Monday, October 19, 2009

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Recently, I have made a change, both geographically and vocationally. I have moved from Scotland Neck, NC to New Bern, NC. Vocationally, I moved from being the pastor of a Baptist church to being the pastor of Disciples of Christ congregation. For the last eight years, I have had one foot in Baptist life and one foot in Disciples' life. And this apparent paradoxical situation has caused me to question - what is it that I believe about the Christian faith; and who is God calling me to be within the context of pastoral ministry. My move to Broad Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was in a sense an answer to that question. While I have Baptist blood running through me, I have come to the conclusion that the Baptist church (specifically the Southern Baptist Convention of which I was a part) is no longer really Baptist, at least historically speaking. The SBC has become what early Baptists feared the most - a hierarchical, creedal group that seeks to prevent individuals from making their own decisions about belief and issues of faith. While the SBC is not the only expression of what it means to be Baptist in America, the overall thrust of even moderate Baptist groups like the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is still one that presents an exclusive view of who is welcome in the church, and what it means to be in relationship with God.

Hopefully, I am home. I will always cherish my Baptist heritage, and all that being Baptist once stood for - freedom, autonomy, liberty - but I also now recognize that those virtues are hard to find in Baptist life. The Christian Church has one requirement for membership and fellowship; one must acknowledge Jesus as Lord. Beyond that, we can disagree with one another and still stay together. I resonate with this freedom and inclusive spirit. I am not sure what I will do with my other blog, Baptist Ponderings; for now I think I'll just enjoy my changes.

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