Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Southern Baptist Convention kicks out churches that seek a "middle ground" on homosexuality
Think Progress is reporting that the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention has kicked out the New Heart Community Church of La Mirada, CA (in the Los Angeles area) for allowing an ambiguous position on homosexuality, link here.
The Think Progress article showed the completed new Southern Baptist Convention headquarters in downtown Dallas, near First Baptist Church where Wally Amos Criswell as pastor when I lived in Dallas in the 1980s. Criswell preached an anti-gay sermon on a Sunday night in 1980, well before the AIDS epidemic was known. When my parents visited me in Dallas in April 1979 (I had moved there in January) my father wanted to attend a service there. Criswell gave a 40-minute sermon.
At New Heart, Danny Cortez had preached a sermon, “Why I changed my mind on homosexuality”. Much of it has to do with his son.
The SBC also kicked out a church in Fort Worth, TX and has done so with a few other congregations.
Albert Mohler of SBC wrote a blog post where he sees homosexuality as an issue where there is no middle ground, no "third way". It’s a “binary issue”. It’s like an exam question where there is no part-credit. But he gives no reason for why he thinks the Bible would maintain that it is wrong, or why he interprets certain passages the way does. It’s a very curious position from a protestant denomination long known for enhancing the value of individual conscience.
I grew up in the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC at 16th and O Sts NW, less than a mile from the White House. Jimmy Carter sometimes taught Sunday School there. FBC is affiliated with both Southern and American Baptist Conventions (it may be the only such church, or may have been in the past.) Dr. Edward Pruden (raised in Richmond VA) was pastor from the 1940s until the late 1960s. He was known for progressive sermons on race in the early 1950s, even before the new building. He preached some notable sermons on why a Christian Germany allowed Nazism to grow and even a Holocaust to happen. In more recent years, pastors have often not stayed long because the congregation tends to become split on many issues (leading to internal issues), but has gradually become more liberal on many other social issues as the world around it, especially the Dupont Circle neighborhood, changes.
I’ve always gotten the impression that so much of this is about procreation, or its lack. Somehow, many people feel that if homosexual relations are seen as morally legitimate, sexual relations in traditional heterosexual marriage (with a model of procreation) will gradually engender less passion. This sounds so much like relativity, where the observer affects what he sees.
First four pictures: Dallas, TX, my visit, Nov. 2011