Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Bright Side of Jimmy Carter’s Baptist Efforts

Jimmy Carter along with Bill Clinton has been making some noise about forming a new lib Baptist group because the Southern Baptist Convention is so “negative and judgmental.”

Now if your feelings about Carter, Clinton, and libchurches are similar to mine, this story might raise your blood pressure a tad. But I recommend that you calm down and look on bright side of this.

Years ago, as recently as the 70’s, the type of Baptists Carter liked controlled the Southern Baptist Convention. Hard to believe, but true. You had liberals like Russell Dilday running seminaries. You had uberlibchurches like Pullen Memorial in Raleigh running amuck without fear of discipline. And at one point, the SBC was officially pro-choice!

Such lack of faithfulness and discipline was one reason I ruled out joining a Baptist church for many years. I knew most congregations were very conservative (and, frankly, often too culturally conservative for me). But I didn’t want to join a denomination that didn’t have any discipline.

But since then, the fundamentalists rolled up their sleeves and took their denomination back. Dilday and friends were shown the door. The convention become officially and strongly pro-life. And Pullen Memorial and like-minded congregations were expelled.

So whereas Carter was once a happy Southern Baptist during his presidency, he has since left the convention and now feels the need for a new Baptist group altogether. That’s how far gone the Southern Baptists have become in the eyes of a prominent liberal churchman.

And in the larger scheme of things, that’s good news.

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