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The Liberal Drift of the Southern Baptist Conference (Half 1) • Pastor Gabe

In 2 Timothy 4:1-2, the Apostle Paul wrote to his protege Timothy, “I solemnly cost you within the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who’s to guage the residing and the useless, and by His showing and His kingdom: preach the phrase. Be prepared in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with nice persistence and instructing.”

In verses 3-4, Paul went on to say, “For the time will come when they won’t endure sound doctrine, however eager to have their ears tickled, they’ll accumulate for themselves lecturers in accordance to their very own wishes, and can flip away their ears from the reality and can flip apart to myths.”

The annual assembly of the Southern Baptist Conference was held in Anaheim, CA, final week. I used to be not capable of attend, however we despatched messengers from our church and I watched the reside feed on-line. It was evident from what I noticed and gleaned from witnesses who had been there that the SBC continues to show from sound doctrine, following the course of lecturers who tickle their ears. Many have referred to as this a liberal drift or progressivism.

The SBC is a big vessel—thought-about the biggest protestant denomination on the earth, made up of practically 15,000 autonomous baptist church buildings. Getting a ship this huge rotated will take a number of time, effort, and cash. However the conference shouldn’t be going to attempt to change path if they can’t see that they’re going the incorrect manner. What are the indicators of this liberal drift? Can the Southern Baptist Conference change course, or are they doomed to be shipwrecked?

I’m going to supply my evaluate of the annual assembly and the present state of the SBC by responding to seven questions requested by Dr. Nate Brooks, professor of Christian Counseling at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. Dr. Brooks introduced a thread of questions and solutions on Twitter to positively body the result of the Baptist Assembly for his Presbyterian associates, although many baptists cherished his thread as effectively. I’m going to provide contrasting solutions.

Brooks’ Q&A was appreciated and shared by influential Southern Baptists together with former president J.D. Greear, Ship Community President Vance Pitman, and SBC Recording Secretary Nathan Finn, along with Dwight McKissic, Daniel Darling, Grant Gaines, Josh King, Todd Benkert, Scott Coley, Jennifer Greenberg, and dozens of different professors, preachers, and parishioners.

The questions had been as follows:

  1. Did the SBC go liberal?
  2. Did the SBC elect a “woke extremist” as president?
  3. Did the SBC endorse feminine pastors?
  4. Did the SBC play abuse politics?
  5. Did the SBC endorse LGBTQ+ life?
  6. Did the SBC endorse abortion?
  7. Did the SBC annual assembly go effectively?

Brooks stated it did, and I’ll argue that it didn’t. I’ll current every of Brooks’ questions and the solutions he gave adopted by my response. The main points I’ll be giving into the present state of the Southern Baptist Conference can be a lot lengthier, so I might want to break up this evaluate into two components. For Half 1, I’ll be protecting solely the primary three questions. Then subsequent week, God prepared, I’ll current Half 2 responding to the following 4 questions. Let’s start with the primary query.

QUESTION 1: Did the SBC Go Liberal?

Dr. Brooks stated no. In fact the reply to this query isn’t any! What church denomination would ever “go liberal” after a two-day assembly? Brooks’ query comes throughout as disingenuous, as if he and everybody who agreed together with his 7-question thread have by no means really listened to the arguments made by conservatives.

Brooks argued that the Southern Baptist Conference shouldn’t be liberal: “All six of our seminaries affirm inspiration and inerrancy” of Scripture, he stated. “All 4 of our presidential candidates affirm inspiration and inerrancy, deity of Christ, biblical miracles, bodily resurrection, [and the] virgin start. These claiming we now have gone ‘liberal’ have a really totally different definition of ‘liberal’ than theological liberalism. The brand new liberalism speaks extra to how Christians have interaction with the world than anything.”

Whereas there are folks saying the Southern Baptist Conference is now liberal (I heard one say so yesterday), that’s probably not the central argument made by most conservatives. The principle concern shouldn’t be that the SBC is liberal however that it’s changing into liberal. The cost is liberal drift.

