Monday, November 10, 2008


The Foster Debacle and my Inability to Get a Grip

My life has become six degrees of separation. And who is degree number 1? Richard Foster. Every time I hear a religious quote of some sort or even a song… I think, “is that said person in any way linked to Richard Foster?” Sad but true and it is also very distracting from whatever it is I should be thinking about. I mean, yesterday in church my pastor was throwing around all kinds of quotes about love and service and talking about what Christ would do…. And all I could think was…. We’re starting to get mystical here in the Baptist church… Heresy!

I have never claimed to be a good person. I’m mean, stubborn, willful and incredibly sarcastic. I’m usually all good with alternate opinions until some random line gets crossed and then everything must be put in terms of black and white. There is no in-between. These random lines are hardly ever crossed in my life but when they are… It’s hard from me to move on. It’s crazy. And not good. This is what has happened to me with Richard Foster. Recently someone described him as a new age mystic that didn’t believe in salvation (basic research for the statement was performed on Wikipedia) So now in my sarcastically inclined brain, anyone connected to Richard Foster in any sort of way at all… I’m labeling that person as a new age heretic. This would include folks like, Eugene Peterson, Max Lucado and Beth Moore. Clearly, those people are not heretics. But in my new black and white world they are because I can easily connect them to Foster. I realize that even if I can connect all those people, that doesn’t mean they agree on everything and I realize that this logic is no good. But emotionally, I’ve yet to be able to get a grip. When that accusation was made… I went ballistic. Every writer and songwriter who has had any influence on me sort of fell like dominoes with Foster. Where should lines be drawn? Who is good and who is bad? Can we not learn from people with different beliefs? If you don’t ever hear other opinions or beliefs, how do you know what you believe? The argument was also made that some people aren’t educated enough to know what is scripturally sound. REALLY! Scripturally sound according to whom? There is something like 57 different kinds of Baptists alone that base their faith and doctrine on the Bible. Who is right? Should I only read someone who is my particular flavor of Baptist? Ridiculous!

This all led to somewhat of a denominational crisis for me. I began to wonder that maybe I had been influenced by other non Baptists and perhaps I’m not actually a Baptist. Except, I didn’t join my church lightly. I’ve read the Baptist Faith and Message. Sure, I prefer the 1963 version to the current one… but, it’s not like I don’t know what it says. If I’m not crazy about the current version, should that affect my denominational choice? I wonder. Maybe I should consider that. So many questions have been raised by this whole Foster debacle. The new version of the BF&Mbasically limits women’s leadership roles in the church. I’m a chick… hence my problem. But, whenever I think about it… I just think of the Alabama women missionaries to China back at the beginning of the 20th century. They used to get letters from the men back home reprimanding them for preaching the Gospel. The women would write back that they understood their place and just as soon as the men showed up, they’d step down. Isn’t that great! That makes me laugh. How smart were they?!? (If time permitted I could totally document that if you should so desire. Or Check out Flynt’s book titled Alabama Baptists. )

Anyway, my pastor’s sermon yesterday did make me feel like perhaps I was still a Baptist. Apparently, according to him, you can believe in the love of God and be a Baptist all at the same time. Crazy... That notion! It's not just Christian mystics who believe in that. Woohoo!

I sort of feel like my right to think was capped by the whole Foster debacle too. But, if it wasn’t capped… check out this quote from the Rabbit Room Posted recently.

“No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that He gave His only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell there are millions who know that. Theological truth is useless unless it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action.”

A nonBaptist by the name of A. W. Tozer said that. Doesn’t that make you think? My initial reaction was, “What!” Did Tozer just toss John 3:16 out the window! Nah… but what a thought provoking quote. Unfortunately, I don’t think Tozer would make the list of acceptable writers for me to discuss… so, I’ll just leave it at that… and keep reading the Rabbit Room.

Disclaimer - Many people involved with the Foster Debacle are intelligent people who really aren't closed minded at all.... They just also aren't as insane as I am and can move on with life.

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I'm still mostly convinced that denominations were a creation of the Devil to divide Christians even more than we already are.

I love that you've named it the Foster Debacle.
I think you must be right.
Hmm, this would make both David and Rich Mullins new age heretics!

I have NEVER agreed with EVERYTHING any church I have belonged to does preach. I don't think that makes me a bad person. I know what I am joining, and I don't believe it is my place as a consenting member of that church to foment rebellion or a church split.....if it got that bad that I couldn't be apart of that "body" anymore, I would go graft myself onto another one (which, btw, I have never had to do).

Having said that....I also don't think I'm supposed to check my brain at the door. And I have always felt able to question. My mom always taught me that "God is not afraid of your questions" and I take great comfort in that.

I think it (for me) comes down to....Where does God want ME to be? Do I feel I am supposed to be a member of this particular church, even though I flat out disagree with many things that they believe? If the answer is yes, then I join.

And that is how I base that. Then once I've joined, I just take it from there.

I'm one of those people that thinks that if you can't study contributions to your faith from members of other denoms/beliefs, well, then, you perhaps are a CULT. Let us not be afraid to examine.

It's all about the BIG TENT. As long as you're under it, you're good to go.

But then again, perhaps I am also a heretic.


But that's just me.
Spunky's got some pretty good advise. I have to agree.

Jen -the electic
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