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.

Southern Baptist/SBC

SBC21: Aftermath, Thoughts, and Where Do We Go From Here?

Photo courtesy of sbcannualmeeting.net

Well, the fat lady has sung. And it was one doozy of a requiem.

The 2021 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention ended Wednesday…

That’s not a list of everything that happened, but it’s a few of the more major dismal moments.

It was not good. It is not good. And I am gobsmacked and slack-jawed over the sunshine and rainbows comments I’m seeing and hearing from a few people about the wonderful progress and decisions that were made, and that the SBC’s brightest days are ahead.

Are you kidding me? Is it truly possible to be that blind to what’s going on around you and still be able to pull your socks on every morning?

So I had a few random thoughts I wanted to share to wrap things up and bring this whole ugly nightmare of a convention to an end.

Autonomy of the Local Church

If there were ever a time to remember the autonomy of the local Southern Baptist church and be thankful for it, this is it.

While the SBC president can certainly influence the churches and direction of the Southern Baptist Convention with his bully pulpit (which only extends as far as people actually listen to him), and he does make various decisions that may indirectly affect your church, he’s not the Pope. He does not have the power to hand down edicts that your church is obligated to obey. Ostensibly, with regard to his authority, you and your church can operate in 100% defiance of everything he stands for and still be in friendly cooperation with the SBC. The same goes for SBC resolutions, all of which are non-binding upon you and your church.

CRT/I, Racial Issues, and Resolution 9

This year, the big push among doctrinally sound Southern Baptists was to repudiate Critical Race Theory/Intersectionality.

Tom Ascol made an important motion to rescind 2019’s Resolution 9 which affirmed CRT as a “useful analytical tool” for dealing with issues of race. His motion was ruled procedurally out of order because previous years’ resolutions cannot be rescinded.

Disturbingly, the resolutions committee declined to present the Resolution on the Incompatibility of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality with the Baptist Faith and Message – which was spearheaded by SBC presidential candidate, Mike Stone (and co-submitted by over 1300 other Southern Baptists who signed on) to the messengers to vote on. They also declined to present several other (at my last count, four) anti-CRT/I resolutions.

Instead, they put all of these into their resolutions committee Cuisinart and poured us a tall glass of watered-down Resolution 2, “On the Sufficiency of Scripture for Race and Racial Reconciliation“. Now, had this resolution been presented two years ago instead of Resolution 9, it would have been fine. Not super impactful, but fine. But in the wake of the past two years of dealing with the Resolution 9 debacle, it was a toothless, cowardly display of fence-sitting meant to placate those on the anti-CRT side and hopefully not offend those on the pro-CRT side.

And when messengers didn’t bow and scrape in thanks and obeisance to the resolutions committee for throwing them this moldy crust of bread from their royal table, but instead objected, resolutions committee chair (and former SBC president), James Merritt, went on an angry, condescending, insulting tirade.

“If some people were as passionate about the gospel as they are about [decrying] Critical Race Theory, we’d win this world to Christ tomorrow!” he shamefully bellowed.

And a significant number of messengers cheered.

Never mind that CRT is antithetical to the gospel. Never mind that it’s being taught in our seminaries and even some of our churches. And never mind that the majority of Christians most passionately against CRT are against it precisely because they are so passionate about the gospel.

If you’re a doctrinally sound Southern Baptist who sees the dangers and heresies in Critical Race Theory and you want it eradicated from the SBC, the message is clear: The leadership wants you to sit down and shut up about it. And so do a lot of your fellow Southern Baptists. They don’t care, and they’re tired of hearing about it.

Ignorance, Laziness, and
Liberalism by Default

I’m going to take a page out of James Merritt’s book and “just say this bluntly and plainly”.

Too many messengers are ignorant of the issues in the Southern Baptist Convention, the candidates for various offices, and, frankly, their Bibles, and yet they attend the annual meeting and vote in ignorance anyway, just blindly trusting whoever happens to be on stage at the moment.

Stop it.

You’re damaging the convention, and hurting your fellow Southern Baptists in the process, because you’re playing right into the liberals’ hand. They are using you – your ignorance and gullibility – to further their ungodly causes and ideologies. Because a lot of the people running this shebang aren’t biblically trustworthy.

