During Ed Litton’s appearance at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Chapel he sat down for a conversation with Seminary President Adam Greenway.
In one segment of the conversation President Greenway references his own announcement of Litton’s appearance and makes reference to “anonymous social media accounts” posting “snark” in reply. You can see the clip in this tweet from Tom Buck, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lindale, TX:
“There’s been a lot of controversy… around your preaching ministry… when I posted on social media that we were hosting you for this conversation, there was a lot of snark, particularly from anonymous social media accounts that proliferate these days.” @AdamGreenway to @EdLittonpic.twitter.com/DXc4hSejbH
What makes Greenway’s comment truly inexplicable is his assertion that it is particularly anonymous accounts that offered snarky replies to the announcement. “Particularly” implies a pronounced role – pronounced, specifically, in contrast to non-anonymous accounts.
Since his tweeted announcement is still up we can check the replies and see who it was offering criticism of the Litton chapel invitation.
Some quick screengrabs from Twitter’s unsorted (i.e. not logged in) view:
In reality it appears real-name accounts outpace anonymous accounts replying by an 8-to-1 factor or better. Of course, the term snark is not defined here but it seems reasonable to conclude it is a synonym for criticism of the decision to bring Litton in. As a result, placing particular emphasis on the anonymous accounts seems both strange and inaccurate.
Again, what is going on in that chapel conversation?
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Renowned church historian and Southern Baptist Dr. Tom Nettles recently spoke with the Church History Matters podcast about the founding of the SBC’s Domestic Mission Board in 1845 and how that decision reverberated through the Convention.
This is a great reminder of the importance of The Cooperative Program as a mechanism for funding missions and theological education. It also reminds us why a healthy SBC matters.
The recent news about North American Mission Board church plants identifying women in their congregation as pastors may have piqued your interest in what the process is like for those interested in planting.
As you can read, the anonymous author speaks to worries about whether or not to plant with the North American Mission Board because of the current controversy as well as a degree of ambivalence about specifically affirming the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.
As Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin recently articulated, there is no ambiguity in what Southern Baptists confess. Scripture knows of no office of pastor available to women, regardless of what other adjectives and qualifications might be attempted.
Thankfully, Southern Baptists have an excellent mechanism for planting Biblically-faithful Baptist Faith and Message 2000 churches in the North American Mission Board. However, the last two weeks have revealed that the blessings of Southern Baptist churches planting Biblical Baptist Faith and Message 2000 churches through the North American Mission Board is experiencing a disruption that has to be addressed.
January 26th, 2020 brought to light the first sign of the breakdown: A North American Mission Board church plant, 1 Name Church of Planation, FL, was found to be using the title “Pastor” in unbiblical fashion, applying it to a woman within the church.
When this breakdown in healthy practice – most importantly, by breaking with Scripture’s clear teaching but secondarily also by breaking faith with the Southern Baptist donors who sponsored the church in good faith with the North American Mission Board under the assumption that NAMB would plant churches keeping with our confession of faith – came to light 1 Name promptly ended their relationship with the SBC and asked to be left alone.
Ultimately the decision of a local church to cooperate or not with the Southern Baptist Convention is that church’s decision. What remains is for the North American Mission Board to account for (a) how much money they were tasked with stewarding on behalf of Southern Baptists has been sunk into a church that was clearly not of like faith and practice and (b) what safeguards failed to prevent this from happening.
There was an initial indication that Dr. Kevin Ezell, President of the North American Mission Board, was willing to address the seriousness of the problem directly.
What appeared to be an invitation to engage directly with Dr. Ezell via email resulted for those of us who reached out in a form-letter response from someone other than Dr. Ezell that amounted to a shutdown in further communication (the last I personally received directed me back to Dr. Ezell’s tweets, for instance).
Unfortunately, the intervening days have revealed the problem is more pronounced than just one church. In fact, – in the most distressing fashion possible – it is now clear that the situation with 1 Name Church is far from an isolated incident. As Nate Scholman has demonstrated here on CR Voices – and please read the whole thing – there are a disturbing number of churches receiving sponsorship from the NAMB who are in open contradiction to The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, indicating a breakdown in the partnership/stewardship relationship of Southern Baptist donors and the NAMB, doctrinal fidelity to our confessional statement, and faithfulness to Scripture’s clear teaching.
Since the problem is now seen to be worse than indicated on January 26th and the opportunity to engage with Dr. Ezell resulted in no additional way forward to address these breakdowns in Southern Baptist cooperative ministry it is now time to call on the trustees of the North American Mission Board to fulfill their responsibilities to Southern Baptists. The trustees of Southern Baptist entities work on behalf of Southern Baptists (rather than on behalf of the entities themselves) to supervise the work of these entities in such a way that the entities fulfill the mandate given them by Southern Baptists.
