Southern Baptist/SBC

Change in the SBC? Field Notes from the Grassroots

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

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

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

And so much more.

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

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

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

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

God bless them.

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

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

“Show Up”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biblical dissent is silenced or ignored.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So….what’s the solution?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Southern Baptist/SBC

Interview with Anticipated SBC Presidential Nominee: Mike Stone

Mike Stone, Michelle Lesley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Church, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Prideful and Prejudiced: Racism, Diversity, and Southern Baptists

Originally published April 1, 2016prideful prejudiced

 

Racism. The word practically emits the hum of electrical voltage. No decent person wants to be accused of being a racist, and no one wants to be mistreated on the basis of race. If there’s a more powerful word in the American vernacular right now, I’m not sure what it is.

Racism isn’t something I normally think about or have to deal with on a daily basis even though it would seem to be swirling all around me here in the Deep South. I’m white. The majority of my friends are white. Either I don’t know anyone who’s racist or those who are racist are wise enough, polite enough, or ashamed enough to keep it to themselves. But despite the fact that I don’t have much one on one experience with it, race is an issue that gets a lot of attention, and the main place I’m encountering racial issues of late is in my denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention.

Whether you see it as “too little, too late,” or “it’s about time,” the upper echelons of the SBC have been talking a good game (and, in many instances, making progress) about diversity for the last couple of decades. It started in 1995 with the Resolution On Racial Reconciliation, in which the SBC confessed, apologized for, and sought forgiveness for past involvement with and support of slavery, racism, segregation, and other civil rights issues. Next came the task force that studied changing the name of the SBC to “Great Commission Baptists” due to the negative perceptions and racial implications of the word “Southern.” This was followed by the election of Fred Luter, the first black president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Fast forward to 2016. So far this year, three well-known pastors have declared their candidacy for president of the SBC, and each has indicated that diversity is an issue he will give attention to.

J.D. Greear: “I want to see minority leaders take places of real prominence in the SBC, such that diversity might become a hallmark of our denomination.”

Steve Gaines: At Bellevue, we don’t just talk about racial reconciliation – we actually experience it and live in it as a reality. It works in our church because we focus on Jesus-centered racial reconciliation.

David Crosby (who will be nominated by Fred Luter): I hope to make [diversity] a matter of consideration from the very first as we seek to structure in the present for a future gospel strategy that is ever wider in its reach.

OK, great. More people of diverse racial backgrounds appointed to executive offices in the SBC. More books and resources about diversity. More seminars, conferences, panel discussions, and breakout sessions about race. Super. All of those things are wonderful and well intentioned, and will hopefully have some sort of positive impact at the administrative level.

But I really don’t think it’s going to make much of a dent in the actual problem.

I have a friend whose seminary graduate husband has been searching for a senior pastor position in an SBC church for about a year now. He’s a great guy who loves God’s people and rightly handles God’s word. And he’s been turned down by church after church. Why? I’m sure the churches who have rejected him would list a variety of factors, but one of the reasons is that he’s black and his wife is white.

Several years ago, my husband was on staff at an SBC church that was located across the street from a lower income housing project inhabited mostly by black, single parent families. The vast majority of our members were retired and I was a stay at home mom. We had a lot of people with a lot of free time on their hands. I suggested we start an after school tutoring program for the kids who lived in the housing project to minister to and reach out to our neighbors. The idea was quickly dismissed by a vocal few because “we don’t want those people in our church.”

That’s where real racism lives in the SBC, not at the national, upper management level, but in the hearts of some of our individual church members.

  • Church members who excuse their sin by saying, “Well, that’s just the way I was raised,” or “I’m too old to change.”
  • Deacons, elders, and search committees who – instead of dealing with sin in the camp – make provision for the flesh of their churches by quietly pushing aside the resumes of minority pastors because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of racist congregants making a stink or risk losing the money they contribute.
  • Churches who sell their buildings and move to a whiter part of town when the surrounding neighborhood “goes black.”
  • Christians whose offerings go around the world to share the gospel with people of all colors but who won’t go across the sanctuary to share a pew with people of another race.

Racism is an issue of the heart. It’s sin.

And sin can’t be solved by appointments based on skin color or some sort of “trickle down” diversity. It can only be solved by individuals repenting before a holy God, receiving His forgiveness, and growing in Christlikeness.