On the night of the primary day of the annual assembly, Mark Dever’s ministry 9 Marks hosted a panel that included Jonathan Leeman because the emcee, Danny Akin, Matt Chandler, Kevin Smith, and a pair others. Dr. Akin, who’s president of Southeastern Seminary, extra correctly framed the cost as liberal drift, however he dismissed the accusation as “nonsense.”

“I used to be in seminary within the early 80s the place you may hardly discover an inerrantist even on the most conservative of our seminaries,” Akin stated. “After I went to Southeastern in 1992 as a college member, the vast majority of the college, simply go down the road: no inerrancy, no exclusivity, pro-choice… all egalitarians, and will not even pray to God as Father as a result of that’s patriarchal and oppressive to ladies. So when folks start to say like at this time, ‘Nicely, there’s a drift towards liberalism,’ I’m sorry, however that’s simply nonsense. I’ve stared liberalism within the face, and it’s not what’s occurring in our seminaries at this time.”

Although Dr. Akin acknowledged the accusation of liberal drift, he responded to it as if the accusation was full-on theological liberalism. There’s a distinction between drifting liberal and being liberal. The drift is plain, however the purpose Dr. Akin can’t see it’s as a result of he’s caught in it.

Let’s again up and take into account briefly what theological liberalism is, after which I’m going to indicate you the liberal drift, even in what we noticed on show at SBC 22. First, what’s theological liberalism? In line with Gary Dorrien, as summarized by Kevin DeYoung, liberal theology might be recognized by these seven characteristics. Liberalism believes and teaches:

  1. True faith shouldn’t be primarily based on exterior authority.
  2. Christianity is a motion of social reconstruction.
  3. Christianity have to be credible and related.
  4. Reality might be identified solely by means of altering symbols and types.
  5. Theological controversy is about language, not about reality.
  6. The historic accuracies of biblical info and occasions aren’t essential, as long as we meet Jesus within the pages of Scripture.
  7. The true faith is the best way of Christ, not any explicit doctrines of Christ.

If you happen to return up and have a look at Brooks and Akin’s traits of liberalism, the few examples they cited seem to suit solely in classes one and 7. However there are greater than two crimson flags. I might argue that the Southern Baptist Conference—together with its entities, seminaries, and numerous Southern Baptist church buildings—are drifting within the path of all seven of those traits. I might write at size about this with a number of examples, however let me slim it down to 3.

FIRST: Contemplate how the SBC has embraced “a motion of social reconstruction.” What higher instance than Southern Baptists’ relationship with the social justice motion? I highlighted this problem last year with a remark made by Dhati Lewis, who stated, “The gospel shouldn’t be excellent news with out non secular redemption and restoration, however the gospel can also be not excellent news with out emotional, financial, and social restoration as effectively.” Lewis shouldn’t be some fringe voice. He was one of many presidents of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the emcee of NAMB’s round-table dialogue entitled Undivided which was distributed to Southern Baptist church buildings.

SECOND: Contemplate how the SBC believes it “have to be credible and related.” I’ve written a lot previously about what number of Southern Baptist church buildings have a long-running affair with pragmatism—the observe that if a technique works, it’s good. If doing a summer-long collection referred to as “Again to the Films” attracts a bunch of individuals with sermons which are primarily based on widespread movies, so long as you throw just a few Bible verses in there, then it have to be an excellent factor. That’s liberal, and lots of Southern Baptist church buildings are doing it. (By the best way, that is a real series occurring proper now in a Southern Baptist church.)

THIRD: Contemplate how “Theological controversy” within the SBC “is about language, not about reality.” We noticed this on show on the annual assembly in Anaheim. Debate was stirred on the ground of the conference as to what a pastor is and whether or not a girl is usually a pastor. The Credentials Committee really helpful a year-long research into the definition of a pastor. The chairperson of the committee, who was a girl, stated that pastor means various things to totally different folks. This was a transparent instance of liberal drift.

