Healing and wholeness in America
We have seen much violence in recent weeks in U.S. cities. As followers of Christ, the church is being called upon to be light and salt in the world. Some of our leaders are getting wrapped up in divisive words and national political partisanship. I believe we should be partisan for Jesus alone.
The United States was born with racial discrimination. It has been an ongoing illness that sometimes flares up more violently than at other times. But we just can’t seem to cure ourselves of racial prejudice. We can’t seem to take the hard medicine of recognizing the problem and working together for healing. We take a few steps forward and a few steps backward. I hope the members and Baptist churches throughout North America will hear the call of the United States to “come over and help us.”
There are deep wounds all across the country. I heard a prayer recently that referred to Jeremiah that spoke to me: “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). I hope pastors, leaders and congregants will take the wounds—physical, emotional, and spiritual—seriously. I hope we can learn to be present to people, pastoral with people, and prophetic for people.
Let’s help our terrified people not to make terrible decisions. Let’s show our faith through our work for healing and wholeness so that all can know God’s well-being.
Samuel C. Tolbert Jr., president
North American Baptist Fellowship
National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc.
Lake Charles, La.
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CBF and biblical authority
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship just turned 25 recently but already suffers from dementia.
At the recent CBF annual gathering in Greensboro, N.C., in two of the three evening worship services, I heard about things CBF holds dear: (1) priesthood of the believer, (2) autonomy of the local church and (3) separation of church and state. Seems somebody forgot the fourth of the “Four Fragile Freedoms” articulated by Walter Shurden at the founding meeting of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, that being Biblical authority.
“Bible Freedom is the historic Baptist affirmation that the Bible, under the Lordship of Christ, must be central in the life of the individual and church and that Christians, with the best and most scholarly tools of inquiry, are both free and obligated to study and obey the Scripture,” Shurden explained
Nobody wanted to talk about the authority of the Bible. Funny that would be left out at the celebration of the 25th anniversary when it was so prominent in the “Address to the Public: The Founding Document of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.”
If CBF were to emphasize biblical authority again, it just might illuminate some things.