News Articles

BP Ledger, Feb. 23, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The quotations in the first item were submitted by New Orleans and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminaries. The remaining items are published as received.

Prof’s on Williams: lies ‘demolish’ trust

NASHVILLE (BP) — Following NBC’s suspension of news anchor Brian Williams for multiple “instances of exaggeration” in the veteran journalist’s reporting, two Southern Baptist seminary professors offered their reflections on honesty.

Among Williams’ false statements was the claim that he was riding on a military helicopter hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during the Iraq war.

“Brian Williams’ lie about his helicopter being fired upon was not a pure invention, but was an exaggeration of a true story by adding in false claims that went beyond the truth,” Steve Lemke, provost of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press in written comments. “It appears that Williams was trying to portray himself as a brave reporter in the midst of a dangerous situation.

“We as Christians and ministers must resist this temptation to make ourselves the hero of every story or to add fictional elements to a story that we tell in an effort to impress our audience. Being caught in one lie or exaggeration with fictional elements can demolish the trust others have in our integrity. Merely impressing someone is not worth the price of our integrity,” Lemke said.

Thor Madsen, professor of New Testament, ethics and philosophy at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said lying is never God’s ideal but may be the “least-worst option” in some circumstances.

“All of us have a duty to tell the truth in any situation, unless that duty conflicts with a more important one, like preserving innocent life,” Madsen said in written comments. “It’s never simply good to lie; but in some cases, lying may be our least-worst option. Thus, it is morally permissible to deceive one’s enemy in just war or, say, to disinform a sociopath who would use the plain truth for deadly purposes.

“The same principle applies to cases in which truth-telling would inflict unredemptive pain on good people. Accordingly, we do not have to admit that dear Betty’s dress is ugly, should anyone ask about it, or that Fred’s ‘special’ last Sunday was a crime against euphony. But these exceptions, and others like them, set a high standard for justifiable lying, according to which 99 percent of all lies would be evil,” Madsen said.

Though it may appear that Jesus lied in John 7 by telling His siblings He was not going to Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths and then going later, Madsen said He was telling the truth.

“Jesus did not lie about going to the Feast of Booths. Rather, He answered truthfully in the context of His brothers’ original question. Would He go up publicly to show Himself to the world? Jesus says ‘No,’ but this answer does not exclude a private trip to Jerusalem, which He later decided to take,” Madsen said.

Among common motives for lying “are to avoid deserved harm and to save face, neither of which justifies the act. Therefore, the best way to avoid lying is to avoid shameful acts that we’d want to hide,” Madsen said.


Robert Smith, Jr., named new Baptist chair

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Samford University) — The trustees of Samford University have named Dr. Robert Smith, Jr., as the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School. Of the appointment, Dean Timothy George said, “Robert Smith, Jr., has been a beloved professor at Beeson Divinity School since 1997 and is one of the most consequential preachers in American religious life today. He is the perfect choice to serve as the inaugural incumbent in the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity. Through his love for the Gospel and his passion for preaching, Dr. Smith has had a shaping influence on several generations of faithful proclaimers of God’s Word.”

Prior to coming to Beeson Divinity School, Dr. Smith was the Carl E. Bates Associate Professor of Christian Preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Smith is known for spending hours outside of the classroom with students as they prepare to preach in his class. He received the divinity school’s award for excellence in teaching in 2005.

Smith has spoken at more than 100 universities, colleges, and seminaries in the United States, Great Britain, Middle East, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean. His book Doctrine That Dances: Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life was selected as the winner of the 2008 Preaching Book of the Year Award by Preaching magazine and 2009 Preaching Book of the Year Award by Christianity Today’s preaching.com.

The Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity is named for long-time Samford trustee and Baptist pastor Charles T. Carter. Carter began preaching at the age of 16 and served Baptist congregations around the state of Alabama, culminating in a 26-year ministry at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham. Carter chaired the resolutions committee of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1995 when it adopted the Resolution on Racial Reconciliation, which apologized for the role that slavery played in the founding of the SBC and repudiated racism.

Associate Dean David Hogg said, “When Ralph Waldo Beeson provided the gift to establish Beeson Divinity School in 1988, he charged Dean Timothy George with the mission to prepare ‘pastors who can preach.’ Robert Smith, Jr., has demonstrated unsurpassed wholehearted commitment to this mission.”


PTC lauds new YouTube kids app

LOS ANGELES (Parents Television Council) — The Parents Television Council lauded the announcement by Google that it will release a YouTube Kids App on Feb. 23. The YouTube Kids App will feature family-friendly content and provide parental controls, though it will initially only be rolled out on Google Android devices.

