In a move that should surprise no one paying attention, the Elites of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) dismissed any critic accusing the convention of leftward drift as being “disingenuous” and “historically ignorant,” saying they’re not going to let small churches with 15 members influence what they do, during a June 9th virtual panel hosted by Baptist 21.
The panel, comprised of Ronnie Floyd, Danny Akin, Dhati Lewis, Kevin Smith, Albert Mohler, and Jason Allen and was hosted by Nathan Akin, was wide-ranging in scope, but we wanted to narrow in on one exchange which we found telling. In the context of whether or not there is a liberal drift in the SBC, Albert Mohler categorically denies it exists, pointing to the steadfastness and theological soundness of the most prominent SBC pastors and leaders as proof there is no downgrade or drift occurring. Shortly after Mohler speaks, Kevin Smith, Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Deleware, piggyback on his thoughts, saying:
I think it’s disingenuous or historically ignorant to accuse the southern Baptist convention of liberalism. If you look at our…I just signed a document with about 55 men…entity heads, 40 state execs, the theological fidelity of those individuals…if you look, as Dr. Mohler said, at our leading churches that are baptizing new believers and growing in the ministry work that they do, and right here we have 1-2-3, we have three seminary presidents on this call. If you look at the fidelity of the faculty with which they are charged to maintain, I think it’s either historically inaccurate or just disingenuous to even lift that claim.
And you’re certainly ignorant of what was going on in the 80s, in the 70s, and the 60s in the Southern Baptist Convention, where people were writing sermons, people were writing books, people were denying essential doctrines of orthodoxy, and so I just think it’s a disingenuous charge, and I think the leaders of our entities, the pastors of our congregations, and certainly the faculty of our seminaries reflect biblical orthodoxy, they reflect biblical commitment to the Baptist Faith and Message and I’m most irritated because half the time that change comes from people who are not Southern Baptist and I wish Southern Baptists would stop letting a few independent Baptists with 15 members who pastor their wife and their sister-in-law stop letting those kinds of people influence what we do.
It’s this sort of rank elitism that we see time and time again from SBC leaders that shows the problem and demonstrates that they are not thinking clearly about the progressivism parading through the convention.
- Kevin Smith declares it crazy or ignorant to suggest that there is a leftward drift in the SBC at the present time by pointing out how bad it was in the 70s and 80s and comparing it to how it is now. His argument doesn’t make sense, however, considering that for the SBC to have gotten that liberal in the 70s and 80s, it had to start somewhere. What was happening in the 50s and 60s that led toward the dark times of the 70s and 80s? The fact that it was bad it the 80s meant it was getting bad for years prior to that, and that for years or decades the SBC was making compromise after compromise, drifting progressively worse and worse until the firm foundation of theological orthodoxy was nearly completely eroded. Not one of us are saying that drift began in the 80s, but instead that it began in the 60s and 70s or earlier. Leftward drift has to start somewhere, and we are now currently well on our way, not just at the beginning.
- Smith says, “I think the leaders of our entities, the pastors of our congregations, and certainly the faculties of our seminaries reflect biblical orthodoxy, they reflect biblical commitment to the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM).” If that were true, then why do 10% of the largest SBC churches in America have women pastors on staff, in direct violation of the Baptist Faith and Message?” Several days ago J.D. Greear said to “mark and avoid” violators of the BFM. Why isn’t this being done? How many churches in Smith’s convention have pastrixes on staff? Isn’t the fact that 10% of the largest SBC Churches have women “pastors” in contravention to the BFM and operating with impunity proof that the SBC is drifting into liberalism once again?
- Smith says, “I’m most irritated because half the time that change comes from people who are not Southern Baptist and I wish Southern Baptists would stop letting a few Independent Baptists with 15 members who pastor their wife and their sister-in-law stop letting those kinds of people influence what we do.”
The people raising the issue with Resolution 9, critical race theory within the SBC, and leftward drift are not coming from other denominations. You don’t see non-denominational charismatics taking shots at the SBC for Resolution 9. You don’t see Calvary Chapel, United Methodists or small IFB Churches haranguing the SBC for their discussion on critical race theory. You don’t see Church of God in Christ or the Assemblies of God taking potshots at SBC professors for their views on intersectionality. Not at all. rather, these arguments and concerns are coming from inside their own denomination!
And yet the panel of leadership nod their heads throughout the whole presentation, snobbishly nodding in approval and then laughing as they dismiss their critics as comprised of bumpkin pastors with 15 members, and therefore not worth considering or listening to.
Honestly, the disrespect and disregard that the SBC Elites show small pastors is astounding. They say it’s ignorant to suggest there’s a leftward drift, and if you do so in a vocal way, well, you’re probably just pastoring some small church in Delaware or Marland pastoring your sister-in-law – certainly not someone who we should take seriously or who we should let influence the direction we want to go.
We’ve reached out to Kevin Smith for comment and will update accordingly.