June 16, 2004

Is doctrine dangerous? 1.1

After reading some of the comments my faithful readers have made concerning my thoughts on the Southern Baptist Convention's decision to break fellowship with the Baptist World Alliance, I want to expand a bit on some of my thoughts:

-- I want to emphasize that, to one who lives in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and has no access to information about the schism or the events which led up to it other than the Internet, the appearance is that this decision is "intensely politicized" as I said yesterday. That may be a reflection of the media coverage the issue has received over the last couple of years. Regardless of what the actual reasons behind the move are, the appearance to most of the world is that the SBC, unhappy with the BWA's decision to include the offshoot Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, is "taking its marbles and going home." Once more, while this may not be the actual situation, it is the appearance. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world see it from that perspective. Are appearances important? Probably. If the appearance is wrong, I think the SBC needs to do a better job of correcting it by setting forth some solid evidence for their grievances that's easily accessible to that portion of of the Baptist world that doesn't attend SBC churches but is nonetheless very concerned about what's happening here.

-- I certainly don't intend to paint the SBC as the "bad guy" as Greg put it. Far from it! In fact, I stand with the SBC in my concern that the BWA has yet (that I've been able to find) to respond to the accusation that they are "soft" on the full inspiration of Scripture and the infallibility that results from it. That being said, it would seem that the other doctrinal issues involved have been resolved, at least to my satisfaction. Of the other issues usually mentioned in connection with the break of fellowship, some have to do with procedure (relating to the entrance of the CBF into the BWA) and others with practice (the fact that another member organization of the BWA has yet to act on a small number of member churches that offer church membership to unrepentant practicing homosexuals). To me the procedural issues are non-issues. We ought to be able to work through things like that. The practical issues offer real cause for concern...But how long has the situation with the American Baptists gone on? Are they going the way of much of the mainstream churches, abandoning their doctrinal foundations in practice before moving to abandon them in writing? Or are they simply working in a methodical manner to resolve an incredibly explosive issue within their fellowship? I don't know the answer here.

-- Finally, my musings on overdefining one's doctrine to the point that it separates you from other people with whom you will one day share heaven being a sin against the High Priestly prayer of Christ where just that--musings. Please remember, my friends, that my blog is "a place to document the evolution of an holistic personal Christian theology," and that means that I spend at least as much time exploring "wrong" paths as I do "right" ones. If you disagree on this point (which I think is foundational to the issue at hand) then by all means call me on the carpet about it. I need that kind of accountability.

I opened yesterday's post by saying that it was a "sad day." I think that everyone involved would agree with me. Whether it was a tragic day, however, must probably be left for future generations to decide. Only time will tell how the cause of Christ is affected by this schism.

(As promised, here's the link to Christianity Today's Weblog covering the schism: Weblog: Southern Baptists No Longer In, Nor Of, World Alliance - CT Magazine.)

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