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!