Molly Worthen on SBC Takeover, Francis Schaeffer, etc

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Re: Latest on SBC Takeover, excerpt from upcoming 2014 book

Postby Sandy » Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:47 pm

Not in a way that is consistent with her thesis. Stephen is still charging at windmills in the SBC's conservative resurgence, still thinking that at some point, those within the denomination who think like he does will somehow come forward and reverse the leadership changes that have been solidified and affirmed for three decades, now. Worthen provides a perspective connected to a broader picture that he's fallen upon as a "fresh, new" look that will captivate and awaken the sleeping opposition to the current SBC leaders and restore the denomination to the long, slow slide into theologically liberal modernism where it was headed prior to 1979. But she doesn't share his thesis, uses her resources to point out that what occurred in the SBC was simply a tapping in to a majority conservative view that already existed in large numbers, and that the moderates did themselves in with their elitism and patronistic attitudes toward leadership prior to 1979. That doesn't fit Stephen's agenda.
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Re: Latest on SBC Takeover, excerpt from upcoming 2014 book

Postby William Thornton » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:33 pm

Do any of you have the BOOK rather than just the excerpts?
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Postby Stephen Fox » Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:46 pm

Should have the book, call them first. Email me. I'm trying to get you a Revival Gig in an SBC church in NE Bama with ties to Jackson County Ga. What do you charge for four day Revival. Buy the book and then take my half out of the residual when you get here and be grateful for me bringing it to your attention.

I got an email response from Dr. Worthen today. In effect she said she appreciates the banter here at bl.com but as a matter of professional integrity would appreciate it if we all read the book as she sets up the SBC chapter in wider intellectual depth. And as I think most of you know, this is about something much bigger than the SBC split, though we know about the excerpt.

Edit: Molly's phrase: "broader intellectual context that I try to suggest sheds some light on SBC events"

Serious about the Revival gig. I promise to show two nights and behave. Some good people in the church. Average VBS attendance in 200 and one member is 5th cousin to Jon Appleton, pastor emeritus of FBC Athens Ga though this church is SBC.

http://religionandpolitics.org/2013/12/ ... y-worthen/

I think I have book coming to local juco, but am interested in having my own copy which will be the one Thornton brings me when he comes over for Spring Revival! :wave: :thumb: :gavel:
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Re: Latest on SBC Takeover, excerpt from upcoming 2014 book

Postby Sandy » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:38 pm

I'd like to get a copy of the book as well. I ordered it from Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Molly-Worthen/e/B001HMPGDG
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In context of the book

Postby Stephen Fox » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:40 pm

trying to position Sandy and Thornton on SBC Faultline re Pressler and Criswell and Adrian Rogers; you two fellow are for the record a little to the left of those three on Evolution, aren't you? http://ethicsdaily.com/survey-strong-af ... -cms-21411

And Sandy, I did send Dr. Worthen a follow-up email with a link to your exceptions to my take above, after your blog read. It may not be enough for her to go on; or she may wait till the three of us and more read the book before she respondes, but I am interested to see if she takes a nibble on the bait. I may ride over to Rome this weekend for a long day at Barnes and Noble, cause the Lord may not tarry till Thornton gets over here for a Revival :)
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Re: Latest on SBC Takeover, excerpt from upcoming 2014 book

Postby William Thornton » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:01 pm

So, no one has the book, not even Stephen?
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Postby Stephen Fox » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:07 pm

Holding my copy till the local Juco gets it, or you come over here for the simultaneous Revival and bring my copy with you!

