I tried hard to get into and enjoy The Chosen, even attempting to turn off my theology filter in my mind. But it didn’t take long in the very first episodes of the first season to “smell” something not right. It wasnt’ the fill-in material to keep the story working on screen. It was subtle at first – ways of trying to make the “Jesus” character more human. (and no – I’m not just grinding on the suppsed “2nd Commandment violation” that some of my more confessional/Regulative Principal friends have done) – but His insecurites, and some oddly unChristlike phrases. And the growing disrespect for WHO He is continued to grow.
So I began looking in to who is behind this TV series (and now movie theatre season premier) – the son of Jerry Jenkins (Dallas Jenkins) – a failry creative guy, who has some pretty bent ideas about Christ and Christianty himself. One glaring concern – he is quite ecumenical in his beliefs – he considers not just pretty much ever “Christian” denomination to be a right faith (despite direct contradictions), but also lumps Mormons in as “saved” Christians.
The series promotion and production is done by several entities, with VidAngel (founded by two mormons) being the major player – founded by two Mormons.
The show’s soundtrack is written by Jars of Clay frontman Dan Haseltine, a who’s deconstructed Christianity is pro-LGBTQ+, pro-abortion.
And with filming at LDS Motion Picture Studio, Goshen, Utah, USA (LDS is Latter Day Saints, for those that don’t know)
Dallas Jenkins has repeatedly stated his “brotherhood” with his “LDS Brothers”, claiming that Mormons and Christians worship the same God and the same Jesus, and that Mormons are “saved”. I submit to you an abbreviated list of beliefs mormonism has about “Jesus”. Is this the same Jesus you worship?
Jesus is Lucifer’s brother.
Jesus is a spirit child conceived through physical means between an exalted man (Heavenly Father) and the virgin Mary.
Jesus is not eternal and had a beginning (i.e., not part of an eternal Trinity).
Jesus was not always God but earned his way to godhood just as we will become gods someday.
The work of the Mormon Jesus was insufficient for man’s salvation, and to complete it, one has to believe in Joseph Smith that he came from God to restore the church (i.e., Smith has a role in salvation).
Mormon doctrine teaches that without our own righteousness, there is no forgiveness of sins (contrary to Romans 4:5 and many other Bible verses).
AS to specific content that is problematic – I could fill posts with just what I have seen with my own eyes, but will just include a few that ought to easily stick out to those who are active in studying God’s Word:
John 3’s encoutner between Jesus and Nichodemus is portrayed in the show – and in it, Jenkins decided to have Jesus say something He would never have said: “What does your heart say?” (a product of western pop theology). Compare that to the clear statement about the heart in Jeremiah 17:9 (“The heart is deceitful above all, who can know it?)
Or can you imagine Jesus saying this: If we are going to have a question and answer time every time there is something you are not used to, we will have a very annoying time for all of us.”?
Did Jesus (or would He) say “I’m here to start a revolution!”
Or how about where do we have a record of Peter breaking the Sabbath by going fishing?
I might also ask the point (creative license?) of portraying the disciples with autism (Matthews) Cerebral Palsy (James). What made Jenkins feel the need to embellish and add to the biblical record and text with these phrases and “inclusive characters”?
If Dallas Jenkins believes (as he has claimed repeatedly) that the Bible is inerrant and sufficient, why did he change the scene from Luke 5:18, where two men brought a paralyzed man to Jesus, to having Mary Magdalene and “Tamar” carry the man in?
Why did The Chosen have Jesus ask Mary Magdalene to lead the group in prayer and reading of Scripture? Like it or not, this just simply wouldn’t have happened in the first Century among jewish men, and of course this doesn’t appear anywhere in Scripture.
OR take this statement by Dallas in an interview from 2021 about the show:
I felt like God was saying like [The Chosen] is going to be the definitive portrayal of my people, and this is what people are going to think of around the world when they think of my people, and I’m [God] not going to let you screw it up. (ACandid Conversation with Dallas Jenkins, Director of The Chosen, op. cit., mm: 14:26-14:37.)
In the same interview above, Jenkins also stated that “95% of the content [of The Chosen] isn’t from the Bible.”
In addition to the Mormon connections, another heavy contributor is a Roman Catholic priest as well as the star actor who portrays “Jesus” Jonathan Roumie, who is a fervent Catholic of a branch that practices all sorts of transcendental prayer and other New Age practices who claims to have had “personal interactions with a deceased Catholic saint”. Roumie promotes Russel Brand and his “Transcendental Meditation”. Roumie also promotes James Martin and his pantheistic view of God in everyone and everything. Jonathan Roumie has frequently thanked Jenkins for The Chosen as a platform to share his particular view of Roman Catholicism to a broader audience.
Jenkins himself, just a couple of years ago, published the following quote from Franciscan priest Robert Rohr to his Facebook account a quote and an explanation that the quote had “rocked his world” :
Just because you use Scripture, even in a God-affirming way, does not mean you’re using Scripture for life and love, growth and wisdom—and for the sake of God or others. Many of the worst genocides and atrocities in history have been supported by Scripture quotes in the mouths of selfish and scared people. Excessive God talk and quoting of Scripture are the best cover possible for a narcissistic personality. In fact, sometimes it seems to me that the churches that go on and on about “the greatness of God”—in both their sermons and their music—are often filled with the very groups and individuals that most want that greatness for themselves. I doubt if God needs us to be saying how great God is, as Satan does here with Jesus. Yes, religion is the best thing in the world and also the worst thing in the world—and so is Holy Scripture.
Yes – Rohr, in this quote that rocked Jenkin’s world, is an attack on Scripture.
Again – does that make this a valuable, faith-building, doctrinally-sound source for learning about Jesus?
