Concerns About Dr. Ben Carson’s Invitation To The SBC Pastors’ Conference

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Update: The leadership of the SBC Pastors’ Conference and Dr. Ben Carson’s team have come to a mutual decision that he withdraw from speaking at the Conference. Here is a link to Willy Rice’s statement. We have recognized all along that this decision is Pastor Rice’s alone to make, and we can’t imagine how difficult the decision has been. We are thankful for his humble and courageous leadership, and we wholeheartedly join in his call for unity.

Update: It appears Dr. Ben Carson’s FB message referenced in this post has been taken down – here is an image of the original post 

 

Dr. Ben Carson, who is considering a run for President in 2016, has been invited to speak and close the Sunday night session at the SBC Pastors’ Conference in Columbus. We have deep respect for both Dr. Carson and the Pastors’ Conference leadership, and yet his invitation to speak at a conference for SBC pastors does cause us some concerns, as it has concerned other SBC pastors as well.

We raise our concerns here:

  • We have theological concerns:

Dr. Carson is a Seventh-Day Adventist. Their official theology denies the doctrine of Hell in favor of annihilation, denies the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, and believes that those who worship on Sunday will bear the “mark of the beast.”

Also, on Easter, Dr. Carson wrote on his Facebook wall, “Let us also remember that Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in God, and while there are ideological differences in who Jesus was, we should find peace in the fact that we are all God’s children.” Certainly, we do not all worship the same God – we worship the Trinity whom Muslims and Jews would deny. And, the idea that we are all God’s children is at best the type of liberalism the Conservative Resurgence sought to address, and at worst, it is universalism.

The Pastors’ Conference issued a statement saying that Dr. Carson will not speak as a pastor or theologian, but rather as a “courageous voice” calling for spiritual renewal in our country. We understand that there is precedent for voices outside the SBC to address the Pastors’ Conference, and we do not believe that all the speakers at the conference should be Southern Baptists. However, why not invite another courageous voice whose doctrines would more closely align theologically with Southern Baptists, and who would equip us to live courageously in the midst of our culture where religious freedom is eroding?

  • We have missiological concerns:

There continue to be perceptions in our culture that the SBC is in bed with the Republican Party, and actions such as having Dr. Carson speak at the SBC Pastor’s Conference only prove that perception correct. These perceptions continue to hamper our witness in an increasingly purple America, where missional efforts are often misunderstood as Southern Baptists asking people to become more politically conservative. While the convention hall room will be full of red politically, many of our congregations back home are increasingly politically diverse, and these one-sided affiliations can be difficult to explain, considering many already believe that Southern Baptists view God as a Republican. In fact, we have more in common with a born again Christian who is a registered Democrat, than we do with a universalist Seventh-Day Adventist who is a conservative. Perhaps Southern Baptists need to be reminded of what unites us together.

  • We have generational concerns

Many have lamented the lack of participation in SBC meetings by younger leaders (though trends have started to move in a positive direction, and we think that’s because of a more gospel-centered focus), and we are concerned that these kinds of speaker invitations will only hinder younger involvement. The reason is that a younger generation is often prone to avoid anything that seemingly weds the church with a specific political party, and portrays a “God and country” narrative that is not the gospel. A generation will be missing if our meetings feel like political rallies for the GOP.

  • We have gospel concerns

We are concerned because in our evangelical climate it is often easy to confuse what it means to be a follower of Christ with what it means to be a patriotic American. So much of Bible-belt Christianity has equated, whether consciously or unconsciously, being a Christian with being a conservative, patriotic Republican. The narrative many of us were raised with was that the path to changing America or maintaining good values in our country was simply electing the right people and passing the right laws, but legislation will not transform a nation. The Old Testament narrative bears witness to this reality because Ancient Israel had all of the right laws but it never brought transformation. The issue is not the law; the issue is that hearts must be changed before a nation repents, and that only happens through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe Southern Baptists must be engaged politically, but that the focus should be shaped by Scriptural convictions before generic American values.

Our desire in raising these concerns is to start a conversation regarding the purpose of our annual gathering, and why our affiliations matter, as we advance the Great Commission in America. Our suggestion is that we believe it would be prudent for future SBC leaders to stop inviting politicians to our meetings. Period. We are all actively involved in the political process, and we pray for and submit to our elected officials, but we need to keep a prophetic voice with both parties. Inviting affiliated politicians to our religious gatherings cannot help but mute our voice in this culture.

