Mailbag, Southern Baptist/SBC

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

Originally published June 14, 2021

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.

Church, Southern Baptist/SBC

10 Things I Wish Southern Baptists Knew About Southern Baptists

Originally published June 26, 2015

Some things have changed in the SBC, at LifeWay, the ERLC, etc., since this article was originally written in 2015 (see footnotes), however the bulk of what is mentioned here is still relevant. It also helps us see just how longstanding and pernicious many of these problems are.

Earlier this week, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission3 published a nifty little article called “10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Southern Baptists“. Although I disagree with Dr. Moore on a number of things, I thought the article was pretty good, overall.

But it got me thinking. Yes, there is a lot of ignorance about Southern Baptists out there among those who aren’t part of our denomination. However, there’s also a lot of ignorance inside the SBC about what’s really going on in our denomination, our doctrine, practices, leadership, and so on. These are ten SBC realities I wish the average Southern Baptist church member were more aware of.

1. LifeWay sells lies and heresy, and they don’t want you to know.
Now I’m not saying everything they sell is lies and heresy. I’ve bought lots of good doctrinally sound materials from them over the years. However, the fact remains that they continue to sell books and materials from false teachers like T.D. Jakes, Sarah Young, and Andy Stanley on their shelves. They will order books by false teachers like Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen for you if you just ask at the counter.¹ They continued to sell The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven (a book recounting Alex Malarkey’s supposed trip to Heaven after a car accident) for nearly a year even after Alex, his mother, Beth, and respected SBC pastor, speaker, and author Justin Peters repeatedly told LifeWay leadership that the story was a lie. Emails and phone calls about heretical materials at LifeWay are either ignored or the caller placated (I know this from first hand experience). Questions from the floor at the Southern Baptist Convention about LifeWay carrying false doctrine are quashed.

This entity of your denomination which purports to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ is selling lies about Him to make a fast buck, and they need to stop.

2. There are plenty of apostate Southern Baptist churches, and we have no mechanism in place for kicking them out of the SBC.
This is a verbatim quote from the FAQ section (5th question from the top) of the SBC’s web site:²

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

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

3. Beth Moore is a false teacher.
That’s right, the queen of SBC3 women’s Bible study, divangelista Beth Moore, does not rightly handle God’s word, partners with false teachers, and violates Scripture by preaching to men, among other things. And Priscilla Shirer is right there with her.

4. Having a small church isn’t a sin and it doesn’t necessarily mean your pastor (or your church) isn’t trying hard enough.
The average church size in America is 186 members, and 94% of church goers attend a church of 500 or fewer people, yet the constant drumbeat of SBC leadership is “bigger is better.” Countless articles harangue exhausted pastors about breaking the 200 or 250 or 300 member attendance “barrier.”

Listen, if your pastor is faithfully preaching and rightly handling God’s word and your church members are serving one another and carrying out the Great Commission in their daily lives, that’s what counts in God’s eyes, not how many butts are in a pew.

5. The Bible doesn’t require you to tithe, and neither should your church.
The tithe is part of the Old Testament law that Christians today are no longer bound by because we are under the covenant of grace, not the Mosaic covenant. Christians are to gladly give the amount we determine in our own hearts to give out of love for our Savior and a desire to serve Him- not under compulsion from someone else.

6. The “sinner’s prayer” won’t save you.
If you think you’re saved because you parroted a prayer someone led you in when you were five but your life shows no love of Christ and no evidence that you belong to Him, then your faith is in the prayer you prayed, not in Christ, and you are not saved. The evidence that you’re a Christian is that you love the Lord, and are growing in holiness, not that you once repeated a prayer (or that you were baptized, attend church regularly, are a “good person,” etc.) Examine yourself to see if you’re really in the faith.

7. Your church probably has a significant number of lost people in it.
Jesus Himself said, there are few who find eternal life and that there are many who call Him “Lord” whom He does not know and will turn away on the Day of Judgment. This is why it is absolutely imperative that pastors, Sunday School teachers, and all other church leaders know the gospel inside out and teach it incessantly, even to people who claim to know Christ.

8. Lots of Southern Baptist churches violate 1 Timothy 2:12ff.
We do fairly well at not permitting women to serve as pastors, but beyond that there are plenty of churches and pastors who sin by allowing women to serve in positions in the church that are restricted to men. Do women in your church preach the Sunday sermon or teach co-ed Sunday School classes? Do they head up committees or ministries that put them in authority over men? Do they, as worship leaders or in some other capacity, stand before the congregation and instruct or exhort them? Then your church is in sin.

