Southern Baptist/SBC

Change in the SBC? Field Notes from the Grassroots

The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is coming up in a few weeks.

As a lifelong Southern Baptist, I have thoughts. Feelings, even.

For the past several years – some might even say it started as soon as the Conservative Resurgence was over – the SBC has been on a slow but steady downward and unbiblical trajectory. False teachers line the (virtual) shelves of LifeWay Retail and headline LifeWay-sponsored conferences. False doctrine like extra-biblical revelation and Critical Race Theory are championed. Women have been preaching to men at conferences and para-church events for decades, and now women preaching the Sunday morning sermon in SBC churches is increasing in frequency and acceptance. NAMB was recently taken to task for sponsoring church plants with female pastors. Yoking with heretical, New Apostolic Reformation organizations – for example, when sitting SBC President Ronnie Floyd was a featured speaker at IHOP’s 2015 conference or when LifeWay’s Sunday School curriculum recommends music by Jesus Culture – a clear violation of Scripture, is defended.

And so much more.

It’s a real mess, folks. And to many average Southern Baptists like me, with no power, no position, it’s a mess that feels insurmountable. Beyond discouraging. Hopeless. Not worth the effort of trying to save.

Why? Because nobody in power cares what doctrinally sound, Joe and Jane Churchmember think. In fact, Joe and Jane often feel like we are seen by some in SBC leadership as ignorant, backwoods annoyances to the ruling class. The huddled unwashed masses stupidly crying, “Biblical reform!” as the multi-seminary-degreed elites condescendingly pat us on the heads and send us back to our pews assuring us they know what’s best.

I watched it happen in 2012 when I attended the annual meeting. A messenger went to the microphone after then president/CEO Thom Rainer’s report on LifeWay and began to express concern about the false teachers LifeWay carries. Dr. Rainer’s answer? “Trust the trustees.” The trustees, of course, being the ones who approved those authors for sale by LifeWay in the first place.

There are several brave and hardy Joes and Janes out there who still have fight left in them. Who believe the SBC is worth saving. Who believe it can be turned around if there’s a groundswell of involvement from the grassroots.

God bless them.

I mean that with all my heart. God bless them – mightily. I admire and heartily support them, and I urge you to support them too. I hope, against all hope, that they are right.

But I think there may be a bit of a disconnect in understanding where the “It’s time to chuck the whole thing” side of the aisle is coming from. So I just wanted to take a few moments to air that out – at least from my perspective.

“Show Up”

“Change is made by those who show up.” I’ve heard it multiple times from several different voices in the “grassroots for change” movement urging Joe and Jane to be present at the annual meeting each year. And, in theory, I completely agree. If you can show up, you should.

But in practice, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Yes, if you’ve got plenty of money, your time is your own, and your health and life circumstances permit you to travel to wherever the convention is being held every year, it’s pretty easy to show up.

It’s also easy to forget that not every Southern Baptist is so blessed. In fact, I would take a wild guess that probably 85% or more of Southern Baptist church members and a significant number of SBC pastors are not that comfortably fixed.

We don’t have hundreds or thousands of extra dollars in our family budgets every year to fly or drive what’s often thousands of miles across the country to the meeting site and pay hundreds more for a hotel, meals, and other expenses once we get there. That’s not the type of expense a lot of families can sacrifice for, save up, or scrape together just because we’re being urged to “show up” – the money simply isn’t there.

We have jobs that prevent us from taking time off for the convention. Many of those jobs don’t offer paid vacation time. If we don’t work, we don’t get paid. In some jobs, if you don’t show up whenever you’re needed, you get fired. Even for those fortunate enough to get paid vacation time, that time is limited and may need to be spent on something else – a family wedding, caring for a sick loved one, painting the house.

Some who can afford to make the trip and have the time to do so are limited by other life circumstances such as their health, local responsibilities, and family obligations.

