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April 3, 2014 • ISSUE 27










Gary Ledbetter

What’s at stake with SCOTUS and Hobby Lobby?


he Supreme Court is now deliberating on something far more important than exempting a business from some elements of the Affordable Care Act. Hobby Lobby and their owners face a choice between fines that will destroy their business and a moral compromise founder David Green has already declared unacceptable. On one side advocates for Hobby Lobby say that forcing the company to provide abortifacient coverage for employees will violate the consciences of the people who own this business. The other viewpoint is that women’s healthcare will be compromised if this company or any other company is allowed to dodge the requirement to fund all of 20 different contraceptive drugs and devices specified in the ACA. Shriller voices suggest a decision in favor of Hobby Lobby would be comparable to the “pro-discrimination” law recently vetoed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. That law, by the way, would have allowed businesses to decline participation in ceremonies and celebrations related to causes the owners find odious, as with a photographer or caterer who prefers to decline participation in a same-sex “wedding.” This really is not a disagreement between those who don’t believe in religious freedom and those who hate women— discrimination as some have expressed it. It is a disagreement over the meaning of religious liberty. Increasingly, the popular and political notion of religious freedom is limited to private, very private, expressions of religious devotion—what you do within the walls of your church or home. A Bible on your desk at work, a cross necklace, Christmas songs with an actual Christmas theme—all these have been challenged more than once in our public institutions. This decision will have implications for a variety of subjects, nearly any subject on

which we might be at odds with the culture. A win for Hobby Lobby would not be a loss for women’s health. Of the 20 different contraceptives covered by ACA, only four are at issue with the Green family. These four can arguably cause early abortions. In fact, according to Hobby Lobby’s website, 93 percent of women are covered by the 16 devices and drugs to which the Green family has no convictional objections. Hobby Lobby’s owners have no convictional disagreement with contraceptives, but rather with drugs and devices that prevent the live birth of human beings already conceived. Even so, Hobby Lobby employees can obtain for themselves these other four remedies without running afoul of their bosses. There is also the option, rejected by the Greens, of giving no healthcare to employees and paying a fine approximately 6 percent as great ($26 million per year compared with $1.3 million per day) as the one they face for offering a plan deemed non-compliant by Health and Human Services. If they really did not care for their employees, that’s the way to go. The ramifications of this Supreme Court decision are significant. A decision one way will accelerate the erosion and disregard toward religious liberty that we have all observed in recent years. A decision the other way will be a precedent that supports the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. RFRA put the burden on the government to show “compelling state interest” before abridging the free exercise of religion, and even then abridging that exercise as minimally as possible. The court may be deciding if that standard is constitutional. It is not unreasonable to suggest that the administration is now treating RFRA the same way they formerly treated the Defense of Marriage Act—disregarding it in hopes that the court will overturn or weaken it. They are at least using a pretty generous interpretation of “compelling state interest.” During a recent forum at Georgetown University, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, while terming the government’s case in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby “trivial and silly,” said that Christians are losing the cultural battle because they haven’t done a good job of convincing people that religion is relevant. Obviously, that is a discussion we’ve had within the body for 30 years; but Dershowitz is mistaken to think that secularists have no dog in this fight. An atheist’s or Buddhist’s beliefs are in no less danger than my own. A religious majority of some sort will always be present and it will only grant full liberty to minority beliefs if required by law. It is foolish for anyone to assume he will always be in the majority. That’s why the U.S. Constitution should be more durable than opinion polls. That’s why presidents should be required to obey, even enforce, its inconvenient precepts. That’s why we must all pray that the Supreme Court will uphold the most basic freedoms God granted to men.




‘God’s Not Dead’ holding its own at box office The movie “God’s Not Dead” drew fifth place at the U.S. box office in its second week. The independent release debuted in theaters on March 21. The movie expanded its release by nearly 400 theaters and brought its total box office earnings to $22 million after two weeks, The Christian Post website reported.



Leading Southern Baptists were thanking World Vision U.S. for reversing a two-day-old change in its employee conduct policy that would have allowed the major hunger relief organization to hire legally married homosexuals.

Golden Gate Seminary sells campus, initiates relocation Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary has reached a sale agreement for all its campus property in Mill Valley, Calif., and has initiated relocation of its primary campus to Southern



Southern Baptists thankful for World Vision reversal

Texas abortion law clears latest hurdle A Texas law passed last summer that tightened abortion regulations cleared another hurdle on March 27 as the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld it.

SBTC ministry in Philippines sees village awaken to the gospel A small-scale awakening continues in Agojo, the Filipino fishing village in the province of Capiz devastated by Typhoon Haiyan last November, as disaster relief workers minister there under the direction of Garry and Sherry McDugle of Bois d’Arc Baptist Church in Palestine.


Evangelicals agree that God created the universe. But when discussion turns to when and how, there’s debate. With the recent Bill Nye “The Science Guy” vs. Ken Ham debate, and the release of the big screen version of “Noah,” the question is as pertinent as ever.

TEXAN Digital is e-published twice monthly by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, 4500 State Highway 360, Grapevine, TX 76099-1988. Jim Richards, Executive Director Gary Ledbetter, Editor Jerry Pierce, Managing Editor Sharayah Colter, Staff Writer Russell Lightner, Design & Layout Stephanie Barksdale, Subscriptions Contributing Writers Ben M. Skaug, David Roach, Jane Rodgers, Michelle Tyer, Mike Gonzales To contact the TEXAN office, visit or call toll free 877.953.7282 (SBTC)

Briefly //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// CEDARVILLE UNIVERSITY PRESERVES COMPLEMENTARIAN MINDSET IN CLASS ASSIGNMENTS


A March chapel message at Cedarville University by President Thomas White brought recent school policies regarding gender roles and the complementarian stance to which the school adheres into news headlines. “We operate with the presupposition of inerrancy,” White said in chapel March 10, as he exposited 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 and highlighted the concept of headship. “So what I tell you today is not something that I wrote, I made up, or I started. I’m just going to preach to you what the text says.” University representatives told Christianity Today that the school has adjusted its practices and policies so that Bible classes taught by female professors are only taken by female students. “In courses where we seek to equip women for women’s ministry in the local church, classes have been reserved for women in order to accomplish this goal most effectively,” Mark Weinstein, spokesman for the university, told Christianity Today. An independent student newspaper, The Ventriloquist, reported that the complementarianism specifications were among doctrinal statement revisions proposed at a Jan. 27 meeting. An affirmation of one man-one woman marriage was also included in the proposed revisions, the publication reported. The changes do not reflect a shift at Cedarville, White told Religious News Service in December, but simply allow the university to more clearly communicate and represent the values it has held all along. “At Cedarville, there’s no major change happening, no major shift at the institution,” White said. “We’ve been conservative since [our founding].” 2 TEXANONLINE.NET ARPIL 3, 2014

‘GOD’S NOT DEAD’ HOLDING ITS OWN AT BOX OFFICE The movie “God’s Not Dead” drew fifth place at the U.S. box office in its second week. The independent release debuted in theaters on March 21. The movie expanded its release by nearly 400 theaters and brought its total box office earnings to $22 million after two weeks, The Christian Post website reported. The movie portrays a college student who bumps up against his atheist philosophy professor and is challenged to rationally defend his beliefs. Willie Robertson, the CEO of Duck Commander, and his wife Korie, play themselves in the movie. Produced by Pure Flix Entertainment and Red Entertainment Group, the film is directed by Harold Cronk, and stars Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) and Disney Channel actor Shane Harper.

