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Get ready. It's one of America's most important, influential, and respected voices on cultural and political issues. An apologist, Christian political advocate, and author, here is the founder and chairman of the Citizens for America Foundation, Dr. Chris Hughes.
Welcome to Christian Perspective. This is Chris Hughes, and I'm so excited to have you here today because we're going to be talking about a subject that is on the mind of hopefully every Southern Baptist in the country today, as the Southern Baptist Convention is getting ready to hold their annual meeting in Anaheim, California. My guest today is going to be Dr. Scott Coulter, but before I get him on here, I want to thank our friends at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
We are privileged to broadcast live here from the beautiful campuses of Memphis, Tennessee, and they've graciously allowed the Christian Perspective studios to be on campus. If you, you know, school is ending and graduation is coming soon, and maybe if you have a young person in your house that's trying to decide if they want to go to college next year, I encourage you to check out The College at Mid-America. They offer a great undergraduate program. You know, the neat thing about it is that you develop a biblical worldview while you're going to school there.
You don't have any of this critical race theory being shoved down your throat, no transgender issues. You're just learning about the topic that you want to go to school to learn about without any negative influence from those who have some kind of political agenda that are trying to influence you, and you learn to grow closer to the Lord while you're there. So I encourage you to look College at Mid-America.
Now, maybe you're at a point in your life where you already have an undergraduate degree and you're trying to decide what to do next in your life, and you might want to get a master's degree. Have you ever thought about going to a seminary? I know that scares people to death, but a seminary is just a place where you can get a master's degree or a doctorate degree in Christian education or in some topic in the biblical field, and maybe you're at a point in your life where you're deciding, hey, you know, maybe we could spend some time going on mission trips, or maybe I just want to learn more about the world. Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary is one of the most sound seminaries in the United States and really in the world today. Visit their website at mabts.edu. That's mabts.edu. Check them out. You're going to be glad you did. They've got a great new program on apologetics, which is what we cover really on the show just about every day, where you learn what your faith is and how to defend it and understand what you believe and why you believe it.
Be sure to visit mabts.edu. I also want to thank our friends at the Citizens for America Foundation who sponsor this show. Every day they're working across the country to educate Christians to develop a biblical worldview and then try to encourage them to take that biblical worldview into the arena of public policy and politics. You know, right now there are primaries going on all over the country.
This is a major election year, and we need to know more about the issues and about the candidates. Visit citizensforamericafoundation.com today and sign up to get updates and learn what you can do to impact the culture for Jesus. Well, one of the ways that we're trying to impact the culture for Jesus is to make sure that pastors across the country are preaching the inspired Word of God, that they believe the Bible is inerrant, it's infallible, it's inspired by the Holy Spirit. And there's an organization right now that is fighting on the front lines to make sure that's happening. And they're part of the Southern Baptist Convention, and that organization is called Conservative Baptist Network. My guest today, Dr. Scott Coulter, he's a professor at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, but he's also the executive director of the Conservative Baptist Network. Dr. Coulter, thank you so much for being with us today. Well, thank you, Dr. Hughes, it's my privilege and pleasure and so glad to be with you.
I've followed your work for some time and through several different avenues and just grateful to be part of it today. Well, I'm glad you're here because we're just a month away, if that, not even a month, and the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest Protestant denomination in the world, is going to hold their annual meeting in Anaheim, California this year. And a lot of our listeners are Southern Baptist, and so I thought we'd take the opportunity today to maybe educate people a little bit about the convention, because, you know, Dr. Coulter, when I'm in, when I visit churches across the country, I know you preach all over the country, too. The pastors know, you know, that they're Southern Baptist, but so many churches today don't even call themselves Baptist. They want to have this mass appeal, so they have some name that may not have the word Baptist in it, but they're still affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. And, but people in the pews might not even know that they're members of a Southern Baptist church, or if they are, they don't know what it means, you know, is it like the Catholic church where there's some hierarchy that rules over? Can you kind of give us a broad definition of what does it mean to be a Southern Baptist, and do they govern our local churches?
Sure, absolutely glad to do so, and I'm a proud and happy Southern Baptist. I've been a Southern Baptist for all of my life, and have followed our denominational work for some time now, and so occasionally I'm asked, how does the Presbyterian church work? How does the Anglican church work? I'm really not sure, but I do know well how the Southern Baptist Convention works, and we're a unique people. There's no other group really in the world like Southern Baptist.
We've come together, and the convention of what we call it is a convention of church. We claim now that we have more than 16 million members in total, and north of 47,000 individual Southern Baptist autonomous congregation. What's unique about the SBC, the Southern Baptist Convention, is that all of these churches come together, they work together, and they partner together for certain purposes, but they really are independent. We call that autonomous, and so there's not a governing structure over these churches that tells them what they can do, how they will minister, how they will serve, or even what they believe. Each church is independent and has the freedom to determine, according to the scripture and the lordship of Christ, how they will operate, and who they will call as their pastor, how they function, and what they do, and they're held accountable, of course, to scripture and by our Lord, but there's not a governing board that gives oversight or gives direction to them. That makes Southern Baptist unique from every other denomination and every other group. You've got a bishop, or a college of cardinals, or ultimately the pope, or some type of a structure that is overarching over that church and determining how that congregation, who their minister will be, who their pastor or their bishop would be, the priest would be, what the people will believe, what the governing documents are, the creeds and all those kind of things that determine what will take place in that church. Southern Baptist are fiercely unique.