It’s even difficult for many SBC pastors to attend the convention. Are we forgetting that the majority of our churches are small and many of our pastors are bi-vocational? “According to the 2014 Annual Church Profile (ACP) report, 90% of the churches reporting average fewer than 272 in their worship service, and 75% average fewer than 131.”1 Think about how much it would cost to fly your pastor to Nashville, feed him, rent him a car, and put him up in a downtown hotel for several days. How many of our churches that run 20 or 30 or 40 in Sunday worship can afford that? Some of them can’t even afford to pay their pastors a salary.

And then there are the Janes and Joes who are able and willing to attend the convention but find themselves members of doctrinally unsound SBC churches that actually agree with CRT or women pastors or any of the other aforementioned issues. Maybe their churches were once sound, but have taken an unbiblical turn. Or maybe God has only recently opened their eyes to sound doctrine and they’re trying to effect change in a stiff-necked church before being forced to abandon ship. How many of those church members are going to get approved as messengers by their churches? Having been in that situation myself, I can answer that question: Zero. That’s how many.

Many of these difficulties also hold true for the state conventions and associational meetings we’re urged to attend, meetings which are often held during work hours in the middle of the week and sometimes hundreds of miles from home.

It’s really easy for some to say, “If you don’t show up and vote, you can’t complain,” but the effect on those who want to show up, but can’t, is discouragement.

Are we effectively – albeit unintentionally – being respecters of persons by only giving a voice to those who can afford to “show up”? Are we not functionally discriminating against and silencing smaller, poorer churches and church members?

Biblical dissent is silenced or ignored.

For those of us who have seen how biblical dissent is handled by many SBC leaders, we have no reason to believe we’ll be listened to or taken seriously even if we do “show up” at associational meetings, state conventions, or the national convention.

I know of plenty of pastors and church members (including me) who have attempted to contact their local associational leaders, their state convention leaders, or leaders at the national level about some of these problematic issues. They’ve been placated. They’ve been ignored. Their emails, letters, and phone calls have gone unanswered. They’ve been dressed down and told they were wrong, or didn’t have enough faith, or were unloving or in sin, or weren’t being Christlike.

Last year we saw the grassroots outcry against David Uth, president of the 2020 SBC pastors conference, for inviting false teachers and a female pastor to headline the event. He still dug his heels in and refused to heed the godly reproof he received.

Current SBC president J.D. Greear makes a public statement about the Bible “whispering about sexual sin,” publicly supports and defends false teachers like Beth Moore, and maintains a friendship with at least one female “pastor” – among many other things – and completely ignores anyone who takes him to task for it.

The unspoken “11th Commandment” threat of retaliation against denominational, LifeWay, and seminary employees who, after exhausting all of the “proper channels” to no avail, speak out against unbiblical actions by their employers, superiors, or other denominational leaders, is an open secret, and no joke to those who have been intimidated, negatively impacted, fired, or forced to resign.

At the 2019 convention, messengers attempted to speak against Resolution 9, and their microphones were turned off. And I already mentioned what happened at the 2012 convention.

I appreciate the faith and optimism of those who think our voices can still be heard, I truly do. And I desperately hope they are right. Nothing would make me happier. But in the current SBC climate of ignoring, silencing, and even threatening biblical dissent and correction, surely they can also understand why many of us would wonder why any doctrinally sound Southern Baptist would ever dream of being listened to and taken seriously.

So….what’s the solution?

Many average church members and pastors who want change have no voice because they can’t afford to show up in person at the convention, and even if they do show up, there’s no reason to believe their voices will be heard, much less heeded. So, what’s the solution?

I can think of two practical remedies that might help a little.

Virtual attendance and distance voting- Every time I’ve suggested this or heard someone else suggest this, it has been immediately shot down – often by those urging involvement from the grassroots – in favor of messengers “showing up” in person, and because “the technological capability for this doesn’t exist.”

