‘Apologetics’ is an ironic word, I think. On the one hand, it means to admit you were wrong. On the other hand, it means you defend what you believe. As pastors, we live on the fine edge of apologetics.
On Sunday, while moseying through one of our adult Sunday School class on way to the kitchen to make coffee for the fellowship table, I was hailed by its members.
“We have a question! Can you come over here?”
They wanted to know our denomination’s stance on homosexuality. After explaining the church’s position on the topic, one of the member’s launched into a tirade about mainline denominations and their failure to grow. “It’s all because they don’t preach what’s in the Bible!”
This man has been the member of four churches – all from different denominations. He’s here because this is his wife’s church. He’s also been married three times.
Somehow, the topic swung from homosexuality to baptism. And then, somehow, someway, I was placed on trial. I serve a former EUB church. (This is not my first go-round with this. My last appointment was a living hell because they didn’t want to be “United Methodists.”) I try to be sensitive about that, but there are times when I have to take a stand.
This was one of those times. The man said that if he knew we didn’t dedicate babies and only baptize adults, he wouldn’t have joined the church. My predecessors did a piss-poor job of explaining membership, if they did at all. (Knowing all of them, I would hazard a guess that they said, ‘You want to join the church? Just show up next Sunday!’ and voila, your name is in the book.)
Anyway, he went on to sermonize that the Bible is his standard. If it’s addressed in the Bible, that’s the way he believes.
I didn’t have time to explain that it’s interpretation of Scripture and he learned it from the Church. It’s just not the way I interpet Scripture. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Wesleyan and I don’t feel I have to apologize for that. The thought of grace appeals to me more than the notion of judgment.
Next time he calls me “Sister” I think I throw up on his shoes.