Friday, January 20, 2006

SBTC Pastor Removed, Part 4


In a unique turn of events yesterday, an AP reporter contacted Gary Ledbetter, Editor In Chief at SBTC and someone whom I consider a friend, about this whole matter. According to Ledbetter " they were not concerned about Haney starting a new church and they were not concerned about him setting up a woman as senior pastor."

Wait a minute...let me go back and read the original report submitted by Jerry Pierce......Nope. That's what I thought. Hmmmm....

According to yesterday's Baytown Sun, SBTC board chairman Joe Stewart, who is pastor of First Baptist Church of Littlefield, said the convention supports reaching out to the homosexual community but that the Eklektos ministry "goes too far".

“We do believe it’s a sin and, of course, we want to do our best to help them find the transformation that’s available in Jesus Christ,” Stewart said. “The major issue is the lady that’s leading it doesn’t even consider the homosexual lifestyle is sinful.”

Ahh...There it is.

Ledbetter goes on to say “Would we start a ministry for alcoholics that was affirming alcohol abuse in the name of love and just sort of hoping they get the idea there’s a better way to live? There’s a line that’s crossed that says we’re comfortable with the way you live and believe it’s just as good a way to live as any other even though the Bible says otherwise.”

I'm not sure that's the point. Wouldn't the point be to start a ministry that reaches out to alcoholics because you believe it's not just as good a way to live as any other? It seems that you don't take healthy people to the emergency room, but those who are critically ill. If alcoholism is OK....then just leave them alone.

Can you encourage an alcoholic without condoning alcohol abuse? Sure. Could that be misconstrued as 'affirming' alcoholics? Sure. Especially to those afraid of alcholics.

Perhaps the problem is in the language. To one, 'affirming a homosexual' could mean 'God loves you more than you realize. Let's talk about the Prince of Peace..." But to another, 'affirming a homosexual' could mean 'It's OK to have the kind of sex you're having, live the lifestye you're living, God doesn't really want you to change your behavior'. Huge difference.

Again, if I'm missing the point, I stand open and ready to receive correction. [Of course, to one, that may mean, "....]

25 Comments:

At 9:48 AM, Blogger A Christian Prophet said...

It does no good to say some are sinful and some are not sinful. I have been so enlightened by reading messages from the Holy Spirit on The Holy Inheritance blog. Jesus includes EVERYONE and leaves no one out.

 
At 9:59 AM, Blogger Howie Luvzus said...

I'm confused. Did those who asked for removal switch their story?

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger eaglewood said...

Tom,
I am going to just copy and pate a letter I just sent to Jimmie concerning this issue.

Jimmie,

You are probably not as surprised as I am to find out that you know the people involved. In that light I have some questions concerning all of this.

My only uneasiness in this whole incident is the position of the female pastor (Wendy Bailey) in this. From my reading on this she seems to have no problem with homosexuals continuing in their “relationships” even after they have received Jesus as their savior. Maybe I have read something incorrectly, but that is what I have concluded in my limited knowledge of this lady. My problem is that this is encouraging sin and the Word does not mince its words on the subject of homosexuality.

I have no problem with this ministry on its face value. We should all be striving to reach all people in their sin, and I truly believe this was Bro. Haney’s intention, but I think he may have chosen the wrong person to partner with in this effort. I will tell you why in a moment. I also know the convention leadership handled this in an unbiblical manner, and are wrong for their legalistic view on these matters, all in the attempt to distance themselves from anything that may make it seem like they endorse the homosexual lifestyle.

Ok, why do I think Bro. Haney made a wrong choice? This falls under my non-essential doctrine philosophy. Basically that all the denominations should set aside non-essential doctrines to work with each other in cooperative efforts to spread the gospel. The thing is that under this philosophy if the Word says unequivocally that something is as sin there is no wiggle room for debate and if someone claims otherwise then it is tantamount to heresy. This is my only issue with the whole affair on Bro. Haney’s side. Was his refusal to disassociate with the ministry in question reason enough to ostracize the whole church without a fair hearing? It was most definitely not. It should have been brought before the local church elders and the congregation to see if they wished to continue the partnership with Wendy Bailey and Eklektos.

Just so Wendy’s possition is clear this is qoted from Tom’s Blog from the quote from Wendy’s blog.

“I realize that many people differ on the Biblical interpretation of Scripture surrounding issues of homosexuality. My hope is that Eklektos will minister within that controversy and seek Christ in the midst of it. I acknowledge that even the most faithful Christians can disagree over whether homosexuality is sinful — Randy and I differ on that issue — but this ministry is here to reach people who are typically ostracized and hurt by the Church, and to offer them a loving and non-judgemental community in which to seek Christ and grow in discipleship. Even if we all agreed that homosexuality was a sin, should a church require gay and lesbians to be celibate or “convert” to heterosexuality? No. Not anymore than the church should require divorced people to reconcile, wealthy people to divest their money from companies that promote unrepentant consumerism, or gluttonous people to go on diets.” Wendy Bailey
The emphasis added is mine.
I am probably rambling on about this now. I know that Tom and yourself are close to this issue because Bro. Haney is your friend so your inclination is to rush to your friends defense, and you should. I will be right there with you concerning how the convention handled this issue, but I cannot defend his decision to work with Wendy Bailey based upon her own words.