9. Politics won’t save America.
This country is imploding. You don’t have to be a prophet to see that. Voting according to biblical principles, running for office, working through the system to right wrongs, signing petitions, and other political activity is fine, but don’t put your eggs in those baskets. The Titanic has hit the ice berg, and Christians in this country will soon be facing real persecution like we see overseas. We need to rescue the perishing with the gospel. It can’t be done with the White House or the state house. When is the last time you shared the gospel with someone?

10. Jesus wins.
Things are bad and getting worse. In our world, in our country, in our denomination, in our churches. But the good news of Scripture for all people is that, in the end, Jesus is coming back for His bride. He will conquer evil and those of us who truly belong to Him will spend eternity with Him. This world is not all there is. Jesus wins.


¹It is possible LifeWay has changed this policy. I called my local LifeWay last week (Jan. 2017) and asked them to order a Joyce Meyer book and a Joel Osteen book. I was told the store could not order books by either of these authors. I applaud LifeWay for this step in the right direction.

²As of 2019, this verbiage has been removed from the FAQ section of the SBC website. Conceptually similar language can be found here (see Article III: Composition).

3Russell Moore and Beth Moore (no, they’re not related) both left the SBC in 2021.

Southern Baptist/SBC

Anticipating Anaheim

Hi friends. Just a little announcement to let you know that the blog is going to look a bit different for the next few weeks.

Starting today and running through about June 10-ish, as we Southern Baptists anticipate the annual Southern Baptist Convention (June 14-15) I’m going to be exclusively running articles that are connected to the SBC and the various issues that have arisen therein over the past several years.

This is another watershed year for the SBC, and it is imperative that Southern Baptist women educate themselves on the issues and vote biblically – if you’re representing your church, and millions of other Southern Baptists, like me, as a messenger.

But even if you’re not, you still need to know what’s going on at the national level in your own denomination1, because it will eventually trickle down into your own church, if it hasn’t already – via the seminaries, the LifeWay curricula your church uses, the next IMB or NAMB missionary who speaks at your church, etc. – autonomy of the local church notwithstanding.

If you’re not Southern Baptist, I would still urge you to pay attention over the next month. Because the SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., the well worn cliche, “As goes the SBC, so goes the rest of evangelicalism,” usually proves to be true. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you (and me!) to death with the intricacies of SBC polity. These articles will be primarily issues driven – issues you’re probably already seeing in your own church or denomination, or soon will.

So…buckle up, buttercups. Here we go…


1Yes, I totally understand that the SBC is not technically a denomination, but until somebody comes up with a better word, “denomination” it is.

Southern Baptist/SBC

What’s Going On in the Southern Baptist Convention?

This article was last updated on April 29. Today’s (May 5) updates include:

May:

  • The ineptitude or sabotage (it’s unclear which) of Baptist Press’ interview with Tom Ascol
  • The video of the SBC presidential candidate forum

I’m still collecting proposed resolutions for SBC 2022. I invite anyone submitting a resolution to send it to me for inclusion in this article. (More under “April”)

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

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

If you and your church are choosing to stay in and fight, it is crucial that you be well-informed enough on the issues and the candidates to vote biblically when you attend the 2022 annual meeting in Anaheim. And that also means you’re going to need to know your Bible well enough to vote biblically on those issues.

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

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

That’s where this article comes in.

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

This article (initially published in the summer of 2021 and subsequently updated) is a timeline of significant events in the SBC at the national level starting with the 2021 annual meeting and moving forward from there. I’ve tried to keep things brief, so you may need to take what you see here and do some more digging on your own if you want an in depth look at a particular issue.

I’ve also posted a few “Points of Order,” things that aren’t really a current event, but more along the lines of SBC polity or information you might need.

If you think I’ve left out something significant (I’m trying not to get bogged down in too much minutiae), please leave a comment and a link, if possible.

Acronyms you need to know:

  • SBC: Southern Baptist Convention
  • BFM: Baptist Faith and Message
  • IMB: International Mission Board
  • NAMB: North American Mission Board
  • EC: Executive Committee
  • GCR: Great Commission Resurgance
  • ACP: Attorney-Client Privilege
  • SATF: Sexual Abuse Task Force
  • SWBTS: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • SEBTS: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • CRT: Critical Race Theory

The 2021 Annual Meeting

For a recap of the major decisions and happenings of the 2021 annual meeting, please read my article: SBC21: Aftermath, Thoughts, and Where Do We Go From Here? There are lots of informative links at the end of the article in the “Additional Resources” section.


June 2021

Point of Order: Financial Contributions

If you’re staying in the SBC, you might be concerned about your offerings being sent to the Cooperative Program to fund SBC entities which are operating unbiblically. This is a dilemma for doctrinally sound churches and individuals, because, until fairly recently, making a financial contribution to the SBC at the national level was a requirement for being “in friendly cooperation with the SBC.”

