B u l l e t i n o f t h e C o l g at e R o c h e s t e r C r o z e r D i v i n i t y S c h o o l
Faith. Critically engaged.
✛ “…wherever women or men— both bearers of God’s image—are violated or diminished, God’s glory is dimmed.” Page 4
“The Betrayal of Evangelicalism” by Dr. James A. Sanders Page 8
✛ A Brief Reflection on William Hamilton Page 7 ✛ The School for Christian Leadership Readies for First Graduating Class Page 14 P lu s : Alumni/ae News and Updates Faculty News
Pres. McMickle named a 2012 Distinguished Alumnus of Princeton Theological Seminary in June
On the Cover: “Where the Trees Are” NASA Earth Observatory map by Robert Simmon, based on multiple data sets compiled and analyzed by the Woods Hole Research Center. Data inputs include the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, the National Land Cover Database (based on Landsat) and the Forest Inventory and Analysis of the U.S. Forest Service. You can see it online at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IO TD/view.php?id=76697&src=flickr. CRCDS: Faith. Critically engaged. is a biannual publication of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School 1100 South Goodman Street Rochester, New York, 14620. PUBLISHER: Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (CRCDS) EDITOR: Christopher White DESIGN: MillRace Design PRINTING: St. Vincent Press
Dr. McMickle will be one of two Distinguished Alumni/ae recognized on the 200th anniversary of the storied theological seminary. Pres. Iain R. Torrance, President and Professor of Patristics, wrote to Dr. McMickle: “We especially honor you for your educational leadership throughout the years, including your 2012 appointment as President of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. We also honor you for your pastoral leadership in churches in New York, New Jersey, and Ohio; your exemplary community service leadership in Cleveland, Ohio; and your numerous books and publications on preaching, pastoral care, and leadership in the black church.”
Our sincerest apologies... The following Samuel Crozer Circle donors (gifts of $5,000 or more) were regretfully omitted from the 2010/2011 Annual Report: Rev. Dr. Albert Rowe Estate of Eric Stettner Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Tupitza
Faith. Critically engaged.
20 Years on the Hill
Congratulations to the Class of 2012
Remembering William Hamilton
“The Betrayal of Evangelicalism”
SCL Readies First Graduating Class
Out in the World
Dr. Gay Byron Moves On
Commemorating Rev. Dr. Albert Rowe
oin the conversation online! We’re connecting online with alumni/ae, friends old and new, supporters, congregations and communities across the country. Join us on this journey—follow us on Twitter (@crcds) and connect to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/crcds.
Have you read it? Pres. McMickle and faculty made statements in May in support of same-sex marriage. Read them by visiting http://crcds.wordpress.com or by scanning the QR code (at left) with your smartphone.
A Modest on the Hill 20Proposal Years The Program for the Study of Women and Gender in Church and Society Celebrates
A reflection on the Program’s leg ac y and future by Dean Barbara Moore, D. Min. (CRDS ’89)
“…wherever women or men—both bearers of God’s image—are violated or diminished, God’s glory is dimmed.” —Melanie Duguid-May, Ph.D., Founding Dean of the Program for the Study of Women and Gender in Church and Society
he Program for the Study of Women and Gender in Church and Society approaches its 20th anniversary in the coming academic year.
This article, written in consultation with its two former deans, Melanie Duguid-May and Stephanie Sauvé, states anew the vision and significance of the Program. It is an opportunity to reflect on our sacred history, our local history and to give an updated report on the Program’s present context.
Our Sacred History When the Exodus event is told and retold, the figure of Moses surfaces as the great liberator of the Hebrew people. But a careful reading of the text places five or more women as the heroines who facilitated Moses’s survival and call to leadership. Without the wisdom of the midwives, the tenacity of Moses’s mother and his sister Miriam, the courage of Pharaoh’s daughter and her attendants, a child’s life and future would have been doomed. The Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are filled with stories of how women and men have collaborated in the salvation story; but more often than not, women’s roles—together with certain groups of men—have been silenced and diminished.
Our Local History It was centuries of the silencing of women’s voices and contributions to church and society, as well as the complexity of relationships between men and women, that led to a new programmatic and curricular discussion at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. The School recognized the need to address not only issues of acceptance in ministry, but how the roles and images of women and men in both church and society either liberate or limit the fullness of the image of God within us.
“The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and the other Puah, ‘When you act as a midwife…if it is a boy, kill him….’ But the midwives feared God…[and] let the boys live.” — Exodus 1:15-17
The Program’s designer and first dean, Dr. Duguid-May, emphasized ahead of its official inception in December, 1992, its faithfulness to a living legacy in Rochester and at the Divinity School. The Program was officially inaugurated in 1993. Dr. Duguid-May served as its first dean until 2000, when Dr. Stephanie Sauvé became Dean. I now have the privilege of serving in that position. These goals from the original documents have guided the Program for the last twenty years:
Helen Barrett Montgomery
Dr. Melanie Duguid-May
Dr. Stephanie Sauvé
To provide a program for the rigorous critical study of issues affecting the lives and work of women in church and society, and of issues of gender, race, class and sexual orientation;
To advocate and provide methods and resources for incorporation of these critical studies into all areas of the Divinity School curriculum and services;
To provide personal and institutional support for women in ministry in multiple settings in the seminary, in churches and in the community at large;
To work in mutual cooperation with the Program for Black Church Studies and with the development of Global Studies at the Divinity School;
To participate in related academic programs and disciplinary and ecclesial discussions nationally and world-wide.
“My imagination as an interpreter as well as developer of the Program in the Study for Women and Gender in Church and Society…will compliment and work closely with Black Church Studies…. …no one place in this country are abolitionist and women’s movement histories richer than in greater Rochester….I have been delighted to discover the committed ministry and vision brought to the Divinity School in the early Sixties by the Baptist Missionary Training School, a training school for women.” —Melanie Duguid-May, Ph.D.
women and gender studies to complete her or his degree program. In addition, students may complete a concentration in Women’s Studies as part of their master’s degree. Examples from the curriculum that embrace our vision are listed below: •
“Women of Wisdom: Past, Present and Imaging the Future”
“Pornography, Prostitution, and an Iconography of Women in Christianity”
“Feminist Womanist Preaching”
“Christian Faith, The Churches, and LGBTi Persons”
“Women in Ministry in the Worldwide Church”
“Women in American Religion”
“Gender and Sexuality in Early Christian Literature”
Our current Activities
“Gender Issues in Pastoral Theology”
The Program guides and designs Women and Gender Studies courses that are relevant and are in conversation with the latest biblical and theological scholarship. Attention is given in each class to inclusive language, and to the voices of marginal women as well as women in the global community. Every course syllabus is vetted to insure that the works of women scholars are included. At least one course a semester focusing on women and gender issues is offered and every master’s student is required to register for at least one course in
“Dance of Women’s Spirituality”
Twenty years later, numerous economic, social and political changes have taken place, producing advances for women and men, many of whom felt themselves to be on the margins of life. While all these things are true, many problems remain. Current legislative discussions have focused on limiting women’s health care, reducing participation in Title IX and the weakening of pay equity. Many women still face barriers in their churches and faith communities.
Over the past 20 years, the Program has held 15 national conferences on the CRCDS campus that have each focused on the lives of women and their contributions to theological discourse. This conference series is named in honor of the great internationally– acclaimed Baptist leader, Helen Barrett Montgomery. Scholars, theologians and researchers at the forefront of national and international theological discussions have been keynote speakers, including:
Mercy Amba Oduyoye
Rosemary Radford Ruether
Chung Hyun Kyung
Ada Maria Isasi-Dias
On November 8-10, 2012, Dr. Michelle Lelwica, from Concordia College, will lecture on “Challenging the Religion of Thinness: Affirming the Beauty of Women’s Bodies.”
