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May 5, 2003






TEXAS BAPTIST FORUM
Quality time

___When analyzing the history of Calvinism in Baptist life, one must compare not only the quantity of time but also the quality of time.
___A.J. Conyers correctly noted a long histor
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y of Calvinism in Baptist life (April 21), although E.Y. Mullins hardly belongs among Baptist Calvinists.
___Those who claim the earliest Southern Baptists were strong Calvinists are precisely correct. Calvinism did not fully abate in Southern Baptist life until the early 20th century.
___Nevertheless, it is important to note it was the 20th century, the low-water mark of Baptist Calvinism, that witnessed the greatest epoch of evangelism and church growth in Baptist history, propelling the Southern Baptist Convention from a disorganized confederacy to the 16-million-member juggernaut we know today.
___Forgive me for a little pragmatism: The past hundred years may not be much time in our history, but they certainly have been quality time.
___ C. Bart Barber
___ Farmersville

'Hard-wired' belief
___I am not sure what the purpose in presenting "Are humans 'hard-wired' to believe God?" (April 28) could be other than a demonstration of the futile thoughts of men (Romans 1:20-22).
___In agreement with Scripture, we can observe when the most basic law of science, the law of causality, points without a doubt to a self-existent Creator, men will make the great exchange of the truth for a lie. Men will not glorify God as God.
___The god of modern "scientific" man will be reduced to merely a perceived pattern in chaos and coincidence as evolution has produced, and spirituality merely a biological response to the evolved "god-structures" in our brains. This has become the orthodoxy and confession of the day.
___For those theistic evolutionists who call themselves Christians and/or Baptists, I must ask, "What was the purpose of Jesus Christ's life, death and resurrection for you?"
___No matter what your brain is leading you to experience right now, to embrace evolution, even if you want to believe God designed things this way for whatever reason, is to embrace a different gospel.
___This philosophy stands against God's general revelation of himself in creation, his special revelation of himself in Scripture and his redemptive purposes in his Son. Not a good stand to take, even if you do derive good from your scientific investigation with its presuppositions and perceptions of secondary causality.
___ Guy Hancock
___ Mesquite

Negative reporting
___As I looked through the April 28 issue of the Baptist Standard, I read about various issues presented in the paper and was disturbed by how negative the Standard continually portrays denominational issues. Have you considered that Texas Baptists, no matter which side of the denominational issues they stand, would be weary of articles that belittle and berate people and convictions?
___My suggestion is to stop trying so hard to be like a secular newspaper and be more involved in spiritual things that grow the body of Christ. "Just reporting the news" is not altogether the responsibility of your paper, but building the body of Christ is!
___ Jay Shepherd
___ Weatherford

IMB heave-ho
___Your story about the missionaries refusing to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message ran on the same page as a story detailing a Muslim's admission that he killed three International Mission Board workers in Yemen to "defend Islam" (April 28). I find that rather interesting.
___"I acted out of a religious duty," Abed Abdul Razak Kamel said as he admitted gunning down the three IMB workers in a hospital.
___"If I do not hear from you regarding one of these options by May 5, 2003, I will be recommending that the board take action to terminate your service in their May meeting," wrote IMB President Jerry Rankin to the missionaries who had refused to sign the 2000 BF&M.
___Is Rankin acting out of a "religious duty," or have these missionaries really done something worthy of termination?
___What's next? Will Baptists be forced upon joining a church to sign a BF&M statement as a condition for acceptance? Once you start down the Creed Highway, you're headed toward legalism. It's not a long drive.
___Let's remember Jesus reserved his harshest criticism for the religious system of his day, which turned God's simple law into hundreds of petty rules and regulations.
___It's tough enough for missionaries without being shot in the foot by their own support system. If they teach false doctrine, deal with that. But if these missionaries are going to be terminated for not signing a document they're told isn't a creed, then maybe it's Rankin and his board who ought to get the heave-ho.
___ Mike Sheeran
___ Houston
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No intimidation
___Your statement, "Unfortunately, seminary faculty, staff, students and even retirees currently live under such a fear of reprisal from seminary trustees and administration that few are willing to be quoted on record by name" (April 28) offended me.
___I am a staff member at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and do not find myself currently (or at any time in the past) living under "such a fear of reprisal from seminary trustees and administration" that I am unwilling to be quoted publicly. I have many friends here at the seminary, none of whom have indicated in any way that they are suffering from any such fears.
___As an employee in the president's office, I have never felt intimidated by the office or by the man. No one in this organization has ever suggested that I behave in a certain manner or not behave in a certain manner. I strive daily to act as Christ would have me act, and that seems to be good enough for Southwestern's trustees, faculty and administration.
___Generalizations are frequently inaccurate, and as a responsible newspaper, I would hope that the Standard would refrain from using language that implies knowledge of evidence not presented. The anonymous source is very convenient and often used by the secular press. I would think the Standard would rise above that.
___ Norita Drake
___ Lakeside

