Dr. Al Mohler Addresses Social Justice

In a Q&A at a chapel service at Southern Seminary, Dr. Mohler took questions from students. One, not surprisingly, was about social justice. The question comes at about the 24 minute mark and his answer runs nearly 40 minutes.

However, it is biblically, theologically, and historically sound. It is collegial but direct. He details two main reasons why he did not sign and was uncomfortable with the Social Justice statement coming from the MacArthur camp.

He gives a detailed explanation of the difference between liberal “critical theory” social justice and biblical social justice, explains what “gospel issue” means and the danger of using the term.

I believe that, from now on, those who ask for questions and specifics will simply be referred to this clip. It is well worth about 37 minutes of your time.

One more observation. SBTS needs a dress code. The next question after the social justice question was one about the ReVoice conference and that guy’s shirt – well, c’mon man! That ain’t right.

David Platt to Step Down September 27; Meador Named Interim President

I have heard quite a bit of scuttlebutt over the past few months – this candidate or that was about to be named the new president of the IMB. But in recent weeks we have been hearing that the trustees are nowhere near finding their new leader. David Platt has decided his interim time has gone on long enough.

Frankly, this seems like a good move to me – on three counts.

1. The IMB needs to take as much time as it takes to make the right hire. If it takes another month or another year they need to find the president who will lead them and lead Southern Baptists in the days ahead.

2. David Platt has his good qualities and his challenges, but he is obviously looking ahead at another challenge. This interim position was fine for a few months but it needs to go come to an end.

3. I’ve heard good things about Clyde Meador from missionaries and I think he will lead well in the interim.

Here are the press releases:

 

Platt to step down from IMB; Meador named interim president

By Julie McGowan

RICHMOND, Virginia—After receiving the resignation of Dr. David Platt, IMB president, to be effective at the Sept. 27, 2018, trustee meeting, the Executive Committee of the board of trustees of the International Mission Board voted in a special meeting Sept. 13 to approve Dr. Clyde Meador as interim president starting Sept. 27, subject to full board approval.

Platt has served as president of the IMB since Aug. 27, 2014. Since September 2017, Platt also has served as pastor/teacher of McLean Bible Church in metro Washington, D.C. On Feb. 12, 2018, Platt asked the mission agency’s trustees to begin searching for his successor. While requesting that the search for the IMB’s next president begin immediately, Platt stated his intention to continue serving as president during the search process.

In that commitment, board chairman Dr. Rick Dunbar reported in a statement issued Sept. 14 that Platt has continued to serve “with resolute steadfastness, and has not wavered in his commitment to the Lord, to the IMB, staff, field personnel, and Southern Baptists as a whole.”

“Trustee officers recently discussed with David the possibility of the need for an organizational transition to an interim time as the presidential search continues,” said Dunbar, a member of First Baptist Church Madison, Mississippi. “The board’s Executive Committee met, and after prayer and discussion decided to release David from his commitment to the IMB in order to allow him to focus full time on his new role in gospel ministry at McLean Bible Church, and for the IMB to move forward into a transition period.”

In his tenure as president, Platt “has led in the global mission task with impeccable integrity, great wisdom, and a deep passion for God, the church, and the lost,” Dunbar said. “He is one of the most gifted preachers of this generation.”

“Because of his leadership, the IMB has been streamlined as an organization for greater effectiveness in the 21st century,” Dunbar added. “He has led the IMB to solid financial ground, and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering has been as strong as ever.”

In his statement released Sept. 14, Platt referenced his intention to serve as president during the search for his successor. He also noted, “I want to honor the authority God has placed over me in every way I can, and I want to do whatever is best for the IMB.”

“As I give myself to global mission as pastor of a local church, I am praying continually for God’s grace in leading trustees to a good, godly leader for the future of the IMB,” Platt said. “Moreover, I am praying continually for God’s blessing on the incredible staff and missionaries of the IMB who comprise a passionate, potent force for the spread of His gospel and His glory among the nations. I am grateful to God, to these brothers and sisters, and to the churches of the SBC for the humbling privilege, pure joy, and undeserved honor of serving in this role over these years.”

