The 2021 Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolution on Abolishing Abortion

Posted June 18, 2021 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Uncategorized

At the 2021 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), messengers passed two resolutions regarding the sanctity of human life contra abortion. The first, titled “On Taxpayer Complicity in Abortion and the Hyde Amendment,” was brought to the floor by the Resolutions Committee. The second, titled “Resolution on Abolishing Abortion,” was declined by the Resolutions Committee, because they were already bringing the “Hyde Amendment” resolution, and because they thought some of the language in the “Abolishing” resolution was problematic. Bill Ascol, a pastor from Oklahoma, called for the messengers to bring the “Abolishing” resolution out of committee, so we could vote on it from the floor; this is an unusual move, and it takes a 2/3 vote of the messengers, but it was accomplished.

What Is a Resolution?

Other than electing officers of the Convention, the main votes that messengers cast at the SBC are for resolutions or motions. A resolution is an expression of opinion or concern, in contrast with a motion, which calls for action on the part of the Convention. A resolution is not used to direct an entity of the SBC to any specific action. Rather, a resolution communicates an opinion or concern expressed by the specific group of messengers meeting at the annual Convention during a particular year.

Speaking To or Amending Resolutions

Messengers can speak for or against resolutions, ask questions about the resolutions, or propose an amendment to a resolution. Proposed amendments must be voted upon by the quorum of messengers in the Hall. Interacting with the resolutions in these ways can be somewhat tricky, because only a certain (fairly short) amount of time is allotted for discussion of each resolution; messengers must get to one of the microphones in the Convention Hall, and the chair recognizes messengers at the microphones in the order that buttons attached to the microphones are pressed, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Therefore, for resolutions that have a lot of messengers’ interest, lines can form around each microphone several minutes before the resolution comes up for consideration, and most of the people in those lines never have the opportunity of speaking to the Convention before the vote is called. (This is not a complaint, just a description.)

What I Wanted to Say About the Resolution on Abolishing Abortion

I’ve only ever spoken on a Convention microphone once (to ask a question about another resolution), but I felt strongly about the Resolution on Abolishing Abortion, so I got in line to speak about it (and I filled out the required paperwork early!). I ended up not getting the opportunity to speak before the vote was called. I was intending to call for an amendment to the resolution and then to urge passage of the resolution whether or not the amendment carried. Here’s what I was going to say:

PROPOSED AMENDMENT

I propose that the statement in paragraph 14, “we will not embrace an incremental approach to ending abortion” be amended to “we will not settle for an incremental approach to ending abortion.”

I know some of my friends in favor of this resolution believe that any incremental measures to end abortion are sinful, and I’ve debated them on a personal level—in conversation—on that point.

With those who are bringing this resolution, I agree—and believe we should all agree—that our goal is not for fewer babies to be murdered in the womb; our goal is to see every child—these small image-bearers of God—protected under law from conception. Therefore, I’m proposing we should not “settle for”—as I’m proposing we amend this—an incremental approach as if fewer abortions were our goal.

SPEAKING FOR THE RESOLUTION

I want to thank the Resolutions Committee for the resolution yesterday [Tuesday, June 15] regarding the Hyde Amendment. That resolution was mostly focused on addressing the right-to-life at the federal level and federal monies spent on abortion.

However, we have brothers and sisters working with state legislatures to pass legislation protecting the right-to-life at that level. (I know of some in Texas and Oklahoma in particular.)

Practically speaking, the resolution before us now is both more specific in speaking of the right-to-life and more general in its application concerning Southern Baptists’ commitment for the right-to-life. Therefore, I believe this resolution will be a useful tool in speaking to state legislators and to the press, and I urge its passage.

This Convention has shown a resolve regarding issues of justice. If a resolution comes before the Convention decrying racism in any form, the messengers eagerly pass it. If a resolution comes before the Convention decrying sexual abuse or those who would cover it up, the messengers eagerly pass it.

We do NOT say, “Well, we’ve already passed a resolution on that, we don’t need another one.”

So we should be eager to similarly and abundantly affirm our commitment concerning the right-to-life.

This should be an easy vote YES for us.

I urge the messengers to pass this Resolution on Abolishing Abortion.

Outcome of the Resolution

As the resolution was being discussed, a professor from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and an employee with the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission spoke against the resolution. They were concerned about the language against incrementalism, which I had hoped to amend. Before I could get to the mike, someone else proposed an amendment, adding the word “alone,” so that the statement in paragraph 14 was changed to “we will not embrace an incremental approach alone to ending abortion” (emphasis added). This amendment passed, and it was a fine solution, in my view. When messengers called for the vote on the amendment, they also called for the vote on the resolution itself, so (in a separate vote) that passed as well.

I was happy that the resolution passed. The SBC has had several pro-life resolutions before, but this one was the most robust, with the most scriptural proofs, calling for an immediate end to the murder of the unborn. And I wasn’t upset at all that I didn’t have to face the rather intimidating experience of speaking to the Convention Hall (though I had spent all morning working out what I was going to say 🙂 ).

Text of the Resolution on Abolishing Abortion, as Passed:

Adopted by the SBC annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., June 16, 2021

WHEREAS, from the moment of fertilization, all humans are created in God’s image by, through, and for Jesus to the glory of God, and all souls belong to Him (Genesis 1:27; 4:1; 21:2; Isaiah 7:14; Colossians 1:16; Romans 11:36; Ezekiel 18:4), and

WHEREAS, as God’s image-bearers, all humans both display His divine worth, power, and attributes, and possess equal, objective worth before God, not varying based on incidental characteristics; such as ethnicity, age, size, means of conception, mental development, physical development, gender, potential, or contribution to society (Rom 1:19-20; Gen 1:27; 9:6; Matthew 18:6), and

WHEREAS, to murder any preborn image-bearer is a sin, violating both the natural law of retributive justice as set forth in the Noahic covenant, as well as the sixth commandment forbidding murder, and as such, is ultimately an assault on God’s image, seeking to usurp God’s sovereignty as Creator (Gen 9:5-6; Exodus 20:13; Proverbs 6:17), and

