Divisions In The SBC (and probably elsewhere, too)
This seems particularly true when it's a whole bunch, particularly an organized one, that disagrees with our position. And even moreso when they back it up with scripture.
Personally, Peg and I have been members of Methodist churches, Presbyterian churches, and now a Southern Baptist Church. And we've spent a reasonable time hanging around the AG, too. Enough to know that they all base their beliefs on scripture.
I frequently go a few rounds with my pastor, Mike Shaw, and with CB Scott, too. They both know I'm what I'd describe as a Calvinistic Pentecostal Southern Baptist, but neither I nor they care that my faith is somewhat **ahem** different from theirs.
Certainly it's not in the Christian, nor really in the Baptist, distinctives.
Never once have those guys and I come to any sort of division. That, I attribute to our all being secure in what we believe, and not threatened by opinions on these matters which differ with the others'. In fact, I told my pastor that he ought to come to the Conference on Baptist Unity that I went to some years ago. I told him that we were the best example I knew of, of two people who differed on some of these points, and had such a fine relationship (and friendship). I told him I thought it said something good about him as a pastor that he'd let a Calvinist teach in Sunday School. I'll never forget what he said:
In the context of making disciples, the SBC, and the SBC churches with which I'm familiar, are not at the top of my little list. That'd be the RPCES, followed closely by the PCA (which is now merged with the RPCES). I really think the folks I went to church with there were more thoroughly schooled in what they believed, than most SBC'ers that I've met. And the Westminster Confession is a whole lot bigger a study than is the Baptist Faith & Message.
In fact, for some years now, I've asked people in our church if they knew why baptism by immersion was a prerequisite to joining a Southern Baptist Church. I even asked the entire Deacon Body, on one occasion.
No one .. not members in general, nor Sunday School teachers, nor Deacons .. has ever had the right answer.
I'd think folks would be a least casually familiar with our denomination's consensus statement of faith, and what it says about that.
I really think that's the best explanation for the divides that crop up. At least I hope it is, as the next logical reason is even worse. That folks who stand on the edge of a divide think everybody should agree with their views, and are upset that they don't. It's almost as if the Bible doesn't say we see through a glass, dimly, while we're wrapped in this human suit of flesh.
I particularly think my reason #1 is at the heart of the Calvinist vs Whatevertheotherguysarecalled debate. It has to be the stupidest controversy I've seen in the SBC. I mean, if Calvinism .. the points generally alluded to by TULIP .. isn't Biblical, why would we be afraid of it? If they don't have scriptural backup for their beliefs, I doubt it'd succeed among people who claim Jesus as Lord (which Paul said could only be known by those with the Holy Spirit to reveal it to them). If we measure the folks who are termed "Calvinists" against the Baptists who aren't Calvinists, on the average, there's no doubt which would fall higher on the Know-What-You-Believe scale.
Perhaps that's at the heart of the controversy over Calvinism, that's currently got folks calling other guys names in the SBC. Baptists having done a lousy job making disciples, and perhaps leadership fears that simply explaining the tenets of Calvinism will move Baptists away from where they are now.
Two people well schooled in their beliefs can discuss these things to their own profit. Folks not well schooled .. discipled, if you will, can't. One side or the other is going to get upset.
I think I know which side that normally is, in the SBC...