The Executive Committee action comes in response to “ongoing concerns” cited by EC members, state leaders and other Southern Baptists that the ERLC is not adequately fulfilling its Convention-approved ministry assignments.
The motion specifically noted that concerns “have been expressed both publicly and privately to various members of the Executive Committee and other Southern Baptists regarding how the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s actions in relation to its ministry statements are affecting the Convention and its relationships with local churches, local associations, and state conventions.”
“We are looking for the facts,” said Executive Committee chairman Mike Stone, who will chair the task force. “We are hearing from state leadership and other pastors across the country. We are making a statement about effectiveness.”
This action creates “a formal process by which we can receive information and determine the level that this issue is affecting the Cooperative Program,” said Stone. “I’m fully aware that we may find, as we did in 2017, that what we are hearing is not as significant in fact as it is in perception. What we want to find is where the facts lead us.”
The Task Force made its findings available yesterday and the report is an important read for all Southern Baptists, regardless of their opinion on the activity of the ERLC. Click here to read the Task Force’s report (PDF reader required).
Of particular interest are the following sections of the report:
Section V: The Long-Term Decline of the Cooperative Program [Excerpt]
In recent years, the allocation forwarded by the states to the national convention has increased
from an average of 37% (2009) to 42% (2018-2019). But total dollars received by our
state/regional convention partners has been in steady decline as noted in Appendix 4.
Percentage giving by churches has fallen by more than half over the last three decades. This is
despite the fact that total giving to SBC churches has grown from around $4 billion to around
$12 billion in this same time frame.
Sections X & XI: Conclusions & Recommendations
(1) That there seems to be confusion among Southern Baptists regarding increases and
decreases in national Cooperative Program giving.
(2) That while much of the work of the ERLC is praised and appreciated by Southern Baptists,
the ERLC is also a source of significant distraction from the Great Commission work of Southern
Baptists. The leader of a large state convention stated, “one of the major points of erosion of Cooperative Program support has been the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.” The task force finds merit in this statement.
(3) That the unacceptable handling of the amicus brief matter discussed in #9 above [in the report] is an
example of a concern raised by many SBC leaders that the ERLC is not as responsive as it ought
to be in correcting problems and controversies it creates. In this context, one state executive
responded about the ERLC that “National SBC controversy impacts CP giving through the state convention.”
(4) That the current perception of the leadership and direction of the ERLC by many Southern
Baptists is a substantial impediment to the growth of the Cooperative Program. Without quick
and significant changes in that perception, the findings suggest the potential for a measurable
decline in the near future and beyond. The executive director of one of our largest-contributing state conventions told the task force, “one of the major points of erosion of Cooperative Program support has been the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.”
(5) That there is considerable conversation across the Convention as to whether the ERLC is the
most effective and efficient structure and means for addressing the public policy concerns of
the Southern Baptist Convention.
(1) That the Executive Committee seek to provide even greater clarity about Convention-wide
giving trends as it reports giving to the national Convention budget.
(2) That the Executive Committee request that the ERLC Board of Trustees, in an effort to foster
greater unity among our churches, encourage ERLC staff to focus, where possible, on speaking
where the Southern Baptist Convention has already spoken through resolutions and The Baptist
Faith and Message.
(3) That the Executive Committee request that the ERLC Board of Trustees encourage the
president and staff of the ERLC to refrain from opposing specific candidates for public office.
(4) That the Executive Committee request that the ERLC Board of Trustees encourage the ERLC
staff to be more responsive to requests from Southern Baptists to address/acknowledge certain
news items as a means of better serving the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention.
(5) That the Executive Committee request that the ERLC Board of Trustees work with the ERLC
staff to develop an intentional plan to demonstrate a greater appreciation for how its positions,
including social media usage, affect the spirit of cooperation among Southern Baptists.
(6) That the Executive Committee request that the boards of trustees of each of the entities of
the Convention adopt and implement a policy of submitting legal briefs, where those briefs
address the nature and work of Southern Baptists, to Convention attorneys, prior to their being
filed, for the purpose of receiving input regarding the effect of those briefs on the ministries of
the Southern Baptist Convention.
Aaron Ren has released an episode of his podcast, The Masculinist, with critical insights for those interested in learning lessons for today from church history. The focus of the episode is the battle for conservative theology within the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
The quote in the title of this post can be found around the 12:41 mark in the episode. You can listen to it on your podcast app or stream it here.
Randy Davis, President and executive director, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, writing for The Baptist and Reflector:
Let’s make one thing clear from the outset: There is absolutely no denominational hierarchy when it comes to the Southern Baptist Convention… If we allow drift from this benchmark polity, the damage will be extremely significant and invite grave consequences.