Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New Baptist Covenant, once more

A report from Christianity Today, "The Other Baptists," about the recent meeting of the "New Baptist Covenant:
Headlined by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, the New Baptist Covenant meeting in January attracted about 15,000 Baptists to Atlanta. Although speeches throughout the event called for nonpartisan cooperation on social issues like poverty and racism, critics saw the covenant's launch as politically motivated.

An informal alliance of Baptist organizations brought together by Carter, the covenant includes 30 partner churches and organizations, four of which are historically African American. All told, it represents up to 20 million Baptists. By comparison, the more conservative Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), which was invited to the conference but did not officially attend, has 16 million members.
The Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, my denomination, was one of the bodies represented. Although I have every confidence in the good intentions of those who represented us, I do share these concerns:
...SBC president Frank Page said that the covenant seemed intended to unify only one wing of Baptists.

"I have concerns when it seems this is organized and promoted by only those who are from a more moderate theological perspective," Page said. "One has to wonder if there is a true openness to a dialogue and an inclusion of conservatives."


The timing of the event—scheduled for an election year, right before Super Tuesday—raised eyebrows among observers, as did the speakers. Former Vice President Al Gore joined Carter and Clinton, while Mike Huckabee withdrew from the event last May, citing the left-leaning speakers and his disapproval of Carter's public criticism of President Bush.

"It suggests there was some political motivation," said John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Clinton's presence in particular signaled a political agenda, Green said, because Clinton is generally not seen as seriously religious and because he has been actively campaigning for his wife's presidential bid.

The convention's social-justice emphasis and avoidance of issues like abortion, homosexuality, and women's ordination were also markedly different from the traditional concerns of conservative Baptists, Green said. [more]
The Other Baptists | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction


  1. I find the New Baptist Covenant seems to have good intentions but does not take up a the theological mantle of persons like Walter Rauschenbusch.
    Neither have I yet seen or heard of a call for a Spiritual Revival.
    Finally I need further insight as to who or what is Covenanting with whom.
    Check out "Clinton and New Covenant Theology Shaping a New Politics or Old Politics in Religious Garb' Journal of Church and State Autumn 1998

  2. I was there and would love to talk to you about it sometime.

  3. John, I would love to have you weigh in on the New Baptist Covenant. I have a friend of mine who was there and have discussed his viewpoint.

    Perhaps Jim would let you write an article in which you shared a first hand detailed account or you might place such an account in the Sabbath Recorder. I also look forward to a first hand detailed account from our General Conference's Executive Director.

    At any rate would love to talk with you about your sense of this meeting; whether we are witnessing the beginning of a New Baptist movement and further whether this is another counter punch for those who felt disenfranchised in the Southern Baptist wars.

  4. I would love to talk to either of you about it. It was an interesting gathering with quite an eclectic mix of Baptists there. I will write a summary soon and send it to each of you for your perusal.


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