Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Reflection on How I've Changed in the Last Few Years

It's been my practice to visit some homebound members of our church on those holidays our family stays in Enid. Last Thursday, my 22 year old daughter Charis (pictured here with our family on Thanksgiving Day) joined me in visiting several church members as we sought to bring them some personal encouragement. Without fail, every person whom we desired to uplift wound up encouraging us. From the family that lost a husband/father/son the week prior, to the 93 year old widow spending her first Thanksgiving alone since the death of her 98 year old husband, to the people in the nursing homes and hospitals who were ill and spending Thanksgiving alone, each of our visits brought tears of joy to my daughter's eyes. These folks were a blessing to us. They reminded me of the axiom my dad taught me years ago: "As people get older, they either get better or bitter." Each of them had definitely gotten better!

I've taken some time over the weekend to try to evaluate some areas in my own life where there has been change for the better these past few years. I never want to get "stuck." I know the growth enumerated in the areas below is not yet complete, and there are many other areas in my life that need work, but in my own mind (and my wife's mind), these areas of my life have changed for the better.

(1). There is within me a deeper appreciation and respect for the work and ministry of people that are evangelical but not necessarily Baptist.

(2). When I am considering a particular course of action, I no longer ask myself "How will this 'look' to others?" Now, I simply ask, "Will what I do honor Christ and, in the long run, will it help others?"

(3). Though I love doctrine as much, if not more, than I ever have loved it, I have absolutely zero interest in convincing people that I am "right" in my beliefs. I am always ready to give an answer for what I believe, but I'd rather people know that I love them and I have zero need to let them know I disagree with them.

(4). I have little patience left for Christians who exert "power," "authority," and "control" over other Christians. It seems to me that exerting power, authority and control over others is the exact opposite of the kind of character Christ calls each of us to exhibit. If it is asked, "But should not these Christians who dominate and control feel your love as well?" I answer: "They do. The most loving thing I can do for those who lord over others under the guise of "spiritual authority" is to continue to point out the kings are actually wearing no clothes."

(5). There has come a genuine freedom in ministry at Emmanuel. Eighteen years of being with, and among, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ allows for the development of the kind of trust that is necessary to gently encourage and lead them to stake no claim in institutional advancement or fame (the church), but to only do those things in ministry that will encourage individuals in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Well, those are some areas where I think I've changed in the last few years. There may be more, but those quickly come to my and my wife's mind this past weekend.

In His Grace,


Thursday, November 26, 2009

How God Merges Culture and Truth in His Word

There are some conservatives who are concerned that "truth" is often compromised by the embrace of "culture." Evangelicals that adopt certain aspects of culture in order to promote "the truth" of God's word are sometimes condemned as "liberals" or "compromisers."

Interestingly, the biblical word "truth" is formed using the Greek culture of mythology. "Truth" translates the biblical Greek word "alethia." Alethia is a compound word composed of "a" (which means "not" in Greek) and "lethe" (which means "forgotten, hidden, or concealed" in Greek). Truth, then, literally means "that which is not hidden" or "that which is not forgotten."

Lethe was the Greek goddess of oblivion and forgetfulness. When people died, according to the ancient Greeks, they went to Hades where they had to drink from Lethe's water--a river in Hades named after the goddess Lethe. Those who would cup their hands, draw water from the river and drink, would forget their previous existence on earth. This would allow for the dead to be "reincarnated" and not remember their past lives.

The Apostle Paul says that we Christians are to delight in NOT hiding, concealing and forgetting (i.e. "lethe"). We are to "rejoice with the truth" (Gr. "alethia") I Corinthians 13:6. Comprehending the meaning of this word truth does not negate the rightful understanding that we Christians are to be people who love right doctrine, but the understanding of the etymology of the Greek word "truth" should lead us to believe other things as well:

(1). We Christians ought to rejoice in all matters of Christian ministry being placed out in the open for all to see and not hidden from view (i.e. "We are children of light, not darkness"). This should give every SBC convention committee (think GCR), institution (IMB, seminaries, etc...), church and person pause before we do ANYTHING in secret.

(2). We Christians ought to live lives that are authentic and transparent, avoiding hidden agendas and secrets.

(3). We Christians ought to delight in relationships that are built on genuine openness and real community--not the superficial, religious relationships often formed by institutional Christianity.