They're autonomous. Baptists were some of the early groups that came to America seeking religious liberty, seeking freedom of religion, seeking the ability to express their religion and to worship and to exist however they desire, without government interference, without government oversight, and those groups came over as congregationalists, as early English Baptists coming into the country and different kind of things like that, but wanting the freedom to take their Bible and to open the Word of God, to read and to understand what it says a church should be, from the New Testament church model, and to try and put those things into practice as best they can and as best they understand it, without any outside interference, and that system has carried forward. So Baptists today, they're a very independent group, they're a lot of autonomous churches, and we've come together into a convention to do certain things, to do certain things that we can do better together than we can separately. The main thing of that is international and domestic missions, and so Southern Baptist determined, perhaps you have one congregation and someone from that church feels led to be a missionary and wants to serve overseas in a full-time missions capacity, but that church is a small Southern Baptist church perhaps, they can't afford to send that person full-time or to pay that person's full-time salary and benefits to serve overseas in a full-time missions context. There may be a church up the road or a church across town that wants to support missions, but doesn't have anyone in their congregation that feels led to go and to serve in that way and to occupy that calling as a missionary, but they want to support someone in that role and they have some funds and resources to do so. So at the very base level, these churches have come together and said, well here's someone that wants to serve, and here's a church that wants to support someone who wants to serve, we can work together, we can cooperate to put that missionary on the field. It's this principle that has been central to the Southern Baptist Convention from the beginning, that we can do more together than we can separately. So you have independent autonomous churches coming together primarily for the function of missions, both internationally and then locally here in our own country and in North America, and church planting efforts, all of that. We also do some other things, there's theological education, we can train our future pastors and our students better in corporate settings that are supported by communities of churches together and conventions of churches, and so we have theological education, we have international missions, we have some public policy-type endeavors with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and then some benefits to pastors, things like that. But these churches have come together to work primarily for the cause of missions, and they're independent groups that gather once a year in what we call the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
This is a very significant meeting because it truly is a democratic process. These churches come together and they each send what we call messengers. They're not delegates, but the concept is similar, they're messengers, representatives of those churches who come to the annual meeting, the convention, and vote according to their own individual conscience. They vote what they believe the Lord would have them to do, what they believe the Bible says is the right path forward, and so only in the SBC can individual churches represented by their messengers have their voice heard and really affect the direction of the denomination, what the denomination is doing, what they're adopting, resolutions and motions, all those type of things. The churches control that process.
The joke from pastors and preachers has been told for years and years. A church called into Nashville where our executive committee office is with directors and the different administrative staff people worked for the SBC, and they called in with some requests, and the lady on the phone didn't like the request. She said, sir, don't you understand you're talking to the headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention here? And the pastor responded to her and said, no, ma'am, don't you understand you are talking to the headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention in his pastorate there of the local church and in the local church context. That's an anecdotal story.
I doubt it actually ever happened. It's been told for years and years, but it captures this idea that the churches are actually the headquarters and the highest office within the SBC as a convention of churches coming together. Well, that's important to understand that the local church is where the action is happening. It's where the decisions are truly being made.
And I thank you for giving the distinction because a lot of people don't understand the difference between, you know, is it just a name? Why is it important to be a Southern Baptist as opposed to some other denomination? I travel and speak in churches of all denominations, and something that I've noticed is particularly like, let's say, for example, independent Baptists. So in independent Baptist churches, they have missionaries just like the Southern Baptist Convention has missionaries, but their missionaries are not supported through a cooperation of churches. They have to take time away from the mission field every year or two and travel across the country and visit churches and ask for donations and basically beg for money to be able to stay in the mission field.
And that's something that is unique and different about the Southern Baptist Convention. As you said, they cooperate together. And by the way, I don't know if you mentioned this, that's called the cooperative program. So if you attend a Southern Baptist church and there are several offerings each year, the Annie Armstrong offering and the Lottie Moon offering and others, and that money is going into a cooperative program, meaning we cooperate as other churches. And when we send missionaries as Southern Baptists and we are the largest mission-sending organization in the world, I believe, at least in the Protestant world, as we're sending missionaries around the world, those churches are cooperating and those missionaries don't have to come back and visit churches and beg for money every year because they're being supported through a cooperation of different churches across the country and across the world to support missions. And, you know, Dr. Coulter, I go to a small little country church in the mountains of North Carolina.
We could never afford to send missionaries to China and to Russia and all these places around the world, but by cooperating, it allows us to be a part of sending missionaries all over the world. Let's take a quick commercial break and come back, folks. We're talking about Southern Baptist Convention, whose annual meeting is coming up here in just a few weeks. Our guest today is Dr. Scott Coulter.
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The experiment has never been tried. This has been an American Minute with Bill Federer. For a free transcript, call American Minute at 1-888-USA-WITH. Welcome back to Christian Perspectives. This is Chris Hughes. My guest today is Dr. Scott Colter. He's the executive director of the Conservative Baptist Network. It's an organization within the Southern Baptist Convention, and we've been talking about the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is coming up in Anaheim, California, here in just a few weeks.