CHURCH RESPONDS AFTER WASH. MUDSLIDE Oso Community Chapel is the only church on a 30-mile stretch of State Route 530, the roadway sliced in half March 22 by a massive landslide in Oso, Wash., that killed at least 14 people and destroyed some 50 homes. None of Oso Chapel’s 80 members were injured and none lost their homes, said pastor and church planter Gary Ray. But in the rural community of 500 along the Stillaguamish River, all of the members of the Southern Baptist church know people affected by the tragedy. “We are the only church on the only road through here,” Ray said. “The church is less than two miles from the impact area.” Ray planned to host a community response meeting at the church to determine next steps in the response to survivors. “The roads are blocked, the power is out and communication is a challenge. We want to mobilize the church and the community to support the recovery work,” Ray said. “We want to be able to do anything we can to help with an eye to long-term community support and rebuilding. This area is highly unchurched.” Gary Floyd, Northwest Baptist Convention Disaster Relief director, said he is supporting Ray’s efforts and asks people to pray for the relief work. “This is currently a local response,” Floyd said. “The biggest thing I would ask people to do now is to pray for Ray and his wife Tina, and for the recovery efforts. Local emergency management has had to suspend work because the ground is unstable and more rain is moving in.” At least 50 structures were destroyed, 35 of which were primary residences, he said.

FEDERAL COURT GIVES KANSAS GREEN LIGHT TO DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD A federal appeals court ruled March 25 that Kansas can strip two Planned Parenthood centers of federal family planning money as the abortion provider’s legal challenge progresses.   Kansas is among several conservative states that have sought to defund Planned Parenthood. At issue in the Kansas ruling was money distributed to states under Title X, a federally financed family planning program. It provides free or discounted birth control and health screenings to women with incomes up to 250 percent of the poverty level. Planned Parenthood receives about 25 percent of this funding nationwide.  U.S. District Court Judge J. Thomas Marten blocked enforcement of the state law in 2011, ruling that it unconstitutionally intended to punish Planned Parenthood for its abortion advocacy. He ordered Kansas to continue funding Planned Parenthood until the case was resolved. He also found the state law violated the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause, which says states can’t impose additional requirements for federal programs.  A divided panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver overturned Marten’s rulings, saying Kansas can halt the funding. The March 25 decision is not a final ruling on the merits of the case itself, and the appeals court sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings. Judge Carlos Lucero dissented, but the panel overruled him 2-1.   The panel rejected the notion that Planned Parenthood can challenge a law’s constitutionality “solely on the ground that its passage was motivated by a desire to penalize Planned Parenthood’s protected speech and association.” The two centers denied Title X funds did not provide abortions on site, so the organization ar-

—Briefly section was compiled from staff reports, WORLD News Service and Baptist Press

gued the law violated its free speech right to associate with abortion. “We are pleased with today’s ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,” the Kansas attorney general’s office said in an emailed statement to the Associated Press. “We will continue to defend Kansas law in regards to any further challenges.” Kansas law rewrites the way the state distributes Title X funds so that, without naming Planned Parenthood, the abortion provider is essentially placed at the back of the funding line. At least 10 states in the past four years have attempted to defund Planned Parenthood, and Kansas’ less explicit method is one of the first to hold its own in federal courts.   Arizona and Indiana laws, for example, explicitly barred Planned Parenthood from parts of Medicaid. The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 24 refused to hear Arizona’s appeal after U.S. District Judge Neil Wake ruled the law violated federal rules by not allowing patients to choose their own medical providers.   To avoid that ruling against Medicaid discrimination, Texas has risked forfeiting its entire share of Medicaid’s Women’s Health Program to defund Planned Parenthood. Other states, like Ohio and North Carolina, have used methods similar to Kansas’ through their budget-making powers.   Counting Medicaid reimbursements, Planned Parenthood received $542 million in taxpayer money in the fiscal year that ended in June 2012. The funds—a $180 million increase from two years prior—amount to 45 percent of the organization’s budget, giving it financial stability to continue or expand abortion services through other funding sources. More than 330,000 abortions bring the organization $150 million a year. —WORLD News Service


SOUTHERN BAPTISTS THANKFUL FOR WORLD VISION REVERSAL Leading Southern Baptists were thanking World Vision U.S. for reversing a two-day-old change in its employee conduct policy that would have allowed the major hunger relief organization to hire legally married homosexuals. World Vision’s U.S. board of directors announced March 26 its abandonment of the change in policy it had made on March 24. World Vision reverted to its longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. Southern Baptist lead ethicist Russell D. Moore, who had called the original change a mistake that threatened the gospel of Jesus Christ, tweeted thanks and praise to World Vision for its decision. “World Vision has done the right thing. Now, let’s all work for a holistic gospel presence, addressing both temporal and eternal needs,” tweeted Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “World Vision’s right decision, as articulated in their board letter, conveys a spirit of Christlikeness and humility in tone and content,” he added in a follow-up tweet. World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns and board chairman Jim Bere announced the reversal in a letter to supporters, expressing regret that they ever changed their policy in the first place. “We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority,” the letter reads. “We ask that you understand that this was never the board’s intent.” “The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.” Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary with 4 TEXANONLINE.NET ARPIL 3, 2014

World Vision President Rich Stearns

proximity to World Vision’s Seattle base, was among those appreciative of World Vision’s reversal, saying their “leadership has shown courage in publicly reversing their decision and reaffirming their commitment to biblical standards,” he told Baptist Press in an email interview. “Admitting a public mistake is difficult and I affirm them for quickly correcting their egregious decision.” World Vision never intended to indicate an abandonment of the biblical definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, the board said, but had sought to be inclusive of all supporters, who represent some 50 religious denominations.

“In our board’s effort to unite around the church’s shared mission to serve the poor in the name of Christ, we failed to be consistent with World Vision U.S.’s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith, which says, ‘We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God,’” the letter said. “And we also failed to seek enough counsel from our own Christian partners. As a result, we made a change to our conduct policy that was not consistent with our Statement of Faith and our commitment to the sanctity of marriage.” World Vision identifies itself as a “Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice,” working in nearly 100 countries. Earlier Baptist Press stories on World Vision’s decision can be accessed here and here. Also, Religion New Service interviewed Stearns about the decision, accessible here.


Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary has reached a sale agreement for all its campus property in Mill Valley, Calif., and has initiated relocation of its primary campus to Southern California. In a special gathering of faculty, students and staff, President Jeff Iorg announced the agreement with North Coast Land Holdings. The seminary’s board of trustees approved the sale agreement unanimously. “The final sale agreement will result in resources for a new primary campus in Southern California, a new commuter campus in the Bay Area to continue to service this area, as well as a substantial addition to the seminary’s endowment,” Iorg reported. “This is an unprecedented opportunity to build a new kind of seminary campus for education in the 21st century,” Iorg said. “We are seizing the moment to focus on fulfilling our mission in bold, innovative new ways.” Steve Sheldon, chairman of the board of trustees, added, “The board has been fully engaged in land development decisions for years and is unified in the direction we have chosen for the future.” Full details about the sale agreement will be announced after the sale is finalized. Golden Gate has faced many land development challenges over the years. “For the past four years, we have been involved in a lengthy and difficult process trying to further develop the Mill Valley Campus property,” Iorg said. “We have engaged top planning firms, real estate specialists, financial analysts, legal counsel and political consultants to help us with this process. Despite these skilled professionals—and much prayer—we have been stymied. Gradually, we have realized these difficulties are not obstacles to overcome, but rather signposts pointing us in a different direction.” The terms of the sale agreement will enable the seminary to remain fully operational during the transition. The seminary will lease back the Mill Valley

Campus property and continue present operations for at least two more academic years. After that, the seminary will operate a new commuter-style campus in the Bay Area, much like its current Southern California Campus. “Current Bay Area students will be able to complete their programs at the present campus over the next two years or at the new Bay Area campus. We are not abandoning the Bay Area and will continue to provide a quality program for this region,” Iorg said. The decision to build a new primary campus in Southern California reflects church and population demographic projections for that region. The new seminary campus will be in the center of the largest area of projected population growth in the American West—also meaning the center of church planting and ministry development in the region. “Building a new campus does not mean replicating what we already have— only in a different location. It’s an opportunity to build a new kind of seminary campus reflecting the way educational delivery methods are changing in the 21st century. We see it as a once-in-ageneration opportunity to advance our seminary into the future,” Iorg declared. In making the announcement, Iorg singled out two groups of people who will be impacted the most by the decision—students and employees. Iorg assured students at the Mill Valley Campus that their degree progress would not be interrupted for the next two years as the school has a lease-back agreement for the current campus. He concluded his remarks by remind-

“Building a new campus does not mean replicating what we already have—only in a different location. It’s an opportunity to build a new kind of seminary campus reflecting the way educational delivery methods are changing in the 21st century. We see it as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to advance our seminary into the future.” —JEFF IORG

ing the seminary community about the importance of being a mission-driven institution. “Today, you are part of one of the boldest moves by any seminary in the past century. We are selling a campus, not closing our doors. We are relocating and repositioning for future success, not abandoning our vision. We are sacrificing short-term comfort for long-term fulfillment of our mission. …” Speaking even more personally, Iorg said, “In my heart of hearts, I believe these decisions are right. I have agonized over them and have come to believe this is God’s path for us. I have made these decisions with many regrets but ultimately, no doubts. We are headed to the future and I hope you will join me on the journey.” For more information on the seminary’s announcement, please refer to the seminary website at to find a list of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers and a video message from GGBTS President Jeff Iorg. APRIL 3, 2014 TEXANONLINE.NET 5

Texas abortion law clears latest hurdle Federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns earlier invalidation of district judge By Jerry Pierce NEW ORLEANS

A Texas law passed last summer that tightened abortion regulations cleared another hurdle on March 27 as the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld it. The much-anticipated ruling from the three-judge panel in New Orleans was unanimous. In a Jan. 6 hearing, the tone of questions from the judges hinted they were skeptical of arguments that the law placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions. Last October, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel struck two down requirements in Texas House Bill 2: that abortion doctors have hospital privi-


leges within 30 miles of their clinics, and that a physician be present to monitor administration of abortioncausing drugs, such as mifepristone, commonly known as RU-486. Yeakel argued the requirements were an unconstitutional “substantial obstacle” to abortion. The bill also outlawed abortions beyond 20 weeks post-fertilization. The law is being challenged by a group of Planned Parenthood affiliates, several other abortion providers and three Texas physicians, who have argued, among other things, that the hospital admitting requirements will close clinics and reduce access to abortions. The Dallas Morning News reported that 13 of the state’s 37 abortions clinics have closed since the law was passed, including the only two serving a fourcounty area of the Rio Grande Valley. Judge Edith Jones, writing on behalf of the court, said “an increase

in travel of less than 150 miles for some women is not an undue burden” and that of 254 Texas counties, only 13 of them had abortion facilities before HB 2 became law. Furthermore, the “burden does not fall on the vast majority of Texas women seeking abortions,” Jones wrote. The court also found that the hospital privileges requirement met the legal test of being “rationally related to a legitimate state interest” in protecting women. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican candidate for governor, said in a statement after the ruling: “This unanimous decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women.” Pro-life groups also hailed the ruling. “We are pleased that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agrees with

5Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott addresses pro-lifers at last summer’s rally for House Bill 2. 6In the photo below, several thousand pro-lifers, dressed in blue, show their support for the abortion restriction law last July. Observers believe the law is likely headed to the Supreme Court. TEXAN PHOTO ARCHIVES

the overwhelming majority of the Texas Legislature that the state has a right to increase safety standards at abortion facilities to protect the health and safety of women,” Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, said. Kyleen Wright, executive director of Texans for Life, said via Twitter: “Happiness is 3 brilliant women on the 5th Circ! Justices Jones, Elrod & Haynes rock. #WomenRule #HB2

#Stand4Life.” Abortion advocates, meanwhile, vowed to keep fighting. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement: “We will combat these laws in the courts, and our separate political arm will mobilize voters to replace lawmakers who champion these dangerous laws in the first place.” “The Fifth Circuit has turned

a blind eye to the very real and devastating consequences that this law has had on thousands of Texas women, erecting barriers to abortion so high that women are simply left with no legal or safe options,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who argued the case on behalf of the plaintiffs. Northup said her group is “considering every necessary step to end this health crisis and restore the essential health care that has been unconstitutionally stripped away.” In November, the U.S. Supreme Court declined, by a 5-4 margin, to intervene in the case, placing the law back in the hands of the appeals court. But many believe the Supreme Court will eventually take it up. Stephen Breyer, one of the four liberal justices on the High Court, wrote of the hospital privileges requirement back in November that it is “a difficult question. It is a question, I believe, that at least four Members of this Court will wish to consider irrespective of the Fifth Circuit’s ultimate decision.”


Evangelicals agree that God created the universe. But when discussion turns to when and how, there’s debate. With the recent Bill Nye “The Science Guy” vs. Ken Ham debate, and the release of the big screen version of “Noah,” the question is as pertinent as ever. oung-earth creationists argue that God created the world from nothing between 6,000 and 50,000 years ago in six literal days— and they say he did it merely by speaking. Old-earth creationists agree that the world came about by a direct act of God, but they say the universe is billions of years old and argue that the “days” in Genesis 1 do not refer to 24-hour periods. Some old-earth creationists say the “days” are indefinite periods of time while others say they are 8 TEXANONLINE.NET ARPIL 3, 2014

a poetic way of referencing the various aspects of God’s creative work. Another group called theistic evolutionists claims that God used evolution to create, directing the process but not simply speaking things into existence. For theistic evolutionists, Genesis 1-3 is figurative. What’s at stake in this debate? There’s disagreement on that too. Some say inerrantists can disagree on how God created and that no key doctrine rides on this issue. But many theistic evolutionists claim souls are at stake. The gospel won’t be taken seriously, they say, if Christians reject standard evolutionary theory and claim direct creation. That’s an ironic claim to most creationists, who insist that failure to read Genesis 1-3 as describing real, historical events leads to a compromise of the gospel. At least one thing is clear: Within evangelicalism—and even among Southern Baptists—there’s no universally accepted answer to the question of the earth’s age.

