Tuesday, March 31, 2009

All Your Computers Are Belong To Us

We are aliens landed have invaded:


prepare to be raptured up across sky now and leave your crashed computers behind us. Um zig.
Problems, what we got? You have no choice but to hand us over the computers base.

..........................
We are currently performing site maintenance. Be cool - we'll be back 100% in a bit.

Ooooooooooooo......................ziggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg......................................................................................................hyunhuihiojn....................................zigggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg........................................

Thoughts On The Atonement



Due to Easter approaching soon, I've decided to do a post series on the Atonement. Here is a list of the categories in which I will divide this series:

שִׁ֥יר הַשִּׁירִ֖ים, Intimacy And The Passover


Implications Of The Incarnation To The Atonement
---from searchingthescriptures.net.


Blood And The Atonement--- due to The Mysterious Cities of Gold finally coming out on an official region 1 DVD in April, I have been re-watching the fan-made bootleg copy that I obtained from Tim Skutt. Since The Mysterious Cities of Gold centers on various cultures of Mesoamerica and South America---this gave me the idea to explain the significance of blood to various religions.


Jesus As Victor: A Theology Of The Cross


In the meantime, see my friend Christian Beyer's post on the Atonement and Wade Burleson's post.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Why Biblical Criticism Is Important For The Church



Here are some quotes from James F. McGrath's recent post: Exploring Our Matrix: Review of Bart Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted:
In his latest book, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them), Bart Ehrman seeks to introduce a wider audience to important aspects of the New Testament. The contradictions, tensions and diversity of viewpoints in the Bible which Ehrman highlights, and the historical-critical approach he outlines, are common knowledge to Biblical scholars, as well as to anyone who had studied in a mainline seminary in the past half century or so. Yet more often than not, such information seems to fail to filter through to the wider populace. The information Ehrman presents is not at odds with Christian faith, although it is at odds with the claims that some Christians make about the Bible. Yet ironically, those Christians who affirm the Bible’s importance seem to put no greater effort into familiarizing themselves with the details of the Bible’s contents, much less scholarship that might aid in understanding it.

Ehrman recounts in the book how he entered seminary as a conservative Christian, ready to resist the attacks liberal scholars would wage against the Bible. Instead, he discovered that this scholarly way of viewing the Bible in fact made better sense and did more justice to what one actually finds in the Bible (p.6). And so Ehrman, like many other students of the Bible from conservative backgrounds (including myself), found his view of the Bible being challenged by the evidence itself (p.xi).

Because of his experience of conservative Evangelicalism, Ehrman is able to address not only the New Testament and other ancient writings from the same period, but also the strategies some Christians have developed for avoiding the natural implications of the Biblical evidence – for instance, “harmonizing”, which usually involves creating one’s own Gospel out of the four found in the New Testament, combining them so that one ends up with a version that isn’t what any of the canonical Gospels say (pp.7, 69-70).

Through the chapters of his book, Ehrman shows how the view of Jesus evolved with time in early Christianity (pp.73-82, 245-247, 260), showing in the process what is wrong with C. S. Lewis’ famous “trilemma” that Jesus must be either “liar, lunatic or Lord”: it assumes that Jesus made the claim to be divine attributed to him in the Gospel of John and only there among the canonical Gospels. A historian cannot have this confidence, and thus must add a fourth option, namely that this claim attributed to Jesus is a “legend” (pp.141-142). The nature of historical study, and its inability to affirm miracles as probable since they are by definition improbable, is also explained (pp.175-177).


In relation to this here is a post by Tony Cartledge: Baptists Today Blogs: Biblical criticism, when the new becomes old. My friend Justin's comment is of particular interest here:
Joshua Brown said...
Dr. Cartledge,

I'm looking forward to class today to hear how you handle the issue of biblical criticism. Those of us fortunate enough to study Religion, specifically Christianity, are well aware of the true nature of biblical criticism. However, as you stated, today's negative connotation of "criticism" makes it difficult to bring such scholarship into the church. Perhaps today's church often feels that scholars desire to tear down their faith instead of enlightening it. Whatever the reason, it's clear that the "older" (and newer)critical methods are lost on the largest population of Christianity: the congregation members. In a time where we give the people in the pews such power by telling them they can read and interpret the Bible for themselves, many ministers have made our congregations fear the very tools meant to help them in their task. Shame, shame, shame.
January 12, 2009 12:02 PM

Justin said...
Joshua said:
"it's clear that the "older" (and newer)critical methods are lost on the largest population of Christianity: the congregation members."

You have captured perfectly why I have feel called to the Church and to education (in the broadest sense of the word). There needs to be more and more people helping bridge the gap in responsible Bible Study!!! You've hit the nail on the head. Its not that they CAN'T do it, its that no one has (will) teach them how!

good comment!
j
January 12, 2009 1:43 PM


Anyways, while I agree with my pastor that from a pastoral level---historical criticism isn't helpful when dealing with congregational needs---however, I do believe that on an instructional level that pastors that are aware of biblical critical methods should at least make clear how these critical methods are of no danger to the congregations' faith and how biblical criticism can inform our faith. Also, I believe this is necessary to prevent the kinds of bibliolatry and abuses of the bible that is rampant in all types of churches, nowadays. This is also one of the reasons that I like Justin "have feel called to the Church and to education (in the broadest sense of the word)" and another reason why I started blogging. Also like Joshua, I have experienced first hand how "today's negative connotation of "criticism" makes it difficult to bring such scholarship into the church" when I tried to inform a small group I participated in about biblical critical methods. Most wouldn't hear of it as they believe the bible is clear and literally says what it means in a literal/face value sense. Most in the laity are also unaware of all the complexities and subtle nuances of the transmission/collation/translation/interpretation processes within an academic/scholarly hermeneutical framework of the bible. I think this all goes back to something Justin once said that there seems to be a disconnect between academic theology and the church. I agree and that's why we need more people like William Barclay and Bart D. Ehrman to make academic theology accessible to the church.

I Love Sharks

You may think that's a weird statement for a Blog mainly about theology, literature and cultural musings, but I think they are some of God's most fascinating creatures. Anyways, here are some recent news stories on one of my favorite animal species.

Embedded video from CNN Video


Sharks Draw Near Horde of Swimmers
AOL
posted: 13 DAYS 12 HOURS AGOcomments: 355filed under: Animal News, World NewsPrintShareText SizeAAA

(March 17) -- About 700 swimmers taking part in a race Sunday off Sydney, Australia, seemed oblivious that danger was lurking just a stone's throw away. A hammerhead shark was swimming near them, and another, smaller shark was in the water under them.
This video below, from ITN, captures the drama. The camera was able to pick up the hammerhead, but it wasn't able to get an image of the other interloper.

Most of the competitors appeared to be unaware of the sharks' presence. Race winner Chris Allan did see authorities put up a shark signal as he was swimming, but he seemed to take it in stride. "I figure [the sharks] had 700 of us to choose from and they couldn't decide, by the looks of things," he told ITV.com.
.....

2009 AOL LLC. All Rights Reserved.
2009-03-17 09:33:11


Embedded video from CNN Video


Shark Video Triggers Some Backlash
AOL
posted: 17 DAYS 10 HOURS AGOcomments: 1952filed under: Animal News, National NewsWith HP wireless printers, you could have printed this from any room in the house. Live wirelessly. Print wirelessly.
PrintShareText SizeAAA

(March 13) -- You've probably seen it by now: stunning video footage of a spear-fisherman battling a tiger shark in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana. The video became an online sensation this week, but not all viewers are fans of what they saw. The underwater fight resulted in the shark's death -- a killing that some viewers say was unjustified. The New Orleans Times-Picayune has a good background piece on the circumstances that led to the fight, which took place in June.

