September 20, 2008

Gospel Today, Southern Baptists, and Theology in the Pew

Reportedly, the SBC's Lifeway Christian Bookstores have removed the current issue of Gospel Today from their sales shelves in more than 100 of their stores. Chris Turner, a spokesman for Lifeway Resources, said the cover was not the reason the magazine was pulled.

The buyers said the statements that were in it took positions that were contrary to what we would say...It wasn't so much that there were women on the cover.

What I find very interesting is that the contents of Gospel Today should have been in question in the past. Prior to this issue, other cover articles have included prosperity teachers Bishop T.D. Jakes (who rejects the doctrine of the Trinity) and Pastor Paula White. Yet the same folks who are up in arms over the current cover article don't seem to have an awareness about other equally important--likely more important--doctrines this magazine highlights, or else we would have heard about their concern before. This ultimately points to the overall ignorance of the market at Lifeway Bookstores, certainly not their theological sophistication, otherwise this would have been off the shelves a long time ago.

On the other hand, there is something to be said about having materials available to the Christian community that provide first-hand knowledge of what other schools of thought are teaching. I've never read Gospel Today and don't expect to even pick up the most recent copy. But sometimes people need to read things for themselves instead of being coached on the beliefs of others.

I am not an advocate of women as pastors or elders, but I don't believe a person's salvation or commitment to Christ is or should be in question when someone holds an opposing view on this particular issue. This is not a matter of heresy and certainly not worth the negative publicity that will result, especially in light of the current cultural discussion of women as leaders. For the SBC, this is an embarrassment. For Gospel Today, it will sell more magazines.

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