Thursday, July 23, 2009

A former President's troubled relationship with his own denomination

Al Mohler provides historical and biblical perspective to former President Carter's public denunciation of his own denomination:

In his article, President Carter reiterated his decision to sever public ties with the Southern Baptist Convention. In his words:

So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service. This was in conflict with my belief - confirmed in the holy scriptures - that we are all equal in the eyes of God.

To his credit, President Carter apparently did not claim that this was a new decision or a fresh announcement. Though some media sources jumped on the announcement as "news," others were careful to put his statement in an appropriate historical context. Furthermore, President Carter's reference to the Southern Baptist Convention was not the main point of this article. Instead, his reference to the Southern Baptist Convention introduced his argument that any religious teaching that denies what he construes as full equality for women "is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God."

That, suffice it to say, is a mouthful. This is not a new argument for the former President. But in his article in The Observer he does make some interesting assertions. While acknowledging that he has not been trained "in religion or theology," he went on to argue that "the carefully selected verses found in the holy scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths."

All this fits a pattern for which Mr. Carter is now well known. He simply rejects the texts in the Bible that clearly establish different roles for men and women in the church and the home. He dismisses these verses for the simple reason that he also rejects the inerrancy of the Bible.

He may well be the world's most famous Sunday School teacher, but over just the last several years he has publicly expressed his rejection of the belief that persons must come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in order to be saved. He has also stated that his faith would not be shaken if Jesus did not perform some of the miracles attributed to him in the New Testament. His denial of biblical inerrancy is not merely theoretical -- he actually operates on the assumption that at least some texts of the Bible are false, untruthful, malignantly oppressive, and thus untrustworthy.

Read the entire article HERE.


Harley A. said...

He appeals to a higher authority - the UN.

BillPoll said...

Charles Colson concurs on today's Breakpoint -
The Gospel of Oppression?
Jimmy Carter on Religion

July 23, 2009

Former President Jimmy Carter, speaking for himself and some other religious leaders, made headlines issuing a statement that religion is used to oppress women. Carter says he severed ties with the Southern Baptist Convention because its leaders “claim” that women must be subservient to their husbands, and may not serve as deacons or pastors.

Carter suggests that accepting these teachings pushes women into an inferior role to men. He also seems to draw a parallel between such teaching and the horrors of forced prostitution, genital mutilation, rape, and slavery.

The Washington Post/Newsweek blog “On Faith” asked my response. What I told them was that, with all due respect, I find Carter’s statement imprudent and presumptuous. His statement paints every religious tradition with the same brush.

It is true that some have abused Scripture in pursuing oppressive agendas, like arguments for slavery, apartheid, and the denial of rights to women and minorities. But these abuses cannot be supported by an appeal to God’s word, especially when Scripture is interpreted according to the grand tradition of the Church.

Scripture teaches that men and women play complementary roles. For example, the wife is to submit to her husband exactly as the Church submits to Christ. The husband is to give his life for his wife, as Jesus gave His life for the Church—hardly discrimination or oppression. So, please, let’s not confuse Christian teachings with the offensive practices of other faiths—such as radical Islam’s deplorable treatment of women.

In addition, Carter’s denunciation of the plain teachings of Scripture as “male interpretation of religious texts,” transgresses the teachings of the Fathers, the Reformers, and reliable modern interpreters. God’s Word doesn’t have to conform to the declaration of man or the shifting philosophical sands.

Telling people what the Scripture ought to say is pure hubris. I have more confidence in 2,000 years of careful reflection on the ancient texts and the apostolic tradition than I do with the latest fad or somebody’s “aha” moment.

Most astonishing, Carter charges that biblical teaching about male headship is “in clear violation” of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Does he really imagine that God’s teachings must comply with the United Nations?

Finally, Carter says he is now a member of “an independent group of global leaders” working to address “major causes of human suffering.” (As Haley remarked - the UN?) Well, I would like to remind the former President that the Church that has always led the fight to relieve human suffering. Early Christians rescued abandoned babies, tended the dying during the plagues, led the fight against slavery.

And we’re doing the same kind of battles today. Surely the former President hasn’t forgotten that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister.

When we see the press accepting such charges as distortions of our faith, we had better start doing a better job defending the church against such false claims.

So maybe unwittingly the former President has provided a teaching moment—an opportunity to set the record straight on which faith tradition has always defended human dignity and the rights of the most vulnerable among us.

Todd Pruitt said...


Excellent post from Colson.