I tried to resist the temptation to write this. I really did. I cannot believe some of the things people say. Someone wrote a letter to a state baptist publication and suggested as an alternative to changing the name of the convention, “Maybe those people need to change their hearts.” Another wrote and said, “Baptists are the original inheritors of Christianity.” The argument seems to be that Jesus was a Baptist because he was baptized by John the Baptist. And I guess since we know that Southern folks in the US are the real chosen people, Jesus must have passed the mantel to Southern Baptists.
I had no choice about some things in my life. I was born an American. I was born with the particular DNA that maps who I am. I had not choice that I was born male. I chose to follow Jesus. And I chose to affiliate with the denomination we have called Southern Baptists. But I do not have any deep conviction after studying the Bible carefully to believe that Jesus was a Baptist because he was baptized by John the Baptizer.
Here is how I know, however, that Jesus was or is a Southern Baptist. 2 Cor. 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” I also understand as I say this, that makes Him a Methodist, a Presbyterian, an Episcopalian, and for that matter a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Mormon, etc. Because all have sinned. So he was made everyone’s sin.
No, I don’t think you can get to heaven any way other than through Jesus. No I don’t think Muslims are at all correct, or Mormons, or Buddhists. They have missed the whole matter of God and argue that they haven’t. But, neither do I think that Southern Baptists have it all figured out. My only point is that Jesus identified with every man and woman, boy and girl, when He died on the cross. He was made all of our sin, so that we might be made righteousness by new birth by God’s grace.
Do we really think that the name of the denomination is so important that it is worth all the investment of words? I know some will say ‘absolutely.” Considering the suggestion of other alternatives, when we give less than 2% of our collected resources as a denomination to international missions, and there are 17 million of us and we cut our mission force from 5600 to less than 5000 last year that we can really say we are “Great Commission Churches”?
Consider this. What is most important, the label on the outside, or the content on the inside? Are we exchanging the commands of God for the traditions of mankind? It might be alarming to evaluate the role the church played in Germany in allowing the holocaust? In the same way, we might evaluate the reality that as Southern Baptists we have some notable and glaring sins in our past as well. Yes, there is also good.
But David was willing to own the reality of the past. He said, “Both we and our fathers sinned; we have done wrong and have acted wickedly.” (Psalm 106:6). Maybe it is time for all of us to admit our arrogance and humble ourselves before God. I am sure that some honestly believe that there is a trail of blood from Jesus directly to Southern Baptists. Others believe they are not a part of a denomination because they are the Church of Christ, or the Church of God.
So, I am through ramblin’. I am going in the kitchen now and strain some “gnats” out of my juice and see if I can swallow a camel for breakfast. Seriously?