Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (What to do about Litton?…Couple teaching at marriage conference…False teachers- deluded or deceived?…You don’t need a Bible study)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


Biblically speaking, what would be the appropriate Christian response to Ed Litton’s plagiarism? More precisely, what should that response be among the masses who will never have access to Litton or those closest to him?

It’s a great question with an answer that will leave most of us Southern Baptists frustrated, I’m afraid.

To quickly catch up readers who aren’t in the know: Newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Ed Litton, has been caught in numerous instances of preaching plagiarized sermons going back several years. Many have called upon him to repent and step down as president. As far as I’m aware, to date, he has neither biblically repented nor commented on stepping down. There is no mechanism in place in SBC governing documents for removing a sitting president from office. (For more details, see the “June” and “July” sections of my article What’s Going On in the Southern Baptist Convention?)

There are several responses that could be appropriate in this situation for the average Southern Baptists who doesn’t know or have personal access to Ed Litton:

  • Pray. It is always appropriate to pray for someone who is sinning to repent. Additionally, if this situation is to be resolved biblically, God is the only One powerful enough to resolve it and wise enough to know the best way to resolve it. You also need to pray for your pastor as he guides your church to decide whether to stay in or leave the SBC, and you and your family need to pray together about your pastor’s decision and whether or not you can abide by it.
  • Inform. If you and your church are going to remain in the SBC for now, you have to stay informed on the major issues, and this is one of them. (That’s why I wrote the “What’s going on…” article linked above, to help you stay informed.) Keep yourself informed, keep your pastor informed, and keep your Sunday School class, circle of friends, and any other appropriate people at church informed. Ask your pastor how things stand with your local SBC association, and whether or not, and how, it might be appropriate for you or someone else to keep the association informed.
  • Connect. I would strongly suggest joining, following on social media, subscribing to the newsletter/email list, etc. of both the Conservative Baptist Network and Founders Ministries. If any action is taken on the plagiarism issue or any other problematic issue in the SBC, it will likely spring from one or both of these groups, and you and your church will want to consider joining forces with them.
  • Take action(?). There are a few ways to take action in this situation as an individual, such as sending Litton a (kindly worded, non-harassing) email urging him to repent and step down, expressing your concerns to the appropriate SBC leadership, or possibly starting a petition of some sort, but I would really suggest getting some advice from your pastor first.

    Honestly, I can pretty much guarantee any effort like that from an individual is going to be ignored. If the Resolutions Committee can refuse to allow a vote on a resolution proffered by 1300+ Southern Baptists, they’re not going to pay an ounce of attention to an email or a petition. Bluntly, you and I aren’t important enough to matter to those in SBC leadership. Your pastor probably isn’t either, nor the director of your association, nor even the head of your state convention. Maybe if somebody with enough power, position, and platform made enough noise about Litton stepping down (or any of these other issues) maybe, something might get done. But at this point, I’m not even sure who that might be.

    All of which brings us full circle to our first and most effective response: pray. This is a mess that only God can clean up.

My husband and I were talking about women teaching/preaching to men, and he brought up an interesting question: what about when your church has a marriage conference and there is a husband/wife team who comes and they both teach?

Thanks for asking this question, because this seems to be a common teaching model for marriage and family conferences. It seems like a complicated situation to us, but it’s not to God. He said what He said in Scripture, and He means it, regardless of the circumstances.

A Christian conference is a gathering of the church body for the purpose of biblical instruction. That is a context in which Scripture’s prohibition of women instructing men in the Scriptures applies (see #7 here). So whenever the husband/wife team are addressing the co-ed audience, they just need to make sure that the wife is not giving biblical instruction to the group at large. That should fall to the husband.