But that exact same night, Danny Akin had the audacity to say that the accusation of liberal drift is nonsense. He believes he’s “stared liberalism within the face, and it’s not what’s occurring in our seminaries at this time.” It’s occurring at Akin’s seminary, and it has come from his personal mouth. Dr. Akin has advocated for what is named standpoint epistemology, that means that the place we reside and who we’re—together with pores and skin shade, gender, and sexual orientation—affect how we interpret Scripture.

In a since-deleted video, Akin stated of himself within the third individual, “Danny Akin can not assist the truth that he involves the Bible as a white male, married, who comes from the deep south, who has rock-solid convictions and commitments in regards to the supernatural worldview, in regards to the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible, and who’s dedicated to Orthodox Christianity.” He went on to say, “I believe that I learn the Bible in a different way than say a lesbian girl of a special ethnicity who lives up within the northwest and is dedicated to a pantheistic worldview mind-set.”

As a result of Dr. Akin views biblical interpretation this manner, he hires and churns out professors who educate this manner. Dr. Elizabeth Mburu, the primary girl to earn a PhD from Akin’s seminary, has printed a guide entitled African Hermeneutics (hermeneutics are the disciplines of biblical interpretation). She says that when decoding the Bible, you should start with an African worldview, then do a theological evaluation, you then go to the biblical textual content, then do a literary evaluation.

Conrad Mbewe, Chancellor of African Christian College in Lusaka, Zambia, stated that Dr. Mburu has this completely backwards. “The girl is complicated Hermeneutics with Utility,” he stated. “You don’t start with the place you’ll apply the textual content however with the place the place the textual content is written.”

Standpoint epistemology shouldn’t be the right way to interpret the Bible. Being black or white, man or girl, North American or South American, Russian or Chinese language, homosexual or pure can not show you how to perceive the regulation, the prophets, the gospels, or what Paul wrote to Timothy. There may be one approach to interpret the Bible, and that’s to grasp what the unique writer wrote to his unique viewers—what is named a grammatical historic hermeneutic. We should search to attract the unique that means out of the textual content (exegesis), not impose our private experiences onto the textual content (eisegesis).

Southeastern shouldn’t be the one Southern Baptist seminary using these woke hermeneutics. Jarvis Williams, New Testomony professor on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote an article entitled, “Intersection of Identification and Biblical Interpretation.” Dr. Williams says that we should “rigorously research the Bible with folks from totally different races, ethnicities, social postures, and genders,” as if a instructor’s pores and skin shade has something to do with how we perceive the textual content. (For extra, I like to recommend watching Dr. Tom Buck’s message on Woke Hermeneutics.)

That is liberal drift. Now, I name it “drift” and never full-on liberalism as a result of Southern Baptist seminaries haven’t completely or confessionally adopted these liberal hermeneutics. There are nonetheless presidents and professors who would outright reject Woke Hermeneutics.

Final yr, I acquired an e-mail from a listener who’s a pupil at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He stated that he attended the category of a professor who was Woke, whose cultural views had been closely influenced by social justice and important race concept. (The coed informed me the professor’s title, however as a result of I didn’t personally witness this, I gained’t share who it was.) It was a depressing class, he stated, so he switched to a category with Stephen Wellum, and his class was far more fulfilling. So there are numerous who’re nonetheless on the precise course, however many others who aren’t.

The Southern Baptist Conference has been in liberal drift for a number of years. Did something occur on the annual assembly in Anaheim to assist appropriate the trajectory? No. The SBC is drifting additional and additional into liberalism.

QUESTION 2: Did the SBC Elect a “Woke Extremist” as President?

Dr. Brooks stated no. “We elected a small-town pastor from Texas (Bart Barber,” Brooks stated. “He ran on a platform of charity in direction of these we disagree with, supporting the sexual abuse activity power, and that the SBC might be various but unified.” Brooks went on to say, “Although I agreed extra doctrinally with a special candidate,” which I assume to be the reformed Tom Ascol, “I voted for Bart Barber as a result of ‘winsome’ is as vital as ‘reformed.’”

