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.

1.
The Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture

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

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

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

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

Basic Training: The Bible Is Our Authority

Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient

2.
False Doctrine and False Teachers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Naked Emperor in the Southern Baptist Convention

10 Things I Wish Southern Baptists Knew About Southern Baptists

The Peterson Predicament and LifeWay’s Peculiar Policies

3.
Disfellowshipping Errant Churches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.

Uncategorized

Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends

I try to run this article every so often to orient new followers (and old friends who haven’t yet explored all the nooks and crannies of the blog) to the various features and information available here. I hope you’ll find these resources helpful.

Welcome Tab If you haven’t had a chance to read the Welcome & FAQs- Start Here tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page, it’s a good way to get acclimated to the blog quickly. You’ll learn some fast facts about me, my comment and e-mail policies, and more.

Comments, E-mails, Social Media Messages If you’ve sent me an e-mail, submitted a comment on one of my articles, or sent me a private message on social media and I haven’t responded to the message or published the comment, this is why: E-mail, Messages, and Blog Comments Policy (Plus additional helpful information) (A little note to those who have submitted a church for inclusion on my “Reader Recommended Churches” list in the past few weeks: Thank you so much for your patience. I promise I haven’t been ignoring you, I’ve just been swamped lately, and it does take a bit of time for me to vet them. You’re at the top of my “to do” list.)

The search bar is your friend. If you want to know my take on something or whether I’ve written on a particular person or topic, the search bar is the best place to start and much faster than e-mailing or messaging me. The search bar is located at the very bottom of every blog page. 

The tabs at the top are your friends, too. The tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of the blog are designed to provide quick information to many of the questions I’m most frequently asked.

“What do you think of Teacher X?” Probably the largest volume of questions I get is readers wanting to know my take on particular teachers and ministries. I would love to be able to respond immediately to each one, but it takes a tremendous amount of time to research these folks. Because I know you need answers right away, and because every Christian should know how to research teachers for herself (you should never just blindly take anyone’s word {including mine} that someone is a false teacher), if you can’t find the information you’re looking for on a certain teacher at the Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends tab at the top of this page or by using the search bar, I’ve written this article to help you research teachers for yourself: Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own.

“Discernment is for doody-heads!” I understand it’s not easy to be told that a pastor/teacher/author you’ve grown to love is a false teacher. I’ve been in that position myself. But Christians are people of the Book. That means we measure everything by Scripture, not by our personal preferences, feelings, or opinions. I’ve written numerous articles on teachers and ministries which can be found under the Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends tab (and, just a few of the many awesome teachers out there are under the Recommended Bible Teachers tab). I don’t warn against false teachers because I’m a hater. I do it because it’s Scriptural and because I love the Christian women who are being victimized – often without even knowing it – by false teachers. I tend to hear the same objections to my discernment articles over and over and over again. Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections answers, from Scripture, the objections people raise to my discernment articles. (I don’t answer e-mails or publish comments that are answered by this article.)

Church Ladies Complementarianism can be difficult to navigate in a feminist world and an increasingly feminist church. You might find my Rock Your Role article series helpful, since it deals with the Scriptures governing women’s roles in the church. I keep Rock Your Role FAQs updated, so long time readers might be interested in giving that one a re-read.

Searching for a new church? It can be really hard to find a doctrinally sound church these days, and I’d like to do everything I can to help. Check out the Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. You’ll find tons of resources on what to look for in a good church, several church search engines, and churches recommended by readers.

Podcast Need something to listen to? Amy Spreeman and I have a weekly podcast called A Word Fitly SpokenClick the Podcast tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page to check it out.

Conferences/Events Want to see if I’ll be speaking at an event near you? Check out the Calendar of Events at my Speaking Engagements tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page for more information.

Speaking Engagements/Podcasts I’d love to come speak at your Christian women’s conference, to the ladies of your church, or on your Christian podcast. Check out my Speaking Engagements tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page for more information. I’ve got lots of open slots on my 2022 calendar, so check it out and drop me an e-mail.

Financial Support I don’t receive any income or compensation from blogging. But if you or your family have been blessed by my work and you’d like to be a blessing to me and my family in return on an ongoing, occasional, or one time basis, please click here.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?

As I was sifting through my voluminous pile of emails, blog comments, and social media messages to determine which one I should answer in this week’s Mailbag, I noticed that several of you have recently written in with some variation of this question. Whether it’s your pastor recommending doctrinally unsound books, your minister of music using songs from heretical sources, your women’s ministry leader introducing a “Bible” study from a false teacher, or anyone else in leadership over you encouraging the use of materials from false teachers, I hope you’ll find this article helpful and encouraging.

