sbclife logo

August 1998 Issue

New Life for Cuba!

Many Baptists think of vocational evangelist as preachers and worship leaders who are platform personalities for special meetings at local churches in the U.S. However there are evangelists who travel outside North America to minister. One evangelist who spends half of his ministry outside the U.S. is Michael Gott. Gott is no stranger to Oklahoma Southern Baptist churches. Since the early '70s he has shared in hundreds of churches predominately in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

Many of these churches have heard Gott share about his ministry to Eastern Europe prior to the collapse of communism. He knew political change was in the wind for Europe because of the power of the gospel and the principles of liberty founded on the truths of Scripture.

Now Gott's international ministry is focussed on the island nation of Cuba. How did he go from Europe to Cuba? Gott answers by saying, "About ten years ago, I was preaching in Eastern Europe. The Cuban governm...

Southern Baptist Convention messengers elected Paige Patterson as president by acclamation during the June 9 afternoon session in Salt Lake City. He was unopposed for the presidency.

Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., since 1992, is generally regarded as one of the architects of the conservative resurgence in the SBC which began in 1979.

Patterson, 55, succeeds Tom Elliff, pastor of First Baptist Church, Del City, Okla., who concluded two one-year terms at this year's annual meeting.

A native Texan, Patterson is the first seminary president to serve as SBC president since L.R. Scarborough, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, in 1939-40.

In nominating Patterson, James Merritt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Snellville, Ga., called him a "proven leader and a champion of the cause of Christ."

Merritt also cited Patterson as a man of courage. "Be...

The following article is based on remarks by SBC LIFE editor A. William Merrell, in a report to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Salt Lake City, June 9, 1998.

As even the least observant among us must surely know, we are living through a revolution of sea change proportions in our culture — a revolution of ideas and values. A hallmark of this revolution is the rejection of truth as truth. Postmodernism, characterized by the organizing idea that there is no universal or transcendent truth, is said to be the wave of the future. If that is so, it will be a grim future, indeed.

Of course, this concept flies in the face of biblical, orthodox Christianity. As Christians, we believe that truth does exist, that it issues from God and not man, that it applies to all places and times, and that it is true whether anyone approves of, or even believes, it. Some may think that this is only so much philosophical chatter, that this is just a ...

The following is the final version of the report presented and approved at the Southern Baptist Convention, June 9, 1998.

During the 1997 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas a motion was made as follows: "That the President of the Southern Baptist Convention appoint a committee to review the Baptist Faith and Message of May 9, 1963, for the primary purpose of adding an Article on The Family, and to bring the amendment to the next convention for approval." In response, Convention President Thomas D. Elliff appointed The Baptist Faith And Message Study Committee, which presents the following report.


The committee was keenly aware that this task is a sacred trust. The Baptist Faith and Message has not been amended since 1963 when the inimitable Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs led the effort to develop a statement of faith for Southern Baptists. It has stood the test of time as a clear declaration of Southern Baptist faith. The assignment to produce a concise, clear statement that expresses the generally held beliefs of Southern Baptists concerning family was a daunting one. Therefore, the committee approached its responsibility with prayer, reverence, and diligence.

The ...

A new Internet web site, sponsored by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, became available to Southern Baptists June 1 and hosted a live telecast of the Tuesday session of the Salt Lake City SBC annual meeting June 9-11.

The live telecast was produced by the broadcast communications group of the North American Mission Board and also was available on NAMB's web site. The two web pages can be found at: and

Don Magee, director of information/financial systems for the Executive Committee, said the new SBC web site became available on the Internet June 1.

"The Executive Committee is excited about the prospect the Internet can be used to help Southern Baptists reach the world for Christ. The new SBC web site gives Southern Baptists an opportunity to get Baptist Press, the news service of the SBC, and SBC LIFE, the monthly publication of the Executive Committee, as well as information regarding ...

A key proponent of sexual abstinence until marriage has questioned a national Associated Press story May 20 reporting that a "safe-sex" emphasis on condom use is "more effective" than teen sexual abstinence.

Richard Ross, a spokesman for the popular abstinence-based True Love Waits campaign, commented, for example, on the definitions of abstinence used in a Princeton University study highlighted by the AP and also by the Journal of the American Medical Association in its May 20 edition.

The Princeton University study, of 659 sixth- and seventh-graders at three inner-city Philadelphia schools, described "abstinence intervention" as stressing "delaying sexual intercourse or reducing its frequency."

Ross, youth ministry consultant for the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, said such a definition often is used in government and academic circles, but noted, "To say to a te...

Starting with this issue, SBC LIFE will look at one of our Convention's six seminaries and interview its president.

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary was founded by local churches and pastors in 1944 to educate Christian leaders and ministers for the masses in California. Its influence and ministry has since grown beyond the Golden State to become a vital force in Southern Baptist missions endeavors in the western United States and in the Pacific Rim.

"Shaping effective Christian leaders for the churches of tomorrow lies at the heart of Golden Gate Seminary's mission," said William O. Crews, president of Golden Gate Seminary. "It is the mission that fortified our founding and it is the vision that compels us today."

Throughout its history, Golden Gate Seminary — the only SBC agency in the West — has seen its theological education ministry in light of the mission field of the West and the need to shap...

President of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

SBC LIFE Dr. Crews, please tell us about your pilgrimage into Southern Baptist higher education, and specifically, to Golden Gate.

