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A Knot of No Return?

Yes, this photo shows the former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.  What has this to do with my church?  Well, more than you think. This past week one of SBC’s flagship churches, Prestonwood Baptist Church, announced it is pulling its funding from the Southern Baptist Cooperative program.  $1 Million dollars is being diverted into a holding account and will not be given unless Pastor Jack Graham gets his way.  Because Russell Moore disagreed with him, the agency head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, may be job hunting soon.  Dr. Moore, in fact, did not support the now newly elected U.S. President Trump while he was running, thus creating great angst among some SBCers. He has even resorted to using some derogatory terms regarding those who did vote for Trump, therefore, things have escalated.

Withholding of money by prominent people often occurs during crises in churches and denominations.  However, if we let a crisis become too polarized or escalated, we end up destroying everything we worked for and all that God is doing.  Nikita Khrushchev desperately wanted to avoid war with the U.S. and thereby destruction of his country, and ours, during the Cuban missile crisis. He wrote the following to JFK:  We and you ought not now to pull on the ends of the rope in which you have tied the knot of war, because the more the two of us pull, the tighter that knot will be tied. And a moment may come when that knot will be tied so tight that even he who tied it will not have the strength to untie it. 

It is time to rethink this position of solidarity and polarity against the rest of the SBC, Pastor Graham.  If you think of it, can you fault a Bible-believing Christian who chooses not to vote for a skirt-chasing, LGBTQ-affirming, name calling, often non-Christian acting candidate just because he or she wants a few better Supreme Court picks, enact changes in healthcare legislation, or hopes to see some Executive Orders reversed?  Just because someone thinks differently than us, doesn’t mean it’s time to tighten the knot.  To the contrary, it’s time to untangle the mess.

Honestly, if we can’t live at peace with people with whom we share so much in common, in both spiritual convictions and political goals, it speaks poorly of our relationships with Christ. It also speaks poorly of our churches and our denomination including the fundamental premises we stand for; Glorifying God, Missions, and Cooperation.   Pastor Graham’s example to each of our 46,000 churches says it’s OK to withhold money because a person or church disagrees on a non-ecclesiological or non-salvific matter.  This stand flies in the face of our SBC core values.  Ultimately it means I can withhold my tithe, funds to the Association, and funds to the Florida Baptist Convention because I simply don’t agree with a person’s perspective.  Withholding funds hurts His church and the mission to reach our community and world.  Please, Pastor Graham reconsider your position.  Talk with Dr. Moore and work it out, if only for the Name of the one you serve.  Do it before the knot is too tight to untie!