A very famous preacher died and left his sermon notes to his alma mater's library. In one particular exposition of a text from II Corinthians the preacher had underlined a point and placed in quotation marks the following comment:
"Argument here very weak; raise voice for added emphasis."
It seems to be human nature for people to shout at one another when the basis for one's beliefs is built on tradition. However when the truth settles in a person's heart, there is a great deal of room to love those who disagree. Truth stabilizes. A lack of truth destabilizes.
I am praying that there will come a time in our Southern Baptist Convention when people are so secure in our understanding of the gospel and our mission of world evangelism that we DON'T CARE, and are QUIET, when brothers and sisters in Christ disagree with us in areas of non-essential doctrines. All doctrine is important, but not all doctrine is essential to fulfilling our mission.
The proper qualifications of the administrator of baptism and the private use of tongues, commonly called a private prayer language, are the two most recent examples of non-essential doctrines that ought to cause us all to say, "Look, I know what I believe about these issues, and you may not agree with my intepretations, but frankly, I am not concerned about convincing you that I am right and you are wrong. All I am concerned about is that you and I cooperate together to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to a lost world."
I personally am not convinced from Scripture or experience that speaking in tongues in public, or even in one's prayer closet, is a gift of the Spirit. However, there are some Southern Baptists who do believe tongues is a gift of the Spirit of God, and they claim to have it. If they told me I had to have it then we would have a problem. Likewise, if I told them they could not have it, then we would have a problem. Neither one of us has to yell and scream at the other "you are a heretic," because we both are in agreement on the cardinal doctrines of the faith.
Sunday morning we received into our church a young lady who shared her faith in Christ quite eloquently. She was quite confident her sins were forgiven because of Christ's work on her behalf. Her hope was solely in Christ. She was baptized at the hands of a minister who does not hold to eternal security, in a church that does not either. However, the young lady does believe in eternal security. We received her baptism.
A few churches in our convention might not believe her baptism to be valid. We do. We are not asking other churches to believe like us, for then we would have a problem. But likewise, when those churches who believe the hands of the baptizer are as important as the heart of the baptized, and then tell us we must believe like them, then we also have a problem.
I am not asking other churches to see it like we do, but I am asking other churches not to demand that we see it like them. The essence of COOPERATION is the freedom to disagree in interpretation of non-essential doctrines, but to cooperate with each other in the midst of our disagreement in fulfilling our common mission.
Surely I am not the only one who thinks this is such a simple thing for us to do, am I?
In His Grace,