Agree with me, and then we can talk

August 05, 2007

John Pierce has an excellent column in the August issue of Baptists Today. It is entitled "Agree with me, and then we can talk" and deals with a recent comment by Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Here are a couple of highlights:

Regarding the issue of cooperation, Richards told the San Antonio Express-News: "The SBTC stands ready to dialogue with any group willing to affirm our faith statement."

For those who don't fully grasp the fundamentalism mindset - much less understand its arrogant and destructive impact on Baptist life, the Christian church and the larger world - this is exhibit one.

... One, we alone have found the truth - fully and doubt-free.

Two, we have spelled out all that truth in a nice little creed that only we can adjust when a dissenter or two comes along and needs to be tossed out.

Three, if you have any questions about or disagreement with our fine document or how we choose to defend it, then clearly you are not a person who embraces biblical truth. (We will gladly use other names to discredit you if you persist.)

Four, therefore we will only work with - heck, we will only talk with - those who fully embrace our version of truth. Got it?

Fundamentalism has no room for diverse opinions. In fact, there are only two possible ways of interpreting biblical revelation. Mine - which is always right - or any other - which is always wrong.

... By its very nature of suspicion and fear, fundamentalism will always lead to no other destination than isolation. To stay alive, it must be continually fueled by a sense of self-righteousness that pushes aside any person and any thought that might suggest another valid viewpoint.

... Limiting dialogue to only those in full agreement does nothing more than reinforce one's prejudices, solidify blind spots and create absolutely no room for growth. But, then, if you already know it all, what's the big deal?
Amen! Pierce accurately captured the problem with this perspective. When we only talk with and, more importantly, listen to those with whom we already agree we are only setting ourselves up for disaster.