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content for learning. context for l iving


JULY 2011

Bringing Baptists




for adults and youthAUGUST LESSONS INSIDE



High placeof sacrificedemands a

response 4

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‘Sujay’ sworn in as religious freedom envoy 11

Two-thirds of Americans OK with Mormon candidate 11

MLK’s daughter leaves Atlanta-areamegachurch 11

Ayn Rand v. Jesus? 12

Ga. church diverts funds from“Calvinist”

SBC seminaries 13

Brazilian Baptists motivated bymissions 31

New book says Gen. MacArthurflooded Japan with post-war religion 42

Gallup finds same-sex relations, marriage receiverecord approval 42


Keith Herron answers six questions about CBF 32

Bob Dylan’s music, religious mystique endure 43By Ron Csillag


In search and praise of imagination 7By John Pierce

Communication the key to good transitions 9By Chris Gambill with Natalie Aho

Stewardship looks better from the ‘balcony’ 33By John Hewett

Cooperative missions changing, not dead 36By Steve Vernon

Fellowship’s mission strategy not ‘radicallyaltered’ by UN goals 37

By Jack Glasgow

2 | Information


John D. PierceExecutive [emailprotected]

Julie SteeleChief Operations [emailprotected]

Jackie B. RileyManaging [emailprotected]

Tony W. CartledgeContributing [emailprotected]

Bruce T. GourleyOnline [emailprotected]

David CassadyChurch Resources [emailprotected]

Steve DeVaneContributing [emailprotected]

Vickie FrayneArt Director

Jannie ListerOffice [emailprotected]

Kimberly L. HovisMarketing [emailprotected]

Walker Knight, Publisher Emeritus

Jack U. Harwell, Editor Emeritus

BOARD OF DIRECTORSGary F. Eubanks, Marietta, Ga. (chairman)Kelly L. Belcher, Spartanburg, S.C., (vice chair)Z. Allen Abbott, Peachtree City, Ga.Jimmy R. Allen, Big Canoe, Ga.Nannette Avery, Signal Mountain, Tenn.Thomas E. Boland, Alpharetta, Ga.Huey Bridgman, The Villages, Fla.Mary Jane Cardwell, Waycross, Ga.Robert Cates, Rome, Ga.Jack Causey, Statesville, N.C.Anthony D. Clevenger, Pensacola, Fla.Kenny Crump, Ruston, La.David Currie, San Angelo, TexasJames M. Dunn, Winston-Salem, N.C.R. Kirby Godsey, Macon, Ga.Ben Gross, Chattanooga, Tenn.Leslie D. Hill, Lexington, Ky.Michael M. Massar, Sugar Land, TexasJ. Thomas McAfee, Macon, Ga.Michael G. Queen, Wilmington, N.C.Lee Royal, Greensboro, N.C.Mary Etta Sanders, Dalton, Ga.Charles Schaible, Macon, Ga.Macon Sheppard, Folly Beach, S.C.Walter B. Shurden, Macon, Ga.Charlotte Cook Smith, Winston-Salem, N.C.David M. Smith, Houston, TexasLeo Thorne, Valley Forge, Pa.Sarah Timmerman, Cairo, Ga.David Turner, Richmond, Va.Clement H. White, St. Petersburg, Fla.Winnie V. Williams, Seneca, S.C.

July 2011Vol. 29, No.



cover photo by Tony W. Cartledge

Petra in Jordan calls for prayer and contemplationStory on page 4


Quotation Remarks 6

Editorial 7

In the Know 14

Classifieds 14

Lighter Side 29

Baptists and the Civil War 30

Reblog 40

Media 41

An autonomous nationalnews journal since 1983





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Information | 3

Baptists Today (ISSN 1072-7787) is published monthly by: Baptists Today, P.O. Box 6318, Macon, GA 31208-6318 • Subscription rates: 1 year, $20; 2 years, $35; 1 year groups of 25 or more, $18; 1 year groups of less than 25, $20; 1 year Canada, $35; 1 year foreign, $50Periodical postage paid at Macon, Ga. 31208 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address corrections to: Baptists Today, P.O. Box 6318, Macon, GA 31208-6318 • 478-301-5655 • 1-877-752-5658 • © 2011 Baptists Today • All rights reserved.


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4 | Feature


It is not a popular destination inPetra: most visitors never see it, andthere’s not even a sign at the foot ofthe steep stairway, nearly hiddenbehind a row of souvenir shops, thatleads to it.

But that’s where I wanted to go.The Nabatean city of Petra has been

acclaimed as one of the seven wonders of theancient world, and for good reason. TheNabateans were primarily merchants who con-trolled the trade routes between Saudi Arabiaand countries to the north. They flourishedespecially during the last two centuries beforeChrist and the first century after, when theywere finally conquered by the Romans.

Petra is located in the southern part ofwhat is now Jordan, in a narrow valleysurrounded by precipitous mountains on everyside, and accessible only through the mile-longBab al-Siq, a crack in the mountains resultingfrom a major earthquake long ago.

The mountains are made of sandstone, incolors ranging from yellow to orange to red tobrown, often in striated patterns. When onefirst emerges from the siq, he or she is greetedby the stunning façade of an ancient edificeknown popularly as the “Treasury,” though itnever served that purpose.

Most people know the Treasury as thesetting for the climactic scene in the movie

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a sequencein which all of the interior beyond the struc-ture’s single large room is imaginary.

Turning right and walkingdown the valley, one sees scores of similar tombs, fashioned forroyalty or wealthy city dwellers, onevery side.

The beauty of the structuresis that they all were carved directlyinto the mountainsides — ancientarchitects had to design what theywanted, then chisel away the extra-neous stone until what remainedwas an impressive façade. In mostcases, the elaborate doors led to asingle room containing niches forthe dead.

The remains of an impressivecity built in typical Roman stylecan be found at the valley bottom.Adventurous souls can climb morethan 900 uneven rock-hewn stepsto the largest of the tombs, inap-propriately called the “Monastery,”located on the backside of one ofthe surrounding mountains.

Fewer people make the effortto see the high place of sacrifice,which requires a similar windingclimb through the Wadi al-Mahfur,

When returning to Petra in Jordan recently — this time,bringing with me a group of students, friends and alumnifrom Campbell University Divinity School — I wantedmost to visit the high place of sacrifice.


Petra’s high place of sacrifice demands response

God speaking

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Feature | 5

a tight cleft between two mountains whereNabatean engineers chiseled steps and occasional“god-blocks” as protective images. After a 20-30minute climb and a final, steep ascent, onecomes to a platform at the edge of a cliff, over-looking a dramatic 500-foot drop into the WadiMusa and the rugged mountains beyond.

At the edge of the platform, two stonealtars, shaped as blocks about five feet on eachside and about four feet tall, each with foursteps, have been fashioned by cutting away therock surrounding them.

One has a basin-like depression carved intoit. The other has a perfectly circular depressioncarved out, with a deeper bowl cut into the center and a channel running to the side.

The altar is the perfect size for sacrificing agoat or sheep — or a child — and collectingthe blood for ceremonial purposes. The samealtar has a hollow carved into the side with adrain at the bottom.

The Bedouin say that was used for wash-ing the sacrifice after it was skinned, and that itwas burned or cooked on the other altar, withthe basin-like depression. No one knows forsure.

Facing the altars is a large rectangular tri-clinium for worship participants, a three-sidedsitting area carefully cut into the rocky surface,with a low table near the center.

Little is really known about Nabatean reli-gion. There were two main gods, a male godknown as Dushara, and a female god known asal-Uzza.

They are generally depicted as simpleblocks, sometimes with square or rounded eyes.Whether the high place was used for the sacri-fice of animals or children, or perhaps as a placefor the ritual exposure of the dead, is unclear.

What is certain is that being on the highplace seems to draw out a sense of worship andawe. Standing atop the Atuff ridge, one can

look down into the bare bones of the WadiMusa on the one side, or into the carvedcanyon walls of Petra on the other.

There’s something about being in such anexposed place — surrounded by the majesty ofan almost otherworldly creation — thatdemands a response.

My response on the high place was not oneof blood sacrifice, but of prayer and contempla-tion in trying to imagine the grandeur of a godwho could envision such a setting, and then setin motion a world in which it could be created.

The high place at Petra is not the onlyplace that inspires such adoration, of course.God’s splendor is all around, even in the mun-dane, if we have eyes to see. Often, however, wedon’t see.

That’s why I’m thankful for places like thehigh place at Petra, where the presence of Godis like a spiritual slap in the face that says “Payattention, child: I’m talking to you.” BT

There’s something about being

in such an exposed place —

surrounded by the majesty of an

almost otherworldly creation —

that demands a response.

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6 | Perspective

“Baseball is a social institution;… we broke barriers 18 yearsbefore [racial] desegregation.”

—Major League Baseball Commissioner

Allan “Bud” Selig during Civil Rights Game

weekend in Atlanta in mid-May

(Braves Radio Network)

“How many times have wewalked over this?”

—Archaeologist Kathleen Deagan on the

discovery of a 300-year-old stone mission

church in St. Augustine, Fla., that will be

excavated this fall (St. Augustine Record)

It helped me realize that what we have is way more than we need andthat our ability to give is hindered by this property … We just wanted to bein a better position to give and bless people that don’t have anything.”

—University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt on reading The Hole in Our Gospel by World

Vision president Richard Stearns, who noted that 40 percent of the world’s population lives on less

than $2 a day, that led Richt and his wife to put their $2 million lake retreat house up for sale

(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“I didn’t necessarily think Iwas part of history; I just played.”

—Pat McGlothin, 91-year-old member of

Knoxville’s First Baptist Church, who played

for the Brooklyn Dodgers when Jackie

Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in

1947 (

“Thinking they are specialenables children to take the risks ofgrowing up. But in an adult, suchexceptionalism and entitlementbecome ugly.”

—Religion News Service columnist and

Episcopal priest Tom Ehrich (RNS)

“…Various studies continue to show what biblical Christians haveknown since the days of Corinth — change is possible.”

—Bob Stith, the Southern Baptist Convention’s national strategist for gender issues claiming the

Bible clearly states that hom*osexuals can change their sexual orientation (Baptist Press)

“This is an historic institution,founded by one of Christianity’s mostcourageous voices, Dr. J. Frank Norris.”

—Former Liberty Theological Seminary President

Ergun Caner on being hired as provost and vice

president for academic affairs at Arlington Baptist

College, founded in 1939 as the Fundamental

Bible Baptist Institute (ABP)

“In the black community they think you can pray the gay away.”

—CNN news anchor Don Lemon, whose new memoir is titled Transparent, revealing he is gay (AJC)

“The French treated me justthe same as any other American.”

—Famous kidnapping survivor Elizabeth

Smart, now 23, on serving as an overseas

Mormon missionary (RNS)

“That’s our market.”

—Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph

Reed on targeting Tea Party supporters and

Christian conservatives with his new Faith and

Freedom Coalition (New York Times)

“We may not be able topredict the rapture. Buthere in the South, peoplecan tell you the exact weekthe cicada plague will hit.”

— (New York Times)

“Those under 30 are significantlyless likely than older Americans tosay they believe in God. It remains tobe seen whether these young Ameri-cans will move toward a belief in Godas they age, or instead stick with theircurrent beliefs.”

—Gallup, reporting that more than nine in 10

Americans polled still say “yes” to the question,

“Do you believe in God?”

“Men are much more willing tocut him some slack than womenare.”

—Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land

on whether thrice-married Republican

presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich

can gain evangelical support (RNS)

“What players do on their own time is their business, but what theydo when they are in uniform and on camera is all of ours, especially considering what’s at stake.”

—Members of the coalition group Faith United Against Tobacco in a letter to the

Major League Baseball Players Association, regarding the use of smokeless tobacco

that has been banned in the minor leagues (RNS)

quotation remarks

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Intense. Riveting times.His books were so numerous that they

covered more space in the faculty section ofthe campus bookstore than all of his col-leagues’ published works combined. A jokeabout his prolific writing floated around attimes.

Someone called his office and was toldby the receptionist that Brueggeman wasworking on a new book manuscript andunable to take the call at the time. Thecaller replied: “I’ll hold.”

So it is not surprising that his insight-ful words are often quoted and passedalong.

But recently, the seminary alumni jour-nal carried a quote from their well-knownprofessor emeritus that struck me as espe-cially pertinent:

“‘Imagining’ is the capacity to host andembrace a world other than the one that isin front of us … In the tradition ofprophets and parables, the church has avocation to out-imagine dominant cultureinformed by the Bible and church tradi-tion, moved by the way of the cross, led byGod’s own spirit.”

I’ve been chewing on these words forawhile, and think Brueggemann may —once again — have said something worthour consideration.

First, too many of us live by sightrather than by faith. What’s happeningbefore our eyes is what we accept as reality— perhaps even the limits of possibility.Brueggemann urges a biblical call (voca-

tion) for the church to envision a worldbeyond what we see out the window eachday.

Two, a call to “out-imagine dominantculture” is a reminder that salvation, recon-ciliation and restorationshould mark ourvisions. A good startingconfession for manyChristians would be anacknowledgment thatthe dominant-culturevalues of greed, self-interest and love of thetemporal are not thatstrange to us.

We can’t out-imagine a shortsightedculture when we are simply baptizing thosevalues as our own.

Three, to out-imagine other values andviewpoints is a constructive response thatmakes us better people rather than simplycoming across as arrogant know-it-alls whoseek to impose our ways on others.

Imagining, and then living into thatimagination, is a moving response to God’scall — not a fearful reaction to a changingsociety that doesn’t fit our comfort zones.So much of the public, evangelical reactionto sociological shifts today looks andsounds like defensiveness rather than devotion.

Instead of imagining what could hap-pen if we more fully embrace the radicalgospel call to faith, hope and justice, evan-gelical Christians too often resort to tactics

that come across as nothing more than aweak defense of the status quo — or failingattempts to gain a preferred legal status forour narrow understandings of faith andpractice.

Some evangelical leaders like to portraythemselves (and other Christians most likethem) as victims — and then chalk upeverything that does not align with theirvalues and viewpoints as some form of per-secution. Such petty ways of fighting backis all some Christians know — eventhough Jesus famously called for cheek-turning.

There is nothing more beautiful thanthe gospel of Jesus Christ — and nothinguglier than its distortions that get createdout of the fear of losing.

But what if we chose a better responseto a culture mired in self-focus, materialis-tic gain, hostility and exclusivist thinking?What if we looked more deeply at the waysof Jesus — and then “out imagined” thosewho choose less meaningful and construc-tive ways of living?

My professor of old says the “alterna-tive world is grounded in God’s holy lovethat impels us toward love of neighborwith peculiar attentiveness toward justicefor the marginal and the vulnerable.” Isthat what we see through eyes of faith? BT

Perspective | 7

EditorialBy John Pierce

In search and praise of imagination

Though briefly, good timing put me in the presence of OldTestament scholar Walter Brueggemann at Columbia TheologicalSeminary in Decatur, Ga., in the late ’80s. I have described my

classroom experience to friends as like hearing George C. Scott as Pattontelling Old Testament stories.

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Perspective | 9

Because significant transitions occurinfrequently, most congregations donot naturally have the tools to copewith them effectively.

T ransitions — positive or negative —create anxiety. Whether it’s calling anew pastor, changing location, saying

goodbye to a church patriarch or matriarch,adding or subtracting a worship service, oreven deciding how to handle a large financialgift — transitions can cause discomfort, distrust and conflict.

The primary way to decrease discomfortand anxiety and to increase trust during atransition is through intentional, consistent,multi-modal communication. While effectivecommunication is important to any faith com-munity, it is vital during a time of transition.

Communication engenders trust whenleaders do what they say they will do. Effectivecommunication can move a change processforward by creating positive energy and antici-pation. Where transition can be foreseen,congregational leaders should create a commu-nications plan and assign responsibilities.

Multi-modal communicationEvery individual has a preferred way to receiveand process information. Some prefer to read;others to see, hear or witness an event. Churchleaders should engage all communicationmethods: newsletter, worship bulletin, oralannouncements during worship and othercommunity gatherings, and online tools suchas the church website, Facebook church page,Twitter, and email newsletters and groups.

Visual communication is often neglected.One church did it effectively by placing alarge, multicolored timeline of the pastorsearch process and moving a large arrow alongthe timeline to show the congregation wherethe search committee was in the process. Thesame graphic appeared in the newsletter.

For oral announcements, it is importantto find a spokesperson with excellent speakingskills and a presence that inspires trust. Thespeaker should have written remarks, prepared

in advance, that give the appropriate amountof information.

Be thoughtful and intentional about howmuch to communicate. Too much detail toosoon in a transition process can increaseanxiety if those details change. Too little information leaves people distrustful and wondering what they are not being told.

When using online communication,remember that most ofthese platforms are acces-sible to the generalpublic. For example, thechurch website is likely tobe viewed by a visitor ornon-member. Be selectiveabout what is shared withthe larger population.

Consider providing a“members only” area,which requires a log-inpassword. Emails shouldbe limited to regularreleases once a week torefrain from overwhelm-ing inboxes. Onesuggestion would be toset up a separate news list that members canchoose to subscribe to for information regard-ing a transition.

Talk among yourselvesBesides communicating effectively to the con-gregation during transition, leaders need tofoster healthy communication from and amongthe congregation. Congregation members andleaders need to dialogue about importantissues. For example, during a pastoral transi-tion, leaders must engage the congregation ina discussion of the gifts, skills and experiencesneeded in a new pastor.

Social media platforms such as Facebookcan be an effective means of online communi-

cation. Relationships and boundaries shouldbe established before serious discussions begin,however. It is important for the congregationto encourage friendly engagement, learn aboutone another’s lives, and when meeting in per-son, reference status updates and photos seenonline. Creating a church covenant to guideonline interaction is a good idea.

