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2007.03.07

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Michael Westmoreland-White

Sorry, I think McKissic was probably right the first time and should not have apologized. I do not think Baptists are yet willing to deal with our racist history and present. I think that he would never have gotten the flack he did for his comments on glossalalia if he were white.
His problem was apologizing for telling the painful truth.

peter

Michael,

Thanks, Michael, for the input. And, know I fully appreciate your view.

If we are speaking of individual Baptists, I think you are right: there are many racial attitudes with which to contend in our fellowship. I know I have had to deal with some of it in most every church I pastored.

On the other hand, if we are speaking of the Institutional Baptist sphere, I must record my profound disagreement. For a denomination evolved largely from the platform of the right to slave-ownership, we've come a heck of a long way. And, I think, at least generally, we do not possess either racist policies or actions at this level.

I know neither McKissic nor McClain personally. Thus I can only go by raw information. And, from my perspective, Dr. McKissic's apology sounded like the typical politician who's just been caught handing off a botched joke or marred comment: enough to control damage but far less to demonstrate authenticity.

As for the flack received for his open views on glossalalia being chiefly due to his race, Michael, you cannot be serious. All my ministry there has existed within the SBC a prejudice against non-cessationism. I know personally many folk thru the years who have been slighted for their views on the sign gifts. All of them were white.

Granted there exists prejudice; but from my view, it is a theological prejudice, not a racial one.

Consequently, were the issue about discriminating against Dr. McKissic because the BoT did not, as a whole, favor glossalalia, I could accept that. Unfortunately, Dr. McKissic chose to publicly frame the issue in racial terms which I think are entirely wrong-headed. Abusive is a better description.

Have a great day, Michael. And, I trust the problem with the old domain has worked itself out.

With that, I am...

Peter

Mary

Peter and Michael am I wrong in thinking that if a trustee for any of the seminaries came out in favor of PPL 10-15 years ago that he would have been quietly asked to resign and that would have been the end of it? I felt really naive when visiting the church we are currently members of and the Sunday School teacher came out in favor of "tongues" After picking up my jaw off the floor I tried the statement "Traditionally Baptist are cessasionist, it's what separates us from other denominations" I was admonished that I wasn't believing the Bible, but Baptist tradition. When deacons came to visit us and asked about the possibility that we would become members we told them we didn't think the church had the same doctrinal views as us, they immediately made it known to the church that the church was not endorsing PPL or tongues and that it should not be taught in SS causing several families to leave the church. This was something they couldn't do until the previous pastor left because he himself believed in PPL. Anyway, I still have to wonder if this has been blown into way more of an issue because of who the leaders are at SWBTS not because of the issue itself. I think no matter what the trustees do at SWBTS it's not going to be right until and unless they get a clone of Al Mohler as President. Having said all that I do think Dr. McKissic has behaved inappropriately in this and I wonder if his actions are somewhat spurred on by the support he seems to have from "certain" bloggers. The statement was horrendous and in my opinion the non-apology not nearly adequate. Michael I always appreciate your comments here and on your blog. I disagree with you at times but you always make me think!

peter

Mary,

Thank you for your very thoughtful participation. I think you are essentially correct that "traditionally" Baptists are cessationists. At least since the first quarter of the 20th century, when Southern Baptists began to carve their own identity out of a global Baptist community, we have consistently not embraced sign gifts as a faith community.

That is not to say that we held "confessional" or "creedal" views that negated it. Rather it is as you described--a "tradition", a heritage.

As best as I can tell, the 1906 beginning of the Pentecostal movement at Azuza Street was negligible on Baptist life. The opposite is true of the Charismatic movement that arose in the 1960's which seemed to touch virtually every denomination including Catholics.

Please know I am making no value judgement as to the theological correctness of cessationism or noncessationism but merely describing Baptist response to it the way I see it. And, historically, SBs have been reluctant to embrace noncessationism as a whole.

Some Southern Baptist theologians have been very open toward it. For example, the late Professor Dale Moody understood the Charismatic movement to be a fresh move of the Spirit and cautioned Southern Baptists to carefully listen to its contribution. Yet, Moody was, as it were, a voice crying in the lonely wilderness.

And you are correct, Mary. There was a time when most Baptist men and women in our leadership who disagreed tended to do so privately or at bare minimum, did so honorably, attempting to keep it as tight as possible.

