Southern Baptist/SBC

It’s Time for a Reformation in the SBC – 3 Issues We Need to Set Right

Originally published May 25, 2018

I don’t know the brother who said it, but I saw a remark the other day from a Presbyterian gentleman who said something to the effect of, “It’s time for all doctrinally sound Southern Baptists to leave the SBC.”

I get that.

When you have an organization as large, open, and widespread as the Southern Baptist Convention, problems – even major ones – are inevitable. At this point, there are many things the SBC is still getting right, biblically speaking…

There are many good and praiseworthy things going on in SBC life. We have hundreds of doctrinally sound pastors faithfully preaching the gospel week in and week out. Discernment and biblical literacy among Southern Baptist church members is slowly but steadily growing. The SBC takes a public, biblical stand on abortion and homosexuality while many other denominations do not. Our organizational structure for funding and sending out missionaries, while sometimes flawed in its execution, is without peer. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is one of the finest relief organizations in the world. And there’s so much more. Find a godly Kingdom effort going on somewhere, and you’ll probably find a Southern Baptist involved in it. By the grace of God, while we’re far from perfect, we’re getting a lot of things right

…But for some individual Southern Baptists and Southern Baptist churches, the biblical error and other problems pervading the SBC have become too much to bear, and they have deemed it time to walk away from what they see as a system damaged beyond repair, seeking refuge in Bible churches, independent Baptist churches, or non-denominational churches and networks instead.

Like I said, I get that, and I don’t blame them one little bit. Believe me, I’ve had leaving on my mind more than once. And if the SBC continues its downward spiral, it’s an inevitability for nearly all of us who hold to sound doctrine.

But there are still plenty of us crazy, “glass half full” doctrinally sound optimists out there who, like Luther, don’t want to abandon the SBC to the rubbish heap if it can be avoided, but would rather see it reformed (little “r”), renewed, and restored to the glory of God.

If you’ve ever labored through the entirety of the Old Testament (and if you haven’t, stop denying yourself that blessing, and study it), you know that God exercised patience with Israel through centuries of idolatry, rebellion, and paganism of the vilest sorts, sending them prophet after prophet, warning after warning, discipline after discipline, lovingly calling, urging, and commanding them to repent and be reconciled to Him before finally executing judgment on them.

I’m just not sure we’re quite at the point of exiling the SBC… yet. I think maybe these are the days of Elijah. And Jeremiah. And Isaiah. And even Luther. A time for godly Southern Baptist men and women to stand firmly on the written Word of God and speak prophetically, chapter and verse, into their beloved churches and denomination, “Thus saith the Lord.”

And in that same spirit of the prophets of old, we don’t speak from a position of “I’m right and I’m here to prove it,” or because we’re haters, or because we’re power-hungry. It’s because we’re cut to the heart over the sin and idolatry we see among our brothers and sisters. We’re grieved that those things dishonor our precious Savior and bring His judgment and discipline upon those who participate in and propagate them. We deeply desire that our denomination and our churches experience the joy that comes with being spiritually healthy and biblically submitted to Christ.

So, while there are probably at least ninety-five theses that could be nailed to the doors of the Executive Committee in Nashville, here are three that would be a good start.

1.
The Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture

Nearly forty years ago, Southern Baptist movers and shakers in the conservative resurgence went to war for the inerrancy of Scripture. It was a long, hard battle, but they won. Now it’s time to fight for the authority and sufficiency of Scripture in the SBC.

The Bible is our authority as Christians, not the ideas, opinions, and traditions of denominational leaders, SBC celebrities, pastors, or any other person. The Bible. If the Bible commands us to do something, we do it. If the Bible commands us not to do something, we don’t do it. We don’t formulate our own programs and methods and try to squish the Bible in to make it fit. We start with the Bible. We stay with the Bible. We end with the Bible.

Because the SBC does not always submit to the authority of the Bible, we have leaders who look to, and promote extra-biblical sources for direction instead of simply trusting and obeying God’s Word.

Because the SBC does not always submit to the authority of the Bible, we have leaders, celebrities, and pastors looking to, and promoting, sources outside the Bible for direction instead of simply trusting and obeying God’s written Word. We have influential “Bible” teachers who stand on stages in front of thousands and dare to proclaim, “God told me…”, functionally denying the sufficiency of Scripture by relying on supposed extra-biblical revelation (and teaching their followers to do the same). We have pastors and denominational leaders who look to polls and surveys to decide how to conduct their worship services or which social issues need to be addressed and how to address them. We have church growth gurus teaching our pastors to adopt all manner of worldliness that “works” to get sinners in the doors of their churches.

If the Southern Baptist Convention is to survive as an entity of biblical Christianity, the authority and sufficiency of Scripture is the number one issue that must be dealt with.  If this issue is properly addressed and corrected, it will alleviate or minimize nearly all other problems facing the SBC. We must submit to God’s written Word and give Scripture its proper place – first place – in our denomination, our individual churches, and our personal lives.

Basic Training: The Bible Is Our Authority

Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient

2.
False Doctrine and False Teachers

If the SBC truly regarded the Bible as authoritative and sufficient, the cancer of false doctrine and false teachers that is slowly killing us would be cured or in remission. Indeed, the aforementioned false teaching of extra-biblical (God told me, showed me in a dream, spoke to me, etc.) revelation is probably the most pervasive false doctrine accepted among Southern Baptists.

When Hilkiah found the Book of the Law in the temple (Imagine a house of God in such a shambles of idolatry that people had to dig and search for the actual Scriptures. Selah.), and Shaphan read it to Josiah, Josiah tore his clothes in grief and began to set God’s house and God’s people in order. After covenanting together with the people to obey God’s Word, the very first thing Josiah did was to have the altars and vessels of false gods carried out of God’s house and destroyed. If the SBC would follow in Josiah’s footsteps we would see things like:

LifeWay would immediately remove and destroy any and all materials by Beth Moore, Andy Stanley, Priscilla Shirer, TD Jakes, Lysa TerKeurst, Sarah Young, Christine Caine, Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, and all other false teachers and promulgators of false doctrine.

There would be no more conferences, simulcasts, or leadership training seminars featuring false teachers, and false teachers would certainly not be invited to speak in any capacity at the annual Southern Baptist Convention.

Those who attempt to build a career inside the SBC by teaching false doctrine should be subject to church discipline for their sin, not turned into celebrities or denominational leaders.

Pastors, authors, and speakers who attempted to build a career inside the SBC by teaching false doctrine would be subject to church discipline for their sin, not turned into celebrities or appointed or elected to denominational leadership positions.

Messenger voting privileges at the Convention would be revoked for churches which habitually and unrepentantly welcome false teachers.

If the Bible were to become our sufficient authority for both orthodoxy and orthopraxy, our eyes would quickly be opened to the enormity of the hold false doctrine has on our denomination, churches, and individuals, and we would act accordingly and biblically.

A Naked Emperor in the Southern Baptist Convention

10 Things I Wish Southern Baptists Knew About Southern Baptists

The Peterson Predicament and LifeWay’s Peculiar Policies

3.
Disfellowshipping Errant Churches

Earlier this week, the Southern Baptist Convention severed ties with the District of Columbia Baptist Convention (DCBC- an association of Southern Baptist churches in the Washington, D.C. area) for refusing to disfellowship one of its member churches, Calvary Baptist, which had called a legally “married” lesbian couple to serve as its co-“pastors” over a year ago.

It was absolutely the right thing to do (the SBC has disfellowshipped several churches that embrace homosexuality), and I’m glad that this standard remains in tact, but…lesbian co-pastors…? That’s how bad it has to get before the SBC can, or will, act to remove a church? What about churches that are embracing sins other than homosexuality?

There are plenty of apostate Southern Baptist churches, and we have no mechanism in place for kicking them out of the SBC.

This is a verbatim quote from the FAQ section (5th question from the top) of the SBC’s web site:

“According to our constitution, if a church no longer makes a bona fide contribution to the Convention’s work, or if it acts to ‘affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior,’ it no longer complies with the Constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention and is not permitted to send messengers to the annual meeting. These, however, are the only explicitly stated instances in which the SBC has the prerogative to take action.”

What does that mean? As long as your church doesn’t affirm homosexuality and gives to the Cooperative Program, you’re in. Never mind if your pastor twists God’s word until it’s unrecognizable. Or lets women and false teachers get behind the pulpit like Steven Furtick does. Or plays AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” on Easter Sunday and says he probably wouldn’t have strippers on stage like Perry Noble does. Or any of the other ridiculous and blasphemous shenanigans so many of the seeker sensitive types in our denomination pull. Nope, as long as you give your money and stand on the right side of homosexuality, you’re good to go.² ³

I’ll be the first to admit, it would be a difficult standard to set and implement, but look at the standards the New Testament required of churches. We’ve got to set the bar higher than a homosexuality litmus test and an offering for a church to be in good standing with the SBC. Doctrine and practices simply have to be a factor.

