Last night I spoke to Dwight McKissic.
He gave me permission to tell you about it. I will not give you all the details of the conversation, but I feel you need to know the reason for the call.
Dwight had requested I give him a call because he was troubled -- deeply troubled. When I reached him in his office I found his tone soft and his spirit heavy. Dwight's wife was with him. He put me on the speaker phone so she could hear the conversation. They felt I might know what they were going through.
Dwight was ready to quit.
This pastor of a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Texas Convention no longer felt welcome in the Southern Baptist Convention.
He had just sat through his first trustee meeting at SWBTS where white papers were distributed that in effect defined who was welcome at Southwestern in terms of a private prayer language.
Dwight McKissic, a conservative Southern Baptist pastor, a leader in the African American Christian community, a man who believes the Bible from cover to cover and affirms the BFM 2000 found out that he was not welcome at SWBTS.
The narrowing of the definition of what it means to be a Southern Baptist continues to occur.
Bear in mind that what happened at SWBTS yesterday is not a Southern Baptist Convention action. It is an institutional action.
Bear in mind as well that when the press releases are issued today regarding the action taken at the SWBTS trustee meeting there will be people who say, "Southern Baptist institutions can do as their trustees please."
That's true, but as I discovered when I opposed doctrinal policies and guidelines at the IMB that I felt went beyond the convention doctrinal statement (the 2000 BFM) --- not to mention the Bible --- I was told, "But the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has already passed a similar policy!"
It's as if the narrowing occurs slowly, one agency at a time, until people say, "It can't be wrong because everybody's doing it."
As I've said on many occasions I do not have a private prayer language, but I sure don't mind having in SBC leadership or on the mission field those Southern Baptists who do --- particularly since the Bible says we are not to forbid it (I Cor. 14:39).
I would consider myself an irenic conservative.
I don't mind people in leadership in any of our agencies who have a continualist view of the gifts. I would oppose the forced resignation, termination or attrition through non-promotion of those who have a private prayer language. I oppose restricting the service of God-called Southern Baptists simply because they have a gift of the Spirit that I don't possess.
Most of all, I oppose the demand that everyone conform to a particular doctrinal interpretation that goes beyond the BFM 2000. Once we start down this slippery slope of doctrinal conformity it will not stop until everyone who happens to disagree with those in control are ultimately excluded.
Fellow peace-loving, conservative Southern Baptists who believe the Bible and who can work with other conservatives who also believe the Bible but interpet some passages differently, had better wake up.
We are dying as a convention.
It is not a sudden death. It is slow and tortuous. We keep defining who is and who is not a 'true' Southern Baptist, and we continue to exclude conservative evangelical Southern Baptists who believe the Bible completely, but don't see eye to eye on different interpretations of the sacred text.
We are on the verge of collapsing from within. If we don't stop this narrowing of the parameters of cooperation and fellowship we will end up a small sect within fundamentalist Christianity. I am beginning to believe that some would not mind if that occurred.
Not for a minute do I believe this is the desire of the majority of Southern Baptists, but it's now time for voices that have been silent to be heard.
There are some of us in trustee positions who are now saying, "Enough is enough! We must allow for differences, we must appreciate one another's uniqueness, and we must not divide in fellowship and cooperation over doctrines that are not essential to the faith."
However, those of us who are trying to stop the doctrinal narrowing within our convention are now being called the problem.
Dwight McKissic was told by some yesterday that he was the problem.
He has been asked by a few SWBTS trustees to resign "for the sake of unity."
Dwight loves the SBC. He is not a trouble maker. He is shocked at the strong reaction (what he would call 'overreaction') of those who have risen to speak against him, or those like him.
Now it's time for Dwight to hear from those support him.
Dwight. Don't resign.
Southern Baptists need you.
The kingdom of Christ needs you.
We appreciate your gracious spirit. We affirm your love for the Word of God. We join you in your desire to reach your community, yes the world, with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We admire your strong stand for truth.
Dwight McKissic, don't step down.
You are not the problem. You are not the cause of division.
You are part of the solution for healing in the SBC.
Perhaps you have come into the kingdom for such a time as this.
Make no mistake. The people who are seeking to exclude people like Dwight are the ones DEMANDING that everyone interprets the Bible the way they do. Irenic conservatives are at peace with their conservative brothers in Christ who disagree.
We must work hard to remain a convention where all evangelical conservative Baptists who believe the Bible are welcome to participate and cooperate in every aspect of convention ministry.
We are losing future leaders by the hundreds in the SBC because of our demand for doctrinal conformity on third tier doctrines. There is time for healing to occur, but we must act quickly. Will you be a part of the healing process?
Why don't you take a moment and write a note, or leave a comment to let Dwight, his wife, his family, and his church know that there are thousands of Southern Baptists who are glad to call them friends and fellow Southern Baptists.
You may reach him at . . .
Rev. Dwight McKissic
Cornerstone Baptist Church
5415 Matlock Road
Arlington, TX 76018
Or you may leave a comment here. Dwight doesn't have a blog, but his daughter will copy the comments for him to read.
Dr. McKissic's passionate and articulate response to the narrowing of the doctrinal parameters of cooperation at SWBTS and other agencies is here.
In His Grace,