Southern Baptists Still Don’t Get It.

As recently as a year ago, there seemed little recognition among some Protestant denominations they needed to change due to falling numbers.  This was especially true of Southern Baptists, the largest denomination.  Even though their numbers had been falling for years, the denomination seemed indifferent.

Now there is more talk about the decline and what to do about.  The annual Southern Baptist Convention is being held in Houston and speakers are discussing the problem.  But, they are not getting anywhere.

The denomination needs to recognize its problems can be summarized in two words, gays and women.  All the denomination needs to do is reread the Bible, discover their mistake and make amends.

A life-long Southern Baptist writing in the link below does not get it either.  He thinks if SB ignores “unimportant issues” it will grow again. To him unimportant issues are doctrinal arguments and endorsement of the Republican Party.

He does not understand there are other issues Southern Baptists are obsessed with but are also unimportant to the denomination.  These are gay marriage and abortion.

These issues do not affect Southern Baptists.  If you are gay and don’t want to marry, don’t marry.  If you are a woman and don’t want an abortion, don’t get one.

This generation of Southern Baptists seems unable to stop itself from judging the sins of others and asking government to pass laws against them.  Some other conservative branches of Christianity need to see the folly of the Southern Baptists.

https://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2013/06/11/what-southern-baptists-must-do-to-slow-their-decline/

Local folks, Red River Freethinkers will hold its annual Summer Soltice Potluck this coming Sunday, June 16.  It will be at the Rogne farm.  Directions are at www.redriverfreethinkers.org

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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40 Responses to Southern Baptists Still Don’t Get It.

  1. Simple says:

    Things must be pretty tough when you have to publicly tell your pastors not to quit.

    http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/apexchange/2013/06/10/southern-baptists-pastors.html

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      What’s wrong with encouragement, private or group? Coaches, marriage counselors, teachers, dependency counselors, etc. etc. all do it. Pastors do have a large number of challenges. Different personalities of members, each member’s specific personal problems, and how to best serve them can all take a toll on the pastor, even with the best of intentions. There are many occupations where “burn out” can be a hazard. Even with the best of intentions, unavoidable hazards loom which can cause this. Pastors are humans, and are just as vulnerable to this as anyone else. Who wouldn’t go to help his neighbor when “the wheels come off”.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      OR–at work, if there is a problem, and the super or boss asks if there is a problem if something isn’t being met in time. Wouldn’t he try to help find a solution? Maybe the lead is part of the problem. In any case, encouragement is in order.

    • entech says:

      Simple, do you think it could be that more and more are preaching what more and more are finding harder to believe.

      Haven’t heard much of it for a while but I member Dan Dennet saying that a support group for preachers that left and came out as non-believers was getting more members than they expected. As well, he said that on the periphery of that group were people still employed as preachers who no longer believed but stayed mainly because they would lose wives, family and friends and would be unemployable – the common theme was “I stay because I have no where else to go”.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        I’m sure there is some of that in some circles, but for most, it’s been my observation that almost all of it is situational, personal non faith problems or financial problems, or for a few, they weren’t properly trained or prepared in the first place. Several denominations have minimal sem. if any before going into the ministry. With the Baptists, a lot of prospective pastors strike out pretty much on their own in church planting, and start from nothing. That can be very daunting, with discouragement a high probability. It is then when some of them can be vulnerable to doubt in themselves, and their faith. Many of them nearly starve for the first few years even if they eventually are successful. Other denominations require at least eight years of pre sem, sem, and vicarage before receiving a call. With these, a successful ministry is a high probability. Most of the probable failed ministries have been weeded out before the end of the 8 or more yr. period before ordination. Not that they left the faith, but discovered they just weren’t cut out for it.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          PS Along with the Baptists, and limited training in some branches, I should have included other church groups too. Some Pentecostals, Charismatics, etc. have some of the same problems. But then, there is not one occupation in the world that doesn’t have someone leaving for something different, or a different company.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        entech 2:05 re: Dan Dennet

        Might you mean Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation–they have an outreach to clergy who no longer believe.

        • entech says:

          Thinking about it, Dennet was involved in the setting up of a research project, same theme. He wasn’t running it, can’t remember the name but some lady with qualifications more suitable than philosophy.

          People like Dan Barker must be very unpopular, been there, done that and found it wanting is hard to argue against, but I am sure there are some who will tell us he is so wrong – the main basis for their argument will be a convoluted and occult (sorry could resist that bit, just take its generic meaning of hidden) but will essentially be the same as always, he must be wrong he doesn’t agree with me. Bart Ehrman has the same problem, only he still works in the field, still employed and employable.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        The Catholics have an organization to help bring reverts (those who left, but wish to return), and pastors from non- Catholic churches to become Catholics. A few , after adequate training become RC priests. Other churches have colloquy programs for pastors wishing to change denominations.

