Thursday, November 08, 2007

Intolerance Raises Its Ugly Head...

Will it ever end for Southern Baptists? Will Southern Baptists ever reach a point of tolerance for dissenters?

Last week, Anthony Jordan (executive director for the Baptist General of Oklahoma) wrote an editorial about 'Intolerance'. The point of his article was that there is a growing intolerance of the liberal media and the intellectual elite who promote tolerance as their cardinal virtue to biblical truth and the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. In part, I agree with him on this point. There is an intolerance by some toward the preaching of the gospel. Jordan closed his editorial by stating:
We should never be mean spirited or unkind. We should always strive to be tolerant of those who have another view or reject the Gospel. At the same time, we cannot be silent. We have a story to tell to the nation and nations. It is the story of a Savior, an old rugged cross and an empty tomb. Here we stand. If that message makes us intolerant in the eyes of others, so be it.
Again, I fully agree with his statement. We should never be mean spirited or unkind. We should always strive to be tolerant of those who have another view or reject the Gospel. But what about tolerance toward a brother in our denomination who disagrees on nonessential secondary and tertiary issues?

Currently, and over the past 30 years, Southern Baptists have been guilty of being very intolerant toward brothers and sisters of their own kind. I am no longer a Southern Baptist. A few of my Southern Baptist brothers could not, yea, would not tolerate my dissenting views on some issues not important to salvation. I opposed a heavy-handed, top-down denominational leadership who sought to control the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of all Southern Baptists. I vocally opposed the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. A few of my fellow Southern Baptists simply could not tolerate the fact that I disagreed with them. It was intolerance of the worst sort that drove me from the ranks of Southern Baptists.

Intolerance is probably the single biggest reason why Southern Baptists have been, and continue to be, in crisis over the past 30 years. From June of 1979 forward, Southern Baptist leaders have been excessively intolerant toward dissenters and those who disagreed with the denominational party line, whatever it may have been at the time.
  • Paul Pressler could not tolerate moderate seminary professors. He affected change in seminary boards of trustees and removed all moderate professors from seminary faculties.
  • W. A. Criswell could not tolerate those who did not interpret the Bible as literally as he did. He railed against those who disagreed with his view of inerrancy.
  • The Southern Baptist Sunday School Board could not tolerate the moderate views of Lloyd Elder and they fired him.
  • The Southern Seminary Board of Trustees could not tolerate moderate president, Roy Honeycutt. Trustee Jerry Johnson of Colorado accused Honeycutt and many faculty of heresy. They forced Honeycutt to resign.
  • The SBC Executive Committee could not tolerate Baptist Press editors Al Shackleford and Dan Martin's reporting on the fundamentalist takeover effort and their refusal to cease writing such stories. The two editors were fired.
  • Al Mohler could not tolerate women professors and he fired Molly Marshall and Diana Garland.
  • The International Mission Board could not tolerate moderate professors who taught at Rushlikon Seminary in Europe. Southern Baptists and the IMB defunded the seminary.
  • The Southeastern Seminary Board of Trustees could not tolerate moderate president Randall Lolly and they excluded him.
  • The Southwestern Seminary board of trustees could not tolerate Russell Dilday's moderate views and they fired him.
  • Paige Patterson could not tolerate women professors teaching men and he fired Hebrew professor Sheri Klouda because she was a woman.
  • None of the seminaries could tolerate professors who refused to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Those who refused to sign were fired.
  • The International Mission Board could not tolerate missionaries who would not sign the 2000 Baptist faith and message. Those who refused to sign were fired.
  • The Southern Baptist leadership could not tolerate moderate and liberal Baptist members of the Baptist World Alliance so they withdrew from the world organization.

This week, Southern Baptist intolerance has raised its ugly head yet again. The International Mission Board could not tolerate trustee, Wade Burleson's, principled dissent on several issues of little consequence. In the scheme of things, Burleson's dissent amounts to little more than a hill of beans. Yet the IMB, led by chairman John Floyd and former chairman, Jerry Corbaley, censured him. In a wildly slanderous and lengthy report, Cobaley accused Burleson of slander and sin. Burleson's censure says a lot about the credibility of the IMB. on a scale of 1-10, the IMB's credibility is minus-6. It says a lot about Burleson's credibility as well. On the same scale, Burleson's credibility is a strong-9.

The Southern Baptist Convention is in a world of hurt right now. The SBC is hurting because of gross intolerance over stuff of little consequence in the scheme of things. The intolerance is killing the denomination. If the intolerance doesn't end soon, the SBC will become an also ran denomination. The credibility of the SBC leadership from top to bottom is lower than a mole's belly on digging day.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Prophets of Doom...

