On April 30th, Perry Noble, pastor of SBC megachurch NewSpring Church, published a personal reflection in which he expressed his disappointment that Ben Carson will no longer be speaking at the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference. In the course of his reflection, Noble decried the existence of “theological police” who display “pharisaical arrogance”. This “vocal minority,” according to Noble, unwisely demanded that a popular politician and Seventh Day Adventist not speak at the Pastors Conference. These “theological police,” it should be noted, are the same ones who decry the type of asinine contra-biblical statements often made by Perry Noble himself. His most recent contribution to the realm of evangelical thought is loaded with them.
In his reflection, Noble wrote:
“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…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.”
Reasoning together, let’s explore some of Noble’s claims in light of four definitions from The Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology
Theologian – One who seeks to understand the doctrinal basis of a religion, ordinarily the religious that he or she espouses. A professional theologian is a person with advanced training in doctrinal studies who also teaches and writes.
Theological seminaries – Schools devoted to the study of theological subjects, particularly with the aim of preparing persons for professional ministerial service
Theology proper – Study of the Doctrine of God.
Ten Commandments, the – The most basic part of the law given by God to Israel at Mount Sinai. The Ten Commands are recorded in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5
The Claims of Perry Noble
Claim #1 – No one had a better theology that Jesus.
To be really nit-picky, no one has better theology than Jesus given that Jesus is still alive. Verb tense issues aside, this statement is true. Since Jesus is God, it is impossible for anyone to have better theology than Jesus. After all, theology proper is “the study of the doctrine of God” and Jesus is God.
Claim #2 – We do not see Jesus drawing theological lines in the sand and excluding people who believe just like him.
In Matthew 25:31-41, Jesus explains that He will literally separate people into two sides and exclude the group on the left from His kindgom. In Revelation 20:11-15, Jesus is depicted as accepting the group of people who have accepted Him as Savior into His eternal presence and casting out (excluding) the group that has not done so into eternal damnation. Scripture demonstrates Noble’s statement to be dreadfully wrong. It should not escape notice that Noble carefully phrased his statement to read “just like” Jesus. Certainly regenerate people who are misinformed about some point of doctrine will make it to Heaven. Yet, when put in the context of Seventh Day Adventism, Noble’s statement fails miserably, despite its careful wording, to stand up to biblical scrutiny. Consider Noble’s claim in the context of the SDA religion: “We do not see Jesus drawing theological lines in the sand and excluding people who believe that the angel Michael and He are the same person and that people do not suffer eternally in Hell.” It’s a ridiculous claim.
It’s true that some of the Pharisees of Jesus day were arrogant and it’s true that some did draw theological lines in the sand. However, they often drew the wrong lines. They drew their lines in theological error. Christian theologians, opining in light of both the Old and New Testaments, aren’t emulating arrogant pharisees by their very acts of demanding faithfulness to sound doctrine. It’s okay to draw a line in the sand if the line is straight and true. Accusations of legalism and a pharisaical attitude are often leveled by those, like Noble, who take frightfully aberrant theological stances. Somewhere in 1st century Palestine there was surely a pharisee who warned against theft and adultery. He wasn’t wrong for doing so just because he was a pharisee.
Claim #3 – Prayer isn’t needed for a spiritual awakening for our nation.
Again, Noble used careful phrasing here by prefacing this claim with “I’m afraid”. In other words, Perry Noble is saying, “I could be wrong but…” Yet, why would anyone think that prayer isn’t needed for a spiritual awakening? Certainly, Jesus Christ is not an American Patriot with a Chevy in his garage, 2 kids, a war medal, and an American flag affixed to his porch. Perhaps a spiritual awakening for the United States is not in God’s plan. However, such an awakening would be a good thing. To say prayer isn’t needed for a spiritual awakening seems absurd on its face. Who will awaken a people spiritually besides the Holy Spirit? How is He talked to if not through prayer?
The current SBC President, Ronnie Floyd, has strongly emphasized prayer for spiritual revival in America and has prophesied that a revival will come that transcends racial barriers. Noble’s claim, made in the context of racial reconciliation opportunities seems to be a direct affront to the powers that be at the SBC. Strangely, Ronnie Floyd isn’t known as a theological giant and is certainly not a member of the theological police force.
Claim #4 – In order to have a spiritual awakening in our nation, repentance is needed from those people who love theology more than Jesus and therefore cannot see people as Jesus saw them.
This is a theological claim. How does can anyone know how Jesus (God) sees people if not from theological study? The Bible, God’s revealed word, tells us exactly how Jesus sees and saw people. He saw people as in need of a Savior. He came and fulfilled that role. He sees people as sinners or saints, sheep and goats (as noted above) and has done so from the foundation of the world.
If not for theological study, from the Bible, no one would not know of the paramount importance of loving God. In Luke 10:27, Jesus declares that loving God is the greatest commandment given in the Old Testament. Noble is making a theological statement that decries a love of theology. The irony is tragic.
