Blog

All Around the Web – June 21, 2021

Trevin Wax – The Good and the Bad of Losing Cultural Christianity

The Exchange – The Supreme Court Sets a Good Precedent in Fulton, But Questions Remain

Chuck Lawless – 7 Things I’m Still Learning about Grace

Justin Taylor – The Song Russell Moore Wants Played at His Funeral

Stephen McAlpine – When the gospel rainfall stops the cultural dam dries up

F&T – The Encouraging State of the Post-COVID Church

Cold Case Christianity – How Should We View the Missing Ending to the Gospel of Mark?

Church Answers – The Definitive Checklist for Launching Your Church Website

Not the Bee – Nickelodeon’s ratings have CRASHED HARD since they started pushing every woke idea on the planet

Not the Bee – Parents Sent Their Kids’ Masks to a Lab and is Anyone Surprised that the Results Were Revolting?

Babylon Bee – Congress Passes Law To Recognize Juneteenth, The Day Republicans Freed All The Democrats’ Slaves

Babylon Bee – Biden Announces Putin Meeting Was A Success, Hunter Now Has A Job With Russian Pipeline

Babylon Bee – New York Times Forced To Admit Babylon Bee Not Fake News Since Stories Keep Coming True

Babylon Bee – Dems Shocked, Disappointed To Learn The New Israeli Prime Minister Will Still Be A Jew

A Few Thoughts on #SBC21 – Part 1

2021 SBC Annual Meeting - Nashville TN

Last week, over 20,000 Great Commission Baptists gathered in Nashville for its annual meeting. For those unfamiliar with Baptist polity, the SBC is not a top-down denomination where the local church and its members must submit to the will of its leaders. Rather, the SBC consists of nearly 50,000 autonomous churches who democratically meet to handle its business.

When all is quiet at the national level, these annual meetings are (frankly) poorly attended. However, when Baptists arrive in droves to a business meeting, that means there is controversy stirring. In a series of posts, I want to share what actually happened in a widely covered #SBC21 and sift through the rumors and nonsense you might have read online.

This experience has taught me a valuable lesson. Do not trust everything you read online or in the news. Both entities want war and drama and compared to how it sounds online, there was very little discord.

Thanksgiving

Let us start where we should always start. Regardless of serious debates over serious issues, I want to pause and consider the countless things worth being grateful for. One could argue that the root problem in our culture is the lack of gratitude. A nation that fails to remember the things of God loses its heart of thanksgiving.

The Local Church

I suspect mainstream media outlets do not understand Baptist polity. If you want to understand what is happening in the SBC, its President and Executive Committee is not the best resource. Although they are valuable leaders elected by and held accountable by the messengers, the SBC is first and foremost the local church. This is radically different than most Protestant denominations. It is my recommendation for reporters and would-be reporters to start there.

For my part, my experience in the SBC (from the moment of conception) has been positive. This experience does not mean it has been perfect or without frustration. The local church can be a place of frustration and heartache. The state and national conventions are no different. Yet considering who we are and what our vision is, I can find no better home for myself, my family, or my church than among other Great Commission Baptists.

The rescue of the SBC four decades ago from the poison of liberalism was made possible because of the local church. That is where her real beauty lies.

The Work of Missions Around the World

Baptists have always been a missional people. From William Carey to Adonirum Judson, to Luther Rice, to Billy Graham, to the Foreign Mission Board. United by our shared theology and our passion to reach the nations, the ongoing work of our missionaries is a consistent blessing of our convention.

Beginning with the North American Mission Board (NAMB), the annual report from its president, Kevin Ezell, was a reminder that the work of the gospel is not dead, even during the pandemic. Ezell reported that since 2010, Great Commission Baptists have plane dmore than 8,200 churches. Those churches make up nearly 17% of all churches across the convention. Outside the South, church plants represent nearly 19% of all reported baptisms in the SBC. In Canada, 54% of all current Baptist churches were planted since 2010, and more than half of the baptisms reported in Canada came from those churches.

