A couple of escapes, and a thought
As I sit here with sun-burned feet from a long day in Virginia Beach, I throw out my dad's theory concerning the Southern Baptist Convention:
He points to the 1976 Convention where they voted to evangelize the entire world by 2000. He believes that Satan took that opportunity to create the strife within the SBC and force moderates and conservatives to split and lose focus on God and the Great Commission.
Slightly related, while stuck in traffic before the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel today, I thought back to a comment that mischaracterized my description of why the CBF left the SBC. At least to me, the intent behind that comment was to portray the CBF as a group that just couldn't get their way and split. That's pretty true, but it seemed to carry a negative tone. All that to say, if I'm reading it right (I'm probably not), what would be said about the Conservatives leaving the Virginia and Texas conventions?
I'm of the simple belief that God's central weapon (the SBC and others like D. James Kennedy seem to relate to warrior terms) is love - not politics. I'm also of the simple belief that God is huge and that we humans cannot fully fathom His Majesty and Greatness within our pea-sized brains. I also believe that in the end, we are all equal before God - pastors, deacons, missionaries, laity, "bushmen" as Pat Roberts termed 'lesser people' in his latest book... we're all equal. Though pastors have some sway over their congregation, in the end, it's only a millioneth of a percent higher than everyone else compared to God. Thus I cringe when someone trys to say "this is the way and the only way" when they're not referring to the only way to get to Heaven is through following and believing in Jesus.
Ultimately, over 15-20 years were lost to politics. Sure good was done admist the turmoil, but every facet of the SBC was touched by power politics, which Jesus stayed away from (that whole "least of these/servant" talk). As the SBC continues to isolate itself from the rest of the Baptist world and arrogantly claim its interpretation of the Bible as the only way, what will happen to groups like the CBF and others who are struggling to find their identity? Will politics stay out as folks try to continue focusing on traditional Baptist principles and furthering God's Kingdom? Or will the SBC and other groups continue shooting shots across the bow at each other and further fall farther away from our common and great God?
I pray for all Baptists - that we can re-focus on historical Baptist principles, cease condemning each other for theological differences, no matter how great or small, stop speaking for God, and fellowship together all as Christians... and let God sort the goats and sheep in the end.
And you can find that in the Bible.