Thursday
Jul302015

‘Offensive’ articles

With reference to your editorial remark about the offensive LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) flag: Please cite any location where this “offensive” flag is displayed upon public property by government authority (“Is the cross the next target?” ABN, July 16, page 4).

With reference to Larry Page’s remark about “obeying an unjust and unrighteous law,” please ask Mr. Page to cite the specific law that imposes incarceration or other punishment upon ministers or churches for refusal to obey (“Baptist leaders react to SC ruling,” ABN, July 16, pages 1, 7).

As I understand it, the Supreme Court of the United States decreed that state laws forbidding same-gender couples to marry are unconstitutional. I am not aware that any law has been enacted – at either the state or federal level – requiring any minister or church to perform any marriage ceremony for any couple of any gender or racial combination.

I have been authorized (permitted) to perform marriage ceremonies in behalf of five different states. I have never encountered any law requiring me to perform a ceremony in any state. It is my understanding that one cannot be punished for failure to obey a law that does not exist. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Bob Hartsell
Hot Springs

Thursday
Jul302015

‘MulleTopia’ concerns

I was deeply troubled as I read about Camp Siloam’s “MulleTopia” (“Camp Siloam goes ‘Mulletopia’” ABN, July 16, page 1, 8). My concern wasn’t over using creative themes or unique approaches in presenting the gospel. As a 29-year-old, I’m all for that. My concern is if the gospel was even truly presented.

Allow me to explain. First, it was noted that the story of Jonah was presented outside of its traditional, “Hebrew context.” This seems alarming on multiple levels. First, taking Scripture out of its Hebrew context implies that salvation isn’t “to the Jew first” (Rom. 1:16), thus classifying it as “another gospel” (Gal. 1:8). Second, as a theology graduate from a SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) school, I was taught that context is everything when seeking to understand and teach a text. How are we going to understand the message that is being given in Scripture if we ignore the context in which it was given? “MulleTopia” would thus receive a failing grade in the classroom. Why would you separate a biblical narrative from the rest of the Bible? Camp Siloam changed the ending of the story to be more appeasing. How is this not adding to and taking away from Scripture (Rev. 22:18-19)? Do we think we can give a better ending than God did?

The children’s hit movie, “VeggieTales,” gave a more biblical account of Jonah then did Siloam. At what point is changing a biblical account to fit personal preference not blasphemy? My burden is this: Is this another example of a new SBC trend to make concession on clear biblical teaching if it will indeed boost our numbers? If this is what is meant by the new Christian phrase, “Radical,” maybe we need to examine ourselves.

Jamie Freeman
Greenwood

Editor’s Note: The ABN contacted Jason Wilkie, executive director at Camp Siloam, for his response to Jamie’s concerns. Following is his response: “I want to reassure Jamie and all Arkansas Baptists that the drama we write and perform each summer is supplemented with eight strong biblical, gospel-centered messages taught by pastors. I understand Jamie’s concern with the idea of taking a ‘story out of biblical context.’ In no way do we present our story as Scripture. Perhaps it would be better to describe what we do at Camp Siloam as ‘writing and performing a story which parallels a biblical story and reveals God’s Truth in a fun and exciting way.’ This is a technique that has been used by writers for years and years to help people see God’s Truth in a new and fresh way.”

Thursday
Jul022015

Planting the Baptist way 

I want to commend the South Side Baptist Church in Pine Bluff for doing missions and church planting the historic Baptist way and, I believe, the biblical way. According to the June 18, 2015, issue of the Arkansas Baptist News,  they sponsored a church plant that eventually led to an autonomous independent local church instead of establishing a “second campus.” The trend of churches starting multiple campuses to me is a departure from historic Baptist ecclesiology. It really amounts to an Episcopal type of church government not much different from the Methodists and Episcopalians. They have several congregations with several pastors with a bishop over them. No doubt some church plants have to remain in a mission status under the supervision and support of a mother church for a long period of time, but the ultimate goal is for them to become self-supporting autonomous churches.

Jimmy A. Millikin
Marion

Thursday
Jul022015

We are born with a sex 

Gays and liberals say they’re just keeping up with the world by making same-sex marriages legal, but the Republic of Ireland is the only country to have passed such a law (Letter written prior to U.S. legalization of same-sex marriage).

As for “sex change” operations – which by the way are funded by the federal and state governments – here are facts.

Before babies can be told (differentiated) from boys or girls, they have mostly male or female hormones, which will decide their sex. Mutilating their bodies can’t change that.

Yet the law says they’ve got to use the wrong restrooms.

Nick Nixon
Charleston

Thursday
Jul022015

IMB and the BF&M

Are the changes to the International Mission Board (IMB) the key to reaching a lost world?

I have never been an IMB missionary. However, I was a Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) missionary. There was a serious problem with missionaries saying they agreed with the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M), but not standing by it in practice. This was in the area of baptism being a prerequisite to the Lord’s Supper. They would often say, “We have no creed but the Bible.” This is surely true. However, someone who differs with us drastically from a doctrinal standpoint can say that they agree with the Bible.

The BF&M is not binding on any local autonomous Baptist church. However, it is normative and an appropriate guideline for missionary appointment. Further, I believe some mandatory follow-up questions are appropriate. No legitimate missionary candidate will hesitate to answer. This will help insure that they really do agree with the BF&M.

Bill Chambers
Newport