Bible

The Southern Baptist Convention’s 2017 meeting is underway during a time of crisis and division for the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

Much of the division centers on politics – and at the center of the firestorm is Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

Moore spent last year waging a long and bitter war against President Donald Trump and his supporters, including penning frequent attacks on the then-candidate in the pages of leftist media outlets like the New York Times.

He also condemned Trump’s immigration policies after the president’s election.

Even before the rise of Trump, Moore had also been pushing the denomination to support amnesty for illegal aliens, skepticism of Israel and other stands with which most American conservatives would disagree.

During last year’s meeting, the Southern Baptist Convention even took time to denounce the display of the Confederate battle flag. Some observers argue Moore may even break evangelical Christians’ reliable support of the Republican Party.

While President Trump has delighted many American social conservatives, especially with his actions against abortion, Moore has been largely frozen out of the White House and was noticeably absent from President Trump’s signing ceremony for an executive order on religious liberty.

And Moore’s strong stand against Trump has angered some Southern Baptist leaders who have pledged to withhold donations to the ERLC and the Southern Baptist Convention’s “Cooperative Program.”

However, the Southern Baptists are also facing serious issues because of reasons which go beyond politics. The Southern Baptist Convention has lost members for close to a decade, with most of the losses coming from those who leave the denomination after being raised in the faith.

Religion News Service reports the Southern Baptist Convention is also losing more members to evangelical and nondenominational churches than they are picking up as converts. And despite Moore’s support for mass immigration, the Southern Baptist Convention is also losing out to other denominations when it comes to attracting immigrants.

Carl Gallups, the author of several books including the recent title “When The Lion Roars,” has expressed concern about the future of the denomination. The pastor has a long history with the organization.

“I have served over 30 years as a senior pastor with the SBC, also spending over a decade of that time as an international youth evangelist with what was then called the Home Mission Board,” he told WND. “During the totality of my affiliation with the SBC I have spoken, by invitation, before the Board of Trustees, of what was then called the Home Mission Board. I have also preached by special invitation in the chapel services of the SBC central headquarters in Nashville and in SBC seminary and university chapel services as well. I have also served for over a dozen years on the Board of Regents for a major SBC University.”

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Gallups praised the Southern Baptist Convention for its long record of being steadfast in defending the truth of Christian doctrine.

“The Southern Baptists have been widely acclaimed as one of the most doctrinally conservative Christian denominations,” Gallups said. “Since Southern Baptist churches are autonomous and do not ultimately answer to a higher ecclesiastical body outside the governance of each congregation, there can certainly be variances among individual Southern Baptist churches regarding worship practices, style of local leadership, and even nuances of doctrinal positions. This rather unique style of denominational cooperation might well be a major reason why the Southern Baptist denomination is still so biblically sound in most areas of its ministry endeavors.”

However, Gallups expressed concern that stance may be weakening. The Southern Baptists have now adopted a “gender-inclusive” translation of the Bible. While Gallups states he has no real problem with a gender-inclusive translation that takes into proper context the true meaning and intent of the verse, he does warn against the temptation for the denomination to bend to political correctness in any arena – including Bible translation efforts, recent SBC “resolutions” and the blow up last year over the SBC signing its name to a document in favor of building a mosque in a New Jersey city.

“Our national obsession with political correctness is destroying our nation and is heavily influencing even the ‘conservative’ Southern Baptist denomination and many of its churches,” the pastor warned. “While every reliable poll indicates that America is slipping ever deeper into the abyss of a declining Christian identification, Southern Baptist membership has also been on a decade of decline. They simply are not hanging on to the younger generation of believers, or potential believers. There are a multitude of reasons why this is happening – too many to recite here – but the main culprit is the political correctness gremlin.”

In June 2015, Thomas Kidd and Barry Hankins, professors of history at Baylor University, argued in The Washington Post Southern Baptists should become more active about evangelism and maintain doctrinal rigor to combat its falling membership rolls. Gallups enthusiastically agrees, but worries the denomination is being cowed by the hostile media climate against believers.

“Many believers are fearful of sharing their faith in an increasingly Christian-hostile culture,” he said. “Conservative Christian young people are often marginalized by practically every aspect of the world in which they are now being raised. The mantras of ‘inclusiveness’ and ‘tolerance,’ as well as the ostracism techniques of relentlessly labeling Bible-believing Christians as ‘homophobic,’ ‘xenophobic,’ or ‘racist,’ are powerful weapons of the demonic realm. As a result, many pastors have become increasingly fearful in proclaiming the whole council of God’s Word or discussing ‘tough’ matters because they are afraid of losing members. And so we have only 17 percent of Americans who identify as Christians actually holding to a biblical worldview. And these statistics are in spite of the United States being the largest ‘Christian’ nation on the planet and the home of the largest conservative evangelical denominations.”

Instead of compromising with a hostile culture, Gallups urges the Southern Baptist Convention to stand boldly for biblical truth and stop trying to win fawning media reports by attacking conservatives or President Trump. He argues the churches which are doing well are those who have refused to cater to the anti-Christian bias of the mainstream media and the larger culture.

“The churches that are spiritually and biblically thriving are the ones that are unashamedly standing in the contextual Word of God, exalting the name of Jesus, engaging in meaningful biblical worship, boldly proclaiming the Gospel message, discipling the body of Christ, and thoroughly engaged in hands-on and true mission endeavors,” Gallups said. “These are the churches that today’s Christian youth are so desperately seeking. These are the churches where young adults want to serve, grow, and raise their families. These are the churches, Southern Baptist or otherwise, that will continue to make a real difference in the advancement of the kingdom work of Jesus Christ.”

Extraordinary events predicted centuries in advance are unfolding now. Here is your guide to the incredible prophecies being fulfilled before our very eyes. Don’t miss the bestselling sensation from one of America’s most prolific and beloved pastors. “When the Lion Roars: Understanding the Implications of Ancient Prophecies for Our Time” by Carl Gallups, available now in the WND Superstore.

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