God’s way in the body of Christ is not “top down,” with administrators creating programs, holding meetings and conferences, and strategically moving people into various positions like pawns on a chess board. God’s way is “bottom up,” with local pastors preaching the truth of God’s word to their people and calling them to repent. It begins with Christ working in people’s hearts, one by one, convicting them of their arrogance and self-righteousness, their pride and their prejudice, their failure to see others through God’s eyes, and their failure to love one another the way God has commanded.

1 pet 1 22

The solution to racism and diversity in the SBC?
It’s right there in black and white.

Church

Prideful and Prejudiced: Racism, Diversity, and Southern Baptists

prideful prejudiced

 

Racism. The word practically emits the hum of electrical voltage. No decent person wants to be accused of being a racist, and no one wants to be mistreated on the basis of race. If there’s a more powerful word in the American vernacular right now, I’m not sure what it is.

Racism isn’t something I normally think about or have to deal with on a daily basis even though it would seem to be swirling all around me here in the Deep South. I’m white. The majority of my friends are white. Either I don’t know anyone who’s racist or those who are racist are wise enough, polite enough, or ashamed enough to keep it to themselves. But despite the fact that I don’t have much one on one experience with it, race is an issue that gets a lot of attention, and the main place I’m encountering racial issues of late is in my denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention.

Whether you see it as “too little, too late,” or “it’s about time,” the upper echelons of the SBC have been talking a good game (and, in many instances, making progress) about diversity for the last couple of decades. It started in 1995 with the Resolution On Racial Reconciliation, in which the SBC confessed, apologized for, and sought forgiveness for past involvement with and support of slavery, racism, segregation, and other civil rights issues. Next came the task force that studied changing the name of the SBC to “Great Commission Baptists” due to the negative perceptions and racial implications of the word “Southern.” This was followed by the election of Fred Luter, the first black president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Fast forward to 2016. So far this year, three well-known pastors have declared their candidacy for president of the SBC, and each has indicated that diversity is an issue he will give attention to.

J.D. Greear: “I want to see minority leaders take places of real prominence in the SBC, such that diversity might become a hallmark of our denomination.”

Steve Gaines: At Bellevue, we don’t just talk about racial reconciliation – we actually experience it and live in it as a reality. It works in our church because we focus on Jesus-centered racial reconciliation.

David Crosby (who will be nominated by Fred Luter): I hope to make [diversity] a matter of consideration from the very first as we seek to structure in the present for a future gospel strategy that is ever wider in its reach.

OK, great. More people of diverse racial backgrounds appointed to executive offices in the SBC. More books and resources about diversity. More seminars, conferences, panel discussions, and breakout sessions about race. Super. All of those things are wonderful and well intentioned, and will hopefully have some sort of positive impact at the administrative level.

But I really don’t think it’s going to make much of a dent in the actual problem.

I have a friend whose seminary graduate husband has been searching for a senior pastor position in an SBC church for about a year now. He’s a great guy who loves God’s people and rightly handles God’s word. And he’s been turned down by church after church. Why? I’m sure the churches who have rejected him would list a variety of factors, but one of the reasons is that he’s black and his wife is white.

Several years ago, my husband was on staff at an SBC church that was located across the street from a lower income housing project inhabited mostly by black, single parent families. The vast majority of our members were retired and I was a stay at home mom. We had a lot of people with a lot of free time on their hands. I suggested we start an after school tutoring program for the kids who lived in the housing project to minister to and reach out to our neighbors. The idea was quickly dismissed by a vocal few because “we don’t want those people in our church.”

That’s where real racism lives in the SBC, not at the national, upper management level, but in the hearts of some of our individual church members.

  • Church members who excuse their sin by saying, “Well, that’s just the way I was raised,” or “I’m too old to change.”
  • Deacons, elders, and search committees who – instead of dealing with sin in the camp – make provision for the flesh of their churches by quietly pushing aside the resumes of minority pastors because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of racist congregants making a stink or risk losing the money they contribute.
  • Churches who sell their buildings and move to a whiter part of town when the surrounding neighborhood “goes black.”
  • Christians whose offerings go around the world to share the gospel with people of all colors but who won’t go across the sanctuary to share a pew with people of another race.

Racism is an issue of the heart. It’s sin.

