This isn’t a news outlet, but I want to digest a few contemporary situations. I may be just poking around in a bushel of briars, but I do think there is a pattern to the situation worthy of commentary. If anything, the thorns look like Elvis when you turn your head sideways.
Qualifications for the Long-Haul
Assumptions have been levied from both directions in this evangelical skirmish, and so I want to provide two clear, documented qualifications. But first, if I may offer some advice on charity: it is always a good idea to not read angry or emotional overtones into your opponent’s text. You can practice that further down in this article.
Qualification One: racism is wicked. I don’t prefer the term “racism,” because there is only one race: those descended from Adam. That’ll do for my first point: racism doesn’t make any sense. Second, racism opposes the blood of Christ, which was shed for a people from every nation. Third, racism opposes the glory of God, because it considers oneself as intrinsically better and superior to another human, who is equally made in the Image of God. This is either self-exaltation of divine-humiliation, take your pick. Fourth, racism is lawlessness, because it is to hate one’s neighbor. In conclusion, racism is wicked. There is no place for it in the church.
Qualification Two, contentiousness is wicked. Fighting for the sake of fighting is sin. Contentiousness is shares in the same spirit as murder, which is unlawful killing. It is a destructive, against-the-man ambition that is fueled by anger and often envy. Being a contentious person is never OK.
The president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary tweeted on September 21, “Recent events in SBC life increasingly lead me to wonder if we expended energies/efforts in the Conservative Resurgence to affirm our belief in an inerrant Bible whose ethical teachings we have no intention of actually living out? Inerrancy with integrity is the need of the hour” (@AdamGreenway). Technically, the point is ambiguous – that is to say, what exactly Greenway means by “ethical teachings.” Which is why I responded with, “We are free to interpret this as a renunciation of CRT, Intersectionality, and BLM, then?” (@tbr_reads). But practically, the point isn’t very ambiguous, when you consider SWBTS’ #MeToo Patterson extravaganza and the general lean of SBC leadership. And yes, the fact that Jared Wilson liked Greenway’s tweet also informs my interpretation.
Greenway commits to one of the more frustrating sticking points of contemporary Baptist doctrine: if you are not onboard the systematic racism bandwagon, then you are a racist. At best, you are an integrity-lacking fundamentalist. Why would you not speak-out against systematic racism? How could you not empathize with the black community, as it continues to struggle through centuries-long persecution? Of course, this all assumes that there is a systematic problem of racism in the U.S., and that CRT is laudable. It is the idolatry of empathy. So, Mr. Greenway, I think the tweet applies the other way. The easy course right now is conforming to BLM. The simple, nice-guy path is hyper-empathy. Easy and simple don’t typically translate to lawful and virtuous – or, as you put it, integrity.
Three citizens were arrested in Moscow, ID Wednesday night for standing too close to one another during an outdoor Psalm-singing – no, that isn’t a Babylon Bee article. First, that the mayor would think such mandates are necessary. Second, that the mayor would think he has the authority to issue such a mandate. Third, that the police would enforce such an unlawful mandate. This is simply the most recent of a plethora of situations stemming back to the arrest of a Florida pastor earlier this year. The Bruised Reed denounced that arrest on the grounds that Scripture does not give civil government such authority, and that this “pandemic” is anything but a sizeable threat. John MacArthur’s stand in California is perhaps the most popular religious stand against civil tyranny, and I was pleased to learn that Mark Dever has taken a similar stand against the mayor of D.C.
My concerns are twofold. First, are churches in my locality ready to make a similar stand? I hope so, but frankly the BMA is not nearly as prepared as some of us would like to believe. Time will tell. Second, as I stated earlier this year, the American church is theologically malnourished (that includes her pastors) and she is in desperate need of a thoughtful, Biblical theology of the relationship between church and state. This deficiency became apparent in March when civil magistrates stomped the long pedal and evangelicalism froze in the headlights (myself included). Many who have taken an easy, hyper-empathetic route have utilized Richard Baxter, out of context, to justify their position. Even worse have been attempts to justify outright compliance with Spanish Influenza presidents, as if things were ideal in the early 20th century.
One of the main problems in evangelicalism is effeminacy. Specifically, effeminacy in disdain for a good fight. Fighting is the bitter herb of Big Eva. Any hint of the stuff and the dip gets spat out, with the occasional gag reflux. The language of warfare, fighting, battle, and conflict gives Baptists the hives. What does conflict with integrity look like? What is a virtuous fight? It’s when soldiers are needed and men step-up to volunteer. It’s the classic Spiderman-saves-the-woman-from-the-purse-nabber. It’s the man who charges full-speed into a dark-alley gang-rape, with a fistful of clench, a chestful of joy, and a bellyful of righteous indignation. It’s the man who exposits 2 Timothy 2:12-15 the Sunday after his denomination affirms female eldership, and he does it with all gladness and zeal. It’s the man who continues gathering his church for Sunday morning worship, complete with singing and hand-shaking, even when the civil magistrates orders him to stop.
Notice my clear emphasis on men, because it is the man whom God has made to fight, lead, and protect. Christian women are not responsible for taking back the SBC, for safe-guarding the BMA, for rolling-back trends in the PCA. These are the responsibilities of men. It is our fight, our duty, and by the grace of God, it is our victory in Christ to move forward.
One of the more disappointing lessons I have learned is that seminaries tend to soften, and in the process soften men. I don’t think this is an intrinsic quality of seminary, as if there are no faithful schools of higher education, or as if seminary cannot be done correctly and helpfully. I simply mean that the tendency of Christian higher education is certainly leftward. Seminaries tend to trim-up in conflict and put on the extra pounds in peaceful times. They soften, they become comfortable, they play it safe – and the theologians they churn-out are made in their image.
Several in SBC leadership have expressed support for Greear’s suggested name-change: from Southern Baptists to Great Commission Baptists. This name suggestion has been tossed around for some time now – in fact, in 2012 the New Orleans Convention adopted GCB as an alternate name for the denomination. In the spirit of SBC seminary presidents, and of forestalling D-Day in the name of unity, I’d like to submit my own name for consideration: CUBC, the Charmin Ultra Baptist Convention. I would also accept the TFBC (Touch Football Baptist Convention), the EABC (Effeminates Anonymous Baptist Convention), or MBU (Mama’s Boys United).