But the interesting tidbit about biblical "truth," at least from my perspective, is that the word itself comes from ancient Greek mythology. Not many western Christians realize this. It seems God is not as upset about using certain aspects of pagan culture to promote the "truth" as some would have us think.

God bless those evangelicals who understand this principle.

In His Grace,


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted' for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d dy of October, A.D. 1789.

(signed) G. Washington

Happy Thanksgiving one and all,

Wade Burleson

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Finally Figured Out Why I Don't Like Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

For decades I have been lovingly chided by my wife for not enjoying a good ole homemade pumpkin pie. The first time I ever met my wife's grandparents, salt of the earth Kansas farmers, they fed me a heaping piece of pumpkin pie. Wishing not to sully what I hoped to be a stellar affirmation of me by those grandparents, I surreptitiously stuck the pie in my pocket and buried it later in the backyard. I have never been fully able to explain to others my disdain for pumpkin pie, but one of my church members sent me a photograph this week (see below) that instantly opened my eyes, and helped me make sense of, my aversion to it.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.









The origins of pumpkin pie.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Should Evangelical Leaders Be Held Accountable for What They Falsely Teach About the Second Coming?

Time is up on another self prophecy of the end by an evangelical Christian leader. Jerry Falwell predicted in January of 1999 that the “Second coming of Christ probably will be within 10 years.” Falwell was wrong. He also made another prophecy about the Anti-Christ being Jewish and alive at the time. On that count, too, Falwell is most likely wrong. However, the most disturbing statement by the late Dr. Falwell in 1999, at least to me, is not his misled proclamations of the coming of Christ, or his unwise attempts at identifying the ethnicity of the anti-Christ, but rather the following highlighted quote from a January 20, 1999 press release:

"When I delivered my sermon on the second coming of Jesus Christ last week to a pastors conference in Kingsport, Tennessee, I conveyed biblically-based truths that I have believed and preached nationally for more than 40 years. In addition to asserting that I personally believe that Christ could return soon (though no one knows the date of His second coming), I stated that the Antichrist may possibly be alive on the earth today. Most evangelicals, including Billy Graham and millions of others, believe in the imminent, premillennial, pretribulational second coming of Jesus Christ for all of His Church."

"Since Jesus came to the earth the first time 2,000 years ago as a Jewish male, most evangelicals believe the Antichrist will, by necessity, be a Jewish male also, since his mission will be to pretend to be the true Christ. This belief is 2,000 years old and has no anti-Semitic roots. This is simply historic and prophetic orthodox Christian doctrine that many (not all) theologians, Christian and non-Christian, have understood for two millennia."

Like the previous errant prophecies by Dr. Falwell, his prediction that most evangelicals are "premillenial, pretribulational" believers in the second coming of Christ is also wrong. Maybe that's true in Lynchburg, Virginia and in the southern U.S., but most evangelicals throughout the world and throughout history have NOT been premillenial, pretribulational believers in the second coming.

Dr. Falwell batted 0 for 3 in 99!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Dismissal of FBC Decatur: When Does a Convention Become a Cult?

During the November 11, 2009 business session of the Georgia Baptist Convention, messengers to the Southern Baptist state convention dismissed FBC Decatur, Georgia from fellowship for the church's calling of Julie Russell-Pennington as Senior Pastor in 2007. The SBC will not establish a data base to track ministerial child abusers out of fear of "violating local church autonomy," but when it comes to a church calling a woman to preach the gospel, church autonomy is slain at the feet of conventional conformity.

The notion that a woman cannot preach the gospel, or teach a man, or perform "pastoral" duties, is not biblical -- not even close. As time passes, more and more Bible-believing, conservative, Christ-honoring evangelicals are beginning to see that any prohibition against a woman ministering in the same manner as a man is a man-made restriction. God, in the New Covenant, signed and sealed by His Son's blood, has set His women free to function in the kingdom in the same manner He has His men.

As far back as the 1980's, conservative, Bible-believing men and women began voicing their beliefs that the inerrant, inspired Word of God declared full equality of men and women in creation and redemption. The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, filled with Southern Baptist leadership, was formed to combat what they called "evangelical feminism." As I pointed out last week, Southern Baptists who wish to suppress women will even alter the sacred text to accomplish this goal. SBC Professor Dr. David Jones' article, posted by CBMW, alleges "scribal error" when Paul named a "female" apostle in Romans 16:7. I wrote that it is sad when inerrantist resort to pointing out error in the text to sustain a theological position. Dr. Bart Barber, an adjunct SBC professor himself and now a trustee at Southwestern Theological Seminary--a seminary at the heart of Southern Baptist attempts to anchor spirtual leadership within the male gender--was not happy with my post critiquing Dr. Jones' article. He commented:

Indeed, is there any published critical edition of the Greek New Testament that sides with Burleson and P46 in adopting "Julia" as the original text?

