In the 1980s, the Southern Baptist Convention went to war over the inerrancy of the Bible, the ordination of women, and abortion. The so-called “fundamentalists” won that war and gained control of the convention. Most of the liberal and moderate evangelical theologians either left the denomination or the conservatives forced them out. People like Albert Mohler and Paige Patterson gained control of Southern Baptist seminaries and touted their victory in books, videos, and speeches.
The Southern Baptists have not fared very well since the conservative takeover. The number of converts to the faith is in decline. Children raised Southern Baptist do not stay Southern Baptist. Many of the denomination’s leaders, including Robert Jeffress, Jack Graham, and Mohler, have hitched themselves to the Trump wagon. Scandals related to sexual abuse and racism have brought down conservative leaders such as Richard Land, Paul Pressler, and Paige Patterson. Between 1998 and 2018 more than 700 Southern Baptists experienced some form of sexual misconduct at the hands of ministers, youth pastors, Sunday school teachers, deacons, and church volunteers.
This is a denomination in crisis.
Now it looks like the SBC has a new civil war on its hands. It looks like the denomination is seriously divided over issues such as social justice, critical race theory, women’s role in the church, and the very meaning of the Gospel. We have covered this here and here and here. One young buck within this movement want so excommunicate all the “woke” members of the denomination.
Yesterday David Roach of Christianity Today published a piece on this new movement within the SBC. A taste:
Over 500 people gathered Tuesday night for a religious liberty event at the university’s campus in Cleveland, Georgia, and within a few days over 10,000 had watched on Facebook. Speakers criticized political correctness and cancel culture, urging believers to focus on biblical justice over social justice. They prayed for bold, biblical preaching and godly leadership for their churches and the country.
Radio host Todd Starnes characterized the gathering as an attempt “to save the nation’s largest denomination from a radical group of Never Trumpers and woke critical race theorists.”
The group responsible for the event is the Conservative Baptist Network. This newly formed coalition of conservative pastors and leaders worry the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is drifting toward more worldly approaches and away from the convictions of millions of everyday churchgoers in the pews (or, in pandemic times, over the screens)—and they believe now’s the time to do something about it.
Their concerns emerged or accelerated over the past four years when, like the rest of the country, Southern Baptists found themselves in disagreement over Donald Trump’s presidency as well as the appropriate response to rising social unrest nationwide.
Read the entire piece here.