Independence, Texas sits on the driving route to Shelby’s beloved Camp Blessing. Every year when we drop off and pick her up from a week of adventure, we pass through. And every year I have wanted to stop at Independence Baptist Church, which houses the Texas Baptist Museum. This time my doting husband agreed to stop and let me look.
I love history and enjoyed looking at the artifacts of famous Texans and the origins of Baylor University – my alma mater. And even though the museum was installed by the Baptist General Convention of Texas, I couldn’t help but think of my roots in the Southern Baptist Convention. If you don’t know the past and politics between the BGCT and the SBC, consider yourself fortunate.
Chalk it up to naivete, but I learned only a couple of years ago that the Southern Baptist Convention formed in response to the northern Baptists desire to abolish slavery. Not a selling point for the ol’ SBC. And I felt the weight of that in this little museum.
Once back in the car, I heard an interviewee on a podcast state that we shouldn’t be afraid of deconstruction. Attention caught! If you aren’t familiar with this term, in church circles, it refers to someone re-thinking what he/she has been taught about the Bible and what it means to follow Jesus.
I’ll be honest. I AM afraid of the term deconstruction. Because I most often hear it in relation to higher profile believers who decide that they no longer believe in God and His Word.
To clarify, I think questions are healthy. I believe God welcomes them. And His Word contains the answers. Not trendy books or philosophy or stories of people who walked away from their faith. When we acknowledge Christ as Lord, we possess only an elementary understanding. Following Him is a process of learning and growing that lasts a lifetime. I am certainly not the same Christian I was 5 years ago – or even last month. To stay the same equals stagnation.
To know Him is to become more like Him – not to deny Him. So as I moved closer to the heart of God and spent more time studying the Bible, I definitely questioned some of the teachings of my upbringing. For example, Southern Baptists largely follow a teetotaling ideology with regard to alcohol. I even remember hearing that the wine mentioned in the Bible was not like modern wine – that it wasn’t as potent. False! After studying the Bible for myself, I learned that scripture only condemns drunkenness, not drinking in and of itself.
I also feel very differently now about the “True Love Waits” ring- wearing purity culture youth groups immersed themselves in during my formative years. The culture itself set up a works-based mind-set for sexual purity that held rules and regulations above the state of young hearts. So I no longer subscribe to this teaching. What I still hold dear? Jesus’ teachings on holy sexuality and the physical and emotional protection provided there.
In the same way, I can see the Southern Baptist churches of my childhood as imperfect foundations for the faith I now cherish. Something that I have continued to refine and build upon. But turning my back on the inerrant Word of God is never an option.
So what should we do with the questions we have? Turn to the divinely inspired scriptures. And when we struggle to make sense of them? Look up the passages in question in their original Hebrew (for Old Testament) and Greek (for the New). The opinions of man – or even their interpretations, at times – can be misleading. And everything we hear or read should always be held up against God’s Word to discern truth.
No need for deconstruction. I’ll not burn it all to the ground. I’ll use what I’ve been taught as building blocks for the better and deeper understanding I continue to hone. I forever consider myself a spiritual being under construction.
And now for this week’s featured post from the link up!
Maryleigh Bucher of bluecottonmemory.com was brave enough to admit her confusion about the Holy Spirit. I think there are many Christians in the same boat. Read a little of how she came to know and understand Him better in Lead Me Through the Water. Bonus: she includes a beautiful original poem. Thanks Maryleigh!
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