WHEREAS, God’s Word declares that all human life is a sacred gift and that His Law is supreme over man’s life and man’s law (Psalm 127:3-5; 139:13-16; Rom 2:15-16; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 1 Corinthians 4:5), and

WHEREAS, God commands His people to “rescue those who are being taken away to death” and holds them responsible and without excuse when they fail to do so (Prov 24:11-12), and

WHEREAS, God establishes all governing authorities as His avenging servants to carry out His wrath on the evildoer, and commands these authorities to judge justly, neither showing partiality to the wicked, nor using unequal standards, which are abominations (Psa 82; Prov 20:10; Rom 13:4), and

WHEREAS, in 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States rendered an iniquitous decision on Roe v. Wade, and in doing so deprived the innocent of their rights, and usurped God, who sovereignly ordained their authority (Isa 5:23; 10:1-2; Psa 2; Matt 22:21; John 19:11; Acts 4:19; 5:29, Rom 13:1), and

WHEREAS, in the Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court of the United States subverted the U.S. Constitution namely, the Preamble, as well as the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments without any legal authority (Article 6, Clause 2 “Supremacy Clause”), and

WHEREAS, governing authorities at every level have a duty before God to uphold justice asserting their God-ordained and constitutional authority to establish equal protection under the law for all, born and preborn, by intervening, ignoring, or nullifying iniquitous decisions when other authorities, such as the Supreme Court, condone such injustices as the legal taking of innocent life (Daniel 3; 1 Kings 12; 2 Kings 11; Jeremiah 26:10-16; 36:9-31; 37:11- 21; 39:7-10), and

WHEREAS, over the past 48 years with 60+ million abortions, traditional Pro-life laws, though well intended, have not established equal protection and justice for the preborn, but on the contrary, appallingly have established incremental, regulatory guidelines for when, where, why, and how to obtain legal abortion of innocent preborn children, thereby legally sanctioning abortion, and

WHEREAS, since 1980, the SBC has passed many resolutions reaffirming the importance of human life at all stages of development, but we have yet to call for the immediate abolition of abortion without exception or compromise, and

WHEREAS, our confessional statement, The Baptist Faith and Message, according to Article XV, affirms that children “from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord”; and further affirms that Southern Baptists are mandated by Scripture to “speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death,” now, be it therefore

RESOLVED, that the messengers of the SBC meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, June 15-16, 2021, do state unequivocally that abortion is murder, and we reject any position that allows for any exceptions to the legal protection of our preborn neighbors, compromises God’s holy standard of justice, or promotes any God-hating partiality (Psa 94:6; Isa 10:1-2; Prov 24:11; Psa 82:1-4), and be it further

RESOLVED, that we will not embrace an incremental approach alone to ending abortion because it challenges God’s Lordship over the heart and the conscience, and rejects His call to repent of sin completely and immediately (Gen 3:1; John 8:44; Rom 2:14-15; 2 Corinthians 11:3), and be it further

RESOLVED, that we affirm that the murder of preborn children is a crime against humanity that must be punished equally under the law, and be it further

RESOLVED, that we humbly confess and lament any complicity in recognizing exceptions that legitimize or regulate abortion, and of any apathy, in not laboring with the power and influence we have to abolish abortion, and be it further

RESOLVED, that as Southern Baptists we will engage, with God’s help, in establishing equal justice and protection for the preborn according to the authority of God’s Word as well as local and federal law, and call upon pastors and leaders to use their God-given gifts of preaching, teaching, and leading with one unified, principled, prophetic voice to abolish abortion, and be it finally

RESOLVED, that, because abolishing abortion is a Great Commission issue, we must call upon governing authorities at all levels to repent and “obey everything that [Christ] has commanded,” exhorting them to bear fruit in keeping with repentance by faithfully executing their responsibilities as God’s servants of justice, and working with all urgency to enact legislation using the full weight of their office to interpose on behalf of the preborn, abolishing abortion immediately, without exception or compromise (Mark 6:18; Matt 28:18-20; Rom 13:4, 6).

Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting 2021: What You Should Know/Consider

Posted June 8, 2021 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Uncategorized

On Twitter and in personal conversations, I’m reading/hearing many questions/concerns going into the Southern Baptist Annual Convention, which is taking place on June 15-16 in Nashville. The following post is a clarification of some important facts concerning the SBC, along with a point of concern that all SBC messengers should have. I welcome any questions/comments from readers.

The Southern Baptist Convention is a Parachurch Organization

The first point of clarification that I want to make concerning the Southern Baptist Convention is that the SBC is a parachurch organization. Now, the SBC does not usually use the term “parachurch” on its official documents. However: that is the best descriptor for what the SBC is and does. The SBC facilitates cooperation among churches of “like faith and practice,” specifically focused on joint efforts at missions/evangelism and theological education.

  • The SBC is NOT a church.
  • The SBC has NO authority over the churches that are “in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention”.
  • Each Baptist church is autonomous, under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What the Southern Baptist Convention CANNOT Do

The above points are important to note. I recently had a friendly interaction with a non-Baptist on Twitter who asked, “Doesn’t the SBC set policy for its churches?” The answer is NO. The SBC has no authority to dictate policy to any church. Unlike other denominations, the SBC does not choose any church’s pastors nor control any church’s budget or land. [Except, perhaps, in some relatively rare cases in which the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention is involved in helping to plant a church and procure property.] In general, if the SBC tried to exercise authority over a church, then that church would kindly (and rightly) invite the SBC to “fry ice.” At most (and the SBC does and should do this), the Convention advises, suggests, and encourages cooperating churches concerning policies they should adopt.

