At Between the Times, Nathan Finn has just posted a powerful call to civility during the discussion of the name-change. It is called, “The Southern Baptist Convention: Name that Denomination.” If I say “pretty please” will you promise to go read it?
He explains his ambivalence toward the name change, and then issues a call for civil debate of the topic.
I’m urging my fellow Southern Baptists (even those who don’t want to be called that anymore) to be as civil and Christ-like as possible. I seriously doubt that the overwhelming majority of those who want to change the name are closet Presbyterians who are embarrassed of our Convention’s southern roots. I also seriously doubt that the overwhelming majority of those who want to keep the name are redneck racists who don’t care about reaching all of America with the good news.
He calls on both sides to tone down the accusations and assumptions. Then, he issues this plea:
I want to plead with you, whatever your opinion might be on a name change, to call down the strident and unhelpful voices that share your perspective. Don’t let the mean or arrogant or irascible or elitist or ignorant tones dominate this conversation. For the sake of our collective witness, let’s mortify the name-calling, motives-judging, power-grabbing tendencies that appear almost every time we engage in some sort of public debate. Let’s agree to act like Christian grownups and love one another on the other side of this debate, whatever our name may be. And let’s agree to continue to cooperate together for the sake of the gospel, even if we don’t get our way when it comes to our denomination’s name.
I like what he says first there – let’s all police our own side. If you are against the name-change, call those who share your opinion on the carpet if they go over the top with their rhetoric. If you are for it, point out inflated rhetoric by those who share your opinion.
And, let us “mortify the name-calling, motives-judging, power-grabbing tendencies” that often appear in these debates.
Thank you Dr. Finn for this powerful call for civil debate on this difficult topic.