More Moore

The SBC continues to be roiled by Russell Moore behaving like a Baptist and a Christian.

Unless Russell Moore resigns from his post between now and summer, the controversy surrounding the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission will most certainly show up at the convention in Phoenix this June. While there are some who will never be satisfied, I am hopeful that Dr. Moore and those who have been offended can sit down in the same room together and agree to walk together as brothers even if they do not reach a place of agreement on the issues that have caused the current rift.

Moore has given offense on two fronts. First, he supported a mosque that was having difficulty obtaining a construction permit, the chief problem being … MOOZLIMS!! Second, he made no secret of his dislike of Donald Trump.

Ho-hum. I can’t help feeling badly for Moore, but I don’t feel too badly. He’s a grown man, and hasn’t any good excuse for not knowing that Christianity is grounded on resentments and held together with marketing lies.

What makes this dust-up so interesting to me is how blatantly the Southern Baptists have turned their back on their Baptist heritage, that they are Baptist in name only.

Historically, there are three great theological distinctives associated with Baptists:

  1. The doctrine of the priesthood of the believer, the teaching that, with study and prayer, Biblical meaning is accessible to all. That doctrine was effectively overturned by the Southern Baptists in 1988.

    Be it further RESOLVED, That we affirm that this doctrine in no way gives license to misinterpret, explain away, demythologize, or extrapolate out elements of the supernatural from the Bible; and

    Be it further RESOLVED, That the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer in no way contradicts the biblical understanding of the role, responsibility, and authority of the pastor which is seen in the command to the local church in Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account;” and

    Be finally RESOLVED, That we affirm the truth that elders, or pastors, are called of God to lead the local church (Acts 20:28).

  2. The second great distinctive is the rejection of baptism before the age of reason. But look at this.

    In last year’s Annual Church Profile, 60 percent of the more than 46,000 churches in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) reported no youth baptisms (ages 12 to 17) in 2012, and 80 percent reported only one or zero baptisms among young adults (ages 18 to 29). One in four Southern Baptist churches reported zero baptisms overall in 2012, while the “only consistently growing” baptism group was children under five years old.

    And so much for that. Only a drooling idiot imagines that a child less than 5-years old understands what he or she is buying into.

  3. The third great distinctive is the separation of church and state, which Moore upholds and his critics have clearly rejected.

    There should be no confusion on this point: If you truly uphold the doctrine of separation of church and state, you don’t approve of messing with zoning permits in order to frustrate construction of a mosque.

The uncomplicated truth is that the Southern Baptists are not baptists any more; they’ve morphed into something else. In fact, given their authoritarianism and disdain for conscience, I’m not sure they should even be considered Protestants. They aren’t Catholic, because all good Southern Baptists know that the Pope is the Whore of Babylon, but they sure don’t have much in common any more with the spirit of Martin Luther, either.

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A room for Sally Hemings

What do you know? Sally Hemings is, at last, about to be formally recognized by Monticello as the mother of six of Thomas Jefferson’s children.

The room where historians believe Sally Hemings slept was just steps away from Thomas Jefferson’s bedroom. But in 1941, the caretakers of Monticello turned it into a restroom.

The floor tiles and bathroom stalls covered over the story of the enslaved woman, who was owned by Jefferson and had a long-term relationship with him. Their involvement was a scandal during his life and was denied for decades by his descendants. But many historians now believe the third president of the United States was the father of her six children.

I think this is a healthy development. History should not be whitewashed in order to maintain sentimental and misleading fictions.

DNA tests performed in 1998 showed a strong likelihood that Jefferson was the father of Hemings’ children, though diehards hold out for the possibility that the actual father was the brother of Jefferson’s dead wife, of Virginia’s Randolph family. In order for that to be true, however, one would have to believe that, years after his wife had died, Jefferson …

  • Allowed his former brother-in-law to regularly entertain himself with one of his slaves …

  • Just a few steps from his bedroom, which …

  • Caused Hemings to bear multiple children with red hair and a striking resemblance to the ex-president, whom …

  • Jefferson gladly supported, and …

  • Made provisions for in his will.

Not. They were Jefferson’s children.

In recognizing that, and restoring Hemings’ room and providing a more accurate picture of Jefferson’s life, we should not transform his relationship with Hemings into a Forbidden Grand Passion. Hemings was a slave, Jeffferson’s property, and his sexual relationship with her probably began when Hemings was in her mid-teens — possibly as young as 14-years old, and almost certainly by the time she was 16-years old. She was certainly not his intellectual peer or presentable as a companion in that time and place. Though it may be the case that a bond of affection formed over the years, it’s difficult to imagine how that affection could have overcome the bald fact that he owned her and could visit her for sexual release whenever it suited him; the close proximity to his bedroom was probably no more than a device for assuring his exclusive and convenient access.

Even after blithe hand-waving about Jefferson being a man of his time, when misuse of slaves for sex was relatively common if little-discussed, it isn’t believable that the author of the Declaration of Independence didn’t recognize the hypocrisy and squalor of it. Though it isn’t possible to know what was in either Hemings’ or Jefferson’s head, it isn’t crazy to contemplate the irony that Hemings may have counted herself lucky for capturing the Master’s eye, and that Jefferson despised himself for it.

In a closely related vein, Yale University has announced that it will rename Calhoun College after Grace Hopper, the admiral and early computer sorceress. They are not, however, going to attempt to expunge the name Calhoun from memory.

More important than the individual decision, though, are the broader principles Yale employed to reach it. By focusing on understanding how a figure fits into his era, our own and the years in between, these principles rely on a respect for history rather than a compulsion to erase it. Future petitions for name changes, Yale says, will rest on arguments grounded in archival research. And in the case of Calhoun, Yale has chosen to contextualize symbols of the college’s former namesake where they still appear — adding, for example, plaques that explain his place in the country’s past and in Yale’s — rather than remove them.