In His Name,
David

 
At 2:32 PM, Blogger scott m said...

I read the Baytown Sun article. The only thing I can say is that Wendy Bailey's analogy is more appropriate and better fits the situation than Gary Ledbetter's. I have had gay friends most of my adult life. And I also have seen and felt with friends and family the destructiveness of addiction, violence, abuse, and promiscuous sex. And a committed, monogamous, homosexual relationship is more like gluttony (or any of the other lifestyle sins we accept and affirm like gossip, greed, an unloving heart, and casual consumer christianity) than alcoholism. Alcoholism is a disease that literally kills the addict and acts to destroy those around him. Violent abuse also harms those around you. Promiscuous sex creates many ripples of pain and damage. Drug addiction hurts everyone, not just the addict.

If the heart of all the instruction we have received from God is to love God with all we have and love others as ourself, then it is clear that sometimes the only loving thing to do is to intervene and other times we need to back off and let God change lives. After all, he's God and we're not. It seems to me that, when you consider the fact that scripture tells us both to judge and not to judge, that demonstrates the complexity of our response.

I suppose statements like Gary Ledbetter's will find more traction with me when I see our churches refuse to accept, affirm, or meaningfully minister to all of those with continuing (and apparently unrepentant) areas of sin in their lives instead of just the poster sins du jour.

Of course, if that were to happen, I'm not sure there would be a whole lot of people in those churches, though lots of people will think they should be. I know from my own experience how difficult it can be to see areas of sin in your life until God reveals it to you. Which shows that Jesus' comment about specks and planks makes a whole lot of sense.

Of course, I'm sure my opinion is in the extreme minority in the SBTC and probably in our church. I'm just thankful there are people like Wendy and Randy who are willing to be Christ toward this group of outcast (by Christians, at least) people. We need to be honest, but at the same time lead with dangerous, risky love. It's what our Savior did.

 
At 2:41 PM, Blogger scott m said...

Oh, and it's been my understanding that the covenant is that no church will affirm or approve of homosexuality. And from everything that anyone has said, Randy and his church have not. Instead, they are considered guilty by association because they are willing to allow an individual who happens to not believe homosexuality is a sin use their facility in her ministry. If we're only allowed to partner and work with people who conform to our convention's beliefs on what is sin and what isn't, that draws the box awfully small. There are a lot of traditions out there that consider as sinful things we do not and vice versa. Where exactly do we stop?

 
At 3:19 PM, Blogger tom cottar said...

Howie,
Yeah, it seems like in December the SBTC made (1) starting a 'gay church, and (2) the woman senior pastor the issues.

As of yesterday, I guess now they're saying that the issue is that Wendy Bailey doesn't believe homosexuality is a sin...

shameless plug: (Everyone go visit www.howieluvzus.com)

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger tom cottar said...

Eaglewood,
thanks for the great comments.

It sparked a question for me and I'd like to ask you to elaborate if you don't mind...I'm just curious.

Because of Wendy's quote about homosexuality, you don't think Randy should minister with her--the scripture is clear on homosexuality (you and I agree on that).

So my question is this: what about fat people? Should I only partner in ministry with people who are within the 'healthy weight spectrum'? I'm assuming that all of us would agree that gluttony is a sin...and a behavior-based one at that. I'm not picking a fight, I guess I'd just like to hear more about your non-essential doctrine philosophy. How does that work itself into alcohol, obesity, laziness, etc., and then work itself out of homosexuality?

I'm really just curious---not trying to antagonize you, my brother!

 
At 3:28 PM, Blogger tom cottar said...

scott,
can you elaborate?
"And a committed, monogamous, homosexual relationship is more like gluttony (or any of the other lifestyle sins we accept and affirm like gossip, greed, an unloving heart, and casual consumer christianity) than alcoholism. "

 
At 4:22 PM, Blogger scott m said...

can you elaborate?

I'll try. I'm not certain I can frame my thoughts using only words and experiences I care to publicly post. But I'll try. You know enough about me that you may be able to read between the lines. If not, ask me sometime.

In some ways, I see it like triage. Unless you believe we are instantly transformed at conversion from whatever we were into a self-aware, essentially perfected person (with maybe the occasional stumble, but nothing major), then it's clear that God changes us over time to be more like his son.

It is my observation that, while all sin may be equal in some abstract, legalistic sense, and while all sin brings death, it's not all the same in the messy details. Some sin brings death, destruction, and chaos faster and in larger circles than other sin. And it is also my observation that God deals first with those he deems the most devastating in each person's life. Further, I believe he gets to decide the order in which he needs to work to transform his children, not us. I'm many things, but I'm not God.

So given that, what are the sins that require attention first? Again, it's individual, but I do see a pattern. I would propose the first is the worship of false gods. You cannot truly lovc God with all your everything (the Shema) while you hold anything equal to or greater than God. For years, Western society was primarily Christian and during that period we tended to turn 'false gods' into a metaphor for various things we hold important. However, as we become increasingly pluralistic, there's a lot of actual worship of false gods out there. This area must come first and it's not always an easy battle. I truly sympathize with the weaker Corinthians in their struggle.

