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Moore, Stanley candidly discuss ministry disagreements

August 26 2016 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

“Approach is everything,” said Andy Stanley, founder of Atlanta-area North Point Ministries, in a candid, on-stage conversation hosted by Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). The two influential leaders cordially disagreed on a range of ministry topics in an Aug. 25 session of the 2016 ERLC National Conference in Nashville, Tenn., called “Leadership, Preaching and Cultural Engagement: A Conversation with Russell Moore.”
 
8-26-16_Stanly-Moore_WEB.jpg
ERLC photo
Andy Stanley, right, and Russell Moore dialogue during the Ethics & Religious Liberty National Conference Aug. 25 in Nashville, Tenn.

Moore asked Stanley about his practice of discouraging preachers from using the phrase, “The Bible says …” in their sermons. “It’s not what the Bible says that is the issue,” said Stanley, “it’s what else the Bible says.”
 
“In their minds,” he said, referring to Christianity’s skeptics, “when they can discredit parts, it discredits the whole.” When preaching from a particular passage, Stanley prefers to point to the authority of the specific author of that text, who serves as a witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
 
“The foundation of our faith isn’t the Bible,” Stanley said. “The foundation of our faith is the resurrection.”
 
Moore challenged, “If we don’t appeal to the authority of the scripture, we appeal to the authority of ourselves.”
 
Stanley was emphatic that he does not question the inerrancy or authority of scripture. “This is just a different approach,” he added. “To have a discussion around the resurrection is a much easier discussion than trying to defend the whole Bible.”
 
Moore also questioned Stanley’s gradual approach to preaching. “I think of the sermon series as a three-and-a-half hour sermon,” he answered, describing how he stretches multiple elements of a sermon, like the introduction or application, into sermons of their own.
 
Stanley said, “If you show up at the introduction week, you might think, ‘Do they use the Bible?’ If you show up the last week, you might think, ‘Do they always have people stand up and pray to receive Christ?’”
 
He prefers the gradual approach because it makes non-Christians in the service feel more comfortable. “The wrong approach can cancel the content,” Stanley said.
 
He added, “When people who don’t believe in God … show up in a church environment and enjoy it, that is shocking.”
 
Moore took issue with the gradual approach, due to the potential absence of exegetical teaching in each individual sermon. He opts instead for a more distinctive message, citing numerous examples from the New Testament.
 
“I think it’s very important,” Moore said, “that what we’re approaching people with is an encounter with the risen Christ who speaks through His Word.”
 
Moore also asked Stanley how he decides which controversial topics to address or avoid from the pulpit. “There are questions you should never answer out loud,” Stanley answered. “Not because you don’t have an answer but because of who’s in the audience.”
 
He continued, “I’ve never preached a sermon on abortion, and I’ve never preached against abortion.”
 
Stanley said highly controversial topics are “better handled in a circle than a row,” pointing out his church’s reliance on small groups and one-on-one conversations.
 
“That’s a topic that I don’t blink on,” Stanley emphasized. “I’m so pro-life I used to picket in front of an abortion clinic … But when I have a room full of people that I don’t know, that’s a topic that I would rather move women or boyfriends into an environment where they can talk about it.”
 
Moore cited historically controversial topics that influential preachers publically addressed, such as the 18th century Hindu practice of burning widows on their deceased husbands funeral pyre (commonly called sati) and 19th century American chattel slavery. He asked Stanley if he would’ve spoken about those issues publically.
 
“I don’t know what I would do, to be honest,” Stanley replied.
 
Moore said so many people have directly or indirectly participated in an abortion that he feels it’s important to address not only the devastating guilt of the practice but the “liberating power” of the gospel to forgive and redeem those same people.
 
The conference is available to watch live online at live.erlc.com.

Related story

ERLC event to focus on gospel & culture
8/26/2016 2:52:25 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments



Promises fulfilled as IMB, churches send 27 missionaries

August 26 2016 by Julie McGowan, IMB

With white knuckles, Laekan Carter gripped the pew. She listened with her 11-year-old ears as a college student shared how he witnessed God at work while he was on mission in Africa. “One day you will walk those dusty dirt roads,” Carter felt God promise her.