In meantime, I doubt Ms Worthen would kowtow with this Takeover legacy, though it deserves its own thread which I'm about to start

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Molly Reviews Giberson and Stephens IN NY Times

Postby Stephen Fox » Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:21 pm

Her first paragraph on fundamentalism at odds with the enlightenment is spot on and major hint of the tone of her Apostles of Reason. Was hoping to make major headway in the book today but logistics did not cooperate

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/books ... .html?_r=0
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Analysis with some merit

Postby Stephen Fox » Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:03 pm

Andrew, follow the conversation evolving in SBC Trends at baptistlife.com/forums. I think she is 90 percent right and advances the conversation. She has Mark Noll and Darren Dochuk in her corner, but there is an aspect of her SBC analysis that I think gives Pressler and the Birch Right coming out of the McCarthy era a pass they do not deserve. The Fundy leadership was lot more calculating and I think EVIL and I don't think she is the final word. In a sense and this has to be chewed on by minds better than mine, I think Pulitzers Marilynne Robinson comes to some conclusions analogous to Worthen, but from MRob's talk at Duke a couple years ago, she minces no words on her disdain for the likes of Prssler, Jesse Helms and Albert Lee Smith. To say Adrian Rogers had convictions and was dimwitted is one thing. To explore a cauldron analogous to what Bonhoeffer resisted in Germany and giving it a pass as a by product of some Reformist convictions is a shallow conclusion!


Above is what I shared in a facebook discussion a few moments ago about Worthen and the book. Quoting myself above
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Re: Latest on SBC Takeover, excerpt from upcoming 2014 book

Postby Sandy » Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:43 pm

I'm about four chapters in at this point. It will be a while before I finish reading. If there's still interest here in discussing it at that point, I'll be glad to contribute.

I'll say this much at this point. She did some excellent research. She's still steeped in the biases you'd expect from someone steeped in the closed-off, ivory tower academic environment of Yale, where the perspective is "we've got it right, and you may get it someday, if you listen to us." Of course, that immediately classifies her analysis and perspective, and, lacking a genuine understanding of evangelical spiritual experience, she's still not going to get this right.

Stephen Fox wrote:Her first paragraph on fundamentalism at odds with the enlightenment is spot on and major hint of the tone of her Apostles of Reason.


It's a factual analysis, from a purely humanist perspective, in which the advance of human reason represents the sum total of the progress of humanity. Of course that flies in the face of evangelical Christian belief, and is at the crux of the philosophical foundation of the disagreement between evangelical Christian thought, which teaches that the Bible is the revealed word of God, and that the human reason which produced the enlightenment is unreliable and inaccurate because anything produced completely apart from God and by human reason alone is fatally flawed. If that is a hint at her tone, then she's got a bias that's not going to lend itself to support your contentions.

Stephen Fox wrote:Andrew, follow the conversation evolving in SBC Trends at baptistlife.com/forums. I think she is 90 percent right and advances the conversation. She has Mark Noll and Darren Dochuk in her corner, but there is an aspect of her SBC analysis that I think gives Pressler and the Birch Right coming out of the McCarthy era a pass they do not deserve. The Fundy leadership was lot more calculating and I think EVIL and I don't think she is the final word. In a sense and this has to be chewed on by minds better than mine, I think Pulitzers Marilynne Robinson comes to some conclusions analogous to Worthen, but from MRob's talk at Duke a couple years ago, she minces no words on her disdain for the likes of Prssler, Jesse Helms and Albert Lee Smith. To say Adrian Rogers had convictions and was dimwitted is one thing. To explore a cauldron analogous to what Bonhoeffer resisted in Germany and giving it a pass as a by product of some Reformist convictions is a shallow conclusion!


My, oh my, Where to start ripping this load of baloney into shreds? You've got a work here that, though admittedly biased from a particular perspective, does present research and a perspective from a side not directly involved in the SBC controversy. But sometimes Stephen writes as if he's the only person on the face of the earth who understands the way things really were, and anyone who doesn't share his perspective is skewed. To call the conservative leadership of the SBC evil, in all caps, is rude and disrespectful, and antithetical to any hope you have of making your point. Bonhoeffer? Really? Your boat sinks pretty quickly with that one.
Last edited by Sandy on Sat Jan 25, 2014 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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As an example of Evil

Postby Stephen Fox » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:06 pm

Paul Pressler, Jesse Helms, Albert Lee Smith and Wife Eunie and Richard Land.

With you, Sandy Lee Saunders will wait for further review on the names.

I did make a call to FBC Spartanburg yesterday and and talked to Marianna in Trey Gowdy's office. Made a call to Poage Library, the most direct connection to Chet Edwards affiliation with Baylor this morn; thought you'd want an update.