I’m sorry, I’m fully aware of how dense I am when it comes to technology, but I look around and see online shopping, PayPal, people filing their taxes and census forms online, online classes and testing, and all kinds of other very official things being done online that involve the transmission of sensitive information that has to be accurate, and I have an extremely difficult time believing that the Southern Baptist Convention can’t find some way in the next few years to make streaming the convention, submitting input and questions online, and voting online a reality. This is the 21st century and we still seem to be operating with a horse and buggy mindset.

Convention “Scholarships”- If you really want people to “show up,” you’re going to have to make it financially possible for those who can’t afford it. Commendably, many individual churches already do this for their own pastors and messengers, paying for their airfare, accommodations, and/or other expenses.

What about grassroots organizations establishing some sort of “scholarship” fund for pastors and potential messengers who would like to attend the convention, but neither they nor their churches can afford to send them? (Here’s a wild idea- why don’t we de-fund the ERLC and use those funds for this kind of thing instead?) What about churches and church members in the city in which the convention is being held opening their doors to pastors and messengers traveling on a shoestring budget and providing them with a place to stay, meals, and transportation around town?

Again, I wholeheartedly support my SBC brothers and sisters who are trying to effect change within the current system and structure. And I encourage all doctrinally sound Southern Baptists who can attend this year’s annual meeting to do so, and to fight hard and vote biblically. My own son and several members of my church are going to be attending, and I’m cheering them on. I’d go myself if I could. I’m hoping and praying for lots of good to be accomplished.

I don’t have all the answers. I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer. I just know that if you do what you’ve always done, chances are, you’re going to get what you’ve always gotten.

And I just don’t think the Southern Baptist Convention can survive much more of that.

1So-Called “Smaller” Churches and the Future of the SBC

Church, Southern Baptist/SBC

“Wayback Wednesday” ~ It’s Time for a Reformation in the SBC – 3 Issues We Need to Set Right

I had to do a little flip-flopping of the blog schedule this week. Today is “Throwback Thursday”. Tomorrow will be the next lesson in our Sermon on the Mount Bible study.

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 ARBCA, Bible, Independent, 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.

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, 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

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.

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

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.

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

Interview with Anticipated SBC Presidential Nominee: Mike Stone

Mike Stone, Michelle Lesley

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend an event sponsored by the Louisiana chapter of the Conservative Baptist Network featuring Pastor Mike Stone, anticipated 2021 nominee for president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The next morning, Pastor Mike graciously made the time to sit for a brief interview with me, which I’m making available to you today for informational purposes, especially if you’re Southern Baptist.

I’m sure there are some theological topics on which Pastor Mike and I don’t see eye to eye, so this isn’t meant to be an endorsement of anything that conflicts with my theology as outlined in my Welcome and Statement of Faith tabs, nor is the fact that Pastor Mike is appearing on my blog an endorsement of any of my theology that conflicts with his positions. This interview was simply a service both of us are providing to you so that you may know where Pastor Mike stands on the issues I asked him about.

That being said, as a brother and sister in Christ who share a passion for the sufficiency of Scripture, a disdain for so-called “soft-complementarianism,” and a desire to see the Southern Baptist Convention straighten up and fly right, I feel certain we have far more in common than not. I found Pastor Mike to be a warm and caring brother, and I commend him for taking a firm, biblical stand on some issues which, sad to say, will not earn him any brownie points in certain sectors of the SBC. That takes guts, and I respect that. I thoroughly enjoyed our chat.

Listen in on the audio player above or on my YouTube channel (audio only).

I know some of y’all like transcripts when I post audio. I was not able to transcribe Pastor Mike’s portion of interview, but you may read my questions – as well as a post-interview addendum to Pastor Mike’s answer to question #2 – here.

Many thanks to Pastor Mike Stone, the Conservative Baptist Network, the Louisiana chapter of the Conservative Baptist Network, CBN Steering Council member, Pastor Lewis Richerson, and Benjamin Lesley- producer, for making this interview possible.

