Friday, January 31, 2014


In light of the last post and while I'm in the territory, I might as well say a word about Bigotry. I'm thinking there is probably a little bit of a difference between racism and bigotry, the word prejudice could be thrown into the mix as well.

Each goes well beyond skin color, but that's what is usually the easy example so it will be my prime example as well.

Racism is where a person truly believes that a certain race is superior when compared to others and treats the people of another skin color or ethnicity, harshly.

Bigotry is where someone highly values his own opinion about something [any issue and this goes beyond skin color] far above other people's opinion about the same issue and disregards any one else's point of view, dismissing it as not worth discussing.

Someone better than I am at saying things, said it this way using skin color as the example.

PREJUDICE___is when Mr. Smith is unhappy about Mr. Johnson moves in next door because he doesn't like Mr. Johnson's skin color. [You can see it's bigger than white against black since no color of either has to be stated.]

BIGOTRY____is when Mr. Smith refuses to hear, believe or even respect the right for Mr. Johnson to hold any opinion he chooses about an issue because his skin color is different. [Still bigger than white and black.]

RACISM_____is when Mr. Smith uses threats and intimidation to attempt to drive Mr. Johnson and his family out of the neighborhood to keep the neighborhood one skin color. [All of it is bigger than just white on black or any ethnicity.]

Racism could be defined as "a prejudiced attitude on steroids," but is can also be an unconscious thing found in our use of language as described in my last post.

Since I spoke about racism last time, I would like to address something about bigotry in this post. I'll start with my own definition and work from there. My attempt here is to show that attitude, even among Christians, may be bigoted and when it is, it shows. Even among Christians.
Big-o-try  "A state of mind that is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, beliefs or politics and is totally intolerant of listening with respect to those who differ." [Note this latter phrase highlighted.]

Oliver Wendell Holmes described bigotry this way, “The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour on it, the more it will contract.”

I'm convinced that in controversy after controversy that arises over every imaginable issue in our culture [and church life], there is much evidence that bigotry, as defined above, is not reserved for one side or the other of any issue, but may be evidenced in adherents on either side, whatever the issue might be. This fact seems to have been totally forgotten, if not completely lost on many people in our society.

Even believers.

In fact, I think it safe to say that this is a failure found in ALL extremists on either side of ANY argument about ANY issue of belief in ANY belief system. And I’m sad about this.

Contrary to what many are saying in our culture, believing yourself to be correct in a certain belief is NOT being a bigot. That may be simply being a thoughtful and decisive person who holds to a certain view and has a certain conviction about a certain issue. That's just having a conviction about something. Most thinking people applaud that.

But being closed to other people who have a different opinion than yours BECAUSE they disagree with you [or see scripture another way about it] and treating them with disrespect with attitude, actions or verbally, is bigotry in action, FROM EITHER SIDE OF THE ISSUE.

This can come about even in Christians because bigotry, by definition, is never really concerned that much with manner, only with message. I'm using manner to mean a person’s method, comportment, modes operandi, or way of relating. [The way things are done], I'm using message to mean a person’s own ideas of things,  their stated opinions or communication of their own belief.  [The thing that is believed.]

That IS a big problem

It's a problem because the God of scripture seems to ALWAYS  be as concerned with manner [way of relating] as much as message. [Think Jesus and the Pharisees, Moses killing the Egyptian, Peter taking the sword.]

When examined I think it would be safe to say, using popular words for thinking and loving, that a person's "mind" [intellect] alone, is easily involved in stating a belief only [which tends to produce bigots], but the “heart” [love] must be involved for there to be an attitude that takes in both manner AND method [Which will destroy bigotry].

"Speaking the truth in love" [The scriptural standard for speaking ALL truth] says it well and is speaking of both head AND heart and God is ALWAYS as much concerned with the heart as He is with the  head.

Notice I said, "as much" because it is clearly indicated in scripture that He's into both manner AND message and this is because, with God, the end NEVER justifies the means.

I'll close this post with a quote I recently read and used on my Facebook page. It says it well as a concluding remark,

"Truth isn't the heavy-handed Papa here to lay down some discipline if we fail. Real truth says, you do not need to be right or perfect or without flaw to be loved. Truth sets free, truth invites, truth locks hands with grace, kisses love, and outlasts all the fashionable rants and fear-baiting rhetoric of the splinter-spotting exhibited by the plank-in-the-eye crowd."

Paul B.

