Honesty lands Southern Baptist in hot water
Finding a good, intellectually challenging book in a Baptist bookstore is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. So, it’s no surprise that more than 60 Baptists bookstores have refused to carry the new book by Kirby Godsey, When We Talk About God… Let’s Be Honest. (Smith & Helwys, $19.95)
Godsey is the President of Mercer University, a Southern Baptist backed school in Macon, Georgia. He affirms that Jesus is the center of his life and of the Christian faith, but he refuses to be ruled by creeds. His book is an honest, open and touching dissertation of his experiences with God. Heresy is what the Baptists are calling it …and not surprisingly. Godsey makes some rather un-Baptist statements. For example:
- “In the world of religious faith, we will have to learn that no one has the final answers. When you set forth our belief as the only right belief, we are wrong.”
- “To ascribe infallibility to the written words of the Bible is wrong.”
- “Turning the Bible into a rule book distorts the power of the Gospel and misappropriates the teaching of Scripture.”
- “Jesus is not a god to be worshipped or the founder of a world religion to be admired.”
You can see why the Baptists want his head on a stick. They have formally admonished him and have asked him to “prayerfully reconsider his theological convictions.”
I believe it is a blessing to see that someone with the stature of Godsey has finally gotten it — God loves everyone, without exception and without regard to denominational preference. God is not impressed by creeds or piety or blind faith. We are saved only by God’s grace, not our own efforts.
Godsey’s book also holds great promise for gays and lesbians. He admonishes modern day religion for identifying “ourselves by the people we exclude.”
Further, he tells the reader, “whether it is global warfare in the Middle East or personal prejudice toward a gay Christian, every act of rejection is an act against God.”
He also plainly states, “it is immoral to account for the HIV infection as evidence of God’s wrath toward gays.”
Get this book and prayerfully read every page. You will be richly blessed. You may not agree with everything Godsey says, but it will both intellectually and spiritually enrich you. Godsey leads you through his beliefs, his doubts and his convictions. It is truly a personal journey you’ll enjoy taking part in.
At the end you’ll surely agree when Godsey writes, “…faith does not flow from getting our doctrines straight. Genuine convictions flow from the inward experience of God.”
Founder of Motley Mystic and the Jubilee! Circle interfaith spiritual community In Columbia, S.C., Candace Chellew (she/her) is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, she earned her masters of theological studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, was ordained by Gentle Spirit Christian Church in December 2003, and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She is also a musician and animal lover.