What the Southern Baptist Convention CAN Do

Since the SBC is a cooperative effort of churches with “like faith and practice,” it is important that cooperative churches have (within certain parameters) similar beliefs and methods. If a cooperating church is found to hold convictions or allow actions that are sufficiently dissimilar to what Southern Baptists believe the Bible to teach, then that church could and should be disfellowshipped by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. Practically speaking, being disfellowshipped means:

  • A church can no longer send messengers to the annual meeting of the SBC.
  • The SBC stops receiving funds from that church.
  • The church cannot receive help from the Convention (including tuition discounts at the seminaries).
  • The SBC will not commission missionaries from the church.
  • Other churches (and people in general) are made aware that the church is NOT one of “like faith and practice” with the Southern Baptists.

In short: being disfellowshipped means that a church no longer contributes to, receives help from, or has a role in directing the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Difficulty with Disfellowshipping

Practically, there is sometimes tension with the Baptist conviction concerning local church autonomy and the Southern Baptist commitment to be involved in efforts with other churches of “like faith and practice”. Southern Baptist congregations have maintained cooperation with each other despite many congregations having different views concerning eschatology, covenant theology, the relationship of God’s sovereignty to human ‘free will,’ and differing practices of worship styles, ordination, and church discipline. A degree of latitude is intentional, allowing for each congregation to act according to conscience and persuasion regarding what they believe the Word of God to teach, along with what they believe to be wise practical applications of God’s Word.

In general, there is no one policing whether any church is remaining in “like faith and practice” with the SBC. No sub-committee from the SBC Executive Committee is dedicated to listening to all the audio from cooperating churches’ sermons or reading through all the cooperating churches’ minutes from their business meetings. Usually, therefore, it is only when something rather public and obvious happens with a congregation, demonstrating a break with Southern Baptist faith and practice, that a particular congregation is disfellowshipped.

This is one main reason why churches get disfellowshipped from the SBC when they begin affirming homosexual marriages or ordaining people who identify as homosexual. There are all manner of sins that are as heinous as homosexual activity. Why is this one singled out? One reason is that it is more obvious. If a church has capitulated to culture on this issue, then they are often proud in declaring themselves to be “gay-affirming”. As terrible as racism and sexual abuse are, when these are present in a congregation, that church is hardly likely to publicly declare themselves as “bigot affirming” or “abuser affirming”.

The Increased Drive for Disfellowshipping Miscreant Churches

However, racism has continued to plague some Southern Baptist churches, and (as uncovered in the Houston Chronicle and elsewhere) there has been an epidemic of unaddressed sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches. This is why, as Baptist Press reported,

By overwhelming votes, Southern Baptists strengthened their stances against sexual abuse and racism during the opening day of their June 11-12 [2019] SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala. [voting] to amend the SBC’s bylaws to repurpose the SBC’s Credentials Committee into a standing committee to make inquiries and recommendations for action regarding instances of sexual abuse, racism or other issues that call a church’s relationship with the SBC into question.

I was there, and (though the situation was painful to consider and address, with the hurt of the abused being so heart-wrenching) I was glad to be part of the vote to take some practical step in addressing injustices, which have done grave injury to others and hindered our witness in the world.

And SOME follow-up to this vote has taken place. This was seen earlier this year when the Executive Committee disfellowshipped four churches. Two of these were disfellowshipped for affirming homosexuality. Disfellowshipping churches for this reason is important, but is also kind of typical in SBC life. Significantly, however, two were disfellowshipped for allowing sexual predators among their pastoral staff. (See the article HERE.)

Alleged Betrayal of the Abused and the SBC by the Executive Committee

Despite these positive signs that wickedness within SBC-cooperating churches would be addressed, there have been some deeply discouraging (and alarming) reports going into this year’s annual meeting of the Convention. Dr. Russell Moore, former head of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission wrote a letter to current SBC President, J.D. Greear, which describes the SBC Executive Committee systematically stonewalling efforts to address the issue of abuse in SBC churches. While it would be good for Greear to produce a statement either confirming, denying, or qualifying his views regarding the situations Moore relates in his letter, Moore’s complaints do seem credible in light of: 1) his desire for a third-party investigation; 2) Rachael Denhollander‘s testimony that her interactions with the SBC Executive Committee are consistent with what Moore describes.

What the SBC’s Executive Committee Is and the Big Problem Messengers Must See Addressed

Now here’s a big PLOT TWIST. You have been reading several paragraphs about the Southern Baptist Convention; however, as of the time that I’m writing this article, on June 8, 2021, THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION DOES NOT EXIST. This may be surprising to you. You may be thinking, “Hey! I’ve been reading about the SBC. My church gives money to the Cooperative Program of the SBC. I thought that the SBC DOES exist!”

Technically, the Southern Baptist Convention only exists for two days each year, at the annual meeting. Think of the term “convention”. What would you call a group when it’s not meeting together? Not a convention. Since the entities of the Southern Baptist Convention (including the seminaries and mission boards) continue to exist, carrying out the cooperative work of the Southern Baptists, most people take no note of this technical distinction.

But since the SBC doesn’t exist for most of the year, yet the cooperative efforts of the SBC continue, the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention acts for the Convention between sessions, reviewing the work of the Convention’s entities, receiving and distributing funds Southern Baptists give in support of denominational ministries, providing SBC public relations and news services, and performing other tasks assigned by the SBC. (See HERE.) It was the responsibility of the Executive Committee to make sure that the “overwhelming votes” of the messengers at the 2019 SBC annual meeting, which affirmed our desire to “make inquiries and recommendations for action regarding instances of sexual abuse, racism or other issues” were fully acted upon. If Moore is right, then the will of the messengers has been actively frustrated, rather than responsibly carried out, by the Executive Committee. Like I pointed out, the SBC does not currently (technically) exist, but if Dr. Moore is right, then unless there is a significant change, the SBC SHOULD NOT exist any more. An SBC that does not respond to the will of the messengers is just a façade for a few people who have gathered power for themselves.