Can there be another conservative resurgence that brings reform to the SBC? I believe there can.

The Bible says “nothing will be impossible with God.” I believe that. I believe that the God who spoke the universe into existence from nothing, who opened sealed tombs and barren wombs, who parted seas and walked on water and turned water into wine can change the hearts of Southern Baptists and the trajectory of the Southern Baptist Convention.

By His grace. For His glory. For our good.

I believe that the God who opened sealed tombs and barren wombs, who parted seas and walked on water and turned water into wine can change the hearts of Southern Baptists and the trajectory of the SBC.


¹A Naked Emperor in the Southern Baptist Convention
²10 Things I Wish Southern Baptists Knew About Southern Baptists
³This verbiage has been removed from the FAQ section of the SBC website. The current wording of this information can be found here in Article III.

Southern Baptist/SBC

What’s Going On in the Southern Baptist Convention?

This article was last updated on April 29. Updates since that day include:

May:

  • The ineptitude or sabotage (it’s unclear which) of Baptist Press’ interview with Tom Ascol
  • The video of the SBC presidential candidate forum
  • Denny Burk, Bart Barber, and the ERLC publicly decry abolition
  • The SATF / Guidepost report and recommendations
  • A proposed motion from Dwight McKissic

I’m still collecting proposed resolutions for SBC 2022. I invite anyone submitting a resolution to send it to me for inclusion in this article. (More under “April”)

The 2021 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention opened the eyes of a lot of Southern Baptists to the sin and corruption infecting our cooperative of churches.

The foremost question on the minds of many doctrinally sound and discerning Southern Baptist pastors and church members is whether or not the SBC is too corrupt to be saved. “Should we shake the dust off our feet and leave the SBC, or should we stay in and fight for fidelity to Scripture?”

If you and your church are choosing to stay in and fight, it is crucial that you be well-informed enough on the issues and the candidates to vote biblically when you attend the 2022 annual meeting in Anaheim. And that also means you’re going to need to know your Bible well enough to vote biblically on those issues.

Because what really hurt doctrinally sound Southern Baptists at the 2021 meeting (and previous years’ meetings) was not just those who were consciously pushing an unbiblical, liberal agenda, it was also the messengers who were ignorant of the issues and the candidates, and just voted according to whatever sounded good on the surface, or just blindly trusted whoever was on stage at the moment.

Representing your church (and millions of other Southern Baptists) as a messenger at the annual meeting is a grave responsibility and it should be treated as such. You’ve got to get informed. Your church and pastor have to get informed. The other churches in your association, and your associational leadership have to get informed.

That’s where this article comes in.

I know it’s hard to keep up with the issues when you’ve got a life you’re trying to live and responsibilities you’re trying to take care of. I want to try to make staying informed a little easier for you, your church, and your association, so please share this around.

This article (initially published in the summer of 2021 and subsequently updated) is a timeline of significant events in the SBC at the national level starting with the 2021 annual meeting and moving forward from there. I’ve tried to keep things brief, so you may need to take what you see here and do some more digging on your own if you want an in depth look at a particular issue.

I’ve also posted a few “Points of Order,” things that aren’t really a current event, but more along the lines of SBC polity or information you might need.

If you think I’ve left out something significant (I’m trying not to get bogged down in too much minutiae), please leave a comment and a link, if possible.

Acronyms you need to know:

  • SBC: Southern Baptist Convention
  • BFM: Baptist Faith and Message
  • IMB: International Mission Board
  • NAMB: North American Mission Board
  • EC: Executive Committee
  • ERLC: Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
  • GCR: Great Commission Resurgance
  • ACP: Attorney-Client Privilege
  • SATF: Sexual Abuse Task Force
  • SWBTS: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • SEBTS: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • CRT: Critical Race Theory
  • GS: Guidestone Solutions

The 2021 Annual Meeting

For a recap of the major decisions and happenings of the 2021 annual meeting, please read my article: SBC21: Aftermath, Thoughts, and Where Do We Go From Here? There are lots of informative links at the end of the article in the “Additional Resources” section.


June 2021

Point of Order: Financial Contributions

If you’re staying in the SBC, you might be concerned about your offerings being sent to the Cooperative Program to fund SBC entities which are operating unbiblically. This is a dilemma for doctrinally sound churches and individuals, because, until fairly recently, making a financial contribution to the SBC at the national level was a requirement for being “in friendly cooperation with the SBC.”

So how do we stay in the SBC to fight ungodliness by sending messengers to the annual meeting, yet maintain our financial contribution without funding ungodliness? [Now former – see “October” below] Executive Committee member Rod Martin explains:

I have been repeatedly asked how the formula works that determines how many messengers an SBC church may send to the Annual Meeting. Here’s the deal:

  1. Under the recent constitutional amendment, every church now gets two messengers whether they give or not. Previously you had to give a minimum amount to get any messengers at all.
  2. The previous maximum number of messengers was 10. That number is now 12.
  3. You can get one additional messenger (up to the maximum) for every percentage point of additional giving out of undesignated receipts. That’s fair for every church: if you’re giving 5%, you get five more messengers. If you’re giving 10%, you get ten more messengers. The dollar amount doesn’t come into play.
  4. That said, and I very much disagree with this, you can also get one additional messenger (up to the maximum) for each $6,000 in giving. That means megachurches can have 12 messengers by giving next to nothing as a percentage of their budgets. I think that was a big mistake. But the vast majority of SBC churches are small, so they greatly outnumber those churches, and also, the 12 messenger cap greatly limits the power of those giant churches on the floor.
  5. The “giving” I just described can be through the Cooperative Program, but no longer has to be: it can be to any convention entity. So let’s say you wanted to give all of it to Lottie Moon, or give all of it through IMB but designated for certain specific missionaries: you could do that and get all ten additional messengers. There are many other possibilities as well.

    I think this change to our system (which was part of GCR) was a giant mistake, as was GCR generally. However, while I know some people disagree, I don’t think it actually disadvantages smaller churches in practice, and it definitely creates a lot of flexibility for churches to give creatively while also maintaining their maximum possible messenger representation.

You can read the official version of this in the SBC Constitution, Article III.

xxxxx

Trinitarian Heresy on Litton’s Church Website

On June 16, the second day of the 2021 annual meeting, a messenger mentioned in a question from the floor that the “What We Believe” page of the church Ed Litton pastors (Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama) contained a heretical view of the Trinity called partialism.

Photo courtesy of onenewsnow.com

Quietly, and almost immediately, the heretical wording was deleted from the website, as you can see in the “before and after” screenshots above.

It’s not just that the wording was heretical. Redemption Church’s statement of faith – the core of its identity as a church – was changed without a vote by the church body. Indeed, without even notifying or consulting the church body. How would that go over at your church?

To date, neither Litton nor Redemption Church has offered any official explanation regarding why a multi-SBC seminary degreed pastor would lead his church to codify a heretical statement of faith in the first place, nor how that statement of faith was able to be altered without input or permission from the church, nor why it took outside publicity to spur the change.

Unofficially, the explanation some claim Litton has given is that the original heretical wording was some sort of typographical error by the person who typed it into the website. (I want to stress that this is hearsay.)

HERESY? SBC President Ed Litton’s church holds potentially heretical view of Trinity at Capstone Report

A check reveals a change – which deserves an answer at One News Now


The Plagiarism Fiasco

About a week after the convention ended, starting during the week of June 20:

A side by side video surfaced of Ed Litton (Jan. 2020) and J.D. Greear (Jan. 2019) preaching the same (Greear’s) sermon on Romans 1.

The sermon was Greear’s infamous “The Bible whispers about sexual sin” sermon, so there was not only the plagiarism aspect, but, just as when Greear originally preached it, there was outrage over the bad theology contained in the sermon itself.

Greear and Litton each issued statements explaining, justifying, and excusing the plagiarism.

Litton removed 143 sermons from his church’s website and YouTube, leading most to surmise that these sermons probably also contained plagiarism, due to his explanation of his “sermon by committee” paradigm explained in his statement.

The secular news media began reporting on all of this.

Justin Peters posted a very thorough video biblically explaining and providing documentation for all of this:

Greear and Litton: Plagiarism and Sin in the SBC | Justin Peters | June 28, 2021

Almost immediately, three more side by side sermon comparison videos of Litton and Greear surfaced showing even further plagiarism by Litton. Romans 8 sermon Romans 13 sermon* Romans 14 sermon* (The Justin Peters video above includes the Romans 1 sermon side by side video.)

*I am citing Reformation Charlotte for the purpose of these videos only. It is not a site I endorse.

Somewhat simultaneously, some of Litton’s scrubbed sermon videos begin reappearing on his church’s website and YouTube, and both he (in an interview with the Washington Times) and the leadership of his church (in a statement obtained by Baptist Press) issued statements about why the videos had been removed in the first place. The reasons given by Litton and his church leadership did not match.

For another timeline of these events with additional links, click here.

