From: Cathy Willey [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, April 06, 2003 1:06 PM
To: Mullis, Dave
Subject: Military chaplaincy ethics
Dear Dr. Mullis:
I recently read a newspaper article - linked on the web at
Josh Llano, an Army chaplain, offering soldiers baths in a tank of water he
controls, but only if they allow him to baptise them. I write to you because
Llano described himself in the article as a Southern Baptist, and I have
questions about this practice.
Is it theologically sound? My understanding is that for a baptism to be
valid, the one being baptized must be doing it for the purpose of receiving
Jesus into his life, not to get ten minutes in a pool of water.
And is it ethical? My understanding, again, was that a military chaplain is
supposed to minister within his capabilities to all soldiers regardless of
their personal religious beliefs, and to meet the more specific needs of
members of their denominations, rather than coerce soldiers to convert.
I would appreciate your insight into the issue.
...and I was pleased to actually get a reply.
From : "Mullis, Dave" <email@example.com>
To : "Cathy Willey" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject : RE: Military chaplaincy ethics
Date : Mon, 7 Apr 2003 08:07:21 -0400
Thank you for your note. I became aware of this article late Friday.
Your concern is well placed and on target. The article does not reflect
Southern Baptist practice. I do not, as of this time, know what
Chaplain Llano told the reporter. But the practiced described is
totally out of line with normal chaplaincy practice as wells as that of
Southern Baptist practice. The practice is neither theologically or
ethically sound nor is it taught or expected as a practice to follow.
David E. Mullis
Military Chaplaincy Associate
North American Mission Board
4200 North Point Parkway
Alpharetta, GA 30022-4176
Phone: 770-410-6368 FAX: 770-410-6023
Email: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
Website: www.namb.net/chaplain <http://www.namb.net/chaplain>
The reply didn't mention any action to be taken, but given that I was half expecting something along the lines of "Well, even if it's not theologically valid, it's getting the soldiers to think about Jesus..." I'm pleased. Should I write back asking if the SBC is likely to take any action in the matter, or quit while I'm ahead?