Texas Baptist Forum

Letters: Housing allowance ruling

‘Parsonage allowance’ called unconstitutional

Tax and legal scholars for decades have noted the unconstitutional character of IRC 107—the ministers’ “parsonage allowance.”  If “ministers” think they are being unfairly treated, one reason might be because of their unconstitutional affections for special treatment, such as is provided by IRC 107.

When Rick Warren’s housing allowance case was before the 9th Circuit, and the 9th Circuit, on its own initiative, thought to take up the constitutional issue, Warren and his political machine were able to put an end to that by getting Congress and the president to quickly pass legislation mooting the case and preserving all that is wrong with IRC 107.

Then Sen. Chuck Grassley had his years’ long investigation of million-dollar ministries which identified various problems with IRC 107. Rather than act, Grassley farmed out the thinking about it to his religious friends. No surprise; his friends told him, and by implication Congress and the president, to keep their hands off of IRC 107, and so they did.

Now comes the Freedom from Religion Foundation to prosecute the cause. Judge Crabb got it right. 

May her ruling be sustained by the 7th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Robert Baty

Fort Collins, Colo.

Gays, marriage & church

Gay marriage is not without irony and paradox. Jesus Christ created the marriage of one man and one woman for life, which created the foundation of our society, the family.

Gays now want to participate in this Christian institution, which strictly forbids homosexuality. They want to be legitimate to get benefits like health insurance at work.

I was once told by a co-worker, “Hate the sin; love the sinner.” Let them have their civil marriages but stay out of church.

Fred Rosenbaum


The baby’s interest

I wonder why it seemed cruel to some people to keep Marlise Munoz on life support to give her baby a chance to live.

It is true life support could no longer benefit her, but neither would it have truly been a burden to her, while it would have given hope for the child. If it had been a burden to Munoz, I would see the point.

Granted, it would have been hard on her husband, who would have had to delay his grieving process until the baby was born, since the poor woman could not even have been buried. But that does not seem so impossibly difficult when there is another life that could have been preserved.

His interests or the baby’s? The baby was important, too.

Moira McQueen

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Self-aggrandizement in glass

The news that Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will receive millions of dollars to create stained glass windows of fundamentalist “heroes” is a dose of hubris without parallel in Baptist life.

Dare we consider the true legacy of the faces who will peer over generations of students—a divided and polarized denomination, false accusations, firings and narrow creeds?

The simple words of Jesus, “Love one another,” etched in simple block letters might do far more for the kingdom than this artistic self-aggrandizement ever will.  

Larry Payne


‘Begotten’ by God

I found the message in “Life: Why Should I Trust the Bible?” interesting and educational. Word usage is indeed a fascinating study, and Leigh Powers made a significant point.

I, too, love words and often find it challenging to select the right words to convey exactly what I wish to say. I am often somewhat curious about why writers and speakers select certain words and phrases to express themselves. An example is a sermon I heard recently on John 3:16. The preacher read from the New International Version: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. …” Then, in verse 18m it again says, “… one and only Son.”

I have been reborn and thus am a son of God.

The complete truth of “begotten” must not be eliminated. Jesus is totally God, but when he was sent to  fulfill the plan for our salvation, he was totally man. Mary’s pregnancy was physically real, just like our mothers’. His birth was like ours. His life as a baby, child and man was full of the same factors of growth and experiences as ours, with the glorious exception that he was begotten by God. He labored and sweated and bled just like us. In all ways, he encompassed the definition of man while at the same time being one with God by whom he was begotten by miraculous conception. 

Bill Lawson


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