money I lend you." With regularity, paydays became times of receiving from the Father's hand and relinquishing ownership to Him.

The tithe was dedicated to Him; guidance was asked on the use of the remainder. But within six months, unexpected hospital bills topped a thousand dollars; we had no insurance.

We were faithful to the commitment, believing "God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19). In a short while, the debts were paid; God was faithful. And our children know the joy of tithing.

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5/2/2003 12:00:00 AM by Crate Jones , Acts 4:32-5:11 | with 0 comments

Formations lesson for May 11: Healthy Teaching

May 2 2003 by David Stratton , 1 Timothy 1:3-11; 2 Timothy 2:14-19

Formations lesson for May 11: Healthy Teaching | Friday, May 2, 2003
  • Tell teachers of false doctrine to stop spreading their message (1 Tim. 1:3).
  • Avoid discussions of questionable doctrine (2 Tim. 2:14; 16).
  • Do our best to present ourselves to God as those approved by Him (2 Tim. 2:15).
  • Rightly explain the word of truth without shame (2 Tim. 2:15).

    Let us pray that this biblical prescription will keep our churches free from a danger that spreads like gangrene.

  • Friday, May 2, 2003

    Formations lesson for May 11: Healthy Teaching

    By David Stratton 1 Timothy 1:3-11; 2 Timothy 2:14-19

    (EDITOR'S NOTE - The Formations lesson for May 18, "The Virtue of Quietness," was mistakenly printed in last week's Recorder. The lesson below, "Healthy Teaching," is the correct Formations lesson for May 11.)

    "Gangrene set in." Not a pleasant thought with which to begin. I bring it up because one of our passages uses this terrible infection as an illustration of a problem in churches. Those three words, "Gangrene set in," inspire alarm and the need for quick, radical action.

    In its most dangerous form gangrene spreads rapidly. Dead and diseased tissue must be removed and antibiotics must be administered right away. Without such radical, prompt treatment death will result.

    Our passages compare false teaching in church to gangrene setting in. Both are dangerous and require quick action.

    The heresy Paul's co-worker, Timothy, was helping to organize the churches in and around Ephesus. Part of Timothy's task was to address the problem of false teaching in Ephesian churches. While the exact content of the heresy is unclear, there are two relatively specific references to its substance in our passages.

    First, some were preoccupied with "myths and endless genealogies" (1 Tim. 1:4, NRSV). This phrase along with other evidence in Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus lead many to conclude that the false teaching had some aberrant Jewish elements combined with early Gnostic tendencies.

    Secondly, some of the false teachers were claiming the resurrection had already taken place (2 Tim. 2:18). This radical spiritualization effectively denied the bodily resurrection, thus deconstructing a crucial element of New Testament teaching.

    Philip H. Towner in his commentary on this passage in the IVP Series sees another facet to this unwholesome resurrection teaching. By saying the resurrection had already taken place the false teachers indicated that, "all of salvation's blessings were to be experienced now" (45). So Towner sees a parallel between the heresy in Ephesus and the modern-day "health wealth" gospel that presents "the Christian message as the quick solution to all of life's problems" (45).

    Unhealthy effects A host of questions remain concerning the exact content of the false teaching in Ephesus. Perhaps this is just as well. Because, while heresies change from church to church and time to time, the effects of false teaching listed by Paul do not change.

    Heresies, then and now, often "promote speculations," leading to "meaningless talk" that reveals ignorance (1 Tim. 1:4, 6 - 7, NRSV). False teaching, then and now, incites "wrangling over words" that "ruins those who are listening" (2 Tim. 2:14, NRSV). False doctrine, then and now, results in "profane chatter" leading people to "more impiety" (2 Tim. 2:16, NRSV).

    False teaching, then and now, spreads and destroys "like gangrene" (2 Tim. 2:17, NRSV).

    Aiming for love On the other hand, healthy teaching does not focus on novel schemes but on basic "divine training that is known by faith" (1 Tim. 1:4, NRSV). The aim of wholesome instruction is "love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith" (1 Tim. 1:5, NRSV). In other words, one "rightly explaining the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15, NRSV) does not major on questionable theological fads. Rather, the faithful teacher and the faithful student give loving attention to the inner life thus promoting Christ-like conduct.

    Actions to take Unfortunately the difficulty that Paul addressed with Timothy continues to plague many churches today. From endless speculations about signs of the end times to a different gospel claiming Christianity is mostly about health and wealth to a host of other dubious doctrinal discussions, unhealthy teaching still flourishes in many churches. Indeed TV, radio and the Internet seem to spread the "gangrene" of false teaching faster than ever before.

    What are we to do about the deadly infection of false doctrine? We can get a clue from the four actions Paul encouraged Timothy to take in addressing the problem:

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    5/2/2003 12:00:00 AM by David Stratton , 1 Timothy 1:3-11; 2 Timothy 2:14-19 | with 0 comments

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