A message you're not likely to hear at Covenant or Redeemer Presbyterian (Manhattan)...

(Tim, w/thanks to Jake) Would you understand me if I said Baptists seem to have courage Presbyterians lack? Maybe it's a byproduct of being despised by Presbyterians, but whatever its origins, it's a wonderful gift from God to them and all of us.

Speaking of manly preaching, I give you Russell Moore. if you don't make a habit of listening to what he has to say or readingwhat he writes, you're missing out big-time. A few years back, Russ and I met at a conference. His work's been a great encouragement to me since then.

Here's a message he gave this past week at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary titled, "Joseph of Nazareth Is a Single-Issue Evangelical: The Father of Jesus, the Cries of the Helpless, and Change You Can Believe In." One of our ClearNote Pastors College students, Jake Mentzel, summarizes the message...

"Moore argues that the murder of children has been at the heart of Satan's attack on the Kingdom of God since the Garden of Eden, citing Pharoah, Molech-worship, and Herod. He then levels his aim at confessing Christians--particularly pastors--who say there are other issues to consider, and believe it's "missional" to avoid the subject; men whose aim is really to proclaim "I'm not Jerry Falwell" from their pulpits. Comparing them to southern pastors a few decades ago who preached against card playing and movie-going while black men hung from the trees, Moore then argues that failing to protect unborn children is to deny the Fatherhood of God and the redemption that is in Christ. Moore goes on to say the most counter-cultural, missional thing any pagan could hear in our churches may well be the sound of crying babies."

Comments

A sorrowful statement stated beautifully.

I think that this is why many so strongly dislike the baby toting Sarah Palin. She is not ashamed of her position as wife and mother.

or she just drags around her baby to win political bonus points with the conservatives.

At the Bloomington Pro-Life group meeting Monday, people from 8 different churches talked about how to get the Pro-Life message out. Many expressed dismay that their pastors didn't speak out about Pro-Life issues.

And mind you, these are the most Pro-Life churches in town represented - the rest we couldn't even get to show up for prayer once every three months!

After much complaining Carole Canfield asked the obvious question which was why don't these people ask that their pastors speak more on the issue of abortion. Well, everyone got quiet then and began extolling their respective pastors.

These people have been smacked down over the years, not just ignored about Pro-Life but told that they should be silent. This is huge issue - Christians are being persecuted in "Pro-Life" churches for their beliefs - it's not just that pastors are afraid that they'll upset people if it's in the sermon, but they don't hardly want it anywhere in the church. And you'd better believe that members of these congregations know that if they align themselves with the Pro-Life "radicals" in their church that they will become pariahs themselves.

Before discussion closed down with Carole's question, people were saying that Pro-Life issues have to come from the congregation up not from the leadership/preaching down. How absurd! I mean, it's a cycle - if there isn't good preaching, the congregation won't respond to important issues; if people don't respond, pastors are less likely to give good preaching.

We need both bubbling up from the congregation (I think that's a Tim Keller term) and good preaching and leadership.

About Russell Moore. This article here,

http://www.henryinstitute.org/commentary_read.php?cid=318

makes it clear that the SBC is being affected by things which seem to have affected the PCA, ie. women's "upward social mobility".

If the Pentecostal birthrate is higher than the PCA one, does that mean that Pentecostals are (horrors!) more spiritual than Presbyterians? Or is it more about their social structure? I suspect the latter - having grown up as one - but leave this to give you pause for thought. Quoting Russell, in full:

Baptist Born? Baptist Bred?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I was Baptist born. I was Baptist bred. And when I die, I'll be Baptist dead. So goes the old pulpit cliche about Baptist identity. A recent study, however, shows that there's not a lot of Baptist breeding and birthing going on these days.

The September 2006 issue of Religion Watch (not available online) looks at a current Princeton University's scholar's study unveiled at the Association of the Sociology of Religion meeting on the link between denominational affiliation and birthrate. The study, conducted by Conrad Hackett, is unique, Religion Watch says, "since it isolates the various denominational affiliations."

Hackett discovered that Mormon familes have the highest fertility rate (2.69 children born to women 20-44) followed by Mennonites (2.45). Liberal denominations such as the Episcopal Church (1.84) and the Unitarians (1.78) trailed. Conservative denominations such as the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), the Church of the Nazarene, and Pentecostal groups had high birth rates. The Southern Baptist Convention is an exception. The SBC had a pitifully low birthrate of 1.96, just barely above the Episcopalians and well below the notoriously liberal United Church of Christ.

Hackett's study is hardly the final word. More research needs to be done. I wouldn't be surprised if his data is skewed. But the question must be asked, why would our birthrates be so low?

Hackett argues, according to Religion Watch, that is has less to do with theology as with whether or not a congregation encourages a "natalist culture." He ties it specifically with the percentage of women with a bachelor's degree (only 11 percent in the Church of the Nazarene; 30 percent among Southern Baptists).