Monday, January 27, 2014


What I'm about to say is not said to shame, condemn or even fix anyone. It is an observation of mine that I hope is REALLY spoken in love because I am a bit disturbed by it. But I do, however, want to give some evidence that racial bias/prejudice/elitism may not be far from the minds of many, including many of us as Kingdom kids, unfortunately. Yet I'm just as sure that this charge would be denied by most of us at first glance. Someone may think this to be a small thing, but racism is NEVER a small thing in my opinion. 

My evidence is simply a challenge offered to each of us to think about this question the next time we use the descriptive word "black" in a statement about ANY person of African-American ethnicity___"Would I use the word 'white' were I speaking about ANOTHER person in this way were they Anglo-American instead of African-American?"___The test could use any ethnicity as an illustration, Chinese American, American Indian, etc. 

For example, when speaking of a groomsman or a bridesmaid you saw at a wedding that you are describing to a friend, would you identify one who was African-American [black] as "a black groomsman" or "a black bridesmaid" when just casually speaking about him or her to someone else?

Then, my question is, would you ALSO identify either one as Anglo-American [white] when just casually speaking about him or her to someone else? Why not? Why do we think of identifying one [black] by their skin color but not the other? [White] This illustration would hold true for the reverse as well, since racism is not the sole prerogative of the white race.

Could it be a latent, but real, embedded racism/prejudice/elitism that we deny and maybe even wish wasn't there? 

No one is saying that skin color of any shade is not something to be proud of as a part of that particular ethnicity. It is, in fact, something about which we can be proud whatever our color. It just need not be at the expense of others being depreciated with a continual reference to skin color when there is no need for it being referenced at all. That may reveal the subject of the post without our realizing it, if I'm correct in my observation.

[I'm sure it's rather obvious no one is speaking about a police call giving a description of a crime suspect or other pertinent exceptions.

I for one, believe that in true Kingdom living ["Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."] we Kingdom kids are to rise above this with regards to race, gender, or social status and when we do, it will EVIDENCE a major change of our heart by grace as we relate to our culture in a truly non-racially biased or elitist manner. I believe this to be true whether one is white, black, red, or yellow. And remember what I said earlier. For me, racism of any nature is NEVER a small thing.

May it be a work of the Spirit in me first!

Paul B. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


To explain the declaration contained in the title of this post, it will be necessary to look at a number of great verses that lay before us what it means to have a brand new covenant in Christ.

Hebrews 9:15 is a powerful verse. It says, “And for this cause He is the mediator of the new testament [covenant], that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament [covenant], they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”

Then Paul said this to the Roman Christian in his letter, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” [Romans 6:14]

What we see in these verses are references to two different covenants. There is first the Covenant of “the Law.” Exodus 34:27-28  shows it with these words, "And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”

The Covenant of “the Law” was made with Israel specifically, and it was based on law or performance. What the Covenant of 'the Law' says is, “If you” keep the Law, “then I, the Lord, will bless you.”
“If you don’t” keep the Law, “then I, the Lord, won’t or can’t bless you.”

Israel failed to keep the law as we all know. So the sacrificial system was established, including the Temple and the sacrifices and the priesthood, to point Israel in picture form to a coming Messiah/Redeemer.

This first covenant, or Covenant of 'the Law' has been viewed by Dispensationalists as set aside for the church age, but, according to them, there is coming for Israel in the future a new land, and a new Temple, and a new peace. There was a time I agreed with this view but at present I hold a differing one and it is basically the result of my understanding of the New Covenant being presented here.

Reformed Covenant Theologians see the covenant of law as part of the one Covenant of Grace__the only eternal covenant__ and that covenant of 'law,' along with all other covenants, are simply different administrations of this one__ eternal Covenant of Grace.

I disagree with both Dispensationalists and Reformed Covenant Theologians. Here's why and what I believe about the New Covenant as it relates to the Old Covenant.

2 Corinthians 3:6 says this,  “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament [new covenant]; not of the letter [old covenant], but of the spirit [new covenant]: for the letter [old] killeth, but the spirit [new] giveth life.”

Again, 2 Corinthians 3:14-16 - “But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.”

Then, Hebrews 10:9 - “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”

Through these verses, and many others relating to the New Covenant, we have shown to us that the Old Covenant  had a Mediator__Moses__but the New Covenant has a NEW Mediator__Christ.

