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

   I have no problem thinking of myself as a Texas baptist Christian, or as a defender of the faith as Texas baptist Christians understand it. I have no difficulty setting myself slightly left of center in defence of freedoms for Texas baptists, though my theological/relgious understandings are still quite remarkably conservative.

   I do not believe freedom makes men better, only happier. There is no moderate-liberal utopia out there where we are released from the the burden of moral decision making. In fact there is no comprehensive definition of justice that guarantees durable freedom.

   Moral principles are not less important because we cannot guarantee their tenure.

   What are we about today in BGCT life? The shoddy administration just passed mistreated its staff, demeaned its cooperating churches and diminished the reputation of the convention. Granted, but that is yesterday’s news. What about today?

   Allright, I will venture from the trunk, hidden by the leaves, onto the barest limb. We have the possibility, since we cannot go back, to push on to something mostly new.

   Let us face the fact there is to be no intelligent, cooperative return to the pre-1979 cooperative efforts of Southern Baptist Christians. Does anyone think that persons who fight hard and reward themselves well will suddenly surrender their caste?

   No, in fact, there is every evidence that Fundamentalism is still expansionist in desire and repressive in nature. If not, why do members of the SBC’s own Trustee Boards, like Wade Burleson, have to resign just to prevent further deformity of the governing documents/body?

   There is no return. We can’t go home again. They moved the trailer house and we know not where.

   We might yet go on to something new. To do so, we might have to come to terms with other old partners rather than surrender to the expansionist, self-empowering national convention with its malicious, reactionary leadership.

   To move on, Texas baptist Christians, over a generation, might find some way to move from our Primitive world-view to our Classical heritage. Do not freak when I use the "L" word. This kind of forward movement will be a "Liberal" choice. That is, correcting history slightly to the left, which tends to happen any way, since Black Americans are not slaves now and women can vote and children get protection from unfair labor practices, will be a "Liberal" set of choices.

   There is no holding steady. Only the Fundamentalists move backward. I am sorry, my Texas baptist Christian friend, but that mostly leaves "Liberal" choice making. This does not mean we throw away the Bible. It means we get back beyond the Primitive baptist frontier heritage to the Classical baptist views; separation of Church/State, educated clergy, missionary support, priesthood of the believers and congregational autonomy.

   I have to go back to the post-1979 SBC again. The "resurgence," nee "takeover," purported itself to be a parity movement. Equal consideration of their rights would end the wars.

   No, man is a political being, or at least, a being in conflict with God, himself and then his fellows. Human goals exist in conflict. Simple craving for status and recognition can explain the start of the wars but they were dressed up as a "revolt for liberty." Is liberty the result? If not, then we can more easily explain the disillusionment in their followers now.

   The baptist wars came cloaked in spirituality. Once disrobed, they revealed a naked lust for prominence and power, with attendant riches.

   The burden of baptist self-consciousness might just be our remarkable inability to see ourselves as other see us.

   The Fundamentalists, Neo-Cons, whatever you call them, made a religion out of their own feelings of alienation or, that is, their own inability to identify comfortably with their times.  The Moderates, Mod-libs, whatever you call them made religion out of sentimental analysis. Both are half measures and neither is a worthy successor to Classical baptist Christian thought.

   Baptist Christians never totally bought into "Sola Scriptura." Oh, really? They did? Then why all those non-Creed creedal statements along the way?

   Baptist Christians were "Sola Xristos." We read the Bible, believed the Bible, loved and reverenced and worshipped the Triune God.

   Fire up the torch, Woody, there’s a heretic to burn.

   And it is thee, oh nearsighted friend.

   In fact, Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia was penned by a man trying to work his way apart from a dominating central authority content to bend the Faith to its own purposes. Human purposes deformed the Church and disgraced the Christ. Honest persons found they could not warm themselves at this fire.

   Nor did baptist Christians, the free church, ever leave off their cherished trust in Biblical reliability. We carried it everywhere we went. We corrected ourselves and taught others with the Bible. A Classical baptist Christian would no more feel at ease in worship without the Bible than he would feel empowered to burn those who did not agree with his interpretation of the Bible.

   If, as I think, we cannot make peace with repressive, expansionist Fundamentalism and we cannot stomach any hard-wiring to the Extreme Left, what is a Classical baptist to do?

   I suggest we move back beyond the Primitive anomally to our Classical roots, include all who wish to go with us and start something brand, spanking new, with less central control and more local authority.










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  • 2 thoughts on “Service Interrupted: A Political Memoir-Chapter Thirteen (Continued)”

    1. IMO the Baptist distinctives do not speak to PostModerns or perhaps even Moderns, or to the unchurched; they speak to long-time Baptists (traditionalists). When it’s tough to get a God-word in edgewise in busy people’s lives, how would you go about reemphasizing distinctives? For new and immature believers, they are not self-explanatory or easily practiced. And if distinctives are to be reemphasized at the convention level, doesn’t that imply centralized action or a central voice (advocacy)?
      IMO the classic choices come with classic risks and ditches.

    2. At the most primitive level, we have to embody it. We don’t just pass it on through our classical education (SS, or TU anyone?). Yes, we do use some classical means to pass on our distinctives; but we have to embody them in all that we do. We have to talk about them beyond SS or the pulpit.
      But then again, that is just the way of the Christian. It was the way of the first Christians; and it seems the way of the current postmods as well. We incarnate Christ…or more importantly, let Christ live through us.

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