Thursday, January 19, 2006

SBTC Removes Pastor, Part 3

If you haven’t already done so, please read the Baptist Press story here.
Read Part One of this post.
Read Part Two of this post.

To close out the evening, Biles told Haney that he had to write a letter that explained his theological postition on homosexuality, disavow the “new church”, Eklektos, disavow Wendy Bailey, and promise to never have anything to do with her again. Haney simply responded with “no”, and thus ended the meeting. Biles reported to Haney that they would be disassociating Faith Harbour, but would be giving him an opportunity to speak in his defense in their formal committee meeting back in Grapevine. (I don't think he was given an opportunity to speak to the formal committee).

FYI, here’s a quote from Wendy Bailey’s blog, the alleged ‘pastor’ of the ‘gay church’:
“Aside from the fact that Eklektos is not a “church” in any official capacity, and I am not the Senior Pastor, it’s a shame that the political climate of the SBTC is such that merely associating with a ministry outreach that does not condemn homosexuals is so threatening. Does Jesus condemn homosexuals? No, Jesus goes out of his way to associate with people the church of his day condemned, and he offered them love”
Bailey continues, “I realize that many people differ on the Biblical interpretation of Scripture surrounding issues of homosexuality. My hope is that Eklektos will minister within that controversy and seek Christ in the midst of it. I acknowledge that even the most faithful Christians can disagree over whether homosexuality is sinful — Randy and I differ on that issue — but this ministry is here to reach people who are typically ostracized and hurt by the Church, and to offer them a loving and non-judgemental community in which to seek Christ and grow in discipleship. Even if we all agreed that homosexuality was a sin, should a church require gay and lesbians to be celibate or “convert” to heterosexuality? No. Not anymore than the church should require divorced people to reconcile, wealthy people to divest their money from companies that promote unrepentant consumerism, or gluttonous people to go on diets.”

For myself, this is NOT an issue about homosexuality [and, yes, I believe it's sin]. This is an issue of reaching across denominational lines to take the gospel to every community and sub-culture in our society. From where I sit, the SBTC never acted on the matter…they only reacted. They reacted to the fact that one of their own would reach out to the gay community with the hopes of ‘going and making disciples’. The point is not homosexuality, but the manner in which the Credentials Committee moved and handled the situation.

So, thank you. Thanks to those involved for driving another wedge in the name of Christ. Maybe someday they will realize why so many of my generation have completely unplugged from denominational life. Maybe they’ll realize that by their actions, as well as other similar organizations, they are giving us passion to preach the gospel. Wherever. Whenever. By whatever means necessary. The Good News is too important to be locked up in a tower with imported Italian marble floors.


Am I way off base here? Have I missed the point? Is there some glaring truth that I'm not seeing? Again, if I'm missing the big picture, I humbly ask to be shown my error.


At 4:02 PM, Blogger scott m said...

I've been digesting this (and I read all the sites, even Randy's Xanga site) since yesterday. I certainly understand the pain when those who are supposed to be like family treat you this way. Fortunately, it sounds like he has a whole community to support him. And I think that's wonderful.

At the end of the day, what does this really mean other than the SBTC won't accept his church's money anymore? Admittedly, though I generally understand that we band together in the SBC in order to pool our wealth and better support missionaries through the NAMB and IMB (though they seem intent on violating the spirit of that cooperation), I'm not really sure I grasp the purpose of a state convention.

And if the SBTC doesn't want Faith Harbour, maybe the BGCT will?

Anyway, the whole mess certainly smells decidedly un-Christ-like. It makes me wonder what we gained by switching from the BGCT to this convention. Are they all about politics and conformity?

At 5:32 PM, Blogger eaglewood said...

Ok, let me get this straight. Bro Haney and the church he pastors are disassociated from this convention because he crossed denominational lines, worked with a female leader of a church, and started a ministry to reach out to a particular group of sinners. Are we all not sinners? ARRGH this is so frustrating. To many thoughts competing for attention, one of the biggest being somewhat selfish (What have I gotten myself into?). This delves into the revelations I have had about working together as the body, and how we reach the lost. There is too much here to post here in a comment. If you want more I will post soon at:

At 10:19 PM, Blogger eaglewood said...

Ok, Tom I am back and a little more coherent now. I get a little flustered sometimes when my linear brain gets hit like that with what is blatantly wrong, and G_d starts saying, “This is what I was telling you about”. It gets to me sometimes. I posted my thought on the subject on my blog for all to read.

At 7:31 AM, Blogger tom cottar said...

I understand your frustration. The formation of the SBTC provided quite a lot for conservative evangelicals (compare the BF&M 2000 with its previous version). The big issue was that BGCT was pulling away from the SBC, and the formation of the SBTC simply realigned Texas churches with it's mother convention. And, imho, even with all her flaws, she's a great Mother institution.