The Old Covenant had a High Priest __Aaron__but the New Covenant has a NEW High Priest__Christ

The Old Covenant had a sacrifice of lambs, goats & calves but the New Covenant has a NEW sacrifice__Christ

The Old Covenant had a Temple__in Jerusalem but the New Covenant has a NEW Temple__ Christ in me and you and ALL of us collectively.

The Old Covenant had a Law Giver__Moses__but the New Covenant has a NEW Law Giver__Christ: “Hear ye Him”

It becomes quite obvious with a study of the text of the New Testament that the New Covenant is Christo-centric: “Love”- “as I have loved you” and “Forgive”- “as you have been forgiven”

1 Corinthians 9:20-21  -“And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.”

Further study will show that there is no mention of an eternal covenant as pre-existing because covenants relate to time only, and covenants are referred to in the plural in Scripture, not singular, as seen by these verses....

Romans 9:4 -  “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the COVENANTS, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.”

Ephesians 2:12 - “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the COVENANTS of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”

All of this becomes incredibly important as it completely changes our view of the cross. We see that the Cross really has redeemed us, sanctified us and glorified us. [Past tense in Romans 8] So all the lambs of the Old Covenant were simply a picture leading to the final Lamb of God. There are no lists needed to perform anything in order to get His blessings because, "We have already been blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus."

It completely changes our view of the law as well. The Law [Ten Commandments] was a “school teacher” to bring Israel to the need of a Messiah. When the Messiah came He fulfilled the law of Moses which had brought condemnation but not life.

So, this means we, the church, have a new Law-giver__ Christ Himself__" Hear ye Him."
He has established His own Law which is the expression of new life in Him. We would no more think of going back to living by the 10 commandments than we would go back to offering lambs once a year. The purpose for it all has been fulfilled "in Christ."

Finally, this view of the New Covenant completely changes our idea of living life. All of life is now a gift and is sacred and is to be lived as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving because of His grace given in Christ Jesus our Lord. Every day is truly a Sabbath day as we rest in His grace and live by His law written in our hearts FROM a place of acceptance rather than FOR a place of acceptance.

The NEW COVENANT really does bring LIFE!

Paul B.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I might as well start at the beginning. 

As you will recall from the last post, it was my belief about divorce and remarriage that got me started on my personal journey of rethinking my theology in 1980, so I will deal with that issue first.

What DOES the scripture say about it? I have gone the gamut from believing back in 1958, when I first started pastoring, that marriage was nothing more than a legal status and I was simply doing my civic duty when I performed one, to believing there is no scriptural grounds for divorce whatsoever and there is certainly no right for remarriage if a marriage contract was ever broken. It was this latter belief that I held in 1980 when my journey began. 

Now to what I believe today.

It is perfectly clear to all of us, I would think, that according to scripture no one should approach the marriage covenant casually. "What God has joined__no one is to see themselves as having the "power to tear it asunder"__ is serious stuff in the scriptures.  

Having said that, I have found it to be true that in scripture divorce does not turn a person into a leper. That must never be forgotten. In fact, in the sacred text those hurting the most, and divorce does hurt everyone involved generally, are the very ones to whom Jesus gave His greatest attention and the full measure of His genuine abounding love and compassion was experienced by the wounded. So, to see any divorce action as invalidating the worth of an individual and making them an object to be scorned, is certainly contrary to everything that is godly and biblical. 

It is always wise to remember as well that marriage is not intended for every human being as seen in the fact that our Lord Himself was single, Marriage is not God's way of making a person complete as we are complete in Christ whether ever married or not. Then remember too that the marriage covenant is not to be viewed as an eternal covenant as there is no marriage in heaven or in the coming Kingdom of God.

All this said, it is especially needful to remember, as already mentioned above, that biblical marriage is a covenant relationship at heart. We find both Jesus and His instructions concerning adultery and Paul in giving the Corinthians some instructions on desertion of a spouse, reflecting on the covenant nature of the marriage union that is to be lifelong in duration.

Someone pointed out that there are several reasons for this kind of covenant marriage biblically, and I quote.

 "Marriage is intended as a spiritual partnership and the provision of mutual edification for both husband and wife while doing the will of God. [Genesis 2:18-25; Ephesians 5:22-23; 1 Peter 3:1-7]  God intends it for the procreation of children and the nurturing of the family relationships as well. [Genesis. 1:26-28]  Marriage is intended to also be for the development of a couple in intimacy both spiritually and physically. [Genesis 1:18-25] Then there is the New Testament added purpose stated by Paul as a protection against lust, immorality, and sexual temptations. [1 Corinthians 7:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12]"

That's a mouthful!

