Needed: Conviction Above Procedure

Todd Littleton blogs at The Edge of the Inside. He wrote a four part series reflecting on the 2012 SBC Annual Meeting through the lens of offering his first ever motion on the floor of the SBC and its demise as Ruled Out of Order. While the nexus of his thoughts turn on a singular incident, Todd finds it illustrative for what ails us. Rather than post these in series form, Todd offers them as stand alone posts. His first post on the subject ran here at Voices and Part 2 here. Maybe what he offers is a Minority Report or as his chosen website title indicates, a perspective from the Edge.

I have never been to an RNC or a DNC but I have been to several Annual Meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention. I suspect the Republican and Democratic National Conventions are not too dissimilar from the SBC Annual Meeting or vice versa. In all three meetings, I am assuming this occurs at the RNC and the DNC, delegates and messengers pledge the American Flag.

That’s right we pledged the American Flag right out of the gate in NOLA. We met to conduct the business of the Southern Baptist Convention whose chartered purpose reads,

PURPOSE

… eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the Baptist denomination of Christians, ?for the propagation of the gospel, any law, usage, or custom to the contrary notwithstanding.

– Charter of the Southern Baptist Convention, ?December 27, 1845

Our printed program noted the time slot at 8:18-8:20 a.m. A military Chaplain in full dress led us in the Pledge. No scruples about Civil Religion for we Southern Baptists. We did not pledge the Christian Flag or the Bible. Growing up in an SBC church in Oklahoma City found us at least pledging all three during Vacation Bible School. Not here. We prayed to King Jesus and pledged “ … allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which is stands.”

Our mission statement nowhere obligates us to make this procedural move. In fact it reads,

MISSION STATEMENT

As a convention of churches, our missional vision is to present the Gospel of Jesus?Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.

– Adopted by the messengers to the 2010 Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando, Florida on June 15, 2010 in response to the Report of the Great Commission Task Force

I am not un-patriotic. We planned our recent trip to Colorado in hopes to enjoy the July 4th Parade in Creede and the fireworks display in the evening. We made the parade but the fire ban in Colorado left us only dreaming of fireworks in the canyon. I am proud of my Country. But, when we gather according to our stated purpose and mission, pledging allegiance to any other than Jesus is disconcerting. An inerrant reading of Romans does not imply the necessity of such an action for a gathering of Christians.

Not only do the three meetings pledge the American Flag, each calls for a representational form of participation. Delegates to either National Convention represent a particular geographic region. Voters who went to the polls for their primaries or caucuses will hope their delegates vote according to their expressed wishes. Delegates cast the proxy votes for the candidate who won primary elections and caucuses. Their respective candidates will win their party’s nomination and face the other in the General Election come November. Procedural moves discussed in the current primary season may come to mind. How are delegates counted? Will Ron Paul really disrupt the RNC because of certain procedural protocols regarding delegates?

Messengers to the SBC Annual Meeting represent the churches that elected them for the specific year’s meeting. Churches hope those sent as messengers will represent them well when the need for casting a vote is required.

For instance, I have mentioned Alan Cross’s resolution. When it came time for a vote, each messenger would cast a vote for or against the resolution based on the ethos of his or her sending church. Some messengers may believe their church cares more about preaching the Word than engaging their community with any commensurate deeds and vote against Alan’s motion. Others who find the ministry of Jesus replete with deed doing would cast a vote in favor.

Resolutions submitted to the Annual Meeting pass through the hands of an appointed committee. The Resolutions Committee considers each resolution and its merits. Sometimes they deem a resolution unsuited for the floor for any number of reasons. This year the Resolutions Committee decided not to bring one of Dwight McKissic’s resolutions to the floor for a vote. Dwight followed procedure and sought to have the decision overturned by appealing to the floor of the convention. Though he made an impassioned plea, the gathered messengers upheld the Resolution Committee decision. Procedure followed. Decision made.

Every institution needs procedures in order to effectively conduct its business. Were the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention void of procedures we cats who make up those annual meetings could hardly be herded. We have our Chair and Parliamentarian to herd us on to successful meetings. The Committee on the Order of Business keeps us on schedule, timekeeping reports and business sessions.

We also have our ways at getting our way.

One unwritten protocol in SBC Life is we do not overtly embarrass our leaders. It is a matter of procedure. That is not to say that we do not covertly embarrass our leaders. My first encounter with such a move was my first SBC meeting in NOLA. Jim Henry had won the election as President of the SBC in 1994. He was not the chosen one. Occasionally the pecking order is disrupted. Greensboro anyone?

Maybe Jim did not abide the powers. Could be he preferred inviting those not on the approved list to serve in places reserved for the in crowd. Whatever the cause, the SBC voted to boycott Disney shortly after Henry finished his second term as President. No, I did not vote for the boycott. Was the boycott and Henry’s Presidency merely co-incidence? Not for me. How would it look when Henry would go home to FBC, Orlando knowing Disney employed many people in his congregation? Embarrassing. Covert. Not overt.

Or consider the ongoing interest to regale Lifeway for product selection. Just prior to the Annual Meeting this year Dr. Rainer made the unfortunate decision to pull Blindside from the shelves in Lifeway Stores. Reports mounted that one of we Southern Baptist tom cats would swagger to the mic and with populist Christian rhetoric put Rainer on the defensive for selling the movie. Another would make a motion to instruct Lifeway to be schooled by Dr. Patterson on the evils of the TNIV. This included prior consent from Patterson. During the Lifeway report questions were to be asked that would mount more pressure on Rainer. What about abiding the agreement that entity heads would stay out of other entities’ business? Let’s increase attendance on Seminary Hill rather than dabble in the management of other entities. How often are we making use of the new Chapel in Fort Worth? Covert. Not overt.

Conviction Not Procedure

Our procedural moves betray our convictions. In fact, it is at this point I think we could point to the very way our practices have borrowed from our host culture more than we have decidedly committed to live, organize, and unify around the Way of Jesus. The Kingdom of God, according to Jesus, comes without hierarchy. Unless of course some who led the CR think they are replacement leaders for the Twelve Tribes under a new dispensation. Jesus spoke of washing feet, of humility, of loving other more than self, of cross-bearing rather than cross building. These behind the scene games mock our public convictions, if not completely render them moot.

Alan and I were having a discussion during our time in NOLA. We chatted about missiology and missional. He made a comment that one particular branch of the Christian Tree seemed more prone to syncretism than others. He suggested the branch we inhabit appeared more insulated against such melding of other political/religious/spiritual forms with Christianity. I disagreed.

Our forms, procedures, pledges, and subterfuge paint an entirely different picture. We look the part of a political process. I suspect most have not read Yoder, much less Wallis, and so the idea of Jesus being a political subversive would elude them. Few have read post-Holocaust political theorists who have read Paul and find him radicalizing the message of Jesus for political purposes.

Our looking political appears more like we have committed to American exceptionalism and syncretized political forms and procedures with our Christian convictions. B21 intended to retell the same old story nearly deifying CR leaders. “Keep contending!” The script that was left out was the political means determined to takeover the SBC followed a political trajectory under the rubric of a convictional position. Might I remind you that all the promises made for the takeover making the SBC more aggrandized have never materialized. I refer you to Dr. Stetzer’s trend lines. We still are not planting enough churches to stave off decline.

Our culture warring cabal carries around its own log while attempting to pluck the splinter out of the eyes of our friends – fellow Christians. Everyone loves to impale the other on the spike of syncretism. Our brand is better than your brand. And, that is the problem when procedure trumps conviction. We are after the hearts of the already convinced rather than looking for ways to talk about our God in, as Jeff Cook puts it, desirable ways.

And, that is what happens when you present a motion that will call attention to our convictions. It will lose out to procedure every time.

Image Credit

Comments

  1. says

    You know, something I’ll never understand–why don’t the people who want to see the SBC become more leftwing like the CBF just go JOIN the CBF? I mean, wouldn’t that be easier than trying to get a Christian organization to become more leftwing?

  2. Christiane says

    I look at the title
    “Conviction Above Procedure”

    and I thought how often people create a verbal substitution for experiencing something, when they are not comfortable with the action itself. The ‘structure’ of verbalizing something can never take the place of experiencing it. To recognize the need to do something, put it ‘on hold’ and wait for a day that may not come . . . that is more a way of the world, very human, very tuned in to our procrastination when we cannot go ahead of a comfort zone into something new. So we feel ‘better’ for a while. But the reality is we have done no more towards accomplishment.

    Being faithful to doing what is right cannot stop with verbalizing an intent to do it in future . . . if the early Christians had procrastinated, and planned, and waited until it was comfortable and convenient to ‘go forth’ into the world . . . we would have their model to follow . . . but that was not how they lived. They were doers of the Word at all costs to themselves. And the Church grew.

    Is taking action a part of that growth? I think it is. Substituting words for experiencing the reality of one’s faith
    has no place in growing the Church.