Sometimes for efficiency, a church usesnon-conversational methods for data gather-ing, i.e. surveys. Using a survey alone to gatherdata can be a mistake, because surveys do notaddress the emotional concerns and deeperissues raised during times of change. There isno substitute for a good conversation.

Planned dialogueChurches can use a structured process to ensuregood face-to-face conversation about sensitiveissues. This can be as simple as a communitygathering with a volunteer moderator and afew ground rules or it can be a structured dialogue led by an outside moderator.

Today, congregations rarely have conver-sations about the life of the church. Mostleaders only hear from the upset “squeakywheels,” who may not accurately represent themajority of the congregation. Consequently,every faith community can benefit from regu-lar opportunities for conversation withoutdecision-making.

Quarterly gatherings for discussing “ourcommon life together as God’s people in thisplace” are helpful. This type of relaxed forumallows leaders to take the pulse of the congre-gation and address needs before they becomeproblems. And when the gatherings conclude,leaders can share the thoughts with the com-munity at-large by posting on the churchwebsite, Facebook page or blog.

When a congregation has already estab-lished intentional, consistent and multi-modalmethods of communication, transitions gomuch smoother and can become opportunitiesfor positive growth.BT

—Chris Gambill is senior consultant and manager of congregational health services, andNatalie Aho is communications consultant for

the Center for Congregational Health.

Communication the key to good transitionsBy Chris Gambill with Natalie Aho

For more on how a congregation canactively use these communication

tools, go to

Editor’s note: This article in the series “Transitions: Helping churches and church leaders in changing times” is provided bythe Center for Congregational Health ( based in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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Information | 11

MLK’s daughter leavesAtlanta-area megachurch

BY ADELLE M. BANKSReligion News Service

B ernice King, daughter of the lateMartin Luther King Jr., is leav-ing an Atlanta-area megachurch

whose leader has been embroiled inscandal.

“When I came to New Birth I camefor a season and I expected that seasonnot to be quite as long as it was,” Kingsaid in an interview on Atlanta gospelmusic station WPZE-FM, after her lastSunday at New Birth Missionary BaptistChurch at the end of May.

Her announcement follows a settle-ment between the church’s senior pastor,Bishop Eddie Long, and four young menwho accused him of sexual misconduct.

King, who did not tie her departureto the scandal, said she had told Long inApril that she would be leaving at theend of May.

After declining the presidency of theSouthern Christian Leadership Confer-ence in January, King said she feelscalled to a new assignment.

“I’m not calling it a church rightnow,” she said. “What God is showingme doesn’t look like what people areaccustomed to.”

In a statement, Long said he haddiscussed how King could continue thelegacy of her father and mother, CorettaScott King, whose 2006 funeral was atheld at New Birth.

“I am in full support of her decisionto leave New Birth in pursuit of thisworthy endeavor,” he said. BT

BY ADELLE M. BANKSReligion News Service

W ASHINGTON — Secretary ofState Hillary Rodham Clintondefended her new ambassador-at-

large for international religious freedom onJune 2, calling Suzan Johnson Cook abridge-builder who is right for the job.

Speaking at Cook’sceremonial swearing-in,Clinton cited Cook’s firstsas an African-AmericanBaptist minister and NewYork police chaplain, aswell as her involvementin international activities.

“She is going todemonstrate every singleday why she is the person for this job at thistime,” Clinton said. “To many, she is morethan a minister, more than a spiritual leader,although she is certainly that. She is a pas-

sionate advocate for the God-given rights ofpeople everywhere, no matter which godthey believe gave them those rights in thefirst place.”

Clinton called Cook’s swearing-in “a long time coming” after a lengthy confir-mation process as some critics questionedCook’s qualifications. Her nomination a yearago stalled in the Senate; she was renom-inated in February and confirmed in April.

The Baptist minister known as “Dr.Sujay” was cheered by an interfaith crowd ofabout 300 inside the State Department’sornate Benjamin Franklin Room, includingJewish and Muslim leaders and membersfrom the Bronx Christian Fellowship Churchthat she founded in 1996.

“In this era of globalization and democratic uprisings, the values of religiousfreedom and respect are more importantthan ever,” Cook said, “because religiousfreedom provides a cornerstone for everyhealthy society.” BT

“As a people who offered the tenet of religious liberty to the world, we as

Baptists take great pride in having Suzan Johnson Cook serve as Ambas-

sador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.”—ABC-USA General Secretary Roy Medley, after attending the swearing-in ceremony of the

new ambassador who earlier broke ground as the first African-American woman

to serve as senior pastor of an American Baptist congregation

‘Sujay’ sworn in

Johnson Cook

After long wait, Baptist ministerbecomes religious freedom envoy


WASHINGTON (RNS) — Roughly twoout of three Americans say it makes no

difference to them if apresidential candidate isMormon, according toa new Pew ResearchCenter poll, althoughevangelicals are morecautious.

The poll found that68 percent of respon-dents said a candidate’sMormon faith would

not matter, while one in four said theywould be less likely to support a Mormon.

White evangelicals were most likely tocare about a candidate’s Mormon faith, withone third of them saying they would be less

likely to support a Mormon candidate, compared to 24 percent of the religiouslyunaffiliated and 19 percent of Catholics and white mainline Protestants.

Half of registered voters who had heardof Mormon candidate Mitt Romney saidthere’s at least some chance they would support him in 2012. Among those who areless likely to vote for a Mormon candidate,just 31 percent said there was at least somechance the former Massachusetts governorwould be their choice.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, whois also a Mormon, is expected to announcehis plans soon.

The survey, conducted May 25-30, isbased on a national sample of 1,509 adultsand has a margin of error of plus or minus3.5 percentage points. BT

Two-thirds of Americans OK with Mormon candidate

Mitt Romney

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12 | Information

W ASHINGTON — The atheistphilosopher and novelist AynRand published more than adozen books before she died in

1982. Now, some Christians say another workbelongs in Rand’s controversial canon: the2012 Republican budget.

House Republicans passed their budgetalong party lines in April, saying its drasticcuts to federal programs are necessary to prevent a deficit crisis.

But in a petition drive, video, ads, andwebsites, more-liberal Christians counter thatRand’s dog-eat-dog philosophy is the realinspiration for the GOP budget and itsauthor, House Budget Committee ChairmanPaul Ryan, R-Wis.

“You’ve got a guy who is a rising Republi-can star, and who wrote the budget, sayinghe’s read her books and Washington needsmore of her values,” said Eric Sapp, executivedirector of the American Values Network,which produced the video. “If you’re a Christ-ian, you’ve got to ask some serious questionsabout what’s going on here.”

In novels such as Atlas Shrugged, the Russ-ian-born Rand portrays American capitalists asheroes battling an encroaching governmentbent on milking their success. In nonfictionwritings, Rand is more explicit about herobjectivist philosophy, which views religion asa “primitive” sop to the feeble-minded masses.

Tea Party Republicans have embracedRand’s writings, particularly Atlas Shrugged,which some argue foretells the Great Recessionand Washington’s extraordinary efforts to endit. Rush Limbaugh, former Federal ReserveChairman Alan Greenspan and SupremeCourt Justice Clarence Thomas all call them-selves Rand fans.

Biographer Anne C. Heller says Rand wasraised a secular Jew in Russia at a time whenJews were persecuted by the Russian Orthodox

Church. Early on, Rand decided that the existence of God and the Christian ideal ofself-sacrifice were untenable ideas, Heller said.

“It must be either reason or faith,” Randsaid in a 1979 interview. “I am against Godfor the reason that I don’t want to destroy rea-son.” Rand saw her materialist philosophy andChristianity as incompatible and hoped toundermine Judeo-Christian ethics.

Rand’s anti-religious views, however, arenot as well known as her novels. By highlight-ing them, Sapp hoped to drive a wedgebetween the conservative Christian and TeaParty wings of the Republican Party.

Sapp is promoting a video in which evan-gelical leader Chuck Colson warns Christiansto beware of Rand’s “idolatry of self and self-ishness.”

“I am no fan of big government, butthere are far better ways to critique it thanRand’s godless nonsense, especially for Christians,” Colson says in the video.

The American Values Network video openswith anti-religious remarks from Rand andsegues into Ryan and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.,offering high praise of the Russian novelist.

“Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of cap-italism, the morality of individualism,” Ryansays in a 2009 Facebook video excerpted in thead. “It’s that kind of thinking, that kind ofwriting that is sorely needed right now.”

Ryan’s spokesman, Kevin Seifert, said thecongressman “does not find his Catholic faithto be incompatible with his feelings for AynRand’s literary works. ... Rand is one of manyfigures and authors that Congressman Ryanhas cited as influencing his thinking during hisformative years.”

In a letter, Ryan sought to assure NewYork Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president ofthe U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, thatthe GOP budget aligns with Catholicism.

“Those who represent the people, includ-ing myself, have a moral obligation, implicit inthe church’s social teaching, to address difficultbasic problems before they explode into socialcrisis,” Ryan wrote in the April 29 letter.

Ryan argues that his budget is informedby the Catholic principal of subsidiarity, whichholds that large bureaucracies should notassume tasks best left to individuals.

The GOP congressman also quotes thelate Pope John Paul II’s warning that govern-ment welfare programs can lead to inertia,overweening public agencies, and ballooningbudgets. BT

“I am no fan of big government, but there are far

better ways to critique it than (Ayn) Rand’s god-

less nonsense, especially for Christians.”


v. Jesus?Atheist’s influence on federal budget debated

Author and philosopher Ayn Rand provided much ofthe intellectual framework for the conservativemovement, but some Christians say her go-it-alonephilosophy is more antithetical to the Bible.RNS file photo.

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MARTINEZ, Ga. —Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.,and Southeastern Baptist TheologicalSeminary in Wake Forest, N.C., will nolonger get their slices of Cooperative Program mission funds from a churchnear Augusta, Ga., according to a reportin the Christian Index, the newspaper of theGeorgia Baptist Convention (GBC).

A bilene Baptist Church in Martinez, Ga.,led by longtime pastor Bill Harrell, istaking advantage of a GBC provision

allowing congregations to exclude up to twobudgeted items and still count their contribu-tions to Georgia Baptist and Southern Baptistcauses as Cooperative Program receipts.

The provision was adopted in 1997 whensome of the state’s more conservative churcheswanted to direct funds around Mercer Univer-sity — that was defunded by the GBC in2005.

Harrell, a former chairman of the SouthernBaptist Convention’s executive committee, senta May 4 letter to the GBC explaining thechurch’s decision to direct funds away from thetwo seminaries that he deemed a “breedingground for an ‘army’ of Calvinists.”

“…I cannot support entities which haveCalvinism as their agenda and are using it as atool to take the SBC into a theological modelwith which 95 percent of the people in the

SBC disagree,” said Harrell in the letter toGBC Executive Director J. Robert White.“The leaders in charge will not listen to adviceand they seem bent on being able to call theSBC a ‘reformed’ convention.”

Harrell also noted that his church doesnot want its funds going “to help start Acts 29churches” — referring to a church-startingnetwork that embraces Reformed (Calvinist)

theology — although he did not specify anyrestriction of funds beyond the two namedseminaries.

According to the Index story, anotherSouthern Baptist pastor, Mike Stone ofEmmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, Ga.,referred to Abilene’s newly restricted givingplan as “a sign of a growing rift in our convention.” BT

Information | 13

Growing Calvinists? Longtime Georgia pastor and Southern Baptist Convention leader Bill Harrell has ledhis church to direct funds away from Southern (pictured) and Southeastern Baptist Theological seminaries,claiming the two SBC schools are a “breeding ground” for Calvinism and that seminary leaders “seem benton being able to call the SBC a ‘reformed’ convention.” Photo by Bruce Gourley.

Georgia church diverts funds from twoSBC seminaries that ‘breed’ Calvinism


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14 | Information


Patricia P. Hernandez is the new nationaldirector for American Baptist Women in Ministry. She will implement the ABWIMstrategic priorities that include building part-nerships with ABC entities, developing a teamof volunteer coordinators, and working withthe ABWIM advisory committee on matters ofstrategy and support.

John Jonsson died May 26 at his home inSouth Africa. In 1985, he was the only Baptistminister to sign the Kairos Document, whichcalled on all churches to demand equal rightsfor all South Africans. From 1985 to 1989 hewas not allowed to enter South Africa. In1989, he was one of the few white citizens ofSouth Africa to be invited to attend the firstConference for a Democratic Future in SouthAfrica, resulting in the release of Nelson Man-dela from prison. For more than two decades,Jonsson served on the Human Rights Com-mission of the Baptist World Alliance. Hetaught missions and world religions at South-ern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1982to 1991 before joining the Baylor Universityfaculty in 1992. In 2002, he retired from Bay-lor as professor of religion and director ofAfrican Studies.

Stephanie McLeskey is the new chaplain atMars Hill College in Western North Carolina.She comes from Athens, Ga., where she servedas an academic advisor at the University ofGeorgia and did campus ministry through theCooperative Baptist Fellowship. She was alsoactive in Milledge Avenue Baptist Church.

In the Know

Pleitz believed in boundless capacity of loveBY CHARLES FOSTER JOHNSON

Even after I reached the status of mutualadult and fellow pastor, I never couldbring myself to call Jim Pleitz by his firstname. Even for this warmest, most infor-mal of men, he was always Dr. Pleitz tome.

He must have sensed that I neededto invest that extra measure of spiritualauthority in the manwho baptized me andmy father togetherwhen I was 15,because he never oncerequested that I referto him without theconventional title.From the day westood in the waters ofbaptism together almost 40 years ago,Dr. Pleitz was my pastor.

He pastorally endured my adolescentzeal for social justice, telling me, exasper-ated, “Charlie, we can’t help every needyperson who walks through our door.” Myearnestness was his fault: Dr. Pleitz madeus minister to the poor, an essentialshaper of any authentic Gospel ministry.

He pastorally counseled me whenmy Baptist college kicked me out forespousing views deemed inconsistentwith the school’s philosophy. Distraught,

I immediately called Dr. Pleitz. He told me two things: “Call your

parents; they will support you” and “Allof this is going to be OK.” They did andit was. A few mediating calls by my pas-tor put me back in good stead with myfolks and my college.

He pastorally shepherded methrough my call to ministry, receiving meat the altar as I stood before God and thechurch in that outrageous decision, andspeaking affirmations so absurdly won-derful I could not help but try to live upto them. I can still feel Dr. Pleitz’s armdraped around me in deep affection.

If Dr. Pleitz possessed a pastoralflaw, it was his belief in the boundlesscapacity of love to win any foe, resolveany conflict. Perhaps we witnessed thatflaw in his unfailing belief that Baptistfundamentalists could not wreck a per-fectly good denomination. He waswrong. They did. But, what a marvelousflaw to believe that love “bears all things,believes all things, hopes all things,endures all things.” May we all be so similarly flawed.

Our pastor is gone, and the mantlebefalls us anew. We will not dishonorhim by basking too long in his radiantcharisma and dynamism, but will getback to the race set before us. His unmis-takable voice cheers us on. BT

Editor’s note: James Pleitz, an influential Baptist leader who held longtime pastorates at ParkCities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and the First Baptist Church of Pensacola, Fla., diedMay 15. He is honored here by Charlie Johnson who serves on the pastoral team of Bread Fel-lowship in Fort Worth, Texas, and as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Desdemona, Texas.

Minister with Preschool and Families

Central Baptist Church BeardenKnoxville, Tenn.

CBF/SBC affiliations100 preschoolers weekly

Experience required


Church profile, position profile, recom-mendation and application forms:

Jack and Mary Lib CauseyFrom Kim and Robby Ray

Bob Setzer Jr.From Don and Betty McGouirk

Gifts to

Baptists Todayhave been received in honor of …

Baptist News,Baptist Views


James Pleitz

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Serious mission leaders have long under-stood that volunteers shed theologicalstrait jackets when they bend together

to meet needs of disaster victims.In storm-ravaged communities that truth

is being confirmed — almost unnoticed — asBaptists of different perspectives find commonground working in the rubble.

Charles Ray coordinates disaster relief forthe Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, formed 20 years ago after a rightward shift in theSouthern Baptist Convention.

Bob Putman is communications directorand disaster-relief coordinator for ConvergeWorldwide, the marketing brand name forwhat is the Baptist General Conference, a con-servative group known by some as the SwedishBaptists.

Converge Worldwide’s most prominentfigure is John Piper, the Calvinist pastor ofBethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.Piper is the symbolic, theological godfather ofa growing Calvinist wave of future pastorsgraduating from Southern Baptist seminaries,most notably Southern Baptist TheologicalSeminary in Louisville, Ky.

Yet in the blood, mud, dust and rubble ofdisaster, Converge appreciates CBF’s method-ology of working through local churches, its

commitment to long-term solutions, its trackrecord and yes, its theology.

“We trust their theology,” said Putman,who is confident CBF will be on site “for yearsand years.”

Because Converge has no national office

for disaster relief, they work through others,such as the North American Baptist Fellow-ship Disaster Response Network.

“The challenge from this end is purelytrust,” Putman said. “We are giving themfunds and recommending our teams to them.”

In the case of the Atlanta-based Fellowship that trust is based on experi-

ence. “They were very helpful indirecting our teams in (Hurri-

cane) Katrina relief,” Putmansaid.

The Baptist General Con-ference has been a member of

the Baptist World Alliance andNABF for decades, and its leaders

have met and mingled with CBF leaders inBWA forums. In 2004 Southern Baptistspulled out of BWA, which it helped found in1905, partly in protest of CBF’s admission theyear before.

While noting points of disagreement ondoctrinal matters, Putman said Converge andthe CBF share a “brotherhood of belief and a

brotherhood of spirit.”For his part, Charles Ray welcomes Con-

verge and everyone else willing to help. CBFoperations in Joplin, Mo., are housed at FirstChurch of the Nazarene.

