Monday, January 24, 2005

On the Limits of Fear

Baptist Press is running a story by John Yeats, editor of a Southern Baptist newspaper in Oklahoma, lamenting a plateau in SBC baptismal statistics while the population keeps increasing. Yeats attributes the plateau to a decline in fear of a literal 'fire and brimstone' hell.

When they were leading cheers for the President and helping the administration use fear of terrorists to justify war in Iraq, Southern Baptists failed to realize that they were undermining the pious fear mongering they've often done to get people into the baptismal waters. Fear, in the bye-and-bye, of a God who loves us will never hold a candle to fear, in the here-and-now, of terrorists who hate us.

As I said in a speech a couple years ago, 'Few Americans fear divine retribution anymore. That fear has been replaced by fear of terrorists.'

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