Friday, November 9, 2007

Unity vs. Conformity

Heat wave today: 37° (compared to 27° yesterday). I decided to push my run a bit this morning -- I haven't done a tempo run since the half marathon about 6 weeks ago. Not bad but I could tell that (1) it had been a while since the last tempo run and (2) I'm still not back to full strength after my cold. Here are my splits (if you're interested -- well, OK, here they are whether you're interested or not :) ):

1.0 X 8:30
1.0 X 7:24
1.0 X 7:26
1.0 X 7:49
0.5 X 4:41

The thing that's been on my mind a lot the last couple of days is the idea of unity versus conformity. What triggered my thinking was the IMB trustee action to censure one of the trustees, Wade Burleson. This whole thing is so complicated and I don't want to spend the time necessary to unpack it all here. Let me summarize my thoughts:

1. While I disagree with the trustees in their decisions on private prayer language (I neither practice nor advocate a ppl) and baptism (I strongly believe that baptism by immersion is the biblical approach; I just as strongly believe that the purpose of baptism is to demonstrate union with Christ and obedience to Him and not, at least primarily, to identify with a particular doctrinal position or church/denomination -- remember, this is not a full discussion of this), I will gladly submit to those decisions.

2. Disagreement and critique are not necessarily the same thing as disunity or slander. I think there have been some things said in all of the discussion on this over the last 2 years that have been inappropriate and beyond the bounds of good manners. But, bad manners is not necessarily slander.

3. The public stating of one's disagreement with and one's criticism of decisions are not disloyalty.

The big question that I'm wrestling with is, "At what point does non-conformity and disagreement become disunity?" And I don't know. I personally think that, even though some of the discussions on IMB trustee actions have been distasteful and inappropriate, overall it's been healthy. I don't think it's harmed the cause of missions within Southern Baptist life -- our annual missions offering reached an all tiem high last year in the midst of all the blogging and discussions; appointments seem to be up. But I do think that's the fundamental issue for us -- how closely must our thoughts, beliefs, words, blogs, discussions, etc. conform to everybody else?

OK, that's all pretty random and disconnected. I know the issue is broader than just the IMB trustees and I think it broader than just the inner wranglings of one Christian organization. So, I'll just keep on running and pondering.

Run well, y'all,
Bob
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