And sin can’t be solved by appointments based on skin color or some sort of “trickle down” diversity. It can only be solved by individuals repenting before a holy God, receiving His forgiveness, and growing in Christlikeness.

God’s way in the body of Christ is not “top down,” with administrators creating programs, holding meetings and conferences, and strategically moving people into various positions like pawns on a chess board. God’s way is “bottom up,” with local pastors preaching the truth of God’s word to their people and calling them to repent. It begins with Christ working in people’s hearts, one by one, convicting them of their arrogance and self-righteousness, their pride and their prejudice, their failure to see others through God’s eyes, and their failure to love one another the way God has commanded.

1 pet 1 22

The solution to racism and diversity in the SBC?
It’s right there in black and white.

False Doctrine, New Apostolic Reformation

Follow Up: SBC President Ronnie Floyd, Featured Speaker at New Apostolic Reformation’s IHOP

About two months ago, I was deeply grieved to learn that the president of my own denomination (the Southern Baptist Convention) would be be appearing as one of the featured speakers at the International House of Prayer’s (IHOP) Onething 2015 conference. (See my article here. If you’re not familiar with the demonic {and, no, that is not an exaggeration} doctrine and practices of IHOP, please examine the resources listed at the end of the article.)

I (and others I’m aware of) attempted several times to contact Dr. Floyd to plead with him not to do this, but was unable to reach him. Several of my readers suggested (and I prayed) that perhaps Dr. Floyd would use his speaking time at Onething to rebuke IHOP’s false doctrine as pastors are instructed by Scripture to do, or, at the very least, that he would preach the gospel in order that attendees might be saved.

Unfortunately, to his and the Southern Baptist Convention’s shame, Dr. Floyd did not do either of these things, but spoke in a conciliatory, brotherly way to the IHOP leadership and Onething audience about working and praying together in unity to bring about revival in the United States.

Why was this a grievous and shameful thing to do? Because, as I mentioned in my previous article, Scripture forbids Christians from joining ourselves to those who preach a false gospel regardless of how noble the cause might be. And as a seminary graduate, pastor, and president of the largest protestant denomination in the United States, if anyone should know these Scriptures and obey them, it should be Dr. Floyd.

Here is Dr. Floyd’s speech (starting at approximately the 7:32 mark) in its entirety. I’d like to take this opportunity to examine some of his most troubling remarks in comparison with Scripture. (The particular remark I’m addressing can be found at the minute mark preceding the comment.)

8:24- I’m not here tonight to highlight our theological differences but to bend my knee next to yours and to ask God to have mercy on America.

Can you imagine Jesus saying this to the scribes and Pharisees? Or Peter saying this to Simon the magician? Or Paul saying this to Hymenaeus? Or John saying this to the gnostics? There is absolutely no New Testament precedent for a pastor to stand in a place where false doctrine is proclaimed and blithely sweep it aside in order to pray with those who promote it or believe it.

In fact, the New Testament paints the opposite picture, both implicitly and explicitly. Jesus and the apostles, when approaching unrepentant false teachers, always highlighted their theological differences, rebuked them sharply, and called them to believe the truth of the gospel. There is not a single instance in the New Testament in which Jesus or one of the apostles brushed aside false doctrine in order to work or pray together in unity with false teachers. Not one.

8:41- I also know that my being here is not an endorsement of your theology…

This statement is clearly at odds with Scripture. Second John 10-11 says:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

Don’t even greet a false teacher, never mind accept an invitation (most likely a paid invitation) to speak cooperatively at his conference. If you do, you are taking part in his wicked works. That’s more than just an endorsement. That’s participation in the spreading of false doctrine.

9:10- …we’re not in total agreement about a lot of the secondary matters of life, ministry, and even the Bible.

There would be nothing wrong with this statement if Dr. Floyd were talking about partnering with, say, a parachurch organization which believes in paedobaptism instead of credobaptism, elder-led churches instead of congregational churches, or pre-millenial instead of post-millenial eschatology. Those are the sorts of things that qualify as “secondary matters,” and Christian individuals, churches, and groups can certainly partner in ministry with other Christian individuals, churches, and groups while not seeing eye to eye on those types of issues.

But that’s not what’s going on with IHOP. IHOP intentionally and unrepentantly preaches egregious false doctrine (again, see the resources at the end of my previous article for details). Scripture is crystal clear that we are to “watch out” for those who teach false doctrine and “avoid them,” not speak at their conferences.

