The establishment of a strong liberal majority at SBC21 has caused many churches to reconcile with the fact that the Conservative Resurgence 2.0 is not happening and likely never will. Thus many churches have abandoned ship. The latest high profile church to do so is Houston Baptist Church in Arkansas, a small church in a small county. Yet that is all the reason why this church leaving is all the more significant. This was brought to prominence first by SBC Underground, a movement intended to save the Southern Baptist Convention.
The following is an open letter written by the pastor of Houston Baptist Church in Arkansas.
It is with mixed emotions that we, the elders of the Houston Baptist Church, pen this letter. On one hand, we are experiencing a sense of anxiousness and loneliness knowing that we are taking such a distinctly different path than the generations of saints at HBC who have come and gone before us have taken. On the other hand, there is a deep and settled confidence within us that the decision that we have made to withdraw our affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention of churches is Holy Spirit motivated and is absolutely necessary.
In the event that you are wondering, here is a little about us…we reside in Arkansas. The 33rd most populous state in our union. Our county, Perry, ranks 62nd out of 75 counties in this state in terms of population (10,455 residents). Our town, Houston, (depending on your definition of a town) proudly boasts a population of 159 as of our most recent census. Our church is small. In short, we are nobody. No one calls us for our thoughts, insight, or assistance. It is highly likely that our severed affiliation with the SBC will go unnoticed except for within our local association of 18 churches (whom we love) in Conway and Perry counties. We have no intention to make waves or to rock boats, nor do we expect to. We aren’t trying to start anything or encourage others to do anything. This is simply what we believe.
Though we are small and relatively insignificant, that does not mean that we are not serious. Our decision to leave the SBC is not due to apathy, ignorance, or any misunderstanding. Nor is it frustration or anger that is driving us. We have made our decision because we do care a great deal. We have spent much time in the Word, in thought, and in prayer. We have investigated sufficiently. We have moved relatively slowly in order to allow cooler heads to prevail. We have peace about it all and we are simply through with the whole thing.
How did it come to this? The complete answer to that question would be long and boring, but the recent events that ultimately precipitated our decision to break fellowship with the SBC stem from what transpired in June of 2021 at the Annual Convention in Nashville, TN. The following items, among other things, all factored into our decision:
- The godlessness that was displayed in the opening moments of the Convention from the stage in what was referred to as “worship” was appalling. Worship was certainly the objective, but it was clear that man, not Jesus, was the intended object of that worship.
- The evasiveness of Kevin Ezell of NAMB, and the lawyer they employed when asked from the floor to provide transparency concerning salaries within the organization. The end result of this exchange was essentially, “We’re qualified. Trust us. Please pass the microphone to the person behind you and take your seat.”
- The use of a young lady, seemingly as a pawn, by Grant Gaines and others, by putting her on display for everyone to see and attempting to utilize her tragic situation to manipulate the emotions of those in attendance
- The unrelenting onslaught of conversations and the adoption of useless platitudes concerning sexual issues as a clear signal of capitulation to and allegiance with a watching world
- The secular political tactics employed against candidate Mike Stone
- The public, real-time endorsement of a candidate by Danny Akin, a seminary head, clearly seeking to use his platform within the SBC to affect the election
- The election by the messengers of the Convention of the most liberal candidate by far of the four candidates available to us, Ed Litton. Litton appears to have been the widely endorsed candidate of the powers-that-be, which reeks of secular politics and the ways of the pagan world.
- The fact that Al Mohler supporters preferred this establishment candidate spoke volumes
- James Merritt’s still yet unrebuked condescension and beratement of the messengers in what can no doubt be classified as an ungracious rant by an angry man in an attempt to bully voters toward his preferred result
- Outgoing President Greear’s ridiculous “sermon” which was no sermon, but was instead a castigation of opposition and an agenda promoting political speech with a Bible verse or two mixed in for effect
- The refusal of the Resolutions Committee to propose a vote on a resolution repudiating Critical Race Theory. The proposed resolution was submitted to the Convention by a record-shattering 1,300 messengers!
- The reasoning for this course of action can only be explained by a fear of man and a desire to placate men such as Dwight McKissic who had publicly threatened to leave the SBC if this issue was addressed in a manner that he deemed to be unfavorable.
- The unrelenting use from the stage of phrases such as, “The world is watching” made it absolutely clear who we were expected to please with our votes and our actions and it was not Jesus Christ
- The perverted use of numerous times of “prayer” which were not times of prayer to our God, but were instead prostituted opportunities to preach at the messengers and reiterate how they were expected to vote
As you may well know, there are a number of other things that have occurred both before and since the Convention that certainly factor in. Such as, how did we promote Russell Moore, who surely appears to be more of a political operative than a Christian, into the position he served in with the ERLC? And, where is leadership when it comes time to speak out on critical issues within (not outside of) the SBC? It seems that their lust for the favor of men and the preservation of their preferred positions have taken precedence over truth and their service to King Jesus.
We could continue on, but there is really no point. The bottom line is, the grievances we have listed all stem from the same problem and that problem is this…the SBC, organizationally, now loves the world more than it loves Jesus.
How can we, as men who will stand before God and answer to Him concerning how we cared for Jesus’ bride in His absence, encourage our congregation to affiliate with such an organization? An organization that has undeniably broken the first commandment, has been called to repentance for doing so, has repeatedly refused to repent, and has even doubled, triple,d and quadrupled down on their godless arguments and positions.
James 4:4 communicates it very matter-of-factly, saying, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
At HBC, we have read the Old Testament. We know how God feels about His people prostituting themselves out to other lovers. We, the saints of the Houston Baptist Church, prefer to seek purity in His sight and to be lovers of God only. Exclusive to Him.
Some may ask, shouldn’t you stay in and fight? That is a compelling question, but our answer is “no”. For us, the SBC ship has knowingly untied its anchor and has drifted too far from port. We are convicted to seek the preservation of the institutions that are undeniably found in Scripture, of which the SBC is not. In Scripture, we see the institutions of: the family, the church, and the civil government. We do not see the SBC, so we are free to partner together for God’s glory until we are forced to separate for the same. For us, that time is now.
We have elected to invest our limited resources contending for the faith in these areas that are of greater importance. Namely, the family and the church. Our time, our money, our thoughts, our efforts and our energies will be better spent in the coming days on the things that God has unquestionably instituted in Scripture. We will seek out smaller missions who are not so corrupted as the large SBC ship and who share our values, objectives and thoughts on practical matters.
Unfortunately, the SBC ship is now too large to stay on course. Money, power, influence and popularity have proven to be winds too strong for this massive vessel to overcome. It has been a good ride, but here is where we get off. We have boarded the life boat. We pray that the Lord will bring HBC safely to port, having been pleasing to Him along the way.
Jesus is Lord!
Jeremy Williams and Elders of the Houston Baptist Church
January 31, 2022