Categories
SBC Author

Battening Down the Hatches: How to Take the Ship in Nashville

The story begins in October of 2019. In a group text with some brothers from Perryville Second Baptist, one man shared Jeff Noblit’s video on Leaving the SBC. Another guy responded with, “Maybe instead of jumping ship, we should take the ship.”

After I had watched the Founder’s Cinedoc, By What Standard?, I posted my review at ThingsAbove.Us and said, “Sure, one strategy is we can abandon ship & let the SBC sink. But, there’s another viable strategy too–We can take the ship.”

Take the ship. That little phrase hasn’t made everyone happy. Some have drawn too strong an analogy between my desires and piracy. But this isn’t a campaign against people. This is a war of ideas. And I assure you, I absolutely desire to make all godless ideologies creeping into our convention walk the plank in Nashville.

Sadly, though, we understand that ideologies are perpetuated by people. Thus, if conservatives take the ship, the crew will shrink. Some (many?) may jump off and sail in various directions. So be it. It’s not my desire to unnecessarily shrink the SBC. But competing ideologies cannot both steer in the same direction. There’s only one Captain. And if it’s not Christ, set the ship on fire and let it sink.

There is a storm brewing. It is time to batten down the hatches and prepare for the battle ahead. So, in today’s post let me give you three exhortations on how to take the ship in Nashville.

Recognition

Some people do not like the phrase “take the ship” because they do not recognize the dire condition of the Southern Baptist Convention. Too many are constantly saying “There is no drift in the SBC!” so loudly that others actually believe such an absurdity.

Never mind that SBC churches are ordaining women pastors and allowing women to preach. Never mind that CRT/I is infecting our churches and seminaries. Never mind that we, on the whole, too often pretend to uphold the authority of Scripture all the while abandoning its sufficiency. Don’t mention those things! There is no progressive drift!

The reality is, of course, that there is a drift that has been happening in the SBC over the last several years. Too many think of the 1970s and the way liberalism looked in the SBC then and since they don’t see that today, they look at those of us warning of drift as just fear-mongering.

But guess what? Liberalism adapts to every new generation. This is not to say that the SBC is a liberal convention. It is to say that it is undeniable that liberal trajectories exist within our churches and even within our entities in just the things I’ve already noted above.

At best we are the epitome of foolishness if we refuse to recognize what is happening. At best. At worst we are downright sinister because we are helping perpetuate the liberal push. You do not want to be either of those.

Repentance

We won’t take the ship without recognizing the drift of our beloved convention. And we won’t take the ship rightly unless we first examine our own hearts and repent of our own sins.

What do I mean? First, has any carelessness on your part helped contribute to some of the dangerous trends we are noticing? Have you been afraid to speak up when you should have? Have you found it easier to simply “stay in your lane”? Repent of the fear of man.

Or, perhaps you’ve been prideful about this. You’ve been warning about the encroaching liberalism for years and now that others are on board you boast. Let it not be so brothers and sisters.

What I mean in this point overall is that there is a way to win wrongly. We have a historic moment before us. May God forbid that we walk away with a carnal victory. This isn’t about “winning” for the glory of conservatives. This is about battling for the glory of our King. So, let us be humble servants of Jesus. Let us speak with grace and love and concern for the kingdom. And with that, let us not forget the last ‘R’ word for this post:

Resolve

This point isn’t about the Founders SBC pre-confernce (Be it Resolved), but it’s worth mentioning here that I do hope you come to that on 6/14/21. My wife and I are registered and we’d love to meet you. (Watch the trailer!)

The focus here, which I know the Founders conference will share, is that we must be men and women of truth and conviction. We must be resolved, as the song says, no longer to linger. The days of sitting on the fence in silence are over.

We must be committed to the truth. And we must realize that commitment always carries casualties with it. If you are committed to losing weight, say goodbye to frequent desserts. If you are committed to rearing children, say goodbye to sleep! And if you are committed to the truth, you must realize that it will mean saying goodbye to those who oppose it – not because you want that, but because it is inevitable.

We must be resolved to contend for the truth. We must be resolved not to allow our grandchildren and great-grandchildren to see in their day the SBC and her once strong Christ-exalting institutions be akin to what we see the PCUSA and UMC as today. We must be resolved to stand together.

What does this look like practically? First, it means being resolved to actually come to Nashville. You’ve got to make this happen. If nothing else leave at Midnight on Tuesday, June 15 to arrive in Nashville that morning. And if you have to, leave that night to head home. Preferably you can do more than that, but hopefully, you can do at least that. The time, money, and resources it is going to cost you to come to Nashville and let your voice be heard will be worth it.

This is, if I may use a pirating analogy, time for all hands on deck. Do what it takes to get yourself to Nashville. Do not allow a small percentage of the SBC to steer the ship. Come take the helm.

