The World and Everything in It: April 25, 2023
Analysis of the Supreme Court’s emergency ruling on mifepristone; polyamory recognized in Massachusetts towns; and a family seeking to have children encounters surprising physical and emotional suffering. Plus: a zoo hiring seagull deterrents, commentary from John Wilsey, and the Tuesday morning news
PREROLL: The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like us. My name is Maggie Bales and I hail from Knoxville, Tennessee, at the foot of the beautiful Smoky Mountains where I reside with my wonderful husband of 44 years. I am mom to three amazing children and their equally amazing spouses, and Gram to nine terrific grands. Beginning my day with this podcast is as energizing as that morning cup of coffee. I hope you enjoy today’s program.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
The Supreme Court decided to keep an abortion drug on the market while lower courts hear a case against the Food and Drug Administration. We’ll talk about what this means for pro-lifers.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also, some cities take steps to redefine marriage yet again. This time to recognize 3 to 6 adults as being in a single marriage.
Plus, building a family God’s way sometimes comes with unexpected grief and sorrow. We’ll hear how one family handled the pain and found hope.
LAURA SUTTON: I still believed God, I knew God was there. I knew he was sovereign, and in control of every single one of these details. But for the first time in my life, God did not feel good.
And commentary on the life of the late Charles Stanley.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, April 25th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Time now for news with Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Sudan » The U.S. government is working to get Americans safely out of worn-torn Sudan.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan:
JAKE SULLIVAN: We have deployed US intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to support land evacuation routes, which Americans are using.
But he said there are no U.S. troops on the ground.
Pentagon spokesman, Brigadier General Pat Ryder said the US is also deploying naval assets off the coast of Sudan.
PAT RYDER: The idea here is to have these capabilities offshore available should we need, for example, to transport citizens to another location, should we need to provide medical care, those kinds of things.
Foreign governments have airlifted hundreds of their diplomats and others to safety.
The country has spiraled into chaos amid fighting between rival generals vying for control of Sudan.
Biden » President Biden is reportedly expected to announce a reelection bid this week, possibly as soon as today. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has more.
JOSH SCHUMACHER: On Monday, Biden told reporters—quote—“I told you I’m planning on running.” And he added, “I’ll let you know real soon.”
So far, only self-help author Marianne Williamson and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are mounting challenges to Biden. And the Democratic National Committee plans to give the president a clear path to the nomination.
But the general election could prove tougher. Recent separate polls by Harvard-Harris and the Wall Street Journal suggest voters would prefer either former President Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to another Biden term.
If reelected, the nation’s oldest president would remain in office until age 86.
For WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
Carlson, Lemon departures » Two of the most recognizable figures in cable news are out of a job.
Fox News announced Monday that it has parted ways with top-rated host Tucker Carlson.
ROBERT THOMPSON: This was a big surprise.
Professor Robert Thompson is director of the Center for Television and Pop Culture at Syracuse University.
THOMPSON: One of their big money-makers now being kicked to the curb. At the same time, they’re having to shell out an enormous amount of money to Dominion voters.
Fox News will pay nearly 800 million dollars to settle a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion sued Fox after coverage on Carlson’s program suggested the company rigged its voting machines against former President Donald Trump.
Also on Monday, CNN fired longtime host Don Lemon weeks after he made a sexist comment about Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley.
Sen. Kennedy attack » Utah Republican State Senator Mike Kennedy is speaking out after his house was vandalized, apparently by pro-LGBT activists.
That came after he sponsored a bill to protect minors from gender transition procedures. The governor signed it into law earlier this year.
MIKE KENNEDY: These violent messages were left on my garage door, and you'll notice that their blood red dripping blood red spray paint, which I find to be frankly shocking. And this is an effort to silence me and I will not be silenced.
The messages were signed with a term for people who identify as transgender.
Kennedy said even his political opponents have come forward to condemn the violence. The LGBT advocacy group Equality Utah, also condemned the attack.
China ex-Soviet remarks » China’s Foreign Ministry is walking back remarks by a top Chinese official.
Global leaders began grilling Beijing after the Chinese ambassador to France said ex-Soviet Baltic states don’t have independent status under international law.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said Monday that he wanted clarification from Beijing about those remarks.
GABRIELIUS LANDSBERGIS: And to remind him that we are not post-Soviet countries we’re the countries that were illegally occupied by Soviet Union.
