Three steps forward, two steps back?
May 11 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Three steps forward, two steps back? | Friday, May 11, 2001

Friday, May 11, 2001

Three steps forward, two steps back?

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor These are uneasy days for N.C. Baptists, marked by a precarious balance between cooperation and division. For the moment, our days include joyous opportunities of worship and witness in churches that respond to Christ's call in different but respectful ways. These are days that provide marvelous channels for mission action through partnership projects from Ahoskie to Alaska and from Choluteca to Cape Town. These are days of challenges in planting new churches.

And for many, these are days of worry.

For the past several years, N.C. Baptists have forged a remarkable path of cooperation amid controversy. We have been intentional about appreciating each other despite our differences, and about working in common cause to reach the lost and teach the found. We have made serious efforts toward cooperative power sharing among our ever-changing constituencies, and we are stronger for it.

Our state convention has not been wholly without rhetoric and the shared stating of disparate opinions, but for these years, there has been less name-calling and bad-mouthing and truth-stretching in North Carolina than in some other states, where conflict has been unabated.

Let us pray that progress will not be lost, and that those days do not end. Let us not forget the lessons we have learned.

Clearly, the rhetoric of division has heated up in recent months. New political organizations have been formed to support differing perspectives. Rallies have been held and others will be held. Newsletters and mail outs designed to expose perceived theological shortcomings, questionable connections or inappropriate political maneuverings will almost certainly find their way to the mailboxes of Baptist clergy and lay leaders between now and November's annual BSC meeting.

Some strategists in other places have adopted the school yard approach of assuming that the only (or best or quickest) way to gain power and influence is by putting others down rather than by proving oneself worthy of leadership through humble service. Distorted or misleading information makes the rounds and has its desired effect.

May it not be so in North Carolina. As materials are written - for they will surely be written (or copied) - may the authors remember they are Christian people, writing about other Christian brothers and sisters with whom they disagree about some matters. May they treat each other fairly and truthfully, as they would like to be treated. May they focus on issues and not on targets.

As advocacy materials from either perspective are read - for not all will be assigned to the round file - may they be read with several grains of salt and an awareness that what is presented as "the facts" may not always represent the truth.

If candidates must be announced and campaigns waged, and votes cast, may we never forget that the biggest loser in our continued Baptist bickering is the cause of Christ.

May we never turn our eyes from those who may turn their hearts from Christ because of our negative witness.

May we search for avenues of cooperation rather than a "winner take all" mentality.

Finally, may we adopt the servant attitude of the One who never seemed to get angry with his disciples - except when He saw them arguing over who would be in control.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
5/11/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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