The only way to take the ship in Nashville will be from a grassroots effort. That means you need to come and bring your church members that might not have social media, but who do love the things that are right and good about the SBC including our gospel partnerships, strong complementarian convictions, and our unashamedness of being Baptists. 

Secondly, we must be resolved to do what is necessary in Nashville even if some will call us names for doing it. We must be resolved to rescind Resolution 9. We must be resolved to vote to pass resolutions like this one from Jared Longshore. We must be resolved to go to the microphones and rightly hold NAMB, the ERLC, and our other entities accountable. This won’t be time to collect trinkets from the booths. Come and be resolved to stand on truth and let your voice be heard.

Finally, we must be resolved to pick the right president of the Southern Baptist Convention. I’m voting for Pastor Mike Stone. This is not because I think Randy Adams or Al Mohler are drifting liberal. I am grateful for both of those men and hope they will continue to be vocal about the changes we need to see in the SBC. But from what I have heard and seen, Mike Stone is the man for the hour. He is a pastor. He is a man with a humble heart. And he is a man of clear conviction.

See you in Nashville. You probably shouldn’t actually wear pirate regalia. But I hope you come ready to take the ship.

Categories
SBC Author

The SBC is Not a Convention of Seminary Faculty

You may or may not have heard that Dr. Al Mohler stirred up the interwebs today by talking about Women Pastors, Women Preachers, and the Looming Test of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The gist of Mohler’s argument is that the Southern Baptist Convention has already fought and won the battle over complementarianism in the SBC and that the office and function of pastor, including preaching, is reserved for qualified men. In essence, it is not a Southern Baptist position to have a woman preach to men and women or to hold the office of pastor – even if that office is something other than “lead pastor.”

The Pushback

And of course, some have already come out saying that “there is no looming storm” (I’d rather not link to the article honestly). One of the arguments there is this:

“All our seminary faculty have publicly affirmed the BF&M. If anyone can clearly demonstrate where one of our seminary faculty members is teaching contrary to the BF&M, I will join you in calling for their removal.”

To which I say, “So what?” I don’t mean to imply that what our seminary faculty members hold to and teach is not important. Of course, it is important – so important it’s worth going to battle over at times. But what I am saying is, the Southern Baptist Convention is not a convention of Seminary Faculty. It is a convention of churches.

Seminary professors can say this or that, but to fully and accurately assess the health of the SBC you cannot ignore the local church. We are a convention of local churches.

It’s interesting that this is the second time in less than two weeks I’ve heard such an argument. I heard Ed Litton publicly say at an Arkansas meeting of pastors that “CRT is not a problem in the SBC.” He went on to say publicly that the idea of “CRT in the SBC is a conspiracy theory.” What I believe he meant was that CRT is not being advocated in our entities (which I certainly disagree with). But the point for this post is that Ed seems to think the health of our convention can be measured without looking at local churches.

What is the SBC?

On May 5th Adam Greenway tweeted some important questions for SBC 2021. One of the questions he said we need to clarify in Nashville is, “What is a Southern Baptist?” I won’t answer that fully here, but I cannot stress this enough: Without local churches, you do not have the Southern Baptist Convention.

The literal heartbeat of the SBC is the local church. Don’t be suckered into thinking that just because our seminaries sign off on the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) that there is no problem with egalitarianism (and CRT, btw) in the SBC.

All the seminary professors (and entity heads) involved in the SBC can affirm the BF&M. But if you have local churches ordaining female pastors and allowing women to preach to a mixed congregation, then there most certainly is a storm looming that must be resolved in Nashville.

Egalitarianism is an issue in our churches. It has been for years actually. And the only reason it’s not more widely recognized is because people want to play word games with complementarianism. One blog post actually said, “I don’t know any actively involved Southern Baptists who would consider themselves an egalitarian.” Well of course! Because the BF&M 2000 flat out denies egalitarianism if taken with any grain of sincerity. So, almost no one who loves being part of the SBC is going to openly say, “I’m an egalitarian!”

But what they are going to do are things like this:

These are examples of functional egalitarianism within the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. And since the SBC is a convention of churches, don’t tell me there is no looming storm. Don’t tell me there is no denial of the sufficiency of Scripture in the SBC. Don’t tell me there is no moderate drift. On the issue of complementarianism, there are two Southern Baptist Conventions and it is time for us to decide the direction we will go and whether or not we will be faithful to our Lord or not.

Take the Ship

Since the churches that comprise the Southern Baptist Convention are what make the convention, as they go, so sails the SBC Ship. Some have seen the course we’ve charted and have jumped ship. Some are ready to do so even now. It’s hard to blame them. Others deny we’ve even drifted off course.