Further examples of Litton’s sermon plagiarism, some instances going back years, continue to surface.

The Ed Litton Sermon Plagiarism Scandal by Gabriel Hughes


Point of Order: Removing a sitting SBC President

With all the outcry against current SBC president, Ed Litton, and calls for his resignation, you might be surprised to learn that there is no mechanism in place for removing a sitting SBC president. For the office of president to be vacated, he has to resign, die, or be incapacitated.

The only official governing statement about replacing a sitting SBC president is this sentence from Article V of the SBC Constitution:

In case of death or disability of the president, the vice presidents shall automatically succeed to the office of president in the order of their election.

Maybe plagiarism and heresy don’t seem like that big of a deal to you. What’s going to happen when a sitting president commits adultery, steals SBC funds, comes out of the closet as a homosexual or transgender, or is discovered to be a child molester, and refuses to resign?

xxxxx

July 2021

EC SATF Named

Prior to the 2021 convention, allegations were made that the Executive Committee mishandled some charges of sexual abuse by SBC pastors / at SBC churches, which the EC vehemently denied. At the convention, a motion was made that President Ed Litton appoint a task force to investigate these allegations. That task force was named on July 9:

Litton names task force to oversee third-party review of SBC Executive Committee at Baptist Press

The purpose of the task force is to objectively examine whether the EC handled these charges of sexual abuse fairly and appropriately with regard to recommending whether or not the church should be disfellowshiped from the SBC.

You’ll notice many of the members and advisors work or volunteer in the field of victim advocacy. While it is good to have people with experience on the task force, that has to be balanced with their ability to be objective if this is to truly be an independent review.

For example, Rachael Denhollander has been a polarizing figure in victim advocacy because she has a reputation for never having met an accusation of abuse she didn’t believe, or “having an ax to grind” when it comes to allegations of abuse. If anything, she has a reputation for being biased in favor of alleged victims and unable to objectively assess when false charges have been levied.

When someone (such as some of the members of this task force) has made victim advocacy his career or life’s mission, that person is heavily invested in one side of the issue. It raises the question, “How objective can some of these task force members/advisors be?”.

You can read about the SATF’s progress and work at Task Force Updates.


Litton’s Lies
(Week ending July 10, 2021)

I’m sorry, but there’s just no polite way to say this, and sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. Ed Litton has been caught in two obvious, public lies about the plagiarism fiasco and his wife co-preaching with him.

Kathy’s Co-Preaching:

This is an issue that came up prior to the 2021 convention so it is not included in this article, but I referred to it in this pre-convention article regarding Ed Litton’s wife Kathy:

This man who wants to be at the helm of your entire denomination, violates Scripture by allowing Kathy to “co-preach” the Sunday sermon at their Southern Baptist church here, and here, and several more sermons can be found at their church’s website.

If you try to click on the links above you’ll notice two of them yield no results. That’s because once Ed Litton was publicly taken to task for allowing his wife to preach, he deleted the sermon videos, which is covering up sin, rather than biblically repenting of it.

When first questioned about allowing his wife to preach, Litton explained that this was because it was a sermon series on marriage and family and he wanted Kathy to provide her perspective. (Scripture doesn’t allow for this, but some accepted this justification.)

It has now been discovered that Litton had Kathy co-preach at least one other sermon series in 2013 which had nothing to do with marriage and family.

Litton co-preached with wife far more extensively than previously known at Capstone Report

(If you’re unclear about why this is a violation of Scripture, please click here, here, and here to read up.)

Plagiarism (see “June” above):

In a news interview with his local CBS affiliate, Litton clearly says the allegations of plagiarism came from “unnamed sources”.

(See 2:40 for the “unnamed sources” segment.)

This is patently untrue. Many SBC pastors and others have publicly sounded the alarm about the plagiarism issue, and all the ones I’m aware of have used their real names.

Ed Litton is an unrepentant liar and this interview proves it at Capstone Report

September 2021

SWBTS/Greenway Provide Cover
for Litton’s Non-Repentance

On September 14, during SWBTS’ chapel service, seminary president Adam Greenway interviewed Ed Litton on a variety of topics, first – and most notably – the plagiarism scandal (3:50). Once again, Litton finessed instead of repenting.

You can tell where Greenway stands as he prefaces his question to Litton by disparagingly referring to the “snark” he received from “anonymous social media accounts” when he announced that Litton had been invited. (“Anonymous”? What I saw when I commented on his Twitter announcement was, I’d estimate, well over 90% non-anonymous, concerned, yet frustrated Southern Baptists wanting the plagiarism issue addressed, and for Litton to resign.)

And, of course, you’ll notice that Litton doesn’t repent over this sin, and even characterizes those who exposed his sin as meaning evil against him in the Genesis 50:20 sense. (More here.)

A Conversation with Ed Litton – #SWBTSChapel | September 14, 2021

October 2021

EC Waives ACP

“In a 44-31 vote Tuesday, Oct. 5, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (SBC EC) opted to waive attorney-client privilege in connection with a third-party investigation of itself [see “July” above]. Ahead of the special called meeting, six committee members resigned, and Chairman Rolland Slade noted during the meeting an expectation that other resignations may soon follow with the passage of the widely-debated waiver of attorney-client privilege.”SBC Executive Committee votes to waive attorney-client privilege in sexual abuse investigation at Conservative Baptist Network

Waiving ACP was not necessary in order for Guidepost Solutions (the firm retained by the SATF to investigate allegations of mishandling of abuse cases by the EC) or the SATF to investigate allegations of the EC’s mishandling of abuse cases. It put the SBC in jeopardy of losing its legal representation and insurance coverage, and left individual EC members vulnerable to lawsuits (thus, the aforementioned resignations). And since any compensation paid to abuse victims would have been covered by the insurance policy, it was a very foolish decision indeed.


Multiple EC Resignations

As a result of the EC voting to waive ACP, fourteen committee members resigned effective in late September and October – including President Ronnie Floyd and Rod Martin – due to personal legal vulnerability and frustration.

More Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee members resign — new leadership announced at The Christian Post

SBC Executive Committee breaks deadlock to waive privilege, loses 10% of board at The Baptist Paper

On October 11, Guenther, Jordan & Price, the Nashville firm which had provided legal representation for the SBC since 1966, terminated its relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention

The Executive Committee’s board of directors, by a majority vote, has acted to prospectively and preemptively waive the Executive Committee’s attorney-client privilege without knowing the communications affected by the waiver and without knowing the effect it will have on the Executive Committee, the Convention, and those who have served as members or employees of the Executive Committee…For these reasons, we believe our commitment to a certain standard of professional conduct leaves us no
choice but to advise you that we are withdrawing from our role as general counsel to the Southern Baptist Convention and the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Guenther, Jordan & Price resignation letter

SBC legal team resigns after vote to waive attorney-client privilege in sex abuse investigation at The Christian Post

On October 28, the EC trustees met and retained Bradley Legal to provide legal services on an interim basis. (See “February” below for more information on Bradley Legal.)

November 2021

A Discussion of the Issues

On November 19, the Conservative Baptist Network hosted a panel discussion centering on problematic issues in the SBC. Led by SBC First Vice President, Dr. Lee Brand, participants included (L-R: Randy Adams, Tom Ascol, Russell Fuller, Rod Martin, and Allen Nelson)

There was a problem with the audio the night of the recording that caused the first 10-12 minutes of the video’s volume to be extremely low. It clears up after that.

UnMerritted Praise

On November 22, James Merritt – multi-seminary degreed pastor of Cross Point church (SBC) in Duluth, Georgia, former SBC president, chair of the 2021 Resolutions Committee, former chair of the EC, former president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference, visiting professor at SEBTS, etc. – posted this tweet regarding his son Jonathan’s sermon at his (Jonathan’s) “church” the day before. Jonathan is openly homosexual, and his “church” is homosexuality affirming, egalitarian, and universalist, among other anti-biblical beliefs:

Obviously, it should go without saying (especially to someone as biblically knowledgeable as a pastor, former SBC president, and SBC seminary professor should be) that a practicing homosexual is not saved and has, therefore, rejected the gospel. How could any sermon he preached be “faithful to the gospel”?

STATEMENT: Promoting homosexual preachers is not loving, biblical, or Baptist at Conservative Baptist Network

Naturally, his appalling statement received pushback from biblically faithful Christians, and James Merritt once again showed his baser nature by lashing out at those taking him to task.

James Merritt defends gay son’s preaching by attacking Trump supporters at Capstone Report

Homosexuality, Universalism, The Gospel, and the SBC | Justin Peters | November 28, 2021

A Gospel Without Merit by Gabriel Hughes

Likely facing pressure behind the scenes, James Merritt resigned his position as visiting professor at SEBTS (but not his pastorate). For this, he was practically lauded as a hero by SEBTS president Danny Akin

…and by Vance Pittman, president of Send Network (NAMB’s church planting division):

Send Network, SEBTS, and Salvation by Merritt by Allen Nelson

December 2021

BinderGate

Someone gave reporter Liam Adams of the Tennesseean James Merritt’s binder from his tenure as 2021 Resolutions Committee chair. The binder contained private emails between Tom Ascol and James Merritt as well as other confidential Resolutions Committee communications and information, some of which was used in an article Adams wrote.

