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Back Soon…

Hello friends:

Just a quick note to let you know that I’m not going to be blogging this week. In the wee hours of tomorrow morning I’ll be on my way from Louisiana to Anaheim, California, where I’ll be serving as a messenger from my church to the Southern Baptist Convention.

If you’re attending the Convention, I’d love to meet you. Please feel free to come up and say hi if you see me. I’m also going to try to do a few pop-up meet and greets when I have a few minutes to spare, so keep an eye on my Facebook and Twitter feeds for spur of the moment announcements about where to meet me.

If you’re staying home and need some good content to keep you busy, we’ve got a new episode of A Word Fitly Spoken dropping this week that I think you and your church will find helpful and encouraging, so be sure to catch that.

You can also go “archive diving” here on the blog, and see what you find that’s of interest. Check out the tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page, type something into the search bar, or go to the category cloud (in the right sidebar on your computer, or at the bottom of the blog on your phone or tablet) and start clicking away.

If you think about it this week, please pray for me and for the entire SBC. This year’s Convention will be pivotal in many ways. It is my prayer that all of us who are attending will humble ourselves, uphold and submit to the authority rightly-handled Scripture, and seek to glorify God in all we think, say, and do.

See you soon!

Southern Baptist/SBC

What’s Going On in the Southern Baptist Convention?

This is the last time I’m planning to run this article, since the Convention is next week. Follow me on Twitter for any imperative updates between now and then.

This article was last updated on May 26. Updates since that day include:

March:

  • Two Three Good Men to Right the Ship has been updated to include information on Javier Chavez for Recording Secretary and the website for the Ascol / Baucham / Chavez slate of candidates.
  • Blackmailing the Bucks has been updated to include information on SEBTS’ self investigation and exoneration, the Bucks’ refutation of SEBTS’ claims, and the bigger picture hypocrisy and partiality this situation typifies in the SBC at large.

May (These items have all been added to the existing SATF section in “May.”)

  • Tom Ascol’s and Voddie Baucham’s responses to the SATF / GS report.
  • The June 1 SATF recommendations likely to be voted on in Anaheim.
  • The June 8 modifications of the June 1 SATF recommendations likely to be voted on in Anaheim unless they change them again.

June:

  • Problematic speakers at ancillary convention events
  • GS publicly affirms perversion.

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.

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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?

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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 Three 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. Javier Chavez (announced March 30) – pastor of Amistad Cristiana Church in Gainesville, Georgia, and president of the missions organization, Amistad Cristiana International Inc. – will be nominated for Recording Secretary. (This is a key position that must be filled with a doctrinally sound man, because the Recording Secretary is also automatically a member of the Executive Committee.)

These men have an outstanding record of fidelity to Scripture, biblical ecclesiology, Christian ethics, and sound doctrine. They have spoken unashamedly against sexual sin, false teachers, Critical Race Theory and racialism, egalitarianism, and the social justice movement. They 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 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, Voddie, and Javier.

You can find more information on all three candidates, the issues, and the Convention at We Have a Book.

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, May, and June2), 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 Buck victim of blackmail attempt at Capstone Report

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

On June 8, SEBTS President, Danny Akin released Statements from Southeastern on Matters Surrounding the Buck Essay (signed on to by the SEBTS trustees) essentially saying SEBTS had investigated itself, found no wrongdoing on the part of the seminary or any of its employees, that some “anonymous couple” had come forward claiming responsibility for leaking the rough draft, and, therefore, SEBTS would not participate in the third party investigation they had already agreed to.

In response, on June 9, in collaboration with Christian journalist, Janet Mefferd, Tom and Jennifer released a rebuttal, Clarifying Matters: A Statement from Tom and Jennifer Buck, pointing out the blatant lies and hypocrisy of the SEBTS statement.

As I write this on the morning of June 9, Tom is posting further evidence and video clips on Twitter, and many are calling for a motion from the floor requiring SEBTS to submit to a third party investigation of this matter.