A prophet of doom rises to prominence and gains worldwide attention in nearly every generation. Often there are several prophets of doom on the scene simultaneously. There is a pattern to the preaching of nearly all doomsday prophets. It is a consistent pattern and goes something like this:

  1. A doomsday prophet becomes convinced of a future catastrophic global threat.

  2. The prophet reads and interprets a variety sources, always interpreting them in conjunction with current events to prove his authority and correctness.

  3. The prophet declares that the catastrophic global threat is eminent.

  4. The prophet preaches gloomy themes of evil forces at work which threaten the future of mankind.

  5. The prophet points to many signs as evidence that his prophecy is true.

  6. The prophet preaches that it is possible for believers to blunt the force of catastrophic events. Unbelievers and deniers are bound to suffer the consequences.

  7. The prophet produces many books and movies and preaches of pending gloom and doom in the effort to raise fears in the hearts of all, hoping that unbelievers and deniers will change their ways.
This pattern may be applied to two prophets of doom; one past, and one present. Hal Lindsey is the Prophet of Doomsday Past. In 1970, he wrote the wildly popular book, The Late Great Planet Earth. Over 15 million copies of the book were printed and was studied in churches all over the planet. Subsequent to LGPE, he wrote 11 other books that dealt with catastrophic events concerning the end of planet earth. A film of the book was made in 1979. Orson Welles provided the narration for the movie.

Following the pattern of doomsday prophets, Lindsey became convinced that the restoration of Israel as a state in 1948 signaled the beginning of the end of planet earth. He read the the Bible, mostly from the apocalyptic books of Ezekiel and Revelation and determined (in 1970) that Russia was Gog and Magog.

Russia would sweep down from the north and invade the territory of Israel. Lindsey wrote that current events (the establishment of the European Common Market a ten nation conglomerate) pointed to a near future seven-year Tribulation which would include the biblical plagues, wars, and famines. These forces of evil, wrote Lindsey, meant that the rapture, the Battle of Armageddon, and the end of the world would follow in one generation.

In 1975, I went to one of Lindsey's two-hour gloom and doom presentations which was held in the historic Municipal Auditorium in downtown Oklahoma City. Consistent with doomsday prophets, he preached doomsday fear that would curl the hair on the back the neck of any soul who was concerned about the end of the world. Lindsey, with the bold confidence of a true prophet of doom, declared to his audience, "You are living in the the terminal generation! You are living in the the terminal generation!"

Not to worry, declared Lindsay, all believers will be raptured out and saved. The unbelievers who deny the truths of scripture will be thrown into a burning hell. The warning was clear. Planet earth is doomed. The end is near. The only choice is to believe the truth, act on it, and salvation is assured.

But alas, I was an unbeliever. I did not believe the Prophet of Doomsday Past (In 1975, Lindsey was the "Prophet of Doomsday Present"). I still have the notes I took on that night of 37 years past. Not a single one of the prophet's predictions came true. Russia dissolved into a second-rate nation and represents no threat to much of anyone. The European Common Market presently has more than 25 member-countries. Armageddon isn't on the horizon. The Jews and the Arabs are still fighting wars, but to my knowledge there hasn't a battle in the Valley of Megeddo in my lifetime. It doesn't appear that there will be a battle of any sort there in the near future. Certainly not in this generation. Lindsey made millions striking fear into the hearts of people. But he has faded off the scene and the present generation hardly knows who he is. And the "terminal generation," the last generation, has faded into past history.

The Prophet of Doomsday Present, is Al Gore. As did Lindsey, Gore closely follows the pattern of doomsday prophets. A couple of decades ago, he became convinced that man-made global warming was a terrible threat to planet earth. Global warming, he thought, was directly attributed to man's mishandling of natural resources. Climate change, he reasoned, is directly related to anthropogenic carbon dioxide, greenhouse gasses, and other similar evils. He read alarming sources from radical environmentalists and became convinced trouble was brewing due to man's thoughtless actions. He was alarmed to the very core of his soul.

So the Prophet of Doomsday Present set to work broadcasting the alarming news that global warming is directly caused by man's activities. He surrounded himself with other doomsday sayers and began preaching the gloom and doom of catastrophic man-made global warming, which he declared was a threat to the very existence of humanity. He preached that the threat was eminent and something desperately needed to be done to thwart the disastrous effects of pending doom.