Bindergate: An Appeal for Honesty and Integrity in the SBC by Tom Ascol

February 2022

Is the SBC Moving Toward Affirming Homosexuality?

In this video, Justin Peters examines four incidents in recent SBC history that seem to demonstrate a gradual progression toward affirming homosexuality. Two of the incidents took place at First Baptist Church Orlando, pastored by David Uth (president of the 2020 Pastors’ Conference who was roundly criticized for inviting false teachers and a female “pastor” as speakers), one incident involved James Merritt, and another involved former SBC President J.D. Greear.

FBC Orlando’s Shocking Capitulation | Justin Peters | February 15, 2022


A Pride Full Firm

Following a tweet by pastor and EC member Adam Wyatt singing the praises of new interim legal team Bradley Legal, questions began to be raised about the many ties the firm has to the homosexual and woke agendas. From sponsoring Nashville Pride to a glowing report on Bradley’s “inclusivity” from the Human Rights Campaign, Bradley is proud of its “diversity”.

A Different Kind of Nashville Statement: New SBC Lawyers Full of Gay Pride at Servants and Heralds


Coming to Terms

On February 28, in the middle of a self-aggrandizing video noting his past and anticipated accomplishments, and breaking with decades of tradition, Ed Litton briefly announced he would not seek or accept a second term as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dr. Ed Litton addresses the SBC | Redemption Church | February 28, 2022

Ed Litton says he won’t seek reelection as SBC president, prompts mixed reactions at The Christian Post


Point of Order: The SBC President’s Term of Office

“The officers shall be elected annually and shall hold office until their successors are elected and qualified. The term of office for the president is limited to two (2) years, and a president shall not be eligible for re-election until as much as one (1) year has elapsed from the time a successor is named.” The Constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention, Article V, Point 2

In plain English: There is an election for SBC president (and other officers) every year at the SBC annual meeting, which means we could elect a new president every single year. However, the SBC Constitution allows the president to serve two consecutive one-year terms, and, in recent history, most SBC presidents and messengers have taken the Constitution up on that offer. The last single-term president was Adrian Rogers, who (though later elected to two consecutive terms in the mid-1980’s) served from 1979 to 1980, 43 years ago.

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March 2022

Willy Run?

March 1, one day after Ed Litton announced he would not seek re-election for a second term as SBC president (see “February” above), Willy Rice, pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater, Florida, announced that he would be nominated for SBC president at the annual meeting in June. (See “April” below)

Fla. Pastor Willy Rice to be nominated for SBC president, says ‘faith family’ is all he’s ever known at The Christian Post

Calvary follows the multi-site model with three locations in Florida. They also have an “online campus” which they seem to equate with the three physical locations. Though there’s nothing wrong with a church live streaming its worship service, leading people to believe that watching a video of a worship service is equal to being a faithful member of a local church and physically gathering with that church body for worship and fellowship is an unbiblical ecclesiology. The Greek word for “church” in the New Testament is ἐκκλησία, or ekklesia. It literally means a gathering or assembly. No gathering, no church. The Bible commands and assumes that we physically gather as the church.

Calvary will be hosting the LifeWay Women Live Simulcast which features Jackie Hill Perry, Jen Wilkin, Jada Edwards, Jennifer Rothschild, Kelly Minter, and others.

Willy’s wife, Cheryl, is apparently a fan of Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, and Lysa TerKeurst. (Click here for more info.)

Willy Rice on the January 6 Capitol protest, race, and social justice:

Willy Rice Nominated for SBC President | Conversations That Matter | March 4, 2022


Two Good Men to Right the Ship

On March 22, it was announced that Tom Ascol – pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, and president of Founders Ministries – would be nominated for SBC president, and Voddie Baucham – author, sought after conference speaker, and currently dean of theology at African Christian University in Zambia – for president of the Pastors’ Conference.

Both men have an outstanding record of fidelity to Scripture, biblical ecclesiology, Christian ethics, and sound doctrine. Both have spoken unashamedly against sexual sin, false teachers, Critical Race Theory and racialism, egalitarianism, and the social justice movement. Both are dedicated to the bold proclamation of the mercy and grace of God in the biblical gospel rather than the watered down gospel of seeker sensitive easy believism.

There could be no two better men than these to begin the hard task of turning the SBC back to faithfully believing and obeying God’s Word. If at all possible, my Southern Baptist sisters, I urge you to talk to your pastor about representing your church as a messenger at the SBC annual meeting in Anaheim in June (along with as many other messengers as your church qualifies for) and vote for Tom and Voddie.

Statement from Southern Baptists Nominating Tom Ascol and Voddie Baucham

Southern Baptists Nominate Tom Ascol, Voddie Baucham To Leadership To Combat Woke Drift In Largest Protestant Denomination at The Daily Wire

Why I Am Willing to Be Nominated for SBC President by Tom Ascol

Change the Direction – With SBC Presidential Nominee, Tom Ascol at A Word Fitly Spoken

TS&TT: The Nomination of Tom Ascol for SBC President And The Need To #ChangeTheDirection | Founders Ministries | March 22, 2022

TS&TT: Voddie Baucham | SBC Pastors Conference Presidency and How We #ChangeTheDirection | Founders Ministries | March 29, 2022


The Missionary Candidate

On March 23, a third candidate for the SBC presidency was announced. Former IMB missionary, Robin Hadaway. Hadaway served for many years as a missionary in Africa and South America. Following his time on the mission field he spent twenty years at Midwestern Baptist Theological seminary as a professor of missions and in several different administrative positions. He has also served in various offices and capacities in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Former missionary Robin Hadaway to be nominated for SBC president at Baptist Press


Blackmailing the Bucks

In late March (spilling over into April), a situation began to unfold in which Tom Buck (and his wife, Jennifer), pastor of First Baptist Church, Lindale, Texas, who has battled valiantly against corruption in the SBC, was maligned, lied to, and threatened with blackmail. The situation involved not insignificant figures in SBC life, including SEBTS professor Karen Swallow Prior, SEBTS President Danny Akin, former 2022 SBC presidential nominee Willy Rice, and others.

This is the same type of “dirty tricks” move from the liberal contingent of the SBC we’ve come to expect over the last few years in the weeks immediately preceding the annual meeting, as they attempt to sully the reputations of those on the biblical side of the aisle in an attempt to influence, or even derail, the SBC presidential election.

The story is both heart wrenching and enraging, and provides insight into just how evil and corrupt the SBC has become at the highest levels. The story is somewhat lengthy and involved, and the timeline intricate, but I urge you to peruse the following pertinent documentation:

A Story of Restorative Grace by Jennifer Buck

A Statement Regarding Tom and Jennifer Buck by the elders of First Baptist Church, Lindale, Texas (BNG article referred to but not linked)

The Essential Facts and Concise Timeline of the SEBTS Coverup against Tom and Jennifer Buck: Questions We Should Be Asking at Servants and Heralds

Tom and Jennifer Buck’s Story | Tom Buck | April 22, 2022

April 2022

Willy Run? Apparently Not.

On April 1, potential SBC presidential nominee, Willy Rice (see “March” above) announced that it was about to be made public that a deacon in his church had committed “sexual sin” in his past – prior to his salvation – “that could also be described as abusive” but which did not involve criminal charges. The deacon was removed from his position. (I would like to point out, for clarity, that the 2021 resolution Rice quotes from near the end of the video says that anyone who has committed sexual abuse is permanently disqualified from the office of pastor. The man in question was a deacon, not a pastor.)

Willy Rice blames political rivals for Deacongate at Capstone Report

On April 6 – likely under pressure from “progressive” SBC leadership because he was the progressive candidate, and abuse is a major plank in the progressive platform – Rice announced he was withdrawing his name as a candidate for SBC President.

Willy Rice drops out of SBC Presidential race after Deacongate at Capstone Report


The “Progressive” Candidate

Texas pastor Bart Barber announced as candidate for SBC president at Baptist Press

On April 7, it was announced that pastor Bart Barber would be nominated for president of the SBC. Barber was appointed by current SBC president Ed Litton (see above) as chair of the Resolutions Committee, and will serve in that capacity at the 2022 annual meeting.

Though he may not consider himself progressive, Barber is the candidate most progressives will likely end up voting for, simply because a) he has greater name recognition than Robin Hadaway, and b) they want the least conservative candidate possible to win.

You can read about Barber’s positions on various issues at Bart Barber FAQs on his church’s website. You may find the following sections to be informative:

  • Critical Race Theory– in which Barber says it is problematic there is no agreed upon definition of CRT, yet conducts a Twitter poll (which any marginal statistician could tell you is hardly reliable) about this undefined concept of CRT, and uses those results to conclude that CRT is “far from being an urgent issue to address in your church or in the Southern Baptist Convention.”