The study note in my Bible on 2 John 10 (quoted above) says it well:

John’s prohibition is not a case of entertaining people who disagree on minor matters. These false teachers were carrying on a regular campaign to destroy the basic, fundamental truths of Christianity. Complete disassociation from such heretics is the only appropriate course of action for genuine believers. No benefit or aid of any type (not even a greeting) is permissible. Believers should aid only those who proclaim the truth.¹

And, by the way, when did the Bible become a “secondary matter,” especially for Southern Baptists? Anyone even vaguely familiar with the recent history of the Southern Baptist Convention knows about the hard fought inerrancy controversy. The Scriptures is the very first point of the Baptist Faith and Message, for heaven’s sake! Regarding the Bible, the BFM 2000 says, in part:

[Scripture] will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.

Does it sound like Southern Baptists regard the Bible as a “secondary matter”? Did Dr. Floyd follow the standard of the central document outlining our statement of faith as Southern Baptists and try IHOP’s “conduct, creeds, and religious opinions” by Scripture? Did he act in accord with the Baptist Faith and Message by holding Scripture paramount as the “true center of Christian union” when he decided to unite with an organization that flouts Scripture on so many levels?

At the 9:49 mark, Dr. Floyd mentions the high regard Southern Baptists have for Scripture, and that it is the “final authority for all we believe and practice, period.” Then why did he not practice submission to the authority of Scripture and its many passages instructing Christians to refute false doctrine and rebuke or avoid those who teach it instead of disobeying these Scriptures by appearing at Onething?

Which is it? Do Southern Baptists, and our president, have a high regard for and “zealous commitment” to Scripture, or is it a “secondary matter”?

9:20- …yet my being here is a clear indication that these are times when people must come together and pray. And when the ship feels like it’s sinking, everyone needs to grab a bucket. 

If you’ve ever read anything about the social, religious, and political conditions under which Paul lived, you know that the situation was much worse in Rome and the lands under its control at that time than it is in 21st century America, especially for Christians. Christians were used as torches for Nero’s nighttime garden parties, and subjected to all manner of other gruesome tortures. Yet despite the extreme persecution and rampant immorality of the world in which he lived, Paul did not call for Christians to “come together and pray” with false teachers or for everyone to “grab a bucket.” Instead, he steadfastly and in no uncertain terms condemned false doctrine (as did others, including JesusPeter, and Jude) and exhorted Christians to separate themselves from those who had proved themselves unbelievers by teaching false doctrine, even writing these words to the church at Corinth:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
    and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
    and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
    then I will welcome you,
2 Corinthians 6:14-17

Why? The purity of doctrine and the right handling of Scripture are more important than the socio-political climate. They are paramount, because the truth of the gospel is the only means by which people can be saved. When you get the gospel wrong, people die and spend an eternity in hell. Maybe the Holy Spirit, who inspired Paul and the other New Testament writers to write so much about refuting false doctrine and rebuking those who teach it, thought that was just a little bit more important than light, temporary earthly suffering and the transient moral decay of society.

11:30- But tonight, I come to you as a pastor of a local church, not as the president of America’s largest Protestant denomination.

That’s all well and good if Dr. Floyd wants to view himself that way with regard to his obligation to the word of God. The Bible never mentions the office of president of a denomination. It gives instructions for pastors and Christians, both of which apply to Dr. Floyd. As a pastor and a Christian, he is still responsible for obeying the Scriptures.

However, for Dr. Floyd to say that he is not appearing as the president of the SBC but as the pastor of a local church is ludicrous for two reasons. First of all, take a look at the lineup of speakers for Onething. None of them are simply “pastors of a local church.” They all have high profile and powerful positions in large ministries. If Dr. Floyd were merely the pastor of a local Southern Baptist church, it’s extremely unlikely he would have ever been invited to speak. Just ask the other 50,000+ Southern Baptist pastors of local churches who were not asked to speak.

Second, for Dr. Floyd to try to verbally and conceptually separate himself from the position of president of the SBC in such a venue and say he is speaking only as the pastor of a local church, is somewhat analagous to President Obama appearing at a Democratic political rally and saying that he is not speaking as the President of the United States, but as the CEO of a local corporation. The man cannot be separated from the position. Dr. Floyd is the president of the SBC. That’s why he was invited to speak. And everything he said and did in connection with the Onething conference reflects upon the Southern Baptist Convention and influences Southern Baptists.

