Tuesday, February 21, 2006

“When Christianity becomes just another religion, it focuses on what God requires. Just to keep people in line, we build our own Christian civilization and then demand that everyone who believes in Jesus become a good citizen.
It’s hard to imagine Jesus would endure the agony of the Cross just to keep us in line. Jesus began a revolution to secure our freedom. The new covenant that He established put its trust not in the law, but in the transforming power of God’s Spirit living within us.”

- Erwin McManus, The Barbarian Way

What a great reminder that Christianity is not about us, but rather about the Spirit of God living in and through us. It breaks my heart to watch as so many in Christendom erect their own walls of “good theology” and then demand everyone live within those walls. I am not one to throw theology by the wayside; I am not one to gloss over doctrinal essentials and distinctives; I am not one to sacrifice theology in the name of tolerance and relationship. In fact, I love a good theological discussion, even a great debate from time to time & devour a good theology book. (My love for theology goes so far – or perhaps my mind so warped – that after receiving and I-pod for Christmas I quickly filled the gigabytes with sermons of my favorite pastors as opposed to my CD collection.) Yet I am also one who believes strongly that conservative evangelicals must provide room for varying interpretations of certain doctrines and beliefs. We must learn to disagree in an agreeable manner without excluding those who differ.

As we approach the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention and continue to work through the controversies surrounding the International Mission Board, I pray we would unite under our similarities (conservative evangelicalism) and put an end to the narrowing of the parameters of cooperation in the Convention. We must unite under the banner of Christ, the inerrancy of Scripture, and the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 (our doctrinal guideline for cooperation). We must help the trustees of our convention’s organizations realize that they exist not to dictate policy & doctrine, but rather to enforce the doctrinal foundations set by the entire convention. We must also work to provide and support a framework for the exercise of principled dissent – our trustees must never feel their position threatened simply for speaking out against the majority or for bringing matters of significant concern to the attention of the convention.

If we continue current trends, the outcome is bound to be a convention full of people who look alike, act alike and think alike, but that is also much smaller, weaker, and less influential in the area of kingdom work. We must come to terms with the fact that unity and uniformity are not the same – as such, we must hold steadfast and refuse to let denominational leaders “build their own Christian civilization and then demand that everyone who calls themselves Southern Baptist become a good citizen.

I know many are working hard to make this year’s Convention the most meaningful and pertinent of the past 30 years. I pray their efforts would be met with little resistance and the outcome would be a much stronger, more stable and effectively unified Southern Baptist Convention.

Soli Deo Gloria
posted by Rick