Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Lists!!  I've never been a fan, but at my age and with my lack of memory capacity, they are almost indispensable. EXCEPT when that list is used to measure my commitment to God or things that add to my being spiritual or pleasing to God. That kind of list will rob me [or you] of my grace rest and what a relationship with God is all about. 

You've heard them I'm sure. Those people who list the way your attention, time, money and the like are to be prioritized. The list goes something like this, God first, wife, [or husband] family, church work, job, recreation, all in the order of importance. This is premised on the idea that God has to be first and you have an ever declining list of what is important for you to do each day. That list generally winds up being a measurement and picture of your commitment and spiritual growth for the day.

The only problem is that list fails in its idea of Christian living entirely. This is not because it's wrong to make a list of what you wish to do on any given day. That's quite often helpful. It's wrong because God isn't to be viewed as FIRST in your life as if He's something you've added and now you're to make Him priority in all things you do. God isn't something you DO period. He IS your life. Not a THING in your life, not even the first thing. 

Rather then thinking of God as the first on a list of things to do or even to hold as the first of important things to remember, think of God as the hub. [I got this from someone else and can't remember who or where.]  Remember that old bicycle you use to ride? The wheels had a hub. From it went the various spokes that enabled those wheels to create what was necessary for that bike to function according to it's purpose or intention. That is an inadequate but much better way of thinking about our relationship to God than is the list. It moves us from what we DO in life to who He IS as our LIFE. No illustration is adequate. But moving from "doing" to "being" when talking about the Christian life IS FUNDAMENTAL if we are to capture the relational aspect of the scriptures.

He is the hub [source] from which every other thing in my life finds the ability to function__ in tandem__ with NOTHING failing to have it's good and proper place when time, emphasis, money, needs, are all evaluated and done. Every spoke of my life is important and held together because of my resting in the Hub [God] who is my source for ALL of life. [Think Vine and branches.]

It's interesting that that the word, source, [Gk Kephale] is what is used in Eph. 5, 1 Corinth. 11, Col. 3, when Paul talked about our relationship to God, Christ, husband, wife, and even to the Church. God is the source [Beginnings] of it all. So to think of the hub as the source or beginnings of what is needed for the bike to fulfill it's purpose is how we're to view God. He is the source for ALL we need for life to be life abundant, even eternal! So, a couple of suggestions....

Suggestion one___see all things__including this world__ as gifts from God to you. This is what Paul believed and stated to the Corinthians. He told them in no uncertain terms in 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 that they were to see all things, including this world, as gifts from God. He had just been saying that the Corinthians were to see all their former Pastors as God's gift to them, whether it was Paul, [himself] or Apollos, or Peter, but he doesn't stop there. He goes on to say that about the world [of all things to say] or life, or death, or the things present, [whatever those things or moments are in life] or things to come, [whatever those things or moments might be]  ALL ARE YOURS.

Attending a local church meeting, giving your money and reading your bible are some of the things that are your opportunities of things to do and are gifts from God for sure. But don't rule out the NBA finals, or enjoying a national championship run by your University of choice [just different spokes in your life] as things that are your opportunities for things to do and are to be seen as gifts from God that are just as real as well. So, see all things as yours to embrace and enjoy because they are given to you by God. 

Suggestion two____understand that life ISN'T divided into the SACRED and the SECULAR as if what you do is EITHER a sacred thing OR a secular thing, and if you really love God, the assumption is, you will not spend a great deal of time or money on the secular at all. Simply put, all the things that have some connection to a church institution ARE NOT to be seen as sacred and all things that have to do with baseball or a school concert or some other activity in which you participate, ARE NOT be seen as secular. Both kinds of things in life ARE YOURS AS A CHRISTIAN as gifts from God. Enjoy!

Remember, when viewed in this fashion, church attendance, offerings, things of that nature [spokes in your life] will NEVER SUFFER but will never CONTROL either. They will have a place in life that is good and reasonable and will ALWAYS be related to the Hub.

But they don't measure your commitment or spirituality as a believer. That measurement is based on who God is to you and who you are to Him because of the grace relationship you have based on the merit, work, sacrifice, and presence of Christ who is not only in your lifebut is your life.

Paul B.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


There is a great danger that can be created by those who have a zeal for the ideal in whatever venue that zeal might show up. For an illustration of this take the Church. Some would desire to bring into reality, in the here and now, what they tend to think of as the "The Ideal Church." This Ideal Church would, of course, be made up of Ideal Christians as defined by their idealism.

