Doctrine (like Theology) Matters!

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.

Doctrine Matters!

Where are Your Denominational Dollars Going @SBC?

Many don’t know how most Baptist denominations work – questions such as “what is the difference between the Southern Baptists and __________________ Baptists?”
 
One major difference between the SBC and the association that the church I pastor is a part of, is how giving to the cooperative work operates. In the Southern Baptist Convention, the primary pathway to giving to the bigger work is through the state organization. The state takes a chunk of that money received and sends it on to the SBC (national) which then divides it out as the umbrella for their entire denominational machine. The local church has very little say in where their cooperative funds go, other than the two big offering events each year.
 
The Baptist Missionary Association (BMAA), of which FBC Cave Springs is a part of, views the various departments and ministries of the larger work as all basically autonomous – and each is funded separately via direct offerings. We as a church direct offerings specifically to BMAA Missions, or to our BMA Seminary, to our state missions, to our local missions, to our media ministry (Lifeword), to our state college (Central Baptist College), and even to specific missionaries and works in specific locations – as well as a variety of other ministries at the national, state, and local level. If at any time any of those ministries go “off the rails” or acts in a way that doesn’t represent our doctrines or otherwise goes out of line, we simply stop funding them (and also have the opportunity at our annual meetings to approve or dissolve any of them or their leadership, if appropriate). It is a safeguard that has served our organizations well.
 
We see unfolding the dangers of the large cooperative work of the Southern Baptist Convention unfolding daily. The cancer of the “Social Justice” false gospel movement is one that many of us have been warning about for a long time – a warning that is consistently answered with vitriol and hate. Among the various entities supported by the SBC cooperative giving program (with zero control of the local churches) is the ERLC, led by Dr. Russell Moore. He has become rabidly political, endorsed and promoted that members of the denomination and Christians in general vote for abortion-providing, traditional marriage-destroying, Bible-hating candidates. Their false gospel of Social Justice is one that cries that Jesus Love You – and so He doesn’t’ care if you continue in your sin – for His grace is abundant and more. (What happened to Romans 6:1-2?). Russell Moore’s gate is the wide gate to perdition – and along with him, hand-in-hand with other extremely popular “leaders” within the denomination, the charge to wink at sin for the sake of a politically-correct “social gospel” is literally rotting the SBC from the inside-out.
This department within the SBC umbrella, the ERLC (Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission) has buried itself in sin, and the below linked article shines a light on this horrible darkness.  I implore you – if you attend and/or are a member of a church who gives to the Southern Baptist Convention – that you take this very seriously consider if this is the stand you and your local church take on this matter.  But don’t stop there! Keep digging in to the “values” Dr. Moore and his ERLC now stand for (including women pastors and leadership), and a variety of other issues that the ERLC has taken directly contradictory positions on to the Baptist Faith and Message they are supposedly charged with keeping.
Click on the image below to open the full article. Pray for the Southern Baptist Convention. Pray for eyes to be opened to the rot growing within. And pray for your church that you would refuse to support this heretical dung heap.

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My Message to Russell Moore and the ERLC

For those that don’t know, the ERLC is the social justice wing of the Southern Baptist Convention. Formed under the auspices of helping to promoted the gospel and its power to address social problems, it has become a mouthpiece not for the rank-and-file, Bible-believing Southern Baptist church member, but for the politically-motivated, doctrinally-liberal, Social Justice Warriors. So – I have simply pasted my recent message submitted to the ERLC via their web portal. For my Christian brothers and sisters of the SBC – please take a real look at what Dr. Moore and his ERLC organization is doing with your cooperative funds – including the endorsing of abortion-supporting politicians, as well as cooperating with unabashed racists. Pray for the Southern Baptist Convention.

I am absolutely flabbergasted that the ERLC and your leadership in Russel Moore continue to willingly partner with, associate with, and endorse such radical racists, who are rabidly AGAINST Racial Reconciliation – like Kyle Howard – who’s own tweets exude racist bile and calls for reparations based on race.

As a Christian – I believe what the apostle Paul wrote regarding ethnicities – and none of that mattering under Christ. I abhor racial politics. I escue racial division.

As a Baptist – I do acknowledge past sins that ran very deep, but I also see great strides in addressing said sins – I see a growing passion for actually following Christ’s command to love our neighbors (being an all-inclusive umbrella).

As a Pastor – I proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, which was meant for all people – with efficacy for all who would believe, regardless of race, creed, national origin. I proclaim the power of Christ and His gospel to radically change the most corrupt and sinful heart – to bring love where only hate once existed, and to restore believers not only to God, but to one-another.