Originally published September 19, 2016

mailbag

How do I approach my women’s ministry leader, elders, or pastor about the false teacher whose materials our church is using, whose conference our church members are attending, etc.?

I’ve received this same basic question from scads of readers over the past few weeks. It’s alarming when your women’s ministry leader picks a Lysa TerKeurst book for the next women’s “Bible” study or the elders promote Steven Furtick’s latest conference. You love your church and don’t want to see people deceived, but you also know that people don’t often respond well to hearing that the Christian celebrity they’re enamored with is a false teacher. What to do? How can we alert our leaders to the theological problems with a popular Christian personality?

1. Pray
I’m gonna beat this drum ’til the cows come home, because this is a concept we have got to get through our heads. God knows and loves your leaders and your church infinitely more than you do, and He is far more able to do something about the situation than you are, because He is able to change your leaders’ hearts and minds and open their eyes (which is usually what’s needed). You are not. Furthermore, He wants you to depend on Him to handle things rather than depending on evidence, your own persuasiveness, etc. You should already be praying regularly for your church and its leadership. When a situation like this comes up, pray long, hard, and continuously.

2. Remember why you’re approaching your leadership.
If you’re going at this from a “they’re wrong, I’m right” perspective or some sort of desire to “win” at this conflict, you need to repent. This isn’t about you. This is about the supremacy of God’s word, the purity of His Bride, and the exaltation of His reputation. This is about loving your church so much that you’re willing to risk rejection and humiliation so that they won’t be deceived.

3. Memorize and meditate on these verses and use them as your guide when approaching anyone about false teachers/doctrine:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:24-26

Remember, you’re the Lord’s servant, not some hot shot discernment Big Man on Campus.

Are you quarrelsome? Kind? Able to teach? Patient enough to endure evil? Able to correct with gentleness? That’s a good checklist for your heart and abilities.

Who’s going to grant repentance to the person you’re dealing with so she might come to a knowledge of the truth? You? Nope. God is.

Who’s the bad guy here? Is it the person you’re approaching? No. It’s the devil. He’s holding that person prisoner to deception. You’re not approaching an enemy to conquer. You’re rescuing a captive with spiritual Stockholm Syndrome.

4. Approach

a) Who should approach this leader?
Are you the best person for the job? Are there other willing and discerning church members who might be able to handle the situation better than you can? Sometimes you’re the only person for the job. In that case, ladies, remember your role in the church and at home. Be sure you’re submitting to your husband’s leadership in this situation.

If the person you’re approaching is the (female) leader of the women’s ministry, Bible study class, conference coordinator, etc., it might be best if you go to her alone or with another discerning sister. It is usually best to approach this person first before going over her head to the elders or pastor. You want to win your sister over to the truth, if possible, not simply force her to change things because a superior tells her she has to.

If the person who needs to be approached is male, it might be best for your husband (or another discerning brother) to meet with him, or for you and your husband to meet with him together, with your husband taking the lead and you in a supporting role. Again, it’s usually best to approach the lower level leader, if any, before going over his head.

b) How should you approach this leader?
In humility, love, and all the other characteristics from the 2 Timothy 2 passage. And keep a few other things in mind too:

First, give the person the benefit of the doubt that she’s got good motives. She probably thinks the study she’s selected would help the women of your church or that the conference would lead them closer to the Lord. It’s usually not the case that the person is consciously trying to introduce anti-biblical material.

Second, keep ignorance at the forefront of your mind. Most people in the church today – even pastors – are completely unaware of the extent of false doctrine, or even what false doctrine is, or that the majority of the most popular Christian celebrities are false teachers. They think if you can buy it at LifeWay or if it calls itself Christian and sprinkles a few Bible verses around, it must be biblical Christianity. You must initially approach people with the mindset that they’re trying to do something good, but they they simply aren’t aware of the false doctrine that’s out there or that the person they’re introducing to the church is a false teacher. (This is where “able to teach” and “correcting with gentleness” come in).

Next, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and keep in mind that it’s hard to hear that a Christian celebrity you love is a false teacher. Give the person time to sort out all this new, and sometimes overwhelming, information.

Finally, be prepared for backlash. No matter how kind, gentle, and objective you are, the person may feel personally attacked and lash out at you. Don’t lash back. Turn the other cheek. Go the extra mile.

c) With what should you approach this leader?
The Bible and credible evidence. For every charge you bring against this false teacher, you need to bring credible audio, video, or print evidence of the teacher’s own words or actions and the Bible passages she is violating. (You can find this kind of evidence on many teachers at the Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.) Don’t bring opinions, histrionics, unsubstantiated rumors, or out of context remarks by the false teacher. Bring solid, objective, incontrovertible evidence.