I think Hackett is right about the "natalist culture." I think he's wrong that this is unrelated to theology.

What are the common threads here? Granted, some, such as the Latter-day Saints, have a dangerous theology that unbiblically ties personal salvation to the family structure. Others, such as the Mennonites, are largely counter-cultural, outside the mainstream of American consumer culture. Still others, the Pentecostals and the Nazarenes, are outside the economic mainstream, with members who are more typically rural or working class.

I am not arguing that it is a bad trend that 30 percent of Southern Baptist women have a bachelor's degree or above. It should concern us, however, that many of our churches seem to value upward mobility more than family. There was a time when Southern Baptists were the pulpwood haulers and the bankers and lawyers were Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists. Now we're the white-collar establishment, at least in certain parts of the country. The pulpwood haulers and bricklayers are, more and more it seems, Pentecostals and Nazarenes. That may be good for our self-image, and perhaps it is good for our political clout. But is it good for our souls, or for our future?

I wonder how many Southern Baptist parents tell their newly married children to "wait till you get settled" before having children so "you can enjoy each other," as though children will mean the end of romance. I wonder how many Southern Baptist churches greet a family with four or more children with a snide comment from a Baby Boomer about whether "you know what's causing that."

I wonder how many Southern Baptist churches these days devote time in their youth groups to teaching young boys to prepare for the glory of fatherhood? I wonder how many churches recruit older women to teach our girls that the greatest success they can find is not to be the first Southern Baptist female President of the United States

[this was written well before Sarah Palin arrived on the scene]

or to tithe more money as a monied Southern Baptist bank executive but to be a wife and mother? Is it indicative of how far we've fallen for the American dream that it would be controversial in some conservative Southern Baptist churches even to say this?

It is time for us, as Southern Baptists, to recognize that our success can kill us. As a denomination that once was derided as "redneck" and backward, we're now invited to the Rotary Club meetings. We're being elected to Congress. We're not in the trailer parks anymore. Our young men are successful, suburban, and careerist, and our young women are too. And we think that's a sign of health. Meanwhile our baptisms go down, and our birthrates do too. It turns out keeping up with the Episcopalians can have a downside.

This doesn't mean that we should equate fertility with spirituality. God is going to call some believers not to marry so that, like the Apostle Paul or Lottie Moon, they can devote themselves totally to Great Commission service. Others will not be blessed with large families, or with children at all. But, at the same time, can't we insist that our view of children be dictated by the Book of Proverbs rather than Madison Avenue or Wall Street?

Let's pray for churches that welcome children, embrace families, and seek to evangelize and disciple our little ones, and the little ones in our neighborhoods whose parents will never join them in the pew. Let's pray for churches that won't idolize the Dual Income, No Kids picture of success mirrored on our television screens. Let's teach our boys to want to be husbands and fathers, our girls to want to be wives and mothers, our familes to be evangelists. Let's outbreed the Mormons and out-preach the Pentecostals. Let's press the gospel upon a new generation, win them to Christ, baptize them, teach them, and see the Lord call them to the pastorate, to missions, to lay leadership.

Let's pray for busy baptisteries and crawling cradle rolls. Otherwise, it doesn't matter how respectable we are in the community or how large our capital budgets are. Without a next generation, we'll just be Baptist dead.

"or she just drags around her baby to win political bonus points with the conservatives" - S

Dear "S",

Would you have her put her baby IN the ground as opposed to, as you say, "drag(s) her baby around"?

What we are talking about here is the difference between the Kingdom of God and Satanic Babylon. Your worldly, all wise, intellectual elite cynicism would be laughable and absurd if it didn't demonstrate your blindness (or "relevance").

What we are talking about has ETERNAL consequences! My brother or sister "S": Will you care 100 years from now that you got a clever jab in about Sarah Palin and her baby? How about using your cleverness to proclaim the truth about Jesus? Or if you have found this site and you aren't a believer in Jesus: Please search the scriptures for what God and Jesus say about harming the little ones.

Just don't have a supportive environment in most churches for large families. Debt in the bible is called a curse and children a blessing, but if I walked into church with nine children I would probably get stares and comments but if I drove up in a new Cadillac I wouldn't turn a head

ROSS!!!

I love this article. I'm going to be copying it and saving it.

This is similar to a the other thread recently posted on Tim Keller. This is the "broader abortion culture" that Michael talks about there.

People don't just wake up one day and say, "You know, someday when I grow up, I want to murder my child." It starts with a kid who's 6 and his Kindergarten teacher asks him what he wants to be when he grows up. The boy or girl innocently answers, "A Dad!" or "A Mom!" and the teacher says, "Oh, no, don't you want to be a Astronaut or Doctor?" And the kid says, "Uh, yeah!" Parents, grandparents, church leaders often do the same thing. We embed idolatry deep in our childrens' hearts at an early age.

