amongst Baptists is nothing new.
thanks to modern day technology and the tremendous increase in rapid communications,
could it be that our controversies are turning off an entire generation
to our primary message of saving faith?
| The conflicts between Baptist
conservatives and liberals are historical, cyclical, and ongoing.
Sad to say, non-Baptists
generally think of this facet of our identity long before they consider
our adherence to the Scriptures or our evangelistic emphasis. Baptists
are generally thought of as being argumentative, beligerent, confrontational,
and devisive (a-b-c-d). This perception stems from all the publicity
that occurs when Baptists disagree, whether it be in a local church setting
culminating in a congregational split or a larger Baptist association fighting
over who gets the Bible colleges when the group
To our shame, mole-hills
become mountains when God's people raise their voices in disagreement against
each other. The world around us sits in ringside seats like attendees
to a boxing match and is less impressed with who wins in contrast to all
of the beating, blood, and violence.
Some contemporary examples
of this kind of Baptist behaviour include the conflicts over Bible versions,
legalism, the music/worship controversy, and the usual clash due to internal
church politics (e.g. who's in charge here?). These are important
issues to Baptists. To those watching us from the outside, they mean
very little. It is our bad behaviour when involved in discussing
such subjects that gives us the well deserved reputation for being a very
undesireable kind of people. Too many times, we well deserve it.
The "King James Only" controversy
is totally out of hand. It has been from the beginning. This
writer personally sat under the ministry of the originator of the controversy,
Dr. Peter Ruckman, and is not surprised that those who follow his teachings
have developed a kind of arrogance that has split Baptist ranks.
As a result, those outside our circles point to this discussion as being
one more example as to why they are glad to be something other than Baptist.
Furthermore, the tendency
of some Baptists to demand strict adherence to Biblical law (which includes
nuances added here and there by those who have not yet surrendered their
controlling natures to God) has also been a cause for disputes between
the conservative legalists and the so-called "liberals." In this
case, the legalists refer to anyone who is not a legalist as being a liberal
even if they are theologically conservative. Again, between the insistence
that church members not go to movies, dance, or listen to rock 'n roll
and the constant attacks on those who do, the non-Baptist world finds more
reason to avoid us while good Baptists bow their head in shame.
Several other Baptist "hot
button" issues are discussed on this site. Historically, there have
always been points of disagreement amongst us and there is no reason to
expect that total harmony will exist between us until Jesus comes.
In the meantime, the challenge
continues to be that of returning to our adherence to individual soul liberty
and the independency of the local church so that we might avoid the "bad
press" we give ourselves when allowing our disagreements to spill over
into our communities (church splits) and throughout the world (associational
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
if any one of you can justify a single moment when you raise your voice
in anger against another believer who trusts in the same Christ and lives
by the Word of God, then you must also admit that you have done so even
unto our Lord Jesus. It is His Spirit Who lives within every single
born-again person and, even though we may not agree on every issue or point
of Theology, we must maintain ourselves as Christian gentlemen and ladies
at all times; especially when confronted with controversy.
The world is watching.
The testimony of Christ is
How will you represent Him
when God's people disagree with each other?