Friday, September 1, 2006

I Want to Be McCareful Here

Dwight McKissic was one of the speakers at a Paul-Timothy Conference that I attended with SBTC. I enjoyed his comments and his wisdom. Bro. McKissic has taken an active role in the SBTC, and I have appreciated his leadership. I doubt that he would remember me, but I remember him, and I have been thankful for specific ways that his comments have contributed to my ministry and my thinking. But I want to differ with him on a couple of specifics from this week.

First, let us consider the issue justly raised by McKissic and summarized by Wade Burleson here about "public statements that contained charges never communicated privately and personally." I think it is a good and biblical observation. I wish Dr. Patterson had mentioned to Dr. McKissic, "Your sermon criticized a sister agency, and we can't put that on our web site. And I disagree with you about your interpretation of the text." I think that is only fair, and Dr. Patterson should have extended that courtesy to a brother in Christ.

But that's a road that runs both ways. McKissic knew about the present controversy. He knew about Dr. Patterson's position. He was preparing a sermon to criticize the IMB and Dr. Patterson publicly at the seminary while Dr. Patterson was sitting on the platform. Now, I ask you, what would be the courteous and Christian and biblical thing to do? Did McKissic communicate with Patterson "privately and personally" about the ambush that he was setting? I doubt it.

And if not, I lay the fault at the feet of McKissic, because he did what he did with forethought and deliberation. Dr. Patterson, on the other hand, had to respond on the spur of the moment. I would have been in shock. I wouldn't have known what to say over lunch, much less at the conclusion of the message. And for setting this trap, McKissic ought to apologize publicly to Patterson.

By the way, this first point illustrates well what I've been saying about a double standard. Because others who would criticize Patterson for failing to communicate privately before publicly will conspicuously refrain from any criticism of McKissic for a more egregious act of the same character. And I don't even know that they do so consciously. But the double standard is obviously there, nonetheless.

Second, let us consider race. Seriously, why play the race card here? I've searched the New Testament over, and I cannot for the life of me find a racial connection to the debate over speaking in tongues. I find it highly inappropriate that McKissic resorted to a sort of racial ultimatum. Let this issue rise and fall on the merits of the New Testament, not as a ransom paid to racial blackmail.

Dr. McKissic and I are not friends, but I hope that we will be someday (our paths just haven't crossed one-on-one yet). We are not friends, but we are brothers in Christ. I regret that a critical exchange will come so early in our acquaintance, but I have written what I believe to be the truth. I've tried to be careful and precise, and now I am anxious to be quiet and hear what you all have to say.

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