Crews Well, I grew up in Texas, and from age thirteen have never had any plans to be anything other than the pastor of a local Baptist church. From thirteen on, everything in my educational experience pointed to preparing me to be a pastor.

I graduated from Hardin-Simmons University and went on to Southwestern Seminary, but dropped out after one semester and went to pastor a church out in west Texas. It was a wonderful time, but after two years, I discovered I was not adequately prepared to do what I thought God wanted me to do. The Lord called me to a church about 200 miles from Southwestern, and I commuted and finished my degree.

While I was in seminary, I had this growing feeling that God wanted u...

NAMB and First Priority

The North American Mission Board pledged leadership and potential financial support in May to First Priority of America, which promotes and supplies resources for Christian clubs on secondary school campuses.

The "strategic alliance" with First Priority of America gives NAMB a seat on the organization's denominational ministry board, an oversight panel with broad authority to help shape the ministry's direction. If NAMB's financial contributions are 10 percent or more of First Priority's budget (currently about $300,000 annually), the agency's representative also would gain approval/veto powers over such areas as core values, major strategies, doctrinal stance, and national ministry staffing.

Currently more than 1,000 Southern Baptist churches of all sizes are active partners in First Priority ministries.

The action came during a regular NAMB board of trustees at the agency's broadcast communications facilities i...

Though the Walt Disney Co.'s healthy earnings helped its stock price to nearly double since 1995, a respected Wall Street financial publication claims the company has enhanced recent results by disregarding generally accepted accounting procedures.

Writing in Barron's, accounting professor Abraham Briloff of New York's Binghamton University, alleged that Disney created an unreported $2.5 billion reserve that inflated Disney's earnings after it took over the ABC television network in 1996.

Following Briloff's story in March, Barron's carried an update in May stating that Disney had also exaggerated its fiscal second-quarter results.

By selectively making certain adjustments in its year-to-year comparisons, Barron's reported most recently that Disney was able to report a $68 million profit, an increase of 21 percent over the previous year. But according to the May update in Barron's, an even-handed treatment of these...

Sparing themselves a murder trial, Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of their newborn son. The plea agreement came as no great surprise, for few persons thought the state could win a first-degree murder conviction against them. The victim, after all, was only a newborn.

The case made headlines across the nation in late 1996. The two nineteen-year-olds came from wealthy backgrounds and were college students at the time. They had dated in high school and continued their relationship as she entered her freshman year at the University of Delaware. He began his studies at nearby Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

On that November night Ms. Grossberg called her boyfriend for help. Just hours later she delivered a baby boy in a room at a local Comfort Inn. Though both parents would later claim that the baby had been born dead, the autopsy would prove otherwise. The baby's body was dumped in a nearby garbage bin, and would probabl...

The Jerry Springer Show, the oft-criticized talk show that mixes fistfights and confessions of deviancy, stopped just short of forging into taboo-breaking territory - even for it - when an episode involving bestiality was pulled.

An episode titled, "I Married a Horse," was scheduled to be telecast May 22 on Jerry Springer but was withdrawn nationally and replaced by a previously shown program, said a source close to the show. When asked if the episode would be telecast in the future, the source said, "No comment."

The action came amidst criticism from a U.S. senator, a former secretary of the Department of Education, and media watchdog organizations, as well as the refusal of several stations to air the show.

In May, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D.-Ct., and William Bennett, co-director of Empower America and former U.S. education secretary, wrote the chief executive officer of the Springer Show's parent company asking him to pul...

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things in me — holy is His name. His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty." (Luke 1:46-53)

Romans says the Holy Spirit intercedes with inexpressible groanings (8:26-27). Hebrews 7:25 says that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us. But the all-new, all-woman, goddess Mary is also, according to Roman Catholics, an intercessor for the saints. In the 19th Century, the doctrine of Mary's "immaculate conception" was established. While this...

Methodist Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

The United Methodist Church's highest judicial body has called a special session for Aug. 7-8 in Dallas to consider the meaning and force of language related to the denomination's ban on blessing same-sex unions.

A question about the prohibitory language — added to the 8.5 million-member church's Social Principles by the 1996 General Conference — was submitted to the Judicial Council, the denomination's equivalent to the Supreme Court, on April 8 by the bishops from its South Central Jurisdiction.

The bishops asked the judicial council for a ruling on whether a pastor who violates the ban on blessing or officiating at a same-sex union ceremony has committed a "chargeable" offense under church law.

The bishops' action stemmed from the March 13 acquittal of the Rev. Jimmy Creech, senior pastor of First Un...

Have you ever noticed that movement and direction are two entirely different things? Even lost in the parking lot and going in circles, you're still moving, just not getting anywhere. Why? Because no one ever invented a compass that points in a useful direction, like toward the place where you parked your car.

The key to being successful in life is not shoot the bull, pass the buck, or make seven copies. It is finding and staying on the right path.

How do you find the path that leads to the top? You need a plan.

I heard about a knight who came in to see his king after a great battle. He rode in on his limping horse, leaning to one side, bloody, bruised and scarred with his armor dented and helmet skewed. The king said, "What hath befallen you, Sir Knight?" Straightening up as best he could, he replied, "Oh, Sire, I have been laboring in your service, robbing and burning and pillaging your enemies to the west." "You've been what?...