HISTORY OF THE DISCUSSION That hasn’t always been the case though. “The history of biblical interpretation until the rise of modern science in the seventeenth century overwhelmingly supports a young-earth view,” writes William Dembski, an old-earth creationist, in his 2009 book “The End of Christianity” (B&H). “Young-earth creationism was the dominant position of Christians from the Church Fathers through the Reformers.” The second-century Christian apologist Theophilus of Antioch and the third-century Christian historian Julius Africanus, for example, both calculated from the Bible’s genealogies that God created the world about 5500 B.C. In the medieval and Reformation periods, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther and John Calvin likewise held to a young earth, Dembski writes. Still, there have long been Christians who believed the “days” in Genesis 1 to be symbolic rather than literal. Among them were Augustine, Origen, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria. None of these believed the earth was more than several thousand years old, but modern oldearth creationists cite them as a theological precedent for interpreting the days of Genesis 1 as something other than 24-hour periods. In 1859, when Charles Darwin published “The Origin of Species,” some theologians drew from the tradition of Augustine and company to explain how Scripture allowed for a very old earth. Theological liberals in Europe and America especially began to accept Darwin’s theory. One early proponent of evolution, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Crawford Toy, was fired from his teaching post in 1879 for an unorthodox view of Scripture’s inspiration. Increasingly, believers accommodated evolution and an old earth into their theological systems. Even such stalwarts of orthodoxy as Princeton’s B.B. Warfield and J. Gresham Machen argued that Genesis could be interpreted to accommodate evolution and an old earth. By the late 20th

century, Christians professing inerrancy held a span of beliefs from young-earth creationism to old-earth creationism to theistic evolution. A YOUNG EARTH Eric Mitchell, associate professor of Old Testament and archaeology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, calls young-earth creationism a “faith position” that makes the best sense of both science and the Bible. Among the reasons Mitchell believes Scripture teaches young-earth creationism: The Hebrew word for day (yom) can refer to an indefinite period of time. But Genesis 1 specifies that the six days of creation each included evening and morning, indicating a 24-hour period is in view. The darkness of the first day begins at verse 1, and the morning of day one begins in verse 3. “Evening and morning constitute a day to the Hebrews,” Mitchell said. “This is the case even today.” Some argue that there is a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, depicting a period billions of years long when the earth was “without form and void”—a gap between God’s initial act of creating and his ordering of the universe. However, the Hebrew grammar rules out such a “gap theory,” Mitchell said, noting that verse 2 is not a continuation of verse 1 but an elaboration of the state of affairs at the time of verse 1. Taking each day to represent thousands of years is also implausible, Mitchell said. If each day represents millennia, man would have been created at the end of the sixth “day” and fallen during the seventh “day”— since the Bible depicts the fall as occurring relatively soon after man’s creation. But a fall on the day of God’s rest doesn’t seem to be what Scripture indicates, he said. If each day represents thousands of years, “you would also have animals dying for millions of years before God creates man and there would be disease as well,” Mitchell said. “The fossil record shows tumors and disease in animals, animals eating each

William Dembski

Eric Mitchell



RESOURCES FOR FURTHER STUDY + SALVO Magazine Published by The Fellowship of St. James (non-denominational)—an organization deeply engaged in apologetics for students in high schools and colleges—SALVO dedicates a portion of each quarterly issue to Christians’ engagement with science. A great gift for the thoughtful student. + Answers in Genesis An extensive website, Answersingenesis. org, and AiG’s printed materials advocate strongly and significantly for young-earth creationism. AiG’s Creation Museum in Kentucky is a popular, family friendly enterprise. AiG also produces “Answers” journal,, a superb resource for homeschoolers, Christian schools or anyone who wants to explore the worldview of creationists. + The Institute for Creation Research ICR—online at—has supported the young-earth view of creation for 40 years. Founded by Henry Morris, the Dallas-based organization continues to be a leader in recent creation research. + World Magazine Today’s premiere Christian news magazine. Though not focused on creation science, World approaches important contemporary issues from a Christian worldview. Every Christian who can read should read World. + Discovery Institute Seattle-based Discovery has a broader scope than some groups and addresses economics and foreign affairs in addition to promoting Intelligent Design as a reasonable explanation for creation through its Center for Science & Culture. 10 TEXANONLINE.NET ARPIL 3, 2014

other, etc. How can this all be declared by God ‘very good,’ in 1:31 if this is the case before the fall of man?” Mitchell continued, “Those who hold other views on creation often are relying on current explanations of scientific processes over supernatural creation. However, the fact that God created, does miracles, rises from the dead, etc., denies scientific process. I take Genesis 1 as God sharing with Moses (the author), ‘This is what took place: six 24-hour days.’ To say anything different implies along with the serpent, ‘Did God really say?’” Kurt Wise, professor of biology at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga., agrees. At times scientists produce evidence that strongly suggests life evolved over millions of years, he said in a Truett-McConnell chapel message last spring. But faith requires believing God’s Word even when it doesn’t seem possible. “It looks like the evolutionary claim is true, and the evolutionary claim is contrary to the biblical claim,” said Wise, who earned his Ph.D. at Harvard under famed evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould. Christians should not deny scientific evidence that seems to contradict the Bible or make up evidence to counter troubling data, Wise, a young-earth creationist, said. Instead, they should believe God’s Word by faith then look for a better way to explain the scientific data, he said. As an example, Wise showed how positing a worldwide flood could explain fossil records that appear to indicate evolution. “Evolution explains a lot,” he said. “… Unfortunately for (evolutionists), there’s more explained by the Bible. It’s as simple as that.” Wise continued, “Because a person believes the Bible is true, they’re going to say, ‘I’m not happy with (evolutionists’ conclusions),’ go on and generate a scientific theory that explains far more than evolution.”

AN OLD EARTH Not all Southern Baptists believe the Bible teaches creation in six 24-hour days. Bruce Gordon, associate professor of the history and philosophy of science at Houston Baptist University, calls himself an old-earth progressive creationist. He believes the universe is 13.7 billion years old and the earth is 4.5 billion years old, with unicellular life appearing 3.8 billion years ago. But species did not evolve from other species, according to Gordon. Instead, God performed acts of direct creation at various points in the development of life. Both scientific and scriptural data suggest this explanation of the universe’s origin, Gordon, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, said. “Darwinism is an inadequate explanation if you think of the evolutionary process as undirected,” Gordon told the TEXAN. “An examination of the discontinuities in the fossil record and the injections of information … at various points in biological history, plus the nature of the information structure of the genome itself, all point toward intelligent design as a much better explanation of the origin and development of life.” Countering the notion that old-earth creationists let science trump Scripture, Gordon gave several reasons why he believes the Bible teaches old-earth creationism: 4The first day of creation doesn’t appear to begin until Genesis 1:3. “This opens up the possibility that there is an indefinite period of time there from God bringing the universe into being (until) the first day of creation as discussed in Genesis 1:3,” he said.

