SBC Prez Steve Gaines on Scripture: It Ain’t Enough

*Note, this is Day 5 of our series, Seven Days of Gaines.

The diligent digester of God’s Holy Word will, when taking time to lift their head from the focus on His revelation to us to view the landscape of what is the Southern Baptist Convention today, rapidly realize that the chasm between that Word and our pulpits is immense. Though the SBC has been always quaintly viewed by the moniker “people of the Book,” it’s abundantly evident even to the infrequent imbiber of the written fountain of Truth that our staunch stands of the past on such things as Biblical authority, inerrancy, and infallibility have become mere “been there done that” entries on our self-aggrandized denominational resume.

The problem is that all those hard fought, righteous battles over the priority of Scripture in our faith have come to naught. Denominational leaders in every agency and pastors in probably every pulpit will pay oral homage to the importance of the Word, but betray that claim by their pragmatic disobedience. Our claims to Scriptural orthodoxy are betrayed by our practical orthopraxy. (The correct term for this would be “heteropraxy“; behavior inconsistent with our professed beliefs.)   Our walk doesn’t match our talk.

In the SBC, belief in, reliance on, and submission to the sufficiency of Scripture is absent. (Hey, you guys in the lofty towers of the SBC kingdom? Wanna turn the denomination around? First, repent. Then, believe the Word, and behave accordingly!)

God’s latest “man for the hour” Steve Gaines, having taken the helm of the fast sinking S.S. SBC, is effectively no different with regards to Scriptural sufficiency than the previous “anointed and appointed” Ronnie Floyd. But, of course, such could’ve been expected since Gaines was nominated by yet another former SBC elitist, the flash and sizzle-centric, “it’s all about you gospel” huckster Johnny Hunt.

To be an effective leader in the SBC these days, whether at the top of the denominational pyramid or in a local pulpit far from the glitz and glamor of constant Baptist Press coverage, one has to engage in the patently unbiblical, and intentionally manipulative, maneuver of vision casting. Vision casting is about as Biblical as sprinkling the blood of a throat-slit chicken across altar affixed crucifixes while clutching prayer beads and chanting some Santeria mantra summoning the spirits. Vision casting, though less messy, is no less unscriptural.

Steve Gaines is a vision caster. He’s a big vision caster.   Not “big” as in personal girth, but big as in bulky visions. It’s in his teaching others how to vision cast that he explains his belief in the insufficiency of Scripture.

‘I want a vision big enough that if the Holy Ghost doesn’t show up, it’s gonna fall down.”  Steve Gaines

Oh yeah, Gaines apparently believes that the Holy Spirit tends to make random appearances in his life or his church, or even during a worship service. Listening to Gaines speak in such a way, it seems that the Holy Spirit is just a little bit less God than God actually is since omnipresence seems to be an issue with Him. Forget that whole “I am with you always” promise from Jesus. For Gaines, when he feels something, that’s the assurance of God’s presence, not what Christ has promised.

In teaching a group about how to be a vision caster, Gaines gives us clarity about his own belief in the sufficiency of Scripture, or his belief in the IN-sufficiency of Scripture, depending on how you look at it. If you want to skip the chase, here’s a good summary statement: For Steve Gaines, Scripture ain’t enough.

(I’ve utilized the common Southern contraction of “ain’t”, though gasp-inducing to proper English users, nevertheless is colloquially accurate in the vernacular of those from the Bible belt, from which both Gaines and I arose. LOL)

Consider this excerpt from Gaines’ vision casting lesson where he clearly asserts that reading the Bible is not the only way God speaks to you. Gaines is prone to what he refers to as “the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.”

“I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe He’s real and I believe He’s talking to us all the time. I really do. If you say the only way God can speak to you is through the Bible, you have missed it.”  Steve Gaines  (Emphasis added)

Umm … friends … believers?   No.  Just say no.

There are numerous great men of God, down through the historic halls of authentic orthodoxy that would contest both Gaines’ emphasis on the Holy Spirit and his proclamation in the insufficiency of Scripture. Here are a few such refutations.

“God wants to give you His Spirit only through His external Word.”  Martin Luther

“Scripture is the Holy Spirit’s school where everything we need to know is taught and where nothing is taught that is unneeded.”  John Calvin

“The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions.”   George Mueller

“If you wish to know God, you must know His Word. If you wish to perceive His power, you must see how He works by His Word. If you wish to know His purpose, before it comes to pass, you can only discover it by His Word.”  Charles Spurgeon

But Steve Gaines would, and does, discount the fundamental truth known by these men, one that had formerly been staunchly defended within the SBC . It’s a truth that God Himself has made rather clear in His Word. “You have exalted above all things your name and your word.” (Psalm 138:2)   But, in the Steve Gaines translation, what the Psalmist meant was “your name and your word … and whatever I think I hear you saying to me.” (Doesn’t Scripture warn about “adding or taking away?” Yeah, I think it does.)

