Thursday, October 19, 2006

Why I am in ABCUSA?

This is a key question for me these days when I am feeling less and less welcome in the larger denomination.

I did not grow up in a Baptist tradition and didn't choose it until I was a student at Eastern Baptist Seminary. There I learned about a denomination that was committed to racial, economic, cultural, and theological diversity. I learned that we hear the voice of God most clearly when we struggle together with those who see and hear things differently. I learned that the voice of God is often, usually, first heard by a small minority who bring it to the larger group. There the message is often rejected, but I was told of a tradition that kept those subversive messages close to their hearts just in case there was something of the Spirit of God present in them. I became an American Baptist not because I agreed with all of the other American Baptists but because I didn't. I joined a denomination that had Unitarians and fundamentalists both (and I needed to hear from both). I learned of a mission movement that was committed to contextualization of their ministries and was very effective and efficient because work was contextual. I saw the extravagant beauty and grace of God in that disparate mix of people.

Through the years, my theology has changed radically. Still, I felt there was a place for me in that mix because no matter where I was on the theological spectrum, there was someone both to my right and my left with whom I could fellowship, struggle, serve, and grow.

I am progressive on most social issues (and believe that way because I believe that is what faithfulness to the scriptures require). Because of those views, I am feeling more and more alienated from the denomination I joined back in the 70's. There are groups that are probably closer to me theologically such as the Alliance of Baptists, but I don't want to lose the diversity of the ABC. I like having conservative partners in mission. I learn from them and I think they learn from me.

So... I stay in the ABC.


Dennis E. McFadden said...

"I learn for them and I think they learn from me" - RD

How could we not? You are bright, engaging, committed, and a VERY fair dialog partner. Agree or disagree, you are my hero for what it means to show a Christ-like spirit when talking to those who are also struggling to see through the glass darkly. Your grace in maintaining your integrity in the midst of a MUCH more conservative region without giving in to cynicism or giving up has been an inspiration. May your tribe increase!

Dennis E. McFadden said...

Sorry for the typo in my quote of you. Obviously it should have read: "I learn from them and I think they learn from me."

roy said...

thank you Dennis. I deeply, deeply appreciate your friendship and your partnership in this dialogue

Anonymous said...

Just another "atta-boy" from an ABC-USA pastor in Wisconsin: You are exactly the type of person we need in the denomination, and I wish we had more like you. God will surely bless you for your open mind and open heart!