    “I would far rather feel remorse than know how to define it.”
    Thomas a Kempis

  3. says

    I was at the SBC, New Orleans but missed the pledge to the USA flag. Had I been there, I would have been happy to participate. Most Baptists have a long history of patriotism and have no problem with saying the pledge to the flag. That includes at the SBC.

    Interesting you negatively refer to Paige Patterson then mention foot washing. Some may be interested in the following article:
    http://www.swbts.edu/campusnews/story.cfm?id=EC336BE1-15C5-E47C-F9E5BC49939DE3F9

    David R. Brumbelow

    • says

      David

      And if the meeting was held in another country and they did a pledge to their flag and sang their national anthem, you know what, I’d be ok with that too. There is no shame in being proud of your country and saying the pledge does not mean you put your country above Christ. Well, except to left wingers. :-)

    • says

      David,

      I do not wish to debate the Church and Patriotism. That has been done here. My reference to the action was for illustrative purposes. I stood in reverent respect.

      Appeals to long histories, historical practices, do not necessarily rise to the level of anything beyond an established Tradition. Southern Baptists had a long history of supporting slavery too.

      I just got in the office from foot washing, of sorts. We are planning to feed and clothe the poor this evening and offer free medical service too. That qualifies us as left-wing here.

      The post you linked to is nice.

      • Rob Ayers says

        I may be wrong here – I will look it up. However what I think here is that the “Convention” never took a stand for or against slavery. The founding of the convention was over the squabble with the Northern Baptists on the appointment of missionaries who were slave holders (or former slave holders), with the SBC founders holding that their mission offerings were taken while their missionary candidates were rejected out of hand.

        Now it can be said that many individual SBC members were slave holders and otherwise influential in their communities to the point that pastors or Christian leaders were muzzled in their expression of disdain towards the issue of chatel slavery (that is if they wished to express it at all) – if they did, they would find themselves and their families going north (if they lived to tell the tale that is). In that I wholeheartedly agree that these actions of our ancestors is a blemish that we today have the hindsight of history to acknowledge as sin.

        I am interested in the analogy however. Are you saying that this tradition of saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the convention is analogous as holding to the tenets of slavery?

        Rob

        • says

          Rob,

          Our origins include support of slavery. That is why we voted to apologize for our history of support. That we would have taken a position seems unlikely since our actions were indeed a position.

          I am not equating Pledging of the Flag with holding to tenets of slavery. I simply intended to point out that just because we have a long history of a given practice or position does no make it right, fare, or just. Nothing more intended.

      • Doug Hibbard says

        While the Convention did start to support/allow slave holders to be missionaries, the 20 years it existed prior to the end of the Civil War don’t quite make for a “long” history.

        • says

          Doug,

          I am interested in your take on the fuss when in the mid-1990’s we voted to apologize for our past. We only apologized for a 20 year history 150 years later? Southern Baptist certainly formed in the antebellum south but the practices extended to our forebears – those threads that became Southern Baptists. And, don’t you think part of our need to apologize was the residual racism inherent in the SBC? That is what I recall about the debate and rationale for our action.

          • Rob Ayers says

            I voted for the resolution then. I did not vote for it because it would remove any aspects of residual racism – words on paper do nothing to remove the actions and intents of the heart – some churches today still have restrictive segregationist membership stipulations in their bylaws, and that resolution did nothing to change that, any more than that name change thing that passed this year. Nor did I vote for it because I was guilty for the actions of people one hundred fifty years before I was born. I am not bound nor guilty for crimes that others have done before me – the New Covenant says I am a sinner only in respect to the sins I have committed and I am set free from them because of the blood of Jesus. The only communal sin I will feel consequences for are those in the here and now are the results of our evil culture for “…the rains fall on the just and the unjust.”

            I voted for the resolution to remove any further excuse some may have for saying that most of the current crop of Southern Baptists are reactionary racists – to prayerfully open doors that otherwise would be closed for the Kingdoms sake because of the actions of people I am neither responsible or accountable for. Why others did and did not do this in the past is beyond my pay grade – it would be speculation on my part because most of them are dead. I know this was not for me but you have my two cents worth.

            Grace and Peace,

            Rob

  4. Rob Ayers says

    Todd,

    As with all participatory organizations, the majority has the right to set up activities, rituals, and agendas. If you can not conscientiously deal with the pledge to the flag at the convention just find yourself in the hallway or don’t go. Don’t wail about how others reject your interpretation of the bylaws and scripture, and then by inference say that the majority do not follow Jesus as strongly as you do. It seems your opinion of the majority is that they are just malleable sheep who blindly follow the “evil power behind the throne” who obviously are incapable of thinking critically like you . That is uncharitable and unkind on its face and really does not follow the Dale Carnegie school of making friends and influencing people.

    I do not have trouble pledging to the flag – as I would not have trouble standing with any brother or sister in Christ anywhere in the world as they stand in respect or pledge to their own. In that I am not in any way saying that I am violating the Second Commandment, or saying that my country stands in the way of my first commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. IF my country asks of me that which violates my allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ, then I will choose Christ. I with the majority do not see how repeating the pledge at the convention of churches violates this principle. I do respect your beliefs – however with this diatribe above it is hard to see how you respect mine at all. And I certainly do not see how this wailing and gnashing of teeth will affect the change you seek, except perhaps to usher you out the door – something I will regret, but if necessary will accept.

    Grace and Peace,

    Rob

  5. Frank L. says

    “””I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”””

    PS–The Chaplain earned the right to wear the uniform.

    PSS–If one is so offended, please be aware that Christians in Iran do not say the Pledge. They could use some new members.

    • says

      Frank,

      Reading is not a forte, eh? I never questioned the Chaplain’s right to wear his uniform. Not once. I do not question his right to say what he did that morning.

      There is a difference between offense and question. But that requires to much work to distinguish it seems.

      • Frank L. says

        Todd,

        Service, respect, sacrifice–not your forte, eh?

        You mentioned the uniform for a reason and it wasn’t praise or respect. I read very well. Actually, though it may surprise you, you’re not the smartest person in the world–but that’s another argument.

        Perhaps if you had actually watched someone die defending their country, or risked your own life to defend your right to “not” say the pledge, I’d respect you a little bit more.

        And, you don’t want to debate the Church and Patriotism. No, you just want to stir the manure pile without consequence.

        If you want to be big enough to insult me, your going to have to stand on someone’s shoulders.

        In case you don’t get my subtle implications–I take great offense at your implications in your long convoluted post. I’m just being honest.

        The Bible clearly, without any equivocation, points out that our national identity is as much a part of God’s sovereign plan as our salvation. But, I don’t expect the Bible to influence your spoiled. leftist position on the Church and Patriotism.

        It’s one thing to have an opinion on the matter, it is quite another to be disrespectful of men in uniform or our country, especially when we have military personnel in harm’s way fighting for your right to sleep safely at night.

        Patriotism, not your thing, eh? That’s OK, just keep it to yourself and we can be friends. Draw a line in the sand, and I will have no problem defending my Lord, my country, and my fellow Americans who are defending me at this time.

        I’m proudly wearing my USS Ethan Allen belt buckle with my Bible open and ready.

        You expressed your opinion — there’s mine!

        • says

          Frank,

          You owe me a new monitor for the Diet Dr Pepper that just shot out my nose when I guffawed at your comment. Ok, maybe it wasn’t a guffaw but it was definitely a chortle.

          Tell us what you really think next time, my brother!!! Great comment.

          • Frank L. says

            Joe,

            I love you brother. I’d gladly buy you a Dr. P anytime. I’d consider it a great privilege.

            You sometimes make me nervous with your posts, but you are always consistent and your love of the Lord always shines through.

            Unlike myself, you lack the ability to be subtle.

        • says

          Frank,

          I apologize for my impulsive introductory phrase about reading. I should not have indulged.

          I also want to thank you for proving my point. You want me to have impugned a soldier’s uniform so that you are justified in patronizing me with your lecture. But, I did not disrespect the uniform. It was mentioned to heighten the symbolism at the meeting of Christians saluting Jesus Is Lord.

          My brother served in the Air Force, as did my Uncle in Viet Nam. Others of my extended family have served in high ranking positions. That soldiers have died so I could sleep at night, nice reference to a Few Good Men, also allows me the freedom to question my own denomination. While you mistake that for being unpatriotic because it fits your narrative of a spoiled leftist in no wise does anything more than create a diversion.

          At no point do I suggest I am smarter than anyone. That too is an obfuscation.

          What you contend is clearly in the Bible is found in what you bring to the Bible, not what you draw out of it. I would be happy to get your exegetical support for American patriotism on par with my salvation. That is an interesting reach, more to be found among those who hold to American Exceptionalism. But, I would be happy to read where I am wrong. You have proved adept at making that point. Joe’s need for a new monitor illustrates that well. (Attempt at humor.)

          The one thing I still regret at the end of this reply – that I insulted you. I am sorry.