After a year and a half in retirement, Meador returned to his current role as executive advisor to the President in January 2018. In his 42 years of service with the IMB, he has worked closely with three presidents as an advisor and executive vice president, and he previously served as IMB’s interim president from August 2010 to March 2011. He and his wife, Elaine, were appointed as missionaries to Indonesia in 1974. Their service also included leadership in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia, before joining the entity’s leadership team in Richmond in 2001.

“Clyde’s walk with the Lord, humility, wisdom, broad experience and steady leadership will prove valuable during the time of transition,” Dunbar said.

The IMB board of trustees will meet Sept. 26-27 in Richmond, Va. A Sending Celebration to honor the newest Southern Baptist international missionaries will be hosted Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond.

# # #

The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® is a registered trademark of Woman’s Missionary Union.

Julie McGowan is public relations manager for the IMB.

IMAGES & CUTLINES:

https://www.imb.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/16.jpg

https://www.imb.org/press-images-imb-logos/#david-images

PLATT—Dr. David Platt has served as president of the International Mission Board since Aug. 27, 2014. He will step down as president Sept. 27. Platt is pastor/teacher of McLean Bible Church in metro Washington, D.C. (IMB Photo)

https://www.imb.org/image/dr-clyde-meador/

MEADOR—Dr. Clyde Meador has been named interim president of the International Mission Board, effective Sept. 27. Meador has served with the IMB for 42 years as a missionary and administrator, most recently as executive advisor to the president. (IMB Photo)

Statement from Dr. David Platt

Seven months ago, February 12, 2018, I asked trustees to begin a search for a new president, and I committed to serve the IMB faithfully as president until my successor was found. Recently, however, in light of trustee concerns about me serving as a pastor in a church while finishing my service as president of the IMB, trustee leaders asked me to consider stepping down from my position in the near future rather than waiting for my successor to be in place. I want to honor the authority God has placed over me in every way I can, and I want to do whatever is best for the IMB. Therefore, I am stepping down from my role at the IMB, effective at our next trustee meeting, September 27, 2018.

As I give myself to global mission as pastor of a local church, I am praying continually for God’s grace in leading trustees to a good, godly leader for the future of the IMB. Moreover, I am praying continually for God’s blessing on the incredible staff and missionaries of the IMB who comprise a passionate, potent force for the spread of His gospel and His glory among the nations. I am grateful to God, to these brothers and sisters, and to the churches of the SBC for the humbling privilege, pure joy, and undeserved honor of serving in this role over these years.

David Platt

# # #

 

Statement from Dr. Rick Dunbar

On February 12, 2018, David Platt asked IMB Trustees to begin the search for a new president. At the time he committed to serve the IMB as president until his successor was elected. He has continued to do so with resolute steadfastness, and has not wavered in his commitment to the Lord, to the IMB, staff, field personnel, and Southern Baptists as a whole.

Trustee officers recently discussed with David the possibility of the need for an organizational transition to an interim time as the presidential search continues. Following their discussions, David submitted his resignation as President of the IMB effective September 27, 2018. The board’s Executive Committee met, and after prayer and discussion decided to release David from his commitment to the IMB in order to allow him to focus full time on his new role in gospel ministry at McLean Bible Church, and for the IMB to move forward into a transition period.

At the same EC meeting, the Committee voted for Clyde Meador, executive advisor to the President, to be named interim President of the IMB starting September 27, 2018, subject to full board approval. Clyde’s walk with the Lord, humility, wisdom, broad experience and steady leadership will prove valuable during a time of transition.

Dr. Platt has served as the President of the IMB since August 27, 2014. He has led in the global mission task with impeccable integrity, great wisdom, and a deep passion for God, the church, and the lost. He is one of the most gifted preachers of this generation. His teaching has impacted an untold number of people and challenged them to lay their lives out as a blank check before God.