That idealism may be stated in such terms as purity of doctrine, [Reformed, Southern Baptist, etc.] everyone tithing, being a regular attender, having marriage vows that have never been broken, or a litany of other standards that go into making an ideal for which they have a personal and profound zeal. As you would then expect, members of that particular congregation are expected to reach that pinnacle of idealism, and only then will they be counted as being genuine. So, "what's the problem?" you ask!

Apart from it being, as someone said, "An historically proven fact is that such utopianism in thinking tends to create tyrannical leadership gripped by a specific ideologue that they believe to be THE TRUTH which only they fully understand, and few others do, and their TRUTH is used, all too often, to control the members of that particular group,"  no problem at all.

Except, when you think about it, you may have a greater problem than that when you honestly examine the clear statements of scripture, at least clear to me, that indicate something totally different than that kind of idealism was found in most of the local expressions of the Body of Christ [local churches] found in those same scriptures.

You can't read passages like 1 Corinthians 12:22-27 or the pastoral epistles for that matter, and legitimately come away with a belief that any idealism could be found in reality in those churches, or in our churches today either, or was ever intended to be found in them. Even the Ephesian Church was seen leaving her first love eventually, as the Apostle John declared in the book of the Revelation.

It may very well be that the ability to lovingly, with grace, RELATE to those who ARE broken and flawed in some fashion and ARE far less than ANY ideal relating to humankind is more what God is about in growing the Church today than many seem to realize. 

The Church is NOT in the consummation stage at present. It's still in the construction stage and things tend to get dirty, broken, sweaty and painful often times in the construction of anything. Besides, the people being redeemed and brought in by the Holy Spirit who have been individually baptized [identified] by Him into the ever growing Body of Christ called the Church are people that ARE broken, dirty and in need of a whole lot of grace. 

Someone has said [I don't recall who that someone is] that we all are on a continuum of His construction in grace anyway.  [Consisting of a sequence of variations.]

That someone continued, "Think of a line starting with 0 and continuing to the end seen as 10. Some are just past the starting point of 0, some are well past 0, some are very close to 8 or 9, but no one is at 10. Few are seldom found to be at the same point as others." But, here's the deal, your point on the continuum does not measure your spirituality anyway. It only measures your experience and understanding of the relational grace you live in with the God of Grace. The EVIDENCE that you are AWARE of what true grace really is may very well be your ability and willingness to bestow grace rather than judgment upon people REGARDLESS of their place on the continuum. 

As you can probably tell by now, I'm convinced the last paragraph of this essay makes null and void the legitimacy of the first paragraph of this essay.

I rest my case.

Paul B. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I believe any thinking person will agree that the scriptures mean what they mean. It is incumbent upon each of us to investigate what they say, led by the Spirit, to get to that meaning. Since language itself is a fluid vehicle, we must carefully go to the original meaning of any text, when at all possible, led by that same Spirit, to correctly understand God's intention.

Some things are more readily understood than are others as well. Even Peter acknowledged that Paul the Apostle said some things difficult to understand. I'm with Peter on that.

Also, some things are more important than others. Any issue dealing with matters of salvation supercedes all others. Matters of discipleship and guidance for believer, for example, are important, just not to the level of salvation issues.

So then, we come to a Christian suing another Christian in a court of law and we would agree that it is of the latter category. You can miss this with correct understanding of the principle found in scripture and go to heaven. But you can't miss the nature of Christ, for example, and enjoy the assurance of that same place in eternity. You HAVE to be right there. No one is saying the former is not important in it's own right, just not one we separate over as brothers and sisters of the Kingdom.

Having said that, I would like for us to examine 1 Corinthians 6:1-11. Historically, it was written to a people whose court system was not the best. A.T. Robertson says that the Corinthians were basically a gentile church operating in a culture where civil courts were entertainment almost. They had civil litigation down to a science, if not art. The Judges were a known commodity, corrupt, and persuadable. There was no jury system at all.

In short, the court system was a joke. Paul was always ready to contrast with favor the wisdom of God with that of the Corinthian culture, as in chapters 1 @2, and does so here, as he makes it clear that the church can judge relational matters far better since they're going to assist in judgment at a later date anyway.

In fact, he may be saying sarcastically in v4 that the least person in the church can settle those issues if the leaders are too busy for such matters.