4Genesis refers to evening and morning on the first six days of creation, but there is no such declaration for the seventh day. That suggests the earth is still in the seventh day, which is an indefinitely long period of time. 4The earth’s distance from the sun determines the length of days, but the sun does not appear until the fourth day, indicating that the Kurt Wise days referenced in Genesis 1 likely were not measured in 24-hour cycles. 4Genesis 2:5-25 is an elaboration of the sixth day of creation. However, Genesis 2:5 refers to a time “when no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up,” an allusion to the springtime, suggesting that there was a cycle of unfolding seaBruce Gordon sons on the sixth day. If the sixth day included multiple seasons of the year, it could not have been a literal 24-hour day. “A CLOSE LOOK “A close look at the text leads to the conAT THE TEXT clusion that there are better interpretations LEADS TO THE of the text than six chronological, 24-hour CONCLUSION THAT periods,” Gordon said. THERE ARE BETTER Dembski, also a senior fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and CulINTERPRETATIONS ture, argues in The End of Christianity that OF THE TEXT young-earth creationism “makes good exTHAN SIX egetical and theological sense,” and adds, “I CHRONOLOGICAL, myself would adopt it in a heartbeat except 24-HOUR PERIODS.” that nature seems to present such strong —Bruce Gordon evidence against it.” He opts for old-earth creationism, a theory that he believes is also consistent with Scripture. The biggest problem for old-earth creationism is that it assumes natural evil (like animal death, decay and natural disasters) happened for millennia before the fall, yet the Bible teaches that all evil is a consequence of the fall, Dembski writes. So he argues that God brought natural evil to earth long before Adam and Eve sinned as a retroactive judgment for their disobedience, in a similar manner to God’s application of the ef-


fects of Christ’s death to humans who lived prior to it. The Garden of Eden, he writes, was a segregated pocket of creation that God spared from the effects of the fall. He put Adam and Eve in that pocket in order to test them. They failed the test, causing God to curse all of creation. Genesis 1-3 uses the concept of “days” to depict the order of God’s logic in creating, not periods of time, according to Dembski. He makes a distinction between ‘kairos” (God’s time) and “chronos” (our time). Old-earth creationists like Dembski and Gordon point out that their position is different than theistic evolution. In fact, Dembski’s book “Christian Darwinism” (B&H) seeks to refute theistic evolution. THEISTIC EVOLUTION: THE DEPARTING POINT One prominent group that embraces theistic evolution is the BioLogos Foundation, “a community of evangelical Christians committed to exploring and celebrating the compatibility of evolutionary creation and biblical faith,” according to the group’s website. “We believe that the diversity and interrelation of all life on earth are best explained by the God-ordained process of evolution with common descent,” the BioLogos website says. “Thus, evolution is not in opposition to God, but a means by which God providentially achieves his purposes. Therefore, we reject ideologies that claim that evolution is a purposeless process or that evolution replaces God.” Modern science demonstrates “a gradual transition over 5 million years ago from chimpanzee-size creatures to hominids with larger brains who walked on two legs” and later to humans, the BioLogos website says. Humans descended from more than just two people, the website says. The BioLogos group argues that perhaps Adam and Eve were a historical couple chosen by God to represent all of humanity even though they lived among a larger population. Alternately, Genesis 2-4 could be an allegory in which Adam and Eve symbolize the entire group of humans who lived 150,000 years ago, or Genesis 2-4 could be a parable about every human’s rejection of God, BioLogos says. Despite the group’s claims that it holds a high view of the Bible, some Southern Baptist leaders believe theistic evolution is incompatible with orthodox Christianity. Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., for example, critiqued BioLogos scholars for denying that Adam and Eve were historical people. 12 TEXANONLINE.NET ARPIL 3, 2014

“I WOULD NOT “Ever since the challenge of CONSIDER Darwin and evolutionary theory ORTHODOX appeared, some Christians have SOMEBODY THAT tried to argue that the opening WANTS TO MAKE chapters of the Bible should ADAM AND EVE not be taken ‘literally,’” Mohler PARABOLIC OR writes in an article on his webSOMETHING OF site. “While no honest reader of THAT NATURE,” the Bible would deny the literary PATTERSON SAID. character of Genesis 1-3, the fact “I THINK THAT TO MOVE TO A remains that significant truth POSITION, ‘YES, claims are being presented in GOD CREATED these chapters. Furthermore, it EVERYTHING, is clear that the historical charBUT ADAM AND acter of these chapters is crucial EVE WERE JUST to understanding the Bible’s SYMBOLIC FIGURE central message—the gospel of HEADS,’ MAKES A Jesus Christ. TOTAL DISASTER “The Apostle Paul, for examWHEN YOU GET TO THE NEW ple, clearly understood Adam to TESTAMENT.” be a fully historical human who was also the genetic father of —Paige Patterson the entire human race. The fall of the human race in Adam sets the stage for the salvation of sinful humanity by Jesus Christ.” Similarly, Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson said in 2010 that belief in theistic evolution is unbiblical and outside the bounds of the Southern Baptist confession of faith. “I would not consider orthodox somebody that wants to make Adam and Eve parabolic or something of that nature,” Patterson said. “I think that to move to a position, ‘Yes, God created everything, but Adam and Eve were just symbolic figure heads,’ makes a total disaster when you get to the New Testament.” Yet the Southwestern faculty includes creationists of both stripes, and Patterson said professors of both views have used their arguments evangelistically. “Obviously, I think a correct interpretation of Scripture is always better than an incorrect one, and I happen to think the correct one is the young earth,” Patterson said at a 2010 panel discussion. Yet Dembski, who served on Southwestern’s faculty at the time, “with his old-earth position, has gotten an opportunity to witness to and even win some lost people who wouldn’t have given me the time of day.” —An earlier version of this story appeared in the Nov. 13, 2013 edition of the Southern Baptist TEXAN.

So what about the dinosaurs? The latest science claims the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago—a million years earlier than previously thought—resulting from a combination of a colossal meteor hitting the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico and fallout from volcanoes, according to a study reported by the journal Science last February.


ut how does this jibe with Scripture? There are two prevailing approaches among biblical inerrantists: the young-earth perspective (YEC), which puts dinosaurs on the earth until after Noah’s Flood, and the old-earth perspective (OEC), which places them prior to man’s creation in a period of long “creation days” and makes a distinction between animal death (part of God’s good creation) and human death and disease caused by sin. (Some OEC proponents see the creation days as a literary framework to explain what God did, not as

chronological days.) The YEC camp, meanwhile, holds that dinosaurs came about with the other land animals on day six. Perhaps infant dinosaurs boarded Noah’s Ark, as was likely with other large animals. Following the flood, radical environmental changes from the flood judgment may have led to the dinos’ demise. The YEC perspective points to passages such as Job 40-41 as evidence that Scripture likely references the “terrible lizards.” Behemoth (Job 40) is described as the “first of the works of God” with “limbs like bars of iron” and a tail like a cedar. Most OEC com-


By Jerry Pierce



N •A

mentators dismiss this thinking, suggesting Behemoth may have been a hippo or some other large beast. In Job 41, Leviathan sounds like a dragon-like dinosaur, according to YEC proponents, with its fierce, untamable nature. In contrast, some conservative scholars such as Gleason Archer have suggested Leviathan is a crocodile. A third way, put forth by Greg Neyman of Old Earth Ministries, suggests God in fact describes dinosaurs in Job 40-41, but they are descriptions of extinct animals for which Job may or may not have had a reference.