This is not to say every married couple will be able to reproduce children biologically, But it is to say that children are not to be second class citizens to the marriage covenant whether embraced through birth, adoption or care-giving.

But the question at hand is, can the marriage covenant be legitimately broken, and if it can be, is there a right of remarriage? It seems to me there are only two reasons given biblically for legitimate divorce and the ending of a covenant vow of marriage. These two reasons are clearly set forth by the instructions of Jesus in the gospels and Paul in his Corinthian letter. [Matthew 5, 19 and 1 Corinthians 7 respectively.] Sexual immorality and desertion are those two grounds.

Of course a marriage is ended by death, ipso facto [by that fact alone], but for a marriage to end otherwise, scripturally at least, many believe it to be as A.A. Hodge said years ago, “Divine law about divorce is that marriage is a contract for life between one man and one woman... and the only causes upon which any civil authority can dissolve the union of those whom God has joined together are (a) adultery, (b) willful, causeless, and incurable desertion.”

I want to briefly look at those two reasons for divorce and their implications for marriage and remarriage, by looking at the biblical texts and their teachings in a very simple way. This is not a theological white paper remember, but a blog post.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ said the following: “It was also said, ‘whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matt. 5:31–32).

There were two different and distinct Greek words used that show what Jesus was actually saying and are often not seen in English. They are "porneia" and "moichao". "Everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of porneia (sexual immorality), makes her moichao (commit adultery)."  That first word, "porneia" expresses ideas about all kinds of illicit sex outside the bounds of a monogamous marriage. It comes from a family of porn-words in Greek that describes all types of illicit sex. The Greek verb porneuo (to fornicate) is related to the Greek words porneo (harlot), pornos (fornicator), and porneia (fornication) that were prevalent in that Roman culture. By implication, incest and a host of other modern sexual activity might apply here as well.

The second word is more specific. Moichao is a verb used for adultery in marriage. It means to “have sex with someone other than the spouse to whom you are married.” The cognate of the verb, moicheia, always referred to adultery and nothing else. This difference is to be understood when teaching about biblical grounds for a marriage ending. That sexual reason is MORE than simply an act of adultery in the popular sense.

Later in His ministry Jesus expounded on this viewpoint. [Matthew 19:1–12]  The issue of divorce was raised by the Pharisees who ask Jesus, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”

On the occasion of that question Jesus went on to give an overview about marriage. He pointed out that from the beginning of creation, God has always intended a marriage to be between one man and one woman as a lifetime commitment. [Genesis 2:18–25]. Then He showed that Moses did not prescribe divorce as God's desire at all, but rather it was given by Moses because of the “hardness of the heart” of the people. [Deuteronomy 24:1–4.] In fact, the “certificate of divorce” was intended by Moses to make divorce more difficult to obtain, not to facilitate a dissolution of marriage.

Jesus  goes on to say that only porneia or moicheia (sexual activity outside of marriage) are acceptable grounds for divorce. No one is saying that there is a command to dissolve the marriage intended here because of adultery, simply the right to do so if it comes to that. He concludes it all by saying [and here's the thing that is tough for many to swallow] that those who divorce each other for any reason other than for sexual infidelity create a case of moicheia (specific act of adultery) being committed by a both parties in a new marriage. 

There is one other biblical ground for a legitimate divorce as seen by AA Hodge and many others and that is willful desertion that cannot be remedied. Jesus did not speak to this ground for divorce, but the Apostle Paul did in 1 Corinthians 7.

Some view this ground as inferior to that of adultery and a few even reject willful desertion as a biblical ground for divorce all together. I would think that one’s view of Scripture will affect their position on this issue. If a person accepts the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures as a whole, then it cannot stand that what Jesus said in Matthew carries more authority than what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians. Both times instruction was spoken from God (2 Pet. 1:21) and both complement each other’s teaching in reflecting the Holy Spirit’s inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16–17).

My understanding of Scripture places the statement of Jesus and Paul on equal ground as Truth. Both are the inspired Word of God. For me, this means I accept it when Paul says that willful and impenitent desertion is a ground for divorce equal to that of adultery as Paul clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 7:10–16.

When you read that 1 Corinthians 7 passage at your leisure, I think you will find as I did that Paul’s instructions are pretty straightforward as he sets forth several things concerning marriage, desertion, and divorce.