Photo by Roy M. Burroughs
Family, friends and other supporters of Chris and Katie Broome, members of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., gather around them to pray during the couple’s appointment as International Mission Board missionaries to European peoples. The Aug. 24 Sending Celebration service honored and challenged 27 new missionaries and the churches sending them on mission.


Years later, in fulfillment of that promise in her life, Carter is being sent by her church, Calvary Baptist Church in New Orleans, La., to train college students to share the gospel in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is one of 27 new missionaries appointed Aug. 24 by the International Mission Board (IMB) during a special Sending Celebration near Richmond, Va. The celebration featured testimonies from each of the appointees, a scriptural charge from David Platt and emphasis on the integral role local churches play in assessing and sending Southern Baptist missionaries.
 
From Crosspointe Baptist Church, in Vancouver, Wash. – more than 2,500 miles away from New Orleans – Stanton* and Rachel Bender* are fulfilling the call they felt from God to work where Jesus Christ’s name is unknown in Central Asia. When Rachel was 18, she attended a conference where God gave her a desire to share the gospel among the nations. For Stanton, that desire came on his 14th birthday while he was on a short-term trip to Thailand.
 
“God showed me that He created me with skills and interests which I should use for His glory among the peoples of the world,” Stanton said.
 
Nearly 3,100 miles across the country from Vancouver, God led Patrick and Erin Schwartz from Lowell, Mass., to follow Him on mission. The new missionaries, being sent from Mill City Church to take the gospel to European peoples, have been on a journey of obedience for years.  

Photo by Roy M. Burroughs
Preaching from Acts 13-14, IMB President David Platt offers 16 ways Southern Baptists can pray for missionaries. Platt preached the sermon during an Aug. 24 Sending Celebration highlighting the appointment of 27 new IMB missionaries.


“At 15 years old, I placed faith in Jesus Christ,” Erin said. “At 20 years old, I went on my first mission trip and saw the God of the nations at work. At 28 years old, my husband and I are moving overseas with our daughter to minister to European peoples.”
 
“As a freshmen in college the Lord opened my eyes to his heart for the nations and, in turn, opened my heart to the idea of someday going,” Patrick shared. “Ten years later as a husband, new father and homeowner, Jesus began to disrupt my plans of comfort with the thought of ‘if not now, then when?’”
 
Commit to pray
“Why are we celebrating sending missionaries tonight? Because we’re united by the gospel, enthralled in God’s worship, and we’re focused on mission,” IMB President David Platt said. “This is why we as an IMB, as an [Southern Baptist Convention] SBC, as a coalition of churches represented in this gathering tonight – it’s why we exist: because we believe we can do more together on mission than we can apart.”
 
Platt said the unifying factor of the people attending the Sending Celebration in person or via livestream was “not that we all come from the same background or traditions, the same ethnicity or socioeconomic status. We’re not even in the same location. Now, what unites us together, is that we’ve all come face to face with the saving power of God in the gospel.”

Photo by Roy M. Burroughs
New International Mission Board missionaries Katie and Chris Broome, right, share a moment of joy with Jerry Brown, name changed, who serves in Africa, during an Aug. 24 Sending Celebration. The Broomes, members of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., are being sent to share the gospel among European peoples.


Preaching from Acts 13-14, Platt offered 16 ways Southern Baptists can pray for the new missionaries as they obey God’s call to the nations:

  • Pray that they would be confident in God’s Word.
  • Pray that they would be filled with God’s Spirit.
  • Pray for their victory in spiritual warfare.
  • Pray for their success in gospel witness.
  • Pray for peace with other believers.
  • Pray for favor with unbelievers
  • Pray that the gospel will be clear through them.
  • Pray that God will open hearts around them.
  • Pray for their joy in the midst of suffering.
  • Pray for their kindness in the midst of slander.
  • Pray for supernatural power to accompany them.
  • Pray for Christ-like humility to characterize them.
  • Pray for their patience.
  • Pray for their perseverance.
  • Pray that God would use them to make disciples.
  • Pray that God would use them to multiply churches.

 
Platt reassured the new missionaries that they have the prayer support of not only their 27 sending churches, but also members from the tens of thousands of churches comprising the Southern Baptist Convention.
 
“We have 40,000 churches behind you saying, ‘We are with you,’ praying for you, giving to support you,” he said. These 27 – and all IMB missionaries – are supported by Southern Baptists’ generous gifts through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering®.
 