A further textual study would lead one to see that Paul is not condemning courts completely either since in v12 he says, "All things are lawful, [meaning not prohibited] but all things are not expedient." [meaning not the best]  It should also be noted that Paul saw no problem with him personally appealing to Caesar [the highest court of all] when he was held without trial and, as a Roman citizen, was not permitted his day in court.

Add to that the 1 Peter 2 passage where Peter indicates that the courts are "God ordained" since the word "ordinance" doesn't mean "law" as much as it means "institution", and is used in relation to God. So it is saying that the institutions of men are God's instruments for our lives. For a guiding institution [court-room] to be appealed to over a possible criminal matter is always correct and godly, as Paul himself proved with his appeal to Caesar, since they exist to punish and protect in legal problems.

However, in these minor relational matters that the Corinthian Christians were suing over, they should be able to appeal to the church and the church should give proper guidance. But that's a big should. It is important to see that Paul's disgust was as much with the whole of the church here as with the individuals who went to court. I think this shows if we are going to get upset with a person for going to court against another Christian, [the context is speaking only of brothers/sisters]  I think we should be just as upset with the church for not speaking out in these matters when the wrong that demands a verdict is being done.

But just as important, as in all things, is that a believer's purpose in settling disputes should not a matter of winning/losing or demanding personal rights, but lovingly rebuking a wrong done and speaking the truth about it whether in court or in church. Revenge, anger, and personal rights are not to be the motivating factor at all. As John Calvin said, "to not go against God, they [the wronged one] must take special care not to come to ANY court [secular or church] with ANY desire for revenge or ANY poisonous thing. In all is to be the guide."

Another thought here. Matthew 18 is often appealed to as a guide for believers and rightfully so. But one may need to remember that when Jesus gave that instruction, there was no established functioning local church body as we know it today. The word "church" [ekklesia] in that Matthew passage was probably used in it's pristine meaning which was "a called out group with a specific purpose." So it could be saying it should be taken to ANY group that has been requested to adjudicate any issue.

Then, also remember that to try to personally do Matthew 18 in a matter, but to not not be willing to carry it to where Jesus took it, final arbitration by some group asked to make a judgment, [even the local church today] is short-sighted and unbiblical in my judgment. If you start something finish it.

In our day of convoluted intricate contracts and trusts and loans, we face lawsuits for injury, malpractice with damage, equal rights, and a myriad of other categories that I doubt even Paul would have wanted the church to try to settle. For example, suppose a Christian banker, has found a fellow church member in default on a massive loan with his bank. he may have to let the court settle the legalities of it all, as ordered by his board of directors, but that banker should certainly let the church work on the relationship between the banker and his church friend. [which may be the most important thing after all] The offender undoubtedly needs to repent, correction, forgiveness, guidance and recovery relationally.

In it all we should bear in mind that the principle of not going "against" [pros] "another" Christian in a court of law will NOT be violated if one is seeking a legal hearing to protect, for example, a child [or spouse] from abuse. Even if the abuser is a professing christian spouse/parent legally, and such an one is known by the other spouse/parent to be guilty of abuse, they are correct in using the courts for peronal protection. This it is NOT violating the "against" prohibition in my view.

Finally, some concluding thoughts. I found several on a website that triggered some of my own.

A__The legal system is a gift of God to Christians as well as all others in a society and is to be appreciated for it's ability to enact protection and punishment where appropriate.

B__Christians are free, maybe even responsible for the use of those courts in matters that clarify legalities and criminal matters that are beyond the reach of congregations.It speaks of a high submission to the powers ordained of God.

C__The motive for anything is more important than the action. If it is to bring out [speak] the truth in love, it can be right, but, if revenge, anger, self protection or other things motivate, it can be wrong.

D__While it is undoubtedly best to not make a blanket declaration that no Christian should EVER take another believer to court, the proliferation of lawsuits is deplorable and the church needs to step up to the plate when christians are having problems. Church membership, discipline, and congregational involvement must take on more significance than personal opinions about styles of worship and what goes in. It is what's coming out of us that has me concerned. I haven't found it said better than a pastor did in this statement...And I quote...

"Now it’s at this point that it’s very tempting for me as a pastor to say that this is an iron clad law, that a Christian should never—in any circumstances—take another Christian to civil court to resolve a difference. You see, if I say it’s an absolute law, then we’re more likely to take this teaching seriously. If I suggest that this is a principle, and that in some circumstances other biblical principles might allow exceptions to this principle, then I crack open the door to allow exceptions. And if I do that, knowing human nature, I know every Christian is going to think that their situation qualifies as an exception. So if we allow the possibility of exceptions, then this will end up being one of those biblical principles that all Christians agree with but that no Christians actually apply, because each Christian thinks that his or her situation is an exception. So it’s very tempting to be legalistic, to say that this is an iron clad law, end of story.

