Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Future of the S(JW)BC?

In a recent post just a couple of days ago, So It Starts, Southern Baptist Edition, I said that the assault on the Southern Baptist Convention was just getting started both from within and without. The latest I came across was from "moderate" SBC Voices, where the original "anti-alt-right" resolution was posted. This one is more subtle but contains that most silly beast known as the "open letter": An Open Letter to Steve Gaines Regarding Evangelism Taskforce Diversity.

Oh there is that "D" word again. Here is the gist of the "open letter" from "Voices for a New Baptist Future", a venture that seeks to increase "racial reconciliation" and representation from smaller churches. I get the second one, the SBC is obviously dominated by the big churches but I am not sure how in a democratic group you increase their representation when a pastor from a church of 5000 is going to always have more exposure than one from a church of 50. Anyway, in summary....

Great job! We  💓 evangelism! Go Great Commission! But....
We did, however, notice that only two of the people chosen to serve on this taskforce are non-Anglo. This is at a time when approximately 20% of SBC churches are majority non-Anglo and 50% of NAMB church plants are ethnic minorities. The 2015 Executive Committee report on the SBC’s progress on racial reconciliation noted the great strides that have been made, but it also called on our leaders to make an even more concerted effort to include more minorities on future convention boards and committees. This kind of broad representation is especially needed with regard to evangelism. As the complexion of America continues to darken, we must increase our effectiveness at reaching people who look different than we do.
There are other voices we feel were left out as well. The announced taskforce does not include any women. It also does not include any smaller church pastors or laypeople who are not denominational employees. We believe that Southern Baptists are at our best when we hear from a diversity of people who represent the diversity of the SBC.
With this in mind, we ask that you would broaden representation on the newly created taskforce by adding members from these other viewpoints. We commit ourselves to pray for you in this endeavor and for the work of the taskforce as it moves forward. Again, we are thankful for your leadership and trust that God will guide you in this matter.
"As the complexion of America continues to darken...."? Too much time in the sun or something? So much for content of character instead of color of skin. Also so much for race being just a social construct I guess.

The second gripe first. While the New Testament does make note of the accomplishment of women, it is also pretty clear that the leadership in the church is exclusively male. That is not simply a result of the times they lived in but is by design. Grumbling about not enough women on the task force is an obvious grumble about the lack of women in clerical leadership in the SBC in general, while I see that as one of the major strengths of the SBC. Twelve out of twelve apostles were male. All of the elders in the NT were male. So yeah the task force is rightly all male.

The second is more troubling. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not restricted by race or ethnicity (or to either gender for that matter). The open letter however seems to imply that a "darker complexion" in America can only be reached by a task force with a similar darker complexion. Are we to assume that blacks and Hispanics and Asians can only be "effectively" reached by people that look like them? Here I thought the power of God for salvation comes from the message, not the skin color of the messenger? Silly me. I guess the Gospel is like a soft drink, it is all about the marketing. I understand the being all things to all people but this is a task force for crying out loud. It is 19 men who will look at how the SBC can improve personal evangelism and report back next convention.
"[Tuesday] you voted to allow me to appoint a task force to study how Southern Baptists can be more effective in personal soul-winning (personal evangelism) and also evangelistic preaching," said Gaines, pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn. "This committee is charged with bringing a report and any recommendations to the SBC meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 12-13, 2018."
It is not like these are the only guys who are going to be evangelizing, it is a task force! As I pointed out in a prior post, the SBC is something like 85%+ White so yeah, the task force is going to be White simply by virtue of the majority of members and leaders being White. Last time I checked in the New Testament, being White was not a stumbling block to evangelism and someone who would reject the Gospel because the one preaching is a different race is someone who is clearly not elect in the first place and thus not going to believe the Gospel no matter who is preaching it.

As a side note, this is what you get from a man-centered view of salvation. It is all about the methods, the style, the marketing instead of being about the power of God to save sinners. I believe the New Testament teaches clearly that God has decreed an elect people that He will save and that not having evangelism task forces with sufficient melanin will not thwart the will of God.

The desired end-result here is clear. It is a remaking of the Southern Baptist Convention into something very different from what it is today, namely a flawed but largely orthodox denomination that takes seriously what the Bible teaches on most issues and most especially on the most pressing questions of the day where most denominations are tripping over themselves to distance themselves from Scripture: the authority of Scripture, gender roles, marriage, homosexuality, abortion. A Southern Baptist Convention that spends all of their time worrying about having X number of blacks or women on task forces instead of standing firm in the face of a hostile world with the life saving Gospel of Jesus Christ is worthless to God and a delight to Satan.

I hope that the leadership of the SBC refuses to capitulate to those who are seeking to undermine and distract the SBC from her mission. I am half tempted to join and/or plant an SBC church just so I can fight against this from within instead of crabbing about it from the outside.

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