I want to close this article with some relevant tweets by Rachael Denhollander, echoing her call:

Thoughts from a random Southern Baptist on John Onwuchekwa’s “4 Reasons We Left the SBC”

Posted July 9, 2020 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Uncategorized

Today, John Onwuchekwa published an article on why he led Cornerstone Church in Onwuchekwaleaving the Southern Baptist Convention. (See here: https://thefrontporch.org/2020/07/4-reasons-we-left-the-SBC/ .) As an alumnus of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a member of a church that’s ‘in friendly cooperation with the SBC’, this was a difficult and thought-provoking read. Here are four initial thoughts I’ve had.

1. Thankfulness

Onwuchekwa writes: “the North American Mission Board (NAMB) stepped in and helped us get a loan for our building… and again NAMB stewarded Cooperative Fund Giving our way in the form of a $175,000 grant to renovate the church building.” Onwuchekwa expresses gratitude for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and for the SBC entity heads. Now, the SBC, as I understand it, is a network of churches that has the primary purpose of pooling resources for missions and theological education. Onwuchekwa’s account seems to indicate that the SBC has been largely effective in this primary purpose in the case of Cornerstone Church and Onwuchekwa’s own ministry. If the SBC continues to help establish congregations like Cornerstone and (at least in part) train pastors like Onwuchekwa, if the gospel is being faithfully proclaimed through Cornerstone Church (as I assume it is), then it is hard to see that contributing to the SBC is a bad idea, even if autonomous congregations eventually come to decide that it is more prudent (in their case) to leave the SBC.

2. Learning

However, I sincerely hope that the SBC learns from John Onwuchekwa’s experience, and that, as a network of congregations, we grow in ways that would make it where churches such as Cornerstone would not feel ‘othered’ and where pastors like Onwuchekwa would not feel like he was on a “work visa” rather than being a full “citizen”.

3. Question

In regard to implementing practical changes that would help with the issues Onwuchekwa mentions, he writes: “The SBC undeniably had a systemic hand in perpetuating wickedness, and yet, its systemic efforts to restore and promote racial justice fall flat.” I’m honestly not sure what Onwuchekwa has in mind regarding “systemic efforts” that the SBC should take as a convention. Obviously, he believes that the SBC Resolution on Racial Reconciliation falls flat (see here: http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/899/resolution-on-racial-reconciliation-on-the-150th-anniversary-of-the-southern-baptist-convention ). Likewise, the NAMB’s work, with its efforts for and giving to Cornerstone Church: their pastor being sensitive to promoting racial justice, also falls flat. I am seriously open to the SBC doing better. I’m honestly interested in hearing specific proposals.

4. Addendum

As a final thought, I would note that the most explicit act of ‘othering’ that Onwuchekwa recounts is when he writes, “I’ve heard the former leader of the Georgia Baptist Convention tell other people that we (Cornerstone Church) are not one of them (presumably Southern Baptists)”. As a Georgia native, I don’t doubt this. I know about the GBC, and I know that many congregations have complaints about the GBC for a variety of reasons. I do wonder if, in another state (such as Kentucky,or Maryland/Delaware), the experiences of Onwuchekwa and his congregation may have been different.

On Critical Race Theory as “a Set of Analytical Tools”

Posted June 5, 2020 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Southern Baptist Convention

Last summer, the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution titled “On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.” This resolution commendably affirmed “Scripture as the first, last, and sufficient authority with regard to how the Church seeks to redress social ills.” However, it also asserted that “Critical race theory is a set of analytical tools that explain how race has and continues to function in society, and intersectionality is the study of how different personal characteristics overlap and inform one’s experience.” The resolution implied that these “analytical tools” (as the Resolutions committee termed critical race theory and intersectionality) can be helpful “to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify.”CRT

I have read some, but not a great deal, from and about Critical Race Theory [CRT]. In earning my minor in Philosophy and in other personal studies, I’ve read quite a bit from post-modern and Buddhist sources. Post-modernism points out some flaws in modernism, and Buddhism points out some flaws in Hinduism (or how people in general try to live their lives under an illusion of comfort and pleasure); in their critiques of the previously-established systems, there are some genuine insights, which overlap with how these systems would be critiqued from a Christian worldview. However: I would not call either post-modernism or Buddhism “a set of analytical tools… to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify“. These philosophies cannot adequately diagnose the root cause of social ills, because they do not have the biblical doctrine of sin. They cannot adequately redress social ills, because they do not have the biblical doctrine of salvation. I believe that a similar point could be made about CRT, and I believe that this is crucial to understand at this time, when there is (understandably) so much societal unrest over racism.

If I meet a person who has already embraced Buddhism or a post-modern mindset, I want to be equipped to show how the critiques offered by those systems over-lap critiques found in the Bible. However, unless (perhaps) someone is operating from a mindset of modernism or Hinduism, I would not take “analytical tools” from post-modernism or Buddhism. I see no reason to talk someone into being a half-baked post-modernist or Buddhist in order to lead that person to Christ. Similarly: if someone is already immersed in CRT thought, we may want to be equipped to show how the critiques offered by that system over-lap with critiques found in the Bible. But I do not think that we should try to talk people into being half-baked CRT theorists. We should skip straight to the sufficient Scripture to “diagnose and redress the root causes of [ALL] social ills”.

