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 next year’s annual meeting. 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 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 is going to serve as a running list and timeline of significant current events in the SBC at the national level starting with the 2021 annual meeting and moving forward from there. I’m going to do my best 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.
From time to time, I’ll also post a “Point of Order,” something that’s not really a current event, but more along the lines of SBC polity or information you might need.
If you follow me on social media, I’ll alert you when I’ve added something new here. If you don’t, you’ll probably want to bookmark this article and check it every week or so as I won’t be republishing it often, if at all. Items will be listed in reverse chronological order so the most recent news will be near the top.
(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.
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
Plagiarism (see “June” below):
In a news interview with his local CBS affiliate, Litton clearly says the allegations of plagiarism came from “unnamed sources”.
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
E.C. Task Force 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:
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?”.
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, yet maintain our financial contribution without funding ungodliness? 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:
- 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.
- The previous maximum number of messengers was 10. That number is now 12.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Point of Order: Removing a sitting SBC President
With all the outcry (see below) 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 (below) 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
A check reveals a change – which deserves an answer at One News Now
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.