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Mercer & Shorter, Mississippi Baptists & Personhood and Celebrating the Reformation

Here’s my annotated Top 10 list for this week in Baptist life.  Check ‘em out.

1. Mercer University has adopted a domestic partner benefit policy that will provide access to health care and other benefits to employees and their partners regardless of sexual orientation.  News of Mercer’s policy comes just days after Georgia Baptist-affiliated Shorter University adopted a policy requiring all employees to sign a “personal lifestyle statement” that forbids homosexual relationships (termination is a possibility for those employees who break the pledge according to Shorter’s president).

2. With regard to Shorter University’s new policy, John Pierce here at Baptists Today writes, “no one should act surprised when Fundamentalists act like Fundamentalists.  So true.  Read the rest right now.

3. Truett-McConnell College – another Georgia Baptist school – made history this week as each faculty member signed the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention’s “confession,” during a public ceremony.  Inerrant Algebra? Plenary Verbal Music anyone?  Head to Cleveland, Georgia.

4. As popular Protestant historian-theologian Diana Butler Bass called on evangelicals and mainliners to put the “protest” back in Protestant in the lead up to Reformation Sunday, Neville Callam, the General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, questioned whether Baptists should reconsider celebrating the Reformation!  Callam seems to suggest that Protestant observance of Reformation Sunday hinders ecumenical efforts and dialogue.

5. Baptist theologian Steve Harmon called on Baptists to “[remember] the Reformation rightly” and “eschew ecclesiastical triumphalism and false stereotypes of Catholic doctrine.”  Most notably, Harmon’s call to remember the Reformation rightly lacked any mention of the positives of the Reformation.

6. Meanwhile, Baptist historian Nathan Finn remembered the Reformation by offering his thanks “for the Protestant heritage we Baptists enjoy.”  Finn continued, “We stand with Luther and Calvin on justification by grace alone through faith alone. We stand with the Anabaptists on a believer’s church committed to radical discipleship and confessor’s baptism.”

7. A lawsuit filed by First Baptist Church, Mission, Kansas and St. Pius X Catholic Church against the City of Mission, Kansas was settled this week.  The Catholic and Baptist churches filed suit last December to challenge the city’s transportation utility fee.  The churches contended that the fee was a tax and thus the churches were owed an exemption.  As part of the settlement, the city of Mission voted to exempt from its “driveway tax” churches and other organizations who are exempt from property taxes under Kansas law.

8. An op-ed published on the Associated Baptist Press website and penned by Wake Forest University divinity student Zac Bailes stirred up a little online ruckus.  Bailes’ op-ed concerned the Mississippi Baptist Convention’s  (MBC) support of the controversial Personhood Amendment.  This amendment, according to a law professor at (ironically) MBC-supported Mississippi College, would likely outlaw not only abortion but also any form of birth control that has efficacy after fertilization occurs such as IUDs, the morning after pill and other popular forms of birth control (pill, patch, shot) as well as various types of fertility treatments.

William Perkins, the editor The Baptist Record, the official news journal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, responded to Bailes’ op-ed with an odd, long-winded rant against Associated Baptist Press [note: Perkins has contributed an article to ABP in the past]. Perkins, who described himself as “[knowing] a little bit about Christian journalism,” accused ABP of having “no professional integrity.”  Interestingly, in addition to reporting on the Mississippi Baptist Convention for a living, Perkins is regularly quoted on various pro-life news websites as the “spokesman” for the Mississippi Baptist Convention.  Speaking of ethics and integrity…

9.  For more on the controversial Personhood Amendment and and the aforementioned Mississippi College law professor who opposes the amendment, check out this blog post titled “The Beauty of the Personhood Amendment” by Southern Baptist (TX) pastor Dr. Bart Barber.  My lengthy thoughts about the amendment are included in the comment section.

10. Ircel Harrison has an interesting post over at EthicsDaily.com titled “Five Strategies to Give CBF a Solid Future.” While I don’t always agree with Harrison’s take, I commend him for publicly discussing the CBF’s future.  He’s about the only person who is doing so on a regular basis.  As I pointed out in last week’s post titled “Of Baptists and Budgets: The Financial Woes of Texas Baptists and Cooperative Baptists,” since the 2006-2007 fiscal year, CBF has been forced to cut its budget by nearly 28% and laid off 25% of its staff.  Those numbers alone are reason enough for more folks to join Harrison in this much needed public discussion about the finances and future of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship!