Suzanne McCarthey answers Dr. Barber's comment quite nicely in a comment of her own..

Let's examine (Dr. Jone's) statement (about Greek texts):

"... Greek minuscule manuscripts, which began having accents in the 9th century, all accent the name as though it were masculine -- without exception. It is interesting that Cervin catalogs so many modern editions of the Greek text, including the modern Greek translation, and shows how most support the feminine reading, and yet fails to mention the accentuation found in the older Greek minuscules dating from the ninth and tenth centuries, which support unanimously the masculine reading.55 The latter are certainly closer to the source and thus constitute more weighty evidence than modern editions. The fact that all of the manuscripts accented it the same no matter what part of the world they were found in suggests that the gender issue had been settled some time before. Thus, Tucker's tongue-in-cheek statement about the gender of Iounian being held unanimously as feminine up until her "sex change" around the 14th century is thus made at the expense of this evidence, which suggests otherwise."

It appears from this statement that David Jones article predates the UBS 1998 text of the Greek New Testament. In this text it is finally made clear that there is NO Greek minuscule which accents the name as masculine. Not even one, ever!

I don't fault Jones for not knowing this, depending on the date of his article. I am severely disgusted at his mockery of Brooten, Tucker, Grenz, Cervin, etc. when it now turns out that they are 100% accurate and he is 100 % wrong, due to the fact that UBS had previously published that there were manuscripts which accented the word as masculine, when there were not.

I think that the CBMW would do David Jones a kindness by removing such an outdated article from the internet.

The issue of women in ministry should NOT divide conservative evangelicals from cooperating in world-wide mission efforts, particularly when one side of the debate is having to alter the sacred text in order to sustain its position. When Dr. Barber, Dr. Patterson, Dr. Mohler, and other Southern Baptists, including messengers from the Georgia Baptist Convention, "disfellowship" and "severe relationship" with autonomous local churches who are following what they believe the Bible to teach, then they have placed others of us who wish to identify with the Southern Baptist Convention in a very, very precarious position.

As I wrote two years ago:

If a Southern Baptist cannot point out where he/she believes the BFM 2000 is in contradiction with Scripture we are in trouble. In fact, if a Southern Baptist voices a disagreement with some of the interpretations of tertiary doctrines found within the BFM 2000, and we then begin to ‘question’ that Southern Baptist’s conservative credentials, we have prostituted our heritage as Baptists. Why? We will have placed ourselves in the very bizarre place of having people in the SBC being called ‘liberal’ when they champion their belief of the authority of the Bible over a man-made confession. Think about it — in 2007 it is possible for Southern Baptists to call ‘a liberal’ someone within the convention whose conscience is bound to the Word of God, and not the BFM 2000!
The Georgia Baptist Convention last week sent money back to First Baptist Church, Decatur--money that FBC Decatur had given them through the Cooperative Program mission efforts the preceding year. The GBC said to FBC, Decatur-- "Keep your money. We don't want it, nor do we wish you to be identified with us."

Well, I've got news for the SBC. If we have come to the time when a conservative, Bible-believing Southern Baptist church cannot follow what she believes the Bible teaches, and is forced to either conform to Convention mandates or else be removed from fellowship, then the SBC has stopped being a legitimate, historical Baptist convention of cooperating believers and churches and we have become a cult.

I, and the church to which I belong, want no part of a cult. 100 years from now, if the Lord tarries, and another generation of Southern Baptists are allowed to arise, it is my prayer that they will see there were some Southern Baptists in 2009 who refused to stick their head in the sand when the Bible stopped being the standard of faith for Southern Baptists.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Irony and Humor of Teaching What the Bible Actually Says About Alcohol

Dr. Randy Jaeggli is Professor of Old Testament at Bob Jones University. Last year Dr. Jaeggli published a paperback book entitled The Christian and Drinking where he examined all of the verses in the Bible dealing with alcohol. Dr. Jaeggli's personal conclusion, as one would expect, was that every Christian should totally abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages. However, his scholarly and academic conclusion was a tad different. He wrote that the Bible itself does not command abstinence. Indeed, Dr. Jaeggli points out several places in the sacred text which seem to imply that alcohol is associated with some positive Christian values or serve as a metaphor for foundational Christian truths. He personally advocates total abstinence but writes the Bible prohibits excessive drinking only. To the horror of some fundamentalists, Dr. Jaeggli writes convincingly that Jesus turned the water into actual alcoholic wine at Canaan. An excellent review of Dr. Jaeggli's book is given by Jonathan Taylor.

