Friday, October 29, 2010


I appreciate the leadership that President David Lowrie has provided for Texas Baptists over the past two years. As president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), David has been a pleasant surprise to some and a disappointment to others. I’m in the former group. David has been fair and thoughtful in his dealings. Unfortunately, there are those who wanted him to do their bidding and trumpet their displeasure with all things BGCT. But David sought to serve all Texas Baptists, and he deserves our commendation.

I remember at least a couple of private conversations I had with our outgoing president; as always, he was gracious and considerate. David is an unabashed Jesus follower, and I’m glad I’ve gotten the opportunity to know him.

David will preside one more time in McAllen, in just a few days. Of course, we will elect a new president in McAllen. Victor Rodriguez is the only announced candidate for BGCT president. A humble, principled man, Victor pastors a growing congregation in San Antonio, South San Filadelfia Baptist Church. There’s a line in South San Filadelfia’s statement of practice that reveals Victor’s heart. It reads: “As a church, we practice giving to and praying for missions around the world.”

If you made it to San Antonio during the week of June 28-30, you got the opportunity to see Victor lead Convención Hispana de Texas Bautista as president. There were over 3,000 in attendance, and the spirit was one of celebration and genuine fellowship. What a joy it would be to have Victor serve our convention as president.

Like Victor, Jerry Carlisle is a person of integrity. Anybody who has met Jerry knows how caring and attentive he is. A faithful member of the Executive Board of the BGCT, he chairs the Institutional Relations Committee and serves on the Executive Committee. He is also a General Council member of the Baptist World Alliance and a Global Impact Pastor. According to the Baptist Standard, “Under Carlisle’s leadership, First Baptist Church in Plano has helped launch Hispanic, Anglo and western-heritage congregations, and it has been host to Korean and Chin congregations. The church shares its campus with Mission to Unreached Peoples, Plano Children’s Medical Clinic, Chin Baptist Church, and Texas Baptist Church Weekday Education Association.” It’s a good thing for the BGCT that Jerry is willing to serve as first vice president.

Ed Jackson is no stranger to Texas Baptists Committed. We fully appreciate his past financial support of TBC. After his retirement in 1997, Ed served as special assistant to the BGCT executive director. And, for the past year, he has served as first vice president of the BGCT. Now Ed has decided to run for BGCT second vice president.

Sylvia DeLoach has also agreed to be nominated to serve as second vice president. I’ve talked with Ed on occasion, but I’m not personally acquainted with Sylvia. However, there are people in whom I place great trust who know Sylvia and tell me that her commitment to missions is outstanding and will be a valuable asset to the BGCT.

Joy Fenner, former BGCT president and Texas WMU executive director emeritus, says this about Sylvia: “Many of you know Sylvia from her ministry as consultant with national WMU, while others know her as a Missions Innovator who assisted Texas WMU. (A few may even remember her as one of the 'singing Jones girls’ when her father served many Texas churches as music-education director.) Sylvia is a member of First Baptist Church, Richardson, where she is currently involved in multiple facets of missions and ministry; she also serves as chair of the WMU Foundation Board of Trustees. Indeed, she is a capable leader whose skills have been developed through study and experience with both women and men as well as Anglo and multi-cultural congregations large and small.”

Sylvia’s experience and heart for missions are in sync with Texas Baptists’ Hope 1:8 emphasis. I’m convinced that Sylvia’s broad experience in missions – in Texas, nationally, and around the world – is exactly what our convention needs in its leadership right now.

In closing, I’m fully aware that there are those who, without due consideration, presume to delineate parameters for others to abide by, while at the same time violating their own rubric. And I learned long ago that those who routinely miss the beauty of roses because of an overweening obsession with thorns will always have a bone to pick, an axe to grind, or someone to disparage. That’s too bad, but that’s life.

I’m excited about the BGCT McAllen convention, November 8-10. Hope (there goes that word again) to see you there.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another Reason Why We Need TBC

I just received my copy of the Georgia Baptist Heritage Council's final newsletter.  The Baptist Heritage Council was the Mainstream Baptist organization in Georgia.  I'm sorry to see the organization come to an end, but all good things do come to an end in this world.

One-by-one formal Mainstream Baptist organizations have been shutting down as historic Baptist distinctives have lost their appeal to most Baptists in the South.