They get up there and smooth talk you with the forked tongue of Eden’s serpent, and just like Eve – instead of planting both feet firmly on God’s Word, standing up to them and declaring, “Thus saith the Lord,” – you get suckered in and fall for it.

Stop it.

It is one thing to be ignorant1 about something. We are all ignorant about various things. But if you’re going to represent your church and your fellow Southern Baptists as a messenger, by gum, you’d better at least attempt to know what’s going on, whether or not what you’re voting on is biblical, and what the implications are going to be.

Some of you knew exponentially more about the candidates and their positions on the issues in the last U.S. presidential election than you knew about any of the candidates for president of the SBC. You wouldn’t think of going into a secular voting booth and casting a ballot for candidates or laws at the local, state, or national level without informing yourself. And when you attend your own church’s business meetings you ask questions, and you know the issues and the people you’re voting on.

Don’t you think your decisions on the issues, the president, and other leaders of your own denomination – the largest expression of the visible church in the world – deserves at least as much attention, study, and vetting as you give those other elections and issues? Is it really too much to ask that you take the responsibility of being a messenger seriously?

As I said, it’s one thing to be ignorant, but if you know you’re ignorant about a candidate or an issue, and you know you’ve been given the responsibility of representing your church and millions of other Southern Baptists by voting on that candidate or issue, and you choose not to lift a finger to inform yourself about them and what the Bible says about them, I’m sorry, but you’re being sinfully lazy.

Nowhere does the Bible ever hint that choosing to remain ignorant is a virtue. Rather Proverbs admonishes us:

The wise lay up knowledge…
Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.
An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

Proverbs 10:14a, 13:16, 18:15

You want to attend the convention mainly for the fellowship? Great. Have at it. Fellowship is important, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the many conferences I speak at and attend. But do it on your own dime, and don’t attend as one of your church’s allotted messengers. Give that slot to someone else who’s serious about the issues and about doing the Lord’s business at the convention.

There’s no excuse for showing up to vote at the convention without at least trying to be informed.

Just stop it.

We just need to get back to evangelism!”

Before, during, and now, after, the annual meeting, I’ve heard a lot of people say, “We just need to get back to evangelism in the SBC and stop dividing over all these other issues.”

If you think that, you’re missing a crucial point that you need to grasp:

We should not be evangelizing anybody with a false or adulterated gospel. And that’s what “all these other issues” are about…

NAMB (the North American Mission Board) is literally adding social justice to the gospel and requiring its church planters to teach a false gospel.

False teachers – promoted, endorsed, and financed by LifeWay – have been running rampant in the SBC for decades.

Critical Race Theory foments strife, bitterness, worldliness, and unforgiveness.

Women preaching and serving as “pastors” teaches the false doctrine that, “It’s fine for God’s people to ignore Scripture and do what’s right in their own eyes.”

Just as Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside and corrected him when he was preaching an incomplete, incorrect gospel, these issues, and many more, need to be biblically corrected before anybody attempts to evangelize.

As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” And Matthew 7 tells us to build our house on the rock of Christ, of sound doctrine, not on sand.

It is time to correct sin and lies before evangelizing. We must have a sure foundation ourselves, first, before we implore others to build their house on that foundation.

Evangelizing with a false gospel just makes people twice as fit for Hell as they already are.

A time to mourn…

In dealing with the devastating results of the convention, I have appreciated the Barnabases out there who have encouraged us all to remember that God is sovereign, that the true church will prevail, and so many other precious truths and promises from God’s Word. That is right and good.

But let’s not miss or ignore the fact that there’s also “a time to weep” and “a time to mourn“.

This is that time.

Just as it is appropriate to encourage and be encouraged that God’s got this, it is also totally appropriate to take some time to mourn over the visible church throwing away sound doctrine with both hands and running after sin and false doctrine.

This “time to weep and mourn” is also right and good.

Now what?

From what I’m reading and hearing from scores of Southern Baptists and their pastors, a number of doctrinally sound churches are probably going to cut ties with the SBC within the next year. And who could blame them? They’ve been fighting to take the ship for years and now, they discern, there’s no ship left to take.

