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Spiritual Warfare & the SBC

The Christian Perspective / Chris Hughes
The Truth Network Radio
August 13, 2021 3:21 pm

Spiritual Warfare & the SBC

The Christian Perspective / Chris Hughes

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August 13, 2021 3:21 pm

Dr. Chris Hughes is joined by Dr. Scott Colter, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary and co-founder of the Conservative Baptist Network, to discuss the recent Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, the importance of defending Scripture, and what his organization is doing to combat spiritual warfare in the Southern Baptist Church.

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Hi, this is Roy Jones with ManTalk Radio Podcast. Our mission is to break down the walls of race and denomination. Your chosen Truth Radio Broadcast will be starting in just a few seconds. Thank you. Welcome to The Christian Perspective, where we look in God's Word in order to develop a Christian worldview in the modern culture.

I'm Chris Hughes, and I'm honored to have a man with us today that I believe is going to greatly impact the world for Jesus Christ. If you're like me, every night when I turn on the news, I'm just shocked at the things that I hear going on in our country today. The left is truly trying to radically transform the United States. Their newest tool seems to be something called critical race theory. They've infiltrated our colleges and our universities and even our seminaries, and they're indoctrinating our children in school. Even in kindergarten and elementary and middle school, they're already starting to indoctrinate our kids.

They're everywhere you look. And if you try to speak out against them, they will shame you or cancel you when you try to take a stand on the Word of God. I know the devil's nervous because there's always been one institution that has stood between evil and what's going on in the world, and that's God's church. Satan knows that if he can destroy the church, that he can destroy America.

And he set his sights this year on destroying the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination of the world. My guest today is someone who's standing against that takeover. Dr. Scott Coulter is the former chief of staff of the president of Southwestern Theological Seminary, and he's the current director of strategic initiatives at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Coulter is one of the founders of an organization that is standing on the inerrant and the sufficient Word of God.

The organization is called the Conservative Baptist Network. Dr. Scott Coulter, it's an honor to have you on the show today. Thank you, Dr. Hughes. So glad to be here with you today.

My great privilege. Well, Scott, it's exciting because, you know, as I mentioned, Satan's really trying to take over our world. We've seen him move in the political system in the schools, but God's church has always stood against that evil. And there seems to be a move – we've watched it happen to other denominations. And a couple of years ago, the Methodist denomination was attacked. And in recent years, now we've seen an attack against the Southern Baptist Convention, which has done more to spread the Word of God across the world than probably any organization in the history of the world. And I think Satan knows – and a lot of people don't see it as a spiritual battle, but I truly – and I think you do too – see this as a spiritual battle where if Satan can take out the Southern Baptist Convention, if he convinced pastors to no longer believe that the Word of God is an inerrant scripture, that it is the Word of God, and that Christians don't understand what the Bible says and how to apply that in the culture, then he's going to have a great victory.

And you've done something about that. So tell us what the Conservative Baptist Network is. And I know there have been a lot of questions in media because the Southern Baptist Convention recently had their annual meeting, and people are asking, what is this new organization? Are they trying to become a new denomination?

Who started it? So let us know what's happening. You bet.

Absolutely. Thank you, Chris. And honored to be here with you today. I'm a proud Southern Baptist. I've been a Southern Baptist for all of my life.

I've never been anything but that. So I can't tell you much about the Methodist or the Episcopalians or the Anglicans this morning, but I can tell you about Southern Baptists from birth. I've been in a Southern Baptist congregation. I'm a Southern Baptist by conviction. We are the largest Protestant denomination in the world and have done more to send missionaries, have done more to propagate the gospel of Christ around the world than any other group has.

And that's a tremendous opportunity, but there's a lot of stewardship that comes with that. And the Lord has given me some great opportunities to meet pastors across this country. You mentioned working at Southwestern Seminary, working in some different capacities, working for a nonprofit religious foundation in Dallas for several years, have just had an opportunity to travel around the world and around America and to visit with local church pastors in grassroots churches and congregations all across this country. And in recent years, we've heard some increasingly uncertain sounds coming from our denomination. We've heard those concerns from the church level.

We've heard them from different organizations that are involved in those types of movements. And there's been a growing concern about the direction that Southern Baptists are heading. Now, that doesn't mean everything's bad, doesn't mean everything is wrong, but if you get off even one degree, if you carry that out several, several miles down the road, you won't be on the path anymore.

