A group of Louisiana Baptist pastors, led by former Louisiana College executive vice president Dr. Timothy Johnson have organized a new Baptist association in response to the undue power and influence wielded by the Louisiana Baptist Convention. In an interview with the Alexandria Daily Town Talk Johnson said, “There’s too much power in the Baptist Building (LBC office in Alexandria) because there’s too much money,” Johnson said. “With the amount of money there, the power’s there with it. And that’s the problem with our state.”
The overreaching power of the Baptist Building has been well documented. After a number of attempts by Louisiana College trustees and concerned Louisiana Baptists to remedy the situation, some pastors believe they have no other recourse except to form a new association and withhold their church’s funds from the Louisiana Baptist Convention. While Johnson is not asking churches to send monies directly to the new association, it is clear that a message is being sent to Louisiana Baptist headquarters, and the message is money. However, some pastors and their churches have been trying to get the attention of the powers that be in Alexandria for some time. Last year, Cooperative Program receipts were down $900,000 from 2013.
All of this reflects a growing frustration among Louisiana Baptists regarding the current state of the LBC. A culture of centralized control exists in the Louisiana Baptist Building that is antithetical to Baptist polity. The LBC should exist to serve the churches, not vice versa. However, in practice, the current leadership of the LBC advocates a top-down model of leadership that is driving pastors and their churches to withhold funds in order to be the very best stewards of the resources with which the Lord has entrusted them.
Undoubtedly, some critics will accuse the leaders of this new association of being angry Calvinists with an ax to grind. This is nothing new; Calvinism has been used as a smokescreen (amazingly, this article is still up on the LC website) before to deflect attention away from the real problems at Louisiana College and the Louisiana Baptist Convention. However, Johnson pointed out that the core leadership of the Southern Baptist Association of Louisiana is comprised of non-Calvinists. After the association is functioning, other pastors, including Calvinists, will be invited to join, but it cannot be said that this is a group of angry Calvinists. “It’s not about being an angry man,” Johnson said. “It’s about wanting things done the right way.”
Let us pray that the brave efforts of Timothy Johnson and other like-minded pastors will be successful in shining the light of truth on the undue influence that is taking place in the LBC. Let us also pray that the Lord will use these men to effect lasting change in the LBC that will be glorifying to our great God and King.
[Contributed by Ken Fryer]
Editor’s note: There is a Facebook page for the Southern Baptist Association of Louisiana. If you would like to “like” the page, click here.