He leaves having completed several major initiatives. Under his leadership, we have been strengthened theologically with the capstone Foundations document as evidence. Because of his leadership, the IMB has been streamlined as an organization for greater effectiveness in the 21st century. He has led the IMB to solid financial ground, and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering has been as strong as ever.

We love David Platt. I am eternally grateful to God for his leadership among us. We pray for God’s blessings on David and his family as they continue their kingdom service at McLean Bible Church.

Since 1845, Southern Baptists have focused on reaching the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in obedience to the Great Commission. Our mission today remains forward focused. Let’s join together to pray that our best days are ahead of us, for the glory of God and for the sake of the lost.

Rick Dunbar

IMB Trustee Chairman

 

Echo Chambers, Conferences, Social Justice and a Dumb (?) Idea

Southern Baptists in particular, evangelicals in a broader sense, and all Americans in the whole have become lovers of echo chambers in which every voice joins in perfect unison with our own to reinforce, without question, the ideas we share.

A lady came by the office to express how much she appreciated my ministry and how she had grown under it, but to inform me that God was leading her to another church in town. It was cordial and friendly, but something she said always stuck in my craw a little. “It is nice,” she said, “to hear my theology preached every Sunday.” I was not quite the Calvinist firebrand her new pastor is and she felt more comfortable hearing her theology affirmed week after week.

I am old enough to remember when the SBC Annual Meeting consisted of the Pastors’ Conference, the Annual Meeting, the Evangelists’ meeting on Wednesday afternoon for those who were not sightseeing, a WMU conference and a few seminary luncheons. Now you need an app to keep up with all the special event conferences that take place – many of them niche events for particular groups. There are other conferences throughout the year that draw like-minded folks together.

Southern Baptist pastors are spread out far and wide in Northwest Iowa and so we get together on Tuesday for lunch, when our schedules allow. A good friend who had to drive a fair distance to participate told me that he came from time to time but he was honest about it. “I’m more likely to invest in spending time with like-minded pastors.”

We have become the champions of the echo-chambers. We gather around us people who think like us and agree with us so that they will applaud our ideas. We become more convinced of the rightness of our truth because there are no voices around us who are allowed to speak a contrary thought or utter a contrary opinion.

I do not have a complete list of the names of those who gathered in Dallas to compose the “Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel,” but I would wager my spleen (if I still had a spleen and if I were a betting man) that every single person in that gathering was already in agreement with the John MacArthur position before they gathered. There was no one there giving pushback or explaining the position that evangelicals in favor of biblical social justice have put forward. It was an echo chamber.

In the days after that was published, there were a couple of statements issued as counterproposals to the Dallas statement. I liked them because they expressed my views but they were rushed and were not generally comprehensive or compelling. Some of us discussed the idea of gathering a group of people who would craft a well-written and comprehensive statement on the Gospel and Social Justice that would answer the weaknesses of the Dallas statement.

But such a statement would simply be another product of an echo chamber.

Echo chambers enhance problems, they don’t solve them. The Calvinism conflict in the SBC will never be solved if Calvinists have conferences and talk about how great Calvinism is and how it is the answer to all the world’s problems and then non-Calvinists have conferences about the evils and dangers of Calvinists and talk about how Calvinists are conspiring to take over SBC entities, do away with missions, hamstring evangelism, and end the SBC as we have known it. The conflict will likely never be completely solved – it has been going on since the SBC was formed – but things will only improve as Calvinists and non-Calvinists talk TOGETHER and honestly and partner for the gospel as and stop quarantining one another.

In the same way, this social justice issue will not be solved by statements prepared in and released from echo chambers.

  • I read the things people who oppose biblical social justice write and I think, “How can you possibly get that from what we are saying?”
  • I realize that those who oppose social justice are often making similar claims, that they are being misunderstood.

As long as we are in our bunkers firing shots at one another from our protected cover this will never get solved.

A Proposal

I have a suggestion which I have not talked to ANYONE about, not even the person I think should moderate the event.