But I think this is a principle with the possibility of exceptions. And let me first say that in the vast, vast majority of cases I do think that it’s wrong for a Christian to resort to civil court to resolve a difference with another Christian. But I think in some circumstances other important biblical principles come into play, and in those cases, those other principles take priority over this principle. Let me give you one example: Imagine two Christians who are going through the tragedy of divorce. Imagine that the wife decides she doesn’t want her ex-husband to be involved in the lives of their kids, and the only way for the husband to ensure his ongoing involvement in his children’s lives is to go to court and sue for custody. In that case the welfare of the kids and God’s calling to be a father is a higher principle than avoiding civil action against another Christian. So I think a husband would be justified to go to court and fight for a fair custody arrangement as a last resort. That’s just one example.

So how do you know whether your situation might be an exception to this principle? All I can say is that you can’t know it for yourself, that you need wise, mature input from the spiritual leaders God has placed in your life. You see, this kind of discernment comes from the community of faith as it together seeks God’s direction, not just from yourself because you’re likely to be biased. So when we feel as if our rights have been violated we should look to God’s community for help."    Pastor Tim Peck

I say...Amen, Pastor Peck.

This is one of those..."glass darkly" situations perhaps. My hope is these thoughts will cause us all to tread softly graciously.

Paul B.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


What do you do when there is disagreement in doctrine between people on the same staff?

I'm not speaking of disagreement over essentials that have to do with those things necessary for salvation or eternity life, be assured. Coming to know how much Jesus loves me and that He was willing to die in my place and believing that who He is, and what He did completed what was necessary to deal with my sin as evidenced by an empty tomb, [Faith] are essentials for redemption and eternity and are not up for rejection or denial.

I'm speaking of the non-essentials. By using 'non-essentials' I'm not saying un-important things, just things not necessary for salvation to be experienced.

Things like whether Adam was Federal head and I was present in him when the fall happened or whether I'm lost by my own choice or any combination thereof.

Whether Jesus was Impeccable or could have sinned when tempted.

Whether election or foreknowledge is God choosing me before time because He determined to for reasons known only to Him, or He saw before hand that I would somehow come to choose Him.

Whether repentance and faith are my non-meritorious responses alone and bring regeneration or whether I can repent and believe only because the Holy Spirit has worked regeneration already in me and repentance and faith are the evidences of new birth rather than the causes of new birth.

I have my own understanding of all these.

I lean toward [in fact I embrace] God having worked by His Grace to produce any abilities toward spiritual things and those abilities are the result of His Grace being experienced, not the cause. But I came to all this understanding after I became a believer and not before. An understanding of issues such as these are unrelated to salvation being real for me.

However, the unique situation of which I'm speaking is when there are two guys/gals, on the same staff, who might disagree over those kinds of non-essentials. How do you work together with integrity with differences like that?

It has happened_to me_several times_ on several staffs.

As a result, I developed a certain way [method] of handling it. My way is certainly not sacred and maybe not even the best way. But it is my way and I'll share it for what it's worth.

Two things, I believe, are important to remember. 

The first thing to remember___ is that each staff person must be free to investigate and research scripture to grow personally in their understanding of the nuances of doctrine without fear AND must be free to teach their understanding. 

An Education minister on my staff had a different view of divorce and remarriage than mine. One day I asked him to preach in my absence. We happened to be at a particular place in Matthew where divorce was being addressed. So I asked him to deal with that passage, if he would.

He was perplexed and even concerned. He saw it differently than did I. "How can I do the that? " he asked. I said, "It's simple, you teach how you see it and be honest enough to mention that I [Bro. Paul] see it a bit differently, but that we respect each other as brothers in the Lord, in spite of our differences on this issue"

Then I suggested he encourage the people to search on their own.

He did and they did.

Interestingly, twenty-five years later, I now hold the position he held then, not because the text has changed, but because my understanding has changed as I've studied it. Our being free to search and share our understanding of truth without fear was a major factor in maintaining true liberty while on staff together.

The second thing to remember___is that sometimes as a staff, it might be beneficial to agree to take a position on a non-essential as a standard for the staff, knowing some staff member or members may have to adjust to something he or she doesn't hold to personally, but must be willing to adjust for practical reasons.