But in Nashville, we have the opportunity not to deny the drift or jump overboard, but to take the ship. Come to Nashville. Don’t let your grandchildren or great-grandchildren visit the “battlefield” one day in a hundred years and talk about how important a stand conservative Christians took, looking to find your name on the memorial, only to not see it there.

Come and stand with us. There are hills worth dying on.

Take the ship.

 

Categories
Critical Race Theory Ecclesiology Racism Reform Social Justice

What to Make of Owen Strachan’s Departure

As you likely know, Owen Strachan is leaving the Southern Baptist Convention.

How should we think about that move?

For starters there are lots of people his departure is good for.  It’s great for everyone connected to Grace Bible Theological Seminary, so great that “great” really doesn’t quite capture how good it is.  Go look on YouTube for the reaction in Cleveland when the Cavs won the Lebron James lottery.  That is what I mean by “great for GBTS.”

It’s great for Dr. Strachan, in fact.  Everything he has written or said about this decision indicates he has a hopeful, aggressive, and entrepreneurial spirit as he engages in this new endeavor (example).  Clearly Dr. Strachan is ready to try his hand as a builder and I expect nothing less than his per-usual excellence in this new pursuit.

The people who it is bad – really bad – for are those of us who care about the faithfulness and future of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dr. Strachan represents rarified air within scholarly Southern Baptist circles in terms of scholarship, leadership, faithfulness – particularly when one considers his relative youth.  Give his faculty page at the old gig a read.  He’s… accomplished.  Published.  Lead.  Contributed.  Taken stands.

In short, he’s the kind of scholar coming into the very height of his powers that a wise institution not only fights like a wild animal to keep but builds its program on.

But Midwestern wished him well.

And Grace Bible Theological Seminary won the lottery.

And the Southern Baptist Convention lost.

Of immediate importance is that Dr. Strachan was the highest profile Southern Baptist working at a Southern Baptist institution who was regularly and forcefully pushing back against the attempted colonization of historic Christianity by neo-racism through Critical Race Theory.

This, in and of itself, is a catastrophic loss for the Southern Baptist Convention.  Let me ask you, reader, this question:

Dr. Strachan was clearly the #1 opponent of CRT working at a Southern Baptist entity. Who is in the #2 slot behind him?

Don’t worry – I’ll wait.

Insofar as this decision looks like the failure to retain a voice critical of Critical Race Theory the implications for the Southern Baptist Convention are increasingly distressing.

When the news broke a friend told me he is sending his daughter to MBTS’ Spurgeon College and now is questioning the decision.  Strachan, by himself, granted a degree of legitimacy to MBTS among those who see CRT for the danger it is that no other seminary can boast.  That MBTS failed to retain Strachan leaves many of us not just wondering if MBTS is a viable option but whether there is a viable option in the SBC for Seminary education.  It appears the policy of our seminaries is to deny that CRT has any place in their institution even as the content coming to light from their faculty makes clear that CRT is very much at home within those schools.  Owen offered a practical, real-world alternative – again, as I have mentioned, largely by himself – and now the door to a theological education not subject to CRT propaganda appears to have departed the SBC with him.

I once told Owen that I believed he was our Machen because he was taking an unique stand against a popular and egregious error.  His departure makes the parallels more pronounced.  Think I am wrong?  Providentially, Ligonier’s Renewing Your Mind podcast has been running lectures from Dr. Robert Godfrey’s Church History lectures.  Recent episodes have covered the 20th Century Modernist / Fundamentalist split.  This paradigm is the best we have for understanding the current developing divide between woke evangelicals and those who wish to remain within the historical Christian tradition.  Give these episodes a listen and tell me that the comparison is not painfully apt.

  1. Fundamentalism vs. Modernism in the Church
  2. J. Gresham Machen
  3. Remaining Struggles over Fundamentalism and Modernism in the Church

Machen’s departure should have prompted American Presbyterianism to rend their clothes in sackcloth and ashes.  That didn’t happen.  Princeton was lost to apostasy and continues to vomit toxicity to our day.

The Southern Baptist Convention is the place our Presbyterian brothers found themselves long ago.  May the Lord grant we learn from their lesson and act more faithfully.

Let me put a point on this: Get to Nashville.  Vote in every session.  We have two candidates who won’t allow the degradation into Church Intersectionality to continue.  We have a third who might not.  Vote for them.*

Haven’t been planning to go?  No excuses – get to Nashville.

Think the last minute planning will be too difficult?  Stop.  Get to Nashville.

Seriously.  Enough is enough.  Get to Nashville.  Need help?  Reply to this post and we’ll see what we can do.  But get to Nashville – with as many voters as your church can send.  I’m dead serious.

Owen Strachan left the Southern Baptist Convention.  He left not because he was forced out, I think, but because the options outside were better for his calling.  That the options for him outside the SBC were better is to our great shame and his departure has massive and immediate ramifications for our brothers and sisters in Southern Baptist Churches.

