Friday, February 10, 2006

February 12 - Darwin Day - What is the Connection to Beliefs About Homosexuality?

American Baptist blogger, "Rev Dr. Ron" referenced the upcoming Darwin Day (February 12) for those wishing to celebrate the birthday of the famed evolutionist(

Ron opines: "Imagine, a church celebrating a philosophy that contradicts everything Christianity is founded upon. To think that folks would go to church, sing hymns, pray and then hear a message essentially telling them that they were not created by God; instead they were randomly formed when some cosmic dust burst together. Then they hear that life just sort of happens, there's no purpose, it's all random!"

In connection with Darwin, the following "Clergy Letter Project" by the same sponsor as the one promoting "Evolution Sunday," has attracted more than 10,000 clergy signatories (although "Evolution Sunday" only has 441 names so far )( A number of the 10,000 names for the original "Clergy Letter Project" come from the pens of notable American Baptists or those related to them. One of the persons listed in the roster is The Rev. Dr. Patricia S. Medley, of Freehold, NJ, an Evangelical Lutheran Church minister married to our own Dr. Roy Medley. Notice the wording of the letter.

We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.

Interestingly enough, the ABC luminaries registering support for the statement included current and former missionaries (e.g., Norman B. Abell), seminary professors (e.g., Matthew C. Baldwin, Sharon P. Burch, Kenneth Cauthen, Ralph H. Elliott, Debra J. Mumford, Tarris D. Rosell, Archie Smith, Jr., and Emilie M. Townes), executive ministers (e.g., Larry L. Greenfield, Marcia J. Patton, Robert W. Williams, W. Kenneth Williams, and Wm. D. Scott), Valley Forge types (e.g., Norman M. Green, Jr. and Duncan McIntosh), and members of the General Board (e.g., Timothy D. Bonney and Heather Rittenhouse). Roger Williams Fellowship leader, Jerrod H. Hugenot, and retired institutional leader Richard E. Ice also appear in the larger list.

However, it is especially fascinating, given the contention conservatives make that the debate over homosexuality in the ABC is not about sex but about biblical authority, to see how many AWAB churches are represented among the signatories. Evidently a decision to read the Bible in an evolutionary manner comports well with revisionistic approaches to biblical teaching in other areas such as human sexuality. Of all of the American Baptists who signed the "Clergy Letter Project," a surprisingly high percentage came from the ranks of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. The following is an incompete culling of AWAB names from the master list of supporters for the "Clergy Letter Project."

The Rev. Deborah Bennett Reynolds, Lake Avenue Baptist Church, Rochester, NY

The Rev. Dr. Larry Bethune, Senior Pastor, University Baptist Church (ABCUSA), Austin, TX

The Rev. Craig A. Collemer, The Frist Baptist Church in Beverly, MA, Beverly, MA

The Rev. Scott W. Cousineau, Minister of Education and Youth, First Baptist Church, Worcester, MA

The Rev. Deborah Davis-Johnson, Immanuel Baptist Church an American Baptist congregation, Portland, ME

Pastor Brian Dixon, Dolores Street Baptist Church, San Francisco, CA

The Rev. Wendy D. Fambro, American Baptist Minister, Ithaca, NY

Catherine Fransson, Pastor, Seattle First Baptist Church, Seattle, WA

The Rev. Dr. Paul C. Hayes, Noank Baptist Church, Noank, CT

The Rev. H. James Hopkins, Pastor, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland, CA

The Rev. Barbara Hulsing, Pastor, Good Shepherd Baptist Church, Buffalo, NY

Dr. Stephen D. Jones, Coordinating Pastor, Seattle First Baptist Church, Seattle, WA

The Rev. Jim Ketcham, Lake Avenue Baptist Church, An American Bapstist Congregation, Rochester, NY

The Rev. Thomas R. McKibbens, Senior Minister, First Baptist Church, Worcester, MA

The Rev. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon, Ph.D.Interim Pastor, First Baptist Church, Granville, OH

The Rev. Richard Moore, Minister to Youth, University Baptist Church, Austin, TX

The Rev. Karen O'Connell, Minister, Judson Memorial Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN

The Rev. Kenneth L. Pennings, First Baptist Church, Madison, WI

The Rev. Larry Phillips, Emmanuel Baptist-Friedens United Church of Christ, Schenectady, NY

The Rev. Timothy Phillips, Pastor, University Baptist Church, Seattle, WA

Marcus C. Pomeroy, Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Wayne, PA

The Rev. Heather Rittenhouse, First Baptist Church, Granville, OH

The Rev. Michael Roberts, Lake Avenue Baptist Church, Rochester, NY

Kevin D. Rose, Minister of Discipleship & Mission, Cumberland First Baptist Church, Indianapolis, IN

The Rev. Jeremy Rutledge, Covenant Church (affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists and the American Baptist Church), Houston, TX

The Rev. M. Catherine Tamsberg, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC

The Rev. Allison J. Tanner, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland, CA

Susan Vanderburgh, MFT & Pastoral Counselor, American Baptist (member of First Baptist Church of Berkeley, CA), Berkeley, CA

The Rev. Jamie P. Washam, Pastor, Underwood Memorial Baptist Church, Wauwatosa, WI

The Rev. Lawrence E. Witmer, Lake Avenue Baptist Church, Rochester, NY

Durable Data's Dr. Glenn Layne blogged on the subject "What Happens When the Bible Shrinks?" earlier this week ( Readers of His Barking Dog would do well to consider his cautionary warnings. ABC debates over homosexuality are seldom about that subject alone or even principally. Rather, they are part of a more systemic tendency to read the Bible revisionistically. The old fashioned word for this hermeneutical project is unbelief.

[These views are those of the blogger alone and do not represent any other entity within the PSW]

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