Principles that were forged while Baptists were an oppressed minority hold little attraction to Baptists who have never known a time when they were not the dominant cultural force within their region of the country.

Ever since the era of civil rights, unrelenting technological advances, shifting demographics and mounting religious and cultural diversity helped attune increasingly disoriented and insecure Southern Baptist ears to the siren song of authoritarian leadership.

Authoritarian Southern Baptists reacted aggressively to counteract an onslaught of what, to them, were unwelcome changes.

Prominent pastors concluded they could redirect social change if they could control their denomination. Evangelists shifted their message from saving souls to saving the culture. Revivals restructured from being spiritual movements and became political movements. Some pastors began assuming responsibility for leading their congregations to exercise dominion over all the civic and political life of their community and nation.

Other Southern Baptists noticed the dramatic changes taking place in their denomination and resisted it. The people in the Baptist Heritage Council of Georgia were among them. They organized to remind Baptists in the South of their historic commitment to liberty of conscience, the priesthood of all believers, congregational autonomy, and the separation of church and state. The more they talked about these historic Baptist principles, however, the more many Southern Baptist pastors felt the need to consolidate their authority. They asserted their control by making both Jesus and the Holy Spirit subordinate to a dogma of biblical inerrancy and by elevating the dogma of pastoral authority above all other doctrines.

Today, ten years after Southern Baptists traded their birthright for an authoritarian creed, a Baptist in the South who remembers what it is like to be a Baptist who is free-in-Christ is a dying breed.

Our children have never known a time when they had reason to be proud of the Baptist name. 

The churches of mainline denominations are full of Baptists recovering from abusive fundamentalist pastors. 

Oblivious to the impact on their congregations that the influence of the new politicized Southern Baptist Convention has wrought on American domestic, foreign, and economic policy since 1979, African-American Baptists have been disinterested bystanders.

There's little room for prophets in Baptist life any more.  Outside of Texas, Pharisees, Saducees, and Herodians own the brand.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Phil Strickland: Where Have All the Prophets Gone? (part 4 of 4)

(Phil Strickland, director of the BGCT Christian Life Commission, wrote this speech for presentation to the TBC Breakfast at the BGCT meeting in Austin, November 14, 2005. Unable to attend because of illness, he asked his friend and pastor George Mason, Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas, to deliver the speech. Phil passed away on February 11, 2006.)

I was amazed yesterday to meet one of our church’s first-time messengers in the hallway outside the meeting. She was running to and fro, trying to find a way to resolve her anger. She is Iranian by birth and has been in this country only seven years. She is a Christian convert from Islam and is now in seminary. She asked me breathlessly, “Did you see it? Did you see that flag processional? Can you believe they brought the American flag in ahead of the Christian flag and all the other flags of nations after that? And the American flag was higher than the Christian flag. That is idolatry!” She is right, and I am embarrassed that it took someone so new to the faith and to our country and to us Baptists to even notice. She didn’t know whether she needed to bring a resolution or a motion, but since a motion calls for action, I hope we move that that never happen again in a Baptist meeting.
We need more laypeople like that. Mercy, is there any possibility that this prophecy notion might even apply to them? What’s happened to those laity with a prophetic word? What is trumping the laity’s ability to discern the differences between the present culture and the Kingdom of God? Could it be that we are so consumed by consumerism that we have little power to believe or to act? Do we live in this cultural imagination rather than a Kingdom imagination?
Consumerism, the thing that tells us to go shopping to solve all our problems, must be addressed in our churches. The barnacles of consumerism grow on us day after day until our hope of hearing Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God,”  is slim indeed.
Now here I need to start with confession time. The boat is used and the motorcycle is several years old, but I do not lack for toys. This applies to all of us.
And we need to remember that, for many of our Baptist brothers and sisters, consumerism is not the issue. For them, the issue is survival. Like the fellow we met outside the Dixie House where we had just had dinner with our friends Bob and Judy Coleman. He was asking in his wheelchair how to find the nearest homeless shelter. People like these are often invisible to us. We have to intentionally put ourselves in places where we can see them. Prophets have that kind of vision. They see things and people we otherwise do not see, and they tell us about them.
We desperately need a “theology of enough.” We are stewards, not owners, of what we have, at least in Christian teaching. So do we have any walls around what we will spend on ourselves? Do we have any sense of enough for ourselves? That’s where the prophets will emerge.
Ah, but what about one more—denominations. Should they take risks and speak prophetically? Or should they declare that the only real role of the denomination is meeting the needs of the churches who are members of the BGCT? To me, the answer is easy. Meeting the will of churches, vital as it is, comes in behind one other: listening for and meeting the will of God.
What trumps the prophetic role in denominations is fear of financial loss, and the lack of understanding what crosses they are willing to die on, if any. What is so compelling that a denomination will stand there and ignore the consequences? Do we know the answer to that question? The question must be asked of laypeople and pastors and churches.
A half-century ago in this very city some of the brightest lights of Baptists shone in church pulpits. One of the brightest was Blake Smith, pastor of University Baptist Church. One Sunday morning, he stood tall in that pulpit and declared that it was past time that the University of Texas open its doors to all Texas citizens. The time for integration had come. What’s more, he said to his all-white church, the time had come for University Baptist Church to open its doors to all for whom Christ died.
Well, right after the benediction, the predictable took place. An emergency deacons meeting was called for that afternoon. For hours, those men grumbled on about what the preacher had said that morning, about whether he had the right to say those things, about the autonomy of the local church to decide who would and who would not be its members, about whether Blake Smith ought to be their pastor at all. After a long while, the moderator looked to the back of the room, where an old respected judge was sitting quietly. The man said, “Judge, we haven’t heard from you on this matter. What do you think?” The judge rose to his feet and said solemnly, “Well, boys, you know I don’t like what our pastor said this morning any more than any of the rest of you. But I think Jesus liked it a lot.” Motion to adjourn.
Where have all the prophets gone?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jim Denison: Answering God's Call Is Risky