1. What is your position on the age of the earth and how it was created?

Earth’s Age:

Q&A with biologist

Kurt Wise

Kurt Wise earned his Ph.D. in paleontology at Harvard under renowned evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould and has long been a proponent of young-earth creationism. For his views, he has been called by atheist Richard Dawkins “the greatest disappointment” he knows of in modern science. Wise is professor of biology at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga. He answered a series of questions for the TEXAN about science, Scripture and the age of the earth. 14 TEXANONLINE.NET ARPIL 3, 2014

Since no human was present at the origin of the earth, I accept the perfect eyewitness account of the earth’s origin (Scripture) given to us by the only perfect eyewitness (God). That account indicates that the earth was created within a couple centuries of 2,000 years before Abraham (i.e., 4,000 ± 200 B.C.), instantaneously by the spoken word of God (depending upon what is meant by ‘earth,’ sometime in the course of six sequential day/night cycles, or sometime in the course of 144 hours).  

2) What are the weaknesses of oldearth creationism? Old-earth creationism is not reconcilable with the scriptural account of creation. Unless the normal meanings of words are unlinked from the words of Scripture, acceptance of old-earth creationism leads to the rejection of the historical claims of Genesis 1-11 (e.g., the sequence and length of creation, the unfallen nature of the creation before man’s fall, the nature of Eden, the mode of creation of Adam and Eve, the nature of the Fall, the nature of the initial culture of man, the global Flood in the days of Noah, the tower of Babel as the origin of modern language groups), and all doctrines based upon that history (e.g., the nature of God, the origin and nature of man, the nature and need of salvation, the origin and nature of marriage, the nature of end-times … i.e., every Christian doctrine).  

3) What are the weaknesses of young-earth creationism?

The theories of young-earth creationism are poorly developed. Old-earth creationists have developed better evidenced and reasoned theories for most of the detailed observations of the universe. In other words, the science of old-earth creationists is better.

4) How important is it for a believer to be right about the age of the earth? Are other theological points at stake in this discussion, or is it a matter of speculation without much practical consequence? Belief in the correct age of things does not have salvific value—i.e., a correct understanding of the age of things is not in any way an entrance requirement for getting into heaven. Faith in Jesus and what he did for us is all that is required. However, God also asks a believer to [pursue] a full understanding of himself, and this is not possible if a person is incorrect about the age of the earth—and not just because it is another fact that should be known to have a full understanding. This is because if a person is completely consistent (and no human being is or has been completely consistent), what one believes about the age of the earth impacts what that person believes about every doctrine of Christianity. In particular, if a person consistently applies the concept of an old-earth he or she is forced to reject all traditional Christian doctrines (e.g., old-earth, the chronology in Genesis 1-11 is wrong, Scripture is in error, Scripture is either not inspired or the inspirer is wrong or a liar, etc.).  

5) What should drive our views of the universe’s origins? Is it OK to consider science and Scripture, or should Scripture be our sole authority for learning about origins? From the very beginning of humanity, humans have been called upon to accept God’s word—even over human observation and reason. For example, God’s command to “freely eat of every tree of the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” was to supersede any human observation

that the fruit looks beautiful (i.e., has evidence of having been created by a good God and no evidence that it wasn’t) and looks good (i.e., has evidence of being provided by a good God and no evidence that it would do any harm), or any human reasoning that the fruit must be good for us (e.g., a good God would never do anything to hurt us). That should have been sufficient, but ultimately Eve looked at the fruit, “saw that it was good to look upon and to eat and that it was desirous to make one wise” and she did take of the fruit and eat it. God said not to eat of the fruit. Adam and Eve were condemned for disobeying God, which they seem to have done by accepting human reason and observation over God’s word. And remember, that was done while humans were unfallen! Imagine how much more important it is that we accept God’s word after the fall, when our nature is fallen, our observation is marred, our reasoning is marred, we are subject to blinding from the truth, and our nature is to run from God! Consequently, when God tells us something we should accept it without reservation—even over our observation and reason (e.g., Abel was to sacrifice even though killing an animal didn’t make much sense as a way of cleansing him from sin; Abraham and Sarah were to believe they were going to have a child even though Sarah had already gone through menopause; etc.). If the Bible doesn’t say something about an issue, then we are justified in using science to “fill in the blanks”—as long as what is “filled in” is not somehow contrary to what God has stated—but if the Bible says something about an issue and science says something else, we are to accept the word of God rather than the word of man every time.   APRIL 3, 2014 TEXANONLINE.NET 15

6) What role should science play in the formation of a Christian worldview? Science is possible because of the way God created us and the universe. Romans 1:18-20 indicates that God created the universe to provide physical illustrations of his invisible attributes, so he made the universe understandable and made us capable of understanding the universe. This not only makes science possible, but science arose in a culture that generally accepted the Christian perspective of creation. Furthermore, the Christian worldview is the only worldview that provides justification for the presuppositions of science. And, since he formed the creation to (among other things) inform us about him, science should play a part in a Christian’s understanding of the world and God— i.e., science should play a role in the formation of his/her Christian worldview. However, science must play a secondary or subservient role to special revelation (Scripture). In other words—as stated above—science should “fill in the blanks” left open by Scripture, for many of those blanks were left there by God to be filled in by us as we apply the gifts God gave us to fill in those blanks.  

7) How can old- and young-earth creationists dialogue constructively? Is there anything to be gained from believers in these two camps talking more? Scripture makes it clear that believers are to “love one an16 TEXANONLINE.NET ARPIL 3, 2014

other”—so much so that unbelievers will then identify us as believers (as God-followers) by that love. This means we have been commanded not only to love other believers, but also act as if we love one another. The high level of antagonism in old/young creationist interactions (much greater in my experience than the antagonism between unbelievers and creationists) is NOT evidence of love at all—it is evidence of hate; it is sin. In fact, the antagonism that currently exists is “natural”—it is what one would expect of the natural man. It is what unbelievers expect of people having such different beliefs, thus it is by no means the kind of love that God calls us to. In contrast, if it were to happen that old- and young-earth creationists could interact in such a way that it was obvious to unbelievers that we love one another, then our witness to the unbelievers would be increased. In fact, we would have a powerful witness for God. Besides, we might even be drawn closer to God in the process! How this state is to be achieved is not at all obvious, for in my experience all attempts at “dialogue” are plagued by a desire on each side to “win”— not to illustrate God’s love to the world.


2014 EXHIBIT QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS Approved exhibitors at the SBTC Annual Meeting include (subject to available space) SBTC ministries, SBC agencies, SBTC ministry relationships (under the oversight of the Ministry Relationships Committee of the Executive Board), Baptist associational ministries, and any host church. All other entities desiring booth space must submit their request in writing to Joe Davis at the SBTC, prior to June 1, 2014. Entities or individuals may share exhibit space with approved exhibitors only with the approval of the Committee on Order of Business. For profit entities that have no formal relationship with the SBTC shall not be granted exhibit space. All exhibit material must be in agreement with the SBTC Constitution and Bylaws, which includes the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. Fund raising or sales that do not conflict with SBTC priorities will be allowed in the exhibit area.

