A Golden Age for the SBC seminaries?

I am not kidding you: The head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Midwestern Seminary says that, thanks to the cleansing of the seminaries during the Fundamentalist Takeover of that denomination, the SBC has entered a Golden Age of theological education.

By 1979, when the Patterson-Pressler coalition formally launched what has come to be known as the Conservative Resurgence by mustering enough votes to elect Adrian Rogers as SBC president, there was undeniable dissonance between Southern Baptist seminaries and the vast majority of SBC churches.

What began in 1979 took nearly three decades to play out: electing conservative SBC presidents, appointing conservative trustees, securing conservative seminary presidents and building conservative faculties. The culmination of the Conservative Resurgence was the SBC’s adoption of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

So now in 2015, theological education in the SBC is in many ways where it started in 1859, with uniformly conservative seminaries serving the convention’s churches. And that is, in part, why I believe we are now enjoying the golden era of theological education in the SBC.

They’re graduating ignoramuses who believe Adam and Eve were real, actual people, deceived by a talking snake. The obliviousness is stunning.

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Thinking aloud: Binary thinking meets reality

Bruce Jenner’s recently televised interview with Diane Sawyer is a forceful reminder that, though overwhelming numbers of us are born with male or female plumbing and the gender identity and sexual orientation to match, not all of us are.

For all intents and purposes, I’m a woman.

Bruce Jenner

Seriously? The Olympic gold medalist and guy on the Wheaties box?

Apparently so.

The gist of it seems to be that sexuality has multiple components: The plumbing, the gender identity, and the sexual orientation; plumbing is straighforward, gender identity is how one perceives oneself, and orientation is the gender one finds sexually interesting. Any combination of those three elements might be encountered in different individuals. A person with male parts might perceive himself as female, for instance, and desire females — might be a lesbian in a man’s body, that is.

But regimentation on gender, the binary thinking, is enforced from a very young age. From grade-school onward we are separated according to gender — rest rooms, locker rooms, activities, religion, the whole of culture — and by the time we encounter nuances the separation is so embedded that coming to terms with a more complex reality requires a difficult paradigm shift.

How does this happen? Nobody knows, but virtually the entire medical and scientific world accepts that human sexuality is more complex than our plumbing, and are converging on the view that gender identification and sexual orientation are an innate part of our individual operating systems, shaped by the chemical environment of the mother’s womb — and isn’t susceptible of change. This may explain why no ‘gay gene’ has ever been found; the matter is not our genes, exactly, but how our genes express themselves in response to the unique chemistry of our mother.

It’s an interesting puzzle, no? I imagine it will all be sorted-out some day.

For those of us born with components that are in sync, I suppose life is relatively simple. We might become involved in satisfying or dissatisfying relationships, that is, but our preference in relationships does not raise eyebrows or put us on the outskirts of society. For those in Jenner’s situation, the reality must be vastly more difficult — he is, after all, an Olympic champion, paradigmatically male in a binary culture.

But he thinks of himself as female, and that is bound to set up exhausting internal tensions. Surely, rather than disdain, we owe respect to those who have lived with those tensions and thrived in spite of them.

As I mull this over, something else occurs to me. Jenner has expressed a desire, for now, to be referred to as a male; presumably, that will change at some point in the future, and he will ask that he be referred to as a female, and by whatever new name he gives himself. As an editorial matter, and mindful of the difficulties he has overcome along the way, I see no reason why his wishes should not be respected.

But here’s the thing: After all of Michael Jackson’s famous bleachings, could it ever be appropriate, if it were editorially relevant, to speak of him as a ‘white man?’ Something about that bugs me, though I can’t say what exactly, and I think I would resist doing it, though I can’t say why exactly. A binary block of my own? Dunno.

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Back in the ol’ hometown, ctd

Dan Gilbert, the billionaire founder of Quicken Loans, continues his funny little hobby of surveilling downtown Detroit.

As billionaire Dan Gilbert continues to amass an unparalleled collection of downtown Detroit’s buildings, parking lots and other prime properties, his Bedrock Real Estate Services is quietly ratcheting up what has become one of the most ambitious, state-of-the-art surveillance systems run and financed with private money.

Trouble is, Bedrock crews have been installing security cameras and other surveillance equipment without permission on buildings that Gilbert does not own, which Motor City Muckraker first reported in February.

[ … ]

The live feeds are monitored in a secretive command center in the Chase Tower, where security guards keep an eye on the video 24/7.

Yeah, that makes me want to visit Detroit.

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Inside Calvary Temple

The Wartburg Watch has yet another piece written by a Calvary Temple survivor.

Of major concern and huge red flag was the breaking up of families. I watched parents lose their children (they were put out of the house if they were “not serving God”), children lose their parents (children were told to have nothing to do with a parent who might want to leave CT or was considered unsaved), husbands and wives divorce (because one wanted to leave CT), and friends be cut off from lifelong relationships. Some children left their homes and went to live with other people in the congregation at the insistence of the pastors. Some of my closest friends have not seen their children and grandchildren for many years. This is the motivating force for my stand against Calvary Temple – the destruction of families.

[ … ]

Marriages in Calvary Temple are strictly controlled. A member can only marry another CT member, the marriages are sometimes directly arranged and always subject to the approval of leadership, and engagements are restricted to 2-3 weeks (to keep the couple from succumbing to their “fleshly desires”.). Consequently, though the couple has probably known each other most of their lives, they are not allowed to date or even get to know each other in a romantic way prior to marriage. Everything is done in a group setting to be sure there is no “giving in to the flesh”. I believe many marriages would not take place if the young people were allowed to spend time together and find out they may not be compatible.

Marriages in CT are for the purpose of “serving in the ministry”.

I say again: The difference between Calvary Temple and the little white church near your home is a difference of only degree; all of them teach that good, decent, godly people are always ready to betray their family and friends on command — like Abraham. Here is a well-known Southern Baptist pastor:

Permit me to start with the obvious – a biblical foundation. It is not just a requirement of ministry, but of discipleship itself, that Jesus take a place of priority over anything in your life. Jesus said these words.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

Obviously, Jesus was not talking about visceral, emotional hate here. He is talking about priority. When God says “Jacob I loved and Esau I hated” it doesn’t mean that God despised Esau it meant he chose the younger over the elder. Jesus was demanding that he be the first choice in our lives always. Pleasing and obeying him must be my highest priority, more than pleasing my wife or children or anyone else. Jesus comes first.

Christianity is not a family-friendly religion, and all the yak-yak-yak about family values is an empty marketing lie. The natural loyalties of healthy families threaten the total control that pastors want, and so Christian teachings strive to undermine them. When you meet a man who celebrates Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac, you should run for your life.

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The Will to Power

Book Two: A Criticism of the Highest Values That Have Prevailed Hitherto
II: Criticism of Morality

§287   My philosophy aims at a new order of rank: not at an individualistic morality.

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