Email in-boxes, just as postal mailboxes, tend to get cluttered with a lot of junk mail. But now and again, a real gem arrives among the clutter. I'm blessed to receive such a treasure in my email every day, Monday through Friday. It's the God Issues daily devotional message, published by Jim Denison, theologian in residence for Texas Baptists and founding president of the Center for Informed Faith.

Jim's Web site describes God Issues as providing "spiritual perspective on life's ultimate questions." Through the years, I've found it to be thought-provoking, insightful, and inspiring. If you're not yet receiving God Issues, I urge you to click here and subscribe.

In my years of active involvement in Texas Baptist life, I've had a lot of encouragers. But Janet and Jim Denison were the first of those encouragers a little over 10 years ago. They are special people in God's Kingdom work - and dear friends in my own life.

During the past week, I've been posting Phil Strickland's 2005 speech, Where Have All the Prophets Gone? As I prepare to post the fourth and final installment of Phil's speech, I find encouragement once again in a familiar voice - that of Jim Denison. In today's God Issues email (also published on his site's home page), Jim writes, "I can't think of a time when God called someone in Scripture to do what was safe." He concludes, "Risk is the price we pay for opportunity. What risk will you take for Jesus today?"

Phil Strickland would agree. God hasn't called us to play it safe; rather, He's called us to be faithful. Prophets are in short supply these days, but there are a few who have answered that call. Phil Strickland was one. George Mason, his pastor who delivered that speech on Phil's behalf, is one, too. And so is Jim Denison. These are people who have dared to speak the truth and challenge God's people, no matter how inconvenient, no matter how much it flies in the face of conventional wisdom, and no matter how much it costs them. Prophethood is risky.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of Phil's speech and his challenge to us.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Phil Strickland: Where Have All the Prophets Gone? (part 3 of 4)

(Phil Strickland, director of the BGCT Christian Life Commission, wrote this speech for presentation to the TBC Breakfast at the BGCT meeting in Austin, November 14, 2005. Unable to attend because of illness, he asked his friend and pastor George Mason, Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas, to deliver the speech. Phil passed away on February 11, 2006.)

So what is happening to prophetic voices?

What is the juggler that trumps the pastoral voice? Is it lack of courage? Or ambition? Courage and ambition seldom hang out together. Or is it just the desire not to rock any boats?