This situation is no longer limited in scope to the specific details of the Bucks’ case. This is about the systemic, institutional hypocrisy, partiality, and unequal weights and measures of lauding the SATF’s third party investigation of the EC’s handling of abuse cases via (third party) Guidepost Solutions, whose report itself recommends requiring individual churches accused of mishandling cases of abuse to submit to a third party investigation. But if it’s a victim with a track record of exposing and speaking out against the SBC ruling party’s liberal agenda, the entity that mishandled that victim’s case gets to investigate and exonerate itself? Would any of the churches disfellowshipped from the SBC for botching the way they handled abuse have been afforded that luxury, or is it only the “rich man entity,” so to speak, who is shown that favoritism?

Furthermore, is saying that the investigation of a “survivor’s” claims is a waste of “God’s money” (below) the type of “trauma-informed,” “handle with kid gloves” communication demanded of churches and entities by the SATF/GS report? Isn’t that re-abusing a “survivor”? And, why is it a waste of God’s money for one SBC entity, SEBTS, to submit to a third party investigation, but it apparently was not a waste of over $4 million of God’s money (Southern Baptists’ offering money, don’t forget) for third party Guidepost Solutions to investigate another SBC entity, the Executive Committee?

Platform Hypocrisy on the Eve of Anaheim by Allen Nelson

The sin, favoritism, and hypocrisy is simply too much to bear any longer. Something must be done.

2I have included all information on this situation, regardless of date, in this section for convenience of reading.

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.

Platform Hypocrisy on the Eve of Anaheim by Allen Nelson

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 required 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.

Click here to read the full GS report

The SATF made several initial recommendations when they first made the GS report public.

On June 11, the SATF published Task Force Challenges and Formal Recommendations, which were to be the SATF’s official recommendations.

On June 8, the SATF deleted the June 1 recommendations from their website (as you can see if you click the link above) and replaced them with Updated Task Force Challenges and Formal Recommendations intended to clarify issues of funding and polity, according to SATF member, Andrew Hebert. Read Andrew’s explanation of the changes here, or listen to a podcast discussion of the changes here. To see a side by side comparison of the June 1 and June 8 recommendations, click here.

The latest iteration of these recommendations contain the actual actionable items messengers will vote on at the Convention. Be aware that these may be modified again between now and the time you get to vote on them. Before voting, please carefully read or listen to the actual motion(s) presented at the Convention.

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, since you’ll 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.

GS is a non-Christian firm seeking to guide Christians in handling very serious spiritual matters, and the SATF’s recommendations are based, nearly completely, on GS’s recommendations. In other words, instead of the SATF recommending that we look to, understand, and obey Scripture in addressing the sexual abuse issue, they recommend we look to a worldly (not to mention perversion-affirming – see “June”) group of fallen human beings.

Scripture is clear that this is not the way the church is to operate. Consider the applicable principles of 1 Corinthians 6:1-6:

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?

Tom Ascol responded to the SATF report with wisdom and biblical solutions in The Southern Baptist Convention Must Respond To Reports Of Abuse With Full Transparency at The Federalist.

Tom Ascol and Voddie Baucham discussed Sexual Abuse in the Church and Jurisdictional Authority on The Sword & the Trowel podcast:

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.

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

1I know this is May, not June, but I thought it would be more convenient to keep all of the SATF report info together in one section.


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.

June 2022

GS Stands with LGBTQ

While Guidepost Solutions’ position on perversion was already a matter of public record, this tweet for “Pride Month” drew the ire of many Southern Baptists. Your offering money paid for this, folks.

Randy Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, issued a public call for the SBC to cut ties with GS.


Problematic Speakers at Ancillary Events

Every year at the Convention, there are special interest events ancillary to the actual annual meeting: a luncheon by this organization, a dinner by that group, workshops, panel discussions, seminary alumni gatherings, and so on. And every year at the Convention there’s the recurring issue of false teachers and biblically problematic speakers headlining these events.

Last year, I devoted an entire article to alerting you to these speakers. This year, there are not only fewer ancillary events, meaning fewer problematic speakers, but many of this year’s speakers are the same people I alerted you to last year. You can find all 2022 events listed here.

So, briefly, here are a few of those biblically problematic speakers of note with whom I’m familiar and/or for whom “spot check” type information was quickly and easily available:

(If you’re concerned about a speaker I haven’t highlighted below, you might like to use the steps and resources in my article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own for conducting your own research.)