So how do we stay in the SBC to fight ungodliness by sending messengers to the annual meeting, yet maintain our financial contribution without funding ungodliness? [Now former – see “October” below] Executive Committee member Rod Martin explains:

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

  1. Under the recent constitutional amendment, every church now gets two messengers whether they give or not. Previously you had to give a minimum amount to get any messengers at all.
  2. The previous maximum number of messengers was 10. That number is now 12.
  3. You can get one additional messenger (up to the maximum) for every percentage point of additional giving out of undesignated receipts. That’s fair for every church: if you’re giving 5%, you get five more messengers. If you’re giving 10%, you get ten more messengers. The dollar amount doesn’t come into play.
  4. That said, and I very much disagree with this, you can also get one additional messenger (up to the maximum) for each $6,000 in giving. That means megachurches can have 12 messengers by giving next to nothing as a percentage of their budgets. I think that was a big mistake. But the vast majority of SBC churches are small, so they greatly outnumber those churches, and also, the 12 messenger cap greatly limits the power of those giant churches on the floor.
  5. The “giving” I just described can be through the Cooperative Program, but no longer has to be: it can be to any convention entity. So let’s say you wanted to give all of it to Lottie Moon, or give all of it through IMB but designated for certain specific missionaries: you could do that and get all ten additional messengers. There are many other possibilities as well.

    I think this change to our system (which was part of GCR) was a giant mistake, as was GCR generally. However, while I know some people disagree, I don’t think it actually disadvantages smaller churches in practice, and it definitely creates a lot of flexibility for churches to give creatively while also maintaining their maximum possible messenger representation.

You can read the official version of this in the SBC Constitution, Article III.

xxxxx

Trinitarian Heresy on Litton’s Church Website

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

Photo courtesy of onenewsnow.com

Quietly, and almost immediately, the heretical wording was deleted from the website, as you can see in the “before and after” screenshots above.

It’s not just that the wording was heretical. Redemption Church’s statement of faith – the core of its identity as a church – was changed without a vote by the church body. Indeed, without even notifying or consulting the church body. How would that go over at your church?

To date, neither Litton nor Redemption Church has offered any official explanation regarding why a multi-SBC seminary degreed pastor would lead his church to codify a heretical statement of faith in the first place, nor how that statement of faith was able to be altered without input or permission from the church, nor why it took outside publicity to spur the change.

Unofficially, the explanation some claim Litton has given is that the original heretical wording was some sort of typographical error by the person who typed it into the website. (I want to stress that this is hearsay.)

HERESY? SBC President Ed Litton’s church holds potentially heretical view of Trinity at Capstone Report

A check reveals a change – which deserves an answer at One News Now


The Plagiarism Fiasco

About a week after the convention ended, starting during the week of June 20:

A side by side video surfaced of Ed Litton (Jan. 2020) and J.D. Greear (Jan. 2019) preaching the same (Greear’s) sermon on Romans 1.

The sermon was Greear’s infamous “The Bible whispers about sexual sin” sermon, so there was not only the plagiarism aspect, but, just as when Greear originally preached it, there was outrage over the bad theology contained in the sermon itself.

Greear and Litton each issued statements explaining, justifying, and excusing the plagiarism.

Litton removed 143 sermons from his church’s website and YouTube, leading most to surmise that these sermons probably also contained plagiarism, due to his explanation of his “sermon by committee” paradigm explained in his statement.

The secular news media began reporting on all of this.

Justin Peters posted a very thorough video biblically explaining and providing documentation for all of this:

Greear and Litton: Plagiarism and Sin in the SBC | Justin Peters | June 28, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

The Ed Litton Sermon Plagiarism Scandal by Gabriel Hughes


Point of Order: Removing a sitting SBC President

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

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

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

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

xxxxx

July 2021

EC SATF Named

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

Litton names task force to oversee third-party review of SBC Executive Committee at Baptist Press

The purpose of the task force is to objectively examine whether the EC handled these charges of sexual abuse fairly and appropriately with regard to recommending whether or not the church should be disfellowshiped from the SBC.

You’ll notice many of the members and advisors work or volunteer in the field of victim advocacy. While it is good to have people with experience on the task force, that has to be balanced with their ability to be objective if this is to truly be an independent review.

For example, Rachael Denhollander has been a polarizing figure in victim advocacy because she has a reputation for never having met an accusation of abuse she didn’t believe, or “having an ax to grind” when it comes to allegations of abuse. If anything, she has a reputation for being biased in favor of alleged victims and unable to objectively assess when false charges have been levied.