CBF volunteers are helping at homes andchurches, and the churches don’t have to beBaptist to get a helping hand. “We don’t checkpedigree,” Ray said.

“This is not the place, when people arehurting, to discuss our philosophies and theol-ogy,” Ray said. “If we’re going to call ourselvesGod-like or Christian, it’s time to go out andact like it.”

Putman, whose group also is working withthe Missouri Baptist Convention, which isstrongly aligned with the SBC, would cautionagainst squeezing Converge Worldwide into atheological box other than Baptist. He said Con-verge is “pretty diverse” and “irenic in spirit.”

“We’re committed to the old Swedishirenic spirit,” he said. “We may fight in meet-ings about the stuff, but at the end of the daywe’re brothers.” BT

Feature | 15


Theology no issue for volunteers serving in disaster relief

Baptists Converge

“This is not the place, whenpeople are hurting, to discuss our philosophies

and theology. If we’re going to call ourselves God-likeor Christian, it’s time to go out and act like it.”

—Charles Ray, coordinator of disaster relief efforts for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on working with volunteers

from other Baptist groups as well as thosefrom non-Baptist traditions

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Only Baptists Today provides excellent Bible studies within anautonomous, national news journal

A GREAT VALUE!Annual subscriptions to Baptists Today are all you need. There areno additional costs for shipping, teacher’s materials or otherresources. Plus each person gets all of the news, analysis andfeatures found in the news journal.

A cross the page begins the new Nurturing Faith BibleStudies from Baptists Today. Here’s what you will find:

> The consistency of a trusted Bible scholar and writer

> Abundant teaching resources that allow for differentapproaches

> Lectionary-based studies from a Baptist perspective

> Relevant and creative youth lessons

> A colorful center spread for children — along with other resources

16 | Baptists Today


The new Bible studies for adultsand youth are sponsored through

generous gifts from the CooperativeBaptist Fellowship (Bo Prosser, Coordinator of Congregational Life)and from the Eula Mae and JohnBaugh Foundation. Thank you!

Rick Jordan provides teaching plans for eachweekly adult lesson. These easily printable plansare provided in collaboration with the Coopera-tive Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina.




For more information, or to place an order,call 1-877-752-5658 or visit

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1. Order a copy of Baptists Today news journal foreach member of the class. The student lessonsare found only here.

2. Teachers can go to to accessall the free resources needed for presentation.

Teaching the LessonsAfter reading Tony Cartledge’s weekly Bible study les-sons starting on page 18, Sunday school teachers andother Bible leaders can access helpful teaching resources (at no charge) at These include:

* Tony’s video overviews * Adult teaching plans by Rick Jordan* Youth teaching plans by David Cassady* Tony’s “Digging Deeper” notes and ”The Hardest

Question”* Links to commentaries, multimedia resources and


How to OrderBible Studies in Baptists Today are copyrighted and notto be photocopied.

* Orders may be placed at or 1-877-752-5658.

* The price is just $18 each for groups of 25 or more —for a full year — with no additional costs.

* All online teaching resources are available at nocharge and may be printed, copied and used by teachers of the Baptists Today Bible Studies.

Popular Bible teacher and writer Tony W. Cartledgewrites each of the weekly Bible studies in BaptistsToday (beginning on page 18). Themes are based

on selected texts from the Revised Common Lectionary.These lessons — found exclusively in this Nurturing

Faith section of Baptists Today — form the foundation forthe teaching resources for all age groups. Each class par-ticipant should have a copy of Baptists Today with theselessons in hand.

Youth lessons build off of Tony’s Bible studies anddirect these biblical truths to the daily lives of students.Christian educator and curriculum developer David Cassadyof the FaithLab provides the youth-focused lessons thatfollow each of Tony’s Bible studies.

Youth teachers will find creative resources (video,music, links, etc.) online at toenhance the lessons for today’s youth.

Children get to enjoy and learn from a colorful centerspread (pages 22-23) developed by Kelly Belcher, a creativeand experienced minister in Spartanburg, S.C. Thesematerials — written for children — may be used at home,during children’s sermons or at other times.



Teaching resources at

Who is Jesus— really?

Theme for August lessonsin this issue:

Bible study curriculum for adults and youth

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Aug. 7, 2011

Skiing Without a Boat

T he lessons for August all derivefrom the gospel of Matthew, and allof them deal with various aspects of

the question: “Who is Jesus?” The ques-tion has previously arisen in Matthew(7:28-29, 11:3, 13:54-56, 14:2). We allhave some notion of who we think Jesusis. Perhaps a closer study of these textscan help us gain a fresher notion of howthe first disciples came to the gradualunderstanding that Jesus was more thanan ordinary man.

Have you ever felt emotionally lost atsea on a stormy night, tossed by wavesand frightened by darkness? Themetaphor naturally comes easily to mind.We all know what it is to endure the tem-pests of life. Those who follow Jesus alsoknow how to find hope in the midst ofthe darkest night and the fiercest storm.

The biblical account of Jesus’ famouswater walk is found in Matt. 14:22-33,Mark 6:45-51, and John 6:15-21. The par-allels are marked by significant differences,most notably Matthew’s solo inclusion ofthe episode with Peter. This story wouldhave had special significance to the earlychurch, which faced hard times and wouldhave preserved this account as a reminderthat Jesus offers hope and calm in themidst of any storm.

A quiet prayer(vv. 22-23)

All accounts agree that the water-walking episode followed the exciting andtumultuous event in which Jesus fedthousands of people with a single boy’slunch of bread and fish. The naturaluproar caused by the long day of teachingand miracle-working left Jesus exhaustedand in need of quiet. So, Jesus sent thecrowds away — and his disciples, too —

while he stole into the mountains to pray.In Matthew and Mark, Jesus seems to

be motivated primarily by the need forquiet reflection. Jesus’ popularity hadskyrocketed, and people were clamoringfor him to become king. John, in fact,says the crowds intended to seize Jesusand make him king by force (John 6:15).John also says that the miracle took placeduring Passover, which celebrated Israel’sdeliverance from Egypt and often gaverise to messianic fever.

Jesus’ meteoric rise in fame musthave tempted him to choose the route ofpopular political power. He needed a timeof reflection and prayer to reaffirm hiscommitment to the servant role he hadcome to fulfill.

Jesus’ actions offer a helpful lessonfor modern disciples, especially thosewho experience some success in eitherpersonal or professional ministry. Whenwe are lauded for our speaking, teachingor unselfish service, we may be temptedto attempt greater things in hopes ofgreater praise. Jesus saw the danger oftrusting in public acclaim. As the poten-tial for greater and greater things drewnear, Jesus pulled back to center himselfon his true mission.

A noisy sea(vv. 24-27)

While Jesus prayed on the slumberingmountain, the disciples found themselvescaught in one of the severe and suddensqualls that often plague the Sea ofGalilee, which is about 13 miles long and7.5 miles wide. The NRSV’s “early in themorning,” when Jesus came to meet thedisciples, is less specific than the Greektext’s “in the fourth watch of the night.”The Greeks divided the night into fourwatches, the last of which extended from3:00 to 6:00 a.m. Jesus had prayed farinto the night, giving the disciples time toventure far out from shore.

As the 12 tired men battled the battering wind, they must have beenastonished to see Jesus coming towardthem, striding confidently across the

waves with the wind whipping his robeand hair. Is it any wonder they were terri-fied? Seeing such a thing in the dead ofnight, they assumed that the advancingapparition must be a ghost, perhaps ofsome fisherman who had drowned.

The disciples may have screamed asloudly as men allow themselves to do, butJesus quickly quieted their fears, if nottheir curiosity. When he was close enoughso they could hear him over the wind andwaves, he said “Take heart, it is I; do notbe afraid.” Scholars have often noted thatthe Greek words “it is I” (ego eimí) areequivalent to the self-revelation of Yah-weh to Moses: “I am” (Exod. 3:14;Hebrew ehyeh, translated as ego eimí inthe Septuagint, an early Greek version).

Matthew’s gospel was likely writtenfor a primarily Jewish audience, so hisreaders would have immediately seen theconnection. God had self-identified as “I am” to Moses from a burning bush,and now Jesus uses the same words froma roiling sea. Neither Moses nor the disci-ples expected to meet God in suchcirc*mstances, but both were confrontedby the great “I am.”

A stammering disciple(vv. 28-33)

As mentioned above, only Matthewincludes the story about Peter’s attempt tojoin Jesus on the water. Emboldened bythe moment, but not entirely convinced itwas Jesus, Peter devised a thrill-seekingtest: “Lord, if it is you, command me tocome to you on the water” (v. 28). Notethat Peter was not ready to jump in of hisown accord, but he was ready to attemptanything at Christ’s command.

Jesus’ answer was simple. “Come.”And, according to Matthew, Peter beganto walk firmly upon the water. But then— as countless preachers and teachershave pointed out through the years —“when he noticed the strong wind, hebecame frightened.” Peter, “the Rock,”began to sink like a stone. Preachersoften insist that Peter began to sink“when he took his eyes off Jesus,” but


Matthew 14:22-33

Additional background informationonline where you see the “DiggingDeeper” icon

with Tony W. Cartledge

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the story itself is concerned with Peter’sfaith as well as his focus.

There was a problem with Peter’sfaith, as Jesus himself indicated (v. 31).As Malcolm Tolbert suggested, Peter hadenough faith to begin, but not enough tofinish (Good News from Matthew, Broad-man Press, 133). Yet, when Peter beganto sink and he realized Jesus was his onlyhope for salvation, true faith was born.“This, then, is true faith: not the sublimeachievement of an especially religiousindividual, but ‘single minded’ devotion tothe Lord, to his biding and to his help”(Eduard Schweizer, The Good NewsAccording to Matthew, John Knox Press,323).

Despite his impulsive nature andhuman weakness, Peter alone got out ofthe boat to go to Jesus. All of the disci-ples begin this episode with abject fear,but move to faith and worship (v. 33).Peter’s role as a catalyst in this trans-formation recalls his crucial place in lead-ing the early church in the stormy daysafter Pentecost.

When Jesus entered the boat, the

storm ceased and the disciples began toworship him as the Son of God. Note theprogression from unchecked fear tounequivocal faith: from Jesus’ “I am” toPeter’s “if it is you” to the disciples’“truly you are the Son of God.” If theyremembered their synagogue lessons,they would know that only God couldwalk on water (Job 9:8, Ps. 77:19).

Matthew’s ending attributes far morefaith to the disciples than Mark’s story, inwhich they remain confused. Mark con-cludes with the observation that “theywere utterly astounded, for they did notunderstand about the loaves, but theirhearts were hardened” (Mark 6:51-52).

Who is Jesus? The disciples’ growingbelief is stated clearly: “truly you are theSon of God.”

The disciples’ experience of growingin their developing faith and understand-ing of Jesus offers comfort to contem-porary followers who also find their faith

faltering and their assurance in need ofassistance. All of the disciples wereuncertain about Jesus’ identity. Even thegreat Simon Peter had doubts and fears,stumbling in the face of turbulent weath-er. But, as Peter extended his hand toJesus as the only source of hope and sal-vation, Jesus was able to take Peter’s“little faith” and nourish it so that Petergrew — through further fits and starts —to become the prime pillar of the earlychurch.

Ben Witherington III puts it nicely:“Peter then has become the poster childof both faith and too little faith, of faithgiving way to doubt and fear but also offaith overcoming one’s initial fears”(Matthew, Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary, 293).

God does not expect our faith toemerge full-blown. We must grow in faitheven as our bodies grow, even as we growintellectually and in maturity. We alsoface severe trials and howling storms, butJesus is always there, looking upon ourfear and doubt with grace unmeasured,ready to lift us up unto life.

Is it easier for you to have faith when youare happy or when you are afraid? Intoday’s passage, we find the disciples out

on a boat when a storm explodes around them.

Being on a boat in a storm can be especiallyfrightening. The wind and waves rock the boatviolently, and can even flip it over. The disciplesknow this, and are afraid of the storm’s powerand the threat it poses.

As if the storm is not scary enough, they see aperson walking toward them on the water.They do not realize it is Jesus until he identi-fies himself, “Take heart, it is I; do not beafraid.”

While most of the disciples seem content towatch Jesus walk toward them, Peter asks Jesusif he can join him on the water. Jesus says,“come” and Peter steps out. At first he too iswalking on the water, but when he realizes howstrong the wind is, he becomes frightened andstarts to sink. Jesus reaches to pull him up.

Life finds many ways to frighten us. Tense situations, conflict, pressures to excel, the pos-sibility of failure, and the very fact that ourworld can be unpredictable and dangerous giveus plenty of opportunities to be afraid.

When you are afraid, do you find yourselfpraying and hoping God will support you and

protect you? Do you turn to God more oftenwhen you are scared or when you feel safe? Doyou wonder if your faith is strong?

Jesus does not seem troubled by Peter’s failureto walk further on the water. He rescues Peter,and they return to the boat. He seems tounderstand that Peter’s faith is still growingand maturing, and that he will grow throughthe experience.

As you face your own storms and times of fear,know that Jesus is there with you, even if yourfaith is sometimes stronger and sometimesweaker like Peter’s.


Adult and youth lessonsavailable at


Youth • August 7, 2011

Think About It:

Did Peter’s fear cause hisfaith to weaken? Howdoes fear affect yourfaith? In the past, how has God rescuedyou when your faith has been weak?

Make a Choice:

Will you choose to keepyour faith strong? Whentimes are good, will youkeep talking with God so that your faithwill be strong when life’s storms arrive?


Thank God for being withyou through life’s stormsand for helping you whenyour faith is weak. Pray for those youknow who are dealing with fear.


r Storm


Stormy Faith

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Aug. 14, 2011

When Crumbs Are MoreThan Enough

C an you imagine Jesus being hardor cold, turning a deaf ear tosomeone in need, or even stoop-

ing to insult a woman? That is not theimage of Jesus we cherish, but it is pre-cisely the picture we find painted in Matt.15:21-28. When reading such an alarmingtext, we can’t help but ask: “What’s upwith that?”

Matt. 15:21-28 is apparently drawnfrom a similar text in Mark 7:24-30,though Matthew makes significantchanges and adds new material to thestory, which does not appear in eitherLuke or John.

A foiled vacation(vv. 21-22)

When the story begins, Jesus hasbeen teaching and preaching, healing thesick and feeding the hungry non-stop forsome time, and he is tired. Seeking timeaway from the crowds, Jesus travelednorth and east to the region of Tyre andSidon, important cities along the Phoeni-cian coast (Mark mentions only Tyre;Matthew adds Sidon).

Jesus had little luck, however. Peoplefrom the region had traveled to hearJesus in Galilee, and Mark insists “hecould not escape notice” (Mark 7:24).Matthew omits that part of Mark’s story,going immediately to Jesus’ confrontationwith a woman who recognized Jesus andlatched onto him.

Mark identifies the woman as “a Greek, of Syrophoenician origin”(Mark 7:26). Matthew, however calls hera Canaanite, which brings up Old Testa-ment images of local residents whoseidolatry was a constant threat to theIsraelites. What matters most is that the

woman is not Jewish. When Jesus hadsent his disciples on their first preachingmission (Matt. 10:5-6), he had instructedthem to avoid Gentiles and Samaritans,“but go rather to the lost sheep of thehouse of Israel.”

How would Jesus respond to thisGentile woman who kept shouting athim, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son ofDavid; my daughter is tormented by ademon”?

The woman must have been familiarwith Jewish language and custom: herplea “have mercy on me, Lord, Son ofDavid” is identical to the cry of blind sup-plicants (presumably Jewish) in 9:27 and20:30-31. “Son of David,” as noted byDonald Hagner, was in use as a Jewishtitle for the Messiah, as in 1:1, 12:23,21:9, and 22:42 (Matthew 14-28, WordBiblical Commentary, 441).

Demon possession is mentioned frequently in the Gospels. In the first century, all types of mental illness wereattributed to possession by demons, andJesus used the same language common tohis culture in speaking of people whowere so afflicted.

Would Jesus, who was tired and didn’t want to be bothered, take the timeto heal a Gentile child?

Hard words(vv. 23-24)

Matthew adds the material in vv. 23-24, and omits Mark’s observation thatJesus had gone into a house and wantedto be left alone. We recall that Matthew’sgospel was directed mainly to JewishChristians, and his intent appears to beone of stressing Jesus’ mission to theJews while acknowledging his compassionfor all.

In Matthew’s addition, neither Jesusnor the Twelve come across particularlywell. Though the woman had cried piti-fully for help, Matthew says, “he did notanswer her at all” (v. 23). How couldJesus so blatantly ignore her? It seemsuncharacteristic, to be sure, but neitherJesus nor the gospel writer is apologetic.

Why would Jesus act this way?

Commentators have often suggested thatJesus was testing the woman, first ignor-ing and then insulting her to see if shewould persist in seeking a blessing, if herfaith was true. Even if that is the case, itseems harsh.

As Jesus turned a deaf ear to thewoman, his disciples — who may havebeen trying to shield him — took thebrunt of her cries, and pleaded with Jesusto send her away before she nagged themto death.

Jesus’ answer brings no comfort: “Iwas sent only to the lost sheep of the houseof Israel.” We might expect Jesus to say hewas sent first to the Jews, but his wordsare far more exclusive: “I was sent only tothe lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

This does not mean that Jesus didnot care for other peoples. It becameclear, later, that he would send his disci-ples out to teach and baptize all nations(Matt. 28:19-20). His words to thewoman emphasized that his mission wasto the Jews, but that does not diminishhis followers’ mission to all peoples.

A persistent woman(vv. 25-28)

The woman was not put off by Jesus’cold shoulder. Instead, she pushed herway forward and fell to her knees beforehim. The Greek word translated as“knelt” can also mean “worship,” buthere it probably means simply that sheprostrated herself before Jesus as shecontinued to plead. For the second timeshe addressed him as “Lord,” this timeadding “help me.”