As the Apostle Peter reminds the church in 1 Peter 1:16, God’s people are to be a holy people set apart for service to their Holy God. How then should Christians view non-Christians (such as Ben Carson)? They should view them as unholy and seek to be set apart from them. This does not mean that unholy people should be avoided altogether, Paul declares as much in 1 Corinthians 5:10. The church should witness to the unholy people of this world in the hopes that they will be won to Christ. At the same time, it is by no means “unloving” to disallow lost people from speaking at pastors conferences. Lost people are not a part of the church and, not being servants of the Lord, do not have its best interest as their hearts’ desire.
What’s especially tragic about Noble’s ironic theological statement is that a theological statement was made by Perry Noble in the first place. He’s an incompetent theologian. He’s made blatantly errant theological pronouncements within recent memory. In a 2014 Christmas Eve Sermon, Perry Noble butchered the meaning of the Ten Commandments so badly that he drew an open rebuke from the President of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, Tommy Kelly. In his rebuke Kelly stated that Noble espoused “problematic positions and statements that are inconsistent with the beliefs of South Carolina Baptists.” In other words, Perry espoused “bad theology”. Open rebukes from denominational officials like Kelly are extremely rare. Noble, who preaches to thousands of congregants every Sunday, drew one. Noble could very well be the world’s worst Baptist theologian. This should come as no surprise. Noble dropped out of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary after completing approximately 40% of the required coursework. According to his own claims, Noble stopped attending seminary because what he was “learning in the classroom was not translating into (his) daily ministry.”
According the definitions cited above, a seminary is a school devoted to the study of theological subjects, particularly with the aim of preparing persons for professional ministerial service. According to the definitions cited above the Ten Commandments are the most basic part of the law given by God to Israel at Mount Sinai. Seminary dropout Perry Noble, in a Christmas sermon, when churches are at their fullest, butchered the most basic law of the Old Testament. Seminarians with advanced educations are certainly taught to translate the Ten Commandments into their ministries, but even children understand the Ten Commandments. They are basic. Noble butchered them in his role as a pastor and bible teacher. Hundreds of pastors who have never rubbed their backs against a college of any kind have managed not to misunderstand the most basic commands of God. Noble has, in front of thousands, at a church he founded himself. Why should anyone give credence to a theological statement made by Noble?
Of course Noble refused to take the credit for his Ten Commandments Sermon. Before its presentation he credited the Lord Jesus Himself for the sermon content. Who needs seminary when Jesus writes his sermons?
Clearly the direct divine revelation claimed by Noble via Twitter is false. No one has better theology than Jesus. Jesus understands the Ten Commandments. In his sermon, Noble did not.
It’s All Political
Criminals and those who seek to justify them, as in the case with the Baltimore and Ferguson riots, often blame crime on political disadvantage. In the midst of his theological crimes, Noble has himself decried the political situation in the Southern Baptist Convention. Unlike his theological insights, Noble’s political insights are spot-on. According to Noble, those pastors that give the most to SBC’s Cooperative Program are engaged in “back room politics”. In Noble’s opinion, “the SBC is willing to sell (its) soul for political advancement” as evidenced by the support that Mormon candidate Mitt Romney received from SBC churches and pastors in the last US Presidential Elections. Noble’s claims are not unfounded. In the SBC, churches and their leaders are esteemed for how much money they transfer to the convention coffers. Those who give the most are better considered for positions of convention leadership. Since Noble is the pastor of a 27,158 member strong multi-site megachurch, he hardly has to play political games in order to advance himself. He already has an empire of his own building.
A Plea to the Members of NewSpring Church
While he is correct about SBC politics, your pastor does not receive direct divine revelation from God about his sermons. If he did, they wouldn’t be so wrong. How many smaller churches do you pass on your way to the NewSpring campus you attend? In a church with 27,000+ members, even a pastor that preaches sound doctrine and rightly divides scripture can’t truly shepherd each individual member of his church. It’s very likely that your pastor doesn’t even know who you are. He can’t visit all of you when you’re sick our counsel all of you when you are distressed. Likely such activities have been delegated out to lesser compensated associate pastors so that Noble can focus on his leading and teaching. Those small churches that you pass on on the way to NewSpring likely have a pastor who can take the time to get to know you and even hold you accountable when you need it. Some of those small church pastors may have even been to seminary. It’s hard to imagine that any of them, with or without seminary training, would apply scripture worse than Noble does.
Why continue to subject yourself to Perry Noble’s teaching? It’s such bad teaching. The Apostle Paul warned that people will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. In following Perry Noble, have you done just that? Perry Noble is a dangerous perverter of God’s word. Your giving money to his megachurch makes him rich and popular. The more popular he becomes, the more false teaching he can spew and credit to Christ.
Please stop enabling him. In reality, there are no theological police from outside your local church to enforce sound doctrine. Each local Baptist church of every size is autonomous. It’s up to you to call your church to repentance or leave and take your time, talents, and treasure with you. Please don’t remain at NewSpring. NewSpring is a brand, a scheme. Just look at Perry noble. Look how he tries to dress and speak in a hip manner.
