Blog Changes?

Words. Often when we use them others hear/read something else. Even when we belive we have a mutually agreed upon understanding invariably a given word or prhase is embued with the meaning the reader or the listener pre-determines.

Recently I read The War of Art. (I gave my copy to my youngest brother to read and so am working from memory here.) The author’s subject was writing. Pressfield considers “resistance” to be the greatest enemy of the writer. Fear is the tool resistance uses. Writers often want to write but resist the creative urge for one “excuse or another.” Sometimes a writer fears what others will think, what some may mis-understand, or what it may feel like to stand out there with your words and nothing else – naked if you will.

Pastors face such a fear on occasion.

The position is a bit precarious. We applaud the prophetic words of, say, Isaiah who boldly challenges Israel to be the kind of people God intended – caring for the widow, the orphan, the stranger and the alien. We like what I often refer to as the “bony finger of the prophet” challenging everyone else but “me.”

If you happen to like Brueggemann’s use of 587 as a metaphor, which I do, then you understand how what Jeremiah noted to Judah was both positive and negative. On the one hand the world Judah knew had come to an end. Lament would be her genre for some time. On the other hand Judah would experience a brave new world. The watershed moment – captivity. Some things need to come to an end so birth may come to something new.

Pastors sometimes write/speak things that may cause some to think the “end of the world as they know it” is just around the corner. Before reading further decisions are made and no one stays long enough to hear the pastor also saying, “there is being born a brave new world.” So, since we practice a hermeneutic that reveals we believe the meaning lies in the reader rather than the text, Pastors often fear writing. They resist saying what they believe down deeply. Some get a way with it. Others not so much.

I am contemplating a turn for this blog. There are things I believe deeply and there are things I struggle to understand completely. Often these have been held at bay for fear of mis-understanding. For fear some would be more prepared for the worse than consider the best. My brother faces just such an experience.

Silent I have been. On specifics, silent I will remain. But, when a pastor stands to suggest we are living in a new empire and that some of our faith practices tend to ally more with a coalescing of our convictions with the security of the new empire let’s give the benefit rather than the doubt. Indeed we may need to learn to subvert the civic/civil empire in order to live faithfully the Gospel. Peter Rollins would suggest this is a fidelity of betrayal.

Lest someone think my current pastoral context lie in back of this post, please read carefully it is not. I have received more grace and support even when an askew glance has been cast on an idea, thought or suggestion. I love where I serve and not out of fear.

Overcoming the fear of what my peers or denominational types may think is one of the aspects of being a “recovering Southern Baptist.” That kind of fear really undermines our understanding of “free church” ecclesiology. Such fear will be laughed at by those who hold power. Others know first hand its reality. Fear of losing the opportunity to serve on a board of one of our agencies be it in Oklahoma or on the national scale reflects the constant inner struggle the rhetoric of our recent past “battles for the bible” have left.

So, in a somewhat rambling post, I am thinking of changing some things up here to reflect the title of this blog a bit more. What are your thoughts?

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

4 comments on “Blog Changes?

  1. Les Puryear says:


    Help me with two definitions. What do you mean by “recovering Southern Baptist” and “free church ecclesiology”?



  2. Todd Littleton says:

    A number of years ago I met Landrum Leavell III ( He is the first I ever heard use the phrase. In the context of our conversations, I liked it. You may remember his father was President of NOBTS. “Recovering Southern Baptist,” as I use it, refers to the recovering from the climate of “war” since 1979 – the era of my formal education in a Southern Baptist associated university and SWBTS. I had a brief stint at Criswell College working on my MA before completing degrees at SWBTS (MDiv, DMin). I am indebted to the church of my youth. They cared for me, nurtured me, and gave me early opportunities to lead as a volunteer. Since that time, I have looked reflectively on the things I learned. Some of the particulars of theology I have had to “unlearn.” It is not they were heretical, they simply do not reflect my understanding today. My grandmother is still a faithful member of that same church – in her 90’s. I could have easily said I am a “recovering evangelical” or a “recovering fundamentalist.” But, the association with both of those adjectives is in the denominational tribe of my childhood. My friend Chris Seay and I were chatting recently and agreed we love our tribe but do wish we could move beyond what we construe as our heyday before the world passes us further.

    As for “free church ecclesiology,” we have no “magisterium” denominationally (at least officially). We might be fore familiar with “autonomy of the local church.” I, however, have come to believe this to be a bit dangerous. “Free church” also implies a lack of governmental connection – think “state church.” Baptists would be in the “free church” tradition.

    Thanks for the comment and the query.

  3. Paul says:

    Well…I’m a little conflicted. Actually, I already get the privilege of hearing the “context behind the text” regarding most of what you write and I believe those things are worthy of being said and heard. On the other hand, there can be a high price. I’m not saying it is too high a price. Did Isaiah think faithfulness to his message was too high a price? Did Jeremiah? No. But they also understood it was a high price. Jeremiah was eventually whisked away to Egypt by his friends because staying home could have meant death.

    I doubt anyone would want to kill you for expressing yourself, but people know of other ways to exact their pound of flesh, if you know what I mean. Prophetic pastors feel that scourge often these days, and scourging never feels good no matter how genuine or right you may be. I don’t suspect the apostle Paul enjoyed his beatings very much, but he was both genuine and right.

    Just be faithful in whatever you do and rest in the confidence that comes from that. God will sort out the rest. Or that’s what I keep telling myself.

  4. Todd Littleton says:

    I have been wrestling of late with the idea that we must do what we do without a dependence upon the risk or reward. In other words, when Jesus calls us to lose our life for his sake, he does not in the same breath point to some sort of eternal metaphysical reward but appears to be getting at our motivation for following.

    When a few came to Jesus declaring their desire to follow him but noted the need to take care of other matters first, or desirous to know where Jesus would sleep, Jesus described things in hard terms – “let the dead bury their dead” and “foxes have holes and birds have nests.” Neither occasion came with anything more than being worthy of Jesus if one would lose his life for Jesus.

    Isaiah and Jeremiah were less concerned with the prospects of a disapproving audience and more intent to declare a new day dawning – even when some could not see it.

    Pitch you tent in that camp as you have. I will pitch mine there. On that we can agree to work in a way that what matters is that life is more “humanly” (and humanely) that it would otherwise be experienced. In that we reflect the design and glory of God.

    Peace, brother.

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