Scott Harris, missions minister at Brentwood (Tenn.) Baptist Church and chairman of IMB’s board of trustees, echoed that support in the benediction to the celebration, which included a time of fellowship and refreshment for the new missionaries and their families and friends.
 
*Names changed
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Julie McGowan is public relations leader for IMB.)
 

8/26/2016 10:45:47 AM by Julie McGowan, IMB | with 0 comments



ERLC event to focus on gospel & culture

August 26 2016 by Baptist Press staff

More than 900 people gathered Aug. 25 for a Southern Baptist-sponsored conference designed to prepare followers of Christ to minister in a culture increasingly hostile to the gospel.


The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) convened “Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel” – the entity’s third national conference – to help Christians apply the gospel of Jesus in their interaction with various facets of the culture, including the arts, politics, sports, race, sexuality, marriage, parenting and everyday life.
 
The conference is designed to equip all Christian disciples “to speak with kindness and prophetic boldness to the world around them,” ERLC president Russell Moore told Baptist Press in written comments. “Engaging the culture without losing the gospel is a task given to the whole church, and that’s why I’m excited to meet with hundreds of other Christians as we seek to be faithful to our mission in this generation.
 
“My hope is that each attendee would leave this conference with a strengthened courage and a renewed hope in the kingdom of Christ,” said Moore, who will speak on the conference’s theme, which also is the title of his most recent book.
 
The conference arrives at a time when evangelical Christians and others who hold to biblically faithful views on such issues as marriage and human sexuality increasingly are finding themselves marginalized in American culture.
 
The two-day conference – which began Aug. 25 and ends today (Aug. 26) at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville – will feature among its speakers:

  • Matt Chandler, lead teaching pastor of The Village Church in the Dallas Metroplex;
  • Andy Crouch, executive editor of Christianity Today and author;
  • Bryan Loritts, lead pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in California’s Silicon Valley;
  • Gabe Lyons, founder of Q Ideas;
  • Andy Stanley, founder and senior pastor of North Point Ministries in Atlanta;
  • Jackie Hill-Perry, poet and artist with Humble Beast Records;
  • Gregory Thornbury, president of The King’s College;
  • Alissa Wilkinson, chief film critic at Christianity Today;
  • Trip Lee, pastor in Atlanta and hip-hop artist.

The speakers will address topics in plenary addresses, panel discussions and breakout sessions.
 
The ERLC and Alliance Defending Freedom will cosponsor a post-conference event on the morning of Aug. 27 – “The 2016 Presidential Race, Religious Liberty and the Future of the Church.”
 
The first ERLC National Conference, which was held in 2014, focused on applying the gospel to homosexuality and marriage, while the 2015 conference addressed the gospel and politics.
 
The conference is being live streamed at live.erlc.com.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

8/26/2016 7:01:51 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



Insanity of God showing Aug. 30 across U.S.

August 26 2016 by Marty King, LifeWay Christian Resources

The Insanity of God, the true story of missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken and their work with the persecuted church, will be shown in 500 U.S. theaters Aug. 30 for a special one-night, feature event.
The presentation will include International Mission Board (IMB) president, author and speaker David Platt interviewing Nik Ripken, as well as a performance by music artist Todd Smith.
 
The film is based on the best-selling book, The Insanity of God (B&H Publishing Group), which tells the story of the Ripkens’ journey from rural Kentucky to the Horn of Africa, where their faith was tested to the limit by the death of their 16-year-old son. The film also documents the stories of persecuted Christians from across the world, collected by the Ripkens after their time in Africa. Over the past 18 years, the Ripkens have interviewed more than 600 persecuted Christians in more than 72 countries.
 
“I don’t think we are as aware of their stories as we should be,” Platt said. “With everything going on in the world, there may be no single issue more urgent to the church in 2016 than persecution. We need to be praying continually for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world and learning more about how they are persecuted.”
 
“I encourage you to go to the theater and watch this film. It will change your perspective on what it means to follow Jesus, and your life will be changed as a result,” Platt noted.
 
The Insanity of God is released in association with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and LifeWay Films. Tickets for The Insanity of God can be purchased online by visiting fathomevents.com or at participating theater box offices. Watch a trailer of the film at insanityofgodmovie.com.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marty King is director of communications for LifeWay Christian Resources.)


