A Baptist scholar who famously changed his mind on homosexuality says a new Cooperative Baptist Fellowship policy allowing the possible hiring of LGBTQ Christians for some, but not all, staff positions “may be the worst of all possible options,” distancing the very voices on both ends of the spectrum that CBF leaders were hoping to appease.
Maurice Bessinger argued unsuccessfully in a 1968 Supreme Court case that the federal law barring discrimination based race, color, religion and national origin violated his freedom of religion under First Amendment “since his religious beliefs compel him to oppose any integration of the races whatever.”
Jesus came preaching the good news of the kingdom of God that is at hand. That good news threatened political leaders who failed to attend to the common good and it brought blowback from religious leaders who minded the status quo. Preaching the whole gospel will do that in any age.
Baptists are doing a lot of harm in today’s society, emergent church leader Brian McLaren said in a podcast posted recently on a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship blog.
Interpreting the Holy Scriptures in order to condemn the LGBTQ community is too narrow, too legalistic, too short-sighted. A limited view of God and Scripture fails to see the larger story of scandalous grace at work from Genesis through Revelation; it fails to follow the unpredictable Spirit of God moving freely, and it fails to be humbled by the Gospel texts which reveal the wildly-inclusive love of Jesus and the wide diversity of God’s kingdom.
The Baptist General Association of Virginia will no longer forward contributions from its affiliated congregations to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship because of a new CBF practice allowing the hiring of LGBTQ Christians to some, but not all, ministry positions.
At this moment, why is the Baptist General Association of Virginia Executive Board talking about human sexuality? Yes, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship recently released their Illumination findings. And the CBF faces criticism from the right and the left for it. Right now, who cares?
For the BGAV and CBF, perhaps “communion” now means we just share a little instead of share abundantly. Maybe “communion” now means we have only periodic public fellowship with each other instead of intimate friendship as brothers and sisters in Christ. Perhaps “communion” now means rapport and affinity move towards separation and estrangement.