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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.

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Why the SBC Needs a Tent Revival

Just Keachy

I suppose every post must start somewhere. This one begins in 1673 – the year Benjamin Keach decided to apply Matthew 26:30 tangibly to his church at Horsleydown in London. I suppose I should also mention Keach was Baptist before it was cool; before there was so much Great Commission™ money. This was before the Act of Toleration; a time when Baptists embraced being outsiders to the mainstream.

I know. I’m throwing a few jabs early there. But I’ll save the haymaker for later.

Moving along, in 1673 Keach leads his church to sing a hymn after the Lord’s Supper. By 1690 Isaac Marlow is publicly opposing him in the social media of the day: tracts. They duke it out in the public arena and eventually, the singing Baptists win.

In 1688 Elias Keach, son of Benjamin, is pastoring in the Philadelphia area. It’s not just his influence mind you (I do think it significant enough to mention) but by 1707 the churches in the area have unofficially adopted “the Confession” as their theological foundation.

What is “the Confession”? Well, in 1742 it is officially named the Philadelphia Confession. Why did I start this story with Benjamin Keach? Because the Philadelphia Confession of 1742 is the 1689 London Baptist Confession with two additions: one dealing with the laying on of hands. The other? Singing. 

If you’re going to make it to the “point” of today’s post, you need to know, again, that the 1689 London Baptist Confession and the Philadelphia Confession of 1742 are identical, save these two additions.

A Tragic Era

We now fast forward to 1814 – the same year Colonel Jackson took his little trip down to New Orleans. Unrelatedly, the Triennial Baptist Convention (TBC) was formed (it had a longer name) by Luther Rice.

Fast forward again to 1844. In a 7-5 decision, the Board of the Home Missionary Society declined the appointment of a missionary from Georgia because he owned slaves. In response, Alabama Baptists wrote to the Foreign Mission Board asking if they would appoint missionaries who owned slaves. The answer: No.

Some southerners, “did not attempt to defend the evils in the slavery system, but described the institution as an inherited disease to be cured slowly.”* Others tried to justify slavery with the Bible. This was a sad and tragic era in the history of Triennial Baptist churches south of the Mason Dixon line.

Thus, over the issue of missionaries being denied appointment because of slavery, “a total of 293 delegates” representing a “substantial” number of local churches gathered on “May 8, 1845 in Augusta, Georgia” and formed the Southern Baptist Convention.** Thankfully, Southern Baptists today continue to repudiate the reprehensible view some in the early SBC held toward people of color.

The Tent

Now, what hath London to do with Augusta? Why start this post with Benjamin Keach?

Because, as the faculty blog of SEBTS notes, “In 1845, when the Southern Baptist Convention was formed, every delegate came from a church or association that had adopted the Philadelphia Confession or an abstract of the document.”

Nearly 300 delegates and every single one of them was influenced by Benjamin Keach and the uncool 17th-century Baptists of England. Which, we must also point out that historically the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith (written in 1677) had nothing to do with American chattel slavery. I only mention this because you cannot argue historically that the Confession was a pro-slavery document. The error in the early SBC was in spite of the Philadelphia Confession they held to, not because of it.

So, now, we are ready to get to a point!

Sometimes you will hear Southern Baptists today saying, “What we agree on is more than what we disagree on” or, important for this post, “the SBC is a big tent!”

Now, there is some truth in that. We have differences of style or eschatology, or how flashy our bulletins ought to be, or whether we can preach from an iPad. But despite these differences, we can, and should, still partner together for mission.

After all, at its inception, Southern Baptists said their organization was about “directing the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort, for the propagation of the Gospel.”***

However, the SBC in 1845 didn’t merely unite just for the purpose of “mission” but had a very rich theological underpinning. Yes, the SBC partners for mission. But this partnership began with serious theological parameters. Doctrinal parameters must be maintained, for if the tent is too big, the cooperation fails.

Because, theologically, being a Southern Baptist, at least in the beginning, was about a rich and glorious orthodoxy. A Confession that had a high view of God, a biblical view of the local church and its male leadership, and a robust trust in the sufficiency of Scripture, was held to by our Baptist forefathers.

Again, I am willing to admit this was not always applied correctly, but this is not the Confession’s fault, nor is it the Bible’s. It is the hearts of men that are to blame.

Now, I do not imply that one must hold to the Philadelphia Confession of 1742 in order to be a “true” Southern Baptist. But I do, without reservation, say that we must hold clear conservative doctrinal convictions. So, everyone who calls themselves a Southern (or Great Commission™) Baptist, is not necessarily SBC. You can’t say you’re SBC for the sake of “mission” and yet be removed from certain doctrinal standards, like those defined in the Baptist Faith and Message (2000)

The SBC was never designed to be such a big tent that orthodoxy was in question. But even beyond that- it was never designed to allow for, say, paedobaptism. Nor was the tent built for various views of women pastors, or for any to take or leave the sufficiency of Scripture, etc.

The SBC was always meant to agree on not only the gospel, but even other core issues. To partner for mission without that understanding is to misunderstand why the SBC even exists. Southern Baptists did not join in this large association with Presbyterians or free will Baptists “for the sake of the gospel.” Rather, they came together from a likeminded theological position as articulated by the Philadelphia Confession.

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TBC’s Randy Davis: There is Absolutely No SBC Hierarchy

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.