When someone (such as some of the members of this task force) has made victim advocacy his career or life’s mission, that person is heavily invested in one side of the issue. It raises the question, “How objective can some of these task force members/advisors be?”.

You can read about the SATF’s progress and work at Task Force Updates.


Litton’s Lies
(Week ending July 10, 2021)

I’m sorry, but there’s just no polite way to say this, and sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. Ed Litton has been caught in two obvious, public lies about the plagiarism fiasco and his wife co-preaching with him.

Kathy’s Co-Preaching:

This is an issue that came up prior to the 2021 convention so it is not included in this article, but I referred to it in this pre-convention article regarding Ed Litton’s wife Kathy:

This man who wants to be at the helm of your entire denomination, violates Scripture by allowing Kathy to “co-preach” the Sunday sermon at their Southern Baptist church here, and here, and several more sermons can be found at their church’s website.

If you try to click on the links above you’ll notice two of them yield no results. That’s because once Ed Litton was publicly taken to task for allowing his wife to preach, he deleted the sermon videos, which is covering up sin, rather than biblically repenting of it.

When first questioned about allowing his wife to preach, Litton explained that this was because it was a sermon series on marriage and family and he wanted Kathy to provide her perspective. (Scripture doesn’t allow for this, but some accepted this justification.)

It has now been discovered that Litton had Kathy co-preach at least one other sermon series in 2013 which had nothing to do with marriage and family.

Litton co-preached with wife far more extensively than previously known at Capstone Report

(If you’re unclear about why this is a violation of Scripture, please click here, here, and here to read up.)

Plagiarism (see “June” above):

In a news interview with his local CBS affiliate, Litton clearly says the allegations of plagiarism came from “unnamed sources”.

(See 2:40 for the “unnamed sources” segment.)

This is patently untrue. Many SBC pastors and others have publicly sounded the alarm about the plagiarism issue, and all the ones I’m aware of have used their real names.

Ed Litton is an unrepentant liar and this interview proves it at Capstone Report

September 2021

SWBTS/Greenway Provide Cover
for Litton’s Non-Repentance

On September 14, during SWBTS’ chapel service, seminary president Adam Greenway interviewed Ed Litton on a variety of topics, first – and most notably – the plagiarism scandal (3:50). Once again, Litton finessed instead of repenting.

You can tell where Greenway stands as he prefaces his question to Litton by disparagingly referring to the “snark” he received from “anonymous social media accounts” when he announced that Litton had been invited. (“Anonymous”? What I saw when I commented on his Twitter announcement was, I’d estimate, well over 90% non-anonymous, concerned, yet frustrated Southern Baptists wanting the plagiarism issue addressed, and for Litton to resign.)

And, of course, you’ll notice that Litton doesn’t repent over this sin, and even characterizes those who exposed his sin as meaning evil against him in the Genesis 50:20 sense. (More here.)

A Conversation with Ed Litton – #SWBTSChapel | September 14, 2021

October 2021

EC Waives ACP

“In a 44-31 vote Tuesday, Oct. 5, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (SBC EC) opted to waive attorney-client privilege in connection with a third-party investigation of itself [see “July” above]. Ahead of the special called meeting, six committee members resigned, and Chairman Rolland Slade noted during the meeting an expectation that other resignations may soon follow with the passage of the widely-debated waiver of attorney-client privilege.”SBC Executive Committee votes to waive attorney-client privilege in sexual abuse investigation at Conservative Baptist Network

Waiving ACP was not necessary in order for Guidepost Solutions (the firm retained by the SATF to investigate allegations of mishandling of abuse cases by the EC) or the SATF to investigate allegations of the EC’s mishandling of abuse cases. It put the SBC in jeopardy of losing its legal representation and insurance coverage, and left individual EC members vulnerable to lawsuits (thus, the aforementioned resignations). And since any compensation paid to abuse victims would have been covered by the insurance policy, it was a very foolish decision indeed.


Multiple EC Resignations

As a result of the EC voting to waive ACP, fourteen committee members resigned effective in late September and October – including President Ronnie Floyd and Rod Martin – due to personal legal vulnerability and frustration.

More Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee members resign — new leadership announced at The Christian Post

SBC Executive Committee breaks deadlock to waive privilege, loses 10% of board at The Baptist Paper

On October 11, Guenther, Jordan & Price, the Nashville firm which had provided legal representation for the SBC since 1966, terminated its relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention

The Executive Committee’s board of directors, by a majority vote, has acted to prospectively and preemptively waive the Executive Committee’s attorney-client privilege without knowing the communications affected by the waiver and without knowing the effect it will have on the Executive Committee, the Convention, and those who have served as members or employees of the Executive Committee…For these reasons, we believe our commitment to a certain standard of professional conduct leaves us no
choice but to advise you that we are withdrawing from our role as general counsel to the Southern Baptist Convention and the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Guenther, Jordan & Price resignation letter

SBC legal team resigns after vote to waive attorney-client privilege in sex abuse investigation at The Christian Post

On October 28, the EC trustees met and retained Bradley Legal to provide legal services on an interim basis. (See “February” below for more information on Bradley Legal.)