I've been guilty of doing it, but thankfully God gives us children who have more godliness than we ourselves have. A few years back my (then) 10 year old daughter said that she didn't want to go to college (my son basically said the same thing) - what did I immediately say, "Well, why NOT!!!!???" - my daughter explained that she wanted to be a mother and that she didn't want to bring a lot of college debt into her marriage that her family would have to struggle with and she could learn all she wanted to on her own, she didn't need to go to college to know how to homeschool her kids. I had to realize that she was just learning the inevitable teaching from the lives her mother and I had been leading since her earliest memories.

It just so happens that my wife and I were pretty talented students and have had success homeschooling our kids but that is really irrelevant, God will bless us if we are faithful to his calling for us if it's to be parents. I tried to derail God's calling for me to be a father very early in life. My only regret in life is not that my wife and I didn't go to Med school as we'd planned, but that instead of marrying at 18 when we met, we married later at 20.

Now I say these things to my kids and kids in my church because if you don't, then there will be more college students going to Planned Parenthood from our churches because we've told them that they cannot start a family until they finish grad school yet we also haven't necessarily prepared them for purity and parenthood either so they're sort of in an impossible situation.

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point,

which means at the point of highest reality." - C.S. Lewis

Presbyterians despise Baptists? Well, then, gracious host, you'd better get cracking--I ain't feeling the hate! :^)

Sorry, I just couldn't resist.

But seriously, I am very grateful for the generations of Baptists who have not given a fig for the good opinions of others--it's got its down sides, of course, but it has allowed us to keep some unpopular opinions and remain faithful in many ways.

That said, the article Ross links has a good point; full minivans are not as common in Baptist circles as I'd like to see, and we're starting to become a little bit more like "the world" in this regard.

Even those ....shudder.....Presbyterians! :^)

(sorry, I just can't resist.....)

A couple in our church had their 13th child baptized yesterday. This fine family is very much above the norm -- and not just in mere numbers.

An interesting patriarchal touch was that the pastor asked the father to state the baby's name (and it wasn't because the pastor forgot it).

"We embed idolatry deep in our childrens' hearts at an early age."

My husband and I have just had our fifth child - and what a blessing he is. Unfortunately, not everyone in our church thinks so. In fact, we chose to keep the pregnancy a secret for the first 20 weeks in order to avoid the inevitable comments that were soon to follow. When we did finally tell people we were expecting again, a neighbor boy, only 6 years old, exclaimed "i hear you are having another baby - that's awful." I was dismayed at his response, and my husband reminded me not to be mad it him - he was only echoing what his parents had taught him at home.

Our decision to not use birth control started from reading a statement comparing using birth control to a lack of love for children which is the root of abortion. It was a startling thought to my mind which had been shocked several years earlier by my father-in-law's statement that birth control was wrong. Until then I had thought birth control was normal and never questioned it. Mind you I was brought up in the reformed church and Christian schools where we were taught just the basics of sex. Now I look at each of our 12 children (birth and adopted) and realize that except for that decision to stop using birth control some of those kids wouldn't be here today. Our sensible minds would have told us to stop long before we reached 12. Today, I can't imagine life without any of them.

"Our sensible minds would have told us to stop long before we reached 12. Today, I can't imagine life without any of them."

I know what you mean. After having two children, my daughter and my son my father said to me, "You've got one of each, you can stop now." My brother said later something like, "Clint and Ginger are gonna have a whole herd of kids" and my dad said, "I hope not, I don't even think they should have this one."

Mind you, my wife was pregnant with my son Daniel at that time (our third of five children) and she was in earshot of my father at this time. (He didn't mean abortion but he meant we should have stopped at two kids using "birth control".) There was this constant feeling growing up that children were a burden to be avoided, one, maybe two kids were enough. My father wasn't a Christian when I was a kid, but he was a minister when he made his comment, has been for 20 years.

My dad's a good guy, he's just blinded in this area - it emphasizes how much we as Christians have to encourage and challenge our pastors as well as each other. And how much sometimes our kids will challenge us if we raise them properly (not that I am a good example of this).

Also, we can't inadvertently give our kids the impression that children are a burden rather than a blessing. After all, Margaret Sanger came from a large family and she obviously took the wrong lesson away from that. There were times my oldest daughter reflected what I'd put in her heart - saying that she didn't want very many kids. I always tell my kids that learning to compromise in a family is preparation for being in a church family.

" if I walked into church with nine children I would probably get stares and comments but if I drove up in a new Cadillac I wouldn't turn a head"

Chuck, P. I know exactly what you mean. You've just got to do the right thing, those large families can be a huge witness. There was one freaky large family at our old church called the Crums - they were one of those families for us ;-)

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