Baptists > Issues > Devisive Baptists
CHALLENGING THE SIN OF BAPTIST DEVISIVENESS
The concept of "multiplying by dividing" may work in establishing new Bible believing Baptist churches but it obviously does not work when we allow "doubtful disputations" to become devisive issues that result in our separating ourselves from our own brethren in Christ.
   It was one of those verbal exchanges that reminded me once again why it is that we Baptists have earned the reputation for being critical, judgemental, and devisive.
   A reunion with a relative who has known me during the better part of my life listened intently as I described the workings of God in my life during the recent years since we had last seen each other.  After sharing with him that I am currently teaching one of the adult classes and singing in the choir of our church, his response was rather disheartening.  Instead of commending me for my service to the Lord and expressing any kind of appreciation that I was a fellow believer doing his best to serve the Lord, he asked, "What version of the Bible does your church use?"
   Upon telling him which one we used, he simply said "Oh?" and then turned away from me.  It wasn't the Authorized King James Version of the Bible.  I knew that I was in trouble.
   At that moment, I fully realized that he had just written me off as one more self-beguiled and compromised Christian who, due to my not adhering to the "King James Only" view, was totally out of God's will and probably misleading all of those equally beguiled students who attended my Sunday class.
   Sad to say, having been a born-again Baptist for over forty years, such disappointing experiences have occurred more times than I care to count.  Devisiveness in our ranks spans the full spectrum of human experience from our varied views regarding everything from musical tastes to whether or not we go to movie theaters to which version of the Bible we use to what association of Baptists we belong; to name only a few.
   Thus, we find ourselves splitting hairs over a multitude of "doubtful disputations" (Romans 14:1) while ignoring the greater truths such as our shared faith, Christian experience, and how we appear to those who wonder why we wrangle more than we witness.
   Naming the problem is one thing; resolving the issue is the challenge.
   The bottom line is that it seems to be an unresolvable characteristic of too many Baptists; especially those brethren who come from the more conservative elements of our persuasion.  Although we chaff at the term "fighting fundamentalists," the truth is that some have earned the title and deserve it.  We chaff even more when we see the same brethren boasting of their pride in identifying themselves as such.  In the meantime, the rest of us are having an extremely hard time visualizing Jesus attacking every lost soul due to their affiliation with other sinners or castigating a believer because he/she uses the New International Version of the Bible or actually enjoys listening to soft jazz on the radio.
   However, we can visualize Jesus addressing those of our brethren who continue to beat on the already swollen black eye they have given all Baptists with the following statement...
   "And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:"  ~ Matthew 12:25
   Is our house divided?
   Currently, in the USA alone, there are 50-plus recognized and organized Baptist associations/conventions/fellowships.  Most came into existence because they disagreed with the group of Baptists they were associated with at the time.  No doubt, their reasons were totally justified in their own minds but, just as doubtless, the Baptist doctrinal distinctive regarding Individual Soul Liberty took a back seat during the debate.  Thus, one more Baptist group was added to the list.
   In recent years, the tummult of agression within Baptist ranks has become so pronounced and public that good solid churches are dropping the name.   In some parts of our country, the name "Baptist" inspires nothing but laughter and ridicule.  Hiding behind the mantle of being "persecuted for the faith" does not apply in the vast majority of these instances.  We simply made fools of ourselves and the community is responding out of their own sense of justifiable cause.
   Previous generations of devisive Baptists have done much to harm the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we have been commissioned to preach and teach.  Some of our number in this current generation have contributed to the same error.  Instead of uniting our efforts to win the lost to Christ, we spend our time sniping at each other if not competing.  Divided houses do that.
   It is more of a good understanding of church history than any claim to the gift of prophecy that this writer make the following observation.  We will continue the trend of dividing until the name "Baptists" is equated with "Shakers" and those who hold our understanding of Biblical doctrines call themselves something else--or we will corporately call on God to forgive us for our having divided His house and revive the doctrine of Individual Soul Liberty.
  "It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of
fools."   ~ Ecclesiastes 6:5
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