If we fail to act now, if we fail to learn from church history, we will find ourselves where the options outside the SBC aren’t merely better but rather the only option for faithful Christians.

————————————

A couple readers have asked that I elaborate here; I honestly assumed it was obvious.  I’ll clarify but I want it to be clear I am speaking for myself and not CR:V or any other contributors.

I think Mike Stone is the best candidate, Randy Adams is another great option. Al Mohler, who I respect as much as anyone in the SBC, is the maybe candidate; if we get the guy who reformed SBTS and speaks on The Briefing every day he’d move straight up the chart like a rocket. However, that he is also Matt Hall’s boss makes the proposition more iffy.

Ed Litton is the no-go candidate in my opinion. The current good ol’ boy network lined up to promote him at every turn, sometimes in a way that is more than a little ethically suspect. He’s also on the record perpetuating the “nothing to see here” approach to the problem of Critical Race Theory in the SBC that the same group of elites promoting him as a candidate have adopted.

I’m confident that Ed is a good man and a fine pastor. However, he is not a good candidate (for the reasons above) to fill the Presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Categories
Ecclesiology Podcast Reform

Randy Adams: SBC Presidential Candidate Interview

On this episode Jeff sits down with Randy Adams, Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention, and candidate for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention. You’ll get to know Randy better – how important the BCM was in his walk with Christ, his time pastoring, how he came to the Northwest, and what his aspirations for the Southern Baptist Convention look like.

We trust you will find this interview enlightening and enjoyable!

You can stream the episode here or find it on your favorite podcast platform.

Give Randy a follow on Twitter then check out his SBC-focused writings at SBCtransform.com.

Categories
Gender Reform SBC Author Scripture

The Egalitarian Shift in the Committee on Committees

 

It’s totally a Baptist thing to have a committee on committees, isn’t it? But for those who do not know, this committee is one of the most important (if not the most important) committees that exists within the Southern Baptist Convention. Baptist Press correctly articulates the situation:  

“The Committee on Committees, with two members from each of the 34 states and regions qualified for representation, has the responsibility to appoint the Committee on Nominations. The Committee on Nominations has far-reaching influence on Southern Baptist life. They recommend the trustees of our 11 convention entities and our Executive Committee to the Southern Baptist Convention.”

A key to a healthy convention is God fearing trustees since they are responsible to watch over our entities on behalf of the 47,000 churches of the SBC. These trustees receive their appointment through the Committee on Nominations. Therefore, you want to have a solid Committee on Nominations in order to ensure solid trustee nominations. This brings us back to the Committee on Committees – this committee needs to be strong since it is charged with appointing who will sit on the Committee on Nominations.

The 2021 Situation

In mid-April of 2021 SBC President, J.D. Greear, named the 68 members of the Committee on Committees. By the way, this is one of the reasons electing a strong conservative SBC President in 2021 is so important since they are the ones who name the persons on the Committee on Committees.

What is the makeup of Greear’s Committee on Committees? Well, there’s quite a bit of makeup actually. It is chaired by Meredith Cook, a member of Neartown Church in Houston, Texas. Along with Mrs. Cook there are an additional 38 women sitting on the committee bringing the total to 39 out of 68 members (57%) being female (source).

Thus, out of the 34 states/regions that comprise the Committee on Committees there were multiple areas that J.D. decided needed no male leadership at all.  

What’s the Problem?

In a Q&A session (that was definitely not sponsored by SWBTS and NAMB) with Dr. Ed Litton on April 29, 2021 I had the opportunity to ask if he thought there was any issue with this committee being a majority (57%) female committee. Several pastors in the room laughed at me and shouted “No!” Dr. Litton smiled at the support in the room and answered (though in a kinder way) along with them, “No.”

As you have probably already figured out, the point of this post is to show why a majority women Committee on Committees in the Southern Baptist Convention is an issue. Here are a few reasons why:

  1.       It Reeks of Tokenism

My wife is the one who brought this point to my attention. She said that she finds it offensive that so many women are on the Committee on Committees simply because they are women. It seems as though J.D. wanted to make a point and it certainly has been made!

  1.       It’s Catering to the Culture

This move seems to be another example of the Southern Baptist Convention seeking to make peace with a godless culture. It is extremely countercultural in our day to preach and live out strong biblical complementarianism in our homes and churches. This seems to be another move whereby we can shout at the culture to look how non-complementarian we are.

Let me quickly mention in response to these first two points that I’ve grown quite weary of leadership in the SBC not exalting the roles of women that we have in Scripture as important and meaningful to our convention. That is, why are women only seen as “empowered” if they serve on a certain committee? Why do we not value the role of a wife and mother in the home, submitting to her husband, nurturing her children, and being a godly member of her local church? Why are we so bent on making women preach or serve in this or that area of leadership as the only real meaningful contributions they can give? 