Related articles:
‘Insanity of God’ shows faith amid despair

 
8/26/2016 6:53:21 AM by Marty King, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments



Social justice training or institutionalized intolerance?

August 26 2016 by Kiley Crossland, WORLD News Service

Oregon State University (OSU) will soon launch a mandated “social justice” training course for all freshmen. The five-part course will begin as a pilot program this fall, with a full rollout in January, according to university documents.
 
The idea is not novel – a growing number of universities require social justice courses or training for all students. Administrators claim the training is needed to encourage a collegial and welcoming environment on campus. But critics argue that instead of encouraging inclusivity, liberal social justice rhetoric often encourages intolerance.
 
Examples of “tolerance” training include Gonzaga University, which requires all students take one course with a social justice designation. The University of Massachusetts-Amherst requires two courses in diversity. And Wayne State University decided to drop its math requirement this summer and is considering requiring a three-credit diversity course, according to The College Fix.
 
OSU’s stated course goal is to give students “orientation to concepts of diversity, inclusion, and social justice,” helping them “contribute to an inclusive university community.” The five modules include a history of diversity and social justice in Oregon and at OSU, training in what “systemic and local inequities” exist, expectations around inclusivity at OSU, and information on how students can identify and report bias.
 
“We feel that every student has a role to play in creating and sustaining an equitable and inclusive university community – one that is defined by shared respect for diverse backgrounds, perspectives, ideas, and the ways that individuals live,” Angela Batista, OSU’s interim chief diversity officer, said in an email to The College Fix.
 
This growing trend is concerning “because a lot of the social justice narrative that is being taught on college campuses is extremely one-sided,” said Mary Clare Reim, a research associate in education policy at the Heritage Foundation. Reim argues social justice rhetoric often stifles political debate and intellectual curiosity: “I fear we would be losing a lot of the value in a college education.”
 
As evidence, Reim points to student groups protesting conservative speakers on several campuses during the last academic year.
 
“Students no longer need to defend their ideas, they just need to shut down the other ideas,” she said. “The only way to respond to someone you disagree with is to silence them.”
 
OSU’s new training is also entirely online, a much more “worrisome” system than classroom instruction, according to Robby Soave, associate editor at Reason.com.
 
“A student has no method of dissenting during an online training session on the necessity of complying with the university’s diversity dictates,” wrote Soave. “Indeed, students might reasonably fear that agreeing with the ideology of the trainers is a precondition of coming to campus.”
 
Soave also criticized OSU’s administration-led Bias Response Team, a committee that responds to reports of perceived harassment by students who fill out a Bias Incident Report Form.
 
“Students are no longer merely required to grapple with leftist ideas in the classroom – they increasingly must live, sweat and breathe ‘oppression studies.’… They are being trained – not taught, but trained – to think everything that offends them is a bias incident,” Soave noted.
 

8/26/2016 6:52:08 AM by Kiley Crossland, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



Chaplains relay ‘glimpses of hope’ amid flood crisis

August 26 2016 by Marilyn Stewart, NOBTS

The catastrophic flooding in south Louisiana is quite different for Southern Baptist chaplains in the National Guard than anything they have seen before and, at the same time, all too familiar.

Photo by Marilyn Stewart
National Guard chaplains meet with their colleague Thomas Fletcher, center, who also pastors flood-damaged Faith Baptist Church in Baker, La. From left are chaplain’s assistant Richard Watkins; Chaplain Major Page Brooks of the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; Fletcher; and Faith Baptist youth minister Matt Robertson.


Brigade Chaplain Page Brooks, a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) faculty member serving with Louisiana’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, said even though record rainfall and flooding didn’t come from a named storm, the devastation is much the same.
 
“This reminds me of other natural disasters, the sense of loss, of panic, and hurt that Louisianans have experienced before,” Brooks said. “There’s just such surprise.”
 
Upwards of 31 inches fell in a day’s time in the hardest-hit areas of Livingston Parish, according to an Aug. 16 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report.
 
Brooks said some evacuees reported rushing from their homes as water came in; others had less than three hours to prepare. Some lived in places that had never flooded before.
 
National Guard chaplains care for the caregivers, such as first responders who plucked people out of raging water and rescued people off rooftops. Of the chaplains led by Brooks from Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, one was not activated – Chaplain Thomas Fletcher, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Baker and an NOBTS alumnus, whose home and church had flooded.
 
