February 26, 2019

Let Us Tremble in Light of Such Heavy Responsibility

Christians believe in human dignity. But we face significant challenges at this very time to human dignity in both the realms of the Church and the State.

We as Christians are compelled to contend against both abortionists without and abusers within. Article XV of our Baptist Faith and Message reminds those of us who are Southern Baptists to provide for and contend for both the abused and the infant: 
“We should work to provide for ... the abused ... 
We should ... contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception...”
Ezekiel 34:7-10 applied to “shepherds” in ancient Israel who held the various offices of kingship and priesthood. Consider how the words of the Prophet apply to the State and to the Church today.
Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.
Therefore, against the abortionist Democrats in the modern American Senate, we must remind them that God holds them accountable as “shepherds.” Also, therefore, against those ministers who would either abuse or neglect to properly protect the abused in the Church, we must remind them, too, that God holds them accountable as “shepherds.”

I mourn for the aborted and the abused, for the little ones who belong to Christ. As an American voter, God will hold me accountable for what shepherds I empower in the State. As a Christian church member, God will hold me accountable for what shepherds I empower in the Church.

As a Christian pastor, I tremble before the thought of the accounting I must give before God’s throne. May He find me a shepherd who did well faithfully. And may He also on that judgment day deem all of us as Christians today to have been faithful in both the realms of the Church and the State in providing for the abused and contending for the babies. Let us tremble in light of such heavy responsibility. 

February 10, 2019

“Autonomy”? No, Evil Doesn’t Get a Pass

The Southern Baptist Convention cannot reform itself due to local church “autonomy”? No, my brothers and sisters, evil doesn’t get a pass.

“Autonomy” ought not be taken as an excuse to neglect the churches’ moral responsibility. The churches are equally responsible to Jesus as Lord. The churches must thus identify and rebuke any and all activities that harm any of his “little ones,” including in other churches.

It might be helpful if in the Baptist Faith and Message the term “autonomy” was replaced with the term “Christonomy.” This would help correct the idea that Baptists may rule themselves. Looking to Christ as our ever-present Governor would subvert inappropriate power claims.

As President of the Flat River Baptist Pastor’s Conference (in North Carolina) in the early 1990s, liberal pastors blasted me for wanting to remove one church that allowed a teacher to deny the resurrection. I reminded them that their churches are not alone in their autonomy. Orthodox churches are autonomous, too. Evil doesn’t get a pass.

(Update: Because of the apparent misuse of local church autonomy by a previous denominational leader, 2019 was a year filled with social commentary about exactly what the historic Southern Baptist doctrine means and does not mean. A resolution was subsequently adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention to clarify the matter. My commentary on its development may be found here.)