Southern Baptist/SBC

Bye-Bye Beth: What Beth Moore’s Split with the SBC Means

It was the shot heard round the world online Christian neighborhood I hang out in. (I’m sure most of the actual world couldn’t care less.) On Tuesday, March 8 – in a hit piece from RNS (Religion News Service) that came thisclose to libeling everyone who has ever biblically called for her de-platforming – Beth Moore announced she had broken ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, and flounced out the door, smearing the institution that made her what she is on her way out. Classy.

What does this mean for Beth? For you? For Southern Baptist churches? For the SBC?

For Beth personally…

For Beth, personally, it means she no longer has to keep her church membership at a Southern Baptist church. A few months ago, when Beth mentioned that she was looking for a new church, I figured she was probably looking for something much less biblically restrictive than her Southern Baptist home church (which already plays fast and loose with the Scriptures by allowing Beth – a woman and a false teacher – to preach). Something progressive. Politically correct. A church that would fit Beth’s unbiblical worldview on whatever the hot political / social topic du jour might happen to be, be it Critical Race Theory, egalitarianism, social justice, the perversion agenda, abortion, and so on. A social media follower, who knows which church she’s trying out, described it to me, and it sounds like she found the progressive church I imagined she would be looking for.

It also means, assuming she doesn’t tie herself down to a publisher or other entity that places restrictions on her (you know – expects her to act, speak, and teach like the Christian and Bible teacher she claims to be) that she will feel much freer to clearly express exactly what she thinks about those hot topics.

Anyone who has followed Beth on social media for any length of time knows that she can be cryptic at best, and borderline incoherent at worst, when expressing a significant thought – especially a thought on a controversial issue. Which has likely been due, at least in part, to trying to walk the tightrope between expressing her true thoughts and not crossing the line with the powers that be at LifeWay (an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention).

This was abundantly clear during the Open Letter to Beth Moore debacle two years ago. Beth clearly did not want to (and indeed, never did) come right out and flatly say that homosexuality is a sin. Yet because of her financial and contractual relationship with LifeWay (which has a policy and history of dropping authors who affirm homosexuality), she could not come right out and say that homosexuality is not a sin (which, I’m sure, disappointed her homosexual / homosexuality-affirming fans). I have suspected from the day it happened, that LifeWay somehow forced Beth into publishing her final statement on the matter as well as her month-long Twitter hiatus which immediately followed. It will be interesting to see whether she spills the tea about things like that or keeps them to herself. Personally, from a writer’s perspective, I’m very curious to see if she has used this cryptic style of writing as a way to veil her true thoughts just enough to pass LifeWay’s “smell test” and will now feel free to speak clearly and forthrightly, or if “cryptic” is just the style of writing with which she feels most comfortable.

But the darkest, most devastating consequence of this move for Beth is that she is purposefully casting off the last vestiges of biblical restraint God’s common grace has, until now, provided her. You see, there are still biblically faithful people, processes, and provisos in place in the SBC that have acted as guardrails for Beth, keeping her from careening over the cliff of sin and rebellion she’s been so desperately gunning for. The RNS article shamefully makes it seem as though a bunch of petty meanies have long been picking on poor little Beth, and she’s (once again) a victim, pushed out by heartless bullies who just wanna keep a good woman down.

That’s not the case at all.

Beth is not leaving the SBC because people were mean to her for not liking Trump, or for speaking out about abuse, or for taking a stand on racism. That’s just the window dressing diversion she has created as she makes a break for it out the back door.

Beth is leaving the SBC because she chafes at Scripture’s rebuke of her sin.

And in the SBC – even as biblically off track as it is in so many ways – she meets that rebuke at every turn. Beth is leaving because she wants to go somewhere where she can openly sin in peace, with nary a flicker of conscience or whisper of reproof to plague her.

And that’s an extraordinarily dangerous place for anyone to be.

Time after time, God sent Moses to warn Pharaoh. Time after time, Pharaoh hardened his heart. Finally, God gave Pharaoh over and hardened his heart, and Pharaoh cast the last vestige of godly warning and influence out of his presence for good. There was no turning back.

