A group of seven individuals, tagged as “young” leaders in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) have written a letter in response to Cecil Sherman’s remarks at the CBF General Assembly held in Memphis last week. While accepting author’s copies of his recently released autobiography, Sherman compared the struggle against SBC fundamentalists to the Holocaust, which apparently prompted the letter.
The link above is to an article in the Baptist Standard about the letter. The full text of the letter isn’t included in the article. The article carries selected quotes from the letter, and from Sherman.
It doesn’t appear that Sherman was drawing an equal comparison between the moderate-fundamentalist struggle in the SBC and the Holocaust, but was simply using it as an example to point out why he feels that the past history of the struggle for control of the SBC from the losing side is important. I don’t believe Sherman was equating the two events. However, the comparison prompted a critical response. You can get the general idea from the Standard article.
I’m not going to get into a “who got hurt the most by the controversy” contest. Suffice it to say that I got close enough to be wounded and scarred by “The Controversy” on several occasions going all the way back to the first attempt by trustees at Southwestern seminary to fire Dr. Dilday, an event which took place while I was a student there. I know how hard it is to turn the other cheek when those who have slapped you the first time are not enemies, but brethren. I have experienced the indescribable feeling of that knot in the pit of your stomach that you get when your job, and your livelihood, is threatened because of a position you have taken or a conviction that you hold. I know what it is like to have to take an unplanned change on the path of your ministry calling in order to continue to provide a roof and three meals a day for your family.
But, I am a Christian. I have been called to vocational ministry. And the fact of the matter is that none of those experiences entitles me to be bitter, or to hold a grudge, or to sit around and feel sorry for myself. That’s what the world believes, and what the flesh thinks, but it is contrary to what the Lord says. What I have discovered is that God is always faithful. God came through at the very darkest moment of my life during the past decade and a half, and opened a door of opportunity so that I could focus on equipping the saints and advancing the kingdom. Those are things that are much more important than ongoing bitterness and resentment over the loss of some sort of vague denominationalism.
It appears that in both the SBC and in CBF, people are finally coming to the realization that the fighting, bickering and turf protecting has damaged our witness, clouded our testimony, and is counterproductive to advancing the cause of Christ. It drains our energy and resources as well. So why do we keep doing it?