WHY I AM NOT SOUTHERN BAPTIST
Updated and enlarged February 11, 2009 (first published June 29, 2000) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
I grew up in Southern Baptist churches and many of my relatives are still a part of the Convention, but when I was converted in 1973 I joined an independent Baptist congregation. Though it would have been much easier to have gone back to the Convention, THOUGH I AM THANKFUL FOR THE SPIRITUAL BENEFIT I RECEIVED BY GROWING UP UNDER THE SOUND OF THE GOSPEL AND FOR THE SOUND SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE I WAS TAUGHT AS A BOY, AND THOUGH I AM THANKFUL FOR EVERY GOOD THING THAT GOD HAS DONE THROUGH THE CONVENTION, there are some compelling reasons why I have not done so.
The following are some of these:
(1) THE DENOMINATIONAL SYSTEM ITSELF IS UNSCRIPTURAL.
The Lord’s apostles planted autonomous congregations and they did not build denominational structures yoking the congregations together. The New Testament gives detailed instructions for the government and discipline of the assembly, but there are no instructions for the establishment of intra- or extra-church institutions. Denominational structures are man-made entities that have no biblical authority.
The denominational system has a big impact on churches in a variety of ways. One is in the area of missions. A large percentage of independent Baptist churches are extremely missionary minded. They support missionaries directly, have a personal involvement with and knowledge of the ministries they support and pray specifically for individual missionaries, plus the church members regularly meet “real live” missionaries as they pass through on deputation. The Southern Baptist Convention’s centralized denominational missionary program does not lend itself to any of these things.
(2) THE SBC IS ECUMENICAL.
Until 2004 the Southern Baptist Convention was one of the chief members of the World Baptist Alliance, an organization almost as radically liberal as the National Council of Churches in America and the World Council of Churches. The Convention did not pull out of the World Baptist Alliance until its enemy the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was accepted as a member, which makes the pull out decision appear political rather than theological.
Regardless of its disassociation with the World Baptist Alliance, the SBC has many other ecumenical associations. It has a relationship, for example, with the American Bible Society and the United Bible Societies. In our book Unholy Hands on God’s Holy Book, available from Way of Life Literature, we have carefully documented the theological modernism which permeates the Bible societies.
The SBC yokes together with modernism through its longstanding alliance with the China Christian Council. In November 1997, Louis Moore, associate vice president for communications with the SBC foreign mission board stated that the Southern Baptist Convention has worked closely with the China Christian Council (CCC) from its beginning and there are currently eight “career Southern Baptist workers” assigned to the Council. K.H. Ting, longtime head of the CCC, is a rank modernist who denies that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, denies that sinful men will be judged by God, praises liberation theology, and believes truth is found in all religions. In chapter six of our book “Has the Southern Baptist Convention Been Rescued from Modernism,” we have documented the unbelief that permeates the China Christian Council.
The SBC has also conducted formal dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, and Roman Catholic priests have spoken in many SBC pulpits. The Baptist convention of South Carolina warmly welcomed Pope John Paul II to America in 1987. This has never been repented of or publicly repudiated in spite of the “conservative renaissance.” The SBC has participated in such radical ecumenical crusades and meetings as Key ‘73 and the National Festival of Evangelism in 1988. SBC congregations are perpetually hosting and participating in local ecumenical meetings. In 1980 twenty-five Alabama SBC pastors met with twenty-five Roman Catholic “clergymen” to build bridges “that may help them work together more often than they have in the past” (Birmingham News, Aug. 22, 1980).
Southern Baptist agencies were active in “Mission 2000,” a consortium of “400 New Evangelical denominations, mission agencies and para-church groups that advocate and adhere to ecumenical evangelism” (Fundamentalist Digest, March-April 2001, p. 9).
The Southern Baptist Convention has strongly supported the radically ecumenical Promise Keepers movement, which has had a Roman Catholic on its board of directors and which has featured Roman Catholic priests as key speakers at some of its events. (For documentation see the section on Promise Keepers in the Apostasy Database at the Way of Life web site.) Much of the support for Promise Keepers has come from SBC congregations across the country.
The Southern Baptist Convention also associates in ecumenical ventures in its close association with ecumenical evangelistic crusades sponsored by Billy Graham, Luis Palau, and others. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has a course entitled Christian Life and Witness, which trains students in crusade counseling techniques. On May 3, 2001, the Baptist Press ran an article entitled “Hundreds of Southern Students Prepare for Graham Crusade.” R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of Southern Seminary, served as the chairman of Graham’s crusade. He told the Baptist Press, “Nothing else has brought together the kind of ethnic and racial and denominational inclusivity as is represented in this crusade; nothing in my experience and nothing in the recent history of Louisville has brought together such a group of committed Christians for one purpose” [emphasis added]. In fact, Southern Seminary proudly hosts the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth.
Thus even the allegedly conservative Southern Baptist seminaries at the national level are ecumenical.
Roman Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus, co-author of Evangelicals and Catholics Together, was scheduled to speak at Beeson Divinity School, October 2-3, 2001. Timothy George, Dean of Beeson, is a signer of Evangelicals & Catholics Together II.
George was scheduled to join Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to speak at “a meeting of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christians” on November 8-10, 2001, at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Illinois. Other speakers included Metropolitan Maximos, Greek Orthodox bishop, and James Hitchcock, professor at Roman Catholic St. Louis University (The Fundamentalist Digest, July-August 2001, p. 4).
Eugene Lowery, professor at United Methodist Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri, was a guest lecturer at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in February 2001. That same month, Southwestern featured guest lecturer Peter Toon, executive president of the Prayer Book Society for the wretchedly apostate Episcopal Church. We could list hundreds of other examples of ecumenical ventures involving SBC congregations and schools.
In February 2007 Southeastern Theological Seminary featured two Roman Catholic speakers at its 20/20 Conference: Peter Kreeft and Richard John Neuhaus. They spoke in the plenary sessions. Neuhaus is a co-author of Evangelicals and Catholics Together, and Kreeft, in his book Ecumenical Jihad, says that there is a “hidden Christ” in pagan religions so that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., will be saved “through Christ and His grace” even though they do not consciously know or worship Jesus Christ (pp. 156, 157).
Southern Baptist churches, colleges, and seminaries do nothing to warn their students about the great dangers of ecumenical evangelism. They do not explain that Billy Graham has turned thousands of converts over to Roman Catholic and modernistic churches. They do not carry books in their bookstores that warn about ecumenical ventures such as this and that document New Evangelical compromise.