Jesus’ reply didn’t sound like theJesus we think we know. “It is not fair,”he said, “to take the children’s food andthrow it to the dogs” (v. 26).

Three words are of particular impor-tance here. “Food” (literally “bread”)may refer to the messianic fulfillment ofpromises to Israel (Hagner, 442), towhich previous signs had been pointing— a careful reader will observe that thisstory is sandwiched between two storiesin which Jesus fed the multitudes (14:15-21, 15:32-39).


with Tony W. Cartledge

Matthew 15:21-28

Additional background informationonline where you see the “DiggingDeeper” icon

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“Children” was commonly used byrabbis in reference to the Jews, and “dogs”could be an epithet for Gentiles.

Some commentators have sought tosoften Jesus’ response by noting that theword used (kunarion) is a diminutiveform used for “house dogs” or “puppies”rather than wild dogs, but that doesn’tremove the sting. In more graphic fash-ion, Jesus was repeating his contentionthat his concern lay with the Jews, notwith Gentiles.

I’ve often wondered if Jesus’ hard andexclusive-sounding words might havebeen accompanied by a secretive wink.Whether encouraged in that way or not,the woman persevered, searching for away through Jesus’ defenses. Thinkingquickly, she shot back: “Yes, Lord, yeteven the dogs eat the crumbs that fallfrom their masters’ table” (v. 27).

Again she calls Jesus “Lord,” and sheappears to accept her status as a Gentilewho is outside the boundaries of Jesus’primary mission. But, she did not con-sider herself or her child unworthy of care.She hoped that Jesus’ compassion would

extend beyond his own race and that hewould extend the overflow of his blessingto her, even as humans give theirleftovers to household pets.

I have to believe that Jesus smiled ather retort, even if it was a tired grin. Thedetermined woman’s perseverance andwit cut through Jesus’ weariness, andmay even have been a catalyst for thefuture shape of his ministry. Surely therewas a twinkle in Jesus’ eyes as he said toher, “Woman, great is your faith! Let itbe done for you as you wish!” Matthewnotes, “And her daughter was healedinstantly” (v. 28).

A persistent question

What do we do with a story like this?For one thing, the story reminds us thatJesus truly was human. He grew tired andweary, and perhaps even cranky. Therewere times when he didn’t want to be

bothered, when he had to step away fromhis active ministry to seek needed rest.

Some of us could learn from Jesus. Itis easy to get so caught up in work andfamily demands and even good deeds thatwe ignore our own need for rest andrelaxation. When that happens, webecome like batteries that have been sodepleted that they are worthless untilthey are recharged.

A second thing we note is that,though Jesus stuck with the script of having been sent to the Jews, he stillstretched beyond cultural borders to offerblessing and healing to outsiders whowere seen as having no official right toGod’s beneficence.

The vast majority of Christian believ-ers were born into the same “outsider”status as the Canaanite woman: we haveno claim to Abraham’s inheritance. Arethere any of us who deserve the forgive-ness and promise of life that Jesusbrought? Are there any of us who seekGod’s grace as persistently as the womanwho fought through inattention andinsults to gain a hearing with Jesus?

Sometimes we focus so much on the factthat Jesus was the Son of God that weforget he was also completely human. In

today’s passage, we find a tired and evengrumpy Jesus.

In the preceding days Jesus has been extremelybusy traveling, preaching and healing. Likeanyone, the work has exhausted him and hewants to take some time to be alone and rest.

However, a Greek woman seeks Jesus and ispersistent in her plea for him to help her

daughter, who is possessed by a demon (likelytheir way of explaining mental illness).

At first, Jesus tries to ignore and avoid her. Butshe stays and pleads with him. When he finallyspeaks with her, he seems to suggest he is onlyministering to Jews.

Again, she remains persistent and asks for himto heal her daughter. She believes that, eventhough she is not Jewish, Jesus can and willhelp her. Jesus is amazed by her faith, andheals the girl.

Who is Jesus? Was he really human and ableto be tired and even grumpy? Is Jesus’ love andcare only for some people or for everyone?

The Greek woman seemed sure of Jesus’ identity. He was human, and thus she couldoverlook his grumpiness. His ministry was foreveryone, and she knew he could heal herdaughter.

Are we as sure of Jesus as this woman? Hertrust in him, and her persistence with him,showed the depth of her faith.


Adult and youth lessonsavailable at


Youth • August 14, 2011

Think About It:

We sometimes think Jesusis only for people who actor believe in certain ways.In his time, some thought he only camefor the Jews. Can you think of anyoneJesus doesn’t love?

Make a Choice:

Do you see Jesus differentlythan when you were achild? As you mature, yourunderstanding of Jesus should also grow.Who do you understand Jesus to be?


Ask God to help you growin your understanding ofJesus, and to help you carefor all people as Jesus does.


o Is Jesu

s to Yo


Who Is Jesus?

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LESSONS FOR YOUNG LEARNERS — at home, church or anywhere

8-14-11Matthew 15:21-28The Secret Word is crumb.

There is nothing Luler the Hound Dog likes betterthan a bite of what the people are eating at thetable. Is your pet like that? She doesn’t get tablescraps very often because we usually eat the foodall up and leave nothing for her. When she getssomething, it is only a bite or two and it makesher lick her chops. In this story a worried mom is afraid herdaughter will die. The mom and her daughterare not Hebrew or Jewish people like Jesus.They are Canaanites, outsiders, someone whois not in the group. Can you think of peopleyou know who are in the “in” group andother people who are not?If you meet someone who is differ-ent from you, it can be tempting to treatthat person as an outsider. When we divide people

into different groups, ones we like and ones we do not like,we are getting into trouble! We give the outsiders a strong feeling that

they are not like us, not welcome and not good enough for us. And it canalso be the other way around: other people can decide that YOU are an

outsider. This hurts very much. Being left out is one of the most awfulthings that can happen to us. Jesus does not like it. Jesus does not leave the Canannite mom and her daughter out.In talking to each other, Jesus and the mom seem to be using a secretcode language. She says that even the dogs get the crumbs or tablescraps from the peoples’ feast, and Jesus agrees. Jesus means that not

just the Jewish or Hebrew people get him as a Savior, but every otherkind of person gets him, too. To Jesus, no person is ever an outsider.

Nobody. Is there someone you know who is being treated like an outsider?How can you let her know she is not an outsider to you?


Matthew 14:22-33

The Secret Word is ghost.

Do you believe in ghosts? Of course not! But in this great

story about Simon Peter, who was Jesus’ best friend, it seems

that Jesus’ first 12 followers believed in ghosts. They thought

that was what they saw coming at them through the waves,

thunderstorm and lightning, when it was really Jesus coming

toward their boat.

This year many people we know have been in the same

terrible kinds of storms the 12 disciples were in: tornadoes,

hurricanes, earthquakes, lightning, winds that tear things

apart. Maybe you have been in a storm like this yourself. It is

a scary place, and it makes us understand that weather is one

thing people can’t control. We can only be prepared to handle

it when it comes.

Simon Peter saw it was not a ghost, but Jesus, coming to

meet him as the storm was tossing the boat. And, he trusted

Jesus enough to do an even scarier thing: he went over the

side of the boat into the water to meet Jesus. (Don’t try this

at home!) When the waves swelled around him, he got scared

and started to sink. Then Jesus held onto him and said a very

important thing: it is when you are most scared that Jesus is

close to you… so, believe in that!

The Holy Spirit, which some people call the Holy Ghost,

is with us in good times and especially in rough moments.

Jesus is with us as the only real ghost there is, the Holy

Spirit. Remember this and trust Jesus to be present with you,

just like he was with Simon Peter, when you are afraid. (Do

try this at home!) And don’t be afraid of ghosts — there’s no

such thing!


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Matthew 16:13-20The Secret Word is rock.

Congratulations on starting off a great year at school. Maybe the best thing about it is getting to seesome friends again after a long summer apart. This week and next week we are talking about friends.Do you have a best friend?

Some people are friends with a few others in a close group of buddies. Other people have oneperson they like most, and those two stick together all the time. You can think of people youwould name as best friends to each other: Sponge Bob Square Pants and Patrick Star, Phineas andFerb, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, you and … who? Maybe you are in a group of three bestfriends. Four perhaps?

It might sound funny, but Jesus had a best friend too. His name was Simon Peter, the sonof Jonah, who is just called Peter in the stories of the four Gospels. In the Greek language,which was the language used to write these stories, Peter’s name was the same as the word forrock.

Your best friend is important to you. This is a person you like so much that you wouldnot want to hurt her, tell her a lie, be mean to her, disappoint her or go for a long timewithout seeing her. This person is the one you text the most often, the one you invite tocamp with you, the one you give the best birthday present to.

Have you ever thought how much influence your friend has over you? Influence means the abilityto affect something. Can you remember ways your friend has influenced you, or you have influencedher? Jesus’ friend Peter loved him so much that Jesus was influenced to start building theJesus-followers, beginning with Peter as Jesus-follower Number One. Butthat’s not the end of the story.


Matthew 16:21-28

The Secret Word is Satan.

Think of a time when your best friend disappointed you or you disappointed

him. It might be that your friend tempted you to do something wrong, and

you got in big trouble. Maybe something sad happened to you and your

friend ignored you when you needed her most. Or maybe your friend hurt

you and it felt like he did it on purpose, and like he wasn’t your friend any-

more. Feeling separated from the people we love most is a terrible feeling.

The more we like someone, the more influence they have over us, and the

deeper our hurt can be if they act in an unfriendly way.

Jesus thought Peter understood him just as you believe you understand

your friends and you know how they feel and what they think about impor-

tant things. In Matthew’s story, Jesus knew that he was going to get into

trouble with the Jewish religious leaders, the priests. He also knew the

priests would probably want to arrest him, put him in jail and then kill him,

because the priests disagreed with Jesus’ teachings and with the Jesus-

followers who believed Jesus was the Messiah. In Matthew’s story, Jesus tried

to help his friends understand that these bad things were probably going to

happen to him. He was hoping his friends would not disappoint him, and

that they would let him lean on them and give him help and support when

the trouble started.

So when Jesus’ best friend Peter did not understand, did not offer to

help him, and did not want to hear what he had to say about the priests,

Jesus was hurt, disappointed and angry. You would be too, wouldn’t you? He

used the word Satan, which means opponent or adversary, one who is against

you — not with you. This is no way for a best friend to act! But all of us

have disappointed the ones we love most, and Peter disappointed his friend

Jesus. Do you think Jesus forgave Peter and still kept him as his best friend


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Aug. 21, 2011

Know, but Don’t Tell

P ete knew that something was upwith Jesse. They had been friendsfor years, and like most men, they

didn’t talk a lot about deep or personalthings. But still, Pete could see somethingbubbling beneath the surface of Jesse’sotherwise calm exterior.

A day finally came when Jesseallowed his inner thoughts to surface.Unable to contain a grin, he looked atPete and asked, “Who do you think mightbecome the next CEO of my company?”

Pete slapped Jesse on the back beforecongratulating him with a man-hug.“Thanks,” Jesse said, “but don’t get carried away. You can’t tell anybody.”

Have you ever come to a happy andexciting realization that you had to keepsecret? Jesus’ disciples learned how puz-zling the whole matter could be.

What do others think?(vv. 13-14)

Today’s text draws on Mark 8:27-30in 16:13-16, with the addition of material(vv. 17-19) regarding Peter that is uniqueto Matthew.

Last week’s text found Jesus and hisdisciples in the north coastal region ofTyre and Sidon, after which they returnedto the region near the Sea of Galilee(15:29-16:12). Then, Jesus led his follow-ers about 25 miles due north, to CaesareaPhilippi. Herod Philip, who ruled north-ern Galilee, had built the city and namedit in honor of the Roman emperor, whowas worshiped there.

The significance of the location ismost likely in the city’s setting, adjacentto the ancient cultic site called Panyas(now pronounced Banyas). Set in thefoothills of Mount Hermon and named forthe nature god Pan, the site features a

large grotto-like cave in a sharp cliff face,and a fast, fresh spring that emerges fromunderground.

Local tradition considered the grotto and the spring a gateway to theunderground world of the dead and thefabled River Styx.

In this verdant setting, with shrinesto pagan gods and the emperor nearby,Jesus voiced a question his disciples hadno doubt been debating for some time:“Who do people say the Son of Man is?”(v. 13).

The disciples’ response in v. 14 sug-gests popular opinion considered Jesus tobe someone special — perhaps even Johnthe Baptist returned from the dead, or afamed prophet like Elijah or Jeremiahwho had been sent back to earth. Peoplehad not, however, thought of Jesus as thelong-awaited Messiah. Despite his impres-sive displays of power, Jesus’ lack ofinterest in leading a revolution againstRome made him a poor match for whatthe Jews looked for in a Messiah.

What do you think?(vv. 15-17)

Had the disciples thought otherwise?Jesus intended to find out, so he asked“But who do you say that I am?” Boththe “you” and the “I” are emphatic,spelled out with pronouns even thoughperson is included in the verbs: literally,“But you (plural), who do you say that Iam?” (v. 15).

Peter, the most outspoken of theTwelve, provided the answer Jesus washoping for: “You are the Messiah, the Sonof the living God” (v. 16).

Peter was probably not speaking forhimself alone, but offering a confessionon behalf of all the disciples, who had nodoubt discussed the matter. The wordtranslated “Messiah” is christos, theGreek term used for the Hebrew word wetransliterate as “Messiah.” Both mean“anointed one.”

Peter’s confession goes beyondacknowledging Jesus as the Messiah, forhe adds “the Son of the living God.” Theword “Son” is not capitalized in the

Greek text, but English translations typi-cally use the upper case to indicate theterm is a title, and to reflect later Trini-tarian thinking, as in “Father, Son, andHoly Spirit.”

We cannot assume that Peter wasreflecting a full-blown understanding ofJesus as God, but as Ben Witherington IIInotes, “The phrase at a minimum impliesa special relationship between the personcalled Son of the Living God and the onetrue God” (311).

Jesus pronounced a blessing on Peter— notably using a variation on his fullname that seems to connect him with theprophet Jonah — declaring that suchknowledge of his nature could come onlyby divine revelation. Note that Jesus’remark appears to claim full kinship withGod. Peter had called him “the Son of theliving God.” Now Jesus insists that “myFather in heaven” had revealed that truth.

What happens next?(vv. 18-20)

The next three verses have troubledProtestants for hundreds of years,because Roman Catholics find in themjustification for the notion that Peter wasthe first pope, and that the pope has God-given authority over the church.

To tease out what Jesus does anddoes not say here, we’ll have to lookclosely at several important words.

First, Jesus uses a play on words tospeak of Peter as the firm foundationupon which “I will build my church.”Although Simon was Peter’s given name,“Cephas” (pronounced like “Kephas”) —from an Aramaic word meaning “rock” or“rock shelf” — was apparently his nick-name. Jesus uses both masculine andfeminine forms of the Greek word forrock in saying, “You are Peter (petros),and upon this rock (petra) I will build mychurch.”

The word we translate as “church”(ekklesia) is used commonly in the epis-tles, but appears only here and in Matt.18:17 in the Gospels.

Exactly what Jesus means by ekkle-sia is uncertain, but it is clear that he


with Tony W. Cartledge

Matthew 16:13-20

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speaks of it as “my ekklesia,” and usesthe future tense. Old Testamentreferences to the gathered people of Israelspoke of them as the community of God’speople; now Jesus declares that he willbuild a new community of his followers.

This community, built on the founda-tion of Peter and the other disciples, wouldbe built to last — so strong that even the“gates of Hades” could not defeat it: thenearby grotto at Panyas would have rein-forced the image. We should not read thepopular concept of Hell into this verse, orassume that Jesus had in mind some sortof impending spiritual warfare: he was talk-ing about death, which could not prevailagainst him or his community of followers.

Some assume Jesus’ reference tobuilding the church “upon this rock”means Peter was given charge of the earlychurch. That assumption is problematic,however, unless we imagine he led itbriefly before surrendering the lead roleto James, who was clearly the most visi-ble leader of the Jerusalem church (seeActs 15). In Gal. 2:9, Paul refers to“James and Cephas and John” as the

“acknowledged pillars” of the church.One might possibly interpret the

statement in light of Peter’s revelationand mission to the Gentiles in Acts 10 asbeing the catalyst for the expansion of thechurch to Gentiles, since most of thechurch was ultimately composed of Gentiles.

Jesus’ reference to giving Peter the“keys of the kingdom of heaven” (v. 19)lies behind the traditional image of Peteras the man in charge at the pearly gatesof heaven, but that is not what Jesus hadin mind. Though Jesus addresses Peterhere, he is a representative of the otherdisciples: later he gives some of the samecommands to the disciples as a group(see Matt. 18:1, 18).

Was Peter’s possession of the “keys tothe kingdom of heaven” to be interpretedtemporally or eschatologically? While thepopular notion of Peter as the doorkeeperin heaven assumes the eschatological

view, Jesus was clearly speaking of a com-munity of followers to be established onearth (see Witherington, 313).

The “keys” appear to be a symbol ofthe authority given Peter and the otherdisciples to “bind and loose.” Theyare to determine what behavior is appro-priate for Christ-followers in the samemanner that the rabbis acted to delimitwhat was and was not permitted to Jews.The importance and difficulty of suchdeterminations can be seen in the Acts 15debate, and in Paul’s criticism of Peter’sinconsistent behavior in Galatians 1-2.

This text deals with weighty matters,and is the climax of the first part ofMatthew: with the next verse, Jesus willturn toward Jerusalem and his comingpassion. In the meantime, his followerswere expected to keep their knowledge ofJesus as the Christ close to the vest, for“he sternly ordered the disciples not to tellanyone that he was the Messiah” (v. 20).