MAO NING: [Speaking Mandarin]
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning sought to clarify Beijing’s stance on Monday, saying that China respects the sovereignty of ex-Soviet countries.
Kenya cult » Police in Kenya have discovered the bodies of at least 73 people who belonged to a religious cult.
A local human rights group warned the police about Kenya’s Good News International Church. Its pastor allegedly told members to starve themselves.
Authorities have arrested the pastor. He could face charges related to terrorism.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: how last week’s Supreme Court order affects the legal battle around chemical abortions. Plus, polyamory comes to the justice of the peace.
This is The World and Everything in It
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday, April 25th, 2023.
You’re listening to The World and Everything in It and we thank you for joining us today. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Up first: the Supreme Court ruling on mifepristone.
A quick refresher. On April 7th, a federal judge in Texas ruled in the case Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. the Food and Drug Administration.
Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk held that the FDA improperly allowed mifepristone into the U.S. It used a rushed approval process reserved for drugs that treat illnesses that threaten life. He placed a temporary hold on the FDA’s approval of mifepristone until a court could issue a decision on the merits.
REICHARD: Following this ruling, the Biden administration and the company that makes mifepristone filed an emergency motion to the 5th Circuit to stop the ruling from going into effect.
Within a week, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay pending appeal, in part.
The three judge panel granted the argument that the pro-life doctors were too late to challenge the FDA’s original approval of the drug back in the year 2000.
But the judges upheld Kacsmaryk’s decision to put back in place safety measures that the FDA had discarded. So they would have prohibited sending mifepristone through the mail and would have halted approval of a generic version.
NICK EICHER: But then the Biden administration and the drugmaker Danco went up another level and filed an emergency motion with the Supreme Court.
On Friday the high court granted the parties’ motion to stay. This keeps mifepristone on the market indefinitely while the appeals court reviews the Texas ruling.
Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.
So what does all of this mean in the battle over chemical abortions?
REICHARD: Erik Baptist is the senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, the law firm representing the doctors who sued the FDA. He says that Justice Alito’s dissent critiques the majority of the court for issuing an emergency order for a situation that does not warrant it.
ERIK BAPTIST: He talked about how the defendants here did not have any irreparable harm, they're not actually going to be hurt by our victories in the District Court, or by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, because all that's merely doing is reverting back to the regimen for these dangerous drugs for the last for two administrations, or span three administrations, the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration and the Obama administration. So it was not a heavy lift. It wasn't onerous. And that's what Justice Alito talked about. And he also talked about the effects on on the drug manufacturer, again, their drug is still going to be continued to be sold in this country. And their approval has not been threatened at this point. So he really dismissed the concerns that what maybe the other justices may have had in granting it.
On the same day that Texas ruling came down putting a stay on FDA approval of mifepristone, a federal district court in Washington state ordered the FDA not to restrict access to the abortion drug in 17 states and the District of Columbia. So while this conflict is primarily over access to an abortion drug, it is also over the FDA.
EICHER: Sarah Parshall Perry is a Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. She says that the FDA needs to be held accountable for the process it used to approve mifepristone back in 2000, because it made a dangerous assumption.
SARAH PARSHALL PERRY: We want the FDA to follow the law, regardless of whatever the medication is at issue. And this is ultimately a material that it's an abortion pill. Rather, it's more important that the FDA follow appropriate procedures and approve something on an emergency basis, which is what it did in the year 2000 that is truly classified as a serious or life threatening illness, which no one can argue that pregnancy is.
There's no emergency surrounding pregnancy itself. Pregnancy is a very natural condition that many women in the world experience themselves, many without complications. So there's nothing to say that the FDA when it approved this under its emergency authorization, that that was supported by a reading of the underlying statute. In fact, if anything, it strains credibility. It made an argument that there was an emergency that had to be addressed, and the only way to address that was to rubber stamp mifepristone (RU 4-86) for approval, and despite the fact that courts do give deference to agencies when there are these ambiguous underlying readings, there's nothing ambiguous about serious or life threatening illness. And the FDA is essentially trying to make it so.
EICHER: Even though the Dobbs decision overturned the nationwide requirement to allow abortion in all 50 states, Erik Baptist says that the outcome of this new case will affect state laws as well as women’s health.
