Church 1

When we left off last time, the conversation was around the evangelical church’s indifference toward pressing issues and real life suffering. At this point it’s worth examining why that is. Why are they so silent on anything that matters? Why do their preachers offer their flock a theology that allows them to avoid the critical matters of life, ignoring the problems afflicting the population on a day to day basis? Well, if you’re curious about how a tree came to exist, it’s worth studying the roots.

Earlier I highlighted Robert Jeffress, the megachurch pastor in Dallas who is now supporting Romney. The church Jeffress pastors is part of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America. The SBC actually grew out of a division between the southern faction of Baptists and the northern. Slavery, of course, was at the heart of the matter. While evangelical Baptists and Methodists in the south initially denounced slavery and affirmed the ideal of equality, as they sought to broaden their appeal, they acquiesced. As slavery divided the north and south, so was the Baptist faith divided.

As the division slowly began to simmer, rather than confront it head on, the Baptists chose to sidestep it. In the 1840’s, various Baptist missionary societies adopted neutral positions on slavery. In other words, they were silent on the issue, just as evangelicals today are silent. The matter climaxed in 1845 when, in Augusta, Georgia, the southern faction of the denomination split from the northerners. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the refusal of northern Baptists to allow slaveholders to serve as missionaries. Certainly, much like the Civil War, those who were involved in the conflict wouldn’t necessarily say slavery in and of it itself was the issue they were ultimately fighting over. Then again, that’s precisely the point I wish to emphasize: human suffering was secondary and not part of the major concern of the church, north or south.

I’d hate to give the impression that this is simply about the Baptists. I was actually raised in the Pentecostal Church and the same themes exist in that history. A good example is the Church of God in Christ, a black denomination and the Assemblies of God, a white one. They believe the same things, yet they exist separately. Why? Initially Pentecostals were somewhat united simply because other denominations did not accept them. Charles Mason, founder of the Church of God in Christ, actually commissioned many of the early Assemblies of God preachers. Yet once again, the evangelicals sidestepped the issue. The Assemblies of God was formed in 1914 when they convened a meeting of Pentecostal preachers in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Rather than standing for equality, the leadership of the council conceded to Jim Crow customs and did not invite any black clergy- even Charles Mason, the man who licensed 350 of the white ministers who were invited.

What am I saying in all this? If you have a segment of the church rooted in racism, maturing in such a way so as to always sidestep issues and keep silent, that tradition continues to grow and evolve. The outcome is precisely what we see today: a church that can conveniently ignore human suffering, especially when it is associated with persons of a darker hue. You have a church born in a context in which they formed a theology that either ignored or sidestepped the hard issues and so it is today.

21 comments

Duane Terrell

I love it, "as they sought to broaden their appeal", not do the right thing according to the bible, just broaden their appeal.

" the Baptists chose to sidestep it. " – just like you're asking us to do with abortion and homosexuality today.

"human suffering was secondary and not part of the major concern of the church, north or south." Its a shame that you don't care about human suffering, at least human suffering in the womb and the homosexuals who are out the womb.

No need for a long post on this one. You already know your conculsions in your past blog were just flat out incorrect based on the stats you gave. So this post is just further evidence of an indivdual who doesn't like a group of people and is now attempting to use a portion of the truth to explain why this dislike is justified.

Its kind of like the racists who find scenerios where blacks have hurt whites or have done poorly to justify their racism.

D.M Hopewell

I find your last response about racism refreshing Duane! But again, the church is the one institution that must be held to a high standard- isn't the church supposed to be the hope?

Anonymous

I disagree Duane. Abortion has always been a sucker cause of political groups looking to gain influence with Christians, and gay marriage is moving in that direction. Hopewell is pointing out that the dichotomy between liberals and conservatives in respect to their approach to human suffering is ignored by Christians who instead get up in arms over issues like boys kissing. He's simply trying to explain why.

Kudos for putting yourself out there like that Hopewell. This isn't stuff a lot of people are going to want to hear.

