Monday, December 12, 2011

What's in a Name?

The Southern Baptist Convention is thinking about changing the name of the denomination. I don't believe they have come up with a new name yet. I do have a suggestion, but I doubt they'll take it. There are some who don't want the name to change. One leader of a church in California said that if the convention dropped the word "southern" it would water down their theology. He also advocated keeping "Baptist." I can understand wanting to keep "Baptist." I used to be one. I didn't realize that there was some sort of a southern theology. I wonder what that entails.

Names are important. Parents put a great deal of thought into picking meaningful names for their children (although I wonder what some of them were thinking). A name can open or close doors in certain situations. Names carry the weight of a family's history and can be very encouraging and challenging. Names can also be an albatross around the neck. A name can cause shame and can drag a person down.

Names also distinguish and separate. That can be a good thing, but it also can be a problem. When a group of Christians put a particular label on themselves, they automatically put distance between themselves and other Christians. Most of the time that distance is never bridged. That is a problem. Jesus prayed that his followers would be one. I believe there are currently something like four hundred denominations in the United States. Somehow I don't think that's what Jesus had in mind. Over the years, those who claim to be followers of Jesus have separated themselves into increasingly restrictive groups, many times over insignificant points of dogma.

The early Church had no problem knowing what to call themselves. They were known because of who they followed, not the creed or doctrines they adhered to. At one point they began to be know as Christians, because they were acting like Christ. Unfortunately, even that term has become something other than what it should be. Most of the time the early Christians called themselves disciples, followers of the Way, believers, the church that meets _____________.

What do we call ourselves? I prefer follower of Jesus, because that describes me better than any denominational label. Besides, I don't think Panerist is a denomination is it? Anyway, how about we simply live our lives as subjects of the King and show his love in such a way that the world has to talk about that love, even if they don't know what to call us. Maybe we can be like Christ enough that the term "Christian" becomes a good thing again.

Ready for my suggestion? Drop the denominational labels and let our actions speak.


Kansas Bob said...

Better that they change their demeanor than their name.

co_heir said...

True, true. The name is not as important as the demeanor


All of us have fathers. My father was a good man. Not perfect, but good. There never was a time when I didn't know he loved me. He was a...