And this was just brought to my attention – The Chosen is teaming up with an app developer to promote a kids Advent Rosary prayer activity…
But over the first two season, many even fairly conservative writers supported The Chosen, and basically hinged that on “at least he hasn’t inserted Mormon theology”. And while I would disagree with even that assessment – as it was just much more subtle in those first two seasons, Season 3 appears to be taking the face mask off. Take this scene released as a teaser for the season:
“I AM the law of Moses!” Sure sounds biblical, right? I’m afraid not. Not even close. This is a quote from The Book of Mormon, Nephi 15:9 where it supposedly quotes Jesus as saying “I am the law and the light”
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. And more is yet to come, as more and more fall for the Americanized, Pop-Jesus that Dallas Jenkins has built in a worldly mold.
For additional thoughts from others on The Chosen, See the links below:
The First Amendment to the US Constitution reads as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The Arkansas Constitution includes the following protections:
All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can, of right, be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship; or to maintain any ministry against his consent. No human authority can, in any case or manner whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience; and no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment, denomination or mode of worship, above any other. (Article 2, § 24)
A simple, basic reading of these two foundational sections can lead to only one conclusion: That under the existing directives of Constitutional Law, the government cannot interfere with the free practice of our faith. Period. This includes, but is not limited to, the assembly together, the worship of our God in the way we believe is appropriate, and to outwardly testify OF our faith via the freedom of speech also afforded by the First Amendment. These sections also provide needed protection from mandates and actions against our consciences. A doctor cannot be lawfully penalized for not performing abortions, for example, if the practice violates his sincerely-held beliefs. Likewise, and relevant to the reason Arkansas Issue 3, initiated by State Senator Jason Rapert, was rushed through and placed on the ballot, is the issue of vaccinations – specifically the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak (COVID), in which many employers and the Federal Government mandated that employees (and military personnel) were forced under the threat of termination (Courts-marshall in the military) to receive the experimental injections for said virus. In the process, many were denied religious exemptions, even those who had successfully been exempted for other vaccinations.
But the primary impetus for the bill that placed Arkansas Issue 3 on the ballot was the threat of forced church closures under lockdowns. Several states and Canadian provinces, and multiple local municipalities issued enforced lockdowns of churches, prohibiting them from assembling together at all. Even after the threat of the virus declined, the same states (or municipalities) continued to impose (and enforce) draconian mandates for churches to reopen. But of note, our own governor (Asa Hutchinson) made it clear in multiple public appearances promoting the shutdowns of businesses and activities, that he (and the government) had no authority under the law or the Constitution to mandate churches shut their doors or even restrict attendance. Further, in the months following, church lawsuits against government entities for the forced shutdowns wound their way through the judicial process, and one-by-one, have been ruled in favor of the churches. Even in the more Christian-antagonistic states, courts have found that there was no legal grounds for shuttering churches or even interfering in their assembly. Fines have been issued, and prohibitions against such actions reinforced.
Unfortunately, some religious entities and organizations have found themselves (particularly since the outbreak of COVID) on the wrong side of the religious liberty battle. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest “protestant” denomination in America, and their EThics Religious Liberty Commission, at the time led by Dr. Russel Moore (a faithful Democrat), conflated masks (Moore even suggested believers should wear double masks, taking and eventually demanding that Christians should take the vaccine as a gospel issue – implying that believers are not loving their neighbors by refusing to mask up or take the vaccine. He also famously attacked small churches that grew during the pandemic due to their refusal to close or buy the public narrative regarding closures, masks, and vaccines.
Sadly, some entities, including the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (the state convention of the SBC) has come down in favor of Issue 3, along with other historically stalwart defenders of religious freedom: Liberty Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, and Family Council Action Committee. One has to ask the question: WHY? Let me present my concerns here.
Having posted the exact text of both the US Constitution and relevant section of the Arkansas Constitutional a starting point above, let us now explore the text of Arkansas Ballot Issue 3:
POPULAR NAME:A Constitutional Amendment to Create the “Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment.”
BALLOT TITLE (legal title): An amendment to the Arkansas Constitution to create the “Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment”; and to provide that government may never burden a person’s freedom of religion except in the rare circumstance that the government demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is in furtherance of a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling government interest.
Feel free to open the entire text of Issue 3 and read the entire text. It relies on case law and the one whose rights have been infringed, to prove the state does NOT have a compelling interest. I have begged the question from Jerry Cox of Liberty Council, from Senator Jason Rapert, and many others with a hand in this. They all provide nearly the same boilerplate opinions and claims, yet never address the fundamental and amazingly clear facts of this: The proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution creates a brand new and dangerous doorway for state, county, or local governments to infringe on religious liberty – from prohibiting gathering together for worship, to evangelism events, community projects, protests, and yes – the elimination of “religious exemptions”, not just for experimental injections of vaccines, but literally for any matter of religious conscience, all under the guise of a “compelling government interest”.
Lest we forget, our own Federal Government, under the current godless leadership, has formally labeled Christians as one of the most risky groups as domestic terrorists (yet refuses to label proven terrorist groups like BLM and Antifa). Again – I ask why Senator Jason Rapert, a charismatic dumpster-fire of knee-jerk responses, seems to feel that adding more text and a free-swinging doorway for government interference is the appropriate path to supposedly “protecting” religious freedom. What compelling reason might these generally Conservative, Christian-supporting organizations have for jumping on the bandwagon for this ballot issue with such clear and concise language adding pathways for intrusion into the church (and all religious groups) for the government?
I can somewhat forgive the average low-information voter who doesn’t read beyond a ballot’s popular title. After all, what red-blooded American Christian would argue against an amendment with a title like “A Constitutional Amendment to Create the “Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment.“? My goodness – I might be a fool for opposing it, if that were all there was! But even the legal title, which is required by law to be an accurate summary of the issue’s text, is enough to send chills up any thinking person’s back. But the actual full text of the measure does not improve the legal trainwreck that Arkansas Ballot Issue 3 creates.
I implore you – do your homework, read the text of Issue 3 (and the others on the 2022 ballot) and cast an informed vote. I stand firmly against Issue 3.