Spear-fisherman Craig Clasen and two friends were looking for yellowfin tuna when they encountered the shark, he told the newspaper. The trio was accompanied by Ryan McInnis, a videographer, and D.J. Struntz, a photographer, who were working on a promotional video for a fishing company.
Struntz and Clasen were hauling a fish to the surface, Clasen said, when he heard McInnis scream. According to accounts in the Times-Picayune and CNN, a shark went after the videographer. "The shark turned and came right in at me," McInnis told CNN.
A two-hour fight followed. It ended with Clasen killing the shark with a long blade.

CNN was among the media outlets that aired footage of the encounter. In a follow-up interview with McInnis, Clasen and Stuntz, CNN's Rob Marciano said the story caused a "public outcry" among some viewers. They asserted Clasen didn't have to kill the shark.
Clasen said he took no joy in killing the shark. "We really wanted to have a different outcome here, but unfortunately that wasn't possible," he told Marciano.
The killing was "absolutely not" for show, Clasen said. "It was so remorseful for us. It was a quiet boat ride home."
....

Why is the story coming out now? Because Outside magazine recounts the shark fight in a March feature story on spear-fishermen in the gulf. Clasen told the magazine that on the way home from the kill, the friends ate a filet of the shark, sashimi-style. It tasted "terrible," he said.

2009 AOL LLC. All Rights Reserved.
2009-03-13 09:54:56


Sunday, March 29, 2009

The One Lamb: A Movie For Easter



It seems that more and more independent Christian themed movies are being released nowadays which is a good thing. Here in time for the Easter season is one of them:
The One Lamb is a 2009 American Christian film directed by Bryan Forrest,[1] set to be released on March 30, 2009. It stars John W. Price, Alyson Lowe, Anna Holmes and Bryan Forrest. It is unrated.[2] It was financed by University City United Methodist Church, in North Carolina.[1]


[edit] Plot
The One Lamb is the story of Jackson Price (Bryan Forrest) who is diagnosed with cancer, and determined to atone for the sins of his past. He once had everything going his way, but in a moment of weakness he lost everything. He was abandoned by his wife, learns he is dying of cancer, and may not live long. But he's determined to fight, and with a little help from a pastor named Earl (John W. Price), he tries to achieve redemption for his past failures while hoping and praying for a happy, healthy future.


Here are further details from the Official Website:
In the dead of night, lying across the steps of an altar in an abandoned church, a man lies broken and confused. How could he have fallen so far?

Just days before, he was a power broker, a young, hot campaign manager for a candidate for the US Senate. His picture graced the covers of national magazines touting him as the new “Golden Boy” of American politics. And his future was shining bright. Now, alone in this unfamiliar place, everything he once had is lost. Crying out into the darkness for help, the voice of a stranger answers “I’m going to help you my son”…

Jackson Price awakens to find himself in a hospital bed. Here, at the bottom of his fall from grace, is where he will learn he has cancer. And he is going to have to fight to save his life. All alone and facing an uncertain future, Price seeks out the stranger who answered his cry in the darkness.

In a small town deep in the country, far away from the fast paced life he once lived in the big city, Price will find Earl. Earl enjoys the simple life of the country. He delights in taking long afternoon naps. He enjoys sitting in his rocking chair on the front porch sipping cold glasses of sweetened iced tea. And this stubborn, retired black preacher and the young city boy will become fast friends.

Earl cares for Jack as he battles the cancer trying to take his life. And helps Jackson to realize he is going to have to abandon everything he understands and learn to trust in something much bigger than himself. Ultimately, for Jackson to save his life…he is going to have to surrender it.

Jackson learns that he is losing his fight with cancer. In a race against time, Earl will lead him to the One who has the power to give him new life. Turning from his selfish ways of the past, Jackson forgoes any further treatment and attempts to run a marathon to inspire thousands of others to have hope and to never give up.

Audiences will stand up and cheer at this inspirational story of courage and faith. Come along on this incredible journey as Price races against time and his past to reach the finish line where he will find the One who will set him free…the One who will give him new life…

And Here's The Preview:
video---or see it in fullscreen here:

John Dominic Crossan On Bible Literalism



I thought I had posted this video before, but I couldn't find it---so thanks to Shuck and Jive: Crossan on Fundamentalism: "Rev's Rumbles" and The Rev's Rumbles: The Dangers of Fundamentalism -- John Dominic Crossan---I am finally posting it.

See also: Living the Questions, Peter Rollins: On the difference between literalism and fundamentalism and The Dangers of Fundamentalism -- John Dominic Crossan.

How Proposition 8 Destroys Families


"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Found On: Shuck and Jive: It Breaks My Heart.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Our Eroding Baptist Principles

That Baptist Ain't Right asks: That Baptist Ain't Right: Baptists No Longer for Separation of Church & State? How did we get here?

Here is some of that post with hyperlinks inserted by me:
THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2009
Baptists No Longer for Separation of Church & State? How did we get here?

Waaaaay back in 1612, Thomas Helwys, the first Baptist, wrote The Mystery of Iniquity that outlined the basic ideas of what it is Baptists believe. Primary in that work was the concept of the separation of church & state, the theological concept that only God can judge a soul & therefore government should compel anyone to follow or support any faith. Helwys went so far as to sign his name to a note he penned on the inside cover specifically for King James. For his efforts, Helwys was promptly arrested & died in prison in 1616.

Helwys wasn't alone. Roger Williams. Isaac Backus. John Leland. All of the early Baptist in the America supported the concept of the separation of church & state. In fact, until around 1980, the overwhelming majority of Baptists supported the separation of church & state.

So how did we move from overwhelming support for the separation of church & state, to the near unanimous approval of a Domionist ideology among Baptists in just 25 years?

I asked that question to Dr. Bruce Prescott back in November of 2007 & got an interesting answer. Paradoxically, the answer Dr. Prescott (the Baptist) gave is nearly identical to that a good friend of mine gave who happens to be Catholic. Odd.

After WW II, there was a surge in the effort of Catholic parochial schools to get gov't money. Obviously Protestants were opposed to their tax money being used to support Catholic schools. In 1947 the Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State was formed to oppose the funneling of tax money to Catholic schools. Religious & educational fought to make sure Catholics were given any preference & the Protestants were danged sure to not let Protestant tax money be used unwisely. And, thus, the religious leaders, particularly Baptist leaders, recited well the history of Baptist support for the separation of church & state.

But something happened. Baptists began to grow after WW II with lots & lots of babies. The suburbs grew. And racial tension came fast & furious.

The turning point, according to both Dr. Prescott & my friend who happens to be Catholic, was school integration.


I'd like to offer some additional insights to the problem. Another reason certain Baptists aren't standing up for the separation of church and state is because with the Fundamentalist Takeover of the SBC and the Religious Right's dominating influence on Southern Baptist life, eschatology began to shift toward a premillenial dispensationalist stripe. This coupled with the SBC's shift towards dogmatic theocratic Calvinism paved the way for the erosion of traditional Baptist principles. While it is true that premillenial dispensationalism in itself is anti-political, premillenial dispensationalists are ardent political Zionists. See also: "Left Behind" and the Corruption of Biblical Interpretation and Evangelicals and Israel: Theological Roots of a Political Alliance.

Also, Christian Reconstructionism's influence on the Religious Right plays a part in the problem. See also: Republican mastermind bemoans GOP+theocracy partnership. Anyways, because of these factors, we have Baptists as well as other fungelicals that mix theology and politics in a theocratic manner.

