Saying “No Mas” to Additional Calvinist Entity Leaders

January 9, 2017

By Dr. Rick Patrick, Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, Alabama

In the eighth round of a famous boxing match in 1980, Sugar Ray Leonard was getting the best of Roberto Duran, when Duran turned away from Leonard, waving in surrender, at which point the referee said, “No mas,” which is Spanish for “No more,” thereby ending the match. Whatever else one might think of Roberto Duran, there is something to be said for possessing the self-awareness to know when one has had enough.

Although Duran’s “No mas” was a sign of surrender, Southern Baptists must learn to say “No mas” as an expression of firm resistance, opposing the election of additional Calvinist leadership over the next several years as we experience vacancies within our eleven entities. Recently, such leaders have typically possessed exceptionally strong theological, philosophical and personal ties to Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. A proactive effort by trustees to install Soteriological Traditionalists would serve to counter-balance this disproportionately Calvinistic influence.

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Does the ERLC, Under Russell Moore, represent the SBC?

January 6, 2017

 Message Editor Will Hall

Will Hall, Editor
Baptist Message of the Louisiana Baptist Convention

Editors Note: This article originally appeared in the Baptist Message and is used by permission.

ALEXANDRIA – When an unnamed staffer “boasted” to the online media outlet Think Progress in October 2014 that Russell Moore had “completely rebranded” the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, few could have imagined what this meant.

However, Moore’s all-in campaign against presidential candidate Donald Trump, highlighted by his most recent attacks on Liberty University for hosting Trump at a student convocation, reveals something quite unexpected about Moore when he was elected to lead the ERLC in 2013—a penchant for disdain for Christians who think differently than him.

Moore rightly points out Trump’s moral flaws—and character should count—and he has a right and responsibility to comment on Trump’s policies and to share his view of what these might mean in terms of Christian values.

But Moore’s dislike for Trump goes beyond the pale, translating into disrespect and even contempt for any Christian who might weigh these considerations differently than Moore when comparing the range of personal beliefs and behaviors as well as public records of ability and achievement within such a large field of candidates for the White House.

DISRESPECT FOR OTHERS

In an editorial for the New York Times, Moore called evangelicals’ support for Trump “illogical” and declared “these voters must repudiate everything they believe” in backing Trump.

He even ranks the spirituality of evangelicals according to the candidate they support.

Roll Call, a Washington, D.C., newspaper, reported Moore as saying, “Ted Cruz is leading among the ‘Jerry Falwell’ wing, Marco Rubio is leading in the ‘Billy Graham’ wing and Trump is leading the ‘Jimmy Swaggart’ wing.”

“He was suggesting that Cruz appealed to Moral Majority types like Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, who has endorsed him,” Roll Call observed. “And Trump, Moore said, attracts ‘the prosperity wing of Pentecostalism,’ who tend to believe God will ‘financially reward believers.’”

— Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of the Liberty University his father founded, called Trump “a breath of fresh air” when introducing Trump to students and faculty Jan. 18.But Moore’s scale for assessing one’s biblical bona fides appears politically calculated to raise his own stock at the expense of other evangelical conservatives:

— Robert Jeffress, pastor of the 12,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, wrote in an editorial for Fox News that evangelicals back Trump for his strong leadership: “They are not under any illusion that Trump will be conducting Bible studies in the Oval Office, nor do they feel like they are abandoning their Christian values to support Trump,” he said.

— Franklin Graham, president of his father’s Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, also seems to invalidate Moore’s hierarchy of righteousness.

Although, Graham has said he will not comment on the presidential race, he has announced support for Trump’s position on U.S. nuclear negotiations with Iran. He also agreed with Trump’s objection to bringing Syrian refugees into the United States: “For some time I have been saying that Muslim immigration into the United States should be stopped until we can properly vet them or until the war with Islam is over,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

DOUBLE STANDARD

While Moore stridently opposed Trump’s appearance at Liberty University, he did not object to the self-described Socialist Bernie Sanders who spoke there only three months ago (Sanders is pro-abortion and strongly supports gay marriage).

For that matter, Moore has held his own candidate forum, managing to grab a prime slot during a Southern Baptist missions conference—with 13,000 in attendance, July 2015, in Nashville—to interview Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

He also confessed he had invited Hillary Clinton—who has a raft of personal convictions and public positions which contravene Southern Baptists’ stated consensus beliefs—but that she declined. Moore said he was disappointed Clinton did not attend because he felt “he could have modeled our disagreements with her with civility.”

