This article was originally posted on April 30 here.
Last night I was about to go to sleep, but because of FOMO (fear of missing out) I checked a few things on my phone before turning off the lights.
I came across this article about the SBC Pastor's Conference essentially canceling Ben Carson coming to speak at an event, and I was so shocked I actually had to read it twice.
Before we proceed let me state for the record I am a Baptist– my heart is built on nothing less than Lottie Moon and Broadman Press. I received Christ in a Baptist church, graduated from a Baptist college, was ordained by a Baptist church and completed 33 hours towards my degree in a Baptist seminary before dropping out.
From time to time I have hope for the Southern Baptist Convention. However, it's things like this that cause me to shake my head.
I posted online about being disappointed by the SBC in regards to their decision and saw a flurry of comments this morning when I woke up. Some agreed they were disappointed as well, others endorsed the SBC as making the right decision and then there were some who questioned why I was disappointed.
Let me share with you three reasons.
#1 – The Theological Police
One of the overarching reasons stated as to why Dr. Carson was disinvited had to do with his theological beliefs. There were some concerns that he seemed to be "off" in some statements he has made in the past.
I would be willing to bet my last Bible a phone call to Dr. Carson to clarify any statements about what he has said in the past was never made.
While I believe correct theology is essential to the core of Christianity itself, I do not think it should lead to division and condemnation of those who do not believe exactly as we believe.
No one on the planet had better theology than Jesus, and yet we do not see Him drawing theological lines in the sand and excluding people who do not believe just like Him—in fact, we find Him often sitting with people who were nothing like Him at all—has the Pastor's conference moved beyond the model Jesus demonstrated?
Maintaining a position of correct theology does not give a person permission to be a complete rear end to those who may disagree. However, it seems that the people who identify their theological position in their social media profiles tend to be the most arrogant people on the planet.
It's sad—but the overarching position of the SBC has traditionally been, "if you do not think exactly like us and adhere to exactly what we believe, then we refuse to hear from you and completely reject the fact we could actually learn anything from you."
Some say this is fighting for "theological truth." I say it is Pharisaical arrogance.
Whether a person wants to admit it or not, the way things are run in the Southern Baptist Convention come down to the subject of money. Odds are if you traced the pastors who had a problem with Dr. Carson's invitation it would be the churches that give the most money to the Cooperative Program, which is nothing more than back room politics.
And while we are on the subject, didn't a majority of SBC churches and pastors openly support Mitt Romney in the last election? Isn't he a Mormon? Further proof that the SBC is willing to sell their soul for political advancement.
#2 – Not Too Long Ago, Ben Carson Was Considered A Hero To Many Baptist
Back in 2013 (as well as 1997) Dr. Carson spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, and quotes from his speech were being heralded by the religious community and he was held in high regard as a man of courage who would deal with difficult subjects directly.
He quoted several passages from the book of Proverbs, talked about the reality of II Chronicles 7:14 and argued against political correctness (specifically highlighting his belief that people should have the right to say "Merry Christmas" without fear of repercussion.
I can still remember a social media explosion of support for Dr. Carson, even in Southern Baptist Circles.
Dr. Carson has been very public about his belief in God and was, for a time, heralded as a hero. However, the old adage "those who deify will eventually crucify" has seemingly played out right in front of our eyes as the man who once had the support of the SBC has now received a backhand.
#3 – The Subject Of Racial Reconciliation
Racism is one of the number one issues in our country today—you cannot turn on the news without seeing a video of someone being shot or abused, and racial unrest in America is at a tension point I've never witnessed in my lifetime.
Dr. Carson is someone who could have spoken on the issue with authority and integrity. He could have taught the SBC in regards to what we should be doing and how we could be responding in a way that would allow us to impact people with the Gospel in ways we would have never thought of.
Having Dr. Carson speak was a tremendous opportunity to reach a hand across the aisle, welcome someone of a different race (and even theological beliefs) and begin a conversation with him that would have been incredibly advantageous to both sides; however, because of a desire to tow the political line in SBC world, Dr. Carson was given the boot and the vocal minority in the SBC applauded this decision.
The Pastor's Conference built a wall when they should have built a bridge!
After saying all of this let me conclude with the following thoughts.
I don't hate the Southern Baptist Convention. In fact, NewSpring is technically a Southern Baptist Church.
The Southern Baptist Convention claims they want to lead the charge for prayer in Baptist churches in hopes it will lead to a spiritual awakening for our nation.
However, I am afraid that prayer isn't what is needed for a spiritual awakening for our nation…but rather repentance of religious people who love theology more than Jesus... which has caused them to not be able to see people as Jesus saw them.
I believe if we can say "more prayer" is what we need in regards to an awakening, then it allows us to not deal with the obvious issues that dominate the landscape of most SBC churches.
Reality is this—we can pray all we want; however, many SBC churches are simply not prepared for people who do not know Christ and do not agree with Baptist theology to show up this coming Sunday. If we spent as much time preparing an environment a person far from God could walk into rather than just taking the passive prayer approach—we could see miracles unlike anything we've ever experienced.
The numbers for the Southern Baptist Convention are on the decline, and with decisions like this, it's no wonder.
While the Southern Baptist Convention is focused on prayer for an awakening for our nation – I will be praying for an awakening in their leadership, that we could see and feel as Jesus saw and felt, and treat people with compassion rather than condemnation.