the image we want? really? post 2 of 2

ronnie floyd gcr

this is a barely connected continuation from my post on being a bad modern baptist.

DISCLAIMER #1 – i know next to nothing about the report i am about to mention.

like i said in yesterday’s post i’m not a good modern baptist. i don’ know who the current SBC or MWBC presidents are and i don’t really care to look them up. i don’t care about the politics of the SBC, though i’m sure they are discussing things that are very important. my focus is on loving my friends who make up tapestry and trying to share that love with those around the world.

which brings me to the screen capture image i posted above. it is from a video report on the great commission resurgence. don’t ask me what the gcr is because i can’t really tell you (remember i’ve already told you i’m a very poor modern baptist). though i’m not sure i get the impression that political elements on one side of the SBC love it and political elements on the other side can’t stand it. i thought i would watch the report video concerning the gcr but i still don’t know what it is really all about. i need someone who can cut through political language and tell me what the debate is really all about. to me it seems like both sides are saying the same things. remember i’m not a good modern baptist. i’m not in the know on any of this.

DISCLAIMER #2 – i don’t know ronnie floyd. he is probably a swell guys so please don’t take any of what i am about to say as a personal attack on him. i am merely talking about his look in regards to old-time versus modern baptist.

so i watched the video and i was immediately struck by the look of the speaker. his name is ronnie floyd and he is the pastor of the first baptist church of springdale. i’ve never met him and i know nothing of him – remember, i’m not a good modern baptist. all i know is that when i watched the video all i could think was “how does this guy’s look convey that we want to do things in a new way”? when i looked at him i thought power, influence, plastic, and baptist stereotype.  AGAIN PLEASE REMEMBER THAT I DON’T KNOW RONNIE FLOYD! i’m sure he is a great guy and that his family, friends, church, and dogs love him. all i know about him is his look and i was wondering if i should believe what was being said about a resurgence based on that look. you can say that’s shallow and you would probably be right. in my defense i will say that there was obviously a lot of time spent in arranging the background of the video and determining the lighting and other attributes of the video so as to convey the message best. therefore the look of the speaker chosen is an important part of the message of the video. “the medium is  the message.”

i thought i would get someone else’s opinion to compare to my own. one of the threads whose opinion i respect greatly is jan. jan likes to call herself tapestry’s house mom. she hasn’t been involved in a church for decades and is not familiar with the evangelical church culture at all. jan came to a worship gathering one night because she was interested in exploring faith and while she doesn’t believe me when i say it she has become one of GOD’s greatest gifts for helping everyone else in tapestry explore their faith in CHRIST. so i sent the above image to jan without any explanation and asked what she thought.

here was her response:

he is dressed meticulously but chose the pink tie to soften the look.  is he wearing lots of makeup?  is his hair real?  is he real?  he looks like one of those TV ministers who are always asking for money!

she said basically what i thinking (except for the pink tie bit – i didn’t even notice it – good catch jan).

from what i saw on the video (without actually knowing if there what the politics are behind it) i would say that i agree with much of what the resurgence report says BUT i still find myself asking does the image of this video actually convey that anything different is being done? i fear it conveys the same old plastic, unreal image that we have been conveying for awhile. is this really the image we want to convey to the world? i think we look our best when we are conveying the loser look of old-time baptists. they were people who agreed on four things and had diversity on so much else. that’s what i want to look like.

i’m not a good modern baptist – post 1 of 2

DISCLAIMER #1 – this is a prep-post for another post that i’ll make tomorrow. i figure no one will read this but writing this for me.

btw, these posts are going to include several disclaimers.

DISCLAIMER #2 – i am an excellent old-time baptist but not a very good modern baptist.

here’s what i mean.

when baptist thought was originally formed in the early 1600s it was center around 4 beliefs. these are:

  • a theology of believer’s baptismonly those who are capable of believing in JESUS (age-wise) should be baptized.
  • a theology of salvation through faith alonewe don’t earn forgiveness through our own actions or anything else (i.e. sacramentalism)
  • scripture alone as the rule for faith and practice pretty much self-explanatory
  • the autonomy of the local church   each church has power over itself rather than a denominational body being in control

many early baptist churches added to these four core beliefs a belief in separation of church and state. while i definitely hold to this believe it wasn’t universal so i won’t claim it as distinctly baptist.

old time baptist were a ragtag group of people who agreed on those 4 beliefs and not much else. they were a combination of english separatist (presbyterians) and anabaptists (mennonites), two groups that had VERY different beliefs on how to live out CHRISTian faith. baptists have deep roots in the radical reformation with slight roots in the magisterial reformation. you probably don’t care about the distinct reformations within the protestant reformation so i will just share this saying to convey the point i want to make in saying that baptist have radical reformation roots. a church history professor taught me “in the reformation catholics hated protestants, and protestants hated catholics, BUT EVERYONE HATED THE RADICALS.” old-time baptists were the losers that got beat up on by everyone in power. we weren’t influential in the circles of power. the underdogs flocked to baptist churches. i like that kind of faith. i.e. i’m a good old-time baptist.

but i stink as a modern baptist. why? because over the past 50 years southern baptists have become powerful and influential within a large part of u.s. culture. we aren’t the underdogs anymore – even if we often claim to be. we have huge, gorgeous churches that the movers and shakers of society come to and pay homage to in order to get elected or move up in our society. we have lots of politics within our churches and denomination because we are more concerned with power than we are with the downcast of the land. we used to care desperately about society’s losers because WE WERE SOCIETY’S LOSERS. now with our respect, education, and influence we barely notice the downtrodden. i’m not a good modern baptist because this stuff kills me.

i can live with this.