You'll be off in a ditch in the field. And several people are concerned that Southern Baptists have just kind of gotten off a few degrees, and several years from now, we will be pretty far away from our trajectory, which is reaching the world with the gospel and the message of Christ. And so we heard that concern all around. I attended the 2019 SBC meeting that was in Birmingham and just was very, very discouraged there. I was discouraged about what I was seeing in our denomination, was discouraged about what I was hearing from pastors. We're down in our number of baptisms and people that we're leading to Christ, we're down into numbers that we haven't seen since the 1940s.

You've got to go back to that time period in America's history to find the time that Southern Baptists were performing this poorly as far as the number of people they're leading to Christ and baptizing into our churches. And back then, that number was going up. It was increasing. It was on the rise.

Today, that number is on the decrease. Scott, why do you think that's happening? Because I do think that a lot of churches are not focusing on evangelism. You know, they're more name it and claim it or positive thoughts and that kind of thing. Why are we not reaching people for Jesus anymore?

Well, a good friend of mine, Chris, has said you can't go fishing until you untangle your net. And it feels like right now, Southern Baptists are standing on the shore with our nets entangled. We're entangled in critical race theory. We're entangled in side disputes. We're entangled in worship wars.

We're entangled in cultural engagement, whether or not we need to be involved in that. And the mission has taken the hit in that. If we're not on a mission out there, then we're not leading people to Christ. Also, we've decided to make everything a gospel issue. And so there's been a movement in recent years that everything is a gospel issue. Immigration policies are a gospel issue. Church attire is a gospel issue. The style of worship you have there is a gospel issue. Whether or not you're involved in politics is a gospel issue. Chris, if everything is a gospel issue, actually nothing is a gospel issue. And you and I know that the gospel is simple.

If you will repent and believe, trust in Christ, you will be saved. And yet that seems to have been put on a back burner, put to the side right now while we're dealing with what we deem to be more important matters that actually are secondary, actually are tertiary. And our mission is what's being affected most.

Boy, that is so true. So you were at that convention in Birmingham. That's the convention where they had something I believe was called Article 9.

And many of our listeners are Southern Baptists, and they may or may not know what that is. Can you tell us, and I know I'm getting you off track just a second, but I think it leads to where you are today. What was that and what happened?

You bet. That's one of the reasons I was most discouraged coming out of Birmingham that year. Resolution 9 is what you're referencing there. And that's a resolution that was brought forward from the committee. We have a committee that's appointed each year by the president of the SPC to deal with resolutions that are submitted and then to submit those back to the convention for adoption. And the convention meets on Tuesday and Wednesday every year. But by the end of the day on Wednesday, people are going home, they're done, they're checked out.

And that's what happened this year. There was a very small crowd in the room about 4.30 on Wednesday afternoon, and they were presenting many, many resolutions. So they took a bunch of them, four or five of them and bundled them together and just asked the few messengers that were in the room to adopt that bundle of resolutions all together without really addressing each one. There were a few people in the room that caught on to what was happening there, but that was a very political move for us to try and bring forward a resolution that named critical race theory as a helpful analytical tool to reaching the world for Christ.

And that may sound good on the surface. A lot of people don't understand why that's concerning. But what that's doing is it's bringing in a worldly philosophy that's actually based in cultural Marxism as you look through it and where it actually came from. It's bringing that into the Church, into the SBC, and saying that this is a helpful analytical tool to understand how to reach people with the Gospel. What that effectively means is that the words that we have in the Bible and the command that we have in Scripture is not sufficient. We now have to look outside the Bible and go adopt a secular Marxist tool to understand how to relate to someone and to share Christ with them. That's contrary to Scripture, that's contrary to what Southern Baptists have always believed, that's what we've stood for. We need to get back to the Bible alone. It has what we need, it has the prescription for us in there to reach the world for Christ, and as we adopt these unbiblical ideologies, that's dangerous to our message. It's getting us off track and it's simply not coming from God. In that 2019 SBC annual meeting, that's what you're referencing there, Resolution 9, we as Southern Baptists called that a helpful analytical tool. There's been tremendous grassroots pushback against that. You're seeing all across the country that school moms are going to the school boards and they're standing up, they're speaking out, they're getting that right, they understand the dangers and the problems that come with critical race theory. Southern Baptists should be on the forefront leading the charge against unbiblical and unworldly ideologies, and we've been unable to do that. This was, we couldn't meet last year because of COVID, so this year's annual meeting in 2021 was actually the first meeting of the SBC since then, and we passed a weak milquetoast resolution that did not even bring critical race theory forward by name and condemn that. Southern Baptists, it's embarrassing, it's shameful that we cannot take a clear stand on the word of God being inerrant and sufficient, but so many else across our country can't right now. And that is so scary and it's arrogant for the leaders who presented that resolution to think that God's word needs anything to be added. That's really scary. So I know my blood pressure is going, just hearing about that is going up, so you're standing there in that room and I guess you decided something had to be done.