That’s merely an astonishing assertion. To be winsome is to be engaging or interesting in look or character. Merriam-Webster defines it, “Typically pleasing and interesting usually due to a childlike appeal or innocence.” The phrase comes from the identical root phrase as “win.” If you happen to’ve ever stated of somebody, “He has a successful smile,” or a “successful character,” that may be like calling somebody winsome.

What do you discover about this phrase? It’s utterly subjective in its utility. There isn’t any biblical requirement to be winsome. What one individual calls winsome, one other would possibly characterize as smug and conceited. Being winsome will also be an act. Winsomeness says nothing about an individual’s beliefs, ethics, or management—simply that they’re good at being likable.

Now, I’m not saying something right here about Barber’s character. He strikes me as being a pleasant man—an aw-shucks well mannered southern fellow. My competition is with Brooks’ saying that being winsome is each bit as vital as being reformed. Whereas winsome is one thing subjective, reformed is one thing goal.

If Dr. Brooks has any deep convictions about being reformed—and I assume that he does, given that he’s a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary—then he is aware of that being reformed is synonymous with being biblical. To be reformed is to admit to a selected assertion of religion summarizing biblical beliefs—in Tom Ascol’s case, his doctrine is aligned with the Second London Baptist Confession of Religion, 1689, and different linked Baptist confessions.

Now, if by “winsome,” Brooks meant one thing like 2 Timothy 2:24, that “the Lord’s servant should not be quarrelsome, however variety to all, capable of educate, affected person when wronged,” then he ought to have stated that. However he didn’t floor “winsome” in something goal. It was primarily based on how somebody feels about an individual, not on what the Bible says. Sadly, Brooks’ conduct right here was reasonably unbiblical.

He went on to say of Dr. Ascol, “The reformed candidate has declared our conference to be slipping into apostasy, vilified these supporting abuse survivors, and sought shut affiliation with those that protected abusive pastors.”

This was a personality assault. He didn’t clarify himself additional or again up his accusations with something substantive. He slandered Dr. Ascol—and so did anybody who gleefully shared Brooks’ thread in blissful settlement. How was that “winsome”? It struck me as imply for no purpose. Discuss being sore winners.

The hypocrisy right here is baffling. Brooks referred to as himself “winsomely reformed,” however this accusation was not winsome. He praised Bart Barber for operating “on a platform of charity in direction of these we disagree with,” however he didn’t present charity towards somebody he disagreed with. He stated Ascol “vilified these supporting abuse survivors,” however that accusation was itself vilifying. And Greear, Pitman, and Finn applauded this conduct? Disgrace on them. How are you going to reward Barber for being charitable and never be charitable yourselves?

(Dr. Ascol publicly reached out to Brooks asking “to indicate me the place I’ve ‘vilified those that assist abuse survivors.’” As of the publication of this text, Dr. Brooks has not replied.)

Like Brooks’ first query, his second was additionally disingenuous. Who referred to as Bart Barber a “woke extremist”? Whereas Barber may be a pleasant man and never excessive, he’s nonetheless an organization man who has stated he loves the path the Southern Baptist Conference goes. He’s a smiler, not a fighter. The SBC, its entities, and its seminaries will proceed to float into liberalism below Barber’s management. Will he do what is critical, or what Southern Baptists need him to do?

QUESTION 3: Did the SBC Endorse Feminine Pastors?

Dr. Brooks’ reply was “Sure and no.” So his reply is mainly sure. He went on to say that SBC polity or our governing constructions are a multitude. As an illustration, “Some church buildings have ladies who’re titled ‘Pastor of Music,’” he stated. “Nonetheless, they aren’t elders. Certainly, these church buildings could have just one elder—the lead pastor. So what do you do? We’re figuring that out. The difficulty is certainly one of imprecise terminology, not of liberalism. And I say that as a thoroughgoing complementarian.”

