Tuesday, February 17, 2004

cheesy soap opera music in background

When we left you last time in Church Searches of Mark’s Life, I was moving back to Texas. Not much thought went into joining Casa Linda and then Blacknall Presbyterian Churches. I pretty much just fell into them. This time was different. Influenced in part by my difficult post-Duke years, I had very exacting criteria for a new church:

1. I required any new church to hold to inerrancy. My readings and church experiences had convinced me of the necessity of that.

2. Churches in mainline denominations were immediately ruled out. (See the 2-14 entry.)

2 1/2. Denominations not exercising adequate church discipline were ruled out. That’s important as that ruled out the Southern Baptist Convention for me at the time. I know that may shock some readers. But at that time, the SBC took no action against pastors and congregations I found very objectionable.

The first such congregation that came to my attention back in North Carolina was Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh. I tongue-partly-in-cheek called it a Communist Baptist Church. Among other things, its pastor never missed an opportunity to get in front of the t.v. cameras and spout the communist line during the Cold War. And they ordained a rabidly pro-abortion woman. I was shocked that this went on in the SBC. I felt that if an otherwise Biblical denomination was going to allow such things, then what’s the point of being a denomination?

(The SBC has since changed for the better I think. And Pullen has been disciplined and pushed out of the SBC.)

I know -- I was a hard man. In any case, ruling out the SBC was important as there are more Baptist churches in Texas than there are people.

3. At the same time, I didn’t want a legalistic church. I’ll probably rant about this later, but legalism has always been a turn-off for me.

4. I wanted a good teacher as pastor. I felt starved of good Bible teaching, and I knew I needed it.

5. I wanted a big singles group with plenty of women in their twenties. I felt starved of good . . . O.K., I know that sounds crass. But I was in my late twenties by now and didn’t want to be single much longer, to put it mildly. So this wasn’t anything predatory. I wanted an excellent Christian wife.

6. Although my new home was a ways north of Dallas, I wanted to be involved in the Dallas area. I grew up there, and my heart was there. So I wanted a church down there, but one that didn’t take too long to drive to.

7. Oh. I nearly didn’t mention this because it was such a given. The church had to be Protestant.

I found out that, even in the buckle of the Bible Belt, these requirements dramatically narrowed my options. My search was not easy as you’ll see.

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