When John F. Kennedy was in Berlin in 1963 for the birth of the German Peace Corps, he cited a passage from Dante’s Inferno in his speech: “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintained their neutrality.” It was actually a liberal paraphrase. What Dante actually singled out were “those disembodied wretches who were loath, when living, to be either blamed or praised.” He said that Heaven cast them out for fear of losing its beauty; and Hell didn’t want them either, lest the wicked should glory over them. (Canto 3.)

Prophecy requires the capacity to grieve about injustice, to quit pretending that things are all right, to imagine that things could be different, and to courageously say so to the people, risking the consequences. It requires confronting the principalities and powers.

For compassion to move to action requires an alliance of love, power, and justice. As Paul Tillich said: “In both interpersonal and political relationships, love, power and justice are inseparable. Without love, power becomes tyrannical and justice is only a name for the rule of the strong. Without power, love is reduced to sentimentality and justice to an impotent ideal. Without justice, love is a perverse dance of domination and submission.”

Always, the prophet must be imaginative. One does not prophesy about what is but about what ought to be. Which usually makes prophecy sound absurd to the common ear.

Let me give you an example. A pastor mentioned to me that he did not like the beginning of our CLC flyer, that it could cause controversy in his church. Here are the words, aptly authored by Joe Haag, so I’ll brag about his work:

“To follow Christ means that we allow his life to gain leverage against our lives. Against our lust for power, he endures the cross. Against our pride and arrogance, he washes the disciples’ feet. Against our upward mobility, he preaches good news to the poor. Against our self-absorption, he has compassion on the multitudes. Against our tight circles of family and friends, he reaches out to strangers. Against our safe noninvolvement, he confronts the powers. Against our violence and hatred, he demands that we love our enemies. Against our self-righteousness, he welcomes sinners. Against our bigotry, he tells us about a Good Samaritan. Against our frenzy, he invites us to trust God. Against all the lies which enslave us, he tells the truth which sets us free. How can we be transformed into the image of Christ? One answer is that as we surrender our lives to God’s purposes, God changes us.”
That pastor did not like the words “our pride and arrogance” or “against our self-absorption.” He said, “I’m not going to say either one of those about America.” Which means what? That he accepts the Lordship of America? Then who will be left to speak a word for the Lordship of Christ?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Phil Strickland: Where Have All the Prophets Gone? (part 2 of 4)

(Phil Strickland, director of the BGCT Christian Life Commission, wrote this speech for presentation to the TBC Breakfast at the BGCT meeting in Austin, November 14, 2005. Unable to attend because of illness, he asked his friend and pastor George Mason, Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas, to deliver the speech. Phil passed away on February 11, 2006.)
Where have all the prophets gone?
Have they all disappeared? Or is it possible that some of them are around but aren’t doing their job? Is it possible that God is still appointing them, but not many of us want the job? I mean, we know what happened to Jonah, and the belly of a whale doesn’t sound like fun, does it?
Walter Brueggemann is one of our best Old Testament scholars. In books like his wonderful work, The Prophetic Imagination (and Finally Comes the Poet), he doesn’t let us relegate prophecy to biblical times. Prophets are not obsolete, although they seem rather rare these days, despite the great need for them in our churches and in our world.
I want to suggest that pretty much all of us are called to have an element of the prophet in us. Yes, I understand that is not the primary role for many of us, but I’m thinking that being overcrowded with prophets is not our problem right now.
I’m suggesting that for pastors, for example, as we call them to the role of pastor/preacher, we might also want to add the word prophet: pastor/preacher/prophet. Such pastors will value our values and will fight for them. The title of prophet might even apply to laymen or, God forbid, a denomination! These groups, with a little prophetic imagination, could become the cutting edge of the prophetic in our society, rather than the six to eight so-called “prophets” we hear on TV, whose prophetic imagination is limited to Armageddon. The genuine prophets of whom I speak would be ready and willing to confront the principalities and powers, whether they be school boards, city councils, the legislature, Congress, or even our own Baptist institutions.
But seldom do I go to churches and hear preaching that is prophetic or that proclaims a strong sense of biblical ethics. And the brave pastors who want me to preach for them often say a word to me before I go. It goes something like this: “Now, Phil, our church is not really in a place where it can deal with anything controversial.” Which tells me that they don’t want to do anything that involves risk. Which tells me that no prophecy is happening there since prophecy always contains an element of risk!
Back to our $70 billion tax cut currently being considered, funded partially, as I said, with $50 billion being cut from programs that are used for poor children. If the pastor as prophet wanted to point out the injustice of that, how would that go over with some of the members of the church?
Well, I think I can answer that for Phil. They would cry “Politics!” They would suddenly become strict church-state separationists. Of course, what they really are saying is that they don’t want God and government to go together if it’s not their brand of politics. I’ll also tell you that there’s a widespread feeling in many church pews that has to be challenged. People think government is by nature always bad and needs constraining. They think government is lousy at caring for the poor and that that’s really the church’s business. But I can tell you that I have never once seen a line of those folks forming at my door begging for ways to give the church more money to care for the poor or eager to start new ministries that would do it better than the government.
So what is happening to prophetic voices?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A New Low in Texas Baptist Life