During the COVID pandemic, Baptists planted 588 churches, saw 143 new church affiliates, and 126 new church campuses. That is a total of 857 new Great Commission Baptist congregations. Of those churches, 60% were ethnic or multiethnic congregations.

The International Mission Board (IMB) reported equally exciting numbers. At the convention, 64 new missions were sent to the mission field. These new missionaries were being sent to join the 3,631 missionaries already on the field.

Since the pandemic, 500 missionaries have been commissioned, 247 new people groups and places have been engaged, 769,494 people have heard the gospel (compared to just over 500,000 in 2019), 144322 new believers with 86,587 baptisms. This has resulted in 18,380 new churches planted.

The work of missions marches forward and I am pleased with the leadership of Kevin Ezell (NAMB) and Paul Chitwood (IMB).

Growing Diversity and Generational Change

Media outsiders and pundits give the impression that the SBC is an aging organization that will soon die out. Although baptisms are down among teenagers, one need only to attend the average pastor’s conference and conventions to witness the opposite. The SBC is a vibrant and diverse convention.

I suspect much of the reported conflict reflects this reality. Over the last decade, I have noticed a changing of the guard from the generation of leaders who saved the SBC from liberalism and a new guard who look, sound, and act differently. Both generations hold fast to the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.

Regardless, the SBC continues to demonstrate that it is the most diverse protestant denomination in the country. I applaud outgoing President JD Greear for his effort in reflect this diversity with his appointments. This diversity includes gender, race, age, and background. In his presidential address, he asked, “do we want to be more Southern or more Baptists.” With him, I want to be more Baptist.

Parachurch Ministries

Every convention and conference includes an exhibit hall featuring countless ministries. For a local pastor just trying to survive COVID, it can be overwhelming. However, reflecting on the countless ministries that exist to serve Christians, the local church, and our communities is a testimony to the power and influence of the gospel in these troubling times. Many of these ministries are led by Great Commission Baptists. Off the top of my head, the exhibit hall featured ministries for legal help, disaster relief, church signs, schools, university, colleges, seminary, missionaries, resources, ministries, and media.

In short, if you want to serve in the work of ministry, the opportunities are endless.

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All Around the Web – Babylon Bee Edition

Babylon Bee – Bombshell Investigation Reveals Biden Belongs To Organization With White Supremacist Roots

Babylon Bee – Trump Announces He Is Building 1,954-Mile Long Trump Hotel Along Southern Border

Babylon Bee – ‘A Fetus Is Just A Clump Of Cells,’ Says Slightly Older, Larger Clump Of Cells

Babylon Bee – Governor DeSantis Signs Controversial Bill Declaring The Sky Is Blue

Babylon Bee – Couple Has Baby Just To Have Excuse For Getting Out Of Social Functions

Babylon Bee – BREAKING: Kamala Harris Hit With Joker Laugh Gas Attack — UPDATE: False Alarm. She Was Simply Asked A Question About Children Locked Up At The Border

Babylon Bee – Existential Crisis Narrowly Avoided With Timely Burrito

Babylon Bee – 8 Foolproof Ways To Protect Yourself From Being Canceled By An Angry Mob

Babylon Bee – Biden Humiliates Putin By Besting Him In Ice Cream Eating Contest

Babylon Bee – Federal Judge Rules That Jewish Baker Must Make ‘Death To Israel’ Cake For Arab Customer

Babylon Bee – Biden Gets No Pudding Cup Today As Punishment For Taking A Question

Babylon Bee – Exclusive: The Babylon Bee Has Acquired More Leaked Dr. Fauci Emails

Babylon Bee – CDC Says Men Should Continue Wearing Masks To Avoid Catching Devastating Man-Colds

Babylon Bee – Child Complaining About Slow Wi-Fi Braces For Dad’s Rant About Playing Game Boy By Orange Glow Of Rapidly Passing Streetlights

All Around the Web – June 19, 2021

Carl Trueman – Christians, Beware the Blame Game

Jack Phillips – Why I Didn’t “Just Bake the Cake.”

Doug Wilson – The Revolt of the Normals, Part 2

John Stonestreet – Your Body, Whose Choice?