And then we have the behaviors that deeply violate the love we should have for others. Violence and violation, in the form of abuse or any other expression, is obviously one such area of sin. Violence has always drawn us and few of us come to Christ free of it entirely. And Christians must intervene to stop the violence.

Addiction both destroys the addict and hurts and destroys all within the addict's circle. Again, this must be an area God redeems early.

Promiscuous and controlling sex damages all involved. And since it can also be tied with the worship of false gods, it can fit that category as well. Someone engaging in this behavior is damaging the parts of their soul God wants for himself. And leading others in the same path. This is true whether the sex is heterosexual or homosexual.

And then there are the categories of sin that are not as quickly destructive or may only be slowly hurting the individual and not others in a wide circle. Gluttony is like that. Selfishness is like that. Materialism is like that. Casual, consumer Christianity is like that. It is my observation that God seems to wait until the appropriate time before acting in these areas in a person's life. I've seen (and been) people like that. They sincerely and effectively serve God without even an awareness of this continuing area of sin in their lives until God chooses to reveal it to them and bring them out of it.

When I take everything I've observed, it strikes me that is where a committed, monogamous homosexual relationship belongs. The Bible certainly speaks in no harsher terms about it than it does about other sins we quietly accept for years. And it is not overtly destructive. At least, it is rarely the area most in need of redemption in a person's life. In fact, I can think of times and situations where immediate change would be more harmful and destructive than not.

We've decided this sin is always one of the worst. And we've decided anybody who wants to be a Christian must immediately stop. I'm not convinced God agrees with us. Is it a sin? Taking the weight of both the positive things stated about God's intended creation and the few directly applicable negative things about homosexuality (primarily Romans 1), I tend to agree it's a sin. I just don't think it's something that's up to me to fix. I'll share my belief and why I believe it with my friends. And it's funny, if you're a friend and not yelling in their face, and owning it as your belief and understanding, people don't tend to get offended.

Do we want to be right and have others acknowledge we are right? Or do we want to be Jesus' body?

 
At 8:12 PM, Blogger Marty said...

I'm just a mother who is against the Iraq war with a soldier for a son and that is the reason I blog. I am not a Biblical scholar. I really feel out of my league here with all of you wonderful and caring ministers, but I just want to say that I am so appreciative of the attitudes here. My prayers are with Randy Haney and Wendy Bailey as they seek to follow Christ and minister to the outcast. Even though most of you believe homosexuality is a sin, you have not expressed deep hatred or fear. A minister said to me one time that a hole needed to be dug and all homosexuals thrown in and buried alive. I was deeply hurt as I had just lost a dear friend to a long battle with Aids. Knowing christian gay couples, two of which have been in a committed relationship for more than 50 years, has made me take another look at this. Also I believe that there is medical evidence that sexual orientation may not be a choice. If in fact it is not a choice, as my gay friends have assured me it is not, but rather is something a person is and has no control over such as being male or female, black or white, short or tall, then what do we do with it? I've struggled with these questions for a while because I've truly seen the love of Jesus in the lives of those gay friends of mine. And so...what do I do with that?

 
At 9:35 PM, Blogger scott m said...

Marty,

I'm not a minister, but as a Christian I want to tell you how sorry I am for the way a minister of Christ callously added to the pain of the loss of your friend. We so often do such a poor job of representing our Lord and Savior I'm surprised he puts up with us. There is no excuse for a comment like that, so I won't try to offer one, just a heartfelt apology.

My perception of the sinfulness of homosexuality has relatively little to do with whether or not it's a choice. In fact, I tend to believe that both biology and experience have varying degrees of influence in sexual orientation and choices of all people. Rather, as I come to a fuller grasp of the mystery God intended in his creation and joining of man and woman, I see this as one of many ways in which creation has been cracked, distorted, or marred by the effects of sin. If so, then its expression would by definition be sin (not of God). And would be an aspect of his creation God will redeem.

I'm just not in a rush to tell him it's the most important thing to fix. ;-)

 
At 6:05 AM, Blogger tom cottar said...

Marty,
thanks for your kind words. Here's my perspective:

I, too, have some dear friends who are gay, and have lost friends to AIDS. One particular friend I led to the Lord in 8th grade. Also,I have sin in my life. It may not be a hot button like homosexuality, but it's still sin. Pride. Ego. Lust. The list goes on. But the kicker is this: we are a work in progress. My sin may be more socially acceptable...but it is still sin. But God is incredibly patient with me, knowing how weak and frail I am, and continually shows Himself to be the perfect Father.

It may indeed be true that homosexuality has some genetic links (nature *and* nurture?), just as it's been suggested with alcoholism. That may be part of the condition of the Fall. Either way, just because it's my nature doesn't make it of God. My nature is pretty sinful.

Even though,the bottom line is that we don't see the greater picture of someone's life. I'll be 39 years old this year, and I'm spiritually vastly different than I was in high school. Yet, in many ways, I still have the same struggles. AND I still have some habits that OTHERS think are sinful but I don't see as such. I trust the Holy Spirit to work in each of our lives to make us more like the Father...whatever that may look like.

I'm really sorry about what that minister said...I wonder if he'd say that about the fat, prideful evangelists he knows...