 An example...I pastored a church near a University where drinking was a problem on campus. We chose as a staff to agree that abstinence would be our [the staff] standard. This was not based on agreement on the text of scripture because there were differences of opinion about that.

While ALL staff members agreed that scriptures condemned drunkenness, some held that moderation instead of abstinence was the true biblical position, at least as they saw it. 

[I, for example, don't personally hold to the view that total abstinence is taught in the text of scripture as the biblical standard. However, I do believe that drunkenness IS forbidden in scripture.] 

But by mutual consent we, as a staff, felt it was best for us to practice abstinence, while on that staff, in order to more effectively minister to those students. [It was the Romans 14:13-15 principle.] A couple of people had to defer [myself included] and abstinence was our practical policy while on staff at that particular church.

This was shared with our church.

We had no established church policy in regards to abstinence as we had developed our own church covenant and that particular non-essential was a non-issue. It was shared for information only.

But the congregation was encouraged as they saw the method we followed to come to our agreement on what was best when good people stood on different sides of theological issues that are not essential to salvation and eternity.

I could give a multitude of other examples but post length will not permit.

My bottomline in all this is multiple...

1. People differ on non-essentials.

2. People who differ on non-essentials can work together.

3. No one should have to be quiet about their differences.

4. Respect for another's position is important.

5. When a policy is decided upon because it is best for the work... don't make the basis for it scriptural if there are good people on both sides of the issue theologically. Make it what it is in reality...practical and good for the work. Nothing else.

6. If there is a church policy on the non-essential, follow it or don't join that staff.

7. Real unity is based on at least these factors...

   a) Agreement on the essentials...
   b) A right spirit/attitude toward people who differ on everything else.
   c) A willingness to have ALL share their views and, when necessary, choose a path that is best for the work by mutual agreement with all being heard and respected.

I think this might be good for a family or a congregation as well as a staff.

I also do not believe this negates teaching the whole counsel of God authoritatively. I happen to believe authority comes from the anointing of the Holy Spirit rather than a position I might hold about some non-essential. But because I take seriously the command to not Lord it over the flock, I chose this method. 

As I said, this practical approach is not sacred, [though undergirded by biblical principles] nor perhaps even the best way.

But it is mine...and God has, by His grace, blessed it.

Paul B

Thursday, November 07, 2013


Our message, called the gospel, is simply telling people what Jesus did at the Cross and what happens to anyone who receives the truth of that message. I've believed that all my converted life and have delivered the truth of it as a Southern Baptist pastor/teacher for fifty-eight years of ministry.

I'm also a___[boy, how I hate labels, but for the sake of clarity, I'll use one.]___five-point Calvinist and have been longer than most of you have been alive. But I was asked one time how I could believe in "Divine Election" and "Particular Redemption" [which I prefer over limited atonement] and then stand before people and say Jesus died for them! The questioner, following his logic on this issue, then said, "To be honest, you'd have to tell some that Jesus DID NOT die for them."

My response to that questioner and anyone who has the same thoughts is this. I'm committed to standing before every single human being I possibly can and saying to them that Jesus died for sinners. And if they are willing to recognize they are that and are willing to call upon Him, in brokenness and faith, as Lord and Savior, they will be saved.

You see, I do not believe anyone is saved because they are elected or is not saved because they are not elected. [And, as I said, I do believe in election.] But anyone who is ever saved will be so because of the finished work of Christ that is received as a broken, repentent sinner.

Where in the scripture does it say or proclaim that anyone has the right or even the responsibility to stand before anyone and say "Jesus DIDN'T die for you" OR to say or proclaim that "Jesus DID die for you?" Every textual reference I've ever read in the biblical materials that says "Jesus died for you" is said to people after they have experienced His grace.

But we do have both the right and the responsibility to stand before all peoples everywhere and tell them who Jesus is and that He did, in fact, die for sinners and that He has given the command to repent and call upon Him in faith to every person, promising that whoever does that will, in fact, be saved.

Whether they know why they were willing to repent and believe___because it was good thinking on their part or because God caused them to think about it in the first place___ or whether they believe they were chosen before the foundation of the world because God looked down through time and saw they would believe__ or whether God made the choice Himself for His own reasons before time__ or whether they know the faith they've exercised is a gift of God in and of itself__ or the natural ability of fallen people that is of itself without merit__ makes no difference in the presentation of the gospel to them.  [You might want to read that again__slowly.]

