At the time of posting this, we are just over 100 hours from the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim.
In these turbulent days of the Southern Baptist Convention, I am afraid too many have forgotten who we are and what we are to be. This is not a game. The Scriptures teach us that all liars have their portion in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8). We are to be men above reproach. Our churches ought to be above reproach. God hates hypocrisy. Our churches must love what He loves and hate what He hates.
Sadly, it seems like every day there is more unfolding in the SBC that ought to make us mourn. Yesterday was no different, specifically with two entities of our convention: The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS).
Wednesday, June 8, was an interesting day for the ERLC and SEBTS. We have been told time and again that there is no drift in our convention and yet both of these entities, just yesterday have shown themselves guilty of hypocrisy.
That morning, I got an email from the ERLC telling me how Pro-life they are and how we can get free Psalm 139 t-shirts at their booth in Anaheim. The problem here is that the ERLC, just weeks ago, actually opposed a bill in defiance of the will of SBC messengers.
In 2021, messengers stated, “abortion is murder, and we reject any position that allows for any exceptions to the legal protection of our preborn neighbors.” The ERLC belongs to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. And yet, this rogue entity signed a letter against a Bill in Louisiana that would have afforded the same equal protection to unborn children that born children currently possess in our country.
What the ERLC will be doing in Anaheim, though, is a messaging campaign. The ERLC wants SBC messengers to believe it’s the pure pro-life group. It will seek to silence what it will label as “radicals” in Anaheim. These “radicals” are people who actually want to see unborn children have the same protections as born children! That’s not radical. That’s normal. That’s the heartbeat of our convention when it comes to ending abortion. We believe life is life. But the ERLC does NOT fight for this. In fact, the ERLC just weeks ago fought against this! Shame on us for tolerating such an entity!
Praise God for men in our convention like Bill Ascol and Dusty Deevers who helped lead Southern Baptists in Nashville to pass one of the best resolutions against abortion in our history. But the strategy of one of our own entities, working against the messengers, is for you to see Psalm 139 t-shirts all over the convention and to think the ERLC is actually working to outlaw abortion and give equal protection to the unborn. They are not. And it will be interesting to see what the Resolutions Committee does this year and if Bart Barber will stand once again in opposition to a resolution on abolishing abortion like he did last year.
God hates hypocrisy. The ERLC is not being forthright and transparent about this issue and will attempt to dupe messengers again this year into thinking they truly care about equal protection for unborn children when they have demonstrated they do not. The hypocrisy of the ERLC is telling you they are so prolife, when in fact, they’ve recently fought against outlawing abortion.
But alas, this is not all that happened in the SBC on June 8. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) released a letter on June 8 publicly informing the world that they had done their own investigation of their (mis)handling of the Tom and Jennifer Buck blackmail and have, surprisingly!, exonerated themselves. And the trustees agreed!
Except, the Platform says we need outside investigations in order to be legitimate – and that we need transparency when it comes to the mishandling of sexual abuse situations. But SEBTS has not been transparent in this and they have not had a 3rd party look into the situation.
Imagine for a moment that the Executive Committee did its own investigation of itself and exonerated itself. Would Danny Akin have accepted that? Of course not! And he would be right. But now he and SEBTS want Southern Baptists to accept the entity’s investigation of itself? This is absurd! And it is hypocrisy to the highest degree. SEBTS gets to have its own investigation about how it handled information about sexual abuse that a survivor was not ready to release but churches in the convention will need 3rd parties in order to show they’ve done no wrongdoing when it comes to sexual abuse.
Further, consider the absurdity of releasing the results of an investigation on the very day you received NEW information about an “anonymous couple.” How can you release an investigation done properly just hours after receiving such information? Pro tip: you can’t. You cannot call for the Executive Committee to be transparent and thoroughly investigated while your own entity runs a Mickey Mouse inquiry, says all is well, and then caps it all off with a newfound mystery couple to pin it on. This is hypocrisy.
To me, this seems like a preemptive attempt by SEBTS to avoid any kind of motion from the floor at Anaheim that would lead to an external investigation of Buckgate. But SEBTS is not ultimately accountable to itself. It is ultimately accountable to the churches of the convention who in turn are ultimately accountable to our triune God.
It also smacks of the elitism of the Platform. How unintelligent are messengers supposed to be that we accept an anonymous couple as the authority for exonerating this institution? Secular organizations would laugh at this sort of tactic. It is a mockery of the people of God to pull such a move.
Enough is Enough
These types of Platform shenanigans are why rank and file Southern Baptists are showing up to Anaheim. Enough is enough. Hypocrisy, secret dealings, defiance of the will of the messengers, controlling the trustees, anonymous tips, and who knows what more will come out today!, are all reasons there is such a large contingent of messengers coming to California to vote for men like Tom Ascol, Voddie Baucham, and Javier Chavez to help us change the direction in our beloved convention (read Dr. Ascol’s Pillars of Reform here).
No more hypocrisy. We must hate what God hates.
We long for leaders who love the Bible not just in statement but in step, not just in word, but action. We want leaders in the convention who aren’t ashamed of the whole truth of the Scriptures. Who will not just confess to believing the Bible but live out its truth and proclaim its riches loudly to the nations. I call upon Brent Leatherwood, Danny Akin, and others involved in these recent decisions to repent and look to the mercies of our blessed Lord. I call upon them to humble themselves before God and to be reminded that the boastful will not stand in the presence of the God who resists the proud (Ps. 5:5, James 4:6).
God hates hypocrisy. Instead of getting mad at this or that side of the convention, Southern Baptists ought to be on our faces before a holy God thanking Him for His longsuffering with us. And then we ought to stand upon the Rock and walk courageously in the fear of the Lord. We must be prepared for the spiritual battle ahead of us in Anaheim (cf. Ps 144:1). We must remember that not only will liars share in the lake of fire, but so will cowards.
These are not the days for politicking or pandering to the godless impulses of our present culture. These are not the days for backing down or compromising. These are the days to be unashamedly Baptist. These are the days for humble courage in our Lord. We are desperate for Him to move. Let us be men and women of His Book, bowing to it in every area of our lives, and trusting it in every situation that we face. Let us be people of true conviction and willing to hold those accountable who are not.
The local churches of our convention must hold our entities and the Platform accountable. God holds us responsible for the convention because He has given His own churches the authority to carry out His mission. He has not given this authority to parachurch organizations or entities. Brothers and sisters, some of you can still make last-minute plans to join us in Anaheim and let your voice be heard too. Those of you who cannot, we ask that you pray for us. Most importantly, we must all pray that our gracious God would grant a true heart change in the SBC.