LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In a move that has raised more than a few eyebrows in conservative, biblically-minded circles, Dr. Rex Horne has been appointed the new executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC). Dr. Horne has had a long-standing relationship with former President Bill Clinton, serving as Clinton’s pastor during his tenure as governor of Arkansas. Given Clinton’s vocal support for pro-abortion and pro-LGBTQ policies—positions fundamentally at odds with biblical teachings—the appointment of Dr. Horne warrants scrutiny.
The ABSC Executive Board ratified Dr. Horne’s appointment during a special meeting on Tuesday, October 10. While some see his ascent as a mark of experience and leadership, others find it to be a stark departure from the unwavering commitment to biblical principles that the Southern Baptist Convention, including the ABSC, once championed. Just three decades ago, Clinton’s non-biblical positions made him a point of contention within the broader Southern Baptist community, yet Horne continued to stand by him.
In a speech at Immanuel Baptist Church just one week before his inauguration, Clinton expressed gratitude for Dr. Horne’s support, despite Clinton’s views on policies that conflicted with the word of God. Clinton was never disciplined or held accountable by his church for these views—a stunning reality given that biblically, a church is mandated to hold its people accountable to Scripture.
Dr. Bill Panneck, senior executive pastor at Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro, stated that the Lord led the Operating Committee to Dr. Horne as “His perfect choice, at His perfect time, in His perfect way.” But some are asking: How can this be God’s perfect choice when Dr. Horne showed a willingness to compromise on issues of life and sexual morality, issues that the Scripture has unambiguously declared as sins?
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Dr. Jeff Paxton, president of the ABSC Executive Board, lauded Dr. Horne’s “energy, passion, vision, and wisdom,” but the question remains: Can someone who has compromised on such core biblical principles be the visionary that the ABSC needs for a time as this?
Horne’s appointment seems to indicate a shift in theology and approach, not just in Arkansas but within the greater Southern Baptist community. Rather than upholding an unwavering commitment to the final authority of God’s word, the shift suggests a move toward cultural accommodation. This marks a profound change from 30 years ago in the wake of the “conservative resurgence” when it seemed as though the Southern Baptist Convention would not have entertained, let alone approved, a leader who stood by a pro-abortion, pro-LGBTQ governor.
It’s a move that not only opens the door for a reinterpretation of what the Scripture says but also raises serious concerns about the direction in which the Arkansas Baptist State Convention—and, by extension, the broader Southern Baptist Convention—is heading.