The deeply compromised, ecumenical nature of the Southern Baptist Convention was seen in its support for Mel Gibson and his R-rated Roman Catholic film The Passion of the Christ. Gibson based his movie partly on Catholic mystic Anne-Catherine Emmerich’s “visions,” which are recorded in the book “The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” Gibson said, “She supplied me with stuff I never would have thought of.” Gibson, who is a Roman Catholic, borrowed extra-biblical scenes such as Peter confessing to Mary, Mary appealing to Pilate’s wife to protect Jesus, Mary wiping up Jesus’ blood with cloths provided by Pilate’s wife, and Mary saying to Jesus, “Flesh of my flesh and heart of my heart, let me die with you.” Pope John Paul II is scheduled to beatify Emmerich in a ceremony at the Vatican on October 3. Mel Gibson prays to Mary and believes in salvation through the Catholic sacraments; he accepts the Council of Trent as authoritative, even though it hurled 125 anathemas or curses at those who accept the Bible alone as the Word of God and who believe that salvation is by God’s grace alone without works or sacraments. Gibson stated in an interview that he does not believe that people can go to heaven apart from the Roman Catholic Church.
In spite of the clear and present danger of such appalling heresy, Gibson and his movie have received thunderous support from the Southern Baptist Convention. I have not heard even one conservative SBC leader warn about it. Jack Graham, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “The movie is biblical, powerful and potentially life-changing.” Morris Chapman, president of the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention said, “I don’t know of anything since the Billy Graham crusades that has had the potential of touching so many lives.” Not to be outdone, popular SBC preacher Adrian Rogers even believes this Hollywood movie “is going to bring the Church away from me-ology back to theology” (“Gibson’s Words Fuel Controversy,” AgapePress, Feb. 20).
The Word of God warns that those who associate with heresy can lose their rewards and become partakers of the evil deeds of those who are committed to false teaching (2 John 7-11).
(3) THE SBC HAS REFUSED TO DISCIPLINE BILLY GRAHAM.
Dr. Graham is a member of the late W.A. Criswell’s First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, and he has never been disciplined for his disobedience to the Word of God and for doing more than any other man in this generation to break down the wall between truth and error and to muddy the waters of the gospel by his association with and recognition of men who preach abominable false gospels. Dr. Graham has sent multiplied thousands of converts back to Roman Catholic and modernistic Protestant churches to be devoured by wolves in sheep’s clothing. We have carefully documented this in our book Evangelicals and Rome. Here are three examples of Graham’s practice:
1984 - Vancouver, British Columbia crusade vice-chairman David Cline stated: “If Catholics step forward there will be no attempt to convert them and their names will be given to the Catholic church nearest their homes” (Vancouver Sun, Oct. 5, 1984).
1987 - A priest and a nun were among the supervisors of the counselors for the Denver crusade; from one service alone 500 cards of individuals were referred to St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church (Wilson Ewin, Evangelism: The Trojan Horse of the 1990’s).
1989 - 2,100 Catholics that came forward during Graham’s London crusade were referred to Catholic churches (John Ashbrook, New Neutralism II: Exposing the Gray of Compromise, 1992).
Graham has fellowshipped closely with Rome since the 1950s, and we have given extensive documentation of this in the book Evangelicals and Rome, available from Way of Life Literature.
If turning seekers over to Roman Catholic and modernistic churches is not cause for discipline, nothing is. Not only has Dr. Graham not been rebuked and disciplined by the Southern Baptist Convention, he has been greatly honored.
(4) SBC CHURCHES ARE NOT GOVERNED SCRIPTURALLY.
Though there are some exceptions, they commonly have a deacon board that has authority equal to and even above that of the pastor(s). The Bible gives no authority to deacons. Nowhere does the Bible speak of “deacons who rule well,” because deacons are not rulers. Their qualifications are not ruling qualifications, but are the qualifications of servants to the pastors and congregations. Whereas pastors (also called elders and bishops) must be apt to teach and able to defend the flock from false teachers (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:4-13), deacons have no such requirement (1 Timothy 3:8-13). The common polity used among SBC congregations ignores these biblical truths, and allows men who are not qualified to be pastors to have authority equal to that of a pastor. This unscriptural church polity creates tremendous potential for abuse. In many SBC churches, the pastor is little more than a hired preacher, who is in danger of being fired at any time if he displeases the deacons or established families in the congregation. In fact, many SBC congregations are ruled, in practice, by strong-willed women who are the wives of SBC deacons.
(5) WORLDLINESS IS RAMPANT IN SBC CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS.
Though there are godly Southern Baptist people, the homes of the average church members are too often filled with rock music (secular and “Christian”), immodest dress, R-rated videos, and many other marks of a gross love of the world. Southern Baptist coeds have volunteered to pose for Playboy magazine (Mercer University, 1985). Many SBC schools are known as wild party schools, and the student fornicators and drunkards are not disciplined. Worldly dances are held on the campuses of many SBC-connected schools. Hundreds of SBC congregations host “Christian” rock concerts. More than 35 years ago, Evangelist John R. Rice warned, “The lewdness of the modern dance is now excused and the worldly viewpoint accepted in most Southern Baptist colleges” (“Dancing in Southern Baptist Colleges,” Sword of the Lord, Sept. 5, 1969). The worldliness in the Southern Baptist Convention has dramatically increased since then and the conservative renaissance has done nothing to stem this tide.
In 1986 Southern Baptist-supported Baylor University in Texas began allowing campus dances. Speaking with the Ft. Worth Telegram-Star, university President Robert Sloan described the move as exciting and said, “It’s done at other universities and we’ve wanted it for a long time.” Baylor sororities, fraternities, and other organizations had held off-campus dances for many years.
The First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, had a “Hard-Core-a-Thone concert that kicked off a new youth ministry.” A picture in the Dallas Morning News showed “young people slam-dancing the night away” (The Fundamentalist Digest, September-October 2002).
Grace Point Church (formerly known as Castle Hills Church Northwest, founded by Castle Hills First Baptist Church, San Antonio, Texas area] held a “Dad and Daughter Valentine Dance” on Feb. 8, 2002. A news report indicated the occasion featured “the chicken dance, Macarena and twist” (San Antonio Express News, Feb. 2, 2002, p. 12C; Feb. 14, 2002, p. B6; cited from The Fundamentalist Digest, Sept.-Oct. 2002).