But many leaders in the conservative stream are urging against that, pleading with them to hang in there and fight. Rome wasn’t built in a day. After all, for how many hundreds of years did the prophets cry out to Israel to repent and return to God? Were they wasting their time?

Honestly, I think both sides make an excellent point, so I guess it’s a good thing God hasn’t called me to make the final decision on this for my tribe, my church, or my family.

So, church ladies, where do we go from here? Here’s my encouragement to you…

Should I stay or should I go?

I dealt with the question of leaving the SBC in Monday’s Mailbag article, When is it time to leave the SBC? and I still mean every word of it. If you haven’t yet read it, I urge you to do so and give the contents some prayerful consideration.

One thing I would add to that article is this: I heard from a lady who – before the convention was even over – told she was already beginning her search for a new, non-SBC church.

I would urge you not to react and make decisions out of emotionalism. If you’re in a doctrinally sound SBC church, don’t jump ship immediately. Take a bare minimum of several weeks to settle down, make an appointment with your pastor, and calmly and patiently talk to him about all of this. And, as I said in the article, make every effort to follow his leadership if at all possible.

Be prayerful and gracious.

Pray for your pastor, elders, church, and husband as they are all working through this issue. This is really going to be a tough one for pastors. No matter which way they lead their churches – to hang in there for a while and fight, or to leave immediately – somebody’s going to be upset with them.

If that somebody is you, be kind. Be patient. Be loving. If you absolutely have to leave your church, do so graciously, not making a big stink or showing your baser nature on the way out the door.

Inform, inform, inform.

Again, one of the primary weaknesses in the convention is that so many Southern Baptists are ignorant about the issues and the leadership. If you and your church decide to stay in and fight the good fight, one of the most helpful things you can do is to inform yourself and see if you can find a way to help inform others.

Ask your pastor if there’s any way you can help him or your church in that regard. You might also want to check with your local SBC association and (if he’s favorably disposed) ask the Director if there’s anything you can do (write a regular column in the newsletter, organize an informational event, etc.) to help Southern Baptists in your area get informed.

There are two organizations I would suggest you and your church follow and/or join to keep abreast of the issues: Founders Ministries and the Conservative Baptist Network. (Founders is more Calvinistic, and CBN is more traditionalist, but both are open to and friendly toward everyone.) And you should probably follow Tom Buck on Twitter, too.

What about the offering plate?

If your church is Southern Baptist, it is, by definition, contributing financially to the SBC at the national level. That’s a requirement for being “in friendly cooperation” (affiliated) with the SBC.

Most churches give a percentage of their offerings to the Cooperative Program, which is sort of like a “general fund” from which monies are disbursed to various entities of the SBC: IMB, NAMB, the six seminaries, the ERLC, Guidestone Finanacial Resources, and the Executive Committee.

Over the last few years, a significant number of churches decided they could no longer, in good conscience, financially support the ERLC due to its worldly stances and unbiblical actions. So instead of sending their offerings in to the Cooperative Program, they sent the money directly to SBC entities they felt more comfortable supporting.

But if you’ve been keeping up with the issues, you know that CRT is being taught in our seminaries, NAMB is attaching social justice to the gospel, I’d bet you dollars to doughnuts that there are unbiblical issues afoot at IMB (you’ll have to do the research on that one), and then there’s the ERLC.

Maybe you’re not comfortable with your family’s offerings going to the Cooperative Program or a particular entity(s). What to do?

First, you need to talk to your pastor or the head of your finance committee and find out exactly where your church’s offerings are going. If you learn they’re going to the Cooperative Program or to any entity you know is promoting something unbiblical, discuss your concerns with your pastor. He may not be aware of the issues (although he should be). Perhaps he will lead your church to alter its giving to the SBC in a way that aligns with your conscience.

If not, and your conscience will not allow you to financially contribute to the SBC at the national level the way your church has currently designated, ask your pastor for his advice about earmarking your family’s offerings to support your own church and other non-SBC ministries your church supports.

If your church is looking for an alternative to NAMB and IMB but still wants to support missions, may I suggest two?

