Gleanings from the media
Foy Valentine, SBC Ethics Pioneer, Dies
Foy Valentine, leader of the Southern Baptist Convention’s moral-concerns agency for a tumultuous 27 years spanning from the civil-rights movement of the 1960s to the fundamentalist takeover of the denomination in the 1980s, died Saturday after an apparent heart attack at his home in Dallas.
Valentine, 82, had experienced heart trouble for several years. Funeral services are scheduled Wednesday at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, where he was a member.
Valentine was the first doctoral student of T.B. Maston, a pioneer in the field of Christian ethics who taught many years at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
With a constituency entrenched in the South during segregation, most SBC agency heads tried to remain neutral in the early years of the civil-rights movement. Valentine was a rare exception. He once remarked that Southern Baptists "abandoned the Lordship of Christ in racial ethics," by perpetuating a culture of racism.
"The God of the Bible, the God Christians know through personal faith in Jesus Christ, is no abstract First Cause or Prime Mover, or Great Unknown out in the abstract Great Somewhere who can be placated by a bit of discrete crying in the chapel,” Valentine wrote. “He is a personal God who is very deeply and very definitely concerned. God cares and God is concerned. And since God is concerned, his people have an obligation to be concerned too."
Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, worked as director of hunger concerns at the Christian Life Commission during the final years of Valentine’s tenure, 1985-1987.
Parham said Valentine “encouraged and aggravated a generation of Southern Baptist ministers in the 1960s and 1970s to care about applied Christianity.”
“He refused to let Southern Baptists define Christian faith by pietistic individualism and other-worldly evangelism,” Parham said. “He knew the Hebrew prophets and Jesus’ teachings were at the core of Christianity and should be at the heart of Southern Baptist life. He tried his best to lead Southern Baptists to prioritize Christian ethics.”
Valentine was a polarizing figure in the fundamentalist/moderate controversy of the 1980s. The Christian Life Commission, today called the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and headed by religious right figure Richard Land, was an early target for fundamentalists.
A past president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and board member of the religious-left Interfaith Alliance, Valentine was most despised by SBC fundamentalists for supporting the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, later known as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
Valentine backed an SBC resolution in 1971 approving of abortion under some circumstances, including protecting the health of the mother, a position consistent with the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized most abortions two years later.
The SBC reversed that position in 1980, adopting a resolution calling for a constitutional ban on abortion under any circumstance except to save the life of the mother. Today Southern Baptist leaders are involved in an effort to stack the Supreme Court with conservative justices they hope will overturn Roe v. Wade.
The BCE’s Parham said Valentine viewed the agenda of the fundamentalist party, which eventually transformed into an arm of the religious right, as “foreign to the gospel.”
While best known for folksy writing and CLC seminars, Parham said, Valentine’s most-overlooked contribution was his work to expand ethics work within the SBC bureaucracy. Valentine grew the CLC from a staff of two to 15, despite opposition, and played a pivotal role in expanding Christian ethics work in state conventions and in seminaries.
“With the deaths of A. C. Miller, T. B. Maston and Henlee Barnette, Foy’s passing brings us closer to the end of a remarkable generation of Baptist ethics leaders, leaving us with too few prophets and social reformers,” Parham said.
After retiring from the Christian Life Commission, Valentine headed the Center for Christian Ethics, a partner organization of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
Ethics pioneer Foy Valentine dies suddenly in Dallas
By Greg Warner and Marv Knox
Published January 7, 2006
Editor's note: This article updates and corrects the one issued Sat., Jan. 7.
DALLAS (ABP) — Pioneer Baptist ethicist Foy Valentine died suddenly Jan. 7 of an apparent heart attack, family members said. He was 82.
A native Texan and Dallas resident, Valentine was executive director of the Southern Baptist Convention's former Christian Life Commission in Nashville from 1960 to 1987.
Valentine, who has had heart problems for many years, awoke with chest pains Jan. 7 and asked his wife, Mary Louise, to drive him to the hospital. He fell unconscious five minutes away from the hospital, a family member said. Doctors tried unsuccessfully for 40 minutes to reestablish a heartbeat before pronouncing him dead.
A memorial service will be held Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 11, at 2 p.m., at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas after a private burial in his hometown of Edgewood, in Van Zandt County.
Valentine is survived by his wife of 58 years, three daughters — Jean, Carol and Susan — and five grandchildren.
"He was legitimately a 20th century prophet," said Jimmy Allen, a lifelong friend and colleague. "He was a pioneer in Christian ethics, civil rights and religious liberty. He dealt with the hardest kind of issues in a prophetic fashion."
Before going to the Christian Life Commission, Valentine was director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission from 1953 to 1960.
A key figure in the emergence of progressive ethical thinking among Southern Baptists, Valentine's most notable influence was as a champion of civil rights — long before Southern Baptists openly embraced the concept, colleagues said.
