Moral Contradictions

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Who's next?

Via The Emmaus Theory is an article summarizing the latest Southern Baptist Convention's controversy here, titled "Southern Baptists now fighting each other". I find that partially funny because of the use of "now". Southern Baptists wouldn't be Southern Baptists if they didn't fight.

Wade Burleson, the subject of the SBC's latest ire, states:

"The Southern Baptist leadership is so ideologically driven that it's almost impossible for them not to continually draw lines and narrow the boundaries," he said. "In the early stages, this was publicly evident with the moderates and liberals. Now, when the convention meets annually in June, you wonder who they're going to throw out this year. There's always somebody."

That's one of the problems I have with the whole "conservative resurgence", or more properly the "fundamentalist takeover": the ends justified the means. The means were overtly political, vicious, un-Christlike, and rooted from the desire of power. Once you open that can of worms, where do you stop? When you disrespect the Baptist tradition of local church autonomy in favor of stricter uniformity, when do you declare everyone uniform? That "can" is open and widely accepted with the convention for use - what's to stop it from being used again?

It looks like the monster is eating its own.

//Look, I don't rejoice in this at all - we as Christians all suffer when we turn on each other.

As part of my wife's duties at church, she reads Scripture each service. Today's Scripture was from James 3. I was charged with running sound for both services, so I read the entire book during the second service's sermon (hey, I had already heard it!). That's a "cut the crap get to the point" book if I've ever seen one. Some parts that really stuck out to me were:

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger doesn not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20). Wow, I struggle with that.

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. (James 3:1) Yeah, this is one of the many verses that changed my approach to this blog.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. (James 4:1-2).

The entire book is incredible, and I admit I had not read it in a long while because so often I flip past it - because it's only 3 pages or so in my Bible.

In the near past a church I am familiar with went through a rough patch. Feelings were hurt, a handful left - the problem was brewing for awhile and needed to be dealt with, but it came to an abrupt and surprising conclusion that caused even more pain. Most times these things happen, the affected church rises out for the better.

However, it was said "We're all diminished because of it". I agree - the more we fight in the church, the less influence we have on those who are still on the outside. For that matter, we have less energy, less enthusiasm, and our witness is diminished. Who wants to become a part of that kind of church? Who sees the back-stabbing, power plays, and viciousness that has happened and is happening in the SBC and says "I want to belong with them"? I just have a hard time believing God would say "this is my church, with which I am pleased", and we all need to strive to achieve that heavenly pat on the head.


  • Fundamentalist takeover wrecked my church 10 years ago. It was the church I was born into, the church that my parents were born into, the church that my grandparents were born into.

    It hurt. It left scars. Some of us were run out, while others were simply gently pointed towards the door.

    We established a new congregation, one based on John 13:34-35: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

    Today were are not SBC. We are not Baptist. We are an interdenominational church seeking to experience the love of Christ and to be Christ-like in sharing his unconditional love with others.

    The split hurt. But with the love and grace of Jesus many of us are in a better place than we ever could have imagined.

    No politics. No strict uniformity. No power-hungry leaders.

    I will leave the SBC to their own future. Mine, and that of my church, is pointed towards Heaven.

    Nathan, I hope you will find peace and love in your worship.

    By Blogger Shamalama, at Tuesday, January 24, 2006 3:50:00 PM  

  • shamalama, thanks for the kind words and your story. I'm afraid my home church could experience in the near future something similar to what you described. Even though I'm at a new church due to geography, it would still suck.

    I pray in the future there will be more churches like yours that possess a Christ-centered focus, instead of those where ego and power muddy the waters.

    God Bless.

    By Blogger Nathan, at Tuesday, January 24, 2006 5:13:00 PM  

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