It’s no secret that the Southern Baptist Convention is in under weak leadership, of JD Greear, Al Mohler, and Russell Moore, in the face of a rising postmodernist Social Justice Gospel that is ravaging the mainline (apostate) denominations. The establishment of Critical Race Theory is an acceptable analytics tool and woke theology being rampant in the seminaries has been well documented by a number of allies across the Evangelical Dark Web. And let’s not forget how Lifeway was and is peddling heresy. But the question remains: with the SBC on the highway towards apostasy, should orthodox churches fight or flee the SBC?
Brief Historical Context
This question at hand is the same question Christians have been facing since the Protestant Reformation. And individual bottom up approach to organized religion that Protestantism leads to also leads to the rise and fall, both theologically and in size, of many denominations. In short this issue has a plethora of case studies to choose from. We could look at the PCA. We could look at the eventual UMC split. There have already been Baptist churches who have fled the SBC. This is not a new or unique idea within Protestantism.
If splitting the Southern Baptist Convention between the orthodox and the heretics were the only solution, the problem would go away. Instead, inevitably heresy will seek to target the remaining. Heresies like the Social Justice Gospel, liberal/progressive theology, cannot survive in the world it wants to create.
The Conservative Resurgence of the SBC was a takeover from the theological fence sitters that began in 1979 when Adrian Rodgers was elected as President of the SBC and was complete in 1990 when the modernists’, last candidate was defeated. If we could defeat the modernists, more commonly referred to as moderates, in the past, then it is conceivable that we could defeat the postmodernists of the present who want to insert Critical Race Theory.
Precedent suggests that the SBC can be saved by the same strategy that saved the denomination before. The second reason I articulate against further schism is that we are witnessing much of the beginning of the process. For instance the Conservative Resurgence began over a decade after Ralph Elliott, a professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, outkicked his coverage by publishing a heretical book which he would eventually lose his job for. This event was among a breadcrumb trail that would eventually lead to a growing disregard for biblical inerrancy. The Southern Baptist Convention is currently in the beginning stages of the path to apostasy. But things move faster in 2019 than in 1969. There is valid reasons to suspect that the beginning stages will progress much more rapidly. However, since we truly are in the early stages of this fight in which the heretics have taken the initiative and the orthodox are still debating the severity of the situation. There are two responses to this concern.
- Orthodox Baptist still have a majority.
- The SBC infrastructure provides insulation from this conflict
The orthodox Methodists are clinging to power solely by the international congregations. But Baptists do not share this minority status. That is why the postmodernists are taking the initiative by infiltrating the seminaries and passing resolutions on Critical Race Theory through dishonest tactics. Rudy Gray of Baptist Courier reported:
One of the issues many had with the resolution was that the original resolution as presented by Stephen Feinstein, pastor of Sovereign Way Church in California, was altered so much by the Resolutions Committee that it changed the meaning and intent of the original resolution. Feinstein shared with The Baptist Courier that his “intent was to denounce Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality ideology so that we could hold accountable those espousing it, especially within SBC institutions.”
The uproar of the passage of this doctored and cryptic resolution that was ramrodded late at the convention to an audience that was likely unaware of what the issue was and the gravity of what they were dealing with. The key excerpts buried in Resolution 9 reads:
WHEREAS, Critical race theory and intersectionality alone are insufficient to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify, which result from sin, yet these analytical tools can aid in evaluating a variety of human experiences; and
RESOLVED, That critical race theory and intersectionality should only be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture—not as transcendent ideological frameworks; and be it further
The resolution is rather long and takes advantage of people not realizing just how anti-biblical the resolution is and does not define it. The Resolution is a beach head for heresy to enter the doctrine of the church. But an established beach head for heresy does not make the Southern Baptist Convention lost in apostasy. Rather we should compare Resolution 9 to its original draft. Consider these key excerpts:
WHEREAS, the rhetoric of critical race theory and intersectionality found in some Southern Baptist institutions and leaders is causing unnecessary and unbiblical division among the body of Christ and is tarnishing the reputation of the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole, inviting charges of theological liberalism, egalitarianism, and Marxism; and
WHEREAS, the Southern Baptist Convention is committed to racial reconciliation built upon biblical presuppositions, and is committed to seeking biblical justice through biblical means; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, June 11-12, 2019, decry every philosophy or theology, including critical race theory and intersectionality, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, since they divide the people of Christ by defining fundamental identity as something other than our identity in Jesus Christ; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we deny any philosophy or theology that defines individuals primarily by non-transcendental social constructs rather than by the transcendental reality of all humans existing as the Imago Dei; and be it further
This comes after the resolution defined Critical Race Theory. The question remains, would the original resolution pass the Southern Baptist Convention or not? Considering how bastardized the eventual resolution would be, the answer point to a yes. The postmodernists peddling the Social Justice Gospel by teaching Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality must make cryptic their intentions. They cannot outright promote their beliefs and even Resolution 9 places a limitation on its use. Perhaps they know how their beliefs may fly in an isolated seminary classroom but not to the masses. Therefore, this beach head can be driven back to the sea by a coordinated counterattack. But we must be warned that heretics always play down their beliefs when faced with confrontation.
Secondly, orthodox congregations are insulated from much of the politics at the national level. At the national level, the seminaries, mission boards, and church arms are troublesome. But Baptists have long practiced local autonomy in their local congregations. Autonomy means that the affiliation at the national level is voluntary. Such actions like Resolution 9 are nonbinding. The Southern Baptist Convention wields more influence than actual power. The mandates are basic but the personalities they promote are widespread. This of course has led to numerous problems. But churches are responsible for the Big Eva celebrities they choose to follow.
However, the biggest concern for Southern Baptists is the next generation of pastors. Should the seminaries fall, churches will have great difficulty replacing learned staff. The Southern Baptist Convention is affiliated with six seminaries and is would seem that Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is the biggest problem child. Now I believe that bible believing churches, guided by God, will avoid disastrous staffing decisions. So while prayer and the husbandry of Jesus is the ideal solution for the shortcomings of seminaries, a problem that applies universally, this also provides further insulation from contamination in the Southern Baptist Convention.
The ultimate reason I believe is that fighting for the Southern Baptist Convention is the best way for Baptist churches to love and serve one another. Since, to the best of our knowledge, we could outnumber the postmodernists and are insulated, for however long, from the rot of those who would use the SBC’s infrastructure to peddle the Social Justice Gospel. To prevent them from taking over the Southern Baptist Convention, again, would be a strategic victory in the spiritual warfare taking place.
We cannot flee the fight forever. For the heresy of the day will combat your congregation eventually. The Social Justice Gospel has a beach head in the Southern Baptist Convention, but they operate in the shadows, similar to an insurgency being unwilling to fight in the field. I advocate a coordinated response to the enemies within in order to best serve God’s ordained institution for the fellowship of believers. The fight against heretics, instruments of Satan, within the church has persisted ever since the beginning of the church. So, therefore we need to dawn the Armor of God and fight.
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