Are My Enemies?
I'm a Director of Missions in Oklahoma. Admittedly, I'm a greenhorn DOM and have no previous experience at "Directing Missions," so I'm still quite inexperienced when it comes to doing my job. There are many things which I don't know and understand about being a good and faithful DOM. I've always been a fast learner but I'm getting plenty of help from my peers and the leaders of my state and national conventions. I can't thank my lucky stars enough for all the good help I've received.
Among the things which I've learned is that there is a secret chain of command at work in the Southern Baptist Convention. I'm not sure I understood that fact when my association called me ten months ago. I understand it quite clearly now. The secret chain of command begins with the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. In essence, the SBC president is the guy who issues the orders among Southern Baptists. All things good and godly emanate from his position.
I'm encouraged to know that a marvelous new Baptist principle is at work in denominational affairs. It's called "trickle-down dogma." The trickled-down dogma principle works this way. The SBC president, and his very smart cabinet, issues denominational orders dealing with matters of doctrinal dogma and interpersonal relationships among Southern Baptists. These dogmas trickle down through the chain of command through state conventions to associations and right on to the local churches.
Trickle-down dogma assures the top leaders of the SBC that doctrinal purity and proper interpersonal relationships are maintained at all times. Of course the chain of command isn't something written down on paper. The idea of a chain of command among Baptists is foreign to the way they have always functioned. It's a secret sort of thing but well understood by those fortunate enough to hold a position in the chain of command. The last thing the chain of command wants is for anyone to believe that it exists. So they deny the reality of a chain of command but go about their business as though it is a reality.
There are tremendous benefits to the SBC to have such an efficient chain of command. One of the benefits of trickle down dogma is that one never has to worry about who his friends and enemies are. Friends are identified as being those who agree with those in the chain of command on all issues. Enemies are identified as being those who do not accept the dogmatics of what trickles down from the top leadership. I confess that I was a bit slow to learn about this aspect of trickle down dogma. I didn't know exactly who my enemies were before I became a DOM. I thought I knew who my friends were. I have recently discovered that some of those whom I was calling friends were, in fact, enemies. Thanks to friends and colleagues in the chain of command, I now know who virtually all of my enemies are.
Who are my enemies? My worst enemies are people who bear the name "Baptist." As an Oklahoma DOM, my three worst enemies are the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma, the Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, and the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Why are they my enemies? The primary reason these Baptist bodies are my enemies is that they are clearly and openly enemies of God Almighty. God hates these three bodies because they are not true and traditional Baptists. They have diluted the Baptist tradition and none of them believe in the Bible.
Oklahomans have never loved anyone from Texas. People in Texas don't do anything right. They don't know come here from sic'em about much of anything, especially when it comes to being good Baptists. They are much too independent. Texas Baptists have too much money and they are very selfish with it. They aren't good stewards and won't carry their fair share of the Cooperative Program. They don't want to help Southern Baptists fund our poor innocent little seminaries. For some strange reason, the Baptists of Texas don't feel they are fairly represented on Southern Baptist seminary boards.
Also, the Baptist General Convention of Texas rejected the new, and much improved, Baptist confession of faith. They are my enemies because they fail to express the belief that the Bible is God's revelation of Himself to man. To add insult to injury, the BGCT had the audacity to adopt the antiquated BF&M of 1963. Properly translated, that means they don't believe the Bible. Anybody who doesn't believe the Bible is an enemy of mine because he's an enemy of God. There is a real danger that influence from my Texas enemies could filter northward across the waters of the Red River into Oklahoma and do great damage to God's good Baptists in Oklahoma. Next thing I know, Oklahoma Baptists might begin thinking and acting like the enemy to the south. What a tragedy it would be if my Texas enemies should wield such evil influence in the fair state of Oklahoma.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma is my enemy because they are liberal stacked upon liberal. They believe homosexuality is okay. They want to staff churches with homosexual leadership. They put their stamp of approval on homosexual marriages. Their theology is filled with evil liberalism. They don't believe the Bible. They associate with people I wouldn't go near. They have started their own denomination and are leading many Oklahoma churches astray with their evil ultra- liberal theology. They don't believe in inerrancy of the Scripture. They believe in women preachers and women deacons. They often ordain divorced men to be deacons and pastors. They carry biblical compassion much too far. They have too much compassion on homosexual people and totally forget that God hates homosexual behavior. With enemies like the CBFO, who needs friends?
The Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists are likely my worst enemies of all. The Mainstreamers are little more than vicious rabble rousers in Oklahoma. They are rancorous debaters, caring nothing about the truths of the Bible. Actually, the Mainstreamers don't believe the Bible either. They are continually picking the Baptist Faith and Message apart. They believe those who support the BF&M 2000 are biblioloters. This makes my friends very mad. So mad, in fact, that my friends can spit nails at the drop of a hat and furnish the hat. One of my friends told me that Mainstreamers believe a bunch of "liberal junk." Thank goodness for friends who tell me these things because I might not have known that without this inside information.
Mainstreamers in Oklahoma recently invaded the territories of 26 different Oklahoma associations. This invasion took place in the form of discussion forums at neutral sites around Oklahoma. These neutral sites were in places such as city community buildings and city libraries. They "invaded" these associational areas without permission of the local DOMs. My friends tell me this is highly unethical because it's common knowledge that the local DOMs are "in charge" of their territories and any meeting of Baptists must needs be cleared through the associational office. Further, the Mainstreamers had the audacity of inviting the DOMs to participate in the discussion at the BF&M 2000 regional forums. What a shame that my enemies should pull such unethical stunts.
My friends tell me it's one thing to discuss theology with friends, but it's quite another thing to involve oneself in the discussion of the sacred Baptist Faith and Message with enemies. I learned that you can't trust an enemy, especially when he talks about things so sacred as the new Baptist confession of faith. My friends tell me that the discussion forums were little more than rancorous debates where the Mainstreamers did nothing but sow seeds of discord among Oklahoma Baptists. I can't confirm or deny that because on the night they met in my association, there was an Oklahoma Singing Churchmen concert at First Baptist Church. Since the Singing Churchmen concert was on my calendar before the Mainstreamer discussion forum was scheduled, I felt it was best to go hear my friends sing rather than listen to my enemies do rancorous debate. I would have gone, however, to see what my enemies looked like, had the concert not been in town.
Incidentally, I had never realized that a DOM had so much power. I didn't know that the enemy had to clear his meetings though my office. That one caught me off guard. I should have known not to trust an enemy. A very inspirational biblical thought came to mind, i.e. "An enemy hath done this"... [Matthew 13:28]
Since I am now able to clearly identify who my enemies are, I felt a distinct need to find out more about my them. The Mainstream Oklahoma Baptist office is located not more than 40 miles from my office. If I'm going to effectively fight my enemy, I felt it necessary to lay eyes on him. So I located the address to the enemy's office and decided to pay him an enemy-ly visit. I didn't want it to be a friendly visit because one doesn't have friendly visits with an avowed enemy.
To my utter surprise, I found not one, but two enemies at the same location. It turns out that Dr. Bruce Prescott [Coordinator for the Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists] and Dr. Rick McClatchy [Coordinator for the Cooperative Fellowship in Oklahoma] have offices next door to one another. What an opportunity I had. I could kill two enemies with one stone. Rather, I could meet two enemies at one blow. No, make that meet two enemies in the same meeting. Anyway, that's what I did.
When I arrived in Norman, Oklahoma, I drove up a deserted street to a point about six blocks from the enemy's headquarters. I stopped and took the tag off my pickup and put on my personal disguise, which was a pair of colored glasses and a hat, which I pulled down low over my ears. I had been warned by one of my friends in high places that I should never be seen in the presence of the enemy. His advice to me was something like, "We wouldn't want people to think that you are cavorting with the enemy. You need to be very careful about whom you associate with."
I parked my pickup about three blocks from the MOB and CBFO headquarters and walked as invisibly as I could. When I got to the front door of the offices, I looked in all directions to see that I didn't have a tail watching my every move. When I saw that the coast was clear, I opened the door and entered enemy territory. Only then did I remove my disguises. I expected the receptionist would be a witch dressed in a black dress. Much to my amazement, the receptionist was a very pleasant lady. I told her who I was but didn't tell her the reason I was there. I asked if I could get an audience with Dr. Prescott. She smiled and gave me an affirmative.
I was escorted down a long hall to where the enemy's office was. Needless to say, I was very nervous. I was in enemy territory and the last thing I wanted to do was be intimidated by him. I somewhat expected to see a man in a red suit with horns, a tail and a pitchfork. I expected that he would start a rancorous debate with me about the BF&M 2000. I wanted to get in and out of there as quickly as I could because I didn't want any of my friends knowing that I was cavorting with the enemy. Certainly, I couldn't afford for my friends in high places to know of this clandestine meeting between a friend and an enemy. Remember, I'm the friend and he's the enemy.
I was stunned. Dr. Prescott welcomed me as though I was a friend. He did not look like an enemy. He did not act like an enemy. His handshake was warm and welcoming. I had sort of expected his hand to feel something like leather but it did not. His demeanor was nothing but friendly. He invited me to have a seat and visit awhile. I kept thinking that he was putting on a front because enemies don't normally act the way he did.
