Even as I think of writing this article on such a serious, and sad, charge of apostasy within the Southern Baptist Convention, I feel like the writer, who in realizing the horror of what he is about to write of, wants to cast away his pen. Not only that, but I'm afraid to write of the things that I have read, heard, and seen taking place in our denomination; especially since there is the danger of being accused that I have set myself up as a 'judge'. Also, there is a sense of not being 'qualified' to write such words; for what am I, but nothing in comparison to the least of the saints: I am not seminary trained, I have no degree of theology whatsoever, I am not ordained, but simply licensed to preach; in fact, I'm not even pastoring at the moment; and for sure, my ministry would be considered a failure by many. Yes, I would have to confess that I have failed my Lord so much, and have displeased Him in many ways, that He would be just in putting me on the shelf, and never use me again, or give me another opportunity to serve Him. But oh!, "I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope" (Psalm 130:5) for the promise as given to His people of old: "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten..." (Joel 2:25). Truly my God has been, and is good, merciful, and longsuffering towards me, although "I am not worthy of the least of all mercies, and of all the truth, which (he) hast shewed unto (his) servant" (Genesis 32:10). All praise and glory be to Him both now and forever. Amen!
Perhaps someone will ask who do I think I am: "Who made thee a prince and a judge over us" (Exodus 2:14)? Or, why do I want to write this article and accuse fellow-Southern Baptists of being 'apostates'? Well, let me say this: I certainly don't cherish it; for that matter, I prefer to remain silent; but I remember when I first started out in the ministry, a precious sister in the Lord gave me a Scripture that was, and is still true for me: "Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them" (Jeremiah 1:17ff.). Then in another place this same prophet says, "I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay" (20:9). Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not claiming to be an inspired prophet as Jeremiah, or one of those 'anointed' prophets of today that claim to have revelations, or that God speaks to them...; no, all I am is just a simple believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, washed in His precious blood and saved by the riches of His grace, waiting for Him to come back for His people, with the hope of being included with his elect. The answer, then, to the "Why am I writing this article?" is simply that "I have to".
Now, we know, (at least those that believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God,) that the Holy Scriptures makes much of the APOSTASY. I mean, there is no way to miss the doctrine of it, unless someone doesn't read the Bible at all. Whether it be in the Old Testament, or the New Testament, it is revealed to us that there will an apostasy, or as 2 Thessalonians 2:3 refers to it as "a falling away", before "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him", which is commonly called the Rapture (v.1). Also, there is much being preached and taught about the Apostasy today; and for sure there is no shortage of such websites in the internet. But as far as the Scriptures are concerned, not only does 2 Thessalonians 2:1ff. refer to the Apostasy, but also 1 Timothy 4:1ff. - "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils...", and 2 Timothy 4:3ff. - "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables"; and of course, there is 2 Peter 2:1,2 - "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil evil spoken of".
Of course, this is in reference to the professing Christian church in general; for we have to consider it as a whole in that when people profess to be Christians it is assume that they are all 'believers', (whether true or false,) of the Lord Jesus Christ. But when we know that just as "they are not all of Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children" (Romans 9:6,7), this is also true of professing Christians. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself made this clear in Matthew 7:12-23 - "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in they name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity". Nevertheless, I believe we can safely assume that from Pentecost all professing believers were true Christians in the Faith; but then also we can believe that almost from the beginning apostasy started in the professing Christian Church; at least at the time that the apostles were still alive!
That's why the apostle Paul warned the Ephesian elders with respect to this: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:28-30). Then, what does the apostle John say? "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be manifested that they were not all of us" (1 John 2:18,19). Of course, we know this has been true in the history of the professing Christian Church. Throughout the centuries, many have started out well, but at the end proven to be apostates; for what is an apostate, but one who professes the Lord Jesus Christ and the "one faith" (Ephesians 4:5) "which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude v.3), but then denied it by departing "from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (1 Timothy 4:1).
