An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

I have supported the idea – the need – of the Baptist Center for Ethics (BCE) since before the name was applied to the entity because I knew and respected Robert Parham (1953-2017), founder of BCE /

Robert saw the devastation happening among Baptists as the fundamentalist “surgence” – not the so-called conservative resurgence – gained traction.

Whole institutions were reframed according to the image of those who had taken organizational control.

Agencies like the Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (now the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission), charged with being the ethical and moral conscience speaking to (and not for) Baptists, were reorganized.

Those Baptist state conventions that had Christian Life Commission-like facets had those entities dissolved.

Robert recognized that a truncated gospel was being distributed, that evangelism and Christian ethics were two sides of the same coin, that resistance to this alternative gospel was met with what is now called alternative facts and fake news.

At the least, Robert demonstrated an enviable level of courage to strike out and establish a counter-resistance organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics, now better known through its website,

His example provided a stack pole, a reference point, for those who had not yet bowed their knees to a form of religiosity that little resembled the mind and heart of Jesus Christ.

Robert exhibited a genius at work as he established the BCE apart from any institutional framework. Organizing, funding and leading an independent center was a relatively new idea for Baptists.

Local church autonomy, priesthood of the believer, religious liberty – concepts that form the core of the historic Baptist ideals – had been absorbed and redefined by those who initiated and continued the takeover of Baptist polity.

Ironically, an independent center could raise the banner, again, for those historic ideals.

The BCE demonstrated the continuing need for Christians to work at creating a new and appropriate sense of what should be normal in living a Christian life.

External observers may critique the formation and continuance of the BCE as something intended to be only an icon built to Robert. Certainly, it is difficult to separate the founder’s personality from the center at points.

However, Robert left an entity not constructed to be a memorial to himself. Rather, the BCE is something left to those who have already caught the vision that the whole, wholesome gospel should be a constant in the free marketplace of ideas. But, moreover, a vision, some functionalities, left to those generations not yet born perhaps, to catch and follow.

That’s one of the reasons why I support the BCE.

Editor’s note: Individuals who sign up during August to make monthly donations to support will receive a free T-shirt.

Share This