But he offers no such civility for Trump or his supporters.

Importantly, Moore failed to invite three White-House-seeking Southern Baptists to his question and answer time —Lindsey Graham (now withdrawn from the race) Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee, who served 10 years as governor of Arkansas was educated at a Southern Baptist college and a Southern Baptist seminary, pastored Southern Baptist churches and served as president of a Southern Baptist state convention (helping to raise millions of dollars for Southern Baptist causes)—and he has already experienced the highs and lows of running for president as a proud Southern Baptist.

If Moore was looking for someone to explain the issues and politics of the 2016 presidential campaign in context of the vision and values of Southern Baptists, he missed the mark.

SOUTHERN BAPTIST SNUBS

Obviously, Huckabee was not the face of evangelicals Moore wanted to project to the audience, and on that note, Moore has shown apparent disdain for traditional Southern Baptists:

— During a Sept. 2015 meeting, he told ERLC trustees “We must see to it that the future of the SBC is not a bunch of old, angry white men who have around us a few people that are African American and Latino and Asian Americans.” Yet, four out of five of his first top hires were white males—two of the five were not even members of Southern Baptist congregations but four of  the five had ties to the Calvinistic network The Gospel Coalition.

— This theme continued at the ERLC “Gospel and Politics” conference held in conjunction with “Send North America,” when one panel discussed how the era of “white, angry evangelicalism” was over. Yet, the overwhelming faces who appeared on stage for the whole of the event were white and male—just not men like Huckabee or Jeffress.

— He has even declared the Bible Belt (a map marked in Southern Baptist red) as populated by “almost Christianity” a kind of “God-and-Country civil religion that prizes cultural conservatism more than theological fidelity.”

TROUBLING DEVELOPMENTS

During his young tenure at the ERLC helm, other actions have been equally as troubling:

— An ERLC research fellow published an article in Christianity Today asserting “gay marriage remains an act rooted in love” and arguing Christians should affirm homosexuals’ “longing to be loved and belong.”

— His team played a major role in drafting “An Evangelical Statement on Responsible Care for Animals,” with a key member concluding in an accompanying article  that the “entire biblical witness” suggests “animals may very well be co-inheritors with us of the new creation.”

— He signed an Evangelical Immigration Table—Syrian Refugee Letter to Congress, arguing among other points against increasing security checks or enhancing the vetting process of those seeking to come to the United States from countries with a known ISIS presence. The 1,000-word missive cites Christian duties multiple times, but mentions Jesus only once to describe Him as “a refugee,” not as Savior, Lord or King.

— In a public flap perceived to be directed at Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, Russell Moore suggested Christians in public office should resign rather than resist after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned traditional marriage (despite an SBC resolution urging the opposite).

— He dismissed as a “utopian idea” the belief that “if you come to Christ and if you go through our program, you’re going to be immediately set free from attraction or anything you’re struggling with” in reference to reparative therapy and change from homosexuality (causing at least one national figure to suggest Moore should confer with actual experts on the matter.)

For the record, former lesbian Jackie Hill-Perry, now a Christian lyricist and hip hop performer, celebrates being completely changed, attractions and all.

“We’ve made God very little if we believe He cannot change people,” she says. “If He can make a moon, stars and a galaxy that we have yet to fully comprehend, how can He not simply change my desires?”

DISDAIN FOR LIBERTY

While Trump was speaking at Liberty University, Moore tweeted a stream of comments, each one more acerbic than the last: “Trading in the gospel of Jesus Christ for political power is not liberty but slavery … This would be hilarious if it weren’t so counter to the mission of the gospel of Jesus Christ … Evangelicals can love a golden calf as long as Aaron promises to make Mexico pay for it.”

Afterward, he tweeted, “This is unofficial, I know, but Trump is apparently winning HUGE in the demographic of folks with eggs or cats as their Twitter avatars.”

QUESTION REMAINS

Shortly after Moore’s election to his ERLC post, Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Moore’s mentor, offered an interesting observation to the Wall Street Journal regarding Moore’s future in context of the gravitas of his predecessor.

“When Richard Land spoke to most issues, he was certain that Southern Baptists were behind him and he was their mouthpiece,” Mohler said. “Russ will need a deft touch to make sure that Southern Baptists stay behind him.”

