Monday Morning Insights

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    There nothing like a good Baptist fight…

    There nothing like a good Baptist fight…

    Its a big fiasco in the Greater Gaston (NC) Baptist Association.  A judge has ordered the association to prove a list of their members to one local pastor. The pastor has formed a group that is protesting the situation that led to the resignation of the association's executive director.

    What happened?  Well... it appears the executive committee of the association called for the director's resignation.  But according to Rev. Dick Roberts... they can't do that.  According to Roberts, the bylaws, all the church delegates, and not just the executive committee, would need to do that.

    The group that is opposing this is called "Pastors for Integrity, Baptist Polity and Reconciliation".  (I guess that's opposed to Pastors against Integrity, Baptist Polity and Reconciliation".

    The association's response?  We'd love to give them a list of official delegates, but no list actually exists.

    No comment from the guy that resigned.

    I haven't seen a good baptist brawl for a while... but then again, I've been out of that world for quite a few years.

    Not that these types of fights are confined to baptist circles.  We've had a few in our own denomination.

    You can read more on this story here.

    QUESTION for you on this Monday:  

    What's the biggest church or denominational controversy you've ever been a part of?

    How ugly did it get?

    What was the final resolution?

    In the end, did the right side win?  (I assume your side was the right side).  :)


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    1. david on Mon, January 10, 2011

      in my experience the “winning side” is the side that calls their opponents “Pharisees” first.

    2. David Andrus on Mon, January 10, 2011

      Sad.  What a waste of time.

    3. Peter Hamm on Mon, January 10, 2011

      I was leaving the Episcopal Church around the time V. Gene Robinson was elected bishop. That situation continues to be ugly in many ways, and has basically resulted in a complete fracturing of the Anglican Communion in North America. It’s sad, but I’d have to say both sides have kind of “won”, by splitting.

      Best solution? No. Necessary? Probably.

    4. Mark Simpson on Mon, January 10, 2011

      I have been in the ministry for almost 36 years and have never been in a denomination. I never will. I tried, a couple of times, not wanting to be independent, but the denominational officials influencing my entrance seemed so superior in their attitude about their part of the body of Christ, so concerned about building an organization up instead of the Body, wanting a church building on their books more than souls, that I pulled away every time.  It saddens me just to think of the experience again.

    5. Kelep on Mon, January 10, 2011

      I was the Associate Pastor of a small, struggling church.  I learned that the pastor was embezzeling funds and extorting money and “gifts” from members.

      I called him on it in private and he asked me for time to make it right with the people he had wronged.  Instead, he used his time to mount a smear campaign against me and my family.

      Ultimately, I was fired, and we left that church.  It folded completely a few years later in the midst of bitter infighting and unspeakable nastiness.

      Somehow, he’s blaming that on me, too.

    6. Pastor Rick on Mon, January 10, 2011

      As an SBC pastor and associational moderator, I’m familiar with that kind of structure. Thing is, the pastor who filed the suit was not active in the association or he’d already have a list of members of the EC - usually the pastors of the member churches and a layman from each. Going to court for some sort of ‘official’ list makes no sense, as that is available in the annual published by most associations. Something else is going on here, maybe more than one thing. A wise judge should have thrown out any such case because he/she would lack standing in determining or adjudicating the interior structure or actions of a religious body. And besides, according to 1 Cor. 6:4-8, whoever filed the lawsuit is wrong, and if they were in Christ, they would know better. Everything about this stinks to me.

    7. Jerry Bryant on Mon, January 10, 2011

      I think it is sad that “Todd” made light of the problems in the Gaston Baptist Assoc. It is always hurtful to the cause of Christ when the “dirty laundry” of Believers is aired in the public arena. As Christians we need to lift us each other (regardless of church affiliation) when the enemy is openly attacking any group of Believers.

    8. Dr. James Willingham on Mon, January 10, 2011

      I was a member of a church in the Gaston Assn. from 2001-2004 and even taught seminary extension.  The DOM was a nice fellow, but he did some things I did not think were too wise, things that provoked opposition.  That opposition has been growing and developing with the passage of time.  The fact that the assn. was not careful to provide for a clear and meaningful way to part company with employees who prove unsatisfactory is a part of the problem.  The other part of the problem is that this goes back to the split going on in the SBC.  While the Conservative side won, it was a messy win, typical of most Baptist fights.  Nothing has been attempted to mediate the controversy in order to move beyond the difficulty.  It could be worked out, as Baptist efforts in the past have demonstrated, that they could work out the situation to the benefit of all and achieve a higher level of Christian consensus.  The South Africans tried it with the Reconciliation Commission meetings, a remarkable effort in history, if only it had had the means to implement meaningful reconciliation.  The Union of Separate and Regular Baptists points the way for a mediation process that would enable a transformation to take place.  Too bad, neither side sees the possibilities inherent in their conflict, namely, the winning of the whole earth for one generation and then for 999 more, at least. Seems the Lord will allow such troubles to occur until we finally get the message about mediation and advancing to a higher level of relationships. A Third Great Awakening is in the offing.  Perhaps like the the period between the First and Second which produced the Union of Separates and Regulars, the Third might lead to a similar event on unity.

    9. Randy Heddings on Mon, January 10, 2011

      These situations are always sad and not healthy for the church or association.  Good guy, bad guy, no one wins in the fighting of church conflict.  What really saddens me is that the mentality that has flooded the local churches for years has now come home to roost in the very place that should have been working to subdue this misconduct for years.  Remember that the law of sowing and reaping holds true in everything and that it rains on the just and unjust.  Not pointing fingers at anybody in leadership in this incidental case this conduct has been known and not dealt with for years and it is working hard to destroy a once strong and passionate cooperation of churches.  It is times like this that the SBC wants us to remember they are not a denomination and there is no hierarchy or government other than the local assembly however when the roles are reversed, they will stand with a church in the name of money to rid the church of a Pastor.  Just saying!  Again I say, nobody wins!

    10. Adrian on Mon, January 10, 2011

      I too think its sad that you publish this with your tone.  It’s almost like you’re happy it’s going on.

    11. Todd Rhoades on Mon, January 10, 2011

      Didn’t know it had a tone, Adrian.  Not happy it is happening. At all.  It’s sad.


    12. Matt @ The Church of No People on Tue, January 11, 2011

      We had a huge fight with our denomination.  We discovered that a doctor in our church was doing some horrific things (he is in prison now, incidentally.)  The denomination advised us on how to quietly dismiss him from the congregation.  When we did, a church member with denominational influence did not like how we handled it, and the denomination turned against us.  The church split, before we finally closed it down and started a new, non-denominational church.

    13. employment lawyer ontario on Tue, May 24, 2011

      When it comes to sowing and reaping we often fail to enjoy the blessings that God has for us because we don’t fully understand this law. Some people refer to it under different names, but some also recognize that this is the law of laws. Understanding how this works can help us create the kind of life we desire.employment lawyer ontario

    14. Dr. James Willingham on Tue, May 24, 2011

      In my remarks on this issue previously, I fail to say that I did not approve of what was done.  I do not think it was a wise way or one promoting the honor of Christ, for those opposed to the DOM in the Great Gaston Assn. to do what they did.  However, Baptists, being what and who they are, will nurse a grudge and seek to express it.  Eventually, when there is no relief, they boil over in actions that are truly unwise.  Having been the recipient of discouraging actions from both the Moderates and the Conservatives, I have to consider that like a man remarked in Joplin something to this effect, “You have to believe there is a greater plan involved that takes such calamities into account.” As one who as suffered from disasters all of my life, a broken home in childhood, changes in living conditions, difficult churches to serve as pastor, tragic losses, unemployment, and other events of a most grievous nature.  In my frst year in seminary, I suffered the loss of four members of my family in a tragedy.  A few years later in a doctoral colloquium, I made some remarks about God having control of such situations without being the cause of them, and the other members of the class became quite critical in their rejection of such a view.  About that time the professor, Dr. Pruden, who had been President Truman’s pastor, spoke up and said, “I don’t know but what I agree with Mr. Willingham. I had a son who was a student at Campbell College.  He lived in off-campus housing.  One night the space heater leaked, and it caused his death. If I did not believe God was in control to make that situation turn out for good, I would be in despair.”  That muted the criticism coming my way.  Wrestling with terrible losses such as the asphyxiation of a son or the loss of four members of family through murder and suicide confronts the sufferers with the unanswerable questions:  Why?  And how could this happen? Questions which can hardly be answered in any ultimate sense in this world.  However, they are questions which can bear the idea of a higher purpose than we can imagine, a purpose more blessed and beneficient to all concerned than most can imagine.  The proof that God has provided an answer which bears the reality load of the highest design is found in the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ.  If God could do so much (provide for the deliverance of sinners and the working out of all good for such) in the death of His son, it follows logically and inevitably that He has the greatest purposes involved in the most seemingly miserable sufferings.  I had many such indications of that reality in my times of loss.  One bears mentioning here and now, and that was the sense of the Presence all during that period of loss, a Presence so real, so close, like someone standing at my shoulder so that I would turn to see who was there.  That Presence was a sustaining reality, an influence of joy in the midst of the most grievous ordeal, an influence that strengthened and held up and kept one going. How wise it would be, if the folks of Gaston Assn would seek that presence along with mediation to resolve things in an amicable manner.  Behold how the Africans tried to resolve some of the pent up anger from Apartheid by their Reconciliation Commissions.  Watching some of the televised proceedings.  I hear one woman say, I can’t do.  I can’t forgive (her loved one had been murdered in the most senseless way).”  What was glorious to me was that She should have even tried, that South Africa should have tried.  Who knows what the future might hold for all the disparate and divided elements of earth in the reconciling agape of Christ love?

    15. Indian yellow pages on Sat, June 18, 2011

      The Phelps family and their church is a tiny little conglomerate of about, what, 70-100 people? They get far more coverage than they should because of their hateful beliefs. Really, if you ignore them, they will go away. They’re like a pussy pimple on h religious landscape.Indian yellow pages

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