That doesn’t mean that the wife can’t open her mouth at all in front of the group. It would be fine for her to…

  • give her personal testimony
  • offer practical advice (ex: “Joe and I have found it really helpful in our marriage to start the day off in prayer and a discussion of that day’s schedule.” “Guys, we ladies really like foot massages!”, etc.)
  • speak directly to the women in the audience about their role, behavior, or attitude in marriage as needed (Ex: “Ladies, Ephesians 5 is clear that we are to submit to our husbands.”)
  • answer any questions during a Q&A time that don’t require her to exposit Scripture to a male questioner
  • ask a question or make a brief, non-exhortational comment after her husband gives the biblical instruction portion of the session (ex: “Honey, I’m thinking some people might need a little clarification on what ‘depriving one another’ means in 1 Corinthians 7. Can you explain that to us a little more?” “Yes, 1 Peter 3:1-6 has always been so helpful to me as I strive to be a godly wife. And verse 7 has some good instruction for husbands, right, Joe?”)

And, of course, the conference can be structured so there are times of co-ed instruction and times when the wife teaches the women and the husband teaches the men.

For a husband and wife team who are doctrinally sound, spiritually mature, and committed to obeying Scripture, it shouldn’t be that difficult to lead a conference like this in a biblical way.

As far as whether or not to attend a marriage conference in which a husband and wife team will be speaking to a co-ed audience, you’ll have to do your homework to find out how committed they are to obeying Scripture in this regard. Listen to some of their previous conferences, if they’re coming to your church, ask your pastor about it, or you could try emailing the couple and asking them.


I know that some of the false teachers we see on TV are delusional and really think they create things on the same level as God, but are some people genuinely confused and simply don’t understand that what they are teaching and believing is false? Are the ones who are just confused still heretics and false teachers?

Let’s take that last question first. If you teach false doctrine or heresy, you’re a false teacher or a heretic, regardless of your motive. Whether you think what you’re teaching is right, or you know it’s wrong and you teach it anyway, the end result is the same: you’re teaching error.

Now let’s clarify the first part of your question a bit, because you bring an interesting point to the table with the word “delusional”. “Delusional” is really mental health terminology rather than biblical terminology. Is it possible some of these folks are truly mentally unbalanced? Yes. But you know what else looks a lot like mental illness in some cases? Demon possession. And I’m convinced that at least a few of these heretics are demon possessed.

But I do think the truly possessed are in the minority, and the majority are simply deceived. They are of their father the devil, so they speak his language and their will is to do his desires:

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies…Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

John 8:43-44, 47

And this holds true whether we perceive the false teacher to be a conniving, greedy charlatan, or a “good guy” who’s just “honestly mistaken”. It’s also true whether or not he’s made a conscious decision to proactively serve Satan by knowingly teaching false doctrine. There are only two potential masters in a person’s life, Christ or Satan, and if you’re not a slave of Christ, you’re enslaved to Satan. There’s no middle ground for lost “nice people”. The “honestly mistaken” guy who’s teaching false doctrine is still doing his master’s bidding, he’s just deceived into thinking his master is Christ.

But when it comes to how we’re to regard and handle false teachers, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s delusion, deception, or demon possession, because God doesn’t require us to know what’s going on in their hearts and minds to be able to biblically evaluate them.

Our job is to evaluate what we can see – the person’s behavior, writings, sermons, teachings, and conversation – and determine whether or not it aligns with Scripture. If it doesn’t – regardless of what we think of the teacher’s motives or mental state – those teachings, and the person who teaches them, have no place in our churches or personal study materials.

The condition of the teacher’s heart and mind? That’s above our pay grade. We leave that to God.

Can a False Teacher Be a Christian?


I am looking for a Biblically sound women’s study on healthy eating habits and am hoping you can point me In the right direction? 

I think I’ve mentioned before that the top two questions readers ask me are, “Is _____ a false / sound teacher?” and “Can you recommend a Bible study on / for _____?”

I love the heart behind both of those questions because it tells me that the person asking wants biblical teaching, and nothing could make me happier. Truly.

But, no, I can’t point you in the direction of a doctrinally sound study on healthy eating habits for two reasons:

First, as a matter of principle, I don’t recommend what I call “canned” studies (books, workbooks, DVDs, etc.), even doctrinally sound ones, at all. I recommend women study (and teach) straight from the text of Scripture. You can read more about why I hold this position and how you can learn to study/teach straight from the Bible itself at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

The second reason I can’t recommend such a study is that such a study does not exist. Here’s why. Doctrinally sound studies start with a passage of Scripture and teach you what it says. And other than condemning gluttony, and making a few general statements about using your body to glorify God rather than to sin, the Bible says nothing about healthy eating habits (at least not in the way we use that phrase in 21st century America). And any study that says it does is mishandling Scripture and taking it out of context, and, therefore, isn’t doctrinally sound.

