Today's BP Ledger includes items from:
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Compass Direct News
Reflections on Fred Luter's Election as SBC President, 19JUN12
By Toby Jennings
EDITOR'S NOTE: Toby Jennings, an African American, is a Ph.D. candidate at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS)--Much laudable and warranted commentary is beginning to circulate concerning the historic election of Fred Luter to the presidency of the nation's largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention—an announcement made at 3:57 p.m. Tuesday, June 19, 2012 -- "Juneteenth." Diverse commentaries are fitting, considering the nature of the election that renders it historic.
Providentially, although apparently from different Noahic genealogies, Luter bears the name of another Protestant leader who, too, valiantly and heroically pioneered change for the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the glory of God. Like Martin Luder (alternatively, Luther), Fred Luter's labor of love has not failed to position him at the forefront of gospel battle lines, nor has his gift failed to make room for him and bring him before great men. His extant leadership eminently qualifies him to lead the Southern Baptist Convention. Although neither Fred nor Martin have experienced a martyr's death, both have boldly lived a martyr's life; they both have evidenced their devotion to the testimony of Jesus Christ above their own lives. Baptist Protestants may be very grateful for the Luter name.
Many will want to compare this historic election to the United States national election of 2008. Too many distinctions exist, however, to legitimize such a comparison. First of all, the narrow scope of an evangelical organization's electing to a position of leading administration one who embraces the same creed as its entire membership cannot compare with an election to civil presidency of a secular nation state by a population diverse in numerous categories. Second, no comparison can quantify either the percentage of votes cast by ethnic minorities of the candidate's own ethnicity or the voters' motivation for so voting. Third, the socio-political and economic dynamics between the two elections are vastly disparate. Fourth, the two candidates possess disparate worldviews and therefore cannot be compared legitimately on a common leadership paradigm. Fifth, the two bodies represent entirely different missions and ends—one conscripted to the city of man, the other to the City of God. Consequently, Tertullian's query may be adapted here, "What has Washington to do with New Orleans?" Further, as David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans (also the SBC messenger who delivered Luter's nomination), has commented, " presidency is not going to be about him. It's going to be about the health of our convention. And we need his help. We need his perspective. We need his wisdom."
In reflection on this historic SBC election, I certainly have no desire to herald any distinct ethnicity as being in need of discriminating attention to any disregard of another; for the tapestry of humanity portrayed in Revelation 5.9 by its Creator trumps any creaturely attempt at any such preference. The significance, however, of a body of God's image-bearers appointing as their leader one who bears a minority ethnicity from the overwhelming majority of them evidences so much worthy of commentary.
First, as joyful image-bearers of God—and not merely politically correct pundits—the electors evidence not that a racial quota is being employed to satisfy some project of affirmative action, but that these who bear the image of the Spirit God—who both formed humanity in his own multi-splendored image and purchased with his own blood their redemption from the curse of his warranted wrath—have humbled themselves in acknowledgment of their dependence upon a power beyond themselves. They also acknowledge that the spiritual warfare that they engage daily is not about the establishment of their own puny and parochial fiefdoms. Rather, they confirm their faith in the divine edict that "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever," and that the gospel of Jesus Christ, which they profess to a desperately needy, selfish, divided, and depraved culture of utterly vain fiefdoms, weighs infinitely more than those other ultimately meaningless endeavors.
Second, this election further evidences the fruit of genuine repentance by a body of sinners whose origin was grounded in sins like hatred, man-stealing, and indignity against the image of God. Of such a turn of events, Russell Moore has quipped, "A denomination formed to protect slavery led by a descendant of slaves, that's just the kind of providential irony our God loves." Amen. Of course, we must be vigilant to recognize that while repentance legitimately may be characterized as momentary, penitence must perpetuate if confession and repentance is to be substantiated as genuine.
Finally, but certainly not exhaustively, this election evidences the awe striking, gratitude evoking, and worship provoking grace that the Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ is alive and is directing his church and the Southern Baptist Convention (or Great Commission Baptists, if you prefer) to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with her God, soli Deo gloria!
Christian Legislator in Pakistan Stuck with Muslim ID
Assemblyman nearly lost post to error.
By Murad Khan/Compass Direct News
LAHORE, Pakistan (Compass Direct News)--Pakistan's rigid system of prohibiting Muslims from changing their religion status on their national ID cards nearly cost a Punjab politician his post - even though he has always been a Christian.