BAPTIST: This is very important, because as we've talked about mail order abortions are just so irresponsible and reckless, because that takes the doctor out of the equation, it takes the in person office visit out of the equation, where people are now getting prescribed these drugs through the mail with ever without ever having a doctor's visit or examination to confirm gestational age identify with life threatening complications that occur at least in one of 50 pregnancies, and therefore it's just dangerous and reckless. But it undermines the promise of Dobbs, the Dobbs decision, let's return this this issue back to the states and back to the people. But states who want to enact pro life laws and regulations simply can't enforce them, because what the Biden administration has been doing is pushing these drugs by mail across state lines from California to Texas. Without this the government's allowing this to happen or knowing they're happening. So really, this is just the next battle, but it's an important one, especially as you've seen from the other side, they truly believe they can undermine the promise of Dobbs by mailing these drugs across state lines.
As states like Texas and Florida pass laws protecting the unborn from surgical abortion, this battle over chemical abortion is more than just a conflict over one method of ending a pregnancy. WORLD’s Life beat reporter Leah Savas says that chemical abortion is becoming the new center of the battle.
SAVAS: The latest CDC data that we have shows that more than half of abortions in the country are chemical abortions. So basically if if pro lifers are able to get mifepristone off the market, the thought is that would maybe decrease the number of chemical abortions in the country. One hiccup there, though, is that there are other chemicals that you can use to cause abortions. Misoprostol, which is the other drug in the chemical abortion regimen, can be used by itself to cause abortions. So there is some concern about, you know, Abortionists turning over to this other drug if mifepristone becomes unavailable. But anyway, to kind of pushback on the expansion of chemical abortions that we've been seeing over the last couple years would be a big win for the pro-lifers.
REICHARD: That win may still come, but first, lawyers from ADF will have to argue their case in extended oral arguments before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. After that it’s back to the Supreme Court, and potentially back on the desk of Justice Alito, who authored the Dobbs opinion last Spring.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next: polyamory is getting recognition in U.S. cities, starting with three towns near Boston.
Back in 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. At issue was legalizing same-sex marriage in all fifty states. One issue the conservative justices brought up was that by changing the definition of marriage to include arrangements other than one man and one woman, it would only be a matter of time before other innovations were proposed.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: In this clip, you’ll hear Justice Alito, followed by Mary Bonauto, attorney for the same-sex couples.
JUSTICE ALITO: What if there's no, these are four people, two men and two women? It's not, it's not the sort of polygamous relationship, polygamous marriages that existed in other societies and still exist in some societies today. And let's say they're all, they're all consenting adults, highly educated, they're all lawyers. What would be the ground under under the logic of the decision you would like us to hand down in this case? What would be the logic of denying them the same right?
MARY BONAUTO: The number one, I assume the states would rush it and say that when you're talking about multiple people joining into a relationship, that that is not the same thing that we've had in marriage, which is the mutual support and consent of two people.
As Justice Alito feared, the logic that advocates of same-sex marriage used to win their case in 2015 took only five years to lead towns in Massachusetts to recognize relationships of up to six people together.
WORLD’s Relations beat reporter Juliana Chan Erikson explains what happened when the city council of Somerville, Massachusetts, was asked to recognize domestic partnerships of unmarried people during the pandemic.
JULIANA CHAN ERIKSON: So they'd already settled two things right off the bat, they do have to be married. No. Do you have to be a man and a woman? No. And then one council member, probably playing devil's advocate asked, do they have to be two people? And all these council members agreed. They all knew someone who was in a polyamorous relationship. So they realize, no, it doesn't have to be two people. So Somerville is a fairly progressive liberal city, and the council members seem to reflect that. So there wasn't much discussion or argument about the merits of traditional marriage. So they ended up changing a few words on their domestic partnership definition. And it passed unanimously.
EICHER: Well, since then, the nearby towns of Arlington and Cambridge, Massachusetts, followed the example of Somerville. And last month, Somerville’s city council upped the ante with an ordinance that prohibits discrimination in policing or employment on the basis of polyamory.
Now, to date, there’s been just a handful of applications for polyamorous domestic partnerships, but Juliana Chan Erikson says it’s likely just a matter of time before polyamory becomes as big an issue as is same-sex marriage.
So how did we get here?
Katy Faust is Founder and President of Them Before Us. That’s a children’s rights organization that is committed to traditional family structure. She says this movement toward polyamory is a logical step in a larger movement to redefine marriage.