What did you do? Absolutely. So go back to 2019 with me and there was a debate that year as well that was just discouraging to many of us. We had two prominent SBC pastors debating about gender roles and all kinds of stuff came into that, but the issues with LGBTQ and transgenderism and the distinction between gender roles, what we call complementarianism in the SBC and in conservative evangelical circles, a lot of discussion about the distinctions between gender and all of that were at the forefront. And Southern Baptists shouldn't be having these kind of debates.

We should have several of these issues a long time ago. So that coupled with Resolution 9, coupled with some other things that had happened in the past related to Mike Pence being at the convention, and we can speak about that later, but our cultural engagement and all of that just came to a head in Birmingham. I was discouraged, many others were discouraged, and the pastor that I have known for quite some time now just sent me a message that, hey man, let's sit down and talk some. And so I met with a pastor of a megachurch in Bossier City, Louisiana.

His name is Brad Jurkovich, Dr. Jurkovich. And we just sat down at the lobby of the convention hotel in Birmingham and began to share our hearts about what we believed our denomination needed to be doing, what has always made Southern Baptists a leading group in evangelicalism, and what concerns we were facing, and where we were headed. He and I both said, if something doesn't change, if we don't do something to change the path down which the SBC seems to be headed, we will functionally no longer, and theologically no longer, be able to align with the SBC several years from now if that task continues.

And that's what he and I had both heard from across the convention. We'd heard pastors that they weren't formally leaving the convention per se, many of them were, but not all of them were, but they were functionally withdrawing. They had quit giving, they had quit supporting financially the work, and they had quit going.

They just weren't coming to the meetings, they weren't having their voice heard, they weren't participating, they had just functionally disengaged. And I proposed to him and just said, Brad, if before we walk away from this, do we have any stewardship? You love the SBC, I love the SBC, we are pro-SBC, do we have any stewardship issue to just try and put down a flag and say, this is what we believe, we're not going to back up from this, and if you agree with us, here's a place for you within the SBC, we're not going anywhere, we just have a little place right here where you're welcome, where your voice will be heard, where you can have a place, have a home, can we make a stand for that? See if the Lord uses it, he may not, we may be on our way several years from now, but do we have an obligation because of how this convention has blessed us to try and stand for truth, try and stand for the Bible, and I challenged him and said, I can't do it, it would have to be led by a pastor. And so he thought about that for several months, I honestly thought he'd forgotten about it, I kind of forgot about it, and he called me back later and said, Scott, I want to do it, I want to take a stand, I want to stand up for what's true and what's right. That same day in Birmingham, Brad Jurkovich introduced me to a man who was there with us as well, they had a debate on the roles of the pastor, and his name was Rod Martin, he's a businessman from Florida, and he serves on the executive committee of the SBC and some different strategic and dynamic roles there.

And so I met Rod Martin for the first time that day, the three of us just really have the same vision, the same heart, the same desires. And so we started praying about who could we bring to a table that we've heard sharing these concerns across the convention, we just, we all made a list and started meeting with and working with those pastors and talking with them from Alabama to Texas to Louisiana to Georgia to Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, even out to California and the Northeast, we've been in Vermont, Maine, New York up there, hearing all of the same thing from these pastors. And so we just started to gather that group together, we started with a group of about 30, met in some different states, met in Louisiana, met in Georgia, met in Texas, and just set together that group of pastors, Chris, went around the table and had almost identical concerns.

What were some of those concerns, Scott? They're very concerned about evangelism, I think that was probably the leading concern is the increased, the decreased, I'm sorry, number of baptisms that we're seeing. They're concerned about how cooperative program dollars are being spent. And we're spending more money than we've ever spent before. We're planting more churches than we've ever planted before. And yet we're reaching fewer and fewer people every year. And that number is going down.

