Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Baptism by firetruck

Posted By on Tue, Jun 20, 2006 at 9:19 AM

We remain fascinated at the political dimensions of the surprise defeat of Ronnie Floyd's candidacy for president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He doesn't lose many battles on his home turf.

Some perusing of Baptist blogs turns up some interesting tidbits. For one thing, one blogger reports in passing that he'd heard Floyd had plans for a political career - a la Mike Huckabee and Jim Lagrone, to name two former state Baptist Convention presidents who have sought or are seeking political office -- or at least he did before his defeat.

Another blog took us to a Baptist press article that lays out in detail the unhappiness about the tiny amount of money Floyd's churches give to the denomination's cooperative mission program. And here's another big issue among some critics of Floyd that we found interesting:

"There is an unbelievable unrest about Ronnie Floyd's nomination," [Texas pastor Benjamin] Cole told Associated Baptist Press.

Cole and others said many conservatives are also upset about Springdale's evangelism techniques, such as the fire-truck baptistry that is part of its children's ministry.

The unique baptistry, created by Disney designer Bruce Barry, is part of a $270,000 high-tech project for the church's children's worship area that includes video games, a light show, music videos and a bubble machine, according to Christianity Today. When a child is baptized in the fire-truck-shaped baptistry, sirens blare and confetti is fired out of cannons.

"Putting a talking head in front of kids for an hour doesn't work," the children's minister told the magazine. "This is a visual generation. We need to use technology to the max."

"This is blasphemous!" said SBC conservative leader Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, when told of the practice.

In a May 9 interview with the Arkansas Baptist News, Floyd defended creative evangelism and urged Southern Baptists to become innovative in their strategies.

"Our great gospel needs to be packaged in ways the culture can understand and receive," he said, noting that baptisms in Southern Baptist churches continue to decline -- down 4 percent in 2005.

You can read Floyd's thoughts on his loss and, more recently, current events at this link.

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