Those are all things we can study, debate and teach later being true to how we understand them scripturally. But no view one holds on any one of those issues alters the need for the gospel being presented and believed by the hearer. Also, that presentation of the gospel can be done cooperatively as Southern Baptists world-wide unless we start demanding uniformity of doctrines instead of the unity of the Spirit because of our Christ/Cross/Tomb agreement with each other. [To illustrate the point of the last post.]

Now, I could begin to show why I believe God chose of His own will, BEFORE the world began, who would be saved and why I believe faith IS a gift and why I believe regeneration brings about an ability to infinitum. But that is for the instruction and growth of those who are already believers. While it is the instruction of the saints in doctrine and legitimate and needed, it is not the gospel message.

Someone may say, "How do you reconcile the seeming contradiction between the words and point of the third paragraph with the words and statement of the ninth paragraph?"

Ummmmmm...I think I'll just be satisfied with the clear biblical "antinomy" [Two things in theology that appear to be contradictory.] that exists between those two things, and I emphasize only "appears" to our limited understanding to be contradictory.

One day the Father will have to make all our limited understanding of theology perfectly clear when we get home. Until then I'll trust His Word to be true and continue to grow in my understanding of that Word, while all the time, telling ALL the people, "Jesus died for sinners and if you will repent and trust Him you WILL be one of those sinners that will be saved."

Paul B.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


This post will mean little to many of you and I know that. It is really a statement I believe I must make for some who've known me for years.

I am a simple person. And, since I'm a Baptist, that would make me a simple Baptist, would it not! It may be that in this day however, it is my simplicity which could cause my downfall, if there is one coming, in any relationship I have to present day Southern Baptist life.

I've always prided myself, in a non-sinful way I trust, in being a "non-creedal" Southern Baptist. I've always viewed the difference between a creed and a confession of faith, which we have utilized for years in the SBC life, as, simply put,  [there I go again with this simple thing]  in a creed you have declared what is INCUMBENT UPON YOU to believe to be a part of a particular group, while in a confession of faith you have declared what you hold to in basic agreement WITHOUT COERCION of any kind from other people in the group.

The popular way of saying it when a confession of faith is embraced is, "I have no creed but Christ and no ultimate document of authority but the Bible." [An over-simplification to be sure.]

This means that as a Baptist, I have believed the Bible as I have interpreted it, under what I believed to be the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and have attempted to guard the freedom of EVERY OTHER person to interpret scripture the same way. as they attempt to hear God's voice for themselves, and to obey what he/she believes they hear Him say. That's a rather long sentence but it declares what a simple Baptist does

But I'm wondering if there might not be a present day struggle more with what being a Southern Baptist entails, than there is with what being just a Baptist entails. Our Baptist identity has always been founded on an understanding of certain fundamentals of the faith. You can name them. So can I. But our Southern Baptist identity has been shaped by our cooperative efforts in evangelism and missions with a confession of faith approach to the fundamentals of the faith. It HAS BEEN this unique cooperative approach to missions that has defined us as a the Southern Baptist Convention.

We are Baptist because of the fundamentals of the faith. We are Southern Baptist because we cooperate with people who MAY NOT interpret the scriptures exactly as I do, but, since we are not creedal but confessional, they can join us in sharing a mission purpose for the world. In the past that difference was OK. Not so much today.

It is this Southern Baptist identity that is at risk at present it seems to me. It appears to me, I say again, appears, we are shifting into a creedal approach to identifying who Southern Baptists are. My simplicity is causing me to have a great deal of struggle within me as to where I will stand if that shift from a cooperative effort in missions to a theological creed being made out of a confession of faith is ultimately accomplished. As I said, I AM a simple Baptist.

I really like what a life-long friend recently said of himself. "I'm neither a creedal Baptist, nor a conventional Baptist, but I AM a convictional Baptist." That sounds descriptive of my journey as well, except I've been willing to claim the last two while not the first. My struggle is remaining the conventional baptist in the present day. Creedalism would not allow that.

I've just re-read what I've written and I've gotten dizzy-headed trying to figure out exactly what I've said. I did confess at the beginning that I'm a simple person remember. That makes me a simple Baptist and the bottom-line is that this simple Baptist blogger is struggling with where Southern Baptists are going and whether this Baptist blogger can remain a Southern Baptist. I guess we'll see, won't we!

Paul B.