Last week, we gave our concerns with having Seventh Day Adventist, Dr. Ben Carson, speak at the 2015 Pastor’s Conference. We echoed the rightful concerns first articulated at Baptist Twenty-One. Thankfully, wiser heads prevailed and the Southern Baptist Convention dropped Dr. Carson from the event. This came as welcome news to most, as many shared the same concerns. However, there are those who would rather allow the waters to flow over the boundaries of doctrinal integrity, and stand in apparent unity with those who don’t share the same fundamental basic beliefs of Christianity. Enter…Perry Noble.
On April 30th, Perry Noble, Senior Pastor of a South Carolina SBC megachurch, posted an article entitled Why I Am Upset Over the SBC Uninviting Ben Carson.
I came across this article about the SBC Pastor’s Conference essentially canceling Ben Carson coming to speak at an event, and I was so shocked I actually had to read it twice.
After explaining his credentials as a card carrying Southern Baptist (even though he is well-known for not holding to orthodox or traditional Baptist beliefs and was recently and publicly scolded by the President of the South Carolina Baptist Convention for his atrocious handling of the Ten Commandments) Noble says that the SBC disinviting Carson has him “shaking his head.” Noble outlines three reasons why he thinks this was a bad decision.
Noble’s first reason he disagrees with disinviting the Seventh Day Adventist from speaking at the Southern Baptist affair is that he thinks that Southern Baptists have put too much emphasis on Dr. Carson’s theology. Noble says:
While I believe correct theology is essential to the core of Christianity itself, I do not think it should lead to division and condemnation of those who do not believe exactly as we believe. No one on the planet had better theology than Jesus, and yet we do not see Him drawing theological lines in the sand and excluding people who do not believe just like Him. In fact, we find Him often sitting with people who were nothing like Him at all. Has the Pastor’s conference moved beyond the model Jesus demonstrated?
What is Mr. Noble thinking here? Is he seriously comparing Jesus’ examples of witnessing to the lost to his own vision of unity within the visible church? Does Noble truly believe that Jesus didn’t draw theological lines in the sand, excluding people who didn’t believe like him? Yes, Jesus sat with people who were nothing like him, and it was for the sake of drawing those theological lines and calling them to repentance. Jesus did not pick twelve men of diverse theological positions to assist the church in its early development. If the SBC had any intention of treating Dr. Carson the way Jesus treated lost people, there would be no problem. But Jesus did not invite lost people or those with cultic theologies to come stand up with him on the Sermon on the Mount and deliver political speeches. Noble calls this “pharisaical arrogance,” and it is completely nonsensical.
One of the overarching reasons stated as to why Dr. Carson was disinvited had to do with his theological beliefs. There were some concerns that he seemed to be “off” in some statements he has made in the past.
I would be willing to bet my last Bible a phone call to Dr. Carson to clarify any statements about what he has said in the past was never made.
Well…not exactly. Carson did say on Easter, “Let us also remember that Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in God, and while there are ideological differences in who Jesus was, we should find peace in the fact that we are all God’s children.“ That raised a mild stink, as it rightly should have. But the reason Carson was disinvited was because he was a Seventh Day Adventist, meaning that he denies a literal hell, believes Lord’s Day worshipers have taken the Mark of the Beast, upholds certain Judaizing Ceremonial Laws, believes in an Investigative Judgment that undermines Sola Fide and whose religious heritage was started by a 19th century false prophetess who waited – twice – on top of a mountain for Jesus to come back because of the Millerite rapture prophecies (hence the Advent part of the denomination’s name). While it’s true that some were upset a preaching slot was given to a potential presidential candidate and mixture of religion and politics, the real issue is absolute heresy in the pulpit. Does Noble really want to “bet his last Bible” that Seventh Day Adventism will be cleared up by a phone call? He’d lose the bet, and sadly, he probably wouldn’t miss the Bible. Perhaps if he was betting his last pair of skinny jeans, he’d place bets more carefully.
Noble’s second reason he believes the disinviting of Dr. Carson was a mistake is that Carson should be a “hero” to Southern Baptists. Noble says…
Dr. Carson has been very public about his belief in God and was, for a time, heralded as a hero. However, the old adage “those who deify will eventually crucify” has seemingly played out right in front of our eyes as the man who once had the support of the SBC has now received a backhand.
Now, we don’t know if Mr. Noble is actually confused on the issue or if he really thinks that it is the church’s job to assist a political candidacy, but Dr. Carson is a political figure and the Southern Baptist Convention is a religious organization. While the SBC has its many problems, the decision to drop Dr. Carson as a speaker was the correct one. Using Dr. Carson’s “very public belief in God,” is not a valid reason to have him speak at our conference. The pope of Rome is very public about believing in his god. Islamic clerics are very clear about believing in their god. Mitt Romney was very clear about believing in his god(s). We would never (hopefully) agree to have them speak at our conference. It appears that for Noble, mere theism is enough to qualify one to take the pulpit at the Southern Baptist Convention.
Finally, Mr. Noble’s third point is that of racial reconciliation. This is one that we knew would hit the fan before the issue was over with, as many people saw using Dr. Carson, a black Republican, as a tool for Russell Moore’s racial reconciliation agenda. Noble says:
Racism is one of the number one issues in our country today…Dr. Carson is someone who could have spoken on the issue with authority and integrity. He could have taught the SBC in regards to what we should be doing and how we could be responding in a way that would allow us to impact people with the Gospel…Having Dr. Carson speak was a tremendous opportunity to reach a hand across the aisle, welcome someone of a different race (and even theological beliefs) and begin a conversation with him that would have been incredibly advantageous to both sides.
What authority does Dr. Carson have to speak to the issue of racial reconciliation, and just tell me how someone who believes in clearly aberrant theology is going to “teach the SBC” how to respond to racial reconcilation in a Gospel-centered way? While I’m certainly critical of Ronnie Floyd’s “Great Awakening” ecumenical efforts, Noble goes on to say…
However, I am afraid that prayer isn’t what is needed for a spiritual awakening for our nation…but rather repentance of religious people who love theology more than Jesus… which has caused them to not be able to see people as Jesus saw them.
Noble does not realize that we can’t love Jesus without correct theology. Paul’s epistle of 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” God does not approve of false doctrine, nor does he save through a false Gospel. It is imperative that the Christian church stay doctrinally pure, and united around truth. But Mr. Noble is concerned with holding hands with people and “building bridges” to make it look as though we are united around this (false) love, but in reality, this path leads to destruction. Romans 16:17 describes Mr. Noble’s stance in great clarity:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
[Contributed by Jeff Maples, along with a collaborative effort of other contributors]
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