W.C. Fields, longtime director of Baptist Press and a friend of Valentine’s for decades, described Valentine as the most significant civil-rights leader among Southern Baptists during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
The source of Valentine’s convictions regarding racial equality “without a doubt … came from his grounding in his faith, his love and understanding of the Scriptures and the fact that from his earliest days, his parents and peers helped him to become a deeply devoted Christian,” Fields noted.
“During those dark days, when civil rights was such an explosive issue, Foy always was well-informed, sure of the Christian approach, and he had the courage to follow through on his convictions,” Fields said. “His courage was amazing.
“There were people all across the country who disagreed with him in a very strong manner. And yet he was able to maintain his position with evenness and with good response to those who disagreed with him.”
Late in his career, Valentine became a favorite target of SBC conservatives because of his progressive stance on abortion and other volatile issues. In 1971, he was instrumental in the SBC's adoption of a resolution affirming a right to abortion in some cases.
Allen said Valentine's critics "overstated" his affirmation of abortion. "His position was that abortion was an evil but allowable for the health of the mother," said Allen, who succeeded Valentine at the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission and later directed the SBC Radio and Television Commission.
While Valentine's critics used the abortion issue to rally conservative support in the SBC, their opposition went much deeper, Allen said. "The major antagonism with conservatives was they had been opposed to every progressive stance, particularly in the area of civil rights."
After retiring from the CLC, which later was renamed the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Valentine founded the Center for Christian Ethics, now attached to Baylor University. He was the founding editor of the journal, Christian Ethics Today, in 1995 and a trustee of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, among other national groups.
Valentine and Fields talked from time to time about the pressures of providing civil rights leadership to a convention founded, at least in part, because its leaders owned slaves. Valentine’s courage, conviction and even his sense of humor served him well on the front lines of the civil-rights movement, Fields said.
“He was a natural leader," Fields said. "He was willing to stand out there alone, to fall, to get back up and to fall again if necessary.”
Although Valentine was raised in deep East Texas, a region not known for its progressive posture regarding race in the first half of the 20th century, he defied stereotypes. On many issues, Valentine followed the lead of his mentor, ethics pioneer T. B. Maston. Valentine was Maston's first doctoral student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, which awarded him a PhD in Christian ethics. Valentine also was a graduate of Baylor University.
“Humor might have been his saving grace. His ability to ride easy in the saddle was his great gift. He was a true Texan, and he could ride alone if necessary."
Graveside services for Foy Dan Valentine, 82, Edgewood, will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, January 11, at Small Cemetery, Edgewood, under direction of Hiett's LyBrand Funeral Home, Wills Point.
Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas.
Mr. Valentine died January 7, 2006, in Dallas.
He was born July 3, 1923, in Edgewood. A distinguished American churchman, he was cited by Christian Century magazine in 1975 as one of 20 innovative leaders in the religious world. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Baylor University in 1944, a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1947, and a doctor of theology degree from Southwestern in 1947.
He received honorary doctoral degrees from three universities, including his alma mater, Baylor University, William Jewell College and Louisiana College. He was pastor of First Baptist Church of Gonzales, later moving to second executive director of the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas in 1953. In 1960, he was named executive director of the national Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, retiring in 1987 after 27 years in that position.
He authored several books on applied Christianity, contributing to periodicals, and was a guest columnist in USA Today. He founded and wrote for the bi-monthly magazine, Christian Ethics Today. He was chair of the Christian Ethics Commission of the Baptist World Alliance. He was a founding member of the Board of Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy of the National Trust for Public Education and of the Center for Dialogue and Development.
He was appointed by the President of the United States to the President’s Commission for a National Agenda for the Eighties. He was a trustee and president of Americans Untied for Separation of Church and State. He served for 25 years as a trustee of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs.
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Mary Louise Valentine, Edgewood; daughters, Jean, Carol and Susan; brother and sister-in-law, James H. and Bobbie Jean Valentine; grandchildren, Laura Krauss, John Berg, Trey, Will and Catherine Brown; son-in-law, Ronnie Brown; numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives.
|Foy Valentine, dead at 82, led SBC moral concerns arm 27 years
Jan 9, 2006
By Dwayne Hastings
DALLAS (BP)–Foy Valentine, former executive director of the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission (now the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission), died Jan. 7 at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas. Valentine, 82, was taken to the hospital after suffering a heart attack at home.
Valentine was born July 3, 1923, in Edgewood, Texas. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary Louise, and three daughters, Jean, Carol and Susan. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Cindy.
During his first official report to the SBC during the 1960 annual meeting, Valentine told messengers the entity “interprets its grave responsibility to this convention to speak to the conscience of Southern Baptists on the application of Christian principles in everyday life.”
Richard Land, current ERLC president, expressed his sympathy to Valentine’s family and friends, noting that Valentine gave 27 years of “faithful service to Southern Baptists as head of the CLC,” particularly in what Land said was Valentine’s “eloquent witness to the biblical truth that racism is a sinful rebellion against the biblical teaching of the equality of all men before the cross.”
