Thoughts on Morris Chapman, Glenn Beck, others

Some random thoughts as I depart for Nashville, Tenn., and a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee:

There are three reasons for my attendance…

1. To tell departing Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Morris Chapman how much I appreciate his service to Southern Baptists. History has recorded that Chapman was among the first SBC leaders to publicly endorse The Pathway. “I praise God for what He is doing in and through the leadership of Don Hinkle, editor-in-chief of The Pathway,” Chapman wrote in 2003. “Missouri Baptists are indeed blessed to have a news journal that is not hesitant to declare the unsearchable riches of God’s Holy Word. Missouri Baptists and the larger Southern Baptist family can be assured that to read The Pathway is to read the truth. The Lord is being honored through this vital ministry, and I am grateful God continues to provide the entire staff with the grace, strength and wisdom necessary to stay the course of truth-telling with determined resolve and courage.” Well, I thank God for Morris Chapman and the incalculable contributions he has made for the Kingdom of Christ.

Also, Chapman took action during a very critical time in the history of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). After conservatives saved the MBC from liberalism, disgruntled moderates who left the MBC attempted to form a new state convention that would be recognized by the SBC. They attempted this by funneling Cooperative Program (CP) contributions from moderate churches – many affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) – to the SBC. Chapman knew this was an attempt to undermine the new direction of the MBC and publicly declared that the only CP funds from any statewide entity in Missouri that the SBC would accept would be those sent through the MBC and no other. His action gave immediate credibility to the new MBC leadership and helped ensure the Conservative Resurgence in Missouri would not fail.

2. I am going to address the Communications Workgroup of the Executive Committee concerning the outstanding service provided by Baptist Press (BP). All the other SBC entities get widespread praise and attention, but we often overlook the important contributions made by BP. BP has distinguished itself the past two decades in the service it has provided Southern Baptists. The BP staff has displayed integrity and a Christ-like spirit in its Christian worldview approach to journalism. It is time for the BP staff to be publicly commended.

3. I am going to gladly greet the new SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Frank Page. He is a leader with considerable skills, a commitment to God’s inerrant and infallible Word, and one with a burning desire to serve Southern Baptists. Please join me in praying for him as he serves as our denomination’s treasurer in these challenging days.

• • •

I love Glenn Beck.

But that does not mean I accept his Mormonism, which he would have us believe is a denomination of the Christian faith. It is not. Mormonism is an un-Christian cult.

The results of a recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) suggest most Americans, like me, do not want – or view – the Fox News Channel host as a religious leader. While many among the throng attending his recent rally at the Washington Mall agreed with his call for a religious renewal in America, only 17 percent of Americans, according to the PRRI study, believe Beck is the right person to lead such a renewal.

The findings suggest other reasons for his popularity, perhaps some political, others for his patriotism. I have come to appreciate Beck’s phenomenal teaching of American history. Interestingly, he seems to have caught the attention of a growing number of young people disillusioned by liberal professors who have taught them nothing but America’s sins and that they should be ashamed of their nation’s past. Writing in the Sept. 25 edition of WORLD magazine, Editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky rightly identifies the danger of syncretism when it comes to Beck and religion, but he also sees some good in what Beck is attempting: “His entertaining lectures are a slap in the face to poisonous political correctness. He’s not the antidote either. Christians should take refuge in the Lord (Psalm 118) and not in a beckoning embrace. But this country is better off with Glenn Beck than without him.” I agree and pray Beck comes to a truly saving faith in Jesus Christ.

• • •

In the 2008 election, it was discovered that some Missouri counties had more registered voters than people over the age of 18. Rolls were filled with people who had died, moved or were ineligible. The Bush Justice Department sued to force Missouri to clean its voter registration rolls, a requirement under section 8 of the motor voter law. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the government in July 2008 and remanded the issue to a lower court to decide how to proceed in cleaning the rolls.

But in March 2009, the Obama Justice Department dismissed the case, arguing the evidence was dated. Some have questioned the motives, raising speculation that it was political. Why? One month earlier, the Democratic defendant in the case, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Kit Bond.

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