So if you know anything about the SBC brethren, then you know they’re down for the fight. Or at least they used to be. Southern Baptists have no problem knocking on your door and inviting you to church. They bring the kids with them. If they’re rejected, they role on with the Holy Book. The SBC had their big dust up 30 years ago back in the Conservative Resurgence. They battled for the Bible as all of the mainline denominations gave up on the Scriptures. Through some hot preaching and a good deal of politicking, the SBC decided as a whole that the Bible is without error.
I love the SBC brethren, and as many of you know I was laboring for reformation in the SBC before the covenant struck me like a thunderbolt and I went to baptizing babies. This development left me unable to labor on for reformation in the SBC. But it did not leave me unable to labor for the reformation of the SBC. The visible church of God, even in fractured American evangelicalism, still has her back channels, her underground railroads, her bootleg biblical exegesis cohorts. Let’s just say the business of reformation gets done across denominational lines.
In this spirit, I have an exhortation for the faithful in the SBC who are toiling away in the good fight. I’m with you and so are a host of other non SBCers. Perhaps we don’t have boots on the ground in Nashville, but we’re sending you ammunitions out the wazoo with dispatches that say fight on you soldiers of Christ in truth arrayed. Now, given recent developments, I have to say something immensely troubling, but there is hope coming in the wake of the initial wallop. So, here comes the bad news . . .
Your denomination is dead. Full on dead. Any talk about the cancer being in the lymph-nodes is delusional. Any discussion about how to resuscitate is being had in a dream world. The SBC is a behemoth denomination with nearly 50,000 churches, 13 million members, and about 3 million people in church on Sunday. And the whole lot is like a giant that has suffered a death blow. The giant is dead on his feet. He has not hit the ground yet. But, I repeat, the time of death has already passed. I don’t only mean this poetically. I mean it theologically and technically and I will explain here in just a moment. But before doing so, here is the hope.
The SBC’s namesake, John the Baptist, ministered in the spirit and power of Elijah, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). Elijah is of course that great prophet who once called upon the name of the LORD to raise a boy from the dead. And God answered (1 Kings 17:17). John the Baptist ministered in that spirit. And the SBC has been known to march around eating locusts, despising the shame, and hollering to pagan America, “You vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
In short, while the SBC is dead, there is a God who raises the dead and the Southern Baptists used to believe that. Now they believe that the Washington Post is their daddy. But they used to call on the Father in heaven. And if they will go back to their Jordan River ways, then there is still hope for them. Anything short of stomping around on those stormy banks in camel’s hair will leave the SBC in the grave.
The Dead SBC
Now I have said that the SBC is dead and that needs explaining. Danny Akin, president of the SBC’s Southeastern Seminary, would certainly deny it, saying something about still believing in the atonement. Al Mohler, president of the SBC’s Southern Seminary, would object, pointing to the bricks and mortar of that well-manicured institution. Someone at the SBC’s North American Mission Board would highlight an example of a faithful church planter. Some SBC bureaucrat would point to the SBC’s 11 billion dollars in annual receipts. And many of the stalwart brothers would point to the conservative reformation movements within the SBC that want to the change the direction. (Just a quick reminder that the present direction is called decomposition). I’m fine with a movement to change the direction as long as you realize that the only way for the SBC to change the direction is for it to be born again.
How do I know the SBC is dead? The SBC is dead because they are now being led by an LGBTQ secular organization called Guidepost Solutions. This development symbolically portrays the death of the SBC and technically establishes that death. When you go to a gay organization to be told whether your churches are righteous or unrighteous, in or out, you’re done. Many in the SBC are like a good relief pitcher who is objecting to the pitching coach on the mound. That pitching coach is there to relieve the pitcher of his duties. “I can finish out the inning,” says the SBC. But the pitching coach, who is the Holy Spirit, says, “You’re done. You’ve bowed the knee to the rainbow revolution. You are no good to me. Jog over to the bench and sit down. You’re finished here.”
For those just hearing this news, the SBC established a Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF) and hired Guidepost Solutions, a secular agency that can help organizations with their sexual abuse problems. Earlier this month, amid Guideposts investigation of the SBC, Guidepost fired off an LGBTQ flag on their Twitter page with the following announcement:
“Guidepost is committed to strengthening diversity, equity and inclusion and strives to be an organization where our team can bring their authentic selves to work. We celebrate our collective progress toward equality for all and are proud to be an ally to our LGBTQ+ community.”
Now you might imagine the SBC and the SBC’s SATF would kick when Guidepost announced that they were progressing toward equality, striving to be their authentic selves, and proud to do their business alongside the LGBTQ debased mind which does what is contrary to nature. But the SBC’s SATF pressed on in submission to Guidepost.