In the end, it’s a rhetorical exercise to ask whether the ERLC represents the SBC—organizationally, it absolutely does.

But the question many Southern Baptists are asking is whether this ERLC represents them.

Does it represent you?

 

The Fear of the Lord- Part 2

January 5, 2017

 III. The fear of the Lord emancipates and embays life.

Proverbs 19:23c reads, “. . .He will not be visited with evil.” The term “embay” means “to put in a shelter.” Keep in mind the sanctuary and security of Psalm 91 here, where we read the following:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. ‘Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”

Romans 8:28-39 reads, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

On Proverbs 19:23, Rev. William F. Clarkson shares in The Pulpit Commentary, “It is a living principle in every sense of the word—hath the promise of life in both worlds. It provides for the soul satisfaction, rest, the consciousness of present and eternal security.”  Rev. Clarkson observes, “But is not the good man visited with evil? Do not his crops fail, his vessels sink, his shares fall, his difficulties gather, his children die? Does not his health decline, his hope depart, his life lessen? Yes; but:

From the worst evils his piety secures him. The ‘fear of the Lord,’ that Holy One before whom he stands and with whom he walks, keeps him from folly, from fraud, from vice, from moral contamination, from that ‘death in life’ which is the thing to be dreaded and avoided.

And the troubles and sorrows which do assail him lose all their bitterness as they wear the aspect of a heavenly Father’s discipline, who, in all that he sends or suffers, is seeking the truest and the lasting well being of his children. The man who is living in the fear of God, and in the love of Jesus Christ, may go on his homeward way with no anxiety in his heart, for he has the promise of his Saviour that all things shall work together for good—those things that are the least pleasant as well as those that are the most inviting.”

Rev. William John Deane (1823-1895) explains, “Under our present dispensation Christians expect not immunity from care and trouble, but have hope of protection and grace sufficient for the occasion, and conducive to edification and advance in holiness.”  

Conclusion

Now, let’s put our text, Proverbs 19:23, in context.  Proverbs 19:20-29 reads, “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days. There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand. What is desired in a man is kindness, And a poor man is better than a liar. The fear of the Lord leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil. A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, And will not so much as bring it to his mouth again. Strike a scoffer, and the simple will become wary; Rebuke one who has understanding, and he will discern knowledge. He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother Is a son who causes shame and brings reproach. Cease listening to instruction, my son, And you will stray from the words of knowledge. A disreputable witness scorns justice, And the mouth of the wicked devours iniquity. Judgments are prepared for scoffers, And beatings for the backs of fools.” Dr. Arno C. Gaebelein (1861-1945) explains, “Beginning with the twentieth verse of chapter 19 the personal address begins again and we read repeatedly the phrase ‘My son’ up to the twenty-fifth chapter. This section corresponds therefore with the first nine chapters, containing the instructions which Solomon received from the Lord and which he records in these chapters.

Once more there is the call, like in the opening chapters, to hear, to give attention. ‘Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.’ The Lord knew beforehand what ‘the latter end’ of Solomon would be. The wise man who warned against the fool, the backslider, the unjust and the man who forsakes counsel and the Lord, himself illustrates the truths given in these proverbs by turning away from the Lord. Alas! he did not hear counsel, and therefore instead of being wise in his latter days he became a fool. The truth expressed in verse 22 was Solomon’s portion as long as the fear of the Lord governed his conduct. He was satisfied, had peace and prosperity; but when he no longer feared the Lord, evil came upon his kingdom and it was divided. ‘Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou has not kept My covenant and My statutes which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant’ (1 Kings 11:11).”

Shortly before her death in Deadwood, South Dakota, in 1903, Calamity Jane reportedly said, “Leave me alone and let me go to hell by my own route.”  You might be able to go to hell by your own route, but not to heaven! Romans 3:10-18 reads, “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.’ ‘Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit’; ‘The poison of asps is under their lips’; ‘Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.’ ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’” (Emphasis mine)

Proverbs 19:23 reads, “The fear of the Lord leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil.” Dr. Roy B. Zuck (1932-2013) shares, “In the Westminster Abbey a monument to Lord Lawrence has inscribed on it his name, date of death, and these words: ‘He feared man so little because he feared God so much.’”  Make certain you are living in the fear of the Lord.