Let's let the reference to Marilynne Robinson's talk at Duke as analogy to where Worthen is going combust a little and we'll see how dead on the money I was or if I missed it a little.

Trying to get www.ginnybrant.com in the Worthen Conversation. She is hardwired to BGEA and FBC Sburg.

Charles Marsh's A Strange Glory, bio of Bonhoeffer comes out in April.

Let's do Stay in Touch.
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Mike Huckabee

Postby Stephen Fox » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:25 pm

Not as Evil as pressler and helms, but he sure is slick, disingenuous and in that Fox News Cauldron with Roger Ailes Bonhoeffer would've Abhorred:

http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispa ... _bogeyman/
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Re: Latest on SBC Takeover, excerpt from upcoming 2014 book

Postby Sandy » Sat Jan 25, 2014 11:56 am

It's a snowy morning, so I picked up the book for a while......

Stephen, in his poking and prodding around, found some new words on an old subject from a different source. Worthen is not particularly concerned about the situation within the Southern Baptist Convention, per se, but about the example it provides as a part of evangelical Christianity as an influence. Her take on it, based on research, is that the structure of the organization, with it's lack of direct connection from churches to institutions, and from institutions to churches, allowed a separation to develop because the pastors and independent, autonomous local churches were not directly influenced by the more liberal direction that the leadership an educational institutions were going. The system protected those within the leadership circle from the reality of a growing disconnectedness from the churches, allowing them to believe they were "leading" the denomination in a more "progressive" direction until Patterson and Pressler figured out how to break down the elitist inner circle and opened up what had been a very exclusive and closed club. It couldn't have been sustained unless a significant majority of the churches would support it. So Worthen agrees that the conservative resurgence wasn't a "takeover" by outsiders, but an adjustment from within which returned the denominational apparatus to those who held the majority view within the churches themselves.

End of discussion for me.
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Re: Latest on SBC Takeover, excerpt from upcoming 2014 book

Postby William Thornton » Sat Jan 25, 2014 1:39 pm

Excellent analysis, one that has always been vehemently denied by mod/libs.
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At this point where do we stand

Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:51 pm

Sandy has read four or more chapters of the book? I do applaud him for jumping into several chapters.

William hasn't read any of the book, or maybe the online chapter but likes Sandy's analysis.

I've read the online chapter, given the last chapter a cursory read at a Barnes and Noble and provided the link to the Worthen Review of giberson and Stephens where Worthen makes the assertion SBC Fundies and other reactionary conservatives to the 60's at core have a war on the Enlightenment.

One thing Worthen is not saying is the takeover was a good thing. Her analysis of why or how it happened may have more in common with half the difference between Nancy Ammerman and Paige Patterson's review of Ammerman than it does with Buddy Shurden, Bruce Gourley and lesser lights like myself and Gene Scarborough.

So if Thornton agrees with Sanders, it seems safe to say they are satisfied with mediocre higher education for Baptist pulpits as Worthen as I understand her is saying that is what the takeover amounted to. Letting the lowest common denominator in the pews decide the nature of Scripture after folks like Adrian Rogers and Paul Pressler with the encouragement of enthusiastic Birchers in the margins convinced them of as much. As the discussion of Worthen's book continues, I doubt the analysis will remain as sanguine as Sandy concludes and Thornton applauds after a four or five chapter read.
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Re: Latest on SBC Takeover, excerpt from upcoming 2014 book

Postby Sandy » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:56 pm

Stephen Fox wrote:So if Thornton agrees with Sanders, it seems safe to say they are satisfied with mediocre higher education for Baptist pulpits as Worthen as I understand her is saying that is what the takeover amounted to. Letting the lowest common denominator in the pews decide the nature of Scripture after folks like Adrian Rogers and Paul Pressler with the encouragement of enthusiastic Birchers in the margins convinced them of as much. As the discussion of Worthen's book continues, I doubt the analysis will remain as sanguine as Sandy concludes and Thornton applauds after a four or five chapter read.


