I've read many reports on the SBC meeting in SA so I won't clog cyberspace with yet another one. I will address only one thing I heard while there as a messenger from our church. It was the SWBTS report by it's President Dr. Paige Patterson.
Let me begin by saying I love that Seminary. I graduated from it and pastored several fruitful years three minutes from the oval. I spoke seven years in succession in chapel in September of each of those years. SWBTS is my heritage.
I love Dr. Patterson. I knew his dad better than I know him but I did hear him preach recently at First Baptist Church of Moore Oklahoma and was impressed with his communication skills. He is my brother in Christ and I will always be mindful of that overriding fact.
I do however, want to address what was said in his report at the Convention. It will simply serve to launch me into what I desire all of us to remember, myself first and foremost.
It was in his report that he used the now well known analogy of all of us in Baptist life being in a river. If I remember correctly, he informed us that some were drifting downstream near the shore of liberalism but the resurgence challenged that drift and won the day, though diligence is always our calling.
Others are now, he said, drifting downstream near the shore of neo-orthodoxy and even, perhaps, in the middle drifting to ecumenicism or words to that effect. But according to his statement, SWBTS is leading the way upstream as true baptist separatists fighting against the current of culture. The idea seemed to be if we join with SWBTS in their journey we will be truly Baptist.
Some have written to refute his analogy. I read one who said that they [SWBTS] had struck a sandbar and trustees were rowing hard doing nothing worthwhile. Another said they [SWBTS] had really sunk and they just weren't aware of that fact. There were several others.
A person may agree or disagree with anyone or all of these responses mentioned of course. But I simply want to add my response to his words. My response is simply...there is another river.
In John 7:37-39 Jesus spoke of the Spirit when He said, "If any man thirst let him come to me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." The next phrase shows He was referencing of the Holy Spirit. In Ezekial 47 the Spirit is seen also as being something like a river. Israel was given, by the prophet, who had been given by the Lord, a vision of hope and restoration for a people in captivity. What we must never do is find ourselves as a people or denomination paddling upstream against His flow.
I've noticed a few things about this "river". [The Holy Spirit] He doesn't follow someone's preconceived or predetermined banks. He cuts His own path. What He seems to do is, having overflowed anyone's idea of river banks, he takes His people His direction and they wind up being where He wants them to be. No one should doubt His faithfulness to the text of scripture but, it will be as it was intended to be understood, not mixed with the traditions or additions of men.
I've also noticed that He moves those in His flow toward people, not away from them, especially those who are dirty, doubting, despicable, and generally in a mess. He makes His message of GRACE more powerful by creating a graciousness in His people toward those three D kind of folks. He is always, in His flow, honoring the uniqueness of Christ as exclusively God's answer to the sin problem and seeking to fulfill the Father's purpose of calling to Himself those three D kind of people. It is how He does it that amazes me.
He seems to delight in choosing the very tools many would discard as worthless and un-useable. He seems to delight in taking the meaningless and making something meaningful of it like the jawbone of an ass. He takes a non-descript shepherd boy and makes him a king, a wine-press treader and makes him a soldier, an insignificant nation and makes her a blessing to ALL nations. He takes the gore of a crucifixion and makes a message of life of it. I even understand why and how He takes a group of people meeting in a pub or brewery and makes a voice for the gospel out of it. No riverbanks you see.
I guess what I'm hoping is that, in our desire to paddle hard up river and to separate ourselves from wrong kinds of people and influences, we don't wind up having made the saddest mistake that I believe could ever befall us as the people of God or as a denomination for that matter.... navigating life in the wrong river.
My brother-in-law and I are leaving on a ten day motorcycle trip to the Blueridge Parkway next monday and I will not, for obvious reasons, have my laptop with me. I will ask Mary to read me comments by phone as she will not be going this trip. I'll post again when I return, the Lord willing.
I've just discovered I've been tagged by Paul Littleton. That means I'm to say 5 things I dig about Jesus and tag 5 more bloggers and link to them. The only links I can do are the sausage kind in my refrigerator with my skillet. Sorry Paul. I'll do the five things after my trip. Am I a party pooper or what. :)