It may puzzle you to find that I am a fan of certain Southern Baptist bloggers. Esp since I am not, (and never will be), a Southern Baptist myself. In fact, despite being baptised and discipled in two Chinese conservative fundamental non-denominational independent churches that are very similar to the SB church, and in spite of having been on the leadership team of the Baptist Campus Ministry (also SB) at my alma mater, I actually ascribe to the tenets of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.
I am, in a nutshell,
reformed: I’m right there with Luther and the 95 theses, but not a complete 5-point Calvinist (apologies to my dear friend Rev. May, my buddies Carol and Irene, and scores of other Presbyterian friends – most from Redeemer.)
conservative: in the basic tenents of doctrine, such as the deity of Christ, His substitutionary death, the infallibility of Scripture etc., but perhaps not conservative enough in Biblical interpretation – post, pre and amillenialism are really not that important to me since I have to live in the now.
evangelical: and I’m still exploring this one. Depending on who you’re talking to, being labelled evangelical can be akin to proof of your salvation, or proof of your insanity. I havent figured out which camp I’m in yet. Either way, in my definition, it simply means I’m born-again, saved by grace alone, and place a high regard on the Word and evangelism.
charismatic: yes, I do speak in tongues. (Or, in the language of my SB brothers/sisters, I “practice PPL.”) But, overly emotionalistic Pentecostal services, legalistic interpretations of head-coverings, separate spaces for men and women, emphases on health & wealth, holy laughter (still wondering about this one), fire/brimstone, and ridiculous notions of dress code wig me out to the nth degree. (You’ll never catch me wearing a dress.)
egalitarian: which is not to say that I think men and women are interchangeable, but simply that women can and should function in all levels of leadership in the church and home. Egaliltarianism is the answer to wifely manipulation. Only wives who feel they have no voice in a relationship resort to such tactics as ‘my husband may be the head, but I’m the neck, and I can make it turn wherever I want!’ (That was from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” btw.) Does promotion of egalitarianism lead to acceptance of homosexuality? Just ask the Pentecostal denoms that have been ordaining women for over 100 yrs. Or maybe we should ask Ted Haggard. I’ll let you know.
I think I’m pretty post-modern, if I take the online quizzes seriously. My relationship with Jesus is extremely personal, even if it’s not private. (After all, I’ve been in public ministry for my whole Christian walk – coming up on 15 yrs now.) I’m logical. (Doesnt that A in college Logic count for anything??) I tend to hold up the mystical experiences against the backdrop of Scripture. But, I’m not too hardcore when it comes to the chicken and the egg – i.e. understanding something logically vs experiencing it fully and which should come first. There are some who would say that you need to understand salvation and the grace of God before you can be completely saved. I disagree. I think sometimes we experience things first and sort out the theology later. But, I’m speaking from my own experiences when I say that.
There are certain things that I’m passionate about. I’m really passionate about the plight of women and youth in the world, and in the church in particular. I’m passionate about the church discovering the power of the Holy Spirit and esp realizing that gifts like tongues and prophecy are not abnormal, freakish or otherwise scary. [In the words of Don Moen at an Integrity worship conference back in ’03, ‘we need to stamp out the weirdness in the church!’] They were a normative experience in Scripture and I believe they should be normative today. So, if you ever wanna really see me get heated, just engage me in a debate about any of the above two issues.(Don’t you just love this cute rant smiley?) I’ve heard it all at this point. I tend to get annoyed more than upset, which is probably telling of my jaded-ness with the church. But, I love the Church, (and I’m apparently married to it, a la certain visions Jo has had of me), so I have to deal. I’ve had more than a few brothers, and a few sisters (yeesh – so much more annoying than the guys! ), try to ‘reform me’ and get me ‘back in line’ b/c of my egalitarian stance. Apparently, my greatest joy should come when I truly discover that I’ve been created to be subjugated unilaterally to all men, be married to one of them so that I can have a Head, stop listening to the Holy Spirit and trade Him in for a ‘dear hubby,’ and oh yea – dont forget – have a ‘quiver-full’ of children that should be home-schooled lest they become brainwashed by the evil world. [No offense to the women who’ve done these very things. That was your choice. “I disapprove of what you [choose], but I will defend to the death your right to [choose] it,” and all that.]
Ironically, I wouldnt mind home-schooling… But, that’s probably b/c I’m a NYC public school teacher and I see how much the schools at large suck. (Mine doesnt, tho! It’s da bomb.) But, I digress.
So, why do I read the blogs of those in a denom I wouldnt join if it were the last one on earth? (No offense to my SB friends – and I have many!) Probably b/c I find that we’re on the same page more often than not. They may not be hard-core egals like me, but neither are they scary and extreme in their interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12. So, we can meet in the middle. And I love ppl who can constructively criticize their own denoms, and yet still love, pray and be faithful to them. So, in case you have some time, check out these bloggers:
Nathan Finn, Michael Spenser, Wade Burleson, & Marty Duren
And I am subscribed to J. Lee Grady’s column Fire in My Bones, which comes directly to my email. He’s a charismatic SB, so it’s always fascinating to hear his take on the current SB debates about women and tongues.