Gotham Needs You
Let me begin with an apology for the cringe movie references, but that’s how we are going to open this story.
On Thursday, March 3, 2022, Conservatives on Twitter unfurled the Bauch Signal. Like Princess Leia used the equivalent of a .gif in her far-away galaxy with R2-D2, the faithful cry went across the Atlantic and over to Zambia, “Help us Voddie-Wan, you’re our only hope!” Certainly, I’m being hyperbolic here. Conservatives in the SBC, myself included, understand our real hope is in our sovereign God, His precious Word, and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Still, it was the meme heard ’round the world. And it gained enough traction that the Christian Post did a story on Friday, March 4, where Dr. Baucham (M.Div, SWBTS & D.Min, SEBTS) confirmed being asked to accept an SBC presidential nomination. Count me among the many brothers and sisters that would rejoice tremendously if Voddie does indeed decide to accept this nomination and run for president. If the SBC went Bauch to the Future, I think some of our brightest days could be ahead of us. Admittedly, for Voddie to run there would be some technicalities that would need to be worked out. But that’s not what this post is about.
What this post is about is the reality that when you shine a giant spotlight into the night sky, you’re bound to expose some things lurking in the dark. And I admit, I was a bit taken aback by some of the hypocrisy that came to light. Yes, I saw last year how Mike Stone was mistreated and maligned. I saw how meaningless recordings were released in an attempt to discredit him. I saw how he was attacked at the convention. I should have been a bit more prepared for what the reaction to Voddie Baucham rumors would look like, but, alas, I was not. So, I want to share these with you in today’s post. Prepare yourself, “This is heavy!”
Is the SBC defined by Geography?
In the last few years certain folks within the SBC have pushed hard for us to be called “Great Commission Baptists”. The moniker “Southern” is offensive, so some say (Kentucky Fried Chicken doesn’t seem to care about their southern name). Furthermore, the argument goes, that the SBC is no longer defined by our geography. We have churches all across the United States! And we send missionaries around the globe. So, this line of logic says, let’s drop the geography handle, and be Great Commission Baptists.
Well, that’s until the signal went out. Once the rumor of Dr. Baucham’s nomination began circulating, one popular Southern Baptist group on Facebook, The Baptist Review, began wondering if our constitution prevented someone from Zambia from being president of the SBC. Or, consider this tweet from Jay Adkins (pictured left). Now all of a sudden geography does matter. We don’t need someone living overseas to be our president! And here I thought I read somewhere that Christian Nationalism was evil! But now all the people upset that John MacArthur told Beth Moore to “Go home” seem bent on telling Voddie Baucham the same. (Well, except, Voddie is not an Anglican. For him, the SBC is “home”)
Should we surrender power to Ethnic minorities?
Hop in the Delorean with me. We’ll get this thing rolling to 88 miles an hour and travel all the way back to 2018. In an interview with the ERLC (posted 7/17/2018), Dr. Danny Akin (president of SEBTS), said that white Christians needed to be willing to surrender leadership to ethnic minorities. Four years later and Dr. Akin has not surrendered his leadership to anyone. Neither did J.D. Greear in 2020, though he had the opportunity. Instead, he chose to keep his presidency for an unelected third term. (By the way, I was reminded after posting this that none of the guys right now hung up on whether or not Voddie can be SBC president, tried keeping J.D. from being president for an unelected 3rd term over any technicality. There is a double standard at play here.)
Ok, but now it’s 2022. And current SBC President Ed Litton has issued calls for racial reconciliation. Side note: I want to state that it’s my position that we should constantly be looking for the most qualified men to lead us, rather than the color of one’s skin. Nevertheless, there are many in the more moderate camp within the SBC that agree with Akin, Greear, Litton, etc. But did we hear any prominent Southern Baptist of this persuasion utter one word of excitement that a black man would actually consider running for the president of the SBC in 2022?
No. The silence was deafening. And the hypocrisy in this matter stinks.
Of course, it has been odd to me to see no public work between Ed Litton and our 1st Vice President, Lee Brand. Dr. Brand, the only ethnic minority elected as an SBC officer in Nashville, was not even invited to a recent ERLC event on racial reconciliation. These sorts of things just come across as awfully hypocritical to me. Is SBC leadership saying that Dr. Baucham and Dr. Brand are simply the wrong kind of black men? Shameful.
It seems we have those in leadership in the SBC that want to talk the talk of giving up positions to minorities but don’t want to walk the walk. It reminds me of what Jesus said about the Pharisees in Matthew 23:4 – “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.”