Yesterday, a blogger going by the name Ektachrome made me aware of an email sent by the President of Bob Jones University a couple of months ago. The email read:

The sensitivity and complexity of the topic of (Dr. Jaeggli's) book, combined with the brevity and inductive arrangement of it, have caused confusion for some readers. They have concluded from some select portions of the text that Dr. Jaeggli condones a Christian’s moderate use of alcohol, which is the opposite of what the book actually teaches.
I'm not sure about the confusion to which the President refers. Dr. Jaeggli was quite clear he personally advocated abstinence. Could it be that his impartial, scholarly, and conservative approach to the sacred text brought about the confusion? Could it be that some readers realized that the good professor's convictions went beyond the commandments of Scripture? In other words, did people read his book and become clear about what the Bible actually says about the subject, but confused about the grounds for total abstinence for every Christian?

It seems the President's email didn't slow the firestorm over the book. Now, Bob Jones University has pulled the book from its shelves, and has decided to no longer make it available to the public. Hmmmm.

Now, if you wish to purchase the little $10.95 paperback you will have to shell out $999.00 to Amazon for the privilege.


Wade Burleson

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Picture Parable: The Ultimate Fate of Our Temporal Riches

This fire in California, captured by L.A. Daily News photographer Gene Blevins, visually illustrates the truth behind the words of Jesus, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nidal Hasan: Are Moderate Muslims the Most Dangerous Muslims of All?

I confess to thinking twice before posting today. I know that what is written here will inflame some and enrage others. I remind the reader that the title of the post simply asks a question. I, for one, am not giving an answer. Some Christians, people whom I respect, have written that the answer to the question in the title of my post is an emphatic "No!" They have suggested that to disagree with them on this issue is to "demonize" Islam. Others however, like the Mossab Hassan, answer the question "Are moderate Muslims the most dangerous kind of Muslims?" with an emphatic "Yes." Since there is disagreement, it is at least a question worth asking and thoughtfully considering an appropriate answer.

The shootings at Ft Hood that killed 13 United States soldiers is a horrific example of Islamic jihad. What most Americans are hearing on television is that "we just don't know why this moderate Muslim, a United States military officer himself, would do such a terrible thing!" Mossab Hassan says he understands the Islamic ideology that drove Hasan to do what he did. Mossab, the son of of the only surviving founding council member of Hamas, the largest terrorist organization in the world, spoke at our church last October. He said something during his talk that got people to thinking. Mossab Hassan said, (quote) "Moderate Muslims are most dangerous Muslims of all." This former Islamic radical fundamentalist, who himself is now urging all Muslims world-wide to love (not kill) their enemies, explained his rationale as follows (direct from the transcript).

Islamic fanatics are not the most dangerous Muslims.

• Professors, teachers at U.S. universities are dangerous because they support terrorism undercover (raise money here to send to terrorists)

• Most suicide bombers are not fanatics, but moderate, traditional Muslims

• Islam is a religion of steps, like climbing a ladder, with jihad the highest rung on the ladder.

• You cannot measure the speed of a person climbing this ladder. A “moderate Muslim” could reach the top rung in a few months, or in ten years. There is no way to predict it.

• There is no difference between a moderate Muslim and a fundamental Muslim. They believe in the same god.

Islam's god teaches followers to kill the infidels who will not convert. This act of jihad is the highest rung of the ladder in one's effort to please Allah.

Again, you may not agree with Mossab Hassan, but I find it interesting that people in the culture of the United States are urging caution in bringing judgment upon moderate Islam over the shootings at Ft. Hood--implying that moderate Islam is different than fundamental Islamic radicals. Yet,a former radical Muslim leader in the terrorist organization Hamas, a man trained for years to kill his enemies, is unequivocally telling us that moderate Muslims are the most dangerous kind of Muslims because nobody knows how fast they will jump to the top rung of jihad.