 

Pressing issues like this will be discussed at the Baptist21 panel in Columbus. Make sure you don’t miss out on the conversation. Sign-up here today.

 

 

 

***Note: Out of our love and respect for Willy Rice, who is the president of the conference, we offered him an opportunity to respond to this blog before we posted it. He has kindly and graciously declined to respond.

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95 thoughts on “Concerns About Dr. Ben Carson’s Invitation To The SBC Pastors’ Conference

    1. You are being PC and ridiculous! Does it MATTER if a majority of Southern Christians are Republican? What are you afraid of??? Offending those who are not white and of European descent? Sounds like it!

    2. America is a democracy, whereas ex-doctor Ben Carson wants to make it a theocracy.

      He keeps advertising himself as a neuroscientist, yet he frequently ignores and denies science:

      – laws of physics (he denies climate change);
      – laws of biology (he denies sexual orientation and gender identity);
      – laws of civil society (he wants a religious theocracy);
      – laws of cosmology and geology (he denies the earth is 15 billion years old);
      – facts of history (he claims the Egyptian burial tombs were merely grain storage areas);
      – basic arithmetic (he claims 5 million animals lived on Noah’s 400-foot Ark);

      and much more.

      Finally, many of the anecdotes he claimed in his biography turned out to be false as soon as major journalists went to interview the witnesses.

  1. I totally agree with the categorization of B21 as Pharisaical . Ben Carson, whose books are carried at Lifeway, which is owned by the Southern Baptist Convention by the way, is the most outspoken evangelical Christian to run for President, probably ever. He also has a real chance to win. B21 is doing great harm to the body of Christ by their denominational nitpicking.

  2. I can see some legitimacy in the argument of not being involved with declared presidential candidates. However, the argument about “theological differences” as one reason makes no sense and should have been out of this document altogether. He even said it:
    “I believed, and still believe, that leaders gathered for our Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference are open to listening to persons from outside our denomination. I believe most are willing to hear from national leaders even if we disagree on some points of doctrine as we have done in the past, particularly when the point of the discussion is a biblical worldview of prevailing cultural issues.

  3. You’re wrong about Sola Scriptura. Seventh day Adventists absolutely believe in Sola Scriptura. We draw not doctrine from tradition or sources other than scripture. You’re right about not believing that the soul is immortal by nature and that God tortures souls in hell for all eternity, though. We do believe that’s a terrible thing to accuse a God of love of doing and it’s not supported by sola scriptura. You may disagree with out interpretation of scripture, but you can’t say we take our doctrine from anywhere else.

  4. Hogwash. Adventists consider Ellen White’s writings to be a “continuing and authoritative SOURCE of truth” – Adventist Fundamental Belief number 18.

    The church’s “White Estate” says this:

    We believe that Ellen White was inspired by the Holy Spirit and that her writings, the product of that inspiration, are applicable and authoritative, especially to Seventh-day Adventists.

    We do not believe that the quality or degree of inspiration in the writings of Ellen White is different from that of Scripture.

    http://www.whiteestate.org/issues/scripsda.html

    As the final, inspired, infallible interpreter of scripture, Ellen White holds a place of authority over scripture, within Adventism.

    1. How about representing the whole picture and not selective quote.

      AFFIRMATIONS

      We believe that Scripture is the divinely revealed word of God and is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
      We believe that the canon of Scripture is composed only of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments.
      We believe that Scripture is the foundation of faith and the final authority in all matters of doctrine and practice.
      We believe that Scripture is the Word of God in human language.
      We believe that Scripture teaches that the gift of prophecy will be manifest in the Christian church after New Testament times.
      We believe that the ministry and writings of Ellen White were a manifestation of the gift of prophecy.
      We believe that Ellen White was inspired by the Holy Spirit and that her writings, the product of that inspiration, are applicable and authoritative, especially to Seventh-day Adventists.
      We believe that the purposes of the Ellen White writings include guidance in understanding the teaching of Scripture and application of these teachings, with prophetic urgency, to the spiritual and moral life.
      We believe that the acceptance of the prophetic gift of Ellen White is important to the nurture and unity of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
      We believe that Ellen White’s use of literary sources and assistants finds parallels in some of the writings of the Bible.
      DENIALS