November 2021

A Discussion of the Issues

On November 19, the Conservative Baptist Network hosted a panel discussion centering on problematic issues in the SBC. Led by SBC First Vice President, Dr. Lee Brand, participants included (L-R: Randy Adams, Tom Ascol, Russell Fuller, Rod Martin, and Allen Nelson)

There was a problem with the audio the night of the recording that caused the first 10-12 minutes of the video’s volume to be extremely low. It clears up after that.

UnMerritted Praise

On November 22, James Merritt – multi-seminary degreed pastor of Cross Point church (SBC) in Duluth, Georgia, former SBC president, chair of the 2021 Resolutions Committee, former chair of the EC, former president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference, visiting professor at SEBTS, etc. – posted this tweet regarding his son Jonathan’s sermon at his (Jonathan’s) “church” the day before. Jonathan is openly homosexual, and his “church” is homosexuality affirming, egalitarian, and universalist, among other anti-biblical beliefs:

Obviously, it should go without saying (especially to someone as biblically knowledgeable as a pastor, former SBC president, and SBC seminary professor should be) that a practicing homosexual is not saved and has, therefore, rejected the gospel. How could any sermon he preached be “faithful to the gospel”?

STATEMENT: Promoting homosexual preachers is not loving, biblical, or Baptist at Conservative Baptist Network

Naturally, his appalling statement received pushback from biblically faithful Christians, and James Merritt once again showed his baser nature by lashing out at those taking him to task.

James Merritt defends gay son’s preaching by attacking Trump supporters at Capstone Report

Homosexuality, Universalism, The Gospel, and the SBC | Justin Peters | November 28, 2021

A Gospel Without Merit by Gabriel Hughes

Likely facing pressure behind the scenes, James Merritt resigned his position as visiting professor at SEBTS (but not his pastorate). For this, he was practically lauded as a hero by SEBTS president Danny Akin

…and by Vance Pittman, president of Send Network (NAMB’s church planting division):

Send Network, SEBTS, and Salvation by Merritt by Allen Nelson

December 2021

BinderGate

Someone gave reporter Liam Adams of the Tennesseean James Merritt’s binder from his tenure as 2021 Resolutions Committee chair. The binder contained private emails between Tom Ascol and James Merritt as well as other confidential Resolutions Committee communications and information, some of which was used in an article Adams wrote.

Bindergate: An Appeal for Honesty and Integrity in the SBC by Tom Ascol

February 2022

Is the SBC Moving Toward Affirming Homosexuality?

In this video, Justin Peters examines four incidents in recent SBC history that seem to demonstrate a gradual progression toward affirming homosexuality. Two of the incidents took place at First Baptist Church Orlando, pastored by David Uth (president of the 2020 Pastors’ Conference who was roundly criticized for inviting false teachers and a female “pastor” as speakers), one incident involved James Merritt, and another involved former SBC President J.D. Greear.

FBC Orlando’s Shocking Capitulation | Justin Peters | February 15, 2022


A Pride Full Firm

Following a tweet by pastor and EC member Adam Wyatt singing the praises of new interim legal team Bradley Legal, questions began to be raised about the many ties the firm has to the homosexual and woke agendas. From sponsoring Nashville Pride to a glowing report on Bradley’s “inclusivity” from the Human Rights Campaign, Bradley is proud of its “diversity”.

A Different Kind of Nashville Statement: New SBC Lawyers Full of Gay Pride at Servants and Heralds


Coming to Terms

On February 28, in the middle of a self-aggrandizing video noting his past and anticipated accomplishments, and breaking with decades of tradition, Ed Litton briefly announced he would not seek or accept a second term as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dr. Ed Litton addresses the SBC | Redemption Church | February 28, 2022

Ed Litton says he won’t seek reelection as SBC president, prompts mixed reactions at The Christian Post


Point of Order: The SBC President’s Term of Office

“The officers shall be elected annually and shall hold office until their successors are elected and qualified. The term of office for the president is limited to two (2) years, and a president shall not be eligible for re-election until as much as one (1) year has elapsed from the time a successor is named.” The Constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention, Article V, Point 2

In plain English: There is an election for SBC president (and other officers) every year at the SBC annual meeting, which means we could elect a new president every single year. However, the SBC Constitution allows the president to serve two consecutive one-year terms, and, in recent history, most SBC presidents and messengers have taken the Constitution up on that offer. The last single-term president was Adrian Rogers, who (though later elected to two consecutive terms in the mid-1980’s) served from 1979 to 1980, 43 years ago.