Interesting. Maybe US army officer Nidal Hasan was truly a moderate Muslim. I guess it depends on whose perspective one chooses to believe.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When Inerrantists Espouse the Bible Has Error: A Question for Southern Baptists About Junia in Romans 16:7

Dr. David Jones is a conservative Southern Baptist scholar who serves as a professor of ethics on the faculty at Southeastern Theological Seminary. The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has posted an article written by Dr. Jones entitled "A Female Apostle?" (Edit: It seems the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood misidentified the man who wrote the article they posted on their own website. I have no idea how CBMW can post an article and misidentify the author, but it seems, as has been pointed out by a couple of commentors in the comment section the CBMW has now corrected their mistake. The author of the article is David Jones, Professor at Moffat College of Bible).

Dr. Jones examines Romans 16:7 where the Apostle Paul names a female, Junia, as one "prominent among the apostles." Dr. Jones rightly frames the issue that arises from this verse when he writes, "A woman is called an apostle, and a prominent apostle no less, who may have planted churches throughout the Roman world and exercised governing authority over them. It challenges the traditional belief in an all-male apostolate, as well as the implication that complementarians have drawn from it."

For this reason, Dr. Jones sets out to prove that the woman named in Romans 16:7 is NOT actually a woman. The basic conclusion that Dr. Jones reaches follows:

(T)he important papyrus P46, along with several other less important manuscripts and versions, reads Ioulian. Ioulian is a feminine name, equivalent to our Julia. If this reading is to be preferred, then Paul is definitely referring here to a sister in Christ and not a brother. It is unlikely that this reading is original, however ... It is most likely that the scribe who copied P46 inadvertently transposed "Julia" from verse fifteen. (emphasis mine).

In essence, the oldest, and highly important Greek manuscript (according to Dr. Jones), Papyri 46 has a mistake. It contains a scribal "error."

Dr. Jones' article is worthy for you to read in its entirety. I understand his conclusion, and though I disagree it, I respect it. I write not to refute Dr. Jones scholarly conclusions, but to ask a sincere question of all my fellow conservative Southern Baptist.

What do we call it when a Southern Baptist inerrantist points out 'error' in the most ancient Greek text?

In His Grace,


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Why Southern Baptist Cooperation through SBC Conventions, Associations and Entities Is In Trouble

Webster's Dictionary defines "cooperation" as "the action of association for a common effort or benefit." Southern Baptist churches have associated together for the common effort of missions since 1845. In fact, the "Southern" before Baptist identifies the cooperative nature we Baptists bring toward our mission efforts; otherwise, we would simply be a part of the tens of thousands of other independent Baptist churches in America. Jim Richards, the Executive Director of the Southern Baptist Convention of Texas, was recently quoted as saying, “I believe one of the greatest threats to the mission of today’s church among Southern Baptists is a departure from cooperation.

He's right; but he's also part of the reason cooperation in the SBC is unraveling.

Southern Baptist conservatives who demand absolute conformity on all doctrinal matters, or worse, tamper with broad doctrinal confessional statements by adding tertiary doctrines to them and then demand that all other Southern Baptists pledge allegience to them, are destroying the fabric of cooperation. Ironically, my conservative friends are intelligent enough to see that when thousands of Baptists ceased identifying with the SBC after passage of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, it became prudent not to tamper anymore with the BFM.

So conservative leadership decided to change, behind the scenes, the doctrinal statements that served as the standard for cooperation and service within individual SBC agencies. These changes in the doctrinal statements of SBC entities were approved and implemented without SBC convention wide approval. Designated trustees began changing the doctrinal statements to reflect the core of organized Fundamentalism (anti-spiritual gifts, Landmark, pre-millenial, etc.). There is nothing necessarily morally wrong with Fundamentalism if the adherents to that particular ideology love those who disagree with them. The problem with Fundamentalism, especially in the Southern Baptist Convention, is when people of cooperation become more interested in doctrinal conformity than missional cooperation. When that happens, Baptist people, pastors and churches who used to identify with the cooperative efforts of Southern Baptists will CEASE cooperating.

That seems to already be happening.

The Southern Baptist Convention is in trouble. Finances will continue to decline. Leadership may wish to point to the economy, but the truth is, until we stop giving lip service to cooperation, and actually treasure it, we have nowhere to go but down.

I am on my way to the meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Our cooperative efforts are important, but growing demands that all SBC churches identify with Fundamentalist ideology in order to cooperate in mission effforts must stop.