  1.       It is an Egalitarian Slide

Here is where I will spend most of the blog post. Egalitarianism “holds that women and men properly have equal and interchangeable roles in the home, church, and wider society.”[1] That is, an egalitarian would hold that it doesn’t matter who preaches, pastors, leads the home, etc. in terms of gender. Both men and women are qualified to hold whatever position in the home, church, or society.

Complementarianism, on the other hand, says “that God created man and woman equal in value and personhood, and equal in bearing His image, but that both creation and redemption indicate some distinct roles for men and women in marriage and in the church.”[2]

Unequivocally, the Southern Baptist Convention is a complementarian convention of churches – at least on paper. What paper? Well, the Baptist Faith and Message says this, for example,

“The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation” (BFM 2000, XVIII).

So, what does all of this have to do with the Committee on Committees? Quite a lot actually. But first let me say this: I am not arguing for or against in this post whether a woman ought to serve on a committee. That’s not the purpose of this writing. The purpose of this writing is to ask whether or not the most important committee in the Southern Baptist Convention ought to have a majority of its seats held by women.

We have already affirmed in the BFM 2000 that we believe that men ought to lead in the home. We also state that men ought to lead in the church as the office of pastor is only for qualified men (see BFM 2000, VI.). Yet, when it comes to this committee, Southern Baptists are affirming an egalitarian position – that is, the role of leadership here is interchangeable.

A Moment of Crisis

No matter which “side” someone is on in the current SBC debates I think most would agree we are in a moment of crisis. Some might say the “crisis” is people saying there is a crisis! But that would still be a form of crisis.

And here is the point I am making: How can we think it is a good idea – a God ordained idea – that in a moment of crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention, we ought to have our most important committee led by women? Shouldn’t men be leading in all times, but especially during a moment of crisis?

Yes, before you ask, I have read the book of Judges and am familiar with Deborah. I am also familiar with the context of the book and that we do not want to get to a point in Southern Baptist life whereby we are in need of a Deborah to lead us.

The Value of Godly Women

I don’t think this point needs to be made but I’m going to make it anyway. Women in the Southern Baptist Convention are unquestionably valuable. Our churches and our convention would not be where they are today without godly women. This is incontrovertible.

Why then am I saying it’s not a good idea for our most important committee to be led by women? Because God’s very good and holy design in the home, church, and society at large is for men to take up the mantle of leadership. This is not to wonder whether or not a woman is able to select a good candidate for the Committee on Nominations. It’s rather to say that God has not created men to put their wives in that situation.

And I’ll close with this: The Committee on Committees situation is another example where we are losing the battle for the sufficiency of Scripture in the SBC. If we believe the Bible is sufficient to teach us gender roles, then why are we not making proper application on the Committee on Committees? Why do we believe, as the BFM states, that men are designed for leadership in the home and the church, but that the Committee on Committees is an exception?

Some have stated this is about “power” or “control.” The reality is this is true. This is about power. It is about the power and sufficiency of God’s Word. And it is about control. Will we allow this authoritative and sufficient Word to control our convention or will the cultural winds change our course? Do we trust God’s very good design or not?

 

 

 

 

[1] Major Contributors and Editors, “Egalitarianism,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[2] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 16.

Categories
Uncategorized

Dr. Owen Strachan leaving Midwestern for Grace Bible Theological Seminary

One of the leading young theologians in the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Owen Strachan, is leaving Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to serve as Provost and Research Professor of Theology at Grace Bible Theological Seminary (GBTS) in Conway, AR.

Read the release from Dr. Jeffrey Johnson, president of GBTS, here.

As both a Southern Baptist and soon-to-be GBTS graduate (M.Div, May 16, 2021), I am both excited and sad. Sad only to see such a God-honoring professor, unashamed to fight against wokeness and CRT, leave an SBC institution. Personally, though, I am more excited for the Lord’s work right here in central Arkansas at GBTS. I look forward to seeing all that the Lord has in store for Dr. Strachan and GBTS!

Read more here (and see video).

Read Dr. Strachan’s announcement here.

Categories
Controversy Ecclesiology Methodology

Upcoming SBC Presidential Candidate Interviews

It’s been a while since we released an episode of our podcast so I thought I would drop in to tell you about some upcoming episodes we hope you find helpful.

The CR:V site is SBC-facing and as you likely know the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting is coming up.  This year we have four people currently running for the office of President which, in and of itself is an indication of what most people are expecting to be a wilder version of the annual meeting.

