In the pre-dawn hours of April 19, 1775, a large intimidating contingent of British soldiers advanced upon the village green of Lexington, Massachusetts. Their mission: to seize and destroy military supplies held by the colonial militia in nearby Concord.
What they did not suspect, however, was the accuracy of intelligence that had been gathered by the unassuming patriots, a small group of whom were waiting in a local pub for news of their arrival. Various accounts of what exactly transpired at dawn may differ, but nearly every American remembers the meaning of the “shot heard ’round the world” and the ensuing Battles of Lexington and Concord that led to the Revolutionary War and the founding of a new society, a new people, and a new government free from tyranny.
One memorable quote has been inscribed on a stone marker in the Lexington Common, attributed to Captain John Parker, leader of those 77 Lexington minutemen: “Stand your ground; don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”
There are so many similaritiesâ€”not literally, of courseâ€”between the powerful forces of the British military versus the rag-tag patriots of colonial America and the current scene in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), particularly in the state of Florida. A handful of believers, who embrace a common theological perspective, are just trying to engage in meaningful ministry and to experience “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
There’s only one problem. A powerful, well-funded, and intimidating enemy keeps invading their paradise and making it impossible to do what our patriot forefathers died to preserve, and what our infinitely more glorious Lord and King has died and risen to give us. According to recent disturbing news reported here and in the crystal-clear intelligence gathering of a dear brother on the front lines, I suspect the recent skirmish in Simbo’s Restaurant, Bonifay, Florida (see this PDF file), may well be the beginning of the battle some of have suspected, feared, and/or anticipated for a long time.
Having served on staff of the Florida Baptist Convention for nearly seven years, I know the stakes are high for John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer, and Cecil Seagle, director of the Missions Division. Like Major John Pitcairn, leader of the 700-man advance party of British regulars, these powerful denominational “generals” have grossly underestimated the commitment and resolve of the men and women in Florida (and beyond) who love the doctrines of grace because those doctrines represent the Truth. And I also know how high the stakes are for them: they are willing to stand their groundâ€”if allowed to do soâ€”but they are also willing to go to war, if necessary.