In His Grace,


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Honoring God in a City Full of Needy Children Rather than a Quiverfull of Separatist Children: Exposing the Biblical Holes in Quiverfull Theology

There is within my heart an affinity for those who "exalt Jesus Christ as Lord, and acknowledge His headship in all areas of our lives." This is the confession of the writers over at For this reason, there is always a check in my spirit before anything critical is ever written about the practice or teaching of a fellow brother or sister in Christ who acknowledge our Savior as Lord. Yet, if correction is ever needed within the evangelical, conservative portion of the family of God, it should come from other evangelical, conservatives since most other types of correction will be considered as coming from "enemies." This post is written by no enemy of those who name Christ as Lord, but it is written to demonstrate the theological error of quiverfull theology.

Quiverfull theology advocates are almost universally conservative, evangelical Christians. They seek to convince people that "God alone" should determine the size of one's family, since having a "quiverfull" of children is a "blessing" from God (Psalm 127:3-5). For this reason, they will tell you that any kind of contraception or any desire to prevent the conception of a child during the coital act is a sin against God. In 1985, Mary Pride wrote a foundational text for quiverfull theology entitled The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality. Mrs. Pride argued that family planning leads to a slide toward the acceptability of abortion and feminism, two things incompatible with Christianity. Pride wrote that Christians should reject women's liberation in exchange for the principles of submissive wifehood and prolific stay-at-home motherhood - thus the modern birth of quiverfull living.

Since the mid-1980's, quiverfull theology has expanded exponentially within the Southern Baptist Convention and conservative evangelicalism at large. Many members of my extended family, really fine people who love Christ, live lives that are based upon this contra-contraception philosophy. Many leading Southern Baptists and conservative theologians advocate quiverfull theology including Paige and Dorothy Patterson, Al and Mary Mohler, and a host of Southern Baptists who follow home-school leader Mary Pride's philosophy. Dr. Mohler has stated publicly that intentional childlessness is "moral rebellion" against God. It's not my desire to chronicle the growing number of quiverfull advocates in conservative Christianity--that has already been professionally and impassionately done by New York City author Kathryn Joyce, whose 2009 book Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement is a must read. One of the reviews, written by Vickie Garrison, sums up my opinion of the importance of Joyce's book:"Quiverfull puts the whole movement on display all at once. The reason this is important is that for most families, getting into this lifestyle is a step-by-step process — a progression from ‘peculiar’ to seriously bizarre which takes place incrementally over a period of many years. Once a family takes that first step — if they’re living it logically and consistently — they’ll eventually find themselves living out pretty much the whole program — the ‘Vision’ which, in its entirety ~ as clearly depicted in Quiverfull--turns out, in practicality, to be a very real, living nightmare."

Not all who advocate quiverfull theology have yet experienced the nightmare portion. Sleep has just set in. It will take a while for the logical consistencies of a theological fallacy to eventually corrupt the entire home. It is for the reason of future mental and spiritual health that anyone even remotely considering the possibility of adopting a quiverfull theology ought to read Joyce's book.

My recommendation doesn't mean I agree with everything she has written. Kathryn Joyce seems to have never met, or spoken with, a conservative, Bible-believing, evangelical Calvinist who does not adhere to quiverfull theology. She writes several pages of her book attempting to prove that Calvinism is the culprit for the rapid growth of quiverfull theology. Joyce even defines for her readers the acrostic TULIP to help them understand Calvinism. I find her conclusion, at least in this area, misplaced. The progress of "quiverfull" theology among the rank and file within conservative Christianity due to the expansion of Calvinism is not true for two very simple reasons:
(1). There are thousands of quiverfull advocates that are NOT Calvinistic in their theology (i.e. Paige and Dorothy Patterson, Mary Pride, etc.), and
(2). There are a number of evangelical Calvinists, like this author, who believe quiverfull theology to be foreign to the New Testament teaching of Christ.

A better understanding of the source of the rapidly expanding "quiverfull" theology within conservative evangelical Christianity is the growing effort to make the Christian male dominant over the female. Patriarchy is the mother (pardon the pun) of quiverfull theology, not Calvinism. Patriarchy transcends soteriology (one's view of Calvinism). But even this disagreement with Joyce's conclusion of the source of the quiverfull theology in no way minimizes my wholehearted endorsement of her Quiverfull book.

Eight Holes in the Quiver of Quiverfulls

To help authors like Kathryn Joyce, and others know that there are evangelical, conservative Christians who reject quiverfull theology, I offer the following eight holes in the theological position of quiverfulls from a conservative, evangelical (Calvinistic) Christian point of view. A fuller fleshing out of these arguments will come on a later post.

