I’ve got a couple of peculiarities about me. Some people may think that’s too small an estimate of things peculiar about me and some people may be correct about that. Regardless, I will speak to the two I see to be prominent at least.
One is I’m willing to hold to a position on an issue that goes against what our culture thinks about that issue. An example of this is seen in what our culture says about any sincere religious belief system being as good for people in the long run as any other religious belief system. So, Muslim, Christian, Shinto, it doesn't matter our culture says. Being sincere is what matters. I'm sorry, but for me the scriptures speak clearly here. Jesus said, " I am the way, the Truth, the light, no man comes to the Father but by me." [John 14]
I believe that and my culture cannot/will not be able to set my standard there. So, if I hold to a view of women in ministry or marriage or anything else in a different way than some Baptists do, it won’t be because I fear being different than my culture and am trying to be like them.
The other peculiarity is that I’m also willing [hinted at already] to rest in a position I think correct that even goes against what Southern Baptist tradition generally holds to. For example historically, Southern Baptists have been what would be termed "cessationists," by and large, in regards to some of the lesser spiritual gifts believing them to have have ceased. I do not now see the scriptures forbidding those gifts or declaring that they have ceased. [I once held that view] I do see a regulation and warning about their use/misuse in the First Corinthian letter but the validity for them is there IMHO.
Since I see that textually, [in scripture] Baptist history/tradition cannot/ will not set my standard on that theological issue. There you have a couple of my personal peculiarities.
So, how do we get along with people with whom we differ in our culture or even in our religious organization? Let me make a few suggestions for us all.
#1—LET’S BE OPEN--to people who think differently than do we about issues. This is especially true when studying the scriptures. I'm not suggesting that we are to assume unbelievers would understand scripture. But being "wise as serpents" indicates that wisdom CAN come from peculiar places.
I love this quote..."Since no one of us, [ as Christians] affected as we are by original sin, is perfectly pure in our desire for truth, no one of us is exempt from some degree of closed-mindedness." [Searching Together Winter 1985] "I think this means we must be open to at least 'listen' to multiple sources, in the Body of Christ at least, if we are really going to have the thoughts of Christ on lesser issues." [Same Publication]
No better statement can be found in my judgment.
I’m thinking it might even be wise to be open to the fact that people outside the Church in our culture will likely have SOME truth about SOME issues worth hearing as well. Not every unbeliever is automatically a dummy intellectually. [Neither is a believer automatically an Einstein.]
#2—LET’S BE READY--to change your view of theological matters if the evidence from the text begins to be seen in a new/different light. Things can/do escape our attention and, for us to grow, we must be ready to admit that fact. This means it is not a crime to continue to examine the text with new light and understanding. And if a person sees that new light and is helped by it, that is not weakness on his/her part, but just genuine humility. it isn’t “caving to the culture” either.
This change because of new light does not rob one of being Southern Baptist either. But it does verify and demonstrate the uniqueness that is Baptist, namely, we're free to grow in our knowledge of the Word.
#3—LET’S BE WILLING--to grow in truth when presented with new light regardless of the source. If it comes from one who is insignificant in the Body, so be it. [Or if it comes from someone outside the Body of Christ for that matter.] There is no such thing as an “insignificant person” where the Body is concerned anyway is there!
In fact, to a PROUD individual others may be seen as insignificant and the proud don't take what anyone else says seriously. To an humble person, because he/she loves people AND the truth, an ear will be given to insignificant voices in the Body or otherwise.
What I've said here, were I willing to practice what I write, will not, in my opinion, ruin my confidence in the integrity/nature of the scriptures or make me a "liberal". AND it will not diminish my appreciation for Baptists either.
It will simply enable me to be truly Christian and relate to others in the Body with deep respect. I don't have to get angry at someone who sees a lesser point of theology differently than do I and I don't have to be closed to what they are saying about it. I don't have to agree, but I certainly don't have to believe they/I are/am no longer truly Southern Baptist BECAUSE WE DISAGREE