June 27, 2006

Good question: where HAVE the Baptists gone?

Returning to Balmer's book, and enjoying his chapter on Baptist history. A brief, but compelling flyover of this particular denomination (and the one of my birth). He reminds me of the Baptist legacy of "soul liberty" and the complete historical incongruity that people like Rick Scarborough and Roy Moore consider themselves Baptist. It really is stunning that people coming out of that faith now want to force kids to pray in school and use the state to protect and elevate the Christian faith. As George Truett said, "God wants free worshipers and no other kind. Christ's religion needs no prop of any kind from any worldly source and to the degree that it is thus supported is a millstone hanged about its neck."

Balmer has a lot of criticism for Roy Moore and includes a really scary reflection of the type of God so many of his followers seem to worship. When the court forced Roy's little idol out of the public room in the courthouse, one of the people shouted, "keep your hands off my God." Interesting.

Ultimately, the arguments over what the founders thought or didn't think is less important than this one truth. Separation of Church and state has undoubtedly helped religion. We are the most religious nation on the planet and that is because the state has, for the most part, decided to leave religion to private conscience. Why in the world would religious people, serious about their faith, want to change that?

I too would like to know where the Baptists have gone, because the modern version of Al Mohler and Roy Moore have almost no historical connection to the Roger William's of the past.


Greek Shadow said...

I really wish that when I was at Southwestern Seminary in the mid-seventies more students had written papers on Truett instead of J. Frank Norris. It seems the shade of Norris is ascendant and we need more Truett.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Hey Streak
We're back from a long trip. Happy belated anniversary to you and SOF. We beat you by about three weeks. I'd forgotten we were that close time-wise.

Good post on Baptists. As I was trying to think of those who'd I'd consider willing to speak truth to power these days it was hard to come up with any who are pastors. Robert Parham over at the Baptist Center for Ethics comes to mind as do Tony Campolo and Will Campbell. Of course, there's probably some out there who aren't in any limelight and speak prophetically, but none I've heard. Campbell and Campolo probably won't be around too much longer and who knows who will fill their shoes? As you say, the public face of Baptists unfortunately is pretty much a match to the fundamentalist/nationalist spirit so popular in the country right now. It may be that prophetic voices speaking truth to power ("You are the man....") don't seem to be coming from the modern Baptist tradition.

Stop The Hate said...

I am sure Rick Scarborough and Moore are out at a convention of hatemongers with Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist.

They are all way too off the chart End of the World fanatics for me.

-Former Baptist