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Open Letter to Baptist Pastors (and their flocks)

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It was peculiar blessing to have graduated Meredith College many years ago. It was a fluke. I went to the local state university but I was wearing a campaign button. The head of the department said to me, “Don’t expect to come here if that is your political persuasion.”

That tells you the sorry state of public education does it not. So I drove four miles west to Meredith. And it was the best place for me. I didn’t know the gospel and I learned it there.

Today, many decades later, I returned to the mountains to write having spent the intervening years getting my MA in Christian missions, working on a PhD, and serving in the Philippines, China and home missions as well. Then I joined a Baptist church for the first time.

I learned there the sad state of Baptist believers. So many were unhappy, or bored, or stale. I found Baptist friends struggling with sin and unexpected hopelessness, loss of family, divorce, loss of friends, health and employment. In every case I discovered one symptom – they all believed as a Baptist they knew everything they needed to know.

Well, not even Jesus’ disciples had that luxury.

Christians do not know everything

John 16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

Yes, God said His word was perfect; he never said the Bible was the last word. On the contrary He said He would send new information as it was needed. The whole book of Revelation is about just that – the continuing revelation of His will and His words.

He scolded the Jews for not accepting new truth. Jeremiah 25:4And the Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear.”

He even kept his mouth shut for 400 years so that when he finally spoke again they would listen. They didn’t. The Apostle Paul got so weary with the Jews of his day he said he would go to the gentiles. Jesus originally said he was sent first to the house of Israel. But they didn’t listen.

Why listen if you already know everything

Baptists are not the only people living on assumptions. My good friend Jack is obese. He gets constant comments over his weight. He does not bother to tell them that an operation turned his colon kappyjaw; he is in pain much of the time. I found so many people living in the world of untested, unproven assumptions that I entitled my first book Immaculate Assumptions. And if they are about God that is what makes them immaculate; you can’t touch them.

Assumptions remove our hope

As a counselor for seven years I heard the gamut of assumptons.

  • I assumed my husband would be faithful.
  • I just assumed I would stay married all my life.
  • I assumed that when I voted for him he would do as he said. But he has supported everything I do not believe in.
  • I assumed I’d never have trouble finding a job, but now I am disabled.
  • I assumed my boss was Christian. He said so. But I learn he is into child porn and going to jail and taking my job with him.

There are people whose lives are so shattered they make the opposite kind of assumptions.

  • I assumed I could never get an education because I grew up in the projects.
  • I assumed because I had a drug problem I’d never be free.
  • I assumed that because my dad was in jail I wouldn’t amount to anything. He told me so.

There are so many problems in Baptist teaching I won’t even start. But first to save people from their assumptions we must show them teachableness. They can’t learn if they don’t want to or they fear what will happen to them if they change their mind. The Bible says ‘we have the mind of Christ.’ But have you seen that recently?

He has something new every morning.

If we did have the mind of Christ we wouldn’t be here, now, thinking the same things. God is moving on. The new churches may have some error, but they have something else – worshipers. They know God is open ended. He has some basic teachings…original sin, salvation through the blood, obedience to the Old Testament moral law and continuing education. Discipleship is not the same ‘ole, same ‘ole.

Baptists, and others will find freedom and happiness when they give up the love of the law and start loving their lawyer.

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