“What we want and what we need is a radically fresh thrust.” —Baptist Missionary Training School representatives, 1961
bring fresh biblical insights to the community, and to discover their application as evidenced in the lives and pastoral experiences of area preachers. These outreach efforts are being made in order to develop deeper links between the Hill and the community, especially clergywomen. Since its inception, as programs and conferences are planned, the leadership of the Program has sought the advice of the community and students. Two groups in particular have been immeasurably helpful: the Advisory Group to the Women and Gender Program and the LGBT Advisory Group. I invite you to join us in the 2012-13 academic year as we celebrate our 20 years of witness and work, and we continue to honor the stories of the past, and make every effort to continue the vision into the future.
Congratulations to the CRCDS
Class of 2012!
The Program offers six roundtable discussions each academic year, entitled “Women Thriving in Ministry.” Local and regional clergywomen and lay leaders come to the Hill and, over lunch, share their wisdom and experience with our students and the community. Gender Studies is a program dedicated to liberating men and women to work together to transform church and society by calling them to rethink how gender is constructed, for men as well as women, and to consider how gender roles have been expressed historically. For close to 15 years the Program has collaborated with local churches to sponsor two annual lectures entitled “Christian Faith and the LGBT Experience.” Examples of speakers are: •
Kelly Brown Douglas
Deborah Flemister Mullen
John J. McNeill
The Program has launched an outreach to clergy in the area by offering programs such as the Common Lectionary Studies. Our desire for this series is to
Doctor of Ministry Roula Alkhouri Kurt S. Clark, Sr. Michael John Ford Rickey Bernard Harvey William Lamour Johnson, III Carolyn Bellamy Lester Irie Lynne Session Rodney Edward Williams
Master of Divinity Denise Lynn Bell Natalie Ora Bowerman Paul Michael Frolick Robert Scott Hayes Edris M. Hitchcock Julie S. Hitsman Emily Barner Huyge
Matthew David Kofahl George Paul Lombardo-Fox Mary A. McMillen Sandra L. Perl Todd Peterson Phillips Janeen Ann Ransom Mary Grace Rublee Harold J. Staiti Katie Jo Suddaby Matthew A. Turrie Necole M. Vitale JaCon Canese Washington Lynn M. Zukauskas
Master of Arts Andrew Emilio di Sant’ Agnese
A Brief Reflection on
William Hamilton W
b y J a m e s H. E v a n s , J r . , P h . D , L i t t . D . , R o b e rt K . D av i e s Pr o f e s s o r o f S y s t e m at i c T h e o lo g y
e recently lost one of the most creative and courageous theological minds of the 20th century. William Hamilton is best known and profoundly misunderstood for his association with the Death of God movement in the 1960s. At the time he was a rising star, holding the prestigious Chair in Historical Theology at what was then Colgate Rochester Divinity School. Hamilton’s life and his career changed after he and a group of theologians dared to say what others only vaguely felt: we have outgrown our old ideas about God. Those ideas died in the Jewish Holocaust and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. We could no longer appeal to our old ideas of God in this new age. In that sense, the question “Is God dead?” that appeared on the April 8, 1966, cover of the Time Magazine that featured Hamilton and his colleagues’ theory made sense. They were simply calling Christians and humanity as a whole to accountability. This meant that we could no longer blame God for our actions. Unfortunately, Hamilton and the rest of those theologians lost their positions in their divinity schools and seminaries. They found positions in secular universities where they could continue to ask the tough questions. The church was not ready to talk about these issues. One wonders whether ignoring this question is at the heart of the banality and feebleness of much of church life today. The import of the Death of God movement did not simply disappear as a fad. The emergence of liberation theology, feminist theology, ecological theology and postmodern theology all pass over ground prepared by it. Hamilton was no wild-eyed iconoclast. He firmly believed that the essence of a more humane Christian witness lay in the willingness to firmly situate oneself in the real world. He once remarked that he “has always believed relief of the human condition is what we must be doing. You cannot really define the meaning of human life other than to find some particular point at which the relief of the sorrows of the human condition is your business…I’ve never lived or been trained in a tradition that has defined Christian existence in terms of doctrine anyway. Doing Christian thought and action is still the most interesting thing to me.”1 After leaving Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Hamilton devoted his career to the study of literature, especially the work of Herman Melville, 1 2
author of the classic novel Moby Dick. He became a nationally–known expert in the field. Here he continued to explore the significance of the changes in our idea of God. He remained convinced that we have destroyed our own ideas of God through rampant selfishness and lack of concern for justice and equality. He also believed that the essence of faith is not so much a function of what you believe but where you stand. At one point he remarked in words that have astounding currency today:
Dr. James H. Evans, Jr.
It seems to me that to find yourself in the midst of the Jewish, Christian or Islamic worlds is to say in a number of different ways—the religion-politics mix of Islam is one way, the prophetic tradition is another way, the New Testament tradition is another—that there is one nonnegotiable absolute, and it’s not a principle, it’s not a moral value: it’s an answer to the problem of where you look, where you belong, where you put your body in this world. Not at the altar, and not in the private realms, but out there in the world at the service of human beings. That’s where you are. That’s what Christianity drives you to; and that for me is the element and the comment of the Western religious traditions which I use to attack the temptations to privatism in myself, in my kids, and in my students.2
...I am grateful that he never ceased to contend with “the great white” of our unbelief. In 1979 I was first asked to come to Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School to teach a course in Black Theology. I soon heard that I was going to “the school where God died.” I did not know what to make of it. However, my major fields of study were theology and literature. My first published work was a review of a book on Moby Dick. This is a story of a ship’s captain who is obsessed with a giant whale who has become his nemesis. In my opinion the whale did not represent God for Melville but our unbelief. I did not know William Hamilton personally, but I am grateful that he never ceased to contend with “the great white” of our unbelief.
William Hamilton quoted in Lloyd Steffen. “The Dangerous God: A Profile of William Hamilton,” Christian Century, 27 September 1989, 844. Steffen.
he Betrayal of Evangelicalism An Essay by James A. Sanders
was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and was “saved” at a young age in a tent revival meeting that eventually became the First Assembly of God Church, before Elvis Presley had his experience in the same church at a different location, and well before its expansion nationwide. I still cherish the experience I had that night kneeling in the sawdust leaning on the twoby-four make-shift pew in front of me where I lay my head and raised my hand. It was in the depths of the Great Depression and even as a child I sensed its importance to those who attended largely because many didn’t know when the next payday might be. My older sister had taken me partly as a shield for a date she had that night though she herself claimed to live at times in a state of grace because of that little church.
I still cherish the experience I had that night kneeling in the sawdust leaning on the two-by-four make-shift pew in front of me where I lay my head and raised my hand. James A. Sanders is Professor Emeritus of lntertestamental and Biblical Studies at Claremont School of Theology, Professor Emeritus of Religion at Claremont Graduate School, and President emeritus of Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center for Preservation and Research. Dr. Sanders served as Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School from 1954 to 1965. He also served as Auburn Professor of Biblical Studies at Union Theological Seminary in New York City where he taught a young future president and theologian, Marvin A. McMickle.
At the same time I enjoyed school and academic endeavor generally and was discovering the wonders of reading the literature of other cultures and of learning the insights of science into God’s amazing creation. Learning became a passion fired by curiosity about this wondrous world so that there developed a pitched battle inside me between my head and my heart—that was until I had a second
“saving” experience in college when I learned it didn’t have to be that way but that I could worship God as an integrated, whole person.1 Later in the 1960s and 1970s while I was a professor at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, after I had unrolled and published the large Dead Sea Scroll of Psalms, and not long before I had been elected President of the International Society of Biblical Literature, I became a “member under watch-care” (associate member) in the Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Bedford-Stuyvesant (in Brooklyn, New York) where Gardner Taylor was pastor. I was distressed by the debates in the white churches at the time about whether they should focus on preaching the Gospel or addressing social issues. The black congregation of Concord Church did both; each effort fed the other without reference to politics. Despite my warm appreciation for the evangelical experience, I have come deeply to regret the politicization of the white evangelical movement that has taken place since the late 1970s. In the light of the current political chasm that has developed in the country, it is time to look at some of the current characteristics of evangelicalism that are deeply disturbing and bode ill for the nation.