We thought it would be helpful to give our audience an interview with each of the candidates running for office and began putting a series of short interviews together.  We have Randy Adams and Mike Stone recorded.  We initially had Ed Litton committed but his secretary reached out and said he no longer had time in his schedule to do the interview.  We also reached out to Dr. Mohler’s office but have yet to hear back from him.

Like me, you have probably read or heard people predicting a strange and contentious Annual Meeting is upon us for Nashville. Remember, too, that there is still a bit of time before the annual meeting and we are likely to see more strangeness.  We have already seen at least one seminary promoting a presidential candidate (and no, it wasn’t Southern and Dr. Mohler).  There are rumors that some kind of belittling caricature of Mike Stone is going to be released on Social Media in the days before the annual meeting.  Some are saying Dr. Mohler will drop out of the race altogether.

To help navigate the strangeness as best we can we are going to release our interviews with Randy Adams and Mike Stone in the coming weeks.  If you know or can reach Ed Litton and Al Mohler to encourage them to participate we would appreciate that greatly.  We want a healthy Southern Baptist Convention making disciples of the nations both domestically and internationally.  A healthy Annual Meeting is a vital step in that process. Healthy leadership is also vital.  Toward that end we want to help you get to know the candidates as best we can.

Finally, if you are listening to this I cannot stress how important it is that you attend the annual meeting as a messenger, bring as many people as you can with you as messengers, and encourage your sister churches to do the same.  We have heard reports of people on social media actually discouraging attendance to the annual meeting.  That is an indication of shenanigans and is antithetical to the cooperative work of the Southern Baptist Convention.

So give our interviews a listen, prayerfully consider how you should vote, show up at the annual meeting, attend ever session of business and reporting.  That’s the job now.  And if you think “I would go but I can’t afford a place to stay or dining or whatever else” please reach out; we’ll try to help connect you with people who can alleviate those burdens.

You can find the CR:V Podcast feed here.

Thanks for tuning in and we’ll look forward to giving you those interviews starting next week.

Categories
Christology

Happy Easter!

Via Reftoons:

Categories
Complementarianism Ecclesiology Methodology Missions

NAMB Document Clarifies Complementarian Commitments

CR:V has received the following document from Danny De Armas, current Chairman of our North American Mission Board (NAMB) Trustees.  As you will see, the document articulates NAMB’s approach to planting churches, complementarianism, and women pastors.

We are thankful for the work of NAMB planting healthy churches as well as their commitment to the clear teaching of Scripture as affirmed in the doctrinal framework that forms the core of Southern Baptist Cooperation, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.  We are also thankful for the way this document represents the kind of meaningful communication between SBC entities and SBC members that is so central to the cooperative work of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Background on NAMB and Church Plant Endorsements

As part of NAMB’s endorsement process, we require each planter to affirm the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, sign a NAMB code of conduct and commit to dedicating at least six percent of their church budget to the Cooperative Program. NAMB will continue to emphasize these commitments in planter assessment, orientation, training and coaching.

NAMB does believe, as the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 says, that “both men and women are gifted for service in the church.” NAMB is grateful for the many ministerial roles women play in the local church, at home, in workplaces and in fulfilling the Great Commission.

NAMB has always and will always only endorse Biblically qualified men as pastors. NAMB is committed to the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, is complementarian by conviction and does not endorse women as pastors.

NAMB is directed to work with all of the SBC’s autonomous churches in fulfilling its mission and ministry assignments, which include assisting all SBC churches, associations, and state conventions to plant new SBC churches. If a sending church, local association or state convention finds a church not to be in cooperation, NAMB has and will continue to respond appropriately.

In a recent review NAMB conducted of its nearly 1,200 currently endorsed church planters, only six listed a woman with a title of pastor in a staff role. Those have been addressed. We individually and appropriately address these situations as they come to our attention. Our goal is always to lovingly help these churches and pastors model sound ecclesiology, in accordance with Southern Baptist’s understanding of Biblical teaching. We want to coach them. We want to correct them. And we want to keep them.

If an occasion occurred in which a church planter insisted on maintaining a woman in a pastor role or title on staff, NAMB will remove its endorsement and funding. The use of such titles and roles can be confusing to the constituencies with whom we partner and who fund our work. But, rather than publicly shame pastors, we find it better to come alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ and lovingly work with them as we pursue together our Great Commission ministry.

Questions about a specific church plant can be emailed to NAMB at fyi@NAMB.net.

A copy of the PDF CR:V received can be downloaded here:

NAMBChurchPlantEndorsements

Categories
Ecclesiology

A Historical Basis for Baptist Cooperation – The Philadelphia Association

In a previous post, I talked about the 17th Century Baptists of England. Switching both centuries and continents, we now consider the 18th century Baptists of America. It is important to remember that these Baptists did not invent associations and cooperation among independent churches, so much as they built upon the conclusions their Baptist forefathers had already arrived at. They stood, as it were, on the shoulders of the 17th Century Baptists from England. One helpful example to turn to is the Philadelphia Association.