So, I guess my question now is, what do we do (in Austin, or anywhere) to take the love and the gospel of Christ to the gay community?

 
At 8:14 AM, Blogger eaglewood said...

Tom,
This is just so you know I am not ignoring your questions. The answers are a little long and I have to go to work.
In a nutshell Homosexuality should be treated like any other sin and people involved in that sin should be handled like any other person involved in an addictive sin. That is with love and compassion, but not acceptance of the sin itself.

I will enlighten you further on the non-essential doctrine stuff latter tonight when I have time as the answer may be a little complex.

 
At 9:46 AM, Blogger scott m said...

So, I guess my question now is, what do we do (in Austin, or anywhere) to take the love and the gospel of Christ to the gay community?

Isn't that the million dollar question? When we think corporately, rather than individually, we immediately face a problem. There is one body and bride of Christ, one Church, with many local expressions. As much as we might like to sometimes, we can't simply proclaim we're different. We're seen as one group (Christian) and we are, in fact, according to Scripture one group. And the truth is that so many hateful and hurtful things have been said and done to this one group in the name of Christ that we have little credibility. Even though I may have personally never taken part, it's my family that's been doing it, so I share in both the reputation and responsibility.

How do we begin to fix the damage we have done? I would suggest that we look toward Jesus' example. He did, after all, have a habit of embracing the outcast and restoring them not just to God in some ethereal sense, but often to society in an immediate and practical sense. How? I see three repreated themes in the gospels.

Jesus brought everyone to his table to dine, an incredibly intimate and meaningful act in his culture. I'm not sure what the parallel would be in our culture, but it would involve more than just grabbing a burger together. Eating with people was a way to demonstrate, both to the outcast and to those in society, that Jesus believed that through intimate association with him, the unclean would become clean. That flipped the cultural expectation. As Jesus' body, it seems we should do the same. Instead, we distance ourselves from those we consider unclean in the apparent fear that close association will somehow stain us as well. We need to find ways to engage in some way that carries the same depth of cultural meaning as Jesus' table did in his. Any ideas? I've tried, and I can't quite make that leap. I'm not sure what the parallel would be, though it strikes me that what Randy is doing looks more like it than what most of the rest of us are doing.

Second, Jesus served people. He demonstrated it over and over and over and kept telling his followers to do the same. Make yourself the least. Be last. Be a servant. Humble yourself. And isn't that how loving others has to work itself out? I would also suggest this sort of service has less to do with providing what we believe they need, but rather meeting the needs they express. We have a lot of people in our church. If we wanted to reach out to this group (which I'm not really convinced we do), it would have to start by approaching those organizations whom already serve this community with our hat in our hand humbly asking how we can help. Would we be met with suspicion? Absolutely. But collectively, the American Church has earned that suspicion. And then serve with no expectations, no hidden agendas, and with commitment over the long haul. We have a lot of damage to repair and it's not going to happen overnight. But through serving, you truly get to know people, sometimes at their ugliest and neediest, but other times in moments of beauty. Friendship and love can blossom. And when people ask why we do this, we can tell them. It's not about earning the right to speak. People usually take that and make it a hidden agenda and try to manipulate people. Rather it's about being who you are. As a follower of Christ, our core identity should be changing, after all. And speaking honestly and openly with those whom you claim as friends.

And last, Jesus continually restored the outcast to society. How that translates I don't really know. We don't have the same cultural divides and expressions. But I know that has to be a part of it. Maybe in does involve embracing gays in our Christian society as they are rather than making change a precondition. Maybe it involves standing against discriminatory behavior in our broader culture. Some of the stories I've heard from gay friends about the treatment they've experienced are just awful. I'm not really sure here, but I do see the need for this element to somehow be intertwined.

The problem, of course, is that I don't see any way to do any of the above without appearing to an external observer to be accepting or affirming of homosexuality just like Randy was. Neither he nor his church in any way altered their doctrinal view of homosexuality. But simply because they were willing to let another person who did not share that belief use their facilities to minister to this group, they were considered unworthy of association.

Thus it's my perception that any church which truly desires to be Jesus for this group of people will face the same reaction. I could be wrong, but I don't think I am.

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger Jimmie W. Kersh said...

I am proud to comment about something I see as foundational in all of these comments. It is apparent that there is actual understanding about sin. I have always hated the love the sinner and hate the sin mantra. But I have seen something very different in this blog. I believe it to be maturity in beleivers. There is no gay bashing or hate gays, it is a mutual understanding that sin is sin and that God deals with sin.

Randy's church's situation is not unique in any stretch of the imagination. I am sure this is how Luther felt when he was castigated and disavowed by the Catholic church.

I am in continued prayer that as we seek to minister to traditionally unloved groups that our conservative and liberal theological friends base their decisions to affilitate with us on the concept of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

 
At 12:02 AM, Blogger Manelikocu said...