Southern Baptist Convention Women’s Session

Jen Wilkin Jacki King Courtney Moore

Eric Yeldell is the Music Pastor at First Baptist Church, Cleveland, Tennessee, where, under his leadership, the church sings music by Elevation, Jesus Culture, and Hillsong (observed in worship service videos on the church Facebook page.)

The Mississippi Abortion Case and
the Future of the Pro-Life Movement

Ed Litton (see previous info in this article)

Brent Leatherwood (see Denny Burk, Bart Barber and the ERLC: All Against Abolition in “May”)

Missie Branch (not much online info available, but she seems to frequently appear alongside those in the “progressive” camp in the SBC, here, last year, etc.)

This event is sponsored by the ERLC, whose controversial and storied history of leaning liberal on social and political issues (most recently, ironically for this event, helping to kill an abortion abolition bill – see “May”) has led many SBC churches to stop giving to the Cooperative Program and re-designate their funds so their offering money won’t be used to further ungodly social and political ideologies and agendas.

SBC Ministers’ Wives Luncheon

Jennifer Rothschild

Stand With Survivors Ministry Breakout

I would urge you to exercise extreme caution and discernment should you choose to attend this event or stop by their booth at the pastors’ conference. The fact that this is being sponsored and promoted by SBC Voices should be enough to give anyone familiar with them pause. Other red flags:

  • One of the major components of the event will be hearing victims’ stories. While we certainly want to give the benefit of the doubt that these stories will all be truthful, bear Proverbs 18:17 in mind, especially if you are easily swayed by emotion. You will only be hearing one side of the story about how these victims’ cases were handled.
  • “Trauma-informed / trauma-responsive” has come to be code speak for employing worldly psychological means and methods instead of looking to and obeying Scripture as our authority for addressing issues of abuse. The “trauma-informed” perspective is essentially that the Bible, pastoral and biblical counseling, and Titus 2 discipleship are inadequate and insufficient for shepherding and soul care, and these are rejected in favor of non-Christian “experts” in the field of abuse. Where does the Bible tell us to handle any spiritual issue, such as healing from abuse, by looking outside the church and the Bible to non-Christians?
  • You’ll be given a teal ribbon to wear around the Convention to “show your support” for abuse victims during this time of extreme contention in the SBC revolving around abuse, while others won’t be wearing one. This is, in effect, virtue signaling. The biblical word for this is “pride,” and those sponsoring this event are making provision for that sin. Consider these passages.
  • The breakout session will be led by Rachael Denhollander, Dave Pittman, and Todd Benkert. I’m not familiar with Dave, but Rachael has a reputation for never having heard a report of abuse she didn’t believe, and Todd was caught lying during the Tom and Jennifer Buck situation (see links in Blackmailing the Bucks under “March’) when he would have considered anyone else in Jennifer’s situation to be a “survivor”.

There may be some helpful resources presented at this breakout session, but be on your guard and be a good Berean. Keep a couple of questions at the front of your mind:

  • Where does the Bible –in context and rightly handled– say that?
  • Is what I’m hearing me pointing me to God and His Word as my authority, or to fallen, sinful human beings, worldly methods, or non-Christian organizations as my authority?

Southeastern Women’s Leadership Breakfast

Jen Wilkin

Abuse, Southern Baptist/SBC

A Pastoral Response to the SATF Report

Listen in as two of my pastors discuss the SBC Guidepost Solutions / Sexual Abuse Task Force report and recommendations.

If you’re serving as a messenger to the Southern Baptist Convention in Anaheim next week, it’s a conversation you can’t afford to miss.

Abortion, Southern Baptist/SBC

Abolition or Pro-Life?

Do you know the differences between the abolition movement and the pro-life movement?

It’s a good thing for all Christians to be informed about, but especially for Southern Baptists right now. It’s sure to be an issue at the Southern Baptist Convention next week, after the ERLC recently helped torpedo an abolition bill in Louisiana. (For more info., click here and scroll down to “May”)

Watch A Storm Comes Rolling Down the Plain, then listen in to our A Word Fitly Spoken interview with Brett Baggett, one of the key figures in the documentary. (And please keep Brett in prayer.)

I also thought this interview with Samuel Sey, Nathaniel Jolly, and Ekkie Tepsupornchai on the Truth Be Known podcast was insightful and helpful:

Southern Baptist/SBC

Change in the SBC? Field Notes from the Grassroots

Originally published April 30, 2021

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