Adams: Government is not the only power that exists
2008 Shurden Lectures
By Holly Hollman, BJC General Counsel
Speaking of the many ways the Church is called to be God’s instrument of hope and of the importance of church-state separation to protect religion’s role as guardian and guarantor of human rights, one of the nation’s most prominent ministers and a longstanding Baptist Joint Committee board member delivered the third annual Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures at Wake Forest University Divinity School. The Rev. Dr. Charles G. Adams, pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit, Mich., delivered three lectures in the series April 14-15. As it does each year, the BJC co-hosted the event.
In 2004, Dr. Walter B. Shurden and Dr. Kay W. Shurden of Macon, Ga., made a gift to the BJC to establish an annual lectureship on the issues of religious liberty and the separation of church and state. The inaugural lecture was held in 2006 on the campus of Mercer University.
Using Psalm 137 as the text for his first lecture, Adams focused on the role of preaching, like music, as a transformative means in society and God’s use of many means to love the world. In the second presentation, “Preserve Religious Liberty,” Adams said the independence of churches reminds us that the government is not the only power that exists. Freedom of religion is preserved by church-state separation and it is the basis for maintaining other freedoms. He then urged the audience to resist efforts that would try to control religion, saying, “God needs no help from government to remain God.”
During the question and answer session following the lecture, Adams warned of an overemphasis on the religious statements of candidates in the presidential election, noting there is more to religion than talking. In fact, he said, where there are loud professions, there may also be real omissions of what it means to be Christian. He said he would rather candidates “run on fruits instead of faith.”
The final lecture, “All Things Are Yours” was based on 1Corinthians 3:21-23 and served as the centerpiece sermon during the Divinity School’s regular “Worship in Wait Chapel.”