          • Rob Ayers says

            With respect, could we not say the same for you from this sentence,
            “What you contend is clearly in the Bible is found in what you bring to the Bible, not what you draw out of it. ” Is this not the perspective of both Frank AND yourself? How can we settle the veracity of this argument “I take from the scripture what it says, and you take from the scripture what you want.” Is that reasonable, or is it merely circular? And in this case merely projection?

            Can we be sorry that we insulted the intelligence of one another, while drawing the same breath in insulting their intelligence in just the paragraph before by accusing them of isogesis while maintaining your own purity as the true master of right and proper exegesis? There is not much humility in that! No wonder your edgy.

            Frank, I am glad you are calmed down. Remember our Lord and how He directed His passion through love. We are commanded to love one another no matter the sleights are disrespect. God will give us all the insight we require (all of us here) in His due time. If we are wrong God will correct us, and we invite His correction. I would hope that would be the spirit that pervades all of us in this discussion.

            Grace and Peace,

            Rob

          • Frank L. says

            I do not accept your qualified apology. It may soothe your conscience but it violates the Scripture. Everything after the “but” nullifies everything before.

            I noticed you brag about all those “others” who served their country–but not yourself. I am not debating the others–I’m challenging you.

            You have NOT earned the right to question the patriotism of anyone. Others earned that right for you–myself included. You should speak with a little more humility and obvious gratitude for the military services until you have placed yourself in harm’s way to secure a right to speak more freely.

            And, yes, you did present yourself as at least smarter than myself–I made the logical conclusion that you are a “better reader” than most, if not all others.

            In regard to your being patriotic — exactly what would indicate otherwise notwithstanding your own “self-description” which I find was nullified by the ensuing drivel.

            In consistent fashion, you misstate my propositions so as to gain a higher standing for your own. Little men need step ladders.

            I did not say that our national identity was on par with our salvation. That is a misstatement of my position. I’d think such an excellent reader as you, yourself, proclaim to be that you would have been able to ascertain such. I did not suggest anything about Scriptural support for anything “American,” patriotism included.

            As far as trying to justify my lecture, I am not. I lecture would imply that there are students willing to consider another point of view and willing to add to their intellectual armory. I do not suppose a lecture to you would do much good and is not attempted.

            This is a flat-out, man-to-man rebuttal of your implied contempt for American patriotism hiding behind a blog and a thin Bible. Please don’t read any collegiality into my replies.

            You want to live on the edge: you missed a great opportunity by allowing others to serve in your place in the military. Yes, I served to give you the right and freedom to express your opinion–and I would do it again.

            I’m just asking that you take that cocky, psuedo-edgy, personna down a notch when you speak about those in uniform. I believe I’ve earned the right to ask for this measure of respect.

            If all this sounds “personal,” it is because it is “personal” with me.

          • says

            Frank,

            Here is what you typed,

            The Bible clearly, without any equivocation, points out that our national identity is as much a part of God’s sovereign plan as our salvation. But, I don’t expect the Bible to influence your spoiled. leftist position on the Church and Patriotism.

            It seems to me that you place Patriotism – any national identity – on par with God’s plan of salvation. If not, what does this sentence mean. (Despite your disposition to think this a cocky question, I am truly interested.)

            I did not offer a “but” to my apology. Here is what I typed,

            I apologize for my impulsive introductory phrase about reading. I should not have indulged.

            I also want to thank you for proving my point. You want me to have impugned a soldier’s uniform so that you are justified in patronizing me with your lecture. But, I did not disrespect the uniform. It was mentioned to heighten the symbolism at the meeting of Christians saluting Jesus Is Lord.

            Those are two distinct issues. In the first I apologized for my manner in reply. In the second, I was referencing your comments. The “but” is not associated with the apology.

            Take it personal. Respond personally. Take a swing. That is what forgiveness is for.

            You have decided what I mean, what is my intent, and my agenda. It matters little what I say or how I attempt clarification. For those who might be following here, I do want to to clarify.

            No where have I impugned any military uniform. As I clearly wrote in the post and in reply here, the reference to a uniform clad clergy simply heightened the symbolism for me.

            No where in the post or in reply did I question anyone’s Patriotism. What I did do is suggest that your vigor over the matter of Patriotism and making sure I cower to your narrative of my story illustrates my point. When in the course of conversation what trumps is you besting me in service to Country then you have chosen your line – here it is calling into question my Patriotism, my love for Country. My right to speak, for you its seems, is directly tied to the level of service to the USA.

            Collegiality. There is little chance I read any hint of collegiality. Paternalistically telling me how I should mind my manners yes. Asking questions and engaging on a level – after my refused apology – is clearly missing which would imply equal footing in any debate.

            So, what will it take for me Frank? Just go away? Ask Jeff to take down the post? Ignore by observations? Get in line with your vision?

            Would you choose to discuss the central issue of the post? Or, would you insist on making the post about the illustration?

          • says

            Rob,

            1) You hit the issue squarely. How is it two different conclusions are drawn from the same Bible? You assume the charge of eisegesis to be the same as questioning someone’s intellect? Smarter people than us all have come to the Scriptures with ideas – me included – and worked diligently to make them fit. Frank has no corner on that market. I did call into question national patriotism/identity, as what I perceive meant in Frank’s comment, as on par with salvation.

            2) What you will notice, I did not refer to Frank as a pig-headed Fundamentalist or anything of the sort. Since you are defending Frank, and questioning my apology, you may note that Frank did call me a Leftist who carries a thin Bible, among other things. If we are counting condescensions. But you do little more than invite Frank to extend love even if there is the sleight of disrespect. I am now looking for the pot and kettle.

            3) What changed that this became a thread where you engaged me and I replied to this being a means to put this “edgy” fellow in his proverbial place. Neither of you have addressed, what I clearly replied with, the central issue of the post. Is that possible? Or have we reached a bridge too far. Hoping there is no door on either end.

          • Frank says

            The “but” is strongly implied by the bulk of your post. But, if you feel good about how you present yourself, that’s up to you.

            Second, you continue to misstate my proposition even when I clearly told you that is not what I meant. What I meant was, “well, what I said.”

            Now, you want to back off a very strong illustration and talk about the “main point.” It’s hard to see the “point” with all the emphasis you put on your illustration.

            Also, your hubris and stiff-necked audacity prevents you from even hinting at the fact that you “sleep beneath a peace for which you imply contempt.” And, yes, when speaking about the military, having actually served does carry a lot of weight with me–though, I understand it carries little or none with you.

            And, with due respect for Rob’s congenial and godly spirit, I was thinking more of Jesus example with the “whips” than the “woman caught in adultery.” Love can take some unusual forms.

  6. says

    Rob,

    Grace and Peace indeed.

    I realize we have a difficult time figuring out how Calvinists and Non-Calvinists may inhabit the same denominational space. Give someone a keyboard and offer a different vision for what it might look like sans the tipping of the hat and heart to Caesar and I am defying Dale Carnegie. Nice. What really works it seems is to debate the things the majority wants to debate. When we move outside of those boundaries, it is hard to find even a nugget with which to agree. It appears easier to suggest that my problem is the Pledge. It is not. What did bother me is what got my younger brother in trouble. When he sought to make Sunday worship about Jesus on the Sunday near the 4th of July and not “bombs bursting in air,” those who chose sides not once talked about even the possibility we might be to cozy with Caesar.

    You respect my beliefs. But, then you summarily trample them and paint me offering a weeping and gnashing of teeth. There is not engagement with the substance. I rubbed against your sensibilities, the Pledge, and for that I am nearing the door? Wow. Grace and Peace.

    Rob, I do respect your beliefs. I just don’t know what they are on the issue that I raised that what we do as a suspicious look of taking on our cultural surroundings. What I get from your revolt of my post is that to take on forms from our prevailing culture should not be problematic. I suggest that those who war with the culture use my argument until it comes to this matter.

    I have been a Christian for 40 years. I have been a Southern Baptist influenced human being for nearly 50 years. My socialization and formation in the Faith is thoroughly Southern Baptist. My reading of Baptist history includes times when we get to critique ourselves to ask the questions I have raised. Were I to near the door, it would be for you, and of course Joe, shoving me in that direction.

    • Rob Ayers says

      My apologies Todd. I would not shove you out the door, nor would I open it for you, nor would I bar the way for you to leave. After calling after you for a time after you voluntarily left, I would quietly shut it behind you and let you go in peace. If you ever returned I would as quickly open it and embrace you on your return. I would do so without expecting you to change in your beliefs in these things in the least. I would want to believe that you would do the same for me. Would you?

      The substance was your perception based upon your interpretation, and then how you went about to share them with your wider audience. Perhaps I lived in the wrong era (though I am not much younger than you, and am as thoroughly Baptist as your history suggests being introduced to my Baptist church nursery at the tender age of 10 days old) – I would not go about making changes by telling people how stupid they are and how smart I am. For the record that is what I got out of your post – and yes I can read very well thank you.

