In my library I have several books that cover various viewpoints regarding tertiary doctrines over which Christians have historically disagreed. For example, I have read and enjoyed The Meaning of the Millenium: Four Views, and taught the people at Emmanuel all four viewpoints during a Wednesday night study. I taught each of the four millenial positions as if I believed it, and only at the end of the entire series did I give the members of Emmanuel my personal views on the subject of the millenium. I also admitted I could be wrong in my personal view and told those in the Bible study they should search the Scriptures for themselves to arrive at their own conclusions. Predestination and Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom is another book in my library. We have used it in various small group studies in our church. There has never been a demand that people at Emmanuel hold to one particular view on this subject. Interestingly, all four viewpoints on God's soverereignty are represented by different Sunday School teachers in our fellowship. But all of our members understand that we are never to make disagreement over this tertiery doctrine a test of fellowship. Another book, entitled Are Miraculous Gifts For Today? Four Views , is an excellent summary of the different viewpoints Christians hold regarding spiritual gifts. Again, all four views on the gifts of the Spirit are held by various people within our 4,500 church membership. I'm excited that an agreement has already been reached with Broadman and Holman for another four view book to be published in 2011 called Perspectives on Tithing. A Southern Baptist will serve as the main editor and there will be three other contributors, with Southern Baptist Ken Hemphill providing one view on the subject. There are a number of other books that take handle biblical doctrines by presenting four views on the subject in question. The ability and freedom to learn, discuss, and debate various views on tertiary doctrines is a sign of health and strength for any church or convention. Demands that everybody believe the same thing on tertiery matters is a sign of dysfunction.
Unfortunately, some within the Southern Baptist Convention would like to demand that all Southern Baptists conform to ONE VIEW on every tertiary doctrine. This week one Southern Baptist went so far as to write administrators at our cooperative seminaries and suggest that any professor who taught a different view on "storehouse tithing" than that held by "the majority of Southern Baptists" should be removed from faculty. The International Mission Board trustees removed from prospective missionary service any missionary who believed that "a private prayer language" was a legitimate spiritual gift. Certain Southern Baptist ideologues who believe that a woman cannot teach men in a classroom setting, and wishing to push that singular view on all Southern Baptists who cooperate in the support of our agencies, removed Hebrew professor Dr. Sheri Klouda and Dr. Karen Bullock from their classroom responsibilities at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Southern Baptist pastors and leaders should feel the freedom to hold firm convictions on tertiary issues. They should believe, preach, and defend their views with conviction. But nobody within the SBC should even begin to think about threatening, ridiculing or seeking the removal from leadership or service any Southern Baptist who believes, teaches, or publishes a contrary view. Once we Southern Baptists allow ideologues with intentions of demanding doctrinal conformity to proceed unchecked and unchallenged, our Convention will lose all sense of true Baptist identity. We Baptists, out of all the Christian people in this world, should cherish and protect freedom for our people to hold to various views and interpretations of tertiery Biblical doctrines.
Each of us who care about the future of cooperative mission effort should take a collective stand to prevent the Southern Baptist Convention from becoming the One View Baptist Convention.
In His Grace,