Friday, June 29, 2007

From Church to Battlefield to Museum: A Parable

Trennis Henderson, Editor of The Western Recorder, the Kentucky Baptist Convention's paper, has done all Southern Baptists a favor in this editorial where he pulls together different comments by various editorial collegues on the San Antonio Southern Baptist Convention. The article is well worth the time it will take you to read it.

One quote caused me to pause and think about the consequences of people taking sides in the SBC and seeing brothers and sisters on the other 'side' as 'opponents.'

'Dr. Daniel Sanchez, a professor of missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, is a native of San Antonio. One day the missions professor and I were discussing the Alamo, situated only a few blocks from the Henry B. Gonzales Convention where we were meeting. He said, “You know, the Alamo was once a church, then a battlefield; and now, it is a museum."'
. . . Gerald Harris, Editor, Georgia Christian Index

May we as Southern Baptists see ourselves truly as brothers and sisters of the same family and refuse the temptation to view each other as opponents.


Anonymous said...

brother: "from the same womb"--God's.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

I have never seen you as anything else but a Brother in Christ. Thus the reason for the title before your name. I know that some may feel this use of the term is pedantic but for me it is not. I truly believe you are my Brother and I know there are issues around which we can fellowship.

With that said, I do not feel that we are in a battle such as the one that Dr. Sanchez described. However, it is a difference of ideas and that does mean that sides will be chosen. While I may not be on your "side" in the ideas of how to accomplish something, I am on your side. I grew up with 4 other siblings. We would fuss at each other at home and literally come to blows sometime. (The person who said a man is not supposed to hit a woman never grew up in the house with two older sisters :>) ) (Oh, my goodness, I now have to say this; "I DO NOT HIT WOMEN") However, when we left and went to school and someone did something to one of my siblings we united.

The SBC is family that is trying hard to decide the best way to reach the world for Christ. I am not battling you to the death. I am merely, as I believe you are, trying to make sure my ideas are the ones advanced.


Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
“Remember the Alamo!” As the ‘Western Recorder’ and you point out, it was once a church, a battlefield, and now a museum.

Once it was a ‘battle cry’ for war, and now it’s a ‘warning cry’ to the SBC and individual churches. Churches that become battlefields may become warehouses or hay barns.

Wade, would you agree that if a person was forced (excluded, fired, burned at the stake or whatever) to sign a statement saying, “The BFM is not a creed, or a complete statement of our faith, nor a final or infallible” then the statement has become a creed?

But first would you tell what a ‘creed’ is?

Webster says a creed is an authoritative statement.

The more I try to figure out what effect the 2007 SBC has decreed, the more I find myself going in a circle.
Has the BFM 2000 become less authoritative or more authoritative?

It looks like the more authoritative the BFM becomes the more of a creed it becomes.

Can anyone explain this?

John Daly said...

I firmly believe in fighting battles, that there are in fact "hills to die on." And I also believe in waging the fiercest of warfare, where no quarter is given. So who or what is the object of this wrath? Well so far in this life of mine I have only found one battle that deserves such determined resolution--the battle of the flesh. Yes, the killing of my own sin is where my front lines reside, this enemy does not grow weary and they do not hunger or thirst--they just keep attacking. His Grace however as proven sufficient to thwart the heaviest of assaults and while I may not know why these battles have to be fought, I'm thankful (eternally thankful) that I know He who wins.

From a vessel of mercy whom the Lamb has bought

John in STL

BTW: Wade, I think you mentioned this one time but do you recall the major difference between the 1689 London Baptist Confession and the New Hampshire Confession. There was one major difference and I can't recall what it was?

Anonymous said...

I wrote this comment on Tim Rogers' blog site (the fences discussion)--but think it turned out to state my feelings on things Baptist and so I have copied it to this site--where I started today.

From the Tim Rogers' Blog: "Why build something that as people begin navigating the structure they stumble over the side into the theological abyss and drown in the ocean of ecumenicalism?"

Many years ago we had an "in church" revival. One of the features each evening was a poll of the congregation on some point. The only one that I remember was, "What do you regard as the biggest impediment to our growth as a church?" Apparently the concensus answer was "First Baptist Church." And there were data that supported that conclusion by our congregation.

Our enemy is not Baptist, Catholic, Methodist or other group which is Christian but doctrinally different--it is evil and its personification. If we want fences to simplify our lives (fewer decisions for me because I'm staying in the fence), we need to put easy opening gates at the mouth of the bridges (to keep undesirable doctrine out) and make the bridges easily accessible to all who have the basic goals of Jesus as their objective.