See also: TheoPoetic Musings: It's Time: Week 8---A Baptist Witness That Dissents On Manichaeistic Fundamentalism.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Interesting Stuff From Around The Web



Spotted on: Arminian Today: The Prosperity Message

From the Biblical Recorder: Vermont moves to legalize ‘gay marriage’ and Vermont governor pledges gay marriage veto.


On Redemption: “The Pauline Conception of Redemption”.

On Albrecht Ritschl and Johannes Weiss and Social Justice: Social justice: Now, later or never? The contribution of Albrecht Ritschl and Johannes Weiss to social justice theology---here's an abstract of that:
Summary: This paper considers the influence of Albrecht Ritschl
(1822-1889) and Johannes Weiss (1863-1914) on current social justice
theologies. It begins by pointing to the significance of Ritschl and Weiss
within the context of fin de siècle German theology. This is followed by
an explication of the different interpretations of the kingdom of God
that appear in the works of Ritschl and Weiss. Finally, the interpretations
of Ritschl and Weiss are tied to current Christian reflection concerning
social justice in the work of Rosemary Ruether (1936- ) and Stanley
Hauerwas (1940- ). The paper demonstrates the relevance of Ritschl
and Weiss to contemporary religious discourse concerning the role
that Christianity can and should play in the promotion of social justice.


On Ecumenical Relations Between the PCUSA and the Episcopal Church: Agreement Between The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

D. A. Carson Calls Christians To Biblical Prayers

D. A. Carson is one Conservative Evangelical scholar that I respect and admire, but his recent comments on prayer at Biltmore Baptist Church 's prayer conference are a little off. The Biblical Recorder reports:
Carson spoke about how the word of God should reform every area in a Christian’s life, especially prayer.

As Paul did in Ephesians 3, Christians should pray for the life-transforming power of Christ and a better understanding of the limitless dimensions of Christ’s love. In returning to a biblical standard of prayer, Christians must pray for Christ’s power to strengthen and transform. The Christian must cry out for “a demonstration of God’s power” to work in him, making him “the habitation of the almighty God,” Carson said.

Paul desired for the Ephesians to be established in the Savior’s transforming love and to know God’s love in such a way that “knowing it might surpass all that could be known.” Carson directed his audience to ask God “to show you the ugliness of sin and the spectacular love of Christ that deals with it.” Then “you will see how wide, long, high and deep is this love of Jesus that surpasses knowledge,” he said.

The church needs intercessors and Christians must beg God, as Moses did during the account of the golden calf, for mercy. Christians must beg God not to pour out upon His church the judgment it deserves. “Moses seeks the favor of God and asks Him to relent and not bring disaster,” Carson said. Moses pleads upon God’s mercy and God relents. God does not drift through interactions with His people but “He expects this unrelenting intercession, this dynamic experience,” Carson said.

Carson urged believers to acquire a vision of God’s holiness, the awfulness of sin and empathy for fellow believers that would “lead you to stand in the gap” as Moses did for the Israelites. He asked God to “blot out” his life if He would not forgive the Israelites. Moses stood in the gap, willing to take the punishment. Carson admitted, “It is rare I find myself thinking of things like that.” Yet, Christians must think and pray like that, he said.

In response to Moses’ plea, God unpacks His character, showing He is compassionate and gracious but cannot let the guilty go unpunished. Moses begs God to go with the Israelites, whether he shows compassion or justly punishes them. He knew the Israelites were nothing without God. Believers must recognize, as did Moses, that without God, “everything else is a disaster.” There is no one to whom Christians can go except God. Therefore, pray and beg for God’s presence, regardless of what it brings, Carson said.

Revival is God-given, but Christians must reform their prayers so that they seek God and not an event. Prayer for revival must not simply be prayer for an experience. Rather, it must be that God’s people be holy and delight in Him rather than self-made pursuits of “religiosity,” Carson said. Christians must return to a biblical standard of prayer and not any other man-made measure. This is why Carson urged believers to pray scripturally and “find life, purpose, and hope” in Christ through His word.


While I agree with Carson, "Christians must pray for Christ’s power to strengthen and transform." However, I don't agree that we should pray "biblically"---whatever praying "biblically" means. Who gets to decide what a biblical prayer is anyway---you, me, D. A. Carson, the Pope, John Calvin, etc.? Nowhere in the scriptures does it say that believers should pray biblically. However, Christians should always pray Christocentricly as Jesus gives us the standard of Christian prayer in The Lord's Prayer:

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:9-13 ESV).


Prayers should also be individualistic and subjective as prayers are believers' intimate connection to the Divine. Praying scriptures is sometimes helpful though such as in the lectio divina model, but there are some scriptures we shouldn't pray such as Psalm 137:9 and Psalm 143:12 for example as neither one of those scriptures are consistent with God's self-revealed character in the person and work of Christ. After all, Jesus should be at the center of all our prayers. In closing, I will leave you with two quotes from Karl Barth on prayer:
"To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world."
Karl Barth.
[P]rayer is the most intimate and effective form of Christian action. All other work comes far behind, and it is Christian work… only to the extent that it derives from prayer…


See also: Karl Barth: The Liberation of the Christian: From Anxiety to Prayer and:
Jesus Christ lived the perfect life as God intended for man here on earth by deriving all that He did from God the Father. "I do nothing of My own initiative" (John 5:30; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10), Jesus said, "but the Father abiding in Me does His works" (John 14:10). Jesus lived the life of the Perfect Man2 for every moment in time for thirty-three years by constantly living in the prayer of faith. He chose to be receptive to the activity of God the Father in all that He did and said. Karl Barth explains,
"He became the first One properly to take and receive the divine gift. He takes up towards God the position of One who has nothing, who has to receive everything from God. He trusts in God that He will in fact receive it from Him. He entrusts everything to Him. This is how He lives...a life controlled and upheld by the grace of God. In all His life as a man Jesus was only and altogether a Suppliant. As the Son of God He is Himself altogether the divine gift and answer. God triumphed in this man. He did it because this man actually asked, and asking took and received; because this man sought, and seeking found; because this man knocked, and as He knocked, it was opened to Him. In this way God triumphed in the asking. This man prayed. He prayed to God for His unspeakable gift."3

Ridgecrest's Ceiling Collapses

Ceiling collapses at Ridgecrest

Read Tony Cartledge's post on the event: Baptists Today Blogs: Watch out below!.

Read about Tony's wife's experience at Ridgecrest: Here.

Thankfully no-one was injured or killed during the accident.

Snyder Memorial Red Shirt Crew

Here is a Blog post from the Biblical Recorder on the CBFNC General Assembly:
Snyder Memorial Members = Servants
20. March 2009 by J. Shore Traveling alone isn't something I normally do. I panic when I can't find my way, feel like I'm lost or even just get turned around. But when I found out that Fred Craddock was going to be at the CBFNC General Assembly, I knew I'd have to brave my fears for the chance of a lifetime.

I'd not been to Fayetteville before and was surprised at the traffic I encountered. I missed my exit to my hotel and ended up driving too far. Flustered and scared, I finally made it, checked in and rushed to find the church. Luckily, that was easier and I made it without incident.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I had a "Dorothy entering the land of Oz" experience. A nice man flagged my car down with a smile and asked me how I was. He wanted to make sure I found not just a parking space, but a good one. He inquired if I needed to unload anything and then sent me to another smiling and waving man. That gentleman, too, asked me how I was and welcomed me to the church (that I hadn't even entered yet). I parked and started walking in to be greeted by two more men who showed me where registration was. I felt like royalty!

Registering for the conference was a breeze and as soon as I got my nametag, another person was there asking me where they could help me go. Literally, every corner of the church was covered by a volunteer. It was amazing and helped ease my stress from my travels right away.