So Dr. Brooks might be that charitable towards these church buildings with ladies pastors, with whom he doesn’t doctrinally agree; however he couldn’t be charitable towards Tom Ascol, with whom he does doctrinally agree? However I digress.

Brooks’ response to this query was woefully naive at greatest. The rising situation with an rising variety of ladies pastors in Southern Baptist church buildings shouldn’t be about terminology—the problem is about perform. For a number of years now, progressives have been positioning ladies in roles of instructing authority over males, which prohibited in 1 Timothy 2:11-12. There the Holy Spirit of God has stated, “A lady should be taught in quietness, in all submission. However I don’t enable a girl to show or train authority over a person, however to stay quiet.”

The outgoing Southern Baptist president, Ed Litton, has had his spouse preach sermons to the gathered physique of believers on Sunday morning. I wrote about this forward of final yr’s annual assembly. He acquired elected anyway—due to liberal drift. Days after being elected president, Litton was exposed as being a plagiarist and a mendacity fraud. Not solely had he plagiarized sermons, however so had his spouse preached plagiarized sermons. I demonstrated that on this article.

Two years ago, forward of what was going to be annual assembly in Orlando (cancelled due to COVID panic), the keynote speaker of the pastor’s convention was a person who was not Southern Baptist who pastored a church with ladies pastors who preached to the blended physique on Sunday morning. The president of the pastor’s convention, David Uth, was going to have an ordained girl pastor come and recite poetry—on the pastor’s convention. I child you not.

One other preacher for that convention, David Hughes, is a co-pastor together with his spouse at a Southern Baptist church. In reality, the three largest Southern Baptist church buildings all have ladies pastors who preach and educate within the perform of an overseeing elder: Saddleback Church (Andy and Stacie Wooden), Fellowship Church (Ed and Lisa Younger), and Elevation Church (Steven and Holly Furtick). NAMB has been planting church buildings with ladies pastors and partnering with church buildings with ladies pastors. This is an ongoing and growing problem amongst Southern Baptists.

Ultimately yr’s annual assembly in Nashville, the Credentials Committee was requested by the messengers to research Saddleback Church for ordaining ladies pastors. Saddleback was the goal as a result of that story was recent within the information. However there are numerous very massive Southern Baptist church buildings who’ve been doing this for a very long time. These aren’t ladies who oversee childcare and are mistakenly given the title “kids’s pastor.” These are ladies with instructing authority over the lads of the church.

When the Credentials Committee stood earlier than the messengers at Anaheim and gave their report (you can watch it here), chairperson Linda Cooper stated that the target of the committee was to think about “the query of whether or not a church is presently in pleasant cooperation with the conference as described within the SBC structure, article 3.” She went on to say, “We’re a recommending physique solely. We’ve no decision-making energy. That energy lies with you, the messengers of the conference, or with the Government Committee.” Solely the messengers or the EC can determine a church ought to be expelled from cooperation with the conference.

Relating to Saddleback’s ordination of girls pastors, Cooper stated the committee interviewed senior pastor Rick Warren. “We’ve concluded that we’re not but ready to make a advice concerning Saddleback Church,” she stated, “recognizing that there are differing opinions concerning the intent of the workplace of pastor, as acknowledged within the Baptist Religion and Message 2000. Due to this fact, we’re coming at this time asking for a research committee to offer readability concerning this matter.”

Cooper went on to say, “We really feel it is vitally vital so that you can know that it’s the unanimous opinion of the credentials committee that almost all of Southern Baptists maintain to the idea that the perform of lead pastor, elder, bishop, overseer is proscribed to males as certified by Scripture and that this was the supposed definition of workplace of pastor as acknowledged in article six of the Baptist Religion and Message 2000.”

Discover the qualifier “lead pastor”—not simply the workplace of pastor, however the workplace of lead pastor. We simply heard from a girl on the platform on the SBC annual assembly in Anaheim {that a} girl is usually a pastor of a church as long as she shouldn’t be the lead pastor. She will be able to educate women and men and preach to the company physique of believers, as long as she shouldn’t be the lead pastor, and that’s what the authors of the BFM 2000 meant once they wrote, “The workplace of pastor is proscribed to males as certified by Scripture.” They meant “lead pastor.”