Gaines continued giving his wanna-be vision-casting’ students a defense for going beyond God’s Word to get their vision.

“There are some things in your life that God’s gonna talk to you about that are not spelled out in Scripture. You’ve gotta learn to walk with God. You say, well, that sounds subjective. Well, sometimes it’s gonna be personal … however you want it to be.”  Steve Gaines  (Emphasis Added)

“However you want it to be” is evidently how Gaines interprets Scripture since He goes on to cite Jesus’ “my sheep hear my voice” and “let him who has ears to hear” as Biblical evidence that listening with that inner spiritual ear is necessary for the aspiring vision-caster to “hear what the Spirit is saying.” Disregard intentionally that whole Emmaus road narrative where Christ Himself didn’t give new prophecies to those dusty trail trodders, but instead illuminated the Scriptures to them, giving a glimpse of what the Holy Spirit Himself would soon be doing for believers.

Promoting nothing short of the contemplative, mystical heresy that is already rampant among Southern Baptists, Gaines prays, “Give me an ear for you. Let me be tuned in to you.”  (Somebody lemme know. Does the “Gaines Gets Tuned -In Revelation Show” come on before or after Benny Hinn?)

He follows this brief teaching of new age-ism by launching in to nothing short of a TBN-worthy “name it and claim it” technique that he calls “get a word from the Word.”   Promoting the snatching of a promise out of the Bible – regardless, it seems, of the actual intended target of said promise – Gaines acknowledges that this technique is “something that some people don’t like.” (Well, yeah, some people don’t like it, Steve, because “some people” actually know what Scripture teaches.)

The implicit error that Gaines, and others, unknowingly reveal when they promote contemplative, mystical spiritualism by disregarding Scripture is that they are assumptively claiming that they have fully plumbed the depths of truth to be yielded from the Word. Has Gaines exhausted the Holy Spirit’s ability to teach him all that is to be known from the Word? Is the Holy Spirit unable to guide 21st-century believers through His inspired Word?  Are we somehow, today, beyond the Holy Spirit’s expiration date on His inspiration of Scripture, much less it’s sufficiency?

Gaines’ emphasis on the presence of the Holy Spirit, or the speaking of the Holy Spirit, or the vision-casting power of the Holy Spirit is worrisome. It’s worrisome because it’s not Scriptural. The Holy Spirit never points the believer to the Holy Spirit.   The Holy Spirit always, always, ALWAYS points to Christ.

As John MacArthur said, “The Holy Spirit’s work is invisible; the effects are highly visible.” Couple that with MacArthur’s following words, and discerning caution must be used when it comes to Gaines:   “Show me a person obsessed with the Holy Spirit, and I’ll show you a person not filled with the Holy Spirit.”   While we are not capable of assessing Gaines’ own apprehension by the Holy Spirit, his eagerness to either abandon or augment Scripture through spurious methods ought to cause SBC’ers to lift a well-needed discerning eyebrow.

“Getting a word from God, guys … that’s the way to live.”  Steve Gaines

It’s just a shame that for Gaines, now leading the SBC, that “word from God” isn’t actually “THE” Word of God. Southern Baptists can likely brace themselves for more Word-free, undiscerned mysticism as Gaines seems decidedly poised, even eager, to disregard Scripture in pursuit of hearing from God in other ways.

We would do well to heed the words of Scripture devoted Puritan Thomas Watson:

The Spirit of God acts regularly; it works in and by the Word; and he that pretends to a new light, which is either above the Word, or contrary to it, abuses both himself and the Spirit; his light is borrowed from him who transforms himself into an angel of light.

But, when you’re at the top of the flailing flow chart of the seeker-sensitive SBC, nothing is out of bounds in the worship of the false idol of church and denominational growth … well … except for obedience to the sufficiency of Scripture, guided by the Holy Spirit … that’s out.  That is most definitely out of bounds. And for that … Steve Gaines seems to be just the man for the job.

(Gaines’ “Casting A Vision” audio lesson can be heard HERE.)

For more Pulpit & Pen analysis on Steve Gaines, please see the following articles:

[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]


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