Pointed preaching against indecent dress and worldly music and unwholesome entertainment is almost nonexistent in most SBC churches. (Sadly, the same can be said for a rapidly growing number of Independent Baptist churches.) Dr. John Bisagno’s First Baptist Church (SBC) in Houston, Texas, had an Elvis contest and Beatles music at a 1994 event in its Solid Rock Café (Calvary Contender, Aug. 15, 1994). Dr. R.L. Hymers, Jr. relates the following in his book Preaching To A Dying Nation: “A short time ago I was driving through Houston on a trip with my family. It was Sunday, so we dropped into the First Baptist Church ... since we knew of no independent church in the downtown area. I can only describe this evening service as fully charismatic. The pulsating music went on at a deafening level for nearly an hour. The sermon, by ... Louie Giglio, was replete with charismatic ideas, punctuated by waves of people holding their arms in the air. The ushers were men dressed in shorts and caps with rings in their ears. ... We felt as out of place as we would have if we had entered a night club, a rock concert, or an opium den! ... It is considered one of the conservative churches in the Southern Baptist Convention.”
(6) SHAMEFUL POLITICS IS PRACTICED BY SBC CONSERVATIVE LEADERS.
They claim on one hand to be zealous for the Word of God, while at the same time refusing to separate from those who question and deny the Word of God. In chapter three of our book “Has the Southern Baptist Convention Been Rescued from Liberalism,” we have documented statements by most conservative SBC presidents proving that their goal is not to purge the convention entirely of theological liberalism but to achieve “parity” between the “moderates” and the “conservatives.”
The modernists in the Southern Baptist Convention are clever men. They shun labels such as Modernist and Neo-Orthodox, preferring the non-offensive term “Moderate.” The conservative movement has not caused them to repent of their unscriptural doctrines; it has caused them to be more cautious in the expression of the same. They have learned how to retain their position within the Convention, and many of them are content to hold their peace until the climate is more favorable to their views.
Bobby Welch, who was elected president of the SBC in 2004, while running as a “conservative” is intent on unifying conservatives and “moderates.” “Newly-elected Southern Baptist President Bobby Welch is very intent on bringing unity to his fractured denomination and plans to use a bus tour to bring everyone to ‘the Baptist table.’ Welch hopes this will be a ‘sterling opportunity for everybody’ to come to the Baptist table, ‘including moderates and liberals’ who have withdrawn much of their support for the convention in the last 20 years (Huntsville Times, August 14, 2004). He hopes to convince all groups to set aside their differences to create ‘a spiritual synergy’ through evangelism. But a unity based on unscriptural alliances does harm to the doctrine of separation. A unity not based on truth (Bible doctrine) is an unscriptural one” (Calvary Contender, Sept. 2004).
The error of Welch’s program is evident when we consider the fact that term “moderates” within the SBC context includes those who hold modernistic doctrines, such as denying the infallibility of Scripture.
(7) WOMEN ARE ALLOWED TO HOLD LEADERSHIP ROLES IN THE SBC.
The Fall 1997 edition of Folio, the newsletter of Baptist Women in Ministry, published the results of an extensive study and said there were 1,225 ordained women in the SBC and that roughly 200 of those are pastors and associate pastors. There were 16 states where women serve as senior pastors in SBC churches. North Carolina had the most. The other top 10 states for employing Baptist clergywomen were, in order, Texas, Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Alabama and Maryland. The Folio statistics are probably no longer accurate, as in the year 2000 the newly adopted Faith and Message, the SBC’s statement of faith, took a stand against women being ordained as pastors. At the same time, only some state conventions have adopted the new Faith and Message. The Midwestern Theological Seminary published a report more recently that claims there are only about 35 pastors in Southern Baptist churches, but the report is “preliminary” and addresses only the issue of senior pastors. SBC seminaries and colleges and other schools used by SBC congregations (such as Dallas Theological Seminary) are filled with women who have feminist sympathies and who are training for the ministry. Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, stated that more women are now being trained for ministry in Southern Baptist seminaries than at any other time in the SBC’s history (Southern Baptist Convention web site, June 15, 2000).
While most of the ordained females in Southern Baptist congregations are not senior pastors, they are disobeying the Bible by assuming leadership roles in other ways and by teaching and preaching to men (1 Tim. 2:12).
There are large numbers of Southern Baptist churches that allow women to teach adult Sunday School classes and otherwise openly disobey 1 Timothy 2:12. It is just as unscriptural for a woman to teach a class of men as it for a woman to be a senior pastor.
W.A. Criswell’s wife, Dorothy, taught a mixed Sunday Class for many years composed of men and women at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. Some of those who sat under her teaching were students and trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (“Pastor’s letter challenges seminary’s proposed stance,” Baptist Press, Oct 17, 2006).
Paige Patterson’s wife, Dorothy, has spoken as the principal speaker at the Sunday Morning worship service at Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas (Baptist Press, Oct 17, 2006).
Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, who frequently preaches to mixed crowds of men and women, is a member of a Southern Baptist congregation. Texas Southern Baptists featured Lotz’s “stirring preaching” at their Evangelism Conference in 1996 and she was again featured as a preacher at a Sunday morning worship service June 15, 2003, sponsored by the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (Ohio Baptist Messenger, July 2003).
If we are going to disregard the Bible in one area why not disregard it altogether? Conventions and associations, being extra-biblical institutions, can only define and enforce doctrine by consensus, and the consensus invariably falls short of the whole counsel of God.
(8) THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT IS GROWING WITHIN THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION.
Though a few churches and individual missionaries have been put out of the Southern Baptist Convention for charismatic doctrine and practice, many others remain, and the number is increasing. In Christianity Today, May 16, 1986, Pastor Don LeMaster of the West Lauderdale Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, estimated that five percent of SBC congregations were openly charismatic at that time. That number has probably increased during the past 15 years. Charisma magazine, March 1999, contained a report entitled “Shaking Southern Baptist Tradition,” which gave many examples of charismatic Southern Baptist congregations.
In 1995, two professors at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, told Baptist Press that Southern Baptists shouldn’t fear the charismatic movement. “We shouldn’t feel defensive or threatened by an alternative experience, perspective or insights about the Holy Spirit,” said William Hendricks, director of Southern’s doctoral studies program. Churches should not be making a big issue of the movement, he added, because “you could be fighting what is a legitimate experience of the Spirit.” Tim Weber, professor of church history, agreed: “Most charismatics take the Bible as seriously as Southern Baptists, although they read it differently,” he said. The professors also said Southern Baptists shouldn’t divide charismatics into a separate “camp,” since their influence has touched the 15 million-member Southern Baptist Convention. ... The professors believe the time has arrived for a more reasoned approach to charismatics and dialogue with them (Charisma, April 1995, p. 79).
