Staying Put 2.0

I had a great conversation with my friend Jason Cole after I posted this article.  Jason’s concern that I’m simultaenously committing several forms of suicide (professional, intellectual, etc.) by indefinitely hitching myself to the Baptist wagon prompts this clarifying brain dump:

  • Moving backwards through history to heal past rifts is about as un-Baptist as one can be.  When Baptists want to distinguish themselves from their less enlightened bretheren, they move forward, refining the "us" category and broadening the "them" category.  They are the epitome of separatism.
  • Much of the work of healing past rifts is already done, we just haven’t removed the structure.  For instance:
    • There is no good reason for the Southern Baptist Convention to continue as an entity separate from the General Baptists.  The SBC formed because southerners got their collective noses bent out of joint when northerners correctly refused to send a slave owner to the mission field.  The southerners were wrong to leave, and I don’t think anyone will argue that point now.  Let’s right the wrong by going beyond apologizing and move toward re-unification.
    • No one in the western world faces mortal danger if he or she decides to practice full-immersion "believers baptism," so there is no good reason to distinguish ourselves from others simply by how we practice the ritual.  We can (and should) be just plain ol’ Puritans who like to do baptism a certain way without denegrating  other modes as "unbiblical" or feeling obliged to practice them.
  • Staying among the Baptists doesn’t make anyone a Baptist, especially if one stays with the intention of deconstructing the category.
  • It’s ultimately easier to tear down a structure from the inside than from the outside.  It takes generations to accomplish, but it doesn’t happen otherwise.
  • Most non-denominational churches are made up of ticked-off denominational people who think they’ve solved their problem by removing their denominational label and hanging out with other ticked-off dis-labeled denominational people.  They’re still denominational people, and the problem follows them around because the problem is not the label.  The problem is the practice of "purifying" the church by forming alternative churches for people who agree with me.
  • I am indefinitely hitching myself to the Kingdom wagon.  My Baptist heritage and my present assignment within the Kingdom means that I’m working among the Baptists right now.  God may reassign me at any time, but my job will be to seek the unity of the body of Christ wherever that is.


3 Responses to “Staying Put 2.0”

  1. 1 Jason November 10, 2006 at 6:26 pm

    Being in the dis-labeled doesn’t mean that all is happy happy joy joy as I can attest to first hand. There exists the rift with our past that must be healed. Even lately, I have seen my church change radically, in positive ways I believe, but some have been hurt for sure. How do we effectivly reach out to our highly in-the-moment culture while maintaining a link with those who are not? On both sides of this are people who have to stay focused on Jesus, who he is and what he has for each of us. No doubt, all of us, get our personal junk in the way of the Kingdom, but having REAL relationships with each other will break down some of the junk with which we burden ourselves.

    You are so right. As I look at Paul and try to understand his role in the Kingdom I see a man who was passionate about those around him. Caring so much for their long term well-being, he was willing to do anything to show them the love of Christ. I can only pray that I show a tiny bit of that kind of passion for those around me.

  2. 2 Jason November 10, 2006 at 6:26 pm

    BTW, I like the new picture much more than the old one.

  3. 3 Byron November 11, 2006 at 7:41 am

    April took some pics during RS rehearsal this week–she knows her stuff, fer sure.

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