Archive for category Reviews

Baptists in Early North America: First Baptist Church, Boston, Massachusetts,

Edited by Rev. Dr. Thomas R. McKibbens.  Macon, Mercer University Press. ©2017. $60.

Reviewed by: Mitch Carnell

Reading about the beginning struggles of the First Baptist Church of Boston should cause every Baptist heart to swell with pride. These pioneers in the faith suffered unbelievable persecution. Massachusetts was simply not a good place to be if you believed in freedom of religious conscious. Decenters were publicly whipped and jailed.

The founding members worshiped in people’s homes before erecting a meetinghouse. The doors to their first meetinghouse were nailed shut by the authorities on March 8, 1679. At least for one week the congregation met outside in the cold. Religious freedom did not come to Massachusetts until a new constitution was adopted in 1833.

The Boston Church was not the first Baptist Church in New England but it grew to be one of the most influential spreading its influence from Boston to South Carolina. The connections between the First Baptist Church of Boston and the First Baptist Church of Charleston are strong. The first pastor of the Charleston church was ordained by the Boston church. William Screven established a church in Kittery, Maine before moving his flock to Charleston. When the Boston church was without a pastor in 1707, he was invited to return to Boston as pastor but declined the offer.

The most successful pastor of the Boston Church, Samuel Stillman, was trained by the pastor of First Baptist Church Charleston, Oliver Hart, and ordained by him in 1759.  Stillman served the Boston church for over 40 years. The meetinghouse was expanded twice during his pastorate. He and his Charleston mentor were both originally from Philadelphia where Baptists were more welcome.

The minutes of the First Baptist Church of Boston, 1635 -1830, provide both informative and interesting reading. The handwritten minutes are contained in two leather bound volumes currently located in the Franklin Trask Library at Andover Newton Theological Seminary. McKibbens, has meticulously and painstakingly transformed these priceless records into a form accessible to every interested scholar or layman. These minutes faithfully record insights into church doctrine, politics, finances, church discipline and church personalities. McKibbens speaks of his joy in being able to handle these documents. He served as interim pastor while preparing the manuscript.

Dr. McKibbens has produced a volume of great value to anyone interested in religious freedom and the growth and history of Baptists in America.

The Rev. Dr. Thomas McKibbens is no stranger to South Carolina Baptists. He was a speaker for the Charleston County Baptist Association and at the John Hamrick Lectureship. He delivered the sermon at the 325th Anniversary Celebration of First Baptist Church of Charleston.

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The Invisible Woman –

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 4:47 am

'The Invisible Women' | Mitch Carnell, Baptists, Catholics, Women in Ministry, The Invisible Women, Sandra Makowski

Too often, we study the men [in the Bible] and ignore the women, Carnell observes.

“The Invisible Women: Naming and Proclaiming the Forgotten Women in Scripture and Church Law” is a book of great consequence.

Through Sister Sandra Makowski’s superb writing, research and scholarship, the poor treatment of women in the Bible, lectionary and local church is brought to new light.

Of course, Makowski writes from a Catholic perspective, but that does not mean there is no food for the rest of Christianity. As a Baptist, I was surprised by the number of things I did not know.

For example, I have never read a book or heard a sermon on Hagar and yet Makowski’s book helped me to see how Hagar becomes more and more important as international conflicts continue to unfold.

Similarly, I knew almost nothing about Huldah, the prophet who lived during the time of Jeremiah. I have been saturated with knowledge about Jeremiah and his teachings and that is Makowski’s point. Too often, we study the men and ignore the women.

In the beginning of the church, women and men shared equal status and roles. However, as the church became more and more structured it took on the cultural characteristics of the society around it. Women gradually were stricken from the leadership and their voices disregarded.

In the Catholic Church, this pattern continued unchallenged until after Vatican II, where no Catholic women were originally invited.

However, a major shift began that indicated that the laity share equally in being gifted with the Holy Spirit, being called to holiness and being engaged in the mission of the church.

Although women play major roles in the Bible, their importance is mainly marginalized by the male-dominated church, Makowski asserts. When women are mentioned, it is most often in relationship to the male figures.

Jesus reverses this practice; however, the church downplays the extraordinary recognition Jesus gave to women.

The role of women has often been described as the sleeping beauty fairytale. Women are simply to wait until Prince Charming arrives, awakens them and gives meaning to their lives through him.

It would be nice to think that that notion has been put to rest; however, we know that this isn’t true.

The Baptist Faith and Message statement of the Southern Baptist Convention in the year 2000 states, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

Another section states, “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.”

As a result, in many Southern Baptist churches, women cannot be deacons or teach men.

One of the major new ideas to me from Makowski’s book is that there were women at the Last Supper. The Scriptures do not restrict the possibility. Yet, in my life in the church this possibility has never been remotely suggested.

At the end of each chapter, Makowski includes a short story that places the reader in a situation and then asks the reader to answer several questions. These questions are very important in helping personalize the impact of what has gone before.

The concluding paragraphs of “The Invisible Women” are powerful.

“If we fail at being our best selves, or if we are not invited to the banquet, that doesn’t mean we give up. It simply means that tomorrow is another day. And tomorrow we try again with God’s grace,” Makowski writes. “It is God who has the final answer, and in the end, it is God who does the inviting. God has already extended the invitation to women and men alike. No one is excluded from the banquet.”

She continues, “Let us remember that it is God who has the last word, and in God we trust because God loves us, God sees us, God calls us by our name. We are God’s beloved – male and female alike. And nothing and no one can take that away. What more is there to say!”