Dedication of “The Betrayal of Evangelicalism”to Marvin Andrew McMickle, President of Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School
The So-Called “Moral Majority” In 1979 the Reverend Jerry Falwell launched what he called “The Moral Majority” movement. His target was ostensibly the apparent excesses in the late 1960s and early 1970s of change in the moral culture of the country. His announced target was the apparent loosening of personal morals, especially among young people: the use of drugs, the practice of free sex and the increasing acceptance of abortion and homosexuality in mainstream America. These seemed to have increased dramatically during the protests at the time against the Vietnam War and against racism in America. Falwell struck a chord among some people in the country who viewed themselves as hard-working, upstanding adherents of “old family values.” The struggle was soon called “culture wars,” struggles to resist what were viewed as efforts to destroy the moral fabric of society, the very sinews of what held society and the tacit social contract intact. It launched the “New Religious Right.”
I have come deeply to regret the politicization of the white evangelical movement that has taken place since the late 1970s.
Unspoken but at the base of the objections were the disturbing (to some) advances that had been made during the 1960s in civil rights and civil liberties in the country giving “others” (blacks, browns, recent immigrants) the same right to vote and to access evenhanded justice as though they were “real” citizens. Just as disturbing to many were the findings of science that went counter to their beliefs.2 Falwell, in an oft-quoted speech in 1979, said that evangelicals in the country should change their attitude toward a longstanding limit imposed on themselves and their leaders (since Prohibition) to limit their “Christian” mission to the individual’s salvation and personal morals in American life. Evangelical Christianity since the farce of the Scopes Trial and the disaster of Prohibition had largely limited its energies to seeking the salvation of individual souls, who once “saved” , it was thought, make “right” decisions. Falwell apparently felt that the old view was not working well from his viewpoint and that American Christians needed to be told what right decisions were. Falwell’s speech rang a clarion bell among many “middle-America” Christians who watched the anti-war and anti-racism demonstrations on television—what
The struggle was soon called “culture wars,” struggles to resist what were viewed as efforts to destroy the moral fabric of society, the very sinews of what held society and the tacit social contract intact.
t is an honor for me to dedicate this essay to Dr. Marvin McMickle on the occasion of his inauguration as President of the Divinity School and a source of deep personal satisfaction and pleasure for two principal reasons: McMickle is taking the helm of the seminary where I taught from 1954 to 1965; and he was my student in the early 1970s at Union Theological Seminary / Columbia University in New York City. I had the privilege of assisting at his ordination and inauguration to the ministry at the Montclair, New Jersey Baptist Church, and now I have the joy of dedicating this essay as a part of his inauguration as president of one of the leading seminaries in the country, and in the city that has through the years been a bold and fearless leader in reminding the nation of the promise of its origins by advocating the emancipation of its slaves, the equality of its women and the dignity of its labor force. The work and vision of the likes of Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony and Walter Rauschenbusch have now come full circle in this crowning chapter to the life and ministry of Marvin Andrew McMickle. May God’s blessings sustain both the seminary and its new president to work the work and live the life God has called us live.
they called “riots”—with great unease, even embarrassment, that these were occurring in “their” country. Many of them had felt that while America had problems they should be addressed by elected officials who had access to the information others did not and who knew best about such matters. The country, as well as their religion, was being attacked from within, many felt, and enough was enough. The reaction was especially pronounced in the socalled Bible Belt, largely in the old South, where it was deeply felt that President Lyndon Johnson and the Democrats had gone too far with their civil rights and civil liberties legislation in the mid1960s and that something should be done about it before it ruined the country they knew and loved. Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964 campaigned in part against Johnson’s civil rights laws and Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina defected from the Democratic Party to the Republican—the first crack in the old Democratic “solid South,” as it was called. President Johnson at the time told Bill Moyer, a confidant and fellow former Texan, that because of the advances made, the Democratic Party had lost the solid South. More public was candidate Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy” in his 1968 campaign against the Democrat Hubert Humphrey. Nixon, the “right-wing progressive” Republican candidate indicated clearly during the campaign, especially to his former colleagues in the United States Congress, the vast majority of them Southern Democrats, that he fully intended to modify some of the purported “excesses” of the laws Johnson had sponsored, and an increasing number defected at that time, including Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina and numerous members of the House of Representatives. Humphrey, on the contrary, to counter the bad publicity he had accrued being Johnson’s “happy warrior” in the steady increase of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, touted the legislation he and Johnson had successfully steered through Congress in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s assassination and subsequent populist martyrdom. Nixon’s strategy worked and Humphrey’s did not. The disgruntled “heartland majority” who had been offended by the demonstrations against the war (that they felt were really against their America), voted in droves for Nixon while those who would normally have supported Humphrey stayed away because of his support of the war. Nixon’s efforts during his first term to curb some aspects of the civil rights laws and at the same time advance social legislation that was still needed, such as extensions of Johnson’s Medicare legislation, and other efforts that would today be condemned by some as social-
ist, were a winning combination at the time and Nixon was handily re-elected in 1972, defeating the peace candidate, George McGovern. Nixon’s personal insecurities, however, ultimately undid him in the Watergate Affair that revealed a Republican break-in of the Democratic headquarters in Washington—authorized by the Nixon Whitehouse—in a flawed attempt to win the election against McGovern. Nixon since his loss to Kennedy in the presidential election of 1960 and his loss of the gubernatorial race in California to Pat Brown in 1962, had developed an inferiority complex that fed his illegal acts in the Watergate break-in. By August 1974 Nixon’s own personal complicity in the crime was confirmed by the Supreme Court, and he was forced to resign the presidency soon after. This web of perfidy is often cited as Nixon’s greatest flaw, but arguably it was not. The greater ill he committed against the country was not in the Watergate Affair but in his “Southern strategy,” by which he set the country back to a degree that is still being played out at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Nixon, following Goldwater’s earlier lead, in effect converted the Republican Party, that had since Abraham Lincoln been the party of civil rights, into a Southern bastion of reactionary politics. With or without Nixon, the South that had lost the Civil War conquered the Republican Party and through a regional form of Christianity began to evangelize the rest of the country. It has been noted that “evangelical Christianity has driven a wedge between Southern and Northern interests. It intruded into the political process so that there was no middle ground. There was only good and evil….” 3
Scripture and Authority The mainstream, or mainline, denominations require a thorough theological education in a reputable college or university-related seminary for their prospective clergy and have almost since their inceptions viewed Scripture as but one of three or four authorities for developing their ongoing understandings of the Christian faith—Scripture, of course, but also tradition and reason. To those John Wesley added personal experience as a fourth base of authority. But the evangelicals stress “Scripture only” (sola scriptura) as the single base of authority, or insist that all else be scrutinized by their interpretation of Scripture. To that many of them adduced the dogmas that Scripture is inerrant and totally harmonious. Neither of those claims can stand the scrutiny of close, honest readings of Scripture, but many evangelicals insist on them against all odds.