Yale is doing the right thing. When we look at our own domestic turmoils today, we see egregious misapprehensions about American history and, from appearances, comprehensive ignorance of the 20th-century — a time when beleaguered peoples imagined that benevolent strongmen would restore a fictional, sentimentalized past. Good for Monticello and Yale, then, for understanding that we can learn from history only when we see it clearly.

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Non sequitor of the day

Oh? Who has said that? I have CNN on almost continuously, and download the New York Times and Washington Post as my first cup of morning coffee is brewing, and I haven’t heard anything of the sort.

What is actually going on here is that The Orange One is trying to shift attention away from himself and onto the media he so despises for reporting — accurately — about the embarrassments that follow him around.

And I”m wondering about something, too: If The Donald misconstrued a FOX News report to be an account of a terror attack, then why didn’t he summon the head of one of our almost two-dozen intelligence agencies and issue instructions that he was to be kept abreast of developments, particularly as they might concern the United States?

Seriously: Something inside the man is misshapen.

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Be true to your cult (er, church family)

A new piece by Bruce Gerencser introduces what is to be a series of posts that take-up the changes in his life since he and his wife left church behind.

Fifteen months ago, Polly’s dad had ill-advised hip replacement surgery. The surgery was a miserable failure, resulting in Dad spending almost a year in the nursing home. Unable to walk for more than a short distance, Mom and Dad were forced to sell their two-story house they had lived in for almost 40 years. Polly suggested to her mom that they could move up here so we could help take care of them. Polly’s mom replied, we could never do that, our church is here. Ouch. Such is the insidious nature of Evangelical Christianity, especially the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) variety. The church “family” is Mom and Dad’s “real” family, even though this real family of theirs has largely ignored them during Dad’s recovery from hip surgery (and some of this is due to their unwillingness to ask for help, a fault that Polly and I suffer from too), Polly’s mom has wounded her with words many times over the years, but telling her we could never do that, our church is here was a step above the other in-Christian-love verbal assaults. This one caused a deep emotional wound that has yet to heal. When I suggest that we go visit her parents, I am often met with a frown, a look that says, Why bother. They have their church “family.”

Now recall this odious passage from a column by Albert Mohler:

The third theological fact about the family is the continued affirmation of the family within the redeemed people of God – the church. As the Gospels make clear, loyalty to Christ exceeds that of any family commitment, even as the church becomes the family of faith, embracing within its life all who come to faith in Christ and into the life of the church. And yet, Christians are explicitly instructed to honor marriage, to raise their children in the faith, and to order their family according to the Scriptures.

Again, then, ‘family values’ is a marketing lie, and Christianity is not a family-friendly religion. To the contrary, Christian teaching deliberately undermines ordinary, wholesome family loyalties because they are a barrier to the church’s total ownership and control of its members.

First-century Christianity was a cult, and the New Testament is the literature of a cult; it cannot flourish where men are healthy.

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God evolves

Bruce Gerencser has a new installment of Christians say the darndest things that might be the best one yet.

It seems that some church recently had something called a “week of prayer.” The local Baptists have occasionally done that, too. The godly go to the church every night and pray for something. They pray that He will feed the homeless, they pray that their children will get good grades in school, they pray that the Trump administration will enable them to seize control of their neighbors’ gonads and reproductive life, et cetera, et cetera.

So: This guy is at church with his wife, eager to get to the serious business of petitioning Our Invisible Friend, when it is discovered that — GASP!! — his wife doesn’t have a head-covering. Oh … N-o-o-o-o-o! What to do?

When she came upstairs to the prayer room, I noticed she didn’t have her covering on. For those who don’t cover all day, it’s an easy mistake to make. So I quietly got up to let her know she had forgotten. She placed a hand on her head to confirm and said “oops”. We’re prepared for situations like this, and store a couple extra coverings in the glove box of our minivan, so she headed out to grab one. A few minutes later she came back to let me know, the back-up coverings were gone. I figured they were as the previous week we had forgotten as well. So on Sunday we used the back-up coverings in the glove box and forgot to replace them. So here we are, at church, about to spend some focused time to prayer and my wife doesn’t have her covering. What should we do? I’ve thought about this situation before, but this is the first time it wasn’t just hypothetical. There are two options 1) My wife sits in the foyer and doesn’t join us for prayer or 2) she comes in and joins us uncovered.

Just reading that makes me want to smack this nuisance. Just so’s you know, the li’l woman was allowed to pray uncovered, and the husband has added replacement of the emergency backup scarves to his to-do list.

What makes this story worthwhile is that it reveals the painfully childish conception some people have of the Creator Of The Whole Big Universe. Abraham’s god, the god of the Old Testament, is a sort of supersized human being with a few magical powers. He is discomfited by the heat of the day, for instance, and prefers to take his strolls around the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening. He doesn’t know where Adam and Eve are hiding when he drops in for a visit on that fateful day when they stole the bad piece of fruit. He has a butt, and permits Moses a glimpse of it.

He gets peevish when a woman immodestly displays her hair. That’s who this guy is praying to, the god of the Old Testament.

The god of the Old Testament is absolutely not the ‘ground of all being’ now so popular amongst theologians. The god of the New Testament, and the ‘ground of all being,’ have seen this schmuck’s wife … naked! Yes — NAKED!! That god isn’t foiled by a head covering, and knows that the men in the congregation have all seen a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and their imaginations aren’t foiled by a head covering either.

Seriously: What is it like to go through life imagining oneself under constant surveillance by a testy supernatural being who cares about a head scarf? To feel that one must apologize for not having an emergency backup scarf? That’s the world an awful lot of people think they live in. As The Orange One would say — SAD!

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