So can I interrupt you for a second? So it's not not all of our listeners are Southern Baptists. So when he's saying SBC, that means Southern Baptist Convention, and in cooperative program, that's something that is unique to Southern Baptist is churches. Each church is independent and autonomous. But they come together as a group called the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Southern Baptist Convention has no power or authority over the individual church. But those churches pool their funds to send missionaries around the world. So it's, it's not exactly like tithing, and Scott might get on to me, I might be oversimplifying this. But basically, a church takes a portion of their funding, and the Southern Baptist Convention that would, they would like to dedicate towards missions, and they send it to the Southern Baptist Convention. And that way, they pull that money and take those great resources to train and send missionaries around the world. So when he says cooperative program, that is the effort. And these pastors were concerned about the funds that were going to cooperative program. Didn't mean to interrupt you, Scott, but I didn't want to make sure people know what that meant. Very helpful clarification.

Absolutely. And so we're spending more missions dollars than we've ever spent before. And we're being less and less effective by it. We're, we're marginalizing ourselves. And so concerned with that, we have in the SBC, the Southern Baptist Convention and Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, a group that is is tasked with representing us on Capitol Hill and in the public square. And there's been tremendous concern about how that group has been representing Southern Baptists, what they're engaging in, what they're disengaging in. We've been through the entire COVID-19 pandemic, there's been pastors that have literally been arrested and charged for meeting their churches and for gathering together.

Our ERLC has been completely silent about that. And so, real concerns about a lot of what they're engaging in and what they're not engaging in. There's concerns about the North American Mission Board and the types of churches we're planting and the leadership of quite a bit of those churches and whether or not that confirms with our, our Baptist faith and message, which is our doctrine of faith and what we adhere to and what those entities are called to follow. So lots of concerns there. There's concerns about critical race theory being taught in the seminaries and different classrooms.

And just, it's hard to get clear answers on that. We hear that it's not being taught and yet you keep seeing these clips coming out of seminary classrooms that, that are concerning. And so Southern Baptists are wanting some transparency, they're wanting some clear answers. And they're wanting to stand for the Bible, they're wanting to stand for missions, they're wanting to stand cultural engagement, and they're wanting to stand for grassroots involvement. And those have kind of become the four pillars of what the conservative Baptist network, our group within the SBC is standing for and hoping to accomplish.

Well, you mentioned, and I know the Bible, so those four pillars are the Bible, evangelism and missions, cultural engagement, which is so important, and grassroots involvement. And you're not meaning political involvement, you're meaning of the local church being engaged. But I know when I look on their website, there's a lot of talk about the sufficiency of Scripture and inerrancy of Scripture.

So if we have someone here who may not be a Christian that's listening, or maybe just doesn't know what that means, Scott, what does that mean? What is happening in relation to Southern Baptist Convention with that? And what does a conservative Baptist network have to say about the inerrancy and the sufficiency of Scripture?

Absolutely. Chris, historically, those listeners here today who have followed Southern Baptist history are probably aware that in the 70s and 80s, our denomination fought what we call the battle for the Bible, or the conservative resurgence. And the issue of the day then was, is the Bible true without error? Is it completely accurate and reliable?

And there were two different camps in that. Is the Bible inerrant? It's the Word of God and coming from God. It cannot have errors because it's from Him as the divine author.

Or is the Bible from errant men, and have they gone wrong at certain places, and does it include mistakes? If that is true, then our job becomes the determiner of what's true and what's not true. And if you're going through the Bible and you choose what's true and what's not true, you can choose what you want to follow and what you don't want to follow.

And that's so scary, Scott. I call that cafeteria Christianity, where you go through and you pick, I want some of this and I don't want that and give me some meatloaf. And folks, either the Bible is all true or it is none true.

You can't pick and choose. And Satan has done a great job, Scott, and I know you know this in the world today, particularly with kids, one of the easiest things to attack was creationism. Let's believe there's a big bang that took millions of years. And if we can attack what God starts the Bible with, then we can shoot holes in the rest of the Bible. And there are pastors across the country that teach this nonsense. And I'm just so proud of you and the Conservative Baptist Network for saying, that's not it. The Bible is inerrant. It is the Word of God.

There's not a mistake in it, and it is all true. So I appreciate the stand you're taking there. Absolutely. And we fought that fight in the 80s and came out of that very strong with believing that the Bible is inerrant. I think the battle for today for this generation is sufficiency. Is it what we need to engage in this world, to speak to the world, to know how to live, to know what to do?