The prophet wrote a wildly popular, very slick, book that outlined the causes and the threat of global warming. In the book, An Inconvenient Truth, he claimed there was a total consensus of all reputable scientists worldwide who completely agreed with his prophecies. He convinced the United Nations to establish an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He believed the questionable research of alarmist scientist, James Hansen. He declared that the debate about man-made global warming was over. He railed against those who questioned his prophetic utterances, calling them "deniers."

Evil forces were at work. Anthropogenic carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses are the evil forces at work. Big Oil and well-financed deniers were duping the population. Glaciers are melting everywhere on the globe. The Arctic ice is melting. Great shelves of ice in the Antarctic are melting and breaking away. Greenland is getting green again. Iceland is melting, The seas are rising. Polar bears and penguins are drowning by the thousands. New York and other major world cities will be under water in a few short years. Gloom and doom. Doom and gloom.

Not to fear, says the prophet of doom to the fearful, if a quietus can be brought to all the deniers and unbelievers, perhaps things can be reversed. Man is able, after all is said and done, to control global climate. Man can cut back on producing all the evil CO2 and greenhouse gasses. Man can shut down industries that give off evil CO2 and greenhouse gasses. Man can quit driving SUVs. Man can begin driving electric hybrid cars. People can use just one sheet of toilet paper per sitting on the throne. Man can create alternate sources of energy (except don't put any of those windmills in view of the properties of the wealthy. Might block their exquisite views of nature in its pristine best). Man can refrain from drilling for oil on the north slope of Alaska. Man can purchase high-dollar carbon offsets. The possibilities are endless, says the Prophet of Doomsday Present .

Gore has made millions while striking fear into the hearts of the ignorant. He won an Oscar for the movie version of his book. I have discovered that one doomsday prophet is about as smart as another. The prophetic utterances of doomsday prophets never come to pass. Hal Lindsey's didn't. And Al Gore's won't either.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Alarming Propaganda...

A couple of weeks ago, NEWSWEEK magazine printed a controversial article entitled The Truth about Denial. The article has been almost universally praised by proponents of man-made global warming. From a skeptic's point of view (I'm a skeptic), I found that the article contained very little "truth" and a considerable amount of propaganda. The truth of the matter is that the article was mostly propaganda. The most blatant piece of propaganda in the article is the much ballyhooed claim of how "well-funded" the so-called "denial-machine" is.

The author of the article, Sharon Begley, wrote:
Since the late 1980s, this well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change. Through advertisements, op-eds, lobbying and media attention, greenhouse doubters (they hate being called deniers) argued first that the world is not warming; measurements indicating otherwise are flawed, they said...

Begley claims that those who oppose global warming alarmism are well-funded. Not a few bloggers have picked up on the propaganda that the "deniers" are well-funded. One blogger wrote:
Those who deny global warming, of course, are those who stand to profit from the increasing extravagant use of oil and other fossil fuels, or who profit in other ways from activities that threaten the planet... The well-paid deniers of truth may be slick and stealthy, but those who believe God has a better idea for the global community don't have to give credence to their drivel.
So just how "well-funded"/"well-paid" are these deniers? NEWSWEEK declared they have received $19 million over the years up to 1998.

True, $19 million dollars is a pretty hefty figure to be spending to fight global warming alarmism. But what Begley didn't say --and what makes this article such a blatant example of pure propaganda-- is that the proponents of man-made global warming have been funded to the tune of $50 billion dollars over the same period of time.

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, conclusively proved that it is the proponents of man-made global warming fears who enjoy a monumental funding advantage over the skeptics. (A whopping $50 BILLION to a paltry $19 MILLION and some change for skeptics – Yes, that is BILLION to MILLION.) Source...

I was appalled at the monumental funding advantage the alarmists have over the skeptics. I knew the demagogues of global warming alarmism had a decided advantage, but not in my wildest dreams did I imagine major BILLIONS compared to paltry MILLIONS.

It takes 1000 million to make a 1 billion. Figuring the comparison of $50 billion to $19 million in a manner that I can get my mind around it, the skeptics have received $19.00 for every $50,000.00 the alarmists machine received. That's incredible!!

The holier than thou proponents of man-made global warming scream about how well-funded the deniers are. But they are conspicuously silent about how well-funded they are. From now on, when I hear a global warming alarmist whine about how much the skeptics are receiving from all the Big Oil and such without mentioning their own well-fundedness, I'm going to dismiss it as a bunch of hot air.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Virus Strikes Again...

Almost all Southern Baptist bloggers --yea, even many ex-Southern Baptists bloggers-- are following Wade Burleson's blogsite with much interst. Recently Wade, and several of his more famous blogger friends, was invited to participate in the "Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant." The prime mover of the NBC assemblage is former president, Jimmy Carter.

