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:
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?
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.
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 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.]]>
Specefically, we see a growth of CP giving in states that have moved to a 50/50 distribution of CP funds. Those states that are adopting a vision of getting more resources beyond their own borders are seeing churches give more aggressively to that vision.
Two states in particular are worth mentioning as both Iowa and Nevada that went to a 50/50 split saw massive increases in giving. Iowa saw a 200% increase, while Nevada saw an 80% increase. These are just two states of note, you can check out the rest here.
This trend is very encouraging, and we think that these states’ example can be a model paving the way for future growth in other states when it comes to CP giving. It seems as states provide an aggressive vision – for more to go on to the nations – more money is given so that Christ is made famous where He is not currently named. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come.
Join the panel with Ed Stetzer, H.B. Charles Jr., Chip Henderson, and J.D. Greear on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 from 6:30-8:00am at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Battelle Grand A/B on Level 3. They only have a limited seating capacity of 400, so sign up now to reserve your seat. They will serve a light breakfast, and every attendee will receive a bag of resources and books worth over $125!
During this discussion panel we will explore questions such as:
H.B. Charles, Jr. serves as the Senior-Pastor of the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida.
A third-generation pastor, H.B. made his profession of saving-faith in the Christ as Savior and Lord and was baptized at the age of six.
Having faithfully served Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles for eighteen years, the Lord changed H.B.’s pastoral assignment and sent him to the other end of the country. During the summer of 2008, the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville unanimously called H.B to serve as its new pastor-teacher.
H.B.’s preaching has been published in the 2008 edition of The African American Pulpit, a scholarly journal that features African American preachers, and he and has published three books: It Happens After Prayer, On Preaching and The Difference Jesus Makes.
H.B. is currently enrolled at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Jacksonville), where he continues his formal education. He is also a regular guest speaker at various revivals, conferences, and conventions around the country and beyond.
H.B. is married to his best friend – the former Crystal R. Moreland. They are the proud parents of three children: H.B. Charles, III, Natalie Marie Charles, and Hailey Breanne Charles.
With panelists like H.B. Charles, David Platt, Al Mohler, Russell Moore, and Danny Akin, you don’t want to miss out. Lunch, free books, and needed conversation on difficult issues. Register here.]]>
We are pumped that Dr. Moore will be with us at this year’s B21 panel in Columbus, and we look forward to talking through very important issues like religious liberty and cultural engagement. The B21 panel consistently has the conversations that need to be had. In the past Southern Baptists have looked to boycotts as a means of influencing the culture, but we hope the helpful conversations we have each year at the B21 panel will continue to chart a new course for gospel-centered engagement in our culture.
You can register for our panel here
1. Gospel Legacy. This will be the 158th session of our 170-year history. That’s right… 170 years and 158 meetings. It’s important for us to understand the faithful gospel legacy that has been passed down from generation to generation since 1845. We have not been a perfect denomination. In fact, we have a tainted past when it comes to subjects like racism and abortion. But we have sought to repent of our past and chart a biblical way forward.
When faced with a liberal trajectory, faithful men and women fought to bring our convention back to understanding the biblical inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures through what is known as the Conservative Resurgence. Over the last 170 years, many under the banner of Southern Baptists, have contended for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. The task of continuing this great gospel legacy now rests with us.
2. A National Call For Prayer to All Southern Baptists. One of the highlights of this year’s meeting is a prayer gathering. On Tuesday night, June 16, Dr. Ronnie Floyd and other SBC pastors will lead our convention attendees in a time of intentional prayer over many different matters concerning our denomination and country. Thousands will unite under one roof, asking God to bring about a great awakening across the world and accomplish the Great Commission in our lifetime. This extraordinary gathering of men seeking God through prayer and petition is one not to be missed.
3. Church and Mission Sending Celebration. The SBC was formed on the belief that churches could do more for missions together than they could apart. The North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board are two key entities that work with our churches to identify, equip, and launch missionaries and church planters around the world. In effect, they help churches plant churches.
On Wednesday morning of our annual meeting, we will witness the commissioning of a hundred missionaries around the world. We will see their faces, hear their stories, and pray for them as they take the next step toward landing on the field for the name of Christ. Kevin Ezell and David Platt will lead this service along with Ronnie Floyd. This sending service will be a powerful moment for our pastors and is sure to be a ceremony unlike any other of our time.
4. The President’s Panel: The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage. The Supreme Court is set to take up the issue of same-sex marriage with a decision this summer, most likely late June. As new realities approach concerning same-sex marriage, a panel will convene at this year’s SBC intended to help prepare churches for what will follow the Court’s decision. The decision will have an impact on every local church in our denomination, and as pastors, we must be informed on how to best lead through these days, gaining ground on the forefront of the culture wars.