Now, we know, or should know, that at the present time, there are 'apostates', and 'apostate churches' within today's professing Christianity. For sure, there's not a denomination, or churches, that is exempt from this tragic "falling away". All we have to do to find out that this has happened, and is happening, is to rehearse the history of some of the mainline denominations; and also to heed to what is being preached from the pulpit, and being taught by some professors in seminary, and what has happen to many of the "Christian" (?) universities. But does this prove that there is apostasy in the Southern Baptist Convention? Or at least, are there certain individuals within the denomination that could be considered as apostates; or that are certain churches that have taken that step into apostasy? The question is: What have you seen, what have you heard, and what have you read, that will prove whether there is, or there isn't, apostasy, in the Southern Baptist Convention? What is A Sure Sign Of Apostasy In The SBC?
But before I get into answering the last question, let me relate to you the following: My brothers and I were talking about the signs of the Apostasy, and of the many manifestations of it throughout professing Christianity. We talked about the Charismatic Movement, and of many of their false doctrines that are being propagated by them. Also, we talked about what is going on in the mainline denominations, and how many of them in their conferences are voting against their own Confessions, which would be considered Orthodox and Evangelical. Then, also, we discussed how the Roman Catholic Church has been considered an 'apostate church' throughout the centuries; and that although they profess the Name of Christ, their doctrines are "damnable heresies" as proof of apostasy. Finally, we come to the Southern Baptist Convention; and the conclusion we came to is that the Apostasy is truly here! Although there are churches of the Lord Jesus Christ, with their pastors and members, that are still faithful to the Lord and His Word, not only here in the United States, but all around the world; and that are suffering for His cause and are standing "fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27), yet we felt that, in a sense, the Southern Baptist Convention as a denomination, is the last bastion against the attacks of the enemy, as every effort is being made to destroy the truth of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, as revealed to us in the blessed Holy Scriptures, the inerrant Word of God, which is infallible for our Faith and Practice. Nonetheless, although there is a seeking of the old paths and a return to the faith of our fathers, yet, sad to say, there are signs of a growing apostasy in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Having said this, let me, by God's grace and His precious Holy Spirit, granting me boldness and humbleness of mind, give some indications of A Sure Sign Of Apostasy In The SBC. I do this, not with the intention of accusing any particular individual or church with apostasy, but only in presenting the state of apostasy in any individual or church that has taken that tragic step. It is my hope that "the God of all grace" (1 Peter 5:10), who "knoweth the secrets of the heart" (Psalm 44:21), will be pleased to use this article to show us the seriousness of the subject, and to give us a concern for the Truth, "if so be that (we) have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus" (Ephesians 4:21). The Word of God, and the history of the Church, shows us that it will cost us much to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude v.3). May He, who has given us, not only His Written Word, but also His Word who "was made flesh" (John 1:14), give us grace and boldness to fight the "good fight", to finish our "course", and to keep "the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7), not only for the good of God's people, but above all, for the glory of His mighty Name for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen!
A SURE SIGN OF APOSTASY IN THE SBC.
When the Bible is rejected as inerrant and infallible:
The Psalmist asks: "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do" (11:3)? Yes, the foundation of our faith is the Lord Jesus Christ: "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11), but at the same time, our faith in Christ Jesus is not apart from the Written Word, the Bible. Romans 10:17 tells us that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"; and 2 Timothy 3:15 declares that "the holy scriptures,...are able to make (us) wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus". Furthermore, we are "bound to give thanks alway to God,...because God hath chosen (us) to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief (faith) of the truth: Whereunto he called (us) by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 2:13,14).
Now, since faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is inseparable from the Word of God, how dare anyone say that the Bible "is just a book"; or that it is not 'without error' and can 'fail' with respect to all that it reveals? What hope can anyone have, if the foundations that God's Word "is truth" (John 17:17) as the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father, and that He Himself is "the truth" (14:6), are destoyed? It is as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:14 - "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain"; so is it true if God's Word has error, and can fail, then our preaching and faith is vain; for who will show me what part of God's Word is TRUTH and WILL NOT FAIL? If an individual, or a church, deny that the Bible is inerrant and infallible, what are they claiming but that "the God of truth" "(Psalm 31:5), and "the Spirit of truth" (John 16:13), and He who is "the truth" (14:6), are not telling us the TRUTH? When the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father and said, "Thy word is truth" (17:17), isn't He saying that "all scripture" that "is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16), which is the Bible, "is truth"? Oh, my beloved brethren in the Lord, if any one, or any church, denies that ALL the Bible "is truth", then they have taken a step into apostasy!