T.D. III

It is interesting how certain mindsets and philosophies continue even though they may have started so long ago. I think it is extremely important to look at the root of things as you have in this article. Often times we are so busy looking up, impressed with how large a tree has grown, we rarely examine whether or not the roots are healthy. Without really thinking or realizing it, certain things are perpetuated from generation to generation. I would even go as far as to say that people who do “sidestep” issues of social justice meant well at one point, simply trying to be a good Christian and standing up for their moral beliefs…not much one can say against that. Yet as time goes on, those people have latched on so firmly to doctrines they were fed, they refuse to think critically about anything that seems to be opposing and wall themselves off from anything additional.

I think the author is simply making the point that Christian and moral values have become narrowly defined because people have refused to expand their thinking over the past generations. Let’s think for a second about the abortion and homosexual/same sex marriage issues….as a basketball fan, a common debate in the NBA is whether LeBron James or Kobe Bryant is the better player. People can argue and make good points for each player but still disagree. But no one ever assumes that because you think one is better than the other that you’re not a fan of basketball. Also, no one would take issue with adding players such as Kevin Durant, Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose or Carmelo Anthony to the conversation. However, it seems so often that if we disagree on how abortion or same sex marriage should be approached, somehow the connotation is that one of us is not Christian or a “fan of God” so to speak. Additionally, adding issues like unjust war, mass incarceration, unequal distribution of wealth, immigration issues or the like seems to have no room in the conversation.

LeBron and Kobe aren’t the only two NBA stars, much like abortion and homosexuality aren’t the only issues that plague our society. When Kobe retires, there will still be other NBA stars, just like if we perfectly solved the issue of abortion somehow, there would still be other issues in play. Christians of all denominations should expand their God-given minds and understand its ok to disagree and my disagreement doesn’t have to be forced on everyone nor should is call my faith into question. They should expand their thinking and understand that the Bible is replete with moral infractions beyond abortion and homosexuality. In fact, what did Jesus actually say in the Bible about homosexuality and abortion? Seems to me Jesus talked more about Durant and Wade, than LeBron and Kobe!

Duane Terrell

I have no idea from what context you are asking me that question. Was there many racists people in america and in the church. Yes. Some form of racism had existed in the church for hundreads of years whether it be people of color (and other immigrants) in this country or Jews in other countries.

The problem is, I'm taking this blog and the other 2 regarding this subject as a whole and your information doesn't add up.

If 80 million evans are in America, and "right-wing" voters only turn out about 40-50 mil votes for prez every 4 years and not even all of them are evans your entire argument falls apart. But I spoke clearly of that in the last blog so I won't repeat it again.

Duane Terrell

Three tings…
1. Any issue can be used to gain influnce with people for purely political purposes. Ever notice how many democrats talk about helping the poor but after 20 years in office the only one better off is them?
2. Hopewell's blogs have nothing to do with #1. He's blogs are an assault on a group of people he hasn't a clue about as evident in his own numbers regarding the numbers of evans in America.
3. Read my reply to his last blog about this subject. If you don't understand or get it what I'm saying after that then oh well. There is nothig more for me to say to you about this subject.

Duane Terrell

1. Don't ever compare whether or not Abortion is MURDER to who's the greatest basketball player. The comparison just don't work. You wouln't except that comparison with whether or not to have slaves and I won't accept it regarding abortion.

2. "I think the author is simply making the point that Christian and moral values have become narrowly defined" No he isn't. You don't write a blog that says, "Blacks are sending the nation to hell. Then do a step by step as the reason why, and then say, I was just talking about having a good work ethic.

3. Adding those issue is fine but when you tell me I'm sending the nation to hell becuase I don't agree with your solution, don't promote your solution, and prefer to rely on time tested and proven methods to deal with those issue, it becomes a problem.

T.D. III

Response to 1 – Please don't mistake my example of ways in which people think with a belief that basketball and abortion are of equal moral importance. I want to be clear that I do understand the difference and I am personally opposed to abortion. However, I am not so arrogant as to think that my belief should be forced on an entire country. As much as I believe abortion in sin, murder, or whatever term of moral failing you'd like to apply, I also believe that a woman, as a human being, should have the right to choose if she wants to partake in an abortion procedure.

