Editorials - Word&Way



Brian KaylorAbout the Editor

Brian Kaylor started as the ninth editor of Word&Way in December of 2016. An award-winning journalist and author, he has written four books and worked for several Baptist ministries.

As of press time, the U.S. government was reopening after the longest shutdown ever. Although I don’t work for the government, I was surprised how many times the shutdown impacted me.

As we ponder the story of Jesus' baptism, experts in Israel work to remove thousands of landmines from the area near the River Jordan and the traditional baptism site of Jesus. That’s right: One of the holiest sites remains surrounded by deadly landmines designed to keep people away.

Built around the same time as the birth of Jesus, the magnificent Tropaeum Alpium celebrated the victory of Caesar Augustus over the tribes in the Alpine region a decade earlier. Near the same time Augustus built the monument celebrating his military, political and religious might, the Roman leader did something else. As the gospel writer Luke explained, “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.”

As the midterm campaigns end, I suspect that no matter who wins, many people will sigh with relief. The breaks in our television shows — for those who still watch live TV — will return to just airing cheesy local car commercials. But I worry we will not return to healthy politics.

If a tombstone exists for broader Baptist cooperation among Southern Baptists, the year after the dash might read “2018.”

Brian KaylorAt church, my six-year-old son’s Sunday School teachers talk about the importance of being respectful in the building since church is a holy space. Their lessons go beyond just reciting rules — like be quiet during the service, no running in the hallways, no taking money from the offering plate and no throwing toys across the room. His teachers did a much better job by providing a theological foundation to the idea.

“God lives at church,” my son echoes often as we head to church.

Brian KaylorFor more than 400 years, Baptists have urged religious liberty for all. The advocacy of Baptists like Isaac Backus and John Leland helped enshrine religious liberty rights in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A radical shift during an age of state churches, this move created the very environment for churches to flourish.

Brian KaylorIn the U.S. context, we often hear laments about the decline of Christianity, how younger generations are walking away from faith and about our culture’s increasing embrace of immorality. If we hear such stories of doom and gloom enough, perhaps we start to believe them. But what if there’s more to the story?

Brian KaylorThe top religious advisor to President Donald Trump defended his policies on detaining immigrant children, claiming Jesus never broke the law. Rather than an aberration, Paula White, the Florida megachurch “prosperity gospel” preacher, demonstrated the feel-good theology of too many Americans that prioritizes order over morality.

Brian KaylorIt seems that since people could write, we’ve had stories warning about powerful people using their power to abuse others and to gain or preserve their power, assets or lustful desires. Homer’s “The Iliad.” Plato’s “Apology of Socrates.” And, the Bible.