This isn’t the first post that has touched on this subject, and in this case – I plan to be as brief as possible. The primary thing that identifies a particular church (and thus denomination, association, or convention of churches) is doctrine. There are even the cases of “non-denominational churches” that fall into either being non-aligned, but holding fairly clear doctrinal positions (often baptist in nature), or that have absolutely no doctrinal foundation – and thus have no spine or biblical credibility. We Baptists have historically been somewhat confessional (much to the chagrin of many modern baptists), in that we have long held some very firm core doctrines that actually define the term “Baptist”. Among these are:
The BIBLE– The Inerrant, wholly-inspired, Word of God, given through men across thousands of years as the perfect and complete revelation of God to mankind. It is sufficient for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. The Word of God (the Bible) is the sole authority on faith and practice.
GOD – There is One True God, who exists in and of Himself, infinite in being and perfection, in three distinct persons: The Father, The Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit – all of one substance, power and eternity, undivided. Jesus Christ, the Word, has always existed with the Father and the Spirit, was born of a virgin (took on flesh), lived without sin, with the single purpose to die in full payment for sin that wasn’t His own.
MAN– Mankind is made by God in His image, created for relationship with God, to bring Glory to God and to Enjoy Him forever. BUT – mankind is, because of Adam’s fall, sinful by nature and has no ability to restore himself to right relationship with God.
SIN – That which violates God’s Law, that in any way attempts to rob God of His glory, whether sins of commission (actions), or omission (things left undone). For All have sinned and come short…
Way of Salvation – God has made provision for the restoration of fallen, sinful man through the perfect sacrifice of Himself in Jesus Christ, who took on the penalty of sin that we deserve, and in His death, paid the eternal price for that sin. Salvation is by grace, through faith – not of works. (Ephesians 2:8&9)
BAPTISM & LORD’S SUPPER – the two ORDINANCES given to the church as signs and as an encouragement to believers as well as a testimony of the gospel in participants. Baptism is the immersion of the repentant convert in water, conducted in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as a public sign and profession of the individual’s death, burial, and resurrection with Christ Jesus. The Lord’s Supper, sometimes referred to as Communion, is the memorial meal of the Cup representing the blood Jesus shed for our sins, and the bread – of His flesh broken on our behalf. Jesus commanded His followers “do this in remembrance” of Him. Both ordinances are to be practiced by born-again believers. The Supper to be practiced by believers who are members in good standing of a local New Testament church.
The CHURCH– is the Body of Christ, expressed explicitly as the Local Body of Believers, yet in a sense understood as the larger union of all true, New Testament believers who are part of the local church.
PASTORS/ELDERS & DEACONS– There are two distinct “offices” recognized historically by Baptists: Elders (also known as pastors and by various other terms) who are called out and set apart by God and via ordination of the local church, to be undershepherds of Christ’s flock. The New Testament lists some very specific qualifications for a man who desires the office – (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9). Among the most obvious are that these are to be MEN (the Greek is unambiguous), of high moral character, and gifted in teaching. Likewise, Deacons – who are not rulers, but men of character and spiritual maturity, who are to carry the primary burden for material/physical care of the local church’s members, with a particular emphasis on widows, orphans, etc.)
AUTONOMY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH– While Baptists have historically often worked together in various associations and later “conventions”, Baptists have a very biblical perspective of the autonomy of the local church – meaning that each church stands units own, and is beholden only to the Lord Jesus Christ and is not to be subjected to the whims of the secular world, nor to the rule of other churches of entities (essentially the opposite of the episcopal/top-down church government of Catholicism, Methodism, Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and others).
Beyond these, Baptists have followed a variety of local church polity from firm elder-leadership, to democratic congregationalism. In ecclesiology, there is a wide range of practices among historic baptists (though congregational government seems to be the most common). Churches are free to associate and cooperate with other churches for the sake of fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission, and for mutual aid and encouragement. It is out of this voluntary association that larger formal Associations (like the BMAA) and the Conventions have come into existence.
I say all this to set the stage for this concern:
Doctrine Matters! It is doctrine that binds a local church together. That “unity of faith” Paul mentioned in Ephesians 4:13 that believers ought to be seeking together. This all begins with the gospel itself – that Christ died to reconcile lost sinful man to our Holy and righteous God, by HIS sovereign will and purpose. The fundamental beliefs of any church body or denomination serve as the defining of their faith, and SHOULD be the basis of cooperation and fellowship. This is why Baptists generally reject any cooperation with Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses – as they hold very different views of God, Salvation, and even in WHO Jesus Christ is. This is why it is extremely rare to find areas of cooperation between Baptists and Roman Catholics – because their view of salvation and other doctrines are so radically different (and why when there is such cooperation, it is on a single-issue like the right to life).
Even in Baptist history, there have been significant doctrinal dividing points. Early Baptists were divided primarily along Soteriology with the predominant view of Particular Baptists (some might refer to them as Calvinistic Baptists), and General Baptist. While many don’t understand the difference, the underlying division is over salvation – with Particular Baptists firmly holding that salvation is 100% of the LORD *(monergistic- Ephesians 2:8-9), while General Baptists (including those known as “Free Will” Baptists) hold that the individual must gain and hold on to salvation (synergism). It is rare to find these two primary groups associating and cooperating due to this significant difference in soteriology.
In the association of churches I am a part of, the Baptist Missionary Association of America (and the state version), a church is expected to completely affirm our formal statement of faith to be in fellowship and cooperation with us. We believe that an association of churches (voluntary) ought to hold to a common core of values, just as the local church should. A set of theological and doctrinal distinctive that eliminate any misunderstandings on these matters. Beyond these fundamental (primary) beliefs, we allow much more flexibility – whether it be in who the local church invites to the Lord’s Supper table (close vs closed communion), worship style, ministry models, church polity, and even eschatology (theology of end times). But the doctrines that matter, are what bind us together.