Problems with the Founders Ministries’ *By What Standard* Trailer

Posted July 25, 2019 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Andrew, Southern Baptist Convention

Without Founders Ministries, my life would be quite different. As a college student, I became convinced of the Doctrines of Grace. Though I’d been a member of a Southern Baptist Convention [SBC] affiliated church for years, I felt like a commitment to these doctrines was absent from SBC churches, so I began going to a non-denominational Bible church. It was through discovering Founders Ministries, which was committed to educating SBC churches about the Doctrines of Grace and helping to encourage the biblical reformation of local churches, that I felt comfortable re-joining an SBC-affiliated church. Once I was married, the first church that my wife and I joined was a Founders-friendly SBC-affiliated congregation. About a year after I was married, I became a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Moving to Louisville, I was again looking for a Founders-friendly, SBC-affiliated congregation, and the church where I am currently a member (Kosmosdale Baptist Church in Louisville, KY) took place in the Boyce Project (an effort, begun when the seminaries of the SBC had become theologically liberal, to get a copy of J.P. Boyce’s Abstract of Systematic Theology into the hands of each graduating SBC seminary student), which was a direct precursor to Founders Ministries, and for years our church had a line-item in the church budget to allow for the pastor going to Founders Ministries conferences. So, in a very real sense, I would not be going to the church where I’m a member, I would not be living in the city where I am, and thus I would not be working in the job that I have (and who knows what else would be different for me), if it were not for Founders Ministries.

In recent years, Founders Ministries has been raising concerns that those holding to theological liberalism are using social justice issues as a Trojan horse in order to persuade churches of unbiblical ideologies. Founders Ministries speakers are also concerned that those adopting the language and categories used by secular advocates of social justice are unwittingly making themselves and their congregations susceptible to theological liberalism. It is based on these concerns that Founders Ministries is producing a “Cinedoc” called By What Standard, and they released the trailer for that film earlier this week.

While I share many of the concerns that Founders Ministries is raising concerning “social justice warriors”, and while a few of men from my church gladly attended the 2019 Founders Ministries National Conference on “The Gospel and Justice” here in Louisville, I am deeply concerned with how things are presented in the trailer for By What Standard: the methods that are used and some of the connections that are directly implied. In considering my thoughts concerning this trailer, I came across a Twitter-thread by Chris Bolt (the pastor of Elkton Baptist Church), which expresses exactly what I would want to say (and how I would want to say it). The remainder of this post is Chris’ Twitter-thread, which I’m using after getting his permission. I’ve only edited for formatting, adding numbers and taking away the “@” Twitter-handles.

Assume, for the sake of argument, I agree with everything Founders Ministries believes and is trying to accomplish with their forthcoming video. It does not follow that the trailer for that video is unobjectionable. In fact, the opposite is the case. What are the problems?

1. The trailer features an interview with a gentleman talking about manipulation through guilt leading to destructive behavior, and at the same time he is speaking, shows a clip of SBC messengers holding up, “Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused.”

2. The trailer also features an interview with Owen Strachan commenting on the principalities and power of Ephesians 6, which is a reference to demons, while at the same time showing a clip of Rachael Denhollander speaking on the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission panel at the SBC.

Image

3. As you can see, the short clip is heavily edited. Why? To match the clips of other speakers in the video who are in some form or fashion representative of the problems in the SBC. Filters are used to make some clips jittery and blurred.

4. Filters are also used to show Founders representatives in better light and color. This use of filters, music, and narration is quite likely intended to produce a particular type of feeling to be associated with each of the clips. It’s clear who is portrayed as “good” and “bad.”

5. A brief clip of the theologically liberal egalitarian Nadia Bolz-Weber is shown immediately before Denhollander, with Strachan’s voice speaking of the aforementioned demonic powers.

Now, other objections to the trailer have been raised, but I’m not interested in those here.

Here are my questions.

1. What message is sent by the trailer mentioning guilt manipulation with SBC messengers holding up a book on how to care for abuse survivors in the church?

2. What message is sent by showing Denhollander alongside Bolz-Weber and a discussion of demons?

3. Assuming I agree with Founders on all the current issues of the SBC, wouldn’t I also want to say that the problem of abuse is a real problem, and that it’s a real problem in particular for the SBC?

This problem is not a mere matter of worldly perception. Christians see it too.

The implication of the carefully edited movie trailer is that something dark, even demonic, has made its way into the SBC through addressing abuse and through an individual like Denhollander. Now, even if you support everything else Founders believes and is doing, this is bad.

This is bad because, apart from a lack of wisdom in the selection of an editor/producer who would create a provocative video that politicizes and weaponizes the issue of abuse, and apart from the obvious difficulties with the ethics of this situation, including utilitarianism, it’s bad because Founders has significantly fumbled the ball here… If I were Founders, I would fire the video editor, issue an apology to the Denhollanders, and try again, although credibility may be shot. You fumbled the ball.

What I Wish I’d Said Regarding SBC Resolution 9 on the Convention Floor

Posted June 21, 2019 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Andrew, Southern Baptist Convention

Last week, the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution titled “On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.” This resolution commendably affirmed “Scripture as the first, last, and sufficient authority with regard to how the Church seeks to redress social ills.” However, it also asserted that “Critical race theory is a set of analytical tools that explain how race has and continues to function in society, and intersectionality is the study of how different personal characteristics overlap and inform one’s experience.” The resolution implied that these “analytical tools” (as the Resolutions committee termed critical race theory and intersectionality) can be helpful “to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify.”

The day after the resolution was passed, Dr. Albert Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, did well in summarizing the concerns that many have with this resolution, making the following statement on his podcast, The Briefing:

Both critical race theory and intersectionality are a part of the continuing transformative Marxism… I did not want the resolution to say less than it said. I wanted it to say more than it said. I wanted it to acknowledge more clearly the [Marxist] origins of critical race theory and intersectionality.

On the Convention floor, before the resolution passed, Tom Ascol of Founders Ministries tried to amend the resolution with the following language, in line with Dr. Mohler’s concerns:

INSERT AFTER 1st Whereas—>

Whereas, Critical race theory and intersectionality are godless ideologies that are indebted to radical feminism and postmodernism, and neo-Marxism; and

ADD—>

RESOLVED that we remind Southern Baptists that Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality emerged from a secular, worldview and are rooted in ideologies that are incompatible with Christianity; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we repudiate all forms of identity politics and any ideology that establishes human identity in anything other than divine creation in the image of God and, for all redeemed humanity, our common identity, together eternally united to Christ; and be it further…

However, Ascol’s amendment failed, and the resolution passed as it had been presented to the Convention floor.