My night continued on in similar fashion, every time I even thought about something I might need, someone from Snyder Memorial was right there. At dinner time, a sweet lady named Olivia insisted that she take my tray and put it away for me. I tried to explain to her that my mother would have me insist on putting my own dishes away and her response was, "but if you don't let me do it, I won't have anything to do!" I felt guilty for not letting her take it the first time she asked!

Worship was fulfilling. Hearing Fred Craddock was amazing. My brain is still trying to absorb all the information I received. But the members of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church - the "red shirt crew" - will forever be etched in my mind beside the word "servant".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CBF 102: Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina

CBF 102: Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina

Our Identity

We are a fellowship of North Carolina Baptists sharing a commitment to the lordship of Jesus
Christ, preserving historic Baptist freedoms, and calling out God’s gifts in Christians and churches to
engage in Christ-centered ministry in our state and around the world.

Our Mission

Bringing Baptists of North Carolina together for Christ-centered ministry

Our Principles

• Centrality and Authority of Scripture
We affirm the authority of scripture. We believe the Bible, under the Lordship of Christ, is central
in the life of the individual and church.
• Priesthood of All Believers
We affirm the freedom and right of every Christian to interpret and apply scripture under the
leadership of the Holy Spirit. We affirm the freedom and responsibility of every person to relate
directly to God without the imposition of creed, the control of clergy, or the interference of
government.
• Autonomy of the Local Church
We affirm that Baptist churches are free, under the Lordship of Christ and guidance of the Holy
Spirit, to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain
whomever they perceive as gifted for ministry, and to participate, as they deem appropriate in the
larger Body of Christ.
• Freedom of Religion
We affirm religious freedom for all people and the separation of church and state.

Our Values

• Lordship of Christ
We are bound together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He is the center of all that we think,
say, and do, and is our authority for faith and practice. By "taking the form of a servant,"
(Philippians 2:7) Jesus Christ is our model for leadership, ministry, and service. In our obedience
to the will of God, the love of Jesus shall be reflected in our relationships, fellowship, and
witness.
• Spiritual Formation
We are bound together in the practice of prayer and other spiritual disciplines. By nurturing life in
the Spirit and being empowered by the Spirit, we will strengthen our relationship with God and
our relationships with one another. We shall draw upon the breadth and depth of the Christian
tradition to under gird every facet of our ministry.
• Global Missions
We are bound together by a passion to fulfill the Great Commission in our communities and
throughout the world. Our strategy is to do global missions in a world without borders.

Our Ministries

• Missions
o North Carolina Missions – We coordinate missions initiatives within the state, with a
particular focus on the unreached and the most neglected.
o Church Planting – We partner with existing congregations to start new churches in North
Carolina.
o Missional Churches – We encourage and equip local churches to engage in God’s
mission in their communities and wherever they feel called.
o Global Missions – We support and participate in missions outside our state, including the
missions efforts of the larger CBF movement.
• Leadership Development
o We provide scholarships for students at partner Divinity schools, with a special emphasis
on North Carolina institutions.
o We conduct leadership development conferences, retreats and events for clergy and lay
leaders.
o We consult with congregational leaders concerning leadership development strategies
and resources.
o We help ministers (experienced and recent seminary graduates) and churches “find each
other” through a ministry of reference and referral.
• Faith Development
o We sponsor youth and children’s retreats several times throughout the year.
o We sponsor youth and children’s choir festivals.
o We conduct conferences and retreats on various topics related to spiritual formation and
faith development.
o We consult with congregational leaders concerning faith development strategies and
resources

Our Relationships

Our primary partners are the churches and individuals who comprise our fellowship. Our first
priority is to serve them. In addition to these core constituents, we also have significant relationships with
other ministry partners, two of which deserve special mention.
• Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (National) – CBFNC is grateful to be part of the larger CBF
movement of God’s people. Though funded and organized separately from CBF, we seek to be
the face of CBF in North Carolina by supporting and promoting CBF ministries in our state and
beyond, including global missions and theological education.
• Historic North Carolina Baptist Institutions and Agencies – We value the agencies,
institutions and ministries that have historically been part of the North Carolina Baptist family.
Though we do not seek to own, operate or control these ministries, we do seek to partner together
in mutual ministry and provide a channel for churches to fund these ministries through the
Mission Resource Plan.

Our Gatherings

• Annual General Assembly – Each year, our fellowship experiences a “family reunion” in the
form of the General Assembly. Usually held in a church, the assembly offers inspiring worship,
informative ministry workshops, helpful resources from various ministry partners, and rich
fellowship with Christians from around the state.
• Regional Fellowship Groups – Clergy and laity who share a common bond through CBF values
and commitments gather on a regular basis, often monthly, in several locations throughout our
state. Check our website or call our office to find out about a group in your area.

See also: Bringing Baptists of North Carolina Together for Christ-Centered Ministry - article by Randall Lolley.

CBF 101: An Introduction to Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

CBF 101: An Introduction to Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
By Larry Hovis, Executive Coordinator
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina

In college courses, “101” usually refers to basic, foundational, or introductory subject matter. In these days of
great change in Baptist life, many members of Baptist churches are seeking to learn more about Cooperative Baptist
Fellowship (CBF). The purpose of this document is to help with this educational process.

Background

Beginning in 1979, a concerted effort was undertaken to bring about a drastic change in the leadership and
direction of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). This effort was accomplished through a well-organized political
process that involved electing a convention president who would make appointments that eventually resulted in placing
persons on boards of trustees of agencies and institutions who would carry out the desired changes. Control of boards of
trustees was accomplished in about twelve years, along with replacing the administrations, and eventually, most
employees of the agencies and institutions. Great attention was given to altering the character and culture of the
seminaries and mission boards. Those who supported these changes labeled this process, “The Conservative Resurgence.”
Those who opposed these changes referred to the process as, “The Fundamentalist Takeover.” Regardless of one’s
approval or disapproval of the changes, all agreed that by 1991, the SBC had undergone a major transformation.
That year, a group gathered in Atlanta representing active Southern Baptists who were displeased with the new
direction of the SBC. This group formed a new body which was incorporated under Georgia law as the Cooperative
Baptist Fellowship. The focus of CBF in those early days was to provide a place of fellowship for people who felt
disenfranchised from the SBC and a funding channel for missionaries and new theological schools that were beginning to
be birthed.
Today, CBF has grown far beyond its humble beginnings. Though many of the churches and individuals who
partner together through CBF still have a connection to the SBC, CBF is recognized as a separate body, as evidenced by
its recent admission as a member of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), an organization of over two hundred international
Baptist bodies. (The SBC has subsequently withdrawn from the BWA.)

Baptist Principles: A Firm Foundation

CBF adherents have always placed a high premium on what are commonly referred to as “historic Baptist
principles.” In fact, disagreement over the interpretation of these principles, and how they are applied in local churches
and in denominational life, has been at the heart of the controversy in the SBC. CBF’s understanding of basic Christian
and Baptist principles are reflected in its official documents and strategic plan.
 Our Identity – “We are a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great
Commission of Jesus Christ and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice.”
 Our Vision – “Being the presence of Christ in the world.”
 Our Mission – “Serving Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.”
 Our Core Values
o Baptist Principles
 Soul Freedom – We believe in the priesthood of all believers and the equality of every church
member.
 Bible Freedom – We believe in the authority of Scripture under the Lordship of Christ without the
imposition of creedal statements.
 Church Freedom – We believe in the autonomy of every local church and affirm every church’s
right to determine its faith, practice and leadership without outside interference.
 Religious Freedom – We believe in full religious liberty and the separation of church and state.
o Biblically-based Global missions – This includes belief in the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit);
the sinfulness of all humankind; Christ as Savior and Redeemer for all peoples; the ministry of the Holy
Spirit to convict of sin and empower believers; the responsibility of every believer and church to share the
Gospel; the need to cooperate with others in mission to the world.
o Resource Model
o Justice and Reconciliation
o Lifelong Learning and Ministry
o Trustworthiness
o Effectiveness

CBF Ministries

Current CBF ministries fall into four areas or “strategic initiatives”:
 Faith Formation – Assisting congregations with evangelism, outreach and spiritual growth.
 Building Community – Encouraging congregational health, Baptist identity, reconciliation and justice, marriage
and family ministries, ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and endorsing chaplains and pastoral counselors.
 Leadership Development – In congregations, through theological education (in partnership with seminaries and
divinity schools) and in collegiate ministry.
 Global Missions and Ministries – Through partnership missions with local churches, reaching the most neglected
peoples of the world and planting new churches (over one-half of our resources are spent on Global Missions and
Ministries).