“While Dr. Valentine and I had significant differences of opinion on many issues, all Southern Baptists will be forever in his debt for his courageous and prophetic stance on racial reconciliation and racial equality in the turbulent middle third of the 20th century,” Land said, noting that it had been important for him as teenager in the 1960s to know that Valentine and the CLC were “on the right side of the race issue, when there were too many institutions and individuals in American life and Southern Baptist life who were on the wrong side.”
In his doctoral dissertation, “A Historical Study of Southern Baptists and Race Relations, 1917-1947,” Valentine wrote that he held out hope that “Southern Baptists will help to bring about the Christian way in race relations not by sponsoring legislative action or by fostering ecclesiastical fiats but by adopting, as individuals and as churches, the spirit and the mind of Christ in every phase of race relations.”
Valentine is listed as one of a handful of Southern Baptists who were “pioneers in race relations” by Jesse Fletcher in his book, “The Southern Baptist Convention: A Sesquicentennial History.”
“The Christian Life Commission took a very aggressive approach in trying to make inroads to entrench Southern views [on race] that had existed since the days of the Civil War,” Fletcher wrote, adding that “Valentine kept his staff and a small but enthusiastic cadre of followers on the leading edge of national social change.”
Valentine’s drive to bring Southern Baptists’ to a biblical understanding of the race issue “earned him a significant place in the history of our denomination,” Land affirmed.
Valentine made a profession of faith at age 11 at Pleasant Union Missionary Baptist Church near Edgewood. He was ordained to the Gospel ministry in 1942 at Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco, Texas.
He received a bachelor of arts degree from Baylor University in Waco in 1944, a master of theology degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1947 and, under the tutelage of noted ethicist T.B. Maston, a doctor of theology degree from SWBTS in 1949.
He received the distinguished alumnus award from Southwestern Seminary in 1970 and honorary doctoral degrees from Baylor, William Jewell College and Louisiana College. He was listed in Who’s Who in America and was recognized by Christian Century magazine in 1975 as one of 20 innovative leaders in the religious world. Last year, he was honored with the George W. Truett Religious Freedom Award by Texas Baptist Heritage Center of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
While a student at Southwestern, Valentine served as a special representative in race relations for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. In 1949 and 1950 he directed Baptist student activities at colleges in the Houston area.
He was called as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gonzales, Texas, in 1950 and served as a member of the executive board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and a member of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission -– which selected him as the commission’s director in 1953.
He became executive secretary (a title later changed to executive director) of the SBC’s Christian Life Commission in June 1960 and retired from the CLC in 1987.
Valentine’s departure from the CLC came during a contentious time in the Southern Baptist Convention. While he is praised roundly for his stance on race relations, during his tenure at the CLC his views on the separation of church and state, the sanctity of human life and other topics, including race, were divisive in the convention.
Valentine was a trustee and chairman of the executive committee of Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State, now Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, in 50-plus years of involvement with the organization. He was appointed by President Carter to the President’s Commission for a National Agenda for the Eighties.
He also served on the Baptist World Alliance’s Commission on Religious Liberty and Human Rights and was a trustee and board president of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs (now the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty). And he served on the executive committee of the National Temperance League’s board of directors.
Valentine was the founding editor of Christian Ethics Today, continuing to write a column for the journal during the last year of his life. The Center for Christian Ethics, which advocates the strict separation of church and state, was founded in 1989 by Valentine.
He is the author of several books, including “Believe and Behave” (Broadman Press, 1964); “Citizenship for Christians” (Broadman, 1965); “The Cross in the Marketplace” (Word Books, 1966); “Where the Action Is: Studies in James” (Word, 1969); and “What Do You Do after You Say Amen” (Word, 1980).
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m Wednesday, Jan. 11, at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, followed by burial at Small Cemetery in Edgewood. The family has said donations in memory of Valentine may be made to The Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, Ga., or a personal charity.
Foy Valentine: Southern Baptist who fought for racial equality
|Former Southern Baptist leader Foy Valentine dies at 82
Foy Valentine, a former Southern Baptist leader who stressed that racism was sinful and championed the separation of church and state, has died of a heart attack.
Valentine, 82, died Saturday at a Dallas hospital.
Valentine was the executive director of the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission, now called the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the denomination's public policy panel.
He was "on the right side of the race issue, when there were too many institutions and individuals in American life and Southern Baptist life who were on the wrong side," said Richard Land, his more conservative successor on the commission.
Although Valentine received praise for his stance on race relations, the convention was divided over his position on the separation of church and state and other topics.
Valentine, who earned a master's degree from Baylor University and a doctorate at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, served as president of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
He retired from the Christian Life Commission in 1987, after 27 years on the panel. After retiring, he started the Center for Christian Ethics, now at Baylor.
The Edgewood native authored "Whatsoever Things Are Lovely" and founded the magazine "Christian Ethics Today," writing a column for the journal during the last year of his life.
Valentine is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary Louise, and three daughters, Jean, Carol and Susan. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Cindy.
A memorial service for Valentine was scheduled for 2 p.m Wednesday at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, with burial at Small Cemetery in Edgewood.
Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com