I have recently discovered that the Southern Baptist Convention, while having a history of affirming a set of common beliefs, no longer have such affirmation as a criteria for cooperation and fellowship. Maybe this has been a factor for a significant time (I have been trying to research when that came about), but this reality should be a concern. If an Assembly of God congregation decided to cooperate with the SBC, would that be accepted? Based on the current language – the AoG congregation might be found to be in “substantive agreement” with the BF&M. What would stop them?
There are congregations in the SBC who functionally reject parts of the BF&M, including the core belief of sexual immorality, the limiting of the office of Pastor to men, and apparently even the practicing of the “Miraculous Gifts”. Add in that there are some congregations that have pastors preaching blatant heresies that not only directly contradict the BF&M, but shred Scripture – is it any wonder that Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, and a myriad of other anti-gospel ideologies have become firmly rooted in many churches? These all find their support in a low view of Scripture -and the question “has God really said?” just as the Serpent used so long ago in the context of the fall.
I would propose that the current “liberal drift” of the SBC (and in other denominations and local churches) is the product of several factors – one originating in another. It is the product of a low view of the Bible, God’s Holy Word – a functional rejection of it’s inerrancy, reliability, and sufficiency, which makes mankind the arbiter and judge of what is and what isn’t/what God did and didn’t mean. But even this is in many ways the product of a woeful failure to make disciples. Making disciples means, as Jesus clearly stated – TEACHING THEM all that I have commanded. It means passing on the doctrines and theology that Jesus (and in a larger sense that all the Bible teaches) – that the man (person) of God is fully equipped. Instead – churches (including baptists) have become the gathering of “feelings” and what is easy, expedient, world-pleasing, and yes – pragmatic. And in a world that hates God, hates Jesus, and hates those who follow and love Jesus (just as HE warned us would happen), pragmatically seeking the world’s approval is doctrinal suicide, and has led to churches that far more reflect the world than the Glorious and Holy God they are supposedly worshipping and proclaiming.
Let me preface this with the fact that I pray daily for the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. We share a common spiritual ancestry and at least by statement, believe the same Bible and hold the same core values. And as I sit here in my “2nd Office”, having prayed about this post for several days, hoping that the LORD would change my mind – I have received confirmation after confirmation that this post is necessary. Yes, the Southern Baptist Convention has done many great things for the Kingdom of God – including planting churches around the world, supporting seminaries that have through the many years, trained many Christians for greater work for the cause of Christ. BUT: things are not all well with this organization.
This week, as the Southern Baptist Convention meets in Anaheim, California for their annual conference, they face a massive problem that goes well beyond the very publicly-aired grievances. On the surface, you don’t have to be an SBC insider to be well aware of the hashtag #changethedirection. The Conservative Baptist Network (CBN), Founders Ministry (led by Tom Ascol), and even G3 Ministries have been among those most vocal in calling for mayor direction shift by the world’s largest Baptist denomination, a cooperative convention with stated goals not unlike those of my own BMAA.
So why #changethedirection?
Some of us are old enough to remember (or have studied) the “liberal drift” of the SBC that came to a head in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. A significant number of cooperative churches had begun to adopt theologically and doctrinally liberal positions that ran contrary to historic Baptist positions (and more importantly, BIBLICAL positions). The fundamental issue was not the “liberal drift”, but the low view of Scripture that was at the core of this shift. A handful of well-known figures (and a myriad of lesser-known men) began in 1979 to fight in earnest for the “soul of the SBC”. Over the course of several years, Dr. Albert Mohler secure election as President of the convention, which opened the door to change in leadership of the various agencies and seminaries, bringing what is now known as “The Conservative Resurgence”. Among the better sources on this subject was penned by Judge Paul Pressler entitled A Hill On Which To Die (A worthwhile read for anyone interested in that tumultuous time in Southern Baptist history). The end result of that “coup” as some called it, was the spin-off (split) of the “Cooperative Baptist Fellowship”, a parallel body of mostly former Southern Baptist congregations that hold a wide, though significantly liberal in doctrine, beliefs including the ordination of women, affirmation of the LGBTQ+ lifestyle, and what most Bible-believers would call a very low view of God and the Bible.
To those of us outside the Convention, we have watched as churches of the convention have continued to spin off into liberalism. Somewhat controversial ministries like Pulpit & Pen/Protestia, Reformation Charlotte, and others have been sounding the alarm for well over a decade. Often maligned and accused of being divisive (despite the Scriptures always labeling those in doctrinal and theological error to be responsible for division), these men and ministries have been battling – many leading their own congregations out of the SBC on the basic principals at hand. Over the last several years, as SBC superstars, often in megachurches, have been ramping up the assault on God’s Word, again bringing the inerrancy, authority, reliability, and sufficiency of Scripture into question. From well-documented redefining of sin to simply “brokenness“, the ramping up of easy-believism and “come as you are, but we don’t expect change”, With so-called pastors refusing to speak of teh very real consequences of sin, in favor of soft tone and coddling sinners – it was only a matter of time before this produced the spiritually weak and immature churches, building what my friend Allen Nelson (@quatronelson) has complained are “unregenerate church members”. Mega churches in the convention are now not only ordaining women to pastoral positions (Saddleback Church/Rick Warren), but proudly boasting of having LGBTQ+ volunteers and staff people (Church on the Glades, Corral Gables, Fl). The SBC’s own ministry, the ERLC (Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission), which has expended millions of cooperative giving dollars in promoting mosques, condemning churches that didn’t shut their doors under COVID, and now actively opposing state legislation to stop abortion (unquestionably the greatest injustice in the US for almost 50 years). In fact, the current leadership (following the train wreck that is Dr. Russell Moore, a politically and biblically-liberal man who has left the convention to a far more suitable and liberal group) has announced their “pro-life” conference – where they refuse to even call abortion evil – instead using a slogan of “Make Abortion Unnecessary”. When asked when abortion is “necessary” today, leadership (according to those in Anaheim this week, refused to answer).
