“The first person speaking of Jesus in Jesus Calling is a tremendous blessing in my life devotionally as His promises come alive in my heart.” Johnny Hunt
There was a time when Johnny Hunt was one of the most respectable names in all of Southern Baptist life. As a defender of biblical inerrancy, Hunt was one of the leaders of the denomination’s “conservative resurgence” which solidified the Southern Baptist Convention as of the few remaining bulwarks against the theological liberalism which swept the United States during the 20th Century. Hunt served as President of the SBC from 2008-2009. He has served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock for over a quarter-century. Under his preaching ministry the church has grown by the thousands. So many people were drawn to FBCW by Hunt’s passionate biblical preaching that he once threatened to post “Go to Hell, we’re full” on the marquee if the church didn’t commit to increasing the size of its then over-crowded facility. Unfortunately, it’s hard to finish well. Over the past several years, Hunt has engaged in a number of missteps which indicate that his extensive influence in the SBC, as well as his own church, is detrimental. Most recently, Hunt has endorsed the devotional book Jesus Calling. Sarah Young, the author of this best-selling book, claims to have received direct divine revelation from Christ Himself and recorded it through a process similar to automatic writing. This revelation, which is essentially a recycling of the 2nd century heresy known as Montanism, has been sold to millions of men and women. Young writes in the voice of Jesus. Hunt has endorsed her book. If Johnny Hunt were just some pew sitter struggling with his walk, a criticism of his endorsement might be uncalled for. However, he has thousands of people who look to him for spiritual guidance. The power and responsibility of such a position brings with it a higher level of responsibility and accountability. Hunt has not exercised it well. He hasn’t been exercising it well for quite some time.
Recently, First Baptist Church Woodstock endorsed the feature film Young Messiah. The film is allegedly based on the novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by lapsed Roman Catholic author Anne Rice. A number of events in the film portrayed stories from non-canonical Gnostic gospels. Christian Apologists, some of whom attend FBCW itself, have for years defended the veracity of the four canonical gospels against charges that later, heretical, and fictitious Gnostic gospels were erroneously excluded from the biblical cannon. No bible-believing church has any business promoting such a film to an unsuspecting audience.
In 2014, FBCW Executive Pastor Jim Law claimed that Johnny Hunt commended disgraced former Liberty University Dean and known charlatan, Ergun Caner, to Brewton-Parker College. Caner, a friend and ministry partner of Hunt, was hired as that organization’s President. Later that year, Caner was invited to fill the pulpit at FBCW, despite the fact that Caner was embroiled in a lawsuit with two Christians. Caner eventually lost the lawsuit and was ordered to pay damages to the men he had sued. Caner also lost his job at Brewton-Parker amidst accusations of racism, vulgar behavior, and adulterous activity.
Along with Caner, Bishop Eddie Long, and John Hagee, Hunt invited vacationers on a “missions cruise“to Jamaica aboard a luxury Carnival cruise ship. It was surely a lucrative venture for Hunt and his megachurch friends. Long was later embroiled in a male-on-male sex scandal. Hagee is a well-known false teacher.
Under Hunt’s leadership, FBCW has expanded into a satellite campus model, which contradicts the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. It now extends into two states.
Hunt has engaged in an opportunistic “church revitalization” scheme which enables his wealthy church to snatch up the value real estate of older, declining churches.
Upon his embattled and controversial resignation from the presidency of the North American Mission Board, Hunt’s friend “Hollywood” Bob Reccord arranged for a $92,000 payment to be sent to Hunt (for his Timothy-Barnabas school). Hunt would later sign a letter vouching for the integrity of Reccord. The disgraced Reccord would later be a featured speaker at Hunt’s annual “Johnny Hunt Men’s Conference.
Despite his many missteps and baffling unwise endorsements, Hunt is essentially celebrated as a hero at his local church. His endorsement of Jesus Calling is just one more item in a long list of Hunt’s egregious errors. (He is at best only “website orthodox“.) Christians should flee First Baptist Woodstock and all things Johnny Hunt. This is a man who nominated the current SBC president and several previous ones; the danger of relying on his wisdom should not be taken lightly by Southern Baptists.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.