A Paradigm Shift: From Convention to Partnership

Most lifelong Southern Baptist adults were nurtured in a “convention culture” in which congregations, district
associations, state conventions and the national convention were closely connected through money (which flowed from
congregations to associations and state conventions to the national convention) and programs (which flowed from the
national convention to state conventions and associations to congregations). Theoretically, we exercised autonomy at
every level, but in practice, we functioned as an organizational pyramid with congregations forming the base and the
national convention sitting at the apex.
Alternatively, CBF promotes a “partnership paradigm” in which congregations are at the center of Baptist life.
Congregations are encouraged to determine their unique, God-given mission and then choose partners to assist them in
accomplishing that mission. CBF does not demand exclusive loyalty but humbly asks for the opportunity to be one
(hopefully a significant one) of a congregation’s many missional partners.

The CBF Movement: National and State Fellowships

In addition to CBF, which has its offices in Atlanta, there are eighteen autonomous state and regional CBF-related
bodies. These bodies work very closely with CBF but are not franchises or field offices. CBF Executive Coordinator
Daniel Vestal calls this unique relationship between national and state CBF bodies “a seamless movement.”
CBF of North Carolina (CBFNC) is funded and organized separately from CBF. We seek to be the face of CBF in
North Carolina by promoting CBF ministries in our state. We also have our own ministries which include multiple
mission projects; support for theological education; retreats for youth, children and adults; and a reference and referral
service to help churches seeking staff and ministers seeking ministry placement find each other. We extend the
partnership paradigm in North Carolina by offering a Mission Resource Plan which allows churches to support historic
North Carolina Baptist ministries through CBFNC. We have our own paid staff, elected leadership, annual general
assembly, and many events throughout the year. Our mission is “Bringing Baptists of North Carolina together for Christcentered
ministry.”

Getting Connected

CBF, at both the state and national levels, is not a member organization, but a fellowship of churches and
individuals who voluntarily cooperate to do together what we could never accomplish alone, for the sake of the Kingdom
of God. Please attend one of our assemblies, participate in one of our ministries, or call on one of our staff members or
volunteer leaders for information or assistance. If you embrace our mission, vision and values, and desire to share in our
ministries, you are welcome in our fellowship. Of course, your financial gifts are most welcome, too. May God bless and
guide us as we seek to be the presence of Christ in the world, together.

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina
8025 North Point Blvd., Suite 205
Winston-Salem, NC 27106
(336) 759-3456 or (888) 822-1944
www.cbfnc.org
Larry Hovis, Executive Coordinator (LHovis@cbfnc.org)

Pope Says Condoms Won't Solve AIDS

Pope Says Condoms Won't Solve AIDS
By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, AP
posted: 7 DAYS 5 HOURS AGOcomments: 442filed under: Pope Benedict News, World NewsPrintShareText SizeAAA

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (March 17) - Pope Benedict XVI said condoms are not the answer to the AIDS epidemic in Africa and can make the problem worse, setting off criticism Tuesday as he began a weeklong trip to the continent where some 22 million people are living with HIV.
Benedict's first statement on an issue that has divided even Catholic clergy working with AIDS patients came hours before he arrived in Cameroon's capital — greeted by thousands of flag-waving faithful who stood shoulder-to-shoulder in red dirt fields and jammed downtown streets for a glimpse of the pontiff's motorcade. In his four years as pope, Benedict had never directly addressed condom use, although his position is not new. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, often said that sexual abstinence — not condoms — was the best way to prevent the spread of the disease.
Benedict also said the Roman Catholic Church was at the forefront of the battle against AIDS.
"You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane heading to Yaounde. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."
The pope said a responsible and moral attitude toward sex would help fight the disease, as he answered questions submitted in advance by reporters traveling on the plane. His response was presumably also prepared in advance.
The Catholic Church rejects the use of condoms as part of its overall teaching against artificial contraception. Senior Vatican officials have advocated fidelity in marriage and abstinence from premarital sex as key weapons in the fight against AIDS.
The late Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo made headlines in 2003 for saying that condoms may help spread AIDS through a false sense of security, claiming they weren't effective in blocking transmission of the virus. The cardinal, who died last year, headed the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family.
Three-quarters of all AIDS deaths worldwide in 2007 were in sub-Saharan Africa, where some 22 million people are infected with HIV — accounting for two-thirds of the world's infections, according to UNAIDS.
Rebecca Hodes with the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa said if the pope is serious about preventing HIV infections, he should focus on promoting wide access to condoms and spreading information on how to use them.
"Instead, his opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans," said Hodes, head of policy, communication and research for the group.
Hodes said the pope was right that condoms are not the sole solution to Africa's AIDS epidemic, but added they are one of the very few proven measures to prevent HIV infections.
Even some priests and nuns working with those infected with the AIDS virus question the church's opposition to condoms amid the pandemic ravaging Africa. Ordinary Africans do as well.
"Talking about the nonuse of condoms is out of place. We need condoms to protect ourselves against diseases and AIDS," teacher Narcisse Takou said in Yaounde.
Stanley Obale Okpu, a civil servant working in the ministry of urban development in Cameroon, said: "What the pope says is an ideal for the Catholic church. But he needs to look at the realities on the ground. One should be aware of these realities. In the case of Cameroon — and Africa as a whole — condoms are very necessary ... You need condoms to prevent AIDS and birth control."
A crowd of photographers and cameras flashed as the 81-year-old pontiff stepped off the plane into the steaming 88-degree heat, with humidity levels measuring a wilting 90 percent.
It was the first stop on a weeklong pilgrimage that will also take Benedict to Angola as he seeks to draw international attention to Africa's problems of famine, poverty and armed conflict.
The pope was greeted by Cameroon's President Paul Biya, who has ruled since 1982 and whose government has been accused by Amnesty International of abuses in crushing political opponents.
The pope made no specific reference to the situation in Cameroon, but he did say in general remarks on Africa that "a Christian can never remain silent" in the face of violence, poverty, hunger, corruption or abuse of power.
"The saving message of the Gospel needs to be proclaimed loud and clear so that the light of Christ can shine into the darkness of people's lives," Benedict said as the president and other political leaders looked on.
Africa is the fastest-growing region for the Catholic church, though it competes with Islam and evangelical churches.
The pope said Tuesday he intends to make an appeal for "international solidarity" for Africa in the face of the global economic downturn. He said while the church does not propose specific economic solutions, it can give "spiritual and moral" suggestions.
He described the current crisis as the result of "a deficit of ethics in economic structures."
"It is here that the church can make a contribution," he said.
On the plane, Benedict also dismissed the notion that he was facing increasing opposition and isolation within the church, particularly after an outreach to ultraconservatives that led to his lifting the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop.
"The myth of my solitude makes me laugh," the pope said, adding that he has a network of friends and aides whom he sees every day.

