A Few More Side Notes about the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention)


 

A Few More Side Notes about the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention)
 


13 November 2010 at 6:47:33 PM
salon

I've spoken before about my background, being raised as a Southern Baptist. There are a few points that I have long wondered about, as a matter of perception. For example, I was raised to believe that Christians didn't participate in wars, unless they were just wars of necessity. Also that Baptists, in particular, believed in separation of church and state; how then, could any Baptist be involved in war?

I knew that there was a poltiical, fundamentalist takeover of the SBC in the 80's and 90's, and a purge of the *moderates*. I found a book recently called "Exiled" by Kell that has a number of stories of what happened during that time and how this takeover was accomplished.

Besides being interesting reading about the purge, the appendix containa "Comparison of 1925, 1963, and 2000 Baptist Faith and Message". I also found the same thing on the SBC site.

On Peace and War: From 1925 "It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness. In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ they should do all in their power to put an end to war.

TO PUT AN END TO WAR

The true remedy for the war spirit is the pure gospel of our Lord. The supreme need of the world is the acceptance of his teachings in all the affairs of men and nations, and the practical applications of his law of love.

We urge Christian people throughout the world to pray for the reign of the Prince of Peace, and to oppose everything likely to provoke war.

The 2000 version completely omits that last paragraph.

Here's what the SBC said in 1940 about war and peace.

4. That while there may be many contributing causes for war, we believe that the deepest and most basic cause for war is a materialistic education and a materialistic philosophy of life, which exalts man and debases and depersonalizes God as the creator and the preserver of all life and as the Saviour of man.....

6. That while we acknowledge the right of national self-defense, our utter abhorrence of war and its attendant evils compels us to voice the conviction that even a defensive war should be waged only as a last resort after every effort has been made to reach a settlement of international problems in fairness to all the nations involved....

8. Baptists have always believed in liberty of conscience and have honored men who were willing to brave adverse public opinion for the sake of conscientious scruples. A considerable number of members of churches of our Convention, through their interpretation of the moral teachings of Christ, have reached the position of a conscientious objection to war that prohibits them from bearing arms.

The Convention ought to accord to them the right of their convictions as it accords to others the right to differ from them, and ought to protect them in that right to the extend of its ability. Therefore,

Be it RESOLVED, That the Convention go on record as recognizing such right of a conscientious objection, and that the Convention instruct the Executive Committee to provide facilities for their registration with the denomination, in order that the Executive Committee may be able to make accurate certification to the government concerning them at any time it should be called for.

9. Because war is contrary to the mind and spirit of Christ, we believe that no war should be identified with the will of Christ. Our churches should not be made agents of war propaganda or recruiting stations. War thrives on and is perpetuated by hysteria, falsehood, and hate and the church has a solemn responsibility to make sure there is no black out of love in time of war. When men and nations are going mad with hate it is the duty of Christ's ministers and His churches to declare by spirit, word, and conduct the love of God in all men. In time of war it is our Christian responsibility to prepare for peace. We would, therefore, urge our churches to think and work toward a Christian social order in which a just and lasting peace can be realized.

But now? War and evangelicals, including the SBC.

This resolution laughingly seems to say that killing, damaging and destroying are allied with men (and by extension supports war)

At this point in time there isn't a draft in the United States. Thus, for someone to be in the military requires a choice. The dichotomy between a soldier and a conscientious objector is still there, but the sides are not as sharply drawn when service is not compulsory. if a religion teaches that war is contrary to the mind and spirit of Christ, why, first, are there any southern baptists in the military and secondarily, why are those who are conscientious objectors regardless of a draft not highly praised?

On separation of church and state. The 2000 version says the same thing.

1925- God alone is Lord of the conscience, and he has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to his Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to the church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.

If the state has no right to impose taxes to support religion, then surely southern baptists would agree that no taxpayer money should go for anything that supports a forum of religion, including, for example, any type of religious teaching in any form in public education. Note also that "the church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work", in other words, get out of politics that try to mix in religion, laws and taxpayer money.

I saw, last night, an interesting episode of the show God in America on PBS (as originally recommended by humanbeing here). Chapter 2 talks about not only the persecution of the Baptists by the Anglican church but the background on Thomas Jefferson and the Danbury Baptists.

The SBC came into existence in 1845 because of their member's support of slavery.From Wikipedia.

The SBC became a separate denomination in 1845 in Augusta, Georgia, following a regional split with northern Baptists over the issues of slavery and missions.

Here's a fairly recent resolution from 1995 from the SBC site that talks about this. And apologizes for the SBC's role in this.

Be it further RESOLVED, That we apologize to all African-Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime; and we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously (Psalm 19:13) or unconsciously (Leviticus 4:27); and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we ask forgiveness from our African-American brothers and sisters, acknowledging that our own healing is at stake; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we hereby commit ourselves to eradicate racism in all its forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry; and....

etc

Perhaps the hard right turn of the southern baptists has been what has caused their drop in membership over time. I'm not talking about any of this because I wish to see the SoBapts return to their values; I don't care what they do. What I did want to see was whether my own upbringing, which was anti-war except in defensive just war cases, and a strong belief in separation of church and state CAME from that man-made organization. And it did.

 


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