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May 1996 Issue

New Genesis Commentary Mines the Depths of Genesis Interpretation

Ken Mathews recognizes that Genesis has been interpreted in different ways by scholars over the centuries, so when he sat down to write his commentary on the first book of the Bible, he wanted to move beyond modern critical observations.

"There is a sense that proper interpretation began after the Reformation, which feeds a great prejudice against anything that antedates modern critical studies," said Mathews, author of Genesis, 1-11, the latest release from Broadman & Holman's New American Commentary (NAC) series. "I wanted to show how the critical methodology, in terms of the whole span of the history of interpreting Genesis, takes a different tack altogether. Not everyone has assumed critical presuppositions or put the critical method into practice."

This larger context had Mathews researching the interpretation of Genesis from its first mention in Deuteronomy 4, where Moses uses the book to preach concerning idolatry, through the ap...

Mankind's compulsive obsession with itself, said Christian author Elisabeth Elliot, is an "unconscionable appeasement to the demon self. How can we be preoccupied with self-image and self-esteem and self-actualization and at the same time be denying ourselves and taking up the cross and following Jesus?" Elliot said, speaking on the campus of Southeastern Seminary. "It's not going to work. It won't do at all. It's either/or."

"I really don't see how any of us are going to be leaders of the sort that Jesus spoke of unless we completely divest ourselves of our popular notions today of self-actualization and self-esteem," Elliot, host of the weekday "Gateway to Joy" radio program, said.

Elliot, the daughter of missionaries, was born in Brussels, Belgium. She served as a foreign missionary 11 years in Ecuador, South America, before returning to the United States in 1963.

In 1956, Elliot's husband, Jim, an...

As the members of the Kansas House of Representatives stood and bowed in prayer at the opening of a recent session, some were shocked and offended by what they heard — a heartfelt prayer of corporate confession, forgiveness and divine guidance.

One representative walked out, another sat down in protest. The Wichita Eagle reported: "And the House came alive with the flutter of agitation that comes from offense and its often loud response."

"I have never heard in 10 years as divisive, sanctimonious, self-serving, overbearing prayer as I have heard this morning," one representative said.

However, Rev. Joe Wright who offered the prayer said, "Prayer is prayer. I'm praying to God when I'm praying. I'm not up there to put on a show. I'm here to pray. I don't do it any differently in public than in private ...."

Here is the full text of Wright's prayer:

Heavenly Father,

We come before You today to ask Your forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that's...

Funding Crisis or Faith Crisis?

The sisters have fallen on hard times! The rapid expansion which marked America's early history was matched by the brisk growth of the principal Protestant denominations. The largest and most influential, labeled the mainline denominations, were once so predominant, they were called the seven sisters of American Protestantism.1

But, I say again, the sisters have fallen on hard times.

Their membership has plummeted, with one of the seven losing an average of 1,000 members every week for over 26 years, declining by more than 31 percent from 1970 to 1992. A 1989 study showed a 55 percent average decline in Sunday school attendance among five of the seven sisters.

A predictable accompanying decline in giving has precipitated what informed friendly observers call a funding crisis. That funding crisis has resulted in reduced staff and programming, declining staff morale, and program retrenchment.

Careful reflection shows the ...

We have an obsession with angels. These supernatural beings adorn coffee mugs, t-shirts, note cards, checkbooks, license plates, postage stamps, paper towels and even soap dispensers. And what little girl wouldn't do backflips for the new Bubble Angel Barbie doll on toy store shelves. People are fascinated by angels as never before.

Angels appear to be the religious, and secular, symbol of choice in the late 20th century. Bookstores, secular and Christian alike, abound with newly published books on angels; yet many falsely portray these mysterious beings as a sort of spiritual mentor that will provide a pathway to a source of higher energy.

Perhaps spurred on by a New Age fascination with spirituality and angelology, some within the evangelical community are, in seeking to satisfy their craving with anything having to do with angels, drawing close to flirting with worship of the created instead of the Creator.

Historically, Christian theology has offered lit...

The amount of money saved by the SBC due to the restructuring of its agencies will be substantial, said Ted Warren, ITF member spokesman and chief operating officer of the Baptist Sunday School Board. During the 1996-97 SBC fiscal year (October through September), Warren said the ITF estimates that a savings of $289,000 will be achieved, mostly from entities being dissolved or modified.

