The Southern Baptists are Making History

I an not a Southern Baptist, nor any kind of Baptist. But I am a Christian who considers all Christians my brothers and sisters. But today I am pleased to see that the Southern Baptists have cut through the false rhetoric of Gay rights activists to rightly affirm that homosexual marriage is a moral and spiritual issue, not a civil rights issue. The Southern Baptists have the distinction today of being the largest Protestant denomination in America. This has not always been the case, but it is so now. So when they speak as a group they represent a lot of Americans. They have also made history this week by electing an African American pastor as their leader for the first time in their history. Good work, people! For the sake of clarity I reproduce here the part of their document on homosexuality that shows their resolutions:

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 19–20, 2012, oppose any attempt to frame “same-sex marriage” as a civil rights issue; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we deny that the effort to legalize “same-sex marriage” qualifies as a civil rights issue since homosexuality does not qualify as a class meriting special protections, like race and gender; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage Southern Baptists everywhere to fight for the civil rights of all people where such rights are consistent with the righteousness of God; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we express our love to those who struggle with same-sex attraction and who are engaged in the homosexual lifestyle; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we stand against any form of gay-bashing, whether disrespectful attitudes, hateful rhetoric, or hate-incited actions toward persons who engage in acts of homosexuality; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we affirm that pastors should preach the truth of God’s word on human sexuality, marriage, purity, and love with all boldness and without fear of reprisal; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we proclaim that Christ offers forgiveness of sin for those who turn from their sins and believe on Christ for the forgiveness of sin.

The Sin of Selective Bible Reading

The Bible is a rich book full of sufficient depth of meaning and purpose to occupy for a lifetime the best of minds. It is also a book with a straightforward message that anyone of normal mental capacity can understand sufficiently for their own good. But here I address those who actually read it, and especially those who teach it to others. The Bible has one unified story that fits together beautifully when read as a whole, and is treated with due respect. It is not a disconnected collection from which one can cherry-pick favorite verses and thereby do justice to its contents. Each successive part of this grand narrative builds upon that which went before. The grand story of Jesus cannot be understood properly without seeing how his person, words and works build upon the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament). There are great rewards awaiting the person who will take the trouble to understand the Bible in its entirety. For teachers of the Bible this should be a minimum requirement. Today there are many helps toward this end. Let me recommend only one at this time: Recovering the Unity of the Bible by Walter C. Kaiser Jr. At only 250 pages this is a relatively small book given the enormity of the project. It is a worthwhile place to start for those who want to understand better the unified plan and purpose of the world’s greatest book.