      We do not believe that the quality or degree of inspiration in the writings of Ellen White is different from that of Scripture.
      We do not believe that the writings of Ellen White are an addition to the canon of Sacred Scripture.
      We do not believe that the writings of Ellen White function as the foundation and final authority of Christian faith as does Scripture.
      We do not believe that the writings of Ellen White may be used as the basis of doctrine.
      We do not believe that the study of the writings of Ellen White may be used to replace the study of Scripture.
      We do not believe that Scripture can be understood only through the writings of Ellen White.
      We do not believe that the writings of Ellen White exhaust the meaning of Scripture.
      We do not believe that the writings of Ellen White are essential for the proclamation of the truths of Scripture to society at large.
      We do not believe that the writings of Ellen White are the product of mere Christian piety.
      We do not believe that Ellen White’s use of literary sources and assistants negates the inspiration of her writings.
      We conclude, therefore, that a correct understanding of the inspiration and authority of the writings of Ellen White will avoid two extremes: (1) regarding these writings as functioning on a canonical level identical with Scripture, or (2) considering them as ordinary Christian literature.

      1. Typical Seventh-day Adventist double-speak. From Proclamation Magazine:

        “If the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy [Seventh-day Adventist’s refer to the writings of their prophetess Ellen White as the “Spirit of Prophecy”] are equally inspired by God, then they must be, by nature, of equal value to the reader. The Adventist organization verbally denies what it actually confirms in practice. Ellen White is used to answer questions of faith and practice, to provide counsel for those facing difficulties, and is used to end disagreements, i.e., where Ellen White speaks on a topic, that is the final word. No matter what the Bible says, in practice Ellen White is both the source and end of truth for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

        At the 56th General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists a “statement of confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy” was passed. It specifically states how Ellen G. White is to be used.

        We, the delegates assembled in Utrecht for the fifty-sixth session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists … recommend …

        1) That as a church we seek the power of the Holy Spirit to apply to our lives more fully the inspired counsel contained in the writings of Ellen G White, and

        2) That we make increased efforts to publish and circulate these writings throughout the world.

        Within Adventism, Ellen White is more than just a Christian writer like any other devotional author. Rather, her words hold authority over the beliefs and practices of the Seventh-day Adventist organization. As affirmed in Fundamental Belief #18, “Her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.” This statement sounds eerily like 2 Timothy 3:16; “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” In reality, Ellen White’s writings hold the same authority for a Seventh-day Adventist as does the Bible for the Christian.

        Jack Blanco demonstrated the Adventist dependence upon Ellen White when he incorporated her teachings directly into the Adventist paraphrase of Scripture, The Clear Word. The Adventist organization has further endorsed its dependence upon her writings by marketing TCW in its Adventist Book Centers and on its websites as a Bible, advertising it as a viable paraphrase useful for devotional reading”

        http://www.lifeassuranceministries.org/proclamation/2013/2/pitcher.html.

  5. I have seen that candidate from religious personality is interested to join the presidential election in 2016. I’m very curious to know what are their reasons. Let’s see whether he will be chosen to be a candidate.

  6. “Let us also remember that Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in God, and while there are ideological differences in who Jesus was, we should find peace in the fact that we are all God’s children.” WHERE did Dr. Carson go wrong in your judgmental eyes??? FACT: Jews, Christians and Muslims believe in God. FACT: We are all God’s children. I would interpret what he said about ideological differences as what these three groups believe, which is another FACT.

  7. There will be people of ALL denominations in Heaven AND Hell. Its what you do with JESUS that matters! DEnominations cannot save you.

  8. Here is the problem with SDAs.

    Christians believe Jesus is God.

    SDAs say they believe that Jesus is God but they also believe He is an angel.

    They will pray THROUGH Jesus but not …TO Jesus.

    All other concerns about the ‘denomination’ just take away from the real question.

    ” is Jesus God?”

    Christians will stake their lives on it that Jesus is God.

    Will Ben Carson?

    JP

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