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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.

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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.

 

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R. Albert Mohler, Jr. to Run for President of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2021

According to this article, “One year after announcing his willingness to be nominated for SBC president during the 2020 Southern Baptist Convention meeting set for Orlando last June, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has announced that he will be nominated during the 2021 SBC meeting in Nashville, June 15-16.”