Through the influence of the Enlightenment, mainstream Christianity came to view the Holy Spirit as the liberator from the cultural traps and trappings of the ancient eastern Mediterranean cultures in which the Bible was formed and shaped. It was seen as the guide of the faithful into accepting the advances in the developing disciplines of science. Reducing the base of authority to Scripture alone has meant that some evangelicals have felt it necessary to attack any serious effort that would challenge their interpretations of Scripture, including science. Since Charles Darwin’s work in the mid-nineteenth century, the greatest challenge has seemed to come from science. Since the Second Great Awakening in the early nineteenth century evangelicals have tried to assert the Bible’s authority even in understanding how the world and its denizens were formed, thus in effect denigrating the Bible’s real worth and value. But it is quite understandable that if you have narrowed your range of authority to one base, then you have to attack whatever seems to challenge it. Darwin, like Galileo before him, personally believed that his work in science was a pious endeavor exploring the wonders of God’s creation and hence was astounded at the opposition from some Christians. The evangelicals’s denunciation of Darwin’s work has extended to their renunciation of scientific findings that point to human causes of global warming, and it often takes the form of ad hominem arguments accusing the scientists of personal bias or conspiracy. The last decades of such pseudo-arguments have caused countless young people to turn away from science. If it weren’t for the number of brilliant immigrants who came to the United States and studied science, the country would lose its ranking in scientific discovery.
“Another Pied Piper,” E. J. Pace’s widely reprinted editorial cartoon (from William Jennings Bryan’s Seven Questions in Dispute, 1924.)
This anti-science posture is a part of the traditional anti-intellectual strain in some branches of Protestantism since the Reformation when there were only Catholic-based universities in Europe that some Protestants at the time refused to attend. It continued to serve well during the westward expansion of this country since at first there were often no schools at all on the frontiers and only much later colleges and schools of higher education. To this day most independent community-type megachurches do not require theological education or intellectual rigor. This serves the anti-environmentalist stance by casting doubt on scientific reports that contradict their beliefs. Focus on the imminent Rapture of believers and the Second Coming further diminishes any urgency about dangers to the environment. Jesus will return and make everything all right again so that they don’t have to be concerned. The fact that every prediction of the arrival of the end of the world based on “Bible prophecy” have been proved wrong over the centuries have in no way deterred further efforts to make eschatological calculations.5
...if you have narrowed your range of authority to one base, then you have to attack whatever seems to challenge it. This concerned Albert Einstein so much that he pled fervently for a change in attitude, saying that “we have to remind our kids that a math equation formula is just a brush stroke the good Lord uses to paint one of the wonders of nature, and we should look at it as being as beautiful as art or literature or music.”4
It also includes what some evangelicals refer to as a “Biblical world view,” meaning, one would suppose, that the image of the universe in the Bible of a flat three-storied structure, heaven, earth and hell, is the correct one. Well, no, we are told, not exactly “flat.” What they mean, we are told, is that though the earth is a sphere (anyone can see that from an airplane, and astronauts have sent pictures back of how it is) there is still a heaven and hell somewhere in God’s “good space.” But “somewhere” is not what the Bible offers, it assumes as all the Ancient Near East assumed, that the earth was flat in a three-tiered world. Defense of the Biblical account of the flood has constantly been modified in a like manner by admitting that there were many flood stories like that described in the Bible but the others (against all evidence to the contrary) must have borrowed from the Bible—thus accepting what cannot be avoided from archaeology and philology but hanging on for dear life to what they can of their
But “somewhere” is not what the Bible offers, it assumes as all the Ancient Near East assumed, that the earth was flat in a three-tiered world. view of the “authority” of the Biblical account. Some older evangelical groups have vested so much authority in their interpretation of Scripture alone that they have founded their own free-standing seminaries to shield future pastors and leaders from serious challenges to it. The same seminaries almost invariably require professors to sign binding statements of faith centering in their view of the authority of Scripture. One of the ironies of the current situation is that they also require their professors to have solid Ph.D. degrees from reputable institutions. The principal irony is that the faculty, well educated in critical understandings of Scripture and tradition, is caught in a vise between the conservative trustees of such institutions, who raise the funds to run the school, and the conservative students s/he teaches, many of whom come from the homes of trustees and like-minded supporters. I have personally experienced and seen the vise they are in because I have been invited to lecture on the Dead Sea Scrolls in several of those institutions and have talked privately with the faculties in them and heard their stories first-hand. Alone, in camera, we had vigorous critical-historical discussions about the Bible, but I was invariably requested that in class and public lec-
tures on campus I lecture only about the Scrolls and not get into the kinds of critical issues we had just openly discussed behind closed doors.
The South’s Victory The sum of Goldwater and Nixon’s actions, despite the ignominious defeat of the Confederacy in the Civil War, was in effect to aid and abet the South’s “rise again” by placing reactionary Southerners in responsible party and government positions and to aid the effort on the part of the Southern Baptist Convention and Southern-types of evangelical Christianity to “evangelize” former slave-free states as well as the South to their way of thinking. The Southern Baptist Convention during its annual convention of 1975 was taken over by a group from Texas led by laymen (with little or no theological education) who caused the Convention and a number of its agencies to turn away from its earlier progressive views, to “the fundamentals,” as they viewed them, of the Christian faith. Each Baptist congregation is autonomous, but the Convention holds considerable power over its agencies and committees. With religious fervor the fundamentalist-leaning evangelicals have in the name of their view of Christianity converted large swaths of the “heartland” of the country to Southern ways of religious and political thinking. The Southern Baptist Convention in the 1980s officially instigated a mission movement to “evangelize” the rest of the country. It has been successful to the point of affecting what has been called the “southernization of American politics.”6 The newly figured Convention quickly moved to control the denomination’s seminaries. As a result I was personally no longer invited to lecture at Southern Baptist seminaries. Since the takeover I have had invitations from progressive Southern Baptist pastors to address their small groups seeking encouragement to continue their ministries even while they are denounced and shunned by fellow pastors in the local conventions. The personal stories I have heard from such well-educated pastors about the treatment to which they are subjected is very disheartening. The election in 1982 of Ronald Reagan, a movie actor from California who had converted from being a labor-oriented leader of the Screen Actors Guild to become its Republican governor, brought the country to another low point with lies about the Iran-Contra Affair. Reagan, knowing little or nothing of religion, was far more to the liking of the reactionaries, and he was personally affable and very likeable. It was easy to forgive and forget, that
had not been the case with Nixon. He turned to Falwell and other evangelicals as consultants on some of the country’s most important political matters. For seasoned theologians in the country and the world, Reagan’s consulting Falwell and calling him “a theologian” was a travesty and became for some a symbol of his presidency. Reagan drew on the old Republican desire to limit the power of the federal government and went so far as to call government “the problem and not the solution” to the country’s ills. Reagan was the “savior” that had been sought to oppose Johnson’s enactment of the civil rights, voting rights and health-care legislation in the 1960s. Reagan’s antigovernment stance has recently been taken to mean opposition to much of Johnson’s legislation that advanced those rights, including Medicare and any other effort by the government for the common good of the country. The politicization of the religious right in the country abetted by Reagan, and G.W. Bush (not his New England Republican father) brought about a consolidation of opposition to any further enactment in the Congress of legislation to bring the country into closer adherence to the principles of its Constitution. One of the ironies of the present situation is the claim of the religious right to being strict constructionists of the principles of the Constitution. This is far from the truth of the matter.7 The Constitution mandates the separation of church and state whereas evangelicals, professing belief in both the Bible and the Constitution, have attempted a sort of amalgam of the two doing great harm to the public’s understanding of both. In contradistinction to the Constitution, the Bible tells the story of a theocracy whose God was King no matter who His representatives on Earth charged with divulging and executing His will, whether patriarchs, “judges,” prophets, kings or priests.8 Any effort to impose Biblical legal principles upon those of the new republic was prohibited as inherently opposed to the principles clearly laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.9 The same religious leaders fervently support only secular-type governments in Arab lands failing to see the analogy to their own efforts. Are you following us on Facebook? Get live updates from lectures and events, plus much more. Visit http://facebook.com/crcds or scan the QR code (at left) with your smartphone.
