Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition publicly attacks Sarah Palin for her use of the word “baptism” in the context of a NRA political rally.
“Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” ~Sarah Palin
Joe Carter, an editor at The Gospel Coalition seems to be a bit miffed about the above phrase used by former Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin. Let me give you the background scoop. Palin, the former 2008 vice presidential nominee, was at a National Rifle Association rally discussing politics, NOT religion. She talked about leftist liberals and Democrats. She talked about violence and terrorism and enemies of America.
And then this comment came out of her mouth:
“Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”
No biggie. Where was she again? Oh yea, a packed-out NRA rally. The venue was not a church or religious conference. It was a political NRA rally. The topic was not Christianity and making a public profession of faith. It was clearly a political statement meant to rile up her political supporters (read: political, not Christian commentary).
Now I’m not going to be discussing whether I like Sarah Palin’s political agenda or not, whether it’s appropriate to use water boarding on terrorists or not, or whether it’s cool to own guns or not. I have my opinions, but that’s not the point.
However, some people don’t pay attention to the obvious: context, people, C.O.N.T.E.X.T!!! Joe Carter got all bent out of shape over Palin’s words.
Let’s get to the heart of Joe’s article, Is Waterboarding How We “Baptize Terrorists”? – Sarah Palin, Enemies, and Christian Anthropology. Mr. Carter writes:
Why It Matters: For anyone to confess Christ as their savior and to compare one of the means of God’s grace to an act of torture is reprehensible. I hope members of Gov. Palin’s local church will explain to her why her remarks denigrate the Christian faith. Such remarks bring shame on the Body of Christ and to our witness in the world.
Joe Carter thinks he’s going all “protect Christ” and “protect the Gospel” by his words. Again, look at the context and look at the venue. Was there a gospel choir singing there?
No, I didn’t think so. Was there an altar call? Did people bring their Bibles? Perhaps on their cell phones. No, this was a NRA rally. So, let’s take a closer look at that “baptism” word. I checked four sources:
a person’s initiation into a particular activity or role, typically one perceived as difficult.
Within the 1st entry at Merriam-Webster:
b : a non-Christian rite using water for ritual purification
The 2nd entry:
an act, experience, or ordeal by which one is purified, sanctified, initiated, or named
- any similar ceremony or action of initiation, dedication, etc.
- a trying or purifying experience or initiation.
- Christian Science. purification of thought and character.
Oxforddictionaries.com – (please note the use of the word baptism in the sample phrase)
A person’s initiation into a particular activity or role, typically one perceived as difficult:
this event constituted his baptism as a politician
Aside from the fact that Mr. Carter seems to make much ado of nothing regarding Palin’s little itty bitty baptism quote, his silence on other matters speaks volume to me – silence about real issues where the Gospel and Christ should be defended and has not by him, nor his friends at The Gospel Coalition – where children have been sexually violated, emotionally and spiritually abused while C.J. Mahaney was at the helm of Sovereign Grace Ministries.
Mr. Carter doesn’t want to touch that subject. Well, let me remind you about the little Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) fiasco:
The court documents (****strong trigger warning for sexual content***):
Putting aside the sex abuse and lawsuit, there has been enough turmoil going on at SGM that 20+ churches left the fold under Mahaney’s leadership:
Up to 20 churches have decided to no longer be under the direction of Sovereign Grace Ministries because of disputes over the leadership capabilities of the group’s president, Pastor C.J. Mahaney, and its executive board, say former and present associates. (Source: The Christian Post article)
One of the churches that left the fold was the SGM flagship church, Covenant Life Church (CLC). Pastor Josh Harris was mentored for several years by C.J. Mahaney. Why would Harris, also a Gospel Coalition council member, leave CJ Mahaney’s family of churches? Yet, prominent church leaders (Gospel Coalition council members) still don’t have a problem with associating with this man, or even sitting next to him in front row seats at the recent Together for the Gospel conference.
So while Sarah Palin got raked over the coals publicly by Joe Carter claiming, “Sarah Palin made the sacrilegious remark about how she would treat terrorists,” he remains silent about other matters that are much more important when it comes to defending the Gospel and shaming the name of Christ.
I am not the first person to notice Carter’s silence on the SGM scandal. Christian radio personality, Janet Mefferd, in her article, Why speaking the truth in love isn’t ‘slandering Christ’s Bride’, touched on this same topic:
But why is this significant? As I previously mentioned, The Gospel Coalition kept silent for many months about the Sovereign Grace Ministries sexual abuse lawsuit, in which 11 plaintiffs claim to have suffered heartbreaking sexual abuse and also allege conspiracy and cover-up. TGC has an association and stated friendship with lawsuit defendant C.J. Mahaney, and that means — even if Carter didn’t intend it — when he says, “don’t slander Christ’s bride,” a whole lot of people, rightly or wrongly, are reading that statement through the Sovereign Grace Ministries lawsuit lens. And they’re remembering The Gospel Coalition’s silence.
Here’s a little reminder from Pam Palmer, mother of a SGM lawsuit plaintiff who was sexually abused as a toddler while their family attended a Sovereign Grace Ministries church. A little background info – Pam was told by church leaders to NOT call the police after she discovered that her daughter had been sexually abused. Instead, she was told to bring her toddler in to reconcile with the perpetrator with church leaders. When the toddler saw her perpetrator, she hid under a desk. That visual has never left me.
Earlier, I asked Pam Palmer if she had any comments regarding C.J. Mahaney sitting in front-row seats with prominent church leaders at the recent Together for the Gospel Conference:
Sometimes I am at a loss for words on what to say at the insensitivity and callousness of C. J. Mahaney and the men who support him. What other conclusion can observant people come to when they see a disgraced (yet undisciplined) leader sitting in the front row at such a prominent event other than the men sitting with him approve of his 30+ year record of covering up child sex abuse. ~Pam Palmer, mother of plaintiff in Sovereign Grace Ministries abuse lawsuit.
Baptism, schmaptism, Joe Carter. Let’s see:
The word “baptism” taken out of context
20+ churches leaving one of your council member’s family of churches, or maybe just a little sex abuse oversight – ahem – 67 combined pages of legal complaints of alleged conspiracy and cover up of sexual and spiritual abuse while Mahaney was captain of the ship. hmm.
Mr. Carter, you seemed to be confused about: “bring[ing] shame on the Body of Christ and to our witness in the world.”