March 18, 2021
Letter to the Editor
I have been a Baptist for over 50 years, but I finally got the ax at the age of 66. You see, the Southern Baptist Convention has expelled my church, St. Matthews Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky. The reason is because we voted to affirm that “a belief in Jesus as personal Savior is the sole criterion for membership in our church.” This means we will welcome anyone, including those in the LGBTQ community, to join our fellowship.
If I had a Baptist ID card, I guess it would now be invalid. I was raised in the church. I was on the cradle roll, participated in Pack-a-Pew night, and spent many summers at vacation Bible school. I was taught to love all people, even those who were different than me. This action by the SBC seems like they’re drawing a circle and saying you cannot enter unless you are exactly like me.
One of the greatest stories I learned in vacation Bible school can be found in John 8:3-11. In this story, a woman is brought to Jesus who was caught in the act of adultery. The religious leaders knew the law said she must be stoned. Jesus looked down and began to write something on the ground. He then said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” When the mob heard Jesus’ words, one by one they walked away.
Let’s look at a Scripture the SBC uses to censure folks like my church. In 1 Corinthians 5:11, it says, “I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.”
I believe all churches have parishioners who violate all the sins mentioned in the quoted Scripture. I wonder why the SBC wants to concentrate on one category. There is a Scripture I read that calms my thoughts about worshiping with sinners. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
I was raised in a church where Baptist preachers would say something like, “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints.” I close this letter with the fact that my heart is breaking. Not because my church has been thrown out of the convention, but because Christians are not doing a good job of telling people about Jesus.
The church should be like the warmup band that helps promote the main event. Instead, churches spend a lot of energy battling each other, and unfortunately, the story of Jesus continues to go untold.
John Dye, Louisville, Ky.