By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
As many of our readers know, the Baptist and Reflector is celebrating its 180th anniversary this year.
One of our features has been “Glimpses of the Past.” We find articles and editorials from past issues and reprint them.
It has been fascinating as I have gone through those issues. And it has been amazing to find that many of the issues that we think are unique to our generation today have been around for decades, whether it be worship and music style or evangelism.
In looking for material for this week’s issue I was drawn to two editorials, one written more than 90 years ago, and the other written 46 years ago. Both address topics that are eerily similar to issues we face today. See page 15.
The first one I found was a short editorial written by then-editor James A. Lester about the Cooperative Program.
While percentage giving through the Cooperative Program was much higher then, it apparently didn’t meet the needs and expectations of denominational leaders of the time.
Editor Lester summed it up well when he wrote: “… until something markedly better comes along, we had better ‘stick’ with and support it (the Cooperative Program).”
Guess what? Nothing better has come along in the past 45 years and we would do well to “stick with it and support it.”
The second editorial was written by then-editor J.D. Moore in 1923.
He dealt with a hot topic issue of the time — evolution. Apparently Tennessee lawmakers were considering a bill to make the teaching of evolution in public schools unlawful. Editor Moore was rallying Tennessee Baptists to take up the cause and to support the bill. He had a valid argument. “If a man wishes to hold such a belief (evolution), he has a perfect right to do so; but in a state, composed of those who believe otherwise, for the most part, he has no right to teach such a doctrine at the expense of the public.”
Despite the efforts of Moore and no doubt others, we know that 90-plus years later, evolution is taught in our schools.
But it is good to know that the editor of the Baptist paper had the courage to stand for his convictions which he no doubt based upon Scripture. He upheld the biblical view of creation.
Maybe you think the evolution “battle” is over. That may be true but the principle is alive and well — just with another issue.
Last week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments related to same-sex marriage.
Baptist Press reported April 27 that “the justices will ponder whether the U.S. Constitution requires a state to license or recognize a marriage between people of the same sex. In a ruling expected in late June or early July, the court could legalize same-sex marriage throughout the country, permit states to maintain their authority to define marriage as only a hetero-sexual union or require states to recognize gay marriages from other states without preventing them from licensing only male-female marriages.”
This time, instead of legislators making the ultimate decision, nine Supreme Court justices will make a ruling that could radically change our culture.
Each state now has the right to choose how it will define marriage. Tennesseans have made it clear that we believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman. That is biblical. That is truth.
If other states want to live contrary to God’s Word so be it. Don’t force it down everyone else’s throat.
I think that was ultimately what Editor Moore was saying in 1923 when he fought the evolution issue.
There was a concerted prayer effort last week when the oral arguments were made. That prayer must continue until the nine Supreme Court justices reach their decision and it is announced.
Most speculate that the judges will rule in favor of same-sex marriage. But as that famous philosopher
Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over until it’s over.”
Keep praying and just remember that regardless of what those nine Supreme Court justices decide, we ultimately serve a higher authority than any of them.