“[O]n July 27, 1707…five small Baptist churches organized the Philadelphia Baptist Association.”[1] It is noteworthy to mention the influence that Elias Keach, son of Benjamin, had upon this Association. In 1686, the younger Keach came to America to preach but at that point he was not even converted.[2] Perhaps he thought that if he said he was the son of the famous Benjamin Keach he could gain popularity and even line his own pockets with worldly gain.

At one such meeting, possibly one of the first, if not the first, in Pennepack, Pennsylvania, Elias Keach began preaching from an unregenerate heart but at some point in the sermon was visibly convicted and was either converted on the spot or just a short while later through the counsel of another Baptist pastor.[3] In 1688 Elias became the founding pastor of Pennepack Baptist Church.[4] He was influential to area churches and “did much to encourage the idea of connectionalism among the assemblages with which he worked in America.”[5] In 1692 he travelled back to London and to some degree assisted his father, Benjamin, in making two additions to the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith: One on hymn singing and the other about the laying on of hands in Baptism.[6]

This confession was largely adhered to by Baptists in the Philadelphia association in the early 1700s. But it was formally adopted by many Baptist churches in America when in 1742 the Philadelphia Association voted to print these confessions up which was done by Benjamin Franklin in 1743.[7] This confession came to be known as the Philadelphia Confession of 1742 and is essentially a reprint of the 1689 London Baptist Confession with the two additional sections. Thus, the Particular Baptist influence, both in doctrine and in how likeminded churches ought to intentionally cooperate, was rooted in the formation of the Philadelphia Baptist Association.[8]

Leon McBeth notes that, “By mid-[18th]-century, the [Philadelphia] association referred to churches as ‘belonging to this association,’ offered advice to churches on both doctrinal and practical issues, sent ‘helps’ or representatives to assist in cases of local church discipline, and helped to accredit, and when need be to discredit, ministers.”[9] Thus, Baptists in America greatly benefited from the 17th-century thought of their English forefathers but had to also think through associational life for themselves in a slightly different historical context. Like the English Particular Baptists, they were zealous to maintain the autonomy of the local church all the while also actively promoting tangible cooperative efforts. How then did 18th century Baptists think associations should “work”? Benjamin Griffith helps answer that question.

“[T]he Reverend Benjamin Griffith, pastor of the Montgomery Baptist Church of Bucks County, Pennsylvania” composed A Short Treatise Concerning a True and Orderly Gospel Church.[10] In this work, after establishing the importance and power of a local church, he laid out the following in his section, “On the Communion of Churches”,

[S]uch particular congregational churches, constituted and organized according to the mind of Christ revealed in the New Testament, are all equal in power and dignity, and we read of no disparity between them, or subordination among them, that should make a difference between the acts of their mutual communion, so as the acts of one church should be acts of authority, and the acts of others should be acts of obedience or subjection, although they may vastly differ in gifts, abilities and usefulness.

 

Such particular distinct churches, agreeing in gospel doctrine and practice, may and ought to maintain communion together in many duties, which may tend to the mutual benefit and edification of the whole: and thereby one church that hath plenty of gifts, may and ought, if possible, to supply another that lacketh, Canticles 8:8. They may have mutual giving and receiving, Philippians 4:15. and mutual translation, recommendation or dismission of members from one church to another, as occasion may require. It is to be noted that persons called to office are not to be dismissed as officers, but as members; though another church may call such to the same office again.

 

By virtue also of such communion, the members of one such church may, where they are known, occasionally partake at the Lord’s table with a sister church. Yet notwithstanding such communion of churches, by voluntary consent and confederation, the officers of one particular church, may not act as officers in another church, in any act of government, without a particular call thereunto from the other church where they occasionally come.

It is expedient that particular churches constituted in the way and manner, and for the ends declared in the former part of this narrative, when they are planted by the providence of God, so as they may have opportunity and advantage so to do, should, by their mutual agreement, appoint proper times and places, to meet by their respective messengers or delegates, to consider of such things as may be for the common benefit of all such churches, for their peace, prosperity, and mutual edification, and what may be for the furtherance of the Gospel, and the interest of Christ in the world.

 

And forasmuch as it falls out many times that particular churches have to do with doubtful and difficult matters, or differences in point of doctrine or administration, like the church of Antioch of old, wherein either of the churches in general are concerned, or any one church in their peace, union or edification; or any member or members of a church are injured, in or by any proceeding in censures not agreeable to gospel rule and order; it is according to the mind of Christ, that many churches holding communion together, should meet by their messengers and delegates to consider of and to give advice in or about such matters in difference; and their sentiments to be reported to all the churches concerned; and such messengers and delegates convened in the name of Christ, by the voluntary consent of the several churches in such mutual communion, may declare and determine of the mind of the Holy Ghost revealed in Scripture, concerning things in difference; and may decree the observation of things that are true and necessary, because revealed and appointed in the Scripture.