They had yet to understand thatJesus’ concept of what it meant to be theMessiah was far different than anythingthey had yet imagined.

Do you have a favorite movie or televi-sion actor? Have you ever wonderedwhat that person is “really” like? Would

she be anything like the characters she plays,or completely different?

Jesus was not an actor, but there were a lot ofdifferent opinions about “who” he was. Somepeople thought he was a popular preacher andhealer. Others thought he was a great prophet.Some, who wanted an Israel free from Romanrule, saw Jesus as one who would rise up tolead a political and military rebellion againstthe Romans. And there were a few whobelieved he was the Messiah, the Son of God.

So, when Jesus asked, “Who do people say thatI am,” he already knew the list of possibleanswers. When he asked, “Who do you say thatI am,” he was asking a far more personal ques-tion.

In our day, people still hold a wide range ofopinions about Jesus. Some see him as a greatprophet and religious leader or a wise philoso-pher. Some see him as God’s Son who is largelyconcerned about how well we follow importantrules and hold particular beliefs. Others viewhim as a kind, loving, personal savior.

When Peter answered Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus

responded that it was on that foundation hewould build the church — the community ofChrist-followers.

The church is a place full of people who aretrying to answer, “Who do you say that I am?”We often have different ideas about the kindof savior Jesus is and how we should best follow him.

How would you answer the question, “Who doyou say that I am?” Who is Jesus in your life?The way you answer will likely have a lot to dowith how you relate to God, others, the churchand even yourself.


Adult and youth lessonsavailable at


Youth • August 21, 2011

Think About It:

If you were to take aphoto of Jesus, whatwould you likely find himdoing? Who would he be with? What might he be saying?

Make a Choice:

There are many voicestelling us who Jesus is.Will you read the Bible foryourself and make your own decision?How have you experienced Jesus in yourlife?


Ask for God’s guidanceand wisdom as you seek todiscover Jesus’ real iden-tity. When you pray, allow for periods ofsilence so that you can sense God’swork in your heart.

Jesus an

d Yo


Which Jesus?

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Aug. 28, 2011

Don’t Tempt Me!

Have you ever thought you understoodsomething, only to have it completelywrong? On more than one occasion, I’vehad to take a kit-based bed or bookcaseapart and start over again because I hadput a piece in backwards.

Restarting a household project isaggravating, but discovering that one’sentire way of thinking needs reversing ismuch more serious business. That’swhere Peter finds himself in today’s text,which is adapted from Mark 8:31-38, alsothe source for Luke 9:22-27.

Getting with the text

In all three gospels, this text servesas a major turning point. The first sectionof each gospel carefully follows Jesus’work and his teaching, gradually develop-ing an image that becomes fully exposedwith Peter’s declaration that Jesus is theChrist, the Messiah.

From that point, Jesus turns hisattention toward Jerusalem and the deaththat awaits him there. Matthew uses aforceful expression, “from that time on,”to emphasize a shift in Jesus’ focus.

Jesus predicts his coming passion intoday’s text, and again in 17:22-23 and20:17-19, revealing new information witheach prediction. We have reached awatershed in the gospel story. Like mostturning points, it was an uncomfortabletime for those who were being turned.

Getting behind Jesus(vv. 21-23)

Fresh from being congratulated byJesus for his spiritual and divinelyrevealed insight, Peter quickly learnedthat knowing to call Jesus “Messiah” andunderstanding what that means are twodifferent things.

Peter thought he knew what “Messiah”meant. For many years he, like his fellowJews, had longed for a military messiah whowould come to defeat the Romans and toreturn Israel to its former glory. AlthoughJesus had given no indication of such plans,perhaps Peter assumed that the Teacherwas only biding his time until he had wonsufficient followers to accomplish the task.

Imagine, then, how Peter and theothers must have felt when Jesus firstwarned them not to tell anyone that hewas the Messiah. Then try to feel theirshock as Jesus went on to explain that,instead of amassing and leading an armyof Hebrew zealots, he fully expected tosuffer many things at the hands of “theelders and chief priests and scribes” —the leaders of the Jewish people (v. 21).

As if that were not bad enough, Jesusadded “and be killed.” Jesus’ second andthird predictions add the information thathe would first be betrayed, and the finalone makes it clear that the governingGentiles would bring about his demise.

Even Jesus’ prediction that he wouldrise again on the third day could not allaythe concussive effect those words musthave had on his disciples, who would havenoticed that Jesus emphasized it was nec-essary for these awful things to happen.

Peter again acted as spokesman,though Matthew says he pulled Jesusaside, as if to avoid embarrassing theTeacher before the others, and rebukedhim for saying such outlandish things.Mark does not tell us what Peter’s rebukeinvolved, but Matthew quotes him as say-ing, “God forbid, Lord! This should neverhappen to you!” (Mat. 16:22b).

A literal translation of the Greekwould be something like “(God) be gra-cious to you, Lord — no way will thishappen to you!” My “no way” translatesa double negative, used for emphasis, asin “not never.”

Peter’s speech was so fervent, Jesuswas apparently tempted to listen to him.The human side of Jesus had no moredesire to suffer and die than any of us.Yet, recognizing the true source of thistemptation, Jesus responded to his

friend’s chiding with a rebuke of his own:“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stum-bling block to me; for you are settingyour mind not on divine things but onhuman things.” (v. 23).

Jesus addressed Peter as “Satan”because his friend had unwittingly actedas an agent of the adversary, temptinghim to stray from his mission and take aneasier road. This created an obstacle orstumbling block that would make Jesus’path more difficult.

The problem for Peter, Jesus said, isthat his mind was focused on humanthings rather than divine things. Thismust have been a stunning rebuke,because it follows immediately Peter’sconfession of Jesus as Messiah, and Jesus’congratulatory declaration that Peter hadnot learned that truth from “flesh andblood,” but from God. It appears thatPeter’s mind had switched gears to amore human orientation.

In telling Peter to “get behind me,”Jesus was probably not saying “go away”or even “get out of my way,” but “getbehind me” in the sense of supporting orencouraging Jesus — much as sports fans “get behind” their favorite teams orplayers.

For Peter to “get behind” Jesus alsoimplies that he is to follow Jesus, ratherthan trying to lead him astray. In the nextfew verses, Jesus explains that followinghim can be a dangerous enterprise.

Following Jesus(vv. 24-28)

Although Mark says that Jesusincluded a gathering crowd in the follow-ing conversation about what it means tofollow him, Matthew limits Jesus’ teach-ing to the disciples.

Jesus’ teaching is tightly structured,taking the form of “an initial main saying,followed by three supportive logia remi-niscent of wisdom sayings” (Hagner,483). The initial saying is in v. 24; each ofthe supportive sayings (vv. 25, 26, 27) isintroduced by the word “for.”

The hard words of v. 24 appear twicein Matthew, and once in each of the other


with Tony W. Cartledge

Matthew 16:21-28

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gospels (see also Mark 8:35, Matt. 10:39,Luke 17:33, and John 12:25), so it “wasobviously important to the early church”(Witherington, 322).

Those who want to follow Jesus must“deny themselves and take up their crossand follow me,” Jesus said. The cross wasyet in Jesus’ future, but still fresh in thememory of the church. Though not allshould expect to be crucified, all shouldbe willing to die, if necessary, thus takingup their metaphorical cross.

To “deny oneself” is not to give up afew nice things, as we often do duringLent, but to give up the right to call theshots at all. It is to say “No” to self and“Yes” to God — no matter what it costs.

The first supportive saying (v. 25)states the paradox that those who seek tosave their lives will lose them, whilethose who willingly surrender their liveswill save them. That makes little sense inhuman reckoning, but reflects a newequation Jesus was bringing to bear.

V. 26 raises a question that is remi-niscent of Ecclesiastes, who did notbelieve in life beyond the grave, and com-

plained that there was no profit in life,that all was vanity. Jesus asked the ques-tion, repeated in countless sermonsthrough the years, “For what will it profitthem if they gain the whole world butforfeit their life? Or what will they give inreturn for their life?”

The answers, of course, are “Noth-ing,” and “nothing.” To gain all the worldhas to offer and yet to lose the veryessence of true life yields no profit at all.And, when we reach the end of ourempty lives and would gladly trade all wehave gained in order to regain our life,there will be nothing we can do.

Jesus’ third supportive teaching haseschatological overtones: a time of judg-ment will come when “the Son of Man isto come with his angels in the glory of hisFather, and then he will repay everyonefor what has been done” (v. 27). In con-text, we assume that judgment would be

based not on one’s life-list of deeds, buton one’s willingness to follow Jesus.

The final verse of today’s text is trou-blesome. It is connected to v. 27 in thesense that it appears to speak of theparousia, the return of Christ at the endof the age. Jesus firmly predicted that“there are some standing here who willnot taste death before they see the Son ofMan coming in his kingdom” (v. 28).

Although some commentators areconvinced that Jesus believed the escha-ton would occur within a generation,others suggest that Jesus may have had inmind the transfiguration or the resurrec-tion as events in which Jesus’ kingdom ordominion was breaking into the world,though it was not yet fully realized. Thetransfiguration was witnessed by Peter,James, and John, while all but Judas witnessed the resurrection.

The more important question relatesto whether we expect to share in the fullexperience of knowing Christ’s kingdom.The answer, Jesus told his disciples, liesin whether we are also willing to share inthe experience of bearing his cross.

Asurprising plot twist can be exciting ina movie. We follow along with thestory, expecting it to turn out a certain

way and then — bam! — the story suddenlytakes an unexpected turn and we have toreconsider what to expect.

In today’s scripture passage, Jesus throws aserious plot twist at the disciples. They havebeen traveling with Jesus, watching him healand minister, listening to his provocative andwise words, watching the crowds grow largerand more enthusiastic, and they believe theycan see how the story will unfold. As anyonecan see, Jesus will use his influence, wisdomand power to free and transform Israel!

But then Jesus throws cold water on theirplans and expectations. He explains that hewill be attacked, suffer and ultimately die. Thedisciples are stunned and shocked, and protestJesus’ predictions. But Jesus holds firm to thishard path.

As if the disciples are not shaken enough,Jesus explains to them that if they want to behis followers, they too must deny themselvesand give their lives away for others. He callsthem to live a life of humility and service,rather than one of glory, power and prosperity.

Some have described Jesus as a “suffering ser-vant.” He loves others so much that he iswilling to set aside his own desires and needs

for their sake. Jesus places the needs of othersahead of himself.

As we continue to wonder, “who is this Jesus?”we also have to see him as a suffering servantrather than as a conquering leader. And wemust also hear his call to us to care for othersin the same way.

Jesus said, “For those who want to save theirlife will lose it, and those who lose their lifefor my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25). Heseems to be saying that we really discover ourpotential as we serve others. What have youlearned about yourself when you put othersfirst?


Adult and youth lessonsavailable at


Youth • August 28, 2011

Think About It:

Remember the last timeyou gave of yourself andput the needs of anotherperson ahead of your own. What didyou learn about yourself?

Make a Choice:

What are ways you can bemore of a servant to oth-ers? Where can you giveup something that might make another person’s life better?


Thank God for the gift ofJesus, and ask for the wis-dom to be a good followerof Christ. Ask God to help you thinkmore of others and less of yourself.


e Gift o

f You

A Plot Twist

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Ardmore Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C. • Ball Camp Baptist Church, Knoxville, Tenn. • Bayshore Baptist Church, Tampa, Fla. •Boulevard Baptist Church, Anderson, S.C. • Central Baptist Church, Richmond, Va. • Church in the Meadows, Lakeland, Fla. • CollegePark Baptist Church, Orlando, Fla. • Covenant Baptist Church, Gastonia, N.C. • Cullowhee Baptist Church, Cullowhee, N.C. • DruidHills Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga. • Emerywood Baptist Church, High Point, N.C. • Fellowship Baptist Church, Fitzgerald, Ga. • Fern-wood Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C. • First Baptist Church, Ahoskie, N.C. • First Baptist Church, Anderson, S.C. • First BaptistChurch, Asheville, N.C. • First Baptist Church, Augusta, Ga. • First Baptist Church, Bladenboro, N.C. • First Baptist Church, CapeGirardeau, Mo. • First Baptist Church, Carolina Beach, N.C. • First Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Tenn. • First Baptist Church, Clemson,S.C. • First Baptist Church, Columbus, Ga. • First Baptist Church, Commerce, Ga. • First Baptist Church, Dalton, Ga. • First BaptistChurch, Eatonton, Ga. • First Baptist Church, Forest City, N.C. • First Baptist Church, Ft. Myers, Fla. • First Baptist Church, Gainesville,Ga. • First Baptist Church, Gainesville, Fla. • First Baptist Church, Gastonia, N.C. • First Baptist Church, Greenville, S.C. • First BaptistChurch, Greenwood, S.C. • First Baptist Church, Griffin, Ga. • First Baptist Church, Hawkinsville, Ga. • First Baptist Church, Huntsville,Ala. • First Baptist Church, Jasper, Ga. • First Baptist Church, London, Ky. • First Baptist Church, Macon, Ga. • First Baptist Church,

Madison, N.C. • First Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga. • First Baptist Church, Monti-cello, Ga. • First Baptist Church, Morganton, N.C. • First Baptist Church, Morrow,Ga. • First Baptist Church, Mount Olive, N.C. • First Baptist Church, Murfrees-boro, Tenn. • First Baptist Church, Orangeburg, S.C. • First Baptist Church,Pensacola, Fla. • First Baptist Church, Rome, Ga. • First Baptist Church, Savan-nah, Ga. • First Baptist Church, Spruce Pine, N.C. • First Baptist Church, Tifton,Ga. • First Baptist Church, Wilmington, N.C. • First Baptist Church, Wilson, N.C. •First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C. • Grace Fellowship Baptist Church,Meridian, Miss. • Haddock Baptist Church, Haddock, Ga. • Hendricks AvenueBaptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla. • Highland Hills Baptist Church, Macon, Ga. •Highland Park Baptist Church, Austin, Texas • Holmeswood Baptist Church,

Kansas City, Mo. • Homestar Fellowship, Apex, N.C. • Jersey Baptist Church, Linwood, N.C. • Johns Creek Baptist Church, Alpharetta,Ga. • Knollwood Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C. • Lakeside Baptist Church, Rocky Mount, N.C. • Lystra Baptist Church, ChapelHill, N.C. • Maranatha Baptist Church, Plains, Ga. • Millbrook Baptist Church, Raleigh, N.C. • National Heights Baptist Church, Fayet-teville, Ga. • North Stuart Baptist Church, Stuart, Fla. • Northminster Baptist Church, Jackson, Miss. • Oakmont Baptist Church,Greenville, N.C. • Pintlala Baptist Church, Hope Hull, Ala. • Providence Baptist Church, Cookeville, Tenn. • Providence Baptist Church,Charlotte, N.C. • Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, N.C. • Reynoldson Baptist Church, Gates, N.C. • Rock Falls Baptist Church,Excelsior Springs, Mo. • Rolesville Baptist Church, Rolesville, N.C. • Rolling Hills Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Ark. • Second BaptistChurch, Liberty, Mo. • Second Baptist Church, Memphis, Tenn. • Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist, Atlanta, Ga. • Shades Crest BaptistChurch, Birmingham, Ala. • Smoke Rise Baptist Church, Stone Mountain, Ga. • St. Matthews Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky. • SugarLand Baptist Church, Sugar Land, Texas • Tabernacle Baptist Church, Carrollton, Ga. • Trinity Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn. •Vineville Baptist Church, Macon, Ga. • Watts Street Baptist Church, Durham, N.C. • Wingate Baptist Church, Wingate, N.C. • WinterPark Baptist Church, Wilmington, N.C. • Woodmont Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn. • Yates Baptist Church, Durham, N.C. •Youngsville Baptist Church, Youngsville, N.C. • Zebulon Baptist Church, Zebulon, N.C.

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Perspective | 29

The Lighter SideBy Brett Younger

Happy 20th, Cooperative Baptist FellowshipIn 1991 the final episode of Dallas aired, the

Chicago Bulls won their first championship,

Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in Terminator 2

and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

began. All of this is ancient history to most

of my students. Just as someone needs to

explain J.R., M.J. and why bodybuilders

should not be governors, we need to keep

telling the Baptist story.

B aptists find their beginnings in theAnabaptists of 16th-century Europe.They fought for religious freedom and

an absolute separation of church and state thatwould have driven Jerry Falwell crazy. TheBritish Baptists of the 17th century refused to fill out membership cards for the state-controlled Church of England. Thomas Helwys was criticized for defending religiousliberty for atheists, Jewsand Muslims. (Imaginethe reaction if Pat Robert-son defended CharlieSheen.) King James, whoclearly had not read themore gracious portions ofthe King James Bible,sent Helwys to jail wherethe Baptist preacher died.

Roger Williams is often called the fatherof the Baptist movement in America eventhough shortly after starting the First BaptistChurch in America in 1638, he gave up onBaptists for not being radical enough. Heargued for making recompense to NativeAmericans for taking their land. That washard for the Baptists on the finance committeeto take.

Up until the 1800s, Baptists in the UnitedStates would not join together in a nationalbody, because they were afraid of becoming tooorganized. Some argue that Baptists mighthave been better off if they had never gottenover this fear of large organizations.

When the Civil War began, Baptists in theSouth took a firm stand for what they believed.

Unfortunately, they believed in slavery. When the war was over, Baptists began

overwhelming the South in a way that wouldhave made Sherman envious. By the 1970sthere were more Baptists in the South thanthere were people. Baptists ruled the land, butthey wanted to rule one another. New pseudo-Baptists decided that all Baptists had to thinkthe same.

In 1979, an uncivil war broke out. Thefundamentalists said it was about the iner-rancy of the Bible. The old-time Baptists saidit was about the priesthood of the believer. Wefought over The Baptist Faith and Message,which was not supposed to be a creed, asthough it was a creed. We surprisingly decidedthat Jesus is not “the criterion by which Scrip-ture is to be interpreted.” We argued overwhether God was allowed to call a woman tobe a minister and if we were allowed to go toDisneyworld.