Don’t overwhelm the person you’re approaching with reams of material to read or long videos to watch. She might see how time consuming it will be and give up before going through any of it. Keep things concise.

Don’t attempt to address every wrong word, action, or teaching ever perpetrated by the false teacher. Go with a few of the most attention-grabbing, glaring, violations of Scripture.

Make sure your evidence is up to date. Focus on the false teacher’s most recent violations of Scripture, not something from 20 years ago that she has repented of (in which case you shouldn’t be bringing a charge) or backed away from. Recent evidence is also more compelling.

d) How should you leave things?
Reassure the person of your love for her and for the church. Ask if she has any questions, and make sure she has your contact information and knows she’s welcome to get in touch if she has questions or needs more information. If she’s open to it, make some suggestions of doctrinally sound materials, conferences, etc., that could be used. Don’t expect an immediate resolution to the situation. Give the person some time to think and pray things through and to go over the evidence you’ve provided. It might be appropriate to ask if you can touch base with her again in a few days.

Doing all of these things is not a magic formula that will guarantee the results you’re hoping for. In fact, going by the e-mails and messages I’ve received, I would estimate that about 90% of the time, you’ll be ignored or villified as a hater or divisive.

Do it anyway. God may have placed you in that church to help it correct its course or to serve as a biblical warning to them. And, who knows? You might just rescue somebody.

Additional Resources:

How to talk to your church leaders about false teachers at A Word Fitly Spoken

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own


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

Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Karen’s Story

Karen’s Story

I have sat under lukewarm teaching as well as seriously warped false teaching from both men and women over the years. Both my husband and I were just going through the motions of church, feeling like we needed to go because that’s what you do, getting involved, putting on a good front but honestly always feeling like something was missing.

My husband and I were just going through the motions of church…

I believe we were both saved, we knew we were sinners, knew only Christ could save us, sincerely repented, but then did the whole “ask Jesus into your heart” thing over and over again because of the need to “make sure”. But we were dying on the vine, as a friend of mine described it.

The final straw was a women’s group where the leader taught a study that she had written herself. The church thought so much of it they even helped her get it published. The book was full of Bible verses, all out of context and used for the purpose of getting her points across. I seriously began to dread going to that group, but dragged myself there weekly, thinking, “This is what I am supposed to be doing,” and at the same time wondering what was wrong with me because I hated it. I was so ignorant of God’s Word that I even sat there in silence when, as a group, we would pray and women in the room, one being the leader/writer of the study, were praying “in tongues”, no interpretation of course.

I was so ignorant of God’s Word…

During one of those gatherings, the woman who wrote the study told us about how she had been given the opportunity to preach on an upcoming Sunday at the church, saying, “Who says women can’t preach?”. BOOM, my heart was instantly in my throat, I felt flushed and agitated, but as I looked around the room I saw nodding heads agreeing with her. Somehow, even though I only read it in bits and pieces, I was quite sure the Bible did NOT agree with her bold statement. I wish I could have jumped up and challenged her and all the ladies in that room but because I did not know the Bible well, I simply shrank in my seat. However, I did know I had to leave so I mustered the courage and politely dismissed myself, never to return. I could not get out of that parking lot fast enough!

Do you know what I began doing then? Simply reading my Bible, in context. God was so gracious to me, giving me a hunger for TRUTH. I was able to find Michelle’s website, John MacArthur’s sermons and Chris Rosebrough’s teaching videos.

I then reached out to two friends who had attended that same study. One totally heard all that I was telling her about the importance of reading Scripture in context, the other, who was a member at that church, dug her heels in when I took her to passages about women preaching. She didn’t want to hear it because the teacher/author of the study “is gifted, anointed and loves preaching”. It has become apparent that she wants nothing more to do with me. God has allowed me though to share with other women who were in the same position I was a few years ago.

God has allowed me to share with other women…

One of those women happens to be my next door neighbor! That family has been there for years. Our children grew up together. They church hopped just like we did, moving aimlessly about for years. And then one day, after my family had been through all our disobedient wanderings, she and I began to talk – long discussions about God, the Bible, our sinfulness, the endless women’s studies of taking verses out of context, twisting them to mean something God didn’t intend, ignoring the Gospel, but always glorifying ME instead of the ONE who made me. Soon, we began praying together. Isn’t God amazing?!

Isn’t God amazing?!

It is a MUCH longer story but the end result is our families are now in a Reformed church that adheres to the 1689 London Baptist Confession, where we get the Word exposited on a weekly basis and each service includes the Gospel!! We are joyfully involved and now a part of a true church family. I am brought to tears continually at God’s grace, mercy, patience, and goodness for this undeserving wretch that I am.


Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His Word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Contact me, or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!