        • entech says:

          They had a better solution in Goanese reverts, for locals who wished to return to Hinduism.
          http://arunshanbhag.com/2007/05/27/portuguese-inquisition-revisionism/

          That is the word I have been looking for a while, revisionism, probably most used for historians and others who would have it that the holocaust never happened, but more widely applicable. I guess there are still some who would try and find excuses for Stalin – which reminds me of the last topic, that is the trap Orwell never fell into. Still on the last topic my local paper tells me that 1984 is on the top seller list, since the tales of Obama being too enthusiastic about applying the Patriot Act which was instituted by Bush, American politics is too complicated for a simple foreigner.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          The Colloquy program in my particular denomination considers what courses the candidate has taken, experience, then fills in the holes to complete what a normal candidate is required to learn. I had a chance to visit with one that had gone through the colloquy program. He was from a group that had minimal training at best. He told me that it was just like starting over from the very beginning. The learning of Greek, some Latin, and some German, and a working familiarity of Hebrew. None of which he had. Church history, the church Fathers, systematic theology, dogmatics, comparative theology, and more were unknown to him, yet he had been a “minister”. After he was done, (about 7 yr.), If I remember right, He said he was thankful but a little sad it was completed. It wasn’t over really, because that is just the start to apply, grow, and mature. Along with continuing ed. And he agreed.

  2. David says:

    Jon,

    I think that church attendance declines have much to do with the culture. We see the largest declines with the less educated – those with a high school degree. I think a large decline in church attendance comes from divorced families. Single parents often shuffle kids on Sunday. Also, men have traditionally been less likely to go to church. Without a wife nudging him to go he will stay home. Children from divorced families go to church less often. Also the best predictor or future church attendance is whether a child’s father attends. The break down in the traditional family seems to be the center of less church attendance. And if you think about it, single parenting is very difficult. Getting children to get ready for any event is difficult in the best of times. Going to church on a Sunday morning is optional. Single parents also have fewer hands to discipline while at any event. It’s no wonder that their attendance at church is less than married families. Other factors undoubtedly play a role. Religion in general is not favored in the media, in the schools or at universities – all bastions of Liberal thought. Liberal politics generally disfavors institutions that they believe traditionally oppress, discriminate or are authoritarian. The church is at the top of this list. So it is no wonder that attitudes toward religion have taken a beating especially among the least educated, who are more likely to be persuaded by the popular culture created at the hands of Liberals.

    I don’t think opposition to abortion particularly is much of a threat to church attendance. More likely attitudes towards sex are affecting attendance. On the one hand popular culture has glorified sex without consequences. Live with your boyfriend/girlfriend before you get married and have sex – it’s fun for Pete’s sake! More and more people have engaged in sex before their married and live with their partner before they get married. On the other hand the church is a big scold. How dare they tell me that what I am doing is wrong – it’s fun for Pete’s sake! I think for those that fall in this category they have a double whammy of being single and for those with religious inclinations feel ashamed.

    The consequences of the sexual revolution have been fairly devastating primarily for woman, children and the black community. Women who live with boyfriends often are stuck. They have a desire to have a life long commitment and are “pot committed” (for you gamblers out there) to their boyfriend. Men living with their girlfriends have a limited commitment plus they get sex on a regular basis. Liberals like to think – hey that’s not how things are. Woman are just like men and are not dependent upon them. It’s simply untrue. Throw in a child from the boyfriend and now his first inclination is to run. Children and marriage mean less sex. So now we have a single mom, stuck with all the parenting responsibilities and with half the resources of a married woman and 100% less emotional support. Somehow we are supposed to cheer this outcome as woman’s liberation. It has been a recipe for disaster, with few exceptions. Now expect her to bring her child to church.

    So I think in a round about way I think the very thing for which you suggest will increase church attendance – modernizing to fit popular culture – is the very thing that is decreasing membership. Perhaps that’s your goal.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      David 6:46 Thank you for taking time to outline in detail your views.

      While I would admit many societal changes contribute to the decline in denominational life, the perceived distain for gays and women is the overarching problem for some conservative churches. When a divorced parent considers the struggle to take children to church, the church’s desire to judge them, or others, is a varible in decisions not to bother.