Deists and Theists The Declaration and the Constitution were drawn up and “framed” by eighteenth-century Enlightenment deists, not by Christian theists as is often claimed by the Religious Right. The deists were profoundly influenced by the writings of David Hume and John Locke. In fact, it has been noted that some of the most majestic phrases employed in the Declaration were borrowed whole-cloth out of the work of John Locke. Evangelical leaders have claimed that the framers believed in God. (One current candidate for president has claimed that the founders did not have slaves, but that has been easily dismissed as sheer ignorance.) Their view of God was a deistic God, not the Christian theistic God, and that is a vital distinction that most Americans do not appreciate. The theist’s view of God may indeed be called a personal deity, but not a deist’s view of God that was distant and ineffable, a God of nature. As a movement, the eighteenth century Enlightenment was viewed by many deists as countering the theistic views of most forms of Christianity, especially the Trinitarian view of God. In fact, later in the nineteenth century the deist Ralph Waldo Emerson stated his belief that Chris-
One of the ironies of the present situation is the claim of the religious right to being strict constructionists of the principles of the Constitution. This is far from the truth of the matter. tians in this country would eventually all profess a Unitarian view of God, not a Christian theistic view. Thomas Jefferson, responsible for much of the writing of the founding documents, was a deist who produced an edition of the New Testament that totally eliminated the miracles and most passages exhibiting theistic views. In fact, one would think that if justices believe that the Constitution is a “dead document,” supposedly meaning that it should be interpreted with its original meanings, they would decide a number of cases differently based on the way it has recently been interpreted. The Constitution is thus inherently in opposition to much of the Bible’s assumptions of Israel and the Christian Church as theocratic. To wrap oneself in the flag, as some politicians try to do, should mean that they are opposed to any particularly religious view of the Constitution, indeed of the Continued on page 18 >
he School for Christian Leadership Readies for First Graduating Class Closing the gap
The Rev. Canon Dr. C. Denise Yarbrough, former Director of the Gene Bennett Program for Life Long Learning and former Director of Anglican Studies, is known among students at CRCDS for the vibrant discussions that take place in her class, where theology meets head-on the everyday challenges of doing ministry that is authentic to today’s diverse world of cultures, faiths and identities. Rev. Yarbrough recently accepted a position as the Director of Religious and Spiritual Life at the University of Rochester. She begins her new position in August, 2012.
A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, Rev. Yarbrough’s academic approach has always had a practical focus. Through her work as an Episcopal priest, Rev. Yarbrough knew many ministers, deacons and lay church workers who were interested in a seminary education, but who felt committing to such a long track was out of the question on account of time restraints, lack of money or even because they felt it would be a more academic, rather than practical, education. After three years of teaching, she realized that the conversations happening in her classroom had to include these people who were struggling with little to no resources to keep their churches open. Working closely with then Dean Melanie Duguid-May at CRCDS, and in consultation with judicatory officials from the American Baptist Conference of the Rochester Genesee Region, the Presbytery of the Genesee Valley, the United Methodist Conference and the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, Rev. Yarbrough established the School for Christian Leadership (SCL) in 2009. The program aimed to offer a space for learning and enrichment for those who
could not pursue a traditional seminary education, but who very much wanted to grow and develop their ministry skills. It also provides credentialing in the various denominations for lay and ordained leaders who are not pursuing a Master of Divinity but who need substantive theological education in order to lead the churches to which they are assigned. Today, the SCL is actively engaging ministers and lay people who are on the front lines of ministry in communities across western New York.
“I felt I needed practical tools.” Bessie Tyrell will be among the SCL’s first graduating class in 2013. Tyrell anticipated a number of challenges when she enrolled into the program; she had not been in a classroom for over 40 years. What she did not expect was a greater challenge still: cancer. Despite the diagnosis just two weeks after the program started, Tyrell attended classes while undergoing radi-
ation treatment and chemotherapy. “I’m glad I didn’t stop,” she is proud to say today, now fully recovered. Looking back on her life 40 years ago as a Presbyterian minister’s wife, at what was expected of her as a woman, she sees just what a limited role women were allowed to play in the church. Today she compares the maternal duties that were expected of her, such as baking cookies or hosting visitors, to the leading pastoral role she now plays at her small church in Atlanta, New York. In fact, Tyrell didn’t have to look far to see the changing role of women: her daughter has recently chosen to pursue a theological degree. This inspired her to consider a similar path, but the thought of an overly academic setting did not seem relevant to what she hoped to achieve with her ministry for young people and children. “If I wasn’t doing what I was doing, the church wouldn’t be open,” she noted. The SCL provided Tyrell a safe and encouraging collaborative environment where she felt comfortable learning new
The Rev. Canon Dr. C. Denise Yarbrough
things, such as using online tools like social media. The program has helped her learn of key contemporary trends in theological scholarship; she was especially interested in learning about recent developments in feminist thought.
Creative supplemental training A key dimension of the SCL program is the coursework. It is designed so that any work assigned is linked directly with the active ministry in which the student is engaged. Patti Blaine came to the program after finding that the more traditional Education for Ministry (EfM) track was not quite right for her. She wanted a course of study that allowed her greater depth in her ministry as City School Outreach
she wrote. “It gives me the strength to go out into the world and do the work God has given me to do.”
Preparing ministers for the real world Most recently, the Presbytery of Geneva (New York State) selected the SCL as a required training module for the Commission Lay Pastor (CLP) program that they operate. “From Bible study to preaching to pastoral care to Christian education, the program has covered a very broad spectrum of the various aspects of ministry, preparing me to go out into the ‘real world’ of ministry, serving others based on a strong knowledge base,” explained Robert Sell, a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church USA, who will graduate next year from the SCL as part of the CLP program. “The program is spiritual, but most importantly, practical,” he stressed. “A majority of the courses teach you how to do ministry, to apply the Gospel, to impact the real world.”
“unexpected learning” “I had a hunger for practical, hands-on knowledge, but I needed an alternative to divinity school,” Cynthia Cole explained during a phone interview.
Coordinator for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (Rochester, New York), where she works with students that are often underprivileged. Now entering her third year, Blaine already feels she has gained a better understanding of her style, approach and voice as a minister, as well as learning to be more creative and proactive about how she does ministry. “It has reinforced my belief that God calls us all to live in community, to love God and love one another as God loves us,”
Cole has worked for the past ten years within the incarcerated church at Albion Women’s Correctional Facility in Albion, New York. Her pastor, Dr. James H. Evans, Professor of Systematic Theology at CRCDS, suggested that she apply for the Thurman King School for Black Church Leadership. This is a modular course of study offered within the SCL program that focuses on the experiences, challenges and needs unique to the black church, which Dr. Evans helped establish as its current director.
“It is a wonderful resource for communities. It provides high-quality learning for people who cannot go to seminary for one reason or another.” A key feature of the program for Cole is the open, discursive learning environment. It encourages students to share their personal, denominational and cultural Christian experiences, to compare and contrast them, even to recognize stereotypes and assumptions they may have. “It allowed discourse between different traditions so that we could learn about one another—the more we realize that we are alike, the less we feel separate.” Ahead of graduating next May, Cole feels she has already gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of the black church, of other mainstream churches and even of new emerging churches online; she called it “unexpected learning.”
