Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Why the Theo-Left Has Nothing to Fear from the Medley Letter

Yesterday's letter from Dr. Roy Medley has the theo-left in the ABC in a tizzy. And it has confused the moderate-conservative mainstream. Into the breach we enter with a little Medley-exegesis.

SETTING: Valley Forge is scared to death that conservative regions such as ABC of the West, IND, OH, WV, etc., will follow the example of PSW. So, the strategy is to talk conservative. Head 'em off at the pass, boys.

Dear American Baptist:

The following call is being issued as a continuing part of our implementation of policies adopted by the General Board. I call it to your prayerful attention.

A Call for American Baptists to Live Lives of High Moral and Ethical Responsibility

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called… (Ephesians 4:1)

A life centered in Christ makes Christ the model and is worthy of replication (Philippians 3:10). There are many dimensions to the Christ-centered life including—but not limited to—integrity, stewardship, compassion, spiritual practices, and sexual discipline (Ephesians 6:13). In various times and ways American Baptists have spoken to these aspects of the life of discipleship.

While not the most important discipleship issue in the New Testament, nor our highest priority of ministry lest we focus on one set of sins above others that afflict us such as racism, greed, sexism and gluttony, nonetheless, sexual concerns increasingly dominate our attention (Romans 1:28). We live in a culture obsessed with sex. We see evidence of sexual abuse every day. We are stunned at the reports of sexual impropriety by persons in caring professions (1 Corinthians 6:18). Many persons have been victims of these abuses. The result is an environment of deep suspicion regarding the sexual integrity of persons in authority. In this context, the matter of homosexual practices continues to divide American Baptists.

Hmm, that's stating the obvious. Of course, sexism is ranked as worse than adultery, a nod to the theo-left that's a bit humorous. Overall, this is a continuation of RM's typical can't-we-all-get-along ditty.

The official position of American Baptist Churches USA is that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and that marriage is intended to be “between a woman and a man” (Ephesians 5:31).

This is my personal belief, as the General Secretary of ABCUSA, but more so, it is my responsibility to uphold this as the official position of the General Board of ABCUSA. This has been implemented in the admission of official exhibitors at the ABCUSA Biennial, chaplain endorsements, and in the staffing practices of the staff accountable to me.

Well, duh, again, nothing new. Why does the theo-left think there's anything here at all?

Not only do I strive to live a life centered in Christ with moral integrity, I expect the same from my staff, and I call upon all American Baptists to live exemplary lives of the highest ethical responsibility in all matters, including matters of sexuality.

This is an oblique reference to that which cannot be named: namely, that there have been a number of ranking ABC leaders who have, shall we say, been indiscreet. RM says, cease and desist! That should make the ground shake.

Further, I call upon all American Baptists to practice Christ-like compassion (Colossians 3:12) and care for all of God’s people in our families, our communities, and our churches. The redeeming love of Jesus Christ must be extended to all persons, and there is no place for hate, violence, or injustice (Philippians 4:8).

Finally, I call upon all American Baptists to practice a life of prayer, purpose (Philippians 1:21) and passion (Philippians 3:13) in our lives together. We must pray with and for one another, share our purpose in Christ, and practice passionate care and regard for one another. In this way we bear witness to Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:1-11).

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley
General Secretary

The theo-left has NOTHING to fear or even care about RM's missive. And the Biblically informed conservative churches and regions should not be in the least impressed by it. RM is a nice guy, but remember: the idea is to have a letter on hand to use to shut up conservatives. Expect no implementation. Expect National Ministries especially to quietly undermine it.

You can compare this to Lincoln and the Border States during the Civil War. In RM's world, the PSW is the South (in full rebellion) and the conservative regions can't be ticked off too much, even though you think that they're a bunch of yahoos.


Dennis E. McFadden said...

The real test is what Dr. Medley does following his statement. After the blasting he took at the hands of the AWAB voices, let's see how he backs it up or just backs down.

Jim said...

So much coming out of Dr. Medley's office and Valley Forge in general these days reminds me of the old indian who went to hear "a preacher man." The preacher man spoke long and loud - real long and real loud - and when it was all said and done, someone asked the old indian what he thought.

He said, "Big lightening Big thunder. But no rain."


(P.S. - I'm not really expecting this, but...Anyone thinking of chiding me for not being "correct" or "sensitive" or whatever, and using the word "Native American" in the story - don't bother. I've spent time at Bacone College, and the students there told me that they were laughing at the whole "correctness" thing. One student flat out said, "You whites have gone nuts over this. To us, it's not a big deal -- WE call each other Indians!")

Dennis E. McFadden said...

THAT he said it was significant. The reaction of the far left demonstrates that he struck a raw nerve with them. They certainly thought there was "rain" in his words.

WHAT he said was far less significant. The only employees "accountable" to him are the few who work for the Office of the General Secretary. He has no authority to hire or fire Aidsand, Charles, or Sumner. Nor does he have anything other than moral suasion to use as leverage with ANY of their employees.

The real issue relates to the point of contention with the PSW. Last September, Roy steadfastly maintained that he had no authority or inclination to "enforce" the '92 resolution in any meaningful way. If that is still his position, then he will have only succeeded in alienating some of his allies on the left without satisfying any of his critics on the right.

I'm willing to wait and see and give him the benefit of the doubt.