A lighthearted revision of Matthew 18:20 that is often recited in Baptist circles says, "Where two or three are gathered, there are four or more opinions." Two people are always going to find something they disagree about. Even married couples are not always in perfect agreement. Although conflict should not be accepted as a standard pattern of behavior, it is going to happen. But the escalation of conflict should raise red flags.
When tensions increase between Christians who disagree, it’s time to ask some basic questions like, "What is a biblical response?" Here's another question, "Is there honest communication between the parties who disagree?"
Baptists always have disagreements on the table. The things we disagree about are so numerous if they were to be recorded in print, even the world itself could not contain the books that could be written. But that doesn’t mean we should get cozy with conflict.
This week’s news highlights another point of tensions in Baptist life. Former SBC president Jack Graham is pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in the greater Dallas, Texas area. As you see in the story, the church has chosen to temporarily withhold gifts to Southern Baptist cooperative missions because of concerns about some actions by the International Mission Board and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Some other churches have taken the same path, including First Baptist Church in Morristown, Tenn.
My hope is (1) that the parties in disagreement are talking with each other and (2) they are asking, "What is a biblical response?" Reliable sources tell me that Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, is trying to bring the parties together. Join me in prayer that this will happen and that God will be glorified.
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