This has become a huge conflict in the SBC and I can’t help but think that a lot of this is because we are talking past each other instead of to each other. So, I propose we figure out a way to talk to each other.

1. We set up a conference inviting 10 of the most visible and vocal names in the SBC on the anti-Social Justice side and 10 of the most visible and vocal names on Social Justice side. They can choose what they want to be called as long as it isn’t pejorative or insulting to the other side. They would, unfortunately, have to pay their own way (unless a benefactor comes along). All details will have to be worked out.

2. We select a non-combatant to be the moderator of the conference. I have an idea for a person to host that, a well-known blogger who doesn’t blog much anymore but has a convention-wide reputation for wisdom and fairness. If a name is coming to your mind, I would guess 8 of 10 of you are thinking of the same person I am.

3. We develop a format to allow both sides to share their concerns and interact.

4. The group would work to produce a JOINT statement detailing areas of agreement and disagreement, areas of understanding and areas in which further work is needed. But the goal would be to get us all out of our echo chambers and into a productive discussion.

5. We would not stream the discussion or open it to the public. If it went well, the discussion could get heated at times. The goal is to have a free discussion not to host a pageant.

I have no idea if we could pull this off but I think it would be a lot more productive than sitting hunkered down in our echo chambers shooting at one another.  I have no details – this is an idea without details at this point.

Now, tell me what an idiot I am.

 

The 9/11 Theological Strategy

September 11, 2001, was one of those days that you never forget. I was waiting for an associational pastors group to arrive at my house and I flipped on the TV just as the second plane hit the second tower. We watched the news for hours and life changed that day. America experienced a brief moment of unity as our president stood on the rubble of the Twin Towers and declared with an unusual eloquence that those who did the despicable deed would hear us as we spoke! Mr. Bush, who left office with popularity ratings lower than the Orioles winning percentage this year, broke records as the most popular president of all time in those heady days.

America was united by a scary, mysterious enemy – radical Islamic terrorism. We laid down partisan bickering for a time and joined hands to fight the fight. It is amazing how motivated we can be when there is an enemy to fight.

Something similar happened in the SBC back in the 70s. The SBC faced an enemy that we knew would destroy us. My college professors, all graduates of Southern and Southeastern, sought to undermine every biblical doctrine we were taught in church. They ridiculed belief in the supernatural, in the inerrancy of Scripture, in the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, the existence of a real being known as Satan – you name it, they skewered it.  One professor told his class, “Let’s face it, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed – they are all just different flags under which God flys his name.” Our Christian Emphasis Week speaker, a well-known Southern Seminary professor, told us that Jesus did not come to die, but that he got caught up in political and other forces (his own miscalculations included) that led him to the cross. I saw what happened to young men and women who entered my school with a zeal to serve Christ and had that zeal zapped by liberalism. Liberalism was real and it was an enemy.

From 1979 on, conservatives in the SBC united to fight liberalism. I believe there were many mistakes in the conduct of that war – and I said it back then, though I only had a few friends to whom I could bluster at the time! We treated conservatives who did not side with us as liberals. We adopted an “ends justify the means” strategy of war. We sometimes committed atrocities on the field of battle. But liberalism was a real enemy that was a real threat to the future of our convention and we joined to fight it. Calvinists, a much smaller minority then, cheered and supported non-Calvinists such as Adrian Rogers, Bailey Smith, Charles Stanley, because we (I was a card-carrying Calvinist back in those days) knew that the battle for the Bible was bigger than the battles we might have over the interpretation of the Bible.

Then, around 1990, the battle was won and the convention was in the hands of the conservatives. It was not long after that we began to see conservatives begin to fracture. Those differences we didn’t care about when the bigger enemy of liberalism was there to unite us suddenly mattered when the liberals (and moderates and more than a few conservatives who didn’t support our political views) had bled off into other denominations or formed the CBF.

A few years later, along came blogging!