    (Barber also served on the 2021 resolutions committee which quashed a resolution condemning CRT as incompatible with the BFM signed by 1300+ Southern Baptists. Tom Ascol, on the other hand, at that same meeting, made a motion to rescind 2019’s Resolution 9. Read more here.)
  • Plagiarism– in which Barber asserts that, since the authors of Scripture, young pastors, and those newly converted on the mission field may not have access to advanced theological training, the internet, commentaries, methods of attribution, etc., and, thus, may repeat things they’ve been told by others with no attribution, this excuses someone like Ed Litton – who does have all of those advantages and should know better – from plagiarism. How does Ed telling JD Greear’s personal life experiences as though they were his own fit into that paradigm? It’s not readily clear.

You can read the rest of Barber’s defense of Litton – as well as his opposition to the CBN (Conservative Baptist Network) here. Tom Ascol was, at that same time, vocally decrying Litton’s sin of plagiarism.

On the author of the gospel of Mark (see the remainder of the thread for context):

On a few other notes…

Though the content of his interactions with her are benign, Barber seems to have a friendly Twitter relationship with false teacher Beth Moore (here, here).

Barber has allowed the women’s ministry of his church to schedule a “Bible” study using a book by false teacher Priscilla Shirer:

In 2020, Barber invited Dwight McKissic to be a guest on his podcast, and recorded the episode in the sanctuary of his church. McKissic is an SBC “pastor” (he is biblically disqualified) who plays the race card in nearly every conversation, is a rabid egalitarian, and defends false teachers such as Beth Moore (McKissic suggested that she should be nominated as president of the SBC a few years ago) whenever he gets a chance.

It’s an Issue with the Network: The Platform and Anaheim 2022 by Allen Nelson


This Year’s Resolutions

On April 15, the resolutions portal opened for submitting a resolution to the 2022 Resolutions Committee. The 2022 resolution submission window closes May 30.

Resolutions are essentially position statements messengers may have the opportunity to vote on at the Convention. (Parliamentary procedure or committee action may preclude a vote.) I would love to publish the text of, or information regarding as many resolutions as possible so messengers can take the time to read, inform themselves, and especially pray about how they should vote that they may not have once at the convention site.

If you know someone who will be submitting a resolution at the Convention and would like to have it published here, please comment below or contact me as soon as possible.

Resolutions

This is the original text that will be submitted to the Committee on Resolutions. Please bear in mind, the Committee on Resolutions has the authority to “reword” these resolutions in any way they choose and then present the edited version to the Convention for a vote. (This was a major issue with Resolution 9 on CRT in 2019. The Committee “reworded” the original resolution so much that the edited version ended up saying basically the opposite of the original version.) The Committee also has the authority to decline to present a resolution for a vote. When you arrive at the Convention, please carefully read the versions of the resolutions you are given before voting on them, since they may have been altered.

Resolution on the Sacredness of the Southern Baptist Pulpit submitted by Pastor Allen Nelson, Perryville Second Baptist Church, Perryville, AR

Resolution on Beholding the Majesty of God submitted by Pastor Allen Nelson, Perryville Second Baptist Church, Perryville, AR


Point of Order: Resolutions

A resolution has traditionally been defined as an expression of opinion or concern, as compared to a motion, which calls for action. A resolution is not used to direct an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention to specific action other than to communicate the opinion or concern expressed. Resolutions are passed during the annual Convention meeting. Resources in Resolutions at SBC.net

As I mentioned above, a resolution is akin to a position statement on anything from abortion to a war in another country to National Ice Cream Day if you like. Individual Southern Baptist church members write up resolutions and submit them to the Committee on Resolutions within the allotted time frame. The Committee on Resolutions processes each resolution. Most, they will decline to present for a vote. Some, they will tweak, re-word, edit, beef up, or water down, before presenting. Some, they will present as is. Sometimes, when several similar resolutions are submitted, they will write a new resolution, combining the ideas they like from each, and present a resolution from the committee for a vote. Messengers then have the opportunity to vote in agreement or disagreement with each resolution the Committee on Resolutions presents.

Resolutions are non-binding. This means neither you nor your church nor any other Southern Baptist individual or church has to abide by any resolution. Resolutions serve mainly to make a public statement: This is what the majority of Southern Baptists believe about this issue this year.

Each year, no later than 75 days prior to the SBC Annual Meeting, the SBC president, in conference with the vice presidents, appoints a Committee on Resolutions whose task is to consider and recommend appropriate resolutions to the messengers attending the annual meeting….Only members in good standing of churches entitled to send messengers to the next annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention may submit resolutions.

For more information on how to submit a resolution to the committee click here: Submit a Resolution

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Change of Venue

On April 28, the Executive Committee voted to move the 2023 SBC annual meeting from Charlotte, North Carolina (the site approved by messengers in 2016), to New Orleans, Louisiana. Due to increased attendance over the past few years, it was anticipated that the Charlotte venue would be too small.


SATF Cost

Also on April 28, with regard to the Sexual Abuse Task Force:

EC members were informed that since Oct. 1, a total of $1,661,530 has been paid toward Guidepost Solutions [the independent investigating agency] and $17,478 toward Task Force travel and meetings.

In September, the EC voted to allocate up to $1.6 million toward the work by Guidepost Solutions. In February, they voted to increase the funds allocated to $2 million for the investigation or the “coverage of any other direct expenses without further approval.”

SBC Executive Committee approves 2023 Annual Meeting move, provides financial update at Baptist Press

May 2022

Baptist Press’ Tomfoolery

“Baptist Press recently released an interview that Jonathan Howe and Brandon Porter conducted with me…on April 5. Both they and I recorded the interview. They did so indicating that they would edit out the “ums,” “uhs,” and “wells,” etc. from the transcript in order to make the article flow well without losing the contextually understood meaning of my words.

In the interview that they posted, however…my responses were largely left unedited except for the exclusion of certain things I said…There are other misquotes throughout the article…in the interest of openness and transparency, I am making available the full audio below. In it you can hear a more complete and accurate version of the how the questions were phrased as well as my exact answers.”

Tom Ascol in What I Really Said in the Baptist Press Interview (with audio)
You can read and compare the Baptist Press article here.


Candidate Forum

Tom Ascol, Bart Barber, and Robin Hadaway participated in a panel discussion on issues facing the SBC at First Baptist Church, Keller, Texas, on May 4. The discussion was moderated by Joe Wooddell and Tony Richmond—both of FBC Keller.


Denny Burk, Bart Barber and the ERLC: All Against Abolition

Please educate yourself on this issue if you’re attending the Convention in June. It is a topic likely to be included in votable items.

Just days after the leak of the draft of the SCOTUS majority opinion on the overturn of Roe, HB813, on the complete abolition of abortion in the state of Louisiana, arrived at the House of the Louisiana Legislature for a vote. And it was torpedoed, thanks in part to the ERLC.

Acting ERLC president, Brent Leatherwood (along with dozens of other heads of supposedly pro-life organizations), signed on to An Open Letter to State Lawmakers from America’s Leading Pro-Life Organizations, released May 12 – the same day the Louisiana bill came to the floor for a vote. The letter characterized women who murder their babies as “victims” – denying that they have any culpability for killing their children – and, in an ominous, strong-armed tone, staunchly opposed the bill, and any future similar abolition bills.

In short, if your church gives to the Cooperative Program (and most SBC churches do): your offerings paid for the ERLC to help kill legislation that would have outlawed abortion.

This SBC entity, which you fund with your offerings, ignored the will of the SBC messengers to whom they are answerable. You will recall that last year at the Convention, the 2021 Committee on Resolutions – of which Bart Barber was a member – refused to let an abolition resolution come to the floor for a vote. It was only after messengers demanded it be released from committee that it was brought to the floor and overwhelmingly passed. The SBC grassroots wants abortion abolished immediately.

After the killing of the Louisiana bill, Denny Burk, professor at SBTS’ Boyce College, and associate pastor at an SBC church, carpet bombed Twitter with numerous screeds against abolition (the immediate abolishing of all abortion) and in favor of pro-life incrementalism (gradually chipping away at abortion via legislative restrictions, AKA, the past 50 years of legalized abortion), publishing three blog articles in a week (here, here, and here) which misrepresented and denounced the abolitionist position (which, by the way, is growing rapidly in the SBC, due to Southern Baptists’ disillusionment with the inability of the pro-life movement to abolish abortion), and warning Southern Baptists of dire consequences should they support the abolitionist cause rather than the pro-life position.

Naturally, Southern Baptists wanted to know where the candidates for SBC president stand on the issue.

Bart Barber updated his campaign FAQ page with a number of misrepresentations of, and misinformation about the abolitionist position (which, if I’m not misunderstanding his Twitter feed, were corrected by several people before {and certainly since} he posted the misinformation on his web page), and placed himself squarely in the incrementalist pro-life camp.