Associated Press writers Krista Larson in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Emmanuel Tumanjong in Yaounde contributed to this report. Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2009-03-17 13:52:10

Roman Catholic Good Samaritan



Priest Gives Away Thousands to Poor
By CHRISTINA HOAG, AP
posted: 1 DAY 23 HOURS AGOcomments: 95filed under: National News, Charitable NewsPrintShareText SizeAAA

LOS ANGELES (March 17) - Father Maurice Chase celebrated his 90th birthday on St. Patrick's Day by giving away green — and plenty of it.
The Catholic priest took $15,000 in cash to Skid Row and doled it out to hundreds of the city's most down-and-out residents outside the Fred Jordan Missions. Twenty wheelchair-bound people received crisp $100 bills, while the rest received $1 to $3 each. "This is the Lord's work," Chase said as he shuffled along the motley assemblage watched over by police officers. "I come out here to tell them that God loves them and I love them, that someone is concerned about them."
Chase is an institution in Skid Row, where he has given away cash, plastic rosaries and blessings every Sunday on the same corner for 24 years. A throng of several hundred people waits for him every week, lined up in the order that he sees as putting the most vulnerable first: handicapped, women and children, couples and single men.
He makes a point of coming on Thanksgiving and Christmas, too, but this is the first year he's spent his birthday in the downtown neighborhood where people live mainly in shelters and on urine-stained sidewalks.
"It's the place that makes me the happiest. I just love it," said Chase, who wore a Notre Dame baseball cap and a patched, fraying cardigan over his clergy shirt. "I look forward to coming here."
The money comes from donations he receives from rich and famous people he met during his long tenure as assistant to the president of Loyola Marymount University. They include philanthropist Eli Broad; Dolores Hope, Bob Hope's widow; Barbara Sinatra, Frank Sinatra's widow; and Bob and Ginnie Newhart, he said. The California native retired from Loyola about a decade ago. The crowd broke into choruses of "Happy Birthday" several times. A few regulars presented him birthday cards, to his delight.

Travis Kemp, a 51-year-old double amputee with long wavy black hair, was one of the lucky 20 to receive $100. He said he had no special plans for spending the cash. "He has a lot of respect from me," Kemp said. "I know I couldn't do it."
Others noted that outsiders usually come to donate food on Skid Row. "They never give money," said Lawrence Landry, who's lived on Skid Row for the past year after losing his job. "This is unusual."
Annette Matthys, who's trying to wean herself from a crack cocaine habit, said she queues up every week and usually receives a dollar or two from Chase. She uses the money to buy cigarettes or do her laundry.
"He's got a heart," said the 56-year-old woman who sleeps on the sidewalk when she can't find a shelter bed. "I never saw anyone like him. Some people are generous, but this guy ... I can't even describe it."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2009-03-17 19:45:05

Praise Pours In for Good Samaritans
AOL
posted: 2 DAYS 22 HOURS AGOcomments: 186filed under: National NewsPrintShareText SizeAAA

(March 21) - When times are tough, heroes emerge to save the day.
Father Maurice Chase is one of them. He celebrated his 90th birthday on St. Patrick's Day by doling out $15,000 in cash to hundreds of down-and-out residents in Los Angeles.
"I never saw anyone like him," said a woman who sleeps on the sidewalk. "Some people are generous, but this guy ... I can't even describe it."
Tracy Orr knows how she feels. The Dallas woman sat crying at a foreclosure auction in October until a stranger changed her life with one swift move. Marilyn Mock, moved by Orr's tears, bought her home for $30,000 and then handed the keys back to Orr. "People need to help each other and that's all there is to it," Mock said.
She was matched by billionaire Tim Blixseth, who wired a woman $20,000 when he heard her mobile home was destroyed during a move. "I've never seen anything like this," said Diane Bowling, who took Blixseth's original call to the mobile home office.
Even amidst the economic downturn, Americans are showing their generosity. The Salvation Army reported that its Red Kettle campaign set a record of $130 million in donations last year, a 10 percent spike from 2007 and the biggest one-year jump in more than a decade.
And some good Samaritans are giving much more than money. Dawn Verdick, who read a Craiglist ad from the daughters of a man who desperately needed a kidney, donated her own after realizing she shared his rare blood type.
....
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2009-03-21 21:04:21

SnagFilms Film Widget---The Least Of These




See also: ACLU Challenges Prison-Like Conditions at Hutto Detention Center.

Real Life Superhero



Thai 'Spider-Man' Saves Boy in Peril
AOL
posted: 24 MINUTES AGOcomments: 37filed under: Good News, World NewsPrintShareText SizeAAA

(March 24) - An everyday hero became a superhero to save a boy in distress Monday.
Rescue workers got the call when an 8-year-old autistic boy had crawled out onto a third-floor ledge at a Bangkok special needs school, AFP reported. The boy was scared because it was his first day at the school, police said.

After the boy's mother mentioned that the child loved superheroes, firefighter Somchai Yoosabai hustled to his fire station and donned a Spider-Man costume that he kept to wear during school fire drills.
"I told him Spider-Man is here to rescue you, no monsters are going to attack you and I told him to walk slowly towards me as running could be dangerous," Somchai said. The boy then stood and let Sonchai carry him in, AFP reported.

2009 AOL LLC. All Rights Reserved.
2009-03-24 11:07:42


Also on the same page under a Java Widget on Survival Stories was the story of:
A 93-year-old Japanese man has been certified as a survivor of the U.S. atomic bombings in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Tsutomu Yamaguchi, here in an undated photo, was in Hiroshima where the first bomb was dropped in 1945. He suffered serious burns, but returned to Nagasaki where a second bomb was dropped days later.
It is amazing and a miracle that humanity has survived this long after all our inhumanities to each-other and natural disasters.

--- Tsutomu Yamaguchi gazes at the booklet which fails to mention his exposure to two atomic bomb attacks, in Nagasaki on Oct. 31. (Mainichi)

Here are some other news stories about Tsutomu Yamaguchi:
Japan Confirms First Double A-Bomb Survivor

1:08pm UK, Tuesday March 24, 2009

A Japanese man has been confirmed as the first person to have survived both US atomic bombings at the end of World War II. Tsutomu Yamaguchi was already recognised as having survived the Nagasaki bombing, on August 9, 1945. And now he has been confirmed as a surivor of the attack on Hiroshima three days earlier. The "hibakusha", or radiation survivor, was three kilometres from ground zero in Hiroshima on a business trip when the bomb hit. He was seriously burnt on the left-side of his upper body and spent the evening in the city. He then returned to his home city of Nagasaki, just a day before the second atomic bomb attack. Four days after the bombing he was exposed to residual radation while searching for his relatives. Nagasaki city official Toshiro Myamoto said: "As far as we know, he is the first one to be officially recognised as a survivor of atomic bombings in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki." "It's such an unfortunate case, but it is possible there are more people like him." (Read On: Here).


Japanese Man Certified as Double A-Bomb Victim
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
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TOKYO — A 93-year-old Japanese man has become the first person certified as a survivor of both U.S. atomic bombings at the end of World War II, officials said Tuesday.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi had already been a certified "hibakusha," or radiation survivor, of the Aug. 9, 1945, atomic bombing in Nagasaki, but has now been confirmed as surviving the attack on Hiroshima three days earlier as well, city officials said.

Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip on Aug. 6, 1945, when a U.S. B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the city. He suffered serious burns to his upper body and spent the night in the city. He then returned to his hometown of Nagasaki just in time for the second attack, city officials said.

"As far as we know, he is the first one to be officially recognized as a survivor of atomic bombings in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki," Nagasaki city official Toshiro Miyamoto said. "It's such an unfortunate case, but it is possible that there are more people like him."

