is going to cause an uproar.
For those who aren't well-informed on Fundamentalist politics (and at times, they are FAR more interesting and intriguing than their secular counterpart), The Sword of the Lord
has for years been the semi-official newspaper of Independant Fundamental Baptists. The preaching has been indicative of the preaching style of top pastors of the day, and up-and-comers have more often than not taken sermon ideas from its pages.
Curtis Hudson started the separation from Southern Baptists while he was editor. This was when the Convention was infested by moderates and liberals, and many fundamentalists decided to run away rather than fight (THAT'S a rant for another day). Secondary Separation is the watchword of the movement -- separate from those who are not doctrinally sound, but ALSO separate from those who won't separate. And separate from the ones who won't separate from THOSE guys who don't separate. And so on, and so on.
Conservative Christians have often thought that Dr. Rice wouldn't be pleased by what his newspaper had become. To have it officially recognized by one of his daughters is another thing. To have her actually call out the current editor of the Sword
is a shot across the bow of many in the fundamentalist establishment.
Shelton Smith was my pastor when I was a teengager. He baptized me. I was a member of his church for 10 of his 17 years as pastor. I know his son. So I'm kinda close to the issue here. I wondered at first if he'd even respond, but now that it's more widely publicised, he will have to.
I like Dr. Smith. He's been a family friend for years. I have disagreements with him on finer points of theology -- to the extent that he has probably separated from me -- but I know him to be a committed follower of Christ and a man who is dedicated to spreading the Gospel of Christ. I think that he has allowed minors to become majors, and I am sad that he is willing to turn his back on many fellow believers because of these minors. As I've said before, I consider myself an historic fundamentalist. I reject what the label fundamentalist has become, though -- and Dr. Smith has helped to make it what it has become.
I hope that he reads the letter in the spirit in which it was obviously written. Mrs. Martin is concerned about the body of Christ, and the reputation of many believers. She is concerned about the legacy of her father, which she feels is being misused. I hope Dr. Smith prays over this letter. I hope that as he responds, he lets the Holy Spirit guide his words. And I hope that he sees the truth in the letter. That, more than anything else, will change things for the better. I am afraid, however, that there will be a lot more fighting, and a lot more separation, and a lot more people will point and say "Look at those Christians. They can't get along for five minutes."