      You are all for “asking questions” but have just a tad bit of trouble taking any flak out on the other side. I understand that writing blog posts that are semi-controversial is a bit of a risk, and as your own blog home suggests that this is your identity of being “edgy.” I meant nothing I said as personal – just my reading of your post. If you did not want comments, why bother in posting them here or anywhere else? If all you do is flame those who disagree with you, then can we truthfully say that this is your purpose? And if it is so, then what exactly is your reason to blog? To be a prophetic voice? Or to cast aspersions?

      I write Grace and Peace because that is my true desire to share. Despite your misgivings (and from my view, ridicule) I will once again give you my hearts desire as believers have been doing since the Resurrection of our Lord.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rob

      • Frank L. says

        Rob,

        Thank you for being a better model of grace and peace than I am. I’m not nearly as willing to give someone the right to be disrespectful under the guise of being “edgy.” Been there. Done that.

        I’ll just put a “ditto” on your post. I think you summed up my feelings precisely.

        I, too would not shove Todd out the door, but I may take a “brotherly swing” at him if we were in person.

        After all, isn’t that what forgiveness is for :)

        OK, my blood pressure down to where my cardiologist would be happy.

      • says

        Rob,

        Here we are with reading and interpretation. I read your reply of my post wherein rather than ask and engage, I took your statement that it seemed I was claiming to follow Jesus better or more than others – a reading into my post. Did I mean to suggest I follow Jesus better/more than others. No. But, for whatever reasons – not the least of which could be the tone of my post – you concluded that is what is seemed.

        Add in the fact that your reading and interpretation arrived at the idea I believe the majority are malleable sheep. Hardly. We hardly had a majority of Southern Baptists in NOLA. In our statistical context, I am not sure we have a majority, except of those who’ll come out and debate soteriological systems (attempt at humor).

        I then am want to find out how I would not respect your beliefs or sensibilities. Clearly from the comments here, I have the minority opinion. And, just as a way of explanation, Edge in my website title is less about finding a way to be edgy. I have a post of explanation. Here is a short version. Sometimes those at the center of a system are only able to see what is near the center. A friend of mine pointed out that in the Church some should take up a place at the edge to welcome those interested, hope that those who are leaving are sure, and calls to the center not to miss important things by only focusing on, of course, what is at the center. Here center refers to structures, systems, and sometimes beliefs, that may not belong in the category to die for but have taken on that sort of meaning.

        So, we at the next level where we both read and interpreted rather than ask and engage. I should have replied asking for clarification rather than assume you were intending to show me the door. My apologies.

        I will continue to consider any ideas I have offered – tone and all – are met with only those who see it another way. So, I am not sure which side, vision, position is really getting the flak. Except, I am big enough to accept the consequences of what I dish. Writing for me is often an exercise in working things out. Maybe I could work them out better. But, I also expect push back in hopes that there are questions not conclusions. I contributed to the problem.

        My contention remains – as to the intent of the post. We talk of certain convictions in Southern Baptist Life and we excoriate others for their lack of faithfulness to our vision of the Bible. It is easy to point out the ways others have taken on their cultural surroundings, ideas, beliefs, etc. We just don’t always recognize when we do. The illustration for me came in both our need to Pledge our Country for our meeting to salute King Jesus and our bent or procedures, that while not morally wrong, do demonstrate the very ways we opt for procedure when, to me, we could speak more boldly out of our convictions.

        Grace and Peace. And, in the same way you intend that sign off, so do I. And, quickly, I will be the one at the door hoping you stay and if you go wishing you Godspeed.

        Todd

        • Rob Ayers says

          Todd,

          1) I agree the medium has a long way to go to inform the reader of what I call “intent of the heart.” Even in face-to-face encounters, with all the non-verbal cues out for all to see, they also could be misinterpreted. Shortness of tone is hard to interpret in written format – but I am glad to see that you are considering your tone in light of the comments so far (not that there are those who will not agree to your position – perhaps they have not posted yet).

          2)”A Majority” for the Southern Baptist Convention are the majority of messengers who actively participate in a convention meeting that happens once a year – not the totality of membership of SBC churches – but you know this of course. While it has been my desire and prayer to advance participation in the SBC through extended sites beyond the convention site, opening up participation to those churches and messengers who otherwise cannot afford or attend the convention far from home. This would open up participation to many of our small churches who otherwise cannot participate in our convention meetings. Maybe it will happen soon. I pray so.

          Most don’t see the sharing of the pledge as “tipping our hat to Caesar.” Less than a minute in sharing the pledge at the beginning of each day of multiple sessions of two + hours in length is not egregious if we were all about entangling ourselves in national politics or butting into Caesar’s business. This is especially true since during the rest of the day(s) we commit to talking about King Jesus and the work our agencies in our name are going about in fulfilling the task in advancing His Kingdom. The meeting did start each day with Worship (of King Jesus) and prayer (to King Jesus) before the pledge was ever said – almost an afterthought. If you are saying that we could be doing some more substantive things that currently are being undone at our convention meetings, I agree! The process is what it is developed over years of people acting together for a common good. Perfect? Nope. Should it be resistant to “change”? No, as long as the changes are biblical and that are in agreement with the values we share as Southern Baptists. Our very system we have agreed to work in (congregationalist) has its shortcomings and trials. The better outlook would be for systemic changes over the long term, and not be frustrated over the short term.

          Remember the view from the center is the same as the view from the edge (if you know anything about geometry then you know the accuracy of this statement) :-)

          Grace and Peace,

          Rob

  7. Doug Hibbard says

    As to the issue of procedure:

    In 1878 two women dared to register as delegates to the SBC. (Yes, delegates was the term then.) They had been duly elected by their state convention, also how it worked then. The SBC hastily in the 1878 meeting amended the SBC Constitution so that it no longer read that the Convention was made up of “delegates” but instead changed it to “brethren” and thus excluded women from participating for more than 30 years.

    The amendment was drafted, introduced, and passed all in the same year. Why? Because it met the passions of the meeting and the prevailing passion of the time. Now we have a procedure to prohibit that. We have procedures in place to make sure that any official action taken is taken with appropriate deliberation and consideration. Does this slow us down?

    It does. It bothered me in Louisville in 09 when the Iranian Election Protests sprang up inside of the 15 day window to draft a resolution expressing our agreement with them. It will continue to bother me when we are not agile in response to other items that arise.

    But a look into our history reveals an important reality: we need those procedures because, being fallen but redeemed people, we are capable of getting carried away and making the wrong decision in a heat of passion. We are capable of being so taken aback by a situation that we vote quickly to do the wrong thing. Our forbears did it, and we could do it, too.

    • says

      Doug,

      I do not think we should abandon procedures. But, when necessary it seems Baptists to call them into question. But, I have been wrong in this thread more than once today.

  8. Frank says

    “””So, what will it take for me Frank? Just go away?”””

    Finally, something we agree on.

    • says

      Rob,

      As to the apology – and your comment above.

      It seems a risk, but regarding the apology it seems to me easy to point out how it is perceived that I write from a position of moral superiority but ignore the spiritual superiority with which you type.

      Logs and splinters come to mind. And, not the least of which includes the ongoing tone of these retorts being slogged away.

      I always taught my children not to take up another’s offense and invest in it as you have. Frank obviously can speak for himself. And, you are certainly capable of speaking for yourself.

      As to engaging the content of my post . . .

      Though it is tangential and really a comment reply, I could not agree more that we need to find ways for small church pastors to participate. Why a large church pastor in our State has made the suggestion loudly and widely for several years. The technology is available. Now, here is where you will likely depart from me. Our procedural stridency seems firmly in place to keep us from advantaging the technology to do as you suggest. Surely you would acknowledge that greater participation may dilute power. I contend that is a good thing.

      You are right that most do not have a problem with the Pledge at our meetings. I simply doubt that under the rule of Caesar those early Christians included Caesar is Lord just after praying to King Jesus. I realize you do not think this is what those participating think is going on. But, not only are there some who see this and its symbolism a tenuous practice, those outside the Faith that I have talked to, wonder what that is supposed to signify when our talk is about allegiance to Jesus. An observation not an accusation.

      Finally – metaphors always reach a limit. Since the edge is a relational metaphor – not a geometric one – I will stick with it not as a reference from which to view the vistas, but in terms of location and relationship with others inside the SBC branch of the Christian Tree. Incidentally, that is why I sketched what it meant and pointed out I have a longer explanation. Math, though a favorite of mine, is not the context.

      Peace.
      Todd

      • Rob Ayers says

        Todd,

        I hesitated to “butt in” in your conversation with Frank. I tried only to comment on the hubris contained therein and not the conversation itself. Both of you made it difficult, and I ran the risk of getting entangled in another conversation. I think you both need to read Matthew 5:43-48 – but then maybe that is the spiritual superiority streak running in me. Since I also have just read the passage, I have been appropriately humbled. I will suspend all further conversation on this matter unless engaged and then only for clarification.

