Growing up as a child of the Cold War people often threw around incendiary labels. Rousing the rank and file among those I knew could be easily done with references to the (former) USSR, China or Castro’s Cuba. Communist. Socialist. Any hint at an affiliation, even tangentially, with writings, people or groups sympathetic brought a good bit of scorn and ridicule. “You should know better.”
Like a good boy I obliged my influencers. I was not sure I understood “communism” and despite being a very social adolescent clearly understood the difference between that and socialism. So, it has been with interest I have read around the smogblogosphere today. Marty, J.D., David, Allan, Big Daddy Weave and Wade all weigh in on some level before and after Election 2008. Each interesting in their own right.
It is the penchant to falsehood in other posts or follow-up comments that has really caught my rapt attention. Inflammatory opinions tend to characterize the further right side of our tribe and they have not disappointed. In disbelief I have read SBC pastors refer to voting for our now Presdident-elect as “sinning.” Or, that no Christian should vote for Barak Obama. He (Obama) has been considered not a “whit closer to God than Nebuchadnezzar.” The only way a Southern Baptist could vote for Obama is if they are not saved or backslidden. (I refuse to link to these blogs. Google it if you must.)
Now when I read the Scriptures I seem to find that when I am over the top on my opinion of another’s practice of the Christian faith it would do me well to bend my knee and assume the position. That is, the position that will fall naturally to me when Jesus, the Christ comes in fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. At that point it is the Apostle Paul’s injunction that God is the one who sets the boundaries. (Fancy Romans again – beyond chapter 8 ) We should hold the center – Jesus is Lord.
Mulling this interesting move by those shouting the necessity of inerrancy almost prompted me to title this post, “Inerrancy takes a hit in Election 2008 Among SBC Pastors.” You see when Scot McKnight challenges the way we read the Scriptures he points out how we selectively choose which Scriptures to go to seed on. (Read The Blue Parakeet) These kind of over the top statements seem to defy the truth, spirit and principle of any number of texts from the Sacred Scriptures.
What drove me to write was the experience I have had as a Southern Baptist pastor for 20 years and in vocational work of some sort another few. It tends toward the statistics everyone quotes, acknowledges to be true and bemoans. It is the subject of a friend’s DMIN project and the impetus behind a recent resolution at the SBC Annual meeting in Indianapolis. So driven are we for high attendance, increased baptisms, and some measurable maturity among our people we continue to press the 20% of our folks who do the lion share of the serving in our faith communities and through those communities to the wider community in which they are located. We wear them out. Take advantage of their tireless devotion so we can plan ways to keep the other 80% happy and our attendance moving upward. It is truly sharing the benefits (read, wealth) of membership on the backs of the serving minority (read, working class).
Now it may be a reach for you, but that seems to be something of a pragmatic socialism among SBC pastors to me. So when you get the hammer out to pound the table on what is, what ought to be, and lay claim to the high moral ground, think again. Instead, we should be taking the knee. Keep our silly opinions to ourselves. Gifted by the Spirit, declare Jesus is Lord. Descend from our high horse, don a towel and get to serving others.
In the end it defies understanding how the wringing of hands, the inevitable future collapse of America, and fear mongering come from a people intended to be so hope-filled because of Jesus. Surely the world deserves better from us. It is certainly true better is expected.
And if you dare try to infer from anything written here as to whom I voted for know you would surely be embarrassed. I will refuse to get into that petty game.