"Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine."
1 Timothy 4:13
This post is a pretty difficult one, which is why it's been a week since my last post. This doesn't so much constitute my personal studies, this actually came from my experience this past weekend. I taught the 11th and 12th grade guys at Wake Forest Baptist Church for their DiscipleNow weekend. For those who don't know, the relationship between Southeastern Seminary and Wake Forest Baptist Church is not exactly a good one. WFBC is not part of the Southern Baptist Convention, and some of their theology and doctrine are more liberal than Southeasterns. Since Paige Patterson came to Southeastern and began making changes leading to Southeastern becoming very conservative, relations have become strained. Patterson was denied membership at WFBC, because they did not want the same thing to happen to their church. Ever since then, stories and rumors have been circulating about anything and everything.
And I was not immune to this. When my friend from Gardner-Webb called and asked if I could help her out, I accepted immediately, but with quiet reservations. Even as I walked over from my dorm to the church (which is right on campus by the way) I was silently praying and fearing that they would shun me when they found out I was from the seminary. I was scared. And it was completely ridiculous. Not only did I meet some of the sweetest, nicest people I have ever met there, I was accepted immediately and treated like one of their own. The guys I taught were great, and while we didn't agree on everything, we had a great time and I hope I get to know them better. I gave my contact info to the youth minister there, and he invited me to come and help anytime with anything, and even invited me to have lunch with him anytime.
You see, we, especially at seminary here, are very doctrine-centered. Please don't get me wrong, I am a Southern Baptist, and Apologist-in-training, and doctrine is very important. But we tend to elevate it to the point where if you don't have the same doctrine we do, you're not as saved as we are. And that's wrong. GRACE is what saves us, NOT doctrine. Whether someone is Methodist, Presbyterian, Anabaptist, Southern Baptist, Free Will Baptist, Pentecostal, non-denominational or any other of the thirty one flavors, what matters is that you have accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life, and no matter what you do, God's grace is sufficient for you. It doesn't matter if you use grape juice or wine during your Lord's Supper. It doesn't matter whether you believe in free will or predestination. Frankly, and this is a tough one for me, it doesn't even matter if you've been sprinkled or if you've been dunked. Baptism doesn't save you. Christ does, and He'll do it even if you aren't baptized.
Again, I'm not promoting throwing away your doctrine, or not pursuing the truth, or "tolerance". What I am promoting is an understanding that not everyone is going to believe what you believe. And that's ok. Christians should fellowship with Christians, and Christian encompasses more than Southern Baptists. I, personally, am looking quite forward to working with my brothers and sisters in Wake Forest Baptist Church in the future.