We need to remember that working with someone on a program to help the needy does not imply agreement on doctrine--it shows agreement that the needy need help and that it is a Christian principle that Christians should be about this work.

When I open my "bulletin" on Sunday, I find meetings at our church announced--and I also find meetings at other churches (not all Baptist) that Christians might reasonably attend listed in some detail. This is something that was not done a few years ago--and something that should be done in every church. It is amazing how much more fun that makes reading the bulletin--"our organization is not in this struggle alone" is the feeling I get--and a reminder that we are not the only ones with good speakers, ideas, and objectives.

When Baptists can't or don't work together in their communities, when Christian groups can't or don't work together so that all can see that we are together on God's plan--the enemy laughs and the secular community has a real reason to ignore the Christian community.

I grew up on a farm and I love good fences. A boy's life was so much better when the fences were good and the cows were where they were supposed to be. But as a child (and Christians are God's children) fences between me and other children were things to be climbed over or scooted under so that we could play together. The fences that we are presently building often have the unintended (at least I hope it is unintended) consequence of keeping God's children from "playing together" on things that should be common goals.

Bennett Willis

And one more "off task comment." I have been spending way too much time reading blogs (and the resulting comments) this summer while school is out. One thing that I have noticed in all the clamor about "Baptist identity" is that we are really full of ourselves. I worked for a company for a third of a century who did not talk much with other companies about how things were done. As a result we thought that we had lots of neat technology that others did not have. Late in my industrial career, I had a job for several years that got me "outside" (working closely with potential customers on technology) and I found that we had our head in the sand on a lot of things--and were little if any better than other companies on almost everything.

Generally, I admire Baptist doctrine. I feel that it is as close to the mark as man can get. But this seems to have led to pride and a conviction that we have it right which cannot be justified by our behaviors.

Anonymous said...

I guess we've all seen churches where the battles have been quite literally just that, and one could go back a year later and see who "won" by noting the empty spaces. I haven't seen where a congregational split was over a true fundamental of our faith, however; never the cake, just the candles....

This decade's discussion of our "Baptist distinctives" is sounding more and more like my Catholic friends' defense of Traditions of the Church as an equal to Spripture for guiding action. I see no way to explain this once I'm stepping through the gate shaped from pearl in Heaven.

Please, let's just have Christian distinctives and use those to win a lost world.

Steve Austin
Hoptown, Ky.

John Daly said...

In addition to battling the deeds of the flesh, one must battle for the truth.

Bennett to say Catholicism is Christian but just doctrinally different is a pill I can't swallow. Imputed versus infused righteousness will make an eternity of difference in the end. The love we show HAS to be united upon the Truth, we can ill afford to have well fed and well clothed souls enter into hell.

The Gospel is all we have...let us serve in Truth.

RKSOKC66 said...


I'm interrupting my self-proclaimed 100 day BLOG fast after only 15 days to say one thing:


I'll be back in 85 days.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City

Unknown said...

Brother Wade,

The First rule of war is that fine young men will die...

Rule number Two is you cannot prevent rule number one...

Grace to all,

peter lumpkins said...

Dear gAlford,

Very well put, my brother. And for those very reasons, our heads surely must be bowed.

Faith today. With that, i am...


Alan Paul said...

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [or other Baptists], but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph 6.12

Anonymous said...

Re blog comment @ 17:37

I grew up in West Tennessee in the 1940/50 era. I still think the following illustration shows (with some irony) that time and space. I was in college before I shook hands with a black man but I was in graduate school before I shook hands with a Catholic.

I have been blessed with friends from a variety of traditions (and races) in my adult life. If I were listing the "best Christians" I know, a Catholic lady would be either number 1 or 2--and if obvious love of the Lord were the major criteria, she would be easily #1. She is a Christian who does not let the doctrine of her church get in the way of living as a Christian should live. In fact I have never heard her discuss any doctrine at all. She grinds no axes but simply loves God and tries to live as He would have her to. We should all do so well!

I do regard salvation as "pass/fail". There is a critical belief that is necessary if we are to spend eternity praising God. After that, I truly hope that the rest of the doctrine does not really matter. If it matters some of us Baptists (and probably ALL of us) are in deep trouble because we believe clearly different things about a number of "details."

A couple of questions--Does doctrine prepare us for an eternity of praising God? Does living The Way prepare us for an eternity of praising God?