SBTC ministry in Philippines sees village awaken to the gospel By Jane Rodgers AGOJO, Philippines


in Agojo, the Filipino fishing village in the province of Capiz devastated by Typhoon Haiyan last November, as disaster relief workers minister there under the direction of Garry and Sherry McDugle of Bois d’Arc Baptist Church in Palestine. The McDugles, coordinators for the effort and disaster relief chaplains with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, have been in the area since early January and will extend their stay until the end of April. Volunteer teams from churches in Georgia and Texas have assisted in the efforts. Nearly 80 Filipinos have made decisions for Christ followed by dozens of ocean baptisms and the start of multiple Simbalays, or Filipino home churches. These new believers face challenges and need prayer, volunteers said. “Some will be ostracized from their families, friends and communities,” Garry McDugle said. “Here, it is not well received for one to be baptized outside the Catholic faith.” At the conclusion of an ocean baptismal service, the McDugles’ driver, Bert, expressed curiosity and after hearing the gospel, he too asked to be baptized.

5Above, schoolchildren in the Philippine fishing village of Agojo enjoy a kite day as a teacher looks on. Southern Baptists have helped provide books and supplies lost in last November’s deadly typhoon for the school in a region where the gospel is bearing fruit. 6Below, Filipino fishermen work their nets in the waters near Agojo. PHOTOS BY GARRY MCDUGLE

Filipino pastor Ronald Calina conducts the beach services. On March 8, at one evening service, 30 adults and 15 children prayed to receive Jesus. The scene could have occurred on the Sea of Galilee, Sherry McDugle said. Fishing boats rocked gently offshore, nets cast out, while the families of the fishermen—women, elderly parents and fishermen themselves—listened attentively to the gospel. A young boy took Sherry McDugle’s hand and explained, smiling and pointing aloft, that he was not going to hell but to heaven. While the gospel is at work, the physical work of recovery and rebuilding also continues. APRIL 3, 2014 TEXANONLINE.NET 17

Much progress can be seen at the local elementary school, painted by volunteers from Georgia Baptist churches. The Georgia contingent completed work on 80 sites and even installed windows in the Agojo daycare, Garry McDugle said. “I just showed them the need and they went for it,” said McDugle of the team who returned to Georgia on March 14. Teams from Texas, including volunteers from First Baptist The Colony and First Baptist of Brownsville, have rotated in. “We have over 250 work orders,” said Garry McDugle, who noted that 30 of the needed 55 10-foot by 10-foot shelters have been completed and that 10 carpentry teams remain busy. Baptist Global Response and the SBTC have provided $100,000 in funds to meet the region’s needs, but individuals are still encouraged to donate to the effort. More DR teams are also needed, said McDugle, who emphasized the effectiveness of smaller two-person teams like First Baptist The Colony’s Wally Leyerle and Jake Martinez. SBTC DR teams have assisted schoolteachers who live outside the Agojo neighborhood but work at the Agojo elementary school. One, a mother of five named Gina whose husband had suffered a stroke and pneumonia prior to the typhoon, commutes to work 45 minutes twice daily by motorcycle. Her home was in the eye of the storm and debris remained scattered about. As DR workers gathered to pray with Gina’s family, neighborhood residents joined them. The family of Belinda, another teacher who lives just outside Agojo, had huddled underneath a table during the typhoon’s blast. Belinda’s husband lost his fishing boat, the family’s means of livelihood, to the storm. Tears welled up in Belinda’s eyes as DR workers arrived with sheets of corrugated metal to repair her home. Just as Belinda will never forget the November day when the typhoon destroyed her island, neither will she forget that March day when SBTC DR workers arrived to help and to pray. She requested and received a new Bible to replace hers that was lost during the storm. Stories abound of Filipinos coming to the Lord. There is Nenitea, a laborer likely in her 40s, recently widowed, who with her grown daughter trusted the Lord. Jessa, a 16-yearold who was befriended and given a Bible by the McDugles more than a month ago, recently trusted Jesus, as did her best friend, her father and family of six. Even the wife of the local Agojo elected official, or “captain,” has expressed interest in learning more about Jesus. “Please, please keep praying for everyone here,” Garry McDugle said. “Jesus is wooing the community,” Sherry McDugle added.


Anecdotes from the Philippines

God answered the prayer of an expectant mother,

Shayne, another teacher in the Agojo elementary school. The young woman had feared that her husband would not be present for the delivery of their baby. He, like so many other Filipino spouses, works far from his family. Sherry McDugle prayed that the Lord would hear and answer the young mother’s prayer. The husband made it home in time for the birth, even though the baby arrived six days before the due date. Shayne is Catholic, but her husband is a Southern Baptist who had earlier trusted Christ through the ministry of IMB missionary Mark Moses on the island.

The wife of the local Agojo captain or official reads Scripture aloud during Catholic masses. She reads the portion assigned her by the priest as part of mass, and she loves God’s Word. When visiting with her one day, Sherry McDugle asked the woman what would happen to a people who lose their vision. The captain’s wife replied that the people would die without a vision. This opened the door for McDugle to share Proverbs 29:18 and other scriptures with the captain’s wife. The McDugles ask for prayer that the captain and his wife would be undeniably called to the Lord through his Word.

Beach Reach students share gospel amid spring break partying By Michelle Tyer SOUTH PADRE ISLAND


college students and young adults of Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth spent spring break at South Padre Island, but not merely to enjoy the beach. They were there to reach collegians and other revelers with the gospel. Buddy Young, a former Birchman member and now Baptist Student Ministry director at West Texas A&M University, started a ministry called Beach Reach in 1980 with just 20 students aiming to reach the lost through service and sharing the gospel. That goal continues with about 850 students from 32 churches and universities around the state participating this year. Birchman brought 55 of those students—an increase from about 35 in 2013. Their group included students from seven area colleges as well as young adults not in school or already graduated, many using vacation time so they could participate. “I thought it was great how God had brought this connection back around from the 1980s to currently,” Young said of Birchman’s participation, adding that he and his wife joined the church for its missions focus while he attended Southwestern Seminary. “Just to know that heart was still there for missions and outreach

Zach Shaw of Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth shares the gospel with students at the beach.

and that now the university students can be involved in a program that we have to mobilize students for evangelism” is encouraging, he said. Joey Tombrella, Birchman’s minister to young adults, attended Beach Reach as a college student and said he was eager to bring his students there, saying it is a great training ground for sharing the gospel and making evangelism a normal part of life. “We’re down there for one reason, and that’s to share the gospel,” agreed Evan Lenow, chair of Southwestern Seminary’s ethics department and a Birchman member who also went to South Padre. Throughout the break, the Birchman “Beach Reachers” ministered to the “spring breakers” by providing free van rides late into the night and also free pancake breakfasts outside the host church, Island Baptist Church, in the morn-

ing, and at midnight outside one of the largest clubs on the island. When not working late at night giving van rides or free pancakes— some nights past 4 a.m.—the students would spend time in a prayer room, answering phone calls from spring breakers needing rides or walking on the beaches during the day and striking up gospel conversations with students. On the beach, the Beach Reachers also got to use a large sand sculpture—which changed each day to different themes such as Noah’s ark or Jesus calming the storm—as a conversation starter with others. This year Birchman members also went to the island’s courthouse—per the local government’s request—to speak with other students paying fines or getting out of jail. They also used the musical talent of their students at a local ice cream shop to draw others’ attention. APRIL 3, 2014 TEXANONLINE.NET 19

Callie Vermillion of Birchman (blue jacket) shares the gospel with students over a pancake breakfast.

