Former President of The Southern Baptist Convention, Ronnie Floyd, invited the President of his church’s “School Of Ministry” Jeff Crawford to fill in on his blog today. Yippee.
In pure Floyd-esque style, Crawford, who is also a “teaching pastor” at Cross Church proceeded, out of the gate, to promote not only an extra-biblical, thus unbiblical, maneuver of “vision casting,” he also did it with the apparently now-required SBC abuse of Scripture
Crawford sets his premise.
“VISION is the stuff of life in a church.” Jeff Crawford
Vision is the stuff of life in a church? Really? How does “vision” get exegeted out of something like “Feed my sheep” or “Preach the Word?” There’s gotta be some Scripture to back this up, right?
Right. Well … wrong.
The Bible says that where there is no VISION the people cast off restraint (Proverbs 29:18). That means where there is no VISION, people lose focus, they get restless, and things fall apart. I believe that the local church must have a compelling vision. Pastor, God has put it on you to be the primary vision caster for your congregation. It is on you to seek the face of God and to absorb from the Holy Spirit the unique vision the Lord has for your church. I believe that kind of VISION will energize, focus, and breathe life into all you do as a pastor and your church does as a Kingdom force in this lost world. Jeff Crawford
(Umm, this guy’s a “teaching pastor?” After this prosperity-gospel-like, TBN-worthy verse plucking maneuver, what’s he doing next? Teaching Cross’ high school footballers the proper and sincere use of Philippians 4:13 to insure gridiron success for the fall season? And what’s with this NAR-esque, contemplative-heresy sounding lingo, “absorb from the Holy Spirit?” And, umm, “Unique vision?” Where does Scripture promise that? In fact, where does Scripture tell the pastor his job is to be “the primary vision caster?” How about this, buddy, just read the Word, handle it properly, and obey what it clearly says, which means you’ll need to undo what you’ve done here.)
Using an increasingly prevalent technique- one that would assuredly evoke apostolic chagrin, perhaps even, anathema – Crawford engages in purposeful Scripture plucking and twisting. (Who said Baptists don’t dance? Such verse twirling has become commonplace in SBC pulpits and executive offices far and wide.)
(Notice all those Scripture citations beside each of Crawford’s bullet points? Yeah, neither do I.)
Anyway, this twist and vision-toss technique of (mis)handling Scripture by mega-pastors and mega-pastor wannabe’s throughout the gasping-for-breath SBC will find them eagerly citing Scripture. “What does Scripture say,” though, has become a maneuver that dares not provide anything beyond a mere superficial reading of a text – particularly a partial text, as Crawford does here.
Scripture is simply culled for verses, sans proper interpretation for meaning, to simply support whatever unbiblical endeavor is the latest and greatest craze that dares hope to stem the epic blood-letting of membership from a self-inflicted wound … a wound caused by the intentional denial of Scriptural sufficiency.
That self-inflicted wound is evidenced by the way Crawford handles Scripture. The SBC increasingly doesn’t care what Scripture means, nor do they seem to care whether pew sitters know what it means. Truth be told, in a 16th century Roman Catholic sort of way, the SBC seems to prefer their pew sitters be ignorant of Scripture. It’s easier to manipulate the masses if they aren’t actually edified. (Ask your favorite pope. Oh, and go buy some heresy from LifeWay … that’ll help keep pew sitters deluded.)
The SBC simply cares just enough about Scripture to twist it into a superficial reading that becomes a church-growth, programmatic, vision-supporting mantra that will manipulate their still-remaining pew sitters to mobilize around the goals of the occupant of their pulpit. Christ’s “feed my sheep” has been improperly exegeted to become the SBC pastor’s “grow MY church.”
Crawford, like so many illicit vision casters, loves Proverbs 29:18. And, like so many of them, he throws it out as some sort of Scriptural support for a technique glaringly absent from Scripture. Oh yeah, he – like others – does this by failing to provide the complete verse.