Denominational politics among Texas Baptists has reached a new low this year.  In times past, it has not been unusual for innuendoes, distortions, and sometimes vicious rumors to circulate about the character and theology of the candidates who were running for offices in the convention.  This year, however, a candidate for office is openly circulating vile rumors and malicious hearsay  with the clear intention of sullying the reputation of a layperson outside of Texas and not running for office.  

Ed Jackson, a layman from Garland, Texas, and a candidate for second vice-president of the BGCT, has slandered Bob Stephenson, a layman from Norman, Oklahoma, in a comment posted on Ken Coffee’s weblog.  Other persons share equal culpability for re-posting and circulating his slanderous rumor throughout the blogosphere.
Jackson has accused Mr. Stephenson of receiving an illegal kickback from donations he made to First Baptist Church of Norman, OK.  In reality, funds that Stephenson donated to the church were transferred from the church to Oklahoma Baptist University to be used for scholarships.  Jackson’s statements about FBC Norman, therefore, are inaccurate and totally irrelevant in regard to the work of Texas Baptists.
Jackson also alleges that Stephenson is “the MAJOR contributor to TBC.”  Mr. Stephenson’s generosity to Texas Baptists Committed (TBC) has never been a secret, though it is highly unlikely that his donations to TBC amount to more than those of other contributors.  In reality, his contributions to TBC have been miniscule in comparison with his generosity toward numerous other Baptist causes – including the financial safety net that TBC and other mainstream Baptists collected to help transition the SBC missionaries  who refused to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message Statement.
Stephenson takes great pride in whatever small role he has been able to play in assisting TBC to assure that the institutions and agencies of BGCT have held fast to historic Baptist principles and remained free from the domination and control of fundamentalism.  He encourages other free and faithful Baptists to demonstrate their gratitude for the efforts of TBC by donating to support its ongoing work.

Phil Strickland: Where Have All the Prophets Gone? (part 1 of 4)

(Phil Strickland, director of the BGCT Christian Life Commission, wrote this speech for presentation to the TBC Breakfast at the BGCT meeting in Austin, November 14, 2005. Unable to attend because of illness, he asked his friend and pastor George Mason, Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas, to deliver the speech. Phil passed away on February 11, 2006.)
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various tongues…” (1 Cor. 12:27-29).
Prophets! I thought we got rid of them a long time ago. Actually, I haven’t seen many around lately. Where have all the prophets gone?
You may remember the Pete Seeger song made popular by Peter, Paul, and MaryWhere Have All the Flowers Gone? Well, I think we need new words to that tune. On any given Sunday morning in a Baptist church, there are plenty of flowers in front of the pulpit, but not a prophet to be found behind it.
Where have all the prophets gone?
Lord knows we need them. Consider:
  • One-half of the world is living on $2 a day. But that’s the other half, right? They are used to that.
  • Twenty-five percent of our Texas children are living in poverty. But that’s other people’s children, right? Figure that’s the way God thinks of them?
  • Religious liberty is being lost without our seeming to notice. It’s oozing away through our fingers like a fist full of sand until we open it all too late to discover there is not much of it left in our grasp.
  • And then there’s the dramatic and continuing shift of the world’s wealth away from the poor and the middle class to the largest corporations and the wealthiest people. But not to worry, we can trust them to do the right thing with all that money, right? After all, the marketplace evens everything out in the end. Isn’t that where we can depend upon the “invisible hand” of God to work? Or was that just Adam Smith’s hand?
  • Environmental regulations are disappearing every day. But we are given by God the right to have dominion over all the earth, aren’t we? Well, something like that.
  • And what about another tax cut of $70 billion that will be funded by $50 billion of cuts to children? That proposal will probably be passed by the House this week and is supported by the administration. There will be 300,000 people who will lose food stamps, and another 300,000 will lose access to daycare. The bill cuts Medicaid by $45 billion when we already have 45 million people who have no health insurance. Something tells me that’s not what Jesus meant by “Suffer the little children ….”
Where have all the prophets gone?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dialogue: Just a Pipe Dream?