      My view is people, and individual groups, like to take “ownership” of their religion. While some like to read “the rules” and just follow them, the majority of people like to figure things out for themselves. This is why a denomination like the Covenant Church, which goes lite on doctrine from the home office, is the fastest growing denomination and Southern Baptist, the largest denomination, is falling.

      When you say my purpose is to discourage church life by promoting lighter theology and embracing modern societaly norms, I can only point out becoming a modern church, at least sometimes, helps attendence. My post of the Covenant Church is here: http://redriverfreethinkers.areavoices.com/2013/06/10/im-not-in-touch-with-my-past/

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Our frequent contributer here, Michael, had a letter to the editor published this morning in our local paper, the Fargo Forum:

        http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/402885/

        • entech says:

          A good letter, the Australian who put a lot of this information into the public domain has suffered abuse from his own government, even Britain is collaborating by agreeing to his extradition to Sweden, not to face charges but to face inquires on a charge that would be laughed out of court anywhere else, consensual sex but without written permission for it to be unprotected, or something like that.

          This is all from governments who are supposed to be acting on out behalf, but do their best to conceal everything possible from us, even the accounts are secret – do you know that the exact cost of the Parthenon is known, the accounts were carved into the foundation stones. Modern governments seem to think the spending on paperclips is a national security issue.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        One must remember that a “Covenant” in the community of faith is a “contract” if you will initiated by God to and for believers, not the other way around. The members of the Covenant Church would be best served if they remembered that.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Wanna 1:32 “The members of the Covenant Church would be best served it they remember that.”

          That irony in the name occurred to me as well. Maybe their requirement is members consider the Bible to be the word of God, but allows each person to figure out what that means, results in not only an old covenant, a new convenant but also a post-modern covenant. Seems to work for them.

          • entech says:

            I think I might prefer the post modern covenants, the old ones all seem to have needed to be sealed with blood.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            “The New Covenant” was “sealed with blood” as you say. Not your blood or my blood, but His.
            Mat 26:28; “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is to be shed on behalf of many for forgiveness of sins”
            Luke 22:20; “…This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.
            Part of the words of consecration during communion.

          • entech says:

            Misleading, you are ignoring all the others and selecting the one you personally prefer.

            How about the rainbow covenant, can’t get much earlier or older than genesis (can’t get any older according to some). Couple of problems I see with that, when Noah made the first animal sacrifice how does any one know that God thought to himself, hey what a sweat smell this burning flesh is, I promise not to drown them all again, just in case I forget I will create a rainbow. But looked at logically the real blood that was shed was ours, the blood of every one that was drowned, especially the innocents like newborn and unborn babies.
            And we don’t need to talk about where the blood for Abrams covenant comes from, only men of course women didn’t really count anyway.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Not ignoring at all. Just brought it up to the present.—AND we were talking about the “New Covenant”.
            What are “The post modern covenants”? I would surmise that within the context of postmodernism, it would go something like this; ” Oh god, These are the demands we expect you to comply with as per our wishes, and for our pleasure. Containing escape clauses for us, and none for you. Paragraphs following”.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            AND if that is what a post modern covenant is, it would not be in a Biblical context., or indeed a covenant at all. As I said earlier, a …”Covenant initiated by God to and for believers, not the other way around.”

          • entech says:

            Didn’t think you would take talk of post modern covenants seriously, no such thing.
            Take Abram and Moses these are said to be part of a direct conversation between man and God. As a covenant is being man and God, all men in the case of Noah and the Hebrews for the others, unless you believe that Jesus was God, and you only have the words of the Gospels for that, there cannot have been a “new” covenant. If you accept that God and Jesus are one and the same then whatever the covenant was it was between God and the Jews, it was only Paul the apostate that expanded it. Two points “How could God die”, and, “If the Mosaic covenant was to be forever and not a word added or subtracted, how can a ‘new’ one be valid and how can so much of it be changed and the ‘new’ religion still claim to be children of the same God”.

          • entech says:

            PS. was eating breakfast and typing so missed your @12:39. Good to see you rethink and deny the possibility of a PM covenant, after all God has not deigned to show up for thousands of years. As we have to remain with his messengers as the only source of knowledge and they seem to get so many different, sometimes contradictory, messages we can safely assume that if there were to be another covenant a personal appearance would be organised, possibly in conduction with the second coming.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            A covenant issued by God can and has been withdrawn by God alone. In all practicality, if one disregards that covenant offered, the offer and protection of that covenant is removed. In your case, the New Covenant is of no effect, because you reject it.

