Friday, January 30, 2009

What's the difference between a Georgia baptist and a republican congressman?

Nothing-neither of them has a clue.

Republicans in congress want to continue the totally failed policies of the totally failed presidency of gw and the Georgia baptists want to continue the totally failed policy of discriminating against those who refuse to discriminate.  I won't say much more about the repubs in this post. That will come later as the story plays out.  The short-sighted mysogyny of Georgia baptists (who are generally representative of southern baptists as a whole, but sometimes slightly less regressive than their Alabama neighbors) have waged a full-scale battle against First Baptist Church-Decatur for the last two years.  The church's sin was to call a woman as pastor.  They called Julie Pennington-Russell in 2007.   That, of course, is a clear violation of the Baptist Faith & Message (2000 perversion) which states: “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” Do the Bible study. How many times does the NT talk about the “office of pastor?” How many times does the word "pastor" even show up in the NT?The modern model of pastor as CEO is not biblical.  Look at the older versions of the BF&M. They are much more true to scripture than the modern perversion.
Ms. Pennington-Russell had been serving at a baptist church in that hot-bed of denominational rebellion known as "Jerusalem on the Brazos." For the uninitiated, that's Waco, TX. I have commented on the lack of biblical support for the sbc's position in other posts and on other blogs and will not repeat it here unless someone is interested. 

The sbc elite pride themselves on taking a stand against the demands of culture. One pastor, Bobby Braswell Jr. of Guyton, Ga., wrote that the convention's action is "not a popular position in today's cultural climate, but we are following the dictates of Scripture, not culture." What is abundantly clear is that rather than taking a stand against culture in their objection to women in church leadership positions, the sbc is actually supporting the same culture that brought us racism and slavery.  

If you have not followed this story, I have provided a series of links to Associated Baptist Press stories.

18 June 2007

2 February 2008

13 November 2008

14 November 2008

27 January 2009


Bobby Braswell, Jr. said...

Hey this is the Bobby Braswell, Jr. cited in your piece. Did you get your ideas from Pierece or vive-versa? For the record my comments are taken slightly out of context. I attended the GBC and witnessed a bit of parliamentary gymnastics in an attempt to sidestep the very obvious issue that GA Baptists wanted to exclude a church that had called a woman as a lead pastor (which BTW based on Scripture I oppose). It is a little disheartening to see myself portrayed as a right-wing nut. Some of my favorite authors include Ann Lamott , Phillip Yancey, Mike Yaconelli, etc. I consider myself a critical thinker. I studied Fee and Stuart on Hermeneutics and see the principles given for pastoral leadership in 1 Timothy 3 as binding. BTW, "Dead Poets Society" is one of my favorite movies, too. Small world.

sepherim said...

Thank you for responding. I had not seen John Pierce's column before I wrote this article but do agree with him. I wrote in response to one of the APB articles listed in my post and found your letter in the Christian Index. However, it seems that we think alike and arrived at the same conclusion. I'm not sure how you think your comments were taken out of context. Your appeal is to scripture as opposed to culture without recognizing that the current baptist position on women in ministry is based on culture at least as much as it is based on scripture. I appreciate your understanding of hermeneutics (at least you know what the term means) but believe that taking Paul's instructions out of the context of a first century church you are not following good hermeneutical principles. To derive a determinative position on pastoral leadership on one passage without considering the overall message of the NT is not good hermeneutics. As I reference in the post, look at the historical development of the BF&M and explain to me how this is not based on the culture of southern baptist churches rather than on a new and better understanding of scripture. There are at least as many references to women in teaching and leadership positions in the NT as there are passages which seem to preclude women from teaching and leadership. In light of the culture of the day that is remarkable and ought to be instructive about what freedom in Christ really means. I appreciate that we share some common interests but would say that if you don't want to be included with the "right-wing nuts" (your words, not mine) don't sound so much like one.

Bobby Braswell, Jr. said...


I sure prefer dialogue to mud-slinging. Have you heard of what thelogians refer to as a "creation ordinance"? It is the idea that male-female relationships are delineated in Genesis in the creation accounts and move forward in time (even in the NT) on that basis (1 Timothy 2:13ff). I don't believe in male superiority (I am married and know better). And I don't believe that woman are excluded from local church leadership. I do, however believe that woman are excluded from being lead pastors. What specific passages are you referring to that counter this idea in the NT? I cited Fee and Stuart because their text does a great job of helping bible students understand how to discern which principles had cultural ramfications and which issues were non-negotiable and stood until Christ returns. It is a difficult, but possible task. I am often put off by the political machine that is the GBC and SBC, but OTOH I have no interest in identifying with "moderates", either because I do not see that there is a very high view of Scripture among them. There is too much of a pick and choose approach IMO. I agree with John Pierce, too that these labels often don't do justice to the actual people behind them. I wish that there were some middle ground, but it is hard to see it. I find that very few people are willing to take part in dialogue that is not shrill and angry. I am trying to soften my tone with people who disagree with me (maybe it comes with age), but at the same time, you have to know what you believe and why.

God bless,


sepherim said...

I, too, appreciate the opportunity to dialogue on issues like this. One of the main differences we have is the concept of lead or senior pastor. I don't believe that any of the NT writers ever envisioned a corporate structure for the church like we have today. I don't think any of the terms for leaders used in the NT come anywhere close to matching what a senior pastor is today. Surely you know that the word pastor does not even show up as an office, only as a gift to help build up the church. I find no biblical warrant to accept the common interpretation which assumes that the terms elder and bishop refer to an office similar to a contemporary senior pastor. Consequently I find that the statement in the revised BF&M, "the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture" to be meaningless.

Regarding the concept of "creation ordinance:" I have serious doubts about its validity. I find very little biblical support for an idea like this and generally put it in the category of devices used by those in dominance to maintain the status quo. However, if it has any validity, you have to recognize that there was equality in creation. Subordination and heirarchy only came in after sin entered the picture. Therefore it should follow for those that are part of the "new creation" that the sin-caused structures and values should no longer be in effect. Quite honestly that is what I believe Paul is talking about in Galatians 3. I'm not going to take space here to post a full list of women in ministry and leadership roles. I will do a regular post on my blog soon on that material.

I realize that we will probably not agree on these issues, but do urge you to seriously consider the degree to which our learned understanding of how church should operate colors our interpretation of the relevant scriptures. It is impossible for us to interpret scripture outside of culture.