In the wake of the Gay Guidepost tweet, Marshall Blalock, an SBC pastor who serves as the vice chair of the SBC’s SATF announced that Guidepost had respected the faith and values of the SBC, explaining, “Guidepost did a professional investigation, they operated with integrity, they respected our faith and values, they even ate a significant amount of the cost because they wanted to help us discover the truth and assist us to be more Christlike in how we respond to sexual abuse (emphasis mine).”
So the pro LGBTQ Guidepost Solutions is now helping the SBC to be more Christlike.
Why wouldn’t the SBC establish pastors to help them be more Christlike? Blalock explains in his announcement, addressing the rainbow post from Guidepost, “Why not choose a Christian company? We would have preferred to choose a Christian company, but no other firm had the capacity to do this work.” That’s right, no other firm save the trans-promoting Guidepost Solutions could do what needed to be done. You have to at least appreciate the SBC’s straight answer to the Apostle Paul:
“Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (1 Corinthians 6:3-5)
Blalock and his SBC compatriots look around at the ranks of Southern Baptists and respond to the Apostle, “No sir, we can’t find a single wise one among us up for the task . . . but we have heard of a company that promotes sodomy that can help us be more like Jesus.”
So the SBC has approved a website where pastors who are “credibly accused” will be listed. And the godly Christians within the SBC will not be the ones determining what pastors find themselves on that site. That determination will be made by a “third-party firm,” one that is surely steeped in the higher standards than Scripture that give rise to being pro-gay like Guidepost. What’s more, the SBC has set aside $4 million dollars this coming year, part of which will pay for an “independent firm” to teach the SBC whether their churches are righteous or not, whether they should be kept in the SBC or removed.
The SBC itself could not decide whether Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church should remain in the SBC or not. They passed on removing Saddleback Church which has ordained women to the pastorate. The SBC responded to a call to remove Warren’s church by saying, “Based on the information available to us currently, including direct communication with Pastor Rick Warren, … we have concluded that we are not yet prepared to make a recommendation regarding Saddleback Church, recognizing there are differing opinions regarding the intent of the office of pastor as stated in the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.”
So in summary, the SBC does not know what abuse is. And the SBC does not know what a pastor is. And they have hired a Gay secular entity to disciple them. That’s what you call a dead denomination.
What Good Is a Baptist Who Won’t Fight?
In view of these troubling developments, my friend the Chocolate Knox over at Crosspolitic asked a most astute question, “What good is a Baptist that won’t fight?” We’re all laboring away at Zion’s walls together. Each tribe has its station. There’s the Anglicans laboring on the eastern wall. There are some Presbyterians getting after it in the North. There are the hodgepodge pioneer Jesus-loving types in the West putting brick upon brick. And then there are the Baptists still holding on to that name Southern. As in Nehemiah’s day, most in the kingdom have a sword and shovel. But the Baptists have been especially gifted at defending the kingdom. They’re best with a sword in each hand. Sometimes they end up cutting a fellow soldier in the kingdom. But friendly fire is just a Baptist thing: ready, fire, aim. Their place in the kingdom is to throw down, keeping an eagle eye out for error coming over the wall from out there in the world.
Their very existence springs from a separatist impulse to keep a pure church. As sons of the separatist puritans, they hold to “regenerate church membership” and thus don’t baptize the babies. The real Baptists are so zealous for this purity that they wouldn’t have St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Jonathan Edwards, J. C. Ryle or R. C. Sproul as members of their churches. These heroes of the faith are not welcome as members in Baptist churches and this border of the Baptist church is sharply policed given a deeply held conviction among Baptists to protect the church from pollution and error.
Whatever you think of the strictness, every Christian ought to have a place in his heart that loves the Baptists for their fight. I joked recently that if the SBC would have Rick Warren with women pastors, then maybe they’d let me back in with baptized babies. I, of course, do not want the SBC to start welcoming in those who baptize babies. As Chesterton once said, “Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump: you may be freeing him from being a camel. Do not go about as a demagogue, encouraging triangles to break out of the prison of their three sides. If a triangle breaks out of its three sides, its life comes to a lamentable end.” So I don’t mean to free the SBC from its credobaptist, pure church convictions. But I would poke them a bit so that they would keep their credobaptist, pure church convictions. If you guys keep Rick in the SBC, you’ll be welcoming in the liturgically vested gay Episcopalians in no time. And if the good ole’ SBC country preachers respond with, “We will never have lesbian bishops!” I would simply remind you that you already have one and her name is Guidepost Solutions.
To my sincere, Bible-believing, Southern Baptists, has it really come to this? Calvin and Sproul are not welcome, but Rick Warren is? Jonathan Edwards can’t come, but women pastors can? The Institutes of the Christian Religion is a book with significant error to be read with the discernment goggles thoroughly situated but the LGBTQ Guidepost Recommendations should be implemented as quickly as possible?
That’s not a Baptist denomination on its last leg. That’s not a convention surrounded at the Alamo ready to go out in a blaze of glory. That’s a convention that is six feet under.
But you are the sons of thunder. So for heaven’s sake let’s hear some noise.