young & baptist
Aaron has a post about Dr. Dilday's new position as interim pastor of FBC Richmond. The comments on the post are interesting, and got me thinking about something I think about every now and then. See, there's a whole generation of Baptists, some moderate, some conservative, all about 25-40 years of age, who were children and teenagers during the war for control of the SBC. (By the way, I do not use the term "war" flippantly.) Some of our parents were pastors, others worked for the denomination, others were missionaries, WMU presidents, or deacon chairs. I just wonder: did anyone, on either side, ever think about what it would do to our generation's faith? Watching people slander one another in Jesus' name is no small thing.
My friend Melissa and I were talking some about this in Chicago this summer. (Somebody needs to write a book about the theology of the children of the Baptist wars. She might be the person to do it, or someone else might be.) Melissa was telling me about the church she'd just moved away from, how it was filled with people who grew up in the church, and who are, as she put it, "Baptist without the baggage."
I have several friends in Austin who are Baptist without the baggage. They grew up in moderate churches that didn't go through nasty splits, and they've always believed in the autonomy of the local church, that it's okay to ordain women, that social justice is part of the Christian mission. They have a freedom that many other young, moderate Baptists lack.
What happened to Dr. Dilday was inexcusable. He wasn't the only one - and I'm thinking about Dr. Elder here. The vicious, personal attacks in the name of an extra-Biblical doctrinal purity weren't okay.
But the long-term damage done to a whole generation of young Baptists is something I don't think we fully understand yet. I'm forever being asked why there aren't more young people in moderate churches. Here's my answer: it's pretty hard to trust church - any church - when you saw church used as a weapon at a formative age. But even Baptists aren't beyond redemption.