Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gay Guy in Seminary Day 147 (Fire and Brimstone)

I went to Abiding Way for the 3rd time today. I kind of felt like I had to because the pastor there called me almost 2 months ago inviting me out for coffee, but I never called back 'cuz I got sick, then there was finals, then my phone broke and I went home for the holidays. We're gonna have coffee this Saturday... and I'm a little bit nervous.

I know they're Baptist..I KNEW that they were Baptists, but I kept telling myself, "They're in Marin County. How conservative can they be?"

Well, the answer is basically as conservative as you could expect Bapists to be. I wasn't expecting to hear it, especially considering how laid back these people seem, but the pastor delivered a full-fledged "Fire and Brimestone" sermon today. For those that don't know what that means, the liberal Protestant way of describing these types of sermons are "Turn or Burn" sermons. In other words, he was saying, "If you don't already accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you better convert right now or you might go to hell." Seriously.

This highlights the fundamental difference between Baptist faith and Presbyterian faith. What Baptists teach is that it is each person's individual responsibility to "believe," meaning they essentially have to do the work of saving themselves. Presbyterians teach that God is the one that moves in individuals to allow them to believe. Even as I write this, I am aware of how this contradicts my own beliefs, but that is not the point of this particular blog entry.

To get to the point, I don't like "Turn or Burn" sermons. I don't like it when someone threatens you with an eternal damnation in their effort to convert you. I don't think that is what we are supposed to do... but again, it boils down to a difference in theology. I appreciate that they are doing it out of love because of their very real fear for what could happen to your immortal soul.

And then (just when you thought perhaps it wasn't so bad), he criticized how society accepting homosexuality as a part of life saying, "That's just the way it is," lumping it together with adultery. How are these two things even in the same ballpark?

Saturday should be interesting.


  1. No Charles, Abiding Way is not Baptist... it is SOUTHERN Baptist!

  2. I can't really see this going all that well or at least not much better than your conversations with other conservatives. I know that alot of the ultra-conservative Christians you know have been some what accepting and understanding. I wonder if that is because they know you and who you are as a Christian first and foremost.

    While I'm sure he will be kind, I don't think he'll be understanding (This is coming from a Southern Baptist Minister's agnostic granddaughter). My grandfather tends to take things not in line with his beliefs very hard and gets preachy, since there is little elasticity in his beliefs (as you say "turn or burn"). Hopefully this will not be the case for you.

    Good luck. I'm sure you'll soften him (at least a little). :-)

  3. I'm not really sure what to expect; I just know that meeting him for coffee is the right thing to do. I really like going to the services there, but I feel like if I'm not open with the congregation, then I'll be going under false pretenses. I feel like I should at least give them the chance to show that they are decent people.