I believe that there are two sides to every story. How can you guys say that you are Christians when you are bashing each other and other Christian groups. I know Randy Haney personally, I also know several of the men from the SBTC personally and would consider him my friend. However,this sort of thing has never been done by the SBTC. This is a first! It has nothing to do with Randy reaching out to the homosexual community. Several of the men on the Creditial and Petitionary committee told Randy that their church had ministries that reached out to homosexuals. The problem is that this ministry does not look to reconcile the sinner to Christ and then disciple the new believer to change to become like Christ. All sin is sin and any church not willing to speak out against sin might as well be a social club. However, just because we are sinners does not mean that we do not try to quit living in our sin and move toward becoming more like Christ. Randy had the opportunity to change the words in defining this ministry. He had the opportunity to change his position in regards to this ministry and according to the SBTC and the South Texas Baptist Association he still does.

What change would put him in accordance to the SBTC constitution? He needs to

1)Publically move to define this ministry as a rescue ministry. Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 6 when he list a long group of sins and then says "such were some of you but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Teaching people to turn from their "wicked ways" is the message of Christ. AS Christ often told the sinner, the taxcollectors, the fornicator "Go and sin no more" Basically, do not live in your sin anymore.

2)Choose not to support, endorse and affirm this homosexual ministry. It does not need to be his ministry for him to support it, which according to his own blog he does. This is in accordance to the SBTC's Constitution.

If Randy no longer wants to be a part of the SBTC what is the big deal, don't be. However, he nor anyone else should be blasting them for their stance on the issue. It is their right to believe what they will and set the guidelines for their convention. The SBTC has shown Faith Harbor a lot of support and financial contribution over the last few years to be blasted so harshly by the very people they have helped start a ministry. This sort of criticism and chaos goes against everything in scripture. Men are men and they will never do everything to the best of God's ability. Be careful what you write and say of others. Knowing a person does not make everything they say true, nor does it make the other person the vilian. I know several people quoted in the Baytown Sun and they are highly upset that they were misquoted. As a matter of fact I believe Randy was given credit for a statement that was actually said by the pastor of Baker Road Baptist Church about how we should love homosexuals and reach out to them. We just cannot affirm their lifestyle. This should be the standard by which we reach out to all sinners. Love the sinner which we all are, but do not love the sin. We cannot expect the world to come to Christ, if we cannot demonstrate his love to each other.

 
At 6:36 PM, Blogger shaeman said...

Tom said:
I have sin in my life. It may not be a hot button like homosexuality, but it's still sin. Pride. Ego. Lust. The list goes on.

Yes. The list does go on and on and on. I should know. As his brother, if you'd like the lowdown on a loooong list of them, I'll be happy to email them to you.

Just kidding.

Yeah. I'm pissed. This is all so incredibly juvenile, in my opinion....and Tom...your comments about partnering with fat people were exactly where I was about to go.

So, in a world like this with so many factions and differences on belief within the Church catholic ("universal" for those I just scared to death), do where do we draw the line between what is essential? I think I know, but this certainly wouldn't have been it.

 
At 9:55 PM, Blogger scott m said...

So, in a world like this with so many factions and differences on belief within the Church catholic ("universal" for those I just scared to death), do where do we draw the line between what is essential? I think I know, but this certainly wouldn't have been it.

No. This wasn't even close.

Admittedly I probably draw my circle wider than most. I actually try to include all the groups that most people at least grudgingly admit are Christian. And, of course, it has to be wide enough to include me. ;-)

But I tend to stick close to the core elements captured in the central creeds of our faith as essential. Jesus is fully divine and not created or occurring after the Father. Jesus became fully human. Jesus died, was buried, and was resurrected on the third day. Through our faith in him, we are adopted as children of the Father and receive the Holy Spirit, God with us and in us.

Following our belief, as demonstrated in the blossoming of a desire to do the things Jesus tells us to do, we come to understand truth, and are set free from the bondage of sin.

Of course, any confession can be twisted and distorted, but taken straightforwardly, I'm not sure I insist on a whole lot more. If a gay person is not worthy of inclusion in the Church as is with affirmation as a child of God without precondition or condemnation, then I don't think I'm worthy. I know myself that well, at least. Their areas of sin are certainly no worse than mine.

And does the insistence of the SBTC that any Christian ministry to that community define itself as a rescue ministry strike anyone else as simultaneously clueless, insulting, condescending, and demeaning? Where are our rescue ministries for obscenely obese preachers? How about our rescue ministries for the proud leaders within our system? Or maybe the rescue ministry for all of us in America consumed with love of stuff rather than Jesus? (I seem to recall him having a thing or two to say about that.)

On the positive side, this freakshow may actually help Wendy's ministry. There's nothing like self-righteous condemnation to pique the interest of those who are also condemned. But then, I'm a big believer in a God who specializes in transforming evil into good.

 
At 10:36 PM, Blogger Marty said...

I agree totally with Scott M. I was thinking the same thing regarding "rescue ministry". And what about people like me?.. divorced..and remarried. Shouldn't they also establish a rescue ministry for adulterers like myself?

 
At 6:22 AM, Blogger tom cottar said...

Manelikou,
Thanks for weighing in on this, especially since you seem to know some guys at the SBTC like I do and consider them friends as well.

Here are some thoughts:
"How can you guys say that you are Christians when you are bashing each other and other Christian groups?"

That's like asking 'how can you say you are a christian when you are gay?'....'or how can you be a Christian and be so fat?'...it's really a mmot questions, huh?