Rana Asif Mahmood's political opponents in April sought to disqualify him from the Punjab Provincial Assembly seat reserved for minorities on grounds that the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) identified him as a Muslim.
Mahmood said that NADRA had mistakenly identified him as a Muslim because of his name and then refused to rectify the error. The mistake not only cost Mahmood a cabinet position but also his part in proposing the provincial budget for 2012-13, he said.
The law establishing NADRA prohibits Muslims from changing the religion column on their Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC), though non-Muslims can easily obtain such changes - especially if they are converting to Islam.
"The situation was revealed to me when my son applied for a CNIC a few months ago," Mahmood said. "He was told that he could not put down Christianity as his religion because the records showed his father to be a Muslim."
When he approached NADRA officials for corrections, Mahmood said, they told him that there was no provision for changing the religion entry. He said that his passport identified him as a Christian, and that twice he had his religion section corrected on his passport because of the NADRA error of listing him as a Muslim.
Mahmood's political opponents filed a petition seeking his removal from one of the seats reserved for minorities based on the error. Opposition parties accepted Mahmood's clarification only after he vehemently stated on the floor of the Punjab Assembly that he was born a Christian and appealed to them and the media not to indulge in propaganda against him that could incite Muslim extremists to kill him.
A NADRA official who requested anonymity said that while a person could get their religion changed in ID records from a religion other than Islam to another, the same could not be done if the person wanted to change their religion away from Islam.
"My understanding of the matter is that if stated by the person himself that he/she is a Muslim, the religion cannot be changed," he said.
At the same time, he added that if the CNIC recipient provided evidence of religion and established that there had been a clerical error, the request would be entertained.
"But a clerical error is highly unlikely," he said. "Data is cross-checked several times in cases of identity card entries."
He said that once a person applied for a CNIC and his personal information was recorded, they were sent a form for attestation, and that at that stage the applicant could report any errors.
That is precisely what Mahmood did, to no effect.
"I noticed the error in the entry for religion in my attestation form and reported it to NADRA. After some days I received my CNIC and it did not mention religion, so I assumed that NADRA had changed its records," Mahmood said.
Problems can be even more severe for converts such as Muhammad Kamran. After a pelvic injury he received from a beating by unidentified men for converting to Christianity from Islam, the 34-year-old Kamran has not been able to obtain medical treatment because of his name (see www.compassdirect.org, "Injured Convert in Pakistan Tries to Rebuild Life," May 15).
A human rights activist criticized NADRA's policy.
"It is unfortunate and a violation of human rights," he said on condition of anonymity. "The policy appears to be a reflection of customs prohibiting Muslims from changing their religion, but it is still a violation of a person's basic human rights."
Bluefield College Students Use Art to Share Faith
BLUEFIELD, Va. (Bluefield College)--Integrating faith and learning is a major part of the Bluefield College mission. That's why this past spring a group of BC students used the gifts they've obtained from the art classroom to share their faith with Gypsy children in Romania.
For 10 days, March 1-10, students Erin Darnell, Melissa Hubert, Celia Jones, Pip Pattison, and Emily Sears served on mission at the Ruth School in Bucharest, Romania. Part of Project Ruth, a charitable organization designed to improve the lives of Roma (Gypsy) families, the Ruth School is committed to giving education to disadvantaged Roma children in order to help them reach their highest potential.
Joining the effort, the Bluefield College mission team set out to paint an 83-foot mural inside the Ruth School. Led by staff members Walter Shroyer, head of the Art Department, and registrar Amanda Parks, who studied art while a student at BC, the students also used the week to share the love of Christ with the Roma children.
"I had prayed for a long time that I could use the talents God has given me in a way that is good for others," said Jones, a graphic communication and art major from Brookneal, Virginia. "I feel like this was an opportunity to do that."
Hosted by Providenta Baptist Church and Bluefield College alumna Brittany Garton, who works with Project Ruth, the BC students worked on art projects with the Roma schoolchildren during the morning hours of their mission days and on the mural project during the afternoon hours.
"The children here crave words of encouragement and positive interactions," said Sears, a teacher education major from Hinton, West Virginia. "I know there are so many children in America who need the same thing, and seeing how grateful the students at the Ruth School are has inspired me to go back to student teaching with a huge smile and the habit of constantly praising and telling my students 'bravo," which means you did a good thing."