Burleson was invited to a meeting with Carter along with other Southern Baptist pastors – Marty Duren of New Bethany Baptist Church in Buford, Ga., Benjamin Cole of Parkview Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas, and C.B. Scott of Westmont Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. The meeting was an attempt to involve as many Southern Baptists in the 2008 gathering as possible, according to Dan Malone, an attorney from El Paso, Texas, who helped facilitate the meeting.

No sooner than the news about Burleson's participation in this meeting with Carter became known, a nasty virus began to spread among the bloggers responding to one of his blog messages. The nasty virus, one which was first spotted in Missouri, is known as RM-GBAS (Roger Moran's Guilt By Association Syndrome). The RM-GBAS virus has been spreading through the Southern Baptist Convention for nigh unto 20 years. It affects Southern Baptist fundamentalists by causing them them to viciously attack all moderate Baptists as well as many fellow Southern Baptists who do not agree with their narrow theological views. Those affected by this virus assume a holier than thou attitude toward any Baptist who associates with Baptists who hold views that differ from their own.

Since Friday (May 25) those infected with RM-BGAS have been harshly attacking Wade for the message he wrote in this blog. In just two short days (Sunday evening, May 27, 10:00 p.m.) Wade's blog message has received no less than 172 responses, amounting to something close to 23,000 words, which would fill 83 pages on a standard word processor.

Wade's RM-BGAS virus-infected detractors have written a plethora of vicious comments. Here is a selection:

Josh wrote: "Whether you like it or not, the reality is that meeting with Carter, Clinton, Gore, etc. DOES give the appearance that you are sympathetic to their theological and political beliefs. ... Do we honestly think that all of a sudden this group wants our input? I have a feeling that trying to influence them is going to be akin to casting pearls before swine. Wade, I think you are being used. You are a token Southern Baptist being used to give this group credibility. In the process, you're going to LOSE credibility with your fellow Southern Baptists, and not just the Fundamentalists, as you may believe."

Jack Wrote: "However, I will say that it is wrong to be a part of this conference...not just wrong for me, but wrong. I will never join hands in the sense of Baptist Identity with Baptists that I do not and will not identify with. Now if wade and Ben Identify with them, feel that they are representative of where we as Baptists should be and are a picture of their ideal of a SBC that is balanced both theologically and ideologically…well boys...HAVE AT IT! Go ahead and hitch yourself to that wagon! But for Wade and Ben to attempt to superimpose this kind of ecumenical and inclusive spirit at any cost on the SBC may be their right...but they will be defeated. There is no doubt in my mind that this kind of 'unity at any cost' mindset will never see the light of day in the SBC."

Brad wrote: "How can we unite with Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton on issues of Social Justice, when both are supporters of abortion, which is probably the greatest injustice of our time? Remember, Bill Clinton twice vetoed a ban on partial-birth abortion, a barbaric and unjustifiable procedure. Also, why if Jimmy Carter is really trying to unite Baptists, would he bring in two people (you and Ben) that have been some of the most outspoken internal critics of the SBC. It would seem to me that he would have looked for people who are uniting voices."

Davidvf wrote: "why dont all those other baptist groups just join up with the sbc if they really want unity around these issues. i mean, sb's are already doing these things by feeding the hungry, disaster relief, digging wells for water for those who dont have any, petitioning washington concerning moral issues, starting churches, etc. so, if they want to do these things, let them join us. we're baptist. they're baptist. so, why wont they join with us to do what we're already doing?"

Randy wrote: "Has anyone learned the lessons of the Episcopal Church USA when they allowed universalists such as John Shelby Spong to be a leader of Anglicans? Are we not falling in the same trap that lead that great denomination to the graveyard?"

K. Michael wrote: "Where does the shock value end? To slap SBC messengers in the face by going to Disney the day after the vote---I am Wade, I support corporations who go out of their way to promote homosexuality. To slap the SWBTS trustees in the face by openly supporting and making a big to-do of the firing of a professor---I am Wade, I do not support the right of Seminary Presidents and trustees to run their institutions. To come to Missouri and slap us all in the face by visiting with a former MBC church removed for allignment with an ultra-liberal Baptist Followship. I am Wade, I take back my copycat Luther thesis and support the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. And finally, shame on anyone who would cozy up to these 2 democrat presidents tring to make the dem party seem more Godly. Shame on these 2 men, and all of their supporters for not preaching the truth of God's Word. Shame on them for supporting histories largest holocaust--the murder of millions of unborn babies. I am Wade, I am pro-?"