When a person repeatedly hardens her heart against God’s admonitions and commands – come they through reading His Word, circumstances, or the call of faithful Christians to repent – God’s time of forbearance with that person eventually comes to an end. Perhaps he takes the person’s life, or perhaps He takes away His restraining hand and turns her over to a reprobate mind, to “do what ought not to be done,” but continued contumacious sin comes at a steep price.

For Beth’s sake, I dearly hope I’m wrong, but I fear this is what may be happening in the spiritual realm while we sit mesmerized by the trappings of the temporal realm.

For the average Beth Moore fan…

Beth’s average fan isn’t going to see much of a difference in terms of her availability. LifeWay’s publishing arm will no longer be publishing her materials, but LifeWay Retail will still be selling them in their online store. LifeWay’s conference division will no longer be hosting and platforming Beth’s conferences or other live events. But I’m sure Beth has other publishers (maybe Zondervan or Thomas Nelson?) and conference promoters lined up around the block – probably in a bidding war – to offer her their services. So, she’s not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, you may see an increase in the availability of her materials and conferences, depending on how much (if at all) she felt her contractual obligations to LifeWay may have been holding her back.

But you’ll probably begin noticing some much more important changes. I’m not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but here’s an educated guess based on observing Beth’s ministerial trajectory over the last twenty or so years: You’re not going to see a sudden uptick in holiness, humility, and obedience to Scripture. With God’s gracious hand of restraint via the SBC cast off, what you’re going to see is a continued downward spiral – now at breakneck speed – into sin, heresy, and rebellion. More preaching to men1. More yoking with other false teachers. More Scripture twisting. More CRT. More liberal politics. More social justice. More “God told me…”. Clear approval of homosexuality, and maybe even abortion at some point, too.

If you’re still a Beth Moore fan, I urge you, for the sake of your own spiritual well-being, to divorce yourself from her immediately. This is not going to be pretty.

For the discerning Christian…

Some have jokingly speculated that Beth’s announcement of her split with the SBC will be followed by her heeding John MacArthur’s admonition to “Go home.” I can’t see that happening. As I said, if this move affects her availability at all, it will most likely make her more prolific. And even though she is in her 60’s, I would be very surprised if she voluntarily retired any time soon.

You will have to continue to warn your friends and loved ones about Beth, though this shift of hers may prove conducive to that in a couple ways:

  • With this being a hot story for the moment, some of her followers, and some pastors, are beginning to ask questions. “Why would Beth want to leave the SBC?” “I’m seeing Beth Moore’s name trending online and people saying there are biblical problems with her. What are the issues I should be aware of?” That’s an open door for you to lovingly explain and present evidence for Beth’s false teaching and sinful behavior. (Need a little help? Use my article Living Proof You Should Follow Beth (No) Moore.)
  • As mentioned above, Beth will most likely become much more open about her false teaching, sinful behavior, and approval of others’ sin. The average evangelical in the pew may not understand the reasons that, say, extra-biblical revelation or preaching to men is unbiblical, but they know homosexuality is a sin. They know Christians are supposed to be 100% against abortion2. And so, if Beth stays on the trajectory she’s on and begins to publicly take an unbiblical stand on these things, it may be easier for you to point to, and for her followers to grasp these polarizing issues as reasons they should stop following her.

For Southern Baptist Churches…

In terms of the availability of Beth’s materials, I wouldn’t think any church who has a purchasing relationship with LifeWay would see much, if any difference when they log on to place an order. The main difference in availability will be for churches that simulcast or purchase blocks of tickets to her live events. They’ll no longer be able to do this via LifeWay. They’ll have to go through whatever platforming agency is handling her event sales. It shouldn’t be too much of an obstacle for any church or women’s ministry that’s determined to keep following Beth, unfortunately.