        Our Caesar has no rule for saying the pledge. It is strictly voluntary. Unlike the Caesar who demanded loyalty at the point of the sword, our Caesar does not even require individual school children to speak the pledge in public schools. We are citizens who voluntarily speak the pledge – in this case at the convention meeting of the churches. We in speaking the pledge do not demand conformity on those assembled to say it. There was no room monitor who noted your reverence yet at the same time unwillingness to join the rest in speaking the pledge, was there? If I was asked to say something like “Caesar is Lord” or die, then I would die. But the current pledge says none of this. If it ever does, I will agree with you. But it does not. Your analogy is weak here. And the tone of your post (as you have already noted) speaks of none of the congeniality you say you desire. Thus the red hot reaction IMHO. “Come, Let Us Reason Together.”

        Grace and Peace,

        Rob

        • says

          Rob,

          You assume I hate Frank? Is that the intimation in what I need to read? I am asking for clarification. To this point I have apologized to you for my tone. I do not recall any acknowledgement. I apologized to Frank. He flatly rejected it and you questioned it. Then, you suggest I made it difficult and need to read Jesus’ words on loving my neighbor? How am I supposed to read or understand this line of thinking? I am asking for clarification.

          Beating my illustration of saying the Pledge is the sort of stridency that I describe in my final post that may run here later this week. My reference to the event was illustrative. That you cannot imagine that someone might not understand how it fits in a meeting where we salute and pledge allegiance to King Jesus seems to beg an answer when you suggested that I had no respect for what you believe. I need some clarification. I narrowed the scope to the essence of my post and you have yet to engage it. Instead it is all about my hubris which calls into question your own. Or, it is about how the majority does not see things the way I do. A fact I acknowledge.

          Were it not for this being read by others, I would have bowed out long ago. But, you have consistently called into question my character after reading a blog post. I reacted wrongly with snarky retort. Since I acknowledged that mis-step there has been no mercy, no grace, and no peace.

          I have some friends who follow what I write. They are not Christian. These responses are the very reason they resist any consideration of following Jesus. And, they quickly call me out for my cutty keyboard. And, the stridency and condescension leveled here is not lost on them either.

          • Frank says

            “””These responses are the very reason they resist any consideration of following Jesus.”””

            Any way you slice that: it comes up baloney. People reject Christ for Who He is, not who anyone else is. Surely, you recall the words of Jesus in several places that plainly points that out.

            If I follow your logical baloney, I would be correct in saying that since your friends know you a lot better than they know me, and since you are the common denominator in your blogging, then (follow the logic), they are rejecting Christ because they “follow your blogs” (I’m not accepting the blame).

            Todd, you fail to admit that your “tone” (as you call it) permeated not only your entire post (full of sweeping generalizations) but every post thereafter.

            I will retract and extend my remarks: I accept your apology as I think you did perhaps intend to separate it from the larger portion of your diatribe.

            That being said, I’d have to say, “I still don’t think you get it.”

          • Rob Ayers says

            1. “You assume I hate Frank? Is that the intimation in what I need to read?” No. Yet in my humble opinion snarky responses CAN lead someone to question it. My main point is verse 46, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have ? Do not even the tax collectors do the same ? ” If we only like those who agree with us and deride those who don’t then what credit is that to us? If you noted, I included myself in that discussion in being humbled by the passage. This includes my snarky responses to you too – for I am unwilling to help my brother unless I have pulled out the log in my own eye. So forgive me please. I have already forgiven you and will not mention the “tone” again and try to deal with the substance of our disagreement.

            2. At this point we disagree in here is your illustration. We do not disagree with if there are substantive activities that could be included in the meeting that would best illustrate our work together. I just disagree that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance is one of those things which should cause a hiccup. You have a conscientious objection based upon a fair and honest scriptural interpretation (and also some honest Baptist historical interpretation but honestly this is tertiary) that tells you we as a collective are doing the wrong thing. I disagree with your interpretation of both scripture and history, and have no issue in voluntarily bearing allegiance with the principles as stated in the Pledge as a Christian believer in a joint meeting with fellow believers who are messengers to a business meeting. You say the sky is green. I say the sky is blue. Unless we change lenses I suspect that is what we will see unless God changes our hearts. That has been our discussion so far. Do you have words of clarification that is needed? Do I understand it well?

            As for your friends, while Frank is a bit blustery :-) I would agree with his outline – People do reject Christ for what He is – if they need an excuse to not believe then they can use me but that will not save them. I do take responsibility if my witness has harmed them from believing – but ultimately they are responsible for it. I am not to blame.

            Rob

          • says

            Frank,

            1) When people do not substantively encounter God in any other way that through the people of God, a rejection of God may be prompted by the manner in which we portray/convey God to them. It is easy to dismiss that because we want to behave or say whatever we would like. But, when the Apostle Paul describes he and the missionaries lives as letters written and known, he expressly ties it to him emulation of Jesus for the benefit of others, even those yet to experience grace.

            2) You don’t follow my logic. Call it what you want.

            3) I have admitted my tone in the initial reply to your at #16, Maybe you could help me understand your tone and the snarky comment about needing people in Iran. It is always good to go back to the beginning when someone decides to bully you about tone, snark, and hubris. There was not question or engagement in that comment. It was as snarky as anything I have written and carried as dismissive a tone as any follow-up comment. But, you never once thought to see how you might come off while berating me.

            4) I am glad you at least see the way the comment that included my apology was not with a “but.”

            5) We disagree. I don’t think you get it. And, I don’t think you want to understand what I wrote. I believe you got amped up at my illustration and instead of asking what I might have been trying to say before launching into your lesson in my need to appreciate your service to our Country.

            If you have time to read back through your comments to me. You may discover that you stoop to the playground and call names and assault my character. I am still wondering how it is that Rob missed all of that in participation in let’s teach this boy a lesson routine.

            That said, Frank. I am grateful to every person who has, does, and will serve our Country – including you. But, that was never my point of contention. Whether my words suit you or not those Veterans in my church with whom I have had these very, less contentious, conversations work to understand and still love me and me them.

          • says

            Rob,

            This nesting thing is going to get wonky.

            1) Apology accepted. Clearly forgiven.

            2) I understand we see this matter differently. And, I am not insisting on convincing you to change positions. What I would say, to clarify my thoughts, is that for me, in an election year where we are faced with a candidate whose religious position includes American Exceptionalism, our symbolic actions may easily be perceived as not all too different. If that is a perception, and I believe it is for some, we lose our distinctive claim to sole allegiance to Jesus. Another way to describe it for me, we never said the Pledge before revivals when I was growing up. I wondered why we began that practice when we gather to celebrate the work of the Kingdom of God at our annual meetings.

            3) My read of Jesus and the New Testament does indeed put some weight on how I may influence someone to come to trust Jesus. While they may suffer the weight of rejecting Jesus, I believe we will suffer the indignities for mis-representing him to the world.

            Rob – I went back to the beginning, your first direct comment to me. I read it again. I found your tone to be little different than what you began accusing me of. I am glad that at this point in the day and thread, we have both agreed to a better way forward with regret to what went before. I really do not stake the success of what I write or think on persuading others to see things my way. I, more than you know, guessed this post could be construed when I sent it to Jeff at his request. In fact, I told him this would be the most provocative post in the series. We shared in that reality. What I would like to end all of this with is that my great fear is any difference with a prevailing opinion is less heard for what is offered and more for what those who disagree want it to be. I am guilty. Maybe there is a way to disagree graciously even when we have such personal investment in our convictions.

            Godspeed in your work.

      • John Wylie says

        Todd
        I guess I don’t get why saying the pledge is even something that needs to be analysed. Early Christians may not have said Caesar if Lord but they were certainly under biblical mandate to honor the king. Daniel when he responded out of the lion’s den bragging about God’s delivering power said “oh king live forever” to Darius.

          • John Wylie says

            Todd,

            I really have no problem with you and I’m not calling you a lefty or anything like that, but could you show me where I’m off track? I understand completely that we are citizens of a higher kingdom, but one way that is lived out is by being good citizens of whatever nation that God has chosen to put us in. God told us to honor the king, and Daniel followed expected protocol when addressing Darius even while he was at the same time giving praise to God.

            I also realize that you were using the pledge as an example and was not the central point of your post.

          • says

            John,

            My comment was not intended to imply you were off track. My dilemma was that I had stated the issue and it is not about being a good citizen. It seemed you were equating our saying the Pledge at the SBC made us better citizens than if we had not. To me it is a category mistake.

            You reference Daniel. The contexts are not parallel. One could ardly conflate living in America as a Christian and living in Babylon as a captive Jew.

            Since what I was aiming for was different that what it seemed you were addressing, I did not know how to respond without the thread taking another turn, one away from what I envisioned with the piece.

            I meant no disrespect with my reply.

          • John Wylie says

            Todd,
            Thanks for your kind response. Although we have disagreed several times over the years your Christian demeanor has always made the conversation easier.

          • says

            John,

            I am glad you abide some obvious typos.

            I could say the same for your decorum in our disagreements. Thank you.