Three of the men that are associated with the charismatic move within the SBC are Jack Taylor, Ron Phillips, and Gary Folds, all of whom have accepted the unscriptural nonsense occurring at the Toronto Airport Church in Ontario and/or at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. This “revival” takes the form of uncontrollable laughter, falling on the floor, barking like a dog and roaring like a lion, electric shocks, weird shaking, and other bizarre experiences.
Jack Taylor is a former vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Taylor was converted to the “Toronto Blessing” when he visited there in 1994. Since then he has spoken frequently on the radical Trinity Broadcasting Network and similar Charismatic forums. He founded Dimension Ministries and is busy influencing Southern Baptists and others with his unscriptural doctrines.
Ron Phillips is pastor of Central Baptist Church of Hixson, Tennessee. His annual Fresh Oil & New Wine Conference, which features speakers such as Rodney Howard-Browne, the “Holy Ghost Bartender,” draws hundreds of Southern Baptist pastors and church members. The church uses the charismatic rock-style music and is experiencing charismatic phenomenon. Another Southern Baptist pastor, Dwain Miller of Second Baptist Church in El Dorado, Arkansas, has prophesied to Phillips that God would use him “to bring renewal to the SBC’s 41,000 churches.” He is referring to a charismatic “renewal,” which is always accompanied by unscriptural ecumenical fervor and downplaying of Bible doctrine. In April 2006, Phillips told the Tennessean newspaper that he first experienced speaking in tongues when he was sleeping. He said his wife woke him up and said, “What in the world are you saying?” He concluded that it was a gift from God to encourage him (“Some Baptists Believe Gift of Tongues Remain,” The Tennessean, March 26). He says that he continues to speak in tongues in his “private prayers.” Of course, there is not a hint of something like this in the New Testament Scriptures.
Gary Folds is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Belle Glade, Florida. He has written a book promoting the Toronto “Blessing” entitled “Bull in a China Shop: A Baptist Pastor Runs into God at Toronto.” He describes being “slain” in the Spirit and other such things. Following is how he described the meetings he attended: “Some people would simply lay on the floor as though they were sleeping … Others would writhe in what appeared to be anguish, pain, or possibly agony. Some would twitch, while others shook, and some would even have convulsive-type jerking. Many would cry, while an even greater number would laugh … Many of them would laugh for an hour or longer. One night I saw people laugh for almost two and a half hours.”
James Robison is another example of SBC charismatics. The once fiery evangelist used to lift his voice against sin and apostasy, but those days are over. In 1979, he had some sort of charismatic experience. That same year he spoke at an Assembly of God church. By 1981, he had completely gone over to the ecumenical Charismatic-Roman Catholic line. That was the year he first invited a Roman Catholic to speak at his Bible conference. Robison was so comfortable with the ecumenical program by 1987 that he joined hands with 20,000 Roman Catholics, including hundreds of priests and nuns, at New Orleans ‘87. At this meeting, Robison made the following amazing statement: “I tell you what, one of the finest representatives of morality in this earth right now is the Pope. People who know it really believe he is a born again man.” I was at this meeting with press credentials and personally recorded the message from which this excerpt is taken. Robison remains affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and has influenced many Southern Baptists in the charismatic direction.
Another example is the Missouri-based evangelist Bill Sharples. He resigned a Southern Baptist pastorate after accepting the tongues-speaking movement, but 25% of his meetings are in SBC churches. He claims that 15 to 20 percent of Southern Baptists that he meets are open to the Charismatic movement.
Billy Graham is another Southern Baptist who has recommended tongues and charismatic signs and wonders. In his 1978 book, The Holy Spirit, he “endorsed laying on of hands, divine healing and tongues.” He said: “As we approach the end of the age I believe we will see a dramatic recurrence of signs and wonders, which will demonstrate the power of God to a skeptical world.” Graham even promoted the false charismatic prophet Oral Roberts. Graham spoke at the dedication ceremony of Oral Roberts University in 1962. Later that year Graham joined Oral Roberts as a speaker at the July 1962 convention of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International in Seattle, Washington. Graham invited Roberts to the World Congress on Evangelism in 1966 and recommended him to influential Evangelical leaders.
Pat Robertson is another example. In the late 1950s he became involved in the Pentecostal movement and began “speaking in tongues.” He established the Christian Broadcasting Network in 1960, and that same year was ordained by the Freemason Street Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia, a Southern Baptist congregation. A few years later he formed the “700 Club,” which spread ecumenical and charismatic doctrine far and wide. He still claims to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Speaking at Celebration 2000 in St. Louis, Missouri, Robertson testified that though he is a Baptist, he sees the need for Roman Catholic charismatics to visit Baptist churches in order to teach the Baptists how to dance and worship God.
Another charismatic Southern Baptist is Pastor Wallace Henley, Crossroads Baptist Church, Houston, Texas. His church practices tongues speaking, and he supports the “revival” at the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, where the pastor gets so “drunk in the spirit” that he cannot lead the congregation. Henley claims that those who are opposed to the charismatic movement are “pharisaical” and “mean-spirited.”
In November 2005 the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board voted to forbid missionaries to speak in tongues, but Jerry Rankin, the head of the board, says that he has spoken in a “private prayer language” for 30 years!
Speaking at a chapel service on August 29, 2006, Dwight McKissic, a trustee of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the students that he speaks in tongues in his “private prayer life” (“Southwestern Trustee’s Sermon on Tongues Prompts Response,” Baptist Press, Aug. 30, 2006). McKissic, who is the pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, an SBC congregation in Arlington, Texas, said he has prayed in tongues since 1981.The first time, he says, was when he was a seminary student. He recalls, “Strange sounds begin to come out of my mouth” (“Southern Baptists Debate Tongues,” cbs11tv.com, October 07, 2006).
Missionary David Rogers, son of the late Adrian Rogers, SAID HE WORKS WITH MANY MISSIONARIES WHO PRACTICE PRIVATE TONGUES.
Charles Carroll, SBC missionary to Singapore who was dismissed by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board in 1995 because of his charismatic activities, testified that many
Southern Baptists living overseas are charismatic, but most remain “in the closet” for fear of being fired (“Baptist Missionaries in the Closet,” Charisma, March 1999, p. 72).