" However,this sort of thing has never been done by the SBTC. This is a first! "
Actually, it's at least the third time. The first time I know of was regarding a man I worked with in 2003. (I'm witholding his name because I'm not sure he'd want it dragged up here and haven't talked with him about it. I realize that may cause you to disbelieve the credulity of my claim...but, oh well. You'll have to trust me on this one.) The issue was not homosexuality, but it was most definitely a case of the public story varying quite differently than the actual sequence of events in the (old) office on Walnut Hill in Las Colinas.

"The problem is that this ministry does not look to reconcile the sinner to Christ and then disciple the new believer to change to become like Christ."
Where did you get this little gem of information? Do not ALL ministries look to reconcile the sinner to Christ and then look to Him for transformation? Do you go on mission trips with your church and require sinners to give up Bud Light and late-night HBO movies before they can pray the prayer? Would we ask Marty or Scott M to reconcile with former spouses before they can have their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life?
Seriously... The Holy Spirit ALWAYS does the transformation. Even when it's NOT on our timetable. That's His job and He's much better at it than you or I or the political winds of conservative evangelicalism.

"1)Publically move to define this ministry as a rescue ministry. Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 6 when he list a long group of sins and then says "such were some of you but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” "
I guess I missed something somewhere. If you get a chance, could you email me a copy of Paul's bylaws, defining his ministry as a 'rescue ministry'? I think it's assumed that evangelism is a 'search and rescue' mission. I can't imagine an opportunity when Randy *wouldn't* have shared his conviction about homosexuality while involved in this ministry.

"2)Choose not to support, endorse and affirm this homosexual ministry. It does not need to be his ministry for him to support it..."
Sure. Again, the language used is simply a hot button in our current political climate. See my previous posts...

"The SBTC has shown Faith Harbor a lot of support and financial contribution over the last few years to be blasted so harshly by the very people they have helped start a ministry."
I understand where you're trying to go with this, but if you do your research you'll see that Faith Harbour was started prior to his affiliation with SBTC.

Also, you make some claims in your last paragraph about people being misquoted,etc. If you've got better information, please share it. I'd sincerely like to know if I've misrepresented someone unknowingly.

Also, please log in and identify yourself here. The rest of us have put all our cards on the table with our identities. Please have the courtesy to do the same. It's pretty easy to make anonymous comments without accountability of what your real identity is...it's one of the blessings/curses of our digital age. Let's have some juevos. It makes it more difficult to sling arrows that way...I, too, STILL have friends at the SBTC.

(BTW, I am the one who is a former (and not disgruntled) employee, not shaeman. And, yes, I *do* have an agenda: for the saving gospel of Christ to be taken to the world. Including the homosexual that so many seem to be trying to steer clear of. Yeah, I believe it is sin. NO question. I also believe that the Holy Spirit will address *every* sin issue in our lives according to His timetable, not ours. His first priority may not be my first priority. Or yours.

Again, if I am wrong, please show me.

 
At 6:51 AM, Blogger scott m said...

Shae,

Hmmmm. I do draw my Christian brother and sister circle pretty wide and do so wholeheartedly with the humble confession that any of them could be more right than I am. And I also don't have the need or drive to have the certainty that others seem to desire that their beliefs are right. I'm OK with having aspects of God be a mystery or more than I can stuff in my limited brain.

However, within the bounds of my concern that the rampant sectarian splintering of the Church since the Reformation appears to be in direct conflict with the words of both Jesus and Paul, I don't really have too much of a problem with any particular group defining what they consider their boundaries.

However, in Randy's case it appears that either the rules have shifted in midstream or that while the words say one thing, the intent is different. And that feels somewhat dishonest to me. Both he and his church conform to the catechism of the SBTC. From everything I can tell, they have repeatedly affirmed that they confess that homosexuality is a sin, just like a gazillion other areas of our lives. However, from the information I've seen provided by various anonymous posters on the several involved blogs and (I think) confirmed by Randy, that is insufficient. Instead, what the SBTC really appears to require is that its member churches publicly denounce homosexuals as sinners and only reach out and accept (or -- God forbid! -- love) them with the precondition that they change immediately, making absolutely certain they know that they are sinners and their behavior is unacceptable. Further, don't support, work alongisde, or even associate with people who might not believe exactly the same thing.

(I still have a hard time swallowing the sheer conceit in the statement that the only acceptable ministry is a rescue ministry. The implication is that we can change or rescue these "poor lost souls." And that's utter nonsense. Only God can truly change people. And I've not found that he comes to me for advice on the means or the timing.)

And yes, Marty. They appear completely unaware that those massive planks in their own eyes rob them of all credibility. As a teen parent who was twice divorced by the time I was 22 and who is currently approaching my sixteenth anniversary with my lovely wife, I've asked the very same pointed question you ask. The statistics I've seen indicate that the divorce rate is slightly higher among evangelical Christians in the US than that of the general population.

Of course, I'm familiar with and unsurprised by that particular attitude. It's essentially the same one I experienced as a teen. I endured months of increasing isolation and condemnation of my failure and sin in the SBC church I thought had embraced me less than two years before. (I was naive enough at the time to take all those things Jesus said about family and love seriously. And no, it wasn't everyone in that church, but certainly the preponderance.) The final straw came one morning when I was told from the pulpit to remove my sleeping infant daughter from the sanctuary because she was disturbing the sensibilities of the good people present in the congregation. And I've encountered far too many similar (and sometimes worse) stories among other people seriously hurt by "christians".

