The Gospel, According to the Southern Baptist Convention
The Gospel. The original word is “εὐαγγέλιον,” or “euaggelion,” in Greek, and literally means “good tidings,” or “good news.” The Oxford dictionary defines the word as “The teaching or revelation of Christ,” and Thayer has it as “the proclamation of the grace of God manifest and pledged in Christ.” Simply put, the Gospel is, according to Paul,
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures… (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
Jesus commissioned the Church to proclaim this Gospel to the ends of the earth. Matthew 28: 19-20 says
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
And this is historically what Baptists, specifically Southern Baptists, have been known to do. When it comes to the essentials, Baptists have been among the strictest when it comes to doctrine. When it comes to Soteriology (the doctrine of salvation), the Southern Baptists have led the way in taking this message of “Christ crucified” to the world. In the wake of great Southern Baptist evangelists such as Hyman Appelman, Mordecai Ham, and many others who were outspoken against false doctrines and preached the Gospel faithfully, the contemporary denomination just isn’t quite the same. While there have always been tares among the wheat in the Church, all throughout history, it seems as though the tares are gaining more ground, at a faster rate than ever.
After the SBC’s battle over inerrancy was won during “The Conservative Resurgence,” all seemed to be well. Clear lines had been drawn and were accepted. Yet, out of the remnants of Conservative Resurgence has emereged a melting pot of politics, religion and charity. On the SBC.net website, it states that the Southern Baptists “singular focus” is:
. . . for the purpose of eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the Baptist denomination of Christians, for the propagation of the Gospel . . .
But are some Southern Baptists proclaiming a different gospel than Paul proclaimed?
The Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, an SBC entity led by Russell Moore, is promoting the “social gospel” through efforts like “Racial Reconciliation,” and big government, ecumenical solutions to “predatory payday lending.”
SBC president, Ronnie Floyd, has taught Word of Faith elements, by endorsing Robert Morris from his pulpit and claiming to his congregation that if one doesnt’t give the first ten percent of all of his income to his Floyd’s mega-church, then he has the “curse of God on him.” Floyd has advocated for mysticism on his website, by promoting Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker and claiming:
This is one of the most motivating books on prayer that I have read in years. As a committed prayer warrior and one who has written on prayer as well as prayer and fasting, I was ministered to greatly.
Southern Baptist heroine Beth Moore runs around with well-known false teachers such as Joyce Meyer and Christine Caine. Moore has claimed that God gave her a vision of the Church uniting interdenominationally. This vision even included members of the Roman Catholic church. She says:
I am a very visual person…so He speaks to me very often of putting a picture in my head. And it was as if I was raised up looking down on a community, as I saw the church in that particular dimension, certainly not all dimensions, not even in many, but…the church, as Jesus sees it, in a particular dimension.
So what Gospel is being proclaimed?
Ronnie Floyd’s mission statement for the SBC gives a hint. On his blog, regarding the 2015 Annual meeting, and his goal for the Southern Baptist Convention, he states:
. . . we are committing the entire Tuesday evening session of the annual meeting of our Southern Baptist Convention to come together in clear agreement and visible union at one place at one time with God’s people. We will unite in extraordinary prayer for spiritual revival personally, spiritual revival in the church, for the next Great Awakening, and for the world to be reached for Christ.
In fact, Floyd has repeated this sentiment on numerous occasions, through his blog, social media, and speaking events. Willy Rice, president of the 2015 Pastor’s Conference, is completely on board with Floyd’s vision. Of Rice’s recent decision to dis-invite proclaimed politician, and Seventh Day Adventist, Ben Carson as a speaker at the convention he writes:
I have watched over the last year as our Southern Baptist President, Dr. Ronnie Floyd has worked as tirelessly as any person I have ever seen to call our convention to clear agreement, visible unity and extraordinary prayer. Clear agreement. Visible unity. He has worked too hard and too much is at stake for us to be sidetracked from that worthy call.
It’s becoming very clear that part of the SBC’s “gospel” message is now “unity.” In fact, it’s “visible unity,” and “clear agreement.” While many in SBC leadership recognized that Dr. Carson’s theology is drastically different from biblical theology, and that having Dr. Carson speak at the event could portray an image of endorsing a political candidate, this didn’t become a problem with them until discerning bloggers encroached upon their gospel of unity. Rice goes on to say:
While I don’t agree with those who have voiced their opposition to this invitation, I have heard and respect their concerns . . . for the sake of unity . . .
So as you one can see, Rice, as a representative of the Southern Baptist Convention, was more than willing to tear down the theological divides between the SBC and the SDA cult, as long as both were in “visible union” on social and political issues.
So, what is “visible union” anyways? I suppose this could be in contrast to “true union?” In other words, perhaps “visible union” is only “the appearance of” being united, regardless of whether we truly are or not. As long as we can lead the world to believe that we are united, we have accomplished something. This idea is evident in all the backlash against those who are speaking out against this false gospel. There was, of course, Joni Hannigan of the Christian examiner who slammed “those meddling bloggers” for “bullying” Willy Rice into caving. Maxie Miller, a Southern Baptist preacher also more concerned with the image of “visible unity” says:
It just troubles me that we are allowing this to make us look worse than if he had stood and misspoken
Even Perry Noble came out guns-a-blazing about the opportunity for unity being lost. Noble says:
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.
But perhaps the most visible, yet most duplicitous agent of this new gospel of unity is the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission. Headed by Russell Moore, the ERLC has led the charge in advancing unity more than any other entity within the SBC. Moore has been quick to unite with other members of the visible church in order to advance something he has on his plate. He has partnered with the Church of Rome on several occasions to promote traditional marriage, and anti-abortion laws. While these may be good things to stand up for, Christians must not compromise the Gospel in doing so. Christians must stand up against the atrocities of abortion, or protect the sanctity of marriage by taking the Word of God to the lost, condemning all sin, and proclaiming the good news of the cross to everyone. Nothing in the Bible indicates that being united in error is not what Christ wants for His church. When it comes down to it, being united on false premises is not being united at all. .
There tends to be a great amount of resentment towards believers who are quick to rebuke other Christians who are in sin, or even false believers who are masquerading as Christians. The argument is that it distracts from the love of Jesus, but love is not the only quality of Jesus. Jesus came to bring along with a sword (Matthew 10:34). Jesus did not come to tell everyone that they could believe what they want to believe, worship whatever idols they want to worship, and seek whatever God they want to seek, The Bible actually teaches against being united around error (Romans 16:17). This is a false unity. Biblical Christians must be united in truth. Christians should not forsake orthodoxy for ecumenism.
. . . until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. — Eph 4:13-16
[Contributed by Pulpit & Pen]