I wanted to follow up on the issue over anti-Calvinism in the Arbuckle Baptist Association. After digging a bit, I discovered that Terry Mott was not, as far as I can tell, the author of this motion. Being the DOM in the association, Terry was just doing his job. I realize that says nothing positive or negative concerning his position on the matter. I appears that Pastor Joe Elam of FBC, Pauls Valley brought the motion to the floor of the associations annual meeting last month. I know nothing about this brother. I found this out at 2 Worlds Collide, which went on to say that there were no questions from the floor, and the motion passed. I can’t help think that there is more to this than appears at first glance. Wes Kenney has also shed recent light on the subject. Some of my initial frustrations at where this “story” was headed have subsided, for now. If you will look at the comments on Founder’s Blog, you will see that Tom Ascol is doing an adequate job of keeping rampant assumptions at bay. This was one of the blogs that gave me that here-we-go-again feeling and first caused me to write on this issue. I should have had more faith in Pastor Ascol, remembering his adept way of keeping the Calvinistas under control in the comments section during the Caner-debate posts some time back.
I may have left the impression in my previous post on this subject that I am against conferences seeking unity. I am not. I believe that they can bring about great good, if they are seen as a place to begin, a tool to get the ball rolling. I was delighted to see that Nathan Finn was going to be there to deliver an address. Posessing a calm, sweet Christian spirit, among the new SBC historians, there is no brighter rising star than he. I have never met him nor heard him speak, but if he speaks like he writes, Finn is singularly worth the price of admission.
What often disturbs me about these conferences, however, is that they turn out to be one more reflection of a program-driven mentality that is so unalterably woven into the fabric of SBC life. First you start with a Ridgecrest, Glorieta, or Falls Creek setting. After one, three, or five days of creating a glowing mountain-top experience, everybody gathers around in a circle, holding hands to sing “Cum Ba Ya.” You look around and everybody is just like you, with a few four-pointers sprinkled in to lend the feeling of diversity. There are no one-pointers to be found, because they would not come if you put a gun to their head. Honestly, can you blame them. Everybody goes home and everything remains pretty much the same.
My question to all of you – those of you who go, and those who stay at home – is this: What are you going to do? Shrug your shoulders like a Frenchman and say something like “Oh, that’s really sad.”? Or maybe you might cross your arms resolutely and say something like “We just need to realize that they’re different and move on.”? What are you going to do? I am reminded of the simple chorus to an old bluegrass song:
I didn’t hear nobody pray dear brother.
I didn’t hear nobody pray.
I heard the crash on the highway,
But I didn’t hear nobody pray.
Where are the tears? How many of you grieve and pray over these situations? Sometimes I think, like James and John, we do not know what spirit we are of. Do any of us sincerely pray for peace when these situations arise? So many are ready and willing to die for a cause, to climb into the ring at the next ding of the bell, but who’s praying earnestly for peace?
This picture is from the movie Gods and Generals. Blue and Gray meet in mid stream to exchange a tin cup of hot coffee for a pipe full of tobacco; two men stepping out into the stream to regain their humanity, to reclaim their imago Dei. How many of you are willing to risk ambush by laying down your weapons and going across town to that brother who doesn’t see it your way? How many of you are willing to say “Brother, I have been a pompous fool. Will you forgive me? Can we get together and talk about what we both agree on in order to advance the kingdom of God in this town?”
So, which do you think takes more courage; climbing into the ring, or stepping out into the stream? Meanwhile, millions are dying and going to hell. Do you think it matters very much to them whether you are a Calvinist or an Arminian? We bemoan what harm to the gospel the tele-evangelists are causing, but do we ever stop and consider what kind of harm we cause, and that without the aid of radio or tv?
“When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Chistianity
“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
2 Timothy 2:23-26 (ESV)