But the rub for me is that sBTC has promoted itself as a 'streamlined' organization without a top-heavy bureaucracy. Their vision of "let's major on the basics and leave the rest to our churches" looks like it has gotten blurred. *sigh* It happens more often than not.

At 7:37 AM, Blogger tom cottar said...

I read your post. And I agree with you. Perhaps the real issue with SBTC is that Randy partnered with someone that believes homosexuality is OK.

For the most part, I think Randy's church is pretty apathetic about the whole disassociation thing. Maybe they can continue to reach the 'outcasts' in Baytown. It really makes me wonder about God sees the bigger picture of things though. I think we tend to get caught up in seeing the trees and miss the forest sometimes.

At 8:53 AM, Blogger scott m said...

I read Eaglewood's post as well as an anonymous comment to a new post on Faith Harbour's blog by Randy. And I've considered the broader issue of working together in the Kingdom with someone who holds a different belief about the sinfulness of some specific act than you do.

And even considering all those aspects, as I look to the gospels and their context, I keep coming back to Jesus' table. In that culture, eating was an intimate act closely associated with holiness where washings and the state of a person (clean or unclean) mattered a great deal. Pharisees would generally not even eat with other respectable Jews who were not also Pharisees. Their fear was that since those others were not as careful in their observance of the Law, they might have done something to render themselves unclean and not know it. And by eating with them, the Pharisee would also become unclean.

But then we look at Jesus' table and who do we find? The poor, the dirty, the sinner, the outcast. He welcomed all to his table. One possible implication is that by doing so he was demonstrating that he felt that through intimate association the unclean could become clean rather than the reverse. Jesus basically flipped the cultural expectation. I think it's really hard for us in our culture to really feel the full force of his scandalous actions. Though we stuff ourselves silly, the process or act of dining is not really as intimate, important, or associated with holiness for us.

And then I return to the central question. Beyond the danger of association with someone with an unclean belief, does the nature of that belief (that homosexuality is a sin) in any way alter the manner in which we live the Kingdom among those who need it? And again, I don't see how it would. I look at Jesus and I can't find any place where he spent time berating the outcast, the unclean, and the sinner for their state or that he made change a precondition for association. Instead, he initiated simple, loving concern and care to all that he could. Some were transformed by it. Others were not. And we simply don't know about many. We're not told. The fact that we are not told indicates to me that it's more about the love Jesus extended than the manner it which it was received.

It can't be about results or getting others to change. If "love" comes attached with conditions, agendas, and hidden motives, it's not love at all. It's manipulation. Further, we say it is Jesus who transforms people. We need to live like we believe that and simply introduce people to him through us.

Now, in this case, if you do believe that homosexuality is a sin, at some point you're going to be asked and you need to be prepared to respond truthfully. Anything other than truth in this circumstance does not strike me as Christian. If you believe it isn't a sin, say that. If you believe it is, say that. If you're not sure, say that and describe why you lean one way of another.

Hopefully, it will come after you have begun to be a friend to the person or people and can thus be discussed in a friendly context. But if you are challenged in a confrontational manner, I would again suggest looking at Jesus for ways to diffuse the situation. You are likely being challenged because the person believes your motives are false and you actually condemn them. That's a hole we've dug for ourselves, so expect to face it. Jesus had a tendency to respond to confrontational questions with a question of his own. Or with a story. Or by ignoring it and saying something on a different topic. Or by staying silent and waiting for others to say or do more. I firmly believe that if we let go and stop trying to drive, the Holy Spirit will give us words in those situations. But it doesn't hurt to think about it some in advance. It's possible to be honest without judgement, condemnation, or attempted manipulation. People tend to respect honesty, especially when it is backed by love.

So I'm unable to make a case for the fear the convention representatives appear to have felt or for their response. As far as I can tell, Randy's actions look more similar to the sort of things Jesus did. I also recall something else Jesus said about the Pharisees. At one point, he told people to do the things they said, because those were good things. But don't do the things they did because those were not.

We have this tendency to demonize the Pharisees and that's wrong. Of course, there were some who were schemers and possibly power-hungry (or hungry for something besides God) just as there are in any group. But most of them honestly desired to follow God and were sincere in their efforts, even if misguided. That probably more accurately describes the convention representatives than any intent of malice.

As I close (and I'm sorry for writing a book), I think the true source of this problem is the nature of the specific act about which Randy and Wendy have differing opinions of sinfulness rather than the fact that they disagree. We differ with other Christian traditions on the sinfulness of lots of specific acts, but that doesn't stop us from working together when that is what the circumstances warrant. I'm sure we're all wrong in some of our definitions since none of us are perfect (or God). But while we should live our convictions, we should not allow issues that are not central to the gospel divide us to the extent that we are not fully the Church in a world that desperately needs our Lord.


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