A Lukewarm Social Club That Makes God Sick

A Lukewarm Social Club That Makes God Sick March 16, 2012
It has been a long time since I’ve gotten an email like this one.   A few thoughts:
1.  I wasn’t going to teach Baptist Polity this fall.  Too much to do.  I think I might reconsider.  Geez.  Some days I feel surrounded by misperceptions about what it means to be Baptist.  By Baptists.
2.  There are way more important things about Calvary and about me, actually, than my gender.  At least I hope.
3.  Curiously, I harp all the time about how the church can’t be a social club; we have to be people about the hard, hard work of living the Gospel in a world that so desperately needs it.  So, strangely, it seems that Duane and I are kind of on the same page.
4.  Are we still talking about this?  Really?  It makes me tired.
So, I’m not sure whether I will respond to Duane or not.  But I do know I am looking for some new material after years of saying the same thing over and over.  Any thoughts, anybody?
I am the pastor of _______________. We are currently putting together a website for the church. So I was looking online to get some ideas. When I came across your website I was surprised to see that a woman is the pastor. Even more surprised because your website says baptist. Just curious, when the Bible says that a bishop MUST BE THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE, how do you get around that? Do y’all use the Bible there? As much as the bible clearly indicates that men should be in leadership positions, how do you end up with a woman pastor? You are NOT baptist in doctrine, only in name. Why is that? Why not remove baptist? Many ecumenical churches do that today. In our world today, the average so called “church” is a watered down, laodacian, lukewarm social club that makes God sick! You obviously do not believe the Bible. Duane.
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Megan

    If Duane is indeed the pastor of something, that makes me sad. Because of his opinions/beliefs, but also because he’s being snotty, sarcastic and rude about them. I don’t remember Jesus ever being snotty, sarcastic, or rude.

  • susansevier201

    Perhaps Rachel, Morgan and I should answer it for you. And perhaps you should forward it to BWIM…I’m guessing they have a canned answer for Duane.

  • 1. I believe “Bible” is always capitalized as a sign of respect.

    2. Shouldn’t “Baptist” be capitalized?

    3. Being a woman doesn’t make you polygamous. Or does it? Am I missing out on lost opportunities? Must investigate!

    4. What the ^%$%^$ does “Laodacian” mean? It sounds like a cool word, and I would like to use it in conversation.

    5. Dude DOESN’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO SPELL HIS OWN NAME! Everyone knows that it’s “Dwayne” and not “Duane.” That’s just phonics people. Duh.

  • Anita bryant

    You will never teach someone who doesn’t want to learn. He really only wants to start a fight over a topic that you and your church have addressed and dealt with years ago. I don’t think a response is necesary because he’s only trying to push your buttons. You have nothing to prove to him. You know who you are as a Christian, as a pastor, as a Baptist. He doesn’t want a dialogue, he wants a fight. You don’t need that stress in your life. Let it go. But doing a series on Baptist polity is always a good idea. We all need reminders of who we are and why.

  • carol carpenter

    Ignore. Not worth a response or another second of your thoughts.

  • Reblogged this on Persona and commented:
    It seems that lack of manners, and brains, characterises most fundamentalists, not only in Romania.
    With such advocates for Christianity, who needs atheists, be them old or new.

  • I agree with Anita and will add that Duane’s comment is not worthy of a response. I, too, am a Baptist woman in ministry – in the South, no less. Duane could pastor the church down the street for all I know. I am almost embarrassed by the amount of energy I have spent through the years fretting over comments like Duane’s. What I trust now, however, is that one day the Duanes of this world will have the privilege of watching (perhaps with giant lumps in their throats) as God embraces me (and you, and a host of others) and says, “Well done.” May it be so…

  • I don’t think you need new material… I’m afraid you (& we all) just need to keep saying the same thing, over and over… and knowing that you (& we) are not alone.

  • Grover Carico

    You could just thank him for his interest in your website, to indicate that you are not ignoring his rant, but don’t consider responding to it productive.

    Or you could invite him to contact you again should his life circumstances prompt him to grow beyond his prescriptive understanding into a more mature principled, or relational stage of faith.

  • Chuck

    You might simply say that you’ve been a pastor for quite a few years now and have yet to find anything about the position that requires body parts that are exclusive only to males.

  • Mike O.

    Whatever you write back, just make sure to sign it Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, DMin, MA, Bmin, BA, and all-around BAMF.

    Someone who declares themselves the “State Bishop” of a Baptist church in Toledo could probably use a lesson in Baptist polity, indeed. Thank you, Google.

  • Dr. Amy,

    I remember your visit a few years ago to the Wingate University campus in Wingate, NC. I was – and still am – going through a transition in doctrinal positions on many things religious. I hate to admit it, but 10 years ago I would probably have congratulated Duane (and yes, that can be a correct spelling of the name) on his efforts to “proclaim the correctness of the Bible and to rebuke those who act contrary of it.” Thankfully, through many events, one being your visit to Wingate, I now hold a different stance. He may be a baptist, but there are over 1500 kinds of baptist, so which one? Doesn’t really matter, but it seems he is of the “Landmark” type, who believe their point of view on Scripture and any other policy is the only correct interpretation. I will also venture that he is probably a “King James Only” advocate, meaning that the King James version is the only correct English translation of the Bible, and therefore, “husband of one wife” is the ONLY possible translation, because if there were a different one, the King James translators would have used it instead. I empathize with Duane, because I kind of know where he is spiritually. Sadly, he is wrong and will affirm others to follow being wrong. He may not be where I think he is, because the Southern Baptist Convention is not that “Landmark” as a whole, but they do not support the position of women in ministry either.