The Master’s Academy International (TMAI) – TMAI originated with The Master’s Seminary (Grace Community Church / John MacArthur) and trains indigenous pastors to plant and pastor churches in their native countries. Not only is this ministry doctrinally sound, it is much more efficient and economical to train a pastor who already lives in the area, and knows the people, culture, and language, than it is to train and relocate an American to a foreign country.

Heartcry Missionary Society – Founded by Paul Washer, Heartcry’s approach is very similar to TMAI’s: training, supporting, and supplying materials to indigenous pastors and missionaries.

Be a pal

If you’ve already left the SBC, or were never in it, I need to let you know that angrily ranting and raving that doctrinally sound Christians should have left the SBC years ago, smug “I told you so’s,” and strutting how great your denomination or non-denominational status is, are not helping anybody.

Many of your Southern Baptist brothers and sisters are basically mourning the death of the only way of church life, polity, and ecclesiastical structure and connection they’ve ever known.

I’m not trying to exaggerate, here.

I’ve been a Southern Baptist since the day I was born, and I’ve been an active, invested member of one Southern Baptist church or another all of my 52 years. I grew up in GA’s and Acteens, taught Mission Friends, did my time in BYW and WMU, and faithfully gave to Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon every year. I attended a Southern Baptist university, was a Southern Baptist minister of music’s wife, and my husband attended an SBC seminary. I served as our local association’s prayer coordinator, VBS music trainer, and discipleship conference planner and speaker. I helped plant a Southern Baptist church. I’ve provided the special music for our local associational meetings, and served as a messenger at both associational and national SBC annual meetings. And I’ve been doing everything I can for the past thirteen years of blogging, speaking, and podcasting to raise awareness about the issues in the SBC and call for a return to scriptural fidelity.

This has been my life. And it hurts. And I’m sure others feel the same way.

Yes, we know that local church life will go on – probably even better – after the SBC, that independent churches and other denominations are great, that God doesn’t need the SBC, yada yada yada.

But for crying out loud, give us a minute to grieve and gather ourselves.

Give a hug. A kind, supportive word. An “I’m praying for you…your church…the SBC.” Just…be a pal.

It’s been a rough week for the SBC and those of us still in it. Will the convention ever repent and return to obedience to Scripture? Only time will tell, and only God knows.


Additional Resources:

The “Get Out Now” Perspective:

SBC 2021: What Went Wrong and Can it Be Recovered? by Jon Harris on the Conversations that Matter podcast

8 Reasons to Leave the SBC by Jon Harris on the Conversations that Matter podcast

Russell Fuller on the State of the SBC by Jon Harris on the Conversations that Matter podcast

The “Stay In and Fight – Here’s How” Perspective:

The 2021 Southern Baptist Convention: What Just Happened? by Tom Ascol for Founders Ministries

Breaking Down the SBC Annual Meeting, Pastor Mike Stone Joins Us on Wretched with Todd Friel

How SBC Churches May Discriminately Support Convention Causes by Tom Ascol for Founders Ministries

Five Things Concerned Southern Baptist Churches Can Do Right Now by Tom Ascol for Founders Ministries

#SBC21 Shenanigans: Resolution 9, President Ed Litton, Whistleblowers and a Watching World on The Sword and The Trowel Podcast


1The word “ignorant” isn’t pejorative. It simply means you don’t know something. Again, we are all ignorant of a great many things in life, myself included.

Mailbag, Southern Baptist/SBC

The Mailbag: When is it time to leave the SBC?

In the past, I’ve received some responses/comments on this issue from Christians who seem very angry that anybody is still in the SBC. While I share your righteous anger at the sin being committed in the SBC (and at those committing it), please don’t let your anger spill over onto your brothers and sisters who are still attempting to navigate this situation in a godly way in the context of their own families and local churches. Extend grace and patience and trust God to work in their hearts His way and in His timing.

At what point does one leave the SBC? I know there are other doctrinally sound churches where one could worship. When would “guilt by association” turn into a stumbling block for others?

How will you be handling the possible debacle with the SBC? We are so torn about this situation. Any advice or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

These are just a couple of the “Should I stay or should I go?” questions and comments I’ve received about the current state of the Southern Baptist Convention.