5. Events Surrounding the Annual Meeting. When pastors attend a SBC annual meeting, they don’t just go for the meeting. The meeting consists of 3 1/2 days of jam-packed, edifying events. Here are a few of the events you do not want to miss:
6. Network and Fellowship with other Pastors. Seeing old friends and meeting new ones is always a personal highlight of my time at the SBC. The opportunity to network beyond one meeting a year is one of the great realities of social media. But no amount of social media can replace the time you are afforded with someone face to face. Brothers need brothers, and the SBC meeting is a time to eat together, laugh together, and talk ministry together. For this, I’m thankful.
7. A Time to Refocus. Each year, thousands of SBC pastors and laypersons, representing thousands of churches throughout our country, gather together to worship our King Jesus. For two days, we subject our hearts and minds to our mission as a denomination to train pastors, equip churches, and launch missionaries. These are our priorities. This is what we do. It’s our DNA. Though oftentimes we drift into our own small kingdoms, forgetting our priorities, the annual meeting helps us reengage in our calling with renewed passion. We go back home to our churches and get after it in the name of Jesus.
So I invite you to Columbus. Come, join us as we gather together for a few days to worship our risen King Jesus, launch missionaries, hear about the training of a new generation of pastors, and pray for God to move and work like never before.
I hope to meet you there!
Here’s a detailed look at this year’s annual meeting:
SBC Mtg Highlights (Click to download or click on image to enlarge)
In recent years, the North American Mission Board has restructured, retooled, and reengaged with the primary task of planting churches. I am thrilled at what NAMB, under the leadership of Kevin Ezell, is doing to mobilize churches to focus on key influential cities, where most of the population in the U.S. live.
But it takes lots of people and lots of money over a long period of time to plant healthy churches. Championing church planting in key and influential cities must be elevated. I gladly give each year to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and encourage your church to give as well. But we must not delegate our church planting to just giving money and not sending people.
While NAMB focuses on 32 cities across the U.S.,local churches that do not live in these 32 cities must take up the responsibility to invest in new churches around their own cities, wherever that might be. Most likely, there is great need for new churches around the surrounding cities and communities where your church is located. Gospel work in many of these smaller cities can become dry and stale. While faithful churches exist, some may drift into religious clubs that make it difficult for new people to feel welcome, be reached, or hear the true gospel.
Recently my church, Cross Church, decided to plant a church in Neosho, Missouri. A small group of people had a burden for their city and approached our leadership about possibly planting a church in Neosho. We prayed and researched and on Easter 2014 launched Cross Church Neosho. Through the members of Cross Church, we were able to renovate a small facility, send teams of volunteers to canvass and invite, as well as mobilize hundreds of people to pray for this community. Within the last year, we have hired staff members and helped this church get established and growing. Cross Church, including those who attend at Neosho and our church family as a whole, has seen many reached for Christ, baptized, and now living on mission in this city because of this strategic effort.
Why Neosho, Missouri? It’s not St. Louis, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Portland, or Los Angeles. It doesn’t boast a population of 5 million. It doesn’t have a gigantic centralized city with Fortune 500 companies. You probably have never even heard of Neosho, Missouri. We invested money, resources, and people in this church plant because every person matters to God. In Neosho, there are 31,000 people within a 10-mile radius. 31,000 people, each created by God, each bitten by the fall and headed towards a Christ-less eternity in hell, and each deserving of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are not to neglect our own backyards and surrounding communities when it comes to gospel advancement. Planting a church in your city by sending out some of your church members to start a new work must become key to your church strategy. Too many of our pastors see launching leaders as losing leaders. This is a detriment to the advancement of the gospel. Seizing the opportunity to help people get a fire for the Great Commission and the fame of Jesus around your city, and then launching them to plant the gospel in a community in your city is true Kingdom work. God will bring new leaders to your church and fill the void when we are faithful to send people out.
We may never know what planting one church in Neosho, Missouri might mean for future generations. The salvation stories of many of the greatest preachers and revivalists in church history began with small churches who faithfully sowed the seeds of the gospel in the hearts of its families. May we pray to that end.
-Ronnie Parrot (@ronniep)]]>
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.
Dr. Mohler has been recognized by such influential publications asTime and Christianity Todayas a leader among American evangelicals. In fact, Time.com called him the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.”
In addition to his presidential duties, Dr. Mohler hosts two programs: “The Briefing,” a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview; and “Thinking in Public,” a series of conversations with the day’s leading thinkers. He also writes a popular blog and a regular commentary on moral, cultural and theological issues. All of these can be accessed through Dr. Mohler’s website, www.AlbertMohler.com. Called “an articulate voice for conservative Christianity at large” by The Chicago Tribune, Dr. Mohler’s mission is to address contemporary issues from a consistent and explicit Christian worldview.
