Tuesday, June 15, 2004

'Er you a Beptist?

I lived in Mississippi (of and on) for about ten years and I can't tell you how many people sidled up to me and asked me if I was Baptist. This is particularly odd since it started with my 7-year-old classmates. I found that a blank look worked best. Engaging any of them in a theological discussion was, well... pointless.

Having been raised with an excess of dogma herself, my Mom wanted us to have the opportunity to think for ourselves. We didn't go to church, but we did talk about God. Of the three of us, two turned out very deeply spiritual and the other one I'll call agnostic because he still can't decide where he falls on the whole God issue. He loves to discuss it deep into the night - calling on physics, metaphysics, history, and large quantities of beer. Our Mom has decided she is an atheist, but I think that's just her code for Angry With God.

You can imagine that our family in a small town of the Deep South full of Southern Baptists was not a good fit. Now the Southern Baptist contingent has decided to leave the Baptist World Alliance because "some members of the loose, global association had adopted liberal theology and "anti-American" thinking".

In the great "Life of Brian" comedy, the Southern Baptists are worshipping Brian's shoe. That's right, I'm saying that they don't "get it". "Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, said the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) should not give money or endorsement to an organization that includes liberals. He also complained that the American Baptist Churches, a U.S. denomination, includes "gay-friendly congregations," and that other members of the world alliance call the inerrancy of Scripture into question."

How, exactly, can you read the teachings of Jesus and not conclude that he was a liberal? And not just any liberal. He was a do-or-die liberal.

I only have the satisfaction of knowing that Jesus very clearly outlined how to live a good life.

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