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.