Another day, another report about the problems in the Southern Baptist Convention.
According to The Message, the official newspaper of Louisiana Baptists, a story reported on February 16, 2017 that former Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham, pastor of the 41,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, has led his congregation to suspend the church’s support of the SBC’s Cooperative Program.
“Prestonwood Baptist Church has announced its decision to escrow gifts previously forwarded to support Southern Baptist cooperative missions and ministries while the congregation discusses concerns about the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention.” (Source)
There’s as much certainty that Prestonwood’s actions will receive prompt attention within the CP-funded ivory towers of SBC elitedom as there was of Christ’s certainty of Judas’ betrayal. Prestonwood contributes nearly $1 million annually to CP coffers.
It was just back in January when former Tennessee Baptist Convention President Dean Haun led his church to do the same. (Go HERE for more) Haun, a former trustee of the SBC’s International Missions Board, and his church decided to escrow their financial support until a satisfactory response to the IMB’s 2016 participation in a religious liberty amicus brief supporting a mosque’s construction in New Jersey was forthcoming. On Wednesday, February 15, IMB President David Platt issued an “apology” of sorts for the “divisive and distracting” results of his agency’s signatory role in the legal filing.
But the IMB was not the only SBC agency serving as a signatory alongside the interfaith array of the brief’s supporters. Joining legal hands with the likes of The Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, the International Society of Krishna Awareness, and The Sikh Coalition, the SBC’s IMB was also heartily joined in the brief by its Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) under the leadership of Russell Moore.
Graham’s church, according to The Message article, cites the SBC’s mosque support as instrumental in its concerns about “the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention.” The church’s primary concern, at least as has been reported, may seem primarily focused on the activity of the ERLC and Russell Moore.
Prestonwood’s Executive Pastor, Mike Buster, referred to “various significant positions taken by the leadership of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission that do not reflect the beliefs and values of many in the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Not only did the ERLC, under Russell Moore, brashly and arrogantly rebuke a pastor for questioning its participation in its mosque-building alliance, Moore has also been an outspoken critic of now-President Trump. Moore publicly denigrated Christians who would support Trump, and, as it turns out, many of those Trump-supporters just happened to be Cooperative Program-givers. Southern Baptist pew sitters supported Trump by the hordes while annually funding a nearly $4m SBC agency that was actively lobbying against them all the while, and caricaturing them as “the old-school political Religious Right.”
The article highlights Moore’s disdain for those who effectively pay his salary, citing his own words about them during the campaign season. Trump voters, he said, “may well be drunk right now, and haven’t been into a church since someone invited them to Vacation Bible School sometime back when Seinfeld was in first-run episodes.”
However, Graham noted that his church’s concerns are not focused singularly on “one personality.” Stating that he’s “not angry at the SBC,” Graham emphasized that an “uneasiness” exists in his church’s leadership about the “disconnect between some of our denominational leaders and our churches.”
“We’re just concerned about the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention, and feel the need to make some changes in the way we give.” Jack Graham
Indeed, there is much to be concerned about in the SBC. Its downgrade performance of the last decade is no doubt highlighted by the exodus of over 1 million members from its ranks. But, that’s what happens when Scripture is lauded, but not obeyed. It’s what happens when churches become more concerned with church growth techniques than Biblical obedience and trusting Christ to build His Church. And it’s what happens when churches, and their denomination, don’t exalt His name and His Word as He has done.
The shame of it is, perhaps, that money seems to matter more than that Name and than that Word. There will be more to this story, to be sure. Please, pray for the SBC, for its leaders, for its pastors and its church leadership, and for it to be convicted to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2), to teach what accords with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1), and to contend for the faith once for all delivered. (Jude 3)
You have exalted above all things your name and your word.” Psalm 138:2
And until more SBC churches do as the Psalmist stated, perhaps more should do as Haun and Graham’s churches have done … because it sure seems like the Word of God isn’t getting the point across …
[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]