RESERVING JUDGEMENT: BE PATIENT AND SHOW MERCY

THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

The Southern Baptist Convention #SBC18 is just around the corner here in my hometown of Dallas. Due to some recent conflict many are speculating the attendance will be higher than normal and media outlets will be swarming to watch what all unfolds… <enter dramatic music for effect>

For whatever reason, I have received many inquiries as to my take on the matters at hand. For the most part, I have ignored these requests and tried to just stay away from all the drama.

To be honest, I am in a tough spot because on one side I have a friend being accused of things I’m not sure are fully understood by most of us and on the other hand I have friends deeply concerned about these accusations being covered up. I also have friends serving on the boards and committees being trusted to look into these matters more fully.

Most importantly of all, I DON’T KNOW ALL THE FACTS! So, who am I to make a sound and reasoned judgment on these matters? If you still want my opinion here it is…

RESERVING JUDGEMENT: BE PATIENT AND SHOW MERCY

by Leighton Flowers

What concerns me most about the recent developments in the SBC over the last few weeks and months is not so much the uncovering of mistakes made by the leadership; after all, that really is not that uncommon throughout church history. If you do not believe me just read back through the history of Catholic and Protestant leadership, or even more evident is the history of Israel’s leaders. People are sinners and they will fail. That’s nothing new.

My greatest concern today is the growing propensity of Christian’s (sometimes influential leaders) to publicly make quick, brash, often uninformed and damaging judgments about the character, intentions, and choices of other Christians. If it is not a snap judgment being haphazardly brought against the accused then it is an equally hurtful judgment being passed against the accusers… or, even more disheartening, it is an uninformed accusation against the boards or committees that have been entrusted to oversee the matters after weighing out all the evidence. Evidence to which, by the way, most others are not even fully aware. Oh dear brothers and sisters, what are we allowing ourselves to become?

No matter how effective it may be to gain public approval, let’s not follow immature, secular leadership’s impulsive tendency to haphazardly tweet out judgments and condemnations of anyone and everyone who disagrees with them! This seems to be a methodology the church has adopted from current trends in the social media craze to create a frenzy of viral video clips and pithy one-liners.

This is not healthy nor is it biblical!

Dear Christian, do not be so naive as to think that the very methods used to bring down your brother won’t be used to bring you down one day. As Jesus warned us,

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

God calls us to be patient with each other, sober-minded, slow to make judgments and quick to show mercy (Jms 1:19; 1Pt. 5:8; Eph. 4:2; Ps. 103:8). Mercy is withholding judgment with the hope of bringing one to repentance, but these new trends in social media do not allow time for sound, well informed, level heads to prevail. And it certainly does not promote an environment for proper correction, reflection, and repentance.

Instead, a social media frenzy is whipped up like a swarm of sharks that smell blood in the water. Even those Christians who typically practice sound judgment in their local environment become so worked up by the frenzy that they either join in the social media chaos or they disengage altogether for fear of becoming its next target. So, instead of calling the sharks out for their “shark-like” behavior these otherwise decent “leaders” implicitly condone their behavior by piling on or remaining silent out of fear.

The failures of Christian leaders is not new. It has been around since the beginning of time. However, the online courtroom of ill-informed social media pundits is relatively new and it is not good! I plead with you my friends, let’s not give the church over to that method of governance and correction.

“Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matt. 5:7)

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:2)

 

 

6 thoughts on “RESERVING JUDGEMENT: BE PATIENT AND SHOW MERCY

  1. Dr. Flowers,

    Thank you for showing the Bible-way!

    The SBC Conservative Resurgence led by Dr. Paige Patterson was focused on leading our convention of messengers and members to reaffirm and adhere to the doctrine of inerrancy of Scripture; to believe the Bible is truth, without any mixture of error and is totally true and trustworthy.

    A large national convention slowly turned from the brink of liberalism. In doing so, it’s out-front leader made many enemies with enduring memories.

    In the coming months as more evidence comes forth the people who fill our pews and pay our bills will determine if Dr. Patterson is guilty of all charges or the recipient of a SBC styled Me-Too movement.

    Whether he is guilty or partly responsible or totally innocent of all accusations, the fact remains that some current leaders and entity heads in the SBC have demonstrated to a watching world how to discard biblical principles in a rush for quick social justice. They were quick to associate their twitter shout-outs signaling others to join the movement. The pressure from the Washington Post, New York Times, and others became more important that a meaningful, measured, prayerful biblical process.

    They have led us to accept a secular social justice grievance styled method of dealing with our fellow Brothers and Sisters. They have led us to abandon the very Word of God in principle and practice.

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    1. Clearly, the world has influenced the SBC far more than the inverse as evidenced by your incisive comments, Ron. Current leaders have not demonstrated the Golden Rule. It is embarrassing, shameful, and hypocritical.

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  2. Precisely, Leighton. Why the Church is following the worldly patterns and practices falls woefully short of biblical standards. We are pious piranhas.

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  3. Much as I understand the concerns stated in the article, I am not sure that the new power of social media is all bad. Certainly, we must be careful to not rush to judgment, nor to declare anyone guilty without adequate time to examine and contest the evidence.

    On the other hand, if the SBC makes a habit of controlling information, hiding behind formalities and circling the wagons around those in positions of power, similar to secular organizations, they can only expect to be targeted by those discovering they finally have a voice to speak to power.

    It is to be expected that false charges will arise along with genuine ones, but many who have long been silenced and marginalized have discovered that social media levels the playing field, and gives them a chance to have their say. You might argue that context needs to be considered, but the fact is, the charges being made are being backed up with evidence, rather than mere hearsay.

    Many onlookers believe that there is a power play taking place in the SBC, and that the Calvinists are at least fanning the current flames, if not behind the whole Patterson imbroglio. In any case, the SBC and other patriarchal/complementarian institutions are finally being forced to address the charge that their belief system enshrines the concept of women being second class citizens, if not engendering their abuse.

    The day has come when powerful organizations can no longer suppress their beliefs or their modus operandi, but will have to own up to their actions.

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  4. Thank you for choosing the right way to look at this situation! Sometimes it’s easy to jump to conclusions and judge a fellow believer much more harshly than a non believer! I trust God and His judgment and timing though not always easy to wait for as a human being we want justice expedited. Praise God He is not only concerned about justice, but He loves mercy and grace as well. Micah 6:8 NASB He has told you, O man, what is good;
    And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

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