Hey, guess what, all Baptists are Calvinists

Where’s Joe Carter when you need him?

Oh, right. I forgot.

Before his premature departure, Carter served as GetReligion’s resident expert on Calvinism. Trust me, I am a poor fill-in, although I posted a few months ago on media coverage of the Southern Baptist Convention debating that subject. (At that time, I acknowledged that I flunked Professor Sarah Pulliam Bailey’s Calvinism 101 course.)

So, I am stepping into this post with fear and trepidation — and under duress from Editor tmatt, who sent me the relevant link with the note, “Take it away, Bobby.”

So, as instructed, I am taking it away. Let’s just hope it doesn’t crash and burn.

The featured story, titled “The Protestant Work Ethic Is Real,” appeared in Pacific Standard magazine. Let’s start at the top:

Why do we work the way we do? For years Americans have been arguing over whether or not it has something to do with the country’s religious history. Does a history of Protestant religiosity make us work harder? Now we’ve finally got some answers.

The influence of Protestantism on American capitalism has been a matter of considerable debate since German sociologist Max Weber wrote The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism in 1905. The book wasn’t even translated into English until 1930, but it’s particularly interesting to this country because Weber argued that capitalist success stems from Calvinism.

Today just 53 percent of Americans identify with some sort of Protestant church, and only the Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, and Baptist denominations (which directly influence less than five percent of the American population) can be called churches in the Calvinist tradition. But Calvinists were the religious ancestors of our Puritans, the English Calvinists who helped establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony so that they could have a place to practice their (rather extreme) religion in freedom. Because they were some of the first major settlers of the United States, they had a rather profound influence on our country’s economic development.

OK, since I already declared my ignorance, I’m going to admit that I’m confused.

First question: Is this story suggesting that all Baptists are Calvinists? If so, why did the reporting I read this past summer include background such as this?:

Calvinism, which is traditionally the domain of Reformed churches like Presbyterians, differs from traditional Baptist theology in key aspects, particularly on the question of salvation.

Say it ain’t so, Joe!

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Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes again, here in GetReligion land

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All together now, GetReligion readers.

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace
I’m going through …

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Pretty soon you’re gonna get
a little older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time

GetReligion has faced some major changes in its nearly 10 years of cyber-life, but nothing like what we’ll be going through this month.

Alas, I am not talking about changes in technology or format. I’m talking about changes on our masthead, in terms of the writers whose work you follow here day after day.

For starters, Joe Carter is already out the door — after taking a social-media job with the Washington, D.C., office of, well, a really ginormous faith-based flock. He cannot discuss the details for another week or two, when the new post will formally be announced. His work with us ended Sept. 1. He has been a crucial player for us on a wide variety of issues, including social media.

But the big news is that the Divine Mrs. M.Z. Hemingway — she of the 2,016, and counting, GetReligion posts over the past eight years — has accepted a full-time reporting, editing and commentary position with a major online news website that literally has yet to be announced. Thus, she cannot share all of the details of her new gig with us until the launch in a week or so.

I don’t quite know how to describe the force-of-nature role that MZ has created for herself here at GetReligion and in social media — so I won’t even try. The word “omnipresent” leaps to mind (especially on Twitter).

Mollie will write her own farewell post at the end of the month (she’s writing in a limited role all of September). At this point, I will simply stress that her name will remain on our masthead for a simple reason: How can you read all of the interlocked posts she has produced here through the years (posts to which I am sure people will continue to link) without people being able to find an online reference on this site that says who she is?

Plus, we hope that her new employer will — once the site is up and rolling — allow her to come back to GetReligion in a much smaller role than her current daily posting role. I am saying that she is on extended leave.

So how in the world do you replace people like MZ and Joe?

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Joe Carter: From GetReligion reader to scribe

Having been a reader and fan of GetReligion, I’m thrilled and honored to be joining as a contributor. Although I’ve been reading this site since its inception in 2004, my interest in the intersection of religion and journalism extends back a long, long time — maybe even back to the dark era before Terry Mattingly had a syndicated column.

As a high school student in the late 1980s, I applied for an internship at my hometown paper, The Clarksville Times. “This isn’t a news article, this is an editorial,” said the managing editor after seeing my first submission, “and only editors get to write editorials.”

I knew then I wanted to be an editor. What better job could there be than to write opinion pieces and criticize reporters?

My ambitions were delayed, though, by a 15-year hitch in the Marines. Soon after I worked as a writer, columnist and editor for a couple of daily Texas newspapers. For a short time, I even co-owned a small regional newspaper (The East Texas Tribune) before waking up to the frightening realization that I was a co-owner of a small regional newspaper.

After that I took a series of more stable communications-related jobs. I worked for a think-tank (Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity) and even a presidential campaign (Mike Huckabee for president) before returning to editing, first as the managing editor for the now-defunct webzine Culture11, a start-up (Daily Dish salute here) with the late David Kuo, and then as the online editor for the religious journal First Things.

Currently, I serve as a senior editor for the Acton Institute, an editor for The Gospel Coalition, and an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College, that famous liberal arts college that is linked to the home-schooling world.

I’ve been interested in religion even longer than journalism. Growing up in Texas, my family attended almost every type of Protestant church, from Pentecostal, to Methodist, to Presbyterian. These days, I consider myself a Southern Baptist even though I attend a non-denominational church near my home in Ashburn, Virginia.

Here at GetReligion, I’m particularly interested in examining (think of it as the Sarah Pulliam Bailey chair) how the media covers the diverse, broad, confusing world of Evangelicalism (whatever that word means). I look forward to the opportunity to point out how journalists often get it right when it comes to Evangelicals or, on what I’m sure will be rare occasions, noted what the mainstream press get wrong.


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