Regardless of where she goes with this, Worthen is not qualified to evaluate the quality of education in either the SBC's seminaries, nor its colleges and universities. The mission and purpose of Christian education, including Christian higher education, is not the same as that of secular higher education, and is not subject to the same kind of evaluation. I would not be satisfied with mediocre higher education for anyone going into the vocational ministry, which is why I heartily applaud the changes that the shift in trustees brought to the SBC schools, and the changes that are now occurring in many of the state convention related colleges and universities. The only evaluation that matters is the one that really measures the quality of the education by the quality of its product, and the churches are evaluating the educational institutions through the placement process. The SBC seminaries are intended to be schools where the content of the instruction is intended to be practically applied in the work of vocational ministry, a much different purpose than that of the ivory tower academic institutions. Your insistence that the conservative resurgence lessened the quality of the instruction is first of all false, and second of all, cut from the same elitist cloth that the SBC rejected overwhelmingly.

Other than the works of those involved in the resurgence itself, Worthen provides a strong case, and simply lays out facts from her research which clearly prove the shift in the SBC was from within, was widely supported by the people in the pews, was sustained by their long term support, and therefore was obviously and clearly not a "Takeover."
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Re: Latest on SBC Takeover, excerpt from upcoming 2014 book

Postby William Thornton » Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:23 am

Stephen, when my liberry gets the book I will read it.

I'm sticking with Adrian on this: If Southern Baptists say that pigs fly then our profs should teach that.

Those who pay the bills have the final word. Those who would like to teach otherwise don't have any inherent right to a paycheck from us and are welcome to obtain one elsewhere,
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Re: Latest on SBC Takeover, excerpt from upcoming 2014 book

Postby Ed Pettibone » Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:16 pm

William Thornton wrote:Stephen, when my liberry gets the book I will read it.

I'm sticking with Adrian on this: If Southern Baptists say that pigs fly then our profs should teach that.

Those who pay the bills have the final word. Those who would like to teach otherwise don't have any inherent right to a paycheck from us and are welcome to obtain one elsewhere,


Ed: William, do you really want to sound like you are saying truth is for sale? I do not know how else to interpret your comment above.
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Winder Lyberry and Worthen

Postby Stephen Fox » Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:57 pm

I was in the Winder Lyberry about five years ago. Nice folks but I doubt they ever shelve Apostles of Reason. Best for you Thornton to make an early drive to Barnes and Noble in Buford and do an in house read. Stay there four hours. You should be able to get deep into it; Or Prod the Lyberry in Clarke County to get the book or UGA. No excuses. I almost pulled the trigger yesterday to go over to Rome and get deep into their one copy there at B n Noble if Nelson Price hasn't already grabbed it up.

Here is a challenge to Thornton and Sandy. Find a copy of the Smyth and Helwys What Really Matters, Furman lecture anthology and read Jeff Rogers on Baptists and Higher Education. Shoots down Sandy's mediocre and foggy notions about Baptists and Higher Ed. Adds Credence to what Cecil Sherman told me in 93 Quoting Bill Friday, longtime Chancellor of the UNiversity system in North Carolina!
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Olson Review of Worthen challenging; finds Schaeffer a charl

Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:07 pm

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolso ... t-3-final/

If Schaeffer is a Charlatan and Mohler one of his Time Magazine influential devotees, then what does that say about the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Bill Leonard and Balmer and Fisher Humphreys need to engage this conversation, the sooner the better!
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Re: Latest on SBC Takeover, excerpt from upcoming 2014 book

Postby William Thornton » Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:35 am

I'm oriented towards the Athens liberry, Stephen, the Winder one being closer but smaller and distinctly more provincial. Besides, the Athens liberry has a Heritage Room rich with genealogical material in which many of my ancestors lurk.
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Key passage from Olson review on Schaeffer

Postby Stephen Fox » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:23 pm

According to Worthen, Schaeffer styled himself as an intellectual and as culture-savvy and sensitive while all the time hiding a basically fundamentalist attitude toward inquiry and knowledge. Worthen’s portrayal of Schaeffer is so harsh as to border on being uncharitable. But charity isn’t her concern; she’s a historian. She honestly believes, apparently, that Schaeffer was a charlatan who convinced even himself, to say nothing of millions of readers and followers, that he was the epitome of a Christian intellectual. In fact, if Worthen is right (and others have said the same), Schaeffer was a fake. He was to evangelicalism what many gurus (and she uses that word for Schaeffer and many evangelical leaders) are to Hinduism—tricksters who cast a spell over their followers and have even come to believe their own press when, in fact, they are the proverbial Wizard of Oz—all bluster and show but no real depth.