I often chalk it up to God's sense of humor (and I do think some of that was involved) that he brought me the rest of the way back to Christianity through a different SBC church and that he keeps me here. But I can also now recognize that it was through his intimate knowledge of my pain and hurt that he knew it was a necessary part of those final steps.

Apparently one of the anonymous posters from Randy's blog also found this one. He seems to have boiled Jesus' whole message to us down to the tag line, "Go and sin no more!" And in so doing, has completely missed the point. I'm not sure how anyone can read the gospels and leave with any other understanding than the one Paul captured so beautifully. "In Christ there is now no condemnation." How people can turn Jesus into the finger-wagging, scolding image they appear to hold is a mystery I've never been able to fathom. Jesus says that when he does judge, his judgement will be true, but right now he's not judging anyone. He's on a tremendous search and rescue (and redemption!) mission. And of course he works to free us from our lives of sin! Sin is destroying us and everything around us. But his message is not to go fix ourselves (the phrase "whitewashed tombs" springs to mind for some reason). Instead, he tells us to come to him. He will reveal to us what needs to be changed (because we don't even know that much until the Spirit reveals it) and give us the power we lack to change it. At the right time and in the proper order, which again is something only God knows.

The sad thing is that so many people are so utterly blind to their own hypocrisy. It doesn't anger me. It breaks my heart. They don't see how they demonize some sins and crush those who display them while ignoring and even embracing other areas of sin. They have eyes, but do not see; ears, but do not hear.

And worst of all, they have lost their scent of love. How is it again that others will know we are followers of Jesus?

 
At 8:41 AM, Blogger tom cottar said...

At the beginning of my last comment to manelikou, my 3rd comment should have read "...it's a moot question." ..

Sorry, the morning Starbucks hadn't quite reached my fingertips at the time.

 
At 8:42 AM, Blogger tom cottar said...

Manelikou,

You seem fond of quoting, "Go and sin no more." from John 8.

You *do* realize that Jesus' words immediately prior to that are "Neither do I condemn you."...right?

 
At 5:23 PM, Blogger Manelikocu said...

Let's see if I can clear up some of mine and your problem. Several comments made are just not accurately presented, from my point of view,

1.: “So I guess the only acceptable way to reach out to this group is to whack them across the face with the Bible, tell them how wrong they are, and by the way, Jesus loves you?”
This is just not my experience with the SBTC. I have been in many SBTC churches and conventions and have met people from every walk of life. Never have they had that sort of reaction.

2.“Randy has the heart for ministry that these men have lost to their ensconced politcal legalism. These men have elevated one sin above another and therefore have placed themselves above God in judging.”
Do you know the motivations of these men? Have you included the SJBA, the South Texas Baptist Association, The sponsoring church all of which have or are in the process of removing fellowship with Faith Harbour? I do not believe this to be political stance.

FYI: "The Executive Committee rallied at the Golden Corral, along with a couple of SBTC staffers to ‘prepare’ for the confrontation.” It was not the Executive Committee that met at Golden Corral, it was the pettitionary and redentials committee. Also, when men from all over the state come in, should they not meet somewhere so that they will arrive at the same time. Maybe they just needed to get directions to the church. Why must there be a hidden agenda why not give people the benefit of the doubt, until proven otherwise.

3."We argued most of the night over the fact that I was not starting a new church. They quoted from my blog site some things that Wendy had written, but none of these comments stated that we were starting a new church.” quoted by Randy.
I think the disagreement was in regards to although Randy and Wendy claim this not to be a church it meets and functions as a church even by the definition of its name. It uses the same word that Christ uses in "And on this rock I will build my eclesia or church" Although Eklektos is not a church by their admission, it is a MINISTRY that appears to endorse homosexual behavior.

4. "From where I sit, the SBTC never acted on the matter…they only reacted. They reacted to the fact that one of their own would reach out to the gay community with the hopes of ‘going and making disciples’."
This is just not the case I know of several churches within the SBTC that have successful ministries to the gay community. One of which was brought up at the meeting for clarification purposes.

5.“At the end of the day, what does this really mean other than the SBTC won't accept his church's money anymore?”
Faith Harbour has received money from the SBTC. In the beginning $1800 a month and later $900 a month. You can see this by Randy's admission on his website on the blog 2 sides to every story. I asked Randy about this specifically. That is what happens to mission churches, which is why even after they were constituted as a church they became a mission of another Baptist Church.

6. "And does the insistence of the SBTC that any Christian ministry to that community define itself as a rescue ministry strike anyone else as simultaneously clueless, insulting, condescending, and demeaning? Where are our rescue ministries for obscenely obese preachers? How about our rescue ministries for the proud leaders within our system? Or maybe the rescue ministry for all of us in America consumed with love of stuff rather than Jesus? (I seem to recall him having a thing or two to say about that.)

