Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Should Fred Luter be the next President of the SBC?

Fred Luter is a very gifted preacher of the Gospel.  He has led Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans to be one of the strongest churches in Louisiana.  He has been a stalwart defender of the faith in the aftermath of the Conservative Resurgance.  He is the first Black person to hold the office of First Vice-President of the SBC.  He has been nominated to be elected President of the SBC at the forthcoming convention in June.  Should we elect him?

Dwight McKissic thinks any gains accomplished by Luter’s election have already been lost by the remarks Richard Land made concerning the Trayvon Martin shooting.  McKissic also believes the SBC was eaiser for Black Baptists to associate with prior to the Conservative Resurgence than now.  His approach and that of most people I’ve had contact with is that the time has come for a Black President of the SBC in order to reach across racial barriers and bring Black Baptists into the SBC fold.

The elephant in the room no one seems willing to talk about is the widely disparate theological divide between traditional Black and White Baptists.  That divide is never more evident than in elections where 96 percent of Blacks voted for the election of President Obama in the 2008 general election.  The vast preponderance of Southern Baptists deplore abortion, and the socialistic agenda of President Obama.  Most of that opposition does not result from racism, but rather from a theological perspective which views those positions as contrary to Biblical teachings.

Black Baptist congregations are generally overtly political with the Pastor playing a much more important role, and with much more influence than the typical Southern Baptist Church.  Prior to the Conservative Resurgence in Southern Baptist life, the moderate leadership seemed to overlook those differences, while seeking to expand the SBC tent to include entire groups of ethnic peoples.  During the latter days of the Conservative Resurgence, the theological was so evident that a break with the churches of Washington DC ensued because of theological positions leading to decisions which were at odds with Southern Baptists.

Now comes another attempt at enlarging the tent.  The time is right many believe for a Black to lead the convention.   I think this is the wrong attitude to have regards to electing a leader.  It was wrong for the nation in 2008, and it is wrong for Southern Baptists in 2012.  Fred Luter is a very good man.  He is a theological conservative who preaches the whole counsel of God’s truth.  However, his recent appearance on PBS demonstrates that even he is misguided by seeing racism in everything.  He made the case that most of the opposition to President Obama is race related, deliberately ignoring the honorable opposition most Southern Baptists feel based upon his policies which Southern Baptist, in large part, believe are contrary to Scriptural teachings.

The tent of Southern Baptists should be enlarged, most definitely.  However, it should be done by individually sharing Christ with people of all races and creeds, no matter their pre-conceived notions.  Constantine declared his army Christian and with a pronouncement the Holy Roman Empire was born politically.  Are we naive enough to believe that all those soldiers were genuinely converted?  Surely, we must guard against bringing en mass into the tent those who have very different views of salvation and Christian living without first ascertaining that they are truly born again.

In the second chapter of John, untold numbers professed belief in Jesus Christ, but He did not accept their profession, because He knew their hearts.   The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of The Lord, and we must guard against accommodating error in order to increase our clout in the world, or our standing in social circles.

Now comes the difficult part of the convention.  How does one oppose a Black candidate without his being labeled a racist.   The charge continually leveled against President Obama’s opposition is that it is racist.  How much more is this likely in the racially charged environment being created in New Orleans at the Southern Baptist Convention?   Already, such whisperings abound that this election should be by acclimation to show the world that we are not racist as a denomination.   Dear friend, until a Black and White can compete on equal footing without either being labeled racist for opposing the other, racism continues to flourish.

If Fred Luter is, indeed, God’s man of the hour, let’s elect and him to that position.  However, let each examine his own heart as to why he is voting for, or against Fred.  Let the opposition treat one another with respect. 

©                 2012                     Mike Rasberry

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Positive Approach to Today’s Societal Ills

My desire for sometime now has been to write a blog which is filled with positive and exciting expectations for the immediate future.  That being said, I’m reminded of the lady who called Dr. Bob Jones, Sr to account for his preaching and admonished him to preach a positive sermon.  He pondered and pondered, and finally began a sermon thusly, “I’ve been challenged to preach a positive message and in light of that this is my message.  I’m positive that all men are naturally the enemies of God.  I’m positive that Jesus Christ is the only way man can reconciled to God.  I’m positive that those who reject Jesus Christ will spend eternity in hell.  I’m further positive that those who are born again will spend eternity in heaven.”