I asked Dr. Colter to share with us what is the Southern Baptist Convention, and if you were just joining us, he told us it's a group of independent and autonomous churches that come together to cooperate for the main purpose of sending missionaries around the world. Dr. Colter, you were talking about the annual meeting coming up in Anaheim, and you mentioned messengers can vote. I would like you to explain a little bit more, if you don't mind, because again, I bet that probably more than 90 percent of the people sitting in a pew in a Southern Baptist church on Sunday have no clue that there's an annual meeting coming up, or if they do, how they can participate as a voting member, which is a messenger.
So how does somebody become a messenger? And then I bet a lot of churches don't realize, you recently shared with me, that a small church can have exact same number of votes as a megachurch, and most pastors I've talked to don't even understand that. So can you explain what a messenger is, and how many can come from a church, and does that vote really matter?
You bet, Chris, happy to do so. This is a really important meeting that takes place every year, and it's essentially a two-day business meeting. Now, I know all the Baptist out there sit back in the chair and kind of groan when they hear a two-day business meeting. We've all sat through church business meetings. But the significance of this is that in those two days, the direction of a 16 million member denomination is determined. We have six seminaries that are training more than a third of the pastors that are prepared and are taught in this country. And so Southern Baptists represent a group of people, a fraction of the churches in this country, but a third of all pastors are trained in our SBC seminaries.
And so the next generation really is being trained in these institutions. Thousands of missionaries are sent overseas and to North America and across this country to plant churches and to serve from our International Mission Board, our North American Mission Board. We've got tremendous ability to impact and influence the world for the cause of Christ through the efforts of the Southern Baptist Convention, and there are literally hundreds of millions of dollars spent through this cooperative effort, through this cooperative program that you talked about there that funds all of this and makes it possible. Only in the SBC can a missionary be paid full-time to serve a full-time role overseas, not to have to come back and raise support, not to have to ask for money and take time away from what God has called him to do, because our churches are coming together and saying that's a priority, that's what we want to support, that's what we want to get behind.
It's our cooperative mission, endeavor, and effort together. All of that is led and is controlled by what takes place in this two-day business meeting that we simply call the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. It takes place once a year and it moves around the country, so this year coming up it's in Anaheim, California. Before that it was in Nashville, Tennessee here, close to where I live in Memphis, it's been in Dallas before, it's been in Birmingham, it was scheduled in Orlando, it will be in Charlotte in a couple of years coming up, so it moves around across the country to try and get close to various people so everyone can participate in it, and those who can participate are what we call messengers from local churches. So a church, the Southern Baptist Church, recognizes that they intend to cooperate with us by affirming some SBC statements or by filling out some reports showing their intent to cooperate, and then making a financial contribution of some way of some size through this cooperative program or through their state convention through one of these efforts that helps our work together, and that qualifies a church to send two messengers to the annual meeting, two representatives to have a full vote and to participate in the entire process of the convention on behalf of that church, and we don't call them delegates because a delegate is supposed to carry someone else's desires forward, you're supposed to represent your state or those who have elected you, a messenger simply goes and votes according to their conscience, votes according to their conviction. We believe as Baptists in something called soul competency that each person is individual and is accountable to the Lord for what he or she does with the opportunities and the stewardship that's before them, and so we trust Southern Baptists to come and to vote according to the Bible, to vote according to what they believe is right and what the Lord is leading them to do, led by the Holy Spirit, on those kind of decisions, on those elections, and then a church can, based on their participation level, which really is determined by the amount that they contribute, can send up to 10 additional messengers in addition to those two that they've sent, and so if you're a member of a Southern Baptist Church, your congregation can send anywhere from 2 to 12 messengers based on the degree to which they support Southern Baptist causes and Southern Baptist missions. I know this is getting technical, but each percent of their budget or a $6,000 increment, whichever is lower, qualifies them to send an additional messenger, and so what you mentioned there, a very small church, perhaps in rural Arkansas, that chooses to give 10% of their budget to these mission efforts, to Southern Baptist cooperative mission causes, that small church, however small they might be, is qualified to send 12 messengers to the convention. They have 12 voting members that can show up wherever the meeting is and vote according to their conscience. That's as many as a gigantic megachurch can send, so you might have a church with 40,000 members.
If they give the maximum amount, they can send 12. You might have a very small church with maybe only 15 members, but if they give 10% of their budget, they can also send 12, and so our convention is skewed toward the little guy. It's skewed towards the everyday grassroots Southern Baptist Church. Most of our churches have fewer than 100 people gathering on a Sunday morning, so we are a convention of small and medium-sized churches that you don't hear about in the news. You don't hear about them on television.
They're not being controversial. They are simply faithfully serving, faithfully teaching the Word of God week after week, ministering to people, supporting missions, and quietly going about the work that God has called them to do. That is the overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists, and those churches can have a tremendous impact if they will participate in this meeting. Each year it's very disappointing to me because just a fraction of Southern Baptists show up and have their voice heard. It's significantly fewer than 10% of our churches are even represented at the annual meeting, even by one person there from that church representing them.
This last year, the meeting was in Nashville, and we worked really hard. We turned out a record turnout of people. In the last 20 years, we had 17,000 messengers registered for that convention, and even with that record turnout, that was only, I believe, about 11% of our churches represented. So on a banner year, on a really high turnout year when we did all we could to turn out people, only about 11% of our churches were even represented.