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March 2022

Willy Run?

March 1, one day after Ed Litton announced he would not seek re-election for a second term as SBC president (see “February” above), Willy Rice, pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater, Florida, announced that he would be nominated for SBC president at the annual meeting in June. (See “April” below)

Fla. Pastor Willy Rice to be nominated for SBC president, says ‘faith family’ is all he’s ever known at The Christian Post

Calvary follows the multi-site model with three locations in Florida. They also have an “online campus” which they seem to equate with the three physical locations. Though there’s nothing wrong with a church live streaming its worship service, leading people to believe that watching a video of a worship service is equal to being a faithful member of a local church and physically gathering with that church body for worship and fellowship is an unbiblical ecclesiology. The Greek word for “church” in the New Testament is ἐκκλησία, or ekklesia. It literally means a gathering or assembly. No gathering, no church. The Bible commands and assumes that we physically gather as the church.

Calvary will be hosting the LifeWay Women Live Simulcast which features Jackie Hill Perry, Jen Wilkin, Jada Edwards, Jennifer Rothschild, Kelly Minter, and others.

Willy’s wife, Cheryl, is apparently a fan of Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, and Lysa TerKeurst. (Click here for more info.)

Willy Rice on the January 6 Capitol protest, race, and social justice:

Willy Rice Nominated for SBC President | Conversations That Matter | March 4, 2022


Two Good Men to Right the Ship

On March 22, it was announced that Tom Ascol – pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, and president of Founders Ministries – would be nominated for SBC president, and Voddie Baucham – author, sought after conference speaker, and currently dean of theology at African Christian University in Zambia – for president of the Pastors’ Conference.

Both men have an outstanding record of fidelity to Scripture, biblical ecclesiology, Christian ethics, and sound doctrine. Both have spoken unashamedly against sexual sin, false teachers, Critical Race Theory and racialism, egalitarianism, and the social justice movement. Both are dedicated to the bold proclamation of the mercy and grace of God in the biblical gospel rather than the watered down gospel of seeker sensitive easy believism.

There could be no two better men than these to begin the hard task of turning the SBC back to faithfully believing and obeying God’s Word. If at all possible, my Southern Baptist sisters, I urge you to talk to your pastor about representing your church as a messenger at the SBC annual meeting in Anaheim in June (along with as many other messengers as your church qualifies for) and vote for Tom and Voddie.

Statement from Southern Baptists Nominating Tom Ascol and Voddie Baucham

Southern Baptists Nominate Tom Ascol, Voddie Baucham To Leadership To Combat Woke Drift In Largest Protestant Denomination at The Daily Wire

Why I Am Willing to Be Nominated for SBC President by Tom Ascol

Change the Direction – With SBC Presidential Nominee, Tom Ascol at A Word Fitly Spoken

TS&TT: The Nomination of Tom Ascol for SBC President And The Need To #ChangeTheDirection | Founders Ministries | March 22, 2022

TS&TT: Voddie Baucham | SBC Pastors Conference Presidency and How We #ChangeTheDirection | Founders Ministries | March 29, 2022


The Missionary Candidate

On March 23, a third candidate for the SBC presidency was announced. Former IMB missionary, Robin Hadaway. Hadaway served for many years as a missionary in Africa and South America. Following his time on the mission field he spent twenty years at Midwestern Baptist Theological seminary as a professor of missions and in several different administrative positions. He has also served in various offices and capacities in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Former missionary Robin Hadaway to be nominated for SBC president at Baptist Press


Blackmailing the Bucks

In late March (spilling over into April), a situation began to unfold in which Tom Buck (and his wife, Jennifer), pastor of First Baptist Church, Lindale, Texas, who has battled valiantly against corruption in the SBC, was maligned, lied to, and threatened with blackmail. The situation involved not insignificant figures in SBC life, including SEBTS professor Karen Swallow Prior, SEBTS President Danny Akin, former 2022 SBC presidential nominee Willy Rice, and others.

This is the same type of “dirty tricks” move from the liberal contingent of the SBC we’ve come to expect over the last few years in the weeks immediately preceding the annual meeting, as they attempt to sully the reputations of those on the biblical side of the aisle in an attempt to influence, or even derail, the SBC presidential election.

