Thursday, October 06, 2005
And Now For Something Completely Different
This is the story from a "hard-right" perspective. Since we all engage in a mental error called the fallicy of the false center--we tend to believe that we are at the dead even point of reason--perhaps the tone of this reportage will serve to remind all that (1) there are most certainly "heresies of the right" (especially legalism) and (2) the position of the PSW and its allies really are pretty much in the theological center. I say that as a mere PSW pastor, not as a spokesperson for PSW.
BAPTISTS SPLIT OVER HOMOSEXUALITY
By J. Grant Swank, Jr.MichNews.com
Oct 6, 2005
Now the disease has spread. It’s come to the Bible-oriented Baptists. Not the Southern Baptist Convention but to the American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA).
The biblically moored won’t spend any more time and energy battling the issue. They are leaving in order to witness consistently to the Bible as divine revelation. That Book states emphatically God’s abhorrence for homosexual activity.
The more lenient Baptists within ABCUSA are willing to let each congregation decide for itself what to do about homosexuality. Each Baptist congregation already is autonomous and always has been. That’s the polity tradition within that denomination. No overarching organization can tell a local congregation what to do on any measure. It’s all up to the locals as to what goes on, where money is spent, what ethical positions to take, and so forth.
With all the dialogue on the homosexual issue, there are those Baptist churches who have concluded it’s time to wrap things up. Their main concern is maintaining allegiance to the Bible, not simply fighting over homosexual lifestyles. They see it as not regarding the Bible as fully the Word of God, by faith receiving the Bible as the Book one must not add to nor subtract from, as the Book itself warns.
Looking at other denominations that have kept up the internal battle — wasting time and energy when God has already spoken in His revelation — the exiting Baptists have concluded they have more divinely appointed missions to see through. One is preaching salvation through Jesus Christ. Another is teaching the Bible to the constituents. Still another is keeping on top of world missions outreach.
All such church programs suffer when a denomination battles daily long and hard over the homosexual issue. Instead of living out the prime call of God, the denomination mires down in an evil that should have been settled by researching and regarding the Bible. Instead, theological liberalism takes scissors to the Bible, cutting out what they consider inconvenient. That leaves the Bible accommodating to their conclusions, many times permitting outright sin.
Those aligned with the Bible as divine revelation have no patience with such apostasy; therefore, for the Bible-aligned Baptists, time is up. It’s now a move out. So they are leaving, hundreds of local congregations. They are making it known that they can no longer fellowship with so-called Baptists who compromise the ethics of Scripture. They cannot continue to meet with so-called Baptist who no longer believe in the deity of Jesus, the Trinity, the sanctity of the Bible and the morality base of traditional biblical understanding.
Various regions of Baptist congregations are leaving or have already left. "Gay-affirming congregations" have set up the battle lines. There is one such church near me in Portland, Maine. They have brought much contention to other local congregations by being unyielding in their persistence to welcome practicing homosexuals into their sanctuary as well as encourage their activity by saying it is a divine blessing. This has irritated long-time members who reason their church has been stolen from them by theological apostates. It can lead to much hurt, dissension and finally splits.
The biblically moored Baptists are saying that they are no longer going to tolerate the hurt, the dissention, the arguing and the unreasonableness of the theological liberals. Therefore, they are leaving to continue God’s mission unhindered. They will not permit the evil. They call sin "sin" and move onto the righteous life proclaimed as the gospel of Jesus Christ. Serving God by declaring redeeming grace to the repentant is why these Baptists worship, not to heatedly debate constantly a wicked trend they perceive as instigated by Satan.
Bill Nicoson, executive director, American Baptist Evangelicals (ABE), has led the breakaways. The endeavor dates back 13 years and now is becoming increasingly vocal and forceful. Again, he states that it’s not only the issue of homosexual practice but whether or not the Bible is taking seriously as divine revelation.
[As a friend of Bill's I'm sure he would reject the characterization that he is the leader of the "breakaways". If he is, he is a most reluctant revolutionary. The only person I know involved in all more reluctant is Dale Salico Exec of PSW, a man of gentle and gracious spirit above all.]
ABE president Scott Gibson, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary professor of preaching, is gearing up to create the breakaways into an actual denomination. The new group could include over 2,000 local congregations.
[Full disclosure again: I have known Scott for 25 years. (We went to seminary together.) Again, he is man of reserve and caution--not a "fightin' fundy."]
Remember all: your humble blogger is just a pastor with a Blog. I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet. The people who are leading the way toward a more historic, confessional Baptist movement for the American Baptists who've just had it up to here with false teaching, poorly placed priorities, and misuse of office are, I readily admit, better people than I. Above all, they are not hotheads, but people deeply saddened by the decline and death of a once great denomination, and are determined to break through to a higher place of ministry and mission than ever before, under the Lordship of Jesus and the authority of the Word of God.