Bud Ahlheim of Pulpit & Pen, who often reports on the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), has some troubling news for Southern Baptists. In this must-read-to-the-end post, he charges the SBC with not caring what its “pew-sitters are being taught so long as what they’re being taught retains them as pew-sitters.” What most people don’t realize is that the SBC has had a million member loss in the last decade. So SBC’s leadership is desperate to retain its members and bring the sheep who have wandered off back into the fold. Ahlheim informs us of some of the ways they’re going about accomplishing this task, which includes introducing New Apostolic Reformation teaching to its members. This is a terrible idea for the reason that the NAR movement has its roots in the Latter Rain cult and it is steeped in mysticism.
Ahlheim begins with a quote by Presbyterian theologian J. Gresham Machen:
“In such a time of kaleidoscopic changes, is there anything that remains unchanged? When so many things have proved to be untrustworthy, is there anything we can trust?
“One point, at least, is clear – we cannot trust the Church. The visible Church, the Church as it now exists upon this earth, has fallen too often into error and sin.”
If the maxim “the devil is in the details” can be granted interpretative equivalency, then “apostasy is in the details” might serve to accurately assess much of the Southern Baptist Convention. To be sure, much of the apostasy embarked upon by the SBC is not merely in the details. It can be seen strewn across the convention, from the stages of every center of seeker-sensitive hoopla wrongly called “churches” to the upper echelon of the shakers and movers of denominational influence.
Apostasy, simply put, is the abandonment of a previous loyalty. Note that it doesn’t require a full-blown renunciation of previously held beliefs. All that is necessary to deem apostasy present is the evidence of behavior or commentary that defies that previous loyalty.
For Christians, apostasy is turning away from the Word of God in His Scripture, and its clear teachings, by evident practice and proclamation of contradictory teaching. That proclamation, again, doesn’t have to be an actual renunciation of what God has clearly taught in the Bible and to which previous allegiance was evident; it can merely be the subtle relegation of doctrinal standards to a condition of disuse, replacing them with errant practices that, while most often done for personal or corporate (i.e., denominational) expediency, remain thoroughly unbiblical. This is the SBC today.
While not every SBC cooperating church and pastor fall into the category of open apostasy, it’s certain that the denominational powers-that-be are eager to openly engage, employ, and encourage much that is antithetical to the clear teaching of Scripture. Sadly, the Bible-centered, Gospel-proclaiming, doctrinally-sound, faithful churches that do exist within the convention are the rare exceptions that do not set the rule in a denomination determined to avoid fidelity to Biblical truth in pursuit of its own agenda. From the top down, the SBC seems more aligned with the apostle’s Words about the malignant godlessness of the end times … “having a form of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5) … than it appears poised to receive Paul’s apostolic words of commendation … “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3) Such is the condition of a denomination in downgrade.
Something like past SBC President Ronnie Floyd’s eager participation with, as Spurgeon called it in his day, “known and vital” error by joining the NAR-heretical IHOP cult to “pray for America” doesn’t require too much in the way of Biblical discernment. When Scripture says “avoid them,” (Romans 16:17-18) it’s not difficult to interpret the Lord’s meaning. Continue reading