“It’s brutal. It’s absolutely devastating,” Fletcher recounted of the flooding that invaded the homes of about half of Faith Baptist’s church members.

Photo by Marilyn Stewart
Piles of debris from the flood-damaged parsonage at Faith Baptist Church in Baker, La., await removal.


Fletcher watched from the second story of the church educational building as the water rose inside the parsonage and the worship center before a boat dropped off a senior adult neighbor, a disabled woman from Brazil and her daughter at the church. Before the water crested, the group at the church had swelled to 10.
 
The last few years have been difficult for Faith Baptist materially and emotionally, Fletcher said, recounting that a financial crisis had drained the church’s resources, forcing them to forego flood insurance and put off needed structural changes.
 
“We were in a rebuilding process already,” Fletcher said.
 
With mounds of debris continuing to grow in front of each home on the street, Fletcher spoke in simple words of the magnitude of the task ahead.
 
“It’s a big problem,” the pastor said, requesting prayer. “We’ve got a big God.”
 

Weathering the storm

Chaplain Phil Smith, an NOBTS alumnus, made his rounds at an evacuee shelter at the River Center of Baton Rouge asking soldiers and airmen at work, “How are you doing?”
 
His job, Smith said, is to help servicemen and women remain resilient.
 
Using Scripture such as Jeremiah 31:3, Hebrews 13:5-6 and Romans 8:28, Smith reminded those in his charge that God loves them and keeps His promises, a truth that crosses all belief systems and denominations, particularly in crisis situations.
 
Smith pointed to hurts and disappointments in his own life that he didn’t understand at the time but God used later to bless him and to prepare him for his job as a chaplain.
 
“In my own life, when God took away good things, I found out He was making room for the best things,” Smith said.
 
Helping those caught in a crisis situation requires an approach tempered with wisdom and patience, chaplains report.
 
Rather than saying “it’s only things” or “at least you are safe” to those impacted by flooding or other disasters, Smith advised using questions such as “Is your spouse safe? Are your children safe?” to help victims keep things in perspective and find their way to hope.
 
Brooks cautioned that those in a crisis situation may “relive” past disasters or unresolved heartache may resurface when a new crisis arises.
 
“This may bring up past loss,” Brooks said. “People may cycle through grief and loss again, and they will need to be given the space and time to do that.”
 
Brooks praised the relief effort, noting that disaster relief operations have run smoothly and that communities, families and churches across Louisiana have come together to help.
 
“Everyone needs a sense of hope,” Brooks said. “This is where the church comes in with the gospel, with chaplains, with people caring for one another. The small acts of taking food or helping someone in their home, praying with someone, those small acts provide little glimpses of hope along the way in the process of recovery.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marilyn Stewart is assistant director of public relations at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)

 
Related articles:
Amid Louisiana flooding, social media conveys hope
SBDR deploying 4 kitchens to south Louisiana
Flood relief to extend ‘as far as the eye can see’
Volunteers continue to aid Louisiana flood survivors
 

8/26/2016 6:51:25 AM by Marilyn Stewart, NOBTS | with 0 comments



Aponte named as IMB vice president of mobilization

August 25 2016 by Harper McKay, Baptist Press

During their August 23-24 board meeting, International Mission Board (IMB) trustees announced Edgar Aponte, director of Hispanic leadership development at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), as the IMB’s new vice president of mobilization in late fall.
 
“Edgar Aponte is an incredibly talented man of God. The Lord has blessed him with a wide range of abilities and talents,” said SEBTS President Danny Akin. “This is a sad day for Southeastern and me personally. However, it is a great day for the IMB and the advancement of the Kingdom. He goes to our very close sister entity with my blessings and prayers.”

IMB photo by Roy M. Burroughs
Edgar Aponte, left, receives a warm welcome as International Mission Board (IMB) vice president of mobilization from David Platt, IMB president, during the Aug. 24 trustee meeting. Aponte is director of Hispanic leadership development and instructor of theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

 
Aponte has faithfully served SEBTS since 2013, teaching theology, overseeing Spanish programs and working with seminary partnerships in Latin America. In his new role with the IMB, Aponte will serve on the executive leadership team with a focus on mobilization. He will lead networking efforts among churches to encourage the sending of limitless missionary teams and will develop relationships between the IMB and Southern Baptist entities. Aponte will also continue to teach courses for SEBTS.
 