    • says

      I find it funny Frank that you would compare yourself to Jesus using “whips.” Those whips my friend were used to drive people from the Temple who were distracting people from their worship of God, which was the point of Todd’s original post.

      As a guy who knows and respects Todd greatly, I would like you to know he is none of the things you accuse him of being. He is simply a man who thinks biblically and allows Scripture to form his opinions, rather than tradition.

      Since you have displayed NONE of that ability in your responses to his article, I’m not surprised you cannot identify the line of thinking he has submitted and instead resort to name calling, sarcastic rejoinders, and stabs at his patriotism and lack of military service. None of these methods are doing anything to disprove what Todd wrote in his original article. Instead, they are making you look foolish, uneducated, and mean.

      I would humbly suggest that you reevaluate your dismissal of Todd and his positions and engage his article using scripture, or at least stop attacking aspects of his life which you are in no position of knowledge to judge.

      Now speaking for myself and abandoning your treatment of Todd, I find your brand of elevation of love of country to love of Christ the worst and most disturbing kind of perverted Gospel. It literally makes me sick to my stomach to see you equate nationalism with our position in Christ. Which you did when you typed the following:

      “The Bible clearly, without any equivocation, points out that our national identity is as much a part of God’s sovereign plan as our salvation. But, I don’t expect the Bible to influence your spoiled. leftist position on the Church and Patriotism.”

      In fact, the Bible directly contradicts your statement when Paul writes, “…neither Jew nor Greek…” in Galatians 3:28. We in fact put off our nationalities and take a place in a new Kingdom that is not of this world, and who has but one King. We are “…aliens and strangers…” no longer citizens who claim a nationality but Citizens who are in Christ.

      That was one of the points of Todd’s post. That when we take a gathering that is intended for the worship of our King and turn it into a time of pledging allegiance to anything or anyone else, we lessen the focus on what unifies us and once again become divided from the Kingdom that we all proclaim.

      Think about that reality before you go and get all huffy at me in the same manner you were with Todd. Where does your citizenship lie? Who is your King?

      • John Wylie says

        Ryan,
        With all due respect, in my opinion, you are misinterpreting Frank’s comment. Did God create all nations? Is His creation and placement of all nations connected to His purpose? Acts 17:26, 27 I don’t think for a minute that Frank was equating the importance of patriotism with salvation, however, he does seem to be acknowledging the connection of the creation of nations and God’s redemptive purpose.

      • Frank says

        Ryan,

        I hope you feel better defending the pride and hubris and insensitivity as “thinking biblically.”

        That’s a pretty thin Bible.

        Todd chose to make the Pledge an issue. I simply chose to make it’s defense an issue. I don’t know you and I don’t know Todd, but I do know the “cost of freedom” and who paid it and continues to pay it.

        If you have a problem with that, don’t confirm my FaceBook friend request.

        • says

          The “cost of freedom” was paid by Jesus on the cross.

          If you consider Todd’s positions “pride and hubris” then you didn’t read past what offended you. Which is a pretty poor way to evaluate a person’s argument- which you admit in your comment below at 8:48pm. If you are so obsessed with defending a “pledge” to an inanimate object that you would miss the greater truths that are at stake, perhaps you have no business interacting on a blog.

          We are here to engage ideas, not emotional tirades.

          • Rob Ayers says

            With respect – the pledge is not to an inanimate object = it is to the ideals of which that inanimate object stands “…to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

            My brother Frank objects strongly to those “who do not have a clue” in knowing that he saw with his own eyes those who died for that “inanimate object” you so blatantly oppose. While one can argue that any man can die for any nation and feel the same emotion, my brother Frank saw men, friends, men he loved as brothers die for this nation so that you can make your snarky comments to him on a message board. You may not like the fact that he supports the “Pledge of Allegiance” said at convention meetings – you may not like the fact he believes what he has stated he believes (though you have misrepresented his beliefs even though he has stated them a few times already – and to correct him with that first sentence was a straw man – he does not disagree with it). You may disagree with him on all things Scriptural. You may be right on a few of them. But let me tell you what. Though you may disregard his “emotional tirades” and may believe they are beneath you, they are his and you in my opinion are disrespecting him. 1 Corinthians 13. Read it and get the picture.

            I must apologize for my little rant. I will not apologize for protecting my elders from critical bogus unadulterated nonsensical balderdash – especially from those who don’t have a clue. Frank reacts to those who treat him with contempt, so it flows both ways. If you like the stuff, then by all means continue it and receive in kind. I will not get in the way anymore. Just remember you are accountable.

            Shalom,

            Rob

      • Frank says

        Ryan,

        In regard to citizenship, you might want to actually read the New Testament to see what it refers to in regard to patriotism, and being a good citizen of the community in which you reside.

        I’d give you all the biblical references, but I suspect you are more than capable of finding them on your own.

        • says

          Citizenship and patriotism are two very different things. A simple dictionary would tell you that.

          The bible is very clear that we are to be good citizens setting such a good example for the pagans that they praise God and can accuse us of nothing. Do you actually think that means embracing blind patriotism? I think the martyrs of the early church under the Romans might have a VERY different idea about that position.

          This is the problem. You are equating being patriotic- the pledge, saluting the flag, service in the military- with being a good citizen as defined in the Bible. The textual evidence is simply not on your side. But go ahead and keep ranting, I’m sure your volume will convince someone you are right. Unfortunately, they won’t be people who can read and study for themselves. No one who undertakes a serious study of Scripture could agree with what you have written.

      • Frank says

        “””brand of elevation of love of country to love of Christ the worst and most disturbing kind of perverted Gospel.”””

        Not that facts matter, but as a matter of fact, that is not a position I hold in any way, shape or manner. That was Todd’s misstatement of my proposition.

        Feel free to slam, stomp or otherwise abuse me, but please at least allow me to state my own beliefs.

        The issue with me has always been Todd’s tone and hubris, to which he admitted. Now, you are trying to twist some crazy theology around the discussion to make your point. Well . . . have fun.

        • Frank says

          PS–If you will read Todd’s posts (and not even bother with mine) you would find out that I have not mentioned one thing about what Todd considers the substance of his post.

          That is his evaluation to which I will agree.

          It’s simply the couching of saying the Pledge as a major illustration of everything that is wrong with the SBC. Unless you are a Jehovah’s Witness, the Bible says nothing negative about acknowledging one’s God-elected nationality.

          So, forget all the theological gymnastics–that was my issue and I think I made it plain. Fact is, I took it personal–which I admitted.

          It would probably surprise you (and Todd) to know that without the reference to the Pledge, I might have had a different response to the post.

          I just feel the whole thing fell over the “edge.”

  9. Rob Ayers says

    On The Apology to Frank (since I can no longer nest):

    Let us slam the gates shut on the bridge and allow no one to pass. I interpreted from your tone a moral superiority. Those with more superiority don’t need to be told that “love conquers all.” They already know it. Or should. I was attempting to merely comment on that supposed apology in noting that one persons goose is another gander. I was not taking Frank’s side (Frank – I think you are a little out of control – the Spirit shares His gift – appropriate it for your good) but I understand his position because I interpreted the same hubris. Perhaps you need to reread your posts (as Frank does too) to see if Jesus lives there.

    Grace and Peace,

    Rob

  10. Christiane says

    A saying from the Talmud:

    ‘an angry man is a prideful man’

    maybe that is why the first Christians so very much valued Christian ‘peace’ amongst themselves, and
    maybe that peace among them attracted others to the Church :)

  11. says

    I would tell you all to simmer down, but I think that from skimming my way quickly through the comments it looks like you guys are reaching some sort of understanding at last. I apologize for not being around to moderate more, as we have a mission team in our church and I had internet connectivity issues today on top of that, so I have been out of pocket.

    I trust that the conversation will focus more on the issues than on the people behind them from here on out.

    • Frank says

      Jeff,

      My apologies . . . I started out on full boil and completely by-passed “simmer.”

      I’m over it now.

  12. Frank says

    Todd,

    I’m not going to engage with you anymore. I’m as bad or worse than you point out. I was born human, and I’ll likely die human.

    There’s absolutely nothing I could say that would even nudge you toward where your post fell off the cliff. I’m thankful you went back and read all my posts to catalogue all my sins. Certainly, there was a splinter in my eye for which I have no excuse.

    I don’t usually have time to spend in such nonsensical discussions–unfortunately, today was not one of those days. Idle fingers are the Devil’s workshop.

    I’ve got ministry to do. I’ll continue to fly the flag in my American congregation. I’ll continue to help those like a young lady who is currently being detained, so that she will not have to be sent back to Iran (therein the reference), where the penalty for her newfound faith (I led her to the Lord a couple months ago, using the Sinner’s Prayer) could be death.

    Don’t pledge the flag. That’s your right. Just be careful you are not standing next to me when you are exercising that right. You’ve already pointed out that I am of a base character–such and interaction between us would not be pretty.