Now, I had seen that Tom Ascol was going to speak to the resolution, and I hoped the Convention would hear what he had to say. However, I knew it was much more likely that the Convention would simply trust the Resolutions Committee and vote in favor of the resolution regardless of any discussion on the floor. (And this is, indeed, what happened.)

Having 20/20 hindsight, I wish that I had gotten to the microphone to urge messengers to vote against the resolution. (Not that I’m saying I would have been successful, but still, I wish I’d done what I could have.) If I had spoken, this is what I would have liked to have said:

Most everyone in this Convention hall applauded when it was said that there is one human race and that the Bible defines who we are as human beings. These statements, however, run contrary to the assumptions of critical race theory and intersectionality, so I am asking you to vote against this resolution. It’s been less than a year since I’ve gained any knowledge of what the terms ‘critical race theory’ and ‘intersectionality’ mean. I ask each messenger to please ask yourself: without looking at this resolution, can I define the terms ‘critical race theory’ and ‘intersectionality’ in ways that would be helpful to my congregation? If the answer is ‘no,’ then I would urge you to vote ‘no’ to the resolution at this time. Let’s study this issue and re-consider it at next year’s Convention, so that we can give an informed vote.

I do hope that some change in the Convention rules can be made so that in the future, messengers may see the resolutions earlier. (Currently, messengers only see them the morning of the vote.) That way, we could have more time to consider them and give them a more knowledgeable vote.

On NOT Unhitching from the Old Testament, But RATHER Approaching It With Christ-Centered Confidence

Posted October 29, 2018 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Uncategorized

The following is an excerpt from the introduction to the sermon that Mitch Chase preached yesterday morning (10/28/18) at Kosmosdale Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. I’m posting this here because it is in opposition to the “strange fire” (which I fear may gain some traction in some Baptist circles) of unhitching the Christian faith from the Old Testament. (The rest of Mitch’s sermon, from Exodus 21:1-11, is an excellent example of how to faithfully think through what may be considered a difficult Old Testament passage; I highly recommend it, and it can be heard here: https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1028182014355 .)

“In a recent book from a pastor in Georgia, he seeks to persuade readers that we’re probably paying far too much attention to the Old Testament. [According to this book,] we need to back off from dealing with it, preaching it: back off significantly, because it has so many hot points [of contention/potential confusion]… he lists things like arguments about creation, miracles in the Old Testament, certain commandments and laws, which seem ethically objectionable. This writer suggests, and I quote, ‘When it comes to stumbling blocks to the faith, the Old Testament is at the top of the list.’ Now, that might be true for some people; it’s not surprising that people have serious questions about the Old Testament: serious concerns. It’s nothing new, though. Consider that Jesus, who was NOT wrong, LOVED the Old Testament. He said He came to fulfill it, spoke of Scripture as the Word of God, which had been given by God. The Apostle Paul says that the Old Testament is inspired and profitable for teaching, and for reproof, and for correction, and for training in righteousness [2 Timothy 3:16]. The New Testament doesn’t reject the Old Testament, so we should follow the way of Christ and His apostles; we should uphold it, value it, use it, proclaim it: the apostles did to their new covenant believers!

….

“If people come to the Bible with hearts troubled by parts of the Old Testament, the answer is NOT to ignore the Old Testament. The proper response to confusion is NOT neglect. Rather, the answer is to engage the Old Testament: to pursue understanding of its texts with humility and trust. When that happens, I think we’ll see several things over and over again:

  1. Many objections to the Old Testament are based on misunderstandings, caricatures, false ideas, that we SHOULD reject. (When we engage the Old Testament as Christians, we actually have the opportunity to expose misunderstandings about the Old Testament and correct caricatures. After all, we’re dealing with 39 biblical books; we should not be quickly dismissive at all.)
  2. Some objections to the Old Testament are rooted in the interpreter’s personal moral rebellion. People might object to the very notion that God forbids something. Take the subject of sexual ethics in our culture: looking into the Bible, and seeing God’s words about human sexuality, an interpreter might object to what God’s Word says to something because they themselves strongly desire it! And so that objection to an Old Testament passage is rooted in their own moral rebellion.
  3. Other objections to the Old Testament are rooted in the interpreter’s rejection of the supernatural. An objector might reject that there’s even a God and [proclaim] that the universe instead is a closed system where everything that happens inside has explanations that are purely natural from beginning to end.
  4. There’s no new objection to the Old Testament that has not already been raised in church history and sufficiently, competently answered.
  5. [But NOTE:] the Old Testament, to the surprise of some initial readers, perhaps even, shows God’s holy character and redemptive plan. It displays His power, His goodness, His wisdom, His justice, His love, His patience, His mercy: I’m talking about the Old Testament! When we consider the laws, and the narratives, and the prophecies of these 39 books, and consider them in light of their original contexts, and in light of the overall plan of God’s Word: God’s holiness and redemptive plan is the uncompromising story; it is the unity of God’s Word heading somewhere—to Christ. So we need not shy away from any Old Testament passage; we should approach them unhesitatingly, with eager, humble confidence in God’s Word, which is inspired and profitable.

Andy Stanley and the Evidentialist Apologetic

Posted August 14, 2018 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Uncategorized

In an interview with Dr. Michael Brown in which he attempted to explain and clarify quotes found in the article, “Christians Must ‘Unhitch’ Old Testament From Their Faith, A StanleySays Andy Stanley” from The Christian Post, Andy Stanley declared: “I’ve stepped away from saying, ‘The Bible says it; therefore, it’s true; the Bible says it; therefore, I believe it’…” And in other venues, Stanley has urged Christians to stop saying “the Bible says…”

Andy Stanley is a mega-church CEO who professes belief that the Bible is without error; why would he refrain (and urge others to refrain) from saying “the Bible says”?

