Just when you think there might be a glimmer of hope in the SBC, just when we are finally nearing the end of Ronnie Floyd’s doctrinally-undiscerning domain of its presidency, the Baptist Press reports the news that multi-site, mega-church, Reformed charismatic pastor, J.D. Greear, will be seeking the helm of the convention.
The announcement (Baptist Press article is HERE) made by Jimmy Scroggins, Pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, FL, included these remarks …
“Believing J.D. Greear is God’s man for the hour who models in his church the best of what a Southern Baptist pastor is all about,” Scroggins wrote, “I eagerly look forward to placing his name in nomination.”
The phrase “God’s man for the hour” sure sounds spiritual, doesn’t it? It reeks of authority, certainty, and, no doubt, is meant to convey to the average pew-sitting Southern Baptist that a special anointing has occurred and the man upon whom it rests is being presented to the denomination fully bedecked in his many lauded attributes, the abundance of dollars he has produced for the Convention, and his unique vision for leadership. (Hmm, gotta wonder if Ronnie Floyd got one of his NAR apostle pals to perform said “anointing”.)
Read the Baptist Press article. Indeed, you’ll find Greear seems to be “God’s man for the hour” if you consider that he built a massive, multi-site, mega-church in little more than a decade; he produced incredible bounty for the coffers of the Cooperative Program; he has led with a clear vision of multi-ethnic inclusion (“The SBC would officially like to apologize for racism, for the 900th time … this year. Yes, we know it’s only March. Thank you.”); and, of course, Greear is fully committed (fortunately) to missions about which he states “missions is more effective when done in cooperation with like-minded churches…” (Which, unfortunately, smells like more unbridled ecumenism.)
Folks, methinks we have an anointing.
There are worthy things to laud about Greear, certainly.
(For a really good review of both sides of the Greear coin, please read “JD Greear – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” by RC on Pulpit and Pen.)
That he is theologically reformed is a plus. It’s refreshing to see some doctrinal substance come to leadership positions in the Convention, such as with David Platt at the IMB, another of the reformed flavor.
Greear’s book Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart is a useful resource. It should have been one that was a soteriological slap in the face rebuke to the abundant aisle-walking, hand-raising, repeat-this-prayer pastors that litter our denomination and mislead the naive all in order to add another tick mark on their annual baptisms report. It seems, however, his book did not achieve that effect.
For Greear to be theologically astute on soteriology, it’s surprising then that he was the guy who nominated confetti-cannon Floyd for a second term. You could almost change Ronnie’s last name to “Finney” and not raise an eyebrow. Why would a reformed guy support such a thing? What’s happening here? Some sort of “scratch my back” deal going on?
Back to the Baptist Press quote from Scroggins, you find this curious comment about Greear … “the best of what a Southern Baptist pastor is all about“.
What’s this mean? Does it imply that, yet again, the leadership of our convention is being doled out as a reward for the ultra-mega-superstar pastor like whom other less worthy, wanna-be parsons yearn to become? While it’s refreshing to see a new generation come forward, are we just going to take away the Armani suit to replace it with a hip, trendy rock star preacher type in order to pound the pavement groveling for more CP bucks from the all-important millennial crowd?
As a pew-sitting, Bible reading (oops, is it okay to say that, or do it, in the SBC anymore?) believer, I could care less that he’s “what a Southern Baptist pastor is all about”. Frankly, I’m pretty suspicious about these mega-factories of faith.
The Convention is not only about pastors… is it? (Apparently it IS about pastors; now, sit back down in your pew, please.) Is this merely a good-ole-boy fraternity of the appropriately pedigreed pulpit supply types in a mutual admiration glee club? (It is.)
What’s infinitely more important to me about Greear is his answer to this question:
“Will he lead by the Word in His hands instead of the words in his head”?
With Greear, this may not be the case, considering his affinity for the false teaching of contemplative prayer. He is reformed, to be sure, but he’s also charismatic and was quoted in The Christian Post (HERE) as describing his congregation as “charismatics with a seatbelt”. (Lord willing, a forthcoming article will address this concern).
I’m far more interested in leadership that obeys what the New Testament teaches about the focus of the church … edifying believers, not exalting pastors and obeying the Great Commission, not coddling culture.
Greear was quick to respond to the announcement of his impending nomination with a four-point statement “Why I’m Running For President of The Southern Baptist Convention”.
Whoa, there fella! Scroggin said you were “God’s man of the hour” (which I think is always and only Jesus, but that’s another matter) … he surely implied that you were anointed for this job. But … you’re actually campaigning for it? I’m confused. Are you anointed or are you working on a resume?
In his campaign platform, Greear highlights four ambitions …
“1. To continue and deepen our focus on gospel-centeredness in both theology and mission
2. To engage our culture with both grace and truth
3. To call for a new era of engagement in the agencies and boards of the SBC.
4. To platform and equip non-Anglo pastors and members”
1. Okay. “Gospel-centeredness” will, of course, necessitate re-training many in the church about what the Gospel actually is, who our God actually is, and what faith actually is. Think “Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart” and how to “de-program” from that abhorrent theology. Yes, theology would be really, really nice in the SBC. We haven’t done that sort of thing in a long time. Actually teaching doctrine to believers? Novel concept. I heartily agree with it.
2. Hmmm. “Engage our culture“. This is why we’re in the current mess we’re in, isn’t it? How about this… let’s not engage the culture but rely on point #1 above to actually edify believers; let’s emphasize the Gospel proclaimed by the believer in their everyday life out there in culture, and let JESUS build His church as He promised to do.