A blog can be either a monologue or a dialogue. “Monologgers” use their blogs as nothing more than a personal soapbox, just big enough for them – and no one else – to stand on.
Our TBC bloggers are “dialoggers.” Yes, we intend to vigorously promote the historic principles upon which John Smyth, Thomas Helwys, and others based the Baptist movement from its beginning. But even Smyth and Helwys ultimately disagreed on some of the details and wound up going their separate ways. Even in unity, Baptists have dissented – whether directing that dissent at society, the state, or each other. But healthy dissent is based in dialogue. “Dialoggers” spend as much time listening – and hearing – as talking.
We intend this blog to be a dialogue . . . a conversation. We intend our posts to be conversation-starters . . . invitations to genuine, serious-minded dialogue on serious issues . . . issues relating to how our churches and our people can, by staying true to historic Baptist principles, better serve Christ in our communities and our world – a world that is struggling to find hope these days.
DIALOGUE . . . Is it possible in a communications environment that is loaded with information and charged with emotion? There's a lot of shouting on the Web, but serious discussion is hard to come by. Too many people view anyone having differing views as opponents and enemies, and go to any ends necessary to discredit them. Yes, dialogue is difficult. But we must try.
DIALOGUE . . . Is it possible in a Baptist environment that seeks to protect rather than challenge? Many of us have used our faith to build walls around us, and we call it “security.” Difficult questions threaten, like the trumpets at Jericho, to cause the walls to come tumblin’ down. Such questions threaten our relationships with friends, family, and colleagues. Difficult questions threaten the funding of our institutions. But how secure is a faith that is afraid to face those questions? And how faithful are institutions that, for the sake of survival, refuse to face them? And can we ever fully be the presence of Christ if we run from them?
DIALOGUE . . . Christ often made those who followed Him uncomfortable by challenging their security. He also challenged the religious leaders and institutions of His day. How? By asking them difficult questions that required them to reconsider their theology, their ethics, and even their politics. But Christ’s aim was always redemption, not condemnation or destruction. Asking questions to challenge believers and institutions should be aimed at strengthening them and drawing them back to their purpose, NOT at destroying them.
DIALOGUE . . . We seem to shrink from it these days. We either shout at each other or avoid each other. What’s missing is the willingness to honestly challenge each other with mutual respect and understanding . . . to listen to the other person’s perspective and try to understand it (whether or not you're persuaded to agree with it) – just as we expect others to try to understand ours. Jesus said it best: So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12, NIV)
It takes courage – the courage of Christ – to grow our faith by challenging our own notions and by listening to what others are thinking. It takes courage and integrity to wrestle with difficult questions rather than simply consider all questions settled . . . to challenge ourselves, our friends, and our churches to wrestle with the question of all that is implied in truly being the presence of Christ in our world. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV)
Five years ago, shortly before he passed away, Phil Strickland – director of the BGCT Christian Life Commission – wrote a speech to be presented at the TBC Breakfast at the BGCT annual meeting in Austin. Too ill to attend, Phil asked his dear friend and pastor, George Mason, to deliver the speech on his behalf. In his address, titled "Where Have All the Prophets Gone?," Phil wrote that he believed that "pretty much all of us are called to have the element of the prophet in us." But he told of times that he was asked to preach in churches around the state, and pastors too often warning him to avoid controversy in his sermon. We've heard the same warning – avoid controversy – plenty often at TBC, and we're hearing it now regarding this blog.
During the next week, I'll be posting Phil's speech, "Where Have All the Prophets Gone?," on this blog. It will be broken into parts, to give you an opportunity to digest a little of this rich spiritual food at a time. Please read it prayerfully, and ponder Phil's challenge to us. Then let's talk about it. We at TBC don't think that dialogue is just a pipe dream.