Part One of this article was published on December 18, 2017. Over a month later, interest in the issues raised in the article remains high, and the questions over associations of evangelical leaders like Al Mohler, Tim Keller, Russell Moore, and Marvin Olasky continue to linger. Efforts to dismiss the well documented findings as the “ramblings of a crazed conspiracy theorist” by Ed Stetzer and others have failed to deflect attention on the facts. There are serious problems with the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission and The Gospel Coalition’s rhetoric and common source of communications with Libertarian think tank, The Acton Institute. SBC and PCA pastors and ministers who have followed the Reformed theological leaders in these circles have little if any clue that they were actually following Jesuit / Catholic Liberation Theology and social policy wrapped in historic Reformed Protestant teaching.
Acton in Evangelical Seminaries
Acton Institute, mentioned in Part One of this research, is headed by Father Robert Sirico, who has a history as a radical “homosexual faith activist.” Acton Institute is celebrated by Philanthropy Roundtable as a key player since the 1990s in synthesizing religion and democratic capitalism. Acton’s blog boasts such bold goals as rethinking Liberation Theology and Marxism from updated and fresh approaches of application, while oddly accusing Trump supporters of folk Marxism. The ironies run much deeper.
According to the “The New Evangelical Social Engagement” by Brian Steensland and Philip Goff, Acton Institute founder Father Sirico, “’combining free market approaches with Catholic social thought,’ argues that ‘there is no social justice without economic freedom …Instead of a vast welfare state, social justice is about people fulfilling their responsibilities in justice to their neighbor.’ Therefore, with the support of the Kern Family Foundation, Acton has sponsored curriculum initiatives at thirteen evangelical seminaries.” (p. 63) Continue reading
Pastor, Good News at Noon
There has been a surprising backlash of late concerning the invitation and the altar call. For generations, people have been offered the opportunity to respond to Christ and invite Him to come into their heart and change their life. This backlash is even coming from some conservative Christian traditions. The charge that preachers are guilty of manipulating hearers is sometimes referred to as Finneyism, a term derived from the methods of a nineteenth century American evangelist named Charles Grandison Finney. His methods and theology are often accused of being contrived and backed by non-orthodox views. Those making such accusations seem driven more by a mechanical theology void of the conviction and prompting of the Holy Spirit and a decree from the Father for all men to be drawn to Himself.
The term altar call seems to throw opponents into the assumption that God-less manipulation is creating false converts. It is often pointed out that the term is not found in Holy Scripture. Not in the Bible? Then altar call can be added to the following list of words not found in English translations: Bible, Trinity, rapture and Sunday. Finney was not the only preacher who used invitations and altar calls. Preachers from most American traditions after the Second Great Awakening employed the invitation and the altar call—Baptists, Methodists, Independents and even Presbyterians and Congregationalists. The preachers offered Jesus and urged the people to come to new life in Him. The Body of Christ grew rapidly in America.
RICHMOND, Va. (LBM)—Donations through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for the first quarter of the new fiscal year, Oct.-Dec. 2017, were $600,027 ahead of receipts for the same time period last year, a 4.1 percent increase, the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention reported Jan. 16 via press release.
Meanwhile, the overseas missionary force declined in 2017, dropping from 3,596 to 3,562, according to data collected from the IMB website Fast Facts page and a limited release Field Personnel Count summary.
The IMB reported a total of $15,221,629 had been collected from all sources “so far for the 2017-2018 campaign,” which runs October through September. Previous campaigns were based on a June through May calendar.
IMB also reported it has received $23,304,153 in Cooperative Program funding for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which likewise started Oct. 1. This amount is $225,349 ahead of last year at this time, about one percent more.
The combined increases total $825,376 more for the work of the IMB.
In contrast to the financial blessings it is receiving, the IMB continues to lose more missionaries than it appoints annually.
The net loss of 34 field personnel for the year actually represents a shortage of 134 overseas missionaries based on the published budget plan.
According to statements posted on the Frequently Asked Questions page on IMB.org, the budget provided for “a net gain (from Dec. 2016 to Dec. 2017) of 100 field missionaries, which is approximately 3 percent [more].”
The end of year report means Southern Baptists have lost an additional 255 missionaries, net, from the field since 2016, when 983 departed early after IMB officials announced the need for personnel reductions and offered incentives to induce voluntary terminations (another 149 stateside staff left in 2016, too).
Speaking June 12 to a select crowd in Phoenix, Arizona, during the SBC Annual Meeting, IMB President David Platt said a turnaround was imminent.
“For years now, we have declined in the number of Southern Baptist missionaries serving around the world,” he said. “But this year, the stage is set for that trend to be reversed. The stage is set for Southern Baptists to send more missionaries, through a multiplicity of pathways.”
**The Baptist Message contacted the mission agency with questions and to allow comment on the continuing personnel losses in light of the entity’s financial improvements, but IMB officials did not respond.
Aug. 2015 4,800 (before mass departures)
Apr. 2016 3,817 (end of VRI, HRO benefits offers)
Dec. 2016 3,596 (losses continued)
Dec. 2017 3,562 (134 actually short of goal)
VRI = Voluntary Retirement Incentives
HRO = Hand Raising Opportunities
A: The budget provides for a projected 451 total new field personnel in 2017. All 451 would be field personnel. We project that those who retire or complete their assignment (273) and we project those who depart through attrition (78) would equal 351. In addition to “replacing” those 351 departed missionaries, we will be able to appoint 100 more, for a net gain (from Dec. 2016 to Dec. 2017) of 100 field missionaries, which is approximately 3 percent.