KATY FAUST: And so now we are riding that train to the next station. And that's polygamy and polyamory that says, well, we can do away with the expectation of monogamy, that there's only going to be one other person in the relationship, because many adults make me happy being married to multiple women or multiple men. That's what makes me happy. And if marriage is just a vehicle of adult fulfillment, well, this is what fulfills me. And so once the standard is adult sexual desire, adult sexual identity, adult sexual feelings, then you can't have any norms for marriage at all. And so really, what we're seeing is any kind of category, any kind of line, any kind of distinction, anything that would curtail adult sexual fulfillment is now becoming grounds for discrimination. And that's it. Like, categories will be considered discriminatory. And so we need to destroy all categories.
REICHARD: In that 2015 recording from the Obergefell argument you heard earlier, Bonauto, lawyer for the same-sex couples, said that states are likely to refuse polyamory. The reason boils down to thorny questions of what happens to the kids in situations like medical emergencies or divorce.
But how do these arrangements affect kids outside of those extreme circumstances?
FAUST: Obviously it's very popular to claim, Well, there's more adults to love them, there's more adults to split the caregiving duties and the household duties. And so isn't this just a boon for children? Well, that has not worked out in any other family arrangement at all. We've experimented quite a bit with unrelated adults coming in and out permanently, temporarily in children's lives, and it never increases their outcome. As a matter of fact, in all of those scenarios, it drastically increases their risk of abuse and neglect. So if this claim was true, it would go against everything that we know about who children are, what they need, and the variables that maximize their thriving.
EICHER: Faust says there are several reasons why kids need biological parents…and a significant reason comes down to a child’s identity.
FAUST: It's very hard to answer the question, ‘Who am I?’ when children cannot answer the question, ‘Whose am I?’ And we see that with children who were abandoned or children who were adopted or children created through sperm and egg donation, they very often struggle with identity issues. And you minimize those identity questions when kids are raised by both biological parents, especially in the context of an extended family.
REICHARD: Returning to Massachusetts, these city ordinances do not legalize polyamorous marriage, because marriage is defined by state law, and the state has not yet changed its definition. But if the past informs the future, it may only be a matter of time before the Obergefell tactics repeat and a polyamorous unit is at the Supreme Court demanding the right to be married.
EICHER: Well, Juliana Chan Erikson is WORLD’s marriage and family beat reporter. You can follow her weekly newsletter called Relations. Check it out at wng.org/newsletters.
NICK EICHER, HOST: An unusual job listing at a zoo in England: a team of people who are friendly, energetic, and flexible. The job title? “Seagull Detergent.”
MARY REICHARD, HOST: What was that?
EICHER: Seagull Deterrent. Sorry.
Just trying to clean things up.
You see, the city of Blackpool is a sea-side resort. Seagulls have become a nuisance when they swoop down to steal food from people trying to eat it.
So even though the zoo assures job applicants that they love all animals, they need to do something about these birds. The Seagull Deterrents will be given all the necessary tools for the job, including a costume that’s supposed to look like a big plastic bird of prey.
They say they love animals, but they don’t respect them. How would you describe this?
MARY REICHARD, HOST: I think this is more likely to frighten the children.
EICHER: You have to see this costume. I don’t think it frightens seagulls. I think it doubles them over in laughter.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, April 25th.
You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re so glad you are. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Coming next on The World and Everything in It: life and loss.
For Laura and Michael Sutton, trying to build a family was one of the hardest things they’ve ever done. From miscarriages and debilitating diagnoses to adoption hurdles and bitter endings, grief and hope.
REICHARD: WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has their story in two parts. Today, part one: the valley of the shadow.
For Laura and Michael Sutton, trying to build a family was one of the hardest things they’ve ever done. From miscarriages and debilitating diagnoses to adoption hurdles and bitter endings, grief and hope. Here’s one family’s story of how God carried them through.
WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has their story in two parts. Today, part one: the valley of the shadow.
SOUND: [Clanging metal bucket and sheep baa-ing]
LAURA SUTTON: Hey girls, want some treats?
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Nineteen sheep were never part of Laura Sutton’s plan.
SUTTON: So yeah, I was going to start with seven sheep. And then that turned into nine sheep. And then my nine sheep had 10 babies.
She never expected to live on 73 acres in rural Wisconsin, either. But she’s come to love it.
SUTTON: Has for sure brought alive a lot of biblical analogies about we being the sheep of the Lord's pasture.