There’s no denying there are, and have been for decades, serious problems in the SBC, mainly at the national leadership level. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, over the past several weeks, you’ve been reading about those problems, both old and new.

How do you know when it’s time to stand and fight to correct the problems, and when it’s time to declare it a total loss and walk away? How long until staying in the trenches, pleading with the SBC to repent becomes, functionally, being unequally yoked with unbelievers, when it becomes apparent they have no intention of repenting and we refuse to break fellowship with them? Indeed, how can we know when or whether it’s time to leave any church or denomination with such seemingly insurmountable biblical problems?

I don’t know.

But I can tell you there’s Biblical support for both staying (for now) and leaving. As Ecclesiastes might say, “A time to contend for the faith, and a time to shake the dust off your feet and leave.”

In the Old Testament, we see God bearing with Pharaoh’s stiff-necked rebellion through ten plagues. We see Him patiently calling Israel out of idolatry for hundreds of years.

But He did destroy Pharaoh and his army at the end of those ten plagues. And He did eventually send Israel into exile when the time for His forbearance came to an end.

But we also see Jesus leaving the ninety-nine and pursuing the one sheep that went astray. We see the father of the prodigal watching and waiting for his son’s return.

Jesus brought that sheep back. And the prodigal did return in repentance.

God knew whether and when they would all come back, and how long to persist with each. How can we?

The only way to know is to ask Him. This is something every individual Southern Baptist, every Southern Baptist family, and every Southern Baptist church needs to be praying about, asking God for wisdom to know what to do and when the time is right.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James 1:5

And the answer is probably going to look different between different churches, different members of the same church, even different members of the same family.

And that’s OK. Already, some godly churches, families, and individuals have cut ties with the SBC. And that doesn’t mean they didn’t have enough faith or enough patience. Some godly churches, families, and individuals have determined to stick it out until things turn around or until the bitter end, whatever form that may take. And that doesn’t mean they’re compromising or naive.

God works in different ways in different hearts and circumstances because He created us as unique people and placed us in varying situations. He does that for His glory and our good. It’s a testament to how big and capable He is and His special care for each of us as His “one of a kind” child.

But, in addition to the privilege of prayer and God’s promise of wisdom, there’s another blessing God has given us in this situation – the blessing of authority and structure.

God has given us a hierarchy of authority in the church and the home that, when followed, pools the wisdom He has imparted to individuals and prevents any one person from bearing the responsibility for making this decision alone.

As an individual, you pray and search the Scriptures earnestly about this issue. If you’re married and your husband is a Believer, the two of you bring your individual convictions to the table, and pray and study on it, and, hopefully, come to a consensus on it (and, if not, you’ll need to submit to your husband’s position), together.

Next, married or not, you, or you and your family will need to find out where your church leadership is on all of this, if you don’t already know. If your pastor and elders haven’t already come together and talked to the church body about staying in or getting out, and why, you’ll need to set up an appointment with whichever one of them is appropriate and ask about their thoughts and position. If the issue of leaving or staying isn’t even on their radar yet, it would be an appropriate time for you and your husband to share your concerns and ask when they might address this issue.

My encouragement to you would be that if you are in a doctrinally sound Southern Baptist church, with trustworthy pastors and elders who are trying to do the right thing, biblically, give strong, prayerful consideration to following their leadership on this issue, even if you don’t see exactly eye to eye with their position.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Hebrews 13:17

Pray fervently for your pastor and elders about this. Pray for your husband as he seeks to lead your family in a godly direction. If you’re married, submit to your husband’s decision about whether and when to leave. If you’re single, if at all possible, submit to your pastor’s and elders’ decisions about staying or leaving.

There’s not a “one size fits all” solution to this issue. You, as an individual have to seek the Lord and obey Him in your unique situation.

May our gracious Lord give all of us wisdom and humility, and carry us through this difficult time.


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.

Discernment, False Doctrine, Southern Baptist/SBC

A Naked Emperor in the Southern Baptist Convention

Originally published April 6, 2018

Think back to your childhood. Remember the story, The Emperor’s New Clothes?

