I love to hunt. I began hunting as a boy in Southeast Missouri. Turkey hunting is my absolute favorite. For me there is nothing like getting up before the sun rises, silently making your way through the dark woods, getting in a strategic position, and then hearing those gobblers as the sun begins to poke over the horizon!
One of the first principles I was taught about hunting is simply to know, I mean KNOW what you are shooting at! Not think that you know, not hope that you know, but to literally SEE, RECOGNIZE, and KNOW you are actually shooting a turkey and not anything or ANYBODY else!
I think that this principle should be practiced in our Christian community! There are some theological turkeys that may need to be “shot at.” After all, we are told in Jude 3 to “contend earnestly for the faith…” Timothy was also instructed to, “preach, reprove, rebuke, and exhort.” There is definitely a Biblical precedent for taking God’s Holy Word and correcting or rebuking those who are in error. That being said, there is a tendency by some in our Christian community to attack and shoot other Christians without first knowing the person or persons they are shooting at.
We would do well to heed the admonition of Richard Baxter in, The Reformed Pastor,
“We must learn clearly the distinction between certainties and uncertainties, between fundamental issues and speculative theories of explanation. Then we can clearly distinguish the fundamentals of the faith from those that are merely private opinions. The peace of the Church depends on the former, not upon the latter…We must also avoid the confusion of those who make no differences between verbal slips of the tongue and fundamental heresies. How tragic it is that there are those who tear their brothers apart as heretics before they have made any effort to understand them.”
Sadly we are seeing some personalities in Baptist life who are more interested in shooting then they are in understanding. I truly believe that we must unite around the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM) and demand that those who seek to divide over issues that are not included in the BFM, cease and desist!
I leave you with another quote from Richard Baxter:
“We must learn to understand the basic reasons for controversies, and then reduce them to the point where we see the differences between genuine differences instead of just seeing the prejudices. Then we will refrain from making the differences worse than they really are. Instead of quarreling with our brethren, let us rather cooperate together against our real and common adversaries”
“We must do as much of the work of the Lord in unity and harmony as it is possible to do, not to rule over one another, and to make laws, but to avoid misunderstandings, and to consult for mutual edification. To maintain love and communion together is what the word of God has commanded us to do.”
….”ongoing bitterness to each other only strengthens the common enemy.”