Much of what I have seen out of the ERLC and your voluntary association with groups that proclaim quite the opposite view – actually FEEDING the racial divide, re-igniting fires of hate – and the direct (some would call reverse-racism) of your leadership and their ministry associates are the antithesis of the biblical picture of reconciliation.

The reason for all of this – the ERLC is simply another fork of the growing Social Justice Warrior anti-gospel. the ERLC and its leadership need to repent and turn to the gospel of Christ Jesus, not the man-centered social gospel, for it is only the True Gospel that will destroy the strongholds of racism and bring true repentance and restoration to broken mankind.

These are the posts that Kyle Howard loves (Kyle bills himself as a Racial Trauma Counselor – whatever that is), and has himself quite publicly claimed that white people cannot be victims of racism, nor are they capable of even empathizing with blacks. his primary “solution” being the paying of reparations. But one of Mr. Howard’s favorite people on Twitter – and to who he often agrees 100% with:



Howard not only completely agrees and follows such an racist individual, but he also makes every single situation into a race-based catastrophe –

For additional information on the ERLC and its radical agenda (that is anti-Bible, anti-gospel):

Identity Politics, Race, and the Church

What part of Jesus Christ’s ministry, teaching, or preaching played race-identity politics?
 
What, then was the message, both of Jesus’ own words and the rest of Scripture? It’s summed up in Christ’s response to those trying to corner him:
 
The greatest command is to love God with all – your heart, body, mind, spirit, EVERYTHING – first and foremost. The second – to love your neighbor as yourself (with the “love” translated here being the same used to describe God’s love in John 3:16, and the kind of love Jesus inquired Peter about. A self-sacrificing kind of love – a love that considers others (our “neighbors”) literally above ourselves… a servant/humble attitude so perfectly and in every way modeled by our Savior.
 
The love of Christ was poured out in the form of His precious blood for the sins of not one race, not one nationality, not one “people group” – but across all of the above. God has and is redeeming a people for Himself from every tribe, every tongue, and every nation – with no racial, economic, or social distinctions. We have ZERO right to judge others worthy of the Grace of God. And we, as professing Christians, have no right or place to become purveyors of race-identity politics. 
This week, the Southern Baptist Convention, convened in Phoenix, AZ (#SBC2017) approved a non-binding resolution denouncing racism and specifically the alt-white movement.  It is my prayer that the heart behind this was to put a biblically-mandated separation between that denomination and a truly hate-filled, race-identity thriving movement. I don’t have a problem with the spirit of such a resolution – the SBC (and many Baptist denominations) have a long history of very real race issues.  My problem with this particular resolution is that it is a one-sided and fails to even go back to both the Gospel and Christ’s commands. It simply buys in to the media and political Left’s race-identity politics. It continues the white vs. other narrative (the resolution uses the term anglo and non-anglo).  It fails to genuinely recognize and affirm the “#HumanRace, and accepts the overly-broad brush the terms used have become.
And I speak from the view of having been a leader in a church early in my ministry that, while claiming to “love its neighbors”, used terminology such as “those people” and “we don’t want them taking over” in reference to people of a different race. I speak of someone who grew up in a very diverse home town, where race has been a problem for centuries, and where many of us did, indeed, look beyond skin color – something now deemed offensive itself.
I write from the view of someone who is just plain sick-and-tired of race-identity politics and divisions.  Why is it so difficult to just take Christ’s words for what they are: Love your neighbor.  Period.  Our neighbor is anyone other than ourselves.
Racism is an evil that just doesn’t seem to want to go away.  Sadly, after a few decades of attempts to move away from race-identity, it now has come rushing back from all sides.  And it is no accident that politicians from every direction play the game in one form or another: it is all to “divide and conquer”.  The sooner we begin to recognize our neighbors, regardless of what they look like, what they wear, how much money they have (or don’t have), where they are from, and what religion (or lack of) they practice as our “neighbor”, and someone who desperately needs the Gospel – the sooner racism begins to fade.  And the way to that – is the Gospel itself.  It’s pretty hard to love like Christ, when we don’t really know Him.  When we are not made a “new creation” in Christ Jesus.  If we have not received the new heart He promised (Ezekiel 36:26). Until we are born again, not of flesh and blood, but of spirit – we just cannot see and love as Jesus does.
So – to my SBC brethren.  To my BMAA brethren. To my ABA brethren – and to all who genuinely know, believe, and follow Jesus Christ – repent of your sins (including any vestige of hate and racism), distance yourself from those who cling to those divisive race-identity politics, and seek Christ’s Love – and Love your neighbor…