The story is both heart wrenching and enraging, and provides insight into just how evil and corrupt the SBC has become at the highest levels. The story is somewhat lengthy and involved, and the timeline intricate, but I urge you to peruse the following pertinent documentation:

A Story of Restorative Grace by Jennifer Buck

A Statement Regarding Tom and Jennifer Buck by the elders of First Baptist Church, Lindale, Texas (BNG article referred to but not linked)

The Essential Facts and Concise Timeline of the SEBTS Coverup against Tom and Jennifer Buck: Questions We Should Be Asking at Servants and Heralds

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

April 2022

Willy Run? Apparently Not.

On April 1, potential SBC presidential nominee, Willy Rice (see “March” above) announced that it was about to be made public that a deacon in his church had committed “sexual sin” in his past – prior to his salvation – “that could also be described as abusive” but which did not involve criminal charges. The deacon was removed from his position. (I would like to point out, for clarity, that the 2021 resolution Rice quotes from near the end of the video says that anyone who has committed sexual abuse is permanently disqualified from the office of pastor. The man in question was a deacon, not a pastor.)

Willy Rice blames political rivals for Deacongate at Capstone Report

On April 6 – likely under pressure from “progressive” SBC leadership because he was the progressive candidate, and abuse is a major plank in the progressive platform – Rice announced he was withdrawing his name as a candidate for SBC President.

Willy Rice drops out of SBC Presidential race after Deacongate at Capstone Report


The “Progressive” Candidate

Texas pastor Bart Barber announced as candidate for SBC president at Baptist Press

On April 7, it was announced that pastor Bart Barber would be nominated for president of the SBC. Barber was appointed by current SBC president Ed Litton (see above) as chair of the Resolutions Committee, and will serve in that capacity at the 2022 annual meeting.

Though he may not consider himself progressive, Barber is the candidate most progressives will likely end up voting for, simply because a) he has greater name recognition than Robin Hadaway, and b) they want the least conservative candidate possible to win.

You can read about Barber’s positions on various issues at Bart Barber FAQs on his church’s website. You may find the following sections to be informative:

  • Critical Race Theory– in which Barber says it is problematic there is no agreed upon definition of CRT, yet conducts a Twitter poll (which any marginal statistician could tell you is hardly reliable) about this undefined concept of CRT, and uses those results to conclude that CRT is “far from being an urgent issue to address in your church or in the Southern Baptist Convention.”

    (Barber also served on the 2021 resolutions committee which quashed a resolution condemning CRT as incompatible with the BFM signed by 1300+ Southern Baptists. Tom Ascol, on the other hand, at that same meeting, made a motion to rescind 2019’s Resolution 9. Read more here.)
  • Plagiarism– in which Barber asserts that, since the authors of Scripture, young pastors, and those newly converted on the mission field may not have access to advanced theological training, the internet, commentaries, methods of attribution, etc., and, thus, may repeat things they’ve been told by others with no attribution, this excuses someone like Ed Litton – who does have all of those advantages and should know better – from plagiarism. How does Ed telling JD Greear’s personal life experiences as though they were his own fit into that paradigm? It’s not readily clear.

You can read the rest of Barber’s defense of Litton – as well as his opposition to the CBN (Conservative Baptist Network) here. Tom Ascol was, at that same time, vocally decrying Litton’s sin of plagiarism.

On the author of the gospel of Mark (see the remainder of the thread for context):

On a few other notes…

Though the content of his interactions with her are benign, Barber seems to have a friendly Twitter relationship with false teacher Beth Moore (here, here).

Barber has allowed the women’s ministry of his church to schedule a “Bible” study using a book by false teacher Priscilla Shirer:

In 2020, Barber invited Dwight McKissic to be a guest on his podcast, and recorded the episode in the sanctuary of his church. McKissic is an SBC “pastor” (he is biblically disqualified) who plays the race card in nearly every conversation, is a rabid egalitarian, and defends false teachers such as Beth Moore (McKissic suggested that she should be nominated as president of the SBC a few years ago) whenever he gets a chance.

It’s an Issue with the Network: The Platform and Anaheim 2022 by Allen Nelson


This Year’s Resolutions

On April 15, the resolutions portal opened for submitting a resolution to the 2022 Resolutions Committee. The 2022 resolution submission window closes May 30.

Resolutions are essentially position statements messengers may have the opportunity to vote on at the Convention. (Parliamentary procedure or committee action may preclude a vote.) I would love to publish the text of, or information regarding as many resolutions as possible so messengers can take the time to read, inform themselves, and especially pray about how they should vote that they may not have once at the convention site.

If you know someone who will be submitting a resolution at the Convention and would like to have it published here, please comment below or contact me as soon as possible.

