I’m out! Well, I am and will later in this article explain where I am out. Those words reverberate loudly often, in the reverse, in the Independent Baptist world as well. That is worthy of discussion too.
Perhaps you have watched a show that fascinates my wife and children called “Shark Tank”. It is not my favorite program, and usually I will read while they watch, but in my home you can’t help watching it some. If you haven’t seen it, it is a show where entrepreneurs needing money to propel their business forward come before five filthy rich business magnates and pitch their business to see if one or more of the five will give the money for a stake of the company. Those five have succeeded for a reason and can spot a bad business plan or product as quickly as a dog can a bone. There is even one shark in the center called Mr. Wonderful (never has the bar for wonderful been set so low) who often reenergizes the term “painfully honest”.
In accordance with the typical vicarious reality-TV experience of our generation, the camera will pan from the face of the entrepreneur to the shark. The tension is seeing if the shark will make a deal or say those dreaded words: “I’m out!” Though it seems personal, the viewer must not forget that those sharks surely have a right to invest where they choose. They seem in most cases to be fairly cordial afterwards to those they just dropped the bomb of “I’m out” on. Still, you can see the fear in the eyes of the entrepreneurs that the “I’m out” may come.
In the Independent Baptist world, and I imagine in a few other corners of Christianity, we have almost that same scenario, except worse. The words “I’m out” are altered to “You’re out.” It is not I am going to pack up my toys (or money) and go home, but I am going to pack up your toys (or fellowship) and send you home. The former is unpleasant, but the latter is devastating.
We have had much communication with those on both sides of the “You’re out”. There are those who have heard it and are trying to recover from what has been an emotional crisis involving family or friends. If that doesn’t strike you as a big deal, it only proves you have not been through it. Someone I dearly love has had the “you’re out” hurled at them this very year.
Then there are those with that look of terror in their eyes who fear the words may come at any time. They wrestle with sticking to what they believe or selling their souls to avoid the “You’re out”.
O I almost forgot—you may be wondering what events precipitated the pronouncement of “You’re out”. Believe it or not, this complete or near-complete breaking of fellowship were over things like (in order of occurrence): dress standards, complete obedience to a certain clique’s position, unquestioned support of a questionable leader, and music standards. I will refrain from sarcasm here and just suggest you join many others of us in rolling your eyes.
I want to give a word to those who have heard the painful “You’re Out” since I know several readers of this blog fall in that category. Imagine being in a plane and the other riders decided you were not enough in agreement with them and opened the door and threw you out barely giving you time to strap on a parachute. There is the sheer terror of falling (at least that is how I visualize it as the last guy who will ever volunteer to jump out of a plane), the hurt of being treated so by those you expected more of, and the fear of the unknown and how exactly you handle the landing since you have never done this before. A little overwhelming, wouldn’t you agree?
But then imagine that as you drift down in your parachute in a torrent of emotion that you see the plane you were thrown out of slam into the side of a mountain. That would, of course, only make for even more strong emotions, but would not one of those new emotions be gratitude that you were no longer on the plane? Hurting one, what I am trying to say is that the plane you were thrown out of is going to crash.
Please don’t think I am saying: they hurt you and they will pay. That is God’s business and our thoughts must not go there. What I am saying is that a life where we must earn God’s love, where our soul liberty is brutalized, where the priesthood of the believer we possess is sabotaged, and the Lordship of Christ we must give to Jesus is high jacked– that life cannot succeed. That is not the Life that Jesus gave us. It is not really life at all. Be thankful you are no longer on the plane. Hurting or not, you are far better off.
O, before I go, I said I would explain where “I’m out”. I do not direct those words to any Independent Baptist people or institutions. Probably I can just wait for them to say “You’re out” to me and it will all sort itself out. Those who never say “You’re out” to me will find that I will remain friendly to the end. The Truth Revolution is not personal over characters in IFB for me, but personal about Christ Who I love. I love being a Baptist with its blood-stained heritage, but not what some Baptists have defrauded of that heritage.
So, I’m out to being sucked into bondage. I’m out over someone dictating to my conscience. I’m out to being forced to conform to feeble men’s demands. I’m out over forced or made up Bible (mis-) interpretations. I’m out to someone robbing me of the joy Christ so freely gives. I’m out to men’s opinion overtaking the Word of God. I’m out to voices that would drown out the Word of God. I’m out to having freedom and liberty in Christ taken from me. I have a wonderful Savior and I am free and I love it—so I’m out.
Find all articles in the series here.