Sunday, July 29, 2007

On the Left, Pennings is Right

The New Baptist Covenant meeting set for next January has decided that same-sex affirming outfits like the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists and the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America that they cannot become affiliates of the North American Baptist Fellowship. Therefore, they cannot be official participants in the event.
First of all, it's been known to many that the Baptist Peace Fellowship and AWAB are overlapping, interlocking organizations (you could throw the Roger Williams Fellowship in there too). They are all devoted to a view of Christianity that is in essence anti-nominian (under the cover of being anti-legalistic). New Testament Christianity is as recognizable in their midst about as much as at a Papal enclave.

When the news of the exclusion hit, Ken Pennings of AWAB thereupon threw a fit, and for once I agree with him. Excluding the BPF and AWAB only makes sense as a strategic move, not one moved by principle.

“This is not a rejection of either organization or the people in those organization[s],” wrote Alan Stanford, general secretary of the NABF, in an e-mail alerting leaders of the two groups to NABF’s decision. “It is a recognition that we can not hold together the large coalition of Baptists needed to create a new Baptist voice in North America and address the issue of sexual orientation at the same time. We ask for your forbearance and understanding.”

...Although the Baptist Peace Fellowship and the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists will not be official participants in the celebration, individual members and participating churches of both groups will. Both Pennings and Evelyn Hanneman, the Peace Fellowship’s interim director, noted that the vast majority of their partner congregations are affiliated with national denominational groups that are member bodies of the NABF and BWA.

“In fact, three Baptist Peace Fellowship members are part of a planning committee” for the celebration, Hanneman said. “So, they’re interested in keeping us off the table for our stance on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues, and yet we’re already at the table in some ways.”

Trouble is, I can't fit a piece of paper between the core beliefs of the leaders of the New Baptist Covenant people and the AWAB/Peace Fellowship people. Pennings is right: the Covenant gang should own up to their far theo-left views. And Baptists who regard Biblical authority as central should have nothing to do with this transparent, politically-motivated gathering.

1 comment:

Dennis E. McFadden said...

Progressive Baptists generally, and even moderates, have expressed shock, hurt, resignation, anger, understanding, and other emotions in the wake of the decision not to allow gay-friendly Baptist interest groups such as AWAB, the BPFNA, and the Alliance of Baptists to sign on as sponsors of the upcoming “Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant.”

But, in the midst of all the politics, consider this: not permitting the so-called gay friendly groups to "participate in an official capacity" in the event is more of a symbolic statement than anything else. It excludes, let's see, hmmm, exactly, well, anyhow, let me see, not counting you and me, well, er, ah, . . . NOBODY! Virtually all of the churches affiliated with these organizations are already member congregations in the CBF or ABCUSA. Multiple affiliation is common among the advocacy caucus groups such as AWAB or BPFNA. They do not pretend to be full-service denominations, merely affinity groups for like-minded folks.