89% totally were disengaged, totally were not participating in the process, and therefore had no opportunity to be influential in the direction of the denomination, to have their voice heard, or to participate in any way. There's a ton of our churches out there that need to engage, need to participate, need to begin engaging in these processes, to hold our denomination going the direction that we want it to go, to hold it headed towards biblical and conservative values and principles that Southern Baptist have always been characterized by. And so I would encourage your listeners today, Chris, if they're part of a church, you can simply ask your pastor, you can ask your church staff, hey, are we qualified to send any messengers to the annual meeting? How many can we send?
A lot of pastors haven't even thought about it. They've forgotten about this, they've relegated it to kind of the pages of antiquity and need to be reminded, can we send someone? I would like to go, I would like to represent our church. I would almost guarantee they can send two. If they're not sending any, they might be able to send all the way up until 12.
But if you're interested in that, it's very, very important to get engaged. You do a great job, Chris, of talking to people about the importance of voting and participating in elections in our country. It's the same way in the Southern Baptist Convention. Those who show up have the ability to change the course of things, to change the outcome and the direction of things.
But if you stay home, if you sit idly by, if you don't engage, you really can't complain because you're not doing anything to fix it, not doing anything to solve the problem. And so I would hope that our listeners today would want to engage, just like we vote for the direction of our country, we can vote for the direction of our convention as well. Dr. Coulter, that's so important. And this information, I just learned something and I'm pretty involved. But I did not realize you were talking about messengers, the difference between a messenger and a delegate. And I mistakenly thought that if you're a messenger that you were supposed to represent, you know, like your church might send you with a list, you know, if this issue is going to come up, we want you to vote this way or the other. I didn't realize that the distinction as a messenger is that we're just supposed to seek God's guidance. And our vote is our own, not that of necessarily our home church. And I think that's important because that shows that our individual vote counts even more than you may realize, because you're not representing somebody else.
You're representing yourself as a follower of Jesus Christ under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. So I didn't know that. So that's important. And maybe some of you that are listening have never heard of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting that's coming up in Anaheim, California, which is a great place to visit.
You know, you turn it into a vacation. But a lot of important stuff is going to be taking place over those two days. And the Southern Baptist, you have a powerful say. When less than 10 percent of churches are being represented across the country and across the world, every single vote counts. And we need you to attend.
Dr. Colfer, so correct me, we're going to take a commercial break here in a second. But so if I wanted to become a messenger, if you're listening and you said, you know what, I didn't know this was happening, I'd love to go to California, but I'd also like to have a say in the direction of what seminaries are teaching in the Southern Baptist Convention and what our beliefs are as a Protestant denomination. What do we believe in? And I want to stop the liberal influence and critical race theory that's coming in. How do I become a messenger?
Well, the first step, I think so. So correct me if I mess up here, Dr. Colter, is I would call the church office or my pastor and tell them that you're interested in being a messenger. And there's a website.
And maybe if you know, maybe you can share Dr. Colter. If not, you can Google Southern Baptist Convention. And they have a site for messengers, a page for messengers. But you have to know the name of your church. And each church has a unique number as a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. And that's not something that you were probably going to know as a member. But your church secretary can, your pastor probably doesn't even know it, but your church secretary will have that number. So when you go online to register, you have to have the church number. You have to have the amount that they gave admissions. And I think you have to have the overall budget. I'm not sure.
Do you know, Dr. Colter? There's only like three things that you have to have. That's absolutely correct. And your church will have all of that information. Every church is unique and different. Remember, we're fiercely independent, autonomous. And so some churches want to have a meeting, a business meeting, and they elect their messengers.
They say, this is the group of people we want to send. And the church affirms that. Other times, the pastor simply makes that decision himself and plugs them in. So the first step is to contact your pastor, your church office, let them know of your interest in that, ask them what the process in your local church is. But it's as simple as the church filling out this SBC ID, plugging you in and pre-registering you. If they don't do that, you can even register the day of. Your church has to choose you as a messenger, but you can even show up in Anaheim and register the day of and complete that process there if your church has facilitated that.
So there's some different ways there. We would encourage people to pre-register, get all that taken care of ahead of time, but your church will have that info in that process if you just express the desire and the want to step out and to become more engaged. Folks, we're talking with Dr. Scott Colter. You want to stick around. Just want to talk more about how you can be a messenger at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. And we're going to really jump into this next segment of why it's important to be there.
We'll be right back. The United States of America has a strong Christian heritage, but most Americans don't know the truly important role that God in the Bible played in the founding of this great nation. This June, join nationally syndicated radio host and founder of the Citizens for America Foundation, Dr. Chris Hughes, for four amazing days in our nation's capital. With Chris, you'll embark on a journey of discovering the hidden secrets of Washington, DC and rediscover much of America's forgotten Christian heritage. Your tour will include an up-close and personal look at the nation's establishment and how it's evolved over the centuries. Learn about the government and the men who helped forge this new kind of republic, one that acknowledged the creator from its very inception. Know the truth about the creation of the United States of America, about the faith of the founding fathers and how Christian principles were used to establish this form of government. Visit citizensforamericafoundation.com today and secure your spot to join Chris Hughes in Washington, DC this June.
to a subscription coffee plan and never forget the coffee you love or the causes you care about. Visit our website today at conservativebaptistnetwork.com to learn how you and your church can join and support this exciting movement. Welcome back to Christian Perspective with Chris Hughes. My guest today is Dr. Scott Coulter. Dr. Coulter is the executive director of the Conservative Baptist Network. We're talking about the annual meeting coming up in just a few weeks of the Southern Baptist Convention in Anaheim, California, and we've been talking about the importance of churches sending messengers or representatives at that meeting where they can vote on important issues that will guide the future of where the Southern Baptist Convention is going.