Moments later from the ground of the conference, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, stated that’s not what the authors meant once they wrote that within the BFM 2000. Dr. Mohler would know as a result of he was on the committee that drafted the BFM 2000.

He stated, “If we ultimately must type a research committee over each phrase in our confession of religion, then we’re doomed and we’re not a confessional folks.” He went on to say, “The phrases imply what Southern Baptists stated within the yr 2000. At the moment, the phrase ‘pastor’ was utilized by the committee and adopted by the conference as a result of we had been informed that’s the most simply understood phrase amongst Southern Baptists for pastoral instructing management. I’ve to hope we nonetheless have that a lot readability and that church buildings that use the phrase pastor imply it.”

Linda Cooper responded, “Dr. Mohler, I perceive completely. To me, I perceive what pastor means, however in a few of our Southern Baptist church buildings, ‘pastor’ is a non secular reward that’s given to many individuals.” It must be stated that’s incorrect. The Holy Spirit shouldn’t be going to reward a girl for a job that the Spirit additionally prohibits a girl from doing.

Adam Greenway, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, later introduced an modification that may basically welcome church buildings with ladies pastors, regardless of what’s stated within the Baptist Religion and Message 2000. Jimmy Scroggins, a pastor and board member for Lifeway, stated, “I’m blissful to accomplice with leaders and church buildings that see some issues in a different way than I do. I may not ever be part of their church. However I’m in favor of a extra beneficiant studying of the Baptist Religion and Message and a much bigger Baptist tent for functions of fellowship and partnership.”

The subsequent day, Rick Warren was given the chance to deal with the conference (extra on his bloviating speech at one other time, however my spouse and I reviewed it here). He stated that there was a distinction between “the reward of pastoring as reverse from the workplace of pastoring.”

The reward of pastoring as reverse of the workplace of pastoring? What on earth does that imply? So if an individual is functioning as a pastor, they’re against what the workplace entails? That’s ridiculous. As Dr. Mohler has stated, the workplace is the perform and the perform is the workplace. There isn’t any distinction between the 2. Scripture says solely males are to be overseers within the church, and ladies aren’t “to show or train authority over a person, however to stay quiet.” Interval.

Given what we noticed at SBC 22, I don’t perceive how Dr. Brooks might settle for that and nonetheless name himself “a thoroughgoing complementarian.” Did the SBC endorse feminine pastors? Brooks’ first reply was the right one: sure, they did. For the reason that conservative resurgence, has there ever been an annual assembly the place accepting ladies within the perform of pastor was expressed from the platform or from the ground of the conference because it was expressed at Anaheim?

Many Southern Baptist church buildings have been appointing ladies as pastors for some time. They now have the conference’s assist. An increasing number of biblically disobedient church buildings with ladies pastors can be welcome at future annual conferences to forged their votes on Southern Baptist life, polity, cash, positions of authority, and instructing. Do you continue to suppose there’s no liberal drift?


This concludes half 1 of my evaluate of Dr. Brooks’ Q&A. God prepared, I’ll publish half 2 subsequent week protecting his subsequent 4 questions. We are going to take into account how the SBC has performed abuse politics, has the SBC endorsed LGBTQ+ life in any manner, and what had been some the issues talked about on the conference concerning abortion. Will Southern Baptists see the issues in sufficient time to alter course and proper the ship? Or have many already “suffered shipwreck in regard to their religion” (1 Timothy 1:19)?

Whether or not you’re Southern Baptist or not, it’s as vital because it has all the time been to “preach the phrase… Reprove, rebuke, and exhort with nice persistence and instructing.” In 2 Timothy 4:5, it says, “Be sober in all issues, endure hardship, do the work of evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

My because of Tom Buck, Denny Burk, Ryan Graber, Woke Preacher TV, Capstone Report, and Founders Ministries whose chronicling of occasions contributed to components of this text.

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