    So what was it about your visit that helped change my stance and perspective? Simple. You ministered to me. You spoke truth. You preached in chapel and challenged me. You talked in round table discussion and answered some tough questions. You were genuine and authentic. You had no axe to grind, you had no soapbox to spout off about. You did not ridicule or belittle anyone when presented with a hard question or a challenging point of view. You exhibited the love of Christ in a very real and tangible and sincere way. I had always discounted every possible encounter with a “woman preacher,” even using the phrase as a sarcastic demeaning phrase. Until that day. Ever since, I have not been able to discount anyone in ministry, regardless of gender. In fact, one of my favorite religion professors while at Wingate was a Presbyterian woman, and now, I have as one of my most treasured mentoring professors in divinity school a woman co-pastor who is baptist and in the south as well.

    Duane was only responding in the only way he has known and been taught. Sadly, there are more of him. We have not come as far as we think we have in this, and there is much more yet to be done. So in response to his email and your feelings or gut reactions:

    1) Teach Baptist Polity. More to the point, teach the Polity of Christ. Not sure they are the same, and if not, Christ will trump a baptist regardless of which of the 1500+ kinds one is.

    2) Yes, there is MUCH more to Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. than the pastor’s gender. Just look at the website – Duane – and see what else there is about it that makes it a true church and not just another congregation of club members.

    3) You and Duane are NOT on the same page. Most likely – like I did – he holds to the belief that ANY congregation that does not hold to one particular translation or doctrine is a lukewarm social club. Again, look at Calvary’s website. Read its bulletins. Look at its calendar. Browse through its activities. This is not stuff that a lukewarm social club would be involved in. This is stuff that lives out the Gospel of Christ in real ways. This is stuff that fulfills Matthew 25. No, you are in two entirely different time zones on this issue, for you have two different meanings of a “lukewarm church.”

    4) Yes, we are still talking about this, and we probably will for a long time to come. It is tiring. it is frustrating. It is aggravating. It is unnecessary.

    Thank you Dr. Amy for following your call in the ministry of God. There may be 100’s of Duane’s that will send you emails of this sort. But, be encouraged. You have been a catalyst through which God has used to reach and touch 1,000’s, one of them being me. And for that, I will be eternally grateful. Thank you so much for being a true minister of the Gospel. “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Very well done!

    Keith L.

  • Dr. Amy,

    It was a few years ago now that you came to visit the campus of Wingate University in Wingate, N.C. I was in the midst of – and still am – my transition in the Christian faith and ministry. I can empathize with Duane (that is a correct spelling option) because 10 years ago I would have agreed with him and with his sending out an email to correct heretical teaching. I know a possible background he might be coming from. It’s called “Landmarkism” which basically believes their viewpoint is the only correct one. They can be baptist as well as other denominations. It sounds like he could be either an Independent Fundamental baptist or a Southern baptist, but since there are over 1500 kinds of baptists, who knows. Most who take this stance about women are also “King James Only,” meaning the King James version is the only correct English translation of the Bible, which is why the “husband of one wife” matters so strongly to them. If there had been any other possibility in translation, the King James translators would have used that translation instead. He probably would be against a divorced man being a pastor as well, because this view does not consider divorce to be a dissolution of a marriage. In other words, a person divorced twice and remarried twice has 3 living wives, not just one. Thankfully, my understanding and position has changed tremendously, in part due to you.

    So what part did you play or do? Simple. You ministered to me. During your visit at Wingate, you had a round table discussion and also preached in chapel. You challenged me. You engaged me. You also did not have an axe to grind or a soapbox issue to promote. I had never given a “woman preacher” a true audience. I had even used the term sarcastically and derogatorily. Until that day. You were genuine and authentic. You proclaimed the truth of the Gospel. You did not get defensive when asked probing or challenging questions. You were the embodiment of the Gospel of Christ in that day and in those moments. As a result, I do not challenge anyone’s ability to be used in the ministry of God, regardless of gender, and regardless of pastor or otherwise. In fact, my greatest mentoring professor in divinity school is a woman co-pastor in a baptist church in the south.

    So here is my response to your reactions and insights of Duane’s email:

    1) Teach Baptist Polity. More to the point, teach the Polity of Christ. I have a feeling the two are very different in some areas.

    2) Yes, there are much more important things about Calvary Baptist Church and you than just your gender. Just look at the website – Duane – and you will see it. Look through the bulletins. Look at the calendar pages. Look at your blog. What you will see is an entire congregation being the body of Christ in real and practical ways. You will see Matthew 25 being fulfilled in tangible ways to an entire community of people.

    3) You and Duane are NOT on the same page. He sees any congregation with a different stance or belief than his as being an heretical congregation and it is his job and duty as a Christian to rebuke you for being such. Again, look at Calvary’s website. This is not heresy, this is the truth of the Gospel being made relevant to an entire community. This is not a lukewarm social club. This is the church in action. And the spelling is Laodicean. It is in reference to the church at Laodicea mentioned in Revelation. Some, and most likely Duane would be one, see the current church as living in this “church age” where a state of lukewarmness in the church is prevalent. It may be more prevalent in Duane’s church than he is willing to admit or even acknowledge.

    4) Yes, we are still talking about this and will for a long time to come. We still have a long way to go on getting this right. It is tiring. It is frustrating. It is unnecessary.

    So, Dr. Amy, keep doing what you have been. Thank you for answering your call into the ministry of God. Thank you for being authentic and genuine. Thank you for your spirit of love and compassion for the greater community. Thank you for ministering to me. “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Very well done indeed.

    Keith L.