I had hoped that for Southern Baptist churches Beth’s departure would serve as a wake up call to spur pastors to vet Beth more carefully and stop allowing her to destroy the women of their churches. And, perhaps, for a few, it has. But if comments like this one

…from Ed Litton (a presumptive nominee for SBC president at the 2021 annual meeting) are any indication, most will remain willfully clueless and derelict in their Titus 1:9 duties.

The impact Beth’s departure should have on the local church is to get pastors and church members alike to start thinking critically – not just about Beth, but about the authors of all the materials they use and about the issues the SBC is currently embroiled in at the national level. Because each SBC church is autonomous, there’s a tendency among a large swath of church members (and even some pastors) not to pay any attention to what’s going on at the national level.

So I imagine, first of all, that a sizable portion of Southern Baptists don’t even know Beth has left the SBC, because they don’t make any effort to keep up with what’s going on in their own denomination3. Also because of that, many of the ones who do know are likely baffled by the issues she’s citing as reasons for leaving, and what is and is not the biblical position on those issues in this hot, chaotic mess.

Southern Baptist churches should take this situation as a Providential Gibbs slap…

…and henceforth stop being so lax about false teachers and so uninformed about current events in the SBC.

For the Southern Baptist Convention…

Beth’s departure isn’t going to change the Southern Baptist Convention in any noticeable way that I can think of. Some have observed, “Well, at least this puts the issue of her being elected SBC president to rest.” I don’t think there was ever much chance of that happening. Not that she couldn’t have been nominated. Not that people wouldn’t have voted for her. I just don’t think she would have accepted the position. It’s a lot of work, and she’s already monumentally busy. Plus, she doesn’t strike me as someone who enjoys administrative work. (I guess that’s one thing we have in common.)

While they will still earn revenue by selling Beth’s materials, LifeWay lost a chunk of change when she decided to take her publishing and live events contracts elsewhere. And the sad and shameful thing is, that’s all they’ve been concerned about all along. Money.

LifeWay didn’t care about Southern Baptist women whose spiritual lives they crippled by the thousands through Beth Moore’s false teaching and ungodly example. They didn’t care about the Southern Baptist churches they sowed division into by peddling Beth’s poison to them. They didn’t care about the discerning Southern Baptist women who have been forced out of their churches and spiritually abused by Southern Baptist pastors, pastors’ wives, and women’s ministry leaders deceived by Beth.

And you know who else LifeWay didn’t care about? Beth. They didn’t care enough to look into her teaching, her beliefs, and her behavior, compare them to Scripture, and go, “Something is off here. This is not the fruit of someone who is saved, much less of a sound teacher. We love this woman as a soul created in the image of God, and we’re not going to help her continue down this road of destruction. She needs the gospel. She needs Christ. And for the sake of the judgment she’s going to face, she doesn’t need to be teaching anybody.”

But, no, they were making money off of Beth, so they just kept building her empire. Why let a little thing like her eternity get in the way? The time came to choose between serving God and mammon, and they picked mammon. They sold Beth’s soul for thirty pieces of silver.

Strong words? Not nearly as strong as they’ll hear when they have to answer to God for caring more about money than they cared about the priceless soul of this precious woman.

I pray God uses Beth’s departure to graciously open the eyes of those at LifeWay and in SBC leadership who have been complicit in encouraging Beth in her false teaching and in gilding the chains that bind her to her sin. I pray He mercifully puts them on the ground in the sackcloth and ashes of repentance, that they might be forgiven. And I pray that they would then reach out to Beth again, this time with a call to turn from her sin and believe the gospel.

Beth Moore, and those in SBC leadership who helped make her what she is, have played no small part in creating, contributing to, or paving the way for the morass of unbiblical issues festering in the SBC today: CRT, women preaching, false doctrine, false teachers being made into celebrities, political posturing, maneuvering, and intimidation, pride and impenitence, and much more.

May Beth’s departure be an opportunity for the SBC to examine itself against Scripture and right the ship.