Tom Ascol wants abortion abolished immediately. You can read his clear, biblical, and well-reasoned position, which addresses Burk’s points, the ERLC’s sabotage of the Louisiana bill, and the 2021 SBC abolition resolution in his excellent article Toward a Principled Pro-Life Ethic in Post-Roe America

To inform yourself on what abolition actually does and doesn’t espouse, I recommend these resources:

Abortion Abolition at A Word Fitly Spoken

A Storm Comes Rolling Down the Plain

10 Can’t Miss Abolitionism Resources at Free the States

The Differences Between a Pro-Life Bill and an Abolitionist Bill at Free the States

End Abortion Now

Rescue Those


SATF Report and Recommendations

Please educate yourself on this issue if you’re attending the Convention in June. It is a topic which will almost certainly be included in votable items.

Guidepost Solutions, the firm hired by the SATF to investigate the EC for mishandling cases of abuse was to submit its report to the SATF 30 days prior to the SBC annual meeting in Anaheim (June 14-15, 2022). The report was to be made public one week after receipt, along with the SATF’s recommendations on any action the SBC should take as a result of the report. This took place on Sunday, May 22.

The GS report is nearly 300 pages long, so as I’m posting this today, most people who would offer a substantive commentary on it are still reading it. When pertinent substantive commentary becomes available, I will post links to it here.

The SATF made several recommendations, as they were tasked to do, based on the report.

Bart Barber shared his thoughts in a blog article entitled Response to the Sexual Abuse Task Force Report. While compassionate, it is extremely generalized and offers no specific, concrete suggestions as to how the SBC should respond.

I strongly recommend that you make the time to read and understand both the GS report (the executive summary at the beginning, at the very least) and the SATF recommendations if you’re planning to serve as a messenger at the Convention in June, as you’ll almost certainly be asked to vote on motions or resolutions related to it.

Please do not just blindly trust those on the platform to accurately represent the report, the recommendations, or anything else about the sexual abuse situation in the SBC. Do your homework.

As you read the GS report, do keep in mind that GS is not a Christian organization, therefore, they were unable to view the situation from a biblical perspective, nor were they able to propose biblical solutions to the problems they discovered. Their outlook and analysis of the abuse situation in the SBC, though professional and honest was, necessarily, worldly, and their recommendations based in worldly practicality, not Scripture. As Christians, we must take the information and recommendations GS has given us, and examine them under the microscope of Scripture. We must make decisions about what to do and how to move forward that submit to the authority of Scripture, not worldly “wisdom,” methods, and practicalities.

Preventative Measures: 6 Steps SBC Churches Can Take to Prevent Sexual Abuse

Dear SBC, the Answer to the Sex Abuse Crisis Is Not Pragmatism by Josh Buice


McKissic’s Motion

On May 27, “Pastor” Dwight McKissic (see “April”) announced on Twitter that he would be making the following motion at the Convention. (Remember, a motion is actionable and different from a resolution {see “April”}, which is non-binding.)

In a nutshell, he’s making a motion for SBTS to “study” removing the name of anyone who owned slaves from its buildings, programs, etc. The findings of the study (plus any actions taken or recommendations from SBTS) will be reported at the 2023 Convention.

Abuse, Church, Sin, Southern Baptist/SBC

Preventative Measures: 6 Steps SBC Churches Can Take to Prevent Sexual Abuse

Originally published February 22, 2019

The state I live in is heavily Catholic and Southern Baptist. For many years, journalists and others have been delving into the gobsmacking number – thousands – of pedophile and sexually abusive Catholic clergy across the globe, and, in recent months, my own local paper has been tackling the issue as it pertains to priests and other Catholic leaders in our area who have been revealed as abusers. So I was kind of prepared for the Southern Baptist Convention to be the next entity to be investigated. My guess is that either Presbyterians or Mormons will be next.

It’s absolutely appropriate that the news media conducted this kind of investigation into the SBC. What’s not appropriate is that SBC leadership appeared not to be ready for it because – at least from my perspective as the average person in the pew – it’s not something the Convention has a history of policing itself on in any appreciable way. SBC leadership should have been ready and eager to fling the doors wide open and transparently welcome any sort of investigation by the media, demonstrating whatever progress has been made in dealing with perverts in our pulpits. Instead, they seemed to be caught virtually unprepared despite the fact that the signs of the times should have indicated to them that this was coming.

In my opinion, the Houston Chronicle did an excellent job of exposing the problems with abuse in the SBC in its three-part series of articles, even taking the time to explain the crucial point of church autonomy, which sets SBC churches apart from the governing structure of Catholicism and other organizations, and which has, in many cases enabled abusers to move from church to church undetected. SBC leaders who have explained that they have no authority to force churches to participate in any sort of registry of abusers and the credibly accused are correct (but couldn’t it be voluntary?). SBC leadership, unfortunately, has no such authority over individual churches. Each church has to set its own standards and methods for preventing abuse. So what can individual, autonomous churches do to prevent abuse?

1.
Preach the Gospel

That might sound pretty basic, but it’s one of the basics we desperately need to get back to. We need to be churches who hammer on the gospel – the wretchedness of sin, the supreme holiness of God, the cross, the tomb, the resurrection, grace, mercy, repentance, forgiveness – week in and week out. Not only is that…well…it’s just what any biblical church is supposed to do, but my guess is that the vast majority of the perpetrators in these abuse cases are not actually Christians – despite what they may claim or what office they might hold – they are false converts because a lot of churches they’ve been part of have neglected their duty to preach the gospel.

Too many SBC churches teach an easy – “Just repeat this quick little prayer, and boom, you’re in!” – believism that unrepentant sinners hang their eternal hats on as a “Get out of Hell, Free!” card. They’ve never found themselves filthy and undone before an unfathomably holy God because they’ve never been confronted by that God or that characterization of their sin in the preaching and teaching of their churches. Could some of these perpetrators be genuinely regenerated Christians? It’s possible, but not likely. By and large, true Christians are not out there abusing others – it’s the false converts.

2.
Meaningful Membership

Some churches have done away with formal membership altogether. Everybody’s welcome, come and go whenever you want, if you want, no requirements, no accountability. That’s not biblical, nor is it how the church has handled membership over the course of church history.

Traditionally there have been three main ways to join a SBC church: a newly saved person makes a public profession of his faith to the church body and is baptized into membership, or membership can be transferred from one church to another. You can transfer your membership by promise of letter (your previous church sends a letter to your current church recommending or not recommending that you be accepted for membership) or by statement (when obtaining a letter from a previous church isn’t possible, this is an “honor system” personal testimony that you are a baptized Believer).

Promise of letter in particular is a decent and biblical system that needs to be upheld, adhered to, and taken gravely seriously rather than just waving every Tom, Dick, and Harry through the wide open doors of the church. And in the case of new church members and new staff members (new staff members have to transfer their membership, too), it could help curb abuse if both the sending and receiving churches would look upon it as far more than a mere formality.

One of the very valid problems the Chronicle articles cite is that sending churches (the churches the abusers came from) did not inform subsequent churches of the problems with the abuser. They silently foisted people they knew were dangerous onto unsuspecting congregations. If sending churches would respond honestly to inquiries from receiving churches (the churches the abusers are going to) about their former staff and members, and if receiving churches would ask probing, personal questions rather than sending out perfunctory form letters, that would be a good start to making more headway on preventing abuse.

Furthermore…

Meaningful membership makes it harder for people to anonymously breeze in to the church, abuse, and slip out before anybody realizes what’s going on.

There are sexual abusers out there who find and attend churches with loosey-goosey membership policies for the express purpose of cultivating a pool of victims. They know these churches are blindly and ignorantly trusting, so they show up for a couple of weeks, talk a good game, and promptly volunteer to work in the nursery or with the youth. If your church has a firm membership policy, required membership class, requires members to sign a church covenant, only allows church members (not just anybody who wants to or seems talented) to serve in any office, task, role, or capacity – and only after they have been members for a specified amount of time (ex: must have been a faithful member for at least six months to teach, serve on a committee, etc.), that sort of abuser isn’t going to waste his time or chance being caught by attending your church.

3.
Church Discipline

One of the failings of far too many SBC (and other) churches is sweeping sin under the rug and refusing to biblically exercise church discipline before it’s too late and calamity strikes. Church discipline isn’t just for the “big” sins like a pastor who commits adultery. Church discipline is for all observable, unrepentant, biblically defined sin. If we have verifiable knowledge that a brother or sister in our church is sinning, we have the obligation not to please ourselves by turning a blind eye and avoiding a confrontation, but to lovingly go to that person and plead with her, for her own restoration and reconciliation to Christ, to repent and walk blamelessly. Often (hopefully), that first step in the church discipline process precludes the need for the remaining two.