About the School for Christian Leadership Many small churches today cannot afford a full-time minister. The SCL is one resource that is available to them to inspire and develop their current church staff to find creative, original ways to continue their ministry within many different contexts and communities. Enrollment for the Fall 2012 semester is now open. Find out if the SCL is right for you: contact Dean Stephanie Sauvé at (585) 340 9588, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Out in the World U p d at e s , news and notes from CRCDS a lu m n i / a e Ms. Frances Langley Bowman (BMTS ’48) Frances and her husband are now living in a retirement facility on Puget Sound in Gig Harbor, WA. She still stays in touch with many alums. Ms. Betty Jane Erickson Dransfield (BMTS ’48) Betty Jane is still making pottery and operates five shops. She and her children also operate dairy farms. Ms. Katherine Brownell Kosak (BMTS ’50) Katherine and her husband are doing well. Katherine swims laps every other day. Ms. Elena Briones (BMTS ’50) Elena and her husband, Moses, spent a week in a town named Roman, near San Diego, CA. Ms. Catherine Hemann Raycroft (BMTS ’50) Catherine is active with Business and Professional Women’s Club, locally and state-wide. She and her husband David reside in a retirement community. Rev. Robert Lacker (CRDS’52) and Rev. Ruth Lacker (CRCDS ‘52) Bob and Ruth were the first recipients of the “Catch the Dream” award presented by the Southwest Area Ministerial Alliance and the Berrien County Council of Churches in Niles, Michigan. Ruth was especially honored for her many years of leading the area’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration.
Rev. David C. Derby (CRDS ’58) David just finished writing a book Thank God and Take Courage. The book will be available this summer.
citizen among the thirty-plus award winners to receive this honor. The award ceremony for this first-ever Jiangsu Charity Award took place in the ancient capital city of Nanjing.
Rev. Ronald G. James (CRDS ’63) Ron and his wife, Annette, had a house fire this past February that forced them to move to a temporary address.
Rev. Dr. Alex A. Gondola (CRDS ’85) Dr. Gondola retired in August 2011, as Senior Pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ, Wapakoneta, OH.
Rev. Richard W. Tucker (CTS ’68) Richard moved to Brevard, NC, in the mountains, and retired in June 2011.
Rev. Dr. Keith A. Harrington (CRDS ’85) Keith was promoted to Director of Programs and Services for the Rochester Finger Lakes Alzheimer’s Association.
Rev. Kenneth D. Curry (CRDS ’70) Ken has been semi-retired for over ten years. He currently operates Your Advocates, Inc. with his wife Sylvia as a court-appointed, certified professional gaurdian. They also started a not-for-profit, Advocates Associated, to help people on Medicaid. Ken was recognized recently as an Outstanding Affiliate Member by the National Guardian Association. Ken and Sylvia celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on a Mediterranean cruise. They also cruised to Alaska with their daughter, granddaughters and Sylvia’s 93-year-old mother. Rev. Edward I. Carey (CRDS ’72) Ed retired from pastoring at East Penfield Baptist Church, Penfield, NY, this past February. Rev. William J. Shaw (CRDS ‘75) On May 11, 2012, President Barack Obama reappointed William to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (CIRF). He is the immediate past president of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. and was appointed to the bipartisan, nine-member panel upon its creation by Pres. Obama in June 2010. CIRF is charged with monitoring violations of religious freedom worldwide and making foreign policy recommendations based on their findings. Rev. Susan S. Shafer (CRDS ’82) Susan received the Distinguished Alumna of the Year Award at the 2012 CRCDS Alumni/ae Reunion. Rev. Judith L. Sutterlin (CRDS ’83) This past October, Judy became an American Baptist International Ministries (IM) missionary in China, and was the recipient of the Charity Award from the Jiangsu Provincial Government of Jiangsu Province, China. This award recognizes Judy as a “most caring and benevolent model” demonstrated through her service in the Province. She is the only non-Chinese
Rev. Vincent W. Howell (CRDS ’86) Vincent was appointed pastor of the Westside United Methodist Church in Elmira, NY. Vincent is also a candidate for the D.Min. degree at Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit, MI. Rev. Robert J. Falling (CRDS ’87) Bob’s daughter Elizabeth is now a freshman at Williams College in Williamstown, MA. Bob is active working with the homeless in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Rev. Roanne C. MacEwan (CRDS ’92) Roanne and her husband, Pete, moved to Cross Keys Village, the Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, PA. Rev. Dr. Timothy J. Morral (CRDS M.Div. ’97, D.Min. ‘05) Tim has been named Senior Copywriter with Walker Sands Communications. Rev. Elizabeth Winslea (CRDS ‘97) Elizabeth, her husband Tim, son Jacob and, daughter Anna have recently bought a home and moved out of the parsonage. They will be welcoming Tim’s mom as she moves into her suite. Tim and Elizabeth still enjoy co-pastoring with each other at two small UMC Churches in Portland, OR. Rev. Alexander J. Libertore (CRCDS ’06) Alex recently completed his first year as Senior Pastor of Lake Edge UCC in Madison, WI. Rev. Michael A. Ware (CRCDS ’06) Michael and his son Jason (who also works for Special Events Catering at CRCDS) volunteered their time to the continued Hurricane Katrina relief efforts on a mission trip to New Orleans. Rev. Carolyn Stow (CRCDS ’11) This past May at the 2012 United Methodist Conference, Carolyn was commissioned as provisional elder.
In Memoriam Paul M. Frolick (CRCDS ’12) Paul left Christ Episcopal Church, Pittsford, NY, at the end of June after 13 and a half years of ministry with friend and colleague Rev. Winifred Collin (CRCDS/BH ’88), who is retiring. Paul was Program Assistant and Director of Music during his time at CRCDS. He was ordained to the transitional diaconate this past February. Paul is a candidate in a couple of search processes in the Rochester area, and hopes to have a call to a new church and be ordained priest later this summer. Rev. Emily Huyge (CRCDS ’12) Emily is the Associate Pastor at Oneonta First United Methodist Church (NY) and Pastor at Otego United Methodist Church (NY). Emily was commissioned as Provisional Elder this past May at the 2012 United Methodist Conference. Rev. Roula Alkhouri (CRCDS D.Min. ’12) Roula is Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Batavia, NY. Rev. William Johnson III (CRCDS D.Min. ’12) William is Pastor at St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Wilmington, NC. Rev. Kurt Clark (CRCDS D.Min. ’12) Kurt is Pastor at Sardis Missionary Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. Rev. Michael Ford (CRCDS D.Min. ’12) Michael is now Senior Pastor at Lake Avenue Baptist Church, Rochester, NY. Rev. Mary Rublee (CRCDS ’12) Mary was commissioned as Provisional Elder this past May at the 2012 United Methodist Conference. Harry Staiti (CRCDS ’12) Harry is pastor at Dundee Baptist Church in Dundee, NY. He is currently pursuing the D.Min. in Transformational Leadership at CRCDS. Rev. Rodney E. Williams (CRCDS D.Min. ’12) Rodney is Pastor at Swope Parkway Christian Church in Kansas City, MO.
Hazel Buell Haight
L. Wilson Kilgore
Tracy G. Gipson
Alice Potts More
John W. Estes
Franklin A. Hijikata
Arline Chapman Ban
Adolph A. Baker
Henry Medd III
Jesse H. Brown
Pauline M. Shockey
Irving W. Lindenblad
George C. deKraft
David L. Tucker
Ellison L. Elmer
Charles E. Walker
John P. Karan
< Continued from page 13 Republic it established on these shores. Those who insist on erecting crosses and crèches on public land, and the addition of “In God We Trust” to coinage actually cheapen such phrases, as well as cross and crèche, into general cultural icons of religious fervor and weaken the Christian meaning of such symbols. The question arises as to how the generation that framed the Declaration and the Constitution was followed by generations of evangelical Christians.10 Or, put another way, how did the colonies from Virginia all the way south to Georgia turn from being states that were mostly Anglican to being largely evangelical. The answer lies in the immigrant expansion west of the Alleghenies and into the Appalachians south, and also beyond the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The brave new immigrants who ventured south and west after the east coast British colonies became the United States were not Anglican but largely Scotch-Irish, neo-Puritan,
controversy ending in the first quarter of the twentieth century, was evangelical, pentacostal, revivalist and Bible-oriented.13 The eighteenth century is aptly called the Age of Reason, the century of the Enlightenment, while the nineteenth is instead called the Romantic Age when reason and intellect gave way to a surge of quite different thinking in which stamina for life on the frontier and valor and honor in battle became dominant themes. The extreme of this was in the recent evangelical support of G. W. Bush’s Iraq War with the specious argument that the Iraqis would get to hear “the message of Jesus Christ.” The opposite has occurred and Christians with deep roots throughout the Near East are now in grave danger. The invasions have provoked extreme Islamisists in those lands to attack and persecute the Christians already there, but this probably won’t deter such an argument in future. There has been a tendency as well for some Christians to speak of “our God” over against “their God” unaware apparently that to say such things is classic henotheism, that is, belief in one God per tribe, people or religion and not monotheism that holds that there is but One God of All. Jesus was the ultimate monotheizer when he argued that God was the God of Romans as well as of Jews and that his followers should love their enemies and forgive those who hate them (Matthew 5:44).
Jesus was the ultimate monotheizer when he argued that God was the God of Romans as well as of Jews and that his followers should love their enemies and forgive those who hate them (Matthew 5:44). evangelical Christians. McGuffey’s Reader became the stock textbook of most public schools in the mid- to late-nineteenth century and is still in use, largely in home-school efforts.11 It represents the Puritans of Plymouth Rock and Anglo-Saxons as the original Americans, instead of the wide variety of immigrants that originally made up the American ethnos, not only British rejected subjects but Dutch, French and Spanish explorers, not to mention Native Americans whom we dispossessed and AfroAmericans whom we forced to migrate here, and many others since who continued and continue to enrich the country. The latest wave is usually viewed with great suspicion, whether legal or illegal, particularly those of other than North European origin. As Karl Shapiro has aptly said, “The European Jew was always a visitor…. But in America everybody is a visitor.”12 Very different from the First Great Awakening of the eighteenth century, which was heavily influenced by the Enlightenment, the so-called Second Awakening beginning in the early nineteenth century and continuing through to the modernist/fundamentalist
In the nineteenth century the change suited the country well in its American-Zionist quest for manifest destiny of God’s “true Israel on these shores,” thereby establishing “empire.” Orientation toward Britain and Europe waned considerably in the wake of the War of 1812, and attention turned to conquering the vast territory west to the Pacific Ocean. American Zionism, or belief in American exceptionalism as God’s True Zion, developed during the nineteenth century beyond its beginnings with the Calvinist ideology of the Puritans and became a dominant theme in most of the evangelical sects of the period: America was God’s true Israel and divinely blessed “o’er amber waves of grain…from sea to shining sea.” Roman Catholics were deeply opposed to the Zionist ideology and refused to join in the “public education” movement that they saw as dominated by it and as expressed in McGuffey’s Reader. They thus established Catholic parochial schools wherever they settled in the country. Their spiritual allegiance was as much to Rome as to America.
The neo-Puritan, evangelical strain in the American character reached something of a climax in the enactment of Prohibition, its most successful penetration into the Constitution with the eighteenth amendment to it in 1920. The neo-Puritan experiment exposed America’s hypocritical trait in the closing of saloons but the overwhelming success in their place of “blind-pigs” and “speak-easies.” The government, many of whose leaders were either against Prohibition or hypocrites publicly supporting it but privately violating it with regularity, simply refused to allot the money needed to enforce the law and it failed until it was repealed in 1933, happily endorsed by the new president, Franklin Roosevelt, an Episcopalian. Episcopalians, like Jews, Catholics and most Lutherans never supported Prohibition, even opposed it.
Southerners invariably referred to it in very personal terms with continued hatred of the dreaded Yankees who had forced them to their knees to change their lives so drastically.14 A common expression in my youth was, “I was a grown man before I learned that ‘damned-yankee’ was two words.”
The Southern Mind and Culture Evangelical Christianity succeeded also in outlawing the teaching of evolution in many areas, mostly in the South. During the middle of Prohibition, in 1925, a high-school teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, was indicted for teaching it. Most well educated teachers—even in the South—taught evolution, but John Scopes became the scapegoat and was tried in one of the most famous public trials in the history of the country. William Jennings Bryan, an evangelical lawyer, argued for the State of Tennessee and Clarence Darrow for the defense. Scopes was convicted and fined $100. But Bryan and Darrow both felt that the real debate had yet to take place and the judge allowed them to hold it after the trial was over in the shade on the lawn of the courthouse where the summer heat had become oppressive. The debate attracted crowds not only in the area but drew a vast national audience by being one of the first nation-wide broadcasts of a newly formed national radio network. When the debate was over, polls were taken in the North and in the South with opposite results. The North voted decisively in favor of Darrow’s arguments while most of the South felt that Bryant had won the debate. Here was a clear-cut sampling of the difference in mentality, even culture, at the time between the old Confederacy and the Northern States. The South, in which I was born and raised, was marked by emotionalism and militarism. Mark Twain noted that after the Civil War, Northerners sometimes referred to the war in passing, but
Southern evangelicals have recently launched a serious mission to convert the rest of the country to their political views, and the Republican Party has become a vehicle for doing so. More recently it has been manifest in the evangelical resistance to granting equal Constitutional rights to gays and lesbians and to once again limiting the rights of women, in essence putting their view and interpretation of the Bible above the mandates of the Constitution. Mainstream Christian denominations in the country, and some evangelicals like Jim Wallis and his journal Sojourners, oppose the politicized
evangelical understanding of the Bible and continue to offer the country a sane, rational form of evangelicalism based on historical-critical readings of it. They firmly believe that the Holy Spirit is Godâ€™s way of leading Christians in modern times forward beyond the ancient cultural mores in
...the kind of mentality that ushered in Prohibition and forbade the teaching of the science of evolution...eventually became a major element again of the Republican Party at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
John T. Scopes being escorted into the highly publicized trial where he was charged for breaking Tennesseeâ€™s ruling against the teaching of evolution in schools.
which the Bible was written to celebrate the advances of science in all its fields as the work of God every bit as much as the Bible was in the Ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman cultures through which it was expressed and written. Thus when Southern-style evangelical Christianity became politicized at the beginning of the last quarter of the twentieth century, the kind of mentality that ushered in Prohibition and forbade the teaching of the science of evolution at the beginning of the century gained a resurgence of
A snapshot of the make-shift toilets that were erected to accommodate the crowds who gathered to watch the proceedings of the Scopes Trial.
influence that eventually became a major element again of the Republican Party at the beginning of the twenty-first century. It reached a sort of zenith in the presidency of G. W. Bush, an avowed evangelical who publicly professed to read the Bible every day for inspiration in governing the country. One wonders how often he read and pondered the Constitution. And, of course, he read the Bible in the highly personal, non-historical, un-critical mode typical of the evangelical. Since William Jennings Bryan had failed in his three bids for the presidency, Bush became the first sitting president in such a mold to govern the country, a clear gain by evangelicalism to missionize the whole country. The mission of evangelicals to seek the conversion of individuals, which marked their solid contribution to American culture between the Scopes Trial and the “Moral Majority” movement, got lost in their desire to influence the country instead by strengthening their hold on the Republican Party, much to the detriment of the party and to the country as a whole.