“The role of mobilization is a significant one for the IMB, and Edgar Aponte is a godly man who wants churches involved in reaching the nations for Christ,” said SEBTS dean of graduate studies and professor of evangelism and missions Chuck Lawless. “We will miss him at Southeastern Seminary, but I’m glad to have him as part of the IMB leadership team. I trust that his time at our Great Commission seminary has helped prepare him for this task.”
 
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Aponte previously served as minister counselor for political affairs at the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Washington, D.C. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the National University Pedro Herniquez Urena in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; a graduate degree in corporate finance from Santo Domingo Institute of Technology; a master’s degree in business administration from Strayer University in Arlington, Va.; a master’s degree in Christian ministry from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.; and a doctoral degree in theological studies from SEBTS.
 
Edgar and his wife, Sara, have three children and attend Christ Covenant Church in Raleigh, N.C.
 
“We are Southern Baptists because of missions,” said Aponte in a recent visit with IMB mobilization team leaders. “Missions is the heart of who we are as a denomination…taking the gospel to where Christ has not been preached. Working together, we can do more than working by ourselves.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Harper McKay is the news and information specialist at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Julie McGowan, public relations leader for IMB, contributed to this story.)

8/25/2016 4:29:42 PM by Harper McKay, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



ERLC’s Duke top candidate for Montana exec

August 25 2016 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Religious liberty advocate Barrett Duke has emerged as the top candidate for executive directorship of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention (MTSBC).
 
Bruce Speer, heading the MTSBC eight-member search team for the post, said Duke will receive the team’s unanimous recommendation for the executive directorship at the group’s annual meeting this fall.
 
“We did an exhaustive study of qualifications needed and interviewed five excellent candidates. And Barrett was head and shoulders above all other candidates we interviewed,” Speer said Aug. 23. “His experience both as a church planter and working closely with leaders in our government, we felt was an excellent combination to provide us the leadership we are looking for in our state.”
 

Barrett Duke
 
Duke, vice president of the Washington, D.C., office for Public Policy and Research of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and director of the ERLC Research Institute, told Baptist Press (BP) he appreciates the chance to get closer to the local church.
 
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to serve Montana Southern Baptists in this role,” the former Colorado church planter told BP. “I am deeply moved by the genuineness of the pastors and churches I have met since we started this conversation. There are many very godly, dedicated men and women serving the Lord in that great state. My wife and I would consider it a blessing to work with them.”
 
Duke will be recommended to the MTSBC executive board for the post Sept. 8 and to messengers at the Montana annual meeting in October, Speer said, describing Montana Baptists as “extremely delighted and pleased” that God has brought Duke to serve in the state. He characterized Duke as “a man of great integrity.”
 
Duke would lead the convention of about 135 churches in a state where less than 1 percent of adults are Southern Baptists and 38 percent of adults never or seldom attend church, according to the Pew Research 2015 Religious Landscape Study.
 
“Ever since my days planting and pastoring a church in Denver, Colo., the West has held a special place in my and my wife’s [Denise] heart,” Duke told BP. “The lostness across the West is heartbreaking, and the number of churches in comparison to the number of lost people burdens us deeply.
 
“We would consider it a great privilege and blessing to be able to return to the West and serve Montana Southern Baptists as they work to fulfill God’s calling to win the lost, make disciples, and serve as salt and light,” he said. “God has already joined our hearts to theirs.”
 
He would serve as the MTSBC chief operating officer, the treasurer and chief financial officer, the official director of MTSBC work and ministries, the director and supervisor of MTSBC staff and North American Mission Board missionaries in the state, and the editor of the Montana Baptist electronic newsletter.
 
ERLC president Russell Moore described Duke as “a man of conviction, humility and Christ-likeness.”
 
“It has been my joy to serve with him at the ERLC, and Southern Baptists have benefited from 20 years of his leadership here,” Moore said. “Montana Baptists will be served well by this remarkable Christian leader.”
 
Duke would replace Fred Hewitt, who is retiring in October from the executive director’s post he has held nearly nine years.
 