Once upon a time, there lived an emperor. One day two swindlers came to his palace and told him they could weave cloth for his royal robes that was magical: to those who were foolish or unfit for their jobs, it would appear invisible. Only the wise and worthy would be able to see this fine fabric. The emperor hastily agreed to pay the “weavers” an exorbitant amount of money to make him such an amazing garment, thinking he would use it to weed out anyone unfit for royal service.

The weavers set about pretending to weave. From time to time, the emperor sent various folk to check on the progress the weavers were making, and – though in reality, none of them could see the non-existent fabric – all reported back that the garments were coming along nicely and the cloth was beautiful. But strangely enough, when the emperor himself looked in on the weavers, they held up the magnificent fabric, and he could not see it. Not wanting word to leak out that he was unfit to serve as emperor, he pretended to examine the cloth and complimented the weavers lavishly on their fine work.

Finally, the weavers informed the emperor that the garments were finished. They had the emperor strip down to his skivvies and pretended to help him on with his fine new “garments”. Word had spread among the emperor’s subjects about the magical properties of the fabric, and as the royal procession made its way through town, all shouted out praise for the emperor’s fine new clothes.

All. Except for one little boy.

“But he hasn’t got anything on!” the boy shouted.

It took the innocent honesty of a simple child to shock the emperor’s subjects back to their senses. The truth spread like wildfire, and the crowd began to cry out: “The emperor is naked!” “The emperor has no clothes on!” “He’s not wearing anything!”

But did the emperor admit to his foolishness, return to the palace, and get dressed? No. Sadly the story ends this way:

“The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, ‘This procession has got to go on.’ So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.”¹

And so the “emperor” of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention and those who carry its train march proudly on, despite the cries of simple peasants and innocent little children crying at the top of our lungs, “The emperor is naked!” “There are issues that need to be addressed, here!” “Listen to us!”

You’ll note that the story doesn’t say that the emperor was a cruel man, that he overtaxed the people, oppressed them into slavery, was a warmonger, or was in any other way an evil leader. In fact, one could argue that he had good intentions of making sure the people who served at various posts in his empire were of the finest caliber.

And while there are many issues that need to be addressed in my denomination, I think this could generally be said of the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention as well. Call me a Pollyanna, but I have no reason to believe our denominational leadership – as a whole – is evil or has anything less than the best of intentions for the SBC.

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 even benevolent emperors get things wrong sometimes, and, Southern Baptist leadership, your drawers are flapping in the breeze on this one²:

Sin. The public sin our leaders commit that we excuse and the public sin our leaders commit that we discipline, and the fact that there’s a discrepancy between the two.

Recently, Frank Page, president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (one of the top positions of SBC leadership at the national level) resigned his position due to “a morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past,” which, we are left with little choice but to assume means “adultery”. (As an aside, Christians, when confessing sin, let’s knock off the the terminological hem-hawing and call a spade a spade. “I had a six month extra-marital romantic and sexual relationship with a married woman in my church,” or whatever. You don’t have to give all the gory details or name names, but, for crying out loud, if you’re going to confess, confess- don’t finesse.)

It was right and biblical for Dr. Page to publicly confess and express sorrow over his sin as well as to resign (it would also have been right and biblical for the SBC to remove him had he refused to resign, which, undoubtedly would have happened). He sinned against God, his family, the woman and her family, his church, his co-workers, and the entire denomination. He publicly embarrassed the Southern Baptist Convention and gave unbelievers fodder for scoffing when the report of his sin made the national news. This was a case of a well known Southern Baptist leader whose public, observable sin was handled biblically by SBC leadership. I am thankful for this witness to Christians and to the world that sin is not to be swept under the rug, but that sinners are to repent, be disciplined, and then be restored to fellowship (although, in cases like this, not leadership).

But we don’t handle all cases of public sin that way. Some public sin we reward by making the sinner into a wealthy, lauded celebrity.

“Impossible!” you say?

Check the shelves at LifeWay. Select twenty average SBC churches with women’s ministries and see whose books, DVDs, and simulcasts are being used again and again. Peruse the speakers at popular SBC conferences.