On the other hand, the true believers in Christ will be as the Thessalonian believers as when Paul wrote to them: "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13). In other words, a true believer will accept the Bible, not "just as a book", but as the written Word of God; and not only that, but that it is the inerrant and infallible written Word of God. It is inconceivable to think that any of God's blood-bought and Spirit-born children can ever come to the point of truly denying the truthfulness and unchangableness of the Holy Scriptures. Now, I do believe that a believer can be brought to confusion and doubts regarding the Bible because of the teachings of some 'apostate', but just as it is impossible for the elect to be deceived (cp. Matthew 24:24), God will take care of His own so that they will not take that step into apostasy.
Denying inerrancy and infallability is apostasy:
Am I saying, in so many words, that if one professes to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to love and to serve Him, but yet at the same time cannot confess the inerrancy and infallability of the Bible, that such as individual is an apostate? Yes! I ask you: How can it possible for a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has been brought "to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth" (Titus 1:1) by "the Spirit of truth", who guides the believer "into all truth" (John 16:13), "and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus" (Ephesians 4:21), and so can say with the Lord Jesus, as He did in John 17:17: "Thy word is truth", and not be able to readily and faithfully confess the same? How can it be, if the believer has been saved, not only "through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:13)?; and Who and What is the TRUTH, if not the Lord Jesus Himself, who said "I am the truth" (John 14:6), and God's Word, which He Himself confessed "is truth" (17:17). Both are inseparable from each other; for as far as God's Revelation of Himself and His Salvation in His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, are concerned, we cannot have the one without the other!
Note that the Lord Jesus is not vague or general about He said, but emphatic and precise; in other words, God's Word , the Holy Bible, is TRUTH!!! It is not that the Bible does not contain the Truth, or that 'it has... truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter' (The Scriptures; The Baptist Faith And Message, 1963), but it is quite another thing for one to truly confess that ALL of the matter in the Holy Bible is inerrant and infallible. Let me illustrate: You have a container; and in this container you can fill it up with oil, or water, i.e. with one or the other. In that case, one can truthfully 'confess' that the container is either 'full' of oil, or water. Now, let us say that the container is filled up with both water and oil; and so now you have two elements in the container. But the chemical properties being such, no matter how much you try to mix them together, oil and water won't mix! That being the case, then one could say that the container 'contains' water; or that it has water, without any mixture of oil, for its matter. At the same time, though, whoever says this could be referring only to the water, and not to ALL that's in the container.
Now, what am I saying? That either the Bible contains ALL truth
or ALL error (oil): You cannot have it both ways! In other words, we
confess the 'inerrancy' and 'infallibilty' of the Holy Scriptures, or
don't! Of course, those that cannot and will not, are
that believe that the Bible also contains error; yet at the same time,
try to 'straddle the fence'. To put it in another way, that, although
believe that the Bible has error, yet because they will not publicly
it outright, or they will play with words, they say they accept what
Baptist Faith And Message says, that the Bible 'has...truth, without
mixture of error, for its matter', but it is only in reference to the
that they profess that the Bible contains, and not to ALL OF ITS
(Remember the oil and water in the container.) That, my dear reader, is
what it is all about: Either you believe that the Holy Bible, from
1:1 to Revelation 22:21, "is truth" (John 17:17) from the
to the end; or, you believe that it has error. Either you can confess
inerrancy and infallibilty of the Sacred Writ, or you don't. But if you
can't, please be honest about it; and stop playing with words and
us of "bibliolatry" just because we believe that the Bible is more
a book", and IS TRUTH: ALL OF IT!!!