A charge of “Anti-Americanism” has been leveled at the Baptist World Alliance by the Southern Baptist Convention. Interesting that an “international” body would be predisposed toward any particular group. Dr. Denton Lotz sent out a response to this charge,
“I am very sorry to hear such a statement. The other 10 conventions from North America have never felt this way. We are a global organization representing 211 Baptist conventions and unions all over the world, in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and North America. By its very nature the BWA represents Baptists all over the world. As Irmgard Class of Germany wrote, “We are not anti-American. It’s just that we are not Americans!”
The SBC accusses the BWA of anti-Americanism based on an invitation by the South African Baptist Convention to speak at the BWA meeting in Durban, South Africa. I was there. It was fascinating hearing from a person instrumental in overthrowing oppressive apartheid. The intent was to talk about “reconciliation” and what it would mean to South Africa. Allegedly Bishop Tutu holds differing views on other matters and so we accuse the BWA of “anti-Americanism.” Other accusations stem from comments made by an African American pastor from Washington DC who referenced information gleaned from US congressional hearings when talking about the injustice of poverty of the Pacific Rim countries paid horrible wages working in sweatshops. This is tragic. Denton Lotz is accused of being cozy with Fidel Castro. We met in Havanna, Cuba a few years ago and Dr. Lotz met with Castro. Since that time there has been a greater freedom to meet in house churches and distribute bibles than before. But, because of that meeting, Dr. Lotz is “anti-American.” So much for standing for the gospel and those hoping to reach their fellow countrymen and women via churches and bibles.
This leads me to consider what brand of Christianity we practice. Certainly we have elements of “Americanism”, but does that make our expressions better? In fact, is it right to suggest an American version of Christianity is the only version. Are we converting to Christ or to a given culture. I long for they day when we seek to bring the gospel into the context in which we find ourselves not longing for a bygone day and not looking for another day. Rather, we should live in the time God plants us and be found applying the gospel to that context. Our world is chaning. It is more global than every before. We should hold on to the faith before holding on to America – the two are not the same.
What about a prayer that would go something like this,
God forgive me for believing my expressions of faith are more right than those living in another Country. Father forvgive me for failing to apply the gospel to where I live today and trying to fit today into yesterday. God help me connect life and faith to where you have me today.