What we see unfolding is a war within the Southern Baptist Convention. A war where the battles and skirmishes are over sin, liberalism, Critical Race Theory (a distinctively Marxist and brazenly racist ideology), Intersectionality, radical feminism, and much more, that at its core – isn’t ABOUT these, which are simply symptoms, but are all rooted in the exact same cancer that divided the denomination 40 plus years ago: The Word of God. IS the Word of God reliable? Is the Word of God inerrant? Is the Bible sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16)? It is on this set of questions that essentially all of the “issues” being battled under the banner of #chagnethedirection rest. Indeed, to fight against the clear teaching of the Word of God is to be “ashamed of the gospel” itself (Romans 1:16). Instead, as churches and now the Convention dive off into the poison pill of pragmatism, seeking to please the world instead of their Creator – it begs the question: Now what? Will the effort to elect a distinctly conservative man to the President of the SBC fix the problem? No. The process to even remotely impact the actual direction of the Convention, made up of some 47,000 local churches, with several seminaries that are rapidly flying off the rails, with those holding to liberal ideologies now in the majority in most committees that have any say, is a decade or more of uninterrupted conservative leadership.
To my third-person perspective, it looks like a lot of folks are holding out hope that a man (Tom Ascol) somehow can be the “messiah” of the Convention. Alas – even if he were to be elected today in Anaheim – it doesn’t solve the problem that nobody seems to want to address: Corporatism and an ecclesiology built to fail.
Ecclesiology is by definition, the “study of the church” and is an area of Christian theology that often gets less attention than is appropriate. Within ecclesiology is the study and application of church structure, governance, and polity. Baptists have historically held to a bottom-up framework that emphasizes the equal vote and value of the individual regenerate church member, in a mostly congregationalist local church polity (with some degree of elder-leadership), autonomy of the local church (the local church is not beholden to any other entity or in subjection to outside denominational authority), with each local voluntarily associating with and even cooperating with other local churches in fulfillment of the Great Commission. This is in stark contrast to the episcopal/hierarchical model – where the local church is subject to a ruling denominational authority (Catholic, Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and even some Pentecostal denominations. Within the Baptist realm, there are some variations in the view of local church “autonomy” – form the stereotypical “Independent, Fundamentalist Baptist”, to the more organize Baptist denominations. But in all – Baptists proudly (and I believe accurately) hold that “the church” is manifested in this world as the LOCAL church.
The problem with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Polity:
The Southern Baptist Convention has grown into a massive corporation, with hundnreds of millions of dollars given every year jsut to the national denomination (and Billions when totaled with state and local conventions and associations). The Convention has several ministries that function as semi-independent entities (such as the North American Missions Board, the International Missions Board, Lifeway, the ERLC, etc.). These all receive their primary funding via the denominational umbrella. I won’t delve into the details of how the money filters up mostly from state conventions, but suffice it to say that churches have very little say in where the funds they contribute are spent. And therein lies the rub: The size of the Convention becomes the excuse for a lack of transparency and accountability. Over the years, many have come into leadership positions that had no business in even leading a local church, much less a multi-million ministry organization in charge of missionaries and missionary policy.
Some within the more conservative circles of the Convention have been trying for years to even find out the compensation package for certain officers. Likewise is the effort to simply get a detailed accounting of how cooperative funds have been spent. The structure itself makes such information functionally a “protected secret”. Outside of general budgets and offering totals, the average church member of a Convention church has no way of being fully-informed. By the time a problem is obvious, the hole is already dug (or in the current situation – the derailment already well-progressed). Even seminaries are under this (though at least for accreditation purposes – they have to have more transparent financials). But when seminaries have professors (and even presidents) who are teaching or tolerating serious errors, doctrinal contradictions, and even blatant work contrary to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (the official statement of all churches in the Convention) – change is nearly impossible because of so little accountability.
The Convention has become and albatross – one that is easily steered by political correctness, but rudderless in trying to “right the course”. And his all goes back to the title of this post: A Denomination Built To Fail. When we explore the New Testament and the model of the Church(s) – we see independent bodies, connected not by some hierarchal system, but bound by the teachings of the apostles, once handed down (Jude 1:3), revolving around the one gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul was so passionate about (Romans 1:16, Galatians 1:8). Churches were organized then left to further the ministry. Yes, Paul and others checked in and offered suggestions and even commands to those early and immature bodies. But we see that contributions were sent for specific purposes to specific churches in need – not via some denominational organization or authority – but simply out of love and concern for the brethren in need. Indeed – we often see reference made to “churches” within a geographic area who often worked together for ministry. But the local church remained the foundation.
What we have seen historically is that the farther away from the local church structures get – the more susceptible they are to corruption and trouble. The latest scandal in the SBC revolving around sexual abuse and the accompanying cover-ups, which should have been handled at the local church level (because biblically, the “denomination” has no authority over the local church), became a denominational issue – precisely BECAUSE of the SBS’s corporate structure. When Executive Committee members actively helped to cover up abuse reported to them – they opened the entire denomination to not just scrutiny, but to a degree of liability. The proposed “solution”? Even more top-down structure and policies.
I had to step away from writing this for several ministry duties and opportunities – but now that I’m back at the keyboard, I do it with an even heavier heart – for literally everything that has been considered “worst case” has come to pass. Just what I’ve seen reported is too much to post here on this already long entry – but here are some of the more alarming and in many cases, Scripturally contradictory actions:
Tom Ascol soundly defeated in a runoff between himself and Bart Barber. Bart has tried to play “moderate”, while defending Dr. Moore and the ERLC when they chose to attack churches for keeping their doors open, while also defending mosques. And lest we forget, we now have absolutely proof that Dr. Moore was an active participant in covering up sexual abuse in the convention – holding information as a secret weapon instead of helping to deal with it. Alas – Barber chose politics over biblically-correct and moral action.
