Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not This Baptist!!!

Sorry the the silence. I had some technical issues that kept me offline. I come back with a word on something that was said by a member of the Southwestern faculty that caught be by surprise. I think it will surprise you too.

This afternoon I read an article posted in the Dallas area media about a recent sermon by Dr. Thomas White of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. In his sermon he argues that the use of birth control is murder. I read the article with virtual disbelief. The link to the article is footnoted below. [1] I am embarrassed as a Baptist to have his voice linked to mine because of our common Baptist identity. He is just wrong and has taken a giant doctrinal step beyond both the 1963 and the 2001 Baptist Faith and Message. I hope and trust that the leadership at Southwestern will take a careful look at this sermon and respond appropriately.

Rather than looking for new sins, Baptist leaders need to focus on training Christian leaders to be witnesses in word and deed. Recent statistics tell us that the vast majority of Baptist churches are either stuck on a plateau of survival or are declining. We also see that baptismal rates continue to drop. The percentage of the world that does not know Jesus is increasing. It seems that Dr. White has forgotten the Pharisees and those like them who were caught up in the search for sin were on the wrong side of the Gospel. Jesus offered a different path; one founded not in condemnation but in redemption and grace. It is time to quit casting stones and searching for expanded definitions of sin and starting living and loving people in a way that draws them toward the grace and face of Jesus. If this sermon is indicative of Dr. White’s approach to ministry, it grieves me that he is included in shaping the next generation of ministers. They deserve better.

My hope is that those who heard the Dr. White’s message had the theological and historical grounding to understand that his voice is a dissident voice in the larger Baptist movement. I hope the world hears that this Baptist disagrees – as to many, many more. Dr. White does not speak for us or to us. We are focused on more important things like loving God with all of our heart, our soul, and mind, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Grace and Peace, Tom


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