Nathan Taylor’s recent article at Caleb’s Cafe examines how we sometimes unconsciously (or even consciously!) import the tactics and attitudes we’ve learned from politicians into the way we handle our decision-making responsibilities at church:
By and large, an open, democratic style of doing church would be lauded by most of us as the triumph of the ?¢‚Ç¨?ìvoluntary principle:?¢‚Ç¨¬ù in other words, a good idea. Though the threat may indeed remain in new forms, we are no longer under the thumb of Old World political and religious tyrants who attempt to legislate conscience.
But if we are not careful, this good idea can morph into its own style of alienating tyranny?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùparticularly if we approach our voluntary church meetings without being aware of what the constant marketing of political ideology is asking us to buy into every time we turn on the television or radio. Whether Democrat or Republican, the culture of competition and dominance at all costs is affecting us when and where we least expect it.
Democracy is good for a church. Winners and losers, factionalism, and persistent negativity are not.
Congratulations to Moroccan Abdollah Derkaoui for winning first place at Iran’s Holocaust cartoon exhibition. Entrants from Brazil and France tied for second.
The exhibit was a misplaced attempt at responding to cartoons of Muhammad published last year in a Danish newspaper:
Many Muslims considered the cartoons published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten a violation of traditions prohibiting images of their prophet.The Teheran daily Hamshahri, a co-sponsor of the exhibition, said it wanted to test the West’s tolerance for drawings about the Nazi killing of 6 million Jews in World War II. The entries on display came from nations including United States, Indonesia and Turkey.
I say “misplaced” because, if the offense was comical or insulting pictures of the founder of Islam, shouldn’t the response be to draw comical or insulting pictures of Moses (or perhaps Jesus?). Cartoons of the Holocaust don’t quite hit the target, do they?
Gee, I dunno. Does the West tolerate it when figures associated with its most prevalent religious traditions are ridiculed? When Jews march in the streets calling for Derkaoui’s death and/or the conquest of Mecca, or when the first Moroccan flag is burned, the first imam is gunned down, or the first Iranian embassy is destroyed—or not—maybe we’ll have our answer.
And here is how some Jews have in fact chosen to respond to Iran’s juvenile contest.
Looks like Southern Baptist leaders are gearing up to start splitting with each other over worship styles:
“We have two important issues to solve in our Convention. First, concerning the matter of worship style, we must decide what identifies us as Southern Baptists. This will be difficult, because we are autonomous, but I believe our Convention leaders need to make a more definitive statement about how we identify ourselves in worship and who we are as Southern Baptists. We are never going to be homogeneous, never have been, but there are some lines we should never cross as Southern Baptists,” Harrell added. “There must be something distinctive about us or we will lose our identity.”
“Second,” Harrell continued, “we must deal with Calvinism….” (emphasis added)
When I was in seminary in the 1980’s, Southern Baptists needed a “more definitive statement” about biblical inerrancy, and they got it. Then they discovered that there were inerrantists (Carey Newman, for example), who affirmed women in ministry because that was their interpretation of the inerrant word of God, so the 1990’s saw clamoring for a “more definitive statement” on women in ministry. They got that with the 2000 revision of the Baptist Faith and Message.
Lately the issue has been two-pronged: Calvinism on the one hand and the Charismatics on the other. We can probably expect a “more definitive statement” or two in the next few years.
Bill Harrell, chairman of the SBC’s executive committee, has given us a heads-up on what will come after that. The Convention needs a more standardized (dare I say regulated) form of worship.
I’ll be honest. I think Baptists could benefit from a more regulated form of worship‚ something that would tap into 2,000 years of Christian history and offer a bulwark against creeping sectarianism. But I don’t trust the current SBC leadership to provide anything of the sort. Broadening Baptists’ historical, liturgical, and theological horizons is not exactly on their to-do list, and the sectarianism is no longer creeping but proceeding at a full gallop.
This will be interesting to watch…from the outside.