(FYI – I found this formula in the New Testament and it’s pretty cool …
We share the Gospel + the Holy Spirit convicts/regenerates sinners = Jesus Builds His Church)
Quit making pew sitters believe they are fulfilling the Great Commission by merely dropping a buck in offering plates during Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong seasons. Let’s actually teach them the Gospel and then teach them how to share it. (Who knows? Some of them might even get saved along the way. Lord knows, an SBC congregation is probably the greatest mission field on the planet!)
Let’s not make church hip, trendy, and appealing cuz that just creates “ask Jesus into your heart” confusion, corrupts the church with culture, and destroys our Gospel presentation to a dying world.
Culture does not understand grace (neither do most Southern Baptists, regrettably) and culture does not care about truth. We are not going to wrestle control of culture from the one who currently has it. (The “prince of the power of the air” … remember him?)
Drop the social gospel nonsense (in our pulpits, too, please) and let’s edify every Southern Baptist with the ability to share the real Gospel every day in the trenches of culture.
Instead of engaging culture – to steal a metaphor from current American politics – let’s build a wall around the church to keep culture out. Let’s really be “in the world, not of it”. Let us proclaim the Gospel of Christ to the culture and let us warn culture to “repent and believe” (I got that last part from the New Testament, too, FYI.) But let’s keep culture out of the church … oh, and let’s get rid of the overwhelming worldliness that’s already in it. (There’s a category on EBay, I think, to sell fog machines and Hollywood theatric equipment … just saying’.)
3. “A new era of engagement in the agencies and boards“? Oh brother. More engagement, really? Most agencies and boards of the SBC need to go away. We should establish a unified, single Missions board (merge NAMB & IMB); we ought to reconstitute Broadman Press with doctrinally-sound oversight to produce intra-denominational resources exclusively, and, at the same time, sell or shutter LifeWay; close and, instead of apologizing yet again for slavery, apologize for ever creating the ERLC. (No doubt Russell Moore can get a job with another Democrat in D.C.)
4. “…platform and equip non-Anglo pastors and members...” WHAT?
(Dear reader … please insert here the imaginary sound of tires squealing ….
( I can envision a news release now; “SBC President JD Greear, ERLC President Russell Moore, Along with Outreach Partner Rev. Al Sharpton, Join the SBC Board of Cultural Approval In Announcing The End of White Privilege in The SBC”.)
If you read Greear’s article on why he’s “running” for this job, you’ll note that it only took him 3 paragraphs … THREE … to …. APOLOGIZE … FOR … SLAVERY. Now, J.D., sir, this is exactly what you get when you’ve done what you want to do in your platform point # 2.
When you engage culture as the SBC does, you know what happens? Culture demands you respond to it. Then, in order to keep culture happy, and to keep making ourselves appealing to that culture, what do we do? We respond with whatever culture wants. In this case, culture demands an apology for slavery. So they get, from a culture coddling convention, an(other) apology.
Here’s a truth: when you submit to the bully of culture once, it doesn’t satiate the bully. He comes back. So to imply that having more “non-Anglo” pastors and members in the convention is what we need, and must work to achieve, is to bow to the bully of culture. But that will not stop the bully. There’s always another cultural bully waiting in the wings.
(I’m thinking the LGBTQ-ee-ii-ee-ii-oh crowd who try to make homosexuality a “civil rights” issue; it is not. How long before we ponder toning down our rhetoric on that, Rev. Greear? The ERLC is perhaps already paving the way by having homosexual-tolerance proclaiming Andy Stanley speak at an upcoming event.)
HOWEVER, when you engage the culture with a clear, though divisive, presentation of the Gospel – the authentic Gospel and not this oft-proclaimed “social Gospel” – you know what happens? Culture can’t make any demands. The Gospel makes all the demands. It’s not my fault if the Gospel isn’t appealing to culture — it’s God’s fault. But then, who do you want to comprise the church – mere members or authentic disciples?
Take it up with Him if you wish, but coddling culture isn’t God told us to be about. We’re to be about point # 1 – GOSPEL focus, GOSPEL proclamation, and GOSPEL obedience. It is the universal corrective Truth ALL the world needs to hear.
By the way, if we would quit engineering the church to culture’s liking, and focus instead on an incessant Gospel presentation to the world, an amazing thing would (it’s promised in Scripture) happen. Jesus will build His church. And it is a church of every color and every nation and every tribe and every tongue. It is His Work that is perfect. We need to quit tinkering outside our job requirements and get back to the divine job we’ve been given.
Greear closes his article with these sentiments:
“I’m thrilled at the prospects of what God might do in this denomination going forward. I am grateful for the incredible, effective two years Pastor Ronnie Floyd has given us. I nominated him for his second term last year, and I think everyone agrees he has exceeded expectations in every way. Thank you, Pastor Ronnie. We stand in your debt.”
If anything, Greear seems willing to backslap in order for a reciprocal backslap, one might suppose. To laud Floyd as exceeding expectations is right if your expectations were not to be obedient to Scripture; hand holding with false teaching; not to shun wide open heresy in our midst; or, not to disregard the importance of culture in the church.
But then Greear doesn’t seem to be holding firm against false teachers either … as he said when inviting one to his church, “I’m really excited because my friend Pastor Steven Furtick will be joining us.” (Source: HERE) If you’re gonna get excited over heretic friends preaching in your pulpit, I guess there’s not much problem with backslapping Floyd for a job well done.
It’s just part of the dues in SBC presidency club, evidently.
You’d probably do it too … if you were anointed.
(Brethren, please continue to pray for that “awakening” … you know … the one we need in the SBC. God bless!)
[Post by Bud Ahlheim]