Just a shadow
___My deceased wife, Mary, two sons, two daughters and I graduated from Southwestern Seminary. It changed my life and my children's lives.
___I grieve that my alma mater has degenerated in recent years from one of the greatest seminaries on the planet to its present status as a third-class Bible college. I was shocked to see how all the professors at my former scholarly seminary had to sign a creed, the new revised Baptist Faith & Message. The recent resignation of the president at Southwestern is another indication of raw fundamental politics at my old alma mater.
___Another son, Scott, graduated from Truett Seminary at Baylor University. His distinguished professors and excellent theological training reminded me of the training I received the six years I studied at the seminary B.H. Carroll founded.
___What a tragedy my former seminary has experienced. Like the Dallas Cowboys, it is just a shadow of its former greatness.
___ Lynn R. Matthews
___ Plano

Educational gaps
___Let me see if I understand:
___Southwestern Seminary has canceled the doctoral program in ethics because it is not able to find qualified teachers.
___The history department is hanging by a string because of tenure rejections.
___Imagine a future where graduates will know neither history nor right from wrong.
___Heaven help us!
___ Les Morriss
___ Birmingham, Ala.

True statement
___The editor's note under Ken Hemphill's letter (April 28) stated: "Unfortunately, seminary faculty, staff, students and even retirees currently live under such a fear of reprisal from seminary trustees and administration that few are willing to be quoted on the record by name."
___As a current student at Southwestern, I want to go on record affirming the truthfulness of this statement. Despite widespread outrage among students over recent decisions made by trustees and administrators, many students have been afraid to voice their concerns or be part of efforts to make their voices heard. They are afraid doing so would have dire consequences. They believe their theses might be rejected, they might lose their seminary employment or they might not be endorsed as chaplains, allowed to graduate or hired by Southern Baptist Convention churches or entities. That such fears would inhibit future ministers from speaking the truth is incredibly sad and disturbing.
___I am thankful that the Standard chooses to report the truth, even when few are willing to attach their names to their statements. We are commanded to speak the truth in love, but the Scriptures also tell us, "There is no fear in love."
___If trust is to be restored in Southern Baptist life, we must first cast out the fear that keeps many of us from speaking the truth at all.
___ Wendy Owens
___ Fort Worth

Valid credibility
___I have known Stephen Stookey for 23 years. We worked together and lived down the hall from one another while students at Baylor University. We studied together in the master of divinity program at Southwestern Seminary. Eventually, Steve supervised the writing of my doctor of ministry project at the seminary.
___Through the years, I have observed Steve to be a person of consistent Christian character, a dedicated student, a faithful churchman and a committed teacher. Apparently, signing the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message, remaining loyal to the institution, effectively teaching and mentoring students, and producing respected scholarship no longer qualifies someone to teach at Southwestern (April 21).
___If quality professors like Karen Bullock and Stephen Stookey find themselves unwelcome to teach at Southwestern, then one has to wonder what the qualifications have become in order to achieve tenure. This episode says more about the administration and trustees than it does about Bullock and Stookey.
___Ultimately, I am convinced that having been fired by the current Southwestern leadership only serves to validate the credibility of these two professors rather than leave it diminished.
___ John Thielepape
___ Arlington

Name of Jesus
___The Bible study titled "The Good Shepherd looks out for his sheep" (March 31) ended with a statement that the name Jesus is the Aramaic version of the Hebrew name Joshua.
___Actually, the Hebrew name given to Mary by God to name her baby was Yeshua (or Yahshua) which means "God (Yah) saved." What an appropriate name for our Lord!
___The name Jesus comes from the Greek name Iesous, an attempt to say Yeshua in that language. Joshua is an English translation of the Hebrew Yhowshuw, which, according to Strong's Concordance, also means "God saved."
___ Linda Foster
___ Abilene

'Under God'
___Mary Jo Nixon claimed Dwight Eisenhower "was the person instrumental in inserting 'under God' into our Pledge of Allegiance" (March 31).
___The truth is "under God" was added during the time Eisenhower was president, but he is not the one who initiated it. The bill was brought to Congress by the Knights of Columbus. Eisenhower just approved it.
___She also stated, "Our forefathers knew what they were doing when they drew up the pledge as they did."
___The forefathers had nothing to do with writing the pledge. It was written in 1892 by a Baptist minister who was a socialist, Francis Bellamy.
___ George Adams
___ Madison, Ala.

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