Wait…so it IS a gospel issue?

You’ll have to forgive me, but I am a bit confused. For a while now we’ve heard it said that racial reconciliation is not a gospel issue. That’s been applied more broadly recently. It’s said that doing justice is not a gospel issue.

Essentially the argument is this: Salvation is by grace through faith. Jesus lived in your place. He died to pay for your sin. He was raised from the grave three days later. Repent of your sin and believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. If you add anything to that, you are adding to the gospel.

And all the people said, “Amen!”

I know of no prominent evangelical leader who has rejected any of these fundamental truths. Thabiti Anybwile tweeted out some of his own writings on the topic today encouraging people to compare his writings to the Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel. He then said, “I suspect you’ll find that the differences are not theological but practical and political.”

I think that is an accurate assessment. Are there real and substantial differences? Of course there are. But the differences are not theological. They are practical and political differences. These practical and political differences exist even among those who find themselves of the same general mind on this subject. Example: Thabiti voted for Clinton in the most recent presidential election as a way of opposing Trump. I voted for neither as a way of opposing both Trump and Clinton.

But now we have a group led by John MacArthur saying that they are defending the gospel from people who believe the exact same gospel. MacArthur wrote in his blog series, “It’s my conviction that much of the rhetoric about this latest issue [social justice] poses a more imminent and dangerous threat to the clarity and centrality of the gospel than any other recent controversy evangelicals have engaged in.” This tone and language of defending the gospel is present throughout MacArthur’s recently published blog series.

Then you have the Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel that was released this week. The introduction equates the disagreement over social justice with the Colossian heresy which was a disagreement over christology. The social justice statement has also been equated to important past statements like the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. This comparison also gives the impression that those responsible for drafting the social justice statement believe they are defending the gospel.

But I’m left asking, “Which is it?” Either this is a gospel issue or it isn’t. You can’t say it’s not a gospel issue and then say that you are defending the gospel by opposing any emphasis on social justice.

My intent here is not to minimize the disagreement at all. I think it is a very real disagreement. I think it is a very serious disagreement. But I am tired of orthodox brothers and sisters being accused of heresy because they apply the second greatest commandment differently (and I would argue more holistically) than these self-identified defenders of the gospel.

We would all do well to tone down the rhetoric. We would all do well to listen more than we speak. But if we’re going to do that, the accusations of orthodox believers being a threat to the gospel will have to be set aside.

From the ERLC: A note about a recent video

Concern has been expressed across social media about a video published yesterday on the ERLC website. The ERLC has clarified that the video was published by mistake. Please take note of the just released statement below:

Yesterday, the team I lead at the ERLC posted a video on our website about the way humans should think about animals. Bottom line up front: this video does not reflect our views on the subject. It was an accident and an honest mistake but an embarrassing one nonetheless, and I’d like to apologize for allowing this video to post and for the understandable confusion it created.

How did this happen? This video was one of hundreds of hours of videos we capture each year at the March for Life. After interviews like this are recorded, a video technician we contract with edits the videos, applies some graphics, and uploads it to a private Vimeo page for ERLC staff to then review. At this point, my communications team combs through the hundreds of videos to determine whether they would be fitting to publish (a process that takes months). Often, we’ll find the videos useful and helpful, and we’ll post them online. Occasionally, though, we’ll review a video and choose not to publish it because it doesn’t align with our mission. In this case, this week, one of the members of my team accidentally posted this video which had not yet been reviewed, never would have been approved, and never should have been posted. It had been uploaded to the Vimeo page for review months previously, so to some it appeared as if the video had been public for quite some time. In actuality, it was not accessible to anyone but the ERLC staff until it was posted online this week. This was a careless, but nonetheless honest mistake, and I along with my entire team will make sure a mistake like this never happens again.

To be clear, the views in that video do not reflect the views of ERLC. We believe what the Bible says about the unique dignity of human life. Only humans are created in the image of God. Only humans were described by Scripture as having been sculpted by God from the dust of the ground and knit together in the womb. Only humans are the objects of Christ’s sacrificial love on the cross. This is a particularly embarrassing mistake for me because I just finished writing a book on the image of God that makes the exact opposite argument from the one seen in the video.

This, of course, is not an excuse but merely the explanation I believe is owed. This was a public mistake, and I believe it deserves an equally public explanation and apology. This was an instance of clumsiness that led to understandable confusion. It caused people of good will to ask reasonable questions. Ultimately, this is my responsibility, and I apologize. This won’t happen again.

Daniel Darling

Vice President for Communications

I am thankful for this clear statement. Mistakes happen. When they do, leaders should apologize as the ERLC has done, and grace should be extended. I am thankful for the ERLC’s clear and bold defense of human life from the womb to the tomb.

From the ERLC: A note about a recent video

Concern has been expressed across social media about a video published yesterday on the ERLC website. The ERLC has clarified that the video was published by mistake. Please take note of the just released statement below:

Yesterday, the team I lead at the ERLC posted a video on our website about the way humans should think about animals. Bottom line up front: this video does not reflect our views on the subject. It was an accident and an honest mistake but an embarrassing one nonetheless, and I’d like to apologize for allowing this video to post and for the understandable confusion it created.