Resolutions

This is the original text that will be submitted to the Committee on Resolutions. Please bear in mind, the Committee on Resolutions has the authority to “reword” these resolutions in any way they choose and then present the edited version to the Convention for a vote. (This was a major issue with Resolution 9 on CRT in 2019. The Committee “reworded” the original resolution so much that the edited version ended up saying basically the opposite of the original version.) The Committee also has the authority to decline to present a resolution for a vote. When you arrive at the Convention, please carefully read the versions of the resolutions you are given before voting on them, since they may have been altered.

Resolution on the Sacredness of the Southern Baptist Pulpit submitted by Pastor Allen Nelson, Perryville Second Baptist Church, Perryville, AR

Resolution on Beholding the Majesty of God submitted by Pastor Allen Nelson, Perryville Second Baptist Church, Perryville, AR


Point of Order: Resolutions

A resolution has traditionally been defined as an expression of opinion or concern, as compared to a motion, which calls for action. A resolution is not used to direct an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention to specific action other than to communicate the opinion or concern expressed. Resolutions are passed during the annual Convention meeting. Resources in Resolutions at SBC.net

As I mentioned above, a resolution is akin to a position statement on anything from abortion to a war in another country to National Ice Cream Day if you like. Individual Southern Baptist church members write up resolutions and submit them to the Committee on Resolutions within the allotted time frame. The Committee on Resolutions processes each resolution. Most, they will decline to present for a vote. Some, they will tweak, re-word, edit, beef up, or water down, before presenting. Some, they will present as is. Sometimes, when several similar resolutions are submitted, they will write a new resolution, combining the ideas they like from each, and present a resolution from the committee for a vote. Messengers then have the opportunity to vote in agreement or disagreement with each resolution the Committee on Resolutions presents.

Resolutions are non-binding. This means neither you nor your church nor any other Southern Baptist individual or church has to abide by any resolution. Resolutions serve mainly to make a public statement: This is what the majority of Southern Baptists believe about this issue this year.

Each year, no later than 75 days prior to the SBC Annual Meeting, the SBC president, in conference with the vice presidents, appoints a Committee on Resolutions whose task is to consider and recommend appropriate resolutions to the messengers attending the annual meeting….Only members in good standing of churches entitled to send messengers to the next annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention may submit resolutions.

For more information on how to submit a resolution to the committee click here: Submit a Resolution

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Change of Venue

On April 28, the Executive Committee voted to move the 2023 SBC annual meeting from Charlotte, North Carolina (the site approved by messengers in 2016), to New Orleans, Louisiana. Due to increased attendance over the past few years, it was anticipated that the Charlotte venue would be too small.


SATF Cost

Also on April 28, with regard to the Sexual Abuse Task Force:

EC members were informed that since Oct. 1, a total of $1,661,530 has been paid toward Guidepost Solutions [the independent investigating agency] and $17,478 toward Task Force travel and meetings.

In September, the EC voted to allocate up to $1.6 million toward the work by Guidepost Solutions. In February, they voted to increase the funds allocated to $2 million for the investigation or the “coverage of any other direct expenses without further approval.”

SBC Executive Committee approves 2023 Annual Meeting move, provides financial update at Baptist Press

May 2022

Baptist Press’ Tomfoolery

“Baptist Press recently released an interview that Jonathan Howe and Brandon Porter conducted with me…on April 5. Both they and I recorded the interview. They did so indicating that they would edit out the “ums,” “uhs,” and “wells,” etc. from the transcript in order to make the article flow well without losing the contextually understood meaning of my words.

In the interview that they posted, however…my responses were largely left unedited except for the exclusion of certain things I said…There are other misquotes throughout the article…in the interest of openness and transparency, I am making available the full audio below. In it you can hear a more complete and accurate version of the how the questions were phrased as well as my exact answers.”

Tom Ascol in What I Really Said in the Baptist Press Interview (with audio)
You can read and compare the Baptist Press article here.


Candidate Forum

Tom Ascol, Bart Barber, and Robin Hadaway participated in a panel discussion on issues facing the SBC at First Baptist Church, Keller, Texas, on May 4. The discussion was moderated by Joe Wooddell and Tony Richmond—both of FBC Keller.


SATF Report and Recommendations

Guidestone Solutions, the firm hired by the SATF to investigate the EC for mishandling cases of abuse is to submit its report to the SATF 30 days prior to the SBC annual meeting in Anaheim (June 14-15, 2022). The report is to be made public one week after receipt, along with the SATF’s recommendations on any action the SBC should take as a result of the report.

Mailbag

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

John 8:43-44, 47

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

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

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

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

Can a False Teacher Be a Christian?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what I’d recommend:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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