It’s been a long time coming. In recent years, it has become obvious that liberal elites control the Southern Baptist Convention, most notably Kevin Ezell. With this hegemony secured, the SBC shifted its posture from woke to wantonly pragmatist. The fiasco of Rick Warren is the prime example of this from SBC22. In 2021, a messenger made the motion that Saddleback Church be disfellowshipped for ordaining women, in violation of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. This motion was then tasked to the Credentials Committee who would decline to take action citing an ambiguity how to define pastor.
Contrast this with the fight to audit the North American Mission Board. NAMB is arguably one of the more financially transparent Cooperative Program entities. Yet what they do report invites many questions about the motivations and effectiveness of the ministry. Thus there has been a growing movement for years helmed. At the 2022 Annual Southern Baptist Convention, the messengers fought to audit NAMB to get answers for the myriad of questions.
The platform of the convention would rule these motions out of order citing that the messengers cannot make a motion to direct an entity to take an action. This effectively means that the messengers can only elect a president and confirm a slate of trustees. This would be their only power to effect Southern Baptist entities.
So, we were just told that the messengers at the SBC annual meeting have no authority to instruct an SBC entity, thus SBC entities cannot be held directly accountable to SBC messengers. #SBC22— Randy Adams (@ERandyAdams1) June 15, 2022
Now, the platform could have triaged the motion and direct it towards the NAMB trustees, but they refused to do even that. Additionally, the messengers were told they could not challenge the platform’s ruling.
This was a final attack on the messengers, the supposed highest ranking stratum of SBC national polity as they are a representation of the local autonomous church. But the coup of their power began a long time ago, coinciding with the Great Commission Resurgence and the North American Mission Board’s quest to usurp state level autonomy.
In 2019, we saw NAMB and the SBC elites under Ezell’s thumb move to push Marcus Hayes, a woke pastor to be hired by FBC Naples. A national entity called its shot in interfering with local ecclesiastical matters.
In 2022, the Sex Abuse Task Force Report would largely attack Baptist polity (as well as legal counsel) to further the agenda of Rachael Denhollander and Russell Moore. The creation of more entities and a liability program goes against everything voluntary cooperation is supposed to stand for.
For a Baptist, the Southern Baptist Convention can no longer be known for being a “convention” as opposed to a “denomination.” The façade of the SBC constitution does not compensate for the national entities taking great ownership of state level conventions and even local churches. It does not compensate for the fact that national entity personnel, company men, make up a disproportionate amount of the voting block at an annual convention. And it certainly does not make up for the fact that the messengers have very little collective power and even less sense in how to use it wisely.
A staunch believer in Baptist polity has no home in the Southern Baptist Convention.