Churches that consistently, lovingly, and biblically practice church discipline help prevent abuse in four ways…

First of all, nobody wakes up one morning and decides to start sexually abusing others. There are always “smaller” sins leading up to abuse – obscene comments, dirty jokes, leering, pornography, inappropriate touching in public. If we would address those “smaller” sins when we see them happening, we might just prevent the potential abuser from continually hardening his heart by getting away with sin, bring the gospel to bear on his life, and keep him from becoming an abuser in the first place. He might actually get saved, which is one of the goals of church discipline.

Second, if a church cultivates an atmosphere of practicing church discipline, unrepentant abusers aren’t going to hang around long. They don’t want to be caught.

Third, if a church ends up having to go through all the steps of church discipline with an unrepentant potential abuser, the last step – bringing this person before the church to remove him from membership – is public. Church members are made aware of the problems with this person so they can avoid being victimized by him and the procedure of removing the potential abuser from church membership goes into the church records. When he then goes to a new church, that receiving church should inquire of the sending church about him (see “Meaningful Membership” above). The sending church can then provide the record of his removal so the receiving church will be aware of the problems with this person.

Fourth, if we practice church discipline on the “smaller” sins with an unrepentant abuser, he is likely to be removed from membership in the church before he gets to the point of abusing someone.

Another aspect of church discipline is tightening up the rolls and removing members who are dead (no, I’m not kidding), have moved away, have stopped attending, or are no longer members in good standing for other reasons. This may not prevent someone from abusing, but at least if he does abuse, the media won’t be able to report that he’s (still) a member of your church, thus tarnishing your church’s, and possibly God’s, good name.

4.
Take Biblical Requirements for Leadership Seriously

It’s not like the Bible doesn’t tell us what kind of man should be a pastor, elder, or deacon. It’s right there, in black and white, twice, in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. And yet there are churches who barely give those requirements a glance in favor of “more important” qualities they want in a pastor: Does he have at least a master’s degree from seminary? Is he a certain age? Does he rub elbows with Christian celebrities? Does he have a track record of successful building programs, fundraising, and attracting lots of new members? Is he charismatic and a dynamic speaker? None of those things are inherently bad unless they take precedence over the biblical qualifications.

But when churches are hiring men as pastors, youth directors, etc., whom they know have been in prison for abuse, as the Chronicle articles cited, we have to think some other factor is more important to those churches than the biblical requirements. Because someone who has been accused, tried, convicted, and imprisoned by worldly courts for sexual abuse is no longer “above reproach” – the very first requirement in both passages (and Titus mentions it twice for emphasis) – he is not “respectable”, and he is not “well thought of by outsiders”. The very existence of the Chronicle’s articles proves that. It boggles the mind that something like this has to be said to professing Christians who are supposedly spiritually mature and biblically knowledgeable enough to be on the pastor search committees for their churches, but…

People who have criminal records as sex abusers are permanently disqualified from professional ministry because they no longer meet these biblical requirements.

(And just as an aside, if your church has a “no hire” policy for men who have ever been divorced for any reason but yet you’ll hire a convicted sexual abuser…well…I’m just at a loss for words at that level of hypocrisy. OK, maybe one word: repent.)

But, “forgiveness for repentant sinners!” I can hear compassionate Christians cry out. Absolutely. Absolutely. I have a loved one who was radically and genuinely saved while he was in prison for child molestation. God can and does save sexual abusers, and those forgiven Christians need a church home just like everybody else does. We lovingly welcome into membership repentant sinners who are transparent with the church about their previous sin and who volunteer to be kept accountable. But we do not put them back into the position of pastor, elder, deacon, etc., first because they are biblically disqualified, and second, because it is not loving to that person nor to the rest of the church to allow him access to facets of church life that would tempt him back into sin. And it is putting God to the test to intentionally put such a person into a tempting situation as some sort of way of “proving” that God has really saved this person. We would not make a convicted embezzler the church treasurer and we should not be putting sexual abusers in positions that would tempt or allow them to abuse again – even volunteer positions. That doesn’t mean we doubt their salvation or the work God has done in their hearts, that means we recognize that Satan is cruel and crafty and we humbly admit that we still succumb to temptations to sin. It’s not holding a grudge or unforgiveness, it’s exercising biblical wisdom.

5.
Stop Being Afraid

When we allow the fear of man to determine our actions instead of the fear of God, we are in grave spiritual error.

Peter and the apostles stood up to the authorities who threatened and imprisoned them, insisted on obeying God’s Word, boldly declared, “We must obey God rather than men,” took their licks like men, went away rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name, and kept right on trucking in obedience to God. How far have we fallen when we won’t even address a brother’s sin with him because we’re afraid of confrontation? When we cover up a predator’s behavior and unleash him on others because we’re afraid of a defamation lawsuit? When we must obey men rather than God because we’re more afraid of the earthly consequences than spiritual consequences – because we don’t trust God to take care of us or His church?

Brothers and sisters, this must not be.

How far have we fallen when we cover up a predator’s behavior and unleash him on others because we’re afraid of a lawsuit?

Should we act wisely? Of course. Make sure we’re obeying the law and not hurting anyone as far as we’re able? Certainly. Get some legal advice? Absolutely. But when the rubber meets the road of choosing what’s right in God’s eyes versus what’s safe or comfortable in our own eyes, we choose what’s right in God’s eyes every time and we trust Him with the outcome. The God who parts seas, cools furnaces, and raises the dead is powerful enough to handle court cases and the ire of sinful men. Let us say with the Psalms and the Proverbs:

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Proverbs 29:25

…in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Psalm 56:11

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
Psalm 118:6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
Proverbs 3:5-7

6.
Practical Wisdom

Do the practical stuff. God has given us brains, experience, resources, and promises us wisdom. We would be failing to honor Him if we did not make use of all of those blessings in order to protect our churches from predators.

Perform criminal background checks on all staff members and on anyone who works with children, the disabled, or vulnerable adults regardless of how well you know them or how trustworthy you think they are.

Check references on every employee from the pastor to the janitor. Do it thoroughly and diligently, not flippantly.

Put accountability measures in place such as requiring at least two adults to be present in children’s and youth activities and classes at all times. No teen or adult – including the pastor, youth pastor or any other staff member – should ever be alone with a child on church property or at church functions.

Hold training sessions for the whole church on your church’s security measures, and how to report suspicious behavior and suspected abuse. Specifically address parents on the issue of trusting other adults in the church. Time after time, we hear that children are victimized because parents have left their child alone with a pastor or other Christian adult assuming that person was trustworthy. Teach them instead to assume that any adult – regardless of his title or position – who seeks to be alone with a child is untrustworthy.

Explore the services of organizations like Ministry Safe and others who can help you make your church a safer place. Pick the brains of sister churches who have put precautions in place for helpful suggestions and resources.

In the aftermath of bombshell news of abuse, the most common line of reasoning is, “How can we fix this? What can we do?”. Thoughts turn to practical solutions. That’s not wrong. In fact, it’s very, very right. We should make every effort to put pragmatic safeguards in place. But we can’t focus on the practical and tangible and leave out the spiritual. Because abuse is a spiritual issue way before it’s a safety issue.

We can’t focus on the practical and tangible and leave out the spiritual. Because abuse is a spiritual issue way before it’s a safety issue.

And if we get the spiritual part of it right from the get go, we drastically reduce the chances that we’ll have to fall back on practical safety measures. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and a church striving to uphold the highest Scriptural standards of holiness will find itself fortified with tons of both.

Movies, Southern Baptist/SBC

Critical Race Theory Video Series, Parts 1-6

Originally published February 9, 2021

Below is a series of videos on Critical Race Theory created by my friend, Pastor Travis McNeely, and featuring LSU law professor, Randy Trahan. In this series, Randy, a former proponent of CRT, describes his journey into – and out of – critical theory, explains what CRT is, and why it’s a danger to the church, particularly to Southern Baptists.

I have posted this series in the past, and I’m running it again today in hopes of helping my fellow Southern Baptists prepare for the upcoming annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in June. CRT/I has been a front and center issue at the convention since 2019, and I’m sure it will come into play again this year at the 2022 meeting.

If you are Southern Baptist, I encourage you to serve as a messenger to the Convention from your church and vote against any resolution or other propositions that would seek to further the godless, Marxist agenda of Critical Race Theory.

But even if you’re not Southern Baptist, it’s urgent that you understand what CRT/I is and make sure it doesn’t infiltrate your church.

Travis has developed a discussion guide to go with the videos, so as you watch, consider whether this might be a good series for your pastor to guide your church through, and pass it along to him.

Newly added- Be sure to check out the bonus video after parts 1-6. Travis interviews Samuel Sey on the topic of CRT.


Bonus Video!

Check out Travis’ interview with Samuel Sey on Travis’ podcast, “At the Crossroads”.

Be sure to subscribe to At the Crossroads on YouTube, Anchor, or Spotify.

Southern Baptist/SBC

The Mailbag: SBC Resolution 9- On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality

Originally published June 17, 2019

What are your thoughts on Resolution 9 that recently passed at the 2019 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention?

