An Objectionable Invitation: An Open Letter to My Southern Baptist Family
Robert Hutchinson | Pastor
Faith Baptist Church, Harrisonville, MO
Dear Southern Baptist Family:
Do Southern Baptists still believe that congregational governance is both biblical and God-ordained? If we do, why would we invite to the Southern Baptist Convention Pastor’s Conference a speaker who has come to the irreversible conclusion that “congregational government is an invention and tool of the enemy of our souls to destroy the church of Jesus Christ”?
James MacDonald literally believes that Satan invented congregational governance for the purpose of destroying the church. And yet, for the last two years, he has been invited to speak at the SBC Pastor’s Conference.
Notice, MacDonald doesn’t simply believe that congregational government can be abused and used in ways displeasing to the Lord, nor does he believe it is merely a poor form of government that Jesus can still use to accomplish His purposes. MacDonald is of the firm and irreversible belief that the Devil invented congregational governance and that he invented it in order to destroy the church.
When it comes to church governance, the practical conclusion of such a view is that you and I, wittingly or unwittingly, have submitted ourselves and continue to submit ourselves to the will of Satan. Obviously, therefore, the only way to break free from Lucifer’s destructive grip is to do as MacDonald declares and “send congregational governance back to hell where it came from.”
Let me be clear, as offensive as MacDonald’s words are they are not what I find most offensive. It’s MacDonald’s prerogative to say what he believes. Rather, I am hurt and astonished that someone who believes such a thing would be extended an invitation to speak at a Southern Baptist event – unless, of course, we no longer believe that congregational governance is both biblical and God-ordained.
Here’s what I’m asking for us to do: If you find MacDonald’s invitation objectionable, take a few minutes to forward this letter to the officers of the SBC Pastor’s Conference with a gracious request that they reconsider prayerfully the decision to extend MacDonald an invitation to speak at this year’s conference.
Brother William Rice, President: Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Clearwater, FL firstname.lastname@example.org
Brother Jeremy Westbrook, Vice-President: Pastor, Living Hope Church, Marysville, OH jeremy.westbrook.email
Brother Drew Landry, Treasurer : Pastor, Spotswood Baptist Church, Fredericksburg, VA email@example.com
Now, may you, Lord, continue to bless this peculiar people called Southern Baptists, and may You grant us the needed grace and strength to persevere in our efforts to cooperate one with another for the edification of Your church and the advancement of Your gospel throughout the whole world.
Brother Robert Hutchinson
Pastor, Faith Baptist Church of Harrisonville, Missouri