A perfect example of this is false teacher Rick Warren’s book The Daniel Diet, which is based on a mishandling of Daniel 1:8-16. (Daniel didn’t refuse the king’s food because it was unhealthy or to lose weight, but to obey God’s law and to avoid making himself unclean. Also, you’ll notice v.15 says that after ten days on this “diet” Daniel and the boys were actually “fatter”.) I would also warn you away from Lysa TerKeurst’s Made to Crave since she is a false teacher as well. And, it would not surprise me to learn that a number of other false teachers have written health and diet “Bible studies”.

The truth is, you don’t need a Bible study, you need a new paradigm. The paradigm you and many, many Christian women are currently operating under, probably without even realizing it is, “I have an issue. A book or Bible study will give me the solution for it.”. That’s not necessarily a bad or sinful paradigm (in fact, like I said, it’s very good and right that your instinct is to turn to Scripture), it’s just that there’s a better, more biblical, more helpful paradigm which, in a nutshell is, “Pursue Christ and trust Him with your issues.”

Here’s what I’d recommend:

Read my article about biblical decision-making: Basic Training: 8 Steps to Finding God’s Will for Your Life and begin applying those principles to your walk with the Lord and your eating issues.

As you go about pursuing Christ, you can certainly study any biblical passages that relate to your particular issues of healthy eating. Are you failing to exercise self-control? Failing to be content? Is it an issue of laziness? Do you have an unbiblical view of your body itself? Maybe you have a particular medical condition that requires a new diet. You’ll have to prayerfully determine exactly what your issue is, then study (in context and rightly handled) the passages that pertain to that issue1, repent of any sin you might be committing, and trust, believe, and obey God’s Word.

Pray, pray, pray. Ask God to help you with what you’re studying in His Word, to help you lose weight, to see your body the way He sees it, etc.

Make an appointment with your doctor and ask what he recommends.

Get some godly counsel. Is there a godly older woman in your church who could disciple you through this? Or maybe there’s a nutritionist or dietitian who goes to your church2? If you’re not sure, ask your pastor.

And, truly, this is what I would recommend to most of the women who write and ask me if I can recommend a Bible study or book on a very specific, personal life issue. Because it’s not necessarily about finding the “solution” to whatever your issue is. Often, it’s God giving you an issue to grow you, to move you to cry out to Him, and to lead you to depend on Him to carry you through whatever it is.

1If you’re not sure where to find those passages, ask your pastor or a godly friend for help. You can also Google “Bible verses about _____” and probably get some good lists of verses, but it’s imperative that you look those verses up and read them in context so you’ll know whether or not they actually apply.

2Don’t expect free advice or help just because it’s a church friend. Ask if you can make an appointment, and plan to pay the full fee just like you would if this person were a stranger.


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.

Southern Baptist/SBC

What’s Going On in the Southern Baptist Convention?

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

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

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

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

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

That’s where this article comes in.

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

This article is going to serve as a running list and timeline of significant current events in the SBC at the national level starting with the 2021 annual meeting and moving forward from there. I’m going to do my best to keep things brief, so you may need to take what you see here and do some more digging on your own if you want an in depth look at a particular issue.

From time to time, I’ll also post a “Point of Order,” something that’s not really a current event, but more along the lines of SBC polity or information you might need.

If you follow me on social media, I’ll alert you when I’ve added something new here. If you don’t, you’ll probably want to bookmark this article and check it every week or so as I won’t be republishing it often, if at all. Items will be listed in reverse chronological order so the most recent news will be near the top.

July 2021

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” below):

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


E.C. Task Force Named

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

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?”.

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, yet maintain our financial contribution without funding ungodliness? Executive Committee member Rod Martin explains:

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

  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.

Point of Order: Removing a sitting SBC President

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

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

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

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

xxxxx

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:

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

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

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

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

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


Trinitarian Heresy on Litton’s Church Website

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

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 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.