In light of recent unfortunate happenings in predominately black churches, the North American Mission Board, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, has set up a Church Fire Fund to help rebuild African American churches that have been burned down. Their website states:
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) has established a fund to help African-American churches that have been damaged or destroyed by fire in recent weeks. You can give now to the Church Fire Fund and play a significant role in assisting these churches in their time of need. 100% of your gift will go directly to support these churches and their rebuilding efforts.
An article in the Baptist Standard says this:
Fires at seven black churches have fueled discussions of racial hatred, as the first occurred within a week of the June 17 massacre of nine black Christians by a 21-year-old white supremacist at a Charleston church.
As investigations into the fires continue, two of the blazes have been confirmed as arson and a third has been ruled suspicious. While none have been deemed hate crimes at this point, NAMB is offering assistance.
And also quoted Fred Luter, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans as saying:
I would encourage pastors to put themselves in the place of these pastors whose buildings are destroyed, Pray for them, yes, but do all you can to contribute to this fund so we can help our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I want to be abundantly clear, racism of any form is sinful, and regardless of the beliefs of those who have been victimized, the perpetrators should be held accountable, both legally, and morally, and I believe that is biblical. However, we, as Christians, are presented with a dilemma here. While, according the the Baptist Standard, there is at least one other Southern Baptist Church that has been affected by these fires, all of these churches may not be doctrinally sound churches. We know that there is at least one Seventh Day Adventist church that these funds will be going to rebuild. The moral question here is this; should Christians be giving money to help rebuild a false church, that rejects the true Christ, and teaches a false gospel?
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. – Romans 16:17
The NAMB website does not offer a way to differentiate between the different churches that your money can go to. While I certainly believe that we should be helping anyone who is victimize by crime, I’m not quite sure that rebuilding their false church is the best way to do so. Perhaps there are other ways we could help them instead. We could start by taking them the true Gospel, inviting them into our sanctuaries, and giving them the spiritual food they need for salvation.
While I understand Fred Luter’s convictions, and desires to help victims of horrendous crimes, Mr. Luter does not seem to understand who brothers and sisters in Christ are, as he says “Pray for them, yes, but do all you can to contribute to this fund so we can help our brothers and sisters in Christ.” Yes, some of them may be brothers and sisters in Christ, but the truth is, some of them are not. Anyone who holds to Seventh Day Adventist doctrine rejects the biblical Christ, and cannot be considered a brother or sister in Christ. NAMB president, Kevin Ezzell, also refers to them as “brothers and sisters in Christ.” Paul says in Galatians 1:9,
As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
The mission of the NAMB, and the SBC, are to take the Gospel and to plant churches. Would the NAMB be so quick to rebuild mosques, Buddhist temples, or even atheist centers? What about an abortion clinic that was burnt down, would we rebuild that? No, seriously, would we? Why then would we rebuild an SDA Church? While all sin, including the victimization of unbelievers should be condemned, using the Church, the body of true believers in Christ, to rebuild enemies of Christ may not be the best solution.
My personal thoughts would be this; if you’re a true believer who sincerely desires to donate money, I would suggest donating directly to the church of your choice, rather than through the NAMB. Through the NAMB, you cannot be sure your funds are rebuilding a biblical, New Testament church rather than funding Christ’s enemies. I don’t mean to knock all that the NAMB does, as they have done great things, and planted some great churches. But we need to be discerning where we send our money–we need to be good stewards. As Christians, we should also be helping meet the basic needs of all people–food, water, clothing, shelter, the true Gospel, etc. But we should not be helping them rebuild a temple to worship their idols. I believe that this enables their sin, which is forbidden in Scripture (1 Tim 5:22), as well as makes us partakers of their sin (Revelation 18:4).
*********** UPDATE ***********
According to the original article on NAMB’s website, the claim is that this fund is available to all churches affected by this fire, regardless of denomination.
One hundred percent of donations will go to help churches—regardless of denomination—impacted by the fires.
Here is a screenshot of the original article in case the NAMB site is changed.
However, on the Annie Armstrong Facebook page, whoever is running the page is claiming that the funds are only going to help “mainstream evangelical churches,” that “might not be Southern Baptist, but are proclaiming the Gospel in their communities.” So, either, Annie Armstrong is changing its position on what constitutes a biblical church that preaches the Gospel, or the NAMB’s website is putting out misleading information. The two are sources of information are contradictory. See below: