Dr. Rick Patrick, Pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Alabama
Exec. Director, Connect 316
If you are a Southern Baptist who desires to see our national convention flourish, you can make a difference by coming to Dallas this summer and voting for Ken Hemphill as the next President of the Southern Baptist Convention. (Read the Press Release here.) The process starts when you get elected by your Southern Baptist Church as a Messenger to the SBC Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas on June 12-13, 2018. Just talk with your Pastor and mention you would like to be elected as a Messenger. You will be approved in a Business Meeting and provided with a Messenger Registration Card. Listed below are TEN REASONS TO VOTE FOR KEN HEMPHILL.
1. Ken Hemphill envisions a bright future honoring our Southern Baptist heritage.
Sometimes, the best way to move forward toward a positive future is to draw inspiration from the proven and visionary initiatives of the past. Southern Baptist tradition provides us with an abundance of answers which we have sometimes neglected to our detriment. In our rush to try something new, we have often left behind some proven approaches to cooperation, evangelism, theology, missions and ministry. While open to innovation, Ken Hemphill has not forgotten the lessons of cooperation that have served Southern Baptists well for many years. Often, the newest approach is nothing more than a fad. We need proven solutions that have stood the test of time.
2. Ken Hemphill is gifted at connecting with basic, grassroots Southern Baptists.
A Southern Baptist by birth and conviction, he was the son of a Southern Baptist Pastor who instilled in him the value of cooperative ministry. Ken Hemphill is committed to traditional Southern Baptist theology (what we believe), ecclesiology (how we do church), and missiology (how we do missions). He thinks and acts and walks and talks like a Southern Baptist. His life, ministry, character and personality all resonate very deeply with basic, lifelong, grassroots Southern Baptists. He is thoroughly familiar with every aspect of Southern Baptist life. He knows how to motivate people and bring them together to advance God’s Kingdom.
3. Ken Hemphill is an experienced and proven leader with a stellar record of service.
As a student at Wake Forest, he was twice named to the All-ACC Academic Football team. After earning his Master’s at Southern Seminary, he earned a Ph.D. from Cambridge. He served as the Pastor of a rapidly growing megachurch at First Baptist Church of Norfolk, Virginia. He served on numerous SBC committees. He taught and lectured at universities and seminaries throughout America and Scotland. He served as the President of Southwestern Seminary. He served at NAMB, LifeWay, and the Executive Committee. He has done just about everything in Southern Baptist life a person can do except serve as SBC President. How fitting that we should invite him to do so now.
4. Ken Hemphill appreciates our association and state convention partnerships.
Although unfathomable to many of us, some Southern Baptists have expressed, in somewhat disrespectful tones, a clear lack of appreciation for our various organizational levels. Ken Hemphill, by contrast, shows tremendous confidence in the necessary partnerships we share at the local church, association, state convention, and national levels. History has proven that every single organizational layer is crucially important for our partnership to be strong. It is foolish to tamper with this structure or attempt to strengthen some of these links by weakening others. Southern Baptists need a leader absolutely committed to the strong support of our partners at each organizational layer so our churches can maximize their kingdom effectiveness.
5. Ken Hemphill boldly affirms God’s loving desire to save every person on earth.
Southern Baptists are right to proclaim that God loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved. We are right to preach that anyone who hears the gospel can be saved. God has not issued a private, contradictory decree that only certain individual souls must be saved, to the exclusion of all others. Only two things stand in the way of a person’s salvation—hearing the gospel and believing the gospel. Everyone who hears is capable of believing by exercising their own free will. This position, articulated in Hemphill’s excellent book entitled Unlimited, reflects the view of Herschel Hobbs, Adrian Rogers, and Billy Graham over against the view of John MacArthur, John Piper, and Tim Keller. As Ken Hemphill cooperates with all Southern Baptists, he embraces our convention’s majority salvation doctrine view.
6. Ken Hemphill pours his life into mentoring the young Christian leaders of tomorrow.
As a former seminary President, a current professor, and a personal mentor, Ken Hemphill is privileged to work with students and encourage their spiritual maturity and leadership effectiveness. Both the Bible and church history provide us with numerous examples of young people thrown into leadership positions prematurely. The results are predictably disastrous. They have created unnecessary tensions, made rash and irreversible decisions, attempted initiatives without adequate research, and followed the trendy approach of the day rather than utilizing methods tried and true. Ken Hemphill does not throw tomorrow’s leaders into the water to sink or swim. He guides, counsels, motivates, and edifies them for service to the Lord, so when the time is right, they are equipped for maximum kingdom effectiveness.
7. Ken Hemphill is committed to the principles of Southern Baptist congregational polity.
Article Six of the Baptist Faith and Message states: “Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes.” In recent years, some of our churches and institutions have been pushing the boundaries of the term “democratic processes.” Mature Southern Baptists have observed that some decisions today appear to be handed to us in a “top down” and authoritative manner, even if technically we are at times given the opportunity to offer the proverbial rubber stamp. Traditionally, Southern Baptists did not make decisions this way. We were asked rather than told. Our input and participation was solicited by our leaders rather than ignored. Ken Hemphill believes in leadership that listens to what people are saying and responds to feedback from the people in the pews.
8. Ken Hemphill believes in working together by welcoming every Southern Baptist to the table.
It cannot be healthy for Southern Baptists if virtually all of our books, initiatives, leaders, and conferences emerge from only one segment of our denomination. Ken Hemphill is committed to a renewed cooperation with everyone who embraces our doctrinal commitment to the Baptist Faith and Message. The Great Commission is too important to marginalize any group of Southern Baptists. Ken Hemphill affirms the value of churches regardless of their size, their ministry style, their ethnic composition, or the age of their members. He is a team player with a proven record of bringing people together to accomplish the task of church growth and kingdom expansion.
9. Ken Hemphill is a champion for the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program missions strategy.
He understands we are in danger of slipping toward a “neo-societal method where churches establish their own missional strategy” and claim ownership of the very SBC missionaries we are all meant to claim and support as Southern Baptists. He has written, “The Cooperative Program has produced the greatest funding stream for the most powerful, multigenerational and multi-diverse mission-equipping and mission-sending movement in church history. Our cooperative strategy enables every church of every size to be an equal partner in a kingdom venture so vast that only God will be able to receive the credit and glory.” This is a vision for Southern Baptist cooperation in missions that many Southern Baptists wholeheartedly embrace.
10. Ken Hemphill is a recognized leader in church growth, revitalization and kingdom expansion.
In other words, Ken Hemphill is exactly what Southern Baptists need right now in our history. We are experiencing a fifty-year low in baptisms. We just brought 25% of our missionaries home—more than required by our financial situation. Relationships between our associations, state conventions and national entities are more fractured than ever. Ken Hemphill possesses the skill set and proven leadership record to bring Southern Baptists together again, restoring trust and vitality, and building upon the prayer and revival emphasis of our current SBC President Steve Gaines.
In this watershed moment for Southern Baptists, we must make one very important decision. Will we continue to embrace the traditional beliefs and cooperation methods that have proven to be effective for generations? Or will we exchange them for other beliefs and cooperation methods that have proven to be ineffective over the past decade? Ken Hemphill is the right man at the right time. Let us hope and pray that Southern Baptists will come to Dallas and allow God to steer our wayward ship toward Zion, setting our course in the direction Jesus would have us to go, and electing Ken Hemphill to stand at the helm and captain our vessel.
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.