It is common knowledge that the word “gospel” means “good news,” but the nature of that news and what, exactly, makes it good are not always a matter of agreement. Is the good news the hope that we might go to Heaven when we die? Is it that we will be raised from the dead with Christ? Is it that God is creating a new world? Is it that, through Jesus Christ, God has triumphed over the devil? Is it that God has formed a new society of reconciled humanity through the cross work of his Son? Is it the forgiveness of sins? Is it liberty to the oppressed? Is it victory over evil?
In fact, the gospel is about all of the above and more. God’s redemptive work is both individual and global, microcosmic and macrocosmic, eternally salvific and socially transformational. However, the recognition of Scripture’s rich diversity of perspectives on God’s salvation through Christ does not eliminate the need for careful understanding of the order and logic of the gospel. It is entirely possible to proclaim gospel truths in a manner that distorts the biblical shape of the good news and, consequently, tends to lead people astray from the true gospel of Christ. And so, if we are going to proclaim the gospel rightly, we must ask the question: what is the primary orientation of the good news of Christ’s redeeming work?
On November 20th of this year Matt Stamper broke the news that Tennesee Southern Baptists, gathered in Knoxville, TN for their annual meeting, passed a resolution condemning Critical Race Theory.
The Tennessee resolution represents a profound development in the controversy created by the passage of Resolution #9 at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Birmingham, AL on June 12, 2019. [Editor’s Note: if you are unfamiliar with the controversy created by the passage of Resolution #9 please see the Founders Ministries’ film By What Standard?]
This action of the Tennessee Baptist Convention is significant evidence that Southern Baptists, when sufficiently informed about Critical Race Theory and the danger it presents to the church, will take action to repudiate Critical Race Theory.
Additionally, the action of Tennessee Baptists offers a way forward to Southern Baptists (nationally) who find themselves frustrated and disenfranchised when it comes to pushing back against the spread of Critical Race Theory. The state-level convention is much more immediate than the national convention and the individual pastor or church member has greater opportunity to have a significant voice not only in the state’s annual meeting but in the yearly ebb and flow of the state convention’s activities. If faithful brothers and sisters who feel themselves alienated from the national denomination will invest their energies in their respective state conventions the result will be a national denomination where toxic ideologies will have little opportunity to take hold.
I reached out to Shawn Allred, the author of the Tennessee Resolution, to learn more about what led him to submit this resolution, what the process was like, and his hopes for Southern Baptists going forward. He was gracious enough to answer my questions and allow them to be published here.
In this article, Mark Coppenger mentions, “the school of Thumper, who was pressed to recall his father’s instructions in Bambi, ‘If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.’ I fear that many of us have studied too long there.”
In this second part of my critique of Jen Wilkin’s talk given at the Acts29 Regional Conference, I will focus on the feminist agenda behind much of Wilkin’s words. Wilkin starts off by listing:
“What do we need from women as a church?”
We need women’s unique perspective.
We need women’s relational capital.
We need women in visible leadership. (Here Wilkin qualifies her statement to say as visible as your church’s complementarianism will allow.)
I’m not going to cover the first two points of this question because I think it’s fairly obvious that what Wilkin has to say about women in these is not only true, but helpful. We do need female perspective in the Church and we do very much need their relational capital. Women tend to have very special relational skills which are evident if you’ve spent any amount of time around groups of women. Instead, I’m going to focus on her third and most hyperbolic statement so far.
The Southern Baptist Convention has establish a webpage that “exists to provide individuals an opportunity to address concerns about whether a church that is currently identified as a cooperating church with the Southern Baptist Convention continues to meet our standards of faith and practice.”
In this post, non-SBC author Tim Challies writes, “I also genuinely do believe there is a present and a future for blogs. I believe blogs have made many positive contributions to the Christian faith over the past 20 years, and I believe they will continue to do so for the next 20 (and hopefully many more). I’m going to offer a few reasons why.”
A most frustrating phenomenon follows the news that gasoline prices are rising sharply. People get in their vehicles, drive to the nearest service station, and fill their fuel tanks. When entire towns fill up, service stations struggle to keep up, and gasoline prices, by the next day, go up, just as the media predicted. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy. The important thing to note is that it matters little whether or not the initial news of a sharp rise in gas prices is true. Some will certainly believe the news. Others will remain skeptical. A few will not believe the news at all. And yet, all three groups will – wisely – fill their tanks. Why? Because of the self-fulfilling prophecy. The three groups may become angry with one another. They may become angry with the media. None of that matters. What matters is that gas prices will almost certainly go up. Self-fulfilling prophecy.
Now, carry this conversation over to the current state of the Southern Baptist Convention. The news is that the SBC is facing some sort of scandal, some sort of shift, some sort of scare slightly unlike anything it has faced before. So-called ‘discernment ministries’ are crying wolf and screaming that the sky is falling. Some believe without a shadow of doubt that the SBC is headed for theological disaster, that its largest leaders are liberals, and that faithful churches should leave. Others take a more measured approach in calling for caution, but with greater charity and commitment from those concerned about the current trajectory of the convention. A few – often those in positions of leadership or attending SBC institutions – defend the orthodoxy of the SBC on the basis that it is, well, perfectly orthodox, healthier than it has ever been, and firmly committed to theologically conservative convictions like the inerrancy of Scripture as expressed in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Meanwhile, those who do not fit into the aforementioned categories are generally and genuinely confused about what in the world is going on.
Perhaps you believe even the nuttiest news is true. Perhaps you are skeptical. Perhaps you do not believe any of the news at all. The fact is that it no longer matters whether the supposed SBC controversy was originally material or manufactured. What matters is that the controversy is here now. Think of it as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Frustrating. The perception of the people in the pews will determine the reality of what takes place in the SBC. That may make you mad. That may make matters worse. But the price of gasoline is still going to go up. You have to get out and deal with a delay at the pump before you pay twice as much tomorrow. Now is not the time to worry about the insatiable appetites of the ankle-biter conspiracy theorists. Now is the time for uncompromising theological clarity on the particulars of supposed problems in the SBC, be they related to race, abuse, critical theory, gender, or homosexuality. Now is the time to address the concerns of those well-meaning Southern Baptist church members who are genuinely confused about what we are doing.
In this post, non-SBC author Joe Rigney writes, “in our egalitarian age, I can imagine significantly more churches that are eager to preach Christ-like headship, and tiptoe around Sarah-like submission.”
In this article, non-SBC author Lisa Spencer asks, “Does Jesus really need to look ‘just like us’ in order to be acceptable to us? Do we really need to circumvent the reality of sin so that it doesn’t offend our sense of ethnic affirmation? We don’t have to dismiss ethnicity, nor should we, but we certainly can’t let it govern our theology.”