I've been preaching through the book of Romans on Sunday nights and have come to chapter 14. In light of my bible reading and Roger Moran's recent crusade, my thoughts have turned to Christian cooperation. Paul was working really hard in Romans 14 to keep Christians from acting like Baptists. My question now is, "can Baptists act like Christians?"
When I read Romans 14 I immediately think of Al Mohler's theological triage theory. Perry McCall reminded me not long ago that Stan Norman, our old professor at NOBTS, presented the same type of system in one of his passionate lectures. I am now a student at Truett Seminary/Baylor University. I've had the pleasure of being around Roger Olson. His teaching includes the categories of dogma, doctrine, and belief. Yep - the triage. This beautiful consistency has me thinking about the possibility of genuine cooperation within the Baptist community. What would it take to foster genuine missional cooperation between a diverse group of Baptist Christians? My proposal is a DMZ along the border of doctrine and belief - a kind of forth category. Let me explain.
Al Mohler is a very conservative Baptist that takes a reformed position on the doctrines of grace. Stan Norman is very similar. They both are complimentarians when it comes to gender and are supporters of the resurgence/takeover. Roger Olson is a progressive evangelical Baptist. He was raised Pentecostal and even taught at Oral Roberts Univeristy for a brief season. He is an active member of Calvary Baptist Church, Waco, TX. This church is pastored by Julie Pennington-Russel. Dr. Olson is an Arminian. Dr. Olson is a Yankee (but a nice one). These guys are different. These guys are the same.
I don't know Al Mohler. I have only been in the same room with him once. 1000 other people were in that room. I was a student of both Stan Norman and Roger Olson. I do know them. I can attest to their differences. I don't think they would attend the same church. I can also attest to their deep sameness. Each man gives every indication that he has a passionate love for Christ and His church. They share a common commitment to Baptist identity and the Baptist missionary ethos. They are both brilliant and love students. They are the same when it really counts. Can they share a denomination? I think they can.
The SBC is in a raging mess right now because an angry junta wants to treat every theological issue as a fight for dogma - first order concerns. If we create a DMZ between doctrine and belief we can expand our cooperation without grinding theological integrity to dust. Stan Norman and Roger Olson can dwell in the same Baptist denomination if the missional ethos allows some doctines to define local congregations but not denominational cooperation. There are a host of issues that divide us that could and should be placed in this borderland. Norman and Olson agree on the categories. We can agree that many issues fall between them. Only disagreements on, doctrines approaching dogma, should keep us for partnering for the mission of God.
What do you think?
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. Romans 14:10 (ESV)