There is growing up in society a Pharisaic system which adds to the commands of God the precepts of men; to that system I will not yield for an hour. The preservation of my liberty may bring upon me the upbraidings of many good men, and the sneers of the self-righteous; but I shall endure both with serenity so long as I feel clear in my conscience before God. C. H. Spurgeon
One of the Presidential candidates for 2008 recently declared at a New Hamphshire policital rally, "I'm in it to win it!" to the applause and cheers of supporters. I couldn't help but reflect on my involvement within the SBC this last year and a half when I heard that statement. There is nothing to win in the SBC, but there is a great deal to resist.
Spurgeon succinctly summed up nearly one hundred and fifty years ago what needs resisting by Southern Baptists today. It is not my desire to single out individuals for ridicule, but to put everyone on notice that unless the average Southern Baptist begins to take an active role in the governance of our convention, we are in real danger of being overrun by a Pharisaic system that adds to 'the commands of God the precepts of men.' Unless our freedoms in Christ as individual Christians and autonomous churches are closely safe-guarded, we will wake up one day and realize that SBC leadership is defining Baptist identity in highly specific terms which may include making Natural Family Planning mandatory for Southern Baptist women and barring those same ladies from any positions of authority over a man in society.
Sound far fetched? It's not. We must draw a line in the sand today against those who are demanding conformity among Southern Baptists on issues of ecclesiology (i.e. "baptism must identify you with the doctrine of eternal security," "you must be congregationally governed," etc . . . ), soteriology ("you can't be a Calvinist" or "you must not be a five-point Calvinist"), pneumatology ("you must believe that the gifts have ceased"), and eschatology "you must be a dispenationalist" ). All these doctrines stretch far beyond the fundamentals of the faith, and Southern Baptists have historically displayed a broad diversity regarding these secondary and tertiary issues. We must not let others lull us into the trap of believing that all Southern Baptists must look the same, act the same and believe the same. It is this narrowing of the doctrinal parameters and the tightening of the definition of what it means to be a Southern Baptist that must be resisted right now. If we don't resist conformity on these issues, demands for conformity will reach deeper and deeper until all women will wear hats, no pants, stay at home and make babies the natural way, and avoid any role of authority over a man. It is pure Fundamentalism, and the Southern Baptist Convention has never been a Fundamentalist convention.
I am in an active role to resist the advancement of Fundamentalism. It's happening. This is not about taking the SBC a more liberal direction. It is about preventing the SBC from becoming a Fundamentalist convention. For the sake of not wishing to offend my brothers I am leaving out the adjective 'spooky'.
Give me the gospel. Give me Christ. Give me the Bible. Give me my freedom. But don't demand I make your precepts part of my life. I won't seek to take them from you, nor will I marginalize or criticize you for following your traditions and extra-biblical convictions. You are free to hold them and obey them religiously. But I, and others, will resist your demand that all Southern Baptists obey them.
And in the end, the resistance will win.
In His Grace,