(1). Quiverfull theology is based on an Old Covenant that also had other precepts, commandments and laws from God that we Christians no longer abide by. The Old Covenant laws were "shadows" or "types" to teach us of Christ, and when Jesus came, He fulfilled and abolished the Old Covenant with her types. The Old Covenant command was to "go, be fruitful and multiply." The New Covenant command, under which we live, is "go and make disciples."

(2). The notion that anyone "prevents" God from naming the number of kids a family has is anti-biblical, anti-logical, and anti-God at its core. Contraception no more "prevents" God from creating a baby who "could have cured AIDS" or "been the President of the United States," etc. than a man shouting at the sun can keep it from shining. God ordains the creation of each human soul, and nobody prevents Him from accomplishing His plans. The sheath of a condom, or the dissolution of a pill, is no more an obstacle to God in the creation of a human being than the lack of matter was an obstacle to God in creating the universe.

(3). Holiness or righteousness is obtained by faith in Christ alone. We are declared perfectly righteous (justified) by a holy God. The woman with faith in Christ who tries her entire life to have ONE child, and cannot for physical reasons, compared to the woman with faith in Christ who could have MULTIPLE children, but does not for contraception reasons, compared to the woman with faith in Christ who DOES HAVE TWENTY CHILDREN because of her quiverfull theology and refusal to use contraception-- are ALL equally holy, equally blessed, equally loved by God, and equally honored. To say anything less is a denial of the gospel itself.

(4). There are cities full of children who are abused, abandoned, in need. The November 20, 2009 major motion picture release The Blind Side will demonstrate for the country what happens when an evangelical Christian family adopts a needy inner city child. It is as Christ-honoring to be naturally childless and help the needy children in the city as it is to have a dozen of your own naturally born children.

(5). The idea that Christians should have more children because we are losing the "culture" wars, and by having more and more kids one day we will "out-populate" the Muslims, the cults and other pagans is to lose absolute sight of the New Testament truth that entrance into the kingdom of God is not based on flesh and blood (or culture, color or creed), but faith in the good news that is proclaimed about the unique Son of God. We do not need an army of Christian children separate from the world; we need an army of Christian witnesses as salt and light in the middle of a decaying and dark world, leading lost children to a knowledge of Jesus Christ.

(6). It is true that a woman who marries, stays at home, bears children, and nurtures them in the ways of the Lord is to be honored. But it is also true that the woman who marries, but doesn't stay at home (she works outside the home), and doesn't have children, is to be HONORED just as much. Christian honor should be given for who a PERSON IS, not what a person does or doesn't do. We are always cautioned in the New Covenant Scriptures against honoring people based upon the amount of their "blessings" or the "size" of their wealth. We are to honor people because they are people. Period.

(7). We Christians are "pro-life"--that is we believe in the sacredness and sanctity of every human life. Our "pro-life" arguments, however, ring hollow when we remove our churches from inner city neighborhoods where our presence could help those with poor qualities of life; when we leave our states backlogged with tens of thousands of foster children on the rolls, forcing states to often give multiple foster children to unfit foster parents; and when we do little or nothing for those lives that are trapped in hospitals, prisons and community centers. The blessings of a culture and a community might soar more when God's people put more money, more focus, and more energy in caring for the lives already born than talking about those lives yet to be born.

(8). Quiverfull theology, if followed logically and consistently, leads a husband and a wife to confusion of one's true and eternal identity in Christ. Confusion about who we are on earth is not good preparation for eternity. There will be no marriage in heaven. There will be no procreation in heaven. It is the individual's relationship with God that is preeminent, and the notion that a male is to be "the covering" for the female, and the female's role is to simply procreate the progeny of the male as a helpful subordinate to the male, is to abdicate the New Testament teaching that EVERY believer in Jesus Christ (male or female) is a "priest" unto God. Only when full equality of males and females is comprehrended and experienced on earth will we ever have a taste of what human relationships will be like in heaven.

More, later.