F&T – 3 Biblical Truths That Challenge False Foundations of Identity

Mere Orthodoxy – Cultural Assimilation and the Curious Cases of Jessica Krug and Rachel Dolezal

TGC – The Only Recession in Which Startups Grew

Jason Thacker – How Social Media Can Impede Our Witness

Kentucky Today – Motion spurs task force to oversee EC review

Kentucky Today – Abortion, sex abuse, racism, Christian unity addressed in diverse resolutions

Biblical Archeology – The Ark of the Covenant in its Egyptian Context

Daily Wire – ‘Bachelorette’ Contestant Gets Big Applause After Revealing He’s A Virgin

Babylon Bee – Kim Jong Un Attends Ivy League University To Learn New Brainwashing Techniques

Babylon Bee – Schools To Get Around CRT Bans By Just Beating White Kids With Sticks

Babylon Bee – Study Finds Link Between Happiness, Not Knowing Who Chrissy Teigen Is

Babylon Bee – The Pros And Cons Of Going Into Crippling Debt To Acquire A Useless Degree

All Around the Web – June 18, 2021

Joe Carter – The FAQS: What You Should Know About SBC Resolutions

Justin Taylor – The Song Joni Eareckson Tada Wants Played at Her Funeral

Logos – 10 Pastors Share How They Tackle the Sermon Writing Process

John Stonestreet – Shi Meiyu Celebrated the Image of God in Chinese Healthcare

Crossway – 2 Good Reasons We Should Read beyond the Bible

Denny Burk – Dealing with Resolution 9… or not?

F&T – 3 Solutions to the Most Common Evangelism Obstacles

Church Answers – Pastors: Why Your Local Influence is More Essential than a National Platform

Tim Challies – Fruitfulness and Usefulness

Chuck Lawless – A Reminder of a Church’s Responsibility toward Their Pastor—from Charles Spurgeon

IMB – Southern Baptists appoint 64 missionaries in Sending Celebration

Not the Bee – HERE WE ARE: Another Canadian pastor was arrested after a police helicopter found his church’s new secret location. He was hauled off to jail in front of his family.

Babylon Bee – Child Worker’s Spirits Really Lifted By All The Pride Merch He’s Making For Major Corporations

Babylon Bee – Surefire Ways To Win An Argument With Your Wife

Babylon Bee – Kamala Harris Suggests Biden Has Dirt On The Clintons

Babylon Bee – Dad Who Refused Any Involvement In Purchase Of Cat Now Full-Time Cat Butler

Baptists Through the Centuries: Blogging Through Bebbington – Baptist Identity

What is a Baptists? I must admit, before reading the final chapter of David Bebbington’s book Baptist Through the Centuries, this was a question I never asked. A baptists, at the very least, affirms believers baptism by immersion. After all, its in their name!

In his final historic survey, Dr. Bebbington shows that this question has occupied Baptists more than most realize. Early on, he notes:

On many occasions, too, they debated among themselves what the proper opinions of baptists are – a contentious business because there is no obvious court of appeal. For Methodists, the teaching of John Wesley can help determine the authentic denominational position; for Presbyterians, the Westminister Confession can be used as a guide to what members should believe and practice. There is no agreed equivalent among Baptists. (256)

Nevertheless, the man who set the standard of what a Baptist for the last century was Edgar Y. Mullins who served as President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His book The Axioms of Religion remains influential today. Bebbington summarizes the book with the following:

“The Scriptures,” he wrote, “are the rule of faith and practice.” Yet he was taking fresh ground. He concluded the same sentence by adding “and the omnipresent Spirit the interpreter.” The Holy Spirit, he believed, guided the church’s understanding of the Bible through Christian experience. The category of experience was elevated to a much higher place than it had hitherto occupied. The authority for Baptist faith and practice moved significantly from the written text of the Bible t the personal experience of Christians. (257)

Bebbington notes that Mullins “was adjusting to the intellectual currents of the day. The high prestige of Immanuel Kant at the time meant that the philosopher’s supreme valuation of the human individual was in vogue” (258). In theology, philosophy often looms large. In Baptists life, Kant (through Mullins) led to the later war between moderates and conservatives. The two sides debated many fundamental issues of the faith including the veracity and inerrancy of Scripture, women in ministry, and many social issues.

