James Petigru Boyce (1827-1888) is a name all Southern Baptists should be familiar with. Granted, in the 2020 cancel crusade, some may have heard of him, albeit in a negative light. Yet, the SBC would do well to have more men among our ranks like James Boyce.
My three-year-old was doing a three-year-old thing at breakfast. He wouldn’t drink his milk because he said it smelled funny. Every time he put his cup to his mouth to take a sip he curled his nose and told us “This milk smells yucky!”
Finally, I did what dads do. I took the cup and gave it a sniff. Turns out, he was right! Sort of. It wasn’t the milk that actually smelled funny but the cup. The inside hadn’t been cleaned properly and it gave off a noticeable odor when you put the cup to your nose. I attribute the problem to my older children who are too much like the adolescent version of their father who thought washing dishes poorly might get him out of having to do it (as an aside I was wrong, and so are they!).
Of course, I wouldn’t have gotten my youngest to drink the milk if I would have taken a paper towel and simply shined the outside of the cup. The outside wasn’t the problem. It was the inside that was causing the issue. I could have put a sticker on the outside of the cup that said “Clean Cup!”, but alas, the inside is what needed changing.
In their 1983 song Burning Down the House, the American Rock Band, Talking Heads, sang, “Watch out you might get what you’re after…”
Today’s evangelical talking heads are burning down the house by tossing every sinner they can find out of Christian orthodoxy. And I’m afraid, if things don’t change, they might just get what they’re after.
In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Theoden remarks to Aragorn, “The old alliances are dead.” That phrase sticks in the back of my mind as I write this post because it is not my intention to end or strain any alliances. These are not the days for conservative Christians to make enemies within their own ranks!
We are few in number as it is. May the old alliances remain alive, and may my brothers and sisters in Christ hear me out on why you won’t see me personally endorse Ronnie Floyd’s Vision 2025. It’s not that I necessarily disagree with everything. Instead, I see a glaring blind spot.
To me, the vision says we need to replace the tires, detail the car, and repair the windshield. But we’ll leave the failing transmission untouched. New tires are always great. But not if the vehicle can’t shift.
A Book of Numbers
Based on these 2019 numbers, 36.1% of Southern Baptists are in church on any given Sunday. And that’s if the 5,250,230 [attending] people were all members. Of course, some of them are guests, and children, so 36.1% is actually high, but we’ll use that number anyway.
This means that on any given Lord’s day 63.9% of those professing allegiance to Christ are missing. And this isn’t a Sunday here or there but the telling story of the entire year.
Furthermore, the trend is going in the wrong direction. Based on the numbers presented, in 2018 the percentage was at 36.5%. That means in 2019 fewer members are attending church percentage-wise than they were in 2018.
As Southern Baptist pastor, Jim Elliff, once wrote, the SBC is largely an unregenerate denomination. That is, if we take the New Testament’s admonitions about the local church seriously.