There is something quite fascinating about the Ouroboros. The idea of a serpent, or dragon, devouring itself touches that part of us that makes us shiver on dark nights. With the exception of Christian circles, it has had a positive reputation. Within ancient Christianity, it has taken on a less than stellar appeal. It tends to symbolize the “limited confines of the material,” and the self-consuming transitory nature of this world. It is seen as self-defeating in and of itself. Some fantasy authors have picked it up as a symbol for evil.
I speak of it now because it so succinctly pictures Fundamentalism. I happen to be affiliated with a group lead by fundamentalist leadership, the Southern Baptist Convention. During my infancy the battle had begun, and by my early adult years the heavy handedness of the Fundamentalists had triumphed.
This explains quite a bit, actually.
While in college, I picked up a Mickey Mouse hat as a memento of a trip to Dallas with some good friends. I wore it to class the next day, not knowing that SBC had passed a motion the day before boycotting Disney due to it’s percieved affirmation of homosexuality. Throughout the years, it has always been something. We’ve continued to do battle over various and sundry things. This past meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention didn’t stray from history.
There were quite a few motions made against a non-Southern Baptist pastor named Mark Driscoll. Poor guy has been labeled the “cussing pastor.” He’s a guy on the west coast that pastors one of the few growing churches in America. He also holds prominent position within the Acts29 church starting movement..or so I hear. You see, he’s so far off my radar that the SBC rancor against him caught me by surprise. I know he’s a Reformed Theologian (read: Calvinist), but seriously, that is all I know about him.
People are being saved, churches are being planted, so what do we do? We come after him with no less than five motions, as well as a shot from the podium. Amazing.
The messengers also severed a 125 year relationship with a congregation over “perceived toleration” of homosexuality. It seems that is the current sin the SBC is aligning itself against. It used to be dancing, then it became alcohol. I’ve often wondered why smoking, obesity, gossip and arrogance haven’t been brought before the chopping block…but, then I see the average SBCer, and I read their blog posts…and I come to see why. Did the people making the motions not know that they were being streamed live for the world to see? Makes a guy want to smack his how head in disbelief.
You see, Fundamentalism seems to only be able to frame itself as being against something. It gains power in the fight, it gains momentum through indignation. This is bereft of problems, but one glaringly stands out to me. Sooner or later, you end up having no more enemies…and you start eating your own tail. I believe that is what happened with the church relationship that was severed. That is an example of the SBC starting to eat it’s own.
Will there be more? You bet. Will it be over homosexuality? Maybe. Probably not for long though. Most SBC leaning churches won’t have “perceived toleration” of homosexuals in their midst. We’ve taught them by our hate for quite some time that we are neither welcoming nor affirming. We’ll go after the churches ordaining women next, most likely. Next, we’ll take on churches that allow women to teach men in Sunday School. That should keep our hate satiated for about a decade. But, eventually, the legalism will kill us. We’ll never make it to the point of severing ties with churches over Gluttony and Arrogance. To many proud, fat preachers out there. But, we’ll continue to see a decline in our churches. More will continue to close their doors. We’ll become a more scarce commodity with no market.
And we will die.
Which is ok. God’s Spirit is more obviously being poured out on other churches in other places. His work won’t stop because we cease to exist.