Thursday, October 30, 2008

Going....going....gone

Over the past several blogs I have mentioned technical issues that have plagued my efforts to keep up with the blog. The issue has finally come to resolution. The hard drive on my lap top gave up the ghost and died. Unfortunately I thought I had done a better job at backing up documents than was the reality. There is really no need to fuss about it because it does not look like we will be able to recover anything from the drive. It never ceases to amaze me how dependent I have become on the machines in my life. I wonder what our lives might look like if we were willing to allow ourselves to become that dependent on God.......Grace and Peace, Tom

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




[1] http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/wfaa/latestnews/stories/wfaa081021_wz_preacherpills.137311785.html

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Politics and the Pulpit

This past Sunday was declared "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" and was created to be a Sunday where pastors defied the rules against specific political endorsements from the pulpit. Many pastors chose to claim this moment to endorse their favorite candidate and provide a religious context for their endorsement. I think they were mistaken. I have strong personal political views and am now resolved on which candidates I plan to vote for. But, you will not hear my choices proclaimed from the pulpit. I choose to proclaim something much more important from the pulpit at First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. I choose "to preach good news to the poor; to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." These words are the ones Jesus claims as his heart in Luke 4. In John 20:20 we hear "so as I was sent, so I send you." It is my desire that people find redemption, hope, and grace at the feet of Jesus. It is my desire to speak to the moral and ethical issues that echo through the Throughout history there have been moments when the church lost its voice to the political fervor of the moment. The message we bring in more important than a political party or our place at the civic table. It is a gospel that transcends a culture or a country or a moment in time. It is a gospel that speaks to an eternal God and a way to spend eternity in the presence of God. It is a gospel that offers a way to forgiveness that can heal and transform. The invitation to step into a pulpit to preach is a sacred trust. It is intended for much more than a civic endorsement. It is intended to be a place where freedom is proclaimed. Not a freedom found in momenatry political fireworks but in the work of God.

Grace and Peace, Tom