The Pastor’s Conference elected the truly #woke candidate, Daniel Dickard, as President of the conference, over Voddie Baucham (one of the most gifted and biblically-sound preachers in all of the Southern Baptist Convention – who also happens to be a Black man and anti-woke). This was a pretty significant preview of what was to come with the Ascol/Barber vote.
As a result of the above, and a ruling by the Credentials Committee on the issue – the Southern Baptist Convention now endorses and approves of women being ordained to offices biblically restricted to men (including pastoral ministry). This under the decision stating they recognize that some churches practice ordination based upon the person’s “gifting”. (I’m still trying to figure out how you deal with “husband of one wife” – aka a “one woman man”).
A resolution submitted to recognize and proclaim the sacredness of the pulpit – and thus the need to protect it in the local church was rejected by the resolutions committee with no hope of it being voted to the floor by the full body.
Passively endorsed blatant plagiarism from the pulpit (in part by rejecting the above resolution), but also by platforming some of the worst and most brazen practitioners of plagiarism.
The ERLC announced their theme for the next “Stand For Life” – functionally asserting that abortion is currently a “necessity”… (see above).
The body voted to remove full acceptance of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 as a necessity to become a cooperating church (in other words – a church can reject even key components as long as they acknowledge most of it and still be “Southern Baptist”).
Voted to implement Recommendation Two which establishes a “Ministry Check” database, publicly accessible, to functionally “register” pastors and leaders in Southern Baptist Churches at churches where there is ANY sort of abuse allegations (they did use the phrase “preponderance of evidence”, but didn’t define that), even if the pastor or other leaders were unaware of abuse – and were not part of the allegations. A functional blacklist or “sex offender registry” that doesn’t even require a conviction (or even actual legal charges) to find your name on it. We have already seen men’s names drug through the mud who were not involved in abuse (Mike Stone being one). This doubles-down and will undoubtably be used as another political weapon.
Faithful and honest people have been verbally assaulted and falsely accused of “stuffing the ballot box”.
The long-and-short of the matter: those who began sounding the alarm more than a decade ago were labeled as dividers, hateful, spiteful, and MUCH worse. Yet again, the Scriptures clearly and consistently equates those who try to inject error, heresies, and wickedness as the “ones who bring division. As the Southern Baptist Convention consummates their marriage to the accursed false gospels and doctrines of “wokness”, Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, and inevitably incorporating full acceptance of the LGBTQ+ movement (as already openly and proudly practiced at the aforementioned Church on the Glades). But lest we forget – the unaccountable and utterly lacking in transparency missions sending entities of the SBC have been pushing women in leadership roles (including functional pastorship) for a while now.
And sadly, we have a biblical precedent for what we are seeing (as well an historic and recent example): When God’s timing came to bring dramatic judgment to His own people, and after dramatic and warnings by many men of God, Israel was utterly crushed and carried away. Prophets continued to warn Judah to repent and return to God and HIS Word, rejecting their idols – but they refused to heed the Word of the LORD and suffered even more horrific judgment by Babylon. Similarly, the United Methodists went through a nearly-identical (though somewhat more protracted) drift over what is essentially the same issue (God’s Word and it’s reliability, inerrancy, and sufficiency – aka “Hath God really said?”. They too had opportunities to #changethedirection, they too labeled the Conservatives among them as divisive and evil. They too progressively shut down Conservative voices. And now, the UMC is in the process of a dramatic division. I see no path forward for a united Southern Baptist Convention. And sadly, like the UMC, it is the more Bible-aligned “Conservatives” who are getting run out.
But there is an alternative. There is biblical grounds for churches to associate together and to cooperate for the Great Commission Work. But along with that association is a need for both accountability (to the LOCAL CHURCHES) and in that – transparency. The BMA of America is such an association. No “Executive Committee” driving a massive corporate structure (thus no ruling elites entangling the entire denomination in sexual cover-ups and other legal wrangling that consume offerings from churches intended for the support of missionaries and church planting). The BMAA operates with a dramatic and intentional bottom-up structure, where the LOCAL CHURCH is the driving force, the fundamental platform, with the associated (aka – cooperative” work being subject to and in support of the local church’s work in spreading the gospel and planting churches). Churches give directly to each and every ministry, which themselves exist as autonomous entities that don’t even inter-mingle funds. Because of this structure, transparency and accountability are paramount. Every associated church gets reports that include itemized giving and audited expenses, and something as simple as every director’s compensation is clearly listed (and approved) every year! The same-said directors are also re-elected by the body every year – thus they are directly accountable to the churches of the BMA (and the same structure is used at the state level as well). Every church decides which ministries they give to (not some body that makes the decision for you). Missionaries are directly supported.
And the only thing possibly more important the above – is that to be welcomed in to fellowship with the BMA simply requires that you petition in, and completely affirm our statement of faith (and the larger comprehensive confession – the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, which use to be the confession of the SBC as well). We believe in protecting the pulpit, we believe in the inerrancy, reliability, and sufficiency of the Bible. And of interest to some: Messengers to our association meetings is a set number (3) per church, regardless of how inflated your church membership roll is! Every church has an equal voice.
Is the BMA “perfect” – absolutely not any more than the local church (or individual believers). But we believe we have a much more biblical grasp of ecclesiology. We take autonomy of the local church very seriously, only eclipsed by our passion for the Word of God.
Oh – and our seminary (Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary, Jacksonville, TX) – happens to be one of the most cost-effective, fully-accredited, and biblically-conservative seminaries in the country, proudly teaching expository preaching and a very high view of God’s Word.
We have a small, but extra-ordinarily biblically-sound publishing house (Baptist Publishing House) producing unabashedly “Baptist” literature, with the primary literature being titled Baptist Expositor, a curriculum for Sunday school or small group study.