Dr. Mohler has long been a friend of B21 and has participated in many of our panels. In 2013 he offered this gem on a biblical response to homosexuality. He featured the clip on his website with these thoughts:
During the Baptist 21 Panel at the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention in Houston I was asked about a Christian Gospel-centered response to homosexuality. Here is the video of that question and response. The challenge of homosexuality and related questions represents one of the most urgent challenges to Christian ministry — not just in terms of Christian ethics, but with the Gospel at stake.
The Baptist 21 event at the Southern Baptist Convention is one of the most important opportunities for public conversation in the life of the denomination. Be sure to attend the B21 event next year in Columbus.
You can register for our lunch panel by clicking this link.]]>
What I found most intriguing was the conclusion when Baymax sacrificed himself to save Hiro and a girl named Abigail. As we watched the film, my daughters gripped my arms with tears streaming down there face. It was heartbreaking. But, the film ends with Baymax being brought back to life (his computer chip was placed into a rebuilt robot so that he could live on).
It never fails to amaze me at how often Hollywood mimics the Christian story, the gospel. The good news of the Bible is that Jesus sacrificed Himself to save us from our sins and that He was brought back from the dead 3 days later on Easter Sunday. Hollywood replays this story every few years. After all, ET died, was brought back to life, and then ascended into the sky at the end of the movie. In the original Star Trek movies, Spock sacrificed himself to save the crew of the Enterprise, and then he came back to life, whereas in the recently rebooted Star Trek series, it’s Captain Kirk who sacrifices himself to save the crew of the Enterprise, and then he is resurrected. Similar storylines emerge in Guardians of the Galaxy, Harry Potter, and even Disney’s Frozen: Anna’s act of “true love” – sacrificing herself for her sister Elsa – breaks the curse and brings her back to life again.
Many skeptics look at this reality and conclude that it’s evidence that the gospel story is “too good to be true.” Scholars who study these things historically usually point to similarities in stories in other cultures, and they argue that the ancient Israelites (or early Christians) picked up these “mythological” themes in their cultural milieu and built their faith around these myths. They say other ancient civilizations had flood stories like Noah’s ark, or other cultures had resurrection stories like the gospel. After all, the ancient Canaanites, people around the same place and time as the Bible, celebrated the “death and resurrection” of Baal as seen in the harvest every year. There is also the story of the phoenix rising from the ashes. Scholars use these examples to try to disprove the historical accuracy of the biblical story. They say the gospel is theology based on a story, not actual history.
I encountered a similar argument my freshman year of college at the University of Kentucky. A guy in my English class wrote a paper entitled, “Why The Matrix Can Replace Christianity.” He observed that many themes in that movie run parallel to Christian teachings: there is an evil system, a forerunner like John the Baptist (Morpheus), a prophecy about a messianic figure (Neo) who just happens to die, rise from the dead and ascend into the sky at the end.
However, these similarities and “borrowings” should not surprise or scare the Christian, nor should they assure those who don’t believe the claims of Christianity. The Bible says that not only does all of Scripture point to the death and resurrection of Jesus (Luke 24:25-27), but Paul goes further when he tells the Ephesian Church that all things are being united in Christ (Eph. 1:10). Not just the Scriptures but also everything, all of creation, is being summed up in the Messiah, Jesus.
God designed the universe with Jesus as the goal, so there are bound to be cultural items like movies, books, sitcoms, songs, art, literature, and more that borrow themes from Jesus’ story. Far from disproving the Christian gospel, these themes show how the cosmos is being summed up in Christ. There is a reason why God made the world in such a way that the death of winter gives way to the new life of spring, and it’s not just because we need a break from the cold. There is a reason why our hearts jump for joy at depictions of sacrifice and resurrection at the movies. The world around us, the art that we consume, and the innermost longings of our hearts confirm what deep down we know to be true: the story of Jesus is too good to be untrue!
Jon Akin is the Pastor of Fairview Church in Lebanon, TN]]>
A widely-sought cultural commentator, Dr. Moore has been recognized by a number of influential organizations. The Wall Street Journal has called him “vigorous, cheerful, and fiercely articulate” while The Gospel Coalition has referred to him “one of the most astute ethicists in contemporary evangelicalism.”
Dr. Moore blogs frequently at his Moore to the Point website, and hosts a program called Questions & Ethics—a wide-ranging podcast in which Dr. Moore answers listener-generated questions on the difficult moral and ethical issues of the day. In addition, he is the author of several books, including Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ and Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches.
Dr. Moore’s wealth of wisdom on where culture is and where culture is going will add much to the discussion. We hope you will join us at the 2015 Baptist21 Panel.
You can register by clicking this link.]]>