Dear Dr. Chapman,
A friend of mine sent me a copy of your reply [to a letter from Croatian Baptist leader Branko Lovrec about] ... the Baptist World Alliance. I'm sorry, but I do not believe you are sincere. Let me tell you why:
You remind me of a boy who owned the ball and bat we played with as kids. We had to follow the rules of the game as he interpreted them (and he changed the rules to suit himself); otherwise he took his ball and bat and went home. When he did, we stuffed an old sock with our string ball, got ourselves a broomstick and played stickball. He sat in the bleachers fuming.
We had this trouble with him until he grew up and became a fine lawyer.
I'm sorry, but I can't agree with the rules you insist that we all follow. Now, you have the right to interpret the Bible and Christianity any way you please; but you do not have the right dictate to me how I believe---to accuse me of "not believing the Bible"; or of "not being a Christian." You have a right to hold that opinion, but to express it is the height of arrogance and hypocrisy.
I have been pastor of the Tom Baptist Church for nearly 40 years. Let me tell you about this dynamic, loving little church. We have members who have come to us from many religious backgrounds: Holiness, Church of Christ, Methodist, Catholic and Mormon etc. (Most of them brought some their previous beliefs with them). Some are fundamentalist in their belief, others are rather liberal. We love each other and do not demand that everyone must believe exactly the same. From the very beginning of my ministry in this church (while I was still very much a fundamentalist) I taught this: "You must examine carefully what I teach. If it rings true, follow it. (see I Thess. 5:21). If not, you have an obligation to reject it. I will respect your belief and love and serve with you anyway."
I'm sorry, but I have examined your interpretation of the Bible and Christianity with much prayer and grief. I simply cannot bring myself to believe you are correct. I did not become a Christian (at the age of six, start preaching at the age of fifteen, and a pastor at the age of eighteen) under your rules; and I am either too old or too intelligent now, (I don't know which) to change now. If that makes me a heathen and an infidel, so be it. But, since I am the one who is responsible for my relationship with God, I will be the one who decides how I interpret the Bible. I will be the one who determines what the Holy Spirit is leading me to do. If I am wrong, then I am willing to suffer the consequences.
Your interpretation of the Bible and Christianity leaves me cold. It's not your interpretation I object to, it's your demand that all of us play by your rules. If that is the case, you can take your ball and bat and go home. I and my friends will stuff and old sock, get ourselves a broomstick, and play stickball; and you can sit in the bleachers and fume all you please!
My advice is: Grow UP!
Miles E. Wesner: Pastor in two shifts since 1961)
The Tom Baptist Church
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Morris Chapman's Response to Miles Wesner's Letter
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