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  1. Meet the conservative Baptists who don’t like Billy Graham.

    On Sunday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published a four-part series on more than 400 allegations of sexual misconduct affiliated with the independent fundamental Baptist movement. The scope of their reporting spanned nearly 1,000 churches and organizations across 40 states and Canada. The report noted:

    One hundred and sixty-eight church leaders were accused or convicted of committing sexual crimes against children, the investigation found. At least 45 of the alleged abusers continued in ministry after accusations came to the attention of church authorities or law enforcement.

    But what is the independent fundamental Baptist movement?

    Historically it has meant a firm belief in the “fundamental doctrines, that is to say, the essential doctrines of the Christian faith” and “an insistence that you should only extend Christian fellowship to people who profess to believe the gospel.” said Kevin Bauder, a research professor of systematic theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of a two-part volume on Baptist fundamentalism.

    But that’s not necessarily what people hear, Bauder acknowledges.

    “The term ‘fundamentalist’ has sort of been co-opted by Martin Marty’s Fundamentalism project, where he made it a sociological designation for any extreme group,” said Bauder. “None of us are really happy with that label these days, because of the connotations it carries now.”

    (Perhaps one way to see it could be as the inverse of historian George Marsden’s remark: “An evangelical is someone who likes Billy Graham.”)

    Bauder joined digital media producer Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli to discuss the history of fundamentalism, why...

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  2. Fallen flesh doesn’t like simply being sent. We’d rather build our own tower for our own glory.

    Last week, the Send Institute ran a poignant piece by John Davidson that argued for the decoupling of church planting and entrepreneurship. Davidson writes, “Rather than framing planting as ecclesial entrepreneurship, the church would be better served if we framed it biblically. The way to do that is by calling it what it is, apostolic ecclesiology.”

    He argues that the business nomenclature that characterizes entrepreneurship stands in stark contrast to the simple sentness of the biblical apostles and those who follow in their patterns. I’m a big fan of John Davidson.

    Simple sentness.

    Is there anything our world needs more of?

    Our present missiological matrix necessitates a wholesale change in the normative ambition of kingdom disciples. This begins, at least in part, by the posture of both those leading existing churches and those starting new ones.

    The public perception regarding this work might be at an all-time low. There was once a day when the mention of the word “pastor” conjured images of maturity, wisdom, and tender care. These days the term is more often conflated with abuse of power, predatory behavior, or chauvinism.

    Much of this we’ve brought on ourselves. The siren’s call of the grandiose platform, international audiences, and the adoring fans, has lulled far too many of us from the simple course to which we were called.

    For many, there may have been a time when “simple sentness” was the passion of our hearts. God captured our very souls with the good news of Jesus and we longed for others to experience his grace.

    But something happened. Simple sentness wasn’t enough, so we continually grappled for more. In reality, Jesus wasn’t enough. As with most...

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  3. The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News collect 380 allegations spanning 20 states in an unprecedented look at sexual misconduct across the denomination.

    A landmark investigation into hundreds of cases of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches opened with a collage of pictures of the offenders, row after row of headshots and mugshots of men who had been accused of abusing a total of 700 victims over the past 20 years.

    In Sunday’s report, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News were able to do what victims say the nation’s largest Protestant denomination has failed to for years: provide a picture of the extent of the abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention and a database of those found guilty of their crimes.

    With allegations against 380 church leaders in 20 states (a majority of whom were convicted or took plea deals), it’s believed to be the biggest report on sexual abuse among Southern Baptists in the movement’s history. The report confronts the longstanding defense that the organization can only do so much to monitor abuse since affiliated congregations operate autonomously.

    Another set of pictures captures a sense of the impact of abusers in Southern Baptist congregations. In response to the investigation, Southern Baptist women and fellow Christians shared childhood photos on Twitter from the age when they first suffered abuse.

    Dozens joined a thread started by Living Proof Ministries founder and popular Bible teacher Beth Moore, including advocate and abuse survivor Jules Woodson and other ministry leaders.

    Over the past couple years, the #MeToo campaign has raised awareness about abuse within the SBC and galvanized official efforts to improve the denomination’s response. Last December, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram rounded up more than 400 allegations among independent Baptists, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission...

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