25:10- I don’t know why God brought you here this week…but many of you, God brought you here to wake you up…

No. Absolutely not. We can know without a doubt that God did not “bring” – in the sense that God wanted them to be there to “wake them up” spiritually or receive biblical instruction  – a single individual, including Dr. Floyd, to Onething, because if He did, He would be completely contradicting His word. How could God tell us in His word to rebuke and avoid false teachers, and then “bring people” to a den of demonic false doctrine? God does not contradict His written word.

Now, God, in His sovereignty, did allow all of those people to be there. He allows people to disobey Him by following any number of false teachers. He allows people to commit murder and adultery and gossip, too. That doesn’t mean He is pleased by any of those things or that it’s His desire for people to do them.

God most assuredly did not bring people to Onething to wake them up in the way Dr. Floyd means. The only things God would have brought people to Onething to wake them up to is the false doctrine that’s being perpetrated by IHOP and Dr. Floyd’s complicity in the spreading of that false doctrine.

 

While there are some other statements Dr. Floyd made that I might take issue with, these jumped out at me as the most problematic ones. I wish I could sit down with Dr. Floyd and just ask him why.

Why, if it was biblically OK for you to speak at Onething, did you spend the first five minutes of a thirty-five minute speech, attempting to justify your presence there?

Why were you unable to point to a single “desperate times call for desperate measures” Scripture that says it’s OK for Christians to join with false teachers in ministry and prayer, but, rather, pointed to the problems in America to justify unifying in prayer with IHOP?

Why did you ignore the pleas of Southern Baptists and other Christians who begged you – on biblical grounds – not to associate yourself and the SBC with IHOP in this way?

Why, when there are over 50,000 Southern Baptist churches in this country – not to mention our seminaries, universities, parachurch organizations, and thousands of other Protestant churches and organizations with whom Southern Baptists truly differ only on genuine secondary theological issues – where you could have spoken, would you purposely choose to speak at an organization that preaches such egregious false doctrine?

 

There is no excuse for Dr. Floyd to have spoken at Onething. None. There are only three options here:

1. Dr. Floyd knew IHOP preaches false doctrine and knows what the Bible says about false teachers and false doctrine but chose to associate with IHOP anyway, which would mean he intentionally disobeyed God’s word.

2. Dr. Floyd did not know IHOP preaches false doctrine, which demonstrates extreme carelessness, naiveté, and lack of pastoral concern for those under his leadership.

3. Dr. Floyd knew what IHOP teaches but does not know that IHOP’s teachings biblically qualify as false doctrine, and/or Dr. Floyd does not know what the Bible says about dealing with false doctrine and false teachers, a depth of biblical ignorance I would never attribute to anyone of Dr. Floyd’s stature.

None of those three options – biblical ignorance, carelessness and naiveté, nor intentional disobedience to God’s word – are appropriate for any pastor, let alone the president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Anyone who is a Christian has people watching him and being influenced by him: your family, your neighbors, your co-workers, your fellow church members. The higher your position in the church or ministry, the more people you have watching you and being influenced by you, and the greater responsibility you have to both handle God’s word correctly and set a godly example. (This is why the Bible tells us that teachers in the church will be judged more strictly.) Dr. Floyd bears an immense biblical responsibility in his position of leadership.

If anyone reading this happens to know Dr. Floyd, please take this occasion to go to him as Nathan went to David, in a spirit of love and restoration, and open God’s word to him on this issue. Dr. Floyd is in a unique position to influence thousands of churches and millions of people to turn to Christ and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus, but he must do so biblically. Nothing would bring me more joy as a Southern Baptist than to see him do just that. I would love to point people to him as a godly example of leadership.

If you do not know Dr. Floyd, take this incident as an opportunity to learn. Learn about the false doctrine taught by IHOP and so many other false teachers. Learn your Bible so you can rightly handle it, teach it to others, and submit to its authority and mandates. May we all be ever mindful of those who look to us as ambassadors of Christ and…

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16


¹The MacArthur Study Bible, English Standard Version, © 2010 by Crossway. Note on 2 John 10, p. 1926.