I try to avoid too much stuff on the blog about SBC, BGCT and other denominational subjects. There’s just been a lot of news along those lines in recent days and, while it is sometimes a frustrating experience, and I often wonder why I care, the fact is that I do care, particularly about cooperative support of missionaries and the missions and ministry work that we can do together, much of which we could not do on our own. I’m always up for a good theological discussion on differences of interpretation and application of the scripture, but I really don’t like the politics that often accompany that. Disagreeing with someone’s perspective is one thing, manipulation by using power and influence to undermine a differing perspective, whether it is to assure that your own perspective gets preferential treatment in either a church or a denominational organization is something else.
When I joined the ministerial association at the Baptist college I attended, one of my close friends suggested that the way to success was to join the lineup of other ministerial students competing for the attention of the Bible professors. Since they were “in” with the state’s most influential pastors and church leaders, big fish in a small pond so to speak, I was advised that it might be wise, and personally beneficial, to work my way into the inner circle so that one of them might recommend me to a prominent church upon graduation. I was a backpack carrying, T-shirt and jeans or shorts, sandal wearer with bushy, curly hair that I wore over my ears and down to my collar. I had a cheesy mustache. I wasn’t about to start wearing slacks, dress shirt, tie, and dress shoes to class, and cutting my hair short and shaving off the mustache was as much out of the question as carrying a briefcase, which all good ministerial students felt compelled to do. I didn’t make the “inner circle.” Ultimately, in God’s grand scheme of things, I don’t think I missed anything. It irritated the president of the student ministerial association when I returned from a summer of service as a NAMB student missionary (it was the Home Mission Board then) and was invited by the Dean of Students to speak in chapel. Yep, I wore my jeans and my sandals. And I wasn’t standing in the line, waiting to hitch my wagon to my favorite professors.
I guess that’s why it has been such a long time between my visits to the SBC. Aside from the expense involved in travelling to a destination where you have to pay a premium for a room you could get for half the price on any day a convention isn’t meeting down the street, I see and hear too many things that remind me of the ministerial association at my college. I’m not keen on gatherings where conformity related to things on the outside become major barriers to the conformity to the Spirit on the inside that makes us equals in the sight of God, and brothers and sisters in Christ.
If the denominational politics we’ve created to preserve and protect interests within our Baptist conventions are not divisive enough, we’ve allowed secular politics to invade our space, and bring further division. We tend to think that everyone who believes in Christ the way we do should think about everything else the way we do.
And that’s standing in another one of those lines.