As leader of the ERLC’s advocacy arm, Duke communicates Southern Baptist convictions to elected and public officials, including President Obama, Congress and their staffs to encourage sound public policy. Duke is a founding fellow of the ERLC Research Institute, overseeing research on pressing moral and religious liberty issues, and working with a group of 70 distinguished fellows.
 
A former pastor, he is also active as a teacher, preacher, speaker, writer and editor, and holds a doctor of philosophy in religious and theological studies from the joint doctoral program of the Iliff School of Theology and the University of Denver. He and his wife attend church in Annapolis, Md., and have three grown children.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor.)
8/25/2016 4:29:26 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Sexual identity report lauded as pastor resource

August 25 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A report by two Johns Hopkins psychiatry scholars debunking myths about homosexuality and transgenderism has been cited by a pastor who specializes in mental health care issues as a valuable aid for ministry to those struggling with sexual identity.


“The article represents some of the most clear-headed thinking that I have read on the volatile subject of sexual identity,” said Tony Rose, who chaired Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank S. Page’s Mental Health Advisory Council. “The tenor of the authors is worthy of being imitated.
 
“I am in agreement with the article’s stated primary concern – the unusual amount of traumatic mental and emotional health experiences found among the population of humans who struggle with sexual identity issues,” Rose, pastor of LaGrange (Ky.) Baptist Church, told Baptist Press (BP) in written comments. “The church could learn from this model of compassion and seek to meet this observable need.”
 
The three-part report in the fall edition of The New Atlantis journal by Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh, both of the psychiatry department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, draws on more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific studies and argues:

  • The idea sexual orientation is “an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings – the idea that people are ‘born that way’ – is not supported by scientific evidence.”
  • The “elevated risk” among homosexual and transgender individuals “for a variety of adverse mental health outcomes” cannot be explained fully as the result of “social stressors” like discrimination and harassment.
  • The idea that gender identity is “an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex” is not supported by scientific evidence.

Mayer, the report’s lead author, writes in the preface that he “strongly support[s] equality ... for the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community” and that the report “is about science and medicine, nothing more and nothing less.”
 
McHugh previously has expressed public skepticism regarding the effectiveness of gender reassignment surgery in improving the mental health of people suffering from gender dysphoria – the condition of not feeling at home in one’s God-given body in terms of gender.
 
Rose said “pastors should take the time to read this article for several reasons. One reason is to observe the skill of serious research from an objective perspective. It appears the authors worked hard to keep personal preference from getting in the way of their research findings.”
 
Alan Branch, a Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary ethics professor whose book Born This Way? draws similar conclusions to Mayer and McHugh, told BP, “A careful review of research on homosexuality will demonstrate that the church should not change its biblical stance that sex is designed by God to be experienced in a heterosexual and monogamous marriage.
 
“Christian mercy demands both that we stand firm on the biblical stance while showing mercy to those who desire to overcome homosexual temptation and live as a faithful disciple following biblical sexual ethics. But mercy does not mean we compromise what God’s Word says. If God’s Word is true, compromise would be the most unmerciful thing we could do,” Branch said in written comments.
 
He added, “The ‘born this way’ claim is an inaccurate and truncated description of findings to date.”
 
Among other conclusions of Mayer and McHugh’s report:

  • Studies of identical twins “make clear that genetic influences cannot be the whole” cause of same-sex sexual attraction, though genetic factors likely play a role.
  • Without further research, “the idea that sexual abuse may be a causal factor in sexual orientation remains speculative.”
  • “Compared to the general population, non-heterosexual and transgender subpopulations have higher rates of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and suicide, as well as behavioral and social problems such as substance abuse and intimate partner violence.”
  • “Almost nothing is well understood when we seek biological explanations for what causes some individuals to state that their gender does not match their biological sex.”
  • “There is little scientific evidence that gender identity is fixed at birth or at an early age” or that an individual can possess the brain of one sex and the body of another.
  • It is “especially troubling” that “drastic interventions” like hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery “are prescribed and delivered to patients identifying, or identified, as transgender,” including children.
  • “The majority of children who identify as the gender opposite their biological sex will not continue to do so as adults.”

Mayer and McHugh close their report by arguing, “Everyone – scientists and physicians, parents and teachers, lawmakers and activists – deserves access to accurate information about sexual orientation and gender identity.
 