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Discussion

  1. Blake says:

    If only today’s baptists had more than superficial similarities to 16th and 17th century Anabaptists.

  2. K Gray says:

    Not knowing much about these universities, I found that Mercer and Shorter are following different policies based on their core values, but that Shorter’s is more clearly stated up front. Mercer is not affiliated with a Baptist convention, Shorter is. Shorter’s mission statement is clearly Christ-based and ‘biblical,’ Mercer’s is different.

    On Mercer’s website in its first paragraph under About Mercer:

    “Founded by early 19th century Baptists, Mercer — while no longer formally affiliated with the Baptist denomination — remains committed to an educational environment that embraces intellectual and religious freedom while affirming values that arise from a Judeo-Christian understanding of the world.”

    In press comments this weel, Mercer’s Chief of staff said providing benefits to same-sex domestic partners is “an ethical issue” as well as “critical” to “maintaining and recruiting quality staff.” The article continues: “‘The president also implemented this policy because he felt like it was the right thing to do,” said Brumley….’Certainly there are members of Baptist churches who would not agree with this policy,’ says Brumley, ‘but this policy really is in keeping with our core values.’”

    So, benefits to same-sex domestic partners really is in keeping with Mercer’s core values.

    Shorter University’s stated mission is different:

    “Shorter University is a Christ-centered liberal arts university dedicated to academic excellence within the context of a biblical worldview. As a Christian university, Shorter is committed to keeping an emphasis upon a biblically sound, integrated, faith-based education … teaching and learning involves the whole person, and Shorter is committed to the principle that all truth comes from God and finds its fullest expression in the person of Jesus Christ….[our mission includes] developing young scholars who will impact the global community as valuable servants of the Lord. As a Christ-centered institution, Shorter affirms its affiliation with and commitment to the Georgia Baptist Convention.”

    Shorter’s employee lifestyle pledge is against extra(heterosexual)-marital sex — specifically including adultery, premarital sex and the practice of homosexuality — as well as against drug use and some kinds of drinking, e.g. in front of students. (Students do not have to sign this pledge).

    Seems like each of these private universities is autonomous and time will tell how these decisions will affect Mercer — which separated from SBC a few years back — and Shorter. No doubt each has counted the cost.

  3. I find it interesting that your comment began with: “Not knowing much about these universities…” but then you proceeded to imply that Mercer University does not have a Christian mission and is unbiblical.

    Yes, Georgia Baptist fundamentalists voted not many years ago to sever ties with Mercer University – which means that Mercer is “no longer formally affiliated with the Baptist denomination.” That does not mean that Merer – a school that remains committed to Baptist higher education via its support of McAfee and continued involvement in Baptist life – has abandoned its Baptist heritage. The emphasis on academic and religious freedom are important values to many Baptists. A policy of nondiscrimination is a sound one and consistent with those values.

    Shorter University has decided to travel a path along with sister school Truett-McConnell in recent years that is not in the direction of academic excellence.

  4. K Gray says:

    No sir, that is why I put ‘biblical’ specifically in quotes, because I was comparing two mission STATEMENTS – one university self- advertised as having a ‘biblical worldview,” which conveys orthodox — or as you say fundamentalist — beliefs and practices, and clearly stating it’s priority on the Lordship of Christ; the other emphasizing religious freedom, academic vigor and values arising from ‘ Judeo-Christian understandings.’. I did not characterize these two missions. These are their words. I think they
    give people a choice. I’ve never been to either place nor known any graduates of either school.

    Because you have judged Shorter as not traveling a path of academic excellence, you must be more familiar with it.

  5. Yes, I am. Grew up in Georgia on the campus of a Georgia Baptist school and am very familiar with Georgia Baptist Higher Education.

  6. William Perkins says:

    My first post dealing directly with ABP’s unprofessionalism, which you called “long-winded,” was 187 words. Your report about it (above)is 189 words. What a hypocrite!

  7. Mr. Spokesman

    You are one pissy dude.

    I find it fascinating though that you only bothered to quibble with my description of your rant as long-winded.

    I guess it’s clear to you too regarding your ethical deficiencies in the journalism field.

    Nice “professionalism” too. Not every day you find a state Baptist editor going to someone else’s website to complain about the organization’s lack of professionalism.

