It’s Time For Canadian Baptists To Have “The Talk” (About LGBTQ Issues)
Canadian Baptists are really good at avoiding hard conversations. Ever since the T.T. Shields debacle in the 1920’s we have been terrified of theological controversy. Theology divides, mission unites – so we have told ourselves for nearly 100 years. But it turns out that theology matters. We have now reached the point where we cannot do missions together because we do not believe in the same Gospel. Our theological drift has led to missiological paralysis. Our options are simple:
1. We can formally part ways and pursue mission in smaller partnerships.
2. We can sit down like adults and have a long overdue theological conversation.
I vote for number 2 but I don’t think number 1 would be the end of the world. I’m a Baptist so I’m not wired to view denominations as necessary I’m wired to view them as potentially useful for purposes of fellowship, accountability and partnership in mission. However, if that potential is to be realized there must be robust and wide ranging theological agreement; and that, transparently, is something we do not have at present within the CBOQ.
So I propose a grown up conversation.
I suppose it will be necessary to begin with the presenting issue of the LGBTQ affirmations that are becoming increasingly common within our family of churches. I don’t think this is the most fundamental issue, but it is the most immediate issue and it is the conversation most likely to reveal our considerable theological differences.
Therefore, on our way to a more foundational conversation about hermeneutics and the authority of Scripture, I propose we begin by discussing the following:
1. Is it loving to rebuke another believer?
2. Is homosexuality a sin? Is the orientation itself a sin or just the behavior that flows from it?
3. Can you “affirm” without “accepting” or “agreeing”?
4. Do saved people change?
There is obviously an appetite for this conversation – even as there is just as obviously a concern about this conversation. The article I posted this past weekend has been read well over 1200 times (as of Tuesday afternoon at 3:52) and this without a great deal of promotion on my part. I didn’t even post it to my own Facebook page; I posted it to our CLRA Facebook page – a page that is frequented by about 100 people. From there it was shared from pastor to elder to deacon to pew. It has already generated more emails and messages than I have time to respond to. Clearly there is a growing concern that in the absence of transparent conversation we now have sister churches far outpacing our collective comfort and agreement on this issue.
That isn’t loving and that isn’t wise.
In a perfect world, the leadership of the CBOQ would have been way out in front of this and would have initiated a broad based conversation involving churches from the entire spectrum of our increasingly wide missiological tent but for one reason or another that has not happened. And now every pastor and every church member is assumed complicit in something we did not even know was happening.
So let’s talk.
Over the next couple of months I will endeavor to produce articles on each of the above listed questions but I would also welcome submissions from other CBOQ pastors, elders and church members. Let’s hear each other with respect and patience and let’s see whether there is enough agreement remaining beneath this particular issue to facilitate a future of effective partnership and mission.
And may God alone be glorified.