I decided to cut to the chase. I began quizzing him about his theology. I wanted to see if he believed the Bible or not. One of my friends had said that his beliefs were nothing but "junk theology." Amazingly, I discovered that he does believe the Bible. What is more, I discovered that he believes the Bible similar to the way I do. I quizzed him about several key issues concerning Southern Baptists. I discovered that we disagree on a few issues but those issues weren't outside the bounds of Baptist theology as I understand Baptist theology. One of two things had to be true about Dr. Prescott. Either he was putting on a false front and not telling me the truth or else my friends were wrong about this enemy. I decided to hold my opinion on that until I was safely on the road home.
Strangely, we had a very pleasant meeting. We discussed many things and not once did he get rancorous with me. In fact, when I got up to leave, we had prayer together. I could hardly imagine what was taking place. Here was a friend and an enemy praying together. We prayed for Southern Baptists and Oklahoma Baptists. It was then that I discovered that God just might hear the prayers of an enemy. I know that God wouldn't ignore his prayers and accept mine. At least I don't think He would. Somehow, I decided that even if he was my enemy, he certainly wasn't God's enemy.
With one enemy down and one to go, I asked Dr. Prescott to introduce me to Dr. Rick McClatchy. Graciously, he escorted me next door to Dr. McClatchy's office and introduced me to him. Since Dr. Prescott wasn't a devil dressed in a red suit with horns and a tail, I half expected Dr. McClatchy to be the enemy who possessed these qualities. Still very nervous, I followed Dr. Prescott into Dr. McClatchy's office and again was surprised beyond belief. I was surprised to find that my second enemy was either an enemy in friend's clothing or was not an enemy at all.
I decided to cut to the chase with Dr. McClatchy. I asked him if it were true that the CBF approved of homosexuality. I asked him about homosexual marriages and whether or not the CBF approved of them. Either he was pulling my leg or he was telling me the truth because I discovered that his views on this subject were the same as mine. My friends have been feeding me lies because the CBF DOES NOT approve of homosexuality, homosexual marriages, nor homosexual church staff members. And here all along I thought I could trust my friends to tell the gospel truth about my enemies.
I asked Dr. McClatchy about women in ministry and ordination of women. I discovered that his views were about the same as mine, but different than those of some of my friends. The thing I discovered was that he wasn't the evil enemy-like person my friends had painted him to be. He seemed like a perfectly good Southern Baptist. I was amazed to discover that he actually believes the Bible from cover to cover, just the same as I do. He actually believes the Bible is the record of God's revelation to mankind. I agree with my enemy! What gives?
All kinds of thoughts were going through my mind about things concerning enemies. If these two men were indeed enemies, as my friends declare they are, they were sure putting on a good show. I couldn't find a single flaw in their theology. True, we disagreed on some minor areas of theology, but I couldn't remember if that mattered or not. I sincerely felt that I could fellowship with these men, even if they are my enemies.
It was becoming increasingly more difficult for me to consider these godly acting men as being true enemies. I could see nothing that would indicate that either were enemies of God, Southern Baptists, or Oklahoma Baptists. They certainly didn't act like enemies to me. They didn't look like enemies. They didn't even think like enemies. Something was wrong with what my friends have reported to me about these men.
As I prepared to leave the Mainstream and CBFO headquarters, I donned my disguises and had Dr. Prescott look in the street to see if any of my friends were watching. When he had declared the coast was clear, I turned my collar up and pulled my hat down low over my ears and left as invisibly as I had come. I walked very fast to my pickup three blocks away. I didn't want any of my friends to know that I had been meeting with the enemies. When I got to my pickup, I drove out of town on another route so as to be sure that none of my friends would detect that I had been in a clandestine meeting with the enemies of God, the enemies of Southern Baptists and enemies of Oklahoma Baptists. I certainly didn't want them to think I was being friendly with enemies. It's not kosher for good Southern Baptists to be friendly with enemies. That's a definite no-no.
As I drove along home, the sun was setting. I could drive into Chickasha without anyone ever knowing that I had met the enemy. To this day I've only told a couple of trustworthy friends that I had a meeting with the enemy. I know that if I tell some of my other friends about this meeting, my motives will surely be misunderstood. I thought about a passage in the Sermon on the Mount. I thought about Jesus saying, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." [Matthew 5:43-48]
I'm in a real quandary. Despite what my friends say, I'm asking myself a very pressing question. Who really are my enemies?
-- September 2001