Thus, it appears that this is not a small issue or one that will go away any time soon. Rankin and those supporting his position are trying to distinguish between public tongues and private, saying that while they are opposed to public tongues they believe there is a private form of tongues that one can use to edify oneself. In fact, biblical tongues are biblical tongues. The tongues of Acts are the tongues of 1 Corinthians 14. They were real languages that a believer could speak supernaturally. They were a sign to the nation Israel that God was going to send the gospel to every nation and create a new spiritual body composed of both Jews and Gentiles (1 Cor. 14:20-22, quoted Isaiah 28:11-13). Each time tongues were spoken in Acts (Acts 2, 8, 10, 19) Jews were present. As the prophet Isaiah foretold, the Jews rejected the sign and were judged. Its purpose ceased even before the events recorded in the book of Acts were completed. The last mention of tongues is in Acts 19. The sign, having been fulfilled, ceased. When John Chrysostom wrote in the 4th century about the sign gifts of 1 Corinthians 12-14, he said: “This whole place is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to, and BY THEIR CESSATION, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place” (“Homilies on 1 Corinthians,” Vol. XII, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Hom. 29:2). There is no “private prayer language” in the New Testament. It is the recent invention of Pentecostals and Charismatics who, having realized that they cannot speak in real tongues that can be interpreted (one of the absolute biblical requirements), were forced either to renounce their experience or to create some sort of cockeyed defense for it. There is not one example of a prayer in the Bible that is uttered in unintelligible mutterings that “bypass the intellect.” Jesus Christ did not pray that way and neither did the apostles. I have heard Charismatics speak in their “private prayer language” in churches and conferences in many parts of the world. Larry Lea’s “private prayer language” at Indianapolis ’90 went something like this: “Bubblyida bubblyida hallelujah bubblyida hallabubbly shallabubblyida kolabubblyida glooooory hallelujah bubblyida.” I wrote that down as he was saying it and later checked it against the tape. Nancy Kellar, a Roman Catholic nun who was on the executive committee of St. Louis 2000, spoke in “tongues” that went like this: “Shananaa leea, shananaa higha, shananaa nanaa, shananaa leea…” repeated over and over.
Friends, this is not any sort of biblical prayer; it is childish nonsense, but it is neither innocent nor lacking in spiritual danger. The Bible warns repeatedly and forcefully about the danger of spiritual deception, and those who empty their minds through the practice of a “private prayer language” are in danger of the devil filling them.
The Southern Baptist Convention would do well to cleanse itself of all Charismatic practices, but no half-hearted attempt will ever get the job done. What kind of silliness is this, forbidding missionaries to do something that the head of their agency does!
The 2008 Southern Baptist Hymnal contains many songs written by charismatics and published by charismatic music companies such as Integrity, Maranatha, and Hillsong. About 75 of the top 100 contemporary worship songs are included. For example, songs by David Ruis, Paul Baloche, Jack Hayford and Darlene Zschech are included. These popular worship leaders are extreme charismatic ecumenists and contemporary Christian rockers.
David Ruis is a worship leader at the Toronto Airport Church where people roll on the floor, bark like dogs, roar like lions, laugh hysterically, and get “drunk in the spirit” during their “revivals.” Ruis’s song “Break Dividing Walls” calls for unscriptural ecumenical unity between all denominations.
Paul Baloche is worship leader at the charismatic Community Christian Fellowship of Lindale, Texas. Their 2002 Leadership Summit featured Ricky Paris of Vision Ministries International, who calls himself an apostle and is said to give “apostolic covering” to Vision Church of Austin, Texas. Baloche’s Offering of Worship album was recorded at Regent University in Virginia Beach, which was founded by the radical charismatic ecumenist Pat Robertson. As far back as 1985, Robertson said that he “worked for harmony and reconciliation between Protestants and Catholics” (Christian News, July 22, 1985). Some of the Regent professors are Roman Catholic and Regent’s Center for Law and Justice has a Roman Catholic executive director. According to Frontline magazine, May-June 2000, a Catholic mass is held on Regent’s campus every week.
Jack Hayford, author of the song “Majesty” (which teaches the Pentecostal kingdom-now theology) and many other very popular worship songs, is pastor of Church-on-the-Way Foursquare Church, a Pentecostal denominational founded by the female pastor Aimee Semple McPherson. Paul and Jan Crouch, of the Trinity Broadcasting Network are members of Hayford’s church. Speaking at the St. Louis 2000 conference, Hayford told how his daughter approached him one day concerned that her “tongues speaking” was mere gibberish. He encouraged her that the believer must first learn to speak in baby tongues before he speaks in adult tongues. (I attended this conference with press credentials and heard Hayford say this.) To the contrary, biblical tongues-speaking is not something that be learned; it is supernatural gift and there is not one example in the New Testament of someone learning how to speak in tongues. Hayford claims that in 1969, as he approached a large Catholic church in Southern California, God spoke to him and instructed him not to judge Roman Catholicism. He says he heard a message from God saying, “Why would I not be happy with a place where every morning the testimony of the blood of my Son is raised from the altar?” (“The Pentecostal Gold Standard,” Christianity Today, July 2005). Based upon this “personal revelation,” Hayford adopted a neutral approach to Catholicism, yet the atonement of Jesus Christ is NOT glorified on Roman Catholic altars. The Catholic mass is an open denial of the doctrine of the once-for-all atonement that we find in the book of Hebrews. Note what the Vatican II Council said about the mass: “For in it Christ perpetuates in an unbloody manner the sacrifice offered on the cross, offering himself to the Father for the world’s salvation through the ministry of priests” (The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, “Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery,” Intro., C 1, 2, p. 108). This is only a small part of Rome’s wicked heresies, and it is impossible that God would encourage Jack Hayford to look upon the Roman Catholic Church in any sort of positive, non-judgmental manner. Hayford has acted on this “personal revelation” by yoking up with Roman Catholic leaders in conferences throughout the world. For example, he joined hands with thousands of Roman Catholics, including hundreds of Catholic priests and nuns, at the North American Congress on the Holy Spirit & World Evangelization in St. Louis in 2000.
