Monday, May 2, 2011

Dancing Baptists and Tradition

A few days ago, someone posted a video on Facebook of 2,000 people from Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas dancing. In the comments, Roger Bennett (I don’t know him either.) said, “I remember when Baptists didn't dance in front of other Baptists.” His comment made me think about just how much has changed in just the past few years. He has a point. It wasn’t that long ago that Baptist frowned at dancing and now many of them use it as part of their worship services. It wasn’t that long ago that every preacher had a copy of John R. Rice’s “What’s Wrong With the Dance?” on his bookshelf and would preach against dancing from the pulpit with fire in his eyes. These days, many pulpits have been replaced with barstools and the sermons hardly call anything wrong. But what I’m seeing is confusion among the church members. One church includes dancing in their worship and yet I heard someone say just the other day that dancing is okay as long as it isn’t in the church building. But if dancing isn’t wrong, then why did so many Baptist preachers spend so much time speaking out against it?

At first, I sat down to answer that question through this blog, but I quickly discovered that I couldn’t adequately cover the topic in the five hundred words I attempt to limit these posts to. I’ll be discussing that question later this week, but I’ve decided that I would expand that discussion to a broader topic over several days this week. Instead of just discussing Baptists and dancing, I decided to discuss the topic of tradition. The two topics are related because The Baptist prohibition of dancing is one that has been passed down through tradition. On the subject of divorce, we can turn to the Bible and show that God hates divorce. On the subject of drinking, we can turn to the Bible and while not having a commandment not to drink we can show why it is a bad idea. But we can’t ignore verses like Psalm 150:4 which says, “Praise him with the timbrel and dance. Praise him with the stringed instruments and organs.” That one really gets some people because they’re against dancing and drums, but here they are both together in the Bible.

With that verse in mind, I had a couple of things to consider. Either more than 100 years of tradition is wrong and Baptists never should have said anything against dancing, or we need to handle this more carefully before we throw the baby out with the bathwater. So, this week I am going to discuss the topic of tradition, what it is, tradition in meetings, tradition in church, and finally the thing that started this, the doctrinal tradition of dancing. I hope you’ll come back here each day for the rest of the week so you can get the full picture.