Under the restructuring plan, the Education Commission would be dissolved and functions of the Historical Commission, Stewardship Commission, and Southern Baptist Foundation would be assigned to other agencies.

The "Covenant for a New Century" restructuring plan, approved by messengers at the 1995 SBC annual meeting in Atlanta, calls for the merging, consolidation and/or dissolution of several entities and ultimately reducing the number from 19 to 12. A second vote on SBC Bylaw 15, which lists individually...

Voicing "agreement in spirit and in substance" with the resolution on racial reconciliation approved at the 1995 Southern Baptist Convention, the SBC Inter-Agency Council (IAC) named a task force "charged to work toward strategy and implementation of full racial and ethnic reconciliation." The IAC, composed of the chief executive officers of all SBC entities, unanimously approved the move, saying racial reconciliation was a "priority issue."

Richard Land, Christian Life Commission president, will chair the new task force. Land said a strong case can be made that "we've about reached the limits of what public policy, apart from a gospel message of changed hearts, can do" in regard to racial reconciliation. "There is no substitute for the spiritual healing and the reconciliation that is brought about by the gospel when it is properly applied to this area of human...

Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans

Tuesday Morning, June 11

8:15 Music for Inspiration - Adult Choir and Orchestra, John Walker, director, interim minister of music, Summer Grove Baptist Church, Shreveport, LA

8:30 Call to Order

Congregational Singing - John V. Glover, Jr., convention music director, minister of music, First Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA

Prayer - Bobby D. Brewer, layman, First Baptist Church, Quitman, MS

8:35 Registration Report and Constitution of Convention - Lee Porter, SBC registration secretary, retired, Lawrenceville, GA

8:40 Committee on Order of Business (First Report) - James W. (Jim) Richards, chairman, director of missions, Northwest Baptist Association, Rogers, AR

8:45 Welcome - Leon Hyatt, retired, Pineville, LA

8:50 Response - Tony Rengifo, foreign missionary, Costa Rica


SBC Pastors Conference
June 9-10, 1996
Louisiana Superdome

Session 1, June 9
Sunday Afternoon, 2:00 - 4:30 p.m.

1:50 Pre-session Musical Praise - Metropolitan Baptist Church Choir, John Mark Benson, Minister of Music, Houston, TX
2:00 Musical Praise - Becky Smith
2:05 Welcome - Johnny M. Hunt
2:08 Scripture/Prayer - Walter Davidson
2:13 Musical Praise - Newsong
2:20 Message - Mack Brunson
2:45 Congregational Praise & Worship - Scott C. White
2:50 Message - Herb Reavis
3:15 Choral Praise - Metropolitan Baptist Church Choir
3:18 Message - Ike Reighard
3:43 Prayer/Offering - John Dobbins
3:46 Testimony - Sunday School Board Report
3:56 Musical Praise - Michael Combs
4:00 Choral Praise - Metropolitan Baptist Church Choir
4:03 Message - Rick Amato
4:30 Benediction - Shane Craven
Postlude - Metropolitan Baptist Church Choir


It's a sure sign of success for Christian groups trying to stop the spread of gambling: gaming advocates are organizing for a counterattack. In an article titled, "The Moral Politics of Gaming," published in the trade magazine International Gaming and Wagering Business, industry experts outline steps for "turning the tables" on anti-gambling groups. The steps include attacking arguments that gambling hurts the economy and causes increased crime, pushing for limited stakes riverboat and casino gambling (presumably easier to pass among voters), and uniting the industry for additional political clout.

Written by Paul Doocey, the article also suggests the economy could "push gaming back into the forefront," particularly if a recession "creates a sudden need for taxes and economic renewal ...;" that government decentralization could help the gambling interests if st...

The Peace of God Gets Her through Family's Slaughter

For all those who've ever taught in Vacation Bible School, ending the week utterly fatigued, frazzled and frustrated, this is a story you will want to read.

Lori Trice is now a preacher's wife and the mother of three children in a little bayou town in south Louisiana. She has spoken and sung for women's Bible studies and retreats across the country. Her husband, Brent, is a doctoral student at New Orleans Seminary. But if it hadn't been for a faithful little Vacation Bible School in Lawton, Okla., Trice never would have made it to where she is today.