Those IMB policies were a trigger point. I am a fan of the BF&M because it defines who we are as Baptists but it also is intentionally vague in some areas so that we can be non-Calvinist Baptists or Calvinist Baptists, Premill Baptists or (gulp) Amill Baptists, contemporary Baptists or traditional Baptists. We can have great variety and still unite around the Baptist banner. It grieved me that those policies, in my mind, went beyond the BF&M and excluded good Baptists from missions service on unnecessary bases. I have no desire to refight that fight, except to say that we fought pretty hard back in the late 2000s about an issue that we would have never even brought up during the height of the CR. The tie that bound us no longer did.

Christians are meant to be united by the work of Christ but our flesh often finds that fear of an enemy is a better bond. Christian ministries sometimes play on this. I was on the mailing list of a large Christian parachurch ministry back in the 80s and 90s and noted their tendency to trumpet a “threat-of-the-month” in their fundraising newsletter. “This latest congressional action/trend/court decision/movement threatens the church/American way-of-life/all that is good and decent/the family. We are fighting this for you but need your help ($25, $50, $100 or more a month).” Can you remember the last election in which you weren’t told that this was the most important election of our lifetimes and that if we didn’t vote the right way that America as we have known it was over?

We tend to use fear of the enemy as a motivator more than the love of Christ.

We saw this trend in the last SBC presidential election. JD Greear is a solid Southern Baptist, a conservative preacher of God’s Word, a man whose church leads his state in CP giving and leads the nation in placing people in SBC missions through the IMB. His church gives a percentage to CP that is comparable to other megachurches. He made it absolutely clear in sermons and in statements that he believed the gospel call was universal and that everyone could come to Christ. But if you listened to the rhetoric about him in many circles, he was an agent of darkness sent to destroy!

I was in the line registering and heard a man spouting about how we needed to “stop the liberals” who were trying to take over the convention. My wife listened as a messenger from Louisiana mimicked that same message at the next table at the hotel breakfast buffet before I arrived the next morning. Who were the “liberals” we needed to stop? JD Greear! I am guessing Dr. Russell Moore. And I suppose us here at Voices. I did not blame these folks. There was a constant drumbeat of dishonest campaigning done by blogs, by a state newspaper, by some state executives and others, who intimated that JD Greear was a threat to the gospel, to the future of the SBC, and to truth, justice, and the American way. After such a campaign of deceit, it is not strange that some arrived in Dallas deceived.

It was a case study in campaign by crisis, by manipulation of fear. There was little attempt to unite in Christ but to gain support by creation of the fear of an enemy who would destroy us all.

There has been a segment of the Reformed community that has used this tactic for years. I am not Charismatic and have strong disagreements with the theology and many of the practices of the movement. But I’ve also had enough involvement with charismatic friends to know that the “Charismatic Chaos” approach by John MacArthur and his disciples is horribly unfair and dishonest. They take the worst excesses of the charismatic and Pentecostal movements and treat them as if they are the norm. What if we used that tactic with other groups?

  • I have known Calvinists who were arrogant, combative, and who thought evangelism was silly because “God will save people without our help.” Do you want all the Reformed movement to be judged on the basis of someone like that?
  • For that matter, does the Reformed world want to be judged by the deportment of Pulpit and Pen?
  • Do dispensationalists want their movement defined by date-setting, conspiracy theorist, blood-moon gazing oddballs?

No movement should be judged by its abusive extremes. There are theological issues in the charismatic movement, but most are Jesus-loving, Bible-reading, God-worshiping people who are not the wackos presented in “Charismatic Chaos.” We can honor them as brothers and sisters in Christ even as we challenge their theology.

Recently, that same group has been whipping up fervor and fear over the idea that the movement among evangelicals for social justice is a threat to the gospel. They are taking a page from the Charismatic Chaos playbook as they launch attacks against those who seek to apply the gospel to social issues. But this time the approach is even less honest, but there is essentially no one within evangelical and Baptist circles who is saying many of the things that they are accusing just about everyone of saying. They have created a fictitious extreme and used it to define the evangelical norm, defining godly men and women as threats to the gospel. The introduction to their Statement lays down heavy fire.