Jack wrote: "Your dillusional [sic] when it comes to this issue and I say this with as much kindness as I can muster. say that is what he said to you (His exclusvie [sic] stance)... forgive us Wade but so what? Many have pointed to quote after quote and reference after reference...yet you will not even comment on those as if you are sticking your head in the sand and saying "I am not listening, I am not listening!" and then you claim that the opposition to this whole venture is Wade insult our inteligence [sic] and in some ways cause us to question yours!"

Truth seeker wrote: "Appearances are not important but be prepared. These guys are politicos and know how to use a friendly media to send a totally false message. Can't you just see the news stories..."right wing Baptist preachers join hands and hearts with Carter and Gore ...proving that the issues of abortion, homosexuality and Arafat should not separate us". So truth takes a back seat to all the all important 'unity'. You cannot control the message this will send. You actually become part of the false message. And those who are not biblically literate have found another loophole. We are better off staying away and begging people to get into scripture for the full Counsel of God."

Anonymous wrote: "NAIVE SOUTHERN BAPTIST PASTOR OF THE YEAR" [in a land slide vote], --WADE BURLESON...."

Brian R. wrote: "Ecumenicalism usually leads to liberalism, the blurring of the essential tenants of the faith, or "going home" to Rome. Any talk about unity MUST be defined with Biblical truth being paramount. Lots of people believe in Jesus, but not everyone believes in the "true" Jesus and Jesus' message as defined by Scripture."

Anonymous wrote: "HEADLINE, the day after the 'New Baptist Covenant Meeting' in the ATLANTA CONSTIPATION and the DAILY OKLAHOMAN,:

"BURLESON meets with CARTER group: Group affirms broad belief system to not critic others' sins."

Wade will 'counter' in the media for weeks to come...but the damage has already been done.

The first headline is on A-1. The response is on B-15: A man bent to 'hob-knob' won't be dissuaded by the truth of his friends.

Greg P. wrote: "And lest we forget, liberalism is virtually never won over by conservativism. The liberals simply suck in the conservatives. Iain Murray's wonderful and tragic book "Evangelicalism Divided" demonstrates this plainly enough.My suggestion is for anyone who cherishes the word of God to stay away. May God protect through faith those who do not."

Jim P. wrote: "Let's see now the New Baptist Covenant is going to unite as us as Baptists right? We will be emphasizing the the words of Jesus when he spoke to his home town of Nazareth. "Feed the hungry" - will that involve another government program? "Care for the sick" - maybe universial health care; "welcome the stranger" - a new immigration policy; "Religious liberty, separation of church and state" - would that be the ACLU's definition or the Founding Father's definition?

I have a solution to all of this, Jimmy Carter and all the other CBFers cease their belly-aching and come back into the SBC and agree to an inerrant and infallible Word of God and then we can have some old fashion Baptist unity! Otherwise this is smoke and mirrors!I don't need a "New Baptist Covenant" to know what I am responsible for as a Christian.

And I don't need a bunch of disgruntled CBFers talking about Baptist unity. Actions speak louder than words! "

Chuck wrote: "To hear Carter tell it, though, the NewBapCov "prophetic Baptist voice" could just as well be Islamic, if not Jewish or Mormon.P.S. From your last statement, you seem to recognize that "he who is in the world" may be in Atlanta rubbing elbows with you, attempting to turn you to the left? I think you may be right."

Bart wrote: "What would I do if invited to attend or speak? I guess I have been invited to attend (indirectly through the press), but do not plan to do so, not because conscience would prevent me from doing so, but because there is only so much time, money, and energy for such things, and I plan to spend mine elsewhere."

Anonymous wrote: DINNER at the BRICKYARD says you'll be used (abused) by CARTER and the MEDIA in the closing statement (agreement) and in the papers the next day. Extricate yourself now...while you can. --PROVERBS 18:17"

Roger S. wrote: Isn't it fair to expect that a guy has to have some level of "success" before you engage him. We are going to have a new pastor at First Southern Del City, OK. He starts next week. I'll tell you for a fact: the pulpet comittee didn't just go out and find a "nice guy". They didn't find some iconic public figure who might attract attention. They chose someone WITH A TRACK RECORD OF DOING JUST THE TYPE OF TASK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.

Each of us needs to walk by faith -- trusting in the Lord. We need to follow leaders who are really "leaders". The role of "personalities" needs to be subordinated. "

The RM-GBAS virus acts in strange ways when it gets into the bloodstream of exclusivist Southern Baptists. It leads them to attack not only moderate Baptists, but their own kind as well.

According to one anonymous blogger, Wade might as well fold up his tent and head for the hot place. He wrote: "I don't know if you should thank God or the devil for Wade Burleson."

Strange. Strange indeed...