My answer to these questions is that the bulk of doctrine is no preparation for eternity. [And I see no grand "purpose" in life other than to prepare us for eternity.] Thus, the only doctrine that is of eternal value (after the pass/fail one) is doctrine which directs us in how we should live our Christianity. It seems clear to me that the eternal value of any doctrine is in how it guides the way we live.

[Humorously, we won't know the "truth" about much doctrine until we are no longer interested in such trivia. But if our doctrine has been allowed to mess up our witness, the error may be pointed out to us--to our great sadness.]

As I said above (16:09 comment), I value Baptist doctrine and Baptist identity. These position me to be a Christian in all ways. But I hope that I will not let that get in the way of cooperation that furthers Christian witness in my community/state/nation/world. Even cooperation with someone who, for reasons perhaps forgotten, differs with some doctrines that I hold dear.

But look at us (Baptists in particular). Look at the half truths and intellectual dishonesty that have brought us to our present situation (and continue to push us apart). Step outside our box and look at us as others see us. Imagine how we look to God. If He bothers to cry over us, I suspect they are tears of anger.

Church/Battlefield/Museum--not the progression that we hope God has planned for us as an organization. But look at us...

Bennett Willis

Anonymous said...

I too wish we could be a convention that sees each other as brothers and sisters of the same family instead of as opponents. I have heard stories for years of an enemies list kept by leaders of the conservative resurgence. Whether the list existed or not, there was a well defined group of insiders and outsiders. I always thought it strange that leaders of the conservative resurgence would attack and refuse fellowship for political reasons with fellow Southern Baptists who were orthodox theologically and at the same time have no problem with supporting and working with heretics like Sun Myung Moon and his representatives. They would never think of allowing Southern Baptists like Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton to appear at the SBC convention but invite Oliver North and Condoleezza Rice.

Daniel Sanchez has given us a good illustration of what the SBC can become if it hasn’t already. There was a time when we as a convention were united around the authority of the Bible and missions and evangelism. I can remember the excitement over
Bold Missions Thrust in the 70s. I can remember when our 6 seminaries were growing. I can remember when people looked forward to attending a state or SBC convention for the fellowship with friends. I can remember when the missions report at the SBC convention had the highest attendance of any segment.

Look at where we are today. Four state conventions have split into two rival conventions. We have seminary presidents and other entity heads scheming and politicking to undermine each others authority. We have hundreds of churches and thousands of loyal Southern Baptists who have left the convention because they see no place for them to serve or were forced out because they would not bow their knees to the leaders of the resurgence. We are baptizing fewer people today as a convention than we did in the 70s before the resurgence. Why has this happened? I think it is a result of the leadership of the conservative resurgence and the misguided work of its foot soldiers. I do not see us becoming a family again until we as a cooperate body through our elected SBC president ask God’s forgiveness for our sins of arrogance, pride, selfishness and dishonesty and at the same time apologize to those who have been falsely labeled as liberals and moderates through the years.

Like you Wade, I am not going to leave the SBC. I still believe the best way to support our missionaries and the thousands of churches, pastors and laypeople who only want to serve the Lord and obey Him is from inside the convention and not by leaving. Our God is a God of miracles and can still bring our convention back to its purpose and its calling.
Ron West

WatchingHISstory said...

I attend a SBC - not a member and a new comer from another denomination.

As I study the BF&M I see that in 1925 salavation was wholly of grace and in 1963 it is for the whole man.

There seems to be an evangelistic trend to a seeker friendly gospel.
The crude harshness that offends sinners and hinders evangelism is altered to a more comfortable proposal.

The 2000 conservative resurgence under the guise of Scriptural integrity was actually an effort to fire the churches in evangelistic zeal and seal the SBC's institutional growth through CGM.

Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church beat them at their own game!

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
Ron West,
As Babe Ruth was a great ball player, you are a great blogger because you have truth on your side and are not afraid to express it.

Have you noticed the ones that disagree with you use their most effective defense of silence? To ignore is all they can do.

‘The Battle for the Bible’ was a fantasy war on which they pushed ‘on a hill which to die.’

In reality, they covered those that were ‘not of us’ with a hood marked “liberal” and executed them from the Lord’s service.

‘Liberal’ replaced the name ‘witch’ and ‘heretic’ that had served well for religious leaders in removing those that disagreed.

‘Our way or the highway’ became the rule of thumb of fundamentals that has Southern Baptists in such a mess today.

Instead of trusting the Holy Spirit to keep sin out, their fences of rules made prisoners within.