The Road to Emmaus

Stanley’s explicit concern in how he refers to Scripture is driven by his view of apologetics (that is, how Christians are to give a reasoned defense for their faith). In part, Stanley explains the fact of Jesus and the apostles’ use of phrases like “Scripture says” by appealing to the differing context of the earliest church versus where most believers find ourselves today. In some cases, Stanley might be theoretically OK with a direct appeal to the authority of the Bible. Stanley said: “There’s an apologetic for when you’re approaching an orthodox Jew, and there’s an apologetic for those who think that the Bible is just a book of fairy tales.”

But Stanley is inconsistent on this point, because there are times when he indicates that even the earliest believers (those in a Jewish context, who would have been raised to revere the Scriptures) were compelled to faith through the (extra-biblical) evidence set before them, contrasted with the authority of Scripture. In the context of saying, “Years ago, I quit saying, ‘The Bible says’…” Stanley explained that (in his view): “Jewish men and women who had given up hope immediately regained hope not because of something they read, but because of something they saw.

Elsewhere in his interview with Dr. Brown, Stanley expressed frustration that people objecting to his statements about the Bible are always bringing Luke 24:25-32 to his attention. Stanley declared: “of COURSE I know the story of the two men on the Road to Emmaus.”

But Stanley seems to miss the point of WHY people refer to that passage. When the risen Christ encountered two people “who had given up hope,” they did NOT ‘immediately regain hope because of something they saw.’ In their case, God actually kept them from seeing Jesus for who He was (see Luke 24:16). Before allowing them to really perceive His resurrected presence, Jesus prepared their understanding by teaching them through the Old Testament Scriptures.

The Gospel of John

In the interview with Dr. Brown, Stanley defended his earlier statement: “the whole Old Testament house of cards could collapse, and you still have the resurrection of Jesus.” Stanley referenced people who only read the Gospel of John, coming to faith in Jesus just through reading that Gospel, not starting in the Old Testament. But notice the words from the very first chapter of John’s Gospel account; the Apostle John records:

1) John the Baptist quoting Old Testament Scripture in indicating the purpose of his ministry;

2) The religious leadership questioning whether John was Elijah;

3) Questions raised concerning Christ (the Messiah);

4) The identification of Jesus as the Son of God and Son of Man.

All of this makes no sense without the Old Testament. What we take for granted is that, in our culture, people in general do have a kind of residual notion—at least a vague idea—of the biblical categories/terms mentioned in the first chapter of John. Because of this, it may make it easier for people to come to faith in Christ through reading one of the Gospel accounts. For missionaries to truly unreached people groups, however, biblical definitions for who God is and who Christ is must be built upon the Old Testament foundation before a person can come to faith in God through Christ. Even in our context, an authoritative reference to the Old Testament to define our terms is necessary.

Evidentialist Apologetics Taken Too Far

Stanley has repeatedly stated that the Bible comes at the END of our apologetic, and that he is concerned with presenting the gospel to those who doubt the Bible’s authority. Stanley claims that he is engaging in “classical apologetics”. This is a misnomer: Stanley does not engage in presenting the classical proofs for the existence of God (in the sermons and interviews I’ve seen from him, he is not challenging his listeners to think through the ontological argument or the teleological argument, etc.); rather, he is engaging in evidentialist apologetics—pointing people to historical evidences for why we should believe that Jesus rose from the dead, that He made divine claims of Himself, etc.

Is there any place for this kind of apologetic reasoning?

I would say that there may very well be. Especially in some interactions when I was a student at Georgia State University (from which Stanley also holds a degree), I’ve argued in this mode before. (You can see a written-out example of my own use of evidentialist reasoning at the following blogpost: http://alindsey4.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-bible-jesus-view-and-our-view.html .) If a non-Christian is denying that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God or if an immature Christian is having doubts about whether all the books we have in our Bible should be considered the Word of God, then for the sake of the argument, an evidentialist apologetic may be helpful. The Christian witness could explicitly bracket the question of the exact nature concerning the Bible, and look at what the evidence still indicates even if the absolute divine authority is not presupposed.

But notice:

  1. The evidentialist apologetic is (at best) limited and negative in its function. Examination of the evidence can clear away the film of supposedly reasonable-sounding doubts concerning the gospel message. It may be wise to use this on a case-by-case basis. However, to make it the regular apologetic preached from the pulpit, and to teach the children of the church to refrain from singing “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so” (as Stanley has recommended) will undermine, rather than bolster, trust in the authority of God’s Word.
  2. The evidentialist apologetic should never lead to a division between the authority of Jesus and the authority of the Bible. As the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy (which Stanley claims to believe) rightly declares, “the authority of Christ and that of Scripture are one.” When using evidentialist apologetics, the faithful witness should make it clear that he is only doing so for the sake of the argument, and NOT because we believe that the Bible is a secondary or lesser authority. As people rightly say in church circles: “What you win people with is what you win them to.” In other words: people will continue to live in a manner consistent with the teaching and methods that brought them into the church. If they were brought into the church believing that the Bible is of secondary importance (at best), then they will likely continue to view it in that manner (at least practically). If they were brought into church believing that the Bible is God’s revelation to us, then they will likely come to love and cherish Scripture in a manner that is consistent with Psalm 119, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, etc.
  3. Finally: the evidentialist apologist must realize that no amount of evidence can place faith into a sinner’s heart. Faith comes through an authoritative proclamation of God’s Word (see Romans 10:17). If a person remains obstinate against hearing the Bible as God’s Word, then that person will not be brought to true faith, no matter how much evidence they see. I make this assertion not on my own authority, but on the authority of Christ, who taught us: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

Andy Stanley: “Cues from Jesus”

Posted August 10, 2018 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Uncategorized

A StanleyIn an interview with Dr. Michael Brown in which he attempted to explain and clarify quotes found in the article, “Christians Must ‘Unhitch’ Old Testament From Their Faith, Says Andy Stanley” from The Christian Post, Andy Stanley declared: “I want you to take your cues from the Apostle Paul is terms of how we interact and how we value the Old Testament, and I want you to take your cues from Jesus.” He said that he gives his congregation this admonishment all the time. But elsewhere in the interview, Stanley said: “Years ago, I quit saying, ‘The Bible says’… I’ve stepped away from saying, ‘The Bible says it; therefore, it’s true; the Bible says it; therefore, I believe it’…” And in other venues, Stanley has urged Christians to stop saying “the Bible says…”

How did Jesus and the Apostle Paul interact with and value the Old Testament? Would the example of Christ and His Apostle lead us to conclude that we should refrain from saying, “The Bible says…”?

