Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Line, The Ditch, and the Sheep Fold

One of the genuine pleasures for my wife and me is to take groups to Israel for tours of the Holy Land. Our guides are Israeli Paratroopers and we are fascinated with their tales of Jewish heroism during the 1948 War of Independence, the Egyptian Wars of the 1960's and 70's, and the Lebanese/Israeli War of the early 1980's.

The modern Jewish soldier learns early in his service the story of Masada. During the Jewish/Roman war of A.D. 70, many Jews fled to the desert palace of King Herod on top of Masada. The Romans encircled the mountain and eventually conquered the fortified walls only to discover over 900 Jewish men, women and children had committed suicide in order to not be captured by Romans.

Until recently, every Israeli paratrooper was sworn into service on the top of Masada where a line would be drawn into the sand, the soldier would raise his right hand, swear allegience to the state of Israel, and close the ceremony by saying, "No more Masada." Israel must defend herself against every enemy, seen and unseen.

C.S. Lewis used to argue with his good friend J.R. Tolkien about whether or not the gospel should be made abundantly clear in their respective allegories. Tolkien argued for the vague representation of Christ, but Lewis took the position that the person of Jesus Christ should be revealed so clearly in the allegory, that little explanation would be needed. Thus, Aslan so typifies Christ, all one has to say to the child who reads the "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" is, "Aslan is Christ," and that child will immediately understand the ;rinciples of the gospel. C.S. Lewis said there was no greater privilege than to reveal Christ to the nations. That was his line in the sand.

Which leads me to my modern allegory.

I have had overwhelming positive response by email to the line in the sand post of December 10th entitled "Crusading Conservatives vs. Cooperating Conservatives: The War for the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention."

Those in support of the post believe, as do I, that the line must be drawn against the legalism, Fundamentalism, and crusading politics that scorches the Southern Baptist landscape, and burns good conservative men and women, disqualifying them from service in the SBC.

In the past, many within the SBC have remained quiet at the tactics that have forced the resignations of conservatives from places of service within our SBC framework. It seems God's people in the SBC have possessed the "Masada" complex. We'd rather give up than fight.

Fortunately, a new generation of Christian leaders has arisen who have drawn the figurative line in the sand --- there will now be a defense of the conservative family. We may not interpret the Bible the same, but we will not allow good men and women to be crucified by the sword of legalistic conformity.

We must draw this line in the sand and defend our brethren, for if not, the SBC will fall into the ditch of separation, independence and societal support of missions rather than conservative cooperation that has historical characterized our attempt to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations.

I'm tired of some conservative leaders being led to the slaughter like lambs. The sheep of God in the conservative fold called the Southern Baptist Convention deserve our defense.

I'll do my best.



Kiki Cherry said...

I've been to Masada, and that was one of the most moving experiences of my life. Great analogy!

I agree with you. This is a fight we can't back down from. It's not about politics. This is about maintaining the doctrinal integrity of our denomination.

Jim Champion said...


I have been reading your blog and loving it. I am praying for you, as I think that those in control of the SBC will do everything in thier power to silence you.

I also pray that those of us that are theologically conservative but politically moderate (labeled liberals) will be welcomed back to the table!

Carole said...

As one who has remained quiet for 30 years while I watched the SBC fragment into legalism, I was moved to tears by your post. Thank you for your courage, and for drawing the line that many of us were afraid to draw. I am ready to join you in taking a stand in whatever way I can. This once-great denomination can be a force for good, for love, and for our Savior again if we will fight for it.