How did this happen? This video was one of hundreds of hours of videos we capture each year at the March for Life. After interviews like this are recorded, a video technician we contract with edits the videos, applies some graphics, and uploads it to a private Vimeo page for ERLC staff to then review. At this point, my communications team combs through the hundreds of videos to determine whether they would be fitting to publish (a process that takes months). Often, we’ll find the videos useful and helpful, and we’ll post them online. Occasionally, though, we’ll review a video and choose not to publish it because it doesn’t align with our mission. In this case, this week, one of the members of my team accidentally posted this video which had not yet been reviewed, never would have been approved, and never should have been posted. It had been uploaded to the Vimeo page for review months previously, so to some it appeared as if the video had been public for quite some time. In actuality, it was not accessible to anyone but the ERLC staff until it was posted online this week. This was a careless, but nonetheless honest mistake, and I along with my entire team will make sure a mistake like this never happens again.

To be clear, the views in that video do not reflect the views of ERLC. We believe what the Bible says about the unique dignity of human life. Only humans are created in the image of God. Only humans were described by Scripture as having been sculpted by God from the dust of the ground and knit together in the womb. Only humans are the objects of Christ’s sacrificial love on the cross. This is a particularly embarrassing mistake for me because I just finished writing a book on the image of God that makes the exact opposite argument from the one seen in the video.

This, of course, is not an excuse but merely the explanation I believe is owed. This was a public mistake, and I believe it deserves an equally public explanation and apology. This was an instance of clumsiness that led to understandable confusion. It caused people of good will to ask reasonable questions. Ultimately, this is my responsibility, and I apologize. This won’t happen again.

Daniel Darling

Vice President for Communications

I am thankful for this clear statement. Mistakes happen. When they do, leaders should apologize as the ERLC has done, and grace should be extended. I am thankful for the ERLC’s clear and bold defense of human life from the womb to the tomb.

SCBC Addresses Aderholt’s Employment and Arrest

Tuesday I published a post here in which I addressed the sexual assault allegations against Mark Aderholt. One of my answers to the question, “What needs to happen now?” was that the executive director of the SCBC must be transparent with its member churches about what he and others responsible for hiring Aderholt knew. If they knew nothing, why?

Today the SCBC Exec. Board Chair Tommy Kelly and SCBC Pres. Marshall Blalock released an open letter through the Baptist Courier addressing the situation. Below is the full text of that letter.

We are writing this letter to express our appreciation for the effective leadership Dr. Gary Hollingsworth, the executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, has demonstrated during the recent events that resulted in Mark Aderholt’s resignation. From May 17 when Dr. Hollingsworth first learned of the claims via social media, he has acted wisely and decisively. He has included the elected leadership of the convention throughout this process. He informed the twelve members of the Executive Advisory Board and the full Executive Board of this situation, and with the full support of the Board, pledged to take whatever action was necessary.

Since Dr. Hollingsworth released his statement on behalf of the convention on June 19, we have received many questions and comments from pastors and leaders throughout South Carolina. In an effort to dispel unwarranted speculation and to be as transparent as possible, we are issuing this statement to give clear and accurate information to our South Carolina Baptist family.

First of all, our hearts are broken by this situation, and that extends to everyone involved.

The timeline for Mark Aderholt’s tenure at the SCBC began July 16, 2016, when he was called to serve as our senior strategist, and ended with his resignation effective June 15, 2018. In Dr. Hollingsworth’s job interviews with him, Mark Aderholt never mentioned any abuse claim against him. The hiring process involved a comprehensive background investigation, including a criminal history check, a credit check, and employment references, all of which were impeccable. No sources gave any indication of any negative information about Mr. Aderholt. He served well in his position here and there was absolutely no indication of any claim of abuse in his past.

On May 17, 2018, Dr. Hollingsworth for the first time became aware of a claim on social media which associated Mark Aderholt with an abusive sexual relationship 22 years ago.

Dr. Hollingsworth immediately addressed the issue with Mark Aderholt and asked about the veracity of the underlying claims. Mr. Aderholt denied them then, and according to news accounts, continues through his legal counsel in Texas, to state he is innocent. Mr. Aderholt was placed on leave on May 18, and agreed to provide information necessary for Dr. Hollingsworth to determine the next steps. Mr. Aderholt, who was represented by legal counsel, decided not to provide access to the information requested and tendered his resignation effective June 15, 2018.

At the time of his arrest on criminal charges from Texas, the SCBC through the media learned along with the general public of the nature and seriousness of the formal charges. The SCBC trusts officials in Texas will properly and fully investigate this matter and that justice will be served.

We encourage our Baptist family to pray for all those who have been hurt by this situation. We also ask that you understand that this statement is the full extent of what we can share about this matter at this time. Our prayer is that the mission of our convention will not be further harmed and that Christ may be glorified as we serve His kingdom in days to come.

Yours for Christ,

Tommy Kelly
Marshall Blalock

Perhaps there are still questions that the South Carolina Baptist Convention will need to answer in the future, but this is a good start. I am thankful for this letter.