Every year, right before the SBC Annual Meeting, a two day Pastors’ Conference is held with various Southern Baptist preachers speaking at the event. This year, the 2015 conference will be held June 14th and 15th in Toledo Ohio, and will be immediately followed by the SBC Annual meeting on the 16th and 17th. The purpose of the event is to teach and encourage other preachers and pastors. Dr. Willy Rice of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, FL, and president of the 2015 Conference, writes on the website:
We have assembled a stellar lineup of leaders and speakers whom God is using and blessing. There will be passionate worship, great music, and inspiring stories. This will be the very time you need to refresh your soul and renew your walk with God and friendship with fellow leaders. I believe this is going to be a special convention and our Pastor’s Conference is going to set the stage for a true work of God.
We shall see.
The Great Awakening
As with every event in the SBC, the Pastors’ Conference, historically speaking, isn’t without it’s problems. It appears it will be no different this year. The first problem of the 2015 conference is it’s theme. It is officially being promoted as the Great Awakening. This appears to be a theme based on the convention’s president, Dr. Ronnie Floyd’s ebook, “PLEADING WITH SOUTHERN BAPTISTS To Humbly Come Together Before God in Clear Agreement,Visible Union, and in Extraordinary Prayer for the Next Great Awakening and for the World to Be Reached for Christ.” Take a look at the logo from the Conference’s website. The logo states that the theme will be “Clear Agreement,” “Visible Union,” and “Extraordinary Prayer.” Let’s dissect what exactly this New Age, ecumenical and contemplative sounding language means. On page 1 of Floyd’s book, he writes:
For the sake of our nation and the spiritually lost around the world, it is time to humble ourselves before God. For this, I plead with all Southern Baptist pastors, missionaries, laypersons, denominational leaders, churches, denominational entities, conventions, colleges and universities; from student to adult, regardless of age, vocation, or status.
As we come to God in humility and repentance, entering into this special season of extraordinary prayer, we plead with God for spiritual revival personally, revival in the church, and the next Great Awakening in the United States.
First of all, “The Great Awakening” is an idea that has been pushed by New Agers and the mystic religions for ages. Ashok Gangadean, professor of philosophy at Haverford College, founder of the Logos Institute, and co-convener of the World Commission on Global Consciousness and Spirituality, and well known New Age proponent states:
Perhaps the single most powerful event facing humanity today is a great awakening on a planetary scale that has been millennia in the making. We humans are in the midst of a profound advance as a species to a higher form of global consciousness that has been emerging across cultures, religions and worldviews through the centuries. This awakening of global consciousness is nothing less than a shift, a maturation, from more egocentric patterns of life to a higher form of integral and dialogic patterns of life. [Emphasis mine]
So how does this relate the visible Church? Well, the ideas are the same. In effect, what Floyd is saying in his ebook, is that we need to tear down our denominational walls, doctrinal boundaries, and biblical divisions. Well known ecumenical Southern Baptist “pastor,” and keynote speaker at the 2014 conference, Rick Warren prophesies “A great spirit awakening is on the horizon.” Warren vaguely defines the “Great Awakening” as it relates to the Church.
In the last three years, I’ve told you this several times: I believe God is preparing the church for another reformation. The first reformation focused on what the church believed; this one will focus on what it does.
For too long we’ve separated the Word of God from the work of God. As the church, we’re called to be the body of Christ – the whole body.
It isn’t exactly clear where how he received this revelation, but we can be sure that it didn’t come from God. His prophecy basically outlines five man centered steps to “renew” the Church, water down doctrinal and denominational lines (including those of Roman Catholicism) and join together and unite under this new form of Emergent Christianity. The Emerging Church can be summed up by a few characteristics, including: tearing down down doctrinal divisions, a greater emphasis on sensory worship using candles, icons, images, incenses, etc. to bring about a feeling of “experiencing God,” and a reexamination of Scripture and the purpose of the Church in society. A lot of what we see in these Emerging churches are the acceptance of mystic practices such as Yoga and contemplative prayer, and a deterioration of a clear presentation of the true Gospel as portrayed in Scripture. There becomes less of an emphasis on God’s truth, and a greater emphasis on man’s feelings. In a sense, it’s idolatry disguised as Christianity.
The next idea in the 2015 conference’s motto is “Clear Agreement.” But Floyd never really defines in his book exactly how he wants us to come to this “clear agreement.” He only states “Surely we can embrace with clear agreement that spiritual revival personally, spiritual revival in the church, and spiritual awakening in the nation are all needed so we can accelerate our pace in reaching the world for Christ.” Does he mean for us to set aside Biblical doctrine, hold hands, and unite in the name of Jesus for a man centered means of a better world? I don’t know, but based on his history, he has already set aside Biblical doctrine for man-made theology.
