Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Sigh of Relief


I'm not sure how many of you regularly read the Baptist Press articles. I get the email daily and peruse through them. I admit that I do not read every single article and not all articles that I read do I read thoroughly, so that is my first disclaimer.

My second disclaimer is that I love that fact that Southern Baptists have done so much in the wake of the natural disasters on the Gulf Coast and in Pakistan and Indonesia. Places that faced such catastrophic circumstances certainly needed aid and I am thrilled that God has used Southern Baptists to make an impact not just with social needs, but for the gospel as well.

Now, since I'm done with disclaiming, let me ask this question. Does it seem like the majority of articles on Baptist Press deal with some kind of social work/aid or legal/political issues?

When I was at the convention last year, it seemed more like a Republican Caucus than a meeting of the church. I don't see very many articles (besides the "Making the Gospel Good News" series) that deal with actual "gospel" ministry. No doubt, these relief efforts are huge in-roads to places that we could never get to with the gospel. They should be used and celebrated, but I feel a kind of vacuum in my heart when I read the BP news for information on the actual spread of the gospel, or the movement of the Holy Spirit in our churches.

Maybe it's just me. But if my instincts are anywhere close to right, is this the beginning of the social gospel for the Southern Baptist Church?

Please know that I'm not attempting any kind of commentary here; the absence of any real data proves that. I'm just writing an honest reaction to my In-Box.

7 comments:

nathan said...

Hey man,

I just came back from New Orleans. I took 11 from my church to do disaster relief. I think that's something that has been missing from our SBC churches. So it's good to see community service and outreach on the rise.

I agree with you however about the political part. I don't know if it's the rise of the social gospel necessarily, because we need to do more things in and through the church for our communities and cities, but the campaigning and boycotting and everything else seems to be too much. I personally think things need to change during our annual convention meetings.

Jonathan Henson said...

beginning?

Antique Religion said...

Nathan,

I'm on board with the disaster relief 100%. I just wonder if the majority of SBC members see this as gospel ministry.

Simply put, I feel that the SBC at large has done a poor job of teaching our people just what the gospel is. Don't believe me? Just ask your average church member today to explain the gospel clearly in biblical terms. I would imagine many are not up to the task. When that sort of situation has developed there is a lot of well-intentioned ministry that can come in to fill the place of the gospel itself.

All this stems from the questions I get talking to church members about the gospel and linking that with the same sort of impression I get when reading BP. Church people will tell you that inviting someone to church and praying a prayer with them is gospel ministry and BP is constantly reporting about this or that Southern Baptist that helped in this or that crises as an example of gospel ministry. These activities are good, but not necessarily gospel ministry.

If they were, then the Red Cross is on just as much a mission from God as Southern Baptists.

Diet Coke Mania said...

I don't disagree with your assessment of some problems within the SBC. We have gotten very political but I don't think we are headed towards a social gospel.

To your point, we have done a poor job of teaching theology to church members. This will probably get worse as many churches are moving towards hiring non-seminary trained staff members.

Having said that, I don't think that the Baptist Press is a reflection of where we as a denomination theologically. We have to remember the role of the Baptist Press; that is, to report the doings and human interest stories in our convention. By nature the BP will report social ministries. It is not intended to be a journal of theology.

I suscribe to the BP mailing list too but rarely find articles that interest me.

Antique Religion said...

good thoughts jonathan. I appreciate your level-headedness. As most people that know me will testify, I am given to a fair amount of over-statement. Social gospel is a strong accusation and I understand everyone recoiling at it a bit.

I also don't have a beef with BP. I have enjoyed their articles. However, they do report on things that are a reflection of where we as Southern Baptists are theologically. My contention is that we hear much more about cultural/political reform and social issues, both from BP and more importantly our leaders and church members, than we do about true gospel ministry.

Again, thanks for the comments from you and Nathan.

aloneinthegump said...

nooooo...not you


surely you jest

I'm not worthy! said...

This reminds me of the "mission trip" I just got back from. We went to spread the gospel, or so I thought, but most of my time was spent re-roofing a house where no people were around, or cleaning out a room in the church. The only time we had chances for the gospel was at the can-am festival which we were so bogged down with work we essentially didn't have time. Most thought it was a good trip, I'm not exactly sure what I think yet. I know we need to have a servants heart, but like the disaster relief, where does th gospel come in?