Right before the commercial break, we're talking about how you can become a messenger. It's really simple, and you know, probably your church is never going to bring it up at a business meeting on a Sunday morning. It's going to take you having the initiative to go to your pastor and say, hey pastor, I listened to Christian Perspective and Dr. Scott Coulter was a guest on and he was talking about the annual meeting coming up in Anaheim in a few weeks.
I'd like to go. How can I be a messenger from our church? And as Dr. Coulter mentioned, either your pastor in some cases can just authorize it or like in my church, my church had to vote on it. But it was not on their Richter scale or on their agenda or anything until I said I want to go and then they voted, which was a simple process at a Wednesday night business meeting and they just approved for me to be a messenger from the church and the church secretary gave me the Southern Baptist Convention membership number and the amount of money we'd given to tithes and offerings and I just went on the website and pre-registered myself.
So it's an easy process and I would encourage you to do that. Well, Dr. Coulter, you were part of an organization called the Conservative Baptist Network. Is that a separate denomination? What is the Conservative Baptist Network and why does it exist?
You bet. That's a great question, Chris. This is part of the reason we've talked about what the SBC is, the Southern Baptist Convention, how it works. We've talked about how to become a messenger. I think the next thing we need to talk about here is why.
Why would you participate in this process? We're all busy. We've all got important things to do. You've got a full schedule. I've got a full schedule.
Your listeners have a full schedule. Why is it important to take two or three days out of this schedule, buy a plane ticket, become a messenger, travel all the way across the country? What is at stake?
Why would I add one more business meeting to my schedule? That question really is in what you're asking here. Why does the Conservative Baptist Network exist? We came about as a grassroots effort in response to some very serious, very real concerns that we were seeing taking place in the Southern Baptist Convention. I've served at the denominational level before.
I've served as an administrator and chief of staff at one of our seminaries and so I've spent years, more than a decade, working behind the scenes, looking under the hood at how our institutions, how our SBC entities operate, and became increasingly concerned as time progressed that the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention, it's just simply not heading the right direction now. That's expressed in all kinds of ways, but just to give your listeners some examples here, I think if our primary purpose as Southern Baptists is to work together to cooperate in missions, the chief metric of how successful we're being or how much the Lord is blessing our efforts would be that we're seeing people come to Christ and that we're seeing people become active members of their local churches through baptism and participating. So we have always used our number of annual baptisms to kind of look at the health of our churches, look at the health of our denomination. Are we doing what we've set out to do? Are we winning more people to Christ? Are we growing the kingdom of God and are we seeing them follow through in obedience to what the Lord has commanded us to do in baptism? If you put a chart of our annual baptism numbers, that number has been declining now for more than 20 years, and so year after year the number of people that we're winning to Christ and that we're seeing being baptized is continuing to decline, and it's declining exponentially. Usually you think about an exponential increase, meaning something is going up like an airplane, it's taking off and heading up quickly. This is the opposite. This number is declining exponentially.
It's not an airplane coming in for a soft gentle landing. It's an airplane that really is taking a nose dive into the ocean, and so that number is going down more and more quickly and gaining speed. If you want to look back, and before COVID, I know COVID messed up a lot of our numbers, but if you go back to 2019 before there was any COVID effect on our numbers there, if you compare 2019 and want to look back in our history to find the last year that Southern baptized as few individuals as they did in 2019, you've got to go back to the early 1940s, and that number in the 1940s was going up. It was increasing. Now it's decreasing. We've passed it again now coming down on the other side, and so if you look at that chart you would say, man, the heyday of Southern Baptists is in the past.
They're heading down, and honestly this is just this is just math and statistics. I know the church will endure. I know God's work will endure, but if this number continues to go the way it's going, Southern Baptists will just functionally have ceased to exist in the near future. We will just have kind of gone to a level that we can't recover from in the very near future here, so there's tremendous concern that what we are doing isn't working. What we're doing to reach the world for Christ, what we're doing with our with the gospel message, what we're doing to minister and to serve as an invention, as a denomination, simply is not working. We're really failing at that in some ways, yet we're sending more missionaries than we've ever sent before. We're planting more churches than we have ever planted before.
We're spending more money than we've ever spent before. We're perhaps training more seminary students than we've trained before, and yet we're seeing less and less impact in the culture, less and less difference in the world with those who are coming to Christ and accepting the hope of his gospel message and being saved and baptized in that way, and so we're watching this and we're seeing these trends going, wait a minute, this is troubling, this is alarming. The largest Protestant denomination, the most conservative Orthodox evangelical denomination in our country is becoming less and less effective and more and more irrelevant in what we're doing, despite our best efforts, despite spending more money, despite more missionaries, all of that stuff is more and yet fewer and fewer results. You add to that what's actually happening in the denominational level. In 2019, we gathered at this annual meeting we're talking about and the resolution was passed in really what I think is an underhanded way. A resolution is a statement that the majority of the people at the meeting who are gathered together affirm and say this is what we believe at this time, we affirm this statement. It can be about doctrine, it can be thinking the city that hosted them, it can be about a whole range of different things, but again, this is why it's important to show up at the meeting because those people who are there, that's who's choosing this. If they affirm this, it's representative of all Southern Baptists, but it's selected and approved by the group who shows up at the meeting.
