Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Waynesville Political Boss Resigns

Thanks to Dr. Mike Kear at the Emmaus Theory blog for keeping an eye on the developments at the East Waynesville Baptist Church in North Carolina. That is the church whose pastor booted nine members out of church for not following his directives when voting in the U.S. presidential election last fall.

The pastor/political boss resigned, but not before Baptist Press printed articles defending him and his actions. Dr. Mike has written a scathing response to the Baptist Press articles.

It is ironic that a moderate Baptist pastor is declaring discussions about the separation of church and state as "too political" for his church at the very same moment that the Southern Baptist Convention openly supports political electioneering at their churches.

14 comments:

Dr. Mike Kear said...

Hello Dr. Prescott,

After viewing the newpaper photographs at the Asheville Citizen Times of the East Waynesville Church, I can't help but feel a true sorrow for all those involved. It is easy to see the pain and heartbreak on the faces of the people in those pictures. I had to pause and offer a prayer for them to God. I know this must be a horrible situation for all involved.

In a way, I even feel sorry for Pastor Chan Chandler. I certainly take no joy in his resignation. But my anger is really aroused by those who have been his counselors and mentors. These teachers and elders in the faith could have taken this pastor under their care and said, "We understand your political fervor, but the pulpit isn't the place to campaign." Instead, I believe that they caused even more damage by justifying and encouraging his actions. Consider Wayan Owens, Chandler's teacher at SBTS, who called Chandler's political activism in the pulpit, "standing for biblical morality and the teachings of his church." How is a young preacher supposed to interpret that? Exactly how Owens meant it. Hard line right wing politics = biblical morality and SBC teachings.

Then there's Norm Miller who blamed the long-time leadership of the East Waynesville Church for the problem, speculating that they "felt threatened" by the pastor's success in church growth rather than by his political electioneering.

I believe that these mentors and counselors should be held responsible for at least part of the damage that has happened in the lives of the people at East Waynesville. They are responsible also, I should say, for the continuing downgrade of such time-honored baptist practices as freedom of conscience and separation of church and state.

And I, along with many others, cringe when I read Tom Ogburn's statement on Ethics Daily, "It is also important to note that we have also not walked away from our commitment to historic Baptist principles, including religious freedom and the separation of church and state," when it is patently obvious to any reasonable person that that is exactly what they are doing.

With the attitude of the elders and leaders being such, what can we possibly expect from the next generation of pastors and teachers that these people are molding and training? If the downward trend continues unchecked, I suspect that the next generation of baptists may be considered nothing more than the chaplaincy arm of the political right.

Peace,

Mike

Anonymous said...

I see that Dr. Mike is going to council Jesse Jackson, Al Gore, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Al Sharpton, Howard Dean, and company that the church is no place for them to stand in the pulpits before election also. That is right, isn't it dr. mike?

Dr. Mike Kear said...

Hi Anon,

Unless I am mistaken, Jesse Jackson, Al Gore, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Al Sharpton, and Howard Dean never kicked long-time members out of their church for not voting the way they demanded.

Peace,

Mike

Poppy Wells said...

Pastor Chandler seems to be a personification of the slash-and-burn, take no prisoners version of religion being encouraged at the top levels of the SBC and other right-wingers masquerading as Bible-believing evangelicals. It is interesting that Pastor Chandler and I share a revulsion to abortion. Unlike him, though, I also have a revulsion to hunger, poverty, and other injustices. I cannot proclaim that abortion is the pre-eminent issue facing me as a Christian. I wish the pro-life proponents showed as much concern for the 30,000 children (I am assuming these statistics are correct) who die each day from malnutrition. There is so much out there for us to do. The cost of being anti-abortion is cheaper than the rest I mentioned.

Anonymous said...

dr.mike, I am not sure that all the details are being correctly portrayed here or in the mainstream media. My point that I wanted to make is that this site spends quite a bit of space talking about separation of church and state when it involves any talk of morals with political connections, done in the church by church people; yet do not seem to mind when politicians come into our churches and speak purely political from the pulpit. I do not think they should be welcomed either.