Indeed, may we all take this opportunity to examine our denominations, our churches, the teachers we learn from, and our own hearts.

1A few have speculated that now that Beth is no longer beholden to the Baptist Faith and Message (the SBC’s statement of faith) which disallows women from holding the office of pastor, that she may decide she wants to pastor a church. If they mean a typical, existing church, I find this extremely unlikely. From Beth’s position and perspective, becoming a pastor would be a huge step down. It would mean less money, less celebrity, more responsibility, and more accountability. I don’t see it happening. But, I guess anything’s possible.

2Beth has not made any pro-abortion statements yet that I’m aware of, but I sense that, as with her devolving unbiblical stance on homosexuality, this is coming. Even before leaving the SBC she had already adopted the liberal “I’m pro-all of life” mantra.

3Yes, I’m aware that the SBC isn’t technically a denomination, but a voluntary cooperative of autonomous churches. But if it looks like a denomination and often functions like a denomination, it’s going to get called a denomination sometimes.

Christian women, Church, Southern Baptist/SBC

Throwback Thursday ~ Is the SBC’s Tent Big Enough for ALL Marginalized Christian Women?

Originally published June 22, 2018

It started with Paige Patterson’s gobsmackingly horrible and unbiblical advice to an abused to wife to return to her husband. Then it was the lurid remarks he made about a teenage girl, with which he regaled a congregation during a sermon. Next came the allegations of his mishandling of two separate sexual assault cases at two different seminaries.

In response to all this turmoil, Beth Moore added to the conversation some vague stories of various unnamed men in Christian circles who had, in her perception, condescended to her or otherwise not treated her as an equal, leaving the impression that there is widespread, systemic misogyny within modern evangelicalism. Jen Wilkin, from a more biblical – yet, troublingly, similarly vague – perspective, joined the chorus, and has been afforded a wider audience for the “they can’t be pastors, natch, but we need more women in church leadership” platform she has been advancing for the past several years. (Which leadership positions or roles? We’re still waiting for Jen to specify.)

And the icing on the cake was SBC pastor, Dwight McKissic, publicly declaring that the way to “heal” all of these woes against Christian women and “right historic patterns of wrong against women” is to elect Beth Moore as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

So this nebulous idea has been introduced that Christian women are getting the short end of the stick across the board in evangelicalism (specifically in the SBC) and that the way to fix things – all the way from genuine abuse and rape on one end of the spectrum to women whose feelings have been hurt because they’re not seen as equal to pastors on the other end – is to make sure, somehow, that women’s voices are heard and validated.

That’s a pretty “big tent” idea. And if it’s going to be a big tent, there’s room under there for everybody, right? To be consistent, compassionate, and fair, wouldn’t these folks have to make space for the voices of, and give influential positions to, any Christian woman who feels she’s been diminished? Let’s find out.

Allow me to introduce you to a group of Christian women who have been silenced and brushed aside for years, often by the very same people who are now hypocritically crying out that women need to be heard in order to keep them from being marginalized.

I give you discerning, doctrinally sound, often Reformed, Christian women.

We are women who have been subjected to insults, and accusations of heresy and hatred of the lost, because we hold to the doctrines of grace. We are women who have been attacked by pastors, pastors’ wives, women’s ministry leaders, and fellow church members for pointing out the false doctrine of popular women’s “Bible” study materials and merely asking to properly be taught the Word of God in our own churches. We are women who have been shouted down or ruled “out of order” at denominational meetings for asking that our Christian retailers stop selling materials containing false teaching. We are women who have been forced out of our own churches for taking a biblical stand against women preaching to, teaching, or exercising authority over men in the church. We are women who have been called haters, legalistic, divisive, threats to unity, jealous, and all other manner of slander simply for holding to Scripture and refusing to budge from it.

All this mistreatment of women at the hands of Christian celebrities, denominational leaders, pastors and other church leadership, and fellow church members.

