The SBC, That Old Fence on the Edge of the Farm

I have watched with painful amazement and sadness the events occurring at the Southern Baptist Convention. Debating whether an issue is ‘major or minor’ concerning things that were written in the primary verses dealing with the subject but calling it choices of conscience. I see the debates, I see the Twitter protestations “well there are people that interpret [this or that] differently”

 

Someone, an orthodox practitioner of reformed presbyterianism noted, wisely so, at the SBC’s last conference that as the SBC goes, so goes visible Christianity in the US. There are not many in the reformed tradition that really grasp what that means, these so immersed in the certitude that “they have a solid lock” on their conference, none of the hanky-panky that those ‘shallow, confused Baptists’ allow in will affect them. It is a profound display of head-in-the-sand syndrome, for many reasons – these folks a minority of a minority are just not reading the room.

 

I was chatting with someone this morning and they said “write that” – why?  I am not an ordained pastor nor a teaching elder. I do not have the credentials and educational certificates to state that I ought to know – these that I would say this to, they are supposed to know.

 

I have written it in the past, in A Plea to Reformed Pastors, I shared it around with a few, but none wanted anything of it.  But I think there is something in the argument…


Something significant has shifted in the world. I realize our view of eschatology, and our reliance upon an unshakable faith that God has a plan and all things happen in His time shapes much of how we see the world, politics, and even history. But something has changed. The change was subtle thirty years ago and has accelerated. Preachers, teachers, and laymen owe it to others to both acknowledge this and to provide Biblical and doctrinal answers to it.


There are foundational and important questions that leaders of authentic, orthodox Christian bodies ought to be seriously considering, looking at all the trends (I avoid the usage of the term ‘signs’ because that would just throw a lot of reformed guys off the trail) – but the trends and indicators that something significant is shifting, that things are changing and the end result will not be kind to truth are all around us. I tried to argue that previously, again a subject and questions I could generate no thought about from the leaders that ought to be engaging these questions.

 


The fundamental question of our era centers on the nature of our culture going into the future relative to our past. Stated plainly how much of what we once were will we be going into the future? All other matters of political theory, sociology, and geopolitics begin from the answer to that question; if the answer to that question indicates that things fundamentally change. If the transformative change significantly alters culture, how might that affect openly practiced, authentic Christianity? It is just that important of a question. Failure to recognize the question or to frame it properly is common, particularly among those that the answers will affect the most. [1]


 

It is a shame, a travesty, that people using their own minds and emotions twist scripture in order to fit how they want to fit into the world, to be culturally relevant. And it is true, while the Southern Baptists have been decent at preaching the Gospel the denomination lacks the creeds and foundational items that point believers back to the truth of the Gospel. The ascendant culture is filled with such creeds, all standing ready to help confuse the mind of someone that reads truth but interprets lies. The Baptist always had a great strength, in the simplicity of the Gospel message, and a weakness in the structure to keep people focused on it. The organization has other problems, the SBC is not the megachurch, but parts of it are close cousins and provided a lot of material support.[2] It is a large part of visible Christianity, and they represent something significant in how Christianity is viewed by and shapes culture in America. If the SBC falls, well we can make the analogy that the very large but flimsy fence surrounding our barn has fallen.

 

What we observe, the bickering, the lying by men (and women) for the express purpose of twisting scripture just to make their idea of ‘their’ Christianity more palatable to the culture harms Christianity in general. The unbelievers and the hateful in our culture do not see the difference – they frame it all as hypocrisy. It would be better to cut off the hand and cast it out (Matt 5:30) and if those that wish to hold to truth cannot do that, better to just walk away.  But this made for television drama, men of the Book ought to know when it is time to leave. And I cannot say when that is, I am not judging those that want to fight for a reformation. Even Luther made the attempt at calling error error and asking for reformation, publicly, before being forced to choose departure. So those that fight, that are in it, know better than I do. The ultimate fault lies with those that have itchy ears. (2 Tim 4)

 

When the SBC falls, when the face of evangelical Christianity fully transforms into a culturally relevant, watered-down version of its past self, what is left? What is the next bastion? How alone and (un)afraid will authentic, orthodox Christianity find itself then? What will be acceptable Christianity when the majority of “Christians” attend rock concerts with smoke machines and gimmicks or Baptist churches that look increasingly Methodist, and evermore like the decadent culture around us?

 

Will a few holdout independent Baptist churches and a small denomination or two of reformed presbys, and a handful of Lutherans in the Midwest be allowed for long to preach the full Word? Read the room boys, and do what you can or should - perhaps not to stop it, but to prepare for it and to mitigate it.

 

These are the times that try men’s souls. Are you going to puff out your chest in self-congratulatory piety that you “kept it outta your house” all the way up until the day your walls are torn down? Read the room boys!


Update

I thought on this a little longer, and my conclusion, Shame on the SBC