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‘Civil war on planet earth’ will require stand for truth

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)??”Christians are engaged in a civil war on planet earth. The enemy is not the ACLU, the Disney Corporation, ABC Television or corporate America. The enemy is the devil.”
After stating that premise, Mike Whitehead, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary business affairs vice president, told a Sept. 11 chapel audience: “… our warfare is not against the people that we disagree with.” Instead, he insisted, “It’s against the ideas that are lifted up against the knowledge of God,” citing 2 Corinthians 10 as a text.
Whitehead, also assistant professor of church and law at the Kansas City, Mo., seminary, urged students to lift up the truth of God’s Word against “the bumper sticker slogans that the world uses to try to make us silent about our witness.”
He predicted they would be “harassed, persecuted, humiliated and teased” for their convictions. “So if believers are looking for a proud, attractive, winsome, popular, socially acceptable message to tell the world, you’ll have to look somewhere other than the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In his role as a member of the Resolutions Committee during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention last June in Dallas, Whitehead helped shape the language of the resolution urging moral stewardship in refraining from patronizing the Disney Corporation.
He clarified that such resolutions help the convention speak to various issues without binding authority over local churches. And yet, Whitehead expressed surprise at some of the rhetoric on the part of state Baptist paper editors who regarded the action as “an attempt to dictate to Southern Baptists how they should behave.”
Whitehead quoted from an editorial titled, “Would Jesus Go to Disney World?” in which Kentucky’s Western Recorder editor Mark Wingfield said, “Some days it seems like the Southern Baptist Convention wants to control the world. Now that we’re beyond battling for control of the convention’s internal workings, the quest for domination has turned outward to Disney.”
Whitehead accused the Kentucky Baptist editor of allowing his “sour grapes” attitude over “losing” in “the controversy” to cause him to “nitpick and disagree” with “whatever the Southern Baptist Convention messengers from Kentucky or wherever else vote on.”
By dragging convention politics into a discussion of moral, biblical issues, Wingfield confuses his readers about “the real issues in the resolution,” Whitehead said.
While Wingfield saw the resolution as the “most recent example of this attempt to make the world march to our beat,” Whitehead disagreed.
“It is on its face absurd to say anything 13,000 Southern Baptists did with a resolution from a committee with 10 pastors and laymen and passed by an overwhelming majority vote on the convention floor was some diabolical effort to control and dominate the world.”
Instead, Whitehead viewed the denomination’s stand on moral stewardship as “an expression of opinion of the family of Southern Baptists gathered in Dallas, Texas, on that particular day, expressing their opinions to other family members in Southern Baptist life.”
Because “the public gets to listen in when we do family business,” Whitehead said the committee intentionally avoided any reference to a boycott, anticipating media attention. Instead, the focus was placed on moral stewardship.
“Does anybody who’s criticizing Southern Baptists disagree that Disney is promoting by their movies infidelity, homosexuality and adultery as legitimate alternatives, and they’re promoting violence in things like ‘Pulp Fiction’ as a legitimate form of entertainment?” Whitehead asked.
If the public is surprised by the opposition of Southern Baptists to adultery, homosexuality and violence, then Southern Baptists should apologize for failing to express clear convictions on sin, he said.
Whitehead said pastors who prefer to align with “the Smiley Baptist Convention” so as to avoid offending others with moral judgments need to be reminded “Jesus got crucified because he spoke the truth in love.”
Citing a USA Weekend poll which reported 49 percent of Americans support the boycott, Whitehead said, “It’s not just Southern Baptists, but people of all kinds of denominations and religions who are concerned about their families being given moral arsenic of the TV through ‘Ellen.’
“They’re saying, ‘We don’t even trust what you’re selling in ‘Pocahontas’ and ‘Hercules.’ We’re afraid you’re slipping a Mickey everywhere, trying to advance your worldview. You’re trying to teach my boys and girls in my living room that a moral wrong is a civil right.'”
From the Great Commission, Whitehead said pastors should follow the instruction to teach church members on every subject Jesus talked about. “If he talked about murder, then we ought to talk about murder from the pulpit, including the murder of unborn babies by sticking scissors in their head as the body sticks out and sucking their brains out. We ought to preach about that as offensive as the sin is.”
Whitehead urged Southern Baptists to stand for truth, righteousness and decency in the culture wars rather than opting out as conscientious objectors who fear offending anyone. “Are you preaching salt and light in love from the pulpit and from the platform of your dining table?”

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  • Tammi Ledbetter