Response to 2 – This is not about a race sending someone to hell, it’s about the historical habit of certain Christian denominations ignoring issues….usually issues that seem to disproportionately plague people of color. The unwillingness to speak about and address issues of morality beyond the two that have been popularized is what is sending America to hell, regardless of denomination or race.

Response to 3 – Disagreement on a solution is not the problem, the problem is the overlooking of the issues as if they are not worthy of solutions. SOLVE ABORTION!!! SOLVE GAY MARRIAGE!!! Meanwhile people (and I mean actual people, not just statistics from some research study) are suffering daily as the church is focusing disproportionately on those two topics.

Duane Terrell

How about this. Read the blog he made two blogs ago and my response, re-read what I wrote for this blog and tell me if you'd write anyting diffrently because…

1) Your respone doesn't surrpise me. You're a pro-choicer.
2) I don't think you read his other blog or my reply to it. Perhaps you missed something. I know you at least missed the fact that I was making a conceptiual comparision and wasn't specifaclly refering to any blog about blacks sending the country to hell.
3) Translation: If I am not in agreement with your solutions, then I am over looking the issue as if they are not worthy of solutions. I can't believe this is what you meant, perhaps you should read my response to his blog titled "Why Evangelicals are sending America to Hell" or something like that.

Anonymous

You seem angry, Mr. Terrell.

Question: in all your years of being pro-life have you ever adopted a child or even considered it? Somehow I doubt it. So much concern about what happens in the womb but completely apathetic about what happens when the person makes it out. There's pro-life and there's pro-better life. Don't bash pro-choicers if you're doing absolutely nothing to make this world better for an unborn child, a single mother, or a child born into poverty. Don't make that argument if you aren't pushing for superlative educational opportunities for unadopted children. And people like you, the political Christians, are exactly what this article is talking about. Up in arms over abortion, but not the millions of children in both the U.S. and abroad with no love and no guidance. THAT should bother you too. Abortion is a con game. Romney is promising to overturn it because he knows idiots will believe. Overturning Roe vs Wade would make it a states' right issue. It would NOT, I repeat NOT, stop abortion. Arkansas of all places recently voted down a proposal to essentially extend human rights to fetuses. There isn't a state on in the union that will really ban abortion. You want to know why? Because if little Meghan gets pregnant by Tyrone, her parents want OPTIONS. Options that make it possible for Meghan to go to Cornell, forget about Tyrone and become an attorney. That's the ugly truth.

Meanwhile, people are starving on our streets, the educational system is a joke and disease and starvation are rampant in the third world. I would love it if we were arguing about ways to fix those problems but we're not because you don't give a damn. If you dare to call yourself an evangelical and yet indulge in the excesses of America and even claim you earned those indulges. Know that according to the Bible, you will never enter God's kingdom. Remember the camel and the eye of the needle? Jesus was being very plain: he was describing something impossible.

Anonymous

*indulgences, know that*

T.D. III

1) I'm okay with that label.
2)I understood your comparison, and as I said denomination, race and political party lines are of NO REGARD when it comes to the point being made that there is grave silence from the church on a number of issues. Abortion and same sex marriage always seem to be the headliners while the church, again regardless of denomination, ignores other issues. You must admit though, Evangelicals do carry lots of influence in the political sphere.
3) Your translation is incorrect. Disagreement on a solution doesn't equal overlooking an issue. I said disagreement is not the problem, the problem IS the overlooking. You can't very well agree or disagree on something that is overlooked because it never comes into conversation.

Duane Terrell

Scratch my last response. I wish I could delete it as there is something much bigger to discuss in your response.

1. Being a NBA fan has nothing in common with Christianity which underpins the moral values of entire societies. No, people don't make the statement that you're not an NBA fan for disagreeing on who's the best player anymore than people say you're not a Christian for choosing one gospel over the other as being the best, but start talking about removing the basket and changing the shape of the ball and you may get such a statement about a person who wishes to do such is no longer a basket ball fan.
2. You claim you believe abortion is sin which would also mean that abortion is murder and in violation of the 6th commandment. If so,
3. You also believe that a woman has the "right" (from who?) to choose.
4. You Call yourself a Christian.

