I GOT YER "UNITY" RIGHT HERE, TOO, PAL
The handsome dude in the picture is none other than Mike Shaw, my pastor, of First Baptist Church in Pelham, Alabama. There's a lot to know about him ... a DMin from New Orleans Seminary ... ex-Chairman of the Alabama State Board of Missions ... former Chairman of the Board of the Alabama Baptist (the newspaper) ... currently Second VP of the State Convention (note .. isn't that the state equivalent of being Wiley Drake?). Perhaps the most startling thing: he's been pastor of FBC Pelham for twenty & plenty of years.
What connects him to the Arlington Roundtable this week is facts about two people. First, him ... he is Baptist Born (his Momma was carrying him when she was baptized), Baptist bred and when he's gone he'll be Baptist dead. He is not a Calvinist and does not have a PPL. The second people is me. I'm a Calvinist and I have a PPL. And I teach a Sunday School Class of young married couples. In our church!
Now one might think that Brother Mike might have some fears about that. I asked him why he didn't. His comment was "Because I know you believe the Bible!" He went on to state and reiterate some of our conversations, including the fact that, when the Bible teaches free will, that's what I teach. And when it teaches predestination, that's what I teach. Funny thing: replace "teach" with "preach", and that's precisely what he does.
Brother Mike and I have the kind of unity that some folks are striving for in the SBC and related entities. And that was the topic of all that went on in Arlington on Tuesday. In fact, at dinner the evening before, one of Rev. McKissic's pastor friends remarked, spontaneously, that here we were, a dozen or so in a room, discussing our desire for unity. And, he said, despite the fact that there were both black and white folks in the room, race was not even a topic of discussion!
Unity? You bet!
I commented elsewhere today, and I'll reiterate it here:
"I decide I want to be free to wear a pink hat. So I do. I also think others should decide for themselves what color they should wear.
Someone else says no, we should NOT wear pink hats. Or perhaps he says no, we should wear any color BUT pink hats.
I say ok, you're entitled to your opinion. He says we all are. He then throws me out and says I cannot be part of his group.
Who is being divisive? Me?
I think not. Yet month after month folks are saying we need unity and cooperation in diversity, and are then being accused of being divisive. How stupid is THAT"
And a further, later, thought on that ... our group has bylaws that say we're not to forbid wearing a pink hat, and that any group within our group has a right to designate their own colors as they see fit. And ... for a few hundred years, pink was ok, but now someone has decided it's not.
I love Mike Shaw like a brother. I am richer for the fact that he's not some of the things I am. When we have our occasional chats about the controversial issues, he keeps me on my toes. I hope I do the same for him. I've long felt that constant interaction with folks who think I'm swell is enough to dull a knife, and I love having to defend my beliefs. I have the feeling I'd be much the poorer were I, say, in an Assembly of God Church (which I hasten to add I dearly love to visit).
Unity. Diversity. Sadly, both may be endangered species in the SBC. But not if the group that met in Arlington bears fruit. At least that's my prayer, lest God write a word we don't want to see, over the door.