 

And the churches will do well to receive, own and observe such determinations, on the evidence and authority of the mind of the Holy Ghost in them, as in Acts 15:29. Yet such delegates thus assembled, are not intrusted [sic] or armed with any coercive power, or any superior jurisdiction over the churches concerned, so as to impose their determinations on them or their officers, under the penalty of excommunication, or the like.[11]

In this way, Griffith laid the theological groundwork for why and how local churches can cooperate together in associations.  This work served as a foundation for a statement Griffith produced in 1749, which was “signed by all of the delegates present at the annual meeting”.[12] This 1749 statement “made it clear…that the association had only the power to withdraw its fellowship; they might urge the churches to exclude members involved in erroneous practice or teaching, ‘but excommunicate they cannot.’ That power belongs only to the church.”[13]

Griffith’s statement both borrowed from the past and helped to cement a groundwork for the future. It was integrally connected to Christians of the 17th century, since, “In Griffith’s preface, he indicated that he had consulted works on church government by Benjamin Keach, John Owen, Thomas Goodwin, and Abel Morgan.”[14] Furthermore, as Baptists continued forming formal associations in America, they, like Griffith and those who had gone before him, were adamant that the ultimate ecclesiastical authority was the local church.

Earl Blackburn, a modern-day Reformed Baptist, echoes this sentiment when he writes, “An association of churches is not a denomination. An association has absolutely no power or authority over any local church, except to break fellowship with a disorderly church over doctrine or practice and to make known to others its actions toward the erring church and why its actions were taken. Its capacity and function is only advisory.”[15]

Similar to the 17th century General Assembly in England, the 18th Century Philadelphia Baptist Association “served as a doctrinal monitor” and “advised on Baptist practices.”[16] Also like the General Assembly of Particular Baptists from England it used money to help fund theological education and missions. “One purpose of associations was to extend the gospel to destitute areas, and by the 1760s the Philadelphia Association employed an ‘evangelist at large’ to plant new churches in needy areas.”[17] The minutes from the 1766 Philadelphia Association say this,

That it is most necessary for the good of the Baptist interest, that the Association have at their disposal every year a sum of money. Accordingly, it was further agreed: that the churches, henceforth, do make a collection every quarter, and send the same yearly to the Association, to be by them deposited in the hands of trustees; the interest whereof only to be them laid out every year in support of ministers travelling on the errand of the churches, or otherwise, as the necessities of said churches require.[18]

Torbet notes that, “The significance of the [Philadelphia] Association cannot be overemphasized, for without violating Baptist church autonomy it provided a source of guidance and unity at a critical period of organization in the denomination.”[19] In fact, it was the Philadelphia Baptist Association, standing on the shoulders of the 17th Century English Baptists, helped lay the groundwork for even larger associations of churches. By the 19th Century, state conventions were forming.

“The first Baptist state convention was formed in South Carolina (1821), followed by Georgia (1822), Virginia (1823), Alabama (1823), and North Carolina (1830). The idea of state conventions was a natural outgrowth of associational work”.[20] Thus, even large associations that continue to exist today, like the Southern Baptist Convention, owe their formation to the cooperative work of Baptists in the Philadelphia Association.


 

[1] A History of the Baptists, 212.

[2] https://www.pennepackbaptist.org/history.html

[3] A History of the Baptists, 210. See also, https://www.pennepackbaptist.org/history.html

[4] Ibid. Another Baptist historian, H. Leon McBeth, says, “Keach formed the Pennepek [sic] church in 1687”. H. Leon McBeth, The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness, (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 1987), 240.

[5] Baptist Confessions of Faith, 348.

[6] The Baptist Heritage, 241.

[7] Baptist Confessions of Faith, 349.

[8] Brand and Hankins note that, “the first association of Baptists was formed in Philadelphia in 1707, largely as a result of the tireless work of Elias Keach.” One Sacred Effort, 63.

[9] The Baptist Heritage, 243.

[10] A History of the Baptists, 213.

[11] This work is dated, 1743. https://founders.org/polity/a-short-treatise-concerning-a-true-and-orderly-gospel-church-griffith/

[12] A History of the Baptists, 213.

[13] The Baptist Heritage, 244.

[14] Polity, 36.

[15] Denominations or Associations?, 27.

[16] The Baptist Heritage, 244-245.

[17] Ibid., 246.

[18] Denominations or Associations?, 59-60.

[19] A History of the Baptists, 214.

[20] Anthony L. Chute, Nathan A. Finn, and Michael A.G. Haykin, The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2015), 135.