Certification qualifies survivors for government compensation — including monthly allowances, free medical checkups and funeral costs — but Yamaguchi's compensation will not increase, Miyamoto said.

Japan is the only country to have suffered atomic bomb attacks. About 140,000 people were killed in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki.

Yamaguchi is one of about 260,000 people who survived the attacks. Bombing survivors have developed various illnesses from radiation exposure, including cancer and liver illnesses.

Details of Yamaguchi's health problems were not released.

Thousands survivors continue to seek official recognition after the government rejected their eligibility for compensation. The government last year eased the requirements for being certified as a survivor, following criticism the rules were too strict and neglected many who had developed illnesses that doctors have linked to radiation.


See also: Tsutomu Yamaguchi.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Baptist Century Convocation: Celebrating 400 Years Of Baptist History

Here are some highlights from the speeches at the New Baptist Century Convocation on Monday, February 9, 2009 at First Baptist Church, Greensboro (Sponsored by CBFNC):

The New Baptist Century in Historical Context: Conscience and Dissent
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship North Carolina
February 9, 2009
Bill J. Leonard

On the eve of the American Revolution, Anglican Parson Charles Woodmason, a
good Englishman, described the carryings on among the people called Baptists in the
"Carolina backcountry". He wrote:
They don't all agree in one Tune. For one sings this Doctrine, and the next
something different---So that people’s brains are turn'd and bewildered. And then
again to see them Divide and Sub divide, split into parties---Rail at and
excommunicate one another---Turn (members) out of one meeting and receive
(them back) into another. And a Gang of them getting together and gabbling one
after the other (and sometimes disputing against each other) on abstruse
Theological Questions. . .such as the greatest Metaph[ys]icians and Learned
Scholars never yet could define, or agree on--To hear Ignorant Wretches, who
cannot write . . .discussing such Knotty Points for the Edification of their
Auditors. . .must give High offence to all Intelligent and rational Minds.
1
Woodmason was as correct as he was condescending. Indeed, many 21st century observers
would concur that contemporary Baptists still give “high offense” in the church and the public
square. In the United States, when a Virginia congressman calls Americans to tighten immigration
laws in order to keep out Muslims who MIGHT be elected to high office and MIGHT take the oath
of office on the Koran, didn’t he just have to be a Baptist?2 When members of a stem family church
in Kansas show up at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq, and shout that such deaths are the result
of God’s judgment on the nation, don’t they just have to be Baptists?3 And then there are all those
2
internecine “Baptist battles” fought incessantly in the pew and the press. Take Southern Baptists, at
14 million the largest sub denomination of the 30 million Baptists in the U. S. For almost three
decades Baptists in the nation and especially the South have debated issues related to the Bible,
ordaining women, control of Baptist related schools, public schools, private school vouchers, trips
to Disneyworld, glossolalia, praise choruses, baptizing homosexuals, rebaptizing Presbyterians,
salvation for Jews and Muslims, the “rapture,” drinking wine at communion or at dinner, and the
gospel benefits of something called “Christian heavy metal” music.4 When 21st century Baptists in
the U. S. “divide and sub divide, split into parties, rail at and excommunicate each other,” not just in
the “Carolina back-country,” but on CNN, wouldn’t any self respecting believers want to distance
themselves from their Baptist origins as quickly as possible?

.....

Given these transitions in (dare we say it) postmodern theology and ecclesiology, and on the
400th anniversary of Baptist beginnings (Amsterdam, 1609), how might Baptist history inform
identity in the present and, more importantly, the future? As a historian who happens to be a Baptist,
I would suggest that aspects of the Baptist past are worth considering whether we use the infamous
“B” word in our public statements or not. Rather than excise or exorcise all remnants of Baptistness
from our past, however, are there segments of that heritage worth acknowledging that continue
inform the future? To own the best contributions does not require claiming the entirety of Baptist
history, nor does it mean scrambling to find something worth retaining in order to be historically
correct. Rather, we could be intentional about revisiting the Baptist past with appropriate research
before we jettison the movement uncritically. What in the Baptist vision offers insight toward the
future whether we reference these embarrassing forebears or not?
My own reading of Baptist history compels me to encourage a reexamination of what seems
to me the heart of Baptist identity in the modern/postmodern world: the importance of uncoerced
faith grounded in the power of conscience and the inevitability of dissent.10

.....

As a historian, I am impressed by the early Baptist courage and dissent in behalf of
uncoerced faith, freedom of conscience, and religio-political dissent, and I hope that Baptist
churches, societies and denominational groups will find ways to own their Baptist roots, even if
they bear witness to only a tiny spark of progressivism. We owe it to ourselves to reference the
identity of those 16th and 17th century dissenters obsessed with conscience and voice for heretic
and atheist alike. They spoke out because they could not remain silent, whether anyone paid
much attention to them or not. Indeed, as a religious community, Baptists have never done well
with privilege, whatever form it takes. Parson Woodmason was right then and now, we don’t all
“agree in one tune,” you see, it's a matter of conscience. (Read More: Here).


Missional Collaboration in a New Baptist Century
By Larry Hovis, Executive Coordinator
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina
New Baptist Century Convocation
First Baptist Church – Greensboro, North Carolina
February 9, 2009

Introduction

Many of you know that prior to taking on my present role with Cooperative Baptist
Fellowship of North Carolina, I had the privilege of serving as pastor of The Memorial Baptist
Church in Greenville. We were often teased about our name – “THE” Memorial. In common
conversation, we would simply call ourselves, “Memorial,” but the use of the definite article is
not accidental, for it commemorates a significant event very early in the church’s history. That
church provided the physical meeting place and supplied three of the fourteen leaders who
founded the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, an organization which has done
tremendous good, and which has made an enormously positive difference in the lives of
countless persons in our state and beyond – including most of us here this evening.
The Memorial Baptist Church appreciates its history. Its main concern, however, is not
what happened in the past, but ministering in the present and planning for the future. The
primary hallmark of healthy churches is faithfulness to the mission of God. Healthy churches
realize that faithfulness to God’s mission required particular actions and structures and
relationships in the past that may need to be changed or abandoned in order to be faithful to the
mission of God in the present and in the future. And so, as this particular group of North
Carolina Baptists gathers in Greensboro on a winter night in 2009, celebrating the first four
Baptist centuries, we need to ask ourselves, what will be required of us in order to be faithful to
the mission of God in the next Baptist century? Allow me to suggest three critical factors: Baptist
principles, missional renewal and missional collaboration.