Born in 1959, Trice was the oldest of two daughters of seemingly perfect parents in a picture-perfect house. Her father, Gene McWilliams, worked at the local newspaper, and her mother worked for the local utility company but went to school at night dreaming of one day being a schoolteacher so she could spend the summers with her daughters.

"Inside that house," Trice said, "...

Evangelistic ministries during the 1996 Olympics will have more in common than a desire to share the good news of a risen Christ: They will share a theme and witnessing tools influenced largely by Southern Baptists' Atlanta International Ministries (AIM '96) and the Home Mission Board.

The theme "More Than Gold" has been adopted by a consortium of denominations and para-church organizations as the basis for evangelistic ministries related to the Olympics. And the HMB's "Interactive Pocket Guide '96" — an evangelistic booklet that also contains Olympic records and names of previous gold medal winners — is destined to be the principle witnessing tool for many evangelical organizations.

"It's just really neat to see how this has snowballed," said Toby Frost, HMB associate director of mass evangelism and chairman of the AIM '96 evangelism committee. "We believe that the 'More Than Gold' slogan an...

Mother's Day is now mired down in multi-culturism. How shall we speak of the neurosis? Gay pride women say it's irrelevant. Single militants say it's unfair. Children whose mothers abused them say it's immoral. Marketplace female CEOs say it damages their executive clout. And many ERA women say it's a saccharine ploy that keeps women enslaved to men who buy them off with a rose from a vendor in the median and a Big Mac combo every first Sunday in May.

Still there are many mothers who take pride in their motherhood and seem to appreciate their annual celebration. A Hallmark card seems a modest payment for those new mothers who are even now in the thrall of breast feeding or the middle-aged moms who are trying to survive teenagers who drive.

Frankly, I like mothers and I think the culture ought to tell them that at least once a year. So I'd like to stick my neck out and bless all the good women who make life possible.

The issue of recognizi...

From the New Orleans' French Quarter to a women's prison, Southern Baptists will present the gospel throughout New Orleans June 8 before they venture to the SuperDome to conduct business.

Known as Crossover, the witnessing effort that precedes the SBC annual meeting has become a multi-faceted evangelism blitz. "This is an opportunity to reach thousands for Christ in a single day," said HMB's Don Smith. "Not many times in your life do you get the opportunity to do that."

The Greater New Orleans Baptist Association covers five parishes, or counties, with 1.2 million people, said associational missionary Fred Dyess. Only three percent of residents are Southern Baptists. Currently the association has more missions (83) than constituted churches (65). Only 29 of the churches have more than 100 in Sunday School, and none of them have 1,000 in Sunday School, Dyess said.

With so many new and small congregations, Crossover New Orleans "could really be a boost" to area churches, said Louisiana evangelism director Wayne Jenkins.

Crossover New Orleans will include block parti...

In their efforts to bring the whole world to Christ, Southern Baptists have planted churches in every state in the Union.

Estimated number of churches by state convention

Alabama - 3,136
Alaska - 63
Arizona - 282
Arkansas - 1,341
California - 1,151
Colorado - 220
New England - 161
District of Columbia - 90
Florida - 2,014
Georgia - 3,192
Hawaii - 71
Illinois - 955
Indiana - 334
Iowa - 80
Kansas-Nebraska - 278
Kentucky - 2,340
Louisiana - 1,374
Maryland-Delaware - 350
Michigan - 269
Minnesota-Wisconsin - 108
Mississippi - 2,023
Missouri - 1,878
Montana - 98
Nevada - 93
New Mexico - 281
New York - 247
North Carolina - 3,614
Ohio - 527
Oklahoma - 1,538
Northwest - 352
Pennsylvania - 2...

Someone has said there are four stages to life: you believe in Santa Claus; you don't believe in Santa Claus; you are Santa Claus; and you look like Santa Claus. My wife and I are at the empty nest stage, that's kind of in-between being Santa and looking like him. It took us about 10 minutes to get used to this stage. I have raised three daughters (God doesn't send a son to a house where there's already a man), and pastored a church at the same time. I feel like the guy who went through seminary and never believed in original sin. About 20 years later, he ran into one of his professors. The professor asked if he still didn't believe in original sin. He said that, after raising teenagers and pastoring a church, he not only believed in original sin, he also believed in demon possession.

I'm now back to living with just my wife, but she's gone to visit the girls, so I'm home alone. I'm like most of you guys - I really "out punted my coverage&...