Doing is Believing

December 14, 2006

It is one thing to say you believe something, but it is a completely different thing to actually live like you believe it. Such a contrast seems to explain recent comments by David Clippard, Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director. Recently, the MBC kicked out 19 churches. Why? For giving some of their missions money to other conventions. Yes, churches were kicked out because of their missions giving!

Such an action is wrong on a number of levels. One problem with this action is that it violates the historic Baptist principle of local church autonomy. The MBC is now telling churches who they can or cannot give to if they want to remain in the Convention and is punishing churches that do not follow the edict. Yet, Clippard claimed that the Convention still believes in church autonomy. He stated:

We believe in the autonomy of the local church, and any local church can make its own decisions about the direction they want to take -- and we’re not going to fight that. ... That’s their right and that’s the way we operate. So, if that’s the decision they make, we’re simply acknowledging that. And the invitation, by the way, is out to each of those churches that they’re always welcome to come back.
What?! He claims they still believe in local church autonomy at the same time they are forcing churches to follow the MBC’s demand or be removed from fellowship. And he claims they will not “fight” the church’s right to make their “own decisions about the direction they want to take” at the same time that the MBC is kicking (a form of fighting) churches out for the direction they have decided to take concerning missions giving.

Talk is cheap. It is one thing to claim to believe in local church autonomy. However, if one’s actions do not match, then it is just meaningless rhetoric. Consider the wisdom found in chapter 2 of the book of James:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if people claim to have faith but have no deeds? Can such faith save them? ... In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
The incongruity between Clippard’s words and his actions is hurting the work of sharing the love of Jesus. It is not just about churches no longer being allowed to send messengers. It is already hurting ministry work. For proof of that, check out a recent post by Gary Snowden about how the MBC has removed a Hispanic pastor from their church because the church was kicked out by the MBC. Power has trumped principle. Politics has trumped ministry.

0 comments