President of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, and prominent speaker at this event, Dr. Russell Moore has demonstrated this time and time again. In December of 2013, Moore sent out a tweet praising the pope of Rome for being named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. He has also openly praised Democratic, pro-life congressman Gene Taylor, calling him “the greatest public servant I’ve ever known.” Really? Moore, along with Rick Warren, recently visited the Vatican, setting aside the Gospel, to hold hands with unbelieving Catholics in the name of uniting on the issue of marriage. Being salt and light, by taking them the Gospel is one thing, but rejecting the Gospel in order to have fellowship, is completely different thing. The Bible tells us that we are not to have fellowship with unbelievers (2nd Cor. 6:14), nor are we to have anything to do with the unfruitful works of darkness, rather expose them (Eph. 5:11).
So is this what Floyd, and the SBC want us to “clearly agree” on? This leads us to the next point in the motto, “Visible Union.”
So Floyd is pleading for the visible Church to “unite” in these ideas, visibly. In other words, he wants the world to see what he thinks is the Church standing together regardless of important differences. It seems that Floyd, and many others in the SBC are already doing this. Take for example Lifeway Christian Stores. Recently, Lifeway’s Research Committe President, Ed Stetzer was confronted about heretical books being peddled in the store. Instead of addressing the issue, Stetzer, and his companions first chose to ignore their critics. But when pressure started to build, they began to marginalize the critics by saying that there were only a few of the same “angry Calvinists,” are always complaining. After this comment sparked an uproar against Stetzer and Lifeway’s Gospel compromising practices, they began attacking the critics, however, still not addressing the issue. The point is that these types of pastors dominate the SBC, and they all think alike. Ronnie Floyd, Russell Moore, Ed Stetzer, Rick Warren…they all are willing to compromise the Gospel in some way in order to avoid offending other religions, and stand united in the name of man centered ideologies.
The Bible warns us of these unholy alliances, and predicts that these unions will happen more and more in the end times.
1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1st Timothy 4:1-5)
Notice verse 3 above, and what Ronnie Floyd is asking the Church to publicly do on page 10 of his ebook. He is asking the pastors to lead their churches in a “corporate fast.” I’m not aware of anywhere in Scripture that the church is called to fast corporately. This is a practice of the Roman Catholic church, and is actually condemned in Scripture. Fasting is something that should not be taken lightly by any means, and should never be done to draw attention under any circumstances. (Matthew 6:16)
The last point in the motto is “Extraordinary Prayer.” He doesn’t give a real description of what exactly he means by “Extraordinary Prayer,” however, he does have this to say about it:
Challenge your church to pause at either sunset on Saturday evening or sunrise on Sunday morning, to pray for three minutes for the anointing of God to come on their pastor as he preaches God’s Word and the anointing of God’s power to come upon the worship services of their church. Prayerfully, these 180 seconds of focused prayer will soon begin a true 180-degree change in our churches. While God creates the change within our churches spiritually, He will also lead us to strategic change in our churches in order to rise up like never before to do whatever it takes to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Who’s church gathers at sunset on Saturday evening? I don’t know many Protestant churches that do, but I know one well known apostate church that does. Does Floyd want believers to unite with unbelieving Roman Catholics in prayer? It appears that Floyd believes that by all of these churches, with their congregations, all at the same time, for exactly 3 minutes, petitioning God to do something, is going to make a difference. Now, I am certainly a proponent of prayer, both private and corporate, but it appears Dr. Floyd has a misunderstanding of the purpose of prayer. Prayer is not a petition for a man centered desire, but a means to have a relationship with God on His terms. First and foremost, we must be praying for God’s will to be done, and I’ve yet to see Floyd, or the SBC defend their agenda with Scripture.
Sure, there may be some positive aspects to this, but as a whole, it doesn’t appear that they are appealing to the will of God for their purposes. I agree with them that we should be praying for a revival in the Church, but it appears the revival that they want is un-scriptural. They want us to set aside good doctrine, and take a watered down message to the world. Rather than addressing the issues of man’s sinfulness and need for repentance and a Savior, they want to take the message of pro-life and traditional marriage, and stand in unity with unbelievers proclaiming these good works as a means to a better world. There will, however, be a few excellent preachers at this conference. Namely, Clint Pressley and David Platt. Both of them are great men of integrity, and excellent expositors of the Word of God. Lets pray that the good, humble, believing pastors like these can have a positive impact on the SBC. However, the Bible predicts that the visible Church in the end times will turn away from the truth, and start following doctrines of demons. It looks like the SBC is falling away at a faster pace, and (God willing, unknowingly) helping to build the harlot church described in Revelation 17.
It also looks like God’s plan is completely different than the plan put forth by the SBC 2015 conference. God’s plan never calls for a “Spiritual Awakening” in the end times, on the contrary, it says this will happen:
1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. [2nd Thes. 2:1-12]
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