    You can also find my Top 10 list featured at Baptists Today

  8. William Perkins says:

    Figures.

  9. You know how the sayin’ goes.

    Figures don’t lie but liars do figure.

    We know what you are.

  10. Aaron Weaver says:

    Well, Mr. Perkins, I guess my website was good for something.

    I read your Planned Parenthood story posted just today at Baptist Press.

    Interesting timing of that piece as it comes just a couple of days after our interactions. Readers know that I covered Lachina/Planned Parenthood back in August here at http://www.thebigdaddyweave.com and Baptists Today.

    Glade to share that with you. Maybe next time you’ll learn about such happenings in your own Mississippi backyard. Over two months late…

  11. William Perkins says:

    Summarizing a YouTube video for your brief (another technical newspaper word)and/or plaigerizing other’s reports without crediting them is not anyone’s definition of journalism but yours. Where did you get those direct quotes? If you weren’t at the meeting in Mississippi yourself and heard them, you ripped them off from someone else and didn’t give them credit. That’s plaigerism. I hope your professors closely check your dissertation, because you have a pronounced streak of dishonesty. Based on your brief, you also appear to be quite ethically challenged.

    I spent the time since Lachina was outed in Mississippi trying to contact him to get his side of the story. Did you? After many phone calls and an e-mail pleading for him or anyone else at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest to call or e-mail me, they kept dodging me and time ran short. I can document that. I had to write the article without his input. That was his choice. Happens all the time in the journalism world.

    Good research always takes time. Rushed stories are often flawed stories. I can’t believe your journalism professors and wise old editors during your journalism career didn’t teach you that. You do have journalism education and training, don’t you?

    It takes time and integrity to pursue an important story and write a quality piece like the one that appeared in The Baptist Record, and subsequently in Baptist Press, with sourcing, documentation, and first-hand reporting. Again, if you were a journalist you would know that. The best reporters take months and sometimes years to put together a complex story. My story was filled with original details and information that your non-journalist brief was not. You just copied your info. (See plaigerism above.)

    You really should stop rendering opinions on anyone’s writing and journalism skills. You have none, and it shows every time you touch a keyboard. (See “op-ed” at Baptists Today.)

    As you told me in the Baptists Today forum, the meaning of words evolves. When they evolve only for the benefit of your thesis, that’s dangerous to the truth. You may have a narcissistic character flaw if you can’t see that.

  12. BDW says:

    Perkins,

    What in the world are you talking about now?

    I LINKED to the article that I was quoting. That’s a common practice in the blogosphere. The blogger links to a news article or column and offers a summary which may include a direct quote from the linked-article.

    Do I really need to explain blogging practices to you? Do I need to restate that I don’t claim to be a professional (or in your case, unprofessional) journalist?

    There’s nothing dishonest about quoting text from a cited source.

    Did you bother to click on the link that I provided before hurling another accusation in my direction? Clearly not. Just like you didn’t both to click on my hyperlinked name over at ABP before accusing me of being anonymous. That you are so technologically-challenged should come as no surprise to anyone who has ventured to your Baptist Record website. I suspect that its last update was before the birth of blogs, before Trent celebrated Strom.

    Let me just state once again: I’m not a journalist. I’m a blogger who blogs about Baptists. Surely you are familiar with Baptist bloggers!

    By the way, you misspelled plagiarism twice. Guess the editor needs an editor!

    Listen, I don’t need you to validate my writing. I’m a published author. My book has been well-received by conservatives and liberals alike. I’ve written numerous articles for popular publications and peer-reviewed academic journals. I’m doing fine, Billy.

    You, on the other hand, are a snotty man with credibility and professionalism issues who can’t figure out whether to be an actual journalist or a spokesman.

    I’m not going to allow you to come here to my space to attack me anymore. So, you’ve had your say but I’m shutting you down now. You’ve been warned.

    Cheers

  13. I didn’t invite you to my website to continue to attack me.

  14. William Perkins says:

    Best regards.

  15. Singer says:

    I am sorry that Perkins has chosen to reach out and attack with such aggressive sarcasm. I grew up with the MS Baptist Record. I may not have always agreed with the viewpoints of those editors, but they took their stands without sarcasm and insults. Sad to say, William Perkins is not able to express his positions with the style and grace a state Baptist editor should possess. Sad for him, but also sad for MS Baptists.

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