In view of questionable sociological, psychological, and political theories presently permeating our culture and making inroads into Christ’s church, we wish to clarify certain key Christian doctrines and ethical principles prescribed in God’s Word. Clarity on these issues will fortify believers and churches to withstand an onslaught of dangerous and false teachings that threaten the gospel, misrepresent Scripture, and lead people away from the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Some are making “inroads onto Christ’s church,” with an “onslaught of dangerous and false teachings that threaten the gospel, misrepresent scripture, and lead people away from the grace of God in Jesus Christ.” If this were true, it would be serious indeed. It is a wholly false accusation. But they are serious about it.

The rapidity with which these deadly ideas have spread from the culture at large into churches and Christian organizations—including some that are evangelical and Reformed—necessitates the issuing of this statement now.

Note that these are “deadly ideas” which have come into evangelical and Reformed churches and necessitate a response now. There’s this big threat that will destroy us all if they don’t (heroically) step in and fight the fight.

The sad truth is that the people they speak against could affirm what they affirm and deny most of what they deny. They are making enemies of friends within the church of Jesus Christ and that is not only unnecessary but it is ungodly. We must contend against those who are enemies of the faith, but those who are decrying racism and calling for justice within the evangelical community are not liberals seeking salvation by social reformation. They are Bible-believing, gospel-preaching people who read Ephesians 2 and are convicted that we’ve let race build a wall when Jesus died to “make the two one and remove the dividing wall of separation.” Yes, that wall was between Jew and Greek but it was a racial wall and it is reasonable to believe that the gospel that required the wall between Jews and Greeks to come down would require the wall between Black and White to come down. They are Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching, complementarians who believe that the authority God has given men in the home and at church should never be used as an excuse to demean or abuse women and that such abuse is a blight on the name of Christ. They believe that showing women full respect as image-bearers honors Christ and helps to advance the gospel. These are people attempting to apply the inerrant word, not subvert it.

There are those who preach a social gospel, but they are not inside the SBC as has been so often accused. There is no movement among SBC leadership to undo the CR or to install liberalism. These are simply false accusations. They are lies no matter how often they have been told. We are trying to apply scripture, not some nonsense about intersectionality – and no matter how often those falsehoods are repeated they remain false.

Please hear me, I am not saying that John MacArthur and his circle of friends deny the gospel. They do not. I am making a very specific accusation. I am accusing the MacArthur-influenced segment of Southern Baptists and other Reformed people, as well as many in the more extreme areas of the Traditionalist movement of this action:

They falsely and/or dishonestly label brothers and sisters of Christ as threats to the gospel.

We have perhaps all been guilty of not listening well, of casting one another in the darkest possible light, and of making enemies of friends. That is the work of the flesh. but the groups that are joining together to oppose biblical justice ministry have gone a step further, calling those who do not agree with them enemies of the gospel, a threat to the church. Look at the quotes above. They are slow to listen and quick to condemn. They have become divisive, biting and devouring brothers and sisters in Christ. Rather than seek to understand what is being said by others, they pick out terms and phrases and paint them in the worst possible light.

The echo-chambers of self-congratulatory agreement have to be torn down. We cannot retreat into small groups in which everyone agrees with everyone else and applauds the most ridiculous assertions. At its core, the Social Justice statement is a ridiculous assertion – not because what it says is wrong but because it says it to the wrong people. If it was directed against such things as the Union Seminary Twitter statement that revealed real liberalism. Christians should be uniting to stand against that. But the guns should not be aimed at fellow believers, as they have been here.

If the MacArthur group thinks the approach being taken on racial reconciliation is wrong, fine. Demonstrate a better way to reconcile races and build the church. But don’t paint everyone who disagrees with you as an enemy of Christ. That is arrogant. Godly people can disagree with John MacArthur and still be faithful to Christ! This tendency to go nuclear on anyone who doesn’t toe the party line must stop, whatever the party line is. We must stop accusing godly people of being enemies of the cross and of Christ.

It must stop.