On the separation of church and history

On the night he was betrayed, the rabbi from Nazareth gave blunt, by mysterious, instructions about the rite that would forever be at the center of Christian life. The Gospel of St. Luke reports: "He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you." These images mystified the faith's Roman … [Read more...]

What Baptists can learn from craft beers

It would be hard to imagine a vision of Baptist life edgier than the one served up by a recent Wake Forest School of Divinity graduate named Zachary Bailes. This parable starts something like this: Once upon a time, America was dominated by giant breweries that produced rivers of ordinary beers like Budweiser, Coors and Miller Lite. Some of their local outlets grew into mega-franchises that could seat thousands of people in shopping-mall-like facilities featuring giant video screens, pop-rock … [Read more...]

Education wars among Georgia Baptists

When it comes to higher education, Georgia Baptists are of two minds these days. On Oct. 21, the trustees of Shorter University in Rome, Ga., approved a covenant requiring faculty and staff to support the "mission of Shorter University as a Christ-centered institution affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention." Then they asked employees to "reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery and … [Read more...]

Goodbye to old-time mountain faith

Travelers who frequent the winding mountain roads of Southern Appalachia know that, every few miles, they're going to pass yet another small Baptist church sitting close to some rushing water. It's all about location, location, location. Why would a preacher want to baptize a new believer in a heated, indoor tank when he can dunk them in the powerful, living, frigid waters of the river that created the valley in which his flock has lived for generations? There's no question which option the … [Read more...]

Politics, Baylor, The NoZe & Aqua Buddha

If Texas Baptists had a patron saint, the Rev. George W. Truett would almost certainly get the nod. So it was a solemn occasion when the great preacher from Dallas arrived in "Jerusalem on the Brazos" in 1941 to preach a series of revival services at Baylor University, the planet's largest Baptist institution of higher learning. Then loud alarm clocks started ringing in the attic of cavernous Waco Hall, on three-minute intervals. This pandemonium was, of course, orchestrated by Baylor's Nose … [Read more...]

Real, live, postmodern preacher

The Rev. Gordon Atkinson had few specific goals when he started planning his 13-week sabbatical from his duties at Covenant Baptist Church near San Antonio. "I knew that I didn't want to be in charge of anything," said Atkinson, long known as the "Real, Live, Preacher" to those who read his intensely personal online journal (reallivepreacher.com). "Preachers talk and talk and I wanted to get away from that. I didn't want to be a worship tourist, but I thought it would be refreshing to worship … [Read more...]

Baptist take on spirituality

Don Whitney knows what happens when people hear that a Southern Baptist seminary is offering a doctor of philosophy degree in spirituality. "For many people, connecting 'Baptist' and 'spirituality' is like 'military' and 'intelligence.' They just can't picture those two words together," said Whitney, director of the new Center for Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. But for Baptists, he stressed, it's crucial to underline the word "biblical" in … [Read more...]

Word according to Bill Clinton

As Bill Clinton tells the story, it wasn't your typical Baptist prayer breakfast.The guest of honor at the White House was the Rev. Ed Young, the Southern Baptist Convention's new president. The two men went jogging near the National Mall and had breakfast on the Truman Balcony with Vice President Al Gore. The three Southern Baptists didn't agree on everything, but the atmosphere was friendly -- in large part because the president admired Young's preaching so much.But the crucial exchange in … [Read more...]


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