The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has been long heralded as one of the last standing conservative denominations in the US. Beginning in 1979, through what was known as the “conservative resurgence” (also dubbed the Fundamentalist Takeover) of the SBC, headed up by conservative leaders like Paul Pressler and Albert Mohler, the denomination took a swift turn from liberalism to a strong, doctrinally distinct position in evangelicalism.
Doctrines such as the inerrancy of Scripture, the exclusivity of Christ, and the distinctiveness of the Christian life were at the core of the resurgence and held of utmost importance to those in the movement. In other words, to be a Southern Baptist was to be set apart from the traditions of liberalism and the world and embracing a distinctly Christian, Baptist, life with Jesus Christ as the focus.
Sadly, this last major bastion of conservative theology has embraced a new kind of doctrine–one that’s a mixture of Kingdom and world. Largely funnelled through what’s known as the New Calvinist movement (not to be confused with Reformed Christianity), spearheaded by The Gospel Coalition (TGC) and the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) through leaders such as Tim Keller and Russell Moore, respectively, the denomination has embraced a world-focused ideology of social justice that has become the front and center of the evangelical debate.
This movement takes on a whole new persona that is foreign to the historical and orthodox doctrines of the Christian church. The ambitions of this push, while on the surface seem virtuous and noble, are actually a distraction from the gospel and the Great Commission–if not another gospel altogether.
We, as Christians, are called to be kind and charitable to one another, no doubt, and also called to feed the hungry, take care of the poor and elderly, and work together for the good of all peoples. This is undoubtedly a Christian characteristic. However, the methodology being imposed on believers by this movement is a far cry from Biblical mercy. In fact, this movement largely blurs the lines between mercy and justice, referring to these acts by believers as justice (i.e. social justice) when they are, in fact, acts of mercy.
Take for example, Tim Killer, who has repeatedly stated that unless you have the out-workings of social justice in your life, you lack the evidence of salvation.
For those who prefer justification, justice is the sign that you have been justified by faith. It’s not the basis, you aren’t justified because you’re helping the poor, but a heart poured out in deeds of mercy and justice for the poor is a sign that you have been saved by grace.Tim Keller (Source Link)
Here, he clearly conflates justice with acts of mercy. To be clear, justice is getting what you deserve, whereas mercy is getting what you don’t deserve.
While Tim Keller is not a Southern Baptist–or even a Baptist at all–his views have largely permeated the SBC and have laid the foundation for the New Calvinist movement. Keller’s Gospel Coalition is a leading influence among evangelical thought leaders in the SBC and the PCA (Presbyterian) denominations, which brings us to Russell Moore.
Moore, the head of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has been lauded as the most influential leader in the Southern Baptist Convention in many years, and his position is held in higher regard than even the president of the Convention. Moore, a registered Democrat and Democratic party worker, has single-handedly influenced the SBC’s dynamics in a sharp turn toward a social justice focus since he took office at the ERLC in 2013. In a short time, he has persuaded many Southern Baptists to abandon conservative politics and embrace an “inclusive” view that would advance the ideology of the political left. Moore wants Southern Baptists to accept left-leaning ideology, such as environmentalism, animal rights/welfare, social justice/cultural Marxism, critical race theory, and “softening views” on homosexuality as equally valid as traditionally conservative positions.
While Moore has unequivocally stated his pro-life stance on abortion, it is clearly a non-issue when it comes to accepting the pro-abortion Democrat party as an “equally valid” choice for believers when it comes to political ideology. After all, social justice, a key tenet of the political left, has also been at the forefront of Moore’s evangelical push for social justice under the guise of racial reconciliation and other social movements such as Living Out (an advancement of homosexual acceptance in the Church). The Marxist idea of systemic injustice has become the primary issue of the evangelical church, including the Southern Baptist Convention, and the cause of eliminating these perceived injustices has served to do nothing except divide the body.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.Romans 16:17
The Southern Baptist Convention is embracing a legalistic approach to justification by faith alone. Adding to the gospel, works of mercy (disguised as justice) are being demanded as evidence of salvation. If you love God, you’ll adopt children, they say. If you’re a Christian, you’ll redistribute your wealth to those who have less, in order to create a fair and equal playing field for all. Folks, this is not the gospel–this is adding to the gospel and an abandonment of the denomination’s first love.
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.