For me, the most disappointing aspect of Dr. McKissic's racial images was not that he made them. No one of us is immume from "blowing our cool" or saying things we wish we had not said. Rather, it is that the racial images Dr. McKissic offered, he offered to the public square for 300+ million people to exmaine--not to mention the world. Also, prospective students for SWBTS are influenced negatively, it seems to me. I just can't seem to muster anything good to say about it. Tragic.

Have a great day, Mary. With that, I am...

Peter

selahV

Peter: While I agree with you that Dr. McKissic left his intellectual mind sitting at home when he voiced his analogical thoughts on "lynching", I also believe he sparked a much needed debate for racial understanding. I can't help but feel, his need to use that terminology for an illustration originated from a dark corner of his unhealed heart. I do my level best to weigh my words when it comes to racial imagery. I feel totally inadequate to converse with or about African-Americans in particular and the black race in general. I wasn't always this way. Political correctness and discriminational wars has all but destroyed the freedom of speech in this country for the fast growing minority of caucasians in America.

I totally understood the black community's cry regarding Bidon's use of the word "articulate" to describe his opponent in the race for president. Not because of the words he used, but the contextual comparison in which he used them. However, more and more words are being introduced which are taboo for conversational purposes.

And while it is acceptable by one race to use inflammatory words to describe a position, it is considered a hate-crime, or discriminatory language if used by another race. I believe, McKissic's statement bespeaks not only a moment of frustration and ire, but also a deepseated belief that any position he takes that is met with opposition is simply due to race. I want to believe that isn't true. I truly do. But, I think it is.

While I defend no one for racial prejudice, I can condone no one's explanation for using it to drive home a point, either.

My prayer is that we will not shove this situation under the rug as merely a slip of the tongue, but as an indication of an underlying problem that still exists. I too, would appreciate it if Dr. McKissic would be as public with an apology as he was with his insult--unintended though it may be. I don't understand racism. I do understand prejudice. And I am prejudiced towards statements made by black and white alike. While I stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone against racism, I am prejudiced by the acts of racism and the words of racists.

This will not be the end to this discussion, I am sure. We are entering a time in our government when our country is divided on far more than the Iraq war. And the color of our hearts is about to distorted as well as our views, I am afraid.

It appears we have a lot of old leaven to clean out of our cupboards before we can break Bread for the multitudes. selahV


Michael Westmoreland-White

Actually, Baptists are NOT traditionally cessationists if we take traditional to include the entire 400 years of our history. Many Baptists from the 17th to the 19th C. had healing ceremonies and regularly anointed the sick with oil. This was even noted by many Baptist manuals in the 19th C. Glossalalia was rarer, but not unknown.

Cessationism became more prevalent with scholastic Calvinism and even more prevalent as a reaction to the rise of Pentecostalism in the 20th C. Again, there was a racial dimension: the first generation of Pentecostals dared to cross the color line in segregated America. Southern Baptists were outraged.

McKissic should never have apologized for speaking the truth. Racism is more than personal prejudice--it is entrenched privilege and power--so entrenched that few of us notice the double standards.

peter

Michael,

Of course, Mary's and my assertion was pertaining to SBs proper, which is why I wrote of the 1st quarter of the 20th c.

Separate Baptists in mid 18th C, in fact, were only slightly under the "Baptacostals" we hear of today--Clearly they were noncessationists.

As for the racial thing, we will just have to accept our differences there. But 1 of 2 is not bad!

Shalom. With that, I am...

Peter

Michael Westmoreland-White

Okay. Well, that's the thing, see? When many people ask about "the traditional Baptist view" on anything, they mean Southern Baptist and they usually mean "all the way back to 1950." Sometimes they are generous and go back to the SBC's founding in 1845. But when I am asked about Baptist tradition, I always think of the 17th C. In 2009, Baptists proper will turn 400. (Our Puritan mother and Anabaptist father traditions are both a century older than Baptists proper.) Streams run freshest at their source, so I look to the 17th C, not the 19th or 20th when understanding Baptist tradition.

peter

Michael,

Most people, however, do not concern themselves with an entire history, Michael. And, while it is necessary to go beyond 1845 to understand how Southern Baptists came to be "Southern Baptists", it seems to me, there are some distinctive contributions SBs have made AS SBs.

If this is so, we can and must, in my view, speak of SBs as distinct within the larger Baptist tradition. Given that, for the most part, and surely you'll agree, SBs have tended to be noncessationist in practise if not formal belief.

With that, I am...

Peter

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