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Tom Nettles on John Broadus, His Legacy, and His Gavel (via Founders Journal)

Despite [Broadus’] devoted scholarship, his insight and contribution to lasting SBC institutions, his sacrificial spirit, his universal respect, his theological clarity and steadfastness, the character assessments carefully crafted by his contemporaries , we are weighing the name “Broadus” in the balance; do we seriously find it wanting? Have we come to a rare moment of clarity now to have transcended Broadus in piety and morality and have reached a depth of repentance for him finally to find ourselves purged with hyssop? Does the imputation to the Broadus gavel a racist ruse mature our growth in grace?

In the Spring 2020 issue of the Founders Journal, titled “Race and Racism: Biblical and Historical Perspectives” Tom Nettles, likely the premier Baptist historian of his generation, has written a challenging piece on John Broadus and his continuing relationship to the Southern Baptist Convention.

You can read the piece on Founders Ministries’ website here.

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SBC Executive Committee Announces Significant Decisions Today via Twitter

Today the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention posted a string of announcements via Twitter. These decisions affect several current hot-button issues within the Convention. Take a look:

You can follow the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention on Twitter here.

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Founders Ministries: Interesting Times and Changing Times in the SBC

…hardly a week goes by without shining more light on the dark corners of the SBC. It gives a whole new meaning to “progressive revelation.” It’s like watching the curtain being pulled back on the Wizard of Oz.” – Tom Ascol, writing on The Founders Ministries Blog.

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Group of Southern Baptists start new network – Conservative Baptist Network

A group of Southern Baptists have launched a new network with a “common goal of heralding the inerrancy and sufficiency of God’s Word and reaching the lost for Christ.”

“The Conservative Baptist Network is a partnership of Southern Baptists where all generations are encouraged, equipped, and empowered to bring positive, biblical solutions that strengthen the SBC in an effort to fulfill the Great Commission and influence culture.”

There will be a launch event on June 8 at the SBC Annual Convention.

Watch the intro video and read more at conservativebaptistnetwork.com

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Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality in the Southern Baptist Convention: Definitions (Part 2 of 4)

Todd Benkert’s recent piece on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality (CRT|I) at SBCVoices.com is helpfully clarifying in at least three ways. First, Benkert straightforwardly admits that both he and others within the Southern Baptist Convention are using Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. Benkert indicates they are not merely using the language of CRT|I, but its concepts, and intentionally so. Second, Benkert admits that these individuals are using CRT|I despite the fact that CRT|I is “dangerous.” Third, Benkert mounts a defense of CRT|I and the infamous Resolution 9, which he believes speaks of CRT|I in positive fashion. He would not change anything about Resolution 9, and does not believe it should be rescinded. Indeed, he believes doing so will actually set the SBC back in terms of “reconciliation work.”

Although Benkert attempts to take a middle way in his post, positing CRT|I as both an analytical tool and a dangerous ideology, his examples of using CRT|I as an analytical tool exemplify why CRT|I is such a dangerous ideology. This observation is not meant to impugn Benkert’s motives. Nevertheless, some (not saying this is true of Benkert) seem unaware of how far down the ideological rabbit hole they have gone. This series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) will attempt to highlight some of the difficulties with doubling down on CRT|I in response to recent posts and podcasts pointing out its problems. This second of four posts will address the first clarifying point noted above. Namely, Benkert straightforwardly admits that both he and others within the Southern Baptist Convention are using Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. Benkert indicates they are not merely using the language of CRT|I, but its concepts, and intentionally so.

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Clarifying the Gospel, Part 2: How the Apostles Preached Christ

[See Part 1 of this series.]

Although the salvation accomplished by the cross work of Jesus Christ entails multiple dimensions of deliverance—from the power of Satan, from the dominion of sin, from this present evil age, etc.—there is no greater deliverance accomplished by Christ than that which is from the looming judgment of God over humanity. Having surveyed this theme in the Old Testament, my purpose in this installment is to show that the preaching of the gospel by the apostles in the book of Acts demonstrates the same truth.

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A Way Forward: An Interview with the Author of the Tennessee Baptist Condemnation of Critical Race Theory

On November 20th of this year Matt Stamper broke the news that Tennesee Southern Baptists, gathered in Knoxville, TN for their annual meeting, passed a resolution condemning Critical Race Theory.[1]


The Tennessee resolution represents a profound development in the controversy created by the passage of Resolution #9 at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Birmingham, AL on June 12, 2019.  [Editor’s Note: if you are unfamiliar with the controversy created by the passage of Resolution #9 please see the Founders Ministries’ film By What Standard?]

This action of the Tennessee Baptist Convention is significant evidence that Southern Baptists, when sufficiently informed about Critical Race Theory and the danger it presents to the church, will take action to repudiate Critical Race Theory.

Additionally, the action of Tennessee Baptists offers a way forward to Southern Baptists (nationally) who find themselves frustrated and disenfranchised when it comes to pushing back against the spread of Critical Race Theory. The state-level convention is much more immediate than the national convention and the individual pastor or church member has greater opportunity to have a significant voice not only in the state’s annual meeting but in the yearly ebb and flow of the state convention’s activities. If faithful brothers and sisters who feel themselves alienated from the national denomination will invest their energies in their respective state conventions the result will be a national denomination where toxic ideologies will have little opportunity to take hold.

I reached out to Shawn Allred, the author of the Tennessee Resolution, to learn more about what led him to submit this resolution, what the process was like, and his hopes for Southern Baptists going forward.  He was gracious enough to answer my questions and allow them to be published here.