You can not believe a) Abortion is Murder b) A Woman has a "right" to do it. c) and Call yourslef a Christian. The three do not belong together and it is tantamount to idalotry.

So, in order to avoid this glaring contradiction in belief systems you have to either cease calling abortion a sin (which you may do), cease believing a woman has a right to do it (which you won't do), or cease calling yourself a Christian (you won't do that either).

Perhaps you need to rethink your philosphy.

Duane Terrell

I suppose if society wanted to kill homeless people I should let them unless I was willing to allow one to live in my home. Sorry, crediability agruments never work with me. Try that crap on someone else.

"Up in arms over abortion, but not the millions of children in both the U.S. and abroad with no love and no guidance."
"…but we're not because you don't give a damn"
"and yet indulge in the excesses of America and even claim you earned those indulges"

What do we call a person who makes judments about a person or group of people they don't know anything about? We call them bigots don't we? Or is it something else?

"You seem angry, Mr. Terrell." – Actually no, people like you entertain me. People like you and this blogger have been entertaining me for years. I'm passonate about what I believe, but anger? No, I've seen you a thousand times already, diffrent name, but its always you.

"Overturning Roe vs Wade would make it a states' right issue. It would NOT, I repeat NOT, stop abortion."
Wake me up when you have something to say that I don't know. BTW, in case you haven't noticed, we have laws against murder, theift, and fraud and those laws haven't stopped those practices either.

"There isn't a state on in the union that will really ban abortion….Because if little Meghan gets pregnant by Tyrone…"
Oh yeah, this makes sense. I suppose back in 1971 the state of texas had the lowest number of racists considering abortion was illegal in the state during that time. lol

Duane Terrell

And please don't suggest that some forms of murder should be legal. If you do, then technically it becomes a matter of opionion as to what murders should be prosecuted and which shouldn't. Its hard enough some time determining what should be classified as murder, but this would be a step further but it would give whites who have lynched blacks a sense of hope.

A more interesting argument would be to attempt to equate murder, which you think abortion is, to adultry which is also a sin but we don't arrest people for committing it. But this just leads back to my former paragraph.

I'm interested in your response. I'm finding it difficult to place my bet on which argument you'll use or perhaps you'll come up with something even crazier than I could ever come up with which is typical of pro-choicers.

So I suppose there would be a 55% chance you'll come up some some strange line of reasoning to make my head spin, 15% chance you'll back off calling abortion a sin, 15% chance you're already ignoring me, 10% chance you'll try to suggest that not all murder should be made illegal, and a 5% chance you'll start arguing the legal definition of murder.

And now the waiting process begins. lol

D.M Hopewell

btw Duane, I think your assertion of me "sidestepping" abortion etc. is actually a really good discussion to have. if we can establish based on biblical principle it's wrong, why sidestep it? a "liberal" christian might reply that it's wrong, but shouldn't be a matter of public policy. you could just as well in turn say the same thing about poverty etc.- it's bad, but why government intervention? good observation

D.M Hopewell

i think this last line is salient- what is overlooked doesn't ever enter into the dialogue.

