Service Interrupted: A Political Memoir-Chapter Fifteen (Continued)

Editor’s Note: I announced yesterday I would just be adding to the end of chapter fifteen as it was started on this blogsite. Too many good readers indicated this would be more confusing, since that is not how I started this presentation. Readers drive the blogs sometimes and this is one of those times.

   I also intend to finish the sermon started yesterday over at http://aintsobad.typepad.com/pastorspal/ and titled "Everywhere." It goes with the other three "Practice," "Goodness," and "Always."

   I am seeing a surgeon today at 2:30pm to visit about options for surgery on the sinus passages. I don’t know anything else at this time but I will try to get back on later today after the conversation and give my readers the information I get. I am ready to do this and get it over. I trust it will be very minor surgery, with a short rehab and I will be working all the while. Thanks for praying. My family and I appreciate it.

Service Interrupted: A Political Memoir-Chapter Fifteen (Continued)

   I try to have it both ways and so appear two-faced. In fact, politically, I am over with the moderates, perhaps more progressive than many moderates in terms of methodology. Practically, in everyday thought, I am much at ease with the theological conservatives, no, not the Fundamentalists, but the true conservatives.

   That is, I still insist on a personal God, one God, who shows Godself in three divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I adamantly insist that Jesus Christ is divine, God Godself, the same quality/quantity of the essence of the Godhead dwelling bodily in human form. I have not deviated from the Biblical assertion, affirmed through the Local Church and the Church Universal meeting in Council through the ages that Jesus Christ is the One Way to God.

   Other things, peripheral matters, are open to interpretation. I have less information on End Times Prophecy (and much less interest) than I once carried around in my head. Biblical Inerrancy, never affirmed in any written statement by the SBC, for instance, but forced on others by the same national body in order to exclude some, is possible to confirm only in the original autographs of which we have none. The reliability and authority of Scripture for religious purposes is not in question among believers and will always be in question among non-believers so that continuous study and research will always be necessary.

   Continuous study and research are as good as fundamentalism is bad. Fundamentalism as a movement is antihistorical; it assumes moderns and postmoderns will experience God in the same way as the Old Testament partriarchs and prophets, who never possessed a leaf of printed Scripture. In point of fact, no reliably Fundamentalist Christian voice insists that God came walking to visit with him/her in the cool of the day or came down to his/her tent to speak about the destruction of the great cities of the plains. No one of them would think of selling their disobedient daughter into slavery. I do not know many who would take a young man outside the city gates to stone him for some seemingly redeemable offence.

   In fact, Scripture seems to have a life from God, not of its own animation, but of and from the One True God, who is Someone involved with each believer and pre-Christian as well. Scripture is not just a collection of stories about what happened to someone else somewhere else, some other time, with which the rest of us must somehow find some way to get in line.

   So, I want it both ways, position myself in the center of mainstream Christian thought and stand a lonely watch. This means I am not put in the position of defending the indefensible because of partisianship.

  I am, then, a hedge-hog who must play the fox. I admire the admantine theological position of some neo-conservatives like Jim Merritt and Frank Page, abhor the opportunists on either side and adore the gracious tendencies of some moderate-conservatives. In fact, I have no home, regardless of political sidings.

   Neither should you. Partisianship breeds opportunism, requires you to check your conscience at the door and will not allow much thinking through the mental detector. We will not unite much around what divides us.

   What, then, will unite? Well, not men or a man or women or a woman or, apparently, a cause. We are rather transparently without fervent, zealous imperative on a state or national level. Perhaps this means we should look askance at the state and national level, while at the same time, we seek to draw close to the local body. By the local body, I do mean persons of any "denominational" stripe who will agree with us on the Christian imperative to worship/serve God and demonstrably love our neighbor in the same means/manner/method we wish to experience love ourselves.

   The experiment of the last thirty years in baptist Christian life is an example of ecclesiastical social engineering. All must be alike under the direction of a small ruling cadre of the elite who will at once inform and police followers on the essentials of the Faith once delivered to the Fathers. The antihistorical bent of the Fundamentalists clashes with the progressive futurism of the Moderates; one assuming all will be well if we can go back to a storied, gloried past, while the other insists all will be well if we can only align the masses into a seamless social unit.

   Competition is by nature adversarial rather than companionable.

   Both sides in the religious psycho-drama feed from the human desire to be relieved of the burden of choice. That is, humans want a default setting. Set it and forget it. To have no choice limits freedom but humans prove only too willing to buy into the cliched sloganism or the sound-bite until we experience personal tragedy or an atrocity occurs so large we finally cannot ignore it.

   So, genius, what do we do?

   We might start to argue about the political/moral/philosophical ends to be desired rather than continue to have a merely superficial technocratic disagreement about preferred means. The continuous baptist Christian argument about the missionary enterprise is now reduced to the latter and so represents a golden opportunity for meaningful, purposeful, bloody argument to resolution.

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

    

3 thoughts on “Service Interrupted: A Political Memoir-Chapter Fifteen (Continued)”

  1. Having no home puts one in good Company!
    “The reliability and authority of Scripture for religious purposes is not in question among believers …”
    For religious purposes…not sure what that means? To me it seems as if both reliability and authority are increasingly in question, both generally and for church and daily personal application. We default to partisanship more when we don’t really know or apply Scripture for ourselves. BarnaResearch says we think we know the Scripture but we don’t (you guys who post here probably do). So we lack defense for that old tactic “has God really said….?”

  2. I remember sitting in my Biblical Interp class, under Dr. Dilday. It was quite a time, since it was at the same time he was prez of the BGCT. I remember him sitting on the edge of a table at the front of class, in a rare moment of deviation; he brought up “the way things were.”
    I can’t quote, but I will paraphrase what he said. It was something like: “You know guys, things really have changed. I remember when I was in school, we were taught how to use the programs given down to us from the National and State Conventions. Well, that just won’t cut it any more. You’ll really need to know how to think on your feet out there. You’ll need to be able to discern God’s will as you go.”
    Again, that isn’t a direct quote; just the jist of what I remember him saying.
    That has really stuck with me through the last 7-8 post-seminary years. Church-in-a-box just doesn’t cut it any more. To me, the conventions become less important with each program they push out. However, I desperately need God revealing Godself in my life so that I can reflect that into my community.
    Tim

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