You doubt me? Read her treatment of Schaeffer in the sections subtitled “A Thinking Christian” and “The Uses of History” (209-216). Here’s a sample: “[John Howard] Yoder was not the only one appalled by Schaeffer’s hamfisted caricature of history. For all of his emphasis on careful argument, Schaeffer was notoriously irresponsible as a scholar. ‘Schaeffer didn’t read books,’ said his son-in-law, John Sandri. ‘He got his material from magazines, Newsweek, Time—he’d take them to the beach. He did go to seminary, so he had that, but when he was here [at L'Abri], he went through the summarized version. He was out to give broad strokes. It was not necessary to give you the details of Kierkegaard.’ Schaeffer wowed audiences by explaining 500 years of intellectual history in paragraphs and a casual chalkboard diagram—but he did so with exaggerations, oversimplifications, and misinformation that would make a specialist cry.”
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molly on Billy Gee; balmer on Molly

Postby Stephen Fox » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:14 pm

Here is Molly Worthen on the gathering for Billy Graham's 95th Birthday

http://www.christiancentury.org/blogs/a ... m#comments

Randall Balmer's review of Molly's Apostles of Reason should be in Christian Century soon!
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New Furman President and Molly

Postby Stephen Fox » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:24 pm

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Re: Latest on SBC Takeover, excerpt from upcoming 2014 book

Postby Sandy » Fri Feb 07, 2014 5:28 pm

Before Stephen turns this back into another irrelevant tirade on Billy Graham, I'll throw in this brief evaluation of the book. Still not completely finished, but had some hospital time to get through most of it last week.

I don't believe Stephen has stumbled upon an ally to support his theories related to the conservative resurgence in the SBC. Apparently, in her analysis, and in her research, Worthen located some moderate Baptists from the pre-1979 era who were willing to admit that they controlled the convention through a precarious, but effective system that made sure a president was elected who would then go back to the tight little oligarchy that ran the convention to get his nominees. She credits the success of the conservatives in getting the convention apparatus to shift to the fact that most of the churches, members, and pastors and church leaders, were already well to the theological right of the convention leadership and that allowed the conservatives to sustain long term control of the convention. The opposition was widely resented for its paternalistic style of leadership, and couldn't come close to matching the kinds of numbers that the conservatives could get to any convention in any location. I'd say the most substantial piece of supporting evidence I picked up from Ms. Worthen is that the conservative resurgence in the SBC was exactly that, in that it only took organization and figuring out how to work within the system for the conservatives to win, because Worthen contends that the SBC's churches had already been pulled into the broader community of conservative evangelicalism. That's a key point she makes in proving her thesis.

Significantly, and surprisingly, I picked up on the fact that Worthen has a rather strong respect for the educational system and processes of conservative Evangelical Christianity, rather than a disdain for its quality. Clearly, she disagrees with much of the specific content, but backs away from accusations of "indoctrination," evaluating its educational institutions as successful in generating the overall effectiveness and influence of Evangelical Christianity. That's what most Southern Baptists have asked of their schools--to reflect the convictions and beliefs of the churches that established, supported and nurtured them. What we've been experiencing over the past 30 years in Southern Baptist higher education is that some schools have decided to reflect the convictions and beliefs of their supporting churches, while others have sought to loosen, or cut, their ties and move in a different direction. She doesn't support Stephen's elitist view of Baptist higher education.

To her credit, Worthen doesn't pigeonhole conservative Christianity. IMHO, that may be the influence of the encounters she had during her research, or it may have been her own conclusion before writing this book. I also don't get the feeling that she'd be much interested in, or influenced by one of Stephen's imaginary encounters with someone who would set her straight on the places where he thinks she missed the boat.
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