Some time back I mused over whether Roy Medley is more like Darth Sidious--the hidden hand behind the events--or like Ehud Olmert, fighting a two-front (Hamas/Hezbollah) war. Well, it's Olmert all the way. As evidenced by this little gem from the Pacific Coast Baptist Association.
What, pray tell is the PCBA? A fellowship of left-wing ABC wackos. Check their website . I couldn't help but notice that their vison statement has three references to deity and six references to American Baptists, as well as no reference whatsover to evangelism. Go figure.
Read it an' weep...
Roy Medley Speaks - Twice, or DoubleSpeak
General Secretary Roy Medley's recent "Call for American Baptists to Live Lives of High Moral and Ethical Responsibility," centers on a matter that he admits is "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." Yet he goes on to make it his most important issue.
Ignoring one of the denominational resolutions that acknowledges differences of understanding related to homosexuality, he selected another that he asserts is his responsibility to implement. His call goes on to infer that those who are gay and lesbian cannot "live exemplary lives of the highest ethical responsibility."
This statement has been received by many people as divisive, and they have responded with pain, anger, and sense of betrayal. In one local church earlier this month, the preacher praised Roy Medley's leadership at last year's Biennial for affirming a radical and inclusive love.
We are now a year from the 2005 Biennial gathering of American Baptists in Denver when General Secretary Roy Medley addressed assembled delegates and visitors regarding the "difficult season" in which we live as a denomination.
He said the issue of homosexuality was the one that "has brought us as a denomination to a cross-road in our life together. One road will lead to separation. The other path will lead us to shared ministry and mission in all the theological and ethnic richness that has come to make us the unique denomination we are."
He went on to describe his personal position on the matter and outline the way he would act as leader of the denomination: "I am conservative in matters related to human sexuality AND I do not want to be separated from those who differ from me. So, I want you to hear me clearly tonight: I am STILL traditional in matters of human sexuality AND I do not want to be separated from those who in Christian conscience differ from me on the issue of homosexuality. We have been a family where I have been granted the privilege of living in that paradox. With all my heart that is where I believe I have been called to be, where we have been called to be."
After listing sixteen ways American Baptists are immersed in Scripture and centered in Christ, he said: "I believe that the heart of our Baptist life is a call to radical personal discipleship lived in a community with a missional vocation. Our missional vocation is to embody and proclaim God's reign of grace to all the world that they might see in us, by the power of the Spirit, the life of Christ which has broken down the dividing wall of hostility between us and made us the new humanity, the beachhead of God's inbreaking reign."
He underscored the importance of a personal faith in the Baptist tradition and the need and the importance of soul liberty as a guarantor of respect for personal faith. He said: "As early Baptists read scripture they saw that God's call is a personal call addressed to each one, a call that requires a personal response. Birth into a Christian tradition or culture cannot substitute for the response required of each one as we stand in the awesome solitude of Christ's invitation to follow him. Baptists knew that only in freedom could one give one's heart and life in discipleship; that only in freedom could one appropriate the witness of scripture through the Spirit; that only in freedom did scripture have authority. For only truth freely found and freely embraced stands in the court of conscience. American Baptists, don't ever forget, 'For freedom Christ has set you free.'"
He affirmed his commitment to biblical authority and soul freedom when he declared: "Our commitment to biblical authority through soul freedom has been precious to us. And it is precious to us now! It doesn't make our life together easier, but it is essential for radical personal discipleship. That is why American Baptists grant the majority the right to say, 'This is what we believe' and also protect the right to speak a minority point of view."
He acknowledged that all this was "hard work," that we "owe one another stormy loyalty," and he aligned himself with the likes of Billy Graham who affirmed an "inclusive" ministry.
As he drew his thoughts to a close, he said: "the world needs the witness of a people bound together in love, committed to the difficult task of walking with one another in the midst of strong differences. We stand at a crossroads. In our world, the path of radical discipleship, the path of radical love is the road less taken. We dare not choose another. We dare not choose the wrong road...the road that leads to separation. That choice will certainly unite you with like-minded people, but will give you small souls, and make you comfortable Christians. The radical call of Jesus doesn't make us comfortable. Take the road-less-traveled - the rich road of love of one another and service for Christ in the midst of our differences."
Our General Secretary's statement was a bold talk in the midst of hard times. It offered his perspective, and it affirmed that he was aware of the hard times in which we are living. In spite of personal differences in matters of faith, he declared that our denomination and tradition was an inclusive gathering of Christians who respect one another and live with one another.
Now we have received this communication from our General Secretary. In words of his Biennial address, he appears to have chosen not to walk the path will lead us to shared ministry and mission in all the theological and ethnic richness that has come to make us the unique denomination we are, to have given up on living in paradox, to have lesser respect for the personal discipleship of some, and to have adopted a willingness to build the dividing wall.
It is well known that the so-called Resolution on which the General Secretary bases his "Call" does not fit the denominations' own definition of a Resolution. ("RESOLUTIONS - Adopted by a 2/3 majority vote of the General Board of American Baptist Churches, a resolution represents the position of the ABC on a specific issue and calls for some type implementing action. All resolutions must be based on a policy statement.") This so-called Resolution is based on no Policy Statement, includes no implementing action, and was adopted 110 Yes, 64 No, 5 Abstain by a post card ballot in October, 1992.
The personal call to each one is now judged by a majority of that post card ballot of General Board members more than a decade ago. Again, the road chosen appears not to be the road-less-traveled - the rich road of love of one another and service for Christ in the midst of our differences. And all because of a decision to change course and emphasize an issue that is admittedly "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."
This is unsettling, disturbing, distressing... Where do we go from here?
Italics are direct quotes from Roy Medley
Paul J. Hardwick
Association MinisterPacific Coast Baptist Association