Do we qualify as marginalized? We’ve been hurt, and in many cases, sinned against outright. No church discipline. No redress or recourse. Nobody wants to make sure we have a voice or a place of power – quite the opposite, in fact. A lot of us saw our own pastors hand-wringingly share Beth Moore’s detailing of her grievances against Christian men even as they pushed us and our biblical concerns aside.

Everybody feels sorry for Beth Moore. Who will cry for us?

We don’t want much, just a return to what’s biblical.

We want sound doctrine in the church and solid preaching in the pulpit.

We want this nonsense about a female SBC President – especially a false teacher like Beth Moore – to stop. Not only is it not biblical, it’s a patronizing toss of a trinket or pat on the head attempting to dry the tears of fussy little girls, and it won’t work to solve any of the real problems that are going on.

We want false doctrine off the shelves of LifeWay, and for LifeWay, the ERLC, and others in leadership to stop organizing and promoting conferences and other events headlined by people they have already been informed (yea, as seminary trained pastors and leaders, should know without having to be told) are false teachers. Among the many things Jen Wilkin has rightly said is that we need to promote biblical and theological literacy among Christian women. When you go on a diet, the first thing you do is go through your kitchen and throw out all the junk food. You’ll never start eating healthy if you have an endless supply of candy bars in the pantry. The only way to begin to properly train women in Scripture and theology  is by “putting off” false doctrine in order to “put on” sound doctrine.

We want LifeWay to demonstrate that it actually cares about the spiritual health of women by putting its money where its mouth is. Ridding the shelves of false doctrine and the event docket of false teachers is going to cost LifeWay a lot of revenue. Women who want their itching ears scratched will quickly find another source of false teaching to pour their cash into. There’s not a lot of money to be made in encouraging women to study straight from their Bibles, sit faithfully under the teaching of a doctrinally sound pastor, and humbly serve the local church. Are Christian women worth it to you, LifeWay?

We want a strong doctrine of sin and church discipline to be understood and taught by our pastors and denominational leaders. The fact of the matter is that a woman who has been genuinely sinned against by a man who has abused her is in a different category from a woman whose feelings are hurt because she’s been told she can’t teach a co-ed adult Sunday School class. The first woman needs compassionate brothers and sisters in Christ to come alongside her and walk with her as God begins to heal her body and her heart. The abuser needs to be prosecuted to the full and appropriate extent of the law as well as to be placed under church discipline. The second woman is either in sin and rebellion (in which case she may need to be placed under church discipline) or she just hasn’t been taught God’s Word properly and someone needs to disciple her in that area. To put these two women underneath the same “big tent” just because they’ve both experienced some sort of hurt diminishes and confuses their situations and the solutions that would be biblically appropriate for each.

We want pastors and leaders to herald, praise, and validate the biblical role of women in the church. Women should not be taught only the things we cannot do in the church, we must also be taught what we must do in the church – what only women are uniquely and ontologically gifted by God to do. Women need to hear – particularly from the mouths of pastors and denominational leaders – the vital necessity of women discipling other women, women training the church’s children in the Scriptures, women serving in hospitality and mercy ministries, women properly using their administrative gifts, and so much more. Train us to teach. Equip us to serve. Encourage us to use our gifts in obedience to Scripture and for the glory of God.

We want men – from the heads of our denominations to the newly saved sinner in the pew – to step up and be godly men. We desperately need you to biblically and fearlessly lead the church. Don’t be afraid to stand up and put your foot down squarely on Scripture. Even if it makes you unpopular. Even if it rocks the boat at church. Even if people leave and never come back. As godly women, we can’t do our job if you’re not doing yours.

So how about it, brothers and sisters who are crying out for Christian women to be heard? Do doctrinally sound women get a seat at the table? Do we get to be heard? Will anything be done to correct the mistreatment we’ve received?

Or are there only certain women you want to hear from? Women who fit the popular social narrative. Women the world and most of the church will applaud you for listening to. Solutions that do more to glorify people than to glorify God.

Just how big is that tent…really?