It seems like every year there’s that one controversial resolution that everybody’s talking about. This year, it’s Resolution 9: On Critical Race Theory And Intersectionality. 

If you don’t know what CRT and intersectionality are, you’re not alone. Far from it, in fact. There’s no way I can fully explain each of them, so I would encourage you to Google the terms and get ready for some heavy duty academic reading, some of which is going to conflict with itself depending on who and what you read. Also, see the “Additional Resources” section below.

Briefly and uber-broadly, what you see playing out in race relations in the U.S. right now is basically the end result of CRT: Privilege. Reparations. Oppression. Repent of and renounce your whiteness. White people’s racism is so deep seated we’re not even conscious of it. White power and privilege are inextricably embedded in politics, education, religion, economics- every single system in existence. It is a paradigm through which social justice issues are viewed and addressed.

Intersectionality is almost like saying: “On a scale of 1-10, how oppressed are you?” The fewer minority groups you fit into, the less oppressed you are, and vice versa. A white, male, heterosexual, educated, middle class, Christian would be on the “privileged” end of the scale. A poor, black, female, homosexual, transgender, Muslim would be on the “oppressed” end of the scale. The more oppressed you are, the more you are to be heard and taken seriously on the social issues of the day.

(People are going to say those are over-generalizations. I agree. Like I said, Google it and study the issue more thoroughly.)

In the Southern Baptist Convention, any messenger (a church member representing her church at the convention) can propose a resolution about almost anything (It’s actually pretty interesting to go back as far as 1845 and read past resolutions.). If her resolution is approved by the Committee on Resolutions, it’s voted on by everybody else in attendance (why, in 2019, we haven’t come up with some method of distance voting online is beyond me, but that’s for another article). Because of SBC polity and the autonomy of each local church, resolutions are non-binding. Generally speaking, no SBC church or church member is required to abide by a resolution that passes, and resolutions are often a merely an encouragement for SBC churches/members to affirm something biblical or to repudiate something that’s unbiblical anyway.

Such was the case with Resolution 9, which called on Southern Baptists to – in a nutshell – recognize that CRT and intersectionality are unbiblical ways of addressing “social justice” issues and that they are creeping in to SBC churches and entities, repudiate CRT/intersectionality, and affirm that the Bible is authoritative and sufficient for dealing with these and all other issues.

At least, that’s what the original resolution authored by Pastor Stephen Feinstein of Sovereign Way Christian Church called on Southern Baptists to do. But that’s not the resolution SBC messengers got to vote on.

You see, when a messenger submits a resolution to the Committee on Resolutions for approval, “The SBC Committee on Resolutions is vested with the authority to…reword submitted resolutions…”. And reword, they did. Not just the format, but the content. So much so that the revised resolution bears so little resemblance to the original that had I authored any resolution altered to this extent, I would have ended up voting against my own resolution. The committee’s rewording changed the meaning of the resolution from “The CRT/intersectionality paradigm is sinful at its foundation. We need to repudiate it altogether, keep it out of our churches and entities, and address these issues biblically,” to “Some people have used the CRT/intersectionality paradigm unwisely, but we can learn some things by using it, so as long as it doesn’t override Scripture, it’s fine,” and the revised version of the resolution passed.

So that’s the quick recap of the issues at play (as I have read about them – I was not able to attend the convention this year). What are my thoughts?

•My first reaction to both versions of the resolution and the passage of the revised version was that most of the messengers likely did not understand what they were voting on for two reasons:

First, the format and wording of SBC resolutions tends to be somewhat formal and stilted. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, and I’m certainly not saying any of my SBC brethren are unintelligent (I struggle to slog through them myself sometimes), but I look at the wording and format of both resolutions and I compare them to simply worded and formatted social media posts, blog articles, etc., that many people seem to have trouble understanding, and I have to think it would be helpful to begin each resolution with a simply worded four or five sentence summary of its main points so people have a better shot at knowing what they’re voting about.

Second, the vast majority of Southern Baptists (and probably Christians in general) do not keep up with current events in evangelicalism and probably have never heard of CRT or intersectionality – which are relatively new terms and concepts anyway – much less know what those terms mean well enough to make an informed decision on which way to vote. (I don’t blame them. It’s impossible to keep up with everything going on in the world of evangelicalism.) Neither version of the resolution offered much of an explanation as to what CRT and intersectionality are. They both seemed to carry the assumption that those reading the resolution would already know. My guess is that most did not.

I later discovered that my friend, Pastor Tom Buck had a similar takeaway. I thoroughly agree with him.

•Tom also spoke against the revised resolution from the floor, and Tom Ascol, president of Founders Ministries, offered some clarifying amendments (which, unfortunately did not pass) to the revised resolution. I thought both were very helpful, and I wish the messengers had taken their remarks to heart.

•I am shocked and appalled at the changes the Committee on Resolutions made to Pastor Feinstein’s resolution. I realize that the committee has the right to “reword” resolutions, but I don’t think they ought to have the right to water down or change the meaning of the content of a resolution. Grammar, format, correcting objectively incorrect facts, eliminating redundancies – all fine. But for a revised version of a resolution to be so dramatically different from the original – no.

•I can only speculate as to why the revised version of the resolution differed so greatly – mainly in that the language seemed softened and the urgency and danger of the issue seemed watered down. Either the members of the Committee on Resolutions aren’t very familiar with CRT and intersectionality and the dangers they pose and watered down the language in order not to offend or alarm anyone, or the members of the committee are knowledgeable of, and at least somewhat favorably disposed to, CRT and intersectionality and are trying to fly them into the SBC under the radar.

As I said, this is only speculation and I am not making any accusations or casting aspersions. With the exception of Trevin Wax, I am not familiar with any of the members of the committee, but I will say this: I would be very surprised to encounter anyone on faculty or staff at an institution of higher learning (such as a seminary) that isn’t at least acquainted with the basics of CRT and intersectionality. I suppose it’s not impossible, but it would be very surprising to me.

•Big picture short term: Very few of the millions of Southern Baptists in the U.S. and around the globe will even know about this resolution since, proportionally, very few Southern Baptists attend the convention or keep up with convention business. Even most of those who were present and voted to approve the resolution will probably have forgotten about it within a month or so since it has no enforceability at the church or individual level and since many voters likely did not fully understand what they were voting about in the first place. While the adoption of the resolution is not a good sign, I don’t expect there to be an en masse mad rush of Southern Baptists into full blown CRT and intersectionality tomorrow.

•Big picture long term: Barring direct intervention from God Himself in the form of revival, the SBC will eventually go down the same path of theological liberalism as all the other major denominations. Doctrinally sound churches will split off and either form their own denomination or remain independent, autonomous churches. This resolution is only one of the the first steps down that road.

•It is my hope that some good will come from this resolution in the form of awareness. That average people in the pew will hear the words “Critical Race Theory” and “intersectionality” and wonder what they mean and how they connect to the SBC. That they will study and research and be moved by a holy zeal, not only cry out to God to keep these and other unbiblical ideas out of the SBC, but to stand up and act – to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.


Spring 2021 Update: (The 2020 convention was canceled due to COVID.) Pastor Mike Stone (anticipated nominee for SBC president) will be making a motion at this year’s annual meeting tentatively titled: Resolution on the Incompatibility of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality with The Baptist Faith and Message, as something of an antidote to Resolution 9. Any Southern Baptist from a qualifying church can co-submit (sign on in support) this resolution, even if you’re not a messenger, even if you’re not attending the Convention. Click the link above, download the form, fill it out, have your pastor or church clerk sign it, and upload it by Thursday, May 27, 2021.

If you are Southern Baptist, I encourage you to serve as a messenger from your church and vote to support the above resolution and any other denunciation of Resolution 9 or Critical Race Theory.

Post-2021 Convention Update: Despite the fact that an unprecedented 1300+ Southern Baptists signed on to the above resolution, the 2021 Committee on Resolutions refused to let the resolution out of committee and bring it to the floor, denying the messengers the opportunity to vote on it.


Additional Resources

Overview of Critical Race Theory & Intersectionality at The Cripplegate

SBC19 – Resolution 9, Women in Mission, Mature Manhood & Critical Race Theory on The Sword and the Trowel

The Woke Tools of the SBC: A Review of Resolution 9 on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality by Josh Buice

The Briefing (6-14-19) with Albert Mohler (Click on, or scroll down to, “Part III”)

Resolution 9 and the Southern Baptist Convention 2019 at Founders Ministries

Tom Buck on SBC 2019 on The Dividing Line (start at 32:30ish for Resolution 9 info.)

Gabriel Hughes on Resolution 9 (start at 20:47 for Resolution 9 info.)

What’s Up with Critical Theory at Sheologians

Critical Race Theory at Just Thinking

Critical Theory at Alpha and Omega Ministries

By What Standard from Founders Ministries

Critical Race Theory video series by Randy Trahan and Travis McNeely


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.