You’ll find names like Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lysa TerKeurst, Christine Caine, Ann Voskamp, Sarah Young, Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Rick Warren, and T.D. Jakes, just to name a few.

Have they committed adultery? Voiced approval of of homosexuality? Committed theft, abused their spouses, or promoted pornography? No. But those aren’t the only types of sins the Bible prohibits.

Every single one of them teaches false doctrine, from Sarah Young’s blasphemous “channeling” of Jesus, to T.D. Jakes’ denial of the Trinity, to Christine Caine’s Word of Faith heresy, to Lysa TerKeurst’s teaching of contemplative prayer.

All of these women who do speaking engagements unashamedly and unrepentantly preach to co-ed audiences. All of these men allow women to preach to co-ed audiences from their pulpits.

All of them who join in ministry with others have yoked or affiliated themselves with false teachers. Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer. Priscilla Shirer and T.D. Jakes. Steven Furtick and Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes. Rick Warren and the Pope.

Scripture plainly prohibits the teaching of false doctrine. It’s a major theme of the New Testament, for goodness sake. The Bible tells us that women are not to preach to men or exercise authority over them in the gathered body of Believers. And God’s Word makes very clear that we are to have nothing to do with false teachers, especially not partnering with them in “ministry”.

In the wake of Frank Page’s resignation, I asked this poll question on Twitter

followed by this one

Why are Southern Baptists leaders so quick to – rightly and biblically – oust Frank Page for, as far as we know, one isolated sin which he publicly confessed to and repented of, and yet overlook three major – and much more publicly observable and harmful to Southern Baptists – ongoing sins from pastors and teachers who have been rebuked and refuse to repent? Why, instead of disciplining them for their sin, do those in leadership give them fat book deals, invite them to speak at all the cool conferences, fawn over them on social media, and make them into celebrities?

How many sins will it take to disqualify and discipline these people? Four? Eleven? Ninety-six? Is there any amount of sin these pastors and teachers, and those like them, can commit that will cause those in SBC leadership to pull their materials off the shelves of LifeWay, deny them a seat at the table, and urge them to repent and step down from their positions?

I’ve been a Southern Baptist from the day I was born. I’ve been taught since the cradle roll that if God’s Word says not to do something and you do it anyway, that’s a sin. If God’s Word says to do something and you don’t do it, that’s a sin. And that sin is sin in the eyes of God.

Well is it, or isn’t it, Emperor?

If sin is sin in God’s eyes, why aren’t you treating Beth Moore’s sin like Frank Page’s sin? Why are you rewarding her for her sin and disciplining him for his?

The Bible says in James 3:1:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Those who teach and lead bear more responsibility to teach sound doctrine and walk worthy because they are teaching and leading us by example.

Why are all the aforementioned pastors and teachers better examples to us in their rebellion and unrepentant sin than Frank Page was in his repentance of sin?

Why?

Southern Baptist peasants and little children see right through your foolishness on parade on this issue and we want answers. Biblical answers.

Don’t just stand there shivering, suspecting we are right, but thinking, “This procession has got to go on,” and walking more proudly than ever. Go back to the palace. Repent. Clothe yourselves with humility and obedience to Scripture, and come back and lead us rightly. Biblically.

Because the Emperor of Southern Baptist leadership has been naked for far too long.


¹H.C. Andersen Centret (The Hans Christian Andersen Centre). The Emperor’s New ClothesAccessed April 5, 2018.

²I am well aware that this is not the only problem in the SBC that needs to be addressed. It would be impossible to address every issue in one article, so this time I’ve chosen to focus on this one particular issue.

Southern Baptist/SBC

Interview with Anticipated SBC Presidential Nominee: Mike Stone

Originally published March 19, 2021

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.


June 9, 2021 Update: If you had the misfortune of reading former ERLC president Russell Moore’s recent slanderous screed, which basically accused Mike Stone and other biblically conservative SBC leaders of bullying and attempting to silence abuse victims who came forward, I wanted to make sure you got to see Mike’s video response (below) and read his press release.

(I am intentionally refraining from providing a link to the letter because if you’ve read it, you know, and if you haven’t read it, you can skip this entire update. I don’t want to give the letter any more of an airing than it’s already had.)