One is that husbands and wives should not leave (desert) or seek to divorce their spouses (1 Cor. 7:10–11).  But he does show that if a person does leave a spouse for a reason other than adultery, that person should be reconciled to his/her spouse or he/she should remain separated without seeking divorce and remarrying (1 Cor. 7:11).

Another point he makes is if a Christian is married to an unbeliever (non-Christian person), the believer should not leave nor put away the unbelieving spouse if that spouse is content to remain married (1 Cor. 7:12–14, 16). But if an unbelieving spouse does leave and does seek a divorce, then the Christian in that marriage is “not enslaved” (i.e., not bound to remain married), and may consent to the divorce with the right to remarry since that's the only reason being released from the bondage of the marriage vows would be mentioned (1 Cor. 7:15).

In summary, Paul teaches that Christians, even those “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14), should always do all they can to preserve their marriages, both for the honor of Christ and for the spiritual good of spouse and children (1 Cor. 7:14). But if the non-Christian spouse decides either to desert the marriage or to seek divorce, the Christian does not need to work to preserve the marriage.

The believer is free to grant a divorce or seek a divorce on the basis of “willful desertion”; and, having been granted that divorce, is free to remarry—but only to a fellow Christian. The deserted and divorced spouse falls into the same category as a widowed person: free to remarry, but “only in the Lord,” that is, to another Christian (1 Corinthians 7:39–40).

Paul's review in 1 Corinthians 7 is one that covers the entire scope of what is to be the Christian's view of marriage, divorce, and remarriage. He sets forth a very demanding and difficult charge to his fellow Christians: they were to remain married as much as possible and as long as possible, because the gospel of Christ has called us to peace (1 Corinthians. 7:15).

In so doing, Paul sets forth several general guidelines.  One writer I read said it this way, "Paul, in the spirit of Jesus Christ, seeks not to make divorce easier for people, but rather to regulate divorce in this broken world in which we live and certainly does hold Christians to a higher standard while allowing for the fact that human depravity and sin that may often make marriage impossible to sustain, and his teaching, like Christ’s, reflects the beautiful combination of a high view of God’s will, a measure of sympathetic grace, and wisdom in the face of the realistic facts of life."

That writer concludes by saying this, "In a broken world, holiness may be more difficult to find than happiness. But it is holiness that is our calling as Christians in marriage, and not happiness. We may not like that message, but it is biblical." I concur with this wholeheartedly.

While this is true, I think it bears repeating what I said earlier in this post and those previous words I give here as a quote, may even be a good ending word to this whole issue.

"I have found it to be true that in scripture divorce does not turn a person into a leper. In fact, in the sacred text those hurting the most, and divorce does hurt everyone involved generally, are the very ones to whom Jesus gave His greatest attention and the full measure of His genuine abounding love and compassion was experienced. So, to see any divorce action as invalidating the worth of an individual and making them an object to be scorned, is certainly contrary to everything that is godly and biblical."

May those who've been wounded by divorce experience from ALL BELIEVERS nothing less than the full measure of His love and compassion as well.

Paul B. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


2014 is before us. I've decided to write afresh about some of the things I've come to believe are in scripture and are a bit different than I have held to in the past. To anticipate the surprise some may have with some of my theological positions, I will have to trace a bit of my journey for understanding.

You may not be convinced you need to go along with this read and I certainly understand that. If you do desire to go with me however, I welcome you, and I trust the review of my journey thus far, can be of some help.

Over the past fifty years I have served as Pastor to several great churches, not the least of which was Southcliff Baptist Church in Ft. Worth Texas. It was while there that a profound moment came to my life and ministry at the age of 40. You can see I'm going back some 33 years but this moment is needed for real understanding. So permit me this excursion in the past first, if you will!

Having been born into an alcoholic family with little or no church ties at all, you can understand my lack of biblical knowledge of any kind during my first ten years of life. My sister then started dating a Baptist preacher and all that changed for the good. It was off to church with some regularity. At age 13, under deep conviction and great childish fear, I responded to the gospel and was converted, baptized, and well on my way to a different kind of life.

My sister and that preacher she had started dating, married, and he quickly became my role model, the only real one I'd ever had, and just like him I wanted to be. At age 15 I "felt called to preach" and told him so. He wisely accepted my leanings and tested them in September of 1955 by asking me to preach for him on a Wednesday evening. I did and the rest is history, you can do the math.