Darlene Zschech and her Hillsong worship band recently performed for the Catholic Youth Day in Sydney, with the Pope present. The lyrics to Zschech’s “Holy Spirit Rain Down” (which is included in the new Baptist Hymnal) begin: “Holy Spirit, rain down, rain down/ Oh, Comforter and Friend/ How we need Your touch again/ Holy Spirit, rain down, rain down.” Where in Scripture are we instructed to pray to the Holy Spirit? To the contrary, the Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray to the Father (Mat. 6:9). The charismatic movement is not in submission to the Word of God and does not care one way or the other that there is no Scriptural support for this type of prayer, but shame on Baptists who follow in these presumptuous and disobedient footsteps.
Zschech’s song “I Believe the Presence” from her Shout to the Lord album preaches false Pentecostal latter rain theology. The lyrics say: “I believe the promise about the visions and the dreams/ That the Holy Spirit will be poured out/ And His power will be seen/ Well the time is now/ The place is here/ And His people have come in faith/ There’s a mighty sound/ And a touch of fire/ When we’ve gathered in one place” (“I Believe the Presence” from Shout to the Lord).
Shame on Lifeway for giving charismatics a powerful forum to influence Baptist churches, and shame on the Southern Baptist Convention for allowing Lifeway to do these things.
Because the SBC refuses to deal with this error consistently, the leaven will spread. The Bible warns that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” This is true for sin (1 Cor. 5:6) as well as for false doctrine (Gal. 5:9).
(For more about the charismatic movement see The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements: History and Doctrine, which is available from Way of Life Literature.)
(9) THE SBC IS PERMEATED WITH THEOLOGICAL MODERNISM.
Even if none of the above were true, I could not join a Southern Baptist church because of the false teaching which has permeated the Convention and which is supported by the Cooperative Program. Any denial or questioning of the Bible is false teaching. I don’t care if you call them Modernists or Liberals or Neo-orthodox. You can even call them Moderates, if you please. If a man questions the authenticity of any portion of the Bible, if he denies the infallibility of the Holy Scriptures, that man is a heretic, and he should be marked as such and rejected from the congregation and avoided (Rom. 16:17; Tit. 3:10-11).
When I was in my second year of Bible school and was home on a visit, I decided to talk with the pastor of my mother’s SBC church in Kathleen, Florida. This was in 1975. As I sat across the desk from him in his office, I asked how he could lead his congregation to give to the Cooperative Program, knowing that in so doing they were supporting modernists. He looked directly at me and said, “There are no modernists in the Southern Baptist Convention.” He told me I had been “brainwashed by the likes of Lee Roberson and John R. Rice.”
No modernists in the SBC in the 1970s? Denominational loyalty definitely puts blinders on a man! If there were no liberalism in SBC schools in those days, why did more than one hundred SBC professors publicly criticize the Sunday School Board in 1969 for publishing W.A. Criswell’s book Why I Preach that the Bible Is Literally True? If there were no modernism in SBC schools then, there would have been a thunderous “Amen” coming from SBC professors over the publication of such a book. Instead, they were angry! The fact is that the Southern Baptist Convention was permeated at every level with modernism in the 1970s. This was documented extensively in S.B.C. House on the Sand by Dr. David O. Beale (1985, Bob Jones University Press) and Inside the Southern Baptist Convention by Dr. R.L. Hymers (1990, Bible for Today, Collingswood, NJ). Though many positive changes have occurred since then, the Southern Baptist Convention, sadly, is still permeated with modernism.
In 1996, Jerry Falwell said the Southern Baptist Convention has been “rescued from theological liberalism” (Baptist Press, Oct. 24, 1996).
In fact, this is not true. The SBC has a local, a regional, a state, and a national aspect. Only someone trying to excuse his affiliation with liberalism would claim that the Southern Baptist convention only exists at the national level. If this were true, there would not be such a thing as a Southern Baptist congregation, but we know that there is such a thing. It is the state conventions that fund the national convention, and at the state level liberalism is very much alive among Southern Baptists.
Let’s consider North Carolina. This state illustrates how that the Southern Baptist Convention is a mixed multitude of theological modernists and conservatives and how that the most conservative Southern Baptists are still yoked together at the state level with the rankest liberals. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, which sends funds to the Southern Baptist Convention at the national level to support the six seminaries and other projects, at the same time supports liberal schools such as The Divinity School at Wake Forest, Duke Divinity School at Winston-Salem, Gardiner-Webb School of Divinity at Boiling Springs, and Campbell University Divinity School at Buies Creek. None of these schools hold that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. Wake Forest and Duke University have open admission for homosexuals. While taking funds from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, which in turn is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, these schools are also affiliated with the rankly liberal Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). In 2000, CFB coordinator Daniel Vestal told the press that there are congregations that support the CBF who ordain homosexuals, and that he does not want anyone to leave over this issue (“CBF ‘welcoming but not affirming’ of homosexuals,” Associated Baptist Press, Oct. 23, 2000). CBF council member Dixie Lee Petrey said, “I don’t think we should limit the Spirit of God in the way that it moves. Do we really want to sit here and say God’s Spirit cannot call a homosexual to follow God’s call?” CBF council member Bob Setzer said, “We’re not saying that God cannot call a homosexual, even a practicing homosexual.”
In chapter one of the book Has the Southern Baptist Convention Been Rescued from Liberalism I have given current examples of theological liberalism in Virginia, Georgia, Missouri, California, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. In November 1996, for example, the Missouri Baptist Convention failed for the second year in a row to pass a requirement that its leaders embrace the inerrancy of Scripture. This reveals that there are large numbers of Southern Baptists at the state level who do not believe the Bible and do not want to obey the Bible. In Georgia there are modernists such as Mercer University President R. Kirby Godsey. In his 1979 book, When We Talk about God, he said, “the notion that God is the all powerful, the high and mighty principal of heaven and earth should be laid aside.” Godsey continued to lead Mercer until 2006.
Wicked heresy such as this is held by thousands of men and women who are members in good standing in SB churches.
Though the national seminaries in the Southern Baptist Convention have been turned back from open theological modernism, little has changed at the state and local level. There are 54 Southern Baptist colleges and universities, a large percentage of which are openly and unquestioningly modernistic, with a total enrollment of roughly 113,500 students (R.L. Hymers, Jr., Battle for the Bible in the 21st Century, pp. vii-ix, citing Bill Sumners, Director and Archivist, Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, Jforbis@edge.net). Thus, even today, after 30 years of conservative leadership at the national level, a large percentage of the students in Southern Baptist-supported institutions are being trained by modernists.