In His Grace,


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Poem About Growing Old

During our services this past Sunday I explained how difficult a week it had been for me personally. I know that I am still relatively young (47), but growing old hit me like a ton of bricks. I endured a very painful shoulder surgery that had been needed for at least five years, had been informed by my eye doctor that there were a couple of developing cataracts in my eyes, realized there was an incredible amount of gray hair in the goatee I was attempting to grow, and received an invitation to prepay my funeral expenses so as not to put any strain on my loved ones when the time came--all this past week. I was really depressed Friday when I received a poem over my Blackberry, written and emailed to me by my father. The poem made me laugh and brought me a little encouragment to see aging as just a matter of the mind! I read the poem in the introduction to my message, and the people of Emmanuel must have liked it too since there were more requests for the poem than my sermon outline!

Questions About Aging

Who was the culprit that slipped in last night
And stole my strength as well as my sight?

I'd also like to know does anyone but me care
That I have finally lost all my always thin hair?

Why is it when I deliberately put something safely away,
I forget where it is and wherever it is it will forever stay?

Am I finally becoming a world class wimp?
Because while I used to run a lot I now only limp.

I admit to slightly less of my cherished virility?
But does that have to signal a loss of every other ability?

Why is it at church I see someone and have a chat,
But then while walking away have to ask my wife "who was that?

Are all who read this going to laugh until they choke?
Well from this side of age they need to know it is no joke.

Enough questions about growing old and now for a conclusion.
Age is really a state of mind anyway is my simple solution.

So I'm handsome, erudite, and besides that a whole lot of fun.
And anyone who doesn't think so can kiss my good looking left bun.

By Paul Burleson

For further samples from this budding poet, see his writings at the blog vtmbottomline.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Dorothy Patterson's Midnight Dinner With Mohammed Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini

I was reading Cheryl Schatz's blog and came across a comment by Lydia regarding the official biography of Dorothy Patterson, wife of Dr. Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. Lydia pointed out that Dorothy Patterson's biographical sketch reveals she shared "a midnight banquet with Yasser Arafat in one of Saddam Hussein's palaces." Incredulous, I went and read the offical biography for myself, which further revealed, "Dr. (Dorothy) Patterson has traveled to more than 75 countries; she met with Pope John Paul in his private apartment in the Vatican; she served as Chair for President Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Bible Committee and was received in the Oval Office; she has had coffee with former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in his Knesset office; she’s been the guest of Yaser Arafat at a midnight banquet in Saddam Hussein’s palace guest house in Baghdad. "

Mohammed Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini is the full name for the now dead terrorist known to the world as Yasser Arafat. My friend, Mosab Yousef, has made clear to me the atrocities performed by the Palestinian Liberation Organization and other terrorist organizations in the Middle East, particularly the physical abuse and mistreatment of Arab women. Without a doubt, Mrs. Patterson believes the mistreatment of women by Yassar Arafat and the PLO to be as evil as we all believe it to be. That's not the issue. Mrs. Patterson has established herself at the head of a growing movement in the Southern Baptist Convention which encourages everyone to adhere to quiverfull theology, patriarchal leadership and family integrated worship. In this environment, children and women are seen and instructed, but not to be heard. Men relate to men, and women to women, with the woman having no authority over, nor right to teach those of the opposite sex spiritual truth. The head (the man) votes for the family, and the girls serve the father. For those who have a hard time imagining this movement in churches, just spend a few minutes reading some really powerful writings of women who have escaped this suffocating ideology--here, here and here.

Dorothy Patterson, a self-professed "homemaker" and outspoken advocate of all things patriarchal in the SBC, puzzles me by placing "sharing a midnight buffet with Yasser Arafat in Saddam Hussein's palace" on her biographical sketch. It's not that I think she should not list the banquet or her travels to 75 countries as some of her accomplishments; it's just that the events seem incongruous and incompatible to the image Mrs. Patterson wishes on all other Southern Baptist women--as well as the image she claims for herself through her outspoken ideology. If Mrs. Patterson's life, as she would have everyone believe, is that of the consumate "homemaker," then I would encourage Southern Baptist women everywhere to model Mrs. Patterson's life (as listed on her biographical sketch) and ignore her teachings.

We need more women leaders, more powerful and influential females, more movers and shakers from the female gender, women like Mrs. Patterson, within the SBC. I commend her for her midnight buffet with Yasser Arafat. One of these days I'd like to know what was actually said over the fondu.

But the problem we have in the SBC right now is that people like Mrs. Patterson seem to have the dysfunction of denying what is true in practical reality and espouse an ideology based on a radical, theoretical, impractical--and may I say unbiblical--ideology of male headship.

I simply suggest that if one refuses to live it, then don't teach it.

In His Grace,