Ordained at 16, called to my first church as pastor at 17, three weeks before my 18th birthday, and married by then to a 17 year old girl whom I loved deeply, and still do, I was young, immature, but at the time, in my own mind at least, on my way to being the best Baptist preacher/pastor Southern Baptists had ever seen.

My hero in the faith, my brother-in-law, and my sister had long since gone to Chile as missionaries, where they served for over 35 years, so I had lost the one pointing the way. I found another. He was my father-in-law. Fred was a SBC evangelist who had been working in the oil industry and the planning and resources board for the State of Oklahoma. All that changed after he was fired for witnessing on the job. So he began to preach and, after I met him, assisted him in some meetings, and then met his daughter, he quickly replaced my need for a direction setter spiritually.

It was at this time I began reading not only J.M.Carroll's book "Trail of Blood," but the reformed writers both old and new. It was A.W. Pink, with whom my father-in-law carried on a personal correspondence, that carried the day theologically for me. I now had my pace setters again. You can see the pattern setting up already.

I wound up being a rabid Landmarker, a Calvinist, a dispensationalist and having many other systems firmly in place as well. I eventually came to the place of a "Christ in me/Holy Spirit life" being as real to me as any system of thought and theology could possible be.

Don't misunderstand me here, please. All of this was genuine to me and I was learning to preach while developing sermons and reading all of this time. But it was, unfortunately, a dependence on the regurgitated thoughts of others in which my confidence lay. My preaching was Truth, as I heard it and knew it at the time, and, if people were to be believed, I did a fair to middling job of presenting it Sunday after Sunday. Add to that all the seminars and movements that capture preachers, and I must admit that I was one of the captured, I knew a lot of doctrinal truth for a kid. I'm not condemning them or me, just setting the background for what I want to eventually say.

Before my friends jump to my defense and tell me how much I helped them during those years, I've seen this happen on occasion when I share this, I want you to know that I'm aware God did some extraordinary things in me, through me, in others, and through them to me. He takes us where we are and I, along with several churches, was hungry for God to be God and He said "Okay" at the time.

But in the late seventies a life-changing event took place.

A couple, a woman whose husband had abandoned her twenty years before leaving her to raise her daughters which she did marvelously, and a man, whose wife had died of cancer, met. It was true love for them both. Marriage was decided upon.

When I heard about it, I was their Pastor remember, the first thing I did I'm ashamed to say was think of protecting my theology. I couldn't do the wedding because of my then held view of divorce and remarriage, which I had embraced from a seminar teaching that I had jumped into with both feet, and I had to let them know quickly that I couldn't perform their marriage ceremony.

The funny thing is they hadn't asked me to and didn't want me to, as a friend in Houston was going to perform the ceremony. But I blurted out one day, nonetheless, there was no way I could. That's when they told me about the friend in Houston.

Well, they married. They also graciously continued to love me, their somewhat self centered pastor, as evidenced by them serving on my Board of Directors for my ministry for years as lifelong friends.

But that did give me pause. Why had I been so quick to react and to protect my theology?  The answer came to me rather clearly. It was because my theology wasn't mine at all. It was someone else's and my fear of being challenged was to the level of my ignorance of it not being my own at all.

So in 1980, at the age of 40 years, I began a journey. No longer would I teach anything in the pulpit that I had not found for myself. Whether it was divorce and remarriage or any other point of theological, my belief would have to come from my understanding and seeing in in the text of scripture FOR MYSELF which launched me on an incredible personal theological journey.

I did not then and do not now, discount Baptist tradition at all. I simply believe it is NOT my guide for belief or behavior as an absolute standard. I do not hold the BF@M as an absolute standard either. While I greatly appreciate the effort to catalogue our uniqueness as Baptists into a confession, I do believe we really are to be a people of the Book. So I can affirm a confession, but it will always be with a caveat of the need for me to see it clearly in scripture so what I teach and believe will be because I see it for myself in the text.

Out of all this there has come some clarity about some things theological that will be a bit different than what I saw in those early years. It will be some of those things that I will attempt to make clear in this year's post writings. I'm not asking anyone to agree with me, but rest assured, it will be what I think BECAUSE I've come to see it in the text of scripture and not because it's what Baptist believe or culture desires it to be so or my heroes have taught to be so.

This exercise is probably of little significance for anyone but myself and a few friends, but it will be my attempt to share what I see as really important to my journey. If it is of interest or help to anyone else, that will be a special blessing to me personally.

More to come.

Paul B.