T.D. III

Sorry to keep you waiting but I am just now getting a chance to respond. The percentages you gave are cute but rest assured I would never be as cowardly as to ignore you. And honestly it is tempting to argue the legal definition of murder or when life begins or all that scientific stuff that swirls around the issue of abortion, especially as a criminal justice major where you realize the ability to define things in a certain way can make or break and argument. For instance the progression you touted of Abortion=Sin therefore Sin=Murder is faulty (because all sins are not murders). What you meant to say was Murder=Sin, Abortion=Murder therefore Abortion=Sin. And backing off calling abortion a sin, also very tempting especially since I failed to receive a response about the question I posed asking what Jesus said about abortion, but not my approach either. As for the 55%, the state of your head sir is a personal matter for which I can take no responsibility.
But I ask for your patience and, as I have been attempting to promote, an open mind concerning my response. I have spent ample time thinking about my philosophy and I can see where yours and mine collide. You see, I DO think abortion is sin, murder, the taking of an innocent life. I also believe that God endowed each of us with free will or the ability to make our own choices. Certainly as a fellow Christian (and I will not back off of that distinction) you can agree with that as the Scriptures are in support. In Deuteronomy 30:19 the admonishing is to “choose life” among the two CHOICES of life and death. In Joshua’s firm stance for his own house serving the Lord, he leaves his audience the option “CHOOSE you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Choice/Free Will is something that is placed within all of us. When I say a woman has a right to choose, I mean she has a God-given right to make that choice. Whether I deem the choice as right or wrong, is based on my Christian faith, but the fact that there will be a CHOICE she must make whether abortion is legal or illegal, or whether I am a Jew, Buddhist, or Muslim will still remain. Like you said, adultery is sinful and unlawful yet we don’t arrest people and throw them in jail for it. I think that we have to be very careful in how far we think the government should go in forbidding abortion.

T.D. III

Also, your progression that my stance on abortion/murder disqualifies my Christianity is faulty as well. Last I read, the standard for salvation was not whether one is pro-choice or pro-life but rather in belief of the vicarious suffering and resurrection of Christ (Romans 10:9). For instance, I would not say someone is not a Christian because they support the death penalty (which in my opinion is dangerously close to, if not murder).I would say, I disagree with you because of this or that, but I would never refute that a person was a Christian. Only our Creator has the unbiased wisdom and knowledge to know the deepest heart of man. Status as a Christian is based on the love and grace of God, the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ and the human CHOICE to believe on Jesus as Lord and Savior.
In some of my other responses I hinted at this very thing. That in the church, mostly conservative evangelical churches, there is this notion that if you don’t take their stance on abortion or gay marriage then you are not Christian and that’s just not true. They have people so scared to go to hell and so ashamed to think for themselves because it may not line up with evangelical Christianity that they refuse to think critically and logically about other things that surround the issue. Excuse me, that may be a bit unfair, because even though I do think the Evans are like that in large part, I must say that the denomination is probably of little consequence. This goes for any Christian who just totes the line without giving it thought. Mr. Terrell I think you have thought about these things long and hard as have I and we just disagree. I think no less of you as a person or fellow Christian but I do believe what I believe strongly as I see you do as well. But in large part people do not look at things as in-depth and they are close minded, narrow and little earthly good. As a professor of mine said “I don’t have a problem with faith, I have a problem with an uninformed faith.” And telling, or at least insinuating, to people that they are not Christians based on two pretty trivial issues boxes them in and keeps them from thinking for themselves.
Enjoyed the debate, looking forward to the next blog so we can go again. Be Blessed!

Duane Terrell

Just a few things…

If abortion isn't the sin of murder, then what is it a sin of? If it is not murder then we are no longer discussing the personhood of the unborn child, we then are discussing something else. So, I wasn't saying abortion=sin, sin=murder. I was carrying the belief that abortion is a sin to its ultimate conclusion. If God tells me that the unborn are not people, then I will quickly become pro-choice and I will no longer believe abortion is a sin, because then it just a mater of removing a tumor. At the very worse abortion would be self inflicted sin like body mutilation.

Just because we have the "right to choose" doesn't mean we can make a choice without consequence. I have a "right to choose" to slap the next person I see, but they can have me arrested for assault. Athiest have a "right to choose" to be against God but they'll end up in hell.

(Matthew 6:15)
(Matthew 18:33-35)
(Mark 11:26)

Some people would argue these scriptures deal with one other qualification about either (being a christian) or (going to heaven) that is, you must be able to forgive those who hurt you. Therefore, you can believe Jesus died on the cross and rose (i can seem to find the correct version of raise) all day but there are other things involved.

Duane Terrell

I forgot to say, Nice debating you, cya around.

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