Foundation – Historic Baptist principles

To begin with, the New Baptist Century will be built on the firm foundation of Baptist
principles. Baptists, at our best, have been a principle-centered movement. The Baptists in the
first Baptist century in Europe, and in the second Baptist century in America, did not suffer
persecution for nominating committee reports or giving plans. They lived, fought, suffered, and
sometimes died for bedrock principles. Though there is no single way to articulate Baptist
principles, for our purposes this evening, I would reduce them to six main ideas.
First, Baptists believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This is a basic Christian belief.
Baptists share this belief with other Christians. We are not so arrogant to believe that we are the
only Christians, but before anything else, we are persons made in the image of God and sinners
saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. We are followers of Jesus, seeking to live our
lives in the way of Jesus. Christ is the center of our lives, individually and collectively.
Second, we believe the Scriptures are our final authority for faith and practice. We are
people of the Book. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are authoritative for
individuals, congregations, and in shared ministry beyond congregations. We may voluntarily
choose to confess a shared faith based on a common understanding of the Scriptures, but we
understand that any human words about the Scriptures are always subordinate to the Scriptures,
and therefore must never be used in a coercive manner. We understand that as we interpret the
Scriptures together, we humbly acknowledge that “we see through a glass darkly.” We always
remain open to the possibility that “God hath yet more light to shed forth from his word.”
Third, we believe that every believer in Jesus Christ is a priest before God. All believers
stand equally before God’s throne of grace. There is no multi-class system in the church.
Distinctions such as clergy and laity are practical but not theological. As believer priests, we
have both the privilege of relating directly to God through our great high priest, Jesus Christ; but
we also have the responsibility of ministering on behalf of God in the world. Priesthood is never
an excuse for individualism. We are priests to each other in the community of faith, and we
exercise our priesthood for the sake of a lost, dying world. The symbol for our priesthood is
baptism, upon profession of faith, in deep water where possible to show that we have been united
to Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection.
Fourth, we believe that congregations should be self-governing. No outside entity may
have authority over the local church. Neither association nor convention nor fellowship may
control or coerce congregations. Congregations are made up of believer-priests, who come
together in community, to read, study and interpret the Scriptures together. Based on Scripture as
they understand it, they are free and responsible to shape their own governance structure,
develop their own requirements for membership, call their own leadership, order their own
worship, and pursue their unique mission in the world, in concert with partners of their own
choosing. For Baptist congregations, one size does not fit all.
Fifth, we believe in religious liberty for all people. Baptists were birthed in the battle for
religious liberty, for ourselves and for others, including those whose beliefs are very different
from ours. Unless all are free, none are truly free. Some scholars say this is our greatest
contribution to civil society. We believe that the best way to cultivate religious liberty is through
the separation of the institutions of government and the institutions of religion. But we also
believe that our voices, and the voices of people of all faiths and no faith, should freely be
proclaimed in the public square.
Sixth, we believe in cooperating with others to engage in God’s mission in the world. We
realize that no individual Baptist, and no single congregation, can accomplish God’s mission
alone. We partner with other Christians and other churches to establish and support ministries
that will enable us to fulfill both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. (Read On: Here).


“Tribal People” 2/8/09
Mike Queen, CBFNC Convocation
Numbers 2:1-2, 34; John 21:15-22

We are a tribal people. We gather with like-minded others and identify ourselves as such.
Along ‘tobacco road’ you will find the Wolf Pack tribe and the Tar Heel tribe…the Blue
Devils and the Demon Deacons. To the east you will find a tribe of Pirates and to the
west a tribe of Mountaineers. Among the Baptists, you find Angels and Hawks…Camels
and Lions…and even a tribe of Runnin Bulldogs.
We gather in other tribes, too. There exists a tribe of people who revere Eastern NC
Barbeque and an apparently ‘lost tribe’ that worships Western NC Barbeque. Even in the
church of Jesus Christ we have divided ourselves into tribes of Methodists,
Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Catholics and a host of others,
including the Baptists. And the Baptist family has its own set of tribes developed over
these last 400 years.
This is how it has always been in the Kingdom. Even when the children of Israel were in
the earliest years of their wanderings in the wilderness, God acknowledged their tribal
nature. God instructed Moses and Aaron to have them set up their camp by tribes…using
terms like regiment, clan and ancestral houses to describe how they organized
themselves. Each camp was to face toward a tent of meeting…or tabernacle…in the
center. But each tribe was to hang their ensign or tribal banner out in front of their site for
the purpose of identification.
Their oneness and unity was found in the geographical orientation toward the center…the
tent of meeting…the place of worship. But their differences …their uniqueness was
celebrated by banners that flew in the winds of the wilderness. They had both a corporate
identity as the children of Israel and a particular identity in their tribal divisions. It was as
though God knew they needed some separateness to accomplish their ultimate and unique
calling.

.........
While there are a few ‘loners’ in this world, the reality is that most of us are looking for
places to connect…to belong…to find a sense of identity that is true and authentic to who
we are. We see it all the time in the people who visit and worship in our churches. They
are looking for the same thing. When they find it, they join up with us…and fly the
banner of our local church tribes.
Perhaps this is why we come to gatherings such as this…to connect with others in our
tribe…to embrace a sense of belonging to others who are like us…and to craft and shape
and an identity where, like the children of Israel, we can fly our banner, too. CBF of NC
is my tribe in the Baptist nation.
This tribe is not a denomination to be won or lost. It is a fellowship to be celebrated and
built on trust.
This tribe does not function like a denomination. It is a movement re-engineered for the
21st century.
This tribe is not about buildings and control. It is all about mission and freedom.
It is exciting to be a part of something still new…something that is consistent with our
cherished Baptist heritage…and which is yet a new kind of Baptist community filled with
a hope we can scarcely imagine. That hope is found in Jesus Christ…and in Jesus alone.
But just as it is in all tribes, we must always and forever hold one another accountable.
We cannot afford to allow this movement to lose its way. The relationships in tribes are
far too precious to squander. We need to be vigilant in maintaining our focus on mission.
As I have counseled our Coordinator, Dr. Larry Hovis, maintaining focus is one of the
hardest parts of being a leader. He and we must be relentless in this pursuit.
At the end of John’s account of the gospel he told the story of a post-resurrection
encounter that took place on the beach between Jesus and Peter. Repeatedly Jesus asked
Peter if he loved him. Repeatedly Peter said that he did. Each time Jesus countered by
telling Peter to feed his sheep. Finally Jesus reminded Peter that following him could
ultimately cost him his life and result in a martyr’s death.
As that sobering possibility began to sink in to Peter’s consciousness and as he began to
nervously contemplate his own mortality, he looked up and saw John standing close by
on the beach. In that moment Peter pointed to John and blurted out to Jesus…in rather
childish fashion, ‘Lord, what about him?’
Jesus with all the infinite patience he could muster responded to Peter saying, ‘If it is my
will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’
In the span of a heartbeat Peter had lost his focus. Like so many of the youthful protests
and questions that came from the mouths of the disciples, Peter forgot his unqualified
avowal of love for Jesus and all the promises he made. Thus, fearing for his own life
questioned the fate of his friend…his brother…and perhaps…his rival… John. ‘Lord,
what about him?’
It does not take much to turn us away from the call and claim of Jesus on our lives, does
it? If we are not careful, we can end up pointing fingers at others while forgetting our
responsibilities in the Kingdom. Absent a clear focus, we will find ourselves chasing after
things that have nothing to do with the Kingdom or with Jesus’ plan for our lives…our
churches…or our tribes. I stand before you as one who has spent too much time on lesser
matters.
In a recent meeting with some of our church leaders questions were raised about the idea
that we might have to reduce our church budget in the face of the current economic
depression. After listening to some hand-wringing dialog, I reminded them that our
ability to follow Jesus has nothing to do with the size of the church budget.
More money…as important as it is…can only expand the breadth of our reach. We can
still follow Jesus without a nickel in our pockets. This is why a ‘clear mission focus’
trumps abundant resources every single time.
Management guru Seth Godin says, “When you fall in love with the system, you lose the
ability to grow.” Put another way, when you fall in love with an institution, you may just
lose the ability to follow Jesus.
We must never abandon the pursuit of a ‘clear mission focus’. The tribe can provide that
focus for the individual and the individual can I turn provide it for the tribe. My brothers
and sisters, to believe is the easy part of faith. But to follow…this is the hard part…of
faith. This is also why we need one another.
Someone has said that if you want to get some place quickly, by all means, go alone. But
if you are taking a journey, it is best to travel with others. CBF of NC you are my tribe.
You are the ones with whom I want to journey. And I will set up camp under your banner
all the rest of my days.
May we never lose the focus of our Jesus-given mission…
May we always hold one another accountable before our God... (Read The Full Sermon: Here).