          • entech says:

            @ 12:57 good. I would hate to think that anyone would have to be tortured to death for my sake. I would have grave doubts about a ‘divine’ entity that would do such a thing, especially if it was to himself.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Not to worry.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Re. your 12:56; “rethink”. Not a “rethink” at all. Only a continuation of the same.

          • entech says:

            More misleading words.
            Most Christians tell me I should worry about my immortal soul, some say to the extent of accepting Pascals Wager. What an insult that one is, don’t you think an omniscient God would know I was pretending, after all he knows what a bet is, just ask Job where bets can lead.

            But you say “not to worry”, I suppose if you think we are all redeemed and live a good life then that is OK, what about those other beliefs though, you cannot be safe unless you believe the unbelievable, that only belief and faith can save you. Some even say it is impossible to believe, that you are bound to unbelief until the entity you are supposed to believe in has the grace.

            All to complicated for one little freethinker.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            @1:20 Drivel not worthy of response.

          • entech says:

            The why did you, a pathological need to have the last word?
            You often seem to say something when there is really nothing left to say.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Drivel needs to be pointed out, like the king with clothes. Exposed, so to speak.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Like the king with -NO- clothes.

      • entech says:

        If the covenant church raises ire, how about this one.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/16/atheists-churches-nonbelievers-find-a-sunday-morning-connection_n_3096949.html

        It would be interesting to find out some really accurate figures, to what extent real belief is the dominant factor as opposed to the need for companionship. Many churches now seem to have belief in a divine creator as an option.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          entech 2:04 “to what extent real belief the dominant factor as opposed to the need for companionship. Many churches now seem to have belief in a divine creator as an option.”

          We soon will need new definitions in Wikipedia. There might be a definition for “Sunday mornings”. Athetists/Agnostics/Freethinkers: Discuss grievances against religion. Unitarian Universalists: Discuss all manner of spiritual and nonspiritual issues. Covenant Church: Discuss any interpretation of the Bible, talk among yourselves. ;)

  3. Doubtful says:

    “This generation of Southern Baptists seems unable to stop itself from judging the sins of others and asking government to pass laws against them. ”

    This sounds more like progressives. You can’t smoke, you can’t do drugs, you can’t ride a motorcycle without a helmet, you can’t live with out health insurance, you can’t state your belief in god, you can’t state your dislike of any group other than Christians, … Strangely, you can murder babies.

    • Simple says:

      These people are for big Gov’t as well.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Doubtful 8:40 Welcome back.
      “..can’t smoke, ..drugs..motorcycle without a helmet…”

      The difference is we progressives are not trying to get anyone to attend our church.

      I must clarify one thing. In 1978 or 79, the City of Fargo had a law requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets. I led an effort to repeal the ordinance and it has never been reinstated. Lost a lot of friends over that one. My view is, if we want to save the largest number of lives, require them in cars. No support for helmets in cars–they muss up hair–that’s more important than safey.

      • Michael Ross says:

        I wouldn’t think conservative evangelicals would be trying to pass smoking and helmet laws, or even drug laws. They are for big government in the area of foreign policy. The warfare state always requires big bureaucratic government. I agree with your doing away with motorcycle helmets laws. That and seat belt laws should be areas of personal responsibility. I have never done drugs but disagree with drug laws. The “war on drugs” has cost billions and put innocent people in jail, yet there are drugs everywhere. I say legalize them except for sales to minors. Drugs, including heroin were not a problem when they were legal. I quit smoking many years ago but I think these smoking laws are absurd. I few years ago smokers could blow smoke in anyone’s face and there would be nothing they could do about it. Now laws tell smoke tell smokers where they can stand and smoke outdoors. One extreme or the other.

  4. brad says:

    “This sounds more like progressives. You can’t smoke, you can’t do drugs, you can’t ride a motorcycle without a helmet, you can’t live with out health insurance, you can’t state your belief in god, you can’t state your dislike of any group other than Christians, …”

    That, to quote my father, is “a fresh steaming pile of stinking horse manure”. None of that is based on facts:

    - I don’t care if you smoke, but you don’t have the right to physically abuse me and murder me with your toxic carcinogenic pollution coming out of your mouth.

    - I am in favor of complete drug legalization. I want people to be loaded on marijuana and LSD. It would make the world a much more peaceful and mellow place.

    - I want dumb people to ride motorcycles without a helmet and without seat belts. It would help thin the herd down of dummies quite a bit.

    - Everyone needs health coverage, and we have always had universal healthcare. Just very expensive and inhumane, that’s all.

    - You can scream all you want about your God and talk about anything you want about Christian fantasy. I just don’t want you jackhammering that delusional jibberish down my throat or down my kid’s throat.

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