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 (this is a cult people, founded upon waiting on a mountain-top for the second advent due to a false prophecy, founded upon the false prophecies of Ellen White, committing the Galatian heresy, and believing Sunday worship is the Mark of the Beast). 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 victimized 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 the 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).
[Contributed by Pulpit & Pen]
[Editor’s Note: As we discussed Jeff’s post prior to posting, we discussed the agonizing moral dilemma. In spite of the desire to help those who [may] have been subjects of racist-motivated property damage, the church of God cannot pay to rebuild temples devoted to idols (2 Corinthians 6:15). Also particularly disturbing is Luter and Ezell’s inability or unwillingness to differentiate between the true church of Jesus Christ and cults like the Seventh Day Adventists]