“Only by pride cometh contention.” Proverbs 13:10. That being said, there must be more pride in the kingdom than water in the ocean, because contention appears on every side. The Baptist landscape appears as it were, as Paul said when he reached Macedonia, “without were fightings and within were fears.”
There seems to be conflict at every Baptist intersection that we see, and the road conditions seem to be getting worse. Now I will be the first to say that all of it is a result of pride, but not necessarily ours. When you back up far enough, and look deep enough, you’ll find that the roaring lion that is walking about seeking whom he may devour has enough pride to sink 1/3 of the angelic hosts. All of the contention among Baptists, may be caused by the pride of individuals, or it may come from the pride of the losing lion still on the hunt; but the fact is that the conflict is getting thick enough now to start printing volume two.
Pride is indeed the root cause of all contention. However pride is not at the root cause of all contenders. When those who contend for that which is wrong, meet up with those who contend for that which is right, ultimately the root causes of their passions are completely different. When the devil takes a swing at me ultimately it is a matter of selfish pride. When I duck it is a matter of self-preservation. I will never say that I have never “taken the first swing”, or that I have never lifted my voice and tone in pride, because without question I have. My point here is simply this, that when the devil stirs contention born out of his pride, our side of the conflict is not necessarily a matter of pride, but a matter of truth, refusing to let the liar have his way.
From my own point of view, looking across the Baptist landscape, I see the smoke rising from several battlefronts of spiritual warfare. First and foremost, the battlefront of Apostasy seems to have intensified greatly recently. Rob Bell’s recent book “Love Wins” is so incendiary against the Word of God that it has even captured the attention of the secular media. The idea that man is saved by the Love of God, rather than the Blood of Jesus constitutes apostasy. Furthermore, the teaching that there is no hell, is an open assault on the character and person of Jesus Christ. It is because of God’s Love that Jesus shed His Blood. God so loved the world that He sent His son, not that He overlooked sin. The pride of Lucifer burns with the fury against the facts of the faith.
I also see the smoke rising from animosities within the Baptist ranks. There is no need to rehearse all of the antipastor blogs that have risen in the last few years. Primarily the blogs that speak out against particular pastors are aimed at pastors of the “mega” churches. The tension between pulpit and pew in some areas of the Baptist world seem to be at a fever pitch. False teachings concerning the role of pastor/preacher, and the priesthood of the believer have served as fuel for the fire that keeps these two sides ignited and enraged against each other. Without question the devil continues to take shots at the dove of peace between undershepherd and flock, and in many places he has hit dead center.
Probably the most frustrating front of these fightings, is that which comes from accusing brethren. It is one thing to disagree with someone on a theological point. It is quite another to assign motives, and slander toward the people behind the theology. For example the continuing accusations from the anti-tithe brethren toward those who believe it to be a Biblical principle. They continue to insist that men who believe in the principle of the tithe, are ill motivated. At least that has been the tone of some of the comments that I have received. Which is ironic to me. The ones who believe that we ought to give a tenth of our income to the Lord, are greedy, but those who want to give less are not? That issue is very simple to diagnose. Does a persons budget determine their offering, or does a person’s offering determine their budget? Generally those who do not believe in the tithe, believe that offering comes after everything else in life is paid for. Generally, those who believe in the tithe, are as passionate, if not more so, about the priority of the offering, as the amount of the offering. In other words, generally speaking, those who believe in the principle of the tithe fix their budget around their offering, rather than the other way around.
Now that being said, It is one thing to believe that I am incorrect. It is another thing to say that I am incorrect on purpose. That moves beyond the point of debate, and into the arena of slander. It is along this front that brethren shoot at other brethren, after the discussion is finished. It is not that they don’t discuss or debate the issue. The problem is that once the issue is finished being debated then the accusations begin. The fight for the final word, the love of having the last stand, are all fuel for this particular conflict. (I can smell some of the fumes of that fuel right now.)
We know that the Bible says, “This know that in the last days perilous times shall come, men shall be . . . proud.” Too many men believe that in order to have their head held up, that others need theirs pointed down. I understand the frustration of dealing with someone who is wrong, but thinks they’re right. (My wife does too.) The real danger is when that frustration becomes a missile aimed in the wrong direction.
These fightings that are without, are symptoms of a sin sick world, as well as sin tainted saints. Humility before God and man will go far towards, not only toning down the rhetoric, but also towards clearing up false teachings. “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” The thing that gets lost in the debate is the desire for the other guy to get it right also! Why would I debate someone over “tithing.” – Not because I want to be “right”, but because I want him to be! Why would I debate someone over the security of the believer? Not because I demand to be right, but I desire for him to be! – When we lose that desire to see other brethren right, then our debate becomes all wrong. Then that debate is not about convincing it is about conquering. Learning how to distinguish the two would be a serious change worth making.