Should we listen to Black voices or no?
Admittedly, Phil Vischer is not SBC. He does, however, consistently interfere with SBC affairs. He’s spoken at the ERLC National Conference. He’s hosted SEBTS professor, Karen Swallow Prior on his podcast. His idealogy does align closely with some in our convention. And Vischer tweeted, now deleted, essentially that Voddie was simply a black man with “white beliefs” (see story). Another non-SBC entity, Baptist News Globals, ran a story not celebrating the accomplishments of a black man, but instead trying to discredit Baucham’s ministry (mind you, at this juncture, he is not even running for SBC president but has only been asked to run!). And I cannot help but wonder if that was done alone, or were there some Southern Baptists involved in making sure such a story was run? I think the average Southern Baptist in the pew would be quite shocked at some of the things going on behind the scenes here.
All of this over the very rumor of a conservative black man running for SBC President in the year of our Lord, 2022. Great Scott! In times past Southern Baptists have been considered racists if they say anything negative about a person of color, but today, it’s okay for everyone to rake Voddie over the coals. The hatred of this good man is disgusting. And the lack of integrity is nauseating.
Another Southern Baptist wrote in a Facebook comment that Voddie “will not deal with the accepted diverse positions in our 50,000 church cooperation in a way that keeps us together for the purpose of missions.”
And actually, to this, I say: Bingo. And that’s the point. You’ve read the room correctly! Voddie is in fact a true conservative – like a real theological conservative. And he ain’t bashful about it. He’s not apologetic about believing the Bible, or submitting to its authority or trusting its sufficiency. And he’s sure not going to pretend God whispers about sin. Voddie’s integrity is not on trial here. It’s ours. We do not partner together for the purpose of missions in opposition to our Southern Baptist convictions.
Brothers and sisters, we must come to the point where we understand that not all of the 50,000 churches in the SBC today are genuinely convictionally Southern Baptist. They may give a wink to the Baptist Faith and Message, but there are real churches in our convention that believe things like women can preach to men or that lost people can serve in the church. And it’s a shame that we would tolerate those things or the scandal of plagiarism, or Baptists who became Anglicans overnight, or NAMB making fun of Southern Accents, or the list goes on, but we would not tolerate a conservative black man seeking to help our convention.
Thus, apparently, we don’t want to listen to men like Voddie. Out of one side of its mouth, the convention says, “We aren’t listening to black pastors enough.” But this situation has shown that out of the other side we are saying, “Oh, wait. We don’t need to listen to those kind of black pastors.”
I agree with this tweet thread from Corey Smith. Dr. Baucham is one of us, affirms the BFM 2000, and really could be a uniting president (if we care about unity in truth). Instead, Baucham seems to be the future the SBC elite wants to avoid. But I’m afraid a future devoid of men like Voddie in the convention will inevitably lead to a surrendering of the gospel and probably adding a lot more letters+ to our acronym.
Straining at Gnats and Swallowing Camels
I liked William Wolfe’s tweet on the issue yesterday where he said, “Whether you support him or not, it seems very anti-racial reconciliation to stop a black man w/a long history in the SBC, currently serving as a missionary in Africa, from running for President on a *technicality.* Aren’t these the barriers we should be tearing down for equity?”
Here you have a man who is a homegrown Southern Baptist. A missionary overseas sent out by a Southern Baptist Church. And instead of being celebrated, he is being attacked. Granted, rules are rules. And we should not take this lightly. But it’s worthy to consider why these rules were put in place and I don’t think it was to prevent a conservative brother from being president of the SBC, but that’s what some are gleefully intent on using it for. In this regard, it sure seems like straining at gnats and swallowing camels (Matthew 23:24). Fundamentalists often get labeled as Pharisees, but I can’t think of a more Pharisaical situation than watching all of this unfold. It’s really difficult for me to stomach such hypocrisy.
Alas, I cannot infallibly predict the future. But I can plead with you brothers and sisters to make “the best use of the time because the days are evil.” So, we encourage our readers to use some time today to pray for Dr. Baucham. First and foremost, pray that the Lord would strengthen him and keep him from being discouraged by such vitriol. And I would also ask that you pray that this man, one of our own, an SWBTS and SEBTS graduate, a courageous conservative, would find a way to humbly accept the nomination for our next SBC president and help us right the ship. And if he does come, keep the prayers coming. If this is how some are going to respond to rumors, how will they respond if a real run is made? And if Voddie Baucham is not the man for 2022, who is? May we pray for the Lord’s direction.