Jim said...

I have a quick question- does anyone know if Mr Chandler has any serious, professional pastoral training? Did he attend College or Seminary? Does he have a degree of any sort which qualifies him to assume the pastoral office?

One of the most dreadful facts of Baptist life is that many, many churches call pastors who have no formal training. As a result, they get unqualified and underqualified leadership.

It's high time for Baptists to require their ordained clerics to have higher education. If that were the case, a lot of the meandering senselessness evidenced in the SBC could be avoided. Instead, however, we have a lot of blind pastors leading blind congregations right into the ditch of theological error.

Alice Clay said...

Jim,

Waylon Owens, a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote an op-ed to Baptist Press calling Chandler one of his students. The impression that I get is that Chandler is currently studying at the seminary. SEBTS is headed up by Danny Aiken, who was formerly dean of Theology at Southern Seminary...

Jim said...

Thanks Alice,

I graduated with an MDiv from SEBTS back when Randall Lolley was the President- on the very cusp of the fundamentalist takeover- studying there for the ThM when Louis Drummond was in his first year. Those were dark days. So many excellent faculty members driven off by the right wing takeover. And the viciousness of their attack- it was astonishing.

That Chandler is a student there (he must be communting) makes perfect sense when one remembers the present faculty. Mark my words- he will win a faculty award if and when he graduates.

SEBTS-- where the ax head floats...

Alice Clay said...

Jim, I attended Southern Seminary a few years back, after the takeover. I know Lolley's name because of a class I had to take on Baptist history. Needless to say, Lolley and the like were sufficiently demonized. The purpose of the class, as far as I could tell, was to indoctrinate new students against "backsliding"...

Anonymous said...

Jim,

>I have a quick question- does anyone know if Mr Chandler has any serious, professional pastoral training?

Some of the most impacting men of God have been 'those guys' that have no formal education.

"I have got only one talent; I have no education, but I love the Lord Jesus Christ, and I want to do something for him: I want you to pray for me." - D.L. Moody

Roger

fernando said...

i've blogged on this today and it seems to be getting a lot of attention. it is a sad thing indeed and i really hope it highlights for some people how far elements of the 'baptist' church have been dragged away from the historic principles.

Jim said...

Roger,
I would take 1 finely educated, compassionate pastor for every 500 self called, self "educated" dilettante whe enters a pulpit. Quality is more important than quantity.

After all, what do you, and Moody, make of the admonition of Timothy that pastors should "study... rightly dividing the word of truth"?

Anonymous said...

Jim,

I have nothing against seminaries, don't get me wrong. But you and I both know it's God through the Holy Spirit that works the changes. Sure, more education can help someone's growth. However, you were implying that only through a proper education can one be a man of God. History proves otherwise. (Micah 6:8)

>Timothy that pastors should "study... rightly dividing the word of truth"?

Note that there are not methods or qualifications tacked onto that. Let's not get sucked into the oppressive world of legalism.

>Quality is more important than quantity

I certainly understand that as I see many pastors that are failing to ...

2 Timothy 4:2
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

Roger

Jim said...

Roger, I like your quote from Timothy. It is quite appropriate. I would only add that one cannot properly do those things if one is untrained. Every major denomination in the United States and around the world requires their clergy to be educated. Except the SBC. And it is the SBC that is the focal point of so much dysfunction.

The greatest churchmen of history have been educated. Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Barth, Brunner, Augustine, all were extraordinarily learned. Even Paul was one of the most educated men of his day.

The suggestion that the simple man led by the spirit can affect the Church as permanently as an educated one is historically inaccurate.

I have an essay forthcoming in the July issue of Expository Times on just this issue titled "The Bible in The Pew". I hope you will give it a read and then let me know what you think.


Best,
Jim