Monday, June 19, 2006

 

Secretary Rice and the Southern Baptists

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice recently visited the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting and there delivered an excellent speech, If Not America, Who?

Secretary Rice is a highly intelligent, charismatic, and articulate spokesperson for America, and American principles and traditions of liberty and democracy. That she’s one of the primary architects of National Security policies and programs, and a leading defender of our efforts in Iraq and the Middle East, makes her’s an important voice in Washington.

Full disclosure: I signed on early to the “Draft Condi in ’08” campaign.

In her speech, Secretary Rice perfectly articulates the principle behind President Bush’s muscular advancement of Democracy in the Middle East:

America will lead...America will lead the cause of freedom in our world, not because we think ourselves perfect. To the contrary, we cherish democracy and champion its ideals because we know ourselves to be imperfect.

Read the whole thing.

Interestingly, the occasion of Secretary Rice’s visit to the SBC Annual Meeting coincided with what has been described as an upset election of a new SBC President, Pastor Frank Page of Taylors, South Carolina.

As reported here, President Page won election in an upset over several, power-broker preferred candidates:

In a major upset, outsider Frank Page of South Carolina was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention over two candidates closely tied to the SBC's conservative power structure.

Page, who described his election as a victory for grassroots Baptists, was elected with 50.48 percent of the vote on a first ballot against Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd and Tennessee pastor Jerry Sutton, both high-profile leaders in the conservative-dominated SBC.

Sutton, pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., received 2,168 votes, or 24.08 percent. Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church of Springdale, Ark., received 2,247 votes, or 24.95 percent. Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., received 4,546 votes -- a mere 65 more than necessary for a first-ballot victory.

Page's election signaled a defeat for the SBC's conservative powerbrokers, who have hand-picked all but one president since 1979. Only Orlando pastor Jim Henry, elected in 1994 and 1995, lacked the endorsement of the SBC's conservative leaders.

More full disclosure: Mrs. Dadmanly and I attend a local Southern Baptist church, although we maintain that we are ostensibly non-denominational, and believe that, in Jesus, as He himself said, there is but one church. But we believe we benefit by going to church somewhere, so…

The linked article quotes Page:

After his election, Page, 53, said he would seek to create a more open Southern Baptist Convention, but added: "I'm not trying to undo a conservative movement that I have supported all these years." He said he would continue the trend of appointing leaders who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible but who also have "a sweet spirit."

"I'm an inerrantist -- I believe in the word of God -- I'm just not mad about it," Page said in a post-election news conference.

Close enough to what I’d like to see myself amongst Christian Communities – more adherence to the timeless truths of God’s word (as reflected in the Bible), and a “sweetness of spirit” in dealing with strongly held convictions on the part of people, who disagree, sometimes strongly and with great passion, but should be able to accept some shared vision for common purposes, for His Kingdom.

Interesting that Secretary Rice stops by. She’s one of those people with a sweetness of spirit that comes to mind, despite however else she can be tough as nails when representing US Foreign Policy.




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