The BC mission team spent more than 200 hours painting the mural, which featured images of city and country life, including stars in the sky, trees, a schoolhouse, a downtown city street, a church and stained glass window, mountains, and a river.
"Everyone worked very hard on the mural," said Shroyer. "They all knew why we were there: to paint something beautiful for the kids in the Ruth School. It was one of the best weeks of my life. It was so gratifying to see the immediate impact you can have on people who are less fortunate."
Beyond the mural, the BC team led singing and games for chapel service at the school. They also played soccer with the Roma children and participated in youth group activities at a local church.
"I was really grateful we got the opportunity to speak at chapel, because it gave us a chance to say that we came there for a reason," said Jones. "And, that reason was for the students to be inspired and to not give up on what God can do in their lives."
Garton not only assisted the BC group in their mission, but also cooked for them most nights.
"Brittany is a great example for Bluefield College," said Shroyer. "She is really making a difference in people's lives, and she has such a love and passion for it. Knowing she graduated from BC makes me proud of our students, and her success in Romania makes me see great hope for the future."
The students spent the last two days touring Romania, including Castle Peles, Castle Braun, a fortified church in Prejmer, the Palace of Parliament, the Transylvanian countryside, and the Carpathian Mountains. But, in the end, what they remembered most about the trip were the "inspiring, strong, and beautiful people" of Romania.
"Our driver told us several times, 'My country is poor, but we are rich because we have God,'" said Jones. "I can't think of a better lesson to take away from this experience. This one week we spent covered in paint and surrounded by Roma children has been a richer experience than anything dollars, euros, or ron could buy. It's my prayer that I helped the Ruth School just a little, because this people, this place, and this country has a place in my heart forever."
Campbellsville University wrestler nurtures CU campus with nature work
By Chris Megginson
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (Campbellsville University)--As a freshman in 2008, Campbellsville University's Spencer Adams was looking for a place where he could momentarily escape thecollege life and find peace and quiet. He desired to be in nature, away from campus, but settled for a shaded storm drain at the corner of North Columbia Avenue and University Drive.
Today, that space is known as CU's Log Cabin Park, developed over the past year by Adams' student-based organization Green Minds.
Green Minds was created to help clean up Taylor County/Campbellsville and promote environment-conscious thinking among CU students. Adams, a three-time NAIA All-American wrestler from Marion, Ohio, developed his vision as a student in Dr. Richie Kessler's freshman environment and man class.
"When Spencer first came to me with this idea, it was a pencil drawing on a piece of paper. He was tired of hearing of all of the environmental problems out there," Kessler said.
"We all get tired of hearing people complain. Here was an instance where somebody was not complaining but actually working to build consensus and do something to make things better. I was all for that from the beginning."
With Kessler's advice, Adams worked to build the organization from the bottom-up as a student movement. Recruiting the help of his fellow wrestlers and some other environmental science students, Adams was determined to start the process of awareness on campus.
"I wanted other students to get in there and have a place where they can make their impact on campus. Iwanted to establish that base for everyone else," said Adams, who graduated in May with a degree in environmental science.
In the past year, Adams worked with Green Minds, Kessler and Rob Roberts, CU director of grounds and landscape development, to transform that edge of campus into a likeness of a small park with a cedar-log gazebo and bridge.
"There was a lot of harassment and persistence," joked Roberts of Adams' passion. "He's had great ideas, and everyone loved them. We started with the gazebo, planting and bridge and now the ball's rolling."
After planting more than 60 species of native plants, three wildflower beds, 20 or so different shrubs and trees and multiple ferns, the park has become home to numerous types of birds, who frequent the park to sing to visitors.
"It's been completely transformed from what it was ... It's like you're not even on campus, but out at some far away cabin," Adams said.
"This is the only place on campus you can hear all of the birds. You don't (usually) get that in the middle of a city."
This summer, Adams passed the Green Minds torch to fellow wrestler Derek Alsip. The Cincinnati, Ohio senior takes over the organization with the plan of giving international students a chance to plant a vegetable garden on the land. He also has plans for hiking trips this fall and fundraiser opportunities by building benches out of cedar logs. The organization has already sold many to pay for additional plants at the park.
"I don't think you could have done this at any other university," Alsip said. "The university provided us this opportunity."
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimedKentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master's degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.
Chris Megginson is the sports information director at Campbellsville University.
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