Our broadcast and media ministry is called Lifeword, which produces gospel broadcasts in a massive list of languages, podcasts and ministry videos, as well as conferences, retreats, and events to bolster faith and to help equip believers.
The BMA has other ministries under the umbrella – yet every one is autonomous and independently funded by the churches and individuals of the BMA.
This post was not intended as a sales pitch (though I’m sure the last chunk sure seems like it!), but simply to address some of the symptoms that are sooner than later bringing spiritual death to the Southern Baptist Convention, while presenting an alternative for those churches who can no longer bear to associate (or even to be unequally yoked) with the works of darkness that have become the norm of the Convention (Ephesians 5:11). Please know that my prayers are with our brethren in the SBC. Whether or not you take a look at the BMA, I do pray that you come out of what has become a type of Babylon!
At first iI was TOLERANCE– out of “Christian love of your LGBTQ+ neighbor” and “for the sake of the gospel”… Just “tolerate”… Coexist. Let it go…
But that wasn’t good enough, so then it became…
ACCEPT– you and your church must be accepting of these identities and lifestyle choices. Just accept them for who hey believe they are- accept their feelings as fact, because it is “who God made them” (so don’t you dare preach about THAT set of sins or even call it sin!)… Or, as made famous by the likes of former SBC President JD Greear & current SBC President and plagiarizer – Ed Litton- “God (only) whispers about sexual sin”…
Oh, but that too just wasn’t enough.
And now you must AFFIRM! Not only must you tolerate (not enough), and accept (which still means you might secretly hold on to “outdated Biblical values” and really think they are in need of some kind of change…
No! You must offer heartfelt AFFIRMATION– praising their life choices. Praising what the BIBLE clearly calls sin (oops – not suppose to call it that – just ask Beth Moore who in the last few years removed homosexuality from her materials when identified as sin that needs to be repented of).
And now, as Southern Baptist megachurches begin turning over and giving in to the culture, thus giving up on God’s Word (literally denying it), the downgrade of the largest “protestant” denomination in the US readies to go down in flames. Local congregations like Church on the Glades in Coral Springs, FL have pastors who make promotional videos lauding that they have LGBTQ+ members (active, practicing), even on staff… The proudly state that they are affirming of all…
Or the message I received this morning from an old high school associate that sometimes sounds things off for a pastoral perspective, who sent me a link to a page/message form the web site of 2nd Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Included in this churches radical Social Justice agenda (their motto apparently is “Where Faith and Justice Meet”) is an entire series that begins with “inclusion”, but is bolstered by a message from their pastor titled “Why We’re Affirming”. That’s right – not only do they “tolerate” or “accept” this – they formally and officially affirm the LGBTQ+ – they promote it, the hail it, they join in celebrating it as some kind of beautiful thing. Typical for the #woke church movement, where dollars and noses are more important that regenerated souls and disciples made. Where calming identity in Christ, yet celebrating the very sin that necessitates the death of Jesus…
Scripture doesn’t whisper about any sin, but sexual sin – from the acts of homosexuality, to adultery, rape/sexual assault, fornication (improper, out of order, out-of-wedlock, and also same-sex sexual activity), effeminate behavior, men dressing as women/women dressing as men, and even lust – are all addressed firmly as sin. Alas – the modern American, pragmatic version of the gospel is powerless to change lives and hearts. The gospel sold by these groups is one that could please only the Devil himself. And all is put on a pedestal of “God loves me just the way I am”, giving cover to never seek change, nor to repent.
What the shall we do? If you are a truly regenerated believer in Christ Jesus – Study God’s Word and pray as if your life and the future of your family depends on it, that you may stand boldly for the truth, calling others to repent of their wickedness. To call other professed believers to seek the truth and turn from the false gospels and doctrines of devils that are being foisted from stages and pulpits – poison being cast to goats. And call preachers to repentance when they are spewing attacks on the character of God and HIs Word.
Flee from any so-called church that refuses to call sinners (regardless of their sin) to repentance. Run from any church that celebrates sin in any form.
And if you find yourself among those who’s identity is still functionally found in your chosen sin – or you blame God for your sinful lusts and actions – then you need to repent and believe the gospel!
It is a rare breed that would deny that our nation (and the world) is in dramatic decline. Certainly there would be massive disagreement over what constitutes that decline, as well as the solution. But one thing rings true no matter what: Morally and Spiritually, America is likely at its lowest point in her almost 250 years of formal existence. Indeed, I will argue that while the relative moralism of chattel slavery of our first 100-ish years of existence were horrifically wrong, the overall moral and spiritual condition of this nation is actually worse today, and this is directly attributable, not to “Leftist and Liberals who hate God and hate what America stands for” (though this is a real condition), but to those who claim Jesus Christ, yet have willfully shut their mouths or refused to engage the culture for decades, or have lived in a state of denial in spite of the “remnant” who have sounded the alarm and been shunned and demonized as divisive or even evil.
Indeed, I lay this at the feet of the current state of The Church. Now – let me deal with some definitions so that we have no misunderstandings. When I use the term The Church, I am using it in the very limited context of Paul’s writing to the Ephesian congregation (Ephesians 5:25), or in the form that Jesus Himself used the term in Matthew 16:18. The singular term is the minority use of ἐκκλησία (called out assembly). In this world, The Church is actually manifested, not in some invisible, hypothetical giant umbrella, but as the physical, local, New Testament Church. I reject the generic “universal church” of all professed believers – as all believers are commanded to be joined with and assemble together, not in some mass body (that is reserved for the final days), but with the LOCAL CHURCH (think of the salutations of the New Testament epistles – “to the church at ______” or “to the saints at______”.
But for the sake of this post, I am referring to the larger umbrella of churches that claim to be OF Jesus – or maybe better I could use the equally deceptive and generic “Christianity” (with a particular focus on more contemporary “Big Evangelicalism”, but that quickly devolves to an entirely other discussion).