In the end, this battle meant one thing, “the synthesis created by Mullins fell apart. . . . The Bible was pitted against freedom” (262). All of this led to a number “strands of Baptist life.” Bebbington identifies:

  1. “[T]hose who were not ashamed to call themselves liberals.” (265
  2. Classic Evangelicals
  3. Premillenialism
  4. Charismaticism
  5. Calvinism
  6. “[A]n affinity for the Anabaptists.” (270)
  7. High Church

I will not go into detail into any of these. I will note that the liberal wing of Baptists have mostly left the Southern Baptist Convention in favor of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and other identities. Moving forward, it seems like the debate over Calvinism and non-Calvinism will remain an issue. However, on this end, I do not believe our Baptist identity should be tied to this tertiary theological debate. About a decade ago, in my experience, debates over charismatic issues like tongue speaking was a hot topic. I suspect it will return especially as many Reformed Baptists are also continuationists.

In the end, I would point us to some of the classic Baptist distinctives which include believers baptism, regenerate church membership, local church autonomy, priesthood of all believers, and religious liberty. That’s a baptist. A Christian in the primaries. A baptist in the secondaries.

All Around the Web – June 17, 2021

Trevin Wax – Evangelicals Weighed and Wanting?

Desiring God – Let Passing Controversies Pass

Justin Taylor – The Most Effective Technology on the Planet to Block Pornography

TGC – In a Cultural Revolution, Sit Tight

Pilgrim in Narnia – 5 Ways to Find Open Source Academic Research on C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Inklings

TGC – Teach Kids to Understand Economics and Love the Lord

TGC – When You Spend Yourself for the Sheep

Chuck Lawless – 7 Suggestions for Pastors on Their Way to Church

Bible Gateway – The NASB 2020 Bible Translation: An Interview with Pike Lambeth

Crossway – What Does It Mean that Jesus Is Prophet, Priest, and King?

F&T – 6 Factors That Set Up Ministry Workers and Volunteers for Success

IMB – ‘Together, we press toward the vision,’ Chitwood assures Southern Baptists

Babylon Bee – Far-Right Apostle Paul Bans Teaching Critical Race Theory In Churches

Babylon Bee – In Honor Of Pride Month, Biden Announces He Will Also Sniff Men’s Hair

Babylon Bee – World’s Economy Saved As Giant Crack In Earth Swallows Up All G7 Conference Attendees

Babylon Bee – Woke Public School Hangs Up Inspirational ‘You Can’t Do It!’ Poster For Black Students

All Around the Web – June 16, 2021

Joe Carter – 9 Things You Should Know About G. K. Chesterton

TGC – When a Pastor’s Child Strays

Chuck Lawless – 8 Reasons I’m Challenging My Church to be More Evangelistic

John STonestreet – Banning Critical Race Theory?

F&T – Are Christian Teens Influencing or Being Influenced by the World?

Thom Rainer – Why a Lousy Outreach Ministry Works So Well

Tim Challies – This Broken, Beautiful World

Evangelical History – A Guide to Choosing a Christian College

Kentucky Today – Litton voted next president of Southern Baptist Convention

Kentucky Today – SBC business plan change rejected, SBC constitution amended

Kentucky Today – ‘Count the faces’: SBC diversity on the rise

Kentucky today – Runner, 78, inspires others as he completes 3,000-mile trip

Babylon Bee – Texas Governor Signs Executive Order Donating City Of Austin To California

Babylon Bee – People Who Ruined World’s Economies Gather To Discuss How To Fix World’s Economies

Babylon Bee – The Babylon Bee Guide To Crypto

Babylon Bee – The 7 Most Problematic Characters In The Lord Of The Rings

From Lewis’s Pen: God Will Invade

From Mere Christianity:

God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realise what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on to the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else – something it never entered your head to conceive – comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last for ever. We must take it or leave it.