The SBC Decline: Days of Future Past

by Aaron Meraz

sbcIn “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” the X-Men find themselves in a world where mutants are being systematically exterminated. Through the superpower of a mutant who could send one’s consciousness back in time, the X-Men are able to pinpoint the time and events that resulted in their dismal future. Although I do not claim any “mutant” power, this blog will pinpoint the time that Southern Baptists began to decline. Future posts will address the events (or trends) that surrounded the time.

In a brief study entitled, “Reflections on Southern Baptist Membership,” the late J. Clifford Tharp noted that from 1951 to 2004 the annual rate of growth in the membership of the SBC steadily declined from 4% to less than 1%. It is not new that many Southern Baptists think of the 1950s as a decade of growth and prominence. Nevertheless, as can be seen from Tharp’s charts, the one year 4% membership growth rate from 1950 to 1951 was actually an anomaly. When looking further back into our history, Southern Baptists actually had many one year membership growth rates above 4% [1884 (5.2%), 1885 (4.2%), 1887 (4.7%), 1894 (5%), 1896 (4.1%), 1908 (6.2%), 1910 (5.1%), 1920 (6.3%), and 1922 (4.5%)]. Continue reading

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The Desolation of Cultural Smog

by Kirk Spencer

00 TheDesolationOfCulturalSmog 856I recently heard a preaching talking about how Christians must “breathe” the cultural smog. It is true that the mass media has created a smutty atmosphere as of late, however, for some reason, the metaphor made me think of the fire-breathing dragon in the movie “The Desolation of Smaug.” His heart (or belly) glows with fire before it spews forth from his mouth. And this imagery made me think of Jesus’ words about how the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. Our mouths are smokestacks and our tongues are like flames of fire. The cultural smog, in which we must live, flows from the burning brimstone in our own hearts (and bellies). Continue reading

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The Dangerous Task of Expository Preaching

by Michael Cooper

preachingSince the inception of the Church on the day of Pentecost, the “sermon” has been a central part to the worship experience. The history of the sermon is quite intriguing. The communication of ancient wisdom and tradition passed down and delivered into the hearts and minds of the congregation is the task of the preacher. The preacher’s responsibility is to proclaim “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” However, in our culture, preaching a sermon is often a lost art and practice. Many churches prefer “conversations” as opposed to an outright monologue. Continue reading

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Seasons (Part 1): Primavera

by Kirk Spencer

Primavera00 Primavera
(στοργή)

Within the warm heart of earth

Bulbs revive and ferns unfurl

Where roots grow deep

And leaf to reach

Promises warm in their wooden beds

Which wake as little leaf-fingers unfolding hope Continue reading

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Spiritual Cardiology

by Joshua Crutchfield

heartI believe that my wife and I have such a unique story that even Nicholas Sparks would want to buy the rights for his next best seller. You see, we have been close friends for nearly sixteen years. We served together in our youth group, of which her father was the youth pastor. We performed skits together. We were in the praise band together. We also dated. We were the familiar story of high school sweethearts; only our story broke from traditional patterns. In Jamie’s senior year of high school, her father took a position and moved his family to Tennessee. This brought the tentative conclusion to our relationship. As a result, I began to identify with all the sob songs of those with broken hearts. My world ended, or at least, that is what my heart wanted me to believe. Continue reading

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Is Using More Energy Immoral?

by Joe Wooddell

energy meterIn Jeffrey Ball’s interview with Vaclav Smil (Wall Street Journal Business and Environment page, April 9, “Looking for a Global Energy Solution? Well, Don’t”), Mr. Smil rightly maintains that when looking for energy solutions, “It’s all regional. It’s all local. And we just have to descend to that level to judge it.” That is, there is no one-size-fits-all, top-down solution from the UN, Washington, Kyoto, or wherever. Instead, local geography, weather conditions, needs, and especially local knowledge are the best means for determining what sorts of energy production and policies should be adopted in each region. Mr. Smil errs, however, by implying that Americans are somehow immoral or misguided for consuming 310 gigajoules of energy per capita, while “Japan and rich countries in the EU are about 170.” Mr. Smil asks whether consuming so much energy makes Americans smarter, happier, or live longer than the Europeans or the Japanese. By asking this he seems to assume that being smarter, happier, or living longer are the only good reasons for consuming energy. Finally he asks, “what have we gotten for consuming twice as much energy as Europe?” One answer Mr. Smil fails to see is GDP. By any measurement the United States exceeds its closest competitor (China) in total GDP by almost twice as much. Of course, the EU as a whole exceeds the US GDP (just barely), but keep in mind that total EU population is almost double that of the US. Continue reading

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Weekly Radio Wrap-Up

Here’s a summary of this past week’s For Christ and Culture radio broadcasts!

Noah is all the Rage (Friday, April 4)

Barry talks with Dr. Everett Berry about a recent post on his blog, All Things New, about the God of Noah.

A Light to the World (Monday, April 7)

Dr. Joe Wooddell drops by to talk with Barry about how to be a light in secular circles of society.

Ownership, Welfare, and Christian Response (Tuesday, April 8)

Barry is joined by Winston Hottman to talk about Aristotle, communal ownership, and generosity.

Galatians: Heaven in the Real World – Part 7 (Wednesday, April 9)

Barry talks about Galatians chapter 4 and how to go from the bondage of slavery to adoption as sons.

Mental Health and the Church (Thursday, April 10)

Dr. Henderson talks with Dr. Matthew Stanford about how the church can serve those who are struggling with mental illness.

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