Mitch Carnell is a member of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina. He is the author of “Our Father: Discovering Family.” His writings can also be found at and

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Songwriterter sees good news in declining role of church music.

JEFF BRUMLEY | MAY 24, 2017 Baptists News Global

Some people were surprised — and worried — to learn from that sermons are a much stronger draw to church attendance than music. And it was worse than that for music lovers. The Gallup presented a list of motivations Americans give for going to worship, and music was solidly in last place. But with a month to reflect on the discovery, Christian musician, songwriter and minister Kyle Matthews is not worried. Far from it. “I think it might be good news,” Matthews said during a recent conference call. “It indicates people are more hungry for substance than we give them for,” said Matthews, minister of worship arts at First Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C. Matthews has had his eye on Christian music, and what churches want and don’t want, for a long time. he was a artist and a songwriter for publishing companies in Nashville, Tenn. He’s won a Dove Award and other Christian songwriting achievements. 38 37 an April poll survey FaithSoaring Churches Learning Community credit For more than 20 years recording FEATURED We are reader supported DONATE N S EARCH ews Opinion Curated More i 5/24/2017 Songwriter sees ‘good news’ in declining role of church music – Baptist News Global­sees­good­news­declining­role­church­music/#.WSXcH2grI2x 2/7 Kyle Matthews But Matthews said he left the industry for its focus on profit at the expense of providing theological education and Christian formation. Through his current church ministry, he pursues worship songwriting that places liturgy above entertainment. But music that provides inspiring, substantive lyrics does not sell in a praise­and­worship world, Matthews said. That’s why the Gallup poll’s findings are so interesting, he told other ministers on the conference call. The Christian music industry, he said, is made up of people who are trying to serve a market. “They are business people, not theologians, historians or music educators. They are business people.” And what sells is music with shallow lyrics with little or no theological content. Matthews said he’s known songwriters and performers who are unfamiliar with Scripture. As a result, music has become “wallpaper instead of furniture” in worship. Rather than working to instruct Christians in the faith, contemporary worship music is filled with mantras and clichés designed to alter moods, Matthews said. That kind of music comes and goes because it’s become disposable. “I don’t think people are allowed to get to know church music well enough to interact with it.” But the industry isn’t the problem, Matthews added. “If the church would demand a different product, they would get a different product.” It’s also the people in the pews. The industry is “responding to what the public is asking for.” That has been praise music which is entertaining and happy, and avoids darkness and difficult concepts, he said. “It can become a form of escapism rather than a form of encounter with God.” It’s why the April Gallup poll could be good news. It may signal that people in the pews may want something more. That could be why sermons are at the top of the list, and contemporary Christian music, with its mantras and clichés, is at the bottom.

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Pastor Greg Moore Reviews Christian Civility

16 Jul

from Pastor Greg Moore, Director of Christian Education St. Peter Lutheran Church

 An Encouraging Read.

Every once in a while my reading includes a book that touches me, moves me, so that I want to share it with you.  Such a book is “Christian Civility In An Uncivil World”.

One way to think about Christian education is that it is about two primary goals.  One goal is to teach or share the Word of God, especially the Good News of Jesus Christ, in order to create a faith in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.  The other goal is to nurture and grow / mature the Christian faith in a believer by the Holy Spirit.

This second goal of Christian education, is what Jesus was speaking about when he said as recorded in John 14:26, “ (the Holy Spirit) will teach you all things … “.   Another way to express this second goal would be to say Christian education leads us, teaches us, what it means to be a believer in Jesus Christ in the setting we live in, how to live our Christian faith in our culture.

This second goal of Christian education is addressed in the book “Christian Civility In An Uncivil World”.  I picked up this book edited by Mitch Carnell, with articles by numerous Christians, from our Lutheran Seminary library in Columbia.  I believe that you can ask for a library card and take the books out also.  Originally I saw this book highlighted in the library and picked it up due to what I was hearing and seeing on the television news, in terms of politics.  There was much name calling, I thought some telling of untruths, distortions, by politicians of other politicians, of politicians by news commentators.  This did not seem like civil behavior, like honoring behavior.  I believed that the Word of God teaches us as much as possible to honor all people.  I wanted to learn if these articles would shed any light on, any direction by the Spirit, about how to live our faith in our culture of political competition by honoring all people.   It did do this but it did much more.

The articles highlight the importance of being civil to, honoring, fellow Christians, especially when we are different, disagree, even strongly.  This is not an easy read, but it is an important read, and an encouraging read.  I was again encouraged to believe and hope for Christian civility toward, honoring of, all people during political campaigns, and fellow Christians at all times, even in times of disagreement, even conflict.

One of the most memorable statements in the book is about a quote from Dr. Martin Marty, a Lutheran Pastor and professor at University of Chicago.  It dealt with civility and convictions about issues.  He noted that in the Christian church, we often have people who have a strong conviction about something but aren’t very civil to others who disagree or don’t understand.  On the other hand we also have people who are very civil toward others but who don’t have strong convictions about anything.  What we need Dr. Marty said, and can have, are people with convictions who are also civil.

I liked this book of articles partly because it gives practical suggestions that can be learned and put into action.  I liked it because it does not suggest that we be marshmallows and allow ourselves to be walked on by others with a different opinion, nor that we do it to others.  Without giving too much information about the book, let me say that it shows where civility is strongly encouraged in the Old Testament and the New Testament.  With regards to our responsibility to fellow Christians, it shows that our primary task is to love them, to practice Christian friendship, no matter the situation or disagreement.  Obviously this is a very challenging task at times.

This is a relatively short book for a summer read or at any time of the year, and I encourage it because it is an encouraging read.

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