That's why it's important to go and to participate. In that meeting in 2019, very late towards the end, when most people had left already at the end of the day on a Wednesday at 4.30 in the afternoon, when the convention's over at five, people are tired, they're hot, they're heading home, that resolution was bundled in a group of three or four resolutions. It was kind of hidden, but it was one that said we as Southern Baptists affirm critical race theory intersectionality as being useful analytical tools with the implication there of doing ministry work, of reaching the world with the gospel, and that we affirm these are useful things, necessary things, for doing the work of ministry.
Now that was hidden, it was bundled together, it was put at the very end of the day, and even then, of the few people in the room, some people caught on to that, they raised some questions, but it really was forced through in some different ways. Next, tremendously concerning, Chris, we call that resolution number nine, that was the number it was assigned that day, it's become somewhat infamous now in Southern Baptist circles, but what that's saying is if we need critical race theory, if we need intersectionality, then the gospel, the Bible that we're using isn't sufficient, it's not enough. What it says is we need the Word of God, plus these other systems, which if you look into them, we've come to know are really based in cultural Marxism and in socialistic ideals that have come forward and are creeping into our society and civilization today, we need those kind of things in order to reach the world with the gospel of Christ, and that really flies in the face of what the Word of God says. What critical race theory does, just quickly here, is it sets up the entire world into two different groups, those who are oppressors and those who are oppressed, and it divides humans against other humans based on those categories, often based on skin color, minority status, those type of things. What it says is if you're a majority person, if you're a white Caucasian male, like you and I are, a straight white Caucasian male, we are naturally an oppressor based on our condition, based on who we are, we can't help it. If you're an African American person, if you're a Hispanic person, if you're an Asian person, you're naturally oppressed by your minority status. Now what that means, that has real theological implications because you and I, if we're an oppressor, we can't repent of that, even if we don't want to be that, we can't repent of it because it's in our skin color, we can't change our skin color, and that's where you get comments like Matthew Hall, who is the longtime provost of Southern Seminary, one of our Southern Baptist institutions training the next generation of pastors, he makes comments like this, public comments on video recording we have that say, I'm a racist and I will be a racist until I die.
What he's using, he's not saying he hates people of minority status, he's using critical race theory language in that sentence, they're saying because I'm a white person, because I'm a male person, I'm an oppressor and I just, I can't not be that, it's who I am, it's in my very DNA and essence, so I can't overcome it. The opposite side of that coin is someone who's a minority, they are so oppressed that they're not responsible for their sin because, well, that's just a result of their ancestors, that's a result of the position they're in in society, that's a result of their skin color, so we can't hold them accountable, we can't expect them to live a righteous, obedient lifestyle because they're so oppressed, there's nothing they can do, and so if they sin, it's excused away because they're not responsible for that, they're a victim of their status in society. Chris, what that does, it flies in the face of what the Bible says the gospel is.
The gospel says every single person has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and all of us must repent of our sin. The foot of the, the ground at the foot of the cross is level, it doesn't matter what your skin color is, we are all from one race, we're all, we find our head in Adam, and so we are all brothers and sisters from one ultimate great-great-great-grandfather and are equal no matter what our melanin color is, no matter what our skin color is, no matter what our gender is, we stand at a level foot of the cross, and yet this system has built a system, Critical Race Theory has, that said if you're a majority person, if you're, if you're a white person, you can't repent. You might not want to be racist, but you can't help it, it's just who you are, you can't repent of that, and it says if you're a minority status, you, you don't need to repent, your, your actions are excused based on your skin color as well. That flies in the face of what the Bible says, and so either the Bible is true or Critical Race Theory is true, but they can't both be true. Now the Southern Baptist Convention, in a tremendous mistake I believe, adopted this Resolution Number 9 that said these are helpful analytical tools that added intersectionality into that, which talks about how do you determine absolute truth, someone who has more intersection points of areas that they're persecuted or areas that they're suffering, their truth means more than someone who's not suffering, and so a straight white male is the lowest person on the totem pole, whatever we, we think doesn't matter as much as someone who perhaps is a female African-American lesbian, because that person has three points of intersection, the, the female gender status is a minority status there, I believe they consider that African-American would be a minority status, lesbian would be a minority status, so that person has three statuses stacked on top of each other, so you must listen more to that person's truth, relative truth there with a lowercase t, because their experience means that they've had a harder life, they've had a more difficult life, so you must take what they believe and experience more, weight that more heavily than someone who's perhaps a Protestant white evangelical male.
