Well, today I was, once again, called a narrow-minded Independent Baptist. I have to admit that I have been called this before, but today, for some reason, it really hurt. I’m not ashamed to call myself an Independent Baptist. I don’t think we have a monopoly on Heaven, I just choose to be in this denomination because I agree with most of what they stand on. I say most, because if we’re all honest, there are things that each one of us disagrees with in our respective denominations, but if we follow the Bible, we can choose to stand with those we agree most closely with.
According to the person I talked to today, that constitutes narrow-mindedness. Apparently I have allowed my views of what the Bible teaches to be formed only from what I’ve heard pastors/teachers say. Now, I have to say, that everyone gets their opinion from somewhere…there is nothing new under the sun. BUT, we can chose to be parrots and just recite back what we’ve heard our pastor/teachers say, or we can chose to search the Bible ourselves after hearing something from them and make that conviction our own (or not as the case may be). I like to think that I am a searcher (I am a teacher after all). I can recount many times where I have disagreed with my pastor or other people (such as the person today) because of what I read in my Bible. But when it comes down to it, each of us makes our own opinion of what the Bible says. I don’t believe any one person has some special revelation from God as to why what we’ve always been taught is suddenly wrong. I don’t think all Independent Baptists just parrot what they’ve heard (as many people try to say). The Bible is very clear that the Holy Spirit teaches us and leads us into all truth. So, if I suddenly come up with a different interpretation of why the Bible says something, I would question if it’s truly the Holy Spirt, or my own desire to make the Bible say what I want it to.
And in the case of this person I honestly believe that is what happened. I was extremely disturbed at the way his thoughts rambled on. From allowing homosexuals to be church members, to not letting liars (which would include all of us), because all sins are on the same plane. So if we don’t let homosexuals be church members then we shouldn’t let liars, either. And believe me, it went downhill from there. And the attacks against the Independent Baptists, and certain pastors in particular, really hurt me. Now, when I tried to bring that to his attention he tried to say that he was not attacking anyone, and that my belief that he was, was just proof of the Independent Baptist narrow-mindedness. I have to say at this point I was in tears and I had to say good bye and hang up. The Bible talks about casting your pearls before swine and I think this was one instance where anything I said would have been just that.
It kind of brings me around to what I wrote on my status on facebook today. Our pastor has been talking off and on about sheep and shepherds and a lot of it has really hit me. For instance, sheep always follow the shepherd. He leads, not the sheep. Also, sheep will not attack the shepherd, unless they are sick. If someone is attacking a pastor/s, who the Bible refers to as our shepherd, then there is something wrong with that person. Why do we feel the need to attack God’s called? Quite simply it’s because we feel threatened by what they’re preaching. This sudden “revelation” from God that something we’ve always been taught is suddenly not right is generally a way to let themselves live the way they want. I don’t think we should be parrots of our pastors but I do think that they spend a lot more time communing with the Holy Spirit than the average person. Paul commended the Bereans because they went home after listening to him and searched the Scriptures themselves. But, you never hear of the Bereans contradicting Paul’s words. They were what they were.
We can’t fit the Bible to our standards. Maybe that makes me narrow-minded, I don’t know. But I do know that I always feel at home with the people I agree with, unfortunately, this person I was talking with today has lost that relationship with me. And I think that’s what hurts the most. I’ve lost an important part of my “family”.
And I do want to make it clear that I do not hate this person. I have stood behind him in every decision he has made in his life, from leaving the Independent Baptist denomination where he grew up and was educated, to his choice of marriage partner. I know that not everyone needs to be an Independent Baptist (I don’t think I’ve ever been that narrow-minded…lol). But I do disagree with where he is going in life with his choice of friends, etc. When you disagree with someone your relationship with them changes, it’s inevitable. He’s still a brother in the Lord (he’s still saved and going to heaven)…he’s just not a person I can spend a lot of time around. And the Lord knows who is right and who is wrong…which is why I choose not to argue.
So, I am not ashamed to be an Independent Baptist, and to stand behind the shepherds of those flocks. They’re not perfect, but no human is. I will choose to be called narrow-minded and trust that my Lord knows my heart.