“While there is much controversy surrounding how our society treats its LGBT members, no political or cultural views should discourage us from understanding the related clinical and public health issues and helping people suffering from mental health problems that may be connected to their sexuality.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 
Related articles:
NYC bathroom order called ‘one-way tolerance’
Transgenderism is growing ministry focus
White House transgender order called ‘outrageous’
‘I was born this way’ countered by professor
 

8/25/2016 4:21:36 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



South Sudanese soldiers assault Western aid workers

August 25 2016 by Onize Ohikere, WORLD News Service

South Sudanese troops raped and assaulted several foreigners and aid workers in a hotel complex, singling out Americans, after winning a battle last month against opposition forces, witnesses told The Associated Press. United Nations (UN) peacekeepers and several embassies, including the U.S. Embassy, failed to respond to the calls for help.

IMB file photo


On July 8, renewed fighting began between the armed forces of the warring President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar. Throughout the weekend, bullets flew through the Terrain hotel compound, a facility frequented by foreigners and South Sudanese elites. By July 11, the government forces had nearly defeated Machar’s troops and both parties prepared to call for a cease-fire.
 
After the battle, government forces made their way into the Terrain complex and began a rampage that lasted nearly four hours. Residents said the building shook as soldiers shot at the metal door of a two-story apartment block in the compound. One Ugandan staff member said he saw between 80 and 100 men break open the gate and go door-to-door, harassing guests and collecting items.
 
“They were very excited, very drunk, under the influence of something, almost a mad state, walking around shooting rounds inside the rooms,” one American said.
 
The soldiers went on to assault, rape, and shoot people. A report by the hotel’s owner said the soldiers raped at least five women, and carried out torture, mock executions, beatings and looting. One Western aid worker said 15 soldiers raped her.
 
Several survivors said the soldiers specifically asked if they were American. The soldiers beat one American with belts and the butts of their guns for about an hour.
 
“You tell your embassy how we treated you,” the soldiers said when they released him.
 
Kiir’s side declared a ceasefire at 6 p.m., but the assault at the Terrain continued. Gian Libot, a Philippine citizen who witnessed the attack, said one soldier ranted against foreigners.
 
“He definitely had pronounced hatred against America,” Libot said.
He recalled the soldier accusing Americans of messing up the country and saying UN officials support the rebels.
 
The soldiers shot dead John Gatluak, a South Sudanese journalist who worked for the USAID-funded Internews. Gatluak’s tribal marks revealed his identity as a Nuer, the same tribe as the opposition leader, Machar. The soldiers pushed him to the floor and beat him, one woman said. One soldier shouted “Nuer,” and another soldier shot him twice in the head. He shot him four more times as he lay on the ground.
 
People in the compound began sending messages by text, Facebook, and via emails when the attack began.
 
“All of us were contacting whoever we could contact,” said the woman raped 15 times. “The UN, the U.S. Embassy, contacting the specific battalions in the UN, contacting specific departments.”
 
The victims contacted the UN’s joint operations center in the capital, Juba, and the UN mission’s Department of Safety and Security. About three hours later, the Department of Safety and Security said it “would not send a team.” UN officials said they are currently investigating the incident.
 
“Obviously, we regret the loss of life and the violence that the people who were in Hotel Terrain endured, and we take this incident very seriously,” said Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for the UN secretary-general. “As you’re aware, we have called on the national authorities to investigate this incident thoroughly and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
 
In a similar attack last month, several witnesses said UN peacekeepers failed to intervene when soldiers raped some South Sudanese women outside the UN’s main camp.
 
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Truedeau told reporters the U.S. Embassy “was not in a position to intervene,” after it received several calls for help. Trudeau said the U.S. ambassador reached out to local government officials instead.
 
South Sudanese security forces eventually entered the hotel compound and rescued all but three Western women and about 16 of the hotel’s staff. A private security firm rescued the remaining people the next morning.
 
“South Sudanese leaders have time and again failed to end abuses against civilians, been unwilling to rein in abusive forces or ensure justice for crimes by those under their command,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director for Human Rights Watch. “Top leaders need to be sanctioned and an arms embargo imposed.”
 

Related articles:
South Sudan’s crisis stirs call to prayer
 

8/25/2016 4:19:32 PM by Onize Ohikere, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



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