I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. – 1 Corinthians 1:10
Can Baptists talk about anything except for Calvinism/Non-Calvinism these days? Why is this happening? I have never seen the Baptist Blogosphere this bad. I mean it. And, I’ve been around from the beginning back in 2005. This is the worst that it has ever been. All sides are warring and everything becomes a fight and we are willing to destroy other people to prove a point or to gain control and power or to be proven right or whatever.
Can we just stop it? Can we all just take seriously the command of the Lord to treat one another with love? We are already one in Christ. Why can’t we act like it?
I’m looking at you, SBC. Since I am part of you, I guess I am looking at me too.
Recently, there was a Calvinism conference in Kentucky where Frank Page, the head of the SBC Executive Committee gave a talk where he broke some serious ground theologically (sarcasm intended). He basically told conference attendees to be nice. Be respectful. Play well and share with others. These are all things that we learned in Kindergarten, but apparently, pastors need to hear this again and again at conferences. And, we apparently nod with approval, hoping that the “other side” hears this and shapes up.
We are fighting over Calvinism and Non-Calvinism and who is in power and who is not and who writes what on what blog and who is protecting who and who should be doing what and it goes on and on. I don’t even hardly read blogs anymore, but all one has to do is give a quick glance on Facebook or Twitter and follow a link or two and the headlines of what other pastors are writing about scream out controversy and conflict and fear and basically, a fight for control from every side.
I am not even going to comment on which side is right or which side is wrong. Honestly, I don’t care anymore. I am not a Calvinist or a Traditionalist or for one group or against another. For one side to be right in a fight, it means that they claim victory and with victory comes power and with power there is ultimately control and with control there is abuse and the whole cycle just starts all over again. I’d rather be wrong and need grace and mercy and forgiveness than be right and gain some kind of power over others at this point because my errors from the position of power are likely going to be worse than being wrong in the first place. I do not see many using their power very well right now, so I think it is better that we just forsake the whole thing and cry out to Jesus in the dirt with nothing but faith and desperation.
I did my share of SBC Blogging over controversial issues in the past. Mainly, I wanted to write to call for the IMB to be able to appoint all Southern Baptists who agreed with the BFM2000 to the mission field. That was in 2006-2008. But, I learned that there are much bigger issues and personalities at play – forces that I was not prepared for. Factions want control and they want their agenda to move forward. Those factions and power structures exists on all sides, even the side that I found myself on. So, I stepped back and bailed out and focused on my church. But, the fight goes on. I am mostly just an observer these days with no real dog in the hunt. But, my prayer is that we would all let go of our claim to being right so we can use that rightness against others. Notice that is different from a desire to be right so we can be pleasing to the Lord. That is a good thing. A desire to be right so you can club others with your “rightness” is a power play that makes you wrong, no matter how good your theology or practice actually is. In your correctness, you appealed to power and “lorded it over others” just like the pagans do. Jesus warned against this and it is a warning that we should heed, I think.
We are tearing ourselves apart. Where does it end?
If we cannot love one another, even those we consider enemies, then why are we in ministry? What do we really have to offer anyone? I am not above any of this. I can fight as much as anyone else and I know it. But, I am just hoping for something better for all of us right now. The reason that young people leave the SBC, in my opinion, is not because our church planting process is antiquated or we aren’t trendy enough or because NAMB needs to be reorganized or we are not doctrinally pure enough. It is because of all of the fighting and mean-spiritedness and politics of personal destruction, again, in my opinion. It is because, collectively, and even individually, we don’t look much like Jesus. What good is our power and wealth and great theology if we have not love? We are better than this . . . right?
This is simply an appeal to stop fighting. Let’s put off the old. Be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Put on the new. Be conformed to the image of Christ. Be a disciple. Be the least.
The world really needs to see us unified and loving one another. We are already unified in Christ. What if we acted like it? What if we discussed and disagreed but did not disdain? What if we fought FOR one another more than we fought AGAINST one another? What if we served one another more than we skewered one another? What if we could disagree without being disagreeable?
What if a miracle happened?