    And . . . just for the record, I can’t remember what, if any, was the substance of your post. Maybe I’ll go back and read it, now that I’ve taken my blood pressure medicine for the night.

    I do not wish you ill. I do not agree with your perspective. I will seek to avoid interaction with you in the future.

    Now, let’s all go out and “win a soul to Christ!”

    • Paul says

      Nice. Todd, I’d punch you in the face if we were standing next to each other and you didn’t recite the pledge. Now, let’s go show some lost soul the love of Jesus.

      I don’t get it.

      • Frank says

        Who said anything about “punching someone in the face?”

        Wow! Just make up your own narrative.

        • Paul says

          So then you’re saying you have BO? Sorry, Bro, but when you generalize with a statement like ” Just be careful you are not standing next to me when you are exercising that right,” then you have left the interpretation wide open. Don’t blame me. Either be more specific or don’t come across like you’re making a threat. Or just be happy to let me draw my own conclusions (“make up my own narrative”). Feel free to clarify or I’ll just go with my own understanding of that sentence.

    • says

      Frank,

      I catalogued your sins? Nope. Not playing your game here. With razor sharp consistency you berated my tone, charged me as un-patriotic, considered me leftist and cocky. I go back and point to where the tone went off the rails and that is a catalog – one point,

      My use of numbered points was to specifically respond you your long comment that was not a catalog. I used numbers for my benefit so I would choose clarity and be specific. You continue to make my words fit your interpretation.

      Then you threaten me like a schoolyard bully who knows how to point out his service but not engage my argument and now you play dismissive and invite collegiality around Evangelism? Don’t stand next to me? I say the Pledge on all the appropriate occasions. I simply find worship and those meetings where we center on King Jesus should be laser focused on that allegiance. You served my Country. He died for me. I will Pledge, honor, and respect our Great Counrty. I will bow only to Jesus.

      You expressly dismissed my olive branch earlier now you play the martyr? More than my post fell off the cliff.

      Talk about thin Bible.

    • says

      Frank,

      What do you expect from someone who argues vehemently that a heretic like Brian McLauren who preaches a false gospel is theologically orthodox?

      • says

        Joe,

        Argue vehemently?

        Nope.

        Just don’t think you are the Gatekeeper you think you are.

        But, you are probably right, always right.

        • says

          Todd

          Argue vehemently? Yep. You posted how many comments declaring that McLaren was within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy? You gushed like a school girl with a crush about how you’d worshipped with him.

          The man preaches a false gospel that will damn people to hell. Of course, instead of defending your little man-crush with pleas of “You’re being mean–waaah” you might try defending his beliefs with, oh I don’t know, scripture. Guess that’d be kinda hard since that’s not possible.

  13. Anthony Clay says

    I completely get what Todd is saying.

    As an Army and Navy veteran, I will say that when in a worship service I WILL NOT say the pledge of allegiance to America.

    Now, maybe if Frank was beside me giving me the evil eye and flashing his kabar at me, I might put my hand over my heart and move my lips but if you could read my lips I’d be singing “A Mighty Fortress is our God”.

    • Frank says

      Anthony,

      Fine. At least you earned the right. But, suffice it to say, you don’t have the right to be disrespectful in our church. We are a very grateful and patriotic people and we cherish our right to say the pledge. You show of dissent would be disrespectful and out of place in our church.

      If you you want to make that point, do it somewhere else. That’s all I’m saying.

      • Paul says

        Frank, where is your church. I think I may want to come visit. And not say the pledge with you. And watch you show me the love of Jesus as I sit quietly in my seat next to you.

          • Paul says

            Frank, I’m elated. I think we should sing in the choir together. We could hold hands as you belt out the national anthem and I stand there quietly with my thoughts on Jesus.

          • Frank L. says

            Paul,

            Please do not feel compelled to express your spiritual superiority over me. I’m not contending to be the standard of Christian devotion.

            I defer to you for that.

          • Paul says

            Frank, for the most part I’ve been joshing with you, so I don’t claim spiritual superiority over anyone. But on a serious note, I hope you’ll excuse me if I don’t find you idolatry all that appealing.

          • Frank says

            Paul,

            I’m sure you are just as funny as you are spiritual, so your explanation of “joshing” makes sense.

            Calling someone an “idolater” after first misstating that person’s position, tells me something about your size.

            And . . . of course I’m just joshing :) <—- note smiley face

          • Paul says

            I couldn’t have misstated your position if I didn’t state your position. In fact, the only position of your’s I’ve stated at all is your not-so-veiled threat to Todd which you choose not to clarify. And, as I’ve said, if you choose not to…well…as the saying goes, you reap what you sow.

      • Anthony Clay says

        Frank,

        Before you call me a leftist weenie, let me tell you about myself. I am to the right of Ron Paul. I am a gun-carrying member of the NRA. I love America. I have an autographed picture of Paul Bryant. I am a patriot and I express my patriotism almost constantly……except when I am in a worship service.

        It is my opinion that there is no place in a worship service where we come together to worship the creator of the universe, the author and perfecter of our salvation, for PLEDGING ALLEGIANCE to the country that we live in. I simply believe it distracts from the purpose of the service.

        You said

        At least you earned the right. But, suffice it to say, you don’t have the right to be disrespectful in our church.

        I have earned the right, but I don’t have the right? I don’t understand.

        As to being disrespectful…..who am I disrespecting by not saying the pledge? And who would I be disrespecting if I betrayed my conscience and said the pledge?

        “Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”

        • Rob Ayers says

          I would also disagree with the pledge being said during a church worship service. Even though our church does display the flags inside the sanctuary as prayer reminders, I would never lead a church in a Sunday Worship service in the pledge. The time is spent in Worship. Now we have done pledges during special services outside of Sunday Worship – and even during VBS – but not during regular Sunday Morning Worship. And Frank, I would hope that you would respect me enough so that if I would stand and not recite the pledge during Worship you would not be the Room Monitor :-) .

          In this IMHO I am not being inconsistent. As a Baptist I believe that the local church is the representation of that which Christ died and rose again, the visible expression of the Body of Christ. While the fellowship of believers gathered together in a cooperative of churches can worship and proclaim the cause of Christ, (and in some respects can be argued a part of the Universal Church) it is not a visible representation of the Church as the local Church is. So what we do in a convention business meeting does not have to line up what we do in a church worship service – nor any business meeting for that matter. I would not be opposed to sharing together during a church business meeting the pledge – but our church does not do it.

          Okay – fire away Frank (and anybody else who has anything left)

          Grace and Peace,

          Rob

          • Frank L. says

            Rob
            You are welcome to your opinion but you would feel out of place in our church.

            But that should not be a problem since we are not in the same church. Make it an issue in your church how you see fit It simply is not an issue in our church

          • says

            Rob,

            Don’t we have sermons in our Business Meeting? It is this feature and the content of our reports that make this different than an Annual Shareholders meeting. If you would think the Pledge appropriate or a Business Meeting of the SBC, how would that differ from the Business Meetng at your Church? (No snark here today. Seeking to clarify what you see as the distinction.)

          • Paul says

            No one earns the right to pledge or not to pledge, to worship or not to worship. You don’t have to earn the right to follow your conscience. That’s just prideful nonsense.

      • says

        I’m not going to comment on anything in this long line of post save this one by Frank:

        Frank – thank you for your service as I served also. But I must point out that you dishonor your service and those of your fallen friends when you suggest that only former military members have a “right” to question the flag or the pledge or its use.

        We served to defend EVERY AMERICANS right to believe or not believe, to serve or not serve, to honor or not honor… American’s don’t EARN rights, they are given by God and defended from enemies who would take away those rights by men and women.

        Your service gave Todd (as an example) the right to NOT stand at the pledge at the National SBC meeting, at the 4th of July celebration, and on any given Sunday in your church, wherever that may be.

        If Todd were to show up at your church and sit next to you while the rest of the gathered stood to pledge the American flag, you may not agree or understand his decision, but you can be proud that he HAS that right still to this day because you, me, Anthony, and countless others served this nations military so that right would not be taken away.

        We don’t serve to gain rights, we give them up during service to preserve rights.

        • Frank L. says

          The problem is that you are not using the word “right” in the same way I am using it.

          My service provided political rights the exercise of which may not be morally right. My service helped give those with views such as Todd the right to worship somewhwere other than our church.

          I quite frankly don’t care what anyone else does in there own space. It becomes an issue when they insist doing it in a space they know will needlessly and intentionally offend another.

          I don’t expect or really care if others agree with me or not in this regard. Nothing in Scripture prohibits an act of respect and appreciation for the national identity God has given me.

          Some have called me an idoleter and other such terms. I do not see it that way and do not see the Scriptures teaching such.

          We’ve been to this dance before so I expect the insults. I over-reacted and sunk to the same level. For that I am sorry. I am Not sorry to say I gratefully accept God’s Providential decree to make me an American

      • Anthony Clay says

        Todd,

        I’m not even close to being a fan of where the emergents have gone with bell, mclaren, et al. …..seems like modern day Socinianism in a lot of ways. So I am sure that we disagree on many issues.

