The Southern Baptists Convention (SBC) needs a change of direction. Over our 177-year history the Lord has enabled the churches of the SBC to accomplish some amazing things for the kingdom of God. But over the last few years, the good work that our association of churches is doing has been somewhat disrupted and is in danger of being derailed by the subtle infiltration of secularism and godless ideologies into our ranks. I am convinced that the vast majority of Southern Baptists do not want to see their convention (the largest Protestant denomination in America supporting the largest Christian missionary force in the world and educating one-third of this nation’s seminary students) follow the path of our increasingly secular culture.
I have spoken and written about the rise and spread of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality in the evangelical world for many years (see here and here for more examples). I joined with John MacArthur, Voddie Baucham, and several other men to write the Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel to sound an alarm in 2018. In 2019, at the urging of Al Mohler and others, I tried to stop the SBC from adopting Resolution 9 “On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality,” but was rebuffed by the Resolutions Committee and then the messengers. Later that year, in the face of a great deal of attempted intimidation and even threats to cancel the project, I helped produce By What Standard: God’s World…God’s Rules, a cinedoc that documents many of the ways that godless ideologies have infiltrated our ranks.
Two years later, at the 2021 annual meeting in Nashville, I joined 1300 other Southern Baptists in offering a resolution on “The Incompatibility of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality with the Baptist Faith and Message.” Despite that overwhelming and unprecedented support from Southern Baptists across the convention, the Resolutions Committee refused to allow the messengers even to debate it much less vote on it. In that same meeting I offered a motion, which I had been told by the official parliamentarian was in keeping with Roberts’ Rules of Order, to rescind the 2019 resolution “On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.” A lawyer was given the platform to declare that the motion could not be considered, and President J.D. Greear ruled me out of order.
By God’s grace, in that Nashville meeting, the convention overruled the Resolutions Committee and insisted on hearing and ultimately adopted the strongest prolife, anti-abortion resolution in the history of the SBC. But its adoption came only after various Southern Baptist ethicists spoke against it. Later, a group of Southern Baptist theologians and ethicists wrote a lengthy statement arguing against the resolution’s call for the abolition of abortion.
In 2020, when several professors were fired from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, I learned that two of them, Jim Scott Orrick and Russell Fuller, were denied severance payments (money which many claimed they were contractually owed) because they refused to sign the seminary’s NDA statement. After reading the statement I called the chairman of the seminary’s board of trustees and asked him why such an unrighteous, secular instrument was being used to punish two inerrantist professors who had served Southern Baptists with distinction for decades. He admitted that he had never read the document and said that its use was acceptable because “our lawyers tell us that it is legal.” So, I joined with others in raising money to cover the lost wages of those professors.
I am convinced that the vast majority of Southern Baptists do not want to see their convention follow the path of our increasingly secular culture.
I am an ordinary pastor of a regular-sized SBC church that I have pastored for 36 years. Like most other Southern Baptist pastors I know, I love shepherding the flock of God and am amazed that God has called me to this work. I have never aspired to serve as President of the SBC or in any other denominational office. But God, in His inscrutable providence and through my involvement with Founders Ministries, has put me in a position to engage various issues as I have described above. Though I have doubtlessly failed at many points along the way, I have tried to honor Christ and encourage His churches through these efforts.
Over the years I have been repeatedly encouraged by pastors across the SBC to “run” for the presidency. It has been easy to politely dismiss those requests until recently. Over the last couple of weeks men whom I love and trust have prevailed on me to do so. Donna, my precious wife of 42 years, said she was willing. My fellow elders at Grace Baptist Church – men whom I trust implicitly – said they think I should do this. After much prayer, reflection, and counsel, I agreed. If the Lord would be pleased for me to serve as the President of the SBC, then I will do my best to do so in ways that help us change the direction where it is needed so that we can better carry out our joint mission of making disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to observe all that King Jesus prescribes.
Throughout all our history the Lord has enabled Southern Baptists, in the language of our original charter issued in 1845, to stay united “for the purpose of eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the Baptist denomination of Christians, for the propagation of the gospel, any law, usage, or custom to the contrary not withstanding [sic].” My hope and prayer is that, by His grace, we may continue this mission with zeal and faith as we serve our Lord together.
To my fellow Southern Baptists, I hope to see you in Anaheim. Let’s pray and work together to make our Lord Jesus Christ known throughout the world.