When you were growing up, did you think a pastor looked like a guy in a hoodie and denim jacket causally saying “nigga” in front of the congregation? Chances are that you didn’t. Noble and his growth strategists know this and they saw you coming. There is a reason Noble tries to look and speak differently. He wants to draw people who are disaffected by traditional church but still are spiritual. He wants you to feel like an “owner” of the church. The spiritually disaffected are a growing market in American that Noble has captured it well. However, does what he’s doing and saying seem right according to the scripture? Isn’t that what matters?
For the sake of you, your spouse, your children, and your fellow believers, leave NewSpring Church.
Know that I don’t present my opinion for sordid gain or political clout. I don’t make a dime from this blog. I just want you to have a better life in Christ. My greatest hope for you is that you find that. Don’t be Perry Noble’s sucker anymore. I beseech you, don’t fall for his tricks. Read the Bible yourself and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. You’ll see that God’s word and the Spirit’s leading won’t indicate that Perry Noble is a good Bible teacher.
Jesus loves His church. Does Perry Noble seem like a leader of Christ’s church to you? The reason Perry Noble doesn’t like the theology police is because they cost him money. When the theology police, whoever they are, write articles like this one or point out that Noble can’t so much as preach through the Ten Commandments, his giving units (aka church members) question the wisdom of remaining at NewSpring and giving their money there. If you are at NewSpring, at this point, you should be questioning your continued participation at NewSpring.
Please Pray. Please try to change that place. If it doesn’t work. Please leave.
[Contributed by Seth Dunn]
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.
 The reader should keep in mind that Seventh Day Adventism isn’t just another orthodox denomination with the same essential beliefs as Baptists. It is a heretical organization which was heavily influenced by false prophetess Ellen G. White.
 Seventh Day Adventists do not believe, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, that Jesus is a created being originally named Michael. They believe that Michael is actually the 2nd person of the Trinity by another name. Both Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the idea of eternal conscious torment in Hell. For more information on these cults, refer to the Watchman Fellowship’s Index of Cults.
 Noble makes another error in verb tense here. Jesus is not just a historical person who saw people in the past during his earthy life but a living and active God who sees people now. Almost everyone believes in a wise historical sage named Jesus. Not everyone believes that this wise historical sage was God incarnate. Noble speaks about Jesus in a way that is very palatable to those who hold Jesus in the same regard as a life coach wise man to be emulated but not worshiped as God.
 The Southern Baptist Convention was created in 1845 for the purpose of “organizing a plan for eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the whole (Baptist) denomination in one sacred effort for the propagation of the gospel.” (Brand and Hankins) This effort would require funding. Until 1925, the Southern Baptist Convention largely funded its denominational enterprises through boots-on-the-ground fundraising efforts. The representatives of these denominational enterprises would hit the road, like old-time Methodist circuit riders, and solicit individual SBC churches for financial support. “Sunday by Sunday, fund-raisers from seminaries and colleges, orphanages and hospitals, mission boards and benevolent organizations fanned out among the churches asking the faithful for help…the costs of raising the money sometimes approached 50 percent of the proceeds…churches were beleaguered by and endless stream of denominational representatives needing ‘pulpit time’ to make their appeals.” (Brand and Hankins) For example, one a representative from the Foreign Mission board might solicit funds from a church in June. In July, a representative from a seminary might solicit funds from the same church. The mission board representative, by virtue of his earlier arrival might receive more giving. Conversely, the seminary representative could receive more giving by virtue of his superior speaking ability. Such potentialities resulted in an unequal distribution of denominational giving. “The more popular, or perhaps the swifter, received a disproportionate share of the earnings.” (Brand and Hankins) In order to ensure a more even distribution of denominational giving, the Cooperative Program was created. The Cooperative Program created a central source of funding for SBC enterprises. To do so, it became a central recipient of giving. In a sense, the Cooperative Program was created to spread the wealth.
 Johnny Hunt nominated Ronnie Floyd to be SBC President in 2006, stating that he was convinced that Ronnie Floyd was “the man God raised up” for the job.” God must have disagreed with Johnny Hunt; Floyd was soundly defeated by Frank Page. As it turns out, other Southern Baptists were not as impressed with Floyd as Hunt was. At the time of his first nomination, Floyd’s church gave 0.27% of its budget to the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program (Branson). This caused the senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Mike Stone, to write, “In thousands of churches this fall, faithful pastors will face skeptical finance committees at budget preparation time. He will go out to bat to keep CP giving strong even in light of building programs and tight budgets. The last thing that warrior needs is for his finance committee chairman to…read that Southern Baptists elected a president whose church have .27 percent.” In 2014, Floyd was elected to the office of SBC president after substantially increasing his church’s Cooperative Program giving.
 It should be noted that he did accept Baptist Convention money to start his church, which he has since paid back.
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