I am the one who made the remark rescue ministry because I could not think of a better word and was not at all trying to be insensitive. I hope my church is a rescue mission. I want to be rescued from my sin. I see Jesus as my anchor, my hope, my salvation, my life-preservor (ms) My apology to any I offended I do not think it was interpreted the way I meant it. We do have rescue ministries for obese people that is what ministries like First Place and other weight lose programs are. We also have groups that meet to help alcoholics, sex addicts, etc...

"The problem is that this ministry does not look to reconcile the sinner to Christ and then disciple the new believer to change to become like Christ."
Where did you get this little gem of information? Do not ALL ministries look to reconcile the sinner to Christ and then look to Him for transformation? Do you go on mission trips with your church and require sinners to give up Bud Light and late-night HBO movies before they can pray the prayer? Would we ask Marty or Scott M to reconcile with former spouses before they can have their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life?"

When I said reconciled to Christ, I am talking about Accepting Jesus to be my Savior and Lord in that order. No one needs to do anything to come to Jesus except confess and accept. Confess sin and Accept Jesus sacrifice!!! However, we must not leave off the next step in discipleship. We must choose to go out to the world and not continue to live in our sin. This is what Paul is telling the CHRISTIAN in Romans "Should we continue in sin that grace may abound. God forbid!"

"Do not ALL ministries look to reconcile the sinner to Christ and then look to Him for transformation?"

However, if a ministry does not believe a lifestyle choice to be a sin why would they seek to find transformation. This is the problem with this ministry. If it does not see a behavior as a sin it will not lead the sinner to find that transformation.

Next, I have lost count...
"Instead, what the SBTC really appears to require is that its member churches publicly denounce homosexuals as sinners and only reach out and accept (or -- God forbid! -- love) them with the precondition that they change immediately, making absolutely certain they know that they are sinners and their behavior is unacceptable. Further, don't support, work alongisde, or even associate with people who might not believe exactly the same thing." The SBTC asked Randy to define this ministry differently or have nothing to do with it. He chose not to. It had nothing to do with when a person denounces their sin. Let's say a heterosexual couple living together want to move their membership to your church. Do you allow them to move their membership no question asked, or do you counsel them to quit living in sin and get married prior to moving their membership. Now if you notice I am talking about people who profess to be Christians. Different set of circumstances. A unmarried person who is living with another person comes forward and asked to accept Jesus Christ as savior. You don't wait for them to move out or get married you lead them to Christ immediately. As christians we do have different standards for other Christians than for non Christians. We are to expect more from the Christian.

When I said this was the first time this has been done I mean to a whole church but I may be wrong that was just how it was reported.

I am sorry you have misunderstood the opinions I have expressed. I just want you guys to understand that your blogs can hurt or offend people from the outside who read things about people they respect. Just like you didn't like to read things about Randy.

 
At 8:40 PM, Blogger scott m said...

Manel,

Thanks for the additional explanation. I can see there were several places I misconstrued your meaning and intent. I apologize for that. As I considered it, I realized my misinterpretation of your user name as a pseudonym had a lot to do with my perception. That created an association in my mind with Usenet/mailing list trolls or as slashdot calls them, anonymous cowards. And I see that once I made that association, I tended toward a negative rather than a gracious spin in my interpretation of your tone.

Of course, I'm the last person who has to be convinced there are multiple sides to every story. I'm always aware our understanding is filtered through our perception. Communication is tough stuff. There's what I intend to communicate. That is translated into the words I actually use. The reader or listener then filters those through their perception and presuppositions and arrives at their understanding. Sometimes the parties end with similar understandings. Other times, it is wildly different. Everything we believe we understand is inevitably colored and shaped by our culture, experience, and situation. Everything.

With that said, though I misunderstood the tenor of some of your comments, I see nothing that changes my basic understanding of the circumstances. Nor do I see any reason to alter much in the way I expressed them other than to clarify I was describing the manner in which the attitudes and actions are perceived. I have no information on intent or motive.

I don't know Randy. I do know Tom and that certainly influences the way I view the situation. However, I've also carefully read not just the general media reports, but those published by the Baptist media as well as anonymous comments on the Harbour blog that appear to be from one or more people on the SBTC side who were at the meeting. And weighing all of that, my impression stays the same.

I need to repeat what I said. I'm not trying to ascribe evil intent to anyone. I would need a lot more evidence specifically about intent before I did that, even to myself. I fully believe that those who feel only a single, narrowly-defined approach to ministry to this community is acceptable hold no malice. (I'm actually not all that fond of the term ministry or at least the way it's generally used today. It's a way of making a group the other most of the time. And that seems to almost always lead to negative or at least other than best actions.) And I'm sure they don't see how arrogant, condescending, and unloving it can often appear. Is it sometimes the appropriate approach? Almost certainly! Always? Almost certainly not.

And other things bother me. The fact that the reports from the SBTC side of the issue keep shifting in their details while the reports of Randy and at least one other from the Harbour who was in the room remain reasonably consistent concerns me.

Many of my friends also are not Baptist. Perhaps that helps me retain a sense of what these things look like. In some ways, I believe we have become far too insular and disconnected from the culture in which we are embedded. In other ways (e.g. consumerism) I believe that culture has subverted us.

But again, many thanks for clarifying your comments and intent. It was much appreciated.

 

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