Is it sufficient? Or do we need a whole bunch of other stuff that comes from those who are not Christians, comes from actually anti-Christian perspectives, to influence and to tell us what to do? And the Conservative Baptist Network says absolutely not. The Scripture alone is enough, and we just need to get back to it. And so that's our position there. We spoke about missions and evangelism and kind of the need to grow into all of that and to increase what we're doing and the concerns there, and cultural engagement. I know your audience really affects a near and dear issue to them, and it is to me.

In 2018, I was blessed and excited. We had Vice President Mike Pence speaking to our convention. He'd been invited to be there, and I showed up that morning excited to hear from him, a committed evangelical, a leader in the pro-life movement. And there was an orchestrated effort that morning of Southern Baptists to have him silenced from the platform, to have him disinvited even the day he was coming, to have his speech and his remarks vetted by a committee of Southern Baptists. My brother, if we think the Vice President of the United States will have his remarks vetted by a committee of Southern Baptists, we think more highly of ourselves than we ought. When he stood up to speak and to take the stage, there was an organized walkout where hundreds of Southern Baptists stood out and left the room in protest of our Vice President being there speaking.

I was embarrassed. I was shameful to be a Southern Baptist that day. That's not what the Bible calls us to do. That's not what God's Word calls us to do.

That's just disrespectful. And Southern Baptists have been a group that have always engaged in culture, have stood for biblical truth, have stood for a biblical worldview, have worked in the public square to be salt and light, and to see that movement going away from that is very, very concerning. We need Southern Baptists to get involved, to re-engage, to hold the line for what Scripture calls us to. Every single issue we believe the Bible speaks about is a political issue. The LGBTQ debate is a political issue and a biblical issue. The gender debate, Scripture and what it is, religious liberty, all of those things, what marriage is between a man and a woman of her life, all of those are political issues. Obviously, the pro-life movement, we have to engage in those.

We cannot withdraw from that. Yeah, and so many pastors never preach. Less than 10% of pastors ever preach on those issues, and they're issues of sin.

They're in the Bible. They need to be addressed. Well, Scott, we're about to run out of time, and boy, I could just go with you for hours. So we've got about three minutes left, and we didn't get to finish all this, but tell us real quickly, so what do you see as the future of the Southern Baptist Convention? How does the Conservative Baptist Network come in, if you can do all this that quickly?

And then there's a real question out there. Are you trying to split the convention? What is the end goal for the Conservative Baptist Network? Well, Chris, we want to provide a place that is a place for pastors who agree with us.

There's networks all across the SBC. I could name 10 of them for you right now. We're not any different than any of those others. We're a fellowship of pastors. We're those who agree with what we've proposed, what we're standing for, are welcome. They fit in with us. We have a voice, and we want to encourage them to re-engage in the process. We want them to get involved, not to withdraw, not to leave. And so we're very much a pro-SBC group. We're actually the opposite of trying to split the convention.

That accusation's been out for quite a while. We're encouraging pastors to stay in, to plug in, to be involved, to attend the conventions, to raise their ballots, and to have their voices heard, and to participate in the process. The SBC is the only denomination in the world where the highest authority is the local church, and everybody else works for them. The denominational entities, the mission boards, the executive committee, the seminaries, they all work for the local church.

The highest authority is the pastor and the local church under the authority of Christ. And so we want those pastors to accept that authority, to accept that responsibility, and to get engaged in the process. You can learn more about us at

We've got some videos there. You can sign up to be a part of our network, to receive our communications, to learn more about us, to stand with us, to be part of this group. Almost 10,000 now churches and pastors from across this country have signed up with us, joined in with us.

We're standing together to stand for the Bible, to stand permission, and to be salt and light in this culture to push back against darkness. Well, Scott, thank you so much. And again, if you want to learn more, it's the And Scott, I want to thank you for the stand you're taking. We want to encourage pastors to stand on the sufficiency of scripture.

Thank you so much for being with me today, Scott. We sure appreciate it. And we look forward to learning more about the conservative Baptist network. I'm Chris Hughes, and this is The Christian Perspective. Please subscribe and like our podcast and share it with your friends on social media. Now let's go change the culture for Jesus. Thank you for listening. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-15 18:40:55 / 2023-09-15 18:52:11 / 11

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