Everyone talks about how dumb sheep are. But that’s not what Laura has noticed most about raising sheep. What’s struck her most is how much personality they have, and how much she loves each one individually.
SUTTON: Ironically as much as everyone says, "Oh because we humans we stink so much and we're so stupid." Well, that's true, but I think God also cares so much and knows us by name. And it's it's a great privilege to be a sheep in God's pasture.
Laura always wanted a lot of kids. At least four.
SUTTON: I would have liked six, if I could have had my own way. And I had no clue that that was going to end up turning into one of the hardest things I've ever been to been through.
Laura is slim and blonde. Even in sweatpants and a plain t-shirt, she has an air of elegance. She’s wearing delicate gold wing-shaped earrings. They’re butterfly wings. She never used to like butterflies. But that’s part of the story.
When she got pregnant with her daughter, Kate, Laura was severely nauseous. She thought it was just morning sickness. Everybody told her it was hard, but it would get better.
SUTTON: I was still capable of keeping myself hydrated. Even though I was throwing up all my food for nine months.
It was a brutal pregnancy and birth and postpartum.
SUTTON: And I figured well, everyone says it gets better the next pregnancy won't be as bad. Birth won't be as bad.
And then the next pregnancy was worse, much much worse.
She found out she has something called HG.
SUTTON: Hyperemesis gravidarum.
It’s a rare condition that acts almost like an allergy to being pregnant. Such severe nausea you can’t keep food or water down for nine months. For many women who have H.G., it means cancer-level anti-nausea medications. By comparison, Laura had a mild case. But even still.
SUTTON: It was so bad that I could not keep liquid down.
She was pregnant for three months: a little boy they named Asher. When she miscarried, she was devastated and afraid.
SUTTON: I understood that that miscarriage is very normal. And I still urgently wanted more children. But I began to be very fearful because of the toll that it was taking on my body.
Her husband, Michael, felt it too.
MICHAEL SUTTON: I started thinking, hey, this might not just be difficult, this may be damaging, and perhaps, perhaps even life threatening at some point.
SUTTON: We got pregnant again within a couple of months. We call her Emily but we don't know whether she was a girl or not.
She knew right away she was miscarrying again. She was bleeding internally. It was another initialism, this time: MTHFR, short for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. A genetic mutation. One of the side effects is rapid blood clotting.
SUTTON: And so it very commonly causes miscarriage in all stages of pregnancy.
They lost the baby at seven weeks.
SUTTON: So this is Emily's tree. It's a maple, and that's Asher's tree. It's an oak.
We’re walking down the long, curving driveway on the Suttons’ property. Neat green lawn, tall shade trees, and three small trees, rustling in a strong wind.
SUTTON: Hi, pretty Miloooooo. Hi!
[Meow] I love you so much.
Kate is six, now. She’s running ahead with an orange kitten, scampering alongside. Small cat companions are great, but they’re a poor substitute for siblings to play with.
SUTTON: She’d break my heart because she, I heard her praying as a three and a half year old in the back, Dear God. Please give me a little sister that doesn't die. Amen. Broke my heart.
There are ways of managing MTHFR, but it involves lots of trial and error. Miscarrying again and again as you try to find the right combination of treatments. If it had been only that one condition, Laura Sutton says she might have kept trying. If it had been only H.G., she would have stuck it out. But both conditions together?
SUTTON: It was probably the lowest that I've been with regards to my faith. I still believed God. I knew God was there. I knew he was the only answer. I knew he was sovereign, and in control of every single one of these details. But for the first time in my life, God did not feel good.
So she did what she usually does when faced with something incomprehensible: She started doing exhaustive research. Books, podcasts, sermons. The driving question:
SUTTON: How can I grow in my faith in God's goodness, when my senses and my heart and my mind tell me that God has chosen so much pain for me?
That’s when a friend sent her a talk from Joni Eareckson Tada.
JONI TADA: I long. I desire. I want to be a jewel that does not cringe if God chooses to give my soul a hard scrubbing every now and then.
Joni is no stranger to suffering. Quadriplegia, multiple bouts with cancer, chronic pain.
TADA: I know I can’t help but cling to the man of sorrows. I cling to the cross where every ugly thing is put to death. Before I know it, my sin is sand blasted away resulting in His image shining out of my soul, tested and refined, polished, a soul that glows with the glory of God.