Folks, I just don’t know how one can be any more positive than that.  Which leads me to state that I’m pretty positive about some things, also.   I’m positive that our central government has instituted policies which have resulted in a precipitous decline in personal freedoms following the 9/11 terrorists attacks. 

Many will opine that we must sacrifice freedom for safety.  That is the attitude those pushing for greater centralized control of personal activities had hoped for, and the acquiescence of the citizenry in general has emboldened greater and greater reaches by the central government.  That such a document as the USA Patriot Act could even be considered, much less enacted, is an insult to those who risked, and ofttimes lost, family, property, health, and wealth to bring about personal freedom on this continent.

Michael Whitehead of the Rutherford Insitute wrote recently,
    “The Patriot Act, however, is merely one more link  in a chain of control that has been building for years and is effectively enhancing the power of government. In fact, the government keeps close tabs on nearly everything we do. This ranges from government tracking of everyone who travels on an airplane to FBI agents visiting homes of ordinary citizens who are targeted by local police as free speech protesters to invasive, detailed census forms that demand to know everything about us.”

I’m positive that should we continue on the path we’re now treading, America will soon more closely resemble socialist Europe than the shining light of liberty for so long associated with her.  Mary Jo Anderson of World Net Daily in reporting February 1, 2006 on the European Union’s “Homophobia Resolution”  quoted numerous elected representatives who indicated that should the resolution not result in changed attitudes, sanctions must surely follow. 

Anderson reported, 
    “European Justice Minister Franco Frattini moved to make sanctions against those nations a reality. Frattini replaced Rocco Buttiglione at the Parliament when Buttiglione was rejected for his stand against homosexual marriages. In Strasburg, Frattini announced that nations that did not eliminate all forms of discrimination, including the approval of homosexual "marriages," would be subject to sanctions and eventual expulsion from the European Union.”

One might rightfully ask how such European actions affect our laws.  Steve Crampton of The American Family Association Center for Law & Policy says,
    "Our Supreme Court seems enamored with citing foreign sources of law… what happens in the European Union today is going to become the law and policy of America tomorrow."

I’m positive that abortion is one of the clearest indices of the moral and spiritual decline of the influence of the New Testament Church in America.  Professing Believers continue to justify that cursed and damnable activity when they are confronted with the personal option of seeing one’s own young teen, or pre-teen daughter, saddled with what most consider an almost unbearable burden.  When Jesus said to take up the cross and follow Him, he was speaking of dying to self, and living as a new man in Christ Jesus. 

Believers in America want to believe the rapture will come and deliver them from the time of persecution, and it might, no one knows for sure.  But, friends, if we can’t take the lemons of life and turn them into lemonade by trusting in Christ and living the way He would live, how can we expect that we’ll be able to withstand the worldwide governmental persecution sure to come upon every Genuine Believer.  Peter warns us not to think it strange that we’re hit with fiery trials.
Some of the more agressive liberal activists are continually attempting to intimidate those with traditional values.  A couple years back Elizabeth Hasslebeck, a host on ABC’s “The View,” was derided mercilessly by Whoppi Goldberg for her pro-life position, and singer Barry Manilow refused to appear on the show as long as Hasslebeck was on the set saying he found her views "dangerous" and "offensive."  Dear friends, it is only a short step to prosecution from that position.

I’m positive that America needs a revival of New Testament Christianity.   The answer to America’s dilemma is not to be found in political activism, generous charitable giving, or in acts of kindness and good will.  Those are all commendable and worthwhile activities, but they alone will only speed us on the road to destructive uselessness in Christ’s Kingdom work.

It is important that Genuine Believer demonstrate faithfulness and affect a return to traditional Biblical principles and personal soul-winning.  But those activities without genuine personal revival will be but empty symbols of meaningless oblations to diety.  Genuine personal revival restores the motivation of love toward God through Jesus Christ and makes one’s worship a sweet smelling savor to Holy God, Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. 

When the Genuine Body of Christ is living out His Word through each individual life, the influence of that body will be felt in the policies of even unbelievers, for they will sense a power and an authority which, though they can’t understand, will guide them in their deliberations.

Lord, Send a Great Revival, and let it begin in me!

©                      2012                   Mike Rasberry