“Kudos to Google for undertaking such a positive and important project. This is wonderful news for parents who are concerned about online content that is harmful to children. It is also a wise business move for Google to address the needs of an extremely underserved market. With the ‘Wild West’ nature of video entertainment on the Internet, this new Kids App is an important step towards protecting children from offensive or indecent content. We hope the app will be available to work with all mobile devices. On behalf of our members, we applaud and thank Google for creating a safe haven for kids,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

The Parents Television Council® is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. This national grassroots organization has more than 1.3 million members and 57 chapters across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. The PTC™ also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.


K-LOVE broadcasts “Sam’s Place – Music for the Spirit”

NASHVILLE, (K-LOVE) — K-LOVE is pleased to announce they are broadcasting “Sam’s Place — Music for the Spirit” on their network. GRAMMY®-winning artist Steven Curtis Chapman is host to this newly revived monthly concert series that is recorded live at Nashville’s “Mother Church,” the historic Ryman Auditorium. “Sam’s Place –- Music for the Spirit” invites artists from all genres of music to share songs with an uplifting spiritual message and pay homage to the Ryman’s tabernacle roots.

The first airing was held on Sunday evening, February 8th and featured Steven Curtis Chapman, Danny Gokey, MercyMe and Tenth Avenue North. Following Sunday’s debut, K-LOVE will broadcast four more shows, which are set to air on K-LOVE on March 1, April 5, May 3 and June 7, all at 9 p.m. CT.

“Sam’s Place — Music for the Spirit” takes its name from charismatic evangelist Samuel Porter Jones (1847-1906), who gained fame in the region for his energetic sermons filled of fire and brimstone during the mid-1880s. On May 10, 1885, he led a tent revival in downtown Nashville for more than 5,000 which was attended by riverboat captain Thomas Green Ryman (1841-1904). Ryman experienced a conversion that night and, inspired by the multitude unable to find room under the tent, made it his mission to construct a great tabernacle “for all denominations” to join in worship. Seven years later, the Union Gospel Tabernacle opened its doors in 1892. It was Jones, while delivering Ryman’s eulogy at the Tabernacle on Christmas Day in 1904, who proposed the building’s name to be changed to Ryman Auditorium to thunderous agreement.

To find out more information about Sam’s Place, please click here. Tickets for individual shows are $39.50, $34.50 and $27.50. Season passes are also available. Tickets are on sale now at the Ryman box office, ryman.com or by calling (615) 889-3060. Group rates are available for groups of 15 or more by calling (615) 871-5043.


Faith Panel at 2015 Sundance Film Festival

PARK CITY, Utah (Christian Newswire) — As world news locks onto faith … as “Noah,” “Exodus,” “Heaven is for Real” and other faith films crowd theaters … Gray Media presented the “Faith in Film” panel — an informed look at perceptions, prejudices and wide-open possibilities — at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 29.

“Hollywood reflects society, society reflects Hollywood, and each needs the other,” Tim Gray, founder and president of Gray Media said of unprecedented panel discussion. “Years in the making, this conversation challenged storytellers’ notions of faith in films and inspired filmmakers to next levels.”

And the market for the faith category? “Films with faith at their core were so numerous in 2014 that cultural commentators dubbed it Hollywood’s ‘year of the Bible,'” Jonathan Merritt wrote in The Week. The phenomenon, propelled by stories, includes the History Channel’s wildly popular “The Bible.” “In fact,” Merritt wrote, “more biblical blockbusters were released in the last 12 months than the previous 12 years combined.”

Gray’s panel opened in a one-on-one with Devon Franklin, now president/CEO of Franklin Entertainment. At MGM and as SVP of Columbia Pictures, Franklin produced “Pursuit of Happyness,” “The Karate Kid 2,” “Heaven is for Real,” and “Annie”–and wrote the bestselling “Produced by Faith.” The afternoon’s part two was the Gray-moderated panel of: Franklin; Adam Hastings, Pure Flix Entertainment director of marketing and operations, whose 2014 “God’s Not Dead” staggered industry watchers with more than $60 million domestic box office; Bill Reeves, founder of Working Title Agency, behind faith-market groundbreakers “Fireproof,” “Courageous,” “Soul Surfer,” “Heaven is for Real” and more; and Julie Fairchild of Lovell-Fairchild Communications, whose film work ranges from “Fireproof” to “Get Low,” “20 Feet from Stardom” and “Heaven is for Real.”

“Every film festival needs the faith-film conversation, whether it’s for indies or in Hollywood,” Gray said. “Given the top-growing 2014 faith films and the world focus on faith, given global unrest and instability, this is as timely as looking at a watch.”

After studying film & television at a Christian university, Tim Gray entered work both in church and agency media. Twelve years ago he formed Gray Media to help outreaches “tell their stories through media”; and when the faith stories boom hit filmmaking, Gray Media was on go. “Most agencies specialize in film or online or outreach; we do all three,’ Gray says. “Besides work with secular networks, we place media in 200-plus countries for many of the world’s largest churches and faith organizations.”

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