Here’s the complete verse for your proper, contextual consideration, from multiple translations, including the “hard-core Southern Baptist” one, the HCSB.
Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law. (ESV)
Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law. (NASB)
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (KJV)
Without revelation people run wild, but one who listens to instruction will be happy. (HCSB)
This is not an exhortation to pastors, or believers, or anyone to engage in vision-seeking, vision-receiving, vision-casting, or anything remotely related to personal or collective vision. While you might find Benny Hinn or Kenneth Copeland or Beth Moore or Floyd’s IHOP buddy Mike Bickle claiming revelation from God, no orthodox, Bible-believing, “abide in my Word” disciple or pastor would ever endorse such a thing.
Prophets – real ones – didn’t populate every street corner in ancient Israel giving divine guidance to God’s chosen people. There wasn’t a prophet with a legitimate vision from God always on hand for the immediate instruction of His people.
It is, therefore, to the absence of such a legitimate revelatory instrument of God that this verse speaks. When there IS NO PROPHET giving authentic REVELATION (vision) from God, what are the people to do? They are to turn to the LAW, to God’s Written Word, for guidance, instruction, and edification. Keep THAT and God promises to bless. That message is the same for us today.
The meaning of the verse is obvious when quoted in its entirety. (Funny how that happens, huh?) Its meaning is clear. It ought to be clear to Crawford and every other SBC pastor. In the SBC, those days past when the rightful ambition for securing the authority of Scripture in our ranks was underway, Proverbs 29:18 could have served as a proof-text for the fight’s legitimacy. God has always pointed His chosen people to His Word as His authoritative, instructing, guiding standard.
No prophet? No problem. Read the Word.
In case you haven’t noticed, and despite what Ronnie Floyd’s associations seem to acknowledge, we have no real apostles today. We have no prophets. Thus, there are no new revelations. No new visions. Oh, the horror! What, then, are we to do?
We are to turn to the revelation God has given us … those 66 books the SBC claims as authoritative. His disciples are to abide in His Word. His shepherds – the legitimate ones – will be found preaching that Word. We’re not waiting on new vision. We have the Word.
Instead, in the SBC, the effective authority of Scripture is merely finding a verse to prop up one’s man-made ambitions. Scripture is authoritative only so far as verses may be plucked from it to do just that. “Scripture means…” has become irrelevant in lieu of “Scripture says …,” disregarding, intentionally, what it means. Authority of Scripture? Yeah, we quote it all the time. Proper interpretation – even when it’s easy??? Fuhgeddaboutit.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
As Crawford substantiates, we seem to have no shepherds who will rightly handle the word of truth, at least none in the hallowed, lofty halls of Armani-suited conventional SBC influence. Crawford, in fact, with his egregious mishandling of Scripture, is effectively calling on other pastors to do the same.
Hmmm. Is this why devout believers are scurrying from the sinking SS SBC, a ship that is steering full-steam ahead towards the iceberg of Scriptural insufficiency that the convention mistakenly interprets as a visionary oasis of church growth?
If, though, you read that verse from Proverbs in the negative, what causes the loss of blessing? It’s the apostasy of turning away from God’s Word. It does not say, seek vision when there is none, to be blessed. It says blessings come from obeying the Word.
Actually following the commanded message from Proverbs 29:18 could have found the SBC under the blessing of God, rather than His apparent removal of it, evidenced by epic declines in membership and annual baptisms. We have no prophets, no apostles. But we do have His revelation, in all its inspired, authoritative, sufficient fullness. The SBC should return to it.
God’s Word is sufficient. Don’t doubt it for a minute. And … please … if you come across a “pastor” who “has an appearance of godliness” but is “denying its power,” you can be sure Scripture is being avoided, denied, plucked, or twisted in this whirligig dance of SBC church growth vision-casting.
But there’s a serious warning for tinkering with Scripture, like not quoting it fully or interpreting it properly or twisting it to your own liking …
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Revelation 22:18-19
There’s no reason not to get it right … unless, of course, it just doesn’t happen to match your “vision.”
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[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]