That flies in the face of absolute truth. Truth is truth regardless of whoever is accepting it or denying it, what God has said is true, that's not based upon whether or not you believe it or accept it, truth is what's true, gravity is universal, you can deny it all day long, you're still going to fall down and hit your head, it's true for everybody, that's the same way with God's word, it's true for everybody, whether or not you believe it, whether or not you accept it, and so in a, in an embarrassing moment we passed a resolution that said we think all of these things are useful in doing ministry, well no wonder our numbers are continuing to decline, no wonder we're in an unprecedented downward turn if these are the kind of things we're adopting. In that same annual meeting there was a debate at the convention debating whether or not women should be ordained as pastors, and I was flabbergasted, Chris, but as that debate went on about half the room felt they should not, and half the room felt they should, that was a kind of a subsequent event that took place in conjunction with the convention, but I was, I was floored that so many Baptists were actually advocating for the ordination of female pastors, that's tremendously concerning, we have a North American mission board that's planting churches all across this country, we continue to find churches that they're planting paid for with cooperative program dollars that have female pastors on staff and in teaching roles and different things that are in total contradiction to our statement of faith, to the governing documents of that entity, and of the way that they're supposed to be planting churches, and our pastors keep finding these cases. When we find one we raise it to the surface, and of course they say, oh that was a mistake, that shouldn't have happened, we will correct that, or we will ask them not to be Southern Baptists any longer, so I suppose in some ways that gets remedied or that gets corrected, but we're asking the question who's watching the store? This is an entire entity that employs hundreds of employees to facilitate these church plants, and yet a part-time pastor in Texas is discovering all of these things, what are these paid employees paid by the convention doing? It feels like this is a subtle drift, a subtle creep in a lot of ways, away from the conservative positions Southern Baptists have always held, those are just a few examples, there's many many more, but right now we feel like our denomination is heading the wrong way in some ways. Let's take a quick break, folks stick around, this is fascinating, we're learning about the Southern Baptist Convention and what the conservative Baptist network is doing to change the direction, stick around, I'll be right back. or connect with digs design on social media in a world crowded with viewpoints and voices critical condition after asa i believe the message of this financial problem only one voice matters gods at the college at mid-america and mid-america seminary we equip leaders to think from a biblical world view online or on our memphis campus check out the college at mid-america and mid-america baptist theological seminary at mabts.edu and be equipped to light the way this show is brought to you by generous joe's the coffee company with the christian perspective this is the answer that christians and conservatives have been looking for a coffee company that gives back to causes you care about order your coffee today at shop generous joe's.org and even subscribe to a subscription coffee plan and never forget the coffee you love or the causes you care about do you desire to build family relationships that stand the test of time does creating a godly family seem like a daunting challenge you're not alone i'm connie yaupers author of parenting beyond the rules and host of equipped to be as a mother of five i understand your struggles for 35 years i have been helping families just like yours build lasting relationships i'd like to invite you to tune in to equipped to be and visit connieaupers.com where i share useful tips and proven strategies to help you navigate the seasons of motherhood faith and life with confidence and joy the united states of america has a strong christian heritage but most americans don't know the truly important role that god in the bible played in the founding of this great nation this jew joined nationally syndicated radio host and founder of the citizens for america foundation dr chris hughes for four amazing days in our nation's capital with chris you'll embark on a journey of discovering the hidden secrets of washington dc and rediscover much of america's forgotten christian heritage your tour will include an up close and personal look at the nation's establishment and how it's evolved over the centuries learn about the government and the men who helped forge this new kind of republic one that acknowledged the creator from its very inception know the truth about the creation of the united states of america about the faith of the founding fathers and how christian principles were used to establish this form of government visit citizens for america foundation.com today and secure your spot to join chris hughes in washington dc this june welcome back to the christian perspective of chris hughes my guest today is dr scott culture of the conservative baptist network we're talking about how to change the direction of the southern baptist convention and how important it is for you to go to the annual meeting here in just a few weeks in anahim california the annual meeting is going to be uh june 14th and 15th i believe were the dates of that dr culture and you can be a messenger which is a voting member from your church before the break i tell you i would i want to encourage you all this will show will be released as brought as a podcast later today you need to share it with your friends i just heard the best definition of critical race theory that i've ever heard from dr culture and dr culture you just put it in in simple terms we can understand why critical race theory is wrong because people cannot be accountable for their sins under critical race theory and there's no forgiveness for the white person under critical particularly the white man under critical race theory and that is just not what the bible says and we're going to have a shorter segment now but you were talking about uh all these things are going on that happened in the 2019 annual meeting where kind of at the last minute they passed this resolution to support uh theories of critical race theory and and and they also had a major push to allow women to be ordained so what came of that and uh and quickly how did the the conservative baptist network come about as a result of that meeting sure thanks chris that was a long build up to answer your question of what is the network here but all of those factors were coming into play our declining baptisms critical race theory women pastors being ordained all of those types of things were concerning to so many of us and as i was traveling around in some of my jobs i i began to realize these these pastors are sharing these concerns all across the country they're writing letters they're attending the meeting they're doing what they can do but they're they're largely being ignored their their their questions and their their legitimate concerns are not being answered sufficiently and so they were functionally withdrawing they were giving up they were not going they were cutting their giving they were just functionally pulling back from participating in the convention and and we realized that this is a dangerous dangerous uh turning point of our denomination and so uh another man and i brad jerkevich who i