Baptists > Issues > Conservatives vs. Liberals
 Controversy amongst Baptists is nothing new.
   However, 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
divides.
   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 splits).
   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 at risk.
   How will you represent Him when God's people disagree with each other?

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