“So do you think we’ll be able to get ordained?” I remember the words well because they echoed my own thoughts. My friend and I had just left another class on Biblical Prophecy. We both grew up in independent Baptist circles. We both knew dispensational theology and eschatology like the back of our hands. We knew the charts and the graphs. We knew names like Darby, Ryrie, and Scofield. Yet, for both of us, there was a nagging verse that echoed in both of our ears as we sat in this class: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days…”
His question expressed a sentiment that was increasingly becoming a worry for me as I neared graduation from my undergraduate studies. After 4 years of study and the prospect of at least another two years in seminary, I became concerned that it may have all been wasted because no one in our circles would touch someone unless they held dispensational, premillennial, pretribulational eschatology. As our conversation progressed, we admitted to each other that it seemed like the only way to get ordained and begin ministry was to lie. Graciously, the Spirit convinced us this was not the correct path to take.
I learned of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram series on sexual misconduct among Independent Baptists when one of our men brought it to my attention. The series of articles claims to have uncovered hundreds of cases in nearly 200 different churches. Our church member was concerned because the Star-Telegram included a map with a database of churches charged with sexual misconduct, and our church was included on that map.
A few years ago, a young man in our church was arrested for possession of child pornography. As a matter of policy, our church cooperates with law enforcement in such cases. We did not conceal his crime. When the news media showed up at my door, I answered their questions. We spoke out very clearly against his sin: it has no place among God’s people. We sought to protect our church and to ensure the safety of every child.
So, when I knew that this was the specific reason for our inclusion on the database, I assumed that by providing the facts in the case, we could clear up the matter. I immediately sent an email to the Star-Telegram reporter and gave her three reasons why we should not be included in her database: