Leading up to this year’s SBC Annual meeting in Phoenix, I have been reading a lot of things on the blogs of other people. I have seen different perspectives, some positive and optimistic, others, not so much. I am one who believes that disagreement between Christ-followers is healthy and acceptable. However, I also believe that stirring up division through nebulous (and often unkind) insinuation is neither healthy nor acceptable. When Christians disagree, it is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate to an unbelieving world how God’s people are intended to handle such things with grace and kindness.
In the spirit of reconciliation and unity, I would like to share some comments that were made three years ago by someone outside of the Southern Baptist Convention as they observed our behavior. I found these observations to be quite instructive. I pray that others will as well.
“I think there is a difference between seeing your denomination as prison or home. Denomination as prison means you can’t leave, you can’t have friends outside of your denomination, you can’t go learn things outside of your denomination, you can’t join networks outside of your denomination…it’s prison. Denomination as home means this is our home, but we’re free to go to our friend’s house. And we’re free to see how our friend sets up their home and we may even learn some things that we want to come back and do at our house. We have friends into our home, we go to their home, but at the end of the day, this is our family and this is our home and that’s their family and that is their home, but in some ways we’re so friendly that it’s like a big extended family. And at its best denominationalism is home and not prison.”
Just for the record, I view the Southern Baptist Convention as my home. I believe that our statement of faith is something that unites us and enables us to serve together for the glory of God, even if we may disagree on some secondary or tertiary issues. I pray that we will be able to look back on this year’s SBC annual gathering and see that we were all able to move forward in unity and diversity, “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27)