Searching through the Gospel accounts for the word “Scripture” (not even counting the times when the Bible is quoted without the word “Scripture” being used), we see that Jesus made many references to what the Bible says:

-Jesus charges His opponents with misunderstanding Scripture (examples: Matthew 21:42 and 22:29).

-Jesus presents Himself and His work as the fulfillment of Scripture (examples: Luke 4:21 and 22:37).

-Jesus cites Scripture as authoritative, using the phrase “the Scripture has said” (see: John 7:38; note that in his account of Christ, John as a narrator also uses the phrase, “Scripture says,” as in John 19:24 and John 19:37).

In his epistles, the Apostle Paul frequently uses the term “the Scripture says,” as seen in passages like Romans 4:3; 9:17; 10:11; 11:2; Galatians 4:30; 1 Timothy 5:18. Paul so identifies Scripture with the speech of God that he even writes of the Scripture preaching the gospel to Abraham in Galatians 3:8.

Christians can follow Stanley’s advice to take our cues from Jesus and the Apostle Paul OR we can follow Stanley’s advice to stop saying “the Bible says”. We cannot do both. I would urge anyone reading this blog to take the former course and follow Jesus rather than Andy Stanley when the two clearly diverge.

Andy Stanley and the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

Posted August 3, 2018 by strangebaptistfire
Categories: Uncategorized

Following an article from The Christian Post on May 9, 2018 titled, “Christians Must ‘Unhitch’ Old Testament From Their Faith, Says Andy Stanley,” Dr. Michael Brown conducted an interview with Stanley, allowing Stanley to further explain his views, while Dr. Brown questioned him concerning his beliefs in Scripture. (You can view the entire interview at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7Jcu03lJso&feature=share .)

In this interview, Stanley once again affirmed his belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. In particular, Stanley has time and again declared that he affirms the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. But is Stanley’s teaching consistent with what is taught in the Chicago Statement concerning the authority of Scripture?

Consider the following statements from Andy Stanley in the Michael Brown interview:

A Stanley

  • “We don’t believe [Jesus] rose from the dead because the Bible tells us so… Our apologetic as Christians does not rise or fall on a text; it rises or falls on an event… I have been very, very, very focused for years, because of my desire to reach people who have left the church, to think more sequentially and historically than theologically, and that’s a really important point.”
  • “Years ago, I quit saying, ‘The Bible says’… “
  • “I’ve stepped away from saying, ‘The Bible says it; therefore, it’s true; the Bible says it; therefore, I believe it’… ‘The Bible says’ is great for people who take the Bible seriously. That’s not my audience.”
  • “Even if you don’t believe that stuff [the worldwide Flood, the Exodus, etc.], I’ve got good news: it’s secondary.”
  • Stanley defends his earlier statement: “the whole Old Testament house of cards could collapse, and you still have the resurrection of Jesus.”
  • In direct response to a question about whether the Bible is authoritative for Christians today, Stanley says: “when it is properly understood, when it is properly applied, it is obviously an asset, and [the Bible] enhances Christian experience.”

Now consider the following from the Chicago Statement:

  • The first statement in the Preface of the Chicago Statement is: “The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian Church in this and every age.”
  • The first Article of the Chicago Statement is: “We affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God.”
  • From the Exposition section in the Chicago Statement: “the authority of Christ and that of Scripture are one.”

[Readers can view the entire Chicago Statement at the following link: http://library.dts.edu/Pages/TL/Special/ICBI_1.pdf .]

If asked, “Do you affirm what the Chicago Statement says about the Bible’s authority?” I have little doubt that Andy Stanley would immediately say, “Yes.” But when we examine Stanley’s statements, it becomes hard (or impossible) to find consistency in how he would speak of Scripture (or not speak of Scripture) and how the Chicago Statement speaks of Scripture. In fact, if an interviewer were to ask Stanley whether he affirms the quotes I’ve cited (and others) from the Chicago Statement, and the interviewer did not mention where the quotes came from, I’m NOT sure that Stanley would say, “Yes.”

An authority is not an authority if it is consistently not cited. An authority is not an authority if it is considered “secondary” or supplemental. An authority does not just enhance experience. A proper authority is not just an “asset.” A just authority “binds the conscience” (as the Chicago Statement affirms concerning Scripture) concerning the areas to which it speaks, it is not a “house of cards” that can collapse without grave harm.

There are matters that the authors of the Chicago Statement kept together, which Stanley pulls asunder. Specifically:

  • It is clear from the Chicago Statement that its authors wanted to keep historical and theological [and scientific!] matters joined together (see Articles XII and XIII in particular), whereas Stanley desires “to think more sequentially and historically than theologically” (although he also expresses a desire to save many historical questions, like those concerning the Great Flood or the Exodus, for later consideration).
  • The authors of the Chicago Statement declared that “the authority of Christ and that of Scripture are one,” whereas Stanley clearly views the authority of Scripture as second to the authority of Christ.

If someone pays attention to what Stanley says, then they will hear him affirm the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. I’m thankful for that, because I believe that the Chicago Statement is an accurate summary of how God would have us to understand the inerrancy, infallibility, and authority of His written Word. However, I would also encourage everyone to read the Chicago Statement itself. Anyone who has been influenced by Stanley’s teachings should ask: is what he says (or doesn’t say) concerning the Bible consistent with how the Chicago Statement (which he claims to believe) speaks concerning the Bible?