In one of her talks, Joni told the story of her favorite pair of earrings. They were crisp golden squares, smooth and polished. A gift from a friend. One of the earrings fell out and got caught in the tire of her wheelchair. It was crushed, mangled beyond recognition. Devastated, she took the earrings to a jeweler and asked, is there any way to fix this? He said, "No, but I can make this other earring match the broken one." The jeweler took a hammer and grinder to the smooth earring, until it matched the other one. Joni said that it was strangely magnificent, like the work of a skilled artist. The new set of earrings, crushed and crinkled, reflected the light more brilliantly than they had before.
SUTTON: And she likened it to us in our suffering. Even though it is true that in some ways we feel mangled beyond all recovery, but nevertheless, God is creating something beautiful, that will reflect His light more than it ever would before.
That helped steady her as she and Michael mourned. Not just the two little lives they lost, but the death of a dream. The ability, maybe, to ever have more kids.
They felt that God was closing that door. So that’s when they started looking into adoption.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, April 25th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
Last week, pastor Charles Stanley passed away. He was the senior pastor at First Baptist in Atlanta for 49 years. His sermons were popular on Christian radio. But he was not without controversy, given a divorce from his wife Anna in 1993 after 45 years of marriage. But less than a decade before that, Stanley served as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. That was a time when commitment to the trustworthiness of the Bible was on the decline
EICHER: WORLD Opinions commentator John Wilsey is a professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and today he reflects on what Stanley did to defend Biblical inerrancy.
JOHN WILSEY, COMMENTATOR: The world lost a truly great man last week. For 76 years, this man was devoted to preaching and teaching the gospel message based on the authority of the Bible. His name was Charles Stanley.
Southern Baptists have the distinction of being the only major Protestant denomination to arrest a theologically leftward drift and recover a shared commitment to inerrancy without compromising Christ’s command to evangelize the world. At the beginning of the 20th century, liberal theology that emphasized the moral teachings of Christ over historic orthodox doctrines began to make headway among Southern Baptists.
By mid-century, neo-orthodoxy, which emphasized subjective experience over Biblical inerrancy, was also becoming mainstream. And by the 1970s, Protestant liberalism and neo-orthodoxy had become prominent in seminary classrooms. As the 1980s opened, the lines were drawn between Southern Baptist moderates who rejected the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture and conservatives who embraced inerrancy.
The moderates wanted a compromise. They wanted to allow for theological diversity, even to the point of rejecting the substitutionary view of the atonement along with the inerrancy of Scripture to focus on the Great Commission. The conservatives were unwilling to make this compromise. One of the great champions of that conservative commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture was Charles Stanley.
Stanley was born in Dry Fork, Va. He was called to preach as a teenager and served churches in North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida. He then became pastor of the historic First Baptist Church Atlanta in 1971 and began a television ministry to local audiences. By 1978, Stanley’s sermons were being shown all over the country.
During the controversy over Biblical truth and authority in the Southern Baptist Convention, the moderates argued that inerrancy was a recent invention of conservatives.
Stanley was one of the most persuasive preachers who countered the moderate argument. He showed that Baptists, going back to their roots in early 17th century England, had always believed the Bible was without error; that the ideas and the words contained in Scripture originated in the mind of God; that God sovereignly inspired the human authors to compose the words of Scripture; and that the Bible alone was authoritative for faith and practice. Because of those great truths, there was no false choice between theological orthodoxy on the one hand and missions and evangelism on the other.
Stanley conveyed in his preaching that when churches believe the Bible as God’s Word, the people of the churches do not have to be cajoled into obedience. Obedience is a joy to those who believe.
Stanley encouraged his audiences through a monthly column on his ministry’s website. He wrote a final exhortation at the beginning of April. Titled “Gain a Deep Appreciation for Jesus’ Sacrifice,” no letter could be more fitting as his last than this one. It is a simple gospel message, focused on Jesus as He died on the cross as our substitute. “His work on our behalf is once and for all,” he wrote. “And as a result, our salvation can never be lost.”
I’m John Wilsey.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: on Washington Wednesday, the Democratic presidential field ahead of 2024: what will Democrats do with an incumbent they don’t really want?
And, part two of the Sutton family’s story: how God shutting the door to biological children set the family on the road to adoption.
That and more tomorrow. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
The Apostle Paul writes: "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans chapter 5, verses two through five.
Go now in grace and peace.
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