The Birchman team used each of those opportunities to share the gospel, even when they only had them on the van for just a few minutes. “I think the biggest asset of Beach Reach is the fact that it forces our students to learn different ways to share the gospel” with students of varying levels of spiritual maturity as well as levels of sobriety, Lenow said. Seeing the Birchman students step up to that challenge eagerly and boldly was his favorite part of the trip, he added. At times, students saw little fruit as they shared. The Birchman group, 55 people, had more than 1,000 gospel conversations in five days. In all, 850 Beach Reach participants saw 104 people pray to receive Christ. Of that number, 29 were led to Christ by the Birchman members. Before the trip, some wondered how sharing with intoxicated students could possibly be beneficial. Kara Manning, a sophomore at Tarrant Community College, recalled one such situation on the beach when a fellow Birchman


member shared with a young man who could barely stand and speak. But when she started praying for his mind to be clear, he suddenly seemed to sober up and heard the gospel. They saw God move at other times as well, but even when they did not see an immediate result, they knew God could use their obedience in sharing. “God has promised us that he’s the one who does the work,” Lenow said. “We sow the seeds and he does the work and he’s going to continue using the gospel that was shared at South Padre for weeks and years to come.” Tombrella said that during this second trip, the group had a higher energy, excitement and expectation for the trip, but that they also experienced greater spiritual warfare, which required more prayer. But despite opposition and trials, each student returned home strengthened and with a sense of accomplishment, Tombrella said. “They risked a lot and it paid off,” Tombrella said. “You cannot share the gospel 20-plus times per person, engage in spiritual war-

fare and fight through it, and come back the same.” Young said that spiritual growth of “Beach Reach” week is their second goal after sharing the gospel, adding he has heard from believers who said their perspective of and compassion for lost people changed them greatly. “There’s probably no better place to go that changes the way our students see other people,” Lenow said. “They’re people made in the image of God just like we are. And so it changes our perspective of how we view people and the necessity of getting the gospel out to all people.” Josh Owens, a senior at the College of Southwestern who also works at the seminary, went for the first time this year and said the trip was a chance for him to be reminded of how the rest of the world seeks satisfaction in the world. “It was a priority check for me,” Owens said, noting it made him rethink his purpose in everyday life, reminding him of his ultimate satisfaction in Christ and the purpose of reaching the lost with the gospel. Since returning from South Padre, Owens has already contacted students he met at the beach to challenge those he shared with and hold accountable a young man he helped lead to Christ. “I thought it would be good. I thought it would be helpful and stretch me and be different than anything I’d ever done before, but I didn’t think two weeks later I’d still be processing it, reorienting priorities,” Owens said.

Mike Gonzales

El Mensaje de la Cruz


uando hablamos de la cruz, estamos hablando de un mensaje de salvación. Cristo vino a este mundo a salvar a los pecadores. Y vemos que la salvación realmente empezó en la cruz. Esa fue la comisión de nuestro Señor Jesucristo. Sabemos que Cristo nació en un pesebre y Su madre, llamada María, era una virgen. Ella dio a luz un niño esa noche que iba ser el salvador del mundo. La verdad es que Dios tuvo que penetrar este mundo para darnos a nosotros esta gran salvación eterna. Antes, la vida de Dios estaba encerrada en un templo. En los tiempos antiguos era imposible ver a Dios cara a cara y no se podía estar en la mera presencia del Dios todopoderoso. Pero Dios en Su infinita gracia, mandó a Su unigénito hijo, mandado del cielo a este mundo para darnos salvación eterna. Cristo nació, creció, trabajó, ministró, sanó y mostró la vida de Dios aquí en este mundo. Pero Su final era ir hacía esa cruz porque Cristo iba terminar en un madero y después resucitar al tercer día. I de Corintios 15:1-4 nos da un buen resumen de esa salvación: “Además os declaro, hermanos, el evangelio que os he predicado, el cual también recibisteis, en el cual también perseveráis; por el cual asimismo, retenéis la palabra que os he predicado, sois salvos, si no creísteis en vano. Porque primeramente os he enseñado lo que asimismo recibí: Que Cristo murió por nuestros pecados, conforme a las Escrituras; y que fue sepultado, y que resucitó al tercer día, conforme a las Escrituras.” El mensaje de la cruz cambió el curso de toda la humanidad. La experiencia de la cruz nos habla de cambios. Cristo vino para cambiar nuestras vidas y ese cambio se llama ser transformados

espiritualmente por medio de Cristo. Vemos varios aspectos sobre el mensaje de la cruz. 4Mientras Cristo estaba sobre esa cruz, vemos el amor de Dios manifestándose a este mundo. La madre de Jesús estaba abandonada porque su hijo estaba sobre esa cruz. Pero estando Cristo en esa cruz mostró Su amor sobre Su madre en ese momento. Juan 19:26-27 4“Cuando vio Jesús a su madre, y al discípulo a quien él amaba, que estaba presente, dijo a su madre: Mujer, he ahí tu hijo. Después dijo al discípulo: He ahí tu madre. Y desde aquella hora el discípulo la recibió en su casa.” Tenedlo por seguro que Cristo nos ama y en Él siempre estamos seguros. 4Mientras Cristo estaba sobre esa cruz, Él comunicó a este mundo perdido un espíritu de perdón. En Lucas 23:34 vemos lo que dijo Cristo: “Y Jesús decía: Padre, perdónalos, porque no saben lo que hacen.” Cuando aceptamos a Cristo, Él quita nuestro pecado y somos perdonados. Cristo vino para dar paz y la paz viene cuando somos perdonados de nuestros pecados. 4Mientras Cristo estaba sobre esa cruz al final murió y la victoria se puso en marcha. Lo bajaron sobre esa cruz y fue puesto en una tumba pero al tercer día Cristo resucitó de esa muerte. ¡Ahora nos toca a nosotros compartir mensaje de la cruz a todo el mundo! —Mike Gonzales es director de los Ministerios Multiétnicos de la SBTC.


Come learn to think and live missionally


Evangelism & church planting. Planned 2014 vision tour dates: May 5-7, Sept. 8-10 and Oct. 27-29 Contact Barry Calhoun at or 817.552.2500


Evangelism and church planting. Planned 2014 vision tour dates: April 29-30 and Sept. 30-Oct.1 Contact Barry Calhoun at or 817.552.2500

ECUADOR Evangelism and church planting.

Planned 2014 vision tour: Aug. 16-23 Contact Barry Calhoun at or 817-552-2500



Texan Digital • April 3, 2014 • Issue #27  

Evangelicals agree that God created the universe. But when discussion turns to when and how, there’s debate. With the recent Bill Nye “The S...

Texan Digital • April 3, 2014 • Issue #27  

Evangelicals agree that God created the universe. But when discussion turns to when and how, there’s debate. With the recent Bill Nye “The S...