Those who do believe the Bible are yoked together denominationally with these heretics. The Bible plainly instructs God’s people to mark and avoid false teachers and to reject them from the churches (Rom. 16:17-18; Titus 3:10-11). The Southern Baptist Convention does not require obedience to these Scriptures, and I refuse to have anything to do with such a weak, Christ-dishonoring convention.
The Bible says that even to bid a heretic Godspeed is to be a partaker of his evil deeds (2 John 8-11); how much more are conservative Southern Baptists partakers of the evil deeds of liberals when they join hands with them in the same organizations and in the support of the same schools?
(10) THE SBC IS FILLED WITH MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE YOKED WITH PAGAN ANTI-CHRIST ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS THE MASONIC LODGE AND THE EASTERN STAR.
Calvary Contender editor Jerry Huffman summarizes the spiritual abomination of the Masonic Lodge: “Freemasonry is a secret society of six million members worldwide. It often claims it is not a religion, but its writings say it is. It teaches that Jesus is not God. It has worship and funeral services, and places the Koran and ‘holy books’ of other religions on the same level as the Bible (Calvary Contender, May 1, 1992). The Scottish Rite Journal in February 1993 stated that “Masons believe in the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man...” (An excellent publication that documents the heresies of Freemasonry is The Masonic Lodge: What You Need to Know: Quick Reference Guide by Ed Decker, published by Harvest House Publisher, Eugene, OR 97402.)
Of the 3.5 million Masons in the U.S., 1.3 million are Southern Baptists. Fourteen percent of SBC pastors and 18 percent of deacons are Masons (Calvary Contender, June 1, 1993).
At the June 1992 Southern Baptist annual conference, an unsuccessful attempt was made by a minority of representatives to root Freemasonry out of the Convention. The Home Mission Board was assigned the task of preparing a report, but the chairman of the Board, Ron Phillips, displayed his prejudice when he stated that he did not agree with the conclusion that Masonry is incompatible with Christianity and that he knew many “dedicated Christian men” who are Masons (Christian News, March 15, 1993). It quickly became obvious that the Southern Baptist Convention was more concerned about retaining members and with maintaining harmony than with dealing with false gospels. The Indiana Baptist for March 16, 1993, reported that “fearing the loss of three million members,” the just-released Home Mission Board report leaves it to individual Southern Baptists whether to join the secret society. The report documented Freemasonry’s anti-Christian doctrine, that many Grand Lodges do not declare Jesus as the unique Son of God; the offensive rituals and “bloody oaths”; “implications that salvation may be obtained by one’s good works”; the heresy of universalism; pagan religions are studied in higher degrees. Despite all this, the study recommended leaving the decision to the individual member. (The author of the Home Mission Board report, Gary Leazer, joined the Masons a couple of years later.) At the June 1993 convention in Houston, Texas, the Southern Baptist representatives decided to accept the Mission Board report’s recommendation and leave the matter of Masonic membership to the conscience of individuals. Freemasonry’s “Sovereign Grand Command,” who had aggressively politicked within the Convention, praised the decision. Southern Baptist physician Dr. James Holly, who led the attempt to root out Freemasonry, said, “Southern Baptists have become the first Christian denomination that essentially blesses the Masonic Lodge” (Christian News, Dec. 20, 1993).
This is proof positive that the average Southern Baptist pastor does not care preeminently about truth. As a rule, they are cowardly shepherds who are more concerned about their retirement than the faith once delivered to the saints.
(11) THE VAST MAJORITY OF SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONGREGATIONS REFUSE TO EXERCISE CHURCH DISCIPLINE, AND IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE A BIBLICALLY PURE CHURCH WITHOUT DISCIPLINE.
Dean Register, president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, testified: “It’s very unusual for Southern Baptist churches to take disciplinary action against an individual” (The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Mississippi, Sept. 13, 1998). Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, confirmed this in a statement published by the Associated Press: “Church discipline was common among Baptists until early this century, when it faded as people abused the system to carry out vendettas” (AP, Sept. 12, 1998).
The “vendetta” part aside, there can be no doubt that this observation is accurate. Across the length and breadth of the land there are unrepentant moral reprobates and heretics on the rolls of Southern Baptist churches. Famous Southern Baptists like Billy Graham (who believes in infant baptism, denies the literal fire of hell, and turns his converts over to spiritual wolves), Jimmy Carter (who accepts liberal theology and says Mormons are true Christians), and Bill Clinton (a sexual predator who lies under oath and obstructs justice), disobey the Bible but are not disciplined. More than a million Freemasons, who are yoked together with idolatrous organizations in disobedience to 2 Corinthians 6, are members of SB congregations. Many modernists who deny the infallible inspiration of the Holy Scripture are members of SB congregations. Many unrepentant fornicators and adulterers are members of SBC congregations.
Furthermore, it is common for a large percentage of the members of Southern Baptist congregations to habitually neglect themselves from the assembly and to live no differently than their unsaved neighbours. In an article published in 1999 by Jim Elliff, resident consultant for the Midwestern Center for Biblical Revival at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, we learn the following sad facts:
“Out of Southern Baptists’ nearly 15.9 million members, only 5.2 million, or 32.8%, even bother to show up on a given Sunday morning, according to the Strategic Information and Planning department of the Sunday School Board (1997). In the average church, one can cut that 32.8% by about two-thirds to find those interested in any additional aspect of church life, such as a Sunday evening service. In other words, only about a third of the 32.8% or slightly more than a tenth of the whole (12.3% in churches with evening services in 1996, the last year for which statistics are available) show more interest in the things of God than Sunday morning attenders in the liberal church down the street where the gospel is not even preached. These figures suggest that nearly 90% of Southern Baptist church members appear to be little different from the ‘cultural Christians’ who populate mainline denominations” (Founder’s Journal, Feb. 7, 1999).
In the Bible God commands His people to exercise discipline toward sinning and heretical church members (1 Corinthians 5; Titus 3). A denomination that has the testimony that these scriptures are largely ignored is not a denomination that I want to join.
(12) SOUTHERN BAPTISTS ARE AT THE FOREFRONT OF PROMOTING THE CHURCH GROWTH PHILOSOPHIES THAT WEAKEN THE CHURCHES BY TURNING THE CHURCH’S MISSION AWAY FROM THE COMMITMENT TO THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD, WHICH IS THE MISSION AND PURPOSE THAT JESUS CHRIST DELIVERED TO THE CHURCH (MATT. 28:19-20), TO A CAPSULATED, WATERED-DOWN, MAN-MADE “PURPOSE.” THE CHURCH GROWTH MOVEMENT PROMOTES THE USE OF WORLDLY MUSIC AND DRESS TO ATTRACT LARGE CROWDS.