        But brother, I’m glad that I can agree with you on this point.

        Grace and Peace.

        • says

          Anthony,

          Who knows what we might agree or disagree on. Too many here seem to think that any call to Christian charity and a recognition of human fallibility is vehement defense.

          Maybe somewhere along the way we will find the occasion to discuss those areas where we may not see things the same and be surprised at our agreement.

  14. says

    I’m stepping in to the conversation rather late, but there is a difference between patriotism and nationalism. I am patriotic, but not nationalistic. (The Nazi’s were nationalistic.) Patriotism is appreciated and expressed freely. Nationalism is simply forced patriotism and propagandizing.
    As a Christian I am first and foremost a citizen of the kingdom of God. As an American, I choose to exercise my earthly citizenship within Biblical boundaries and admonitions. When the pledge is recited or flags displayed in a worship service, I honor my country. That doesn’t mean I’m coerced to do so. I choose to do so. That happens MAYBE once every three or four years. It also happens during VBS, along with the pledge to the Christian flag and the pledge to the Bible.
    I never served in the military. I went to the recruiter and talked to him about it (1975), and he encouraged me to go to college. It was post-Vietnam, the draft had ended before I turned 18, and he thought I should set my sights elsewhere. My dad was a Marine at 17 and landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve 1941. He served at Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, and a host of other landings. To this day there are things he hasn’t told any of us. Most likely he feels we wouldn’t understand, and he’s probably right. He was shot at and he shot at others. I know that he has killed men. I don’t know how many. He did so because it was war, not because he wanted to to do so. He supported my decision to go to college based on his own experience. He never got to go to college and always wished he’d taken advantage of the GI Bill.
    The fact that I was never in the military doesn’t make me less of a patriot. The fact that another has served in the military doesn’t make him or her any more of a patriot than I am. I’m grateful for the service of each veteran. I’m grateful for the freedoms I have as an American. I still choke up when the National Anthem is played. Just can’t help it.
    But should there ever be a time when nationalism is touted over patriotism, I will stand against it. Should there ever be a time when my Christian convictions are at odds with my citizenship, I will choose to stand with my faith. The fact is, folks, that each of you who served did so to protect the rights of every citizen to stand on the principles of his or her own convictions. Be a patriot, not a nationalist.

  15. Greg Harvey says

    So there are two halves–not sides–to separation of church and state. One–the correct interpretation of the First Amendment is that the state (national government at first, but this includes the state and local governments now) essentially is entirely neutral with respect to the waxing and waning of specific faiths. The frustration we often feel as Baptists is that has been taken too far and the various levels of government are actively muting religious voices in the public square.

    But the second half to the separation of church and state is the principle that if the faith we believe is true, we ought to be leery of counting on politics to accomplish Kingdom purposes. Therefore, aligning too closely with any political party or overemphasizing the civil religion–and there is little doubt that we have a national civil religion and the typical philosophers of separation of church and state angle for space for that national civil religion to thrive–leads to the inability to reason about our Kingdom calling especially if the state were to start promulgating evil.

    For some reason, I thought that was the point Todd was making. I also thought it was a bit silly growing up to recite pledges to the American and “Christian” flags. It seemed to me that the church is an embassy and one of my proudest moments in Indonesia was visiting the grounds of the Ambassador’s residence and seeing–since the embassy and residence are considered national soil–Old Glory wave. The “Christian” flag is, of course, an invention. But its primary device IS an empty cross. The empty cross and empty tomb are the primary emblems of our faith. Arguably depictions of Jesus fall under the graven image prohibition and ought to be avoided.

    But nationalism can be idolatrous, too. And patriotism can border on idolatry. We need to be careful about our national fervor. Which again seems to me the point Todd was attempting to make.

    • Christiane says

      LOVE SHARED IS NOT DIMINISHED . . . that is God’s blessing to us

      The Brits have always been intensely patriotic people, but their patriotism is for their ‘king and country’, not allegiance to a particular political party . . . so their patriotism is NOT divisive, as sometimes ours can be very divisive, depending on what is being said.

      The Brits also have never seen a ‘dichotomy’ (division) where allegiance to country over-road their allegiance to God . . . the movie ‘Chariots of Fire’ showed how well an allegiance to faith over an Olympic opportunity was applauded by the whole country (well, maybe not Lord Cadogan :)

      Examine this hymn lyric, and you can see how the two come together without taking anything away from each other, and in fact, strengthen a people’s faith AND patriotic love, rather than cause division:

      ” I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
      Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
      The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
      That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
      The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
      The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

      I heard my country calling, away across the sea,
      Across the waste of waters she calls and calls to me.
      Her sword is girded at her side, her helmet on her head,
      And round her feet are lying the dying and the dead.
      I hear the noise of battle, the thunder of her guns,
      I haste to thee my mother, a son among thy sons.

      And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
      Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
      We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
      Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
      And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
      And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace. “

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-9O_GEiaEY

    • Frank L. says

      “””The empty cross and empty tomb are the primary emblems of our faith”””

      In regard to emblems, whether one embraces them or is repulsed by them, the empty cross was not the original “emblem” for the Christian church.

      The fish is the earliest “emblem” of prominence in church history, if my memory serves me correctly.

      • Christiane says

        The ‘fish’ sign?

        the word for ‘fish’ in Greek contains letters that form an acronym

        These are the first letters of the Greek words
        Iesous (Iota),
        Christos (Chi),
        Theou (Theta),
        Uios (Upsilon),
        and Sotor (Sigma).

        The English translation is IXOYE.
        The five Greek word stand for the English words meaning,
        “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior”

        The earliest Christians while under severe persecution were safely able to identify one another in this way:
        a Christian would draw in the dirt the upper part of the ‘fish sign’, and if the other person was a Christian, he would complete the sign of the fish by drawing the bottom portion of it . . .

        The earliest most prominent symbol in Christian times was likely the
        Chi-Rho symbol:
        it is formed by interlacing two capital Greek letters ‘chi’ and ‘rho’ (??) of the Greek word “???????” meaning ‘Christ’
        The Chi-Rho monogram was not technically a Christian cross,
        but it does invoke the Christ’s crucifixion as well as His status as the Christ, the Kyrios, or the Lord of the Cosmos

      • Greg Harvey says

        You’re awfully argumentative Frank. The fish re-emerged in, what, the 80s as a car decal. It doesn’t have the continuous history that the cross has.

        But the real emblem or symbol is the empty tomb. It wasn’t enough that Jesus died on the cross. It is enough that he is the first fruit of resurrection and that he lives today.

        • Frank says

          Greg,

          I don’t see anything argumentative at all. I’m sorry you took it that way. It was just a comment in regard to something I learned in seminary.

          Sorry it was so offensive to you.

          The point was: emblems have been around a long time and change from time to time.

          Also, I’m sure you will consider this argumentative, but the cross as a religious emblem predated Christianity and a form of it — according to my research in seminary — was associated with Buddhism.

          Again, sorry you were offended.

  16. John Wylie says

    Well if political maneuvering helped the SBC rid itself of the liberals than I say maybe syncretism isn’t all that bad. Although I see a lot syncretism on the part of liberals in their application of the priesthood of the believer. They’ve taken a wonderful doctrine and Americanized it to that point that rebellion is now a virtue.

    • Greg Harvey says

      Having grown up with some of those “liberals” and knowing the impact to them of the Conservative Resurgence and the dehumanizing that went with that, I cannot recommend partisan politics as a means for improving the righteousness of the Convention. Now do I agree with the CR? Yes.

      • says

        …the impact to them of the Conservative Resurgence and the dehumanizing that went with that…

        Thank you for giving me something to smile about this morning. :-)

        • Greg Harvey says

          So, Joe, it was definitely a two-way street, which I can understand causing a smile. While I do not agree with the theology of many who were called liberal, I do not for a second doubt their conviction nor their salvation. And that should have been the sole point of the CR: to brighten the line on things such as inerrancy. Not to dehumanize the opposition.

          Do you not essentially agree with that?

          • says

            Yes, I actually do. I know that belief in inerrancy is not salvific so, no, I can’t say that those folks who lost in the CR weren’t Christians, although I can’t say that I’m sorry they got hurt (sinful, I know). So, I can’t say they’re not Christians, but I would never call them brothers or sisters in Christ. More like 2nd cousins twice removed. You know, the ones that show up at your family reunions and no one wants to admit they know them??

      • says

        Greg,

        I cannot recommend partisan politics as a means for improving the righteousness of the Convention.

        I am smiling too.

  17. Truth Unites... and Divides says

    John Wylie: “Well if political maneuvering helped the SBC rid itself of the liberals than I say maybe syncretism isn’t all that bad.”

    Questions:

    When you say “liberals”, do you mean theological liberals or political liberals (although it often seems that they are usually both).

    Also, if it wasn’t political maneuvering that helped to rid the SBC of liberals, then what was/were the cause(s)?