For 10 years the moderates struggled tohold things together, but it was not to be. Thepotentates who took over the Southern BaptistConvention were not paying attention in theirBaptist heritage class. The new SBC would notbe southern in the hospitable sense of the wordor Baptist in the historic sense of the word orwhat you would hope for in a convention.

The painful process of deciding who getswhich kids began. They got Adrian Rogers.We got Melissa Rogers. They got JimmyDraper. We got Jimmy Allen. They got JimHenry. We got Jim Dunn. They got Bailey

Smith. We got to keep our Jewish friends.They got the buildings at Glorieta and Ridge-crest. We didn’t. They got the seminaries. Wegot the professors. They got new seminarypresidents like Al Mohler. We got new semi-nary presidents like Molly Marshall. They got44,000 churches. We got about 1,900 —admittedly less.

Since 1991, Cooperative Baptists havebeen creating a new yet old way to be Baptist.CBF works with a commitment to global missions, missional churches, women in ministry, theological education and intellectualfreedom. Being marginalized leads to creativity.Churches are doing new, exciting, incarnational,Kingdom ministries. Connections are beingmade between churches and missions. God isat work.

CBF is not as big as some might hopeand not as radical as Roger Williams mightwish, but if the fundamentalists had not takenover the Southern Baptist Convention, I won-der if I would still be a Baptist. While it is easyfor Baptists to remember the good old daysfondly, the SBC of 1978 was not particularlydiverse, affirming of women or open to newideas. I will keep trying to explain to my stu-dents that history matters. The CBF is notonly a new family, but also the reason some ofus have a family. We need to tell that story. BT

—Brett Younger is associate professor of preaching at Mercer University’s

McAfee School of Theology.

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30 | Feature

in their own words

Near Washington, D.C., on July 21beneath a dawning Sunday morn-ing, the war begins in earnest.

Under pressure from the northern public tomarch on the Confederate capital of Rich-mond, President Lincoln orders Brig. Gen.Irvin McDowell southward, where hisUnion army encounters Brig. Gen. P.G.T.Beauregard’s Confederate army.

The two armies square off in fieldsand woods near the town of Manassas, ini-tiating the first major conflict of the CivilWar. Baptists serve on both sides.

News of the battle spreads as thearmies clash throughout the morninghours. Confederate sympathizer MaryBeckley Bristow, a member of Sardis Bap-tist Church in Kentucky, hears cannon fireannouncing the battle:

This is a lovely morning, but myheart is sad and restless; have heardthe cannons roaring at Cincinnati.I know full well that if they are notdeceived by their dispatches, as theyhave been several times, the roaringof federal cannon brings no goodnews from the side on which mysympathies are enlisted, the side ofliberty and right as I firmly believe.

On the battlefield this day the Unionarmy, initially gaining the upper hand, isforced to retreat late in the afternoon, suf-fering defeat. Victory is cheered throughoutthe South; northerners are dismayed andbewildered.

Yet starker than defeat and victory isthe human cost of the battle: among the5,000 casualties, 460 Union and 387 Con-federate soldiers lie dead.

Five days later, on Friday, July 26, theSouth Carolina Baptist Convention con-venes in Spartanburg. The first resolutionpassed by delegates thanks God for the victory at Manassas:

Resolved, That we heartily concurin the recommendation of our

Confederate Congress, to unite inmaking our late signal victories theoccasion of special thanksgiving toGod, by appropriate religious serv-ices on the approaching Sabbath…

Another resolution voices confidence inGod’s favoritism of the Confederacy:

Resolved, That, in the present pecu-liar condition of our politicalaffairs, it becomes us thus to assureour beloved country of our sympa-thies, prayers and thanksgiving onher behalf; that so far as we canunderstand the remarkable openingsand guidance of Divine Providence,we have but received, in almostevery instance, the merciful blessingof our God, as approbation uponthe plans our State and SouthernConfederacy have deemed it best toadopt; … we can but rejoice in theoneness of our brethren of this Statein prayer and effort to defend ourhomes, our liberties and ourChurches, and encourage them to beassured that, as hitherto, puttingour faith in God, though each of usmay have much to bear, yet the rodwill not finally rest upon us, butthat in this most unrighteous and

most wicked attack upon our other-wise peaceful homes, the wickednessof the wicked will return on theirown heads.

The following Sunday, one week afterManassas, is a time of rejoicing in manysouthern Baptist congregations. As blackslaves quietly watch from their segregatedperches in church balconies, preachersaffirm the righteousness of the Confederacyand the liberties of white citizens for whomsons, fathers and brothers are fighting.

Meanwhile, soberness marks manyBaptist worship services in the North. Thecause of liberty for all men has been dealt asetback. Yet firm are the convictions ofmany on the home front, buttressed with acertainty that God and righteousness areon the side of the Union.

In community emotions are openlyexpressed, but in quiet moments lurkinganxieties grip the minds of many. As nightfalls over the broken land this Sundayevening, soldiers on both sides think oftheir families and wonder what lies ahead.

On the home front, as lamps and can-dles are snuffed out in thousands of Baptisthomes North and South, the grieving oflonely wives, sisters, young children andaged parents alike mingles with the press-ing darkness.

Yet among enslaved Baptists despairand despondency has long been a way oflife unchosen, a darkness greater thannight. While the Baptist faith in its south-ern expression offers a faint echo of thefervency and emotion of slaves’ ancestralreligions and provides an otherworldlyhope that transcends earthly shackles,southern white divines insist that theBible’s God created blacks for bondage.

Rarely taught to read or write andforced to live in crude shacks, few yet real-ize that many of their spiritual kin in theNorth are committed to liberating themfrom the darkness of slavery. BT

For a daily journal along with references tosource material, visit




�150 years ago

July 1861

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Information | 31


E ight years later, in November 1879,another Baptist church was planted inthe city of Americana, then called

Estação — the Portuguese word for a railroadstation.

Missionaries from America soon followed,and on Oct. 15, 1882, Southern Baptist mis-sionaries William Buck Bagby and AnneLuther Bagby; Zachary Clay Taylor and KateStevens Crawford Taylor; and Antonio Teix-eira de Albuquerque, a former RomanCatholic priest, planted the First BaptistChurch of Salvador, in the State of Bahia.

Salvador, the first capital city of Brazil,was a very important city at the time, and themain purpose of the church was to evangelizeBrazilians.

In the first 25 years of their missionaryministry, Bagby and Taylor, assisted by otherBaptist missionaries and a growing number ofBrazilian Baptists, organized another 83churches, with a total membership of 4,200members.

On June 22, 1907, 36 years after the firstBaptist church was planted and 25 years afterthe church in Salvador was organized, theBrazilian Baptist Convention was formallyinstalled. Forty-three messengers attended thefirst meeting, where they focused on evangel-ism and missions.

The same inaugural assembly also estab-lished a Brazilian Sunday School Board, a

Home Mission Board, and an InternationalMission Board that hoped to send missionariesto Chile, Portugal and Portuguese-speakingcountries in Africa.

Local, national andinternational missionscontinue to motivateBrazilian Baptists, whosemissionary outreach isnow worldwide.

There are two mainbodies of Baptists inBrazil: both the BrazilianBaptist Convention and the National BaptistConvention (organized on Sept. 16, 1967) aremember bodies of the Baptist World Alliance.

The Brazilian Baptist Convention reports1.3 million members in 7,657 churches and4,204 missions or preaching points. The con-vention supports three national seminaries and37 regional and state seminaries. WithinBrazil, 503 missionaries serve in 25 states.Internationally, 612 missionaries serve in 64countries.

The National Baptist Convention hasmore than 400,000 members in 1,565 churchesand 1,314 missions and preaching points. Itsupports one national seminary and 12 regionalseminaries. About 70 missionaries serve inBrazil, with 110 missionaries working in trans-cultural missions, including seven who workamong Indian tribes. Seventy international

missionaries serve in 23 countries on four continents.

Brazilian Baptists hosted the fourth YouthBaptist Conference in 1953 and the tenthBaptist World Congress in 1960, both eventsheld in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The closingservice of the 1960 Congress was held in theMaracanã Soccer Stadium and was attended bynearly 200,000 persons; it remains the best-attended closing service of any congress in thehistory of the Baptist World Alliance.

Two Brazilian Baptists have occupied theBWA presidency: Dr. João Filson Soren (1960-1965) and Dr. Nilson do Amaral Fanini(1995-2000).

Brazilian Baptists made a significant contribution to the Baptist family through the First National Crusade of Evangelism(1965), followed by the Crusade of the Americas (1969) and the World Mission ofReconciliation (1975). BT

—Fausto A. Vasconcelos is director of the Divi-sion on Mission, Evangelism & Theological

Reflection for the Baptist World Alliance.

Fausto Vasconcelos

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Motivated by MissionsBrazilian Baptists reach near and far

The first Baptist church in Brazil was formed Sept. 10, 1871, in the city of Santa Bárbara d’Oeste, in the State of Sčo Paulo. The founders of thechurch were Baptists from the United States who had immigrated to Brazil following the Civil War.

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32 | Feature

BT: What was your first experiencewith CBF?

Herron: My first exposure to “free and faith-ful Baptists” came during the late 1970s as astudent at Southwestern Seminary and comingto realize a disturbance had been set loose inthe Baptist world. Those days were the first ofmany to come whereby slander and distrustwould become a season of fear and name-calling.

The roots of CBF were born in those daysas ministers and laity were forced to determinewhat they believed and where they stood inthe midst of raw politics and fear-mongering.It all culminated with the need to give birth toa fellowship for those who yearned to be freefrom the politics and to live faithfully apartfrom such fights.

BT: What is it about CBF that causedyou to get and remain engaged?

Herron: I did not attend the first organiza-tional meeting in Atlanta, but have made mostsince. At the General Assembly I have foundkindred spirits who are excited about theirministries and their partnerships with otherlike-minded Baptists.

What has made me gratefulhas been the sense of opennessand a spirit willing to exploreministry in new forms. Theleadership has been peoplewho’ve spoken clearly and hon-estly, and of whom I’ve beenproud to call as friends.

BT: What was a significant “CBF moment” for you?

Herron: I would say chief among many CBFmoments was the call to Atlanta by PresidentJimmy Carter for Baptists to gather togetherto celebrate our shared roots. At that meetingwe were brought together as Baptist familieswho’ve seldom come to worship and greet oneanother, recognizing that we’re related andshare a common purpose and mission.

That spirit created regional meetingsaround the country. But larger than that is theopen recognition that we’re Baptists by convic-

tion and that our common stock means weshare the journey together.

BT: How do you explain CBF to others?

Herron: First, I say, “We’re different fromwhatever else you’ve heard about Baptists.”It’s not so much about whatever negativereputations Baptists have earned, as it is thepositive nature of our fellowship.

Our first name, “cooperative,” meanswe’re hoping to work together rather than tofight one another. We’re the kind of Baptistswho want to seek alliances and to share ourministries with others rather than arrogantlythinking we need to always be in control orto lord it over lesser partners.

Second, I’d say our “Baptistness”means we have a good foundation thatallows us to celebrate our basic, historic free-doms and be active participants in life. Wecan make a real contribution to the goodnessof our community.

The old preacher might ask a colleague,“Did you have a good gospel to bring?” I believe CBF has a “good gospel” to offer.

BT: What are the biggestchallenges facing CBF atage 20?

Herron: In an age of heightenedindividualism, we need to redis-cover in our churches that Godhas called us to a more fluid com-munity where we can share lifeand ministry together in trust

knowing God is at work in our midst. Theserelationships will look less and less like thoseof the past and will require a spirit of adven-ture to view our partners with less suspicionallowing for each partner to blend with othersfor shared ministries.

Most of our churches are losing a sizeableportion of our younger adults. We need a wel-coming spirit to new wineskins for the future.

We have to embrace a mission model thatis less dependent upon career missionaries andmore connected with global partnerships.

Training a new generation of leadersrequires working with seminaries and churches

to nurture young leaders through educationand hands-on experience; the Peer LearningGroup system can be further enhanced to pro-vide collegial systems on a regional basis toassist new ministers.

Culturally and racially, the face of thechurch is changing and we must see the worldas our home and our neighbors who maycome from different cultures as our brothersand sisters.

BT: What hopes do you have for theFellowship’s future?

Herron: I still believe there is a great needfor CBF to exist, but admit it must evolvefaster than it has in order to meet the ever-changing needs of our churches. Thepush-pull of the past, present and future mustbe less rigidly fought so that a spirit of adven-ture can guide us in these challenging days.

The task force launched last summer willpresent a preliminary report this coming yearwith recommendations for implementing anew organizational model. All of this will bevery challenging, and turf issues will need tobe navigated delicately.

I suspect some organizations thatemerged over the past two decades will notexist in the future. We must become more effi-cient with our collective resources and see thata larger hand is at work with all of us. BT

Editor’s note: In this series, various participants

respond to the same six questions from Baptists

Today editor John Pierce about their involvement in

and understanding of the Cooperative Baptist Fellow-

ship that is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

SIX QUESTIONSabout the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Keith Herron is pastor ofHolmeswood Baptist Church inKansas City, Mo., and moderator-electof the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

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Perspective | 33

Guest CommentaryBy John Hewett

‘Balcony thinking’Christian stewardship looks better from above

Raising money in the church isn’t that

hard if you don’t care how you do it.

Some years ago I was working in

Detroit and happened upon a large

suburban church advertising — via

flashing front lawn marquee — its

“Annual Casino Night.”

T he parking lot was packed.They’dturned their parish hall into a verita-ble Christian gambling den, complete

with blackjack, baccarat, a roulette wheeland five-card stud. The joint was jumping.

I located the pastor-croupier and askedwhat was going on. “Isn’t it fabulous?” heenthused. “We do this every year and raiseour entire budget in a weekend!”

Gimmicks still abound. A church notfar from me is giving away free gas cards toeveryone who pledges. The mind boggles atwhat might be next.

Thankfully, the national stewardshipconversation seems to be shifting from “raising the budget” to “changing the culture of giving.”

This is a good thing. But it requires“balcony thinking,” i.e. getting a good lookat mission, ministry and calling from upabove the weekly demands of budget andcash flow.

Balcony thinking is strategic. It movespast the tactical “what, when, where andhow” of annual budgets to the one questionthat drives generous giving: “WHY?”

Balcony thinking transforms steward-ship from an annual “budget emphasis” to acontinuing holy conversation among thepeople of God. It shifts the center of gravityfrom the church’s needs to God’s call.

No longer is the appeal, “the churchneeds your money.” Now we beseech oneanother in Christ’s name, “Come be a fullyformed follower of Jesus Christ. Grow in thegrace of giving.”

Churches doing balcony thinking aboutstewardship evidence the following “bestpractices.”

1. They are unafraid to talk aboutmoney. Indeed, they talk about it regularly,as Jesus did. But they don’t assign moneytalk to clergy only. They all accept it asessential to the dialogue of faith. And theydo it year-round.

2. They do vision-based budgeting,relentlessly evaluating each initiative to see ifit continues to support their larger purpose.This kind of balcony thinking requires greatcourage, because an overriding ministryvision often requirespainful decisions aboutprograms, staff, partner-ships and other ministrytools. But that samevision can birth new,exciting initiatives ofbrave, bold Christianity.Truth is, people lovegiving to exciting visions. They are less wildabout funding sentimental institutions committed to scrapbook nostalgia.

3. They assume accountability. Churchmembership is a voluntary covenant of mutu-al responsibility. Church leadership is limitedto those who take that covenant seriously.

4. They realize they’re not the onlyChristian ministry in town. Rather thanbemoaning the “competition” for the tithe,they are wise enough to recognize that a ris-ing tide lifts all boats. Every time my churchpasses the offering plates, all the loose cashand coins go to a local ministry caring forpeople in need. We call it the “noisy” offer-ing. Rather than siphoning funds away fromour mission, we believe all that noise promptsa deeper spirit of giving among the faithful.

5. They recognize that wise manage-ment of congregational resources includesknowing not only where the money goes,but also from whence it comes. Thoughthey value and practice confidentiality, they

are not paralyzed by an archaic devotion tosecrecy that prevents them from careful fore-casting and strategic stewardship analysis,not to mention the ability to thank thosestewards whose sacrificial giving keeps thechurch financially strong.

(Recently during lunch with a UnitedMethodist pastor friend, he lamented one ofthe difficulties of shepherding an increasinglyaging congregation. “John,” he said, “lastyear I buried $150,000.” My friend wasn’tbeing pastorally insensitive; he was demon-strating balcony thinking about Christianstewardship. He knew that the standardpractice of comparing tithes and offeringsyear to year had blinded his leaders to thetruth that their current donor base wouldcease to exist in five to seven years. Out ofthat conversation I developed the concept ofa donor “age map,” by which client churchescould create accurate forecasts of their finan-cial futures and avoid the unhappy surprisesvisited upon my pastor friend.)

6. They eschew a “one size fits all”approach to stewardship education, recog-nizing that different people, particularlydifferent age groups, respond to differentappeals. And they especially believe thatstewardship is too important to be left toadults, so they teach their children well.

7. They plan and budget for steward-ship development, setting aside at least threepercent of undesignated receipts for the sin-gular purpose of growing and sustainingongoing financial support for the church’stotal mission and ministry.

I still bear on my soul the scars of thatlong-ago Pledge Sunday when the finance com-mittee chair stepped to the pulpit and said,“This is the time of year I dread the most.”

It need not be so. There is a better way.Come up to the balcony, and see. BT

—John Hewett is president of Hewett Consulting LLC and a member of Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.