Southern Baptist conservatives in Virginia and the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary co-sponsored a church planting conference in November 2000, which featured guest speaker Aubrey Malphurs, a Dallas Theological Seminary professor. Malphurs, author of Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century, encourages churches to use “culturally relevant” music to gain young people. He recommends turning the Sunday morning service into an “innovative” thing featuring “skits, drama, audio-visual presentations, creative-dance and the use of video in preaching” (p. 181). Malphurs downplays preaching by claiming that “most people can count on the one hand the number of sermons that have accomplished significant change in their lives” (p. 179). It is obvious that the preaching to which Malphurs is accustomed is powerless. Later he says that preaching is “not necessarily the best” way to facilitate life change (p. 214).
Malphurs is wrong. He is promoting a humanistic, pragmatic approach to the church rather than simply submitting to the doctrine and practice we find in the New Testament Scriptures. The Bible plainly exalts preaching. It is mentioned 153 times. The prophets of old preached (Matt. 12:41); John the Baptist preached (Matt. 3:1); Jesus Christ preached (Matt. 4:23); the Lord’s disciples preached (Luke 9:6); the early Christians preached (Acts 8:4). They preached the word everywhere (Acts 8:4) and long into the night (Acts 20:9). It is through the “foolishness of preaching” that God has ordained that men be saved (1 Cor. 1:21). God’s Word is manifest today through preaching (Titus 1:3).
Malphurs is wrong. God does not change lives through worldly music and drama and dance but through the forthright preaching of the faith once delivered to the saints (2 Timothy 4:2).
In spite of all of this Malphurs is promoted by mainstream, conservative Southern Baptists.
Another example of this is Rick Warren, Southern Baptist pastor of Saddleback Community Church in southern California and author of The Purpose Driven Church. Warren doesn’t use theological terms such as sanctification, justification and propitiation in his sermons. He encourages the use of Christian rock music to communicate to the unsaved. He is very ecumenical. In his book he uncritically praises Robert Schuller, David Yonggi Cho, Mother Teresa, and other heretics and recommends the most radical of ecumenical ministries such as Campus Crusade for Christ. Warren was a guest faculty member of Schuller’s 1997 Institute for Successful Church Leadership Conference, even though Schuller is a heretic who claims that sin is merely the absence of self-esteem. Warren preaches a “positive only” message to make the unsaved feel comfortable. He promotes Christian psychology and a multitude of psychology-oriented self-help programs. He preaches a watered down no-repentance gospel.
The Southern Baptist president in 2002, Jack Graham, pastored one of the Rick Warren-Bill Hybels style churches. It is Prestonwood Baptist Church near Dallas, Texas. “The church has 15 ball fields, a 50’s-style diner [featuring rock music], and a fitness center” (The Fundamentalist Digest, Sept.-Oct. 2002).
(13) THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION IS NEW EVANGELICAL AND REJECTS BIBLICAL SEPARATION.
If a person can understand what New Evangelicalism is he will understand the Southern Baptist Convention today. There are many articles on New Evangelicalism at the Way of Life web site (an entire section of the Apostasy Database is devoted to Evangelicalism; see especially http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/fundamen1.htm).
The chief error of New Evangelicalism is its goal to focus on the positive and its neglect of the “harder” obligations of the Word of God, such as separation from error, plain exposure of false teachers, and unpopular doctrines such as Hellfire.
Southern Baptist leaders openly warn against fundamentalism and separatism. Morris Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, warned against “separatism” in his June 2004 message “The Fundamentals of Cooperating Conservatives.” He said:
“There’s a road wrongly taken by many on our left, the road of liberalism. But there is also a road wrongly taken by many others on our right side. It may not be as treacherous as the road of liberalism, but it is just as disabling to the Convention. What is this road? It is the road of separatism -- an ecclesiastical methodology that devalues cooperation in favor of hyper independence. In the past, we have avoided this road as fervently as the road on the left. If Southern Baptists steer too sharply toward the right, we will end up on the road of separatism. SOUTHERN BAPTISTS HAVE NEVER EMBRACED THE METHODOLOGIES OF SEPARATISM” (Morris Chapman, June 2004, http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/sbvoices/chapman2004.asp).
Chapman has admitted precisely what we have warned about, that the Southern Baptist Convention is New Evangelical and has renounced biblical separation. This was the hallmark of New Evangelicalism from its inception in the 1940s. Harold Ockenga, who claimed to have coined the term “neo-evangelical,” defined the philosophy of this movement as follows:
“Neo-evangelicalism was born in 1948 in connection with a convocation address which I gave in the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena. ... The ringing call for A REPUDIATION OF SEPARATISM AND THE SUMMONS TO SOCIAL INVOLVEMENT received a hearty response from many evangelicals. The name caught on and spokesmen such as Drs. Harold Lindsell, CARL F.H. HENRY, Edward Carnell, and Gleason Archer supported this viewpoint. We had no intention of launching a movement, but found that the emphasis attracted widespread support and exercised great influence. Neo-evangelicalism... DIFFERENT FROM FUNDAMENTALISM IN ITS REPUDIATION OF SEPARATISM AND ITS DETERMINATION TO ENGAGE ITSELF IN THE THEOLOGICAL DIALOGUE OF THE DAY” (Harold J. Ockenga, foreword to Harold Lindsell’s book The Battle for the Bible).
Note that a central aspect of New Evangelicalism is its repudiation of separatism. New Evangelicals desire a more positive Christianity, less theological controversy, less fire and smoke, less “Bible thumping.”
The Bible doesn’t allow the middle-of-the-road position between theological liberalism and fundamentalism espoused by the Southern Baptist Convention. Separation from doctrinal error is a divine commandment. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17).
Friends in Christ, beware of the Southern Baptist Convention. In spite of the conservative renaissance and the many commendable steps that have been taken at the national level to distance the convention from modernism, it remains a deeply compromised, New Evangelical hodgepodge of truth and error. Though there are godly Southern Baptists and some good and Scriptural things in many Southern Baptist congregations, this good is leavened with Billy Graham ecumenism, Jimmy Carter modernism (Carter still teaches Sunday School in a Southern Baptist-associated congregation even though he has distanced himself from the SBC), rock & roll worldliness, contemporary worship charismaticism, Rick Warren pragmaticism, and Masonic Lodge paganism.
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6).