The following are traits of current evangelicalism. As a movement, it: —promotes rank individualism with a limited sense of responsibility for the common
good, yet attempts to influence legislation with views of individual morality. It is the result of the far Western climax of the Hellenizing process (following the Renaissance) that yielded the positive results of democracy and of human and civil rights yet opposes support of government for the common good and opposes efforts to curb inhumanity and injustice. —seeks to limit the rights of individual gays, women and others to suit their views of
individual morality through the political process. —lacks a concept of “church.” Salvation, according to evangelicalism, is in the indi-
vidual’s “acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as personal savior,” with little sense of church as the people of God or as the locus of salvation, but rather as local congregations of “saved” individuals. —claims that personhood begins at conception, an attempt to abolish abortions
and limit the rights of women. —arrogates the term “Christian” to their views alone as though Orthodox,
Catholic and main-line Protestants are not. —limits concept of Holy Spirit. Whereas liberals view the work of the Holy Spirit as
leading Christianity on out beyond the ancient cultural trappings of the Bible, evangelical/fundamentalists limit the work of the Holy Spirit to inspiration of the individual preacher and believer. —rejects historical/critical readings of the Bible in order to read the Bible through
modern individualist culture and thought. —uses the Bible to sanction bias in the same manner it was used to support slavery. —claims that “social ethics is the work of the Devil,” ignoring vast portions of the
Prophets, the Gospels and Paul’s Epistles. —supports candidates who, when elected to legislatures and Congress, refuse to com-
promise on deciding issues. —resists “compromise as the art of politics,” the principle of effective legislation
since ancient Greece, embodied in the wisdom of modern sages like Walter Rauschenbusch and Reinhold Niebuhr, carrying over from Sunday School admonitions as youth not to compromise into community and government issues.15 —confuses principle with bias, making many evangelical churches a refuge to retain
cultural prejudices unchallenged. — absorbs churches, like Pentacostals and the Assembly of God churches, into evangel-
ical bibliolatry that originally focused on the Holy Spirit and opposed the fundamentalist idolatry of Scripture.
—ignores large portions of the Bible to focus on compatible passages that support
“prophecy” of the end-time. —views ignoring major portions of the Bible as sanctioned by the Gospel.
(Fortunately there are only a few who go this far.) —focuses on homosexuality as the “sin of the age,” thus providing a smokescreen
that masks bigotry, selfishness and greed, and forcing LGBT Christians to live in the closet, thus living lies. —blames homosexuality on the individual’s choice though science has shown this is
not so, causing suicides among youth because they know inside themselves that if truthful they will be rejected and forfeit the love and acceptance of parents, family and peers. —blames homosexuals’ wish to marry as the cause of the demise of marriage
whereas the high rate of divorce in the country is the real cause of the decline of respect for marriage vows, and a shield of the fact that over 52% of marriages in the Bible Belt end in divorce. Jesus’s condemnation of divorce (Luke 16:18; Matthew 5:32) and silence about homosexuality is conveniently ignored, like many of the Bible’s explicit commandments. —focuses on eschatology to the detriment of the challenge of the Prophetic and Gospel
messages against idolatry, bigotry and greed. —focuses on the Rapture, thereby sanctioning abandonment of responsibility for the earth
and for fellow humans, and for the damage humans are doing to the earth and its 30 trillion dollar annual endowment, steadily destroying the value that nature provides for renewal of air, soil and water supplies. —denigrates “science” when its work and results seem to challenge their reading of the
Bible, despite hypocritically enjoying its many benefits and advantages. —denigrates government out of fear of the sort China has, even to the point of vilifying
the social advantages of government-run health care and similar advantages the rest of first-world industrial nations enjoy. —denigrates learning from other cultures and nations no matter how valuable for us
because of a belief in American exceptionalism. As the nation enters the second decade of the twenty-first century, the influence of politicized evangelicalism in the country is at its highest point since the passage of Prohibition. The outcome of the 2012 national elections will reveal how great the divide is and will probably indicate how influential politicized evangelicalism has become over the last
James A. Sanders, God Has a Story Too (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1979), ix-xi.
Neal Gabler. “Politics as Religion in America: Religion has been converted into a religious belief and now compromise doesn’t have a prayer,” Los Angeles Times, 2 October 2009, Opinion.
David Goldfield, America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2011).
Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007).
Jonathan Kirsch, A History of the End of the World (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006).
David Bromwich, “The Rebel Germ,” New York Review of Books 57 (25 November 2010): 18.
David L. Holmes, The Faith of the Founding Fathers (Oxford (UK): Oxford University Press, 2006).
Martin Buber, Kingship of God (New York: Harper & Row, 1967).
Jon Meacham, American Gospel: God, The Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation (New York: Random House Press, 2006).
thirty years. I personally continue to be deeply appreciative of the experiences I had as a youth in the evangelical movement during the mid-twentieth century, but I am greatly disturbed at how politicized it has become—to its own detriment, to that of the country generally and especially to the detriment of the American political process.
Paul Harvey, “The Quixotic Task of Debunking David Barton,” New York Times Review of Books (3 June 2012).
William Strauss and Neil Howe, Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069 (New York: Quill, William Morrow, 1991) 97-110, et passim.
William Holmes McGuffey, The Eclectic First Reader for Young Children with Pictures (Cincinnati: Truman and Smith, 1841, first ed.).
Karl Shapiro, In Defense of Ignorance (New York: Vintage Books, 1965).
Garry Wills, Head and Heart: American Christianities (New York: Penguin Press, 2007), 121-350.
Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (New York: Penguin Books, 1991), 275-82.
Alberta L. Kilmer, BMTS Alumna and Horizon Society Supporter Alberta L. Kilmer, BMTS ’42, who passed away on May 6, 2012, was a generous and devoted Alberta L. Kilmer Baptist Missionary Training School (BMTS) alumna who cared deeply for the Baptist Missionary Training School, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (CRCDS) and the church. Throughout her life, Alberta demonstrated her love for both the BMTS legacy and for CRCDS by providing ongoing support for the BMTS Chair, the BMTS Scholarship and the Annual Fund. Alberta’s wise and generous spirit was demonstrated not only in her steadfast giving, but also in her recognition of the need to balance ongoing institutional support to CRCDS with support for BMTS-specific initiatives. A long-time member of the Horizon Society, Alberta included both CRCDS and the BMTS Scholarship in her estate plans, providing much needed unrestricted support for the school now while also investing in the future of women in ministry, a future that continues to expand the legacy of the BMTS. We are so grateful for the life of Alberta Kilmer and for her love of the BMTS and CRCDS. Although we join all the BMTS alumnae in their collective grief over the loss of Alberta, we are strengthened by the witness of her life and her legacy of giving. The Horizon Society is the planned giving society of CRCDS. Horizon members have chosen to include the School in their estate planning, providing essential support for the future of CRCDS. Remembering the School in your estate plans is an important way of providing for the CRCDS mission and the legacy of all the schools it represents. Through estate planning, Horizon members are able to provide for loved ones while also providing essential financial resources for a promising and thriving future for CRCDS and its mission of providing intelligent, learned and socially conscious leaders who transform the communities they serve.
Please consider joining the Horizon Society by making a planned gift to CRCDS today. If you would like more information on this important opportunity or if you would like to speak with someone about the possibility of including CRCDS in your estate plans, please contact Tom McDade Clay, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at (585) 3409648 or email@example.com.
Dr. Gay L. Byron l e av e s C R C D S
The CRCDS community is both joyous and saddened as Dr. Byron leaves us to take up a research-focused position at Howard University this coming fall. We pray for her safe transition to Washington, D.C., and for her continued work in forging new and insightful theological scholarship.
U.S. Sta m p C o m m em o rat es R ev . D r. A lbert R o w e (C ro zer, ’ 62)
During African American Heritage Month in February 2012, in the Passaic County Freeholders Chambers in Paterson, NJ, Dr. Albert P. Rowe and 13 other Patersonians were honored with a commerative stamp by the United States Postal Service for their distinguished services and achievements. This past April, Dr. Rowe was also elected into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Rowe is the spiritual leader of Calvary Baptist Church in Patterson, NJ where he has served since 1968. Dr. Rowe continues to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.
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