A Secular Humanist Atheist Looks at Christianity

{My language below as expressed in the following email to the First Baptist Church is written with Christological terms to convey meaning to a conservative Baptist church and should not imply any religious views on my part.}

Email to First Baptist Church following an evangelical Christmas musical.

Season Greeting to the Talented Staff at First Baptist Church.

(Parts about the musical were not applicable to this post were deleted)

My second reason for this email is to express the bitter-sweet irony I felt as I enjoyed the Living Tree last night.

I could not help thinking to myself as the second half expressed the true meaning of Christmas as a time for humanity to accept the perfect gift of love and forgiveness that God gave the world in His son Jesus that First Baptist is a member of and supports the Southern Baptist Convention; a Convention which runs counter to most everything I heard in song and word at the presentation last night.

By this irony, I mean that the Southern Baptist Convention has itself limited this perfect gift of God’s love and forgiveness in that this Christian Convention has fired all women form faculty positions form teaching men at all their seminaries regardless of their ability to teach or their academic qualifications.

Moreover, after pulling up departments of religion at Anderson University, Charleston Southern University and North Greenville University (a school where Dr. (Pastor) is on the staff), I find that this sentiment is now extended in all S.C. Southern Baptist Universities as well. This action by the Convention is made even more infamous by the fact that one of my undergraduate schools, Southern Wesleyan University, just placed a woman as dean over their departments of Bible and Christian studies.

It is truly a sad time, especially here at Christmas, as I read in the November 12 edition of the New Letter the prayer request: The Living Christmas Tree Pray for all who will present the true meaning of Christmas and all who will hear the good news of God’s love. That women, simply because of their gender, are eternally viewed as un-forgiven in this respect and are made to pay for this in the Southern Baptist Convention based on the Apostles Paul’s miss-understanding of the Genesis 3 account as he expresses it in I Corinthians.

In closing, I sadly find it very hypocritical and counterproductive for the largest evangelical denomination in the U.S., the Southern Baptist Convention, to proclaim God’s perfect love in His Son Jesus Christ open to all who will accept it only to attack and fire women under the same evangelical banner for no other reason other than their God given gender.

Thanks for your time and may you enjoy find the true love and forgiveness that makes this time of the year so special.

Sincerely,
Harry H. McCall

Pastor’s Reply:

Harry,

Always good to hear from you. Thank you for your kind feedback on the Tree.

You have a keen eye for hypocrisy and a strong desire to name it when you see it. I affirm you in that.

First Baptist Church is not on a crusade against women. We voluntarily cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention, not because it is perfect or that we agree with every policy or practice, but because we do support the opportunity to cooperate in work that no church can do alone. No family is perfect, but we find ways to love each other and work together.

I teach at North Greenville University and Anderson University from time to time. I know that women serve in very responsible positions at both schools, but I do find it interesting that none teach in the religion department. Since I'm not involved in hiring, I don't know if this is coincidence or merely a result of who has applied. I do know that my wife has been my guest lecturer in the class I teach in pastoral care. She has been well-received by the school and my students. My focus has been to make the most of the opportunities these schools have gracious offered me by teaching with integrity.

I wish that I had seen you face to face at the Tree. Please pass on to your family my wishes for a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Pastor First Baptist

If one truly needs a Biblical God (or any god for that matter) to be ethical and moral, then how was I (as an atheist) able to address this issue with this conservative Baptist church which believes the Bible, especially the New Testament, to be the Word of God while I don't?

Secondly, as an employee of the state of South Carolina, how does the secular state create its internal employee policies based on an ever changing modern secular society and come up with conduct rules such as their Workplace Violence Policy and their Sexual Harassment Policy without God or the Bible? In fact, both policies are not drawn form the Bible, but often run counter to the Biblical codes of morals and ethics? (An example is Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation retuning to slaughter the evil forces; a retaliation act which would get one fired with the state!)

If what Dr. Craig Blomberg claims as divine guiding principle for modern humanity’s morals and ethics is true, then just how did our secular society outlaw slavery and the subornation of women which are both God directed Biblical principles and which the Bible believing Southern Baptist Convention still use to fire womenand deny their employment?

Finally, I noticed under WikipediA that Dr. Blomberg “…has often been critical of American evangelical scholarship, and he controversially fostered a dialogue with Mormon professor Stephen E. Robinson of BYU, which resulted in the book How Wide the Divide? An Evangelical and a Mormon in Conversation.”

I personally have had dealings with Professor Stephen Robinson of the Department of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University. Although Robinson earned his PhD under James H. Charlesworth at Duke University (now of Princeton), I found that, for a Temple Mormon and Christian educator, Stephen Robinson was a knowingly deceitful liar when I called him to ask for an explanation to a Greek exegetical problem based on the United Bible Society Greek New Testament 4th ed. dealing with the Gospel of Matthew and the Book of Mormon.

If what Dr. Blomberg claims is true about the need for God, then, in my next post on the LDS Mormon Church and Professor Stephen Robinson, I would like to hear how his Christian dialogue with this BYU professor is justified.

3 comments:

akakiwibear said...

Harry its good to see us on the same side here!

Last year I played a part in fanning into fire a debate on women’s role on the SBC blog that resulted in the resignation of the moderator and the shutting down of the blog.

I learned three things from the exercise:
1) The basis for the their position lies in 1 Tim 2:12
2) Not all associated with the SBC agree on the issue – the fire storm I provoked proved that.
3) That for those whose belief is founded on a literate inerrant bible there is only one answer to any question.

What I did not get to understand was how they cope with conflicting passages …

Sala kahle

Harry McCall said...

I have a very strong feeling I just sent myself to Hell with this post (Since Christians tell me: God doesn’t sent anyone to Hell they send themselves there.

Or how about this: God did not fire any women professors at Southern Baptist Seminaries; they got themselves fired (for being women). Amen?!

God have mercy on me as a free thinking atheist!

Harry McCall said...

Thanks aka. I chose to use I Corinth. since it is know as a Pauline letter which gives us the theology behind Timothy while the pastoral letters of 1 & 2 Timothy are later and form a group known as the Pauline School.

I don’t have time tonight, but you’ll find my post of Professor Stephen Robinson and the Book of Mormon interesting.

For 20 years I attended both the First Baptist Church in the morning and Greenville’s LDS First Ward in the afternoon (1981 – 2001). I read two papers at state religion meetings on Joseph Smith and one on the remaining 5 active “Book of Mormon” groups still going today of the 15 that started up at the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Anyway, stay tuned.