But my point here is this – the root tool or mechanism that has lead to the incredible spiritual and moral decay in this nation is the very institutions that Christ instituted to be models and champions OF His Word and foundations. Just as Israel of the Old Testament was called out and set apart as a witness to the pagan world of God and His character, we who are genuinely regenerated believers today are to be a “peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9) – and this doesn’t mean simply to put on a front, but to live out and speak out the truth as the early Apostles did, and indeed as our perfect example – Jesus Christ – did.
Who would have thought just a few decades back that some of the biggest denominations in Christianity would not just endorse homosexuality, but certify same-sex “marriages” as valid? How many saw coming supposed Christian leaders fueling racial and ethnic division via promotion of certifiably-anti Christian and anti-Gospel products of the Frankfurt school’s blatant Marxism as the “solution” to society’s claimed woes? Jesus came to BE the solution to the woes of this nation and the world. That woe is spelled SIN. The woe that enabled and promoted chattel slavery for so long was the sinful and unchanged hearts of mankind. The fuel for radical skin-color based discrimination and hateful actions for many years following the formal end of said slavery (and even the remnant of that today) is not “anti-racism” or a “Social Justice Gospel” as perpetuated more and more by supposed churches. The answer to any and ALL is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which directly crushes Social Justice, it shreds such Marxist concepts as Critical Race Theory. It is the gospel that actually erases lines between ethnicities, skin color, nationality, socio-economic status, and every other division. Galtians clearly states this in no uncertain terms –
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
And while we are battling senselessly over these massive derailments, heresies, and those “going apostate”, we have also witnessed professed believers behaving as scared lemmings, literally bowing in homage and worshipful adoration of supposed government experts who have now perpetuated a grand power-grab using a human-engineered virus (aka – a bioweapon) to exercise a whole new wave of humanity-manipulating evil. And how has this been done, even to masses of professed “Christians”? Because so many fear death more than they fear Hell itself.
Why? How? Because “we” (Christians/The Church) have grown far from proclaiming the realities of Hell, even among our own congregations, much less in this lost world. Being labeled as “judgmental” is more concerning to our ears than the desire to hear “well done my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). Churches that have decided to become massive corporate entities instead of refuges and barracks for training and equipping Christ’s local armies (churches). Instead, “churches” have trained up apologetically-weak, worldly “Christians”. Many bemoan the huge majority of supposed “Christians” among our young people who go off to college and functionally walk away from their faith. When Jesus said (Matthew 10:16) “behold, I send you as sheep among wolves”, He wasn’t tossing unequipped, helpless pawns as cannon fodder, but sending soldiers who were to take up the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Instead, “The Church” has become a bunch of country clubs that are more concerned with tickling ears and building up not a warrior class of believers serving and living life in unity, but in self-centered, fleshly soup of debauchery disguised with church-ish practices and vocabulary. Meanwhile abortion continues practically unabated (thank you Texas for taking meaningful steps to protect the unborn). Though the actions of a few black-robed dictators with an agenda (some of which claim to be Christians), every state in this nation must issue certificates and recognize same-sex “marriage” as legitimate. We have legislations and court decisions opening the door to chemical and surgical mutilation of children as young as 5 to “change their gender” (what happened to genetic “science” we are suppose to “pay attention to”?
I could continue to bloviate about the “woes” of modern Christianity, but it all circles back to the view of Scripture in the professed believers heart. Either the Bible is the wholly-inspired, inherent, and sufficient Word of God, or it is not. No human has the authority or wisdom to pick-and-choose, do deprecate some parts and elevate others. It is beyond time for those who truly know Christ to set aside their worldly worries, fear of death, and stand for God’s Word.
Sadly – there are those who have taken a stand throughout biblical history. The Old Testament prophets were often hated and reviled as troublemakers and even were put to death. Those who sounded the alarm have historically been among the most harshly persecuted. In our own day, many have been attacked, shunned, condemned as hateful and wicked men, mostly because of the tone of their “polemics”. Organizations like Pulpit & Pen, Reformation Charlotte, Protestia, and guys like Jordan Hall, Seth Dunn, Cody Libolt, and a bit later – SovereignNations (and it’s leader Michael O’Fallon) have been calling out Christian figures, pastors, and false teachers for years, and their reward (in this world) has been vilification and marking – yet the woes of today’s “Church” are nearly all fulfillments of the very things they have been sounding the alarm about for all this time. And only recently have other figures finally begun singing the same song and realizing the utter futility of worrying more about tone and feelings over the brutal truth.
What is truly needful? For all who profess Christ to follow the same root model that the aforementioned men and organizations follow (regardless of the “tone” used) – the very same methodology that the Lord affirmed through Luke’s record of the early church and Paul’s ministry: Be Bereans! (Acts 17:11). Question everything. Open up the Word of God and actually compare what you hear and see to what God has already clearly said. The Bible isn’t outdated. No problem or woe faced today lacks an answer in the Word of God – and literally, everything can still be measured and discerned when compared to what the Bible says. Sins may have been redefined. Some so-called “preachers” may have said we need to “unhitch from the Old Testament” (just one of a mountain of heretical false-teachings of this man who is more concerned with pleasing man over God), or to simply stop judging people (clue – it isn’t US judging, God has ALREADY judged everything we are proclaiming). Indeed – if a toddler were to jet across your parking lot and towards a busy road, would you be worried about offending the child with your “tone” as you attempt to keep him or her from running to their violent and bloody end in that road? I pray not! And until we fully see that EVERY soul we encounter regardless of their choices of sin, is running willfully, blissfully, and blindly towards an eternity of condemnation and utter suffering for their unrepentant and unregenerate hearts – we will sit idly by in our inward-focused, sugar-coated, and disobedient cruise ship churches and just watch people, like lemmings, gleefully follow these heretical anti-christ types right through the gates of Hell. I might rightly ask – how can anyone who truly knows Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for the payment of our sin debt and reconciliation – sit and watch?