met through some denominational work and visited some with at that 2019 annual meeting rod martin who knew brad for some convention work as well serving on various committees the three of us met together and began to talk about what would it look like to to simply bring together all of these people that shared these ideas into some form of a fellowship really it started just as a place for encouragement to share like-minded ideas for fellowship for good preaching for good friendship and just kind of knowing like-minded people in the convention but as that group came together we realized we all share these same concerns and just like i shared at the beginning baptists can do more together than separately we thought well maybe if we all stand together we can influence some things we can stand for truth we can stand for the scripture when we have these concerns about the direction our denomination is heading and so we we put our heads together we came up with a list of about 50 pastors that we knew all shared these same concerns we called them together we met around the table in dallas and met each other pastors from maryland and from delaware and from washington and florida and georgia and texas and oklahoma arkansas even california all across the country that didn't know each other coming together realizing they had the same concerns so a few meetings we met together and that group ultimately became the conservative baptist network we launched it very quickly we launched it on february 14th valentine's day i guess we couldn't pick a better day of 2020 uh there because we knew that each and every day we were hearing of pastors and churches leaving the domination functionally becoming independent baptists and and separating from uh the convention work and the cooperation together we wanted to give them a place to hold in to work together to have their voice heard to fit in and to say hang on with us we love the sbc we care about what the sbc is doing come join us stand with us stand together to try and affect change and keep the denomination heading the right direction towards biblical conservative values we were blown away chris within the first week we had more than five thousand people sign up representing churches from all across this country we might we thought we might have a couple hundred maybe three hundred five thousand signed up that very first week and we realized the issues we were speaking to were really on the pulse of where our southern baptist churches are where our southern baptist pastors and lay people are perhaps not the denominational leadership right now but really the heart of what the sbc is we're now almost to ten thousand people and we're asking those churches to come together to elect conservatives to stand for biblical values we say that we're for the bible we're for missions we're for cultural engagement and we're for local churches getting involved in the work of the convention those are kind of our four pillars the the bible and errant sufficient missions and evangelism we need to get back to focusing on that cultural engagement we need to be standing on the front lines of the of the religious liberty fight and the pro-life fight and contending for biblical issues in our nation and in our denomination and then we need local churches just like yours to get involved to participate to send messengers 10 or 11 percent won't get it done we need our churches to plug in and to engage the way this really works is is by electing a conservative president and so coming up in Anaheim Tom Askel is running he's a tremendous pastor from Cape Coral Florida he believes the bible is an errant he believes it's sufficient and he's willing to appoint people to committees that believe likewise and will will trickle down the the president appoints a committee that appoints a committee that ultimately appoints trustees over these entities and so if you don't like the direction of where things are going that's how the change begins you you select a president that agrees with you that elects the right kind of offices the right kind of like-minded people and that's how you can begin to change the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention running with Tom Askel is Vody Baucom a tremendous leader a Southern Baptist missionary in Zambia who's serving there he's running for president of the pastors conference and he wants to bring back our pastors conference to biblical Baptist expository and evangelistic preaching we've got all kinds of preachers coming in that aren't Baptist every year he wants to get back to Southern Baptist preaching and teaching expositing God's word he's running with Dr. Askel and so Tom Askel Vody Baucom a good personal friend of mine Javier Chavez is running for the recording secretary position that's a position perhaps no one's ever heard of but that handles some of the behind the scenes work at the convention he's a tremendous pastor of a Hispanic congregation in Gainesville Georgia leading with international work international missions has a heart for the Lord he is a steadfast conservative and so those are kind of our representatives this year they'll be at Anaheim I will be traveling all across the country to vote for for Dr. Tom Askel Dr. Vody Baucom and Dr. Javier Chavez they have made a commitment to us to the conservative Baptist network to elect those who believe in the inerrancy and the sufficiency of the Bible those who will combat critical race theory intersectionality those who will stand on the truth of God's word and conservative biblical values the pro-life fight the cultural engagement fight all of those type of things that represent us well and so that the important part is to get messengers to turn out to elect those men who can begin to steer the convention back in the right direction away from all of these troubling problems that we're seeing last year Mike Stone ran ran a tremendous campaign he was attacked he was slandered he was misrepresented he even had a me to attack come against him just a couple of days before the the vote there the the night before actually and he still carried 48 of the vote he was he was so close to nearly elected he lost by about 300 votes if they had flipped he would be the president of the convention right now we've seen tremendous problems with the man who was elected since then and that has just exacerbated these issues we're facing so we're really in this we're really contending very very closely I would encourage your listeners to to become messengers to get involved and to support Dr. Askel Dr. Baucom and Dr. Chavez in Anaheim this year you mentioned the dates June 14th and 15th the pastor's conference is actually that Monday there before the election there so June 12 13 14 and 15 the pastor's conference dates and then the the two-day business meeting there we've got our website up and running conservative Baptist network.com where people can sign up to join us for our events we'll have some rallies there and some information and so if you're interested able to come we would love to partner with you help you along that way however we can Dr. Tolter thank you we've run out of time but thanks for being with us today we sure appreciate it absolutely thank you Chris thank you for all you're doing folks visit conservativebaptistnetwork.com that's conservativebaptistnetwork.com and ask your pastor today how you could be a messenger so we can see you in Anaheim and change the direction now let's go impact the culture for Jesus thank you for listening the Christian perspective with Chris Hughes learn more about impacting the culture for Jesus visit citizensforamericafoundation.com This is the Truth Network
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