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34 | Feature

BURNT HILLS, N.Y. — What a former

U.S. president and heads of various Bap-

tist denominational groups are seeking to

do on a large scale through a second New

Baptist Covenant event, Ed and Trudy Pet-

tibone are doing quietly in their own

corner of the world: introducing Baptists

to one another.

F ormer Southern Baptists who have beenindividual members of the CooperativeBaptist Fellowship (CBF) since its

founding nearly 20 years ago, the Pettiboneshave lived in various parts of the country. Nowthey are in upstate New York where Trudy ispastor of Burnt Hills Baptist Church, a historiccongregation affiliated with the American Bap-tist Churches in the USA (ABC-USA).

In May, Pastor Trudy and the congregationwarmly hosted a regional gathering of CBFchurches, known as the Baptist Fellowship ofthe Northeast. It was an event her husband, Ed,had long sought to host.

In doing so, the Pettibones invited theirAmerican Baptist neighbors to attend the two-day gathering. Fellowship Baptists andAmerican Baptists were given the chance to getacquainted on a personal level and to becomefamiliar with various ministries where connec-tions might be made as well.

“I think we should celebrate our commonheritage and our similarities,” said Trudy.

“I rejoice in opportunities to help others discoverour partnership in ministry and mission.”

Trudy, a graduate of the University ofSouth Florida, Southern Baptist TheologicalSeminary and Hebrew Union College, servedBaptist congregations in the Adirondacks ofNew York for six years before accepting the pastorate of Burnt Hills in January 2010.

She recalled a joint meeting of ABC andthe CBF in Washington in 2007, and hearingher American Baptist friends share howimpressed they were with the Fellowship’sresource fair.

“ABC folk and CBF folk don’t seem toknow a lot about each other,” said Trudy. “Therecent Baptist Fellowship of the Northeast meet-ing was an opportunity to continue to introducepeople of these two groups to each other.”

Ed, who is retired from government workin his native Indiana, has studied at SouthernSeminary as well and is involved in variousBaptist activities related to ABC and CBF life.He is also a longtime participant and forummoderator with

He and Trudy joined an American Baptistchurch near their home when moving toCincinnati in 1998 for her to study at HebrewUnion. But they kept their Fellowship ties byconnecting with Joe and Carolyn WeatherfordCrumpler at a CBF-related church nearly anhour away. Ed believes “providential guidance”led to their dual Baptist fellowships.

“We attended both regional and nationalmeetings of ABC and CBF,” said Ed, notingthat he and Trudy have served in leadership

roles with both Baptist groups.At the May gathering in Burnt Hills, the

Pettibones scheduled greetings and brief reportsfrom those they wished to bring together.

“Baptists have always come togetheraround missions,” said Jane Lang of the Ameri-can Baptist Churches of New York State,thanking the Pettibones for assembling theneighboring Baptists to share about variousmission opportunities.

Likewise, Baptist Fellowship of the North-east moderator Randy Parks spoke on “thegraciousness of Baptist life in the Northeast”and welcomed the chance for Fellowship andAmerican Baptists to share in worship and fel-lowship as well as make connecting points forministry. He is a CBF-endorsed hospital

Pettibones make good connections in the Northeast




Bob Brilling informs agathering of ABC andFellowship Baptistsabout a migrant ministry among theorchard workers inupstate New York.

Ed Pettibone (left)shares a laugh with

Howard Sheffey, a retiredNew York City police offi-

cer who moved “up intothe country”and was

ordained at age 69 to serveas pastor of ABC-affiliated

Old Stone Church nearSaratoga Springs, N.Y.

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chaplain serving in Sparta, N.J.Bob Brilling shared about the work Ameri-

can Baptists — through the Capital BaptistAssociation in New York — are doing withmigrant workers who seasonally populate thelarge apple orchards in the upstate.

Churches, he said, are needed to visit andinteract with workers and to help providehealth-care kits. But he warned: “Once you doit, it’s hard to back away from it.”

Brilling said churches of various denomi-nations have joined American Baptists in theMigrant North Ministries and there is room formore. Ministry opportunities include hostingactivities such as dinners or game nights fororchard workers, and discovering any health-related needs.

He said the workers discover that “some-one cares about them for something other than

picking apples.”Those active in the Baptist Fellowship of

the Northeast, a CBF regional group led by Kenand Sandy Hale, shared about various ministrieson college campuses and in urban settings.

While tied to different groups within Bap-tist life, each of these persons shared commoncommitments to ministry and historic Baptistprinciples of autonomy and cooperation.

And they were all brought together byTrudy and Ed Pettibone — who quietly buteffectively build good Baptist bridges out of the framework of their own relationships andexperiences.

“We are excited about both CBF andABC,” said Ed. “We are each heavily investedin both, and we enjoy talking about each andsharing our experiences with others of whateverBaptist signage.” BT

Feature | 35


ATLANTA — Building on a suc-cessful mass gathering ofrepresentatives from various

Baptist groups from throughout NorthAmerica in Atlanta in 2008, a secondmajor event — called New BaptistCovenant II — is planned for Nov. 17-19of this year.

Major programming from Atlanta’sSecond-Ponce de Leon Baptist Churchwill be broadcast via satellite to severallocations including San Antonio, Texas,and Denver, Colo. As additional loca-tions are confirmed, they will be postedalong with other information at

Once again, the program will focuson Jesus’ call in Luke 4 to “bring goodnews to the poor, proclaim release tothe captives, and recovery of sight tothe blind, to let the oppressed go free,and to proclaim the year of the Lord’sfavor.”

On Saturday, Nov. 19, the final dayof the event, each host city will coordi-nate opportunities for local missioninvolvement.

New Baptist Covenant IIgearing up for Novembermulti-site gatherings

Pastor Trudy Pettibone of Burnt Hills BaptistChurch enjoys bringing Baptists from differentgroups together to “share our common heritageand our similarities.”

A historic American Baptist congrega-tion, Burnt Hills Baptist Church in

upstate New York hosted the BaptistFellowship of the Northeast, a regionalCooperative Baptist Fellowship group,

for their spring meeting.

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36 | Perspective

Cooperative missions changing, not deadIn the May issue (page 26), MarkWingfield asked, “Is cooperativemissions dead?” I would suggestthat the premise is overstated.

C ooperative missions is not dead but changing. The oldprepackaged mission program is

an old paradigm that churches and mostdenominations are not adopting.

What are the realities and changes inthis new era of missions?

It will take all of us together. There is

not one church or even a collection of afew churches that can reach the entireworld. The efforts of many churches inmissions can multiply the efforts of a fewin amazing ways. It is the “five loaves andtwo fish” principle.

It will take churches of all sizes. Wing-field suggests that small churches are needyand a part of a welfare system that largechurches are asked to support. In manycases the opposite ofWingfield’s assessmentis true.

Small churches sacrificially supportmissions in a way that not many largechurches do. Manysmall churches regularlygive 10 percent of theirincome past the local church. Largechurches tend to talk in terms of dollarsand not in terms of percentage becausetheir percentage is small.

Is it easier for a small church to give10 percent of its income beyond the localchurch than for a large church? Is it easierfor a poor man to tithe 10 percent than arich man? The truth is that it takes all ofthe churches, big and small, cooperatingtogether.

To reach the world before us with thehope of Christ will take denominations,churches, agencies, institutions and indi-vidual Christians collaborating together.

Wingfield suggests that the missingpiece is a denominational structure servingas a connector between churches and direct

providers. The reality is denominations arebecoming just that.

They are uniquely positioned to collaborate the efforts of schools and semi-naries, hospitals and human care agencies,associations, churches and individualChristians to share the hope of Christ withthe world. They have collaborated acrossthe world in education, church starting,disaster relief, mission response, and worldhunger just to name a few.

What will be required is a vision toreach the world. It is a vision that willrequire churches to see beyond themselves.In any church the vision to reach the worldcan get lost behind the local ministriesexpected by its members.

In the same way, it is a vision that willrequire denominations to see beyond the“meet every need of every church” menta-lity that was a part of previous years. It will require a world vision that utilizescooperation among indigenous nationalconventions, and state and national conventions in the United States.

It will include cooperation to supportmissionaries sent from other countries tocountries where missionaries from theUnited States cannot go. It will require col-laboration and cooperation in new ways.

In a rapidly changing world the waywe do missions cooperatively must bedynamic and fluid. It is the challenge ofActs 1:8. That is the “clear call to whichwe can march.” BT

—Steve Vernon is acting executive directorof the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

CBF, Texas Baptist leaders respond to

“We chose to advertise forour associate pastorposition in Baptists Todayand received over 50 appli-cations from all over theSoutheast… [W]e have filledthat position and are verypleased with the results.Your office was very profes-sional and efficient ingetting our information out.”


In yourown


ReplyBy Steve Vernon

What will be required is a vision to reach the world. It is a vision that will require churches to see beyond themselves.

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Perspective | 37

ReplyBy Jack Glasgow

Fellowship’s mission strategy not ‘radically altered’ by UN goals

I would like to address the article byMark Wingfield in the May 2011 edi-tion titled, “Is Cooperative MissionsDead?” The writer claimed that “CBFradically altered its mission strategy tofollow the Millennial DevelopmentGoals of the United Nations.”

I wish to correct any misconceptions hisstatement is likely to create among readers.At the 2007 CBF General Assembly in

Washington, D.C., a motion passed fromthe floor with near unanimous supportasking the CBF Coordinating Council “toinvestigate the feasibility and means bywhich the Cooperative Baptist Fellowshipmight be involved with acting with otherbodies to reach the United Nations Millen-nium Development Goals.” The Councilacted responsibly to that motion.

It voted without dissent in October2007 for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to support the MillenniumDevelopment Goals after a time of educa-tion and questioning aided by ministrypartner Bread for the World. We surveyedour global missions personnel and foundthat our field personnel were alreadyengaged in more than 100 projects thatwere relevant to the Millennium Develop-ment Goals.

At the 2008 General Assembly inMemphis we reported on the council’saction and encouraged local congregationsand individual Christians to find ways toshare Christ in ministries that support one

or more of the goals.As an example, theyouth of my churchbuilt beautiful crossesthey sold to the congre-gation during thefollowing Lenten season to support“Watering Malawi.”

At that same meet-ing, in discernment sessions on establishingstrategic priorities, support for ministriesthat are related to the MDG’s was one ofthe top three priorities selected by theattendees who participated in the discern-ment process as well as those who took thesurvey online.

In no way did these actions constitutea radical altering of the mission strategy ofthe Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Therewere no directives sent from the council to

the leadership of Global Missions to alterour strategy in any way.

We simply responded to the energyand passion of our constituents to pointout that their passion for addressing thesuffering of the poor, hungry, uneducatedand oppressed the world over was indeedconsistent with the teachings of Jesus andour mission strategy in CBF to be the pres-ence of Christ among the most neglected.

We welcomed those focused on therealization of the Millennium Development

Goals to be full partners with us in ourmission endeavors that were consistentwith those goals. We were not being directed by the United Nations, but by ourunderstanding of Jesus and our commit-ment to global missions that shares God’slove in word and deed.

In these challenging and changingtimes the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship isstriving to share a compelling vision of aglobal missions effort that will inspire thesupport of Baptist Christians of every generation and Baptist congregationsthroughout our Fellowship. The challengeis great, and the interest and ideas of thearticle’s author are appreciated and shouldbe a part of a vibrant conversation to helpus find a better way to increase passion andcommitment to missions.

I simply do not think the conversationis well served by the inaccurate statement

that CBF has failed to come up with itsown mission goals and is asking its congre-gations and individuals to “give to theoffering for Global Missions so we can sup-port the goals of the United Nations.” Weare about so much more than that throughour CBF-supported mission endeavors. BT

—Jack Glasgow is pastor of Zebulon Baptist Church in Zebulon, N.C.,

and a former moderator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

commentary on cooperative missions

The interest and ideas of the article’s author are appreciated andshould be a part of a vibrant conversation to help us find a better

way to increase passion and commitment to missions.

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Well-traveled chalice brings Baptistsfrom two Georgias closer together


MACON, Ga. — When a partnership

was struck between the Cooperative Bap-

tist Fellowship of Georgia and a Baptist

group in the Republic of Georgia several

years ago, leaders expected cross-cultural

learning and Christian fellowship. But

no one imagined a historic Commu-

nion chalice would bind the two

groups more closely.

Archbishop Malkhaz Songu-lashvili, who leads theEvangelical Bap-tist Church inGeorgia, was

doing research at OxfordUniversity in February2010 when he came acrossthe name of Louie D. New-ton in files related to theBaptist World Alliance (BWA)and the USSR.

Newton, an Atlanta pastor,educator and denominationalleader, had been part of

the Russian War Relief delegation. He visitedRussia in 1946 to meet with political and religious leaders.

Newton’s report to the BWA was in theresearch material — although one part wasmissing. So Malkhaz asked a couple of Ameri-can friends, including Susan Broome, an

archivist with Mercer University, for help.

‘HANDSOME VESSEL’Additional material noted that Newton, whilein Moscow, had been given a chalice that oncebelonged to the Baptist church in Tbilisi (thecapital of the Republic of Georgia). Fromsome earlier historical work for Atlanta’s DruidHills Baptist Church where Newton was pas-tor, Susan recalled seeing a photo of himholding the chalice.

As part of his doctoral research at Oxford,Malkhaz gained interest in Newton’s trip toTbilisi and other parts of the Soviet Union atthe time — particularly the possibility that theSouthern Baptist leader had met with Sovietleader Joseph Stalin. Susan checked with oneof Newton’s grandsons who confirmed that thetwo pipe-smokers had indeed met.

Nearly 65 years after its presentation toNewton, Susan wondered if the chalice —which she described as “a very handsome ves-sel” — might be found. However, it was notin Mercer’s holdings of Newton’s personalrecords, nor at Druid Hills Baptist Church,the American Baptist Historical Society or theSouthern Baptist Historical Library.

Common cup

Editor’s note: The story is based on a report in Visions, newsletter of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia.

Baptist leader Louie D. Newton of Atlanta shows the Commu-nion chalice he received on a 1946 visit to Moscow. Thiscontributed photo from 1947 was taken at Meredith College inRaleigh, N.C.

38 | Feature

After searching various Baptist archives, SusanBroome of Mercer University’s library staff, foundthe historic chalice in the university’s Louie D.Newton Chapel. CBF of Georgia photo.

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Feature | 39

Research materials about the chalice andits presentation to Newton grew, however, andwere shared with Malkhaz.

SPIRITUAL ANCESTORS“I came to realize that this was the first chaliceever to be acquired by the first Baptist churchin the Russian Empire of which then Georgiawas a part,” said Malkhaz. “Dr. Newton hadreported that the chalice was purchased by N. Voronin, who was the first Baptist to bebaptized in the river Mtakvari that divides theGeorgian capital of Tbilisi into two parts.”

Baptists in the Republic of Georgia knewnothing about the chalice, he said, but werethrilled when Susan shared a photograph.Communion (or Eucharist) is very importantto Georgian Baptists.

“We had a photo of the first chalice withwhich our spiritual ancestors celebratedEucharist,” he said, “the chalice from which allof our martyrs and teachers of faith drank.”

Georgian Baptists have their share ofmartyrs — including church founder Ilia Kan-delaki, who was assassinated by Bolshevik

authorities when returning from a missiontrip, and Ekaterine Kutateladze, a woman whoendured heavy persecution to teach the faith.

‘DRINK YE ALL OF IT’Malkhaz had built a good friendship withSusan and her husband Frank Broome, coordi-nator of CBF of Georgia. They had hostedeach other on international visits.

Settling for a photo of the chalice was notenough. One of Susan’s colleagues mentionedthat former Mercer University President KirbyGodsey had referred to a chalice in a tapedinterview.

Chalice was “not a word that Baptists usevery often,” Susan noted. “Why would hemention a chalice if he’d not seen one?”

A few nights later as she tried to sleep,her mind flashed to the anteroom in Mercer’schapel — the Louie D. Newton Chapel.

The next day she walked over to thechapel and through an unlocked door to theroom where the historic chalice was the cen-terpiece of a display about Newton. Thegold-plated silver chalice was engraved with a

Latin phrase meaning “Drink ye all of it.”The well-traveled chalice — which had

drawn little attention in recent years — hadbeen found.

SYMBOL OF FELLOWSHIPBy this time, Malkaz had good backgroundmaterial: the chalice was likely used at thechurch in Tbilisi until 1928, when Georgianminister M.A. Orlov became pastor ofMoscow’s First Baptist Church, the largestBaptist congregation in the Soviet Union.

The chalice was sent with him as anexpression of love and a symbol of fellowshipwith Russian Baptists.

With further research, Susan learned thatNewton had visited the Kremlin on Aug. 8,1946, and presented Stalin with two smokingpipes and a copy of the New Testament. How-ever, he reported being “prohibited to speakabout the meeting.”

That evening, Newton preached atMoscow Central Baptist Church where heshared Communion with other ministers andwas presented with the chalice as a gift.

A GIFT AGAINLast fall, Malkhaz attended the CBF of Georgia meeting in Macon and held the Communion chalice that connects the twoBaptist groups as well as much of his fellow-ship’s history. He was given a framed pictureof the historic cup, but Mercer UniversityPresident Bill Underwood agreed that thechalice itself should once again become a giftthat binds Baptists across miles and cultures.

So later this year, two Communion serv-ices — using the well-traveled chalice — willbe held in the state of Georgia, including onein Newton Chapel. Then the Broomes andothers will take the chalice back to its firstGeorgian home.

Upon presenting the chalice, Georgiansand Americans — connected by a commonfaith and the Baptist tradition — will sharethe Eucharist in Tbilisi’s Peace Cathedral.

“The chalice was found owing to thefriendship, cooperation and partnership of agreat number of people in the United King-dom and the United States,” said Malkhaz,filled with gratitude. “Had I not been doingresearch in Oxford, had I not been friendswith the Broomes, had they not known of theNewton archives and been interested in theRepublic of Georgia, the chalice would neverhave been found.” BT

TWO GEORGIANS — Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili, who leads the Evangelical Baptist Church in theRepublic of Georgia, and Frank Broome, coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia, havebuilt a partnership that brings Baptists from the two Georgias together. Now a historic common Commu-nion chalice connects the two groups more closely. Photo by John Pierce.

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40 | Perspective

By Tony W. Cartledge

During a 12-day visit to Israel, theWest Bank and Jordan, one of myjobs was to keep an eye on the

agenda so everyone knew how to dresseach day. If we visited sites considered tobe particularly sacred to Catholics, Jews orMuslims, both men and women woresomething that covered their shoulders andlegs, below the knee.

We didn’t have any men so gauche asto be wearing tank tops, so for them it wasjust a matter of wearing long pants onthose days — a time when zip-off pantslegs came in handy. Several of the womenpurchased scarves or shawls they could usefor wraps, or wore light skirts over theirshorts.

In synagogues or other places sacred toJews, such as the Western Wall, men alsohad to cover their heads in some fashion.Disposable yamulkes (or kippahs, as they arealso known) were available for Gentiles,though regular hats were also permitted. Afew of our guys bought their own yamulkesand pinned them on, which made for aninteresting sight.

Interestingly, Jews believe men showrespect for God by covering at least part ofthe head while Christians believe we showrespect by removing our hats when we entera church, or when we pray (with the excep-

tion of clergy who get to wear big pointyhats in Catholic and Anglican traditions).

My philosophy for wearing headgear isentirely utilitarian: I wear it when neededfor protection from the sun, rain or cold —or on formal occasions at school whenwe’re required to put on our academic zootsuits and funny velvet hats.

The Bible says very little about headcoverings. In the Old Testament, those whowere pledged as Nazirites were not to cuttheir hair until their vow was completed, atwhich time they were to shave their heads.Ultra-Orthodox Jews grow long curly locks

in front of their ears in slavish obedience toLev. 19:27, which says “you shall not roundoff the hair on your temples or mar theedges of your beard.”

And, there’s Paul’s odd (and culturallyconditioned) theological view that menshould pray with their heads uncovered,since they were created in the image ofGod, while women should pray with veiledheads, because their creation is a reflectionof man (1 Cor. 11:1-16). Oy.

It’s interesting that many fundamental-ist interpreters are all gung-ho about menhaving authority over women, but blithelythrow out the part about women needingto keep their heads veiled.

Where, at the end of the day, does thisleave us? What’s respectful in one traditionis disrespectful in another.

I think it’s appropriate to respect oth-ers’ traditions: if I’m asked to wear a hat atthe Western Wall or long pants in theChurch of the Nativity, I will — but I do itto respect the people for whom such prac-tices are important.

I really don’t think God gives a ripwhether our head, shoulders or knees arecovered when we come to a place of prayer.Respect for God is not a matter of what’son our heads, but what’s in our hearts. BT

By John Pierce

T here were 96 members of my daugh-ter’s high school class who receiveddiplomas this spring. The school has

an Honors Night tradition of having ateacher say something about each graduate.

So I arrived at the dinner event in thesame endurance mode as earlier days ofpiano recitals: sit through and applaud all,but really care about only one.

For the most part, faculty speakers wereconcise — and a few even entertaining. Stu-dents hustled to the stage for their momentin the spotlight.

Stories of academic and athleticprowess flowed as expected. Others werenoted for their school spirit or leadershipskills. For a few, teachers made up

something.What surprised me most, however, were

the stories of generosity and selfless acts:students who serve those in need locally orgo on international mission trips — beyondofficial community-service requirements.

One teacher told of seeing a studentstash a wad of money in a bucket set up forloose change to meet the needs of a hurtingfamily. Counting the money at the end of theschool day, he found $86 in rolled billsamong the quarters and dimes.

The next day he asked the studentabout the money. She shrugged and said: “I had a good birthday — and thought I’dshare.”

The night was long. Endurance wasexpected and needed. But inspiration wasfound as well. BT

From endurance to inspiration

ReblogSelections from recent blogs at

Showing respect

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Perspective | 41

MediaA review by Bruce Gourley

For good or bad, democracy is theBaptist way of doing church

Democracy is both the genius of, andthe problem with, being Baptist — sug-gests Bill Leonard, a leading interpreterof Baptist life, in this brief, easily read-able survey of historical Baptist themes.

A t the heart of Baptist polity is democ-racy, a “messy, controversial, anddivisive” foundation for doing church,

writes the longtime professor of church history and former dean of the Wake ForestUniversity School of Divinity. While subjectto the changing will ofthe majority, democracynonetheless preservesever-important minority,dissenting viewpoints.

For much of the 400 years of Baptists’ existence, they were aminority faith. Often persecuted by colonial-era“Christian” theocracies, Baptist dissentersresponded by championing religious libertyfor all and separation of church and state. Yetin the 20th century Baptists became a power-ful, majority faith, and their commitments totheir heritage wavered.

In the words of Leonard, “as a religiouscommunity, Baptists have never done wellwith privilege.”

At the heart of Leonard’s framing of Baptists’ “scandalous past” lies an early faithrejected by orthodox Christianity andwelcoming of internal contradictions. Bap-tists’ refusal to embrace creeds led to theirbranding as heretics, while the co-existence ofcompeting Arminian and Calvinist theologieswithin the Baptist family guaranteed a legacyof schisms.

Early Baptist community, in short, wasfounded upon the principle of soul liberty asexpressed in freedom of conscience and livedout in dissent within and without. Early Bap-tists’ vocal insistence upon freedom of religion

for all persons did little to discourage criti-cism and persecution from other Christians.

Such was Baptists’ commitment to free-dom that they were “obsessed with conscienceand voice for heretic and atheist alike,”Leonard observes, lending credibility tocharges of theological impropriety and civiloffenses. Becoming a Baptist was not for thefaint of heart, and being a Baptist requiredcourage in the face of the ever-present threatof persecution.

Against this historical legacy of a defiant,dissenting minority faith free and uncoercedto the point of being scandalous, Leonardexamines current divisions in Baptist life.Noting that multiple ways of being Baptistare evidenced to this day, Leonard findsstrength in permissive diversity. From biblicalinterpretation to conversion to church polity,the Baptist narrative yesteryear and today iscomprised of many evolving stories that some-times seem to be more at odds with oneanother than they are similar.

While the dynamic nature of Baptistfaith past, present and future makes somecontemporary Baptists uncomfortable,Leonard demurs. Well aware is the author thatreligious, generational, social, cultural, politi-cal, technological and other challenges of the21st century frame the larger perspective ofthat which today’s Baptists are becoming, cre-ating a desire on the part of some to retrencharound a stack pole of theological certainty orrigid organizational structure.

Yet Leonard warns against a moderndesire to force the Baptist name into creedalstraightjackets or denominational exclusivity.Whether one chooses to verbalize the Baptistname or not in the 21st century, Leonardpoints Baptists toward a future from the past.

The early English Baptists at Amsterdam,he reminds us, were a community of confess-ing believers united in their commitment tofreedom of conscience and dissent (bothexpressed in the radical concept of believer’sbaptism); voluntarily gathered together inlocal congregations; and affirming of biblical

authority and guidance under the direction ofthe Holy Spirit.

And thus Bill Leonard positions the Bap-tist future upon the confessions and faith ofthe earliest Baptists, who four centuries agostood up in dissent and transformed the tra-jectory of Christianity. In the face of anuncertain 21st century future, The Challengeof Being Baptist is to stand firm upon the free-dom of individual conscience, devoted to thecommunity of the faithful and committed tothe messiness of democratic polity. BT

—Bruce Gourley is executive director of theBaptist History & Heritage Society in additionto serving as online editor for Baptists Today.

The Challenge of BeingBaptist: Owning a ScandalousPast and an Uncertain Future

by Bill J. Leonard(2010, Baylor University Press)

Bruce Gourley

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42 | Information

Gallup finds same-sex relations, marriage receive record approval

BY ADELLE M. BANKSReligion News Service

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say gay or les-bian relations between consenting adultsshould be legal, the highest percentage everrecorded by Gallup. Researchers found that 64percent of American adults supported legal gayrelations, which Gallup has included in sur-veys since 1977.

Despite the high rate of support for gayrelations, Americans are less likely — 56 per-cent — to consider them “morally acceptable,”even as that figure is the highest measuredsince Gallup first asked that question in 2001.

Americans who believe same-sex orienta-tion is inherent are much more likely to thinklegal gay relations are morally acceptable, with81 percent approval, compared to just 33 per-cent who believe a person’s sexual orientationis due to environmental factors.

The same poll, taken May 5-8, found thata majority of Americans (53 percent) supportedgay marriage for the first time since Gallupstarted tracking the issue in 1996. Catholicsare more likely than Protestants to supportlegal same-sex marriage. BT

BY SUZANNE MCGEE, Religion News Service/ENInews

New book says Gen. MacArthurflooded Japan with post-war religion

A new book on post-war Japan saysGen. Douglas MacArthur sought tofill the country’s “spiritual vacuum”

with religious and quasi-religious beliefs,from Christianity to Freemasonry, as an antidote to communism.

In 1945 Under the Shadow of the Occu-pation: The Ashlar and The Cross, Japaneseinvestigative journalist Eiichiro Tokumotodocuments MacArthur’s efforts to persuademissionaries to intensify their efforts, evenencouraging mass conversions to Catholicism.

“There was a complete collapse of faith inJapan in 1945 — in our invincible military, inthe emperor, in the religion that had becomeknown as ‘state Shinto,’” Tokumoto writes.

A number of documents Tokumoto usedfor research were declassified only recently,including accounts of a 1946 meetingbetween MacArthur and two U.S. Catholicbishops.

“General MacArthur asked us to urge

the sending of thousands of Catholic missionaries — at once,” Bishops John F.O’Hara and Michael J. Ready later reportedto the Vatican. MacArthur told them thatthey had a year to help fill the “spiritual vacuum” created by the defeat.

Based on his experience in the Philip-pines, MacArthur believed the CatholicChurch could find particular appeal becausethe tradition of seeking absolution for one’smistakes or misdeeds “appeals to the Orien-tal,” they reported.

In the wake of the missionaries’ efforts,the Bible became a best-seller in Japan, whilethe number of Catholics climbed about 19percent between 1948 and 1950, Tokumotosaid. The missionaries’ success, however, wasshort-lived. Relatively few of the 2,000 or sowho flooded into Japan could speak Japanese,and the 1960s saw a student backlash againstperceived “elite” Christians who ran severalmajor universities. BT

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Feature | 43

Through the 1960s, Bob Dylan washailed as a prophet, first of folkmusic, then of rock ‘n’ roll — atleast by those who forgave him theheresy of having “gone electric.”

But when rock’s best-known Jew famouslydeclared Jesus to be the answer, many fansturned on him.

For five decades, Robert Allen Zimmer-man, who turned 70 on May 24, has shocked,mystified, baffled and intrigued fans with songsrife with biblical references, both Jewish andChristian, and no shortage of religious imagery.

For Michael J. Gilmour, an associate pro-fessor of New Testament and English literatureat Providence College in Manitoba, Canada,and author of the book Gods and Guitars,Dylan proves an irresistible subject for theo-logical analysis.

Some fans gladly embrace the idea ofDylan as a secular prophet, a term vagueenough to permit “a semblance of religiositythat does not actually connect the singer to afaith tradition in any way,” Gilmour writes inhis recent book, The Gospel According to BobDylan.

And while some might bristle at linkingthe word “gospel” to Dylan, Gilmour calls thefamous songster a “serious religious thinker,”even a “musical theologian.”

Dylan often mentions God in his songs,

“and though he rarely attempts to define whatthe term means, he still points us toward thatvague Other,” Gilmour writes.

The author, 44, said he experienced some-thing of a religious awakening at age 13 whileattending a church camp, where he heardDylan’s “Slow Train Coming,” a song born ofthe singer’s embrace of evangelical Christianityin 1979.

“It was the first time I listened to anythingwith sustained reflection on spiritual themes,”Gilmour said in an interview. “And the ideathat a well-known celebrity actually took reli-gion seriously struck me as rather important.”

Raised Jewish, Dylan had a bar mitzvahand, after a visit to Israel in 1971, evenpronounced the late far-right Rabbi MeirKahane “a really sincere guy.” Convalescingfrom a motorcycle accident and leading up tothe 1967 album John Wesley Harding, hereportedly read the Bible extensively.

While former Beatle George Harrisonembraced Hinduism without fuss and singerCat Stevens became a pious Muslim, Dylan’spublic and unexpected turn to Christianity wasmet with wide derision.

The singer has since seemed to return tothe Jewish fold. He has supported the ultra-Orthodox Chabad Lubavitch movement, evenstudying at one of its yeshivas, and had hissons, Samuel Isaac Abraham and Jakob Luke,

bar mitzvahed.However, Gilmour believes it’s “hard to

answer where (Dylan) is now” religiously. “He’salways going on first dates but never actuallysettles into a long-term relationship.”

“As far as I know, he never actually attended church on a regular basis.”

In any event, Dylan has recovered fromthat earlier disdain, Gilmour said.

“The impression I get from his concerts is that people cheer just as loudly for those(Christian gospel) songs as they do for the others,” he said.

Dylan treated Pope John Paul II to a stir-ring rendition of “Blowin’ in the Wind” andother standards at the 1997 World EucharistCongress. For Gilmour, Dylan’s papal show andhis apparent return to Judaism show the musi-cian “respects religion.”

Dylan has been truly mystified about thefuss over his spiritual messages, Gilmour writes,though he was “not above nurturing this mys-tique and indulging it occasionally (but) nodoubt with a sense of irony (and) exaggeratedself-description.”

Gilmour confesses his answer is always thesame when someone asks him about Dylan’spersonal spiritual beliefs: “I do not know. Ulti-mately it’s none of my business. All I can saywith any confidence is that religious language iseverywhere in his songs.” BT

BY RON CSILLAGReligion News Service

At 70, Bob Dylan’s music, religious mystique endure

Mystifying messagesJoan Baez amd Bob Dylan at the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., in August 1963.Photograph courtesy of U.S. Information Agency. Press and Publications Service.(ca. 1953 - ca. 1978)

“Some find Dylan merely

using religious terms and

imagery artistically but with

no particular theological

intent, whereas others find

in his songs meaningful

engagements with ultimate

questions.”— Michael J. Gilmour

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P.O. Box 6318Macon, GA 31208-6318

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Bringing Baptists together 34 - [PDF Document] (2024)


Do Baptists require Rebaptism? ›

Churches that practice exclusive believer's baptism, including Baptists and Churches of Christ, rebaptize those who were baptized as infants because they do not consider infant baptism to be valid. Rebaptism is generally associated with: Anabaptism, from Greek ἀνα- (re-) and βαπτίζω (I baptize)

What are the two ordinances of a Baptist church? ›

Baptists practice believer's baptism and the Lord's Supper (communion) as the ordinances instituted in Scripture (Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

What are the beliefs of the nafwb? ›

The churches of the National Association of Free Will Baptists are theologically conservative and hold an Arminian view of salvation, notably in the belief of conditional security and rejection of the belief of eternal security held by many larger bodies of Baptists, such as most of Southern Baptists and adherents of ...

What is the difference between the first and second London Baptist confession? ›

The Second London Confession clearly teaches Sunday as a Christian Sabbath. Some would argue, as does Dr. James Renihan, that the First and Second Confessions are fundamentally the same in regard to their theology. “There is no substantial theological difference between the First and Second London Confessions.

Can you join a baptist church without being baptized? ›

What are the basic requirements for someone to join a Baptist church? Many—most—Baptists suggest that, at a minimum, someone must have a credible profession of faith and have been baptized by immersion following their conversion.

What does the Bible say about being rebaptized? ›

We Must Be Baptized for the Remission of Our Sins

The Apostle Peter taught, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Following Paul's conversion, Ananias said to him, “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16).

What do Baptists not do? ›

Baptists do not believe that a loving God condemns anyone for a sin they did not commit. Baptists do not view baptism as a remedy for original sin. Baptists do not baptize infants. Baptists practice baptism by totally immersing persons in water, rather than by sprinkling, pouring, or anointing persons with water.

What are the three main beliefs of the Baptists? ›

Baptists are united by a belief in full-body immersion baptism, baptism of professed believers only (rather than infant baptism), the autonomy of local churches, the Bible as the ultimate religious authority, and the priesthood of all believers.

What are the two types of Baptists? ›

Two common religious groups are the Baptists and the Southern Baptists. People often see these groups as the same, but they have differences that set them apart. Baptist vs. Southern Baptist churches each have their own backgrounds and religious ideas.

What are the fundamental beliefs of MCGI? ›

They believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit but they adopt a nontrinitarianism orientation, rejecting the Trinitarian concept that there is "one God in three co-equal persons", which for them is against the Bible.

What confession of faith do baptists use? ›

Current usage

Baptist churches around the world continue to subscribe to the 1689 Baptist Confession as the fullest statement of their beliefs.

What is the prayer of confession in the Baptist church? ›

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Some may not feel forgiven after confession.

How do you confess sins in Baptist? ›

Be sure to name your sin to God, as… “Lord, I have not put Thee first in my plans,” or “I have neglected Thy work and prayer.” Do not make the least excuse for sin of any kind in your life. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whosoever confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13).

What churches believe in baptismal regeneration? ›

Baptismal regeneration is the name given to doctrines held by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican churches, and other Protestant denominations which maintain that salvation is intimately linked to the act of